How Michael B. Jordan got ripped for Hollywood

You might know Michael B. Jordan from any number of scene-stealing roles like Wallace in The Wire or Steve Montgomery in Chronicle, but chances are you've never seen him as fit as he is in his most recent movies. The actor put on some serious muscle to convincingly play the son of a legendary boxer in Creed and a supervillainous revolutionary in Black Panther. Follow along as we break down how Michael B. Jordan built up his body.

He was never out of shape

Take a look at Jordan's Instagram pictures before his training regimen, and you'll see that the actor's never been exactly out of shape. Still, that's a far cry from the shredded frame he's been sporting in recent movies. Looking at his earlier roles from his time as a child actor, or even his starring roles as recently as 2013's Fruitvale Station, he looks about half the size of his current body.

That all changed with his casting as Adonis Creed in Creed. Playing the son of the legendary Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) required him to look the part of a boxer in peak condition. Even though Jordan describes himself as a "super competitive" athlete, that's a far cry from the level of fitness required for a boxer. According to trainer Corey Calliet, it was hard-going at first: "When we first started, he could barely bench 20 pounds, his legs were flailing everywhere … he had nothing. He used to hate all this." He might have hated the training, but he certainly can't fault the results. Jordan was able to put on 24 pounds of pure muscle in a year of training to really capture the look of Adonis Creed.

Trainer Corey Calliet was the secret to his success

There's no easy shortcut to putting on that much muscle mass in such a short time, but a Hollywood trainer certainly makes that task a little bit more manageable. Enter Corey Calliet, a former boxer whose experience was instrumental to crafting Adonis Creed's Adonis-like body. According to Jordan, Calliet was the first trainer that he really clicked with after a series of false starts with other trainers, and the results certainly speak to the pair's rapport.

Calliet stayed with Jordan as he got into a different level of fitness for his role as the revolutionary Erik Killmonger in Black Panther. Calliet played both sides of the movie's conflict though; he also worked to get Angela Bassett in fighting shape for the Black Panther — Bassett plays Ramonda, the matriarch of Wakanda and mother figure for Chadwick Boseman's titular protagonist.

According to Calliet, whether he's training someone in their twenties like Jordan or in their fifties like Bassett, the technique is the same. Focusing on high-intensity interval training is the most efficient way to burn fat and lets Calliet focus on the muscle groups that need highlighting for each role.

From boxing zero to boxing hero

In order to properly portray a boxer, Jordan had to train like a boxer. That meant 45-60 minutes daily of cardio along with tons of ab workouts, like crunches, mountain climbers, leg raises, reverse crunches, and traditional sit-ups to build up his core and burn fat. As for building muscle, Calliet had Jordan focus on supersets — exercises where lifting or curling dumbbells are interspersed with push-ups or another workout. In addition, Calliet pushed Jordan with circuit training, building his endurance with quick rounds of burpees, box jumps, bench push ups, and side step-ups.

If that all seems exhausting, we haven't even gotten to the main event yet. A full three hours of boxing training following every workout day that includes the speed bag, the heavy bag, mitt training, and jumping rope. According to Jordan: "I felt muscles I didn't even know I had." Calliet agreed, saying "I wanted to make him look even more ripped than Apollo, and I think we did that."

Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition

As any fitness buff worth his salt will tell you, exercise is only half the battle when it comes to getting your body into peak shape. For Jordan to get into literal fighting condition, he had to cut his food intake almost entirely to lean proteins (chicken, ground turkey, and fish), carbs (rice, potatoes, steel cut oats), green veggies, and protein shakes.

According to Jordan: "Extreme diet change. I stripped down my diet completely … I worked out two to three times a day, six days a week. And if you do that consistently for about 10 months, your body will change." That's a punishing regimen for anyone, but shooting in Rocky Balboa's hometown of Philadelphia meant having to pass on Philly Cheesesteaks, beer, and other nutritionally lacking (but delicious) food.

Luckily for Jordan, Calliet doesn't rank among those trainers who don't believe in cheat days. Once a week, from sundown on Saturday to sundown on Sunday, Jordan was allowed to eat anything: "French toast in the morning, Philly cheesesteaks in the afternoon, [and] pizza." Those brief respites don't seem to have hurt the final results of his hard work, but they definitely kept his motivation up.

Self-motivation is key

Speaking of motivation, Jordan has got plenty to go around. The young actor credits growing up in Newark with a supportive family as the inspiration for his work ethic and aspirations. Jordan said, "My dad used to tell me all the time that you have to be serious about something … I told myself at a young age that I was going to sacrifice. I used to run myself into the ground till pure exhaustion just because then I would feel like I deserve it."

That motivation has been absolutely key to Jordan's physical transformation, pushing him to heavier weights and longer runs. No matter how painful the workout, Jordan can persevere through that motivation. "How do you push past the not wanting to do something? You remember why you're doing it. Why you're working hard. What's at stake. For me, it's my family, all the dreams that I have in my head, that I want to see manifest."

Jordan kept working out after Creed with Method Training

That's not to say that Jordan isn't enjoying his new fit status. As anyone beginning to exercise seriously knows, it is getting started that is the hardest part. According to Jordan, that all changed once he started to see results: "You know, at first you feel like s***, you're hurting. When things start getting a little easier, when you start lifting weight you never lifted before, when you start bench-pressing 225 pounds 10 times and it ain't nothing, and then you start giving hugs to girls and they're, like, feeling you up a little and you think, 'What's this?' Then it's, 'This is all right.' So I learned to love it when I started seeing results."

Being in fighting shape from Creed definitely helped Jordan transition to the training for Black Panther, where he used a new technique called "Muscle Training." The technique adapts Jordan's workouts to match what the character would do to stay in shape which can help alleviate the dreaded workout boredom or fitness plateau.

Training to dethrone a king

For the role of Erik Killmonger, Jordan needed to bulk up to play the muscular revolutionary. This entailed a grueling regimen to gain 20 pounds of muscle mass in nearly every part of his body: "Chest, shoulders, back. My legs a little bit, my quads. I was just, like, massive."

It takes more than muscles to portray the antagonist in a superhero film though; Jordan was also put through a comprehensive weapons training program in addition to learning various forms of martial arts.

For Jordan, it was a real departure from the boxing-focused training of Creed. "… This one is more martial arts, using a lot of your legs, so I'm picking up different fighting styles. Also a lot of guns too, the weapons training is a totally different muscle," Jordan explained. 

No rest for the wickedly fit

While any normal person might want to take a break from nonstop workout routines and just eat some pizza and drink some beer, Jordan is jumping right back into training for Creed 2. 

The story will follow Adonis Creed fighting the son of Ivan Drago, the man who killed Apollo Creed in the ring in Rocky IV. Professional boxer Florian Munteanu will be playing the son of Ivan Drago, and at 6 foot four and 245 pounds, Jordan has his work cut out for him  getting back into fighting shape. Although if this Instagram video of his boxing workouts is any indication, Adonis Creed is as fit as he's ever been.