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How J.K. Simmons Got Ripped To Play Commissioner Gordon

J.K. Simmons is best known for playing news tycoon J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" trilogy and an alternate version of the character in the MCU's "Spider-Man" entries. But like many other stars, Simmons crossed the great divide from Marvel to DC, portraying the iconic Gotham Police Commissioner James "Jim" Gordon in the DCEU's "Justice League." In 2016, Simmons told Collider how excited he was to be playing a character he'd grown up seeing on the big screen. However, he chose not to revisit past performances — by the likes of Gary Oldman and Pat Hingle — prior to taking on the role so he could give it his own spin. "I'm just planning on learning as much as I can about him through the comics and getting my feet wet in the first movie, and then hopefully continuing on from there," he said.

Simmons was set to showcase a different side of the character in HBO Max's now-canceled "Batgirl" feature. "It's really more a story about him as a guy and as a father and not just about the guy who's turning on the Bat Signal and trying to keep the citizens of Gotham safe," he told A.frame. "It was a chance to delve into a different aspect of the character."

Although playing the commissioner didn't require him to get fit, Simmons is absolutely ripped when he appears in "Justice League," and photos of the actor on the set of "Batgirl" show an equally impressive physique. Keep reading to find out about Simmons' intense fitness regime and how and why he got ripped to play Commissioner Gordon.

J.K. Simmons has been on a decades-long fitness journey

Academy Award-winner Jonathan Kimble "J.K." Simmons wasn't specifically instructed to bulk up to play Commissioner Gordon. Nor did he spontaneously wake up one day before filming the movie with the urge to get ripped. It turns out that Simmons' swole physique is the result of a decades-long fitness journey. "This is all coincidental," he told Business Insider, noting that he didn't want to do too much to drastically change the appearance of such an iconic character.

Simmons' fitness journey began back in 1997 while he was playing Vern in the TV crime drama "Oz." "I was not in good shape at all," Simmons said. "I was overweight and soft, and here I am playing the head of the Aryan Brotherhood in this maximum-security prison in the first-ever HBO original drama. ... I just thought, 'Wow, I don't believe this guy at all.'" The actor said this was the moment he decided to start working out and make healthier choices.

Of course, it's not always as easy as making a decision, and for another decade the actor struggled with consistency and experienced fluctuations in his weight. It was in 2009, when he was clocking in at around 250 pounds, that he said he was able to make consistent changes to get a leaner physique. This, of course, has ultimately led to him getting totally ripped.

J.K. Simmons trained with an ex-marine

It's not a big surprise that J.K. Simmons' ripped physique is the result of him working with a trainer. Aaron Williamson is a former marine, bodybuilder, and fitness trainer known for working with Hollywood actors like Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron.

Williamson struggled when he returned from Iraq in 2009, so he turned to fitness, something he'd always been passionate about. "My fitness was the only thing that helped me keep my sanity," he told Men's Health. He soon found a way to turn his passion into a career, too. "I started training at this 24-hour gym in New Orleans and ended up discovering there were more TV shows and films being shot in Louisiana than anywhere else in the world at that time." This is how he met Simmons in 2015.

Simmons was filming "Terminator Genisys" in Louisiana, while Williamson had a small role in the film and was working on set as the fitness coordinator. "I just had free time to go to the gym, so I started training with him," Simmons told Business Insider. Their relationship just developed from there as Simmons became more interested in fitness. He still trains regularly with Williamson, who has since relocated to LA.

His other LA trainer helped him fall in love with fitness

Although he moved to Los Angeles shortly after filming wrapped on "Terminator Genisys," Aaron Williamson isn't the only fitness trainer J.K. Simmons works with. The actor also works with highly sought-after celebrity trainer Dana Perri in LA. When he works out with Perri, he tends to be pretty focused on cardio strength training to lose weight.

Training with Williamson and Perri offers Simmons a dynamic approach to fitness. Perri posted on Instagram showing the "Whiplash" actor getting into top shape for Starz's "Counterpart" Season 2. Later, she posted about Simmons' fitness regime as the actor prepped for Netflix's "Red One," so Simmons must have loved her training enough to keep with it nearly a decade later. While he might not have had to be in Herculean shape for "Whiplash" or even "Justice League," with the Rock producing and starring in "Red One," it's hard to believe Simmons wasn't asked to deliver a swole Santa Claus for the film.

Strength training and weights help the actor create and maintain his chiseled physique

While speaking about his fitness regimen to Business Insider, J.K. Simmons broke down exactly how he created and maintains his chiseled physique, as seen in "Justice League." "I've gone back and forth with fine-tuning the kind of conditioning I'm doing," the "Whiplash" actor said. "Sometimes trying to shed weight and getting leaner and sometimes trying to pack on a little more muscle."

Aaron Williamson told The Hollywood Reporter that his and Dana Perri's methods complement each other, allowing Simmons to lose weight and pack on muscle while maintaining a rigorous lean, low-carb diet. In an interview with Men's Journal, Williamson detailed the kinds of workouts that he'll do with the actor. He noted that Simmons' weight training often includes dumbbells, presses, and pulldowns to work his chest, back, and abdominal muscles, followed by curls, kickbacks, and bodyweight exercises for arms and abs work. He does these as supersets, which are back-to-back exercises, meaning there are minimal to no breaks between them.

Cardio is essential too

J.K. Simmons goes through phases in his workouts. And while cardio is an important part of anyone's physical fitness, whether it's walking or cycling, Simmons dedicates himself to cardio specifically while he's exercising with Dana Perri. Aaron Williamson said Simmons always cycles to the gym: "He is getting cardio before he gets there, and then once we meet up we do about 15 minutes more of cardio, then jump into some warm-up sets of whatever body part we are working on just to get some blood in the muscle," Williamson told Business Insider. Their workouts tend to start with a few minutes of work on an elliptical machine.

Simmons also finds creative ways to keep his cardio workouts fun and light. For example, while filming "Justice League," he took part in charity sporting events like the MLB All-Star Celebrity Softball Game, playing alongside celebrities like Pete Wentz and Sterling K. Brown.

He tries to live a healthy lifestyle

Simmons was already training with Dana Perri when he met Aaron Williamson. At that time, it was still early days in his renewed fitness journey and he was just taking small steps toward his goal of losing weight and building muscle. 2009 was a turning point for Simmons, when the "Juno" actor says he started thinking about his health and physical fitness more seriously. "After the second and final time that I got hugely fat in my life and when I lost that weight six or seven years ago, I pretty much decided that I was going to stay in decent shape for the rest of my life," the actor told Business Insider.

Working out with Williamson in Louisiana began as part of that lifestyle J.K. Simmons was trying to live. (And he's far from the only Hollywood star to put their money into exercise, training, and dieting to get the physique of a superhero.) "He wanted to get into the best shape he had ever been in," Williamson told Men's Journal. "J.K.'s goal was to adopt a healthy lifestyle and never have to worry again about health issues."

Variety, dedication, and consistency are important factors

There are three important factors that contribute to J.K. Simmons' ripped physique: variety, dedication, and consistency. (Also, you know, having the resources of a major Hollywood celebrity.) Aaron Williamson has the variety down, telling Business Insider he's always coming up with new regimens for the actor. "Each session is different — I don't pre-plan any workout before he gets there," he said. "We never go in and do the exact same workout. It is always different."

Dedication and consistency are down to Simmons, though. According to the "Being the Ricardos" star, his wife, Michelle Schumacher, has helped him with his consistency and encouraged him to never give up. "As I would go back and forth between being horribly lazy and fat, and then, you know, starving myself to try to get fit, my wife kept preaching moderation. And I kept nodding my head and saying, 'Yeah, well ....' So I finally started listening to her," he told Vulture.

J.K. Simmons follows a high-protein diet and eats every three hours

It's a basic fitness rule that you can't out-train a bad diet; exercise and nutrition go hand-in-hand. J.K. Simmons has learned this lesson over the years, making sure to use food to aid his fitness goals. "He's been experimenting over the past couple of years with different foods. A lot of low-carb stuff, lean proteins, a lot of vegetables," trainer Aaron Williamson told The Hollywood Reporter.

Like his training, he needs variety, though. "Every day might be a little different for him," Williamson said, hinting that Simmons doesn't have as fastidious a diet as Chris Evans or Chris Hemsworth at the height of their Marvel careers. However, one thing that never changes is how regularly Simmons eats. According to his trainer, it's every three hours like clockwork, prioritizing proteins and veggies, like eggs, chicken breasts, lean steaks, and plenty of greens.

He uses very few sports supplements

J.K. Simmons has obviously mastered the exercises that work best for his body — whether that is strength training, weights, or cardio. In addition, he's been able to use food to fuel his body and support his fitness goals of either bulking up or losing weight. At this point, most people committed to this level of health and fitness would be looking to sports supplements to see where they can make even greater gains, but not Simmons.

The actor prefers to maintain his ripped physique through exercise and the right kinds of food, and he stays away from sports supplements. According to Fitness Volt, Simmons sticks to a balanced diet, only using whey protein, which he adds to shakes twice daily. Whey protein ensures that he gets a ton of protein in a single serving while also getting as few carbs as possible. He typically has a shake between his regular, non-liquefied meals.

Dark chocolate is his secret weapon

Most people doing the level of training Simmons has become accustomed to find the need to break up their healthy lifestyles once in a while. For some, it may come in the form of a few too many alcoholic drinks one evening. For others, like The Rock, a no-holds-barred cheat day may be in order.

While Dwayne Johnson's "Red One" costar and fellow DCEU actor, J.K. Simmons, might not have glorious cheat days when he orders trays of sushi and eats banana chocolate chip pancakes — that we know of, anyway — the "Tomorrow War" actor has a small luxury up his sleeve. "What he calls his 'secret weapon' is a little piece of dark chocolate," trainer Aaron Williamson said to The Hollywood Reporter. "He eats one square every day. ... Just a good, high-quality piece of dark chocolate." According to the trainer, Simmons has always got dessert sorted because he takes some with him whenever he eats out. He always shares, though, Williamson added. It's way more nutritious than most cheat meals, but clearly it works for Simmons. Williamson is totally on board with Simmons' "secret weapon": "I say go for it. There's a point that if you don't cheat, your metabolism will actually stall out," he explained.

J.K. Simmons is especially focused on his arms

As J.K. Simmons got deeper and deeper into his fitness journey, he started to develop more specific goals that extended beyond what he considers a healthy lifestyle. According to Aaron Williamson, "He wants to have some 'beefing' guns to show people that he is just not that guy that does Farmers commercials," per Business Insider. The trainer expanded on this statement while speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, noting, "His motivating factor with a lot of it is to do something with his arms and shoulders to be able to possibly down the road play a character who can wear a tank top." To help Simmons get shredded arms, Williamson had the actor use a machine called an arm blaster. He said that Simmons reliably turns heads whenever he goes to the gym.

Simmons might not have any shirtless scenes as J. Jonah Jameson, but his bulking-up aligns with a career renaissance he's experienced since winning an Oscar for his fierce performance in "Whiplash." Not only could he rock a tank top (though you obviously don't need bulging muscles to wear one), but he's starred in more action-focused roles in films like "Terminator Genisys," "Renegades," and "The Tomorrow War." His role in "Justice League" puts him side by side with other Hollywood fitness icons like Ben Affleck and Jason Momoa, and had the film not been canned, fans could have seen more of Commissioner Gordon's impressive physique in "Batgirl."