How Joseph Gordon-Levitt Went From Skinny To Buff For Don Jon
From UK.AskMen.com. Reproduced here in its entirety so you don’t have to click through ;)
Meet Arin Babaian, the man who trained Don Jon's Joseph Gordon-Levitt from an average (some would say skinny) dude to a bit of a meathead. In a matter of months.
We talked to him about the kind of training he had JGL do to get there and what the best way to bulk up fast really is. Without further ado, read on about how to get JGL’s physique in Don Jon. After seeing the movie, you will surely want it. Hint: he gets pretty close with Scarlett Johansson.
Want more? Check out our interview with ScarJo on her role in the film here.
Don Jon is in UK cinemas nationwide on Friday - Watch the trailer here
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character in the movie bulks up more to impress girls than for the sake of fitness itself. What would you say are the differences in working out for that goal versus a more overall fitness goal?
Arin Babaian: It’s more aesthetic based which is actually kind of funny because when we trained we went to kind of the ‘meatheads’ gym - we trained at Golds gym - and the whole training aspect was really a character study for him. He pretty much went in and tried to live as that character at the gym. We would do certain things his character would do, just in the form of training.
Did he enjoy the process?
AB: He didn’t really enjoy the training we were doing, which was a very like, one body part a day, aesthetic-based, staring at yourself in the mirror, working on your bicepts. [The character] was pretty much all about what [he] looked like and we kind of took that role in the gym and [JGL] didn’t really enjoy training as JGL, not the character, until towards the end, when he became stronger and fitter and we switched our training style to more of a fitness based type training.
There’s a huge difference between being fit versus the kind of one-dimensional, one muscle at a time static training you did with JGL…
AB: It’s old school bodybuilding pretty much is what we kind of did. But Joe also came in coming off of a movie called Premium Rush - he came in small. So him trying to achieve what he looked like as this character, he had to put on weight and bulk up muscle. And as much as we hate it, if that’s your goal, you have to go back to old-school bodybuilding to achieve that.
When you get into the fitness aspect, you don’t really care what you look like and it’s not about your aesthetics anymore. It’s about your capability. And when you train to be fit, no one really stares at themselves to see what their body looks like; it just happens. You start looking better and looking like an athlete. His character was this Jersey Shore type of guy who didn’t really care about fitness I don’t believe - it was more about aesthetics.
Would you say the character was almost the opposite of who JGL is in real life?
AB: Definitely, without a doubt.
What were some considerations you had to take into account for JGL to build muscle as a naturally slim dude? What did you have to pay attention to in order to have him build the muscle he needed to that you wouldn’t have had to consider, maybe, for naturally bigger dudes?
AB: His diet. We had to make sure he was eating non-stop. We got him on a regimen of eating right away when he woke up, constant eating every two hours, and a lot of chicken and steak in his meals to the point that he was like, ‘I will almost be a vegetarian, I’ve eaten so much flesh, this can’t be good for me’. That was a huge thing.
Protein shakes? Supplements?
AB: Definitely. We went to a nutritionist by the name of Phil Goglia who I work with in Los Angeles. Joe’s big issue was that he wasn’t eating enough and we had to make sure he was eating so he was constantly handed something to eat throughout the course of the day. Shakes or meals depending on his availability to sit down and eat.
So if you had to say in one word how to gain muscle for skinny guys, you’d say diet?
AB: Well it’s not just diet - training is crucial. But the first thing is diet, second thing is exercise, third thing is sleep. Your body doesn’t change when you’re awake, your body changes when you’re resting and you’re sleeping and if you’re not getting a good amount of any one of these three things, it’s not really gonna work. So you have to eat right and you have to train hard and you have to let your body recover.
In terms of a guy who really wants to know how to build muscle fast?
AB: There’s nothing that will do it fast, you have to really commit to it. It’s not gonna happen overnight. If it’s a skinny guy trying to get bigger, it’s not gonna happen in a day, in a week, it’s gonna take you a couple months. A lot of these guys that have been bodybuilding or training didn’t just get there quickly. There’s really no getting there quickly. You really have dedicate yourself and change your lifestyle to be that person. And when you get there, it’ll seem quicker than the road you took. But it’s not an overnight process. You have to commit yourself and train. You need to train and go to the gym just like you’re brushing your teeth every day, that’s part of your routine, you have to do it every single day.
Give me some specifics of how you trained JGL.
AB: We broke it down to a body part a day. For example, we’d do chest on Monday, back on Tuesday, legs on Wednesday, shoulders Thursday, arms Friday. If he happened to miss a day, we’d just pick up where we left off. We would take a day or two off to let the body recover and to get out of the gym and do something different. He would just go play basketball on his off days. And when we trained it wasn’t six hours in the gym it was more like two hours but that was also because we would do an exercise and then we would rest. We wouldn’t rush through our routine, we would take our time and try to just move as heavy as we could as far as weights went. And we’d always end the session with a two mile run.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
AB: I’d like people to know that Joe busted his ass, and it’s not easy to achieve what he achieved. He came in and gave it 100% every single day. We worked for six months. He started early and he knew it wasn’t gonna happen overnight so we started training regularly to get there. He truly enjoys the aspect of being fit rather than looking like a meathead, but when you’re trying to play a character, fitness is the aesthetic of what that person would look like. So that’s what we did.
Interesting read and for once not an article where getting Jon’s physique is glorified while Joe clearly hated body building. I remember reading somewhere that Joe met Arin through Channing Tatum.