Zac Efron’s ‘Baywatch’ Trainer Shared Some Great Advice to Get Shredded for Summer
Whether you’re an A-lister or an average guy, you’re expected to follow what are known as “Murphy’s Rules” when you set foot inside trainer Patrick Murphy’s renowned Industry Gym in Los Angeles. Thankfully, these simple workout protocols share nothing in common with Murphy’s Law—the notion that anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
Murphy’s Rules—which include keeping your abs contracted during every rep, and maintaining proper alignment of your head, among others—have helped hundreds of men and women get into the best shape of their lives, including some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
In recent years, Murphy’s helped sustain the 50-something body of Keanu Reeves through ceaseless high-intensity film shoots on the set of multiple John Wick films. He also provided Zac Efron with an elite bodybuilder’s level of vascularity that helped him stand out even beside Dwayne Johnson on the set of Baywatch.
Suffice it to say, Murphy’s wisdom can help men of all ages reach their fitness goals, whether that means improving your mobility and extending your prime years, or simply turning up the intensity of your workouts to get shredded in time for summer. While Murphy typically offers his advice for a fee, he was still willing to give us a few hints about how he helps clients like Efron and Reeves transform their bodies in a hurry. Use them to your advantage, and take your training to the next level.
You helped to prepare Keanu Reeves’ body for the rigors of the John Wick films. What does it take to prep an actor’s body to get put through the ringer like that?
It’s true, Keanu’s body went through the ringer when shooting the John Wick movies. I’ve been training talent for over 25 years and the John Wick role is the most demanding I have ever witnessed. All the judo, jujitsu, gun fu, striking and stunt scenes were repeated over and over again, daily.
I’m a corrective exercise expert: Reset and recovery were the keys in Keanu making it through the shoot. I brought on an amazing trigger point person, Jodi Mainwaring, who worked on Keanu’s body daily. Cold plunge was performed often as well. I also used a cryo gun for rapid icing around his joints whenever he needed it.
Keanu is no spring chicken anymore. When it comes to prepping someone well over 50 years old to endure that level of punishment, were there any extra special measures that you needed to implement within the training itself?
I take pride in producing fitness programs that yield the highest benefit with little to no risk. I feel this is one of the main reasons why studios hire me to train talent. The exercises I prescribed for Keanu covered stabilization, muscular endurance, and strength. We performed high reps with bands, cables, free weights, and calisthenics. I use many balance tools— foam pads, half balls, discs—coupled with resistance training. After the workouts, Keanu felt more put-together versus broken-down.
Speaking of feeling broken-down, are there any nutritional differences that you have to take into account as a client ages? Do you have to consider things like their rate of protein absorption, or any vitamin deficiencies that aging men might be prone to experiencing?
Absolutely. Optimal performance requires optimal nutrition and supplementation. This includes clean, balanced meals, recovery supplements that help circulation, along with a client’s soft tissue, nerves and more. Optimal hydration is also very important.
I’m also a firm believer in probiotic foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and cultured vegetables. I also like a variety of probiotic supplements to help you restore the bacteria in your stomach.
How about when it comes to issues of flexibility or pliability? Do your older clients have problems in these areas, and does that change the way you approach their training with respect to potential injury fears?
Proper active warmups with active stretches are important when getting ready to perform, and static stretching—actively holding the stretch—is important for the cool down. Depending on the client, stretching overactive muscles is important, but stretching weakened or lengthened muscles can be detrimental. Maintaining overall body balance, strong neutral positions, posture and alignment is the key. How you sleep, or even how you stand can influence how quickly you recover from your workouts, along with how prone you are to injury.
What are some of the frequent ways that aging men are required to adapt their workout regimens?
As you get older, you should try to adhere to risk-benefit-ratio exercises. It’s not necessary to train your legs by loading a barbell on your back. You should also pass on the burpees other high-risk exercises. Keep in mind, exercises can create negative adaptations and trigger the injury cycle. Many exercises, performed with corrective exercise guidelines create positive adaptations for the human body.
Are there any popular training styles or methods that you would advise an aging client not to engage in?
I’m not a big fan of boot camp classes, or exercises derived from survival training. These exercises promote positions that encourage the people who perform them to assume bad postures, and this can easily lead to injuries.
You famously worked with Zac Efron to help him prepare for his role in Baywatch; he was endowed with the ultimate big-screen beach body. Can you explain what the ideal beach body is and how men can make quick strides toward achieving it over an 8-to-12 week period as the summer approaches?
First of all, I always say that change evokes change. To create that change, I like big-circuit, full-body workouts for the first four weeks of my multiphase training plan, followed by two-day splits of upper and lower body workouts in phase two of that plan. After that, they move into three-day splits of push, leg, and pull days.
I’m also a big believer in creating variety in training. That’s why I put together my Show & Go Program. It’s a simple-to-implement, rep-schemes program which offers up the exact same shredding reps schemes and mass building schemes I used for Zac Efron’s Baywatch program. The variety of the training plan destroys plateaus and helps clients achieve their full potential.
All of this requires you to frequently change your workout splits, change your schemes, change your rest periods, change your rep tempo, change your supersets, etc. When you adopt this approach, it will bring you to the promised land as you get rid of the ego-driven, high-risk exercise programming and go into more of a corrective exercise approach. I like to refer to it as positive-adaptation training.
Is there any specific nutrition advice or meal prep advice that you would advise people to implement if they’re trying to get as lean and shredded as possible in three months or less?
If you only have three months to get lean and shredded, I would advise anyone in this position to consume a whole-food diet. This means they need to stay away from highly refined, processed food-like products like cereals, crackers, tortillas, or basically all flour products. I would also advise them to stay away from any sugar-added products. You’re always better off consuming plain or unsweetened products.
Protein powders are refined, and they can also be sweetened, right?
If you use protein powders, make sure the label of the container says that what you’re consuming is organic, plain, and unsweetened. No matter what you’re taking as you’re trying to shred rapidly, you want to avoid any extra sugar.
So couldn’t a person do everything you’re suggesting without necessarily being on a whole-food diet? Why is the whole-food aspect so crucial?
Consuming whole foods gets rid of food-like products with late expiration dates. A late expiration date means the product is a chemical shit-storm loaded with preservatives, fillers, binders, emulsifiers, and many other unnecessary ingredients. You also need to stay hydrated: Organic coconut water is amazing for hydration. Remember, the cleaner the diet is, the more your liver will be able to do what it’s meant to do. If you don’t have a clean diet, your liver becomes too busy detoxifying the body to be of much use to you in any other way.
Do you think the allure of achieving an ideal appearance is a sufficient motivation to carry most people through to their physical goals in just 60 to 90 days?
It’s really more about establishing a way of life. Being healthy and happy for yourself and how you influence others around you is so damn rewarding. Of course, it feels good to look good, but that’s what a healthy diet and exercise program will do for most everyone. We are all different in our own unique way, and we need to find what drives us to be a healthy influence on ourselves. We all need to do the inner work before the outer work becomes evident.
Getting in shape and looking great for a film role is one thing, but looking and feeling great into your 60s, 70s, and beyond is the new gold standard.
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