Gerard Butler (Tomb Raider) hasn’t been to a gym since he stopped filming 300, the new epic from Warner Bros, based on the graphic novel by Sin City’s Frank Miller, and directed by Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead).
“I have no wish to do so,” says the affable Scots star. “I spent four months on a massage table after shooting.”
Four months of rigorous training for the role of King Leonidas of Sparta, left Butler with a pulled groin, drop foot, shoulder strain and chafing: “My thighs were too big.”
Know the feeling, Gerry.
Controversial trainer and mountain-climber Mike Twight was enlisted to transform the chain smoking, out-of-shape Butler into warrior material, inside and out. If anyone could make the chain-smoking, out-of-shape Butler look good in not much more than a cap and a codpiece, then Twight, founder of the hard core, Fight Club-styled Utah gym, Gym Jones was the man.
Did Twight show any mercy? Hell no.
In the film, Butler’s character is a formidable warrior who leads 300 soldiers against a million strong Persian army in the battle of Thermopylea in 480 BC. To prepare Butler for his modern-day battle with blue screens and box office returns, Twight came up with what he termed the 300 Rep Spartan Workout.
300 reps!! You’re kidding, right.
Sorry, Ladies, Mike Twight doesn’t kid. The Gym Jones team is “dedicated to the Art of Suffering.” And we suspect he doesn’t mean that fun S & M stuff.
So his 300 rep workout goes something like this.
25 pullups, 50 deadlifts with 135 pounds, 50 pushups, 50 jumps on a 24-inch box, 50 floor wipers, 50 single-arm clean-and-presses using a 36-pound kettle bell, and 25 more pullups.
Btw, no rests between sets. Butler’s co-star Andrew Pleavin admits that when on an assumed rest day, Twight ordered him to tackle the 300, he felt like someone had just killed his dog.
Just for laughs, Twight threw in some tire flippingâ€”OK, lots of tire-flippingâ€”some ring training, and other cool moves like this one:
Lie on the floor holding a 135 pound bar straight overhead. Then, keeping your legs straight, touch your feet to one plate, lower them to the floor in the centre and raise them up to the other plate. That’s one rep. Only 300 to go. (Kids, you can try this at home with an empty bar first, raising your legs until they’re about 8 inches away from the bar).
Between his sessions with Twight, Butler took a breather with Venezuelan Bodybuilder Franco LiCastro in order to perfect his physique. And did we mention a couple of hours of spear and sword training to round off a punishing four month preparation that only an obsessive type A personality like Butler could withstand?
And it’s all there up on the screen, where Butler very much looks the part, not only because of the chisled abs and heaving shoulders you’d expect from a warrior who sends 300 loyal men to their slaughter, but also because of a warrior mentality cultivated from that killer training schedule and the amazing commitment it took to keep it up. You can see it in his eyes: every bead of sweat, every pulled muscle. And that chaffing. Ouch.
Newsflash: Butler’s back in the gym, but notâ€”surprise, surpriseâ€”at Gym Jones. This time, he’s with New York trainer, Joe Dowdell.