Josh Holloway: Not Your Average Hollywood Baller
The former Lost star talks about ditching the scruff and getting shredded to star in Mission: Impossible.
Holloway worked out with Kovach 90 minutes a day, four to six times a week. “We were doing one or two days of strength work and three to four days of interval training,” says the trainer, who typically designs workouts that mimic movement patterns his clients will do in
their activity of choice—whether it’s tennis, surfing, or gardening. “He dropped eight to 12 pounds and got ripped.” The actor also ate well, kick-starting his day with a substantial breakfast (a poached egg or cup of Irish steel-cut oatmeal). He made lunch his main meal and limited his protein intake at dinner. He also replaced processed carbs (white rice, white pasta, white bread) with whole grains (brown rice, Bulgar wheat) and got 40% of his calories from carbs, 30% from protein, and 30% from fats.
Today, they work together three days a week doing high-intensity interval training one day, strength work another, and core work another. Holloway, whose weight used to fluctuate between 180 and 208 (“I can carry it, but that’s not leading-man weight”) now holds at a solid 185. But now it’s less about weight and size and more about endurance and flexibility. Kovach says it’s important to work out all the muscles between the knees and rib cage and up and down the spine—not just sculpt a six-pack. By using a Swiss ball, he turns basic crunches into a full-body exercise involving all the muscles that stabilize joints in Holloway’s ankles, knees, and hips. And the actor likes the variety as much as the results of this “muscle confusion” core training. “I’m always doing a different exercise, doing full ranges of motions. And it doesn’t get boring.”
want people to get into a routine where they are doing squats every Tuesday and Thursday in three sets of 15. The whole idea of muscle confusion is to try not to let the body get too adapted to any specifi c movement pattern.” This suits Holloway perfectly. “I was doing a lot of boxing through Lost, thrashing a bag at least three days a week. If I had shirtless scenes, I’d do it six days a week. Then I realized my joints were hurting. So the concept of muscle confusion really was helpful. Suddenly all my joints started loosening up and my endurance increased. I don’t need to get stiff and big. I need to be loose and agile, yet tight and lean.”
While he can’t divulge much about his part in Ghost Protocol, he has nothing but praise for Cruise. “He is the ultimate machine,” Holloway says. “When I arrived on set he was in the middle of some huge fight scene and I didn’t want to bother him. And he was like, ‘Hey, hang out, dude. This is your set—relax.’ He said, ‘I know you’re going into stunt training. Really take your time.’ That was great advice, because I get there and I’m nervous and excited, like, ‘This is Disneyland for men. Let’s shoot some shit and jump off of buildings.’ It was good that he said, ‘Settle down, dude—you don’t gotta do it all right away.’ He really put me at ease.” Director Brad Bird applauds Holloway’s professionalism: “Josh takes the job seriously but also knows how to have fun,” he says. “There’s a scene where Josh had to be dropped 30 feet with a huge IMAX camera suspended above him. That takes game.”
So is Holloway ready to finally become an action hero? “Sure. Give it!” he says, confident from having previously trained with Navy SEAL team members and learned what it takes to be tough. “People try to keep you from reaching your goal, but never stop going toward your target. If you have obstacles, go through them. Never stop fighting.” Meanwhile, all this training has improved his performance on the court. “There is nothing more challenging than a full-on basketball game with the starts and stops, the jumping, sprinting, side shuffles,” he says. “Now I can move faster, be more agile. I don’t twist my knee, my ankle doesn’t go out.” And while Java may notice that Dad’s face is now smoother to her touch, he’s also more comfortable in his skin. “I’m in better shape now than I’ve been in a long time,” Holloway says. “I’m in my 40s, but I feel almost as strong as I was in high school—it’s like, ‘Wow, I haven’t lost a step.’ I don’t want to be the sex symbol stud guy. But I want to keep this up for my life and my wife and my work. Because playing in the big leagues is fun, right? But you’d better be prepared to deliver.”