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Kellan Lutz Gets Built Like an 'Immortal'

The 26-year-old star explains how he got jacked to play the Greek god Poseidon in the new action epic Immortals.
Ture Lillegraven

“I like to fight,” Kellan Lutz says, grinning.

That’s not a statement one would normally associate with a former underwear model, but then again, you probably have not met Kellan Lutz. Broad shoulders, massive biceps and a shredded 6'1", 195-pound frame (and no missing teeth in the megawatt smile) suggest a lack of challengers in trading blows. But as the native North Dakotan tells it, that wasn’t always the case. “I had so many older brothers who beat up on me”—he counts six of them in total, one of them a Marine—“so I’m a tough kid. I love mixed martial arts, weapons training, guns, knives, driving fast cars and motorcycles. I love it all. I’m a thrill seeker.” It appears Lutz is in the right business, because action keeps calling.

Strengthen Your Entire Body at Once and Plow Through Fitness Plateaus

Kellan Lutz's personal trainer, Rich McDonald, knows how to engage the core—and the biceps, triceps, quads and hamstrings—all at once. “Too many outdated workouts break the body into pieces,” he says, which allows a fitness enthusiast to focus too much on one area, too little on another. Injury often follows suit. “And maximum performance can’t be reached,” he adds. So McDonald advises his high-profile clients to “tie it up.” Below, a breakdown of how he puts Lutz and other hard-bodied believers through their paces.

Place your hands in a standard pull-up position on the bar. With your core tight, perform a pull-up while cycling your legs forward and backward as if you were sprinting down a track. Repeat for eight to 20 pull-ups.

Set the cable pulley at its lowest point. With one hand on the cable handle and the other on your waist, drop into a full lunge position but with the back leg straight. While tightening your glutes and core, lean over with your back straight so your torso is 90 degrees to the cable. Perform 10 to 15 single-arm rows while keeping the rest of your body very still and tight. Switch your legs and arms and repeat the exercise for 10 to 15 reps.

Set yourself in a push-up position with one hand on the ground and the other on a stiff eight– to 10-pound medicine ball. With your glutes and core tight, perform one push-up with your hands in this position. Roll the ball to the other hand. Your opposite hand should now be on top of the medicine ball while your other hand is on the ground. Perform another push-up. Repeat for 10 to 20 push-up reps.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Drop into a standard lunge position with both knees at 90 degrees. With your glutes and core tight, move the dumbbells to their starting position at ear level. Perform 10 to 15 alternating overhead presses. Switch legs and repeat.

Barbell Full Snatch: Place a barbell on the floor. Grab it with hands at twice shoulder width, bending over the bar with your hips. Keeping your lower back arched, explosively extend your hips and knees, shrug the bar and let the momentum help you raise it straight overhead.  

Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat: Hold dumbbells in each hand. Place your back foot up on a bench or short plyo box. Similar to an in-place lunge, stand tall, then bend your front knee and drop straight down. Keep your front foot fl at and press hard to stand back up. Perform 10 to 15 reps on each leg.  

Jumping Lunges: Start in a standard lunge position with both knees bent at 90 degrees. Explode into the air from this position and switch your leg position before landing into a full lunge. Continue alternating for a total of 20 jumps.

Many know this 26-year-old rising star for his breakout role in the Twilight series, the vampire franchise that vaulted him to teen heartthrob status. And while the latest installment, Breaking Dawn, Part I, hits theaters this fall, it’s his November release, Immortals, that really has him pumped.

Playing the role of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea and earthquakes, challenged Lutz to transform his physique into one worthy of a mythological deity who goes by the nickname “Earth-Shaker.” In this case, CGI just doesn’t cut it. Lutz’s combination of acting chops, physique and a track record for dramatically changing his body for roles made him a natural pick. “Gods in movies are usually these old guys, but my take was if you lived forever, you’d want to look young and fit forever,” says Immortals director Tarsem Singh. “When Kellan came in to read, I thought he was perfect. His physique and work ethic were fantastic. And I didn’t need to do any [physical] enhancements in postproduction, so he made my job easier.”

“I always wanted to play a Greek god in something,” says Lutz as we sit together over iced coffees at his local Starbucks, just a few blocks from where he lives in Venice, CA. Most actors appear smaller in person without the benefit of a big screen or camera angles. Not Kellan. The actor’s forearms are pure Popeye when you see them up close.

“I love Poseidon,” he continues. “His trident—his weapon—is really cool.” (For those of you in the dark about classical weaponry, a trident is a three-pronged spear commonly seen in gladiator flicks and, name-checked by Steve Carell, as his murder weapon in Anchorman.) “What Tarsem did in [his previous films] The Fall and The Cell is mind-blowing. It’s visually stunning. You see that in Immortals, too.”

A female barista cleaning tables spies us sitting together, zeroes in on my digital recorder and gazes unabashedly at the action star while buffing a tabletop long enough to remove the finish. If Lutz notices, he doesn’t let on. Instead, he tells me about how the film’s on-set nutritionist and trainer, Ricky Blanchard, got him superfit for the movie. Blanchard had only a month to transform the cast into gods. This entailed three-a-days of functional training that combined CrossFit, boxing, plyometrics and stunt work. “The first thing Kellan said to me when I first met him was, ‘You know, Ricky, I love food. I love steak. But I’m gonna bring it every time,’ ” Blanchard recalls. “And he did. He brought maximum intensity to the gym every day. Working out with him, he motivated me and kept me on my toes.”

The cast also includes new “Superman” Henry Cavill, gorgeous Freida Pinto of Slumdog Millionaire fame, Stephen Dorff and Mickey Rourke. To get into Greek-god shape, Lutz didn’t need to venture far from home. “I like to wake up with the sun around 6:30 and go out and meet the day,” he says, meaning right here in Venice, with its many dip bars and ring sets on the sandy beaches—which attract the area’s hardcore-fit hoi polloi (not to mention the paparazzi who relentlessly stalk a shirtless Lutz pumping iron). “I’ll just go for a run, drop and do some push-ups, run some more, do lunges, grab the rings and do pull-ups.”

Lutz regularly works out with personal trainer and occasional actor Rich McDonald, a former championship pole-vaulter who now devotes his skills to making strong guys like Lutz even stronger. The two first met in 2007 on the set of HBO’s Generation Kill, a miniseries about American Marines fighting in Iraq.

Lutz, McDonald and their fellow castmates spent seven months in Mozambique, Namibia and other African locales shooting the project, working out constantly and setting the bar ever higher for one another.


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