Age: 38
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 215 lbs
Up Next: A role as the all-seeing, all-hearing Norse god Heimdall in Thor (May 2011)

Actor Idris Elba has played every role from a tough guy (Russell "Stringer" Bell on The Wire), to a corporate suit (on The Office), to a bank robber (in Takers). Tying them all together is Elba's build. "I try to fit in workouts whenever I can," the British-born star tells MF. That might mean 45 minutes of jogging in the a.m., or pushups and situps—100 each at a time—or swimming: "It works every muscle in your body," he says.

Elba also kickboxes, and has for six years. "I'm not really allowed to do it while I'm working because it's considered too dangerous," he says. "Film producers get very nervous." When he can, he hits the dojo two or three times a week. "I'm not really fussy," he says. "I just need a couple of speed bags." Elba focuses on drills broken down into three-minute rounds where he works through high and low kicks, combos, and light sparring. After that come leg raises for the core. "That's ab work like you've never had it," he says. "It's rough."

Image courtesy of HBO

Elba stays fit without an ironclad gym routine. Here are three ways you can too:

  • Eat a good breakfast: No matter what, Elba gets in some carbs and protein when he wakes up—usually a healthy cereal and eggs.

  • Maintain your weight: Elba never gains more than a few pounds at a time. "I have one of these bodies," he says. "When I was younger, I could never put weight on, and now that I'm a little older, there's a natural sort of chubbiness coming. But honestly, if I work out for a week, it drops off in no time."

  • Don't give up on sports: he tackled basketball, soccer, and rugby in school, and played in a Sunday soccer league after he graduated. "I was always a real athletic kid," says Elba. "Then when I got older, I just figured it was part of life to keep training."

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