Work Out with Terra Nova's Jason O'Mara

The Irish actor turned to kickboxing to prepare his body for his most physically demanding role to date.

When you are being chased by carnivorous flashers—“freaky-looking velociraptor-like creatures,” as Terra Nova star Jason O’Mara describes them—you’ve gotta be in the best shape of your life.

“I wanted to take control of my fitness before starting such a physical role in this dino-size undertaking,” he says of Fox’s Spielberg-produced sci-fi series.

MAN vs. NEANDERTHAL

Jason O’Mara’s Terra Nova character travels back 85 million years to save the world. But how would he fare if he ever ran into one of our primitive ancestors? Experts aren’t sure of the answer. “Body mass seems to have been higher in Neanderthals than modern humans, and they have strong muscle markings in their upper body, suggesting good upper-body strength,” says Daniel Lieberman, Ph.D., chair of the department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. We just don’t know enough about their overall muscle fiber composition to know who would win if you challenged one to an arm wrestling match, he says.

To train and maintain for his role on the dinosaur drama, O’Mara employs a “no school like the old school” mentality. The former rugby player relies on yoga, kickboxing, and 5Ks on the glorious Gold Coast beaches in Australia, where the show is shot, and works out six days a week (“no exceptions,” he says).

O’Mara estimates that 75% of fitness is diet. “It gets dull after a while,” he says about his meal plan, which includes oatmeal, boiled chicken breast, and protein shakes.

Still, you won’t hear O’Mara complain too much. “I feel good about life, about the show. And I’m 39, and I can touch my toes. I didn’t think I’d be able to say that 20 years ago.”

O'Mara's Workout

Jason hit his core with every exercise he does. And since his workouts primarily use body-weight resistance, he does everything to failure. His favorite moves:

ALTERNATING PUSH-UP
Keep your right hand in normal pushup position and your right knee bent, almost touching your elbow. Your left hand should be farther out and forward, with your left leg straight. Alternate positions at the end of every push-up.

"PRISON CELL" PUSH-UP
Do one regular push-up, then pull your left knee up to your chest. Do another push-up, but this time bring your right knee up to your chest. Do a third push-up and then, with both hands still on the ground, jump both feet toward your chest; then stand up. That’s one rep.

CHAIR DIPS
Place your palms on the edge of one chair, supporting your body weight with your feet on a second chair. Lower your body until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle, then push yourself back up.

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