How to Get a Body Like Christian Bale in American Psycho

Christian Bale is an actor who is known for undergoing radical transformations in order to prepare for a role and 2000’s American Psycho was no exception. This was Bale before he bulked up for the Batman movies and before he let himself get down to 120 to 130 pounds to play an insomniac in The Machinist. In American Psycho, Christian played the lead role of serial killer Patrick Bateman, who in addition to being a homicidal maniac, is also fanatical about his diet and exercise routine. The movie American Psycho is based off the Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name and there are several passages in the book where Patrick Bateman recounts in excruciating detail his workout routine. The workout that you find in the book is pretty poorly designed and shouldn’t be followed, I mean why follow the rantings of a sociopath? However, to achieve a body like Christian Bale had in the movie version of American Psycho doesn’t take insane levels of commitment and training just a solid workout strategy and a clean diet.

What you need to understand about physiques that you see in the movies is that these actors have trained under completely optimal conditions. An actor like Christian Bale has millions of dollars as an incentive to meet his fitness goals plus the help of expert personal trainers, dieticians, and chefs to whip up his meals. Basically all they have to do is eat and train as they are told and have nothing more to do than to prepare for that role. You on the other hand are probably a student or have a full time job or lack the same resources to transform yourself as quickly as these Hollywood actors can. So how do you get a body like Christian Bale in American Psycho?

To accomplish the Patrick Bateman character’s physique we have to think about what that physique entails. In the movie, Bale has a solid foundation of muscle but with ultra-low body fat percentage that gives him a really ripped appearance. So off the bat we know that we need to pack on some muscle which means time in the weight room is a necessity. Bulking up can be really fun if mass is all you are after because you get to lift heavy weights and eat as much as you want. Unfortunately, along with the muscle mass you also gain several layers of fat so a freewheeling bulk would not be optimal for the Christian Bale look because we don’t need too much mass and will have to chisel down to achieve the cut abs.


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A “clean” bulk is generally what I do when trying to add muscle mass to my frame because I tend to store lots of fat if I’m not precise with my diet (on the plus side I pack on muscle quickly). Doing a clean bulk means upping your calories while being particular about where those calories come from. So for instance I up the amount of protein that I am consuming in order to build muscle mass but I get that protein from lean sources such as grilled chicken, fish, whey protein shakes, legumes, certain cuts of steak, eggs, etc. Also, I stay away from any processed foods and favor whole grain sources of carbohydrates and eat plenty of green veggies. Basically, what I eat during a cutting phase only in greater quantities. The goal is to put on enough mass without putting on too much extra fat and if you are currently out of shape you might not put on any fat at all to speak of.

To gain mass beyond just your diet it really takes just putting the time in the weight room 4-5 days per week. I generally split my routine into days for chest/back, arms/shoulders, and leg days. Also, abs only need to be trained 2-3 times per week. My rep and set schemes generally vary every few weeks because I like to shock my body and not let it get too used to a particular structure. So for instance, I introduce drop sets last week where you lift a certain amount of weight for a certain amount of reps and then immediately pick up a lighter weight and do the same. Believe me my muscles were sore as hell the next day. Anyways, for the purposes of achieving this American Psycho physique I would train using heavy weights, not necessarily maxing out but definitely not taking it into the 15-20 rep range either.

Once I have established to mass that I needed the next step is to cut down. Remember to get a body like Christian Bale had in American Psycho requires a low body fat percentage while still maintaining that muscle mass. The tricky part about this is not losing too much muscle because at the end of your cut you’ll just look flat and skinny. Calories need to come down from the bulking levels but still sufficient to keep what you have and cardio cannot be too great that you start to waste away that muscle mass either. Sprinting is a great option for fat loss because it is a short cardio activity that can actually add muscle rather than making you lose it. When I add sprinting to my workouts it is usually twice per week and I also do something like walking on an steep incline on a treadmill at a brisk pace for two other days during the week. If you diet is in order these cardio sessions should be enough to see significant fat loss but your body will respond to different things so you may need to experiment to see what works best for you.

To get a body like Christian Bale in American Psycho or his more muscular physique in the Batman movies such as the Dark Knight you need to have a proper vision of how you are going to get there. In these roles Bale had a solid foundation of muscle and in the case of American Psycho he had a low percentage of body fat in order to have the ripped look. Any workout you decide to do must reflect this type of physique so if you just go to the gym and do a little bit of weight lifting and tons of cardio chances are you will just end up skinny. On the opposite end of the spectrum if you just lift weights without any real cardio or proper nutrition you will end up too big and bulky and lack any real definition. Getting this type of Hollywood body takes lots of hard work and the right kind of training but it can be done even if you don’t have the trainers and dieticians at your disposal.

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