Mark Wahlberg is an actor who has always been particularly well-known for his physique. Starting from his time as a model in advertisements for Calvin Klein back in the early 90s through his role as boxer Mickey Ward in the movie The Fighter, Mark’s body has changed several times in order to fit the role. In the upcoming film Pain & Gain, Mark plays a bodybuilder alongside his co-star, The Rock. Once again, Mark has had to change his body, this time putting on roughly 40 pounds to pass as a bodybuilder. Mind you this was not 40 pounds of pure muscle, water weight and some fat gain definitely contributed to the reading on the scale. Each of these physiques has required a different type of training and diet to accomplish. His modeling days required a muscular yet lean physique that really demonstrated definition over size. For his role in The Fighter he obviously had to train like a boxer, lift at least a few times per week, and do plenty of cardio which often means playing basketball if you’re Mark Wahlberg. The workout Mark used in Pain & Gain had to be different from any other role he’s had to do before. Gaining mass was a priority and doing so required plenty of time in the weight room and eating as much as possible. Sounds fun right? So, how do you get a body like Mark Wahlberg in Pain & Gain? Here’s how I would do it.
1. Formulate a Plan of Attack
Putting on significant amounts of muscle mass means hitting the weight room hard. While a total body circuit training program can be cool to get into shape, if you want to look like a bodybuilder than you had better workout like a bodybuilder. The first thing that I would do is to determine what my workout split would look like. I think that a 3-day split would work best initially for me, that is taking three days to work the entire body (Day 1: Chest/back, Day 2: Legs, Day 3: Arms/Shoulders). How this would break down depends on whether I want to give abs their own training day to work out or if I would simply incorporate them into one of the other routines. To save time I would put abs at the start of two or three of my workouts per week.
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Starting a heavy lifting routine is very taxing on the body which is why I would initially ease into it by keeping the number of workouts per week to a maximum of four. This would give me plenty of time to recover and deal with the muscle soreness of the first few weeks or so. As I moved along in my training I may add an extra day or two as my body adjusted to this type of workout. Eventually I may even do two lifting sessions a day for two out of the four workout days per week doing something like chest/back in the AM and after 6-8 hours of rest and feeding hit the legs in the PM.
Another important thing to consider for this type of transformation is the time frame in which I would have to get the Mark Wahlberg look. He had significantly less time to do this type of workout in, probably two or three months. However, he also has the advantage of time, supplements, trainers or anything else to achieve maximum gains in minimum time. Realistically, I could add a half a pound to a pound of muscle tissue per week if I had everything else in order. Sure, I could gain plenty more weight in this time but it wouldn’t be solid muscle. If the goal was to look big and cut in time for beach season I would start this program around November or December, giving myself 5-6 months of solid training to gain lots of muscle before implementing a cutting cycle.
As far as what type of exercises that I would do in order to achieve a Pain & Gain type physique, I believe I would blend heavier lifts like bench press, squats, and t-bar rows with machine movements such as lat pulldowns and chest flys. Olympic lifts are a great way to build mass and add strength but without proper training on how to execute them injury risk is fairly high. Add to the fact that I have a bad shoulder I think the only one that I would incorporate is the squats to really help pack on the density in my thighs.
The volume, amount of weight used, and the rep scheme would vary over the length of the transformation. One week could see something in the lower range of repetitions, so something like a 5×5 training with heavier weight while the next week could see reps increase into the 12-15 range with lower weights, just to switch things up. Again, this is something that I would have to work out and tailor to my body’s needs as the process went along.
2. Consider the Dietary Needs
In order to bulk up, eating in a necessity, in fact rumor has it that Wahlberg ate as many as 10 times per day in preparation for his role in Pain & Gain. Nobody said putting on muscle was easy and while it sounds great getting to eat constantly it quickly gets old and fairly expensive to do. Ten times a day is a bit much for our purposes so 5-6 meals would be more to my liking. While taking your maintenance caloric intake down by about 500 calories is good during a cutting cycle, I would take the opposite tack to get bulked up and initially add 500 calories per day instead.
When I write about eating more this doesn’t mean eating everything. Junk food is off limits but that doesn’t mean I would go low carb or anything like that either. I would try to consume lots of protein from the usual suspects (chicken, fish, eggs, lean beef, turkey, etc.) and would add 2 or 3 protein shakes per day to my diet. Carbohydrates are actually very important when trying to gain mass as well so I would eat lots of oats and brown rice and other carbs that aren’t heavily processed. It is hard to give a specific plan for eating because I would want to see how my body responds to the extra calories and how much gets stored as fat. I would want to do a ‘clean’ bulk and try to minimize the amount of fat that I would accumulate while stacking on as much lean muscle mass as I could. If you want to achieve a leaner or more ripped physique the calories may have to come down a bit in favor of getting even bigger but the muscle gains would still be there, just perhaps not as large.
For supplements, I generally take a multi-vitamin, fish oil, and whey protein powder. For a bulking routine I would cycle with creatine, taking it pre and post workout while also adding some type of BCAA recovery formula to help reduce muscle fatigue and soreness so that I could get back to work as soon as possible.
Here is a sample video of Mark’s Workout Routine:
A Mark Wahlberg Pain & Gain workout would require you to add lots of muscle mass while not putting on much fat. Going hard in the weight room is definitely important but if you don’t eat you won’t grow and what you eat will help determine if you are a muscular fat guy or look like Mark Wahlberg with a bodybuilder’s physique. While this site is about achieving a body type more along the lines of his days as a Calvin Klein model and I don’t plan on doing any serious bulking in the near future it is fun for me to think about what kind of work it would entail and how I would get there. Wahlberg has definitely shown time and time again that he has the dedication to morph his body into whatever kind of shape he wants this new workout routine and diet plan he did for Pain & Gain seems to be the most interesting of all.