I remember going to see Fight Club in theaters, and being not only blown away by the message but also getting jealous of Brad Pitt’s body. The guy looked both strong and sexy, and listening to girls at school go on about him convinced me that was the body to have. Naturally, that left me curious what the Brad Pitt workout was…and having checked it out, there are both some good and bad aspects to it.
As is often the case with celebrity workouts, Pitt’s approach is only going to work if you are already lean, and most likely will have to get even leaner. In his Fight Club days, Pitt was at around 6% body fat, which is the same level that competitive body builders reach for events. To give some perspective, most guys will show six-pack abs with around 10% body fat, and your “average” young adult male is anywhere from 14 to 24%. So, if you are not already in six pack abs territory, you should start working on that before radically changing your exercise.
Now then, when Pitt was training for Fight Club he followed a fairly standard split strength training routine. This is where you focus on a single muscle group each day, rotating to different ones throughout the week. This works because of how the body builds muscle: you break them down on workout days, then they respond by building up on the rest cycle. The alternation of working different muscle groups on different days gives each group time to recover and grow between sessions.
For the actual workouts, Pitt followed the same template: his goal was 3 sets of each exercise, and each set aimed for 15 reps of proper form when using weights, and as many reps as possible when using bodyweight. He would then rest for 60 seconds after each set.
Here are the exercises per day…
a. 3 sets of 75 pushups
b. 3 sets of benchpress, with first 25 reps of 165lb, then 15 reps of 195lb, and then 8 reps of 225lb
c. 3 sets of nautilus press, using first 80lb, then 100lb, and lastly 130lb
d. 3 sets of incline press with the same weight progression as nautilus press (80lb, then 100lb, then 130lb)
e. 3 sets on the pec deck machine, using 60lb then 70lb and finally 80lb
a. 3 sets of 25 pull-ups
b. 3 sets of seated rows, using 75lb, 80lb, and 85lb
c. 3 lat pull down sets of 135lb/150lb/165lb
d. 3 t-bar rows, using 80lb/95lb/110lb
a. 3 sets of arnold press using 55lb for each
b. 3 sets of lateral raises using 30lb for each
c. 3 sets of front raises with 25lb for each
a. 3 sets on the preacher curl machine using 60lb/80lb/95lb
b. 3 sets of EZ cable curls using 50lb/65lb/80lb
c. 3 sets of hammer curls using 30lb/45lb/55lb
d. 3 sets of push-downs using 70lb/85lb/100lb
Friday and Saturday: Static cardio sessions on a treadmill, maintaining 80 to 90% of maximum heart rate throughout.
What is interesting about Pitt’s training is not so much the workout–which, honestly, is quite conventional–but the dramatic effect that it had. His physique has been the envy of most men, yet he followed a less intense program that most of them. That is because this particular system played well to Pitt’s natural strengths: he was already quite lean and in good shape, so to make him work for Fight Club he effectively needed a little more leaning up and only minor bulking to get in such amazing shape.
The thinner you are, the more your existing muscles pop out. In Pitt’s case, adding a little bulk and getting to super-low leanness was all it took to look the part of a serious street fighter. This is not to take away from Pitt’s discipline to get in such great shape–it is no easy task to get that lean and to keep working out this consistently–but rather, he could have likely gotten in equally great shape with most any exercise program once his body fat level was so low.
For the Brad Pitt workout to help you, first address the leanness issue. If you are not already in the <=10% body fat club, you will have better results following a program using HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and other metcon tactics, and will need to aggressively work on your diet. Using something like intermittent fasting, or adhering to the Paleo diet may be needed to get you into the same levels of leanness where you can build up the same bulk. After that, the split set strength training outlined here will certainly work, though at that point most any consistent bodybuilding technique will work.
Check out the Hollywood Fitness Guide to learn how to get yourself in Brad Pitt shape: it goes over just what it takes to slim yourself down to that <10% body fat level and build up the right kind of muscles to pull off the celebrity look