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Paul Bettany calls himself a 'beer and bread man' who didn't exactly have the kind of body he needed to portray Michael, the chiselled archangel who tries to save humanity in Legion. The 6'3", 38-year-old Brit began his transformation by cutting his food intake to small lean meals, such as chicken and steamed vegetables, every four hours. He then enlisted New York City trainer Mike Hood to help build a body worthy of a superhero.
For maximum results in minimal time, Hood started Bettany with five days of interval circuit training every week. Because Bettany's abs were going to be on show a lot during the movie, each workout began with several core exercises, then moved on to a three-round circuit. 'The idea was to blast his body to get a lean, ripped look. His heart rate was elevated throughout the workout, he was never sitting around.'
Q+A with Paul Bettany
What was your fitness routine like before you started training for Legion?
I was a beer and bread man, so it was abig adjustment. Motivation wasn't a concern – I have a extreme workethic. If someone pays me a lot of money to build asuperhero's body, I'll do everything in my power to get that look.
Did the physical transformation help you get in the right frame of mind to play such a self-assured character?
Absolutely. Everyone that does weight training knows that you stand differently after you do back and shoulder work. I feel much stronger and more aligned after working out. I'm very lucky to have Mike Hood as a trainer. He's really a great motivatorbecause he's fucking funny – he'll keep you laughing through your workout.
You had to quickly gain 40 pounds for your next film – the Darwin biography Creation. In someways it must have been enjoyable because you could eat like a realperson, but how hard was it to see your hard-won body disappear?
Eatingwhatever I wanted all day long was fantastic for the first couple of weeks, but then it became a fucking slog to stuff myself allthe time. I had to do it though – Darwin couldn't look he'd hit the fucking gym.
If you want to build a body like Bettany in Legion, use Hood's programme on the right. Start with Workout A – core exercises, then do Workout B – circuit training.
One session should break down as follows:
Workout B (round 1)
Workout B (round 2)
Workout B (round 3)
When doing Workout A, take as little rest as possible between exercises. Once you've completed that, move straight onto Workout B, doing 15 reps of each exercise. Skip for two minutes between the three rounds of Workout B to keep your heart rate elevated throughout the workout. Initially, use light weights to ensure you make it through the entire workout.
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