Jake Gyllenhaal “Southpaw” Workout: 2,000 Sit-Ups A Day!

The Jake Gyllenhaal “Southpaw” workout transformed his body into a championship boxer. Doing 2,000 sit-ups a day is just one highlight from his boxing workout. Jake decided fully immersing himself into the role was the only way to go. He prepared for Southpaw by committing to an actual boxer’s routine 24/7.

Jake Gyllenhaal Southpaw Workout
Jake Gyllenhaal’s Southpaw workout summary:

  • 2 workouts a day, lasting 5-6 hours total.
  • Boxing, sparring, getting hit in the face by boxers.
  • 2,000 sit-ups a day, 8-mile run, core/weight training.

For Gyllenhaal, the role of Billy “The Great Hope” in Southpaw, meant becoming a real life boxer. To play the part well, it also meant finding the right trainer. Jake reached out to boxing coach Terry Claybon.


The challenge for both Gyllenhaal and his trainer, was to live each day like an actual boxer preparing for a match, in both mind and body, with an upcoming opponent.

Gyllenhaal Southpaw Workout Routine

Jake Gyllenhaal sat down and shared his “Southpaw” workout routine with Bodybuilding’s TRAIN Magazine. In the article, Gyllenhaal explained his daily workout routine:


  • Wake Up
  • Do 1,000 Sit-Ups
  • 8 Mile Run
  • AM: Eat Mostly Carbs
  • (1-2 Hrs) Boxing / Sparring
  • (1 Hr) Core Workout Routine
  • PM: Eat Mostly Protein
  • (1-2 Hrs) Boxing / Cardio
  • (1 Hr) Weightlifting Workout 
  • 1,000 Sit-Ups (Before Bed)


Core Workout

After boxing in the morning, Jake Gyllenhaal told TRAIN Magazine he would do the following bodyweight / core workout:

Pull Ups1100
Arm Walk-Outs1100
Bicycle Crunches1200
One Leg/Arm Plank1100
Deadlift11060 sec

Note: Jake Gyllenhaal would do this workout as a circuit (2-3 times through). He would do each exercise once, then move onto the next. Gyllenhaal would rest for 1 minute only after completion, then perform the circuit routine again.

Core-Workout-Jake-Gyllenhaal(Source: TRAIN Magazine)

Boxing Workout

Jake Gyllenhaal’s boxing workout consisted of all the stuff a boxer would do. He shared his afternoon cardio boxing workout with TRAIN Magazine, saying it consists of rounds of:

  1. Jump Rope
  2. Shadow Boxing
  3. Heavy Bag
  4. Speedball
  5. Double-end Bag Rounds
  6. Focus Pads
  7. Sparring

For the cardio boxing workout, Jake says:

I did timed rounds of each of the following moves, which would gradually increase as I improved. I was sparring up to 8 round by the end of training. I would do six rounds of the heavy bag, 3-4 rounds of speedball and 4-6 rounds of pads.

Jake would do round of anywhere between 2-5 minutes, depending on his priorities for the day. Gyllenhaal would also do sprints, foot drills and box jumps for lower body strength & conditioning.

Boxing Workout Jake Gyllenhaal Southpaw Routine

When interviewed by Extra for his movie, Southpaw, Gyllenhaal explained the commitment, and how long he trained for the role:

that movie was full-on commitment. I hadn’t really boxed a lot in my life…I just knew that the bar was really high. I trained like a boxer. I trained 5 months straight.

He told TRAIN Magazine:

I went into Full training-camp mode. And, I got myself in my mind as actor, in shape to fight.

In addition to the 2 workouts, Jake also made sure to do 1,000 sit-ups every morning when he woke up, and another 1,000 before he went to bed.

Weightlifting Workout

Jake Gyllenhaal’s weightlifting workout was done in the afternoon. Instead of being a circuit workout, the focus here is strength. His trainer would vary the rep range, usually staying between 8-12 reps.

Dips48-1260 sec
Crunches42560 sec
Weighted Pull Ups48-1260 sec
Barbell Squats48-1260 sec
Barbell Deadlift48-1260 sec
DB Shoulder Press48-1260 sec
Walking Lunge48-1260 sec
Dumbbell Shrugs48-1260 sec
Bench Press48-1260 sec

Jake-Gyllenhaal-Weightlifting-Workout-Southpaw-Movie(Source: TRAIN Magazine)

Jake says:

Strength wise it was very compound and bodyweight based. So, there were a lot of dips, pull ups, walking lunges, shrugs, deadlifts, crunches and squats.

Gyllenhaal’s Boxing Mentality

To get the whole mentality of becoming a boxer, Jake reached out to Terry Claybon. Gyllenhaal’s boxing mentality was so serious, he even broke up with his girlfriend.

Jake Gyllenhaal Body Chest

She couldn’t take how focused he was on his role, leaving no time for her. Spending each day as if there was an impending duel with an imaginary opponent, Gyllenhaal’s boxing mentality was clear. He says:

I was sparring and really getting hit. It helped me understand the sacrifice it takes to be a fighter. You can’t play a boxer and just look like a boxer. You have to believe you can exist in that world.

By becoming Billy “The Great Hope,” Jake Gyllenhaal learned much more about boxing than he ever thought he would. Jake was so invested in the role, he wanted to make sure he was doing everything a boxer would.

Jake says:

Southpaw was one hell of a commitment. The whole process was amazing for an actor, to get into the mind and core of this man. I was training twice a day, seven days a week.

After adding in additional afternoon training, director Antoine Fuqua says:

I had him training with me twice a day in the boxing ring. Eventually, he did two-a-days in the ring, 7 days a week.

After 2 months, the workouts got pushed to six hours a day, 3-4 hours of boxing, and 2 hours of strength workouts. The training wasn’t easy either. Antoine Fuqua (the director) says the goal they shared was:

Training like a fighter. I had him sparring, really getting hit. I wanted to put him in situations where you could really see what he was made of.

When asked for details about the mental preparation of boxing for the role, Jake Gyllenhaal says:

Literally training, the skills of boxing, for the body and the mind. Two times a day, just learning the skills. As you learn the skills, that just happens in your mind and in your body.

The Jake Gyllenhaal Southpaw workout required the help of an expert to help guide him toward becoming a boxer. Jake found one in his trainer, When asked who is favorite boxer is, Gyllenhaal stated Miguel Cotto.

The “Southpaw” workout helped Jake get a boxer’s body, as well as, to prepare him mentally for the role of Billy “The Great” Hope in Southpaw.

Insane Abs

Insane abs are the most noticeable part of Jake Gyllenhaal’s body. You can see how ripped his abs are in the movie, Southpaw. The secret to getting Jake Gyllenhaal’s abs is doing 2,000 sit-ups a day. A clean diet is essential, as well.

Jake Gyllenhaal Abs Southpaw

Gyllenhaal says the key to his workout routine comes from approaching everything gradually. By finding what his body was capable of doing, he progressed a bit each day. Eventually, Gyllenhaal was able to work up to those 2,000 sit-ups.

When asked the process, Gyllenhaal’s trainer says:

Gradually we built up, day by day, to 2,000. It takes time to do that.

Jake Gyllenhaal’s Weight Loss

Jake Gyllenhaal’s weight loss was needed for Nightcrawler. This was the movie right before Southpaw, so it was a tough challenge to change weight so quickly. Gyllenhaal had to lose 30 pounds for his role in the movie Nightcrawler.


Gyllenhaal’s normal bodyweight is 180 pounds. So, Jake had to drop to 150 lbs. for Nightcrawler. He lost the weight by running 15 miles a day.

Gyllenhaal Nightcrawler Diet

Gyllenhaal’s Nightcrawler diet was all about eating as few calories as possible. Yoyo-ing from weight loss in one movie, to weight gain in the next, Gyllenhaal has faced tough mental battles over food.

Although the preparation for Nightcrawler was completely different, his will had to be the same. Having a sharp mental focus on what he was eating was the key to Gyllenhaal’s body transformations.

Jake Gyllenhaal’s weight loss came from running and a restrictive calorie diet. To lose 30 pounds, he had to eat as little as possible. His producer told Variety:

On some nights, he wouldn’t eat at all. Or, he’d nibble on a small piece of kale or chicken.

It was after this mental and physical preparation, that he took on the role of Billy Hope in Southpaw.

Jake Gyllenhaal Diet

Jake Gyllenhaal’s diet for Southpaw mirrored his workout by matching carbs/protein with the type of exercise he was doing. When he was boxing, he ate more carbohydrates for energy. Weight lifting meant the need more protein afterwards.

Jake Gyllenhaal Diet

Gyllenhaal opted for slow-burning carbs, like oats, berries and sweet potatoes. Jake told TRAIN Magazine:

My look really came from training in the ring and my diet. Nutritionally, it was 6-7 meals a day, eating every 3 hours or so. Often, it was to add fuel for my next session or to get my energy back up from the previous session.

He goes on to talk about the staples of his diet, saying he had to eat very clean to stay lean:

My diet would consist of lots of eggs, chicken, fish, bananas, almonds, cacao beans, raisins, goji berries, rye bread, pasta, cous cous, potatoes; lots of steamed veg and salad: avocado, tomatoes, broccoli and other dark green leaves.

Asked to boil down his diet in a few words, Gyllenhaal says:

It was a lot of salads, vegetables and lean meat. I would drink plenty of water throughout the day as well…Nothing Fried and everything was as natural as possible.

Post-workout, Gyllenhaal’s diet focused on protein. He realizes the need to get protein into his body after each workout. Otherwise, he runs the risk of losing his hard-earned muscles.

Jake Gyllenhaal would have a protein shake after every workout. When asked about supplements, Gyllenhaal simply says:

In terms of supplements, there was vitamin D3 and Vitamin C, and then there was protein shakes.

Gyllenhaal Weight Gain For Southpaw

For Southpaw, Gyllenhaal had a weight gain goal of 15 pounds. This was right after losing the 30 pounds for Nightcrawler. Weighing in at 150 lbs. before filming, he got up to 165 lbs.

The tough part was having to do it while running 8 miles a day, sparring and hitting punching bags for hours on end. Also, it had to be muscle weight to look the part. Since Jake had to put on muscle, not fat, the transition was tougher.

Jake Gyllenhaal Weight Gain For Southpaw

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Jake Gyllenhaal Southpaw Workout Boxing Routine

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