Wolverine Workout: How To Get As Jacked As Hugh Jackman

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The Wolverine Workout Wednesday Routine – Rest & Cardio

The Wolverine Workout Wednesday routine is designated as a rest day from lifting. To make up for that, Hugh Jackman spends the morning doing a 90 min low intensity cardio workout. You may still be sore from doing legs the day before.

This rest & cardio day is about recovery and low-intensity, fat burning cardio. Low intensity workouts promote fat burning by keeping your heart rate steady. If you stay around 60-65% of your max heart rate, your body burns fat more than glucose (from food).


While filming The Wolverine (2013), they sometimes had to juggle the schedule and make this a heavy training day. But, it is best to make this your rest day. The reason is because it fits into the carb cycling mentality of the Wolverine diet. Since there’s no heavy lifting, this would be a low carb day for Hugh Jackman.

Wednesday Workout Routine: Rest & Cardio


Wednesday Cardio

For Wednesday cardio, you do 2 cardio sessions. For both cardio sessions, choose from a mix of:

  • Treadmill
  • Elliptical
  • Running/Jogging
  • Spinning
  • Rowing
  • 90 min AM low intensity cardio (don’t exceed 65% of your max heart rate.)
  • PM High Intensity Sled session if you’re able (get in 2 total sessions per week). The sled sessions were done using pushing drills, pulling drills, and reverse pulls. For more details on sled training, see what Hugh Jackman’s trainer says about the cardio workout here. Run hills or incline on a treadmill if you don’t have access to a sled.

Hugh Jackman used rowing, elliptical, and spinning bicycle machines to get his cardio in. His trainer says that you can use a treadmill. Hugh Jackman did not use the treadmill a lot, because they couldn’t risk a high-impact type of injury.

If you don’t have access to a sled at your gym, kettlebell swings are a high-intensity substitute. Sleds are becoming more prevalent, though hard to find, in gyms these days. You can push or pull the sled. Harnesses can also be purchased, if you have no access to a sled. Hugh Jackman’s trainer says:

We vary the sprint durations 10-30 seconds depending on weight (suicides would be longer)…start with sprints of 15-30 seconds with 90 seconds rest first time out. Try and increase each session. This would apply to hill sprints too.

Hugh Jackman says The Wolverine Workout for his recent movie (2013) was the best ever:

I’ve always though, ‘Man I just wish I’d gone a little bit further physically with him.’ I think it’s important for him to be lean, to see veins, to be vascular yet very strong obviously. I’ve always wanted the audience to look at the screen and go, ‘Whoa!” I really thing we’ve done that now and I’m proud of that.

Hugh Jackman and his trainer were invested in challenging themselves every day. Hugh Jackman’s says about The Wolverine workout:

In terms of Wolverine, that body, which is not easily achieved, and I probably am addicted to some kind of climbing Mt. Everest every day, that I kind of like the challenge, but it is important to externalize that internal struggle, that animal versus the human that he embodies.

The Wolverine Workout Thursday Routine – Back & Biceps

The Wolverine Workout Thursday routine starts with a Back & Biceps workout, followed 45 minutes of low-impact cardio on an empty stomach. All workouts are done first thing in the morning, to maximize fat burning. If you’re not working out first thing in the morning, then you want to eat a protein/carbs meals 30 minutes before exercise.


They would start the workout by dynamic stretching and foam rolling of the back & biceps. Hugh Jackman and David Kingsbury would then end each routine with static stretching and more foam rolling of the back & biceps.

Thursday Workout Routine: Back & Biceps

Weighted Pull-Ups45150 secsSee Below:4 Top Exercises
DB Rows41260 secs
Bodyweight Rows41060 secs
Incline DB Curls41060 secs
Zottman Bicep Curls480 secsSupersetSSet #1
Cross Body Curls480 secsSupersetSSet #1
Pronated Curls4860 secsSupersetSSet #1

For each exercise, the rest listed is how much you rest between sets. The only exception is if there is a Superset. With Supersets, you do all exercises listed, and then rest.

Detailed Tutorials of the Thursday workout:

  1. Weighted Pull-Ups (4 sets of 5 in week 1, etc.) Rest: 150 secs between sets.
  2. Dumbbell Rows (4 sets of 12) Rest: 60 secs between sets.
  3. Bodyweight Rows (4 sets of 10) Rest: 60 secs.
  4. Incline Dumbbell Curls (4 sets of 10) Rest: 60 secs.
  5. Zottman Bicep Curls / Cross Body Curls / Pronated Curls Superset (4 sets of 8/8/8) Rest: 60 secs after all three movements.

Thursday Cardio

For Thursday cardio, you do 2 cardio sessions. For both cardio sessions, choose from:

  • Treadmill
  • Elliptical
  • Running/Jogging
  • Spinning
  • Rowing
  • 45 min AM low intensity cardio, PM high intensity interval cardio.
  • (Advanced) 30 min sled session (1-2 total per week). The sled sessions were done using pushing drills, pulling drills, and reverse pulls. Run a hill or use an inline on a treadmill if you don’t have access to a sled.

You perform the AM cardio and workout on an empty stomach. You take BCAA’s pre and during your workout. Only then, when you’re done with both, do you eat breakfast. The key is to do lifting and cardio before the first meal of the day, in order to burn the most fat. The Wolverine Workout cardio uses low-intensity exercise on an empty stomach in order to maximize fat burning. Hugh Jackman’s trainer, David Kingsbury, explains:

Low intensity morning cardio potentially increases the amount of free fatty acids used up as fuel. Since fat is the primary energy source during your sleeping period upon waking you have greater amounts of free fatty acids available.

Kingsbury goes on to say:

As you don’t have to mobilize [the fatty acids] they become easier to oxidize and are easily used up during morning low intensity cardio. The greater availability of free fatty acids can reduce the reliance of glycogen for fuel during low-intensity energy systems work, thus preventing the body using muscle for fuel.

The Wolverine Workout Friday Routine – Chest & Arms

The Wolverine Workout Friday routine starts with a Chest & Arms workout, followed by 45 minutes of low-impact cardio on an empty stomach.


Friday Workout Routine: Chest & Arms

Incl Bench Press46150 secsDrop Set6 sets
DB Press #1460 secs Steepsee video of
DB Press #2460 secs InclineDB Press #1
DB Press #34660 secs Flatfor example
Cable Flys41060 secs
Narrow Grip BP41060 secs
Triceps Pdowns480 secsSupersetSSet #1
Dips480 secsSupersetSSet #1
Diamond Grips4860 secsSupersetSSet #1
  1. Incline Bench Press (4 sets of 6 + 6 Drop reps) Rest: 150 secs between sets (Drop sets mean do 6 reps, then grab lighter weights and do 6 more with a weight where you can barely do 6 more reps. As you do more sets, you will often have to go lighter each set. Rest when all the drop sets are complete)
  2. Incline Dumbbell Press Supersets (4 sets of 6 at 3 different degrees of motion) Steep Incline/Standard Incline/Flat Bench. Rest: 60 secs after all 3 Supersets.
  3. Cable Flys (4 sets of 10) Rest: 60 secs between sets.
  4. Narrow Grip Bench Press (4 sets of 10) Rest: 60 secs between sets.
  5. Triceps Pushdowns (4 sets of 8) Superset with next two exercises.
  6. Dips (4 sets of 8) Superset with Pushdowns (above) and Pushups (below).
  7. Diamond Grip Pushups (4 sets of 8) Rest: 60 secs after Superset of these 3 exercises.

So, you do exercises 6-8 as a Superset: 4 sets of 8 of each exercise, 1 set of each, then rest for 60 seconds before you do it again.

Friday Cardio

For Friday cardio, Hugh Jackman does 2 cardio sessions. For both cardio sessions, choose from:

  • Treadmill
  • Elliptical
  • Running/Jogging
  • Spinning
  • Rowing
  • 45 min AM low intensity cardio, PM high intensity interval cardio.
  • (Advanced) 30 min sled session (1-2 total per week). The sled sessions were done using pushing drills, pulling drills, and reverse pulls. If you don’t have access to a sled, use a steep incline on a hill or treadmill.


Here’s a video that help explain the science behind The Wolverine workout. He talks about why it is beneficial to do cardio in the morning, on an empty stomach:

Hugh Jackman says about playing the Wolverine:

It’s sort of important theme in the character and the story, the control versus chaos, and having that, I think, very lean, muscular body with veins. It’s not pretty or, ‘Hey, cool, it looks like he goes to the gym,’ but more worrying. I think that says a lot, particularly a character who doesn’t actually speak a lot.

The Wolverine Workout Saturday Routine – Core/Legs

The Wolverine Workout Saturday routine is a Core/Legs workout. Although the Wolverine Workout seems intensive, you can get it all done. Usually, you start the day with early morning weights and cardio on an empty stomach.

Saturday is the lone exception. No need to do cardio in the morning. Just weights and cardio in the afternoon. (Sunday is complete rest / B2 diet). There’s no specific day to skip morning cardio, but Saturday is a good day to sleep in. It makes the diet easier to follow. Just make sure you get 3x low-intensity sessions per week. Feel free to do more, but The Wolverine workout just does 3x low-intensity sessions per week.

Saturday Workout Routine: Core/Legs

Deadlifts45150 secsSee Below:4 Top Exercises
Romanian Deadlifts41060 secs
Zercher Squats41260 secs
Incline Sit-Ups41060 secs
Barbell Landmines31060 secs
  1. Deadlifts (4 sets of 5 in week 1, etc.) Rest: 150 secs between sets.
  2. Romanian Deadlifts (4 sets of 10) Rest: 60 seconds between sets.
  3. Zercher Squats (4 sets of 12) Rest: 60 seconds.
  4. Weighted Incline Sit-Ups (4 sets of 10) Rest: 60 seconds.
  5. Barbell Landmines (4 sets of 20 – 10 each side) Rest: 60 seconds.

hugh jackman workout deadlift exercise Saturday Cardio

For Saturday cardio, Hugh Jackman started out by doing one HIIT workout during the day. As he got more advanced, his trainer added a 2nd cardio workout later in the day. Refer to the Monday workout for more of your options here.

  • High Intensity Interval cardio.
  • (Advanced) sled, rowing, or spinning (bike) session (1-2 sessions per week).

What’s Your Target Heart Rate?

What’s your target heart rate? It’s important to know this when doing empty stomach, early morning cardio. The Wolverine’s low-intensity, fat burning workout uses a target heart rate of 60-65% max. This keeps Hugh Jackman in the fat burning zone. Increasing his heart rate would lower fat burning, and increase glycogen utilization.

Follow this formula to find your target heart rate (65%) for low intensity, fat burning cardio in the morning:

65% Intensity = (220-(your age)) x .65 = Target Heart Rate (THR)

So, if you’re 30 = (220-30) = 190 x.65 = 124 Target Heart Rate (THR) for low intensity, fat burning.

The Wolverine: 4 Top Exercises

The Wolverine workout involved doing 4 top exercises for pure strength. Research shows that when you use the 3-6 rep range at heavy weight, you build an optimal amount of strength. David Kingsbury, The Wolverine’s trainer, would have Hugh Jackman start each day with one pure strength exercise. After that, the rest of the workout would included higher reps to build muscle/size.

Kingsbury used a percentage system to figure out what weight to lift. This applies only to the 4 top exercises: (Bench Press, Squat, Weighted Pullups, and Deadlifts). The Wolverine Workout For The Wolverine was split into 4 week increments. Although a lot of this may look complex or confusing, the key is to start each workout by lifting heavy for optimal strength. Then, you spend the rest of the workout focused on muscle building (higher reps).


For the first 3 weeks, Hugh Jackman would do less reps, but more weight. In the 4th week, Hugh Jackman’s trainer lowered the weight, and increased the reps up to 10. Kingsbury would find out what Hugh Jackman’s max for each exercise. Then, they would perform sets at different percentages of that max.

The Wolverine’s trainer says that it is important to find what your working max is. Your working max = 95% of what your 1 rep max for an exercise is. You can use a calculator to find how much weight of your working max to do:

Lifting for Week 1: (Bench Press, Squat, Weighted Pullups, and Deadlifts only)

  • 5 reps @ 60% of working max
  • 5 reps @ 65% of working max
  • 5 reps @ 75% of working max
  • 5 reps @ 75% of working max

Lifting for Week 2: (Bench Press, Squat, Weighted Pullups, and Deadlifts only)

  • 4 reps @ 60% of working max
  • 4 reps @ 75% of working max
  • 4 reps @ 85% of working max
  • 4 reps @ 85% of working max

Lifting for Week 3: (Bench Press, Squat, Weighted Pullups, and Deadlifts only)

  • 3 reps @ 70% of working max
  • 3 reps @ 80% of working max
  • 3 reps @ 90% of working max
  • 3 reps @ 90% of working max

Lifting for Week 4: (Bench Press, Squat, Weighted Pullups, and Deadlifts only)

  • 10 reps @ 40% of working max
  • 10 reps @ 50% of working max
  • 10 reps @ 60% of working max
  • 10 reps @ 60% of working max

The 4 top exercises were the core exercises behind the Wolverine Workout. It’s just the first exercise of each workout that you use the routine above. Each week Hugh Jackman would go down in reps and up in weight. Then, in the 4th week he would jump back up to 10 reps. This increase to 10 reps was to focus on increasing muscle size.

After 4 weeks, the goal is to increase your working max for these 4 exercises by 5-10% each month. Reps for exercises other than these 4 is to stay in the 6-10 rep range. This is a rep range that focuses on muscular growth, size and fat burning. For these other exercises, increase the weight as you can over time.

It’s time to learn about the Wolverine Diet and Supplements:

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  1. With all of these celebrity workouts, would it be safe or beneficial to do a hybrid of them all? Like do the Thor shoulder workout for monday, the Rock’s chest routine for Tuesday etc. etc. Something along those lines

    • Yes, you can. It’s all about having fun, but training hard. There are things you can pick up from each workout. On the flip side, if you find a workout that matches your goals, then you may want to stick to that for a few months and see how it works out.

      I tend to stick to The Rock’s workouts, but do lifting first as detailed in The Wolverine workout. I like the Wolverine diet, but sometimes The Rock’s as well. I also do a lot of kettlebell swings for cardio, because they’re really fun (use proper form). That’s something I picked up from the Thor workout.

      • Awesome! Thanks for the advice, I’m really looking forward to tackling these workouts!

    • Here’s The Wolverine supplement guide:

      BCAA’s (5-10g in the morning)
      Animal Pump
      Animal Pack (1 per day with any meal)

      The labels will guide you on proper use.

  2. Hey, I noticed that you listed PM Interval cardio for 45 min. Isn’t that a bit long for interval training? Is it combined with low intensity? Thanks for any info!

    • Good catch. I’ll fix that. Interval cardio should only take 15-20 minutes at the most, including warmup. A few examples are included in the workout. Sprinting on a treadmill is usually a 3 minute warmup, 12-15 minutes of 1 minute sprinting/1 minute slow pace, and a cool down.

  3. Hey Chris,

    Are you going to do a Captain America Workout? or is there not enough information to do a workout article on?

  4. Hi, how do you fit in 2 lunch and 2 dinners in an 8-hour window for feeding? Because that could get you to feel bloated or you might get indigestion?

    Also, how do I apply this intermittent fasting when I do my workout during the afternoon or evening?


    • Training for The Wolverine, Hugh Jackman had to eat a lot. It’s fine to cut out 1-2 of the meals if you don’t have a 4500 calorie count. If you do, then remember that the fasting will cut down on the possible bloating/indigestion. Also, Jackman’s trainer uses a 15-9 (9 hour feeding) on training days, and a 17-7 (7 hour feeding) on non-training, lower calorie days. You’re right, it can be difficult to fit all those meals in. But, at least you do have 9 hours to eat on those training days.

      For intermittent fasting, just make sure that your window coincides with your workout. The MAJOR difference is that you have to switch the meals, so that carb intake is highest during the workout part of your day. So, if you workout in the afternoon, eat the high-carb meals pre and post workout. If you work out at night, flip the meal plan entirely on it’s head. This way, you’re eating carbs when you’re working out. That’s the most important step.

    • Sure! The major consideration would be diet. You may not want to do intermittent fasting. You could try the fasting, but it would likely lead to muscular breakdown. Instead, you would want to eat 5-6 times a day to keep your muscles fed.

        • Morning workouts are where you focus on slow and steady (60-65% of max heart rate) cardio. You don’t have any glycogen in your body (empty stomach), so your body will burn fat. The idea is that the most fat burning comes from cardio done on an empty stomach.

          Doing this type of cardio works best in the morning, before you’ve had anything to eat. Once you’ve eaten, then HIIT cardio workouts are better for fat burning.

          Afternoon workouts are done 30 minutes after eating. You have glycogen running through your veins. The idea is to use a HIIT workout to burn these calories as quickly as possible, so that your body returns to a fat burning state.

  5. After these four weeks what can be done to keep the defined body?
    Thank you and congratulations for your great work.

    • Hi,

      After the 1st 4 weeks, the plan is to go through it again. Every month, you aim to get 5-10% stronger on the main lifts. For the other exercises, you can try to go up 5-10%, or just gradually increase strength over time. The Wolverine trainer’s advice:

      The goal is to increase your working max for the top 4 exercises by 5-10% each month. Reps for exercises other than these 4 stay in the 6-10 rep range. This is a rep range that focuses on muscular growth, size and fat burning. For these other exercises, increase the weight as you can over time.

  6. Any substitute for the Multi angle Incline Dumbell Press because the gym that i am going doesnt have that type of adjustable bench

    • Ale,

      Using a Stability Ball and Dumbbells will also do the trick. That’s the best substitute I can think of. Stability Balls are used by many top trainers because research shows using one increases the amount of muscles you use. Otherwise, skip the multi-angle Incline Dumbbell Press, and only do what is safe.

  7. Do you go lower calorie on days where you work out less? You mention carbs, but no mention of calories.

    • Hi,

      Yes, you go high carbs on big days. Then, you go lower carbs on low energy days. This carb cycling helps with your metabolism. It trains your body to use food for energy on big days.

      A quote from Hugh Jackman (page 4) states that he eats 3500-4000 calories on an average energy day. He also reduces his caloric intake if he’s in a slimming down phase (like before a shoot). Remember to use an online calculator (or the Harris Benedict scale) to find what’s right for you.

  8. Hi i want to know something Chris Davis , for his diet he eat 6 full eggs or 6 eggs white ? Because 6 full eggs it maybe too much ? Thank you :)

    • When bulking at (4000-4500kcal), he would eat 6 whole eggs. The reason is that the fat in whole eggs has the cholesterol that you need to produce testosterone. Testosterone, of course, helps your muscles to get bigger by promoting natural human growth hormone to occur, etc.

      Hugh Jackman's trainer is big on eating healthy fats, especially on rest days. Even though we've been conditioned to think fat=bad, it's actually an important part of getting bigger. When in the leaning phase, to get ready for filming (3000kcal), it's likely Hugh may have just had egg whites some of the time. When cutting, fats are one of the first things to go.

        • It's important to get your cholesterol checked with your doctor. However, cholesterol has gotten more bad press than it deserves. If you're cholesterol conscious, then opt for eggs sourced from chickens that are eating a quality diet. Cholesterol is an important building block for your body. If you're looking to get bigger, like Hugh Jackman, you require some cholesterol, which your body needs to produce testosterone.

  9. Hi..Chris. My body is medium skinny.I going in gym last 1month.I want make my body muscular but I don’t want too big then how to achive this and how much time rest between sets
    Thank you

    • When lifting heavy, try to rest 30-1 min between sets. If you’re doing supersets, don’t rest until you’ve finished them all. However, if you’re lifting lighter then don’t rest between sets unless you need to. The key to getting more muscular stems from eating protein/carbs before and after every workout session.

      It sounds like you’re looking to burn fat while lifting. For this, you want to increase reps and decrease rest. Ideally, you’ll be doing 2-3 exercises as a superset. Then, rest 15-30 seconds as needed. Check out the Joe Manganiello Workouts for more on this, and let me know if you need anything.

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