Christian Bale takes his roles very seriously, as can be heard on the tape of his famous rant on the set of one of his movies. As a part of the serious nature of his craft, Bale will often have to undergo serious physical changes to get into the role of a character. In the Batman movies, he bulked up to a more muscular weight in order to play the superhero. What is interesting is that before the first Batman movie he had a role in The Machinist that required him to get down to a dangerously low weight and he then had to pack a ton of mass on for the role of Bruce Wayne. In 2000, Bale starred as Patrick Bateman, in the movie American Psycho. American Psycho was a novel by the writer Bret Easton Ellis about a wealthy serial killer. In that film, Bale had a physique that was quite impressive, though smaller than he had to be in the later Batman movies. To get a body like Christian Bale in American Psycho, it takes plenty of work but following the right workout routine and diet it is very doable.
Hollywood actors when preparing for a role have all of the advantages at their disposal. First, they have the time to train hard and recover. They have access to fantastic trainers and they also can eat whatever food is prepared for them by a chef. While yes, that is the ideal training circumstances, most of us don’t have that luxury so it will take a bit longer and a bit more dedication to get the Patrick Bateman look than it did for Mr. Bale. So how can we get an American Psycho physique?
The absolute most important aspect of changing your body whether you are trying to shed extra far or pack on muscle mass is diet. Exercise alone will produce some results, especially if you currently don’t do any, BUT your results in the medium to long run will suffer. Simply put, if you’re diet isn’t on point you will not achieve the body you want. Especially, not one like Mr. Bale’s.
If you’re like me, you’ve been bombarded by so many different crazy diet ideas and various do’s and don’ts of getting into shape, that it just gets confusing. What I eventually started doing and what got me the best results, was to break things down to the basics. I came to understand that I didn’t always have to eat perfect but I did have to change the way I ate. Here is a cool video from trainer Rusty Moore on changing the way you think about calories to lose weight:
Like I said above, I like to keep my diet basic and simply alter certain things to help meet my goals. If I want to gain muscle, I add more calories (slowly) and more protein to my daily intake. If I want to lose fat, I will cut calories (again, slowly, by a few hundred each week and adjust as needed) and I will also cycle my carbohydrates.
There have been a lot of advocates over the years for following a strictly low carb diet to get into shape or lose fat fast. You can shed a lot of weight going low carb and it’s a method bodybuilders use to ‘cut’ before contests (very special cirumstances) Going low carb does produce results, however, it does have some drawbacks that I absolutely hated when I tried this method:
- Completely tired for the first week and feel hungry because of the lack of carbs.
- Ended up losing too much muscle mass.
- The weight came back fast as soon as I stopped.
- Looked skinny and flat, not muscular and ripped.
Not cool, right?
Experimenting with low carb diets did however lead me to the idea of carb cycling for fat loss. Essentially, on certain days you eat more carbs and on other days you go low carb. For me, the best method was to go higher carbohydrates on workout days and low carb on my two rest days each week. That way, I could match my carbohydrates to my activity level and have all the energy I needed to get through the tough workouts.
I laid my complete diet out in this post, with sample meal plans for both high carb and low carb days.
Keep it basic, basic, basic! Here are the simple diet rules I follow any time I need to burn fat:
-No Fast food or sweets
-On low carb days substitute grains for greens. Also, bump up the protein and fat intake.
-Stay away from liquid calories. Water and skim milk (on high carb days for protein shakes) are what I will be drinking.
-Stay away from heavily processed foods
That’s it. Pretty simple stuff. Those rules alone gets the ball rolling and from there I only need to adjust certain things, if I feel my results are getting stagnant. Diet doesn’t have to be a miserable experience!
How you will train depends on your current physique. There are at the most basic level, two paths you can follow, bulking (gaining muscle mass) or cutting (losing fat).
If you’re currently skinny: You should put on muscle mass and then cut down the bit of fat you will gain. More weight lifting, less cardio, More calories.
If you’re currently overweight: You should work on shedding that fat. Of course, you would still lift weights and gain muscle (to some extent) but ramp up the cardio and change the diet.
Weight training is essential for building muscle, if you just do cardiovascular workouts, you will lose fat but just up being skinny. Remember, in American Psycho, Christian Bale had a muscular foundation and a low body fat percentage.
I like to do 3-5 days per week of weight training. Scheduling each muscle group to ensure the maximum amount of rest and recovery. Remember, that more isn’t always better, your muscles need to rest in order to grow.
Here are some great resources for weight lifting:
When you have a significant amount of fat to lose, diet is a major factor in trimming down. Sometimes, though, diet isn’t enough and cardio exercise is needed to get really sharp. It can take a lot of experimentation to figure out what kind of cardio works best for fat loss.
Some people advocate doing slow, steady-state cardio exercise. This would be walking on the treadmill for an hour. Or doing 30 minutes on an elliptical machine at a moderate pace. Is it good for fat loss? Sure. Is it optimal? Well, not every day.
Other people swear by doing high intensity interval training (HIIT). I’ve had success with this method as well but it wasn’t always enough to completely shed all the fat for me.
Nowadays, my cardio workouts come from three options:
2. Gym Cardio
3. Home Workouts
I have to admit, basketball is my favorite of the bunch but it is hell on the joints. Now, you might be asking isn’t gym cardio, just a treadmill? Well, yes, a treadmill and any other piece of gym equipment you prefer (I like the elliptical and exercise bike, myself). The difference is the specific program I use to help melt the fat off of my body as quickly as possible. When I don’t have access to a gym, I use another program for my workout purposes that I have found to be completely effective as well. Just two different methods depending on what equipment I have at my disposal.
The Best Cardio Workout Plan for the Gym
Rusty Moore (the guy from the video I posted above), has an awesome cardio workout program called, Visual Impact Cardio. It is designed to teach people how to ‘master the skill of losing body fat’. It’s a pretty neat skill to have as well. Included in the ebook are three separate programs for beginners, advanced, and one for special occasions when you really want to be ripped (beach trips, photo shoots).
In this program, you get to use whatever piece of cardio equipment you prefer, the difference is Rusty lays out specifically how long, how intense, and what to do differently in each workout. Let me tell you, it can get pretty damned intense at times. I have reviewed the program here but I’ll give you the benefits in bullet points:
- No more guess work. Specific workouts you can tailor to your own fitness level.
- Intense workout to help build stamina and endurance.
- 3 separate, 8 week cycles, which can be repeated and modified as you get stronger.
- The reasoning behind everything is explained in simple, easy to understand terms.
- Can be downloaded instantly, you start right away.
- Fairly inexpensive at $47. Hell, that’s about what it costs for one measly session with many personal trainers.
Best at Home Cardio Workout
I own Insanity: The Asylum from Beachbody and actually just got done with a workout prior to writing this post (Vertical Plyo is no joke). Asylum is more than a mere cardio workout and is best suited for those with a solid workout experience. Beginners would best be served by the original Insanity.
Asylum is an athletic training program that includes jumping, cardio, speed, agility, and strength training. Quite frankily, it’s a great overall workout program. I just happen to mostly use it as an extra cardio resource since I like to lift at the gym on most days. However, if you’re the type who like to workout at home, Asylum is worth a look. Here are some of the benefits:
- Step by step instruction and motivation from Shaun T.
- Program is laid out and easy to follow.
- Challenging and can be really fun once you’re into it.
- Save a bunch of money versus a gym membership each month.
- Minimal equipment needed. Dumbbells or resistance bands is it. Everything else is included.
Getting a body like Christian Bale in American Psycho is most definitely a challenge for the average guy. However, if you have a plan of attack and focus on diet, weights, and cardio, the results will come. Adjust things as progression occurs and keep challenging your body in different ways. There are plenty of resources available online to help guide you along but having a plan laid out can save you a lot of time, energy, and lackluster results towards getting the body you want. Whatever path you choose, learn to be consistent and not give up after a few weeks. Results in fitness are mostly about sticking with it over time, you don’t have to be perfect and you shouldn’t expect to be but you can most certainly. keep at it.