How Movie Star Alex Pettyfer Built His Magic Mike Physique

Alex Pettyfer and his Magic Physique

Alex Pettyfer

Training to develop one’s physique for a film role can be a tricky business. To achieve the desired physical look, one that enables the accurate and convincing portrayal of a character’s strengths, the actor must first determine the right training approach (often with the assistance of a qualified trainer).

Secondly, he or she, time poor as they will inevitably be, must schedule this approach (encompassing nutrition, rest, and training) in such a way that it does not conflict with any production-related activities. Fortunately for actors whose physiques are on full display for much of a film shoot,

the incentive to achieve the right shape is always there.

Just ask English-born talent Alex Pettyfer, 24, the muscular star of hit movies’ I Am Four, Beastly, and The Butler. Relatively new on the acting scene, Pettyfer has nevertheless captivated audiences with both his talent and good looks.

No more perfectly are the 5’11”, 176 lbs star’s enviable physical attributes on display than in the movie Magic Mike, on which he plays Adam, a 19-year-old aspiring stripper who must prove his worth in the dancing for dollars business.

With the constantly changing schedules


The time-precious environments unique to most film sets, getting in shape and maintaining peak conditioning can pose a massive challenge, even for the most genetically-gifted of actors, Pettyfer included. A lead actor may have scheduled a training session with all meals and rest/recovery considerations arranged to accommodate this session. But shooting does not always run to schedule: a scene may be wrapped early, or run well over time.

In some cases an actor might not make it off the set for an entire day.

However, to maintain the physical development upon which a film’s success may ultimately hinge, this actor must juggle and manipulate their nutrient intake and training load to ensure they peak for each scene. They must also be prepared to restructure an entire week of training sessions should the scheduling of a shoot not go to plan.

Factor in travel and press commitments that must be undertaken during the shooting period and the training process for a physically impressive actor such as Pettyfer can, to vastly understate the case, be a difficult task.

Developing a film-worthy physique the Alex Pettyfer way

Magic Mike

By no means does Pettyfer’s physical development parallel that of big screen action stars like Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Lundgren. Comparatively lanky and lean, Pettyfer’s physical presence is more in the mold of Brad Pitt’s Fight Club metamorphosis; in other words, the kind of physique that most men, if they are honest, would prefer to own.

One that gets maximum female attention!

Broad-shouldered, shredded, proportionate and possessing a tight, well-developed midsection, Pettyfer typically displays a body of work over which female audiences drool and which male fans secretly admire. For earlier roles Pettyfer focused on getting as lean as humanly possible while avoiding the overly-bulked bodybuilder look.

Thus he emphasized endurance-oriented work which included regular Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) sessions incorporating grapping, jiu-jitsu, and intervals, and much plyometric training (where the muscles are required to exert maximum force over short time intervals). Added to the mix was regular strength training sessions utilizing basic movements with a variety of rep ranges and poundage.

Like any good trainee

alex-pettyfer-shirtless-runPettyfer has, of late, sensibly switched his training approach to keep his gains coming. Like any dynamic organism the human body is subject to ongoing adaptation.

As far as training goes, this means that to provoke continued adaptation (i.e. more size to compensate for training-inflicted muscle trauma) the structure of a workout must continually be adjusted to ensure the nervous system and the muscles dependent upon its optimal firing are adequately challenged from session to session.

While excessive workloads with insufficient rest and recovery may result in an over training effect, too little stimulation may lead to suboptimal adaptation, overcompensation, and, ultimately, muscle growth.

Having confessed to previously over-extending his physical capabilities in preparing for film roles,

Magic Mike 3

Pettyfer, for his most recent parts, has sought to strike a better training balance. Such a shift in training focus has resulted in a leaner, less muscular physique, which, for many admirers, has enhanced his onscreen presence and garnered for him a new legion of fans. For Pettyfer, size clearly is not everything. “Working out isn’t just about adding bulk,” he says.

Looking your best is about finding a weight that is balanced for your body, not simply getting enormous.

“They told me I was too big [for the Magic Mike role] so in the end I had to take it back down to 176 lbs.” However, while the rising star may have ‘admitted’ to training too hard and getting too big for 2012’s Magic Mike (he went from 170 lbs to 194 lbs, a radical size departure for the then-22-year-old ectomorph), such progress is what the readers of this article desire most of all.

After all, if Pettyfer, described as a former ‘teenage clotheshorse’, can do it, so can you.

Key training principals

Pettyfer employed to achieve his largest muscular bodyweight included the muscle confusion method whereby the nature of his workouts was changed each day to force growth via constant shock treatment. Sets, reps, lifting tempo, and equipment modifications were constantly manipulated to exponentially facilitate ongoing progress.

In addition to keeping his muscles guessing, Pettyfer also incorporated supersets, and plyometric movements such as cone jumps in addition to assorted dynamic bodyweight circuits which included shadow boxing.

Such high intensity, highly-explosive training protocols allowed Pettyfer to target his fast twitch muscle fibers (for greater growth) while achieving rapid fat loss to reach an unsurpassed level of conditioning.

Here is a typical bare bones workout approach used by Pettyfer to prepare for his most muscular role to date:

Monday: Chest

-Gironda neck press: 5 sets of 10 reps
-Incline dumbbell press: 3 sets of 12 reps
-Narrow grip bench press: 3 sets of 15 reps
-Cable fly (low pulley): 3 sets of 10 reps
-Cable fly (high pulley): 3 sets of 10 reps

Tuesday: Back

-Wide grip chins: 3 sets of 15 reps
-Reverse grip pulldowns: 3 sets of 10 reps
-Seated cable row: 3 sets of 10 reps
-Chin ups (regular grip): 3 sets of 10 reps

Wednesday: Arms and Legs

-Barbell biceps curls: 3 sets of 10 reps
-Squats: 3 sets of 10 reps
-Dips: 3 sets of 10 reps.
-Treadmill running: 20-30 minutes

Thursday: Rest Day

Friday: Shoulders

-Military press: 3 sets of 15 reps
-Seated military press: 3 sets of 15 reps
-Side lateral raise: 3 sets of 10 reps
-Front dumbbell raise: 3 sets of 10 reps

Saturday: Rest Day

Sunday: Cardio


 Celebrities Exercise. Alex Pettyfer Workout. [Online] retrieved on 31.2.14
 Jones, D. Insider Training: Big Arms. A Wanted Man. Men’s Health. August, 2012.
 Super Word Nerd; Expert Fitness, Health and Wellness Tips. Alex Pettyfer Workout and Diet.
 [Online] retrieved on 31.12.14
David Robson

A respected health and fitness writer, David has been published in industry publications such as Status Fitness Magazine, Muscle & Fitness and With 20 years in the personal training trenches, the insights he has gained through practical experience, alongside degrees in psychology and sports science, have enabled him to go beyond the surface to provide educational articles that have informed thousands of health and fitness devotees the world over. Contact David at: and at

Copyright © 2017 ALLMAX NUTRITION INC. All Rights Reserved.


ALLMAX on Facebook  ALLMAX on Twitter  ALLMAX on Instagram  ALLMAX on YouTube  ALLMAX on Pinterest  Google Plus  RSS Feed