Do It Like Dolph: “Sometimes you force yourself to do too much.”
“I’ve fought some big guys. It has to do with size. In a movie I did called I Come In Peace in 1990, there was this East German Olympic athlete who plays an alien, and he was 7ft tall and weighed nearly 300 pounds…he could just pick you up and toss you somewhere!”
In this wide-ranging interview, Dolph Lundgren describes his daily workout routine and the diet he adheres to in order to maintain his place at the top of Hollywood’s roster of action heroes. Drawing on a 30-year career in the cinema industry going toe-to-toe with the likes of Stallone and Schwarzenegger – not to mention his preceding time as a champion martial artist – Lundgren’s knowledge of fitness is rarely surpassed.
He might be nearing a milestone birthday, but Scandinavian strongman Dolph Lundgren isn’t about to head into a quiet retirement. The hulking star can boast of a career containing three decades’ worth of the industry’s most explosive action movies, and once reigned supreme as a European karate champion.
As he gears up to star alongside fellow Hollywood heavyweight Jean Van Damme in 2018’s Black Water, Lundgren’s insatiable drive has kept him hungry both in and out of the gym – and the Swede is all too happy to share the secrets of how he maintains his imposing physique despite nearing his sixtieth.
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So what do you eat to maintain and build your muscle mass? What’s your big secret?
There’s no big secret, but I can tell you what I do and what works for me. I have this cool juicer which instead of spinning the fruit and vegetables, presses them. I use that every morning first thing, and I’ll have celery, kale, parsley, mint, pepper, ginger and green apple, and it’s like a jolt.
Then for breakfast I’ll have some eggs and egg whites. Then lunch is lighter, with some protein like tuna salad or turkey. If you eat too many carbs midday you get a bit tired. Then at night it depends; I can eat more carbs or chicken and rice, or chicken and potatoes. If I’ve been training a lot I’ll just have protein. So I keep some sort of healthy diet, but I eat desert and I drink alcohol if I feel like it. I’m not on some super-strict diet all the time, because if you do that, your body shuts down.
Now you’re in your 50s, how do you keep training but stay injury-free as you get older? Got any tips for us?
That’s a tough one! You need your sleep and nutrition – that’s why I don’t go on super-strict diets as you’ll get injuries that way. I do body work – so once, twice a week I’ll have physiotherapy or a massage. And I avoid all the peak performance stuff. So I won’t say, ‘Let’s see how much you can bench!’ Or ‘How fast can you run?’ Or ‘Can you box 10 rounds?’ I don’t do that anymore; I’ve already done it! I don’t need to prove it to anyone, and you just get injured. And I don’t ever want to get injured as it takes too long to heal.
When you are lacking in motivation/energy, what’s your go-to form of training?
If I’m really low I’ll just try and rest and get extra sleep. Sometimes your body’s better off resting. And if I work out, I’ll cut the sessions down and do just a third of what I usually do. Sometimes you force yourself to do too much. So sometimes I’ll just do sit-ups and stretches, just to feel I’ve done something that day.
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