Jake Gyllenhaal's Workout Routine for "Road House"

The actor went to great lengths to create a strong physique at the age of 42. We analyze his routine and his strategies to achieve it.
Jake Gyllenhaal's Workout Routine for "Road House"
Leonardo Biolatto

Written and verified by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 17 March, 2023

Patrick Swayze starred in Road House in 1989. Now, for the remake, Jake Gyllenhaal had to adhere to a workout routine like that used by boxers and UFC fighters. In fact, Jake Gyllenhaal’s workout routine was key to looking the part for his role.

The 42-year-old Californian showed off an enviable physique in the commercial presentation of his role. Gyllenhaal put on a very convincing performance at UFC 285, weighing in as if he were going to compete for real and truly immersed in his character.

The role he plays in Road House is that of an ex-UFC fighter who gets a job as a security guard at a roadhouse. In the original 1989 plot, this job ends up being a headache for the protagonist, who will have to face a mobster who owns almost the whole town.

Jake Gyllenhaal’s training routine for this role forced him to him gain muscle mass without losing agility. That is, he respected cardio, yet managed to have hypertrophy. For many, this seems like a mystery. However, let’s unravel the structure of his plan.

Cardio to gain lean mass

Many train to mark and define precise muscles. They want to have the movie abs or bulky arms that highlight the biceps.

To do this, you have to gain kilograms of lean mass, without fat. A well-executed cardio routine guided by professionals and under strict supervision can give optimum results.

Jake Gyllenhal’s routine involved 12 kilometers of daily running. Yes, he really did run that distance every morning, bright and early. And in the afternoon, there were usually 15 minutes of jumping rope.

Anyone would think that such aerobic demand would consume too many calories, making it almost impossible to achieve muscle hypertrophy. Well, no, because the actor ate a lot and supplemented it with two daily strength gym sessions.

The scientific meta-analyses carried out on the interference of aerobic over strength exercise are clear: if there’s no well-done calculation, there’s also a risk of not gaining muscle mass in the medium term. That is, there’s a balance point where we can run and lift weights to gain more lean mass, but if we overdo it on cardio, then we will exercise in vain.

Running is excellent for the cardiovascular system, but it can be a counterweight when it comes to gaining muscle mass.

Diet seems to be the key

There are no scientific studies that certify how cardio can inhibit the production of new muscle tissue. It’s known that there are interferences, but experts have not yet elucidated what happens at the molecular level to explain it.

Then, the solution implemented by several trainers is the overload of calories in the diet. In this way, what the aerobic takes away is replenished and used to increase muscle volume.

But not just any food or macronutrient ratio will do. Jake Gyllenhaal’s routine planned an accompaniment with a diet with the following characteristics:

  • Six to seven meals a day
  • A space of 2 to 3 hours between each meal
  • Preference for carbohydrates in the morning
  • A shift to a higher proportion of protein in the afternoon and evening

Nothing was fried and everything was as natural as possible. I also drank a lot of water throughout the day. As for supplements, there was vitamin D3 and vitamin C, and also protein shakes. -Jake Gyllenhaall

Read: What Is Rodrygo Goes’ Training Routine?

Abs and weights for Gyllenhaal’s routine in preparation for Road House

Lots of cardio and a diet to match to overload himself with calories that would be burned and turned into muscle… but of course, strength was still missing. The actor did a lot of sit-ups, as well, and had a specific plan to lift weight. In total, he did 2000 crunches per day and performs 1 hour of hard gym work.

As for crunches, we have known for quite some time that there are healthy limits. For the general population, the ideal threshold that can prevent injury is 60 reps each day.

However, there is a huge difference between 60 and 2000. We must understand that this is part of the preparation for a movie and to achieve in less time a definition that would take years. However, you should never attempt such a routine without a personalized follow-up to the maximum.

On the contrary, the daily hour of weights can be adapted more easily for an ordinary person who goes to the gym. The idea is to combine different movements that have a common goal of strengthening the upper body:

  • Deadlifts
  • Benchpresses
  • Shoulder shrugs
  • Medicine ball throwing

Tire flips

Jake Gyllenhaal’s routine also included a special weight workout: the tire flip. We may have seen videos on the internet popularizing it as a must-do of CrossFit. It also appears in many movie scenes, when the protagonist follows a hard workout to improve himself or herself.

In this case, in real life, the Californian actor had to turn a tractor tire weighing 115 kilograms and, after that, hit it on the floor with a mass. Undoubtedly, this was a superlative demand on the physique.

This variant adds an extra stimulus to the routine. And this can make a significant difference when it comes to gaining muscle mass. So much so, that a scientific study certified how the combination of 3 different ways to exercise the same muscle is beneficial. The method is known as triset. It promotes between 8 and 12 repetitions in 3 sets, without rest between them, but also considering alternate days of execution.

Levantamiento de pesos en la rutina de Jake Gyllenhaal.
Lifting external weight is a classic and effective stimulus to enhance the hypertrophy of the upper limbs.

Discipline to sustain his muscles was part of this actor’s training for Road House

The routine that Jake Gyllenhaal followed for Roadhouse resembles the one he had already tried for his previous role in Southpaw (2015). For both of these films, the result appeared because of the actor’s persistence and commitment to his workouts.

These are strenuous routines. They also involve getting up very early and making the decision, every day, to give everything to the maximum. In addition, you have to respect the meals imposed by professionals and not fall back into bad habits that can ruin your progress.

So, do you want to have the physique of Gyllenhaal after 40? It will be demanding, but it’s not impossible.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Contreras, B., & Schoenfeld, B. (2011). To crunch or not to crunch: An evidence-based examination of spinal flexion exercises, their potential risks, and their applicability to program design. Strength & Conditioning Journal33(4), 8-18.
  • Fyfe, J. J., Bishop, D. J., & Stepto, N. K. (2014). Interference between concurrent resistance and endurance exercise: molecular bases and the role of individual training variables. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.)44(6), 743–762. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-014-0162-1
  • Nasrulloh, A., Prasetyo, Y., Nugroho, S., Yuniana, R., Pratama, K. W., Mustapha, A., & Idrus, S. Z. S. (2020, April). Tricet Method to Increase the Hypertrophy Muscle. In Journal of Physics: Conference Series (Vol. 1529, No. 3, p. 032006). IOP Publishing.
  • Wilson, J. M., Marin, P. J., Rhea, M. R., Wilson, S. M., Loenneke, J. P., & Anderson, J. C. (2012). Concurrent training: a meta-analysis examining interference of aerobic and resistance exercises. Journal of strength and conditioning research26(8), 2293–2307. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e31823a3e2d

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.