Want to look like a star? Of course, you do! Who wouldn’t? Good news! We give you the tips you need to build a physique with the Matt Damon Workout. But, it’ll take work. Are you ready?
No one can say Matt Damon hasn’t made sacrifices for the sake of his acting career. The Jason Bourne and Good Will Hunting actor has, without a doubt, put his body through more than one striking change for the sake of getting into character. Indeed, he has made headlines again and again for putting his body through extreme changes.
He’s packed on weight for his roles in films like The Informant (which he credits to a gut-busting diet of McDonald’s and all the dark beer he could guzzle down) and shrunken down to a shell of his normal buff self when he played a heroin-addicted soldier in Courage Under Fire. In fact, in that movie he went to such great lengths to achieve, doctors later warned him he could have permanently damaged his heart. He actually suffered from extreme adrenal gland damage that left him on medications.
A simple Google images search will reveal this yoyoing of body transformation Damon has put himself through. But lately, in his mid-40s, a time when many are letting their physique slip away, Damon has gotten into the best shape of his life. Not only has he returned to perhaps his most famed role after a nine-year break to step back into the role of Jason Bourne, Damon also appeared in the critically acclaimed film The Martian, and has once again graced the big screen this year in the highly anticipated movie, The Great Wall.
To deliver his best work for this back-to-back crop of films, Damon knew he’d have to get his workouts and diet on point. He needed to do so not only to chisel out his physique but also to maintain it for the course of the filming of all three movies.
Lucky for you, you can skip the extreme deprivation diets and beer-gut gains he’s put himself through in years past. Instead, you can simply adopt his current workout plan to get the same striking results that Damon’s been sporting lately. You don’t even have to have the best of Hollywood trainers or any fancy diet techniques.
We break down Damon’s workout and diet plan so that you too can craft your best body ever.
The Basic Plan Matt Damon Workout
While Damon’s workout plan was slightly altered for the three different roles he appeared in back to back, his trainer and the overall approach they took remained a constant throughout. You won’t need any fancy equipment to copy the results at home or at your gym. And, while Damon’s approach this go around was one of intensity, there was none of the extreme deprivation or binging as when prepping for movies in his past. In other words, you won’t have to put your body through hell to get the same results.
Damon’s workouts focused on a balanced approach of giving him a solid base of fitness, while not forgetting to tend to his mobility and flexibility. This isn’t your heavy lifting approach where strength is the only priority.
There’s more to it!
Damon’s plan is balanced and ensures a well-rounded approach that won’t only whip you into great shape, but will get you healthy and functionally fit in every sense.
You’ll also be glad to hear that Damon’s workouts don’t only rely on gym equipment. There was a healthy dose of bodyweight activities to get him chiseled the old-school way. That included such things as squats, sit-ups, push-ups and squat jumps.
Of course, you know by now that there’s no outworking a sub-par diet, which Damon has been no stranger to in the past. This time, he took a level headed, common sense approach. He followed the diet designed by his trainer.
This diet included a moderate 2000-calorie range per day during shooting.
With that said, it did also employ some more taxing, competition style techniques such as cutting back on water intake prior to shooting to show off his hard-earned muscles. You can see for yourself the clear effects of this during scenes in the newest Jason Bourne.
Case in point: The boxing scene where Damon appears especially lean and mean.
The Trainer Was Key
A key part of Damon’s recent transformation is his constant sidekick of a trainer, Jason Walsh. Walsh is a big name around Hollywood. He has whipped into shape not just Matt Damon, but actors like Emma Stone, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper and many others.
He’s an in-demand trainer for the simple reason that he delivers without a doubt impressive results, a fact which Damon realized early on when he began working with Walsh back in 2013 for his film, Elysium. Needless to say, that was a film in which he had to get totally shredded and leaned out. His results were so impressive that Damon continued to enlist Walsh’s help when he found out he was cast in the three back-to-back roles.
Walsh’s approach for Damon this go around was to focus on getting the athletic build he needed to pull off the Bourne role, rather than only on packing on the brawn. Walsh describes his training approach for the Bourne film simply by stating he puts Damon through tough workouts just short of breaking him.
Before he began his grueling approach though, Walsh’s main concern was to work on ironing out some shoulder and lower back issues that had been plaguing Damon since they first began working together. Once those issues were 100% healed, they began the real work.
These Are The Workouts
Damon’s workout plan is simple and fairly easy to copy. Don’t kid yourself, though, it’s still quite grueling. After all, you don’t get into Jason Bourne shape, or fit for his latest role as a man trapped inside the Great Wall of China, by cutting corners or going for overnight changes. Walsh designed a four-week, high-intensity, heavyweight program to get Damon into street fighter shape for the latest Bourne film.
But, Walsh also focused on creating a solid base of fitness that could continue to be built upon.
He stressed building up that base first with basic routines of lunges, squats, and crawls.
The reason was so that when they advanced to the next phases, Damon could continue to build rather than break down the progress they’d made. His plan was also designed to increase his range of motion, flexibility, and agility.
With the use of simple bodyweight moves and high rep ranges.
As time progressed into the filming, Damon had greatly increased the weights he was using. At one point, he even began using 125-pound dumbbells for Bulgarian split squats! A far cry from the bodyweight foundations they’d begun with.
For his initial four-week program he used to get into Jason Bourne shape and convincingly pull off the much leaner and meaner look he sported in the last movie, compared to the prior ones, Damon did lots of classic moves. That included stuff like bench presses, rows, curls, deadlifts, triceps pushdowns and other common mainstays like these. Most were done for three or four sets of 10 reps per workout move.
Another technique that Walsh and Damon credit with much of his leaning-out progress was the use of the VersaClimber. In case you don’t know, that’s a cardio machine that forces your entire body to be pushed to its max.
You use your arms and legs to pull your body up and down (think mountain climbing on speed).
This was posted on Instagram during the filming and production of the movie. The post showed him on the machine following Walsh’s lead of seeing how fast they could hammer out 200 feet or more in the course of one minute. Walsh stated that Damon looked like he was about to throw up by the end of it.
To pull off the lean and mean look that was needed for Damon to sport for this role, and at the ripe old age of 42, some serious time commitment and determination was required. Luckily, Damon was no stranger to a grueling schedule.
Even back in 2013 while training for his role in Elysium, Walsh and Damon trained for up to four hours a day, every day, breaking it up into two-hour chunks in the morning followed by two more hours in the afternoon. Walsh would also sometimes give Damon four to five-mile recovery runs just to break up the gym-time sameness.
Damon filmed his part in his latest film, The Great Wall, in which he plays a knight, before filming the latest Bourne. That meant that he didn’t actually have to look the part of Bourne during this chunk of time. But, his role required him to be in top fighting shape just the same to pull off physically demanding fight scenes, often riding a horse, swinging a sword, all while wearing armor in the Gobi Desert.
Since Damon had to then quickly transition back to Bourne (tired yet?
We’re tired just from reading about his back-and-forth changes from role to role), Walsh and Damon would knock out some of their training in the streets of northwestern China, near the Mongolian border. At times, that was all the space they had to train. Once back in L.A. after filming of The Great Wall wrapped, they had all of two weeks to turn around and polish off Damon’s physique before Jason Bourne filming started.
All in all, in spite of a very draining filming schedule, many different physiques required for diverse roles, and Damon’s prior injuries and age, Walsh’s biggest achievement appears to have been one that might surprise some folks. Walsh says his biggest achievement was keeping Damon not just strong and ripped, but injury free during demanding times and even more demanding action-packed roles.
He always had Damon approach moves like back squats and heavy deadlifts with caution. Walsh stressed the strength work like single-leg exercises and high-rep pullups to keep him functioning in peak shape and keep his mobility and flexibility at top notch.
The Matt Damon Diet
Any good workout routine would be incomplete without the diet to match. We’ve all heard it a million times over, but you truly can’t outwork a shoddy diet. Needless to say, Damon and Walsh know this fact all too well. To keep up with the grueling workout schedule and complement the time Damon was logging in the gym, his work in the kitchen had to be equally as thought out and purposeful.
Walsh prescribed Damon a moderate, 2,000 calorie a day diet to make sure his body was torching calories and shredding the fat in order to see the hard-earned muscle he was building each day. He also tinkered with hydration.
To push Damon’s physique to the edge for key filming scenes like the street fights when Bourne needed to look his most defined.
The general process entailed having Damon drink lots of water leading up to the day of the shooting, and then cutting back two days prior. On the day they filmed, Damon would barely drink any water at all. Of course, that’s a technique that while not sustainable over the long term, can give you that extra leanness on filming day.
Even for the toughest super fighter, balance is key. It’s been reported that on the last day of filming, Damon had a large pizza waiting for him.
Needless to say, he devoured it.
Keep in mind that while pushing yourself if you are looking for extreme results there are a few non-negotiable items. Listen to your body. Never push it to the point of injury. Give yourself the fuel and rest your body needs to rebuild. With these tips in mind, you, too, can achieve Matt Damon’s level of results, whether you’re a former CIA assassin or just training to look the part of one.
By Emmy Schneider-Green