Inside Jake Gyllenhaal's Intense Regimen To Prepare His Body For Road House

The internet is in love. "Road House" 2024, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, has everyone talking about one of two things — the reprisal of the beloved cult classic from 1989 with Patrick Swayze in the lead and Gyllenhaal's inspiring transformation for the character of Elwood Dalton for the modern remake. Dalton is an MMA fighter-turned-head bouncer who has to go head-to-head with Conor McGregor's character, Knox, in the Doug Liman movie. Other members of the cast include Jessica Williams, Post Malone, and Daniela Melchior. After taking up the job at a Florida Keys roadhouse, Dalton discovers that the violence at the establishment has an agenda. 

We're no strangers to character transformations by actors, like workouts that totally transformed superhero actors for their roles, but what's interesting about Gyllenhaal is his desire to be physically fit, no matter his Hollywood role requirements. Turns out, the 43-year-old considers fitness to be one of the most important things in his life, per Good Morning America. He's followed a routine of exercising every morning before work, a habit his father, Stephen Gyllenhaal, also in the film business, instilled in him. "I love it. It makes me feel good," shared the actor. 

Even so, to play Dalton for "Road House," Gyllenhaal trained for over a year to accomplish the particularly shredded physique seen in the movie. More specifically, he dropped his weight from 205 pounds to 184 pounds and brought his body fat percentage to 5%. Working with his long-time trainer Jason Walsh, his intense regimen consisted of mobility drills, isometric exercises, heavy sled work, squats, bag drills, push-ups, presses, and more. Here's a breakdown of all that went down.

He worked out with movements he'd need for the movie

Sharing the grueling exercise regimen with Men's Health, celebrity trainer Jason Walsh, who's worked with other stars like Matt Damon, Miles Teller, Brie Larson, and Bradley Cooper, said that the program had Jake Gyllenhaal's role and what he'd need to bring to the set in mind. It followed a progressive structure that involved conditioning, building muscle, and MMA sport-specific movements. 

There were mobility drills, Proteus motion machine workouts, isometrics, heavy sled exercises, safety bar squats, forearm drills, offset loaded bag drills, floor presses, chain pushups, suspension trainer push-pull movements, push-pull rips, and climber sprints. Mobility drills are great for increasing range of motion, while the Proteus motion machine helped warm up the "Southpaw" actor's joints, per Walsh. "The Proteus is an amazing piece of equipment used mostly by professional performance centers to help train athletes in every plane of motion and also to increase power production," explained Walsh (via Men's Health). At Rise Movement, the Los Angeles, California-based fitness center co-founded by Walsh, the machine is mainly used for priming the nervous system, learning movement patterns, warming up joints, and metabolic training, added the trainer.  

Isometrics, exercises that focus on contracting specific muscle groups to maintain and build strength, were next on the list of Gyllenhaal's workout routine. Isometric inverted row holds were one of the exercises the actor did, aimed at boosting "strength and stamina at different joint angles," shared Walsh. There are actually three different types of muscle contraction workouts — isometric, isotonic, and isokinetic exercises

More exercises Jake Gyllenhaal did to prepare

Heavy sled exercises, challenging Jake Gyllenhaal to push and pull a heavy load across the gym while keeping him moving, sweating, and burning fat, were also part of the routine, per Jason Walsh (via Men's Health). This probably explains why earlier this year, the "Source Code" actor posted a video on Instagram of him pushing and pulling a bright yellow Ferrari, supposedly on the set of "Road House". Turns out, the vehicle was his co-star McGregor's character Knox's car in the film and Gyllenhaal did that for fun, but it gave us a glimpse into the strength the actor had built by then to play his role. 

The star also did safety bar squats to keep his weighted muscle coordination at optimum levels and forearm drills for grip strength. "Grip work is essential as it seems to be one of the limiting factors in the gym," shared Walsh, per Men's Health. With the loaded bag drills, the actor, once again, focused on MMA sports-centered movements, required for his role. With floor presses, a variation of the classic bench press, the focus is on building upper body strength while engaging the core and keeping your shoulders safe from strain. Chain pushups are another variation of classic pushups.    

Push-pull workouts on a suspension trainer also helped Gyllenhaal train for the MMA-specific role while the push-pull rips helped the actor focus on his boxing moves seen in the film. The final workout on Walsh's regimen for the actor was climber sprints — a low-impact exercise to get the heart rate up.  

How Gyllenhaal got his impressive abs for Road House

All of the exercises that were part of his normal training routine for "Road House" engaged his core strength but the "Brokeback Mountain" actor also did core-specific circuit training 2-3 times a week, shared celebrity trainer Jason Walsh with Men's Health. 

This involved kettlebell overhead carries, front-rack kettlebell carries, Zercher squats, and split-stance physio-ball chops. Some of the best standing ab exercises to strengthen your core involve kettlebells. They're great for engaging all of your abdominal muscles and offer variety from the standard on-the-floor core workouts.

While promoting the film on the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, he was asked to explain his "13 abs" by the host. Gyllenhaal said that he was determined to get in good shape because he knew he'd be starring alongside Conor McGregor, a former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion. "I thought, 'Oh god, I actually have to fake-fight this guy and I've got to look like I can,'" shared the star. However, anyone who is a fitness enthusiast also knows that abs aren't made only at the gym. What you eat is a big part of it all. The same was true for this Hollywood star. There are foods you should avoid if you're trying to build muscle and foods you should have more of.

What Jake Gyllenhaal's diet was like when preparing

For Jake Gyllenhaal, following a diet plan that would go hand-in-hand with his intense exercise regimen meant cutting out sweet treats — something he loves. But the actor wasn't too concerned about this, per Men's Health, because it also meant he was adding more food into his diet. "In this case, there were things that were taken away, but I had a hell of a lot more calories that I could consume," he explained. 

In an interview with The Independent, the actor revealed that he didn't even eat a chip while getting in shape for the movie. Referring to a scene in "Road House" when Elwood Dalton was given a plate of enchiladas, the star shared, "If you really look. I don't eat tacos. You see me take the plate and I say thank you and then the scene cuts; you never actually see me take a mouthful. I was on a strict regimen, one chip would have done the whole thing." 

What he did eat a lot of, however, were protein and other calories. In fact, after exhibiting digestive issues from consuming whey protein, he was put on a new plant-based protein supplement developed by Jason Walsh and his team. It's even available on the market now under the brand name RISE311. While taking whey protein does have its benefits, the popular protein powder comes with side effects like increased bowel movements, bloating, nausea, and acne. 

Gyllenhaal enjoys taking up roles that challenge his body

Pursuing fitness activities and cooking are passions for this Los Angeles, California-born actor, who's currently dating model Jeanne Cadieu (28). The couple have been together since late 2018 and prefer to keep their romance very private. 

"Road House" is not the only movie that required a physically challenging transformation on the part of Jake Gyllenhaal. The 2015 sports drama film "South Paw" where he played junior middleweight boxing champion, Billy "The Great" Hope, and 2014's "Nightcrawler" where he took on the role of a driven young man desperate for work, Lou Bloom, are some other examples. "I'm always trying to find roles that allow me to stay physical. That means caring for not only doing my research and working hard intellectually but also taking care of the physical part of acting... I want to try to do this for a long time," the actor previously told Men's Health. 

According to Jason Walsh (via Business Insider), working with Gyllenhaal is easy because the actor maintains a good fitness regimen off-screen. "If he's not in the gym doing strength training and conditioning, he's swimming, he's outside playing paddle tennis, he cycles like crazy. The guy does everything. He's just always looking for that stimulus," explained the celebrity trainer. Safe to say, the star finds mental and physical strength from staying active. After all, mental and physical health are related. However, the making of his physique for "Road House" took the combined efforts of the actor, trainers, a chef, and a nutritionist. As explained by the star himself to People, it took a village.