Playing a mutant who possesses animal-keen senses, enhanced physical capabilities, a powerful regenerative ability, and retractable claws can be physically demanding to say the least. Training to look the part is a whole different ball game altogether.
Hugh Jackman blew us away with his ripped physique in The Wolverine. The vascularity, shredded abs, broad shoulders and back, and thick biceps were in top conditioning. Jackman would arguably have ousted many pro Men’s Physique competitors if he was to jump on stage looking like that.
Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine workout program is pretty different from what we have come to expect from a celebrity training program. Celebrity trainer, David Kingsbury, was entrusted with the job of turning Hugh into a mutant. No, David is not Dr. Cornelius in disguise, and he did not infuse Logan with adamantium. Kingsbury devised a potent training program that shredded Jackman to the bone.
Pre-Requisites For the Wolverine Program
1. Knowing Your 1RM
The Wolverine workout program consists of sets with less than five reps to stimulate myofibril hypertrophy. For the uninitiated, myofibrils are individual contracting elements of muscle fiber that shorten when you flex.
Research shows that myofibril hypertrophy can spike protein synthesis in muscles and can lead to an increase in muscle size and strength.
If you are a beginner and don’t know your 1RM (one rep max), you should take a professional’s help testing your lifting limits. You will be working at percentages of your 1RM in this training program.
Related: Find your one rep max.
2. Advanced Lifter
Since the Wolverine workout program lasts for eight short weeks, you will not have spare time for improving your form or building strength. You want to be right on the money from the get-go.
People with a lean physique will get the best results following this training routine. If you have body fat you need to lose, you should start this program after achieving your weight loss goal. Think of it as a primer for the Wolverine workout program.
Cardio plays a crucial role in sporting a physique like Logan. During his transformation, Jackman’s cardio volume changed depending on his body fat percentage.
Since it might be a little too much for you, we will give you a generic cardio plan that will help you shed weight throughout the eight weeks.
In this program, the focus of cardio sessions is intensity and total calories burned. The type of cardio you adopt is of less importance.
The Wolverine Workout Program
Wolverine training program consists of lifting heavy weights (close to your maximum lifts). So, always carry lifting accessories like a weightlifting belt, lifting straps, wrist and knee wraps, and chalk to the gym.
Hugh Jackman followed a five-day resistance training and six-day cardio split for his Wolverine transformation. If you are serious about your gains, you will not miss a single session in the next eight weeks and will give your 100% with every repetition.
Main Lift Training Split
The main lift (first exercise) in each workout is based on a percentage of your 1RM. The amount of weight you will be lifting in each exercise changes every week.
Percentages For Week 1 (5 Reps)
- 60% of 1RM – Set 1
- 65% of 1RM – Set 2
- 75% of 1RM – Set 3
- 75% of 1RM – Set 4
Percentages for Week 2 (4 Reps)
- 65% of 1RM – Set 1
- 75% of 1RM – Set 2
- 85% of 1RM – Set 3
- 85% of 1RM – Set 4
Percentages for Week 3 (3 Reps)
- 70% of 1RM – Set 1
- 80% of 1RM – Set 2
- 90% of 1RM – Set 3
- 90% of 1RM – Set 4
Percentages for Week 4 (10 Reps)
- 40% of 1RM – Set 1
- 50% of 1RM – Set 2
- 60% of 1RM – Set 3
- 60% of 1RM – Set 4
In the Wolverine workout program, you will progressively overload your muscles with heavier weights for the first three weeks. In the fourth week, you will be increasing the volume of the first exercise for inducing sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
Bodybuilders usually follow the sarcoplasmic hypertrophy training principle. It uses high-volume training sessions to increase muscle size with a relatively small increase in strength.
Monday: Chest & Shoulders
1. Bench Press – 4 Sets 5 Reps – 150-sec Rest
2. Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 4 Sets 10 Reps – 60-sec Rest
3. Behind-the-Neck Press – 4 Sets 10 Reps – 60-sec Rest
4. Cuban Press – 3 Sets 10 Reps – 30-sec Rest
5. Tricep Superset
- Dips – 3 Sets 10 Reps
No Rest in between
- Tricep Pushdown – 3 Sets 12 Reps
6. Shoulder Giant-set
- Lat Raises – 3 Set 8 Reps – No Rest
- Front Raises – 3 Sets 8 Reps – No Rest
- Rear Shoulder Fly – 3 Sets 8 Reps – No Rest
- Overhead Press – 3 Sets 8 Reps – 60-sec Rest
The Wolverine Workout program respects international chest day, and so you start the week by training your chest and shoulders. Every workout in this program begins with a dynamic stretching and foam rolling session. You will also be doing static stretching at the end of each session.
The first exercise of every workout in these eight weeks will demand you to train like a powerlifter. Don’t rush into these exercises. Take your time warming up, and you are at liberty of a 150-second rest between sets for the first exercise.
You will not be resting between sets and exercises during supersets. You will have a 60-second rest period after you complete a circuit of the supersets.
On Mondays, Hugh Jackman would do cardio twice a day – a 45-minute low-intensity cardio session in the morning and a 15-minute HIIT training session in the evening.
Lifting and doing cardio in the morning on an empty stomach burns more fat than training later in the day. While the LIIT morning session is to burn off the excess fat, the evening HIIT training gets him shredded for the shirtless scenes.
For your cardio sessions, you could choose from:
Tuesday: Legs & Abs
1. Back Squat – 4 Sets 5 Reps – 150-sec Rest
2. Front Squat – 4 Sets 10 Reps – 60-sec Rest
3. Leg Press – 4 Sets 10 Reps – 60-sec Rest
- Calf Raise – 4 Sets 12 Reps
No Rest in between sets
- Hanging Leg Raise – 4 Sets 12 Reps
5. Ab Wheel – 4 Sets 10 Reps – 60-sec Rest
6. Knee Raise – 4 Sets 10 Reps – 30-sec Rest
7. Decline Sit-Up – 4 Sets 10 Reps – 30-sec Rest
Wolverine never skips leg day. He, in fact, performs two variations of the squat in every leg workout. Make sure you lay it all out in the weight room on leg days because you will only be doing one low-intensity cardio session on these days.
After leg day, Hugh Jackman does steady pace rowing, elliptical, walking, or spinning (bike) while staying in the 60-65% of his max heart rate (MHR). This heart rate keeps you at a fat-burning cardio pace.
Wednesday: Rest & Cardio
Wednesday is a rest day in the Wolverine training program. But don’t forget you are only taking a day off from resistance training. You will still be doing one 90-minute low-intensity cardio workout in the morning.
If you have been doing things right up until now, you will still be sore from the leg workout from the previous day. It will make this cardio session even harder.
This cardio session is about recovery and low-intensity, fat-burning cardio. Don’t go too hard in this session and focus on Thursday’s session.
Tip: If you stay around 60-65% of your max heart rate, your body burns fat more than glucose.
Thursday: Back & Biceps
1. Weighted Pull-Up – 4 Sets 5 Reps – 150-sec Rest
2. Dumbbell Row – 4 Sets 12 Reps – 60-sec Rest
3. Bodyweight Row – 4 Sets 10 Reps – 60-sec Rest
4. Incline Dumbbell Curl – 4 Sets 10 Reps – 60-sec Rest
- Zottman Bicep Curl – 4 Sets 8 Reps – No Rest
- Cross Body Curls – 4 Sets 8 Reps – No Rest
- Pronated Curls – 4 Sets 8 Reps
If you don’t have access to a dip belt, you could hold a dumbbell between your feet for the weighted pull-up. To reduce your chances of an injury, you should warm up your shoulder, back, and bicep by doing a few warm-up sets of bodyweight pull-ups.
You will be doing two cardio sessions on Thursday:
- 45-minute low-intensity cardio post-workout.
- 15-minute HIIT cardio in the evening.
Friday: Chest & Arms
1. Incline Barbell Bench Press – 4 Sets 6 Reps – 150-sec Rest
2. Incline Barbell Bench Press – 6 Sets 6 Reps Drop set
3. Chest Superset
- Decline Dumbbell Chest Press – 4 Sets 6 Reps – No Rest
- Incline Dumbbell Chest Press – 4 Sets 6 Reps – No Rest
- Flat Dumbbell Chest Press – 4 Sets 6 Reps – No rest
4. Cable Fly – 4 Sets 10 Reps – 60-sec Rest
5. Narrow Grip Bench Press – 4 Sets 10 Reps – 60-sec
6. Tricep Tri-set
- Cable Tricep Pushdown – 4 Sets 8 Reps – No Rest
- Dip – 4 Sets 8 Reps – No Rest
- Diamond Grip Pushup – 4 Sets 8 Reps – No rest
You begin Friday like other days – with a compound lift. The second exercise is where things start to spice up. You will be doing six drop sets of six reps on the incline bench press.
The third exercise is a giant set where you will be doing a decline, incline, and flat dumbbell press circuit without resting between exercises.
On Fridays, Hugh Jackman does two cardio sessions (post-workout – low-intensity, evening – HIIT). To burn off the max fat, make sure you are raising the intensity of your evening cardio session as the program comes to an end.
Saturday: Core & Legs
1. Barbell Deadlift – 4 Sets 5 Reps – 150-sec Rest
2. Romanian Deadlift – 4 Sets 10 Reps – 60-sec Rest
3. Zercher Squat – 4 Sets 12 Reps – 60-sec Rest
4. Incline Sit-Up – 4 Sets 10 Reps – 60-sec Rest
5. Barbell Landmine – 3 Sets 10 Reps – 60-sec Rest
In the Wolverine workout program, you will be training each muscle group twice. Meaning – you will be training each muscle 16 times in the stipulated eight weeks. Time is limited, and you need to make the most of each workout.
As you get more advanced (probably from the third week onward), add a second cardio session to be done later in the day on leg days. The cardio sessions will include:
- 45-minute low-intensity cardio post-workout.
- 15-minute HIIT cardio in the evening.
Sunday: Rest Day
Sunday is an off day on this workout program. You are not supposed to be doing a cardio or resistance training workout, but that doesn’t mean you should turn into a couch potato. Add some sort of physical activity to your day – hiking, swimming, or dancing for TikTok videos. And yes, no cheat meals.
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Transformation success in the Wolverine workout program depends on your commitment and hard work. You will leave gains on the table if you don’t progressively overload, hit the 1RM exercises hard, or stick to the cardio sessions.
Keeping track of your progress is also a crucial aspect of this transformation program. You have to be nimble in adjusting your cardio sessions according to your current and goal body fat percentage.