Jake Gyllenhaal’s Workout & Diet Plan To Get ‘Road House’ Ripped
— Updated on 4 July 2024

Jake Gyllenhaal’s Workout & Diet Plan To Get ‘Road House’ Ripped

— Updated on 4 July 2024
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

From Antoine Fuqua’s Southpaw to Amazon’s Road House remake, the Jake Gyllenhaal diet and workout plan has proven itself time and time again. In fact, at this stage, it’s pretty much the formula to become a shredded onscreen presence.

Now granted: not everyone is fortunate enough to have a gig where they essentially work out for a living (read: millions of bucks per project). So temper those expectations. But who’s to say the right combination of nutrition and exercise won’t get you closer to resembling a Hollywood star?

And despite how impressive he may have appeared as Elwood Dalton — cutting down from 205 pounds to 184 pounds of lean muscle (5% body fat) — as the man’s own trainer explained, Mr Gyllenhaal‘s physique didn’t consistently resemble that of an active UFC middleweight title contender… even though the character itself was well beyond his canonical prime.

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“The way he looked throughout the movie, there [are] peaks, right? People don’t see the valleys,” said Jason Walsh.

“They don’t see the time in between the peaks, it just looks like one continuous thing. It doesn’t work like that.”

The other caveat worth noting is what an immense undertaking this was. Hollywood studio resources aside, if you want to look like Jake Gyllenhaal in Road House, you’re going to have to earn it.

Walsh added: “You can have a great trainer, a great program, great team — none of this matters if you don’t have the right person to do it all. Jake did the work. He earned it.”

Here’s the Jake Gyllenhaal diet and workout plan used for Road House.

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Jake Gyllenhaal Workout Plan (Road House)

Jake Gyllenhaal Workout & Diet Plan (Road House)

According to Men’s Health, Jake Gyllenhaal’s fitness program for Road House was split into several progressive phases, starting with a “baseline phase” to establish his conditioning, followed by a “hypertrophy phase” to build muscle, before they moved on to a sport-specific phase to “reinforce the movement patterns he would need to perform on camera.”

After that, it was simply a matter of maintaining said muscle for the entirety of the production, which concluded at UFC 285: Jon Jones vs Ciryl Gane, wherein the thespian of Donnie Darko and Brokeback Mountain fame “fought” retired welterweight turned stuntman Jay Hieron inside the Octagon for the movie’s flashback scenes.

This was in contrast to his gruelling Southpaw workout which, in addition to entailing at least 2,000 sit-ups a day, was designed to help him pack on 13 kilos of muscle to make him a believable light heavyweight boxing champion a la Billy “The Great” Hope (we’ve also included this regimen at the bottom for those of you who are curious).

The main pillars of the Jake Gyllenhaal workout were as follows:

Mobility Drills

Walsh used tools like mobility sticks to increase Gyllenhaal’s range of motion to get him ready to train.

Proteus Motion Machine

The high-tech Proteus Motion machine is the next tool Walsh used for Gyllenhaal’s routines. This allowed them to warm up the actor’s joints and establish the proper movement patterns he’d be putting into practice on-set.


Walsh had Gyllenhaal do moves like isometric inverted row holds to “increase strength and stamina at different joint angles.” You can try the row hold Gyllenhaal performs in the video for three sets of 30 seconds on/30 seconds off.

Heavy Sled Work

Walsh used the sled to keep Gyllenhaal moving with a heavy stimulus, challenging the actor to push and pull the load.

Safety Bar Squat

Walsh says that he always keeps a heavyweight movement as part of the routine — here, it’s a squat. “We want to keep the muscle coordination at a high,” he says.

Forearm Drills

Walsh says that grip can be a “limiting factor” in the gym — in other words, your grip might fail on a heavy lift before your other muscles do. To prevent this issue, the trainer programmed grip drills throughout the regimen.

Offset Loaded Bag Drills

Walsh had Gyllenhaal work with offset loads, which helped to prep the actor for the MMA-specific movements he would be mimicking on-screen.

Floor Press

Walsh kept the routine fresh by peppering in different variations of classic strength movements, like the floor press in place of the standard bench press. “It’s important to keep the stimuli broad with variations of reps, sets, loads, and different tempos,” he says.

Chain Pushup

Like the floor press, the chain pushup offered another variation that Walsh could use to switch up Gyllenhaal’s chest training.

Suspension Trainer Push-Pull

“Cross-lateral loading is very important to all sports, but especially to MMA fight training,” Walsh says. This move, which uses a TRX band row and dumbbell press, is one of his favourite variations.

Push-Pull Rips

This exercise helps to “keep things in balance,” according to Walsh. The movement mimics the punching Gyllenhaal performed on-set.

Climber Sprints

Walsh closed out workouts with conditioning in the form of VersaClimber sprints. The low-impact, full-body machine ramps up the heart rate quickly.

MMA Training

All of the above would obviously be supplemented by rudimentary boxing, kickboxing/Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and wrestling training — all cardio-intensive affairs — to not only make the Road House choreography and stunts seem believable to the average punter, but also prevent potential injury.

“We’re fighting on the floor, we’re fighting around tables. We’re fighting around glass, even if it’s breakaway glass. I put my hand on the bar, fucking straight glass,” Jake Gyllenhaal recounted on the Armchair Expert With Dax podcast.

“I was teaching professional fighters, who could really kick my ass, how to kick my ass, so that people really buy it. Their ability to judge distance is unlike anyone else. To be working with someone who can do that, there’s a safety to that too.”

With enough consistency, you’ll look like you could face an unhinged villain like the roided-out Knox (portrayed by an equally roided-out Conor McGregor). At the very least, you’ll make a serviceable stand-in for the iconic Patrick Swayze role.

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Jake Gyllenhaal’s Southpaw Workout Plan

Jake Gyllenhaal Workout Plan (Southpaw)

“I trained twice a day for five months,” Jake Gyllenhaal revealed on The Howard Stern Show.

“I started at three miles and eventually, I was running eight miles. I would go and work out for two hours doing mitt work, heavy bag, and speed bags.”

“Over five months, every single day, twice a day you just start learning the techniques. It took me two months to get the speed bag and feel confident with the speed bag.”

Elsewhere, he outlined what an “average day” at the gym involved during this strenuous process:

General Overview

  • 1,000 sit-ups
  • 8-mile run
  • 1-2 hours of boxing/sparring
  • 1-hour core workout
  • 1-2 more hours of boxing/cardio
  • 1 hour of weightlifting (shrugs, bench press, tyre flipping, etc.)
  • 1,000 additional sit-ups before bed


  • Pull-ups (1 set/10 reps)
  • Arm walk-outs (1 set/10 reps)
  • Bicycle crunches (1 set/20 reps)
  • One leg/arm plank (1 set/10 reps)
  • Dips (1 set/10 reps)
  • Pushups (1 set/10 reps)
  • Deadlift (1 set/10 reps)

Weightlifting (2-3 Rounds)

  • Dips (1 set/8-12 reps)
  • Crunches (1 set/25 reps)
  • Weighted pull-ups (1 set/8-12 reps)
  • Barbell squats (1 set/8-12 reps)
  • Barbell deadlift (1 set/8-12 reps)
  • DB shoulder press (1 set/8-12 reps)
  • Walking lunge (1 set/8-12 reps)
  • Dumbbell shrugs (1 set/8-12 reps)
  • Bench press (1 set/8-12 reps)

Jake Gyllenhaal Diet Plan (Road House)

Jake Gyllenhaal Diet & Workout Plan (Road House)

As the classic fitness adage goes, abs aren’t just made in the gym. They’re made in the kitchen, which means a proper diet plan, i.e. scrapping unnecessary sugary treats, high protein, selective carbs — even for a scene.

“If you really look, I don’t eat tacos,” Jake Gyllenhaal told Sian Welby while appearing on This Morning (via NME).

“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.”

RELATED: Tom Hardy Says He Was Just “Really Overweight” For Bane Transformation

The Golden Rule

The one thing Jake Gyllenhaal wasn’t doing was skipping meals. On the contrary, it was quite the opposite. The term “clean bulk” comes to mind.

“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 said.

For Nightcrawler, however, the famously dedicated operator lived on chewing gum and kale salads (while running around 15 miles a day) to shed upwards of 30 pounds for the thriller. Apparently, that’s what it takes to resemble a human coyote like Lou Bloom.

“The running thing, you’re pretty hungry because you’re not eating a lot of food,” Gyllenhaal explained.

“You’re lonely because you’re not meeting your friends for dinner. People go, ‘Hey you want to meet for dinner after work?’ I go, ‘Well, I’m shooting all night.’ ‘Alright, you want to meet for lunch?’ I’m like, ‘I can’t!’ So I’m gonna go run.”

He continued: “The sun was setting and these animals would come out. I’d have these strange fantasies after mile 10 of, like, being one with all the animals. They are hungry and they are out to get what they are going to get. That was Lou.”

The Nitty-Gritty of Nutrition

In an interview with Bodybuilding.com, Jake Gyllenhaal said: “My diet consists of lots of eggs, chicken, fish, bananas, apples, almonds, cacao beans, raisins, goji berries, rye bread, pasta, couscous, and potatoes, and lots of steamed vegetables and salad: avocado, tomatoes, broccoli, and other dark-green leaves.”

“Nothing was fried, and everything was as natural as possible. I would drink plenty of water throughout the day, as well. In terms of supplements, there was vitamin D3 and vitamin C, and then also protein shakes.”

When he faced issues digesting whey protein supplements, Jason Walsh and his team formulated a whole new drinkable plant-based formula (which has since been released to the consumer market as Rise311).

“I knew at this point that it takes a village,” said Gyllenhaal.

Road House (2024)

Rotten Tomatoes Score
M 2 hours 1 minute
Genre: Action
Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Daniela Melchior, Billy Magnussen, Jessica Williams, Joaquim de Almeida, Conor McGregor
Directed by: Doug Liman
Ex-UFC fighter Dalton Elwood takes a job as a bouncer at a Florida Keys roadhouse, only to discover that this paradise is not all it seems.

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Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]