By Alex Zakrzewski, Online Editor
Nothing exudes raw, testosterone-fueled physicality quite like a good action flick. While the towering, larger-than-life muscularity of the 80's may be a thing of the past, the genre continues to produce some tremendous physical specimens. If watching these unforgettable action roles doesn’t make you want to pump some serious iron then maybe you should stick to romantic comedies.
10. Steeve Reeves – Hercules (1957)
Reeves was the original movie muscleman. After winning a Mr. America title in 1947, Reeves took his herculean (pun intended!) physique to Europe where his success in the “Sword and Sandal” genre made him both a household name and the highest paid actor on the continent.
9. Linda Hamilton – Terminator II (1991)
The only woman on our list, Hamilton prepared for the role of Sarah Connor by undergoing a thirteen-week workout regimen in which she trained three hours a day, six days a week. She also underwent military weapons training in order to become a real life machine-killing machine.
8. Hugh Jackman – X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
By the time Jackman finished training for the role of Wolverine in the 2009 Marvel blockbuster, the 6’3”, forty-year-old Australian could boast a 315-pound bench press and a 1,000-pound personal best on the leg press. That’s an impressive feat for any age…bub!
7. Jason Statham – Transporter (2002)
Playing driver-for-hire Frank Martin in the Transporter
franchise has helped to establish Jason Statham as one of this generation’s biggest action stars. He credits a solid martial arts background coupled with a rigorous training/nutritional regimen for helping him to achieve his now famously chiseled physique. It’s also allowed him to perform his own stunts!
6. Gerard Butler – 300 (2007)
In preparing for the role of Leonidas in the testosterone-driven epic 300
, Butler utilized a specially designed “300-rep workout”; a brutal, total-body routine that involves everything from deadlifts to tire flipping. He also took in some sessions with Venezuelan bodybuilder Franco LiCastro.
5. Bruce Lee – Enter the Dragon (1973)
Flex Wheeler, Shawn Ray, Rachel McClish, Lou Ferrigno, Lee Haney, and Dorian Yates are just some of the bodybuilding names who credit Lee with having influenced their own careers. Although he never weighed more than 145 pounds, Lee was legendary for the total mastery he achieved over his own body and the mind-blowing feats of strength and muscularity he was able to perform.
4. Dolph Lundgren – Rocky IV (1985)
Standing 6’5” tall and weighing 245 pounds of solid muscle, Drago looked like a Soviet mad scientist’s genetic experiment gone wrong. At one point during filming, Lundgren accidentally hit Stallone for real, putting him in the hospital for four days with swelling around his heart.
3. Jean-Claude Van Damme – Bloodsport (1987)
made JCVD a household name the world over. Not only was he ripped to shreds but he displayed a level of athleticism not typically associated with western action stars. Today, at 51 years of age, the “Muscles from Brussels” continues to train intensely and claims he’s just as flexible as he was 25 years ago.
2. Sylvester Stallone – Rocky III (1982)
The third installment of the Rocky franchise marked Stallone’s physical transition from a beefy tough guy to a shredded-to-the-bone, ultra-muscled action star. In preparing to fight Clubber Lang, Sly got his bodyfat percentage down to a startling 2.8% and his bodyweight down to 155 pounds of lean muscle. And he did all this while writing and directing the actual movie!
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger – Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Conan not only established Arnold as an action movie icon, it set an industry standard in which all action stars would henceforth have to be built like bodybuilding champions. “The Oak” prepared for the role by adding activities like rope climbing, horseback riding and swimming to his already demanding bodybuilding routine. So great did his physical conditioning become, that he took time out from his burgeoning movie career to win the 1980 Mr. Olympia title!