Here's how Sean Penn got his lean and muscled look for 'The Gunman'

Updated: Apr 06, 2015, 15:54 IST | Hassan M Kamal |

There is no age to get fit. Hollywood actor Sean Penn underwent special training to develop a lean, mean and muscled look in his new release, 'The Gunman'. The regime that the 50-plus actor followed was nothing short of inspiring

Dieting for optimal muscle gain
It takes a lot of discipline and determination to get into the business of muscle gain, and Sean Penn had to take on that challenge through following a strict nutritional plan. As seen below, his strategy was simple: add more calories to the regular diet to gain a well buffed and toned body.

Sean Penn in a scene from The Gunman
Sean Penn in a scene from The Gunman

>> Increased his intake of protein in the form of lean meats, eggs, fish and chicken.
Expert’s opinion: "Sean Penn has taken a perfect diet which has a comprehensive mix of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Besides, these are natural foods. Lean meats, eggs, fish and chicken rich in protein give the right combination for bulking the muscles," says city-based Dr Anil Patil. "One can also add nuts and oils that are essential to keep up the metabolism and a good source of fats that give energy," he adds.

Sean Penn in a scene from The Gunman
Sean Penn in a scene from The Gunman

>> For a leaner look with less body fat, he relied on well-measured carbohydrate sources including wheat and other grains.
Expert opinion: "Wheat and other grains synthesise better and give a leaner look," says Patil.

>> Natural herbal supplements that added up to the effect of more body fat loss and revealed a better toned body.
Expert’s opinion: "Supplements are essential. Of these, whey protein is a basic well-known supplement. However, it is advisable to consult a doctor before one takes up any kind of supplement. Especially, if there is a history of some disease or intolerance to the substance," cautions Dr Patil.

Weight training
Penn took up a stringent form of weight training that enabled him to lift weights in minimal repetitions but with heavy weights. The muscle he gained from this practice is closely formatted to the classic body building plan of lifting weights to a maximum of at least four times a week. However, you can’t  start just like that, warns fitness therapist Neeraj Mehta. "Anyone above 50 must consult  their physician and get his consent before beginning with any fitness training, more so if they have a medical condition. They should go ahead only if they are cleared," suggests Mehta.

Sets: 5
Repetitions: 5
Rest: 90 seconds
Expert’s Opinion: "It’s a good exercise to strengthen the hips, lower back, hamstring as well as abdominal muscles. However, the sets of five could be a bit too much for beginners above 50," says Mehta.

Sumo dead lift high pull
Sets: 5
Repetitions: 5
Rest: 90 seconds
Expert’s opinion: "As we age, the release of growth hormones reduce, which causes loss in muscle mass. Dead lift is one of the best exercises to strengthen legs and release growth hormones. But the chances of injuries are also high. Hence, this exercise must be done under close supervision of a trainer. The number of sets depend on the fitness level and experience of a person," informs Mehta.

Power clean
Sets: 5
Repetitions: 5
Rest: 90 seconds

Expert’s Opinion: "Usually, we do not recommend this exercise to those above 50. The chances of jerking their shoulders and getting injuries are very high in this exercise," reminds Mehta.

Upper Body Exercises
After successful completion of all the three powerful lifts — Sumo dead lift, Thruster and Power clean — Penn would focus on at least one body part with these isolation station-based exercises for four sets of ten repetitions each for a muscular upper body.

>> Military press: This builds strong front and rear deltoids and works the core throughout.
>> Reverse fly: This helps balance and strengthen the often overlooked and under-stimulated rear deltoids.

>> Incline dumbbell fly:  This helps develop your upper pecs and gives the chest a fuller, muscular look.
>> Dip: This works the triceps and front deltoids.
>> Press-up: The classic press-up is amazing for chest and triceps development.

>> Cable pull-down: Aims for full flexion and extension of the upper arm.
>> Half dip: This exercise targets the triceps.

>> Standing cable curl: The classic standing bicep curl helps to achieve fuller arms.
>> Preacher curl: This helps hammer the biceps to the limit.

What the expert says

Isolation workouts focus on either a specific body part or an individual joint or a muscle. They are referred to as isolation exercise when they involve only a single joint, but when the focus is a body part like chest or legs, they are called isolation station-based exercises.

"Normally, isolation exercises are not recommended to those above 50, as they focus on a single joint or muscle, and can be a bit strenuous. However, they are very useful in sculpting a specific muscle to one’s liking. What we recommend instead is isolation station-based exercises which work on a particular body part like Cable pull down, which works on back and legs as well as triceps. Penn’s workout regime is a good combination of both, and this is a very good strategy," says Mehta.

However, one is advised to check with a trainer before copying someone else's fitness plan as not everything works for everyone. "The secret is to know one’s body and train accordingly. An expert trainer can guide you in the right direction," sums up Mehta.

For vegetarians
There aren't many alternatives for vegetarians. There are sprouts, tofu and soya, but one has to eat 10 bowls of sprouts which equals to two breast of chicken.

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