Justin Theroux worked in Hollywood for two decades before he was given his first leading man role, in Damon Lindelof’s adaptation of The Leftovers. That seems shocking given the New York actor’s electrifying presence, chiseled good looks, and insanely shredded physique.
Now in the show’s third and final season, those assets are no longer a secret, with Theroux’s torso on display on city buses and billboards all over the world. Though always lean, Theroux was able to add dense muscle to his frame with a program built by trainer Jason Walsh of Rise Movement, who introduced him to a variety of complex movements, like front squats.
For Theroux, training with Walsh was not only a way to look good for the camera, but also a way to energize him through the long days on set filming the HBO series.
How important is fitness to you, both personally and for your roles?
Fitness is extremely important, but like anyone I almost always dread it. That being said, when I go for even short stretches without some form of movement, I find my mood and general mental health suffers. It seems antithetical, but exhausting yourself in a workout almost always pays dividends later in the day by boosting mental and physical energy. As for roles, it depends purely on what the demands are of the character. That being said, and as I mentioned before, getting in a pre-work workout is almost always a good idea prior to a long day on set.
How has your training evolved over your career?
In my twenties I almost never hit the gym, but that was mainly a result of a much more active lifestyle in New York, where I was almost always walking, on a bicycle or a skateboard to get places. So in that sense it was mostly cardio. Nowadays, I try to mostly work with simple weights, but at a clip with very short rests in between sets in an effort to get a metabolic workout while maintaining muscle.
How strict are you about your diet?
I’m not strict. I give myself most of the things I want except sweets. If I have anything going for me, it is that I’m consistent about my eating. So if I have lapses at the gym I don’t feel like I’m starting over again. The biggest boon to my overall health has probably been the elimination of sugar, which is much harder than you think just on a practical level, as sugar is snuck into almost everything. I highly recommend sugar elimination to anyone trying to change habits. It’s a drag at first, but like anything, that craving usually goes away after a few months. I honestly think at some point we’ll be looking at sugar the same way we look at tobacco.
Are there any athletics you do in addition to your work in the gym?
I have never been very sporty, but I love to bike. Not long, torturous rides Tour de France–style, rather I like just grabbing my bike for a cruise around New York. It’s [like] the best video game [and you’re] going much faster than cars.
“Justin’s body responded to complex stresses in a tremendous way,” Walsh says. “Once he added these moves to his regime, it unlocked a whole new body for him.”
Sample Workout: Complex (by Jason Walsh)
Complete 3 sets with no rest between sets.
Sled Push: 30 seconds
Farmer Carries: 30 seconds
Banded Hip Extension: 30 seconds
TRX Shoulder Complex: 30 seconds
Complete 4 sets, with 3 minutes of rest between heavy sets (or less time if you aren’t going heavy).
Straight Bar Front Squat: 8 reps
Glute Ham Raise: 8 reps
Bulgarian Split Squat (bodyweight): 8 reps, each side
Complete 4 sets, with 2 minutes of rest between sets.
Football Bar Squeeze Press: 8 reps
Land Mine Bent Over Row: 8 reps
Complete 4 sets, with no rest between sets.
Push-Ups: AMRAP (as many reps as possible)
TRX Feet Elevated Row: AMRAP (as many reps as possible)
“I stay away from diets, but I like to do a little intermittent fasting with Justin,” Walsh says. “For two or three weeks he stops eating after 7 at night, until 7 in the morning. So that is about a 12-hour fast. Then we add amino acids at night. He has a lot of success with that.”