As an elite varsity soccer player getting selected for the Gunnery, CT’s all-star prep-school team, Jesse Lee Soffer, who also rowed crew and played basketball, cared little about building bulk.
“I liked being one of the fastest guys on the field,” the 32-year-old triple Emmy nominee recalls.
But playing hard-charging Detective Jay Halstead on NBC’s Chicago P.D., the New Yorker has come to favor a different kind of body comp. “I’m playing a cop in Chicago,” Soffer points out. “So I have to look beefier—like a guy who eats steak and potatoes.”
That means hitting Chicago’s Performance Training Systems gym at least three times a week, for weight training and hypertrophy conditioning that involves supersetting muscle groups. “I’ve been doing a lot of deadlifting and squatting for overall strength,” he says. “And then I push a sled on a huge turf track at the end of the workouts. It’s brutal!”
The ex-child actor—he played Bobby Brady in two Brady Bunch movies—and former cast member of daytime’s long-running soap As the World Turns, mixes in German Volume Training as well.
“You’re doing 10 sets of a few different exercises, 10 reps each, but at lower weights,” Soffer explains. “Right now I’m doing a 5/10/15 program where I start off going heavy for five reps. On the next exercise, I do 10 reps at a medium weight, and then by the end of this superset, I’m on 15 reps of light weight. I can barely get through it.”
That type of training requires lots of fuel—and nothing’s off the menu. “Dude, right now everything is on the green-light list,” he says. “I try to stay away from carbs, but it can get cold in Chicago, and some sort of fettuccine Bolognese is right up my alley. That’s why I try to get to the gym as much as possible!”
Chicago P.D. airs Wednesdays on NBC at 10 p.m. ET.