Actor Chris Pratt shirtless holding a gun
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

The SEAL Training That Got Chris Pratt Fit for ‘The Terminal List’

Jared Shaw was an instructor at the Naval Special Warfare Training Center in Coronado, CA, when he first met Chris Pratt. The actor was preparing to portray a Navy SEAL in Zero Dark Thirty. Given Shaw’s multiple combat deployments as a special operator before becoming an instructor, he made a perfect mentor. But neither of the men could have known how meaningful and life-altering that meeting back in 2012 would become.

“Chris was still doing Parks and Recreation at that time and not in the shape he is today,” says Shaw. “I was supposed to work with him and a few other guys, but because he was just starting this journey I ended up spending a lot more time with Chris.” Pratt would use that experience shadowing and training with Shaw as a launching pad for his impressive physical transformation into Starlord for Guardians of the Galaxy. “I was only going to do a few days, but ended up hanging with him for the entire movie.”

Their partnership didn’t stop there either. Once Shaw transitioned out of the military, he continued to accompany Pratt on movies as an advisor, stunt performer, actor, and personal trainer. During years of friendship, Shaw shared more stories with Pratt from his service, and they aspired to work on a project that might bring insight to the military experience. That opportunity came in the form of the manuscript for The Terminal List by author Jack Carr, a former Navy SEAL sniper. Carr was a high-ranking officer who had reached out to Shaw years earlier to help him transition out of the teams, a kindness that Shaw never forgot.

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“I was blown away by the writing and passed it along to Chris,” says Shaw. Pratt had also become a crucial figure in Shaw’s transition, helping the veteran pursue a career in the film industry. Pratt was immediately drawn to playing the protagonist Lieutenant Commander James Reece, so he optioned the rights alongside director Antoine Fuqua—and just like that, they had a “go” series. This time, Shaw wasn’t just along for the ride, he was also producing and playing a member of Reece’s platoon, Ernest ‘Boozer’ Vickers.

Even being a producer, Shaw insisted on auditioning for the role of Vickers. “Chris helped me tape an audition while we were in Australia together for Thor: Love and Thunder, he says. Pratt helped Shaw run a few scenes in a hotel room reading opposite him. “Chris even helped me out with my hair—threw some gel in it to help give me the right aesthetic.” Once production began, the veteran returned the favor by building a training program that would help Pratt move and look like a SEAL team commander.

Chris Pratt’s Nutrition for The Terminal List

Shaw started by coordinating a meal plan with Derek Johnson, their on-set chef and Pratt’s nutritionist. They decided on doing intermittent fasting throughout the process to help Pratt keep his eating habits in check while getting the appropriate amount of calories during an eight-hour period between noon and 8 p.m. This also helped him maintain the muscle mass he’d built up while leaning out at the same time. The majority of the lunches or dinners were built of lean protein like chicken, vegetables, and healthy fats like avocado. First meal of the day would commonly be some form of eggs. The actor relied on copious cups of black coffee to get him through the mornings.

How Chris Pratt Trained for The Terminal List

The training program was based on the routines Shaw would do with SEALs while deployed overseas. “I wanted it to feel just like we were on base getting it in between missions,” he says. In keeping with that strategy, they’d commonly work out with little to no equipment, relying on bodyweight exercises. “There were so many locations we were going to, it would have been impossible to ship gym equipment back and forth, so I had him train just like we did when we were down range.” That meant lots of squats, pushups, and pullups on tree branches or ceiling beams.

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“There is a different kind of strength that comes from training like we do in the SEAL teams,” says Shaw. “It’s not about how much you can curl. It’s about if you can carry your teammate to safety if he gets hit. Or can you sprint with your pack to the extraction point if something goes wrong?” The routines they relied on are familiar to those in the SEAL community—like the “Murph” CrossFit WOD (1 mile run followed by 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 air squats, and another mile) and 8-count body builders. They worked out like that from Monday to Thursday with just bodyweight, then capped off the working week with “Frogman Fridays” where Pratt would do it wearing his full combat kit.

“Since Chris had a lot of scenes with his gear on, it only made sense for him to train that way—and man did it suck,” says Shaw. Not one to dish it out without being able to take it, Shaw joined Pratt for his workouts so they were taking the punishment side by side. “Being a part of the team is a huge part of being a SEAL. So it was important that everything we did, we did together. ”

The SEAL Workouts Chris Pratt Used to Become James Reece

There’s a reason 8-count body builders are a staple of the standard fitness training for Navy SEALs. It’s a brutal workout that hits multiple important muscle groups and is a great test of endurance. During their physical preparation for The Terminal List, Shaw had Pratt do anywhere from 100 to 150 of them a day, spliced within a run. They would run for 100 yards, then do 10 8-count body builders, and repeat until they hit their target amount.

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How to Do 8-Count Body Builders

For this exercise you’ll perform eight movements sequentially to a counted beat, where the eighth beat brings you back to the top of the sequence to start again. Begin by standing with feet shoulder-width apart and arms straight at your sides. For added difficulty, add a weighted vest.

  • Count 1: Drop down into a squat position with hands flat on the ground, just outside feet, directly below shoulders.
  • Count 2: Kick your feet straight back into a plank.
  • Count 3: Lower into the bottom phase of a pushup.
  • Count 4: Drive yourself up to the top of a pushup.
  • Count 5: Keeping your arms planted in plank position, kick both of your legs out into a plank jack.
  • Count 6: Jump legs back into plank position.
  • Count 7: Hop feet up toward hands.
  • Count 8: Jump up to the starting position, standing tall with arms straight at your sides.

The Terminal List is now available on Prime Video


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