Zac Efron has always been in good shape. Way back when he was a Disney star, his body was small but tight and lean. Over the years he’s filled it out with an athletic ripped look. But, for his latest incarnation as Baywatch hunk Matt Brody, he’s taken his body to a whole new level. He has redefined what shredded mass is all about.
Inside Zac’s Training Zone
Zac is an early morning workout guy. He’s up at the crack of dawn and in the gym by 6am. That allows him to train without distraction. It also allows him to burn maximum calories, with his body in a near ketogenic state after not having eaten for several hours. That’s why he has his breakfast after the workout. He will, however, down a pre-workout shake 20 minutes before hitting the gym (more on that in our Baywatch nutrition exposed).
Zac’s training involves a three day weight training split that covers Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Here’s the break-down:
- Monday: Chest / Triceps
- Wednesday: Legs / Shoulders
- Friday: Back / Biceps
In addition to these set workouts, Zac and the Rock would regularly engage in impromptu challenge type workouts on the set of the movie. Long after the cameras had stopped rolling they’d be pounding it on pull ups or flipping tires in order to push themselves to the next level.
The Weight Sessions
Let’s go inside Zac’s weight training workouts. First, here are some key training hacks that allowed him to ramp up his training intensity.
Work the Angles
In order to achieve complete development of a muscle it needs to be worked in
direct opposition to gravity. This will ensure that maximum force is exerted
against maximum resistance. Muscle fibres have a range of
insertion points and angles of orientation. That means that, to work, the muscle
fully, Zac needed to come at it from different angles.
The two key body parts that are applicable here are the deltoids and the pectorals.
That’s why he was sure to include movements that hit the medial delt through internal rotation,
such as front raises, along with pressing movements. For pecs, he used a variety of
angles on your pressing movements.
Alter the Plane
You cannot achieve full development by limiting your workouts to a single direction
of movement. A prime example is the back. Pull Ups and Lat-Pull-downs operate in
the frontal plane. Rowing movements are sagittal plane exercises. You need both for
Bottom Line: For each body part Zac made sure that he was exercising up and down as
well as in and out.
Use Multi-Joint & Single-Joint Movements
Multi-joint, or compound, movements formed the basis of Zac’s training.
However, isolation exercises that target the smaller muscles groups, like the
biceps, triceps and hamstrings, were also needed for maximal stimulation of those muscle
Changing up his hand and foot spacing on exercises like the bench press and squats
allowed Zac to work different aspects of a muscle or even to change the focus to a
different muscle group (think of the close grip bench press for triceps).
Chest / Triceps
Chest training is a key part of Zac’s prep for this role. Every scene that he’s in will show his chest. A full, rounded set of pecs with a full sweep from the outside right into the mid-line is what he needed to impress both in and out of a t-shirt.
Zac also nows that the triceps make up two thirds of the upper arms. For that massive guns look when his arms are hanging relaxed at his side (which is most of the time) he needed to develop thickness in his triceps.
Here’s the exact routine that Zac is using right now to develop full, striated pecs and tris:
Flat Bench Press: Zac favored the grand-daddy of all chest moves as his foundational mass builder. But, rather than concentrating on hoisting as much weight as possible, he was all about isolating and putting maximum tension on the pecs. To do that he kept his hips and scapular down throughout the exercise. He also concentrated on a slow negative, lowering the bar to a count of four. While doing the move he was consciously pushing his elbows inward as the bar was going up and down. This fully contracted the pecs, keeping them under constant tension.
Here’s Zac’s rep scheme:
10 / 8 / 5 / 5 / 3
Rest between sets would be 90 seconds, during which he kept hydrated, stretched and worked on refining his form.
Tricep Pushdowns / Triceps Overhead Extensions: These two triceps moves are performed as a super – set, with no rest between them. Both moves are done on an overhead cable machine. Zac focused on keeping constant tension on the triceps at all times. He did 10 reps on each move before taking a 90 second break. Three of these supersets were completed.
Incline Dumbbell Press / Machine Chest Press: This was another super set, where Zac pounded his chest into submission. Reps on the dumbbell press were slow, with the same inward intention used during the bench press. He’d do three supersets, with 8-10 reps on each set. Rest between supersets would, again, be a strict 90 seconds.
On the last set, for both moves, Zac would do a drop set. This involved pounding out 8 reps to failure and then immediately grabbing a weight that was 20% lighter and smashing out four more reps. This would continue until he’d dome three drops.
Skull Crushers / Cable Flyes: Another super-set, but this time Zac mixed up the body-parts. Skull crushers for triceps were light for higher reps, in the 12-15 range to bring out the definition in the three heads of his triceps muscle. Cable flyes were also a definition move, designed to reveal the striations across his inner pecs. He’d perform 3 sets of 12-15 on each move.
Dips: Zac’s final move had him pounding out strict chest dips to failure for three sets. Then he’d collapse in a heap on the floor!
Legs / Shoulders
Squats: Zac would go hard and heavy with this basic mass builder: Five sets of full squats with a descending pyramid of 12 / 10 / 8 / 5 / 5.
Military Press; This basic shoulder mass builder was a favorite of Zac’s. Again, he’d go super heavy, with sets of 10 / 8 / 6 / 5 / 5. Occasionally, he’d challenge himself with one rep max sets.
Leg Press: Hard and heavy once more for three sets of ten. Each set he’d vary his foot positioning to hit his quads from a different angle.
Front Raises: This is an isolation movement that hits the front delts. These are the key to that impressive wide V-taper that Zac has been rocking lately. He did three sets of 12 reps on each arm.
Leg extensions: This isolation move brings out the detail in the quads. Zac did slow, controlled reps for 3 sets of 10-12.
Back / Biceps
Deadlift: Zac threw himself into heavy deadlifting, knowing that this was the key to back mass. His form was strict as he pounded out sets of 10 / 8 / 5 / 5 / 3 with 90 seconds rest between sets.
Barbell Curls: Strict form, again, was the key to allowing Zac to get the most out of this most basic of bicep moves. Four second negatives allowed him to keep constant tension on the target muscle. He did three strict sets of 10 reps.
Lat Pull-down: This move allowed Zac to build width in his lats. With his shoulders down to maximize lat involvement, he performed 3 sets of 10 reps.
Cable Rows / Preacher Curls: Zac finished up with a superset that hit the lower lats and worked on his biceps peak. For both exercises, the focus was on slow controlled reps, with a four second negative. He completed four supersets, with 90 seconds rest between supersets. On the last set of each exercise he performed a drop set, going down by three drops to really pound his muscles into submission.
The Result of His Labors
Zac’s three day split routine has certainly been doing wonders for him. It’s allowed him to add at least 20 pounds of pure muscle, while getting his body fat level around 10%. Those numbers add up to an incredibly impressive physique, which is only getting better.