Joe Manganiello’s Work Out Tips

August 6, 2010 by  

Nowadays actors not only have to act well, but they have to look good doing it too. True Blood has the sexiest and most attractive cast right now on television. But how do they keep their bodies so toned? Resident werewolf Alcide Herveaux, played by Joe Manganiello reveals in his interview with Muscle & Body magazine the work out regime that keeps his body in shape.

Before True Blood or the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama for that matter, Joe‘s goal was to be a naturally lean and fit athlete. As a varsity basketball, volleyball, and football star, the 6’5″ athlete snubbed steroids, looking for a natural way to develop body he always wanted.

It’s his role as a werewolf on True Blood that has given Joe the opportunity to create his ripped body. Joe plays Alcide, who has been assigned to protect Sookie Stackhouse as she searches for her vampire beau Bill Compton. In order to channel his inner animal, he beasts through a cardio and protein intensive regimen he refers to as the Werewolf Workout, which is a 6 day, twice a day routine originally created by celebrity trainer Ron Matthews (known for sculpting Hugh Jackman‘s body for his role as Wolverine in the X-Men movies).

The 33 year old Pittsburgh native has used his classical training and natural athleticism to dive into the acting world. He’s done television sitcoms, such as “How I Met Your Motherand “Til’ Death”, as well physically arduous action roles in “Spiderman” and” Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia”. He’s been known to do his own risky stunts, even pulling a back muscle when he learned slamball on the CW drama “One Tree Hill”. For Joe, he attributes his success to the blue collared work ethic he learned from his family growing up and his work out regimen is simply part of the job.

As a kid, Joe prayed to be a werewolf. Michael J. Fox is partly to blame for this when he made being a werewolf look cool in his movie “Teen Wolf”. The bigger inspiration for being a were was from the black and white monster movies with Bella Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr. From these movies, Joe’s inspiration was sparked; he drew monsters and read Stephen King books to the point were his dad has to take them away from him. During his daily trip to church every morning with his Catholic elementary school, Joe spent the time praying to become a werewolf. As a kid, he heard that if you prayed hard enough for something, God would answer you. After a few weeks though, when his prayers weren’t heard, he started questioning God. Now it seems his faith has been restored through Alan Ball‘s True Blood.

With his role as a werewolf, he’s finally allowed to let the beast within out. Joe notes,

“That’s what is so interesting to me about werewolves in the pantheon of monsters. Growing up as a naturally big kid, you’re taught to be responsible, not lash out, not use your size. I think there’s a definite parallel between that and Alcide. Being a werewolf, there’s a real sense of catharsis letting that beast out.”

For Joe, it’s important to look the part. For a character who spends a lot of time as an animal, Alcide’s body needed to reflect that of his wolf counterpart. Animals are generally leaner and very muscular. Alcide, in Joe‘s eyes, needed to have a more primitive look.

When he teamed up with Ron, in order to get into shape, Joe began to focus on cardio and diet. The 6 day program includes a 45 minute cardio work out before breakfast and then another work out during the day with weights. Joe adjusted quickly to the regimen citing,

“A lot of actors he trains do not come from an athletic background, so they’re really kind of working out for the first time, or they’re trying to pack on a lot of muscle in a short amount of time. I was an athlete growing up and right up to the point when I started studying acting. So I come from that background, and it’s more about cutting up and sculpting and working on strengths that I already had.”

As for his diet, Joe has a lot of protein in his diet. He’s constantly eating to keep his metabolism up, which tends to get the people around him–his girlfriend, his cast mates, people on the set–joking that he’s never without food in his hands. Sometimes he can be found at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse, where you can eat all the meat you want. Joe reveals he can sit at the restaurant for 2-3 hours eating protein. The only carbs Joe has in his diet is oatmeal in the morning. He also has had to give up sugar and bread in exchange for clean forms of protein and fibrous vegetables. Though he does have some fruit, he’s eats a lot more high protein low fat meat, such as salmon or buffalo meat. He’ll also have lots of egg whites and whey protein throughout the day.

Aside from eating all day, Joe also researches his role as Alcide. Before becoming friendly with the wolf trainers on True Blood, Joe watched National Geographic videos about a man who lives with wolves. Now that he’s made friends with his golden American timber wolf counterpart and the trainers, he’ s been allowed to take the wolf on a 45 minute walk.

Though he can’t actually become a wolf, Joe does do a lot of his own stunts. Though he isn’t an actual stuntman, as an actor he’s had opportunities to use his athleticism. The producers tend to draw the line on what Joe can’t do before Joe draws the line. He’ll do whatever they let him do. However, for extreme stunts, his stunt double is called in. However, the stuff he has been allowed to do has been exciting and has made his heart race. Being able to do some of his own stunts has made him a better actor.

Thankfully, Joe has made it through all his stunts in one piece. Though he has had some injuries: a broken elbow, a broken thumb, and a torn MCL. In a four episode arc in One Tee Hill involving slamball, Joe ended up pulling a muscle next to his spine, which made it hurt to sit, to lie down, and even stand up. However, all of his injuries healed completely.

Was it an injury that changed his plans from sports to acting? For Joe, had he not been accepted into Carnegie Mellon, he would have pursued sports in college. However, another decision for him to change his future goals was that the people around him were starting to use steroids. It was starting to look as if he wanted to compete with these people, he’d have to start using steroids as well.  He didn’t want that. Instead he sculpted his body naturally; though it may have taken longer and a lot of hard work, he can be proud of his body.

Alan Ball has called Joe, the complete package. To explain this Joe says,

“I come from an [acting] background where they taught us all the forms of classical theater. What’s great is I get to work on a project as great as “True Blood” where I get to combine that classical training with dialect work and include my athletic background. When I was a kid thinking about what I wanted to do for a living, I kind of envisioned something that could combine athleticism with research skills. I love reading; I love history. Thankfully, it’s all come to fruition.”

How does Joe keep his work out regimen while shooting True Blood? While Joe doesn’t like doing heavy work outs before he acts, he does have weights in his trailer for long 16-18 hour workdays. Working out twice a day and eating nonstop is like a full time job. The Werewolf Work Out has kept him busy. When he has time off, he looks forward to playing basketball again.

His training discipline has definitely helped Joe’s acting. He says,

“I approach the artist’s lifestyle, the actor’s lifestyle, from an athletic perspective. But I think it’s also that I come from Pittsburgh and a blue-collar background. I used to work in construction. People can say whatever they want about talent, but I just try to get in there and work harder than the next guy. I also think coming from team sports [helps] — TV is a team sport; it’s collaboration. I come from that type of mentality.”

Want a body like Joe’s? Click the link below to the fundamentals to the Werewolf Work Out, created by Ron Matthews. It will definitely have people howling with envy.

Thanks to Chris Mann, here are the fundamentals of the Werewolf Workout:


(Photo Credit: Cory Sorensen)