Our regular readers might know that I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to superheroes. And Batman has been one of my long term favorites.

If you’ve enjoyed Christian Bale as Batman as much as I have, then you may have looked into how he got so ripped.

Especially when you look at the difference between The Machinist and today.

It’s a seriously scary transformation.

So we decided to find out if we could get some details about his training and diet plan to see if he has some unique approaches.

Here’s what we found.

Who Is Christian Bale?

Christian Bale is an English actor who has featured in the lead and supporting roles in blockbuster movies like Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises, The Fighter, and American Psycho.

One of his earliest successes came at age 13 in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun, but it wasn’t until his lead role in American Psycho in 2000 that his career took off.

He seems to favor dark and complex characters, and these tend to bring him from one extreme to another.

What has intrigued us most is how he seems to achieve an extreme body transformation.

More on that shortly.

This obviously means that he has figured out how his body reacts to a specific workout routine and diet to build muscle with such consistency.

Any bodybuilder will know how difficult it can be to go through such drastic changes, and Bale seems to have gained full control over the process.

Bale’s Extreme Physical Changes

christian bale transformation

One of Bale’s biggest successes has been The Dark Knight. But from a body change perspective, I think Batman Begins was the bigger success.

Why’s that?

Just take a look at photos from The Machinist and compare them to Batman Begins. He might not be as ripped in his first Batman appearance as he is now, but those movies were released only about 18 months apart.

Now, I would guess that Christian would not want to go through the diet required for becoming extremely skinny again.

According to some sources, he consumed a calorie deficit of fewer than 300 calories a day to lose 60 pounds. And ironically, it seemed to be down to a typo in writing the screenplay [1].

“It's the actors who are prepared to make fools of themselves who are usually the ones who come to mean something to the audience.”

 

- Christian Bale

On the other hand, the rewards of his power exercises for the Batman movies were impressive muscle growth and a much healthier appearance.

Now, let’s get to some workout tips.

The Christian Bale Workout Routine

On the other hand, the rewards of his power exercises for the Batman movies were impressive muscle growth and a much healthier appearance.

Now, let’s get to some workout tips.

1 - American Psycho

christian bale american psycho

Patrick Bateman is the main character in American Psycho, who is a complex psychopath and serial killer.

The movie shows that the character is big into physical fitness, as there are several scenes where he is working out.

But Christian’s preparation for the role would have involved a lot more strength training than what you see in the movie.

Here’s what we have gathered as Christian Bale’s workout routine to prepare for this move.

Day 1 and 5

  • Pull-Ups: 3 sets of 12 reps

These power movements will trigger your shoulders and back, and if 12 reps get too easy, then start strapping on a weighted vest

  • Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 6 reps

You’ll get more range of motion with dumbbells than with a barbell, and this should also give a bit more flexibility with targeting specific muscles.

  • Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 8 reps

Dumbbell curls should be a staple of any upper body routine as they are the best way to show off those biceps.

  • Bar Dips: 3 sets of 8 reps

We love that he picks a lot of compound movements to engage more muscles like in bar dips. Remember to use a weighted vest if this gets easier.

  • Lateral Raises: 3 sets of 12 reps

You might notice that Bale had very broad shoulders in this movie, which would have been the result of the heavy focus on shoulders.

Day 3 and 6

christian bale cardio
After a load of compound movements on the previous day, there’s more of a focus now on fat-burning to show off that new muscle mass you’ll be creating.

  • High-Intensity Interval Training: 12 times 30 seconds high / 30 seconds low

Do these on a stationary bike, treadmill, or elliptical machine

  • Low-Intensity Cardio for 30 minutes

You can pick your favorite cardio machine, and I would recommend a rower to avoid targeting just one muscle group.

  • Core And Abs Training

This will be a mix of squats and deadlifts as well as ab crunches.

Day 2, 4, And 7

These are dedicated rest days, but you might still want to do a bit of light cardio and stretching. The cardio training may help to increase blood flow to strained muscles to help repair them, while the stretching might go a long way to relaxing muscle tissues and speeding up recovery [2]

2 - The Batman Routine

christian bale batman

For the first Batman movie, Bale had to start from a very skinny build, and from the interviews we’ve seen, he didn’t seem to focus as much on interval training.

It seemed like he focused more on weight training, and he also worked out on more days to gain that physique.

Day 1 Back

  • Military Press: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Standing Barbell Rows: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Shrugs: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Wide Pull-Ups: 3 sets of 25 reps
  • Power Cleans: 3 sets of 6
  • Deadlift: 3 sets of 10 reps

Day 2 Arms

  • Concentration Curls: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Triceps Extensions: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Lying Skull Crushers: : 3 sets of 10 reps

Day 3 Shoulders

  • Front Raises: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Overhead Presses: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Side Raises: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Closed Grip Pull-Ups: 3 sets of 25 reps

Day 4 Legs

  • Leg Curls: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Leg Press: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Front Squats: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Back Squats: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Power Lunges: 3 sets of 25 reps
  • Calf Raises: 3 sets of 25 reps

Day 5 Chest

  • Bench Press: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Cable Flyes: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Dumbbell Flyes: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Wide Push-Ups: 3 sets of 25 reps

Cardio And Abs

christian bale push up

On each of the days, Christian would tag on some cardio or ab workouts to burn off some fat and improve things around his core.

This would include 20 to 30 minutes of alternating 30-second sprints and 60-second jogs.

For the abs, the exercise plan was 3 rounds of 100 different crunches.

Other celebrities:

What Did Christian Bale Eat For Batman?

So, the above workout tips will only do so much for the body. You’ll also need a diet to get to a superhero body goal.

1 - His Approach To Macros

macros

For Batman, he needed to take a high-calorie approach, and that focused a lot on carbs and protein.

I saw an interview a few years ago, where he mentioned a 15/35/50 split for fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

That’s not a conventional approach and could have had to do with fattening up a bit first after the level of weight loss for The Machinist.

This would also require quite a few protein shakes, check out the best protein powders here.

2 - Getting The Timing Right

vegetables divided on plate

He used a set time schedule for all the foods he ate and would average one meal every 2 to 3 hours.

This was important to provide the necessary energy and protein to speed up the muscle-building effects.

3 - Carefully Planned Carbs

carbs

What he did avoid is highly processed carbohydrates, and instead went for the more complex ones from vegetables.

One article mentioned that he tends to load up on the veggies before noon to get more energy for his workouts.

FAQs

How much weight did Christian Bale put on for Batman?

Christian Bale put on 100 pounds for Batman Begins, but that is from very low weight for a previous role. He started off with being about 60 pounds underweight, but 40 pounds of muscle is still an impressive size to achieve.

What was Christian Bale's diet for The Machinist?

Christian Bale's diet for The Machinist was an extremely net negative calorie diet. On some days, it was as low as 200 calories from an apple and a can of tuna.

Could You Do The Christian Bale Workout Routine?

You need a dedicated work ethic to stick to a workout program that involves so much work at the gym.

Of course, it’s easier when you’re being paid millions to do this as your full-time job, but getting in shape like this is never easy.

I would say if you could even dedicate half the amount of time to exercise, your physique, strength, and overall health would make impressive improvements.

Try it out for a few weeks and let us know how it worked out for you.

Could You Do The Christian Bale Workout Routine?

You need a dedicated work ethic to stick to a workout program that involves so much work at the gym.

Of course, it’s easier when you’re being paid millions to do this as your full-time job, but getting in shape like this is never easy.

I would say if you could even dedicate half the amount of time to exercise, your physique, strength, and overall health would make impressive improvements.

Try it out for a few weeks and let us know how it worked out for you.

References:

1 - https://www.huffpost.com/entry/michael-ironside-christian-bale-weight-loss-machinist_n_5962132
2 - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257811622_Stretching_and_Its_Effects_on_Recovery_A_Review

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