Jean Claude Van Damme's Workout & Diet (Formula Revealed)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: May 10, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
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Jean Claude Van Damme has built an outstanding physique over the years, but the most interesting part is how he managed to keep it during his whole acting career.

As a Certified Personal Trainer, I wanted to understand how Van Damme used his martial arts and weightlifting training to become so fit.

How can you adapt his workout routine and diet plan to your own fitness regimen?

After thorough research, I've created a blueprint for Van Damme's workout and diet strategy, offering you a pathway to achieve comparable results.

Jean Claude Van Damme Celebrity Stats/Career Highlights

  • Age: 63 years old
  • Height: 5 foot 9 inches (1.77 m)
  • Weight:  87 kg (192 pounds)
  • Waist: 34 inches
  • Chest: 43 inches

Workout Routine

jean claude van damme workout and diet

Van Damme has a strict and intense workout routine that he almost always follows, consisting of weightlifting and cardio.

This approach aligns with the historical evolution of fitness regimens in the action film industry, where a blend of strength training and cardiovascular health has been key to maintaining the iconic physiques of action stars from the 1980s to today.

He lifts weights three times a week with one day in between to recover, a schedule that, in my experience as a health and performance coach, offers optimal muscle growth and recovery, and performs 3 to 4 cardio sessions to maintain his cardiovascular health.

"Doing a workout is great for you — you’ll get your heart rate up, your blood pumping, and your muscles prepped to grow bigger and get stronger. But stringing a series of workouts together into a program can be even better. A workout is a good thing to do, while a program is a habit."

- Alex Polish, Certified Personal Trainer

Day 1: Chest & Biceps & Forearms

On the first workout day of the week, Jean chooses different exercises to hit the chest, bicep, and forearm muscles.

According to scientific studies by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, this form of a bodybuilding split is one of the best for maximizing muscle hypertrophy [1].

Here is the workout:

  • Dumbbell bench press - perform 8 reps for 4 sets and rest for 2 to 5 minutes between the sets.
  • Barbell incline bench press - complete 4 sets for 8 reps and rest for 3 minutes between each set.
  • Parallel bar dips - perform 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for 2 minutes between the sets.
  • Dumbbell flyes - complete 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for 2 to 3 minutes between the set.
  • Standing barbell curls - perform 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for 90 seconds between the sets.
  • Incline dumbbell curls - complete 2 sets of 15 reps and rest for as little as possible between the sets.
  • Barbell wrists curls - perform 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for 90 seconds between each set.
  • Reverse wrist curls - complete 2 sets of 15 reps and rest for as little as possible between the sets.

Related: Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises: At-Home Without a Bench

Day 2: Back & Triceps & Calves

A person working out back triceps and calves

On day 2, Jean focuses on exercises for developing his triceps, back, and calve muscles.

Here is the entire workout:

  • Pull-up - complete 8 reps for 4 sets and rest for 2 to 5 minutes between the sets.
  • Barbell rows - perform 4 sets for 8 reps and rest for 3 minutes between each set.
  • Lat pulldown - complete 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for 2 minutes between the sets.
  • Close-grip barbell bench press - perform 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for 2 to 3 minutes between sets.
  • Arm triceps extensions - complete 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for 90 seconds between the sets.
  • Lying triceps extensions - perform 2 sets of 15 reps and rest for as little as possible between the sets.
  • Standing calf raises - complete 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for 90 seconds between each set.
  • Seated calf raises - perform 2 sets of 15 reps and rest for as little as possible between the sets.

Related: 10 Best Calf Exercises for Mass and Strength

Day 3: Legs & Abs

A man using a barbell for his leg workout

On day 3, Jean focuses on hitting different lower body muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, a strategy that has consistently yielded strong results for my clients in terms of strength and muscle definition.

Also, the core plays an essential part in his third weekly workout.

Here is the entire workout:

  • Barbell back squat - complete 8 reps for 4 sets and rest for 2 to 5 minutes between the sets.
  • Straight leg deadlifts - perform 4 sets for 6 reps and rest for 3 minutes between each set.
  • Standing leg curls - complete 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for 2 minutes between the sets.
  • Machine crunches - perform 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for 2 to 3 minutes between sets.
  • Hack squats - complete 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for 90 seconds between the sets.
  • Half crunches - perform 4 sets of 15 reps and rest for as little as possible between the sets.
  • Russian twists - complete 4 sets of 12 reps and rest for 90 seconds between each set.

Cardio Requirements

Jean performs 3 to 4 cardio sessions weekly. This is particularly important for injury prevention and recovery, especially in martial arts, where agility and cardiovascular health are as crucial as strength.

Most of the time, these are slow-steady cardio options such as 30-minute biking or jogging.

The workouts are placed between each lifting session, so both training aspects have alternating natures.

Related: Low-Intensity Cardio 101 Guide: Benefits and Example Workouts

Workout Principles

A guy in the gym using a barbell in his workout

Progressive Overload

Research from the National Library of Medicine shows that progressive overload is key to attaining a physique like Jean's [2].

To build muscle mass and strength, it's essential to continually increase reps, sets, resistance, and training volume.

This principle also correlates with the psychological aspects of training, where mental resilience and positivity are vital for maintaining intense routines.

Avoid Overtraining

The second principle Jean follows is avoiding overtraining which studies available at the National Institutes of Health also discourage [3].

Overtraining syndrome is the body's state of decreased performance due to excessive fatigue and inability to recover before the next intense workout.

In my experience as a health and performance coach, ensuring clients eat and sleep enough and have sufficient rest between workouts is key to preventing this condition.

Diet Plan

Jean maintains his physique not through a strict diet, but by adhering to balanced nutritional principles, debunking common Hollywood myths about extreme diets and fads.

His diet includes salmon, chicken breasts, vegetables, eggs, and whole foods, with a fondness for vegetables, pasta, salads, and hummus.

In my experience as a health and performance coach, this approach of focusing on whole foods and balance, rather than restriction, consistently aids clients in achieving their fitness goals.

Related posts:

Diet / Nutrition Principles

A close up shot of a healthy diet meal

Jean's primary dieting principle is intuitive eating, tuning into his body's needs rather than indulging in sweets at every sugar craving.

His knowledge stems from extensive reading on nutrition and experience with a martial arts diet. Aware of the pitfalls in the food industry, he stays informed about effective fat-burning diets.

Occasionally, he allows himself cheat days, often choosing cream cheese as his treat.

From my coaching experience, this balanced approach of education, intuition, and occasional indulgence is effective for sustained health.

Supplements

Jean primarily supplements with high-quality whey protein powder and fish oil, complementing his frequent consumption of salmon.

Post-workout, he takes a protein shake, often just whey protein powder and banana, to maximize recovery and hypertrophy.

He occasionally uses quality pre-workout supplements, though this is not a regular practice.

FAQs

How Did Van Damme Get His Physique?

Van Damme got his physique due to practicing karate and quickly gaining a black belt from a young age. In addition, he then started lifting weights to improve his physique further, which earned him the title of Mr. Belgium.

What Did Jean-Claude Van Damme Train?

Jean-Claude Van Damme trained karate from a young age, and after four years of practicing, he earned a spot on the Belgian Karate Team. He would then transition to full-contact karate and kickboxing with Dominique Valera.

How Is Van Damme So Flexible?

Van Damme claims he is so flexible because he started training from a young age. Van Damme also says he was always into flexibility training, so it made his muscles very elastic.

What Should I Supplement to Train Like Jean Claude Van Damme?

You should take high-quality protein supplements to train like Jean Claude Van Damme.

Van Damme’s physique and muscle can only be achieved with the proper supplementation plan in whey protein.

Whey protein will quickly enter your bloodstream, begin the recovery process, and increase your muscle mass perpetually as long as you cycle the training regimes properly.

I suggest reading the following articles on whey protein powders to get the most out of your purchase:

Let me know how you plan to implement Jean Claude Van Damme's workout and diet.


References:

  1. https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/16/24/4897
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4215195/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3435910/
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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