Matthew McConaughey’s Workout Routine, Diet & Supplements

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: July 12, 2024
FACT CHECKED by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
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Matthew McConaughey has gone through a lot of body transformations where he has played roles that were extremely underweight, overweight, and even totally ripped.

And being able to achieve that consistently requires a lot of dedication to the strict diet and exercise routine.

As a certified personal trainer who has closely followed Matthew McConaughey's fitness journey, I've combined insights from his interviews with my own experience in similar workout routines to create this comprehensive guide.

Matthew McConaughey’s Stats

  • Born: November 4, 1969
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 188 lbs

Matthew McConaughey has starred in some of the greatest movies, and his physical appearance went through a lot of transformation.

From dangerously low weight in The Dallas Buyers Club to a ripped man in Mud, Lincoln Lawyer, and Magic Mike, he’s had to lose and gain weight with celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson numerous times.

Drawing from my own training experience and McConaughey's regimen, here's a detailed breakdown of what he does to maintain his impressive physique.

The Matthew McConaughey Workout Routine

We’ve split the Matthew McConaughey workout routine over five days, and each day focuses on a specific body part or cardio. But even on the weight training days, Matthew would do some cardio for half an hour to stay on top of his BMI.

Monday: Chest And Shoulders

man working out in a bench

There are a lot of compound exercises here that engage multiple muscle groups.

  • Dumbbell chest press (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)
  • Dumbbell flys (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)
  • Lateral dumbbell raises (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)
  • Overhead shoulder press (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)
  • Medicine ball push-ups (3 sets of 15 to 20 reps)
  • Stability ball climbers (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)

Tuesday: Legs And Core

feet view of a man using a leg machine

This is an important day as many people end up underestimating the need for leg workouts and then end up with the lollipop effect of bulky chest and arms and skinny legs.

  • Dumbbell forward lunges (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)
  • Stability ball leg curls (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)
  • Dumbbell squat (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)
  • One-legged squats (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)
  • Calf raises (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)
  • Leg extensions (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)

Wednesday: Core And Cardio Routine

man in a russian twist position

Here’s the main cardio routine for 60 minutes, plus some core exercises as well.

  • Circuit training with a mix of cardio machine, jump rope, sprints, and finally kettlebell work
  • Abdominal twists (3 sets of 20 reps)
  • Leg lifts (3 sets of 20 reps)
  • Twisting planks (3 sets of 20 reps)
  • Reverse crunches (3 sets of 20 reps)

Thursday: Back And Arms

shirtless man working out

This is where Matthew’s personal trainer Gunnar Peterson gets him to focus on the glory muscles at the gym.

  • Dumbbell bicep curls (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)
  • Pull-ups (3 sets of 15 reps)
  • Dumbbell rows (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)
  • Push-ups (3 sets of 20 reps)
  • Bench dips (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)
  • Triceps Kickbacks (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)

Friday: Full Body

man in a plank position

This final day is not about one exercise set for one body part. It’s a great mix to stay limber and provide a final push of the week for your workouts.

  • Incline chest press (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)
  • Bicep curls (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)
  • Medicine ball push-ups (3 sets of 15 reps)
  • Dumbbell side lunges (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)
  • Dumbbell squats (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)
  • Forearm plank (3 sets of 90 seconds)
  • Walking planks (3 sets of 60 seconds)

Saturday/Sunday: Active Rest

Don’t sit on the couch all day feeling sorry for your sore muscles. Get up and do plenty of walking and even some light training on cardio machines to encourage muscle recovery.

His Workout Principles

Having implemented a similar approach in my own training, I can attest that Matthew McConaughey’s routine, with its focus on compound exercises, is more about functional strength than just muscle growth.

One of the studies from the National Center for Biotechnology Information website suggests that implementation of training with a moderate number of repetitions (~6−12), multiple sets (3−6), moderate loads (60−80% 1RM), and short rest intervals (60 s) between sets elicits greater metabolic stress (in contrast with high-loads), which appears to be a potent stimulus for inducing muscle hypertrophy [1].

However, it is also important to incorporate progressive overload for every workout session. According to one of the studies from the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, progressive overload is a principle of resistance training exercise program design that typically relies on increasing load to increase neuromuscular demand to facilitate further adaptations [2].

Matthew is obviously genetically gifted since he rarely implemented any of the principles above. However, he respected the principle of volume and consistency, and some individuals see greater benefits from these two principles.

The Matthew McConaughey Diet

If you plan a workout routine like Matthew McConaughey, you’ll need to put considerable thought into what you eat. Here’s an example of what a day would look like.

  • Breakfast: 4 fried or scrambled eggs, whole grain low GI toast
  • Snack: Fruit salad with greek yogurt and seeds, a cup of unsalted nuts
  • Lunch: Fresh fish. mixed vegetables and sweet potato fries
  • Snack: Protein bar
  • Dinner: Chicken or beef, steamed vegetables, a large bowl of salad

His Diet Principles

Measuring tape and utensils

Matthew McConaughey is very careful with his diet and sticks to a healthy lifestyle to remain in great shape.

That means eating low glycemic foods (i.e., low sugar) and avoiding all types of highly processed and junk food.

I keep telling my clients who struggle with weight despite five workout sessions a week that they can't out-train a poor diet.

Fitness has to start with your diet, so take the advice from Matthew McConaughey and fix what you eat.

“Life’s barely long enough to get good at one thing. So be careful what you get good at.”

- Matthew McConaughey

What Supplements Does Matthew McConaughey Take?

protein powder and supplement pills

To support your Matthew McConaughey workout, you should also consider these two supplements.

Pre-Workout

In my personal experience with intense five-day-a-week training sessions, I've found that the right pre-workout supplements can significantly enhance performance, much like they do in McConaughey's routine

Protein Shakes

That amount of training will also require plenty of protein to support your recovery times.

Ideally, pick a great quality whey protein shake to give you the full amino acid profile that your muscles crave after training [3].

FAQs

How Does Mindfulness and Meditation Complement Matthew McConaughey's Workout Routine?

Matthew McConaughey incorporates mindfulness and meditation into his fitness regime to enhance mental clarity and focus. These practices not only improve his physical performance but also contribute to overall well-being and stress reduction.

What Are the Environmental and Ethical Considerations of Matthew McConaughey's Diet?

McConaughey's diet includes environmentally sustainable and ethically sourced foods, reflecting his commitment to a healthier planet. He often chooses organic and locally sourced produce, reducing the environmental impact of his dietary choices.

How Does Matthew McConaughey's Workout Routine Vary for Different Movie Roles?

For each movie role, McConaughey adopts a specific workout regimen tailored to the physical demands of the character. This approach ensures he achieves the desired physique, whether it requires gaining muscle for action roles or slimming down for dramatic parts.

What Recovery and Injury Prevention Techniques Does Matthew McConaughey Use?

McConaughey emphasizes the importance of recovery and injury prevention in his workout routine, incorporating activities like yoga and stretching. These techniques help maintain his flexibility and reduce the risk of injuries, which is crucial for sustaining a rigorous fitness schedule.

How Does Matthew McConaughey Involve His Family in Fitness Activities?

McConaughey often involves his family in his fitness activities, making exercise a fun and bonding experience. This approach not only keeps him motivated but also instills healthy habits in his children, promoting fitness as a family value.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6950543/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9528903/
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Amino-acid-composition-in-g-100-g-of-whey-and-pea-protein-supplements_tbl1_330149933
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About The Author

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
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

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