Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: April 14, 2021

Celebrity actor workout routines are very popular with my clients right now, and one of the most requested ones is for Michael Jai White.

White has played countless roles in action films where he has been able to show off his martial arts skills as well as an incredible physique.

Our team went through many hours of interview videos, and his social media feeds to come up with this Michael Jai White workout routine and diet.

His Stats

portrait image of michael jai white
  • Born: November 10, 1967
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 225 lbs

Michael Jai White is a busy actor who has featured in movies like Never Back Down 2, Mortal Kombat, Cops and Robbers, Black Dynamite 2, and numerous TV spin-off series.

What I found most impressive about Michael is that he has a black belt in 7 different martial arts disciplines.

Yes, 7! How impressive is that? He’s one man you wouldn’t mess with.

You should definitely check out his skills as the Bronze Tiger in the TV show Arrow.

Now, being able to maintain that level of physical fitness and muscle mass has made many people ask how he keeps up with gym work and movies at the age of 54.

Let’s start with some background.

Michael Jai White’s Training Principles

michael jai white sweating while lifting weights

We gathered a lot of information from a few interview video clips where he has specifically spoken about his workout routine.

Compound Exercises

Once we get to the detailed workout, you’ll see there are many compound multi-joint exercises.

The reason White does this is to target more muscle groups in less time. And there’s also scientific evidence that compound exercises help with faster muscle tissue growth [1].

Training Days

White goes to the gym to work on his body at least three days a week. The other three days are either filled with outdoor cardio or additional gym sessions, depending on how much he needs to bulk his body up for a movie role.

Action Activities

White does many martial arts-type exercises as part of his workout plans, which involves a lot of training in various martial art schools. That shows in his fight scenes which would easily compete with Donnie Yen.

If he’s not training his fighting skills, he likes to do outdoor activities to keep his body in shape and to break the boredom people often get at the gym.

“I was an insecure kid growing up in a harsh environment. Martial arts was my armour.” - Michael Jai White. 

Now it’s time to bring you the details of Michael Jai White’s workout routines.

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Michael Jai White's Workout Routine

Michael Jai White has a rigorous exercise plan that involves a lot of weight training split into three body areas.

Day 1: Chest/Shoulders/Triceps

man doing pull ups inside a closed gym

Michael Jai White’s workout routine for the first day has a heavy focus on bench presses, which would explain the size of his pecs and shoulders.

Make sure you pick up the heavier-weight dumbbells to get to that burn.

  • Warm-up (15 minutes treadmill and jump rope)
  • Military bench press (3 sets of 8 to 10 reps)
  • Wide dumbbell bench press (3 sets of 8 to 10 reps)
  • Incline dumbbell press (3 sets of 8 to 10 reps)
  • Standing dumbbell row or barbell row (3 sets of 8 to 10 reps)
  • Weighted close-grip pull-ups (3 sets of 12 reps)
  • Standing triceps extensions (3 sets of 8 to 10 reps)
  • Dips (3 sets of 8 to 10 reps)

Day 2: Back/Biceps

man in a tank top practicing hammer curls

Head for the heavy-weight plates if you’re serious about getting a physique like White. The more you struggle with the last two repetitions, the better.

You should really feel this in your back muscles.

  • Warm-up (15 minutes elliptical)
  • Preacher curls (3 sets of 8 to 10 reps)
  • Weighted wide-grip pull-ups (3 sets of 12 reps)
  • Barbell curls (3 sets of 8 to 10 reps)
  • Weighted chin-ups (3 sets of 12 reps)
  • Cable rows (3 sets of 8 to 10 reps)
  • Hammer curls (3 sets of 8 to 10 reps)

Day 3: Legs/Abs

man in a hanging leg raise position

This is an important muscle group to regularly cover in your workouts to avoid what I call the lollipop effect.

That’s the kind of guy who spends all his time at the gym on arms and chest workouts and then ends up with out-of-proportion skinny legs.

  • Warm-up (15 minutes treadmill)
  • Leg press (3 sets of 8 to 12 reps)
  • Calf raise (3 sets of 8 to 12 reps)
  • Hamstring curls (3 sets of 8 to 12 reps)
  • Dumbbell lunges (3 sets of 8 to 12 reps)
  • Cable ab crunch (3 sets of 8 to 12 reps)
  • Hanging leg raises (3 sets of 8 to 12 reps)

Active Days And Recovery

man using a jump rope, woman walking through hills

You don’t have to do free weight type workouts every day, but that shouldn’t mean you end up being that guy that sits on the couch feeling sorry for a sore body.

Instead, find some fun and adventure activities to add to your workout routine and even try to copy how a track athlete trains.

  • Jump rope sessions for 20 to 30 minutes
  • Hiking
  • Track and field running
  • Martial art classes

The great thing about having two or three days to fill up is that you can focus on parts of your body where you think you need more muscle.

If you think your arms and chest could do with some more bulk, then just add another chest day.

“Most people say I look mean, and because I play so many tough roles and because of my size and my martial arts background, they think I am, but I'm really not.” - Michael Jai White.

Michael Jai White’s Diet Plan

plate full of salad greens

Michael Jai White’s workout routine will get you so far towards your dream physique, but unless you have a diet to support those workouts, you’ll end up way off your target.

White has stated in a few interviews that he mainly uses his diet as a beginning position for his goals. That means he adapts his diet in a bulking phase rather than his workout routine.

It’s a clever approach but does require some careful planning.

Macro Profile

swirled measuring tape on a table

The macro profile of his diet varies slightly depending on the training phase he’s in.

Here are the ranges that people can consider.

  • Carbs: 25% to 45%
  • Protein: 30% to 40%
  • Fat: 20% to 30%

Michael Jai White will boost his calorie intake from carbs during a bulking phase but also lower it down a lot when he’s cutting.

It’s not an exact science and will depend on your body, age, weight, and metabolism, which is why you may want to talk to a dietitian to get the right combination of diet and exercise routine.

Meal Sizes

different containers full of vegetables

Even if you only do the above routine for three days a week, your body will need a lot more calories to support muscle growth.

When White is preparing for roles in action movies, he steps things up with his workout routine and eating habits.

Adjusting your meal sizes and macros is the best way to influence how big your arms and chest muscles become.

You should use an online calculator to work out your base calorie needs based on your age, height, weight, and activity levels.

From there, you can increase or decrease your meal sizes to a bulking, cutting, or maintenance phase.

Food Quality

wood tray full of fresh fruits

So, White is fully aware of how the quality of his diet directly impacts the outcome of his workout.

But he’s also a man with a few weak points, and he has mentioned that Town House crackers are one snack he can’t say no to.

In his younger days growing up in New York City, he was also exposed to plenty of fast food from all corners of the world. But today he avoids junk food at all costs.

His diet program involves all fresh fruit, vegetables, and grass-fed red meat. It’s the kind of food a superhero needs.

Sample Meal Plan

green salad bowl, cooked potatoes, grilling meat

Here is how you could support Michael Jai White’s workout routine.

Breakfast: 

  • 5 egg omelet
  • Bowl of oatmeal
  • Fresh fruit and yogurt

Snack:

  • Unsalted nuts

Lunch:

  • 12 ounces of chicken breast
  • Sweet potato
  • Large portion of green vegetables

Dinner:

  • 12 ounces of steak or fish
  • Brown rice
  • Large portion of green vegetables

Eating as much and as often as Michael Jai White does isn’t for just anyone. And you certainly need to monitor your calories when you follow this program.

What Supplements Does He Take?

hand holding a white pill from a medicine kit

You can get a lot more out of the Michael Jai White workout routine if you add a few supplements as part of your diet.

  1. BCAA

White has spoken a few times about the positive effects he’s had from branched-chain amino acids. These types of proteins play a key role in protein synthesis, and a targeted boost has been shown to help with fatigue and soreness [2].

  1. Whey Protein

Whether you’re training your arms, abs, or any other body part, you simply cannot afford to miss out on a large boost of protein after strength training. Ideally, follow Michael White by choosing a high-quality grass-fed whey protein [3] over the cheapest bodybuilder supplements you can find.

  1. Pre-Workout

This is one of those supplements that not enough people use. If you’re exercising 3 to 6 days a week, then a small 5% boost in performance and reduction in fatigue can have a significant impact on your bodyweight and lean mass.

  1. Fat Burner

These supplements tend to get a bad rap, but if you’re in a cutting phase, then they can speed up the fat loss without losing strength. Most clients I work with now fully rely on a good fat burner to get that ripped and lean appearance.

Are You Going To Start Training Like Michael Jai White?

If you want a Hollywood star body like Michael Jai White, it’s going to take dedication and discipline.

Hopefully, the above will be enough inspiration for you to follow in the steps of Hollywood stars like White.

Even if you don’t plan to look like a superhero, this program will get you fitter than you have ever been before.

And don’t forget to report back to us how it worked out for you.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4592763/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6212987/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22549884/

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