Since making its way to Netflix, the television show Blue Mountain State has become somewhat of a cult phenomenon. It now has an official Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a full-length movie.
I recently spoke with actors Darin Brooks, Page Kennedy and Alan Ritchson—who play the characters Alex Moran, Radon Randell and Thad Castle, respectively—on how they got into shape for their roles as college football players. They all said the show's producers did not require them to follow any specific workout or nutrition regimen, so they were left on their own to improve their physical fitness.
Brooks says he was encouraged "not to go too hard in the gym," since his character is the prototypical slacker. Brooks was raised in Hawaii and grew up riding the waves. "Surfing is in my blood," he says.
His high school football career (during which he actually did play quarterback) came to an end after a particularly brutal JV game against a team from the other side of the island, but he continued to compete in soccer and baseball.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound actor performed workouts that included hiking and running hills near where the show was filmed. He also did some "very basic" weightlifting. His primary exercise methods in his personal life are boxing classes at Pullman's Gym, spin classes, pilates, and playing pick-up soccer. Nutrionally, he follows a gluten-free diet, thanks in part to his girlfriend Kelly Kruger, who played Julia King in several episodes of Blue Mountain State. Some of their favorite meals: salmon burgers, broccoli and garlic stir fry, and various chicken dishes.
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Page Kennedy, who played freshman QB Radon Randell in Season 2, comes from a rich football background, having played tailback at Western Michigan University before transferring to concentrate on his acting career. Kennedy's body type allows him to gain and lose weight rapidly, and he used a liquid diet to help him drop weight for the role. The 21-day diet calls for two protein shakes per day and soup for dinner. It includes two "cheat days" spaced throughout the three weeks. Kennedy acknowledges this may seem extreme to some, but says some roles require drastic weight loss in a short amount of time.
In addition to his dietary changes, Kennedy performed workouts, starting with an hour of cardio—primarily pick-up basketball or a mix of treadmill and elliptical—before hitting the weights. For the resistance portion of his training, he performed the following exercises:
- Bench Press - 3x20
- Incline Press - 3x20
- Decline Press - 3x20
- Dumbbell Curl variation - 3x10
- Tricep Extension - 3x10
- Pull-Ups - 3x7
- Weighted Decline Sit-Ups - 3x25
Alan Ritchson is known in both the fitness and entertainment industries for his well-toned physique. You wouldn't know it, but Ritchson, who did not play football past the 7th grade, says he was a late bloomer physically. He did not hit puberty until he was around 17 years old. Normally carrying around 200 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame, he says he got as heavy as 225 while playing Thad.
Ritchson calls his running program "the foundation of my routine," spanning five days a week. He alternates sprints with distance running. At least two days a week are dedicated to high-intensity sprints. After a light warm-up run (approximately 10 minutes), he does a series of sprints totaling 1,000 meters. On his three moderate-distance running days, he runs between 3 and 5 miles. If conditions force him to run inside, he uses a treadmill set to a minimum incline of 2.0.
In the weight room, Ritchson says his routines have always been primarily based on bodyweight and plyometric exercises. His latest workout regimen includes a Tabata-style program of five rounds lasting 1 minute each, with 10 seconds of rest between sets. The goal is to work every major muscle group. The template is as follows:
- Weighted Squat Jumps, Weighted Lunge Jumps, Lateral Lunges, Mountain Climbers
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Bent over Row, T Push-Ups, Mountain Climbers
- Core Circuit: Crunches, V-ups, Oblique Raises (right), Oblique Raises (left), each supersetted with Mountain Climbers
- Lunge Jumps, Goblet Squats, Walking Lunges with Twist, Lateral Lunges, Mountain Climbers, Core Work
- 10-minute run followed by sprints (if done on treadmill, speed is set at 10 with an incline of 10), 30-second sprint followed by 30 seconds of rest for a total of 15 minutes
- Push-Up with Row, Weighted V-Ups, Hand Stand on Wall, Burpees: 20 seconds of each, 10 seconds of rest, repeated 4 times non-stop
Ritchson, who gained international notoriety in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire for his abdominal muscularity, says his favorite core circuit is 3-4 sets of a routine during which he hangs from a pull-up bar while performing the following:
- Hanging Walk-Ups (to the left and right)
- 10 Knee Raises
- 10 Bicycles
- 10 Bent-Knee Windshield Wipers
- 10 Full Leg Raises (raising the feet above the head)
- Several Bubkas.
Ritchson's dedication to fitness allows him to maintain his physique year-round, but he needs to be "extra lean" on occasion. Then, he follows three simple but highly effective nutritional rules:
- No refined sugars.
- No grains (his carbohydrates come from sources like lentils and legumes.
- No dairy.
He follows this routine six days a week, allowing himself one "cheat day."
Since I had been looking to change my regular strength training routine, I decided to give Ritchson's workouts a try for a few days. His program is nearly 180 degrees away from my usual routine, so I expected some soreness. But the totality and intensity of it surprised me. A tip for anyone who want to give it a try: if you are used to training primarily for strength & power, check your ego at the dumbbell rack.
Next time you see your favorite stars of Blue Mountain State suited up on the screen, remember the work they put in off-camera to develop their physiques.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock