Bulking Up Hollywood Style

Editor’s Note: 

Kinowear introduces guest-author Greg O’Gallagher, who we found through his website Kinobody. Is the name a coincidence? Nope. Greg told us he’s been a long time reader of our blog and our name may have influenced his. We’re flattered but more seriously impressed by his expertise. He’s a personal trainer, but not some fat guy sitting at his desk writing about bodybuilding. He has the most ripped body we’ve ever seen – which makes us want to absorb and share whatever comes out of his brain. Enjoy. 

Bulking Up Hollywood Style

When it comes to packing on muscle Hollywood actors do it right!

They add muscle strategically to their body, in the right places and right amounts while getting ripped. This is why guys like Christian Bale, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Craig and Brad Pitt can completely transform their physique in only 4-6 months of training.

The end result of the Hollywood bulk up is an incredibly lean, muscular and fit physique. A physique that looks totally spectacular in and out of stylish clothing. A physique that commands attention from women and respect from men.

The Adonis Debonair

The “Adonis debonair” is a term I coined for the ultimate physique to shoot for. The Adonis debonair is where muscle meets style. Being muscular and built while still having the crisp GQ look. My two favorite examples of people who perfectly fit this description are Christian Bale from American Psycho and Daniel Craig from Casino Royale. Both of them are incredibly fit while still looking great in tailored suits and fashionable attire. Check out our article on choosing a suit for your body type if you want to read up more on suits.

The problem with adding too much mass is that you begin to look cheesy and sloppy. You lose definition in your face and nice clothes start to look awkward and try-hard. The over-bulked physique is undesirable and most women do not find this attractive.

How much muscle do you need to gain?

There is a perfect amount of muscle for your physique that will maximize your appearance. The amount of muscle required varies from person to person but is usually within 10-20 lbs range. Adding more muscle or size than this will take away from your appearance and you will lose the GQ look.

It is also imperative that you focus on adding muscle in the areas that complement your physique to the highest degree. Upper chest, shoulders and upper back make the biggest visual difference followed by arms. Everything else should be kept in proportion.

Stay away from workout programs that emphasize large amounts of training towards the legs. These programs result in an over bulked lower body that take away from the upper body and look terrible in nice pants.

Leanness and Definition is the Key

The most important factor in bulking up while still looking sharp comes down to leanness. If you can maintain a low body fat while gaining muscle you will look great.

Kellan Lutz is an example of someone who is on the bigger side yet looks great because he stays lean and chiseled. If you keep your body fat in check, it will be hard to gain too much muscle. This is because excess muscle usually comes with fat gain, unless of course you are taking steroids.

How to Build Muscle while Staying Lean

People always seem to debate whether it is possible to gain muscle without gaining fat or better yet gain muscle and lose fat. The short answer is yes, it is definitely possible. The problem is that most people follow bodybuilding advice that endorses large amounts of excess calories. If you are eating a massive surplus of calories each day, your body will store fat. It’s inevitable. If your body can only use 300 extra calories per day to rebuild muscle tissue, then anything beyond that will be driven into your fat cells.

The key to building muscle while staying lean is to eat slightly more food on workout days and slightly less food on rest days. By modestly overfeeding on workout days you can provide your muscles with excess calories when they are the most responsive to muscle growth. Limiting calories below maintenance on rest days will allow for fat burning, which will ensure you stay lean. This is a very simple strategy but works extraordinarily well.

Hollywood Style Training

First things first! There are two different types of hypertrophy (muscle growth) you can target. There is myofibrillar hypertrophy and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. In order to maximize muscle growth it is imperative that you target both types of hypertrophy.

Myofibrillar hypertrophy 

This is an increase in size of the actual contractual filaments of a muscle. Training for myofibrillar hyertrophy requires heavy loads with lower reps and longer rest periods. Example: 4 sets of 4-6 reps with 3 minutes of rest between sets. Training in this manner results in a large increase of strength as well as an increase in muscle size and density.

Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy 

This type of growth is an increase in the fluid like substance surrounding the actual protein structure of a muscle cell and contributes to the ‘pump’ everyone knows so well. This type of muscle growth results in little or no increase in strength. Training for sarcoplasmic hypertrophy requires a large amount of sets and reps with short rest periods. Example: 4 sets of 8-12 reps with 60 seconds rest between sets.

Setting Up Your Workout for Success

In order to maximize muscle growth it is imperative that you train for both types of hypertrophy. Most people either train for strength or train for the pump. Very few people do both and those that do see incredible results.

The best way to structure a muscle building workout program is to set it up so you are hitting each muscle group 2x per week in only 4 workouts.


Hollywood Bulk Up Workout Split 

Monday: Chest (heavy), Shoulders/Triceps (fatigue)

Tuesday: Legs (heavy), Back/Biceps (fatigue)

Wendesday: Rest

Thursday: Shoulders/Tri’s (heavy) and Chest (fatigue)

Friday: Back/Biceps (heavy) and Legs (fatigue).


As you can see you will be hitting each muscle group two times per week. Each workout begins with myobrillar hypertrophy (heavy training) and finishes with pump training (fatigue training). You will alternate which muscles will be targeted for heavy training and fatigue training. This is the best way to set it up because you will be fully recovered for the heavy training, which is crucial to make progress in strength myofibrillar growth. When it is time for the pump movements you will be a little fatigued – which is the goal.

The Hollywood Style Workout 

Workout A – Chest, Shoulders and Triceps

Bench Press: 3 x 4-6 reps (3 minutes rest)

Incline DB Press: 2 x 6-8 reps (3 minutes rest)

Lateral Raises: 2 x 10-12 (60 seconds rest)

Machine or Dumbbell Shrugs: 3 x 10-12 (60 seconds rest)

Rope Extensions: 2 x 10-12 (60 seconds rest)


Workout B – Legs, Back and Biceps

Squat: 3 x 4-6 reps (3 minutes rest)

Lat Pull Down: 3 x 8-12 reps (90 seconds rest)

Cable Rows: 3 x 10-12 (60 seconds rest

Barbell Curls: 3 x 8-10 (90 seconds rest)

Incline DB Curls: 2 x 10-12 (60 seconds rest)


Workout C – Shoulders, Tri’s and Chest

Seated DB Shoulder Press: 3 x 5-8 reps (3 minutes rest)

Close Grip Bench: 3 x 6-8 reps (3 minutes rest)

Barbell or Dumbbell Shrugs: 3 x 6-8 reps (3 minutes rest)

Wide Grip Dips: 3 x 8-12 reps (90 seconds rest)

Incline DB Flyes: 3 x 8-12 reps (60 seconds rest)


Workout D – Back, Bi’s and Legs 

Weighted Chin ups: 3 x 4-6 reps (3 minutes rest)

Barbell Curls: 3 x 5-8 reps (3 minutes rest)

Leg Press or Squat: 3 x 12-15 reps (90 seconds rest)

Leg Curls: 3 x 8-12 reps (60 seconds rest)

Weighted Calf Raises: 3 x 12-20 reps (60 seconds rest)

Tips for Maximum Lean Muscle Gains 

Record Your Workout: 

It is imperative that you track your progress if you want maximum gains. Every time you are doing a workout you should know exactly how much weight you used last time. By knowing this you can strive for continual improvement. The most important exercises to track are those being trained heavy for myofibrillar hypertrophy.

Eat Your Biggest Meal Post Workout

For maximum lean muscle gains you should be providing your muscles with plenty of nutrients for growth within 3 hours after your workout. This is when your body is primed for maximum growth. Your post workout meals should be high in protein, very high in carbs and low in fat. Carbs will help replenish and restore glycogen levels which will put you into an anabolic state. Fat is kept low because fat slows down the absorption process.

Eat Less Calories on Your Rest Days 

If you want to stay lean and ripped as you pack on muscle you should be lowering your calorie intake on your rest days. For best results you should add 45 minutes of low intensity cardio to maximize fat burning without impeding recovery or muscle gains. By lowering your calories on your rest days you can burn a little fat to ensure you stay lean. In addition, lowering your cals a few times per week regulates your anabolic hormones and receptors. This sounds counter-intuitive but dropping calories a few times per week will improve your muscle gains.

Concluding Thoughts

After starting this program you will be amazed at how fast your physique will improve. When you focus on building muscle strategically while staying lean, a 5 lbs increase in muscle will look like 15 lbs. This is the very technique that Hollywood actors employ to bulk up for movie roles. Brad Pitt was only 170-175 lbs in the movie Troy at nearly 6’ tall, yet he appears to be much bigger.


About the Author


Greg O’Gallagher is a certified personal trainer, fitness model and founder of Kinobody.com. Kinobody is rapidly becoming the top website on building the lean and muscular look. In addition, Greg O’Gallgher is well known for his motivating YouTube videos.