Bobby Strom, a celeb personal trainer, talks Josh Hutcherson and Bruno Gunn‘s training for THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE:
Well, the second installment of the four-part series, called Catching Fire, started shooting earlier this week. And before shipping off to the film’s Atlanta-area set, Josh Hutcherson, who plays Peeta—a.k.a. the young HG dude your little sis wants to see shirtless—spent his summer with hardcore celeb trainer Bobby Strom.
“Initially, everyone calls me up saying, ‘I want that Ryan Reynolds look—the washboard abs, the definition,’” says Strom, who has been working with Reynolds for eight years now. “But my training is always very functional, based on what they’re about to do in their movie role.”
And for Hutcherson, that meant meeting the demands of a high-action, fight-to-the-death flick—basically, being able to run, jump, chase, and battle hard with little more than his bare hands. In fact…
“One of the guys he’s fighting in the movie was also training in the same gym,” says Strom, referring to Bruno Gunn, who is set to play Brutus in Catching Fire. “They had never met, and he walked up and said, ‘Hey Josh, I’m Bruno…and I’m going to be kicking your ass!’”
On Josh’s Workout:
Those familiar with The Hunger Games lore know that Peeta’s brute strength comes from a lifetime of lifting bags of flour in his family’s bakery. In reality, though, Hutcherson cut his stocky physique with five hour-long workouts a week—which included one league basketball game and four Strom-led, circuit-style gym sessions.
“I call them mash-ups,” says Strom. “We go from one body part to the next to the next, incorporating four or five exercises per circuit.”
Each session would typically include two fresh mash-ups—combining exercises from different disciplines, like TRX, pliometrics, and BOSU Ball workouts—performed four times, resting only after the entire circuit was complete.
“That way, the conditioning increases, the caloric burn is high, and you’re getting a lot accomplished in a short stint of time,” Strom says, “which is crucial when you have only 10 to 12 weeks to get things done.”
For guys looking for a quick trim, Strom also suggests giving the core lots of extra attention at first, because—while it may be big biceps that you’re ultimately after—you won’t be able to perform well in the gym without a strong middle.
“Men just don’t get how important it is,” says Strom. “It gives you better endurance to complete your exercises, plus that huge lift will never go up if you’ve got a weak core.”
Now Hutcherson did get those results—a fit, proportioned, athletic physique with the core and stabilizer strength needed to film a physically demanding film— but Strom won’t take too much of the credit.
“It’s clear why [Hutcherson] has come along so far at just 19,” says Strom. “He’s really dedicated and focused.”
“Josh puts in 100 percent in his career,” he adds. “And 100 percent at the gym, too.”