Clint Eastwood - the Ambassador of Fitness
When it comes to pumping iron, Dirty Harry is a pro
By Scott Hays -- 1991
What's the word on that chiseled torso of actor/director Clint Eastwood, one of Hollywood's favorite tough guys? Says a crew member on The Rookie, Eastwood's new cop movie, "The boss is really buffed!"
It's Thursday night at Jacques in the Radisson Hotel in San Jose, California, where they're filming The Rookie. Virtually everyone in the cast and crew has something to say about the brawn and vigor of Eastwood, who's looking notably cut and vascular. What other 60-year-ld looks this good? Perhaps a bodybuilder or two, but then, Eastwood's been an iron warrior for decades.
"I remember working on The Dead Pool, Eastwood's last Dirty Harry flick," says a stagehand. "There's this one scene in a weight room in which Clint curls 40-pound dumbbells, 40 reps at a time. I assumed he was using weights made of balsa wood. I nearly broke my back trying to pick up those puppies!"
Clint has spent nearly a lifetime lifting heavy objects. As a teenager, he preferred manual labor. He worked as a hay baler and lumberjack. He started lifting weights at 19, when weight-training and bodybuilding were relegated to back-alley sweatshops with black-iron plates.
"It was all free-weight training back then," Eastwood says from the set of The Rookie. "I liked lifting weights because I always felt good after a workout. I also liked to drink a lot of beer and I figured the lifting was a good way to stay in shape."
If you go back through his acting career -- from his days as Rowdy Yates in Rawhide to the movie Pink Cadillac -- Eastwood has always looked virile and fit. He still has the body of a younger man, even if the face has wrinkles. Eastwood's biceps are becoming as big as his box-office muscle -- which is still one of the largest in the industry.
In fact, Eastwood's lean and muscular physique, 6'4" at 190 pounds was compelling enough to put him on the cover of Muscle & Fitness awhile back. Eastwood and Joe Weider became friends several years ago after Joe donated equipment to the Carmel Youth Center - one of Eastwood's pet projects during his stint as mayor.
Eastwood wanted to do something special for Joe in return. He had heard that Joe was thinking about getting into the health club business, so he offered to use the Weider name in one of his movies. When The Dead Pool required a scene in a weight room, Clint called it the Weider Fitness Center, giving the name international exposure through his film.
In spite of his tough on-screen image, Clint is surprisingly quiet and approachable in conversation. And he loves to talk about his personal training program. To put on muscle for The Rookies, Eastwood increased his weight training, decreased his cardiovascular workout, and followed a low-fat, high-protein diet.
Instead of his usual 2-3 hour workout four days a week, Eastwood switched to a one-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week routine. "One day I'll go in and do an hour of just shoulders arms," he says. "The next day I'll do an hour of back and chest. Next day legs. Then depending on my schedule, I'll run or use the Stair Master or a computerized stationary bike."
Eastwood, who usually trains by himself, rarely misses a workout. "When I'm working at night, I train during the day and when I'm working days, I train at night," he says. "After working all night tonight, for example, I'll get to bed around 6a.m., sleep until 3 p.m., and go straight to the gym. Then I'll go back to work. I have a hell of a social life!"
But that's his choice; fitness is a priority "That's what you've got to do," he says. "During the days of the of the black iron, you had to really gut i tout with a lot of rusty equipment. We used to waste a a lot of time changing plates. But with all this new equipment, it's actually getting easier to train. Besides I also don't have the distraction I had when I was 19."
Is Eastwood as fit as he looks? "He is in superb condition," says Dr. Harry Demopoulos, his personal physician. "He never eats fat, he takes his antioxidants faithfully, works out like a demon, and gets plenty of sleep, which is an area that is often neglected in a fitness program. When we pit him against a stress test machine, Clint wins. He has become almost superhuman. His strength is amazing."
Eastwood's body fat, says Demopoulos, is less than 10% based on an underwater-weighing analysis. "I've never carried much body fat," says Eastwood,"but I've always been pretty good about watching my diet."
There's never been a box-office attraction like Clint Eastwood. His films have grossed more than $15 billion. Both his work and training have always been remarkably consistent. He has always known what his audience wants, and he never lets them down. Likewise, he has always known what his body could accomplish, and he never lets excuses interfere with his workouts. "I've been doing this for a long time," Eastwood says. "Even if I don't feel like training, I still do it. When you're a kid, you keep thinking you can put it off until tomorrow. As you get older, it becomes a part of your life-style and you realize there may not be a tomorrow."
Eastwood recently refurbished a home gym in the guest house of his Beverly Hills Home. The 1,200 square foot room was designed by Mike Hays, president of the newly formed Weider Franchising, Inc., and Gary LeFevre and Harry Safford of Diversified Health Club Services, based in Santa Barbara, CA.
Eastwood may be tough, but he still prefers the convenience of Selectorized machine. He also has a good supply of free weights and a Smith machine. For his cardiovascular training, Clint uses the Stair Master or a computerized stationary bike. One portion of his four-car garage has been designed to hold all of his leg equipment, including a leg press and leg extension, a standing and seated leg curl, a calf machine and a squat rack.
At Eastwood's Malpaso Productions, a small stucco cottage on the Warner Brothers Studio lot, there's another small gym that he sometimes uses for a quick workout during lunch. It features a line of weight training equipment, along with a computerized stationary bike, an air-hydraulic mini circuit machine, and a multi-station unit.
When Eastwood is on location, he always finds a place locally to work out. When he was filming in San Jose for "The Rookie", he trained at the San Jose Athletic Club. "Once I worked on a picture in a location where I couldn't find a gym," he recalls, "so I borrowed Arnold Schwarzenegger's because he has a portable gym."
Eastwood, former mayor of Carmel, California, was also instrumental in securing enough weight equipment for a gym at the Carmel Youth Center. Carmel is a small town - population 4,900 - located on the Monterey peninsula roughly 130 miles south of San Francisco. Joe Weider had offered to send a full line of Weider equipment to the Carmel Youth Center and Mike Hays was able to get fitness equipment companies to also contribute equipment.
"When I was a kid, people kept saying that weight training would screw up a person's body," says Eastwood. "Obviously, these people were misinformed. Weight training not only improves physical strength, but it also promotes inner values such as character and discipline.
"I think we have to pay more attention to the physical strength of our kids. You can't leave something as important as fitness to chance. That's why we have to provide them with opportunities and programs like the ones offered at the Carmel Youth Center. One of the most important things in life is feeling good about yourself. And it's a lot easier in to feel good about yourself when you're in shape."
Eastwood maintains a low-fat, high protein diet. He also pays close attention to his cholesterol levels (his father, a meat and potatoes man, died at an early age of cardiovascular disease). He consults with a nutritionist, but generally sticks to the following diet:
- Fish (his main source of protein)
- Fruits and vegetable
- No dairy products (he hasn't had an egg in years)
- No red meat (except for the occasional Dirty Harry burger at his restaurant, the Hog's Breath Inn in Carmel.
- Protein supplements
- Aminos acids
- Vitamin supplements and antioxidants