By Jeff O'Connell
Kellan Lutz's abs epiphany came during an eighth-grade graduation party at a water park. "Before then, I never knew abs were attractive," he says. "Where I grew up in Arizona (USA), you would never see anyone without a shirt on at school. But when I took off my shirt, all the girls were, like, 'Oh, look at your abs!' And I was, like, 'Yeah!'"
Psychologists call this "positive reinforcement." And Lutz instinctively knew what to do: Stay active.
It's understandable to be ticked off by Lutz's looks, which are great despite the deathly pallor of his vampire character in the Twilight flicks. Men resent other men who are that good-looking and that fit. It seems too easy.
But it wasn't. The 25-year-old's advantage was an early love of athletics, but he's had to put in constant effort to maintain his physique. He played football in high school (plus trombone in the marching band—a hell of a time management trick), hit the gym regularly for years, and considered becoming a Navy SEAL. One of the reasons he attended Chapman University in California, was its location—near the beach.
If only we'd made fitness part of our lifestyle as kids, then ... But there's no reason we can't start now.
Hell, Lutz's workout regimen had been an unfocused mishmash for years-until he filmed the series Generation Kill in 2007. How do a bunch of guys stuck in the African desert kill time for 7 months?
They do exactly what you and your friends should do: challenge one another. In Lutz's case, that involved push up and sit-up contests and lifting weights in a makeshift gym. One fellow actor, a former pole vaulter named Rich McDonald, offered Lutz some helpful tips; now they're regular training buddies.
To stay in shape after The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Lutz starts every workout with 5 minutes of cardio and follows it up with core work. "Activating the core maximises muscle utilisation in every other exercise," McDonald says. Translation: Core work makes your body ready to rock. After a few sets of powerful full-body movements, Lutz and McDonald do simpler exercises that target specific muscles, letting their bodies recover a bit before another blast of energy and muscle-fibre recruitment.
When exhaustion compromises Lutz's form, McDonald has him back off—even if Lutz wants to continue. It's more important that he do things right. Otherwise he'll risk hurting himself.
The workouts don't end when Lutz leaves the gym. While it's impossible to stay perfectly faithful to a routine, it's easier to stay active when fitness blends naturally into your day. That's why Lutz hikes, and swims in his backyard pool with his shepherd husky, Kola. He even does lunges while he's out walking Kola.
Food used to be a problem, though: Good eating habits weren't something Lutz had an early start on. He was one of eight kids raised by a divorced mother. "With a big family and not a lot of money, we ate whatever we got," he says. Years later he could still eat 10 tacos in one sitting. "By the time I got to the eighth one, I'd feel so sick."
No longer. Now Lutz eats small meals every 2 to 3 hours, and he never skips breakfast. Because of that, he's energetic all day. And he's never too hungry, so he's less prone to overeat. To keep his metabolism humming overnight, Lutz downs a hard-boiled egg before bed.
The dividends are as much mental as physical. Fitness teaches him to channel his energy. Just before we spoke, Lutz had been dealing with two flat tires and was pretty annoyed. "I'm not usually a down person, so when something like that happens, I go to the gym and run it off—work out, make my blood pump."
Follow these rules to enhance your workout.
Buddy Up The benefits of working with a trainer far outlast those of solo sessions. "It's great to have someone to push you and hold you accountable," says Lutz.
Create a Game Bored with a routine? Here's a game Lutz plays: Spread out a deck of cards, pick a card, and guess its color. If you're right, your partner must do the number of pushups displayed on the card. If you're wrong, do double that number in crunches. Go through the deck and you'll both do about a combined 300 crunches and push-ups.
Lay Off the Abs When Lutz first began exercising in high school, he'd do crunches for hours every day. Wrong move: Those muscles need time to recover. "I saw much better results when I hit my abs harder and less frequently," he says.
Grow Proportionally Lutz used to focus on his chest and arms, and ignored his skinny legs--but that made him awkward and out of balance. "You can't just build a huge chest and arms. You need to work out your body evenly," he says. "Otherwise, A, you'll look weird, and B, it's not the best for your body."