‘Indiana Jones’ Trainer Shares Pioneering Fitness Secrets

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How Harrison Ford’s training regimen for Indiana Jones pioneered an unconventional method that Jake Steinfeld would use to revolutionise Hollywood fitness.


The demigod Hollywood physiques of leading actors like Jason Momoa and Henry Cavill are a relatively recent phenomenon. It was pioneering trainers like Jake Steinfeld, a bodybuilder turned personal trainer, whose work with actors like Harrison Ford for the blockbuster Indiana Jones franchise who set the precedent for the impressive if problematic Hollywood body transformations we see today.

Steinfeld, known for his now-legendary Body By Jake brand, was the architect behind Ford’s getting ripped for his role as the intrepid archaeologist. At 40, Ford was already a household name thanks to his roles in Star Wars, American Graffiti and many more. However, the physical demands of Indiana Jones and its plethora of shirtless scenes required a new level of fitness that would challenge Ford to get ripped for the very first time.

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While somewhat unconventional by today’s standards, the duo’s approach turned out to be highly effective. Eschewing heavy weights in favour of a variety of resistance exercises that incorporated household items like towels and broomsticks, these tactics not only suited the practical limitations of the training locations (their respective homes) but also aligned much more closely with the functional strength and agility required for the role than a DwayneJohnson-style bulk-up would have done.

Beginning bright and early at 5:30am every day, the sessions started with stretching, aided by a trusty broomstick. Next up was a combination of light dumbells and towel work for the resistance dimensions of the workout. It turns out that Ford much preferred working with the towel where possible as it allowed for much more resistance: “Whether it was towel pulls for your back, triceps extensions over the head, biceps curls—all kinds of bicep exercises. There was more play with the towel”, explains Steinfield.

The week followed a fairly classic ‘split’:

“We focused on different body parts depending on the day,” Steinfeld says. “Monday, Thursday: chest and triceps. Tuesday, Friday: back and biceps. Wednesday, Saturday: shoulders and legs. Abs every day.”

Jake Steinfield

Focusing on very high-rep sets — sometimes up to 100 reps at a time — each exercise would be followed by a set of 50 to 100 ‘Jake runs’; Steinfields own variation on a classic mountain climber.

Naturally, diet played a critical role in all of this. Interestingly, Steinfeld advocated for a diet rich in fish and vegetables, avoiding ‘heavy’ red meats and focusing on small, frequent meals over big feeds. Steinfield claims that Ford’s mental progress was just as impressive as his bodily transformation. The more they trained, the more Ford’s confidence and focus sharpened.

Steinfeld’s methods and emphasis on a personalised, holistic approach to training laid vital foundations for the level of Hollywood fitness we see today. Most importantly, however, Steinfeld proved that results can be won at any age and with any level of fitness experience. The key is consistency, a tailored plan, and finding someone who’s just the right vibe to keep you trucking along the way.

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