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Jake Gyllenhaal’s ‘Road House’ Diet & Workout Routine

While there’s probably a Jake Gyllenhaal diet and workout plan for Mysterio in existence, it’s the one the shredded star adopted for 2024’s Road House that we’re most interested in. Call us masochists if you will, but there’s something innately fascinating about his beefed-up appearance in the modern-day kickboxing film. From the moment the initial publicity stills were released, showing the actor in a state of pure transformation, we knew the images of Jake Gyllenhaal’s body were going to go viral, and for good reason. Put simply: this dude is shredded.

It should surprise exactly no one that when he prepared for the role of Elwood Dalton, Jake Gyllenhaal implemented an extreme diet and workout plan. Working with trainer Jason Walsh, the Hollywood star reportedly spent over a year fine-tuning the workout protocol and diet metrics to ensure his physique was in peak shape come filming time. By all accounts, Jake Gyllenhaal’s Road House workout and diet plan saw the actor shred down to five per cent body fat, dropping from 205 pounds to just 184 pounds. That’s not to say he looked like a walking Adonis the whole time, however.

The way he looked throughout the movie, there (are) peaks, right? People don’t see the valleys,” Walsh told Men’s Health. “They don’t see the time in between the peaks, it just looks like one continuous thing. It doesn’t work like that.”

Jake Gyllenhaal 'Road House' workout and diet plan | Image: Amazon Studios
Jake Gyllenhaal ‘Road House’ workout and diet plan | Image: Amazon Studios

Predictably, Jake Gyllenhaal’s fitness regimen delivered huge results. Indeed, to look at any before and after pics is to wonder if some sort of muscular doppelganger came along and ate Donnie Darko. And if it sounds like we’re being hyperbolic, then you haven’t seen the movie or its early publicity stills. Throw in all those jarring facial expressions and the actor gets kind of scary, to be honest.

Should you want to embark down the path that turned Gyllenhaal into a total beast, prepare for a diet and workout plan of truly intense proportion. You might actually have to be a famous actor or lottery winner to pull this one off because we’re not sure if there’s enough time in the day for anyone else to do it.

That said, the actor did take things one step at a time. As Walsh revealed to Mens Health, Gyllenhaal’s workout protocol was largely based on mobility, making his acrobatic mixed martial arts movements seem believable. These exercises, while not huge muscle-builders, are great for improving flexibility. This can ultimately improve your range of motion and lead to more explosive results. Here’s the Jake Gyllenhaal Road House diet and workout plan.

Overhead shot of nutritious food
Diet Plan | Image: Piotr Malczyk

Jake Gyllenhaal Diet Plan

As one might suspect, the Jake Gyllenhaal Road House diet plan went big on building mass and keeping fuel in the tank, however, it did come with sacrifice. The actor’s low body fat percentage was achieved via a carbohydrate-cycling protocol and a strict eating regime that saw him cut sweet treats in favour of whole foods and caloric-dense options. Because he was training more than once every day, the actor’s eating habits served a dual role, restoring energy from the previous workout while increasing energy for the next one.

“In this case, there were things that were taken away, but I had a hell of a lot more calories that I could consume,” Gyllenhaal told Men’s Health.

In speaking with the publication, trainer Walsh revealed that Gyllenhaal did encounter some trouble digesting whey protein, a common issue in males as they age. As a result, Jake Gyllenhaal’s nutrition team reportedly worked to create a new plant-based protein shake formula, which has since been released to the public under the brand name Rise311.

Outside of this, it’s difficult to chart the specifics of Gyllenhaal’s diet pan, however, his physique does bear a striking similarity to one he possessed in 2015’s Southpaw. For that film, he incorporated tons of protein, ingesting a large amount of fish, chicken, eggs, and other common protein-rich foods. However, he did consume a fair amount of carbs for breakfast, turning the excess fat into muscle at the gym. On the direct heels of any given workout, it was mostly vitamins and proteins, lest those bulging muscles lose their momentum.

Somewhere in there, Gyllenhaal was also reportedly chowing down on Chipotle. We’ll just assume he was getting burrito bowls, but on the other hand, he was trying to build mass so maybe he went all-in on the tortillas. Whatever he was doing, it worked. Should you adopt the Jake Gyllenhaal diet plan, feel free to eat all the Chipotle you want, presuming you go to the same extremes he did in the weight room and elsewhere.

Putting Chipotle aside, Gyllenhaal’s diet focussed on natural foods and avoided anything that was fried. For the most part, he drank lots of water and consumed copious amounts of salads, veggies, and lean meats. That was joined by occasional pasta dishes and things like potatoes or rye bread.

Jake Gyllenhaal 'Road House' workout and diet plan | Image: Amazon Studios
Jake Gyllenhaal ‘Road House’ workout and diet plan | Image: Amazon Studios

Here’s an example breakdown of Gyllenhaal’s diet.

  • Eggs – Health experts are still hashing it out as to whether eggs are actually good for you, but their value as a source of protein is beyond reproach. Gyllenhaal ate a ton of them and it seemed to work for him. Of course, if you have issues with cholesterol, you should proceed with caution before going hog wild on the omelettes.
  • Fruit – Goji berries, apples, bananas, and raisins are some of the fruits Gyllenhaal consumed on the regular.
  • Almonds – From each serving of this low-glycemic index food, you get 6 grams of protein, 4 grams of fibre, and a fair amount of vitamins and minerals. A perfect snack.
  • Cacao Beans – Presuming you can tolerate their bitter taste, raw cacao beans make for a veritable superfood. Not only are they chock full of flavonols and other antioxidants, but they’re also known to induce a euphoric effect. Just don’t get hooked.
  • Vegetables – When Gyllenhaal wasn’t consuming steamed veggies, he was eating them raw. That included broccoli, leafy greens, avocado, and tomato. Yes, we know that avocadoes and tomatoes are fruits. We don’t care.
  • Chicken – We have yet to discover a celebrity diet plan that didn’t consist of chicken.
  • Fish – Low in calories and high in nutrition, fish is an essential part of any healthy diet.
  • Rye Bread –  Some fitness freaks might consider bread—even rye bread—an indulgence. We say if it’s fresh-baked and free of preservatives, it’s probably healthier than you think. Regardless, Gyllenhaal clearly made it work.
  • Pasta – When you’re working out as much as Gyllenhaal did, you get to eat pasta guilt-free.
  • Couscous – Fat-free, sugar-free, and loaded with selenium, couscous is a carb you can trust, especially when it’s the whole wheat variety.
  • Potatoes – We’ve been trained to avoid starches, but potatoes are better for you than you might expect. They contain over half your daily value of vitamin C, and more potassium than a banana. They’re also a good source of vitamin B6, fibre, and magnesium.
  • Supplements – Vitamin supplements (Vitamins D3 and C, in particular) and protein shakes were a big part of the Jake Gyllenhaal diet plan. He downed a shake post-workout and you should too.
Jake Gyllenhaal skipping rope at a boxing gym
Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Southpaw’ | Image: The Weinstein Company

Jake Gyllenhaal Workout Plan

We all remember Patrick Swayze in the original Road House movie, which featured its title character whipping himself into shape by way of an arduous fitness regimen. Well, take the late great action star;s workout plan and crank up every conceivable dial and you’re now in 2024 territory. No pun intended, but Jake Gyllenhaal put himself through the wringer when preparing for the role of Elwood Dalton.

To put things as succinctly as possible, Gyllenhaal trained the way a professional UFC fighter would. Unlike previous roles where he was coming off weight reductions, like 2014’s Nightcrawler, this time around Gyllenhaal was already in remarkable shape. According to Walsh, the goal was to create a balanced and stable platform to build his mobility and make the action sequences believable.

As a result, much of the Jake Gyllenhaal Road House workout centres on heavy mobility and flexor work, with a series of lever work thrown in. Admittedly, this workout is not complex but is important to focus on progressive overload. During his training period, the actor increased things like reps, rounds, and weights as he gained strength. Here’s the Jake Gyllenhaal Road House workout, as per trainer Jason Walsh’s clip with Men’s Health.

Mobility Movements

As mentioned, Walsh had Gyllenhaal do a significant amount of mobility work in the lead-up to filming Road House. Using mobility sticks and other apparatus, Walsh had the actor work at improving his range of motion and flexibility, which made action sequences throughout the film far easier to achieve.

“Generally, we spend a few minutes each session moving, trying to get the core body temperature up before moving into some sort of mobility movement,” Walsh says. “The mobility stick is a great tool to help increase range of motion.”


A staple for most functional fitness trainers, isometrics help to increase strength and stamina at different joint angles. By holding movements for elongated periods of time, you can better control the movement and add increased time under tension. The benefits of this are twofold; increasing stamina under duress and also helping to strengthen muscle fibres.

Proteus Motion Machine

A piece of equipment that you may not have seen before, the Proteus Motion Machine works to measure strength and power for movements across different angles. The brand’s patented 3D resistance provides constant resistance in all directions, conducting a full-body power test through 15 exercises. From there, trainers use the results to get a read on an athlete’s strength and power attributes and to tailor training programs aimed at bolstering specific weak spots.

“The Proteus is an amazing piece of equipment used mostly by performance centres to help train athletes in every plane of motion and help increase power production,” Walsh says. “We use it primarily for priming the nervous system, proprioception, learning movement patterns and a lot for warming up joints and metabolic training.”

Heavy Sled Work

Another favourite in functional fitness circles, sled work can help build stamina and improve leg drive. Essentially a compound movement, you are tasked with creating force from your lower body whilst also maintaining stability up top, creating a full-body approach. As Walsh explains, any sled work will be beneficial, but going heavy and working on an AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) format in a timed environment will ultimately deliver the best results.

“Most of the sets we do are tied sets,” Walsh says. “We try to keep his (Gyllenhaal’s) work capacity up, keeping him moving, keep him sweating, keep him burning fat. We still want the heavy stimulus so we do a lot of heavy sled work.”

Heavy Compound Lifts

Building a strong posterior chain was a specific focus for Walsh and Gyllenhaal in the lead-up to Road House and the pair were able to achieve this through some traditional strength training. By implementing heavy compound lifts such as deadlifts and squats, they were able to focus solely on strength and stability, which helped to increase the actor’s explosiveness. Interestingly, Gyllenhaal opted for the safety bar when performing squats, which was integral in keeping the weights balanced, taking the pressure off the shoulders and reducing the risk of injury.

“We always keep the heavy primitive work, in one way, shape or form,” Walsh explains. “Whether it’s squats or deadlifts and the variations thereof, we want to keep the muscle coordination at a high.”

Forearm Drills

An often underrated muscle group, the forearms are pivotal in improving grip strength. Walsh made sure to emphasise this through the Road House preparation, peppering in grip work to every session. For new gym-goers or those who have hit a plateau, this is excellent advice. Poor grip strength can be a serious limiting factor in your quest to go heavier and increase progressive overload.

Cross-Lateral Loading

Cross lateral loading was an important element in Road House preparation as it was more related to MMA training. Walsh worked to keep the body in check with off-set loading and movements more imperative to sports functions. Examples include big jumps and should-loaded lunges, working unilaterally across each side of the body.

Floor Press

If you’ve seen the photos, you know that Jake Gyllenhaal has put some significant time and work into his chest. The actor has a supremely sculpted set of pecs, which Walsh revealed were largely achieved through a mix of floor press movements. In the clip, Gyllenhaal is seen using the Swiss Bar, which keeps hands in a neutral position, with knuckles facing the roof. This ultimately reduces the influence of the front delt and focuses more heavily on the mid pectoral.

“It’s important to keep the stimuli broad with variations of reps, sets, loads and different tempos,” Walsh explains. While the fitness trainer opted to incorporate these movements in a flor-based position, a standard bench will more than suffice. In fact, the apparatus may actually help you to increase your range of motion and add further tension to the muscles.

Jake Gyllenhaal wearing boxing shorts and gloves inside a boxing ring
Jake Gyllenhaal as Billy Hope in ‘Southpaw’ | Image: The Weinstein Company

Jake Gyllenhaal Southpaw Workout Routine

Importantly, Road House isn’t the first movie we’ve seen Gyllenhaal push his body to the limits for. Back in 2015, the actor took on the role of Billy “The Great” Hope in Antoine Fuqua boxing epic Southpaw. Fuqua himself is a boxer and worked extensively with Gyllenhaal to craft a workout that mirrored the actual movements seen in the ring, whilst also bulking up heavily to look his best. The result is nothing short of amazing. In Southpaw, Gyllenhaal is impossibly shredded and his workout routine was arguably more extreme than that of Road House. Check out the Jake Gyllenhaal Southpaw workout and decide for yourself.

Workout Schedule

  • Wake Up
  • Perform 1,000 sit-ups
  • Run 8 miles
  • Eat breakfast (mostly carbs)
  • 1-2 hours of boxing and sparring
  • 1-hour core workout routine
  • Eat protein
  • 1-2 hours of boxing and cardio
  • 1-hour weightlifting workout
  • 1,000 sit-ups
  • Go to bed

Core Workout Routine

Collectively, the following exercises make up 1 round. Gyllenhaal performed 2-3 rounds total, resting 1-2 minutes between each round.

  • Pull-ups (1 set of 10 reps)
  • Arm walk-outs (1 set of 10 reps)
  • Bicycle crunches (1 set of 20 reps)
  • One leg/arm plank (1 set of 10 reps)
  • Dips (1 set of 10 reps)
  • Pushups (1 set of 10 reps)
  • Deadlift (1 set of 10 reps, 1-2 minutes of rest)

Boxing Exercises

  • Jump rope
  • Footwork drills
  • Shadow boxing
  • Bag work
  • Speedball
  • Focus pads
  • Sparring
  • Flip a 250-lb tractor tire 20 times a day
  • Pound a 250-lb tractor tire with a sledgehammer for 3 minutes at a time
  • Get punched in the face by real fighters

Jake Gyllenhaal Weightlifting Workout Routine

Collectively, the following exercises make up 1 round. Gyllenhaal performed 2-3 rounds total, resting 1-2 minutes between each round.

  • Dips (1 set, 8-12 reps)
  • Crunches (1 set, 25 reps)
  • Weighted pull-ups (1 set, 8-12 reps)
  • Barbell squats (1 set, 8-12 reps)
  • Barbell deadlift (1 set, 8-12 reps)
  • DB shoulder press (1 set, 8-12 reps)
  • Walking lunge (1 set, 8-12 reps)
  • Dumbbell shrugs (1 set, 8-12 reps)
  • Bench press (1 set, 8-12 reps)

Jake Gyllenhaal Diet & Workout Routine FAQ

How did Jake Gyllenhaal prepare for Road House?

To prepare for Road House, Gyllenhaal had to consume a diet big on weight gain and building mass as well as an intense workout plan. He worked with trainer Jason Walsh for over a year to balance his macronutrients and focused heavily on mobility movements and bilateral posterior work. This workout protocol was designed to make the action sequences and MMA-style fighting scenes more believable.

How long did Jake train for Road House?

To be able to play a former UFC fighter, Jake Gyllenhall had to work out for more than a year, dropping from 205 pounds to 184.