Matt Damon’s coaches show you how to bulk up like BourneHopefully you’ll never get caught up in the kind of situations Jason Bourne regularly has to deal with, like running from the FBI and (lots of) physical combat. That said, it never hurts to be prepared
Apart from his amnesia-induced inability to remember his own name, Jason Bourne’s most famous trait is his Adonis-like physique. How else would he be able to spend much of his life running down backstreets at break-neck speed and hold his own against well-toned adversaries?
Matt Baiamonte and Jason Walsh are the real-life trainers who got Matt Damon in shape for his fourth spy outing, and they’ve shared their fitness secrets. Follow these rules and you’ll be ripped like Bourne in no time:
- No rest for the wicked
- Climb your way to the top
- Run, run, run
- Pull punches
- Find the core of the problem
- Eat cleanly
Rule #1: There’s no off-season
Getting a body like Bourne’s is a full-time job. There’s no six-week summer holiday, no month off over Christmas. You have to keep in decent shape all year-round. This was particularly crucial for Matt Damon, who had to train for The Martian and The Great Wall before the latest instalment of the Bourne franchise. “We didn’t just start prepping for Jason Bourne,” says Walsh, founder of Rise Nation gym in West Hollywood. “We had two other movies before that, which started back in 2014.”
Though neither of these movies required Damon to pile on the pounds the way he has for Bourne, Walsh made sure to keep him in tip-top shape regardless. “There is really no off-season,” he says, “If you can stay in decent shape, you’re really only a few weeks away from getting in goal-ready shape when you need to.”
Rule #2: Get acquainted with the VersaClimber
Baiamonte owns Matt Baiamonte’s Boxing Club in Wynwood, Florida, and oversaw much of Damon’s physically-challenging preparation. Both he and Walsh feel that the VersaClimber is, while gruelling, ultimately rewarding for those determined to get buff.
“VersaClimber is basically like climbing a mountain,” says Baiamonte. “So we were doing intervals of that where he’d go on for a minute, and we’d just keep banging that out.” Walsh adds: “On the VersaClimber, he would end up averaging 4,000ft or 4,500 ft, which we could do in 30 minutes… that’s a lot of work in a very, very short amount of time.”
Rule #3: Keep on running
As an action hero, even jogging is tough. Bourne heads all over the world and runs on all kinds of terrain, from hilly Mediterranean islands like Tenerife to the dense urban environment of London, with its cobbled streets and ridges. Tough running is the order of the day.
Damon’s running training in Tenerife included gruelling stints jogging in the mountains, five or six miles at a time. “We started doing sprints and long-distance runs a couple of times a week, but we’d also do mostly metabolic sprints,” Walsh says. “They were pretty horrible, I’m not gonna lie. And we were at very, very high altitude. We both kind of looked at each other halfway through like, “What the hell is wrong with us?”
Rule #4: Start boxing
Damon really had to brush up on his fighting skills ahead of Jason Bourne. Baiamonte led Damon through countless drills to ensure that he could both throw and take all the punches demanded in the script.
This included two to four rounds of shadow boxing as a warm-up before moving onto combinations, which included speed drills on the bag and between six to 10 rounds of hitting pads. Pro boxers get to take a few weeks off after a fight’s over, but this luxury wasn’t afforded to Damon. “It was literally like [Damon] had a fight, and he had to fight the next day… you gotta figure, they were hitting each other like 200 times [in a scene],” says Baiamonte.
Rule #5: Focus on core strength
As well as standard core exercises like planks, lunges and leg raises, Baiamonte made Damon do some extra workouts he picked up from his mentor Angelo Dundee, the former boxing coach to Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and George Foreman.
This included the “farmer’s walk”, which involves holding 60 to 70lbs in each arm and then walking 20 to 30 paces back and forth, as well as the “reverse bicycle” – where you would lie on your back and rotate your arms and legs while performing sit-ups.
Rule #6: Eat right
It goes without saying that the road to strong physique begins with healthy eating. Throughout his months of training, Damon had his own personal chef who drew up a tailored diet of 45% protein and 30% fat, with the rest made up of carbs, which meant he guzzled down 2,000 calories per day.
“Matt ate a very, very, very clean, healthy diet,” Walsh says. “We tweaked all the macronutrients, and stuff like that, that he ate. As we lower our carbohydrates and we work out and condition more, you’re gonna lean out. So It’s very important.” He continues, “You lower the calories, you tweak the carbohydrates, you would eat really clean foods and vegetables. Especially fresh from the market, it’s fantastic!”