Fans of the hit Netflix show You are done waiting. The highly-anticipated Season 3 is now streaming, with an intriguing new character played by actor Travis Van Winkle. (You may recognise him from the first Transformers movie and the TNT drama The Last Ship). Van Winkle is Cary Conrad, a bio-hacker and fitness entrepreneur who has his own line of supplements. Van Winkle set out to put on 10 pounds of muscle to thoroughly embody the role—and the results speak for themselves.
"Before I got the role in You, I had a pretty loosely structured exercise routine," Van Winkle admits. "I would work out 4 times a week, and do a lot of full body circuit workouts HIIT workouts. I'd stretch, warm-up, and be done in an hour to 90 minutes. I wasn't focused on building muscle, just maintaining." That all changed when he got the role of the charismatic and professionally ripped Cary Conrad, so Van Winkle knew he had to put a new focus into looking the part.
To do so, he enlisted the help of celebrity trainer Grant Roberts, the guy behind some of Hollywood's most notable physical transformations for roles, including David Dastmalchian for Dune and Kumail Nanjiani for The Eternals. Van Winkle reached out to Roberts via Instagram DM after learning he had worked with Nanjiani.
"I DM'd him, and I went into his office for a 3D body scan, and located parts I wanted to add muscle to," says Van Winkle.
Roberts created a 5:2 workout plan for Van Winkle, which he did mostly in his garage home gym around 2 or 3 p.m. in the afternoon. The plan focused on hitting certain muscle groups each day, which usually included four different exercises per muscle group. He would do descending reps within each set (i.e. 12, 10, 8, 6 reps) and add weight as he went down the ladder. He spent about 2 hours in the gym each day. The plan was structured as follows:
Monday: chest and rear delts
Tuesday: biceps and quads
Thursday: shoulders, triceps and chest
Friday: back, hamstrings and biceps
Saturday: core, calves, and traps
Sunday: cardio and/or rest
"I was training like an Olympic athlete," says Van Winkle.
He also focused on recovery. "I took HCL creatine everyday after my workout, with dextrose in my protein shake within 30 minutes," says Van Winkle. He also says that he relied on a weekly deep tissue massage, acupuncture once every two weeks, and "frequently" used his massage gun. He chugged a casein protein shake before bed, and also made sure he got enough sleep, implementing a 10:30 p.m. bedtime most nights, waking up around 6:30 or 7 a.m.
Besides a workout plan, Roberts also gave Van Winkle nutrition advice. The actor ate six meals a day, and was focused heavily on macro counting. During the five days of the week traditional work week, Van Winkle stuck to 240 grams of protein, 130 grams of fat, and 100 grams of carbs. He used the MyFitnessPal app to track everything.
"I didn't know what macros were before this," laughs Van Winkle.
On the weekends, he would still aim to get the same amount of protein, but reduced his fat intake by half, and doubled his carb intake. "I'd have cake, doughnuts, burgers pizza...load up on carbs," says Van Winkle. "It helped with gaining lean muscle and mass in those particular body parts I'd hit come my workouts on Monday and Tuesday."
Specifically, Van Winkle knew he would have a shirtless scene about two-and-a-half months into filming, an important goal and 'why' that motivated him to stick to the plan. "I never stopped and never broke," says Van Winkle.
To prep for the shirtless scene, he took on three days of water loading (drinking 2 gallons of water a day). Then, the day before the scene, he drank no water. He hit the sauna, and ate a carb-heavy meal which included steak, a baked potato, and wine. The morning of the shoot, he woke up and carb loaded once again, eating six pancakes with blueberries and syrup before going to set, where he had a rice cake and scoop full of raisins before doing a mini pump session before going on camera.
"I learned how to go extra lengths to get the results," says Van Winkle. (Just remember that this isn't a standard practice and Van Winkle was working with pros. Don't try this type of prep at home.)
After nearly four-and-a-half months of following the training and eating plan created by Roberts, Van Winkle says he also achieved his goal of adding 10 pounds of muscle.
"I did everything Grant Roberts told me to do," he says. "It became so normalised for me, but I'm incredibly self motivated and knew I had to show up for myself. When you don't want to work out because you're sore, you have to push through that. Get in there and do the work, and you'll be happy you did."
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