Fans of the historical time travel romance show can soon watch Sam Heughan in Outlander season 3, as it is set to air sometime in 2017. Heughan plays Scottish Highland warrior Jamie Fraser, who, for many, is the ultimate romantic hero.
The hunky actor needs to be in exceedingly great shape—warrior-level shape—to meet the demands of his role. How does he do it? With a combination of exercises, including CrossFit workouts.
Getting the actor’s body in the right shape for 1721 (one of the years in which the show is set) was essential for the show’s creative team. They definitely didn’t want him to look like he’d been to the gym. A gym body looks different than a body crafted by the wilds of nature, and that’s partly why Heughan literally runs hills and mountains—it’s the sort of activity a warrior would have had back then. No Lifetime Fitness in Highlander times, though Heughan does do some dead lifts at the gym. They even built him a gym on set that is quite elaborate now.
Heughan says that his character had been living rough for months—living off the land, being chased by the redcoats—so there was a lot of horseback riding and he needed a body that looked like it could do all that. He also does all of his own sword fighting and horseback riding stunts, so he says he needed to protect himself and be in proper shape for those scenes.
The actor works with trainer John Valbonesi from Glasgow. Valbonesi says that getting a body that didn’t look trained actually took a great deal of intense work and involved a lot of functional moves. Sometimes Heughan worked out three times a day to get in this shape for his role as Jamie Fraser. And the muscle gain was incredible—28 pounds of it—and he kept gaining.
His weight and muscle mass has to change to suit the story line. At the end of season 1, Heughan says his character was being tortured and undergoing a lot of stress. So he himself had to get lean fast, and he accomplished that through diet alone.
Heughan is no stranger to working out hard. In fact, he has run competitively in the Paris and London marathons and says he got good time in both. He loves running, but it doesn’t give him the type of body he wants. That’s why he started dabbling in other types of exercise.
While Heughan was in boot camp-mode, he says he was literally eating everything but kept to a clean diet as much as possible. He ate a lot of sweet potatoes, chicken, and peanut butter to help increase his muscle growth. Once he got on set, though, he had to adapt accordingly.
He says it was hard to find good nutrition while shooting on location, so he started taking supplements and eating protein bars because they were easy to carry around. In the last few months of filming season 1, the actor followed a Paleo diet to help achieve the more slimmed down frame need for his character during the prison scenes. He found a Paleo regimen hard to adapt to at first. Who can blame him.
O’Kelly, D., “’OUTLANDER’ STAR SAM HEUGHAN IS READY FOR ACTION,” Men’s Fitness web site; http://www.mensfitness.com/life/entertainment/outlander-star-sam-heughan-ready-action, last accessed October 12, 2016.