Brooklyn, where Michael Jai was born, in the 1980s, was not really a place for the weak If anyone was not tough, they had to learn it. Michael Jai found it out the hard way. He recalls, “I was an insecure kid growing up in a harsh environment. Martial arts was my armor.” Interestingly, he started his martial arts training when he was just 7years old but just like other kids who were pushed by their parents, Michael wasn’t. In fact, he took classes in secret, hiding from his parents because they did not want him to learn martial arts.
‘She thought I would use it to fight and get in trouble so she didn’t let me go,’ says White. Since he says he was a child who would ‘go into abandoned buildings and punch holes through the walls for fun’, you can see where she was coming from. Interestingly, when he was in his youth, he happened to be in a real-life movie where he was actually attacked by more than one person. Thanks to his martial arts that he was able to evade these mobsters. Michael White recalls this incident, saying, “Yes, years ago. It was five guys vs. me. It started at a club in New York City. When I left, these guys followed me out. If I know I’m going to fight someone, then I use a little acting to put everyone at ease. One guy flashed a gun, and, although I was acting scared, I was glad he did that because I knew who I was going to take out first. I hit the first guy with a sidekick to the throat and took out the other two, all within a few seconds. I had to chase down the fourth guy; the fifth guy threw a punch that missed my chest, and then he ran away.” So, now we know why Michael’s parents were worried a lot.
When he first began, he would just go with his friends and see it from the bleachers. He got inspired by observing for months. It was then when the instructor allowed him to train for free. By the age of 13, he proved his potential and knocked out men double his age and stature. He received at least 7 different black belts and thus was given the title of a formidable fighter who knew how to knock people down with flair.
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The Michael Jai White you watch on the screen and in movies is a beast in the gym. With his 106kg of sheer muscle, anyone would assume that he is a competitive bodybuilder. Even though he needs that kind of bulk physique to look good on screen, he also needs to be flexible and dynamic in his movements which means that his muscles must be able to contribute to functional strength.
With the kind of body that White has, most Hollywood stars would give up anything to have one like his. Hollywood star, Michael Jai White is more than just an actor. He is an inspiration to thousands of aspirants who are leaning towards their fitness journeys and aspire to become like him. He says that he stands tall and strong even in his 50s only because he does not train for a long period of time but because he trains smart. In his words, “I train smarter because my window [to get in a workout] is a lot narrower. My weight training has a lot of explosive movements; it’s like a combination of classical weight training and how a track athlete trains.” Before we dig deep into his daily routine of exercise and diet, here are his statistics.
Michael Jai White Stats
|Height:||6 feet 2 inches (184 cm approx..)|
|Weight:||215-235 lbs( 98.5kg approx..)|
Michael Jai White Workout Routine
Since Michael is into action movies, he does a lot of martial arts, the latest in most of them and so much of his workouts incorporate a lot of martial arts so that he looks a certain way. But he also likes to focus on strength training and other cardio workouts so that it can keep his heart pumping and give him that ripped look. That’s how he remains to be fit all year long. He explained his ripped, muscular yet flexible physique saying, “I’ve always worked on explosiveness. I have never wanted to sacrifice speed during my reps,” giving all the credits to his high-intensity explosive workout routine.
His strategy, you ask? It is quite simple and straightforward. He lowers himself slowly to a rep and then explodes off quite ferociously as he goes back to the starting position. His strategy in his own words: “Absolutely. I literally throw the weights as hard and fast as I can to develop maximum power. So for the bench press or Smith machine, I throw the weight at the top of the rep, catch it, then lower it – I am basically punching with the weight. I do the same thing with barbell curls, I throw the bar and catch it at the end of each rep. I train like a sprinter – they have huge, defined bodies but it’s all useful, powerful muscle.”
It can benefit to hear a bit about his body type: Michael Jai White is in his 50s but he doesn’t look his age at all. The credit goes to extreme fitness. He is 6’1” tall and weighs about 220 pounds. He posts a lot of his workout videos on the youtube channel and inspires people who are probably not even his age or height towards fitness. He claims that except for a few variations, the basic techniques remain the same for everyone.
Where White began at 7 years old in Brooklyn, New York, in his hometown watching and learning martial arts and eventually earning 7 different black belts in different styles of Kung fu and karate, he is in his 50s with the same intensity. He maintains it by working on his amazing physique. He also works hard to improve his flexibility and speed. His workouts are usually a combination of bodybuilding, athletics, and martial arts. Although he is quite a big and heavy guy, with martial arts and some flexibility exercises, he has improved on his skills and remained flexible. He says, “No, you develop a lot of core strength from martial arts. I train to stay functional, so I would never do heavy curls because adding size to my biceps is kind of useless.”
The key to his workout is to add a lot of variety. He makes sure that his body is not getting used to a particular kind of workout so he keeps switching it. Not only does he work on different parts of his body but he also focuses on each aspect like strength, flexibility, endurance, and stamina.
He says that he completely avoids, what is biologically called, ‘accommodation’, which means that if the muscles are subjected to a particular kind of stress, in this case, workouts, for example, lifting the same amount of weights without any progressive overload, the body will reach the point of plateau or the point where it will stop growing. In simpler terms, when you begin lifting, your body may gain for some time, but it would reach a point where it would demand that the weights must be heavier. Eventually, they would stop developing.
Michael White explains his morning routine saying that the first thing in the morning that he does is a workout and while he is doing that, he also plans the whole schedule for the day. Way to go for multitasking, isn’t it? He also says that while you work out, you can inspire others too especially if you have kids at home. Besides, the feeling of accomplishment that comes with smashing a workout and looking at the physical results can become quite addictive too. In his words,
First thing in the morning I do what most people do: gather my thoughts, try to remember what I might have forgotten, plot my day and think of new ideas all in my own peaceful mind space…And Oh, I might just happen to be running on the treadmill while this is going on.
Working out first thing in the morning can become “your time,” and it is the very best time to work out. The air is fresher, the world is quiet, and you can actually hear yourself think. Working out allows you to burn more body fat and speed up your metabolism to burn more fat throughout the day. Plus, you can get it in without fail. There is no excuse why you can’t get up an hour earlier than usual to work out. As parents, it’s only sensible to take care of the person who’s taking care of our kids.
Implementing a pattern of respecting our bodies will teach our kids to respect theirs. Besides, our kids learn more from what we do than what we say.
The early morning purge is a powerful thing, and that feeling of accomplishment can become addictive. Without getting too technical, let me just say, “The brain can become as addicted to positive stimuli just as well as the negative.”
White also says that he does not wish to see himself walking with a cane and wants to work hard for the day when he would be running at the same age instead. All in all, he wants to live the best quality of his life by keeping himself ultra-fit. The only way one can do it is by loving themselves more. In his own words,
To ask me “Why I work out” confounds me to ask, “Why wouldn’t I?” It makes me feel good, and it’s good for me, but the most important reason as to why I work out is “Cane Day.”
Aging is inevitable. I know one day I will have to walk with a cane and on that day, I will WISH I had the choice to run. I thank God I can run now, so I will run, sprint, lift, jump, and kick in celebration until I can’t anymore. The more I work out now, the longer I delay “Cane Day.”
Nothing is worse than living in regret, and I believe we all can and should improve our quality of life right now. Your life and your body are your ONLY true possessions. They can’t be repossessed or foreclosed on. It’s time to build equity for your most prized possession, YOU. You just have to love yourself enough to believe you’re worth it, and believe me, YOU ARE!
White’s plan of exercising and keeping himself fit is identical to that of the remarkably successful workout system called Focus T25. It’s recognized as the ‘muscle confusion’ system – which involves several martial-arts type exercises as a component of its schedule or plan. It is very similar to the kind of stuff Michael himself uses.
Michael begins with some cardio workouts in the morning and does a strength workout in the afternoon. He explains his full workout routine by saying, “I work out 5 days a week. Mon-Wed. with Thursday off, and Fri and Sat. with Sunday off. I start with 45 minutes of cardio first thing in the AM. That could be running, treadmill, stair-mill, or heavy bag. Then I commit to 90 minutes of strength & conditioning in the afternoon or evening, meaning weights, kettlebells, pull-up bars, pushups, sit-ups, Martial Arts). Since I don’t want to be any bigger, I use weights purely for toning, and do 4 sets of 15 reps, with 12 sets total per body part.”
He says that including eight training is important because it not only helps you to keep up the strength but also volume in your body which decreases as you age. Weight training is the only thing that will strengthen your body. He thinks that weight must be used only to tone the body. He says, “I feel weights should be used primarily to balance the body nature didn’t give you. Most of us are not born with a totally balanced physique and our entire weight regimen should be prioritized to build where you are lacking. If you train your entire body the same, you’ll just emphasize your flaws.”
His reps per muscle group are also moderate to high as he likes to tone his body and not bulk any more than what he actually has. He explains his working sets saying, “I do three to four sets per muscle group, maximum 15 reps per set, minimum five or six. Sometimes [I’ll do more for] a residual muscle group. [For example], when I’m doing back, I may finish up with six sets of rear delts because they’re already worked indirectly through the back workout.”
For Michael White, explosive movements work the best because they help him train not only the targeted body part but also the whole of the body. He maintains his muscles only because of the specific diet that he follows. He tells in an interview, “I see a mature muscle quality overall. When your muscles fire like that, you’re working not only on the target body parts but also on everything else. When you see a picture of somebody running in stride, all these muscles are in play that wouldn’t be if they were moving slowly. Also, I govern my results through my diet — the same workout with a different diet will gain my size, while an alternative diet would keep me lean.”
Because of his explosive movements, he keeps his reps moderately high. It is all about quality for him and he makes sure that he is giving it all. He tries to be as strong as it is possible. He explains his working sets and reps saying, “I generally do 12 to 15 reps for three to four sets at 65% of my one rep max – it’s really about quality, though. As the reps go on, you can’t fling the weights as much so you need to squeeze and contract the muscle as hard as you can at the top of the rep to get that ripped definition. Even when you can’t throw the weights anymore, still try to explode up as much as possible.”
Michael tries to do a strength-based workout at least three times a week and this is what the conditioning program looks like:
- Standing dumbbell press: 3 x 6 reps
- Pull-ups (add weight if needed): 3 x 8 reps
- Dumbbell/barbell press: 2 x 6 reps
- Barbell row: 2 x 8 reps
- Weighted cable ab crunch: 3 x 13-15 reps
Day 2 (alternate back squat with deadlift every week)
- Back Squat/deadlift: 3 x 5 reps
- Dumbbell step-ups: 2 x 8 reps per leg
- Weighted back extension: 3 x 8-10 reps
- Walking dumbbell lunges: 2 x 8-10 reps per leg
- Standing calf raise: 3 x 13-20 reps
- Incline dumbbell press: 3 x6 reps
- 1-arm dumbbell row: 3 x 6 reps
- Dips(add weight if needed): 3 x 8 reps
- Pull-ups (bodyweight only): 3 x failure
- Weighted cable ab crunch: 3 x 13-15 reps
For Michael, it is all about balancing strength and aesthetics. He explains his philosophy in a very simple manner, saying “For me, it’s all about aesthetics and performance. I think it’s no coincidence that those who are aesthetically balanced are better athletes — your centerline can move much better when your front and back musculature is balanced. There’s something that’s universally pleasing about a balanced aesthetic, and to achieve that balanced aesthetic is to achieve great physical ability, as well. I’m always going for that.”
Michael White is a super huge fan of all the pull-up exercises. It has helped him a lot in his regular life too in addition to just developing the body part that he felt was lagging behind the parts of his body. He believes that once the back muscle is strengthened enough, the chest and biceps would look more defined anyway. This is because it opens up the cheat and pulls the shoulders backward. Also, he thinks that pull-up exercises help to straighten the spine.
He tells that he has many issues with his body and he overcame it all by using appropriate weight training and conditioning methods. He explains, “I used to have a weak back. My arms and thighs were too big and my shoulders were rounded. Although I balanced out my physique through weight training over the years, I still emphasize back training first and foremost. A strong back has its benefits beyond just aesthetics (wink) and as I age, I want to still be able to carry my great-grandchildren on my neck and put off “Cane Day” for as long as possible.”
Michael also claims that the biggest problem with people is that they do not work as hard for their back as they should. For him, though, most of the exercises use his back or some nearby muscles. This way he keeps his backs strong and avoids having back pain too. In addition to this, he also has a great posture whenever he is exercising and tries to maintain a good form throughout.
For his chest workouts, which is his second favorite body part to sculpt, he does not use much of the flat bench and likes to do a lot of incline and decline bench movements. He also works out 6 times in the whole week but all of it depends on the kind of role he is going for.
He says that while doing back, many people get scared because this muscle group also involves a lot of injuries. But a correct form and posture can help elevate the same. Michael says that he can evade any such injury even though his movements are pretty explosive. How he does it? He explains, “The very same way. One of the things that might scare some people is with my back extensions — I’ll get on a 45-degree-angle back-extension machine holding a weight and come up with such velocity that I will stand all the way up. I get a lot of muscle stimulation that way because I’m exploding. When you’re grappling and you have to lift someone, you’re using the lower back and you have to explode up. Or just like when you’re doing jerks and cleans.”
Although he does not do isolated movements much there are some parts that he likes to do isolated; although he does that sometimes and not regularly. He explains, “I do them occasionally. One muscle group that I isolate quite a bit is my rear deltoids because they can never be too big. I tend to hit those specifically for growth with bent-over dumbbell raises and bent-over rear-cable flyes.”
Michael White always warms up with a dynamic stretch, jump rope sessions, and 20 push-ups for three full sets before he begins his workouts.
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
- Sitting on a military bench with back support, take the appropriate weight dumbbells, holding the dumbbells upright on the thighs.
- Lift the dumbbells to shoulder height with the elbows bent and away from your body in a goalpost position. Make certain that the palms are facing forward; this is the starting position.
- Lift the dumbbells upward, almost enabling the ends to touch. Retain your back straight and head/spine in alignment, as well as holding the arms somewhat in front of your head.
- Gently lower your dumbbells back to the starting position.
- Repeat four sets with 15, 10, 8, and 5 reps, adding weight each time as suitable.
- Reclining on a flat bench or a slightly inclined one, hold dumbbells in each hand and rest them on the thighs, making sure that your palms face each other.
- Utilizing the thighs to raise the dumbbells, raise them above the shoulder with the arms stretched forward. This is the starting position.
- Lower the arms with control, lightly bending the elbows to limit stress on the body, and use a wide arc to lower the arms. You should feel a small stretch of the chest.
- Return the arms to the starting position, squeezing the chest muscles.
- Complete three sets of 12 repetitions each.
For the pull sessions, Michael White manages to do a dynamic stretch which involves 10 minutes with the jump rope and three sets of 10 push-ups each.
- To do this workout, you need an E-Z bar and a preacher bench.
- Grasp the bar so that hands are about shoulder-width apart with the palms facing forward and somewhat bent.
- Fix the upper arms against the preacher bar and place your chest against it. The starting position is where the bar is at shoulder height in the curled position.
- Gently lower the bar to assure that your upper arms are stretched, providing the biceps a stretch.
- Then, curl the weight or bar up to contract the biceps, pressing hard for a moment.
- Finish four sets using 15, 10, 8, and 5 reps each (adding weight each time).
- Using a Lat machine, rack the suitable weight and grasp the handles in a wide grip, palms facing downward.
- Sit on the given bench with arms outstretched overhead.
- Pull the bar down with control, holding at the collarbone or slightly past it.
- Lift the bar back up higher with control for a single rep.
- Complete three sets of 12 reps each.
His leg day also has many explosive moments and he likes to include a lot of high and low jumps into it. He explains the same saying, “The standing leg press is ideal. I get on that and just literally jump at the end of each rep. Otherwise, you can do normal squats but explode by jumping up out of the rep.”
Before Michael White begins leg-day, he always stretches which includes 10 minutes of jumping rope. He also does three sets of 20 air squats to get the legs pumped up.
- Using an assisted pull-up machine, rack the machine with the right weight.
- Put one foot on the pad and push downward with your foot. Enable it to rise back to the starting position gradually.
- Complete three sets of 12 reps each.
- Using a leg extension machine, pick the proper weight, and sit on the bench with the legs below the pad while holding the sidebars.
- Stretch your legs outward, retaining the body in a stationary position. With control, lower the weight to the beginning position.
- Complete three sets with 12 repetitions each.
Michael Jai White Tips For Beginners
Michael knows that beginners have always struggled in the gym initially because so did he. But with patience and consistency has he been able to achieve the best results. Another important aspect that he focuses on is observance. Isn’t what he did too at the age of 7 when he was trying to learn martial arts?
Michael says that most like strove to have a big chest or sculpted arms or biceps but most of these guys do it in the wrong way. There are a lot of beginner’s mistakes that guys generally make and even if they work for long hours in the gym, they won’t get the same result. According to his own words, “Everyone wants big arms and a big chest, but 80% of guys I see in the gym are doing it completely wrong. They don’t realize the shape of your whole arm and chest is dependant on your triceps and back. So you see people hammering away for years at the heavy curls and bench press thinking it’s going to build them up but instead of developing good-looking arms and chests, all that happens is their shoulders and chest get pulled forward and they look hunched – the complete opposite of what they want. This can even hurt the lower back as well because it has to compensate for the weight of your arms and chest putting weight beyond the centreline of your body.”
Instead, he says, it is all about the back strength. For your body to look balanced, one must focus on developing their back because only then would the shoulder and chest look aligned too. For this, one must do a lot of pull-up exercises which also Michale White’s favorite. He says, “Wide-arm pull-ups. People need to realize that strengthening the back muscles will make your chest and arms look more pronounced by pulling your shoulders back and opening your chest. Pull-ups are easily my favorite exercise because they are one of the best at strengthening your back, which keeps your aesthetics balanced and makes you look good without a shirt. It also straightens out your spine.”
He also suggests some tricep-building exercises that he himself does in great volumes. He gives some great advice on how to work up those arms too. He says, “Also, practice your triceps dips to focus on building thicker arms because the triceps are the muscles that really make your arms look good. If you really want to work your explosiveness, try to progress to muscle-ups when you get strong enough.”
Michael White is all about medium reps with full power and speed. He gives some great tips to beginners who are confused about where to begin their workouts. He says, “15 reps of wide-arm pull-ups will really develop a strong back to open up your chest. They go well with your bench press so superset them if you want a well-balanced chest workout. When these get too easy, start weighting your pull-ups. Start with small plates and steadily add more as you progress. I generally use 115lb [52kg] which is half my body weight.”
That’s all about Michael Jai White’s workout routine that keeps him on top of his game. But what does he eat to stay so consistent and energetic to go through this all? Here’s his diet plan:
Michael Jai White Diet Plan
Because Michael has been a part of the film industry and that too working in action films, he had to look a certain ay. Always. And for this, he had to eat a certain ay too. He reveals that he uses a lot of supplements throughout the day to meet his energy and nutritional requirement. His favorite is the creation supplements that have helped him put on a lot of mass and looked muscular because this supplement helped his muscles to hold water in the muscle tissue which allowed him to look bulkier for any part in a movie. It is a quick fix, though, for whenever he is in a rush.
In his own words, he explains his supplement intake telling his fans and followers what kinds of supplements he likes to have. He says, “Yes, I do. If I had to gain weight quickly, I’d use creatine. It makes me hold a lot more water in my muscle tissue. That’s a quick fix for me, but I pretty much do branched-chain amino acids [daily], and I drink about two protein shakes a day. I eat pretty well, too — I’m pretty consistent. I get a lot of vitamins through my diet.”
Besides creatine, he likes to take BCAAs which are branched-chain amino acids for quick recovery. He takes the BCAA supplement throughout the day in his water to help him get through the strenuous day. But he does not replace his meals with supplements and likes to cover up most of his daily nutritional needs through real food rather than supplements. He includes a lot of lean meats like chicken and fish in his diet. He adds some red meat too. With this, he adds some veggies and fruits for fiber and vitamins.
His diet usually consists of clean foods. He likes to steer clear of anything processed and aims for eating as many unprocessed and local foods as he can. He also likes to buy organic foods and cooks at home with such ingredients. His frequency of eating meals is pretty frequent and he eats at least 5 to 6 meals per day to keep his energy levels up because of his hectic shooting schedule and his strenuous workout plans. When it comes to eating out, he makes smart decisions and fills up on veggies and salads or lean meats. He has a limited intake of alcohol too. He does not really have a huge sweet tooth so that is a great thing for him.
Although he admits that he likes to cheat during his clean meals sometimes. However, it is very controlled most of the time. He admits, saying, “Town House crackers. If they’re around I’m eating the whole sleeve…those damn Keebler elves.”
With such a great following for his fitness routine Michael says that fitness is so much embedded into his routine that now all he thinks of is producing better movies. He explains, “I have some big projects coming up this year: Black Dynamite 2 and the TV spin-off; Never Back Down 3; a drama called Cops and Robbers; and I have my sitcom, Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse. What I’m focused on right now is producing better movies.”
However, no matter how big a movie star he is, people constantly recognize him from his fitness streaks on social media. He says that this has also lead to his fans following him and recognize him as a movie actor. In his words, “It’s funny because I’ll walk into a crowd and hear people arguing, saying, “Is that the guy from Blood and Bone?” And someone else will say, “No, that’s the guy from that Tyler Perry movie,” or, “No, that’s Black Dynamite.” To me, that proves that I have a pretty wide audience. If you count it up, I’ve done more comedies than action films.”
But being a huge star on screen does not mean that he does not have his own fangirl moment. Well, he really wants to work with Donnie Yen in an action movie. This actor also has a great physique like Michael White himself. Michael reveals in an interview, “Donnie Yen. On-screen, he’s the best right now, and he’s constantly evolving.”
That was all about Michael Jai White’s workout routine to build such an amazing-looking body and a great diet plan including those smartly picked supplements, without which it was not nearly possible to reach the place where he has reached now.