The five UFC champion Randy Couture returns to the silver screen this month as an imposing mercenary in "The Expendables 2" (The Indestructible 2).
Couture, 49, appeared in the first of these films in addition to being David Mamet in "Redbelt" (Red Belt) and in "Scorpion King 2" (King Scorpion 2). With "The Expendables 2" (the indestructible 2), the successful saga of Sylvester Stallone in 2010, this native of Las Vegas is ready to be nominated as a revelation actor.
But long before Couture arrived in Hollywood, and even before his name became known to the UFC, he stood out for the preparation of his physical condition. Couture played boxing for a 6-year stint in the US Army, and then served as a strength coach for wrestling at Oregon State University. His story served him both for his career in martial arts and in his current acting career, playing roles as Toall Road, a character who specializes in hand-to-hand combat.
We recently spoke with Couture about his physical preparation for "The Expendables 2" (The Indestructible 2).
How was your preparation for "The Expendables 2" (The indestructible 2)?
I was just leaving the competitions and in excellent physical condition. I own and run a training center in Las Vegas. During the recording I trained as I do every day.
What were those trainings like?
I love to fight. I do a little combat and then I spend three days a week in the gym with Jake (Bonacci, a strength trainer at the Couture center).
Training begins with a dynamic warm-up routine. We do exercises with chest and body weights, with dynamic movements. We use kettlebells, dumbbells or a bar. With Jake, each workout is different. I arrive and do what is planned for that day.
Have you ever imagined that you would become an actor?
Acting is something out of the ordinary for me, and it's not what I imagined I was going to do. But I am really happy that athletics has opened the door for me to do so. Now I see myself as the next step in my career.
When you fought, you had a strategy and you adapted. Do you apply the same strategy when working as an actor? Improvise when acting?
Yes, that's one of the best things about working with Stallone. It does not get stuck in the letters of the pages, it has a lot of ideas, it knows how to make things spontaneous and realistic. Certainly, in terms of humor the movie, Sly made many adjustments in the dialogues, which made me happy.
What is your favorite memory of having worked on "The Expendables 2" (The indestructible 2)?
There is a scene in which we entered a Soviet training center that was set in New York City. We spent the night in a pizzeria set. There is a funny dialogue and the next day we get up and realize that we were about to be attacked, so hell is unleashed.
So, what kind of training did you do for your role?
We put together an intense routine for a month and a half. I trained twice a day for three or four days a week. It's similar what I did in the camps to prepare for the fights.
I made giant series or supersets, such as pull-ups, squats with kettlebells and push-ups, sometimes with weights on the back. Among the exercises, I do some explosive exercises like medicine ball passes through the chest, arm flexes with applause or jumping attacks.
Do you have a philosophy regarding training?
Simulate the competition for which you are training. I incorporate five minute rounds into the training cycle, with one minute breaks. This is what my body has to do in my sport. It is intense.
What is your favorite exercise?
I'm a fan of explosives, like plyometrics. These move to the dynamic movements of my sport. I love boxing jumps and blows to medicine balls.
Do you stay active during the days that you do not have to train?
To actively rest, I ride a mountain bike. I weigh 220 pounds and I'm not made to swim or run long distances. I have tried some yoga, but it has not become part of my routine yet.
What part of your training is just for fun?
The objective of a competitive hand-to-hand sport is to press your opponent to the point where he wants to physically leave. We call to such a point, to exhaust the opponent. Experiencing this has a fun aspect.
Now that you're about to reach 50, do you train differently?
One of the things that I had to learn is to listen better to my body. He was known to train me more when he was between twenty and forty years old. I used to call myself a princess, I told myself to put up with it and go to the gym, even when I really had to take my day and let my body recover. It affected my ability to get the performance I needed when it came to fighting.
Listening to my body was one of the things I learned while I went from fighting to fighting in mixed martial arts.
Where do you get your motivation and commitment?
I developed a strong ethic thanks to my mother. She was a single mother who had several jobs to make sure we had everything we needed. That made us have many errands and things for us children to do. I made sure to make them. I'm trained that way.
Randy Couture's training for "The Expendables 2"
Jake Bonacci, a strength trainer who specializes in conditioning in MMA has worked with Couture since 2007. Here, he shares training of strength that he used to prepare Couture for "The Expendables 2" (The Indestructibles 2).
"The warm-up exercises reflect what the training will be like," says Bonacci. "They have 20 minutes in which we do 10 repetitions of each exercise to prepare Randy's muscles, his sense of balance and his nervous system for training."
Using the foam roller: Start with a gentle massage using a foam roller. It intersperses its use in the muscles of the upper and lower part of the body, making slow passes to increase circulation and stretch the muscles. Pay special attention to softer areas, trying to remove them from your muscles.
Dynamic Stretching: The walks and sequences of movement from arms to knees, then hugging oneself and stretching them mimic the movement patterns of the training in an exaggeratedly controlled manner.
Hip Activation: Place a small green band around the base of your muscles near the knees. Walk laterally to awaken the muscles of the hip.
Breast Activation: A combination of three rotational and stabilizing movements will prepare your chest for a full-body workout.
Part 1: Kneeling posture with separated legs and woodchops. A mobilization exercise for the inner part of the thighs with rotation (performed when holding a weight to make the woodchops) helps to develop a better stability of the trunk and the lower part of the body.
Part 2: Pressing upside down: The abdominals, obliques, serratos, pectorals, trapezius, erectors, quadriceps are exercised isometrically holding them for 45 seconds (Couture increases the challenge by adding weights on the back).
Part 3: Lifting the buttock bridge: Work the muscles of the buttocks, hamstrings and spine, awakening the muscles of the hip to prepare them for jumps and lunges.
- Stretch: take a stretch rod above the level of the arms, at a distance similar to that of the shoulders, extend your arms over your head and move your torso laterally to stretch the back muscles. Then, rotate down, place the rod in the shin (moving to the right stretches the left dorsal muscle). It rotates and lowers towards the right shin, stretching the left lumbar region.
As the days of Couture's combats approach, their training today has changed from conditioning to strength, including supersets and giant series. The first involves performing a series of exercises immediately after a series of different exercises without resting.The giant series, meanwhile, involve doing three or more series of exercises successively, almost without rest.
"Randy does not like to wait between the series because he is pressed for time. This training scheme gives you the maximum possible volume in the hour we have, "says Bonacci. "This keeps him moving quickly throughout the training."
- Barbell bench presses (8 repetitions in the first series, 6 in the second and 4 in the third)
Superset 1 (performs all the series of these two exercises from start to finish before moving to the Superset 2)
2a. Push-ups of neutral arms with wide grip and with weight vest: (8-6-4).
2b. Squats with spread legs and kettlebells: (6-5-4).
3a. Inclined press with dumbbells (10-8-6).
3b. Dorsal pull-downs (10-8-6).
Movements with alternating dumbbells, 5 per side.
Giant superset (2 sets of 4 exercises, perform 10 repetitions in the first and 8 in the second, take a 15-second break after each exercise and a 60-second break between the circuits).
5a. Dumbbell rise.
5b. Side lunges with dumbbells.
5c. Dumbbell loop.
5d. Extensions (pull-downs) of triceps.