The actor opens up about wellness, heavy lifting, and the long game in Hollywood and life.
Orlando Bloom is making progress. That may seem absurd for an actor who was an international sex symbol in his 20s and dominated blockbusters as Legolas in The Lord of the Rings and Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean. Owning two major film franchises would probably be the pinnacle of any career, but two decades later, Bloom is giving real credence to the concept of getting better with age.
His ever-improving physique is the result of a vested interest in the wellness world, constantly experimenting with new types of exercise and nutrition. This natural passion has even led to a new position as chief wellness officer for plant-based protein and supplement brand Form Nutrition. The actor personally tested the latest products on the road while building up for his upcoming action thriller Red Right Hand during his break from filming Prime Video series Carnival Row.
Bloom spoke to Men's Journal about where he finds motivation, the perfect fuel for workouts and how his training has evolved over his long career.
Orlando Bloom is in his wellness era
Men's Journal: How seriously did you take your training early on?
Orlando Bloom: I was a skinny kid with a fast metabolism growing up. I broke a few bones early in life for being a bit reckless. The last drop came when I broke my back in my early 20s after falling from three floors. I was lucky enough to survive. Since then I've focused on lifting heavy weights to strengthen my skeletal structure. This type of training has developed into an interest in building muscle mass and building a little more mass. I am two meters tall [tall] and currently weigh about 175 pounds, but lately I've been working on dressing a bit more for a couple of upcoming roles.
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How did your role training develop?
I started going to the gym for movies while shooting The Lord of the Rings and that was the start of a long journey. I worked with my first coach for about nine years. He traveled with me, made sure I got my meals and the functional training we did was amazing. But one thing we didn't do was heavy lifting. So I was curious as to how far I could go if I started lifting big weights. From the start I wanted to develop my way of training and that always meant finding great people. I can't attribute my training journey to just one person because I've been fortunate enough to connect with so many incredible trainers.
You've always been slim, but lately you've gained some height. What was the impetus?
I made this South African film Zulu with Forest Whitaker. As the script begins, my character rolls out of bed naked, grabs his gun, and starts walking downstairs. I knew if I was posing like this, I wanted to make it big at the gym. I wanted to keep the functional element of my training, but I also wanted to start looking at the aesthetics and grow big.
Before this point in my life, I hadn't actually deadlifted or squatted -- at least not real ones. I found the right people to help me with my form and create a training plan that included these types of movements. I remember when I decided to incorporate them into my routine, my body reacted incredibly. I think my hormones just got going.
Which roles was the most physically demanding to train for?
There's a scene in Red Right Hand where my character rolls out of bed shirtless, lights a cigarette, and does pull-ups while smoking - followed by a couple of push-ups. This might not be the healthiest activity, but I knew it was a fun scene for me to really prepare for. I went hard and got to 190. I'm British and we don't really follow those numbers like people do here in America. But for this project, I started to get more interested in seeing how far I could go. I have a few people who help keep the workout challenging - who are there when I need some guidance. Right now I'm training with Peter Park, who has worked with athletes like Lance Armstrong.
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What do you eat when trying to gain mass?
I start the day with some sort of fat and sugar for energy. Most often this is oatmeal or oatmeal, which I can add some Pureblend protein to for that extra little bump. The first workout is some sort of cardio, whether it's in the gym or running, followed by my proper breakfast to get the momentum for my bigger workout. I follow that with a protein shake. Then it's time for lunch. The next part of my day is usually some work, spending time with my family and maybe something else active. I'm sure I'll get a really quality dinner before I call it a day. Sleep is super important to maintaining those gains as well.
nutrition is everything. If you've ever exercised in earnest, you know that most of your gains will come in the kitchen. I discovered that in order to get the most out of those heavy periods of training, I needed to maximize my protein. I eat meat these days, but only occasionally, and I try to make sure it's well-sourced and grass-fed. Most of my plate is covered with vegetables during my traditional meals, so having additional sources of protein is important to me. I've found that I like it when my supplements are herbal because it just makes me feel cleaner and lighter.
We heard you work with Form Nutrition. How did that happen?
I really experimented with vegan proteins during my plant-based diet a few years ago. During this time I met Damion [Soong] from Form Nutrition, who shared what they were working on at the time. Since then I feel like a crash test dummy for the development of their products. I liked the taste right from the start and that the company is a carbon neutral B Corp with compostable packaging. Whenever I had feedback, I shared it with Damion. When the opportunity arose to get more involved in the business, it felt right.
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Do you have other wellness mentors?
One of the great benefits of social media is finding people who are doing a good job in the wellness space. There I came across Dr. Mark Hyman, who wrote the book Young Forever. I like his ideas very much. I also had a really interesting and educational training with Laird Hamilton for about a year. We jumped in the pool with 50 pound dumbbells. As someone who loves being in the water, it has challenged me in a new way. When I need extra guidance these days, I work with this great doctor at NextHealth. I also agree that I want to see the doctor before anything is wrong and hopefully stop problems before they arise.
Aside from looking for roles, what motivates you during your training?
Today, my focus on health and wellness has a lot to do with being a father of two. I want to be able to keep up with my kids and take good care of them, which is easier when I'm feeling good. I want them to see how I do things right - and now my 12-year-old son is enjoying a protein smoothie with me. I also have a physical job, and that's a responsibility I take seriously. Also, I'm engaged now and always on the go. I am a better person for everyone I care about by doing the work to look good, feel good and be able to get the job done. There's no escaping time, so I want to be able to live my best life for as long as possible.