Channing Tatum’s Personal Trainer Sets The Record Straight!

So a few days ago I published a two-part look at what was believed to be Channing Tatum’s workout and diet routine for the movie FIGHTING. I have since been contacted by his physical trainer, Mr. William J. Harris, who has been gracious enough to provide Channing’s ACTUAL workout routine and meal plan (the previously quoted source was inaccurate). I strongly urge all readers to check out his site, BDB Fit Camp, as it provides new workouts on a regular basis. Without further delay, please enjoy this exclusive guest post by William Harris.
In regard to Channing’s training, We DID NOT do anything remotely similar to what was named “The Channing Tatum Workout”! While a typical 5-day split routine in which certain body parts are trained using single joint movements on different days may make you look nice, it is not going to do much for you in regard developing efficient overall work capacity. Also, another flawed method of training in order to develop a lean physique is the over emphasis on cardio. Far too often people think that spending an hour on the treadmill or elliptical every day is the most effective method of fat loss, and it’s not. Too much cardio = unsustainable weight loss and/or the skinny-fat phenomena! Yes, you might lose plenty of “weight”…but it will be in the form of fluids and muscle, (which is counterproductive since you will gain weight back as soon as you rehydrate and also because the more lean muscle you have the more efficiently your body functions on numerous levels). So while your circumference measurements might be smaller, you will probably not be very visually appealing outside of your clothes or strong enough to lift anything heavier than a diet coke. Strength training is the way to go!
When speaking with Dito Montiel, the director of FIGHTING, his main concerns were making sure Channing looked like a “normal” athletic guy, not a bodybuilder or a waify marathon runner and that he was physically capable of handling the rigorous demands of his fight training and shooting schedule. So in essence, Channing had to be trained and fed like an athlete. With that said, look at the physiques and capabilities of top athletes in comparison to the physiques of bodybuilders and marathoners. Athletes typically have the lean and not overly muscular bodies along with the broad physical capacity that the majority of people wish to attain (strength, flexibility, AND endurance), while many bodybuilders have large beach muscles and little cardiovascular capacity (or flexibility), and many endurance runners tend to be rather skinny and not very strong or powerful. So the million dollar question is this: if you want to look like an athlete why not train like one instead of training like a bodybuilder or a marathoner? If you were to take a look at the training routine of a well-balanced athlete, it would look NOTHING like the isolation move and cardio-heavy routines that you usually see in Muscle and Fitness or Shape.
With Channing, we followed a 3 day on 1 day off cycle with each session consisting of high intensity, calisthenic based full body circuit workouts which lasted no more than 30 minutes each. We used absolutely NO machines, simply dumbbells, a medicine ball, and a jump rope! People have been conditioned to believe that you have to have a gym full of high-tech equipment in order to get a good workout, and that is so far from the truth. My method of training is heavily based on the CrossFit methodology of constantly varied functional movements done at a high intensity utilizing a variety of exercises stemming from kettlebell training, Olympic lifting, gymnastics, and plyometrics. While Channing’s workouts did systematically allow for proper cycles of work, rest, and recovery, there was not a set “routine”. Routine is the enemy! I say that because, in order to maintain consistent change and progress, you can not allow the body to plateau. So for example, a typical workout cycle would look like this:

  • Day 1 – 5 sets done as fast as possible of 10 pull-ups, 30 kettlebell swings, and 50 walking lunge steps.
  • Day 2 – 7 sets done as fast as possible of 150 rope skips and 15 clean and jerks.
  • Day 3 – 3 sets done as fast as possible of 100 mountain climbers, 75 push-ups, 50 sit-ups, and 25 box jumps.

Notice how over the course of a 3-day cycle every major muscle group was targeted, however, we did ZERO isolation moves.
NOTE: For those who are interested in trying this method of training, they can get free daily workouts in on my blog site:
Now, before proceeding into the discussion of dietary habits, I must make it clear that I am NOT a nutritionist! I’m fighting simply making basic common sense recommendations that have been highly successful with my clients. In regard to eating, for the average person, I believe in using a lot more common sense and a lot less science! Of course, when it comes to fueling elite athletes and the like, the scientific aspect of things is of greater importance, but that’s a different topic for a different day!
I think the key to success with regards to dietary habits is the restoration of simplicity and understanding the function of the foods you eat. I believe most people put too large of an emphasis on counting calories and complete restriction of certain foods and too little emphasis on the quality and quantity of the foods they eat, which in the long run is what causes failure. The most common questions I get are along the lines of “is this particular food bad for me? Is that particular food good for me?”, which clearly shows a lack of understanding of the different functions of foods. Once someone understands the function of protein, carbohydrates, fats and why they should or should not eat them in relation to their goals, it makes healthy eating relatively easy. I recommend reading up on the Paleo Diet and creating your personal plan around that philosophy. I also recommend finding a local organic farmer and butcher, and centering your diet around poultry, fish, eggs, lean meats plenty of green veggies, and plenty of fruit. Furthermore, learning to prepare your favorite dishes in a healthier way as opposed to eradicating them altogether helps eliminate those “cravings” which will derail even those of us with the strongest of willpower. In my opinion, the only limitations and restrictions that need to be put in place are on salt, sugar, and refined carbs.
The method I use with all of my clients is to simply measure their daily activity level and fuel their bodies accordingly. So for example, Channing’s morning started with 2 hours of fight training followed by our workout, then script readings, rehearsals, and meetings that didn’t require much physical strain for the rest of the day. Based on that schedule, it was clear that the most physically demanding part of his day was most often before 1 pm so that’s when the majority of his fruits and carbohydrates were consumed. The rest of his meals and snacks for the day were comprised of lean protein sources, veggies, nuts, and select dairy products. Of course, this is not what he ate every day, but here’s a general outline:

  • Breakfast – veggie omelet, multigrain toast, Morningstar vegetarian sausage patties, and orange slices.
  • AM snack – apple slices and unsalted mixed nuts.
  • Lunch – grilled bbq chicken breast, spinach, and a sweet potato.
  • Afternoon snack – string cheese and unsalted mixed nuts.
  • Dinner – a turkey burger, broccoli, and carrots.
  • PM snack – yogurt and unsalted almonds (and a Jell-O cup if something sweet was desired).

Not rocket science is it? He simply ate a clean and well-balanced diet. Again, that’s not exactly what he ate every day, but that was the basis of his diet. Channing also ate whole wheat pizza topped with grilled chicken and broccoli, turkey lasagna made with multi-grain pasta and specially made sauces and cheeses, turkey bacon cheeseburgers with sweet potato fries, and other specially made dishes which broke up the monotony and made his diet enjoyable…which is also a key component of maintaining healthy eating habits. It’s all about learning to season your foods without loading them up with salt, sugar, and excess calories.
All in all, my advice is to keep it simple! Shorten your workouts by using multi-joint exercises at high intensity and eat as clean as possible without denying yourself the things you enjoy (just make healthy substitutions).
William J. Harris founded Billion Dollar Bodies, Inc. and BDB Fit Camp to empower those who have been purposely led astray by the mass of poisonous misinformation put in play by the insidious gym chains, diet pill manufacturers, and “fitness” publications who thrive off of the failure of their consumers.
As a lifelong athlete, fitness enthusiast, and avid CrossFitter, William’s training style has evolved over the years into an innovative system designed to keep your body in a state of constant guessing and consistent improvement. By linking various training methods such as calisthenics, kettlebell training, Olympic weightlifting, basic gymnastics, and high-intensity interval work, William creates the toughest yet most enjoyable and productive workouts you’ve ever experienced.




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