Michael B. Jordan gets after it in the gym. “I go so hard,” he says. “I want to feel it, you know?”
Jordan’s mentality wasn’t born in the weight room. The actor says as a kid he was teased a lot because of his name. But that only stoked his competitive fire. “It made me work hard for sure,” he says.
He uses his name, the one he shares with one of the greatest athletes ever, to motivate himself to train aggressively — calling it “my healthy chip.” Though he initially turned to sport to prove those bullies wrong, that mentality evolved into his daily mantra. “I feel like I’ve got to work twice as hard in life,” says Jordan. “I told myself at a young age that I was going to dedicate my 20s to work. I don’t go out all the time. I don’t party…I try to evolve and grow and work on myself.”
Even with this 24/7 focus and dedication, Jordan has moments when working hard during a session feels tough (he’s human, after all). Here, he shares his top four tips for overcoming the urge to quit.
Turn stress into a form of fitness fuel
“I’m usually really stressed when I walk into the gym. I think about what’s bothering me at the moment, what I want to leave in the gym. Then I just work it out. And somewhere within the workout, I find myself not thinking about it anymore. And sometimes I realize that the problems and the stress aren’t as bad as I thought they were walking into the gym. It can change the way I react to certain things.”
Think of a workout as a chance to live better, not a chore to check off
“You only get one body, and you’ve got to take care of it as much as you can. And if you’re not in good shape, if you’re not mentally strong, if you’re not physically fit, being energized and getting through a busy day is going to be really tough.”
Make a commitment to every rep
“Finish a set, finish a routine. You can’t just stop halfway through…I can’t just stop in the middle of a take. I can’t just stop in the middle of a relationship. Quitting is something I try to never even let into my mind.”
Move in a way that moves you
“Boxing. It’s like, everything is connected when I connect. When you hit it clean, you just know it. You feel it. It just flows and it connects. Searching for those perfect punches is cool.”
That last one is arguably the most important of the four, and what will most likely keep you coming back for more. “If you feel connected to training or the sport that you're training for, your ability to stay committed drastically improves,” says Joe Holder, a Nike Master Trainer who’s worked with Jordan. “Doing an activity for the love of it can be much more powerful than trying to get motivated to commit to it through something extrinsic such as weight loss. It goes from being a ‘chore’ to a practice integrated into your lifestyle.”
For Jordan, that connection is boxing. And as an actor who has played a boxer, he’s been fortunate to combine those two loves. But he doesn’t only do boxing-style workouts. For each new role he takes on, Jordan trains how the character he’s playing would train. This “method training” is something that keeps his mind and body from getting bored and allows him to sharpen his skills and avoid the dreaded workout plateau (when no matter how hard you go, you stop seeing results).
“From an exercise science perspective, every person of every fitness level should change a routine to focus on different skills that may need to be improved, such as flexibility, endurance, speed and so on — and so you don't become physically or mentally stuck,” says Holder.
For an idea of how Jordan trains, Nike Training Club has curated three workouts inspired by the actor’s roles as a high school quarterback, a boxer looking to make a name for himself and a dangerous villain. Together, the workouts tell the story of his range of acting as well as show how varied his training is.
Easily change up your training routine by trying these programs. When you complete one, you will unlock a challenge drill led by Jordan himself.
Channel your inner quarterback with Quick Quarter
The short 15-minute do-anywhere workout is athletic but approachable. It’s packed with fast-moving bodyweight exercises that hit every major muscle and together work to improve your stability and agility. You’ll also do plyometric exercises (explosive jumping moves) that take a lot of muscle and energy to execute — helping you build lean muscle and burn calories.
Train like a boxer with Slim Chance 2.0
This multidimensional workout is packed with quick-feet drills to amp your speed and endurance, along with rotational core work to build core stability and help you to generate power through your center. You’ll develop spatial awareness, and move quickly and powerfully, relying on calorically demanding fast-twitch muscle fibers. The 30-minute routine requires a set of dumbbells and a medicine ball.
Go heavy and get tough with The Big 4
Squat. Hinge. Push. Pull. This advanced workout centers around these four major movement patterns and is for the experienced gym-goer (you’ll need access to a full gym and to know your way around a barbell). In 60 minutes, you’ll build allover strength — and the size of your muscles, head to toe.
The Nike Training Men’s Utility Tee is available now on nike.com and in most Nike store locations globally. It will be available in Greater China in Spring 2018. The three workouts inspired by Jordan are available today. Download the NTC app here, and to watch Jordan share more of his story, view "Grounded,” a new film from Nike Training and Vice Sports.