How “SEAL Team” Star Max Thieriot Got Ripped To Play A Navy Seal

Max ThieriotPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

A great actor immerses themself into their character while on- and off-screen, and Max Thieriot certainly took his training seriously when taking on the role of a Navy Seal on CBS’s military drama series SEAL Team. Recently, the 32-year-old actor went on Instagram to share his inspiring physical transformation, which took the course of a decade to achieve. 

In fact, it was a 2010 Men’s Health cover of Ryan Phillippe that inspired Thieriot to get into weightlifting. “Honestly, that's how it all started for me. Ten years ago that magazine came out, and I said if this guy can do this, so can I,” Thieriot told Men’s Health. And once he got the role on SEAL Team, the actor used this opportunity as motivation to train more seriously. “I had to put in the work and put in the time,” he said. 


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His Training 

The actor usually prefers to train at his home gym in Sonoma County, California. But when in Los Angeles, he either hits Crunch or Gold’s Gym to work out with Eric the Trainer or Danny Hester. “The past year, I focused on increasing my shoulder and back width,” Thieriot said. “The SEAL build is big shoulders, arms, and traps.”

Although he switches between two different routines every few months, Thieriot still trains using superset splits focused on heavyweight and lower reps, followed by lower weight and higher reps. His go-to moves include pullups, bent-over barbell rows, deadlifts, squats, hamstring curls, and leg extension, close-grip bench press, wide grip barbell curls, military barbell press, delt dumbbell flys, and many shrugs. “I do a lot of barbell work to try to build size. I love the incline bench and almost always work with barbells,” he said. 

Version one of his training routine dedicates Mondays to chest and triceps, Tuesdays for back and biceps, Wednesdays for legs, Thursdays for shoulders, and Fridays for arms. Meanwhile, version two sees Mondays focusing on chest and back, Tuesdays on shoulders and legs, and Wednesdays on arms. For either routine, Thieriot ensures to take some days off before repeating his grind. 

His Diet

To maintain a weight between 185 and 195 pounds while shooting for 10% body fat, Thieriot remains fastidious with his diet. However, he ultimately just listens to his body. “I like eating food, and I'm a big foodie,” he said. “I just try to eat good, healthy food—not junk. I wake up and slam a scoop of whey when I wake up to jumpstart my metabolism.”

For breakfast, he usually eats one cup of oats, one cup of blueberries, four whole eggs, and two pieces of Ezekiel toast with Kerry Gold butter. Sometimes, he prefers yam pancakes. “Right now I make these yam pancakes with my own recipe for 1/2 yam, 1/4 oats, two whole eggs, a bunch of egg white, some protein, and I blend it and make pancakes,” he said. After breakfast, he takes pre-workout and starts exercising.

“As soon as I lift, I have a banana and scoop of whey protein,” Thieriot said. “Then I start cooking lunch. It usually consists of frozen white rice from Trader Joe's and chicken thighs with teriyaki and some avocado. It tastes good and it's easy.” When he’s feeling a snack, the actor opts for protein shakes, almond butter, and apples.  

Keeping it simple for dinner, Thieriot eats something similar to lunch or perhaps a steak. “I'm not really crazy regimented about eating certain volumes,” he said. “I listen to my body. If I want sushi, I have sushi. I just don't eat a lot of garbage in general.” Ultimately, he avoids foods with processed sugars or dairy and instead opts for carbs from oats, yams, and white rice. His go-to proteins include eggs, chicken, steak, wild game, or salmon.