The actor sounds off on wellness, heavy lifting, and playing the long game in Hollywood and life.
Orlando Bloom is hitting his stride. That may seem preposterous for an actor who was an international sex symbol throughout his 20s, dominating blockbusters as Legolas in The Lord of the Rings and Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean. Leading two major film franchises would presumably be the apex of any career, but two decades later, Bloom brings real credence to the concept of getting better with age.
His ever-improving physique is the result of legitimate interest in the world of wellness, constantly experimenting with new kinds of training and nutrition. That natural passion has even led to a new position as the Chief Wellness Officer of plant-based protein and supplement brand Form Nutrition. The actor personally road-tested the latest products while bulking up for his upcoming action thriller Red Right Hand, during his break from filming the Prime Video series Carnival Row.
Bloom spoke with Men’s Journal about where he finds motivation, the perfect fuel for workouts, and how his training has evolved over an enduring 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 on in life from being a bit reckless. The final straw was when I broke my back in my early 20s after falling from three stories. I was lucky to survive. Since then, I’ve focused on lifting heavy to strengthen my skeletal structure. That kind of training has evolved into an interest in gaining muscle mass and putting on a little more size. I’m six feet [tall] and comfortably weighing around 175 pounds right now, but lately I’ve worked to put on a bit more for a few roles coming up.
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How has your training evolved for roles?
I began going to the gym for movies when I was doing The Lord of the Rings, and that was the beginning of a long journey. I worked with my first trainer for about nine years. He traveled with me, made sure I was getting my meals, and the functional training we did was fantastic. But one thing we didn’t do was heavy lifting. So there was a curiosity I had about how far I could go if I started picking up big weights. From the very start, I’ve wanted to evolve the way I work out, and that’s always meant finding great people. I can’t give sole credit to a single person for my training journey because I’ve been lucky enough to connect with so many incredible coaches.
You’ve always been lean, but more recently you’ve put on some size. What was the impetus?
I was doing this South African movie Zulu with Forest Whitaker. The opening of the script has my character roll out of bed naked, grab his gun, and start to walk downstairs. I knew if I was going to be putting myself out like that, I wanted to hit the gym in a big way. I wanted to keep the functional element of my training, but I also wanted to start digging into the aesthetic and getting big.
Before that point in my life, I hadn’t really done deadlifts or squats—at least not real ones. I found the right people to help me with my form and build a training plan that included those kinds of movements. I remember when I decided to start adding them into my routine, my body reacted incredibly. I think my hormones just got kicked into gear.
What roles have been 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 knocks out pullups while smoking—followed by a bunch of pushups. That might not be the healthiest activity, but I knew it was a fun scene for me to really ramp up for. I went hard and got up to 190. I’m a Brit and we don’t really follow those numbers like people do here in America. But for this project, I started to become more interested in seeing how far I could go. I have a few guys who help me keep the workouts challenging—who are there when I need some guidance. Right now, I’ve been training with Peter Park, who’s worked with athletes like Lance Armstrong.
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What do you eat when you’re trying to bulk up?
I start the day with some kind of fats and sugar for energy. Most of the time that’s oatmeal or porridge, which I might add some Pureblend protein to for that extra little bump. The first workout is some sort of cardio, whether that’s in the gym or on a run, followed by my real breakfast to keep the momentum into my larger 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 perhaps something else active. I’m sure to get a real quality dinner before calling it a day. Sleep is super important to preserve those gains as well.
Diet is everything. If you’ve ever trained seriously, you know majority of your gains are made in the kitchen. I discovered that to get the most of these heavy-lifting periods I needed to be maxing out on protein. I eat meat these days, but only on occasion, and I try to make sure it’s sourced well and grass-fed. The majority of my plate is covered in vegetables during my traditional meals, so it’s important for me to have additional protein sources. I’ve found I like my supplements to be plant-based, because I just feel cleaner and lighter that way.
We hear you’re working with Form Nutrition. How’d that come about?
I really experimented with vegan proteins a few years ago when I was doing a plant-based diet. During that time I met Damion [Soong] from Form Nutrition, who shared what they were working on at the time. Since then, I feel like I’ve been a bit of a crash-test dummy for the evolution of their products. From the beginning, I liked the taste and that the company is a carbon neutral B Corp with compostable packaging. Whenever I had feedback, I’d share it with Damion. When the opportunity came to become more involved in the business, it felt right.
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Do you have any other wellness mentors?
One of the great benefits of social media is being able to find people who are doing good work in wellness. That’s where I came across Dr. Mark Hyman, who wrote the book Young Forever. I really like his ideas. I also had a really interesting and educational experience training with Laird Hamilton for about a year. We were diving into the pool with 50-pound dumbbells. As someone who loves being in the water, it challenged me in a new way. If I want some additional guidance these days, I work with this great doctor at NextHealth. I’m also of the mindset that I want to see the doctor before anything is wrong, and hopefully stop problems before they happen.
Beyond looking the part for roles, what motivates you through your training?
These days, 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 feel good. I want them to see me doing things the right way—and now my 12-year-old son enjoys having a protein smoothie with me. I also have a job that requires certain things from me physically, and that’s a responsibility I take seriously. On top of that, I’m engaged now, and I’m constantly on the go. I’m 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. You can’t escape time, so I want to be able to live my best life as long as humanly possible.