Jake Gyllenhaal at UFC 285. / Twitter

What is the Jake Gyllenhaal workout? A key part of it involves lots and lots of climbing in a nightclub setting. The 42-year-old actor stunned the internet with his high-def abs in March when he was filmed shirtless at UFC 285 for a scene in the upcoming movie Road House (a remake of the 1989 Patrick Swayze cult favorite). In an interview with Insider, Gyllenhaal’s long-time trainer Jason Walsh dished about the movie star’s training and dieting and revealed the cardio secret.

Let’s examine Jake Gyllenhaal’s Road House training and the workout secret to his fat-free physique.


Jason Walsh has trained such celebrities as Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Matt Damon, Brie Larson, and Miles Teller. He’s trained Jake Gyllenhaal for the past eight years, and he calls the actor “the perfect specimen” because Gyllenhaal’s level of commitment is so great. Walsh often has to encourage him to take a rest day. “If he’s not in the gym doing strength training and conditioning, he’s swimming, he’s outside playing paddle tennis, he cycles like crazy,” Walsh said. “The guy does everything. He’s just always looking for that stimulus.”

Jake Gyllenhaal workout
Jake Gyllenhaal in a “Roadhouse” scene at UFC 285. / Twitter

For Road House, Jake Gyllenhaal also worked with a dietitian and chef to make sure he was eating clean. His one nutritional weakness is sugar, but extra carbs were never an issue in Gyllenhaal’s leaning out. “When your body fat gets to a certain level, you need fuel and a constant trickle of energy because you don’t have stored energy, i.e. fat,” Walsh said.


When it comes to cardio training, Jake Gyllenhaal has a secret: the VersaClimber. He regularly attended choreographed VersaClimber climbing sessions at Rise Nation (founded by Walsh) in New York City. The Rise Nation website explains: “Drawing on his knowledge and expertise in strength, conditioning, and human physiology, Walsh developed Rise Nation to combine his career in providing effective, efficient, and safe workouts with his passion for music, art, and unrivaled experiences.”

“He was going there a lot especially since we were trying to get him into UFC fighter shape [for Road House],” Walsh told Insider. “VersaClimber workouts mimic our primal climbing and crawling movements and are an effective way to boost cardiovascular fitness, but simply sweating and getting your heart rate up is not necessarily the sign of a good workout.”

Jake Gyllenhaal workout
Walsh leads a VersaClimber workout. / BXR

VersaClimber workouts at Rise Nation and BXR (which has numerous locations outside the USA) mimic a nightclub with geometric, custom-lit ceiling installations, concert-quality audio systems, and booming dance music.



The VersaClimber is low-impact. Unlike running (on the street or a treadmill), it won’t unduly stress your knees and ankles. This makes it a perfect choice for anyone who wants a high-intensity cardio workout without over-impacting their joints.


Because opposing limbs are used simultaneously, the VersaClimber requires bilateral coordination. “It is the only piece of cardio equipment that actually utilizes both hemispheres of the brain,” Walsh told Insider.

Jake Gyllenhaal workout versaclimber


VersaClimbers have been shown to raise heart rates higher than treadmills or rowing machines. “Part of the reason for this is that reaching overhead makes the heart work harder to pump blood round the body,” Alex Nicholl, director of BXM gyms, said.


By mimicking a climbing motion, VersaClimbers create a full-body workout: legs, arms, and core, especially. “Babies learn to crawl, right? That’s exactly what you’re doing on a VersaClimber,” said Walsh, who described the movement as “primitive.” It’s vertical crawling, and by holding your entire bodyweight, it’s also somewhat of a resistance exercise, engaging the core.


The biggest upside is the calorie burn. By moving the arms and legs, you can really crank up the burn, especially in a group workout in nightclub-like space with the music thumping.