Creed III / MGM

Michael B. Jordan transformed his body via weight-training, cardio, and diet. The actor sported an athletic physique on TV’s Friday Night Lights in his early 20s, but he had to muscle-up considerably to play the boxer Donnie Creed in Creed (2015), gaining 24 lean pounds for the role. He grow even more, another 20 pounds, for Black Panther and Creed II (both 2018). Now, 36-year-old Jordan is starring in and directing Creed III, pitting him against the equally diesel Jonathan Majors. Through it all, trainer and dietician Corey Calliet, a former competitive bodybuilder, has been guiding Jordan’s every set, step, and bite.

The Barbell looks at the training, eating, and motivation that turned Michael B. Jordan into “the sexiest man alive” and one of the world’s best-built actors.

michael b jordan trainer
Michael B. Jordan and trainer Corey Calliet / Instagram


“He used to hate all this,” Corey Calliet told Men’s Journal of Michael B. Jordan’s earliest Creed workouts. “Used to?” Micahel B. Jordan joked, but then got serious. “No, he’s right, I did. I hated it. You know, at first you feel like s**t, you’re hurting. When things start getting a little easier, when you start lifting weight you never lifted before, when you start bench-pressing 225 pounds 10 times and it ain’t nothing, and then you start giving hugs to girls and they’re, like, feeling you up a little, and you think, ‘What’s this?’—then it’s, ‘This is all right.’ So I learned to love it when I started seeing results.”

michael b jordan workout
Jordan training for “Creed.” / Instagram

“He had to look better than Rocky’s Apollo Creed [played by Carl Weathers], who was ripped,” said Calliet, whom Jordan chose after a series of failed trainer pairings. “Everybody’s trainer has their own little key, but none of those keys worked for me until I met this guy,” Jordan said. “We just clicked and got along, just like a barber who knows you and knows how you like your hair cut. [For Creed it was] all day, every day for four or five months, sunup to sundown. He had the key to my apartment and would be, like, ‘Hey, Mike. Get up, it’s time to do it.’ Now he’s family.”

“The focus for Creed was to create an elite-functioning athlete, which meant boxing training, skill development in the ring, and strength and conditioning sessions. Black Panther on the other hand had me implementing a bodybuilding training approach with focus on muscle development, with strategic cardio to support his lean mass gain,” Calliet told Men’s Health.

And for Jordan to play a Navy SEAL in Without Remorse (2021), it was more CrossFit. “I had to figure out what was the hardest thing that I ever did to get in shape,” Calliet said. “I think CrossFit is one of the hardest conditioning and weight training—I call it hybrid training—workouts that you could possibly do, and if you think about it, a lot of those guys [the military] that are out in the field, you have to be mentally and physically strong, and you need endurance to be able to do what they do, and that’s what CrossFit does. I do those workouts, and it’s not just building the body, it’s building the mind as well.”

For Creed III, it was back to the bodybuilding, conditioning, and boxing. “The training was pulled from the fundamentals of athletic conditioning, as well as from bodybuilding,” says Calliet told Muscle & Fitness regarding the Donnie Creed workouts.

michael b jordan workout tips
Michael B. Jordan cable flying. / Instagram


The following 4-day-per week Creed workout originally appeared in Muscle & Fitness. It emphasizes chest, arms, and abs, hitting those areas twice weekly and other body parts once weekly. Sets are performed with minimal rest, especially the progressions to lower reps (such as pushups and squats) and the ab/core giant sets.


One-mile Jog Warm-up

Incline Dumbbell Press – 3 sets x 12 reps

Dumbbell Flye – 3 sets x 12 reps

Push-up – 10 sets with brief rests x 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 reps

Dumbbell Kickback – 3 sets x 15 reps

Pushdown – 2 sets x 20 reps

Bench Dip – 10 sets with brief rests x 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 reps


One-mile Jog Warm-up

One-arm Dumbbell Row – 3 sets x 12 reps

Neutral-grip Pulldown – 3 sets x 12 reps

Barbell Row – 3 sets x 12 reps

Alternate Dumbbell Curl – 3 sets x 12 reps

Barbell Curl – 3 sets x 12 reps

Hammer Curl – 3 sets x 12 reps


One-mile Jog Warm-up

Dumbbell Lunge – 3 sets x 30 seconds per leg

Single-leg Hip Extension – 3 sets x 15 reps per leg

Lying Leg Curl – 3 sets x 12 reps

Romanian Deadlift – 3 sets x 12 reps

Squat – 10 sets with brief rests x 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 reps

Jordan did the following five core exercises as giant sets, going from a set of one exercise to the next with only brief rests between exercises. He did three such giant sets.

Crunch with Swiss Ball – 3 sets x 25 reps

Leg Raise – 3 sets x 25 reps

Reverse Crunch with Resistance Band – 3 sets x 25 reps

Toe Touch with Medicine Ball – 3 sets of 25 reps

Sprinter Sit-up – 3 sets x 25 reps


One-mile Jog Warm-up

Dumbbell Bench Press – 5 sets with brief rests x 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 reps

Push-up – 5 sets x 15 reps

Dumbbell Flye – 5 sets with brief rests x 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 reps

Push-up – 5 sets x 10 reps

Dumbbell Curl – 4 sets x 12 reps

Dumbbell Kickback – 4 sets x 15 reps

Bench Dip – 4 sets x 20 reps

The following five exercises are performed as giant sets.

Crunch with Swiss ball – 3 sets x 25 reps

Leg raise – 3 sets x 25 reps

Reverse Crunch with Resistance Band – 3 sets x 25 reps

Toe Touch with Medicine Ball – 3 sets x 25 reps

Sprinter Sit-up – 3 sets x 25 reps

michael b jordan workout
Michael B. Jordan dumbbell rowing on an incline bench. / Instagram


Pectorals and deltoids are especially important to the look of Michael B. Jordan’s boxing character, Donnie Creed, so the following is a chest and shoulder workout for Creed II that originally appeared in Men’s Journal. It ends with a boxing-focused cardio session.


Smith Machine Incline Press – 4 sets x 15-10 reps

Cable Crossover – 3 sets x 15-10 reps

Low Incline Dumbbell Press – 3 sets x 15-10 reps

↕️ Superset with:

Low Incline Dumbbell Fly – 3 sets x 15-10 reps

Standing Barbell Shoulder Press (alternating front and back-the-neck each rep) – 4 x 20-8 reps

Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise – 3 sets x 15-12 reps

Dumbbell Rear Lateral – 3 sets x 15-12 reps

Smith Machine One-arm Shoulder Press – 3 sets x 15-10 reps

Perform the following exercises in a circuit without resting. Complete three circuits.

Shadow Box x 1 min. (use a 3-5 lb. dumbbells to increase intensity)

Jumping Jacks x 30 sec.

Shadow Box x 1 min.

Mountain Climbers x 30 seconds

Shadow Box x 1 min.

Burpees x 30 sec.

Shadow Box x 1 min.

Shoulder Taps x 30 sec.

michael b jordan workout
Michael B. Jordan training for “Creed III” / Instagram


In 2015, before the release of Creed, Michael B. Jordan told Good Morning America the secret to his new boxer’s body: “Extreme diet change. I stripped down my diet completely: grilled chicken, brown rice, broccoli, a lot of water. I worked out two to three times a day, six days a week. And if you do that consistently for about 10 months, your body will change.” He also told E! Online in 2015: “Literally in the middle of takes, I would just be eating food. Chicken and rice and broccoli—a lot of it.”

In 2021, Jordan’s coach, Corey Calliet, spoke with Men’s Health about Jordan’s diet: “If he doesn’t eat right, he won’t look the way he needs to look. I have him on a diet six days a week, and on Sunday he can eat what he wants. It’s a reward, but it also helps your body. Having a cheat day ramps up your metabolism.”

Jordan is an avid cook and foodie, and for Creed, it was anything goes from sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday. “My cheat days were incredible,” Jordan remembered. “French toast in the morning, Philly cheesesteaks in the afternoon…pizza. I did cheat days right!”

michael b jordan diet
Jordan enjoys a Thanksgiving dinner. / Instagram

Corey Calliet talked about meal timing:

“When he did Creed, dieting was very new, so my main thing was just to get him to eat every two and a half hours, and we saw his body change. When we did Black Panther, I needed to make him big. He was eating way more carbohydrates, and his food intake was higher, so it probably went from him eating six ounces of protein to maybe eight to 10 ounces of protein. He had to be a villain, so he had to be much bigger. When he went to Creed 2, we were kind of in a balance, because he was much bigger for that, he was eating more lean proteins and not so many carbohydrates. Sometimes we even carb cycle, doing two-days-low one-day-high. And then for Without Remorse, the diet was really different. I kept carbs in the whole time just because I know how much he was going to be moving around, and it was way more action than he’s ever done, consistent action.”

Calliet also knows some tricks from his competitive bodybuilding days that he applies to Jordan in the final weeks before filming: “If you eat all fish, fish is going to make you look really lean and get your skin looking really tight.” Calliet also spoke about carb-loading: “There are certain carbohydrates, so slower carbohydrates or fast, that have certain amounts of glycogen in them and that’s going to help you to produce more sugar in the muscle and make it bigger.”

Unless you’re entering a bodybuilding contest or leaning out for a shirtless movie role or swimsuit photoshoot, you probably won’t need to fret about fish to tighten your skin or carb-loading your muscles. The important thing is maximizing muscle and minimizing body fat, and that’s going to take time, discipline, and a careful diet. Calliet shared the following Michael B. Jordan’s meal plan with Men’s Journal.



6 egg whites and 1 whole egg

steel-cut oats (45 g carbs)


protein shake

steel-cut oats (35 g carbs)


8 oz. chicken breast or ground turkey

sweet potato or rice (65 g carbs)

1 cup green vegetables


8 oz. fish, chicken breast, or ground turkey

rice, sweet or red potato (35 g carbs)


protein shake

steel-cut oats (35 g carbs)


8 oz. chicken breast or ground turkey

1 cup green vegetables

1 tsp olive oil, coconut oil, or macadamia nut oil


In a video for Vice, Michael B. Jordan spoke about his self-motivation and how that manifested in his diet and training:

“I told myself at a young age that I was going to sacrifice. I used to run myself into the ground till pure exhaustion just because then I would feel like I deserve it….How do you push past the not wanting to do something? You remember why you’re doing it, why you’re working hard, what’s at stake. For me, it’s my family, all the dreams that I have in my head, that I want to see manifest.”

michael b jordan diet
Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan in “Creed II” / MGM

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