There are few physiques that have bewitched movie- and gym-goers more than Brad Pitt’s Fight Club body; those sinewy muscles keep the crown. Somewhere near the top of that list, though, is Zac Efron’s Baywatch beach build, which has defined the current era of his career and led to a similar fervour over low water-weight physiques. Since the film, Efron’s own body has elicited mostly gross tabloid speculation—where are the muscles? is that .... fat? etc. —with the The New York Post making a blatant false equivalence to “dad bod,” calling Efron’s new chest “a far cry from his ripped physique in Baywatch.”
Speaking to Men’s Health for his October cover story, Efron opened up about that ripped physique—mostly, how destructive it was, both for Efron’s mental wellbeing and also his physical health.
“That Baywatch look, I don’t know if that’s really attainable,” he says. “There’s just too little water in the skin. Like, it’s fake; it looks CGI’d,” he says. “And that required Lasix, powerful diuretics, to achieve. So I don’t need to do that. I much prefer to have an extra, you know, 2 to 3% body fat.”
Aside from the diuretics – which explains the lack of water in the skin – Efron also stuck to a diet consisting of “organic protein and leafy greens.” And lots of workouts. Like: months and months and months of intense workouts. He now says he was probably overtraining—and losing sleep because of it; workouts started at 4 a.m. some days.
Efron’s comments are not without a strong self-awareness. He understands having such a body is not one of the worst problems. Still, Efron also recognises the gravitational force of that body, how many, just like with Brad Pitt’s fight club physique, want it. And this, Efron contends, is probably not a great idea.
“I started to develop insomnia, and I fell into a pretty bad depression, for a long time. Something about that experience burned me out. I had a really hard time recentering.”
During the pandemic, Efron says he took a break—focusing more on stretching and yoga alongside his strength training—which led to a more mindful approach to workouts. This new approach, which banishes the extreme asceticism needed for another Baywatch body, Efron finds healthier and more sustainable.
He’s never going back. He likes that extra 2-3% body fat too much.
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