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Did Jake Gyllenhaal Use Steroids for Southpaw?

Jake Gyllenhaal’s transformation for Southpaw has been hailed as one of the most impressive Hollywood’s ever seen. It may not have been quite as dramatic as Christian Bale’s for Batman Begins, but he certainly got ripped to smithereens.

I’ve seen Southpaw and it wouldn’t rank in my top 5 boxing films of all time – but it’s decent.

Here’s some facts about Jake’s transformation:

  • He lost 30lbs previously for the film Nightcrawler
  • He regained this 30lbs and gained another 15lbs for Southpaw
  • His transformation took him 6 months
  • He trained up to 6 hours a day

His training consisted of 3 hours of boxing in the morning, followed by 3 hours of cardio, strengthening exercises (weights) and conditioning at night (1).

impressive meme

Some will say that the training he did for Southpaw would’ve only been possible with steroids as otherwise he would’ve overtrained. Sure, he might’ve burned out if he under ate or was deprived of sleep; but this type of volume is possible for someone who is natty.

I know this because there’s been periods where I’ve spent 5 hours in the gym a day (2x 2.5 hour sessions) and I felt fine. Your body adapts and your recovery levels become much faster than what they were previously, allowing you to train for longer periods…unlike the average dude in the gym who’ll get DOMS after training a muscle group once a week.

Also you don’t just jump into this type of training cold turkey, instead you progressively build up to it, so your body has time to gradually adapt to the increased overload. This is also how you avoid overtraining.

legal steroids

Is it possible to look how Jake Gyllenhaal did in Southpaw without taking steroids?

Yes. Almost anyone can look like this if they match his work rate and work their butt off. He doesn’t have a lot of muscle mass, but he still looks muscular due to him having such a low body fat percentage. For those wondering what body fat Jake is at in Southpaw, my guess would be 4%.

Although his physique is possible to attain naturally, that doesn’t mean he didn’t use steroids to get in awesome shape.

Lets see if there’s any evidence to suggest he’s juiced his way to Shredzville…

Gains Timeline

If he had to lose weight for Nightcrawler (where he lost 30lbs), we can safely assume he wasn’t lifting weights during this time, as it would’ve been counter productive for him to be gaining muscle.

Thus I believe he started overeating after Nightcrawler to regain the muscle he lost (from losing 30lbs), similar to what Christian Bale did after The Machinist. And then once he started lifting weights again he would’ve inevitably gained another 20lbs or so of muscle. These are typical newbie gains that anyone can expect to experience once they start lifting weights.

These newbie gains can account for the “15lbs” of weight he supposedly gained training for Southpaw. However, as he didn’t gain 20lbs or more like a newbie usually would, the number is likely to be lower because of the considerable amount of fat loss he experienced.

He also had a similar amount of muscle mass in Southpaw as he did in Prince of Persia (5 years before).

jake gyllenhaal prince of persia

The only difference is that he’s considerably leaner in Southpaw, meaning his muscles are more defined – giving his body that ‘wow factor’, which he might not have had in Prince of Persia.

Thus it’s obvious he hasn’t used any steroids since Prince of Persia to bulk up for Southpaw, as he hasn’t gained any more size.

But what’s to say he didn’t juice to look like how he did in Prince of Persia?

Here’s a picture of Jake Gyllenhaal and what he looks like normally (when he’s not in the gym prepping for a film).

jake gyllenhaal body

You can see that for a guy who doesn’t lift weights, he’s still in pretty decent shape. He looks about 20lbs short of muscle here, compared to what he looked like in Southpaw.

As I previously mentioned – 20lbs is what pretty much anyone will gain just from going to the gym and lifting weights for a couple of months. If he were to have taken steroids he would’ve gained at least double that amount in muscle.

Any Signs of Steroids?

Somebody who’s juicing usually has several steroid symptoms that you can see visually on their body. Whether it’s acne, flushed skin, gyno, bloat or looking extremely dry.

Jake doesn’t have any of these typical steroid symptoms.

He has strong deltoids in Southpaw which can be sometimes attributed to steroid-use, but he did 3 hours of boxing a day so this makes sense that they would be well-developed. Boxers are known for having strong shoulders.

The only other sign that could be that he has very thick abs. In my last post on Kris Gethin, I talked about how steroid-users are more prone to having thicker abs and a blockier core. Jake’s abs are pretty thick in Southpaw which could lead to some people asking questions.

However, it’s known that Jake completed 2,000 sit ups a day during his training leading up to Southpaw (extremely high volume). Thus it makes sense that his abdominals are thicker than the average natty bodybuilder, as it’s unheard of for a bodybuilder to replicate such high volume during their ab workouts.

Verdict: Natural

If Jake had taken steroids for this role, he’d almost certainly have built some muscle mass, however he looks to have only a small amount of size (like in his previous films). He just appears more muscular in this movie, because he’s lost considerable amounts of fat from his grueling workout schedule.

People are very quick to accuse Hollywood stars of taking steroids, because they’re getting paid millions and have easy access to them. We now have strong evidence to not only believe that Jake is natural, but also Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Christian Bale and Henry Cavill.

To those who doubt Jake being natty, I dare you to start training 6 hours a day…3 hours of boxing in the morning followed by 3 hours of cardio and strength training in the evening.

Do that for 6 months and see if you get ripped to shreds.

…1,000 bucks says you do!

If you want to put Jake up on a pedestal because you don’t want to work hard, then one thing you COULD say he has is time.

He has the time in the day to workout for 6 hours because his job allows him to do so. Many people don’t have this luxury to replicate the hours he spent in the gym…but then again even if they did, 99% of people still wouldn’t spend 6 hours in a gym because they’re not as disciplined as Jake.

I have absolutely no evidence or reason to think Jake Gyllenhaal took steroids for Southpaw. And the more I learned about his training and the insane volume he put himself through, the easier it was to give him a natty verdict. Jake Gyllenhaal is a prime example of how someone can get into amazing shape, even if they aren’t blessed with great genetics. Respect.



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Ernst Peibst

Ernst Peibst has spent over 3,000 hours researching anabolic steroids and PED's. He's also dedicated the last 7 years educating people about their effects, with hundreds of thousands of people reading his articles. He's studied countless science papers, read several expert books and has consulted some of the finest doctors in the world - on the topic of steroids.

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