How Matthew McConaughey trains and eats to stay fit over 50

McConaughey is famous for having an admirable physique all year round – here's how he keeps agile over 50

MALIBU, CA - JANUARY 23: Matthew McConaughey is seen jogging on the beach on January 23, 2011 in Malibu, California.
(Image credit: Getty Images/Bauer-Griffin)

Matthew McConaughey is an interesting person. He's undoubtedly a sex symbol, even in his 50s, but he's also famous for not leaning heavily into the buff-dude image like other actors such as Henry Cavill and Chris Hemsworth. This doesn't mean he's not into fitness; McConaughey is very much a fitness person, in his own way.

He doesn't advertise his workout routine as much as the celebrities mentioned above, but it's not impossible to find some info on how he trains, especially if you're as motivated as I am to find out what makes certain celebrities fit. In this particular case, the answer to the question "How can I have a body like Matthew McConaughey?" is "By doing a mix of cardio and bodyweight training."

Alright, alright, alright, let's get right into it!

Matthew McConaughey's workout routine

What's the first thing that catches your eye when looking at his picture above? He hasn't got a six-pack for sure. What he has is a nice set of pecs, round shoulders and noticeable traps. He also has a good tan going on and the sun is hitting him at the right angle, worth keeping that in mind.

Now, one method that often pops up when reading about McConaughey is how he mixes cardio and strength workouts. According to an interview with Men's Journal (opens in new tab), he'd go for a 20-minute run, turn around and do 10 sets 20 push-ups on the way back. That's 200 push-ups, people, enough to make anyone's chest muscles pop.

Push-ups are one of the best compound exercises to grow bigger pecs and arms. This bodyweight exercise also works the front of the shoulders, giving McConaughey that 'breast-plate-like' look.

Shirtless muscular person carrying two kettlebells in a forest

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What else do we know about how he exercises? According to Peter Park, the actor's trainer, one of McConaughey's favourite exercises is holding a dumbbell for 15 minutes (via the Richest (opens in new tab)). This is a fairly unusual exercise, at least to those who aren't well-versed in gym workouts, but one that explains how he grew those traps.

Farmer carry is one of the best trap exercises, and the 15-minute isometric dumbbell hold works the same muscles. McConaughey's version of the exercise is an endurance exercise as it is a strength move that also works the shoulders and the upper back, especially the posterior chain. It's like a deadlift but with lighter weights.

Matthew McConaughey's diet

From a diet point of view, McConaughey has excellent genes that enable him to cut (lose unwanted body fat) efficiently and stay lean when he wants to. According to an interview with Chris Lockwood, PhD, CSCS, whom McConaughey called on to get as shredded for Magic Mike as possible (via Bodybuilding.com (opens in new tab)), the actor was in perfect shape before they started the movie, so all they had to do was to tweak his physique slightly.

"We increased the lean protein sources and decreased the amount of carbs he was eating in the morning", Chris said, "Matthew was already reducing his carb intake as the day progressed, essentially cutting off starchy carbs after mid-day; and he was already eating a great lunch and dinner meal."

To get ready for those shirtless scenes, Chris had Matthew reduce his water and sodium intake three days before the scenes were shot. "I also added a low-glycemic lean mass gainer into his breakfast for a few extra carbs so he wouldn't get too flat", Chris added.

How to look like Matthew McConaughey

There you have it, folks. All you have to do to look like Matthew McConaughey is to eat well, do your cardio, sneak in resistance training sessions throughout the day and look after yourself all year round. There is no silver bullet or shortcuts; you have to put the work in and be patient.

If there is one takeaway, it's that you should try to enjoy yourself when you're working out. McConaughey doesn't like the gym and prefers outdoor exercise, so that's what he does. If you prefer to stay indoors and don't mind pumping iron, you should do that. 

Let's not forget that the actor has good genes and looks after himself, which is really the best combination of things. McConaughey also mixes cardio and strength training, which helps him stay lean throughout the year instead of yo-yo dieting to temporarily lose weight or gain mass.

Matt Kollat
Fitness Editor

Matt is T3's Fitness Editor and covers everything from smart fitness tech to running and workout shoes, home gym equipment, exercise how-tos, nutrition, cycling, and more. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar (opens in new tab) and Fit&Well (opens in new tab), and he collaborated with other fitness content creators such as Garage Gym Reviews (opens in new tab).