For successful people, health and fitness aren't an afterthought. Health and fitness play a major role in success. While the physical benefits clearly matter, the mental benefits -- perseverance, resilience, determination, and mental toughness -- are just as important.
This is the fifth in my series where I follow an incredibly successful person's workout plan for one week. (The first three were seven-time Nascar champion Jimmie Johnson, Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen, retired Navy SEAL Jeff Boss, and ex-Twitter CEO and Chorus founder Dick Costolo.)
This time, it's the regimen of Robert Patrick, star of the CBS series Scorpion, the new film, The Last Rampage, and a guy (if you're my age) you probably first saw twenty-five years ago as the shape-shifting T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. (I've written about Robert before; he's a great guy.)
Robert's regimen is great for me to try because in many ways he's just like you and me. He gets up early, works hard, gets less sleep than he should... to make his living, Robert has to grind -- which means stamina is critical.
"While we are in production on Scorpion," Robert says, "I average five hours of sleep a night. Staying motivated to work out is important because I do have to battle fatigue during production. I'm really just like the millions of people out there who are simply trying to build stamina to get them through the work week."
Instead of asking for a day-to-day plan, I asked Robert for an overview of his week. Here's what he does:
- I walk my dogs and hike a couple of times a week.
- I do the treadmill for at least 30 minutes a day.
- I jump rope and hit a heavy bag.
- I do 4 sets of abdominal crunches every other day.
- I do 4 sets of push-ups or bench presses. I start light and build up to heavy, shooting for 15 reps on lighter weight, 10 for heavy.
- I use dumbbells for shoulders, biceps, triceps, and rows, four sets each of between 10 and 15 reps. I use weights that make me work, but I am always careful not to push too hard and injure myself.
And here's where it gets really fun:
- Because my schedule is grueling and my hours are extreme, I have to get up 3 hours before my call time and work out before I show up for work. That means I'm usually up and working out by 4:30 to 5:00 am.
- I work 12 hours a day, with 2 hours of driving time and then 2 hours of study. That's a regular day. on a regular day. Working out at the end of the day doesn't work for me because I get rejuvenated and can't sleep -- that's why first thing in the morning is best.
- I try to get massages as often as I can during production to help me recover.
- Diet is the most important aspect of my fitness regimen. I've had great results sticking to a Paleo Diet.
How It Went for Me
Like Robert, I tend to work fairly long hours, but I have greater control over mine than he does; I can take breaks if I want, work in the evening instead of at mid-day... the total number of hours I work isn't particularly flexible, but when I work them is.
As an actor, Robert is one cog (albeit a highly important cog) in a very large machine -- and that machine only functions when he's there.
So the first thing I did was plan to work between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. But I also had to factor in an hour commute on either end, plus an hour workout... which meant I needed to get up at 4 a.m.
Not fun -- but not terrible. Plus, plenty of research shows that working out first thing provides a number of physical and mental benefits.
So the first day I got up and did 30 minutes on the treadmill (yay jogging) and followed that with my normal lifting routine. Then I spent an hour reading (my version of Robert's commute.) Unfortunately my workout took an hour and 40 minutes, which meant I didn't actually start my day until 6.40 a.m.... which meant I needed to stay hard at it until 6.40 p.m. (Yay math.)
That's already a long-ass day, but it wasn't over yet. I had to spend 2 hours "learning my lines" for the following day, which meant I couldn't just reading a book. Reading is passive. Learning is active.
So I spent two hours working on my (nearly nonexistent) Spanish language skills.
By then it was almost 9, and I still needed to take the neighbor's dog for a walk. (Our dog passed away a few years ago.)
By 9.30 p.m. I was shot.
Then I woke up the next day and did it again. (Hola, new day!)
Following a Paleo Diet was pretty easy. That's basically how I eat, except for calling it a paleo diet. Beef, fish, and poultry; fresh fruits and vegetables; nuts; healthy oils... all I had to do was cut out the milk and the occasional Wheat Thin and I was pretty much set.
Like Robert, eating that way works for me.
What I Learned
Robert's schedule is definitely grueling. The sheer hours alone are tough. By the end of the day, spending 2 hours studying for the next day was daunting, but Robert has no choice. He has to show up prepared and ready and "on" -- and he has to maintain that performance edge for the entire day.
And get up and do it again the next day.
Which, of course, is what you have to do, too.
That's why following a routine that works for you is so important. Over the course of a 30-plus year career he's learned what works for him and what doesn't. He's found a diet and exercise regimen that helps him perform the stunts he's known for, that helps him maintain the stamina required to perform on set, that gives him the energy to devote to family and friends... in short, he's figured out how to be the best he can be at home and at work.
Which, of course, is what you have to do, too.