Will Smith is in Legendary Shape

Will Smith - source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vanessalua/
Will Smith in 2010

We have already looked at both his son Jaden Smith and wife Jada Smith, so it only seems right that we take a look at the big guy himself, and discuss how Will Smith stays in such a great shape.

Will Smith’s acting career started out in sitcom, playing the role of Will Smith in the Fresh Prince of Bel-air. Fresh Prince was his MC name during his music career beforehand. However, his career really got going when he was cast in Independence Day in 1996. Since then he has appeared in 3 more action blockbusters that have shown him to be a method actor as well as an actor in the peak of physical fitness:

  • 2001 he played Muhammad Ali in the film Ali.
  • 2004 he played Detective Del Spooner in I, Robot
  • 2007 he played John Hancock in I Am Legend

He has appeared in several other blockbusters, such as Men In Black, Hitch and Hancock, but it was in Ali, I Robot and I Am Legend which has shown off his true action skills.

Will Smith’s Workouts To Be Like Muhammad Ali

Movie Poster for Ali, showing Will SmithWill Smith was a relatively slim guy prior to Ali. He weighed about 185 pounds which is light for someone that stands at 6 foot 2 tall. To look the part to play Ali, Will Smith had to pack on 35 pounds of muscle to look like a real heavy weight boxer.

Critics were skeptical at the news of the skinny Will Smith playing the mighty Ali, but he hit the gym and after working out 5 days a week for 6 hours a day for almost a year he was in the shape of his life.

He was coached by several fitness professionals. Darrell Foster was the main fight and fitness trainer for Will Smith on the movie Ali, and has also been his coach in every movie he has done since 2000. Darrell taught Will how to fight as well as trained him and all the pro fighters cast as Sonny Liston (Michael Bentt), Joe Frazier (James Toney), Ernie Terrell (Ice Cole).

Another trainer was Angelo Dundee. Angelo got Will skipping and moving like Ali, he formed the foundation.

“If I’d had Will when he was 20, I could’ve made a champion out of him.  He’s got the physical skills and, more importantly, he’s got the heart.” Angelo Dundee

In addition to Angelo, director Michel Mann hired Dr. James Puffer, Chief of the Division of Sports Medicine at UCLA and former head Physician to the US Olympic team. He taught Will Smith to box like a professional, improved his hand-eye co-ordination and reflexes, and taught him how to roll with the punches and take hits as well as master some of Ali’s trademark feints and attacks.

In addition to all the functional training Will had to do a lot of endurance training, and some of it included running through snow wearing boots as well as a lot of weight lifting. Will Smiths bench press increased from 175 pounds at the start of the year to 365 pounds by the time shooting for the film started.

“Beyond looking like a fighter, my goal was to learn to think like a fighter,” says Smith.  “To do that I had to eat like a fighter, sleep like a fighter, assess situations in life like a fighter… become a fighter.” Will Smith.

To build up his muscle like this Will Smith had to increase his nutrition and consume more proteins and healthy carbohydrates. Adequate rest was also essential.

Will Smith’s Fat Burning Workouts for I, Robot

If Ali showed that Will Smith could build himself up to the frame of a pro boxer, then in 2004 he proved that he could work his body hard enough to get ripped and shed fat.

He obviously lost a lot of muscle in the years following Ali, so for I, Robot he focussed on developing a leaner physique. For this he performed more intensive cardio routines as well as strength training workouts. Again, he employed the help of fitness trainer Darrell Foster to get himself in top shape.

In the years following Ali he had got weaker and fatter, so the first step was to start building up his strength again and burning some fat off.

With the help of Darrell Foster he increased his bench press by 75 pounds to 385 lbs (175kg). Training lasted 6 months and he reduced is bodyfat percentage from around 12% down to 8%.

He also ran 5 miles a day then split up his weight training routine to work different muscles each day, much like he did with Ali, but with more emphasis on just looking strong and lean.

He cut out all junk food and sugar and ate a very natural, low GI, nutrient dense diet and is as close to optimum nutrition as he could get.

The key difference between his training for Ali and I, Robot was the nutrition and volume of weight lifting. Ali involved more lifting and more calories / protein.

Will Smith Then Gets Really Cut For I Am Legend

In I Am Legend Will Smith played a lone survivor in a post apocalyptic World. Such a role requires a survivor to look very lean but yet fit – traits that would keep a man alive in a World in the brink of collapse.

Preparation for this required him to take his weight loss routines one step further. He continued with his weight training workouts, this time performing more intensive exercises including pull ups and heavier lifting, while also doing a lot of intensive cardio sessions to burn fat.

Will Smith in Men In Black 3 and Unfinished Business

Will is currently working on 2 new projects, Men In Black 3 and a TV movie called Unfinished Business. Both will call on Will’s physical attributes as well as his excellent acting skills.


  • “The Man Who Would Be Ali”
  • “Will Smith”, accessed on 22 November 2010, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Smith
  • Darrell Foster, comment on this article (see below)

6 Comments on “Will Smith is in Legendary Shape

  1. Great job! I was wondering, what was Will Smith’s diet for I Am Legend and what would you suggest as good intensive cardio alternatives for someone who is currently suffering from shin splints?

  2. MotleyHealth says:

    Have you tried an exercise bike, or just doing circuit training workouts? Also, have you had your running technique looked at? Often shin splints are caused by poor running technique, or even poorly fitting shoes. Some good running shoe shops should be able to advise on that.

    Other options are swimming, and possibly elliptical – if it does not hurt while you are using it.

  3. Thanks for the advice… Also, Can you give some insight into what Will’s diet was like when training for I Am Legend?

  4. MotleyHealth says:

    I shall see what we can find out. Most likely after a phase of building his muscles back up he started reducing calories and carbohydrates to aid fat loss. But I will see if there is anything published on this.

  5. Darrell Foster was the main fight and fitness trainer for Will Smith on the movie Ali and every movie he has done since 2000.
    The other names mentioned in your article were only tech. Consultants for historical accuracy!!!
    Darrell taught Will how to fight as well as trained him and all the pro fighters cast as Sonny Liston (Michael Bentt),
    Joe Frazier (James Toney), Ernie Terrell (Ice Cole).
    I hope you print an accurate update!!!

  6. MotleyHealth says:

    Many thanks Darrell, article amended, and apologies for missing this information previously.

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