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Mark Wahlberg, 41, on how exercise and diet can improve your game

May 2013

It was 20-plus years ago that a Calvin Klein underwear campaign made Mark Wahlberg's six-pack the most famous abs in pop culture. Now 41 and a happily married father of four, Wahlberg still begins most days with a high-impact workout in the two-story gym (with a boxing ring) at his Beverly Hills home. Lately he's added at-home range sessions to his daily routine. Think fitness can't help your golf game? Wahlberg guarantees it will.

What does being fit mean to Mark Wahlberg?
Being fit is almost as important to me as my face. And for me, it's a combination of being spiritually and physically fit. There are guys who want to look good, and there are guys who want to perform at their best. Being fit is about being able to perform at your best, not necessarily just looking your best.

How has your dedication to fitness affected your golf game?
Right now is probably the best example of that. I'm training at least an hour and a half every day, getting myself ready to film "Transformers" later this year. But I'm also playing golf twice a week and hitting balls seven days a week.

You have the golf bug again?
It's because my boys have fallen in love with the game. I got clubs for them in March, and they're obsessed with it. I have a driving range in my back yard, and Michael [7] and Brendan [4] are getting up earlier for school so they have 20 minutes to spend on the range before they leave. At the end of the day, we're hitting balls for another 30 minutes. I never got on the course with my dad, but to be playing golf with my kids--that's a dream.

Do you think being fit helps your game?
Oh, absolutely. I'm doing so much core work and high-impact rotational stuff that it's allowing me to hit the ball long like I used to. Four years ago a 155- or 160-yard shot was a nice, full 9-iron. After not playing for a while and coming back, I found I had to jump on an 8-iron to hit it 160. Yesterday the ball was jumping off the club again, and it convinced me that a lot of those exercises I'm doing to build my core and my midsection are helping me power through the ball.

We're about to see you the most pumped-up of your life when "Pain & Gain" hits theaters April 26. How'd you get so bulked up for that bodybuilder role?
I tried to cheat a little by putting on weight just before we began shooting "Broken City" in New York. I knew "Pain & Gain" was coming right after it, so I needed a head start. Unfortunately, the director freaked out because he wanted me to look as thin as possible for "Broken City." So I got down to 165 pounds. Then I had only about eight to 10 weeks to get ready for "Pain & Gain." Basically it meant getting as big as possible in a lot less time than I'd hoped. Somehow, I got all the way up to 212 pounds.

You added 47 pounds? How?
I did it by lifting heavy, kind of going back to my old-school weightlifting days at Gold's Gym in Venice Beach--and by eating 10 meals a day. Thankfully I was also in the middle of developing my line of nutritional products ["Marked"] with GNC. During that time I had access to the best scientists out there, and we were able to create formulas for mass gainers and pre-workout igniters that helped me get my body where it needed to be.

A lot of men past 40 give up, thinking they'll never look as fit as they did in their 20s or 30s. What's the secret to staying fit into your 40s?
It sucks when your metabolism slows down. But it's not impossible. You've just got to get in the gym and do it. You're going to fight through the pain and the bruises of the first few weeks, but every day when I finish I feel absolutely fantastic. Now, will I feel that way when I wake up the next morning? No, I won't. But I'm gonna get up and go work out again because I know that it's better to stay in shape than it is to get in shape.

If you could do only one exercise the rest of your life, what would it be?
I'd probably do a high-impact, metabolic superset that includes upper-and-lower body movements. Another option is to use only your body weight and do something like burpees, jumping jacks, push-ups, that kind of thing. Honestly, anyone can get a full-body workout in 20 minutes. Take five minutes to warm up and stretch. Then do 10 to 15 minutes of high-impact exercise to increase your heart rate, with short rests in between. A little stretching at the end, and you're ready to face the day.

Everyone talks about the core like it should be the focus of everything we do in the gym. For golfers, how important is the core, and are there other things that matter more?
Everything matters, but the core is the most important. That's the thing that's going to keep your back strong, keep your lower half strong, especially if you want to avoid injuries.

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