After pictures appeared in Hong Kong of actor Nick Cheung in his new movie Unbeatable, looking better than Italian renaissance sculptures of heroic men, people said men no longer have excuses not to get into similar shape.
The 45-year-old had never had such a superb physique and if he could achieve it in middle age, then so could other men – thus went the talk around town.
But he says his is not an example that is easy to follow.
“People see my body in the movie and think that it’s quite easy to achieve, that anyone can get it if you just push yourself a bit. But they must be joking because it was actually very, very difficult to train myself to look like this. I want to tell them, maybe you should go and train yourself and show me if you can also achieve this.”
Cheung, who stars in Unbeatable as a former boxing champion down on his luck, is not boasting; he is sharing his pain.
He calls his training routine in preparation for the movie “suffering”.
For nine months, he worked out at the gym for at least three hours every day without fail.
“I could not stop and take a break even for one day. If I did that, I might not have been able to get back into the programme again. When I woke up in the morning, I sometimes felt like my muscles were about to explode,” says Cheung, who was a cop for four years before he turned to acting.
Then, there was the extreme diet plan. Every morning, he gulped 30 egg whites, then ate either boiled chicken or steamed fish later in the day.
“There’s no seasoning or oil in any of the food, so after a while, I really couldn’t even get myself to chew on them anymore. I had to dump the chicken in a blender and take it as a drink.”
Since filming for Unbeatable ended, he has returned to his old self.
“I went back to my normal life, I don’t have a six pack anymore. I don’t even like the buff look very much. When you’re too buff and broad, you won’t look good in a suit,” he says with a laugh.
Speaking to Life! over the telephone, he adds in a mix of Mandarin and Cantonese that he will not be hitting the gym again any time soon, not even if he was forced to.
“I’d rather die than go through all that suffering at the gym all over again.”