The Kevin James Workout

Dec 12 / Build Muscle

In the new movie Here Comes the Boom (in theaters today), Kevin James plays a high school science teacher who turns to MMA fighting to rescue his school's evaporating arts budget. In order to go from stocky comedian to ripped warrior, James would have to lose 80 pounds, develop enough stamina to go several rounds in the ring, and build MMA-worthy muscle.  The transformation would be no small feat—but James knew just the guy to help make it happen. Enter MMA trainer Ryan Parsons, who James had first greeted on the set of his TV series The King of Queens—with a swift punch to the face. "We we...

In the new movie Here Comes the Boom (in theaters today), Kevin James plays a high school science teacher who turns to MMA fighting to rescue his school's evaporating arts budget.

In order to go from stocky comedian to ripped warrior, James would have to lose 80 pounds, develop enough stamina to go several rounds in the ring, and build MMA-worthy muscle.  The transformation would be no small feat—but James knew just the guy to help make it happen.

Enter MMA trainer Ryan Parsons, who James had first greeted on the set of his TV series The King of Queens—with a swift punch to the face. "We were on the set, and I was showing him some basic moves, and he landed a good one," remembers Parson, who owns Radius Sports Management and does fight training and consulting for Hollywood productions. "I thought, OK, this guy can really move."

For Here Comes the Boom, James asked Parsons to train and treat him like he was going to have a real fight. "That's the key to a successful workout for anyone," says Parsons. "You have to know why you're doing what you're doing and have a goal in mind, or it's just too easy to quit."

Maybe it was the threat of a real-life ass-kicking, but Parsons says that James was up for the task—and then some. “Kevin wanted to be treated like a fighter, so that’s what we did,” he says. “These guys didn’t care he was a movie star. They went at him. He actually knocked a guy out!"

Here's how Parsons whipped James into fighting shape. Use these tips to make your own transformation . . . just try not to punch any guys in the process. (And for more ways to train like a warrior, check out musclemorphosis.com.)

1. Improvise
Because of the actor's busy schedule, James often had to be flexible to fit in his hour-plus-long workouts. "Too many people make excuses for why they can’t work out, like they’re not near some state-of-the-art gym,” says Parsons. To overcome any possible excuse, James would run up and down flights of hotel stairs, run for an hour through a town he was passing through, or rent a bike and go hard for an hour. “When you’re committed, you use what’s available,” Parsons says.

2. Have a Ball
To build stamina, coordination, flexibility, and core strength, Parsons fed James a steady diet of medicine ball moves mixed in with pushups and situps. Here's one easy exercise you can add to your regular repertoire: the medicine ball jackknife.

Holding a medicine ball with both hands, lie flat on your back with your legs straight and your arms extended past your head. Tighten your abs and slowly bring your legs and arms up at the same time until your body forms a V. Try to touch the ball to your feet without bending your legs. Hold for one count, then slowly return to the starting position. Build to three sets of 15 repetitions.

For a whole routine full of moves like these, try musclemorphosis.com to chisel a rock-solid core, burn fat, and improve your sports performance.

3. Box Your Way to a Better Body
Boxing makes for a great full-body workout—and not just for Manny Pacquiao and co. Parsons had James start with 15 minutes of pad work, then progressively build in five-minute increments. By the time Here Comes the Boom started filming, James went for an hour at a time without breaking a sweat. "And we'd do it anywhere," Parsons says. "We were moving furniture around in hotel rooms when we had to."

Don't have a heavy bag to pound? No problem. Shadowboxing allows you to rack up high reps without the resistance of a bag to slow your punches. Try this: Play five songs that have strong rhythms and last 3 to 4 minutes each. (Check out our list of musclemorphosis.com for inspiration.) On every fourth beat (count out loud to keep yourself on track), unleash one of the punch combinations below, and then bring your hands back to your starting stance before the next beat. The shifting tempo of some tracks may require you to punch continuously until the song slows.

Combos for each song:
1. Left jab, left jab, right cross
2. Right cross, left jab, right uppercut
3. Left body punch, right body punch, left uppercut
4. Right uppercut, right cross, left hook
5. Right cross, left hook, right hook

Additional reporting by Dan Wiederer

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