In his thirties, Wahlberg’s routine largely revolved around training for his role of Mickey in The Fighter—a physique four years (and some days 10 hours) in the making. In his forties, the actor doubled down on the heavy weights, lifting once at 3:30 in the morning, then hitting a second workout around 4 p.m.
In his fifth decade, however, Wahlberg is leaning into advice he wishes he would’ve listened to 20 years ago. “Before it was about aesthetic when trying to get in shape. Now, I want to live a long time,” Wahlberg told People. Here’s how he’s adjusted his infamous workout routine.
Mark Wahlberg’s New Longevity Workout Routine
“As you get older, you want to be able to move,” Wahlberg told Men’s Health. That’s why he starts every workout with RAMP: a protocol that prioritizes range of motion, activation, and movement prep. “Things like Spiderman stretch and hip bridges, plus foam rolling,” he told Men’s Journal.
His main work sets still focus on bilateral and unilateral strength moves using heavy resistance bands, TRX bands, dumbbells, and kettlebells, but he’s focused on quality over quantity: “I don’t have to lift as heavy, but I have to have better form, a longer hold, and a longer squeeze,” Wahlberg told People.
“Cardio days are tough for me,” Wahlberg admits. But he makes it a priority to get it done. “If I cut corners, then I can’t be at my best,” he adds. “Everything that I’ve done, that I’ve been successful at, is done by doing the work.”
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How to Work Out for Longevity
While your fitness routine doesn’t have to look entirely different as you age, like Wahlberg, you may notice a change of pace helps you feel and move better, too. Here’s what Wahlberg has right, according to fitness experts:
Get and stay strong
Training for aesthetics is an honorable goal (building muscle ain’t easy), but strength is even more important for maintaining mobility and physical autonomy as you age, according to certified personal trainer James King III, CSCS.
Building strength is simple: Lift heavy. That’s easier said than done, especially if your joints don’t recover quite the same as they once did. What then? “Dedicate time to warming up properly, including light cardio and dynamic mobility moves—like a lunge with rotation—to increase blood flow and prep your joints,” says King.
“Once you get into your work sets, swap your most taxing movements with safer alternatives,” King adds. For example, instead of deadlifts, do trap bar deadlifts to reduce stress on your lower back, and instead of barbell back squats try kettlebell or dumbbell goblet squats which help you stay more upright, reducing your risk of injury.
To turn up the difficulty without taxing your joints, slow down the eccentric (or lowering) phase of an exercise, and try the 1.5 rep training method. “The 1.5 rep training technique involves performing a full repetition of an exercise followed by a half repetition before returning to the starting position. This approach increases muscle activation and time under tension, potentially boosting muscle growth and strength,” says King.
Vary your rep and set ranges throughout the week to accommodate for both muscle strength and mass gains, while giving your body plenty of time to recover. “Training with a mix of heavy, moderate, and light days into a strength training regimen ensures a balance in training, optimizing strength while minimizing injury risks,” King explains.
TRAIN BETTER, LIVE LONGER
Don’t skip cardio
When it comes to aesthetics, cardio only really matters when you want to shed fat or keep it off. Which means if you’re in the middle of a bulk, cardio might fall off your radar entirely. Even Wahlberg has taken a rain check on cardio thanks to his intermittent fasting regimen. But according to King, cardio is essential for a long, healthy life.
Aim to get a mix of zone 2 cardio and HIIT (high-intensity interval training). “Think of zone 2 as your cruise control setting. It’s the sweet spot where you’re working but you can still chat about your fantasy football league,” says King. Zone 2 cardio strengthens your heart and improves oxygen delivery, both of which are essential for longevity. “Get at least two sessions of zone 2 cardio per week, lasting 30 to 60 minutes each,” King adds.
HIIT, on the other hand, is short bursts of all-out effort, punctuated by longer rests. You’re never too old for sprints, but King recommends hopping on a rowing machine, bike, or elliptical for a more joint-friendly alternative. “Sprinkle in one to two sessions of HIIT per week, at 20 to 30 minutes per session. If you’re short on time, tack it onto the end of your strength workout,” says King.
Dreading cardio like Wahlberg? It doesn’t have to be boring. Sports like pickleball, tennis, and basketball can help check cardio off your to-do list, while building stability and power in the process, per King. Or head outside for a hike. Hiking gets you outside spending time in nature, positions your heart rate right in the zone 2 sweet spot, and helps you build stability thanks to uneven terrain.