The last time you saw Michael B. Jordan on the big screen, he was the hulking, enigmatic Black Panther villain Erik Killmonger. The bulk-up was a stunning transformation for the actor, who has worked steadily to establish himself as one of the most dependable young stars in Hollywood.
To step into the ring for a second round as champion boxer Adonis Creed, however, Jordan needed to drop a few weight classes, but keep a powerful punching profile.
Taking Michael B. Jordan from Killmonger to Creed
Jordan turned to celebrity trainer Corey Calliet to whip him into world champion shape. The pair have been working together since 2015, with an impressive body of work including the first Creed movie and Black Panther under their belts. The well-established rapport made it easier to whittle down Jordan's Killmonger mass into a light heavyweight's frame.
"We time our projects, so we used Killmonger to get ready for Creed II," Calliet told Men's Health. "I bulked him up on Killmonger, and then used that bulk to shred him down for Creed II."
Clearly, the hard work has paid off. Jordan cut down to between 188 to 191 pounds for Creed II, according to Calliet, but he still looks ready to go the distance, losing some of the size he carried for his last project without appearing any less powerful.
Back to Boxing For 'Creed II'
Calliet's training philosophy for Jordan's films is simple: Work hard to improve on your previous best efforts. "My goal with [Jordan] is to always look better than the last time he was on [screen]," Calliet said. "We always go until we can't go anymore."
For Creed II, that meant hammering the boxing training hard. Unlike some actors who use real sparring sessions to hone their craft, Jordan focused on his handwork with heavy bags and mitt sessions and perfecting the fight choreography. Bodyweight plyometrics and light weightlifting circuits ("Just the pretty muscles," to keep Jordan lean, according to Calliet) rounded out the training plan.
"We knew how to box already, we knew how that felt," said Calliet. "This was about actually getting him to look better than the last time."
Calliet believes the Jordan achieved that goal. The trainer says the audience will be able to track the character's transformation into an even more formidable fighter as he readies for the film's main event: the grudge match with Viktor Drago, the son of the man who killed Creed's father in the ring in Rocky IV.
"As the fight gets more serious, you see his body start to define the character and his training in the movie," Calliet said.
If you've seen any of the Rocky films before, you know what that means: a montage. The series is famous for the inspirational training clips, even if the training style is sometimes more outlandish than practical.
According to Calliet, however, Creed II's montage isn't just realistic — it's filled with principles they actually used to prep for filming. He programmed those same moves into Jordan's training to push the training to a fighter's level.
"We would actually do those exercises at home, in the gym, wherever," Calliet said. "To look a certain kind of way, you've got to bring the intensity up."
Michael B. Jordan's Creed II Shredder Workout
Check out one of the workouts Calliet used help Michael B. Jordan reach champ status for Creed II. Jordan performed this circuit after full boxing training and choreography sessions — so for the real Creed experience, hit a heavy bag or shadowbox for a few rounds to get into the ring.
Perform 1 round of each exercise, in order. Repeat the circuit 4 times.
Skipping: 3 minutes
Kettlebell swings: 8 reps
Dumbbell Goblet Squat: 8 reps
Press-ups: 15 reps
Sit-ups: 20 reps
A version of this article originally appeared on MensHealth.com