How Michael Xavier Toned His Chiseled Physique for Sunset

Special Features   How Michael Xavier Toned His Chiseled Physique for Sunset
 
Get your pool body ready with these 9 exercises—and exclusive photos—from the Broadway newcomer’s workout routine.
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Roberto Araujo

In preparing for his lead role in Broadway’s Sunset Boulevard, British actor Michael Xavier whipped himself into shape. As Norma Desmond’s boy toy, Joe Gillis, Xavier pops up eight shows a week in his barely-there swim trunks at the top of Act 2. But his fitness is not just for show. Xavier committed to a rigorous exercise regimen to prepare himself for and maintain his health for the demanding role—which happens to be his Broadway debut. Follow his workout routine below and you may end up with your own enviable abs.

1. Kettlebell Lunge

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1. Lunges with kettle bells Roberto Araujo

Do it at Home: Keep your chest up and face forward, one kettlebell in each hand. Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart and step directly forward on one leg into a deep bend. In the lunge, you want to create a box with a right angle at the front knee (knee over ankle), a right angle at the hips, and a right angle at the back knee (hip over knee). At the lowest point, your knee should graze the ground, but never rest there. Reverse and straighten up.
Times per week: 6 times a week
Sets and reps: 3 sets of 12 reps on each leg
Targets: Quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes
Is this something you did as much of before Sunset? No. This is purely done for Sunset.
Is this something that particularly helps when playing Joe Gillis eight times a week? I do a lot of running up and down stairs [in the show] so I need to keep my legs and joints strong. This is a great overall leg workout for strength and stability.


2. Stretch

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2. Stretches Roberto Araujo

Do it at Home: Cross your right arm over your chest and place in the crook of your opposite elbow was shown above (left). Pull gently back with your left arm and push lightly forward with your right to create resistance. Switch sides. Raise your right arm in line with your head and neck as shown above (right). Bend at the elbow. Place your left hand on top of your right elbow and pull slightly to the left while pushing your right arm slightly towards the right to create resistance. Switch sides.
Times per week: I do full body stretches, including the above, 6 times a week.
Sets and reps: 1 or 2 sets holding each stretch for at least 20 seconds
Targets: Shoulders (deltoid mid and anterior) and triceps
Is this something you did as much of before Sunset? Yes. Stretching is vital to sustain good flexibility in the muscles and overall strength.
Is this something that particularly helps when playing Joe Gillis eight times a week? Yes, definitely. Flexibility onstage and especially because of my stunt fall, it's vital.


3. One-Arm Kettlebell Swing

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3. One-arm Kettle Bell Swings Roberto Araujo

Do it at Home: Stand with your feet in a wide second position. Place one kettlebell between your feet. Bend your knees and push your butt towards the back wall for a starting position. Keeping your back flat, swing the kettlebell forward with a straight arm and drive through with your hips until you stand straight with your arm perpendicular to the floor. Let the kettlebell swing back down to starting position. Switch arms with each set.
Times per week: 2-3 times a week
Sets and reps: 3 or 4 sets of 10-12 reps on each side
Targets: It’s a great core exercise engaging many muscle groups. Quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, shoulders, biceps and triceps. It's a great overall body workout and burns some series calories if you keep the heart rate high!
Is this something you did as much of before Sunset? Not really. I've only recently discovered its benefits.
Is this something that particularly helps when playing Joe Gillis eight times a week? Yes. Again core strength is important for performing, running around a set, dancing, and singing.


4. Sit-ups

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4. Sit-ups Roberto Araujo

Do it at Home: Start by laying with your back flat on the floor. Type 1: Raise your legs (crossed at the ankle) parallel to the floor, creating a right angle at your knee. Raise your upper body off the floor by flexing your abdominals. Type 2: Raise your legs (crossed at the ankle) perpendicular to the floor with your feet flexed. Raise your upper body off the floor by flexing your abdominals.
Times per week: 6 times a week
Sets and reps: 8 different types of sit-ups (2 types above) and 40 reps of each
Targets: Abdominals and obliques (and other core muscles, too)
Is this something you did as much of before Sunset? Not as much. When I’m having to take my shirt off in front of almost 2,000 people a night I’m going to work harder!
Is this something that particularly helps when playing Joe Gillis eight times a week? Yes. Core strength works for everything I do onstage and it also helps with the just-got-out-of-the-pool look!

5. Battle Ropes: Alternating Wave

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5. Rope Throws Roberto Araujo

Do it at Home: Face the anchor point, standing with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Place one end of the rope in each hand, palms facing in. Raise one arm to shoulder height and quickly lower to hip level, raising the opposite arm to shoulder height simultaneously. Alternate as quickly as possible.
Times per week: 2 or 3 times a week
Sets and reps: 3 or 4 sets of as many as I can in 30 seconds.
Targets: Shoulders, forearms, biceps, back, and legs. Great overall body workout!
Is this something you did as much of before Sunset? Nope. Again, quite new to this exercise, but I love it. Gets out all your frustrations!
Is this something that particularly helps when playing Joe Gillis eight times a week? Yes. This helps stabilize your singing when you're moving around. The cardio element gives you a high heart rate and I try and steady/regulate my breathing.

6. Pull-ups

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6. Pull-Ups Roberto Araujo

Do it at Home: Grab onto the bar above you, palms facing away from your body, arms at a V-angle. Cross your legs at the ankle to take weight off the ground. Pull yourself up until chin reaches bar level.
Times per week: 2 or 3 times a week
Sets and reps: 3 or 4 sets of as many as I can do
Targets: Back, biceps, shoulders. Great to get that V-shape look of the ’50s Hollywood era!
Is this something you did as much of before Sunset? Yes. I always try and keep this in my workout routine. It’s an oldie but a goodie!
Is this something that particularly helps when playing Joe Gillis eight times a week? It helps give the appearance of those 1950s bodies where they were more top-heavy with big chests and shoulders. I like to think my workout is specific to the look I’m trying to achieve for the show.

7. One-Arm Cable Crossover

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7. One-Arm Cable Cross Raises Roberto Araujo

Do it at Home: Keeping a slight bend in the elbow, pull the attachment out and away from the body, arcing upward until the arm is directly to side of the body with the hand about eye level. Inhale throughout this motion. Slowly return the weight to its starting position while exhaling.
Times per week: 2 or 3 times a week.
Sets and reps: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
Targets: Shoulders and core stability
Is this something you did as much of before Sunset? Yes. I like this exercise. The cables force you to be steadier and focus on technique.
Is this something that particularly helps when playing Joe Gillis eight times a week? This one also helps give that V-shape look to Joe!

8. Dumbbell Shoulder Press

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8. Dumbbell Shoulder Press Roberto Araujo

Do it at Home: With one dumbbell in each hand, sit with your back straight and feet planted on the floor hip-width apart. Raise the dumbbells so that your upper arms (shoulder to elbow) are parallel to the floor, creating a right angle at the elbow with the dumbbells at ear level. Pulling your abdominals inward, raise your hands upward to straighten elbows until the dumbbells touch lightly. Lower down back to ear level.
Times per week: 2 times a week
Sets and reps: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
Targets: Shoulders and triceps
Is this something you did as much of before Sunset? Yes. I always include this in my workout.
Is this something that particularly helps when playing Joe Gillis eight times a week? Upper body strength for the V-shape and to pull myself up out of the pool!!

9. Dumbbell Flys

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9. Dumbbell Flys Roberto Araujo

Do it at Home: Lie down on the bench parallel to the floor. Start with one dumbbell in each hand. Start with the dumbbells raised above your chest with your arms in a slightly bent position (left). With your elbows pointing out to the sides, lower dumbbells out to the sides towards the floor (right). Bring dumbbels back together in a hugging motion.
Times per week: 2 times a week
Sets and reps: 4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Targets: Chest and triceps.
Is this something you did as much of before Sunset? Yes. This is a good stabilization exercise to keep the smaller muscles around the pectorals working in harmony. Helps avoid silly injuries/tears!
Is this something that particularly helps when playing Joe Gillis eight times a week? Yep! No-one wants to see saggy boobs! Ha!

10. Relaxation (Sauna or Steam Room)

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10. Relaxation (Sauna or Steam Room) Roberto Araujo

This part is vital. If you don’t get enough rest your muscles can’t repair. I also need to save enough energy to do a great show each night with 100 percent effort. The Steam Room really helps me hydrate the voice before a big sing, so I prefer that to the sauna. Spa time is my reward for working hard in the gym!

Flip through the full workout below:

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