Jennifer Lawrence’s Trainer Talks 'Hunger Games' Diet: I Kept Her ‘Lean’ Not ‘Gaunt’ (EXCLUSIVE)
When you got involved with the film, what was your first task?
I was called to help Jennifer prepare for the film by director Gary Ross. Gary and Jennifer had discussed Katniss, her appearance and what the character would be like. They came to a conclusion that Jennifer, who was already in good shape, should be leaner, but they didn't think that she should be gaunt because she is able to eat in the book version.
To help her get ready for the film, [we helped] improve her agility, her running, her speed and her technique. Then we knew what the goal was and we were able to work towards that goal.
What were some specific exercises you did to get her strength up, but still stay lean? It's a very fine line.
It is. That's why the communication is so critical. Gary was clear in how he saw Katniss. [Ross] said that she's a young woman and he felt that a very muscular appearance was not in order. He felt that Jennifer looked fine but we needed to get her lighter. So we did [work] at the track and stationary biking in the evenings.
Was that all the cardio you had her doing?
On the stationary bike, it was a blend between anaerobic rides with sprint interval and other time anaerobic endurance, where the sprint be a little longer. Other days, it would be a steady state of traditional cardio rides.
So what was a typical training day like?
We would hit the track around 10 a.m. and after a long warm up we did track drills, agility drills, medicine ball, sprints, and runs. This would last about an hour and half. Several days per week she would drive out to the archery range and the archery coach was waiting for her. That was a chore in itself. Then agility work again with the stunt people, but that was a bit later. We were careful not to have her do too much. Then in the evening, it would be a stationary bike ride.
Did you have her on any strict diet to go along with this?
We had a certified clinical nutritionist look at the diet and it need very little modification. But we had a new goal so a little modification was necessary. She was very happy that it wasn't strict, fanatic or excessive. She said "I can do this." And she did. She stuck to the diet and she didn't cheat and was never late for a workout. She never complained and was very humble. I think she was looking forward to this film and this role so much, that she never took it as a chore. She was always upbeat. She said it was her privilege to do this and it reflected in her work.
Was the diet high protein, low in carbs?
The calories had to come down. There had to be a cap and we tried to use a food service that could deliver the calorie range that were looking for. And our nutritionist talked to the group and we reduced the saturated fats. She had to have enough carbs to train. If you put her on too low of card diet then she wouldn't have the energy and would affect her ability to perform.
Do you know what the range was?
I don't have that right in front of me. But it was very reasonable [...] She already looked good. We just needed to take her down a little bit.
She mentioned she did some Yoga.
There are days that we call unloading days which means very low intensity, very low volume to just let the body recover. She'd say "Instead of having an unloading bike ride, can I just do Yoga?' Since she'd been such a great sport and worked so hard, I thought that if that would help her stretch out and would make her happy, then absolutely.
Jen said she got injured doing one of her stunts?
She did and I have permission to talk about it. They were training her to climb up a wall. Her foot slipped while climbing and she hit the wall. So the next day, she didn't tell me this, so during her warm up she said "Ow." So I said "What do you mean 'Ow'?" She said she ran into a wall and hurt here, pointing to her spleen. So I examined the area of her spleen and she was in pain. I said it was time for a CT scan. I let production know immediately about the CT scan and drove her down to the radiologist. Luckily, there was nothing wrong. And again-- she never complained.
[She's] a pro from beginning to end.
What are some basic exercises our readers can do?
I think people can mix a little bit of resistance training and the stationary bike is a great tool. If they can go to a track or go to an open field, do some runs that could elevate their metabolism. They can lose weight and feel better.