Inside Gladiator star Zack ‘Steel’ George’s gruelling fitness regime – from brutal circuits to whopping 4k calorie diet

Inside Gladiator star Zack ‘Steel’ George’s gruelling fitness regime – from brutal circuits to whopping 4k calorie diet

ZACK George was once a self-conscious schoolkid who scoffed a McDonald’s a day.

Now, he’s a ripped Gladiator star named Steel who works out for 24 hours every week.

Zack George exercises for four hours a day, six days a week

He is known for his ripped physique and ‘superhuman’ strengthInstagram

He appears as Steel on the BBC Gladiators rebootBBC

How did he do it? And just how does he maintain his “superhuman” strength and muscular physique?

We did some digging to find out.

The old Zack

Zack, from Leicester, was overweight and addicted to fast food as a child.

“I practically inhaled chocolate and ate McDonald’s and KFC — a family bucket — five times a week,” he said.

“The more fast food I ate, the more I craved it. It was a vicious cycle.

“I used to try to skip swimming lessons because I was so self-conscious of how I looked and didn’t take my top off.

“Being overweight makes you feel rubbish. You can’t walk or run far so you don’t want to exercise and you often end up finding comfort in fast food.”

Noticing his son was unhappy, Zack‘s dad offered to buy him a PlayStation if he made an effort to lose some weight.

He threw himself into fitness and eating well, and the rest is history.

“Without saying it, [my family] came on a journey with me,” he said.

“We all cleaned up our diets – we didn’t have chocolate or sweets in the house.”

The new Zack

Once Zack, from Birstall, West Yorkshire, caught the exercise bug, he couldn’t shake it.

He represented Leicestershire as a county athlete in rugby, squash and table tennis before entering the CrossFit Games – an annual athletic competition.

In 2015, he opened his own gym and he qualified for the European CrossFit Regionals in 2018.

He placed first at the UK CrossFit Open 2020 – the same year he was crowned the UK’s Fittest Man.

Now, he competes as Steel on the second revival of Gladiators on BBC One, presented by Bradley Walsh.

Zack trains for four hours a day, six days a week – and has done for the last 10 years.

“I was inspired by the Gladiators as a child, but never imagined I’d be physically fit enough to be considered a ‘superhuman’,” he said.

“It’s crazy looking back because when I was younger and overweight, I used to watch Gladiators and draw a pretend six pack on my stomach, because I could never think about ever having abs.

“I hope a new generation of fans will look up to me as their new strong, unbreakable hero, Steel.”

Zack said he used to eat a lot of fast food as a child

He felt self-conscious and used to avoid swimming lessons at all costs

@zackgeorgeHis dad said he could have a PlayStation if he tried to be healthier[/caption]

In the gym

If it wasn’t already clear by looking at him and watching him in action, Zack spends a lot of time in the gym.

According to videos posted on Instagram, his favourite exercises are ones involving kettlebells and pull-ups on a bar or rings.

But overall, he’s a CrossFit fanatic.

CrossFit is a form of high-intensity interval training made up of function strength and condition movements.

This means squatting, pulling, pushing and lifting – and lots of it.

Zack’s regime includes:

Kettlebell snatches

Explosive GHD sit-ups

Ring dips

Strict pull-ups

Ring muscle-ups

Handstands – on the ground and a ramp

Static bike cycling

Rowing machine

Wall balls

Running on a track and curved treadmill (15 x 400m with a one-minute rest between sets)

Sandbag lifts

Dead lifts

Hang cleans

Front squats

SkiErg machine


He’s also a big fan of something called Mikko’s Triangle – a brutal-sounding 40-minute circuit. It involves:

First minute – 23 calories on the assault bike

Second minute – 23 calories on the rowing machine

Third minute – 23 calories on the SkiErg

Fourth minute – rest

And he doesn’t stop training on holiday.

While in Portugal last summer, he was doing five burpees, 10 push ups and 15 squats repeatedly on his balcony in 35C heat.

But it’s not all about getting your heart rate up and dripping in sweat.

Zack, who is 6ft and weighs 223lbs, even does yoga.

He can hold the crow pose (where you rest your knees on your upper arms and lift your bum in the air) for a staggering one minute and 32 seconds.

Overall, his training is split into 40 per cent fitness, 40 per cent gymnastics, and 20 per cent strength.

This usually involves a couple of hours of cardio in the morning and weights in the afternoon.

But on Wednesdays, he also goes swimming.

And before and after every workout, he does plenty of stretching and mobility exercises, he said.

Zack George in numbers

Age: 33
Height: 6ft
Weight: 223lbs (101kg)
Daily calorie intake: 4,000
CrossFit ranking: 25th out of 126,461
Barbell snatch: 127.5kg
Back squat sits: 210kg
Handstand push-ups: 41
Cleans: 140kg
5k run: 19 minutes 16 seconds
One-mile run: five minutes 25 seconds

Recovery & motivation

When he’s training hard, Zack has ice baths to “aid recovery”.

Plunging into cold water is said to improve alertness, reduce pain and decrease inflammation.

The athlete also uses special mental techniques to help keep himself motivated.

His secret, he says, is to “visualise me winning any game I’m about to play”.

Zack also pictures his idols, runner Usain Bolt and former basketballer Michael Jordan, as well as his parents.

InstagramZack spends a lot of time working on his gymnastics skills[/caption]

BBCSteel, alongside Viper and Giant, on Gladiators[/caption]

InstagramZack eats 4,000 calories a day[/caption]

In the kitchen

If you work out as hard as Zack does, you’ve got to make sure there’s enough fuel in the tank.

For him, this means consuming a whopping 4,000 calories a day.

“I’ve found this is the minimum amount for me to perform well while keeping my weight in check,” he told SLMan.

The recommended daily calorie intake for men in the UK is 2,500, but the amount of energy you need depends hugely on your age, lifestyle and size.

A typical breakfast for Zack is porridge with a scoop of protein powder.

Lunch usually consists of two salmon fillets with vegetables and rice, and dinner is either red meat or white fish with more vegetables and rice or sweet potatoes.

Throughout the day, he will have porridge as a snack, and whey protein after he trains.

To supplement it all, he also takes creatine, multivitamins, omega-3 and zinc.

He follows this strict diet throughout the week, but lets himself relax a little at the weekend.

While he “hasn’t eaten fast food in 10 years”, he loves a doughnut.

“My guilty pleasure is doughnuts,” he said in an Instagram interview.

“I love them. Just the plain glazed ones.”

Zack appears to have partnerships with My Protein, Nocco and Fresh Fitness Foods.

Earlier this month, he shared a photo of himself tucking in to a high-protein chocolate chip Baked Cookie, and in January, he posed with a can of of Blood Orange Nocco – a fizzy drink containing 180mg of caffeine, vitamins B6 and 12, and BCAAs, said to increase muscle mass and strength while training.

Late last year, he said Fresh Fitness Food “made nutrition easy”.

The meal-prep delivery brand is known for its personalised healthy dishes.

InstagramA typical lunch for him is two salmon fillets with vegetables and rice[/caption]

BBC‘My guilty pleasure is doughnuts,’ he said[/caption]

His training is split into 40 per cent fitness, 40 per cent gymnastics, and 20 per cent strength

BBCThe Gladiators with presenter Bradley Walsh[/caption]

Zack said: ‘I hope a new generation of fans will look up to me as their new strong, unbreakable hero’

InstagramHe was crowned the UK’s Fittest Man in 2020[/caption]

He can hold the crow pose in yoga for one minute and 32 seconds

He’s a big fan of Mikko’s Triangle – a brutal-sounding 40-minute circuit

A typical breakfast for Zack is porridge with a scoop of protein powder

Zack George’s beginner strength workout

Bench press
Pull ups
Front squats
Dead lifts

Complete six sets of three reps of each movement, with 90 seconds rest between sets.

Source: GQ