After retiring from the NFL in 1997, Terry Crews jumped into the world of television and acting with both feet and a huge grin. His incredible physique, charming personality, creative sense of humor, and magical ability to choreograph pec pumps to music soon landed him in well-remembered roles. Who hasn't seen the Old Spice commercials?
Crews' resume is comprised of roles in films including "Bridesmaids" and "The Expendables," and television shows like "Everybody Hates Chris" and most-recently "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." He might be 45 years old, but like his physique, Crews' career seems to only get better.
One of his most recent projects is the role of Nickens—the resort entertainment manager—in the movie "Blended." "Blended," filmed in South Africa and set to release May 23, 2014, reveals a Crews who sings, dances, and owns a variety of wigs.
Although he's obviously proven himself as an actor, Crews didn't get the title "the fittest man in Hollywood" by chance. Crews spoke with Bodybuilding.com about his training on set in South Africa, his intermittent fasting nutrition plan, and his overall fitness philosophy.
Q. How did you come by the role in "Blended?" Why were you attracted to it?
Well, Adam Sandler called me. I didn't know what the role was, but he and I have a good track record. We did "The Longest Yard," "Bench Warmers," and "Click" together and I had the time of my life on each one of those movies. When Adam calls, I run.
Then he told me that we would be shooting in Africa, and that just got me more excited because I had never been there. It turns out that shooting "Blended" was one of the best experiences of my entire life—it was just awesome.
What did you enjoy about the character?
I play a character named Nickens who is what I call the South African Tom Jones. It's the best way to describe it. I'm the entertainment guy in this resort. What was really weird about the role is that I spent just as much time in the studio working on music as I did acting.
I did a lot of music, a lot of singing, a lot of entertaining. I had wigs and outfits. Playing this role was a chance to do something I had never done and to show people something they had never seen from me.
You look fantastic all the time, but did you alter your training or do anything special to prepare for the role?
I always stay about two weeks out from being able take my shirt off. There's no off-season for me. I don't like this whole bulking up and getting down thing. You should be ready to look good all the time.
The funny thing about being in Africa is that it inspired me to work out. I worked out twice a day sometimes just because the place was so beautiful. It's the cradle of civilization—everybody came from Africa. Everything over there is 100 percent bigger, stronger, and faster. Here you have kittens, there you have lions. It's just the way it is. And I felt that energy.
The food made me feel good, the sun, [and] the animals. I felt stronger. I got in the best shape doing that movie.
I like to train so I can look like I can run and catch you. I run four miles a day, minimum. I start there and maybe get on the bike for a few miles. It just helps my mind; it helps my heart.
There are a lot of people who lift weights who are not healthy. I know that lifting weights is supposed to be a healthy activity, but it takes balance. I've seen guys have heart attacks and they're huge.
It's important to balance weights with an activity that makes you look like you can do something. That's the whole purpose of fitness—you want to be able to move, you want to be able to do stuff.
So, it's all about mixing things up and finding out what you like to do.
Did you take some of the training you did in the NFL and bring it to your fitness now? Do you do cleans and squats and bench press?
I do a lot of power cleans. I actually met with a trainer up in Vancouver who was an Olympic guy from Eastern Europe. He really taught me how to do the clean and press and he put some exercises on me that were on a whole different level than what I was used to. He changed my life in a lot of ways.
It's funny because a lot of NFL guys are getting away from weights just because they feel like it may slow them down. It's all about speed. But I really, really love lifting heavy weights. Even this morning I was deadlifting.
As a man, as you get older, lifting heavy really helps your testosterone level. I feel as young as I did when I was 20. But, I always stay within a safe zone. I never go for a 1RM because what's the point? You can try to bench 600 pounds, but if you blow a pec, it's a wrap. You're in the hospital and then in rehab for the next year.
So, I always go to the point where I feel like I could do just a little bit more. If I can do three reps instead of trying to one rep, it's all good to me.
What do you eat normally to maintain your muscle mass? Do you have to pound protein shakes all day?
I'm a big proponent of intermittent fasting. It changed my whole physical body. Randy Couture told me about it first when we were on the set of the first "Expendables." I was eating and eating and eating and was going through workouts with my stomach feeling terrible. I was pounding protein shakes and I didn't feel good. I was crashing in the middle of the day. I was like, what do I have to do? And I found that I was eating too much.
I'd never recommend intermittent fasting to a 17 or 18-year-old kid who is actually growing, but I think that for me, it's perfect. I'm 45 years old; I'm pretty much peaked out in regard to how much I'm going to grow. Now it's about just being the best me I can be. It doesn't take as much food.
I use an 8-hour window and eat 3-4 meals in that time. I don't eat until 2 p.m. pretty much every day. At 2 p.m., I eat a salad, an omelet, bacon, steak—lots of protein and veggies. My biggest meal is at 10 p.m. I don't have bread until nighttime and then I sleep on it.
I work out on [the bread] early in the morning. It's awesome because the energy from the food from the night before is there and I don't feel weighed down. I don't even have hunger pangs until around 2 p.m.
Does your weight fluctuate much?
At the moment I weigh 235. That's my optimal weight and I pretty much stay right around there. There have been times when I was 245 or 255, but I was a little doughy.
I think every person needs to find an ideal weight. I think we make the mistake of comparing our weight to other people's.
People are becoming too skinny or they're too big because they think they need to weigh the same as the person next to them.
That's absolutely wrong. There are so many other factors that contribute to your weight. You have to find your own ideal. You have to think for yourself.
What's your rest day philosophy?
There are times when I hear my body telling me to rest. Yesterday is a perfect example: I went for a run and then I got on a plane. When I landed, I really wanted to do another run. My mind said: "Stop, rest, relax."
As athletes or bodybuilders, we're taught to have a high tolerance for pain. The problem is that it's hard to listen to the warnings. The key to good health is to heed the warnings.
Do you think you'd ever try an athletic challenge like a marathon, a Spartan race, or an MMA fight?
Well, I do CrossFit on the weekends and I love it. But, I think marathons and MMA fighting are like trying to find a 1RM. The last thing I want to do is try an MMA fight and get injured. I have to think about what I'm going to be doing in the future.
If I have to do a movie, then I probably wouldn't train for a marathon at the same time. My thing is to always, always think about what I'm doing and be conscious of what could happen in the future.