Jean-Claude Van Damme
Jean-Claude Van Damme is the stage name of Belgian actor Jean Claude Van Varenberg. He began practicing martial arts at age 10, started competing at 15, and earned a black belt in karate when he was 18. He also studied ballet for 5 years. Van Damme started to lift weights as a teen and won a Mr. Belgium bodybuilding title. ‘The Muscles from Brussels’ then moved to the US in the hope of finding work as an actor. He struck up a friendship with Chuck Norris and landed a role as stunt man in Missing in Action. Van Damme’s breakout role came in 1988 with Bloodsport. More action films followed, including Universal Soldier, Time Cop, and The Expendables 2.He has millions of followers on social media. Van Damme is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs about 195 lbs.
Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Diet
Van Damme’s diet has changed quite a bit over the years. In his youth, he consumed a lot of meat, but these days, it’s all about the veggies and fruit. He still eats some meat and fish, but very sparingly and he loads up on a wide variety of foods for a maximum cross-section of nutrients. He is a fan of berries for breakfast like our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have eaten. To keep the fat-burners running, he eats every couple of hours. Van Damme also believes it’s important everyone get sufficient omega-3s.
- Medium Fat 30% 30%
- Medium Protein 30% 30%
- Medium-High Carb 60% 60%
Follow Your Gut
Van Damme says all disease starts in the gut, which is why it is so important to listen to your body and pay attention to the signals it is sending you.
Small, Frequent Meals
Van Damme eats small portions of food 6-8 times a day. He says infrequent meals cause the body to hang on to fat. He also says that if you’re going to switch to more frequent meals, to make the switch gradually.
Variety Is the Spice
Van Damme says variety in food choices not only keeps things interesting, but provides proper nutrition and is the key to longevity.
While he used to eat a lot of meat in his youth, Van Damme only has meat about once a month these days.
Van Damme says when you eat intuitively, you can have things like fries, chocolate and anything else you enjoy. The secret is to eat in moderation. His personal favorite? An oatmeal cookie with coffee.
What to Eat
What to Avoid
Fruit & Vegetables Skins
Egg Whites (in moderation)
Van Damme on Nutrition
‘I came to a point where I understand nutrition, the pluses and minuses of it.’
Van Damme on How to Eat
‘I think you should eat what makes you feel good — not like cream cheese and cake and chocolate all the time — but your body knows.’
Van Damme on His Diet
‘I’m not much of a meat-eater or fish-eater. I like a lot of vegetables and pasta and salads and hummus.’
Van Damme on Vegetables
It’s important to eat your vegetables, because all disease starts from the gut.’
Van Damme on the Importance of Peeling Vegetables
‘The food industry tries to fit us all into one model…They say egg whites are good for you. Egg white is the worst. If you eat an egg, eat the yellow — two or three yellow, and one white.’
Van Damme on His Favorite Treat
‘I do love my cookie and my coffee.’
Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Fitness Routine
Van Damme has been active his entire life, with karate and kickboxing, bodybuilding, ballet, and his action-hero career. In over 5 decades, he has never stopped, which he says has made it easier to maintain his amazing physique.
Van Damme created a 5-part YouTube series called ‘Train with Van Damme’ inspired by his own experience with rehabbing his body. It involves no weights, and can be done at home.
The Man in the Mirror
Van Damme says to use a mirror to determine what needs work, and to look at all sides to get a clearer idea.
Van Damm has criticized the form of UFC fighters, but admits that it has likely contributed to the popularity of his kickboxing films. When discussing martial arts on film, he refers to himself as ‘the old guard.’
Van Damme still works out regularly. He does cardio 3 times a week and weight training on a schedule of 1 day on/1 day off.
Van Damme trains 2 muscle groups per day. He’ll pair up chest and biceps; triceps, back and calves; and legs and abs.
Van Damme credits his early training for keeping his muscles strong and supple.
Van Damme says going the distance matters more than brute strength. He does not count reps, but rather listens to his body. He also decides what he is going to train that day based on how he feels.
A Jean Claude Van Damme Routine
Chest: Do 4 sets of the following
Barbell bench press: 8-10 reps
Incline bench press: 8-10 reps
Dumbbell flys: 8-10 reps
Parallel bar dips: 10 reps
Pullovers: 12 reps
Standing barbell curls: 10 reps x 5 sets
Incline dumbbell curls: 8 reps x 4 sets
Concentration curls: 8 reps x 3 sets
Behind-the-neck press: 15 reps x 5 sets
Lateral raises: 8 reps x 4 sets
Bent-over dumbbell lateral raises: 8 reps x 4 sets
Dumbbell shrugs: 10 reps x 3 sets
Squats: 15 reps x 5 sets
Front squats: 8-10 reps x 4 sets
Hack squats: 10 reps x 3 sets
Leg curls: 10 reps x 4 sets
Standing leg curls: 10 reps x 4 sets
Straight leg deadlifts: 10 reps x 3 sets
Reverse crunches: 25 reps x 4 sets
Seated twists: 10 reps x 10 sets
Vertical bench crunches: 25 reps x 4 sets
Lying triceps extensions: 10 reps x 4 sets
Triceps cable press downs: 8 reps x 3 sets
Single-arm triceps extensions: 10 reps x 3 sets
Barbell wrist curls: 10 reps x 4 sets
Reverse wrist curls: 10 reps x 3 sets
Seated calf raises: 10 reps x 4 sets
Donkey calf raises: 10 reps x 4 sets
Standing calf raises: 10-15 reps x 4 sets
Van Damme on Ballet
‘Ballet is an art but it’s also one of the most difficult sports. If you can survive a ballet workout, you can survive a workout in any other sport.’
Van Damme on His YouTube Fitness Program
‘I rehabilitated myself to have flexibility, dexterity, and to go back into shape.’
Van Damme on Symmetry
‘It’s like a car: the font has to be nice, and so do the back and the sides. It’s the same for a man. Symmetry is important.’
Van Damme on His Long-Lasting Fitness
‘I was always into flexibility training so it made my muscles very elastic.’
Van Damme on His Flexibility
‘I can still do my splits!’
Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Supplements
Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Lifestyle
Mental Health Matters
Van Damme was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1998. He was prescribed sodium valproate and responded very well to it.
Seriously Out of Control
Van Damme blames stress for the cocaine habit he developed in the mid-90s, taking up to 10 grams a day and spending up to $10K a week. He was arrested for driving under the influence in 1999. To deal with it, he took up exercise and quit cold turkey.
Mental Strength = Physical Strength
Van Damme says the most important part of looking good and being strong is having a strong mind.
Unlucky in Love
Van Damme has been married 5 times to 4 different women and has 3 children.
In 2018, Van Damme rescued a 3-month-old chihuahua from eu-thanasia. The dog had travelled to Norway on a fake Bulgarian passport, causing officials to refuse to register her. The European Union has strict rules about pet export in an attempt to cut down on illegal breeding. Van Damme launched a social media cam-paign and saved her.
Van Damme on Bipolar Disorder & Drug Use
‘People with bipolar disorder are…at higher risk for substance abuse.’
Van Damme on Acting
‘I like acting because it helps me focus.’
Van Damm on Strength
‘It starts with the mind. After I crashed and burned, I was forced, in a sense, to go back to the beginning and start all over again.’
Van Damme on His Body
‘God gave me a great body and it’s my duty to take care of my physical temple.’
Van Damme on Stardom
‘What is a movie star? It is an illusion. It was everything I ever wanted to be, but it became a kind of shell, non? It was what made me famous and got me women, but it wasn’t real.’
Van Damme on Aging
‘You know, I looked at my face in the mirror this morning, and I like being old.’