So you've seen the transformation of Christian Bale from The Machinist to Batman Begins…and you're intrigued by the amount of muscle Christian's gained in such a short space of time, right?
Well, you're not the only one because his transformation was nothing short of incredible.
Christian Bale's Transformation Took 5 Months…
(if you haven't seen the Machinist or Batman Begins, give them a watch because they're awesome films).
Bale literally went from being severely anorexic to looking like a bodybuilder in just 5 months.
The only other 2 times I looked at a transformation in awe was when Charmander evolved into a Charizard…and when Goku transformed into Super Saiyan God form.
Christian Bale gained over 30kg, with most of it being in the form of muscle.
Consequently, people are jumping to the conclusion that he must've been taking steroids.
So, did Christian bat-juice for his role as Bruce Wayne?
The real question that needs to be asked is:
Is it possible to gain approx 20kg of muscle naturally in the space of 5 months?
No fricking way (unless you're a genetic freak/newbie).
HOWEVER, let's rephrase that question slightly…
Is it possible to REGAIN 20kg of muscle naturally in the space of 5 months?
Yes, this is possible due to muscle memory.
He Already Had the Mass…
Christian Bale wasn't always skinny/malnourished as seen in The Machinist.
In American Psycho he was in very good shape, looking very lean and muscular.
…what a film.
“I have to return some videotapes”.
If we compare his body from American Psycho to Batman Begins, he looks to have a little more body fat and a little more muscle mass as the bat.
We can see that in American Psycho he already had a large amount of the muscle he displayed 5 years later in Batman Begins.
This tells us that muscle memory could've been the cause for Christian gaining an exceptional amount of muscle so quickly after The Machinist.
But is Muscle Memory Really That Powerful?
There are two different types of muscle memory:
- When you stop going to the gym and your muscles shrink because you're no longer lifting weights
- When you lose muscle via your diet i.e. starvation/too big of a calorie deficit.
To regain muscle from scenario 1, you have to go back to the gym and lift weights again. Then over several weeks your muscles will restore to their previous size.
In terms of scenario 2, you need to overeat to regain the muscle you lost.
When you do overeat, most of the weight gain will be pure muscle, as opposed to being mostly fat and a little muscle.
I know this because I lost a tonne of muscle once, from doing excessive amounts of HIIT on an empty stomach in the morning.
However, after I lost my muscle I began grossly overeating in a bid to get it back. I was consuming approx 6,000 calories a day.
…Lets just say during that part of my life I was eating a lot of McDonalds (CT Fletcher style).
What happened as a result of this overeating can only be described as magical.
Almost ALL of the weight I gained was pure muscle. I became very bloated and retained a lot of water due to a huge influx of calories, but I only gained a small amount of fat.
This was my muscle memory kicking in.
Note: If I regained all of my muscle back, but carried on overeating after that point; most of the weight gain would then be fat.
My 11 Week Transformation
I didn't lose as much muscle as Bale, so my transformation obviously wasn't as impressive. But if I'd lost even more muscle, I believe I would've experienced a similar transformation.
…although I'd have to do even more eating!
Some people on my fitness page started making steroid comments, but people that are closest to me know I am 100% natural and would never take steroids.
Those people didn't realise that 90% of the muscle I gained wasn't NEW muscle – I had it before.
However, if somebody was at their normal size and then made these gains to build NEW muscle, it's obvious steroids are indeed the culprit.
And once this muscle memory successfully restored Christian to his former size, the difference between his body in American Psycho compared to Batman Begins is only more eating (bulking), hence the moderately bigger muscle size and higher body fat %.
The image below supports my theory, with Christian only gaining a few kg in weight, compared to when he starred in Reign of Fire – 3 years previous.
Can you believe that Christian Bale actually gained too much weight for the Batman Begins movie and was told to cut down before he appeared on screen:
“After being cast [as Batman], he was told to become as “big as you could be” by Christopher Nolan. Bale underwent a 6 month dietary and exercise regimen and ending up weighing about 220 pounds (about 40 pounds above his normal weight). It was decided that Bale had become too large (friends of his on the film's crew dubbed him “Fatman”) and he quickly shed about 20 pounds to have leaner, more muscular frame. Bale described the experience as an unbearable physical ordeal.” IMDB
Bale said he gorged on junk foods including pizza and ice cream so much, he had to visit his doctor several times…because he was making himself ill.
“But, Christian Bale still could've used steroids to develop the muscle mass he had in American Psycho…”
Now I'm going to discuss whether it's likely that Christian used steroids to get in great shape for American Psycho.
Firstly, it's important to note that Patrick Bateman doesn't have a huge amount of muscle mass.
He's very lean/ripped and has good size, but nothing too big to say he looks juicy.
So his physique is definitely attainable for a natty.
Christian also doesn't have any visual side effects that're associated with steroid-users, such as:
- thin/receding hair
- red-looking skin (sign of higher body temperature).
- Excessive vascularity
Why it's likely Christian was natty for American Psycho…
If somebody hasn't got a very determined personality, a body like Patrick Bateman's in American Psycho is almost impossible to attain naturally.
Thus a person's attitude can give us huge insight as to whether they're likely to be on roids or not.
For example, the pretty boy that strolls into the gym now and then with Converses on and only ever does bicep curls…
If he has awesome arms, it's very likely he's on something.
This is the sort of guy you can just look at and almost certainly say is juicing.
However, someone who is very committed/knowledgeable is less likely to be taking something…especially if they aren't huge. A prime example of this being Rob Riches.
a) If someone's got a good physique and they have a dedicated personality, it's most likely they're natty.
…I'm talking good physique, not Mr Olympia level.
b) If someone's got a good physique and they're only lifting weights on a Friday night to get a pump to impress girls, the chances are they're on steroids.
…Unless they're got awesome genetics aka Jeff Seid.
Bale is undoubtedly in the A category, being one of the most dedicated actors of his generation.
He's had to gain and lose a tonne of weight in preparation for several movies. To successfully transform your body like this, you need to have:
Christian will have elite personal trainers/nutritionists at his disposal, providing all the knowledge he needs.
And you don't have to personally know the guy to understand that he has a fierce work ethic, which is crucial when bulking/cutting.
Her's a video showing several of his mind-blowing transformations:
When it comes to perfecting his craft, Christian is as serious as they come. This was particularly evident when playing the role of John Connor in the Terminator Salvation film…when an extra kept walking on set during filming.
If you want to hear Christian Bale literally turn into the Hulk, listen to the recording below:
Bale would admit this was a distasteful moment, but it also showed that he cared enormously about his job, trying to be the absolute best he could be.
With transforming his body being a big part of his job, it's easy for me to believe that he's 100% natural and is only capable of these feats because of his commitment and the team he has around around him i.e. personal trainers and nutritionists.
Or, was this roid rage?!
It's fair to assume that Christian Bale is natural, with muscle memory explaining his rapid transformation.
From American Psycho to Batman begins he hasn't gained a huge amount of muscle, and thus his gains are very possible without the help of anabolic steroids.
…However in the comics, Bruce Wayne did take a super-steroid referred to as ‘venom' which he later became addicted to.