If you happen to check-in to a hotel where Matt Barr is staying, while shooting his latest project, there’s a good chance that you will see him sprinting around the parking lot. The “Blood & Treasure” and “Walker: Independence” star will find a way to stay active even with the busiest of schedules so, M&F caught up with the consistently ripped model and leading man to find out why the 38-years-young actor is still in demand for those exposing shirtless scenes, how he approaches workouts, and whether or not he’d be up for the ultimate challenge of getting in to superhero shape.
You grew up in Dallas, with a football coach for a dad (Mike Barr coached at Purdue, and Southern Methodist Universities). So, you must have been introduced to training from an early age?
Big time. Of course, having a football coach for a dad. We were running drills by the time we were probably 2½ years old. As a kid, I remember my dad throwing a ball and asking me to catch with my left and then my right hand. They were little athletic drills!
As a committed artist, you have changed your body shape to suit different roles during your career. How have you strategized for adding muscle, for example?
The hardest thing, for me, is to put on bulk and a little mass. I’ve done that for a couple of things but never to the point of, like, Thor. It think it’s about consumption. It’s amazing how many calories you have to consume, and even when you think you’re eating a lot, you have to eat twice as much. You also need to lift heavy, and what’s hard for me, as someone who is a big runner, you have to pull back on all the cardio. At least, I do and that’s hard because I miss that runners’ high. If don’t do those things, I’ll naturally stay pretty lean.
You have a very busy schedule with filming and so finding a regular routine with your nutrition could be difficult. How do you approach that?
The only consistency I have, is that I’ll eat the same thing for breakfast. It’s going to be one of two things. It’s either oatmeal with some berries or banana with a little bit of honey, or I’ll just eat plain scrambled eggs maybe with some avocado. Other than that, I really do eat what I want, but I’m exercising six days per week, whether that’s cardio or lifting. But, breakfast to me has always been really important. For me, it’s the foundation of where the whole day goes.
Throughout your career, you’ve been asked to take your shirt off on camera. When you know that you have a scene like that coming up, what goes through your mind? Does it force you to step your fitness regime up a gear, knowing that those scenes will live forever?
I do [think about things like that]. Maybe obsessively at times. I think it does live forever, and I’ve never seen it as a “vain” thing so much as it has to fit the character, you know? It has just been something that I’ve really enjoyed: that challenge of staying in shape. We live in an elevated, cinematic world.
Who are some of the actors that you enjoyed watching as a kid?
It was always Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford in “Indiana Jones,” Kevin Costner in “Dancing with Wolves” and, of course, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. These are examples of guys that stayed in incredible shape. They could play a diverse array of roles and you really bought them not only as action heroes but also as vulnerable human beings. https://www.instagram.com/p/B2uiPP7FI1r/ (embed)
Do you have a personal trainer?
You know, I train alone. I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a coach. I’ve had specific stunt training but that’s different. In terms of just training, I kinda like it solo. Maybe in the future, if I need to put on 30 pounds of muscle, I might need some help there but I haven’t had that challenge yet. I look forward to it. But training for me is physical and mental. It’s my meditation and I’ve always enjoyed it being a solo experience.
What does a week of training look like for Matt Barr?
I really do like full-body workouts. I alternate those full-body days with cardio days where I sprint 40-yard dashes or do long-distance running. Depending on what role I am doing, maybe I lift a little heavier, or it might be lighter just to maintain. I like swimming: It’s maybe one of the most secret weapons because it’s a full-body workout. It’s amazing what it does for my core. I do a lot of situps, and decline situps. Also, something that I like to do is hang from a pullup bar. I’ll hold a ten-pound dumbbell and I’ll do crunches, center and side-to-side, while hanging. I do the same movements with a medicine ball.
Have you ever done any intense stunts that have really challenged you?
I remember doing some work on wires, and you need this real core strength to be able to move. I think I did some wirework in “Blood & Treasure” where I crashed through a roof and I’m shooting a gun. It required me to land, role, and then get up and shoot… all while wearing a tuxedo! Fighting, while doing wirework was something that I needed to train for. And, randomly, I also remember doing a dance scene and trying to pick up my dance partner. That was maybe the hardest things I’ve ever done! [laughs] Patrick Swayze made it look easy. It’s all about the core. If you have a strong core, you can kind of build from there and do almost anything. Even in your dialogue scenes; composure and breathing comes from the core. It’s all about physical self-awareness.
“Walker: Independence” has been a critical hit for the CW Network. As “Hoyt Rawlins” you find yourself in a bareknuckle boxing match. You look awesome in that scene. Did you get pumped up before the camera’s rolled?
I did. I certainly had my Bowflex and I was doing a few curls before we shot that day. But, I think, if you stay in shape it helps. We did a whole cowboy camp, all the horse stuff, and again there’s a lot of core work there too.
If the right offer came to play a superhero type character that needed to add that 30 pounds of muscle, would you take up the challenge?
I’m actually craving that! I really would love the challenge, and I would be interested to see how my body reacts to it, you know? Whether it’s muscle, or even just gaining weight for something, and then maybe the challenge of dropping it before you finish the project. I’d be up for it, but I’ve always liked pushing the limits of what we humans are capable of. Could I really do what Chris Hemsworth did for “Thor”? Could I really put on a massive amount of weight and look like a linebacker? I look forward to it!