Share on Pinterest
Design by Dana Davenport

I’ll say it right now: I remember very few things about 2017’s “Baywatch” movie. However, Zac Efron’s bulging biceps and washboard abs will forever remain emblazoned on my brain — so thank you, Hollywood.

And another thank-you to Patrick Murphy, the Los Angeles-based certified fitness pro who whipped Efron into Google-worthy shape (that’s how you got here, right?).

Murphy’s known for training A-listers like Cameron Diaz and Efron’s “Baywatch” co-star Alexandra Daddario.

While he was working with some pretty genetically privileged bodies (so the odds were pretty much in his favor), that doesn’t discount the work Murphy put in. His mind-blowingly challenging 12-week regimen shows that Efron definitely worked his ass (and arms and legs — and did we mention those abs?) off.

And again, I saw “Baywatch.” The elite-athlete-level results were memorable!

Fair warning:

This workout routine isn’t for the faint of heart. Frankly, it may not be for anyone who’s not scheduled to star in a summer blockbuster. We can see why, with a fat stat of 5 percent, Efron did this for a movie and not for life.

Was this helpful?

We scoured the internet to put together a realistic home version of the intense regimen. Murphy’s signature “Baywatch” workout varies depending on the source (although the official one is here).

It makes sense that different takes on the workout exist since Murphy has said he constantly tweaked the routine to keep Efron from plateauing.

What you see here is one version of it, with some possible variations on the basic moves ’cause we’re not Hollybodies.

But we stuck to Murphy’s secret sauce: “supersetting,” or eliminating the rest between sets and doing two exercises back to back. And the number of reps per workout for this routine is, unsurprisingly, huge: 720.

12-week training plan

  • Three-day sprints with a rest day in between.
  • Each day is devoted to back/biceps, legs, or shoulders/chest/arms.
  • Abs naturally get worked out with each set because it’s the core of your body.
Was this helpful?

Yep, you read that right — this is why neither Rome nor Efron was built in a day. If you want a little 3-day taste of what it takes to get in “Baywatch” shape, try the plan below.

Start each day with a dynamic warmup to get your blood pumping and your muscles prepped for the serious contractions that are about to start.

Wall press

  1. Stand with your hands on a wall, wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lower your chest toward the wall to perform a push-up motion.

Standing leg swings

  1. Stand next to a wall or another surface you can place your hand on for balance.
  2. With your feet hip-width apart, keep one foot on the floor and swing the opposite leg forward and back.
  3. Repeat on the opposite side.

Hip stretch with torso twist

  1. Stand with feet together. Step left foot back about 3 feet from right foot.
  2. Place right hand on hip. Raise left hand and twist your torso until you feel a slight stretch in left hip.
  3. Return to starting position and switch sides. You can also do this stretch from a kneeling position.

If looking over this ultra-intense plan made you wanna go back to bed with a dozen doughnuts in tow, take heart: You can totally ease into the “Baywatch” regimen without hurting yourself.

Ease in from the beginning

  • Beginner: Perform 2 rounds per exercise.
  • Intermediate to advanced: Perform 3 rounds.
  • Fitness fanatic: Perform 4 rounds.

For each superset:

Do 15–20 reps of first exercise, then go straight to the next one and do 15–20 reps (unless a different number of reps is specified). Rest for 60 seconds, and then repeat the superset twice.

Was this helpful?

The exercises are split into supersets of back-to-back exercises.

Superset 1

Exercise A: Straight-arm pulldown

  1. Attach a straight bar to a cable station at the gym.
  2. Hold it with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  3. Bend slightly at hips and pull the bar to your thighs, keeping arms straight.

Exercise B: Ab rollout

  1. Kneel on the floor and hold an ab wheel with your hands under your shoulders.
  2. Engage core and roll forward as far as you can while still maintaining good form.
  3. Roll back up.

Superset 2

Exercise A: Seated cable row

  1. Attach a straight bar to a cable station at the gym.
  2. Sit on a bench or the floor.
  3. Row the cable to your torso and squeeze shoulder blades together.
  4. Repeat 8–12 times. Do 3 sets.

Exercise B: TRX row

  1. Position yourself under a suspended TRX band. Hang from the handles toward the floor with your core engaged and your body in a straight line.
  2. Pull yourself up to the handles, pulling shoulder blades back as you come up.

Superset 3

Exercise A: Neutral-grip pull-up

  1. Use a pull-up bar that allows you to hang with your palms facing each other.
  2. Pull your body up until your chin is over the bar.

Exercise B: Kneeling lat pulldown

  1. Kneel in front of a lat pulldown machine.
  2. Pull the bar toward your collarbone.

Superset 4

Exercise A: Chin-up

  1. Hang from a bar with hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing you.
  2. Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar.

Exercise B: Dumbbell biceps curl

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, with arms at your sides and palms facing forward.
  2. Curl the weights up toward shoulders without moving upper arms.

Superset 1

Exercise A: Leg press

  1. Using a leg press machine, position feet shoulder-width apart with toes pointed out about 45 degrees.
  2. Lower the platform toward your torso until knees bend to 90 degrees.
  3. Press the platform back up.

Exercise B: TRX jump squat

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding the handles of a TRX strap at your chest.
  2. Squat down, then jump as high as you can. Land softly.

Superset 2

Exercise A: Stability ball hip extension

  1. Lie on your back on the floor and rest heels on top of a stability ball.
  2. Engage core and drive heels into the ball to raise your hips.

Exercise B: Stability ball leg curl

  1. Start in the top position of the hip extension.
  2. Bend knees and curl heels in toward butt to roll the ball toward you.
  3. Roll the ball back out to return to starting position.

Superset 3

Exercise A: Reverse walking lunge

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and step back into a lunge.
  2. Lower until back knee almost touches the floor and front thigh is parallel to the floor.
  3. Keep walking backward by taking big lunge steps.

Exercise B: Mountain climber on sliders (Do 20 reps.)

  1. Place sliders or paper plates on the floor and put your feet on top of them.
  2. Get into a push-up position and slide one knee in toward your chest.
  3. Slide that leg back while sliding the other leg in toward your chest. That’s 1 rep.

Superset 4

Exercise A: Dumbbell Romanian deadlift

  1. Hold two dumbbells in front of your thighs.
  2. Keeping back straight, push hips back and lower your torso until you feel a slight stretch in hamstrings.
  3. Bring hips back to starting position.

Exercise B: Kick butts (Do 20 reps.)

  1. Jump up and quickly kick your butt with both heels.
  2. Land softly.

Superset 5

Exercise A: Unstable one-leg calf raise

  1. Stand on one leg on a BOSU ball or another unstable surface.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in your hand on the same side as your standing leg.
  3. Use other hand to balance by holding on to a wall or another fixed object.
  4. Lower the heel of your standing foot toward the floor until you feel a stretch in calf.
  5. Press the ball of your foot into the platform to raise heel up.
  6. Complete all reps on one side, then switch sides.

Exercise B: TRX one-leg squat hop (Do 20 reps on each side.)

  1. Hold the handles of a TRX strap like you did for the jump squat, but stand on one leg.
  2. Squat on your standing leg, then jump as high as you can and land softly.
  3. Complete all reps on one side, then switch sides.

Superset 1

Exercise A: Dumbbell front raise

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs.
  2. Engage abs and raise the weights to shoulder level while keeping arms straight.

Exercise B: Cross-body cable raise

  1. Attach a handle to the bottom of each of two facing cable stations at the gym.
  2. Cross arms in front of chest and hold the handle of the opposite side cable in each hand.
  3. Lift the handles until your arms are parallel to the floor.

Superset 2

Exercise A: Dumbbell floor press

  1. Lie on the floor, holding a dumbbell in each hand above your chest.
  2. Lower your arms until triceps touch the floor, then press back up.

Exercise B: Push-up

  1. Position hands under you, shoulder-width apart, and straighten out your spine.
  2. Lower until chest is right above the floor, then push up.

Superset 3

Exercise A: Incline dumbbell press

  1. Set a workout bench to a 30-degree angle and lie on it with a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Press the weights over your chest.

Exercise B: Dumbbell overhead press

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level.
  2. Press the weights straight up over your head.

Superset 4

Exercise A: Cable chest press

  1. Use the single-grip handles on a cable station at the gym.
  2. Make sure you have a stable stance, then press the handles away from you at shoulder level.

Exercise B: BOSU plyo push-up

  1. Put a BOSU ball rounded side down on the floor.
  2. Hold on to both sides of the BOSU and get into a push-up position.
  3. Lower until your chest almost touches the back of the BOSU.
  4. Push up with power so the BOSU comes off the floor with you. Land softly.

Superset 5

Exercise A: One-arm press-down

  1. Attach a rope handle to a cable station at the gym and hold on to one end.
  2. Extend elbow and push the handle down and away from your body.
  3. Complete all reps on one side, then switch sides.

Exercise B: One-leg one-arm biceps curl

  1. Hold a dumbbell in one hand and stand on the same-side leg.
  2. Curl the dumbbell, keeping upper arm still.
  3. Complete all reps on one side, then switch sides.

As much as the world could benefit from more Zac Efrons, there is, unfortunately, just one Zac Efron. Not everyone has the time, stamina, resources, or — let’s face it — genetics to get into Efron shape.

Murphy also says he had to keep the actor’s movie training program fresh to maximize results and avoid plateaus, so Efron also hiked, biked, did obstacle courses, and followed Murphy’s tweaks of added supersets, incorporated circuit training, extra cardio, and even more weightlifting.

And when we talk resources, yes, we’re talking about food. Efron stuck to a strict whole-foods diet 90 percent of the time, with only 3 cheat meals per month (but you know how we feel about cheat days).

If following a restrictive diet and workout plan takes the joy out of your life, skip it. Food plan or not, sticking to this workout routine for 12 weeks is a massive achievement.

Efron’s food rules:

The A-list:

  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • lean protein sources
  • complex carbohydrates
  • healthy fats

The D-list:

  • flour
  • sugar
  • juice
Was this helpful?

Will everyone who embarks on Murphy’s fitness plan wind up with an Efron-level body? No. Will dedicating yourself to the “Baywatch” plan prepare you to save lives out at sea? Absolutely, positively not.

But if you’re looking to rev up your routine or just try something new and pretty damn challenging, put on those red swim trunks and get out there.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist, marketing specialist, ghostwriter, and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech.