Either way, the actor is dedicated to working out, which he says keeps his life together in the December cover of Men’s Health.
“When I’m fit, I’m more focused,” Elba, 43, says. “I have greater patience and my temper is more stable, so I’m better in almost all my relationships. I’m more vigilant about the s— I put up with. I see clearer. When I’m out of shape, I’m emotionally lazy.”
Getting and staying fit helps the busy star juggle his lead role in the TV show Luther with filming multiple movies. Not to mention balancing the rising Oscar buzz for his lead role in Beasts of No Nation with his home life, son Winson, 1, with girlfriend Naiyana Garth.
But you won’t see him running a half-marathon anytime soon. Elba says he prefers more of a strength-based workout, like kickboxing.
“Some guys want to be toned or want to jog for miles, but my ultimate fitness goal is to be fight-ready,” the British actor says. “If I step into the ring, could I go toe-to-toe for five rounds? That’s what I strive for. That’s what I consider fit. I want to know that if I’m being wrestled to the ground, I’ve got the strength to fight a man off.”
“Kickboxing is rugged—it’s all core strength. But when you’re fight-ready, you feel like you can last forever.”
Elba also doesn’t just do a regular old burpee—he takes the movement and turns it up to 11.
“I do these burpees where you have to stand up, and then you kind of crawl on your hands to the burpee position, burpee, and then crawl back up and do a star jump,” he explains. “I do about 15 of those and then I’m done.”
And even with his already hectic schedule, Elba says he likes to be spontaneous, and hopes that’s part of what makes him a “man’s man.”
“These days everything is a bit watered down, a bit vanilla,” he explains. “If I want to do something, I’ll do it—breakdancing at the end of a movie trailer, adding a verse on a rap song, racing rally cars. Why not? If that’s a man’s man, cool.”
-Julie Mazziotta, @julietmazz