The actor says having his abs on constant display calls for a lot of upkeep
Credit: Tyler Golden/FOX

When the sizzle reel for Fox’s new show Rosewood debuted this past summer, there was one scene in particular that, well, really sizzled.

The show’s star Morris Chestnut, who plays the smoldering, crime-solving pathologist Dr. Beaumont Rosewood, puts his washboard abs on full display in the promo, dripping sweat as he takes a shirtless jog in the Miami heat. And the Internet responded with gratitude.

“I didn’t really know what the Internet response had been,” Chestnut tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. But when it comes to fans’ obsession with his toned physique, he says that “hopefully it helps them watch the show!”

If Chestnut had it his way, scenes like that wouldn’t happen all the time. “I actually had to talk to the writers because it was like every episode I was taking my shirt off,” says the actor, 46, with a laugh. “I was like, ‘If you do it every episode, it doesn’t have the impact.’ And I want to eat some doughnuts every now and again!”

While Chestnut’s own chest is pretty flawless, his character’s bares the scar of major heart surgery – a deeper reason to why it stays on display.

But staying fit isn’t the only challenging part about the new gig. “I’ve done television before,” says Chestnut, “but it’s always been as part of an ensemble. This is extremely demanding. Throughout the week I’m really focused on each scene and then on the weekends I’m trying to get ready for the week. There is no real ‘day off,’ but I’m enjoying it all.”

If he did take a day off, Chestnut knows just how he’d spend it: “When I do get time, I’m either with family or devoted to watching my sports teams,” he says. “I used to wake up Sunday morning, go to the gym and then from 10 a.m. to 9 at night, I’d sit in front of the TV watching football. My wife [Pam Byse] would go shopping, and she could bring an elephant into the house and I wouldn’t even notice.”

For more on Morris Chestnut’s new leading role, pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday

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premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.