Justin Bieber’s workout routine is all about his upper body.
“We all want impressive chest and arms,” Bieber told Newsday, during his recent tour in Asia.
And for the pop star’s trainer, it’s all about adding more size to Bieber’s 5-foot-9, 137-pound frame.
“Justin was about 120 pounds when we started,” said personal trainer Patrick Nilsson. “I want to put at least 20 more pounds on him.”
Nilsson, who’s been training Bieber full time since September 2012, built a workout center inside the 19-year-old’s Southern California home, where the two focus on sculpting Bieber’s body.
“I was more excited than anything,” Nilsson told Newsday in an exclusive coast-to-coast interview. “This is what every personal trainer wants -- to train someone like Justin.”
Nilsson, 29, who was born in Sweden and holds a bachelors degree in kinesiology, began training Bieber after the two were connected through the pop star’s manager. Bieber was Nilsson’s first celebrity client.
Whether on tour or at Bieber’s home gym, the duo train together five times a week, approximately 40 minutes per session.
During their training sessions, they target mainly what Nilsson describes as “meat and potato exercises,” involving compound movements which train more than one muscle group at a time. Bieber generally performs 12 total sets per body part, four sets per exercise, with 8-12 (sometimes 12-15) repetitions per set.
Shaping the Canadian-born pop star’s upper-body is a priority. “His chest and shoulders -- we need to build those up,” Nilsson explained. “It’s all about looks.”
Bieber’s favorite body parts to work out (and his strongest): chest and biceps -- a weekly combo session he refers to as “fun day.” During these workouts, Bieber performs barbell flat and incline bench presses, burnout flys and push-ups, jelled with the supplementation of biceps exercises in-between each chest routine.
“It's a fun day,” Bieber said. “Who doesn't like working out chest and biceps?”
For his back, Nilsson puts Bieber through a rigorous combination of cable or dumbbell rows, dumbbell shrugs and multi-grip pull-ups, while adding in triceps extension, weighted dips, skull crushers and a close-grip bench press for Bieber’s triceps.
To help mold his shoulders, Bieber executes a barbell or dumbbell military press, dumbbell lateral raises and reverse flys.
Nilsson said when he first started working with Bieber that his legs were in much better shape than his upper body because of his intense on-stage routines. When they do work on Bieber’s leg training, he enjoy plyometrics, a leg press and lunges. Nilsson would like to eventually incorporate deadlifts into Bieber’s routine.
Bieber’s abdominal core training is a necessity for a chiseled six-pack look. His favorite exercise is Roman Chair leg raises, which is combined with front/side crunches and twisting leg raises.
“I want him to look like Marky Mark,” Nilsson said, jokingly. “I feel like this is what he needs to get where he wants to be. He’s definitely leaner and a lot stronger.”
During his on-stage performances, Bieber receives an immense cardiovascular workout, so Nilsson makes sure to limit Bieber’s auxiliary aerobic work, in order to avoid unnecessary fatigue and caloric expenditure.
“We don’t do a lot of cardio work because of his routines,” Nilsson continued, “and I want to put some size on him. His cardiac output is so high already.”
With an intense lifestyle such as Bieber’s, sometimes allocating time for appropriate nutrition can be a task within itself, but with the help of Nilsson, he finds time for familiar foods.
“It’s more about making sure he eats,” Nilsson said of Bieber. “He’s the only client I allow to have McDonald’s whenever he wants. But he also likes chicken breast, whitefish, salmon, turkey, steak, rice, mashed and regular potatoes and weird greens like cauliflower.”
Most importantly, strength and conditioning programs help to mold self-discipline, motivation and a desire for excellence; Bieber has already accomplished just that.
When asked about his goals, Bieber said laughingly, “Reaching perfection. [But] I've reached perfection, so it's all about maintaining now.”
Nilsson has big plans in-store for Bieber’s fitness future.
“[Justin’s] so motivated -- it’s the first thing he asks for in the morning,” Nilsson explained. “The total goal is to look like he’s well built, but I want him to feel really good too. Once that’s done, I would love for him to work on his athletics and be able to touch a basketball hoop -- fun stuff like that.”
Brian T. Dessart is a nationally accredited Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, a New York State Critical Care Emergency Medical Technician and an FDNY firefighter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @briandessart.