Sterling K. Brown is in the midst of a career run that would make almost any actor envious, with TV show This Is Us and Oscar buzz for the highly-anticipated indie drama Waves (not to mention the cover of Men’s Health). But the muscular physical presence he brings to the screen isn’t the result of a newly started workout regimen, like so many other actors who only start to train up for roles. Brown, now 43, was so dedicated to the weight room in grad school that his NYU professors felt the need to tell the former football standout to cool it with the heavy training.
“My teachers told me to stop lifting weights,” Brown tells MH. “I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ And they were like, ‘It’s gonna be hard for things to pass through you with all this musculature. So for emotion, for feelings to flow through, you have to be a vessel, a sieve, rather than something that is heavily armored.’ ”
Brown listened and shifted his fitness regimen to focus more on cardio and yoga. Now, the roles for which he’s known best are centered around a strong vulnerability, proving that he’s able to serve as that type of vessel his teachers saw back in school. But he never totally dropped his commitment fitness, as evidenced by the six-pack abs he maintains even at age 43.
Keeping in shape isn’t just something that Brown does for the good of his career—at least not directly. The actor has a much more specific goal than many when it comes to his health: He wants to live to 100 years old. Making fitness a focus is one of the ways he’s going to achieve that goal, by combining smart daily workouts (like this bodyweight routine) and plenty of basketball (he thinks sports help to provide “the tenets for living a physically fit life”) with a healthy diet and meditation.
“It’s easier to maintain a level of fitness than it is to lose it and try to get it back,”he says. “You want to do enough that you feel like you’ve done something, but not so much that you don’t wanna do it again tomorrow. So it’s not about trying to kill yourself. It’s about trying to give yourself the inspiration to continue.”
That drive comes naturally to Brown, who looks to be only just hitting his stride. He’s continued to put in the work for success, in the gym and outside of it, and he’s not even close to taking his foot off the gas pedal.
“I have friends that I will enlist to work out with me, and they’ll be like, ‘Yo, Brown, you need to calm down. You know you’re 43 now,'” he says. “‘And I’m like, Yeah, age ain’t nothin’ but a number.’”
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