Ly had to transform himself into an irresistible hunk for his role in Netflix’s A Tourist’s Guide to Love.
YOU MIGHT HAVE SEEN HIM in CBS’s FBI: Most Wanted, and TNT’s Animal Kingdom, but you probably wouldn’t recognize
Scott Ly as the same guy if you bumped into him today.
He’s changed his look. Dramatically. Ly says he lost just over 50 pounds in four months time to prep for his debut movie role as Rachel Leigh Cook’s love interest and romantic tour guide in the new Netflix film A Tourist’s Guide to Love.
Fitness has always been part of Ly’s life—he’s a gym manager and MMA and Brazilian Ju Jitsu enthusiast—but a devastating life event changed his focus. Just before landing the Netflix role, Ly and his wife suffered a miscarriage carrying the couple’s third daughter. He’d been "slacking off" fitness-wise prior, and the tragedy pulled him into a dark place, he said. However, Ly found some motivation through the pain.
He was reminded to live every day to the fullest, he says. He aimed to be better in all aspects of his life. He was offered the role for this movie right as he was starting to pull himself out of this slump—and so he pushed even harder to accomplish his goals.
"My third daughter gave me the opportunity to have this project," he says. This was his first big-time movie role. He mapped out a game plan to get into the best shape of his life. He envisioned his character’s look, and dialed into the training regimen to make it come to life. By the end of his program, he had cut down from 220 pounds to a shredded 169. Here’s how he did it.
Ly’s typical training day began without any food; a black coffee or sugar free latte is all he needed to rev up his morning session. He typically began with a series of stretches to spark some blood flow to his muscles and loosen up. From there, he hit the weights—hard.
He’s a big fan of using drop sets, a technique that involves performing reps until failure with a challenging weight, then dropping to a lighter weight to continue working for even more reps. The idea is to increasing the total volume of the workout—a common practice amongst bodybuilders that spurs impressive muscle growth, says Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.
These were long, brutal training sessions, going for at least two hours. At the beginning of his training, Ly was focusing on one body part per day. Once filming grew closer, he began combining muscle groups with a higher emphasis on compound movements.
No matter what, though, every single morning lift ended with a 10-minute ab circuit and a little bit of cardio. This typically looked like a quick bout of high intensity interval training—short bits of intense work followed with quick rest interval to keep the heart rate high.
Ly took the occasional rest day, but he never totally shut down. Ly laid off the weights on these days, but continued with cardio, walking on the highest incline possible on a treadmill for 30 minutes.
Such load and volume demand a rigid recovery routine. Ly’s was simple and consistent: an ice bath once a day, almost every day. Right after he’s done with his soak, he feels more energetic and positive, he says. Occasionally, he would also flip the temperature and go do some hot yoga to improve his mobility.
Ly emphasizes the importance of staying on top of a consistent sleep schedule, which helps him feel fresh in the gym from day to day. He admits that his energy can be high, so he tosses and turns some nights. "You can’t play all four quarters non-stop," he says, so he occasionally supplements with some sleep aids to help him relax at the end of the day.
Exercise is only one part of a weight loss plan like Ly’s. He cut his meal plan to the basics to be able to achieve his goals. Most meals consisted of canned tuna, boiled eggs, and spinach, he says. And, of course, lots of grilled chicken.
He ‘rewarded’ himself every day by enjoying a can of tuna in his car after training. This isn’t exactly the decadent chocolate protein smoothie reward lots of guys reach for after a workout, but Ly was dedicated to his plan. "I’m telling you, I was possessed."
He does remember indulging in one cheat meal, though, which came after a long day of filming a shirtless beach day scene for the movie. The subsequent enjoyment didn’t last long, though. "I’m not done with the movie," he says, "so why do I have my foot off the gas?"
Such a restrictive lifestyle was difficult for Ly to maintain at first. So how, exactly, did he harness the discipline and motivation to continue through to the end?
Sticking to his program was mainly a mental game, he says. It’s about reprogramming the way you think to remain disciplined. His top piece of advice? Retrain your brain to overcome thoughts of giving up. Keeping telling yourself, "I’m going to do it today," until you do it every day, he says. Once you do that enough times, your thoughts won’t weigh you down like they did before.
Ly also credits his success to getting help from trainers. Ly is a trainer himself, but he still hired someone to help lead him through the plan.
Ly has gained back a bit of weight since filming wrapped, but says he feels solid and has maintained most of his muscle mass. He’s no longer just munching on cans of tuna, and enjoys a more balanced diet than in the lead-up to the shoot. Still, he says that his fitness routine has remained mostly the same, only swapping out some of the cardio for more weight training.
As of now, Ly is no longer training with any goal in mind. He’s still active, now, to simply enjoy the feeling of working out and prioritizing his health. But, he’s "ready to unleash hell" on whatever project comes around the corner next. His ideal next role? A superhero project. We’re looking at you, Marvel or DC—keep Scott Ly on your shortlist.
You can stream A Tourist’s Guide to Love now on Netflix.
Cori Ritchey, NASM-CPT is an Associate Health & Fitness Editor at Men’s Health and a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. You can find more of her work in HealthCentral, Livestrong, Self, and others.
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