‘The Hunger Games’: How Did the Cast Get in Shape for the Movies?

If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games movies, you’ll recall that the tributes who were reaped for the annual killing game participated in three consecutive days of training prior to entering the arena. This training allowed them to showcase their physical skills and pick up new techniques for survival. But while the characters only had a few days’ time to physically prepare for the games, the cast was given a lot more time to build up their physical endurance.

The Hunger Games main cast" Liam Hemsworth, Jennifer Lawrence, and Josh Hutcherson pose on the red carpet for the final film
Liam Hemsworth, Jennifer Lawrence, and Josh Hutcherson | Mark Davis/Getty Images

But just how does an actor prepare for the level of physical fitness that a movie like The Hunger Games requires? Every member of the cast who was an essential part of the Games had to undergo some form of physical training while on set. However, Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson (who played Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark) had the most intense training for the first film because they were the main characters.

Josh Hutcherson put on 15 pounds of muscle for ‘The Hunger Games’ with a strict diet and exercise routine

Fortunately for Lawrence and Hutcherson, they’d already been in movies that required them to keep in good shape prior to being cast in The Hunger Games. But being a part of the franchise did require them to kick the fitness routines up into high gear. Hutcherson had done stunt work in the past, but he did have to pack on quite a bit of muscle to play Peeta. In fact, he even trained with an ex-Navy SEAL and lifted lots of weights in order to transform his body.

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“What was different was that I had to put on weight for the role. I’d never really done that for a movie,” Hutcherson shared with Collider back in 2012 when asked how he prepared himself physically for The Hunger Games. “I put on about 15 pounds of muscle, so that was a lot of eating chicken, and a very high protein, low carb diet.”

Jennifer Lawrence did lots of crosstraining to prepare for Katniss

Lawrence, of course, had even more action scenes than her fellow castmate and thus her training for the role required a diligent amount of cross-training. In a separate interview with Collider, The Hunger Games star shared that her training consisted of “running, free running, which is for agility, archery, climbing, combat and yoga.”

Of course, all of that training likely sounds overwhelming to the average person. However, Lawrence shared that since she kept in good shape, the intense training wasn’t a major shock to her system. “As far as the exercise goes, I like to stay in relatively good shape anyway, running and doing something,” The Hunger Games actor revealed. “It is also so that when training comes along, I don’t have to start from square one. There is relative maintenance, which is just being able to withstand cardio, mostly.”

‘The Hunger Games’ cast were very committed to their roles

Clealry, starring in The Hunger Games required physical commitment as well as the emotional committment that acting requires. The cast may have been put through the wringer physically, but they seemed to think it was well-worth it after seeing the final product.