Men’s Health Magazine (2008)

Mike Vogel, star of J.J Abrams’ Cloverfield, on his whole-life, whole-body fit plan

Mike Vogel is having a hard time sitting down. “I’ve never bicycled much before”, he says, stealing a second chair pad and slipping it under his butt with a wince. “I did 40 miles last weekend, so I’m a little saddle sore”.

He took on the charity ride-a benifit for soldiers wounded in Iraq-in memory of his cousin’s husband, who was killed there in May. “One guy who rode was a double amputee below the knee. Another guy had been burned over 90 percent of his body. They both rode 25 miles, so I couldn’t just wimp out and not do the whole thing”.

Even though he’s not a seasoned cyclist, Vogel, 28, says bicycling falls dead center in his preferred excerice plan: “I do things that are very uncharacteristic of a normal workout routine”, he says, “I hate cardio, absolutely hate it. I grew up as a wrestler, so it was constant cardio, cardio, cardio. The thought of getting on a treadmill…”

He shakes his head. Ever since the native of Warmister, Pennsylvania, graduated from high school, his workout philiosophy has boiled down to one word: Distraction.

To understand the crucial value of this distraction, take a look at Vogel’s life. He’s been married for 5 years, owns a home, and welcomed a new daughter into his family a year ago. He’s also one of the hottest actors in the business playing one of J.J Abrams’ main guns in Cloverfield, which hits theaters January 18 (The Internet chatter about it has been intense, though, as would befit a feature by the guy behind Lost).

The bottom line: Like most of us, Vogel tries to stuff 26 hours of activity into 24, So his workout needs to distract and entice enough that he’ll never blow it off.

His plan:


That’s how Vogel solved his cardio-hatred issues. His passion? Baseball. “I’m an addict”, he says. He plays in tournaments whenever he can. But the sport didn’t become a fat burner until a trainer friend turned baseball drills into hard-core workouts.Vogel does his routine once or twice a week.

“We start out with Oriole drills”, he says. “First we do an all-out sprint down the first base line, jog from first to home, sprint from home to first to second, the jog home. Then we sprint from home around to third and jog home. Finally, we sprint all the way around. We rest 30 seconds, and then do it all again”.

After that, Vogel takes grounders at “breakneck” speed, scooping up five to 10 at every position, moving around the infield as fast as he can. Then he picks a position in the infield while his friend stands 15 feet away and rapid-fires grounders to Vogel, which he then hurls at the backstop. “It’s one after another, as fast as we can”, says Vogel. “After a minute, you literally can’t breathe”.

Finally, he turns to an old football staple, Ladders (run to one point, run back, run to a farther point, run back, and so on), but he adds a baseball twist. “At each point, I grab a ball and throw it at a target”.


Life evolves, and so must your workout plan. “My wife and I had a little girl last February, so going to the gym became impossible”, Vogel says. “We bought a home gym. I roll out of bed, walk into the garage, work out, and go about my day. I’ll bring my daughter out there in her ExerSaucer. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to a gym”.


Aging is an issue for everyone, even aging from 18 to 23 to 28. Vogel found out the hard way that the “If a little is healthy, more must be better” mentality of adolescence just doesn’t work in adulthood. “When I graduated from high school, I weighed 125 pounds because of wrestling. Suddenly I realized I could eat whatever I wanted-plus, creatine was new at the time”, he says. “I went from 125 to 175 pounds, working out like crazy. I was yoked. But I wasn’t drinking enough fluids and ended up with a kidney stone-and 3 weeks of pure hell”.

He and I both wince at the thought. “The experience brought me back to a realistic regimen. Now I do a pretty standard 4-day lifting cyle: Chest and triceps on day 1, back and biceps on day 2, shoulders and traps on day 3, and then legs on the fourth day. I’ll do 4 sets of everything, but I’ll start out the first 2 sets doing higher reps, 10 to 12. The last 2 sets I’ll go higher weight, lower rep. Sometimes I’ll take a lot of weight off and do a fifth set until I burn out”.


Another distraction: Vogel works off stress on home-improvement projects. But he’s not just dabbling. “Yesterday, I chopped down three trees and split the wood as fast as I possibly could”, he says. “It was a release for me. I prefer stuff like that where I can zone out”. He also recently reshingled his entire roof by himself. “Whenever I had an overwhelming day, I’d ho up on the roof and shoot a bunch of shinges in”, he laughs. “Yes, that’s how I blow off steam-by creating more work for myself”.

Text: Mike Zimmerman
Photographer: Steven Lippman