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Mark Wahlberg: Steroids or Natural?

Hollywood actor Mark Wahlberg has always been fit. However, he surprised the fitness world when he had built the physique of a professional bodybuilder for the 2013 movie Pain and Gain. This last transformation has fans wondering if Mark has used steroids.

Mark Wahlberg steroids

Mark Wahlberg is a 48-year-old Hollywood actor, movie producer, entrepreneur, former fashion model, mc and songwriter.

Mark started his career as a male model modelling Calvin Klein underwear.

Then, he went to become one of the best-paid actors, often playing roles requiring a shredded physique. Such as the role of adult movie star Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights.

Pain & Gain

Since you’re reading this article, it’s likely you have seen Mark Wahlberg play the role of Daniel Lugo, a professional bodybuilder in the movie Pain & Gain.

In this flick, Mark (5″7) weighed 210 lbs and sat around 13% body-fat.

7-Week Transformation

Mark Wahlberg transformation
Mark packed on quite some size for Pain & Gain

Just seven-weeks before Pain & Gain Mark Wahlberg reportedly weighed 165 pounds, meaning that he gained 45 pounds in just under two months.

When we look at Mark before Pain & Gain and on the movie’s set we think the following dissection of his gains is pretty accurate:

  • 30 pounds of muscle gain
  • 10 pounds of water retention
  • 5 pounds of fat

So, the actor gained approximately thirty pounds of muscle within seven weeks. Then there’s also the fact that Mark probably didn’t lift before Pain & Gain. During that time he was filming Broken City, a movie in which he appeared to be smaller than back when he was a male model.

Therefore, it’s a possibility that Wahlberg’s ‘muscle memory’ was activated, which means it was easier for him to grow his muscle mass. Muscle memory is something we’ve also seen in Christian Bale when he prepared for his Batman role.

His Bodybuilder Diet

To get in shape for Pain & Gain, Mark ate twelve meals per day. As you might be aware, this is also a crucial part of his Pain & Gain co-star The Rock’s daily routine. Eating to get big is a strategy that has always worked.

A high daily calorie intake also results in fat gain and retention of water, both attributing to his size.

Even though these factors explain why he was able to gain a lot of muscle mass in just 7-weeks, 30 pounds of lean muscle gain in this timeframe is still extremely difficult for a natural bodybuilder.

Genetically Blessed

Young mark Wahlberg
Mark then vs now

It’s evident that from early on Mark Wahlberg his muscles responded incredibly well to weightlifting. When he shot his famous Calvin Klein ad, he already had a great physique, even though he just started working out.

Because of his different roles the actor has bulked up and cut down quite a few times. These cycles helped him develop a muscular physique throughout the years.

Even though Mark increased in size compared to his Calvin Klein times, he hasn’t experienced the type of gains steroid users experience. If he had used bulking steroids such as Dianabol, Testosterone or Trenorol, he would be a lot bigger than he currently is.

Mark Wahlberg got massive, but his physique looks far from artificial. These gains can be made by most bodybuilders that eat to get big and workout frequently.

No Side Effects

Mark doesn’t show many of the typical side effects of steroids use. The only side effect he shows is that he’s bloated.

If you look at the actor in the movies ‘Pain & Gain’ and ‘Daddy’s Home’ you’ll notice that he’s very bloated, even though he doesn’t have a lot of body fat.

Why is this? A lot of eating can cause bloating, and as previously mentioned Wahlberg ate twelve meals a day preparing for Pain & Gain. He ate so much to the point that he even set the alarm at night for a meal. He described his diet as awful and noted that his meals no longer had any taste.

Typically bodybuilders that bulk 5k calories plus a day don’t pack on that much fat. However, they bloat like crazy the next day. For those who wonder why this is; when you start eating a lot more, the body starts retaining a lot of water.


Let’s say Mark Wahlberg had packed on 50lbs of lean muscle mass and grew massively since his Calvin Klein days then it would be very likely that he had used steroids.

But his muscle gains throughout the years have been very natural and far from suspicious. He did gain quite some weight for Pain and Gain in just 7-weeks. However, as you’ve read a lot of this additional weight was fat and water.

His physique has varied quite a lot throughout the years, but that’s because he’s an actor. Actors sometimes play roles in which they’re not supposed to be muscular. For these roles, he stopped lifting resulting in the loss of some muscle mass.

To conclude, anybody that’s interested in making gains similar to those of Mark Wahlberg should start eating to get big and workout hard.

About James Smith

James Smith is a personal trainer for professional bodybuilders. He uses his experience, knowledge, and understanding of all the intricacies regarding bodybuilding and anabolic steroids, to deliver detailed reviews for every new legal steroid on the market. As an author, he may receive some small compensation for some of them. However, we guarantee the neutrality regarding the evaluating of each of the products and the factuality of the information.