On the subject of weight, Leo carries 160 pounds of chiseled muscle on his 5’11” frame—with a set of abs that would make Greg Plitt smile. He was given a whopping 10-day notice prior to the IRON MAN shoot, enough time to “drop my bodyfat from 8 percent to about 6 percent.”
Leo admits to being a workout junkie, which makes sense, since Todd, a former Marine, was trained by Lee Haney for his one and only bodybuilding contest back in 1981 in South Carolina. Todd and Randye also owned a slew of Max Muscle stores in the San Diego area for years, so fitness and proper nutrition were staples of Leo’s life from early on.
The kid is also sharp as a tack, having homeschooled his way to a high school diploma by age 15, and he can discuss bodybuilding folklore with the best of them. Franco Columbu and Bob Paris are his favorites, he says, but he admits that a couple of fellas named Reeves and Schwarzenegger are in the mix,
Quite a journey, especially for someone who won’t reach his 17th birthday until July 13.
Talk to me, kid.
LT: I hear you’re a training fanatic, although it doesn’t take a Ph.D. from Harvard to figure that out.
LH: Yes, I’m addicted. I started serious weight training when I was 14 years old—my dad has been involved with weights, bodybuilding, etc., for years, and I just fell in love with it. A year into that I cleaned up my eating because, little did I know, that’s the most important thing you can do. Abs are made in the kitchen, we always say.
LT: Hard to fathom, but you began your martial arts career at four years old, correct?
LH: Yes, I started with a style called Shorin-ryu, which is an Okinawan style of martial arts. I did that for about 10 years. I got my black belt in that. [He also won three world championships.] And then I decided to learn some other styles. A little more fun, less practical—the type you see on-screen, extreme martial arts, with all the flipping and acrobatics.
LT: How did the modeling and acting come into it?
LH: I was at a martial arts tournament when I was seven years old, when somebody told my parents I should do print modeling. I was set up with a print agency, and I started with that. I was the little kid posing in T-shirts at the back of the Lands End [catalog].
I progressively moved up to commercials; then I booked “G.I. Joe” [he played “Snake Eyes”], which was huge for me because I got to do martial arts on-screen in a huge action movie, and I performed all of my own stunts. After that I knew I loved the action-movie thing.
Leo Howard’s Photo-Shoot Diet
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