Despite the fact the original Karate Kid film premiered over 35 years ago, William “Billy” Zabka, 55, still convincingly plays the martial artist Johnny Lawrence in Cobra Kai. In an April 2019 interview with Men’s Health, the actor revealed that he focused on his fitness when filming for the acclaimed series first started.
The publication noted that Zabka had practiced “martial arts” following the release of The Karate Kid. However, later in his life, he stopped training.
During the interview, Zabka revealed that he was able to fine tune his karate skills with relative ease.
“Coming back to Cobra Kai had me jump back in real hard, so I could be camera ready. Karate is like riding a bike—you jump back into it, although your joints can be a little bit different as your muscles can get sore,” said the actor.
Zabka Revealed He Shed a Significant Amount of Weight
He noted that during the production of Cobra Kai Season 1, he shed a significant amount of weight by limiting his calorie intake and working out. The actor told Men’s Health:
By the end of the first season, I was as low as 176 pounds, eating around 1700 calories each day. But that was a little too light for me, so I balanced it back out at my current weight at 185, which is around where I belong. My calories are a lot higher now, and I do strength and conditioning three times a week. Clearly, being healthy and at the right weight makes you feel good with lots of energy.
Zabka had previously spoken to Men’s Health in April 2018 about getting lean for Cobra Kai.
“I actually dropped about 20 pounds from the time I announced the show until we started screening it,” said the actor.
He attributed his weight loss to working with trainer, Chad Landers.
Zabka’s Trainer Spoke About Working With the Actor
In April 2019, the fitness and supplement company Onnit interviewed Landers about training Zabka. He noted that the actor “was in good shape” prior to training.
“A lot of people don’t realize that Billy wrestled in high school and had trained karate for real for years after Karate Kid, so it’s not like he had let himself go for the last 30 years,” explained the trainer. “It’s just that when you’re going to be on camera, the requirements are a little different. The camera lies to a degree. So you’re always better off being a little bit leaner than not when you’re shooting a movie or TV show. Billy just wanted to make sure he was putting his best foot forward.”
He also disclosed that he and Zabka “trained three to four days a week” with a focus on “single-leg training, because [he] knew [the actor] was going to do a lot of kicking.” In particular, “[they] did stepups [and] reverse lunges.”
Landers went onto say that he advised the father-of-two “to eat as much lean protein and vegetables as he could,” and to refrain from consuming “liquid calories.”
“Billy wasn’t drinking Coors Banquet to start and end every day like his character was,” quipped the celebrity trainer.
To see more of William Zabka, be sure to watch Cobra Kai Season 3, available on Netflix.
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