Katy O’Brian’s “Love Lies Bleeding” Bulking Story

katy o'brian
Image courtesy of Instagram (thekatyo)

See how the actress got ready to play a female bodybuilder in the new “Love Lies Bleeding Film”

A24 is a studio that is climbing to the top of the game with their films, and another one is the “Love Lies Bleeding” film, starring Katy O’Brian as a female bodybuilder. But, how did she bulk up for this film? It is not often that you see female bodybuilding movies, nor do you see female actresses that have so much muscle mass that they could double as bodybuilders, so what is O’Brian’s secret? Well, she recently opened up to Men’s Health regarding her journey, and it was nothing short of interesting! Let’s check it out.

Katy O’Brian Height, Weight, and Age

Full Name: Katy O’Brian (Actress)

Weight Height Date Of Birth
150 lbs 5’7″ 2/12/1989
Division Era Nationality
None 2010s, 2020s American

What is “Love Lies Bleeding”? 

The film is set in 1980s New Mexico, it hinges on a reclusive gym owner named Lou (played by Kristen Stewart), who strikes up a relationship with Jackie played by Katy O’Brian. Jackie is a Midwest drifter who is on her way to Las Vegas to compete in a bodybuilding contest, no it is not the Olympia. However, as the two grow closer, Jackie’s loyal instincts (and her steroid usage) initiate a supernatural act of violence. From there, she uncovers Lou’s criminal family and its secret history.

Katy O’Brian’s Bodybuilding Career

love lies bleeding
Image courtesy of Instagram (thekatyo)

Now, we have established that Katy O’Brian is playing a female bodybuilder, and she certainly fits the role. What you may not know is that O’Brian spent a good portion of her 20’s competing in the bodybuilding world, so the role was a perfect fit. She told Men’s Health that she was somewhat annoyed that the movie was not on her radar, and when she found out about it she actually put together a PowerPoint showing her bodybuilding experience off.

She compiled:

  • Competition photos
  • Competitions she entered
  • Training experiences

From there, O’Brian sent that to A24 and when she got a copy of the script, she felt as though that was how she actually spoke. She relied on her acting skills and her ability to bulk up to prove that she could get the part, and through a six-part audition process she eventually got the part.

Katy O’Brian’s Diet and Training


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A post shared by Katy O’Brian (@thekatyo)

 For those who have seen the film, it is clear that Katy O’Brian put some serious work in as far as the gym and her diet. She had actually been very physically active all of her life, taking martial arts classes at the age of five so she could defend herself against the elementary school bullies, even becoming a police officer outside of Indianapolis. 

To get into shape for Love Lies Bleeding, O’Brian enrolled in a taxing training regimen two weeks before production began, working out six days a week in three-hour spurts, which some might say is overtraining. This was all after long days of shooting. Her training was done with Hollywood trainer Steve Zim, whose clients have included Jessica Biel and Ashley Judd. O’Brian stated that Zim knows how to sculpt the muscle for the camera, which is different than for a competition. 

Her workouts were customized every day, as they were based on soreness levels of each muscle group. While this can work for some people, this style of training is often not recommended for most bodybuilders or athletes, as the recovery process is absolutely crucial and it is recommended that you allow your body enough time to fully recover from each training session before hitting that muscle group again.

Anyway, as far as her diet, the studio had supplied her with a meal prep service and nutritionist that would measure out each meal, which made it very easy for her to do. Each meal contained a good balance of the main macronutrients, and was enough to fuel her through not only her training sessions, but also each day.

Dehydration and Posing

There is a scene in the movie where O’Brian’s character is in an actual competition, on stage. That being said, she had to cut water weight as well to show more striations and vascularity, and thankfully this was the last few scenes to be filmed. Water was cut over a period of several days and she ultimately cut about 10 pounds, but due to O’Brian’s background in bodybuilding she was familiar with the process. 

She stated that the biggest challenge was actually flexing and posing amongst other bodybuilders on stage. For those who compete, you know that being dehydrated, carb starved, and coming out on stage several times to pose can be grueling. It also causes the body to change visually, and this was a challenge for Katy O’Brian.

Workout Programs to Bulk Up or Cut Down

When it comes to putting on muscle mass and bulking up or shedding body fat and cutting down, following a workout regimen can be extremely beneficial. However, a lot of the “fitness gurus” that you see on the internet are selling cookie-cutter programs that don’t do much for you, so where do you go for workout programs?


Boostcamp is a freemium app with over 50 free programs from renowned coaches for bodybuilding and strength training, or you can create your own.

The Boostcamp App is a “freemium” workout app that gives you the opportunity to choose from well over 50 free workout programs for various different goals. Whether you are aiming for strength training, explosiveness, or hypertrophy, these programs are designed to help with your progress in the gym, and are all written by renowned coaches such as Alex Bromley and Hadyn Wiseman to name a few. There are plenty of programs to choose from, no matter your skill set, as Boostcamp allows you to choose from Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert programs, so you can continue to push yourself and really progress as someone who is seeking to change their physique. 

However, if you do not want to choose from a pre-written program, that is not a problem, as Boostcamp also allows you to create your own workout plans and track your progress, so you know exactly where you were, where you are, and where you should be by the end of each program. 

Wrap Up

Overall, the “Love Lies Bleeding” film is now in theaters, and it really shows off the hard work that Katy O’Brian put in. That being said, do you think you could train like Katy O’Brian?

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Dylan Wolf
I work mainly in content writing, focusing my free time on bodybuilding and strength sports. I was introduced to fitness in high school and after watching Generation Iron movies. I love to train. I have competed multiple times, even winning a junior title in classic physique. I have a bachelor's in criminal justice and business obtained through Alvernia University. When I am not focused on work or training, I enjoy watching films or reading about anything and everything.