SO, MARK Zuckerberg has got #gainz. We know this because he proudly showed them off in a pic that went viral this week, featuring the shirtless tech overlord with UFC champions Israel Adesanya and Aussie Alex Volkanovski

The first thing that causes you to reflexively unleash an IRL eyeball-emoji is that when you look at the pic of two pro athletes and one tech baron, it’s not immediately clear who the odd one out is, that’s how ripped Zuck looks. If you showed this pic to an alien (no, not Elon Musk) the extra-terrestrial would have a hard time picking which one of these impressive specimens oversees algorithms for a living. 

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Is this surprising? A little. Many of us would have assumed Zuck was more tech geek than swole gym bro, though, there have been hints something has been brewing underneath those normcore long-sleeves for a while now.  

Obviously Zuck, who said in August 2022 that he took up mixed martial arts during the pandemic, posted the pic to intimidate fellow tech baron, Musk, ahead of their proposed cage fight, a possible proxy battle for their Threads v Twitter war. Without saying anything the pic says that Zuck has the rig and jiu-jitsu skills to make the Twitter owner think twice about jumping in an octagon with him. Adesanya subsequently posted pics of the pair’s sparing sessions, in which the Meta founder chokes out the Kiwi champ, with the caption: “We both have South Africans to deal with” (Adesanya has an upcoming bout with South African Dricus du Plessis). It’s also possible these pics are Zuck’s response to Musk’s invitation to a dick-measuring contest.  

Whatever it was, you’d have to chalk it up as a victory for the world’s most famous sandals fan. The onus is now on Musk to come back with something even more retina-scorching. In the meantime, here’s a look at what we know about how Zuck built his bod. 

How did Mark Zuckerberg get in shape? 

CrossFit, of course, specifically the mythical ‘Murph Challenge’, which consists of a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, and another one-mile run, all done while wearing a weighted vest. In a post last month, Zuckerberg bragged that he had completed Murph in 39 minutes 58 seconds. As a user pointed out, that time would put him in the top 1% of those who completed the workout, named in memory of a US navy seal killed in Afghanistan. When someone complimented Zuck on his pull-ups, he responded with the casual nonchalance of a City-to-Surf debutante kicking back with a post-race coldie at Ravesi’s: “The last mile run when your legs are torched from the squats and your heart rate is pegged is pretty brutal too.” Ah the pain cave, it’s savage in there, no matter how many zeroes are in your bank account. 

Of course, it’s not the first time Zuckerberg, 39, has boasted of his athletic prowess. As reported in The Guardian, he’s celebrated the medals he won in his first jiu jitsu tournament (gold and silver), as well as a sub-20 minute 5K. “I actually stopped running for a while and got stronger from [mixed martial arts]. Then I ran for about a month before this race and realised I was faster than before,” Zuckerberg said. Nice flex, bro. 

Is Mark Zuckerberg The Only Tech Bro Who’s Hitting Iron? 

No, this is becoming a worrying trend. The Guardian reports that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos famously transformed his physique, working out daily with low-impact, high-resistance exercises such as rowing and weight training. Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, meanwhile, eats only one meal a day; biohacking and the pursuit of buffness have become Silicon Valley staples.  

Why are Mark Zuckerberg and other rich guys getting jacked? 

Well, if you want to get comfortable on the couch for a moment, there’s a bit to unpack here. Self-optimisation is perhaps a natural corollary of digital efficiency and algorithm superiority. There’s also hubris – conquering one domain leads you to believe you can slay in another. Toxic masculinity is probably worth throwing in the mix. New York Timesreporter Joseph Bernstein speculates that the Trump administration helped to popularise old-school masculinity, as has the Colosseum-like blood sport of MMA and Joe Rogan’s parallel legion of digital acolytes. Meanwhile, Philip Ellis, writing in Men’s Health, believes we may be in the midst of a ‘small-dick summer’. “The tradition of the pissing contest is rife among a certain kind of guy: a self-described “alpha male” who will take every opportunity to butt heads with other men to show dominance, to showboat and peacock and generally self-aggrandise because they think that’s what real men do.” To invert this thesis slightly, it may be the case that many of these powerful men were once impotent geeks and displays of overt masculinity mask insecurity. Let’s go with all of the above.