The actor didn't take his place in PEOPLE's 2009 Sexiest Man pantheon lightly. "I had to petition and get like 1,000 signatures," Efron joked during an appearance on The View
in November. "I was [going] door to door like, 'Please will you sign this?'" Well, Zac, you won't have any trouble racking up votes this year: The California-born actor, 22, recently emerged from the Hawaiian surf showing off a ripped torso that would make Matthew McConaughey
do a double take. "As an actor, it's easy to just sit around all day. I have to stay active," Efron told PEOPLE in '08. "My fail-safe is to go to the gym for an hour." But while he has counted surfing, skiing, snowboarding and rock-climbing among his hobbies, Efron-who next appears (and doffs his shirt!) in the summer drama Charlie St. Cloud
-says that his most challenging workout came courtesy of longtime girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens
, 21, who trained with U.S. Navy Seals for the action fantasy Sucker Punch
. "She was boasting about how difficult it was, so I had to see it for myself," Efron told British Glamour
. "And it was every bit as hard!" The result? An impressive body of work we can't help but salute.
To stay fit, "I cut back on candy," says the Eclipse star (in St. Maarten).