It is truly incredibly what lengths actors go to embody a role. It is all the more difficult when the role is particularly challenging, requiring a lot of stunt work, stamina and strength. They also have to look the part which can be an extremely strenuous undertaking that requires 100% dedication to the craft. When actors are chosen for superhero roles, it because even more difficult because they have to do justice to the larger than life characters that people have grown to love in the comic books. No one would be intimidated by a lanky Batman, so actors have to step up their game considerably if they don’t want fanboys tearing them apart.
For the actors that appear on this list, their months and sometime years of hard work has totally paid off as their name has become synonymous with the character they portrayed and a lot of that has to do with their diet and exercise routines. You will see that it takes an incredible amount of work and dedication to get into the ridiculous shape that these actors have achieved. Let’s take a look and the training regimen that these actors have gone through to turn into our favorite heroes.
15. RYAN REYNOLDS
Ryan Reynolds has maintained an incredibly ripped physique for over a decade now for his various demanding superhero roles. Now at 41, he looks as youthful and strong as ever. He first surprised audiences when he appeared topless in Blade: Trinity where his impressive body was first showcased on the big screen where he put on 25 lbs of muscle after working out six days a week for three months and following a strict 3,200 calorie diet.
His trainer, Bobby Strom, said that he likes to mix things up for Reynolds to keep his body simulated in different ways. Reynolds admits that now that he is getting older, he is much less interested in the aesthetics goals of working out. He is much more focused on remaining functional in his old age.
14. SCARLETT JOHANSSON
Scarlett Johansson was actually worried about taking on the role of Black Widow in Iron Man 2 because she knew that her wardrobe for the film consisted of a bodysuit. She knew that she had to look great for the part so she enlisted trainer Bobby Strom who made a seven day a week, 90-minute circuit training regimen. She also trained in MMA and weapons handling to ensure that her character looked entirely convincing on screen.
Her diet consisted of complex carbohydrates in the form of oatmeal, plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as a lot of lean protein to ensure muscle growth. However she admitted her biggest vice was cheese and she couldn’t help herself from having some, but it certainly didn’t affect how she looked on film.
13. ANNE HATHAWAY
When Anne Hathaway was first cast as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, she realized she really needed to step up her game. She revealed in an interview with Chelsea Handler that the suit was “unforgiving,” meaning that she really had to make sure she looked her best or it was going to show on camera.
Hathaway mixed things up by taking up dance workouts, martial arts and stunt training, running and Bikram yoga. She also followed Ramona Braganza’s 3-2-1 workout routine (named after the three components of the routine — cardio, weight training circuit and abdominal exercises). Her work certainly paid off as she was able to slip on her catsuit with ease and audiences had no problem believing she was the cat burglar.
12. HUGH JACKMAN
Hugh Jackman’s workout regimen to play Wolverine in the X-Men franchise has lasted 17 years so it’s no wonder that he has become incredibly ripped and the fact that he hit his late 40s didn’t stop him one bit. His muscles are so shredded he can cut you with them. There’s no need for adamantium claws. His trainer, David Kingsbury, has been overseeing his workout regimen for the past few films and the results are astounding.
Jackman would train very heavy in the one to five repetition range but mix things up with exercises in the six to ten repetition range. He got his training regimen down to a science and that included what he ate, which was very strict. Jackman said, “Food-wise it’s lots of chicken breasts, egg whites, brown rice, spinach, lean steak, avocado, steamed broccoli. But then I’d also gulp down protein shakes.”
11. MARGOT ROBBIE
In order to play Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie had to get into shape, but had to remain toned. After all, Harley isn’t a bulky, menacing villain, but a limber and flexible athlete. To get her into perfect form, she enlisted trainer Andie Hecker for three hour daily sessions. She learned Pilates, did a lot of ballet and jump rope.
On top of that Hecker told publications that they focused a lot on her leg muscles: “We did a lot of heavy-weighted, low reps of arabesque pulls hooked up to resistance pulleys, as well as arabesque lifts with heavy ankle weights in order to build and lift the butt [as well as] a ton of side series outer thigh work, targeting outer glutes with high reps and low weights, to pull those muscles in and create a beautiful line from the waist to the upper thigh.”
10. PAUL RUDD
No one ever would have though comedy actor Paul Rudd would ever get into superhero shape at 46 years old, but the man proved everyone wrong as cut a lot of fat and had a solid six-pack in Ant-Man. He had to because he realized he would soon be starring opposite other Avengers and he had to look like he belonged in the fold.
His trainer, Brendan Johnston, attributes Rudd’s successful results to the fact that he was unbelievably perseverant and was hellbent on achieving his goals to look the best that he possibly could for the role: “His work ethic is relentless. He sets his mind to something and doesn’t stop till the job is done. From strict diet, to supplementation, to working out at 5 a.m. He never complained. He only worked.”
9. STEPHEN AMELL
Stephen Amell certainly needed to look the part of a superhero on Arrow and he doesn’t cut any corners in the gym. You might be surprised to read this, but Amell actually doesn’t do much training with free weights. In fact, he prefers doing bodyweight exercises like chin up variations, push ups, handstand push ups, muscle ups and running.
He can even do the salmon ladder which is extremely impressive and no easy feat. He also includes a lot of isometric exercises and plank variations. He believes that the best way to stay in shape is to constantly change your workout so that you’re not always doing the same thing day in and day out. He is also a big believer in parkour and does so whenever he can during his hectic schedule.
8. CHARLIE COX
Before taking on the role of Daredevil in the Netflix series, Charlie Cox already had a background in martial arts which his trainer, Naqam Washington, believed helped him immensely during his workout routines in preparation for the show. Cox has admitted that he works out five to six times a week and he hasn’t stopped since he started the first season of the show because he fears having to start all over from scratch if he takes a break. Now that’s dedication! And it certainly shows on screen.
His training sessions are only an hour long, but they’re jam packed full of exercises that use bands and chains for extra resistance. He tends to pick nine exercises which he splits into 20 minute circuits of three different exercises for the total of an hour.
7. HENRY CAVILL
For Immortals, Henry Cavill was already in fantastic shape, but to portray Superman in Man of Steel, he had to step up his game significantly. For the six months leading up to the shoot, he worked out two and a half hours per day with trainer Mark Twight, who Cavill credits with pushing him. To conclude each workout, Twight includes an exercise he calls the tailpipe which involves rowing for 250 meters while holding 24 kg kettlebells. He gave it that name because “it feels like you’ve been sucking on the tailpipe of a car.”
The amount of food Cavill ate to become Superman will make your head spin. He ate between 3,500 and 5000 calories a day of the leanest meats, fish, poultry, nuts and protein powder in order to ensure that he was getting enough protein in his system as well as fruits and vegetables.
6. CHRIS EVANS
In order to get into Captain America shape, Chris Evans would work out with trainer Simon Waterson six days a week. The workouts focused on alternating one day of heavy compound lifts and circuit training with one day of cardio and abs. The goal was to get as big as possible without adding any fat and maintaining functional movements for all of his action scenes. Evans had Saturdays off, and Sundays were called “catch-up days,” where the actor focused on any muscle group that might not be as developed as the rest of his body.
5. CHRISTIAN BALE
Christian Bale is a complete madman. There has most likely never been an actor so dedicated to the craft of acting that he has completely let go of all vanity in preparation for the role set out for him. Before Batman Begins, Bale was down to about 120 lbs for the role of an insomniac that was losing his mind in The Machinist.
To play Batman, he gained 100 lbs in only six months. How is that even possible when he could barely do a push up when he started getting ready for Batman after The Machinist? It turns out muscle memory is a huge factor that gave him a big advantage, as he had already been in incredible shape in the past for films like American Psycho. Aside from working out heavily, he had to eat every two to three hours to ensure that he would make weight.
4. JASON MOMOA
Jason Momoa has taken on a lot of physically demanding roles before he was cast as Aquaman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. First, he played Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones. He then played Conan the Barbarian in the reboot film, a character that was of course made famous by another musclebound monster: Arnold Schwarzenegger.
He has certainly had massive shoes to fill, but if is feet are as muscular as the rest of him, it shouldn’t be too bad. Momoa has trained intensively with Mark Twight, who we have encountered elsewhere in this article as he trained Henry Cavill as well. His method is pretty simple: “Pick a heavy weight and it will get you shredded and build a lot of muscle,” he says. One look at his Instagram account will show you exactly what he means by that.
3. CHRIS PRATT
Chris Pratt felt that he had to prove he was superhero material when cast as Peter Quill/Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy as he hit 300 lbs from playing Andy on the comedy show Parks & Recreation. Pratt has stated that his weight gain for the comedy show really affected his self-esteem, his sleep and his health. This film was the perfect opportunity to kick his bad habits.
To prove himself to Marvel producers, he lost 60 lbs in six months by cutting beer from his diet and working out six days a week. His workouts included a variety of different functional training like swimming, boxing, running and P90X sessions. He also got the help of trainer Duffy Gaver as well as a nutritionist named Phil Goglia.
2. JAI COURTNEY
In Terminator: Genisys, Jai Courtney weighed in at about 190 lbs of lean muscle. For Suicide Squad, producers told him to go all out and gain as much muscle as possible. And he did. He reached 230 lbs, which is a staggering difference.
He said that a big part of training for Suicide Squad involved doing it as a group in order to foster camaraderie and perhaps friendly competition in the cast: “It’s competitive, not in that you’re looking sideways and thinking, “He’s doing better than me” but in a way that spurs you on positively to keep pushing. You want everyone to be doing their best. If you can lift with a buddy so he can spot you and push you harder so you hit bigger numbers, then that’s really cool.”
1. GAL GADOT
Gal Gadot went through six months of rigorous training to get into fighting shape to play Wonder Woman for the DCEU. There was a lot riding on her nailing the part in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and many agreed that she was the best part of the movie. On top of that, her solo movie has single-handedly proven to a lot of people that there is still hope for some great DC movies in the future.
Her workout regimen lasted a total of six hours per day. She spent two hours lifting weights, two hours choreographing her fight scenes and two hours horseback riding. Her hard work certainly paid off has she gained a total of 18 lbs of muscle for the role.
Which of these diets and workouts would you try? Let us know in the comments!
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