Whether it’s the cheeky misfits who guard the galaxy, ferocious mutants who protect their loved ones, or the campy 90s throwbacks that keep our beaches safe, summer movies are filled with ripped bodies fighting bad guys and saving the world.
As you sit there admiring those scintillating stars of the silver screen, you can’t help but ask yourself one question: how can I look like that?
Aside from the obvious “eat clean and workout hard,” there are a few common features of celebrity workouts you can use to whip your summer body into shape.
Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman Transformation
Training to become a superhero isn’t about hitting the perfect pose on stage; these preservers of peace need to both look and act the part. No one is going to believe you can leap, punch, kick, and smash your way to victory if all you do are biceps curls in the squat rack.
True, some celebrities undergo massive transformations to prepare for a role, but most still need to look like themselves—just a slightly bigger, badder, more kick-ass version. In Gal Gadot’s case, that meant learning to do pull-ups.
For Gadot’s role as Wonder Woman, celebrity trainer Mark Twight used total-body movements and functional exercises to keep her ready for the rigors of filming and looking the part. Her workouts varied, but many centered around intervals:
Rowing: Aside from building crazy aerobic endurance, this hammers the back, biceps, and even the legs. It’s full-body cardio at its finest. Got your attention? Fitness model Alex Silver-Fagan can show you how with “3 Ways to Row Yourself Ripped.”
Crawling: This is way harder than you remember, and there are countless variations to try. To get down on the floor, check out this follow-along workout from coach Nick Tumminello and Steve Weatherford’s program “True Muscle: 9 Weeks to Elite Fitness,” which uses crawls as a brutal finisher.
Pull-ups: When she got the role, Gadot supposedly couldn’t do a single pull-up. Now, she can do plenty. In “Ladies! Bring Pull-Ups to the Forefront of Your Training,” Grace Kavadlo has the complete guide to nail your first full rep, and then some.
Push-ups: The first exercise most of us did, and still the finest. Take Lauren Brooks’ 21-Day Push-up Challenge, and you won’t look back.
Don’t Waste Time
Blockbuster workouts are all about efficiency. Celebrities are busy people with busy schedules, and very few of them have extra hours to dedicate to the gym. With only weeks to prepare for a role, they shape their bodies fast through focused, high-intensity workouts designed to build muscle and burn fat.
In other words, if you’re training more like the Buff Dudes’ hilarious “Old Man Logan” video than like Hugh Jackman, or the Buff Dudes themselves, you’re out of luck.
To look like a superhero this summer, streamline your workouts with short, high-intensity cardio intervals and lower-rep/higher-weight lifting to add strength and solid mass. When training for Wolverine, Jackman followed a tried-and-true approach: Stick to sets of 3-5 on big lifts like the bench, back squat, weighted pull-up, and deadlift. Build up to a day of heavy triples (4 sets of 3) over the course of several weeks, then back off with a week of 10-rep sets.
You can see the full breakdown of how he trained in Alon Shabo’s article Mutant Strength: Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine Workout Plan, straight from Jackman’s trainer David Kingsbury.
Another secret about film stars? They bulk and cut just like other lifters. Along with a protein-rich diet, Jackman’s workout plan is a rock-solid bulking approach. For a comprehensive, interval-based training plan that has already worked wonders for big-name stars on tight deadlines, plus a reliable nutritional protocol, look no further than Ashley Conrad’s 21-Day Clutch Cut.
Red Carpet Recovery
Overtraining fatigue and crash-diet emaciation are common pitfalls in the quest to achieve an action-star body. To be clear, no, celebs may not have to look hero-perfect all the time, but when they’re especially haggard it doesn’t go unnoticed. The rest of us don’t have a makeup department, which is why recovery is critical.
To look good at all times, your body needs nutrients and rest. If your workouts are grueling, fuel them with BCAAs and post-workout protein. How much protein do you need? For big results…plenty. When preparing to portray Hercules, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson ate no less than seven protein-rich meals a day, plus a post-workout shake and BCAAs.
Sleep is also an important part of recovery. If you can’t get a consistent eight hours every night, try to nap whenever possible. That may sound like a lot, but consider this: Mark Twight, the trainer who transformed Henry Cavil into Superman for Man of Steel and oversaw the casts of both 300 and 300: Rise of Empire, demands 9-10 hours of sleep for his actors when preparing for physically challenging roles. Not requests; demands!
Why do our jaws drop when these megastars appear on screen? Because they look incredible! Most of us go to the gym to shed a few extra pounds or work on PRs we’ll only share with a few people. These actors go there to craft incredible physiques worthy of the big screen, knowing they’ll face critical eyes in the audience.
The lesson for you: Rapid transformations require a bullet-proof plan, but nothing happens without equally superhuman dedication. With a great body comes great responsibility. If you want to look like a superhero this summer, you’ll have to train like one.