June 18, 2013

Get the Body of an Action Hero (Or at Least of the Actors Who Play Them)

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Soldier of Steel™.

Last week, the movie buzz was all around Spirit of the Marathon II, and I was so lucky to have caught the sneak preview of it one week prior. It was so neat to get to see runners just like me achieve their marathon dreams! I’ve said it before and I will say it again: the feeling of crossing the finish line at a marathon never gets old, no matter how many times I get to do it.

The “stars” of Spirit of the Marathon II were actually ordinary runners who were featured because they were fit. But this week, my former Beachbody coach Brett published a really interesting article on Action Hero Workouts – basically, how actors/actresses get in shape for superhero roles. We all know that the “perfect” bodies we see in the media are frequently retouched/enhanced – but at the same time, the actors/actresses work really hard for those enviable bodies. I had always assumed that actors playing X-Men or similar roles must work out all day every day in preparation, so I was intrigued to see some details in Brett’s post about what routines the actors follow. For example, for Channing Tatum’s role in Fighting, Brett noted that he only did a three-days-on, one-day-off cycle of 30 minute workouts. Obviously those would be 30 pretty intense minutes (similar to Insanity, no doubt), but still, 30 minutes is pretty quick and manageable for anyone with a busy schedule!

But while I really liked hearing the general workouts that the stars used to get ripped, I wanted to learn more about exactly what they do. It’s all fine to say that the workouts included moves like jump squats, dead lifts, and situps, but how many sets? Are we talking light weights/high reps or heavy weights/few reps or something in between? I wanted specifics!

So when I heard about the Soldier of Steel™ workouts, I was pretty intrigued. Basically, in preparation for the Man of Steel™ movie, trainer Mark Twight was tasked with transforming dozens of cast members’ bodies for their respective roles. Not easy, when you consider that everyone’s body responds differently to different exercise! While functional fitness (i.e., how well can you actually perform is paramount for real soldiers, in this case, Mark had to make everyone’s bodies look totally ripped for the magic of Hollywood. But when I saw the lineup of exercises he used, it was clear that he didn’t go for form over function – this workout is absolutely full-body and going to get you into incredible shape.

Video source: Soldier of Steel™

The basic moves contained in the workout are almost all ones I’ve encountered in standard Crossfit classes, and come down to this:

  • Air squat
  • Bear crawl
  • Box jump
  • Burpee
  • Dead hang
  • Dead lift
  • Deck squat
  • Farmer carry
  • Floor bench press
  • Frog hop
  • Forward leaning rest (aka – plank)
  • Goblet squat
  • Man-maker (aka – pushup with single arm row)
  • Mountain climber
  • Plank pull (aka – inverted row)
  • Pull up
  • Push press
  • Push up
  • Proper push up (aka – pushup with hip bridge/arm release)
  • Situp
  • Split jump (aka – lunge jump)
  • Walking lunge
  • Wall squat

In case you don’t know all those moves, though, you can check out training videos on the Soldier of Steel™ website. I really liked that each move is demonstrated in its own short video clip, so you can check out the ones you don’t know and skip the ones you’ve already done a million times. (Hint: you probably don’t need to watch the situp video; just know that it requires you to come all the way up rather than just doing a crunch.)

Unfortunately for my travel routine, the exercises do require some equipment to complete – and not all hotel gyms have a plyo box, barbells, or pull up bar. The official guide notes that 80% of the workouts can be done without any equipment at all, but I think you can probably get closer to 95% completion by substituting stairs for a plyo box (just make sure you are starting on a landing or at the bottom, not midway up!), and loading up a lat pulldown bar with 1.5x your body weight so you can use it as a stationary pull up bar (hint: the curtain rod and shower rod in your hotel room are not that strong). And of course, for barbells, you can always substitute dumbbells in each hand (each with half the weight of the total barbell) – which can actually help make sure you’re better balancing your reps between arms anyway, as long as you’re not cheating on form as a result. (Here’s a great post on the cons of subbing dumbbells for barbells, but my take is that something is better than nothing.) In the end, I actually thought the workout was surprisingly doable for me on the road – which means I’m much more likely to stick to it.

But the best part of all? I’ve written in the past about how I love planning and scheduling my workouts for the week, because then it’s psychologically tougher for me to skip one if I’m not feeling it. Like the Beachbody Insanity/P90X workouts, the Soldier of Steel™ transformational workout has a calendar of exactly what you’re supposed to do each day. But unlike Insanity (which I got sick of when it took me away from the group fitness classes I love taking with my friends), the Soldier of Steel™ calendar includes at least two hours each week of the cardio workout of your choice. Flywheel junkie? Zumba queen? Go for it! I love that those are mixed in with the strength training workouts that are the base of the program, so you’re following the new routine but don’t have to give up the workouts you already love. This is basically how I write marathon training plans as well (incorporating non-running workouts into the program),   since it helps provide balance and prevent the mental burnout that will kill you in a race when you’ve trained too hard to enjoy it anymore.

If you really can’t stomach the idea of completing giving up your regular workout regimen to switch over to the Soldier of Steel™ workout, my friends over at Throwback Fitness recently posted about the Tailpipe. Also created by Mark Twight, the tailpipe is another high-intensity cardio circuit that’s quick enough to be tacked onto the end of your other regular workouts, kind of like a Rachel Cosgrove “finisher.”

What do you think of the Soldier of Steel™ workout, and do you have any questions for the creator, Mark Twight? This Thursday June 20 from 3pm-4pm ET, Mark will answer workout questions on Twitter via @NationalGuard using the hashtag #TwightTakeover. Personally, I’m psyched about getting to talk to the actual creator and see how I can better tailor the program for my own goals. (And perhaps sneak in some questions about how exactly I train to fly like Clark Kent… kidding!)


6 thoughts on “Get the Body of an Action Hero (Or at Least of the Actors Who Play Them)”

  1. Would you trade “how to train to fly like Clark Kent” for something simpler like just “flying with Clark Kent”? 🙂

    1. I wasn’t referring to a typo, so now I am confused to what you noted and corrected. Hopefully you won’t enlighten me; sometimes the perplexity is more interesting than the resolution!

    1. Brett, only because I’m not doing any Beachbody programs right now! Obviously I’m still reading and loving your blog / emails 🙂

  2. Will doing this make me the next Lois Lane 🙂 haha probably not but oh well! Looks like a good workout to try. I’m bad about consistently doing strength training so this might be fun for me and keep me on my toes a bit!

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