Being able to look like a comic book character brought to life is no easy task. To get in shape to play a superhero on the big screen, you have to train pretty hard. The Henry Cavill Superman workout below will show you just how challenging it can be.
Cavill, from Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, portrays one of the most intimidating characters in pop culture history: Clark Kent/Superman. Being a good actor is only part of the job.
To be able to pull off a DC Comics legend, you have to convince movie-goers you are faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. This is a task that Cavill takes very seriously, as you can see in his Instagram photo below as he prepares to get in shape for Justice League.
Henry Cavill Superman Workout
The March 2016 issue of Muscle & Fitness shared detailed information about how Cavill gets in shape to look like the Man of Steel in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Cavill is trained by Mark Twight, who is famous for working with Director Zack Snyder to get the cast in shape for the film 300, and Michael Blevins.
A couple quick workouts in the gym isn't enough if you want to look like the world's first superhero. It took several months of training, with many 2-a-day workouts mixed in. Cavill would perform a mixture of workouts, including muscle-building and conditioning work.
You can find a sample muscle-building workout that Cavill did below. Before strength training workouts, he would warm-up with a jog, followed by other movements, such as bear crawls, handstand walks and more.
This is not the only part of the workout. He also finished with a "cool-down" that could blast the chest and the rest of the upper-body by itself. It consisted of 160 total reps, split up between 50 Russian Pushups, 30 Russian Dips, 50 Archer Pushups, and 30 handstand pushups. Each exercise was broken down into sets of 10.
The workout above is a sample morning training session. He would also have an afternoon session that focused on conditioning. This would include a full body conditioning workout with exercises like burpees, burpee box jumps, burpee chest-to-bar pullups, and a rowing machine.
It's not surprising that these exercises target the chest and upper-body to a large degree. Superheros are usually depicted with the ideal v-shape - a muscular chest, delt, and arms, with a tight waist.
These exercise, combined with the right diet, can help build that classic v-shape, but it's important to note that Cavill hardly avoided lower-body work. In fact, he would start the workout above with primarily leg work.
While cartoons may depict superheroes with muscular upper-body and pencil legs, that look would not look realistic on the big screen. Having a big focus on lower-body works helps to build muscle in the legs and an overall symmetrical look.
Doing heavy barbell lifts like squats and deadlifts also help with hypertrophy, or muscle-building, overall. You can see how the lifts above incorporate back squats as well as plyometric exercises that boost leg strength.
Working hard is only part of the equation of looking like a superhero. To fuel multiple training sessions per day plus several hours of grueling, physical shoots, Cavill had to pay serious attention to his nutrition.
Cavill who has traditionally been lean and bulked up for Man of Steel, wanted to take his bulk to the next level for standing against Batman in Batman v. Superman. This mean a lot more calories to help him bulk up to a top weight of 220 pounds.
He got as heavy as 208 the first time he played Superman on the big screen, although most of the film shooting was done with him in the 190s.
His diet was in the 5,000 calories-a-day range, which is typical for anyone of his size in the gaining phase. He still ate relatively clean, but he loved it because he had a lot of latitude.
Despite consuming such a high volume of food, Cavill made sure his nutrition was mostly good, so he was gaining the right type of weight. The strength training combined with a good diet helped to drastically increase his muscular size and strength.
Superman is bulky, but he is hardly chubby. Cavill was able to put on almost purely muscle. Despite being 220 pounds, he was around 7 or 8 percent body fat, which is very lean. Bodybuilders typically compete at around 3 to 4 percent body fat, which is only sustainable for a few days.
Despite being this lean, Cavill's strength went to all-time high levels. All of that added muscle and calories didn't just help his vanity muscles, as he was able to deadlift close to 500 pounds to go with a 335 pound front squat, both being personal bests.
The workout above is only a snapshot into Henry Cavill's daily program. It can take months or years come close to achieving a similar look on your own. A proper program is much more detailed and includes time for the development of strength, muscle, and overall conditioning and fitness to achieve the desired look.
Training this way also takes smart periodization of your program to look the best on filming days that require it. It's impossible to maintain a extra lean body fat levels everyday without sacrificing muscle, so Cavill and others wisely set up their training and diet so they look there best when they have to.
To look like a DC Comics Justice League hero takes a tremendous amount of time and effort. This Henry Cavill Superman workout isn't going to make you look the Man of Steel overnight, but it will give you an idea of how hard actors work to look the part in their superhero roles.