20 Things Sebastian Stan Had To Do To Become The Winter Soldier

Playing a superhero is probably the hardest role to take on. These days, no one wants to see a lumpy Michael Keaton in Batman. Fans want actors in Marvel roles to look like the comic book. They want the superhero suit to be packed with muscle, not some costume that makes the actors look like they have muscle.

Actor Sebastian Stan certainly didn't look exactly like a superhero before he was cast as Bucky/Winter Soldier, but he eventually did so while preparing for Captain America: Winter Soldier. To get the superhero body look, Stan hired the most sought-after trainer in Hollywood, Don Saladino, who has a gym called Drive495. Saladino has said that Sebastian Stan was the perfect candidate for working out. He lifted and did cardio five days a week, with a weekend day where he went all out, and he maintained his plan by eating a lot of chicken and organic foods. The duo clicked, so much so that Stan hired Saladino as his permanent training partner. “Our goals were the same. We wanted to build as much lean muscle as possible and have our abs showing 365 days out of the year.”

But the workouts weren’t purely about looking strong, it was about actually being strong since Stan did a lot of his own stunt work. The Winter Soldier workout routine and lifestyle plan below shows how the actor was able to get in shape to play Bucky Barnes in the Marvel movies such as Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier , Captain America: Civil War, as well as the newest movie in the franchise: Avengers: Infinity War. So if you're sitting on the couch watching a Marvel movie and wondering how the characters built their bodies, read on so you don't have to be a couch potato.

20 The Body That Stan Is Looking For

For all the Captain America movies, Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, trained a lot before shooting began and during filming. His intense workout was to look like a superhero, which is why he packed on 20 pounds of muscle. In the movie, he looks muscular and fit, and that's kind of a requirement because he constantly has to defend himself in the movie using all parts of his body.

Stan is the opposite of Evans. He works hard, but in no way would he want to pack 20 pounds of muscle. He just wants to keep his body toned. As he told Details,

“I like to be lean and flexible, I’m not interested in gaining size.”

He also wants a strong and flexible frame of body. And that's true, as the six-foot Winter Soldier only weighed 165 pounds, which is low because he's so tall. So while Stan likes to be lean and fit, in truth he can hide a lot of excess muscle because he wears the uniform all through the movie. Evans can't do this, as on occasion he has to be shirtless.

19 Seb's Workout Was Developed By Former Trainer

Michael Olajide Jr. is the former middleweight boxing champion who now is a renowned celeb trainer who designs workouts for celebs, including Sebastian Stan. Olajide's regime focuses on time, and advocates that a workout should not last one hour. Of course, this workout routine is perfect for celebs who actually don't have time. While playing Bucky in the Marvel franchise, Stan switched trainers and hired Don Saladino. But he learned a lot about exercise regimes from Michael Olajide, especially since the trainer taught Stan how to Aerobox.

Aeroboxing was developed by Olijide Jr. It's a blend of rope jumping, boxing moves, and resistance training. Stan is said to love aero-boxing because he feels that the workouts not only sculpt your body but they also clear your mind. The first exercise for Aeroboxing is to hold 5 to 15 weights for around ten minutes. As Olajide said:

“It’s intense cardio that also builds muscle endurance. You might think five pounds is nothing but you’ll feel it.”

Other exercises include rope jumping and shadow boxing. Rope jumping is one of the best cardio workouts because it tones and sculpts your body, including your arms, shoulders, legs, and chest. For shadow boxing, you fight alone by punching the air.  Shadow boxing not only works your body but is also a great way to clean your head, allowing you to unburden your shoulders because of intense stress.

18 The Details Of Stan's Complete Workout

You're going to either quit or rush out the door when you hear Stan's workout, developed by his previous trainer, Michael Olajide Jr. But the good news is that the workout is only an hour. The bad news is there's no rest between sets. The other bad news is that you lift 5 days per week, with only one day of rest.

First you shadowbox, then you jump rope nonstop for five minutes, and then you go to hell while keeping up with the body sculpting regime. You spend around 10 minutes of each resistance training. You start with different types of push-ups, and Stan has gotten his training down because he's able to do a set of each type in only 30 minutes. Another thing is doing squats in several ways. Most people who go to the gym think leg squats are enough to build muscle. But doing variations as Stan does, which include working the thighs, hips, and backside, burns a lot of calories since your legs are the biggest muscle that you can exercise. In fact, if you wanted to lose fast, always work the legs.

17 Fight Training Is Like Dance Club

In the movies, Bucky has super powers and a bionic arm. Since Stan needs to look as if he can fight well, his routine while filming requires him to build muscle mass and shred excess fat. But the most important thing that Stan needed to do to fit the part was to add muscle mass to his arms.

Saladino has said that Stan has incredible motivation, and is able to workout at the highest level even if he hasn't slept enough due to filming at night.

Stan likes it lean, but his bicep and tricep workout really allowed Stan to add mass to his arms. Stan prefers the barbell bicep curl the best, and he does four sets of five reps. Another exercise that really targets the muscle, is the incline dumbbell bicep curls. For the movie, Stan also needed to learn how to fight train, which he compared to dance class.

16 The Winter Soldier Arm Exercises in Full

While filming The Winter Soldier, Sebastian Stan employed one of the best renowned personal trainers in Hollywood, Don Saladino, whom celebs flock to when they need to get ready for their role. Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds and many other celebs employ Saladino. The arm workout below, as detailed in Maxim, allowed Sebastian to pack up muscles in his arms.

For his biceps he had to do barbell bicep curls, incline DB hammer curls, and high cable curls. For his triceps, he had to do close grip benches, dips and rope pushdowns.

Saladino also advocates working out the shoulders. "We liked focusing on bringing out Sebastian's shoulders as well,"  Saladino told Maxim. "Even though this was an arm routine, the shoulders do get hit substantially with close grip bench and dips. This worked out pretty nicely for him when doing his training for the role."

15 Eating Fat Makes Him Exercise At The Highest Level

Building muscle is not just working out. A big part of gaining lean muscle is to eat 5-8 small meals a day. Don Saladino, Stan's personal trainer, said: “My usual rule is you should be consuming a gram to a gram ¼ per pound of your body weight if you’re looking to make gains."

One of the elements that people have the most problem with is getting in good fats. Saladino has said that it was hard for him to come up with a routine for Stan because rather than make him look lean, the opposite happened and he gained some body fat. That you have to take in the proper fat seems like the opposite of what you should do while training, but it actually serves as fuel to get through a workout. So after tinkering with Sebastian Stan's meals, he and Saladino were able to find a proper eating plan so that he would be able to train day in and day out.

Stan's body responded well by eating avocado, coconut or MCT oil and almond butter. As Saladino said, "We didn’t really stray from that, because when you find something that works, you want to stick with it.”

14 The Winter Soldier 

The plan Saladino came up with for Stan was to keep it simple. This means eating boiled broccoli, egg whites without salt, and grilled chicken with just a dash of seasoning. Basically, Stan eats a lot of lean protein, salads with just a dash of dressing and protein drinks.

Even Stan admits that his eating habits are boring and that he can't even step into a restaurant because he can't eat anything on the menu. 

And when you are eating the same foods every day, you just want to give in, or even give up. Nothing tastes good anymore. A slice of grilled chicken probably doesn't make you feel very good. But because Saladino made Stan eat every two hours meant that Stan was once again eating the same foods as if he was on loop. But it's well known in gym culture that eating that many times, and in small portions, will prevent Stan from getting hungry and, as a result, overeating is avoided.

The celeb trainer also opts for healthy snacks like nuts, protein shakes and fruits. Saladino also made sure that Stan was eating organic food, eschewing frozen foods, steaks and pork chops. “You’re trying to keep it as organic as possible, so I like to recommend chicken or turkey."

13 The Meal Plan To Become Sebastian Stan

Most actors who are prepping for roles that involve shirtless scenes, means you have to make sure you have the body for it. This means that you should have 5-8 small meals a day. But it's very hard for someone, even if he has a personal trainer, to go from breakfast, lunch and dinner, or 3 meals a day, to something higher because they're not used to eating so much.

To accomplish moving up in your small meals is to gradually add an extra meal to your plan, and see how that feels while you do a day's worth of exercises for about a week. Then introduce one new meal in the next week, and keep doing this until you are eating 8 meals a day. To some, that might sound like way too much food. But this is not the case if done right. Think of a small meal as a snack.

Incorporating nuts, fruits, salads and protein shakes to your plan isn't that bad. But what may be bad is that  Stan has to eat chicken and veggies throughout the day if he's pushing for lean muscles. This is the plan of a fit celebrity. It may not be for you, but just remember that eating clean flood will directly translate into real, lean muscle.

12 Sebastian Stan On His Plan

Here is how Sebastian Stan feels about his healthy lifestyle. In an interview detailed on Screen Rant, Stan was ambivalent, but he soon got on board to ensure he looked good in the movie. He said,

"It was physical training and fight training, six, seven months. It was very intense. My diet changed. That was really hard."

He continued with, "I think after a while, I was - I think I went for about four or five months where I wasn't hungry. I mean, I was just eating because I had to eat. And that's always interesting when you stop going to a restaurant because you want to, you know, you're really craving that food or something. You can't even go to the restaurant because essentially you're just eating the same thing, you know, which is like chicken or fish or vegetables. But so yeah, it was different, but I was up for it, I was up for the challenge."

11 The Best Day Of The Week

The good thing about Sebastian Stan's plan is that he has a day where he can eat whatever he wants. A day like this usually occurs on one day in the weekend, the day you are off from working out. Stan worked out five days a week, which meant he could have this day sometime on the weekend.

On these days, by the way, you are allowed to eat food that you really like, no matter what the calories are. Whether it's fried chicken or an ice cream sundae, you don't think of the pounds you are putting on. Many trainers believe that this day is an important and integral part of strength training. That food you eat will be used as fuel the following day you train. But a cheat day is more than that. As Saladino told Ask Men, “Those breaks from the diet will help you sleep even better and give you energy for the next day.”

10 The Winter Soldier Pre-Workout

Ugh. We're exhausted. Even Stan's pre-workout feels like more hard work, although, in reality, it's feasible. For Stan, the pre-workout starts with a cup of coffee, which he has said more than once that he's addicted to coffee. Saladino says,

“A little caffeine is actually great before a workout, as long as you’re getting enough rest and the grounds are as organic as possible,"

Five days a week, Stan used a foam roller for 15 minutes to focus on parts of his body that were knotted, that were hurt, or that were tense and tender. This pre-workout allows for the movement of his muscles when he starts training. In addition, the pre-workout allows Stan to focus on his mind that he will be doing a lot of strength training even if he feels hurt. After centering his mind, Stan would do some stretches, such as reach backs, hip flexers and more, as Ask Men reports. These stretches allow his body to move more continuously.

For 3 days in a week, part of Sebastian’s routine would begin with jump roping and throws to energize his muscles. Told you so. This pre-workout suspiciously seems like a real workout.

9 The Pay-Off Of Training Hard

In Captain America: Civil War, Stan as Bucky Barnes fights off at least 10 characters during the course of the movie. Each fight had to look and feel different, so the Russos directors concentrated on making sure that each fight is distinctive. Stan himself gives credit to the stunt team for doing what he could not. And as for fighting, that came easy to Stan as he had been working out nonstop before the movie started as well as hitting the weights while the film was shooting. That left him with the balance and agility to perform a fight.

Stan told Philly.com that everything he had to do was like a dance, almost like a ballet, because it had to look graceful and somehow dangerous all at once. 

Because he liked the challenge of the fights on set, he wanted to do as much as he can. He was allowed to do many of his own stunts which he enjoyed, and made it easier since he does not wear a mask and thus the camera angles could focus on his face.

“I was like ‘the audience is going to see it’s me,’ so I was determined to do as much of [the action scenes] as I could, to the point where I was a pain in the ass to them – but I didn’t care, because I can sit here and tell you that I’ve done 90 percent of those fight scenes. I was even on the motorcycle.”

8 The Ultimate Explanation For All That Training

All the training, the regimen, and the eating plan helped get Stan in character, making him strong and nimble during many of the fight scenes that he actually did himself, without a stunt double. For Stan, the whole point of the gruelling regimen was so he could be flexible. That was necessary so that the fight scenes looked as real as they could be. And then Stan had to wear a multi-layered costume, and it was important that he felt comfortable in it. It would show, if he hadn't become accustomed to the costume.

"Being able to continue to move freely, and especially the way the team, you know, wanted to take the fighting style of this particular movie and the direction that they wanted to go...it was intense."

Stan continued, saying: "It was important to be flexible and in shape, at least just in terms of a confidence that you can step on set and be comfortable with what you’re doing and…but a lot of it also just has to…a lot of it is just kind of remembering what it was like when you were a kid and when you’re being able to imagine, and go off on it and be free with that, and so that was like, part of the fun with it."

7 Stan Credits His Friends In The Cast

To get in shape for Captain America: Civil War, Stan not only had his trainer, Saladino, but also a nutritionist who made him eat 5,000 calories a day.

“I had a delivery system that basically delivered all my meals at 7 every morning and then I’d train at least four days a week. I got up to 200 pounds. I just wanted to be solid.”

Stan credits Saladino for ensuring he was motivated, but he also pointed out that a huge part of his incentive to maintain his body came from his friends in the cast. He told Philly.com: “It’s tough, being around these guys. All these guys are just working out constantly, but that’s part of the camaraderie that we share on set, the idea of pushing each other, always saying ‘Let’s do better.’"

He added: “That’s why when people ask about these solo movies, it’s like, none of us would ever say no but at the same time, we’ve got a good thing. Nobody’s squirming in the back seat.”

6 Stan Is Not The Only Actor to Swap Sweat For Stealth

There is much anticipation for the release of Avengers: Infinity War, which premieres May 4 of this year. Stan has been training hard while filming. And he has to if he needs to fight off the ultimate villain, Thanos.

Avengers: Infinity War has been filming back to back with the next Avengers movie, which is currently untitled and is slated to premiere next year on March 3, 2019. For Stan and his fellow actors, this means they've been working out continuously for the May premiere and its follow up in 2019.  There are no weeks off, just maybe a day or two.

5 Sebastian Stan Goes For The Ripped Look 

It's a shame that Stan's hard-earned hard body is not shown in his Marvel movies.  At least Chris Hemsworth as Thor gets to show off his pecs and biceps. Nevertheless, Stan's workout has changed since The Winter Soldier. This time it's about building muscle through some intense training that Saladino has put together. For Stan to bulk up and get big fast, Don Saladino focused on heavy weights. As he told Men's Journal,

“Every day we kicked off with a heavy lift. There is this amazing muscle engagement that you can just feel when you pick up a big weight. I am not saying it needs to be strenuous to the body, where your system is freaking out. It just needs to feel heavy.”

Like the other Marvel movies, there is some leeway in which the actors can use to get physically fit before shooting commences. Stan would be working long days to play Bucky while filming, and would not have either the strength or time to fit in even a half-hour workout. So Saladino upped their sessions.

4 Behind The Scenes For Infinity War 

The Avengers Infinity War workout for Stan was to focus on density and strength because he needed both to film the movie. In this way, the Winter Soldier workout was replaced by the Infinity War workout because Bucky Barnes needs to look beefed up in order to help out the other superheroes. As Saladino told ComicBook.com,

“This is the program that’s going to get Sebastian to kick Thanos' butt.” 

He also said, “Never forget that exercise is not building muscle, it is tearing it down." The trainer added that Stan had to keep eating small meals every two hours because proper nutrition allows for growth. Muscles need fuel, and if you are focusing on chest, for example, on one day and aren't eating enough of organic food and lean proteins, your body will not grow.

In addition, Saladino suggests getting as much sleep as you can get because "that is where the progress is developed." The standard 8-10 hours is good, but when you are filming, you are doing it for a period of time, and are often shooting at night, which messes up your biological clock. On some film days, actors like Stan can only sleep for a few hours before shooting commences again.

3 Infinity War Sample Workout

According to Saladino, he isolates certain muscles when Stan goes to the gym. Saladino has shared the workout in different blogs and all that we can say is that we'd rather die than do that many exercises for the chest. First there's the 20-minute warm up. As Saladino says,

“I threw in a lot of gymnastic movements before we even started training. Before every workout, there was about 20 to 30 minutes of functional movement. Fun bodyweight exercises like this got us warmed up but also got us excited to train.”

Excited to train? We don't know about that! Seb goes through a lot in his training, and here are some of the things he has to push himself to do. He had weights with 15 second rests between his movements, flat dumbbell presses with 4 sets of 5 reps, 1 set of 15 reps and 1 set of 20 reps. He had to do dumbbell squeeze presses with 4 sets of 10 reps, a cable fly with 4 sets of 10 reps. His second weight program consisted of 5 seconds of rest between the movements. He had to do an incline barbell press with 4 sets of 10 reps, and an alternating flat dumbbell press with 4 sets of 10 reps.

2 The Infinity War Plan

Sebastian Stan's previous plan for the Winter Soldier is different from his Infinity War food plan because the latter requires him to bulk up rather than keep lean. Morning training is based on what foods you ate the night before. If you are full because you're carb loaded, eat less in the morning than you would on an empty stomach. Protein found in veggies is a good start, and for healthy fat, coconut oil does a good job. These foods will allow you to get into a mental state where you are preparing your mind and muscles for the training to come. If you plan on working out on a fairly empty stomach, Saladino recommends a lot of protein such as rice or fruit. If you are worried about the carbs, don't be. You need to burn carbs as fuel.

If Stan trained midday or in the evening, Saladino recommends having your last carb meal for the day at least 3 hours before hitting the gym. Again, protein and veggies work, and they also improve alertness and brain function.

Saladino argues that if you still feel hungry, eat more carbs. This seems counter-intuitive if you want big muscles, but it is not the case.

As Saladino told Maxim: "Individuals try to go low carb and end up not replenishing their loss of glycogen. This can set you up for a loss of blood sugar throughout the day and unnecessary cravings. If you're not sure what to eat, try 2 scoops of Garden of Life protein with about 3oz of fresh dates, and you'll be good to go."

1 The Infinity War Pre-Workout

As a pre-workout, Saladino recommends drinking some water to keep from being dehydrated. For those who are less motivated, he suggests organic coffee, but only if it's taken many hours before bedtime so that it won't affect your sleep. Stan also takes BCAA as a drink mix, which is packed with 7 grams of BCAAs, 2.5 grams of L-Glutamine, and 1 gram of Citrulline Malate. It's the perfect addition to Stan's plan because the mix includes electrolytes, which is a calorie-free way for Stan to maintain his energy during his gruelling workout regime.

Stan also takes L-Glutamine alone. Glutamine helps restore glycogen, which restores energy and promotes muscle growth, as well as prevents muscle loss. Glutamine also helps convert nitrogen into energy, which is important to people like Stan, who are working out to get the best body they can. Crossfit athletes, bodybuilders and endurance trainers all use Glutamine, as it is the most necessary and powerful supplement for those who want to see a gain in muscle mass.

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