Just what does it take to become a superhero? Ask Gal Gadot. She would know. The actress had to put in hours at the gym to train for her role as Wonder Woman. Her hard work paid off, she kicked some serious butt in the film while looking fierce. “I did two hours of gym work, two hours of fight choreography, and two hours of horseback riding,” Gadot broke down her training schedule. According to the actress who has previously served in the Israeli army, becoming Wonder Woman was, “a lot more intensive on this one. Oh, by far.” My thighs are already burning just thinking about her routine.
Yet, as amazing as Gadot is for getting into phenomenal shape for her role, many actresses have trained like an athlete to pack on muscle mass for their role as superheroes, spies, and athletes on the big screen. Remember Jennifer Garner’s seriously killer abs? The self-described nerd wasn’t sure that she could handle a role of lethal kicks and jabs. Yet, in the end, she proved herself on the small screen and even took on the role of Marvel’s Elektra. She’s not alone. A slew of actresses have been hitting the gym for the first time in their lives just to look mean and lean for their roles. If you’ve seen the films, their hard work has paid off. So, do you want to know their secrets about how they did it? Then, read on to feel the burn.
16. Gal Gardot Turned Into A Professional Athlete
So, just how did Gadot train like a professional athlete to go from a beanstalk to a warrior? The actress hit the gym for a mix of cardio and weight training. She also drank a gallon of water per day and included protein and green veggies into every meal to ensure proper muscle gain. She had to endure full body workouts, including burpees, chin-ups, push-ups, mountain climbers, and rowing for cardio.
For added strength and definition, her trainers had her grab a dumbbell or barbell to do squats, Romanian deadlifts, and bench presses.
She also strapped on her boxing gloves and practiced a few punches and swings with her trainer. Horseback riding was also a part of her routine. If you’ve ever been riding, you’ll know that it’ll make your thighs burn whether or not you workout beforehand.
15. Emily Blunt Turned Herself Into A Lethal Weapon
Her kohl rimmed eyes and fiery hair struck fear into our hearts in The Devil Wears Prada, but by the time Emily Blunt was killing aliens alongside Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow, we were more afraid that she’d kick our butts. Spoiler alert, she can.
“I wanted her to look lethal,” Emily said of her character.
Emily put in the hard work to look ripped for her role as Rita Vrataski. She trained six days a week for two hours each day. She practiced gymnastics, yoga, sprinting, and of course weight training. Each day trained a different body part. For instance, Monday would be her chest and back with exercises such as planks, seated cable rows, and dumbbell bench presses. Wednesday would be all about shaping her quads and calves with walking lunges and squats.
14. Jennifer Garner Crushes All Challenges
As we mentioned before, Jennifer Garner was packing serious abs back in the day for her roles as a spy and assassin on the hit show Alias and the film Elektra. Yet, unlike some of her Hollywood counterparts, her training was light. She kept her workouts under 60 minutes and only five days per week instead of 6 or 7. She did a lot of circuit training, and strengthened herself with body weight exercises. Planks, sit-ups, and Pilates were favourites. Although, don’t think that Jen got those arms without hitting the weights. She worked on her tone using machines for lat pulls and leg lifts. For cardio, Jen would hit the treadmill or stationary bike. Then, just to reward herself, the actress enjoyed a diet of whole fresh foods with protein at every meal. Think egg white omelettes, chicken with steamed veggies, and lots of water. No Ice cream.
13. Daisy Ridley Can’t Do Push-Ups
Daisy was one of those girls who never played sports or exercised. Then, Star Wars happened and the budding star had to become a regular at the gym, undergoing weightlifting, rock climbing, and kickboxing. But, there is one thing that she can’t do. She can’t do push-ups. The classic move that builds abs and toned arms is a no-no for the actress, because of a wrist injury. Good thing the injury hasn’t stopped her from enrolling in the Lightsaber Academy.
“You do, like weight thwacks one way, eight the other, eight up, eight down,” is how the actress explained the martial arts training to Vogue magazine.
12. Demi Moore Is GI Jane Even In Her Fifties
Demi trained for her role as Lieutenant Jordan O’Neil for G.I. Jane in 1997 and she has never lost that build. Even in her fifties, she’s still ripped. The intense muscles that Demi gained from the film have become her trademark. It’s safe to say that the actress might have enjoyed her daily weightlifting routines. Her trainer has detailed a few of her regular exercises. To add definition to her arms she does bicep curls. In order to tone her legs, she does curtsy lunges, which is an exercise that has you lunge with your foot behind you diagonally. For flexibility, Demi incorporates yoga or Pilates. After two hours of lifting weights, Demi endures a 6-mile run for cardio. Oh, and she usually prefers to start her day with this routine so she can run on the beach as the sun comes up.
11. Scarlett Johansson Works Out Like A Dude
How do you train for your role as a Russian spy in a Marvel movie? You work out like a dude. Scarlett Johansson made sure that the world knew that fitting into her skin-tight leather costume is no easy task. She began every morning with a grueling 5 am workout. Her trainer, Bobby Storm, made sure she started each day with squats, lunges, chin-ups, pushups, and planks. Then, dumbbells were added to get her stronger and looking like she really could kick your butt. She did this every day and accompanied it with a clean diet that included ‘a lot of kale and salmon’. Scarlett however, wasn’t too impressed. The actress has stated, “It’s boring 5 am workouts and salad and chicken and nothing else, pretty much.” Thank goodness her boring routine didn’t trim away too much of her famous curves.
10. Natalie Dormer Gave Up Lunch For Napping
To survive her grueling workout and filming schedule, Natalie Dormer made the ultimate sacrifice.
“My way of surviving it was a nap at lunch,” she told Self Magazine.
Prior to filming The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2, Dormer was in London for a marathon. To train for that race, Dormer hit the gym for interval training sessions. Luckily, the training put her in the ‘best cardiovascular shape of my life’ to be able to handle the hard days awaiting her. When it came for her, the day consisted of wearing heavy armor and carrying a semiautomatic rifle for hours during the day. She went on to say, ‘By the time noon hit, we’d all be ready for a nap’. We definitely get how she could skip out on lunch for a minute to rest.
9. Hilary Swank Is Obsessed
On the other end of the spectrum is Hilary Swank, who loves working out. She even posted that she is a ‘fitness fiend’ on Instagram. She’s also the type to post videos of her dong burpees and pull-ups with the caption, ‘Why TGIF when you can #FitnessFriday!’ Just because she’s having so much fun at the gym, Hilary also posts loads videos of herself at the machines, doing push-ups or building strength using the stability ball. In fact, her Instagram is basically a mission statement for working out. If she’s not lifting dumbbells, doing a couple of mountain climbers, or running, then she’s just at the gym smiling. Maybe the actress has another career in the works as a fitness guru. Who knew that her love for working out would stem from her role as a professional boxer in Million Dollar Baby?
8. Natalie Portman Danced For Eight Hours
Think dance is not a sport? Why not head out to the gym for five to eight hours and give ballet a go? That’s exactly what Natalie Portman did to transform her body for her Oscar-winning role in Black Swan. Her trainer Mary Helen Bowers, a former professional ballerina, said,
“With Natalie, I was focused on making sure her body was that specific shape of a ballerina by strengthening the backs and insides of her legs. With ballet, you’re really focused on the inner thigh and butt.”
There was also a lot of ab training to ensure that the core is stable, trim, and strong enough to support that amazing posture. Unfortunately for Natalie, her daily workouts were even more brutal by the bare bones diet. The diet’s intention was to limit her calories in order to achieve a lithe look.
7. Zoe Saldana Doesn’t Believe In Cheat Days
That’s right, she said it. This former ballerina and mother of three boys doesn’t believe in cheat days. Zoe Saldana puts in the work on top of a 16-hour day on set to maintain her physique, and she keeps her diet just as strict too. When it comes to working out, she has trainers on both coasts to make sure that she gets her workouts in. Her days begin with full body toning from workouts that last about 1 hour. Her trainers include lots of cardio along with series of squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks to build strength and keep her lean. To further her hardworking efforts her diet is gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy free. So after a tiring workout, her nutrition consists of a whey protein shake for a snack.
6. Linda Hamilton Bench Pressed Almost 100 Pounds
Linda Hamilton underwent one of the most radical transformations for her roles in the Terminator films. She was cute in the first one, but by the time the second rolled around, she was basically Arnold Schwarzenegger’s twin. To get there, she hired an Israeli commando to prep her 3 hours, six days a week to eventually be able to bench-press 85 pounds for several reps. She also ran eight miles every day and learned how to use a 12-gauge shotgun with one arm. If you’ve ever never used one, just know that it’s heavy and has a kickback that will send wimps falling backwards. She became tough both on screen and off of it.
5. Charlize Theron Trains Harder Not Longer
To become an undercover badass, Charlize had to train like one when she took on the role for Atomic Blonde. The statuesque actress focused on training sessions that were short, sweet, and to the point. As her personal trainer, Monique Ganderton told Shape Magazine,
“You don’t need to exercise every day. We did a 25-minute HIT session three times a week.”
That’s it. Three days per week. However, Charlize’s goal was to build strength and endurance, not eye-popping muscles. So, Ganderton stated that was one of the reasons that they could keep it short. Actually, Charlize had a tougher time on set, suffering through bruised ribs and cracked teeth during her 20-hour filming days. She took it in stride, as the actress has stated that she felt so bad for the stunt guys that she bought them alcohol to show that she held no grudges.
4. Taraji P Henson Works Out Muscles Your Didn’t Even Know Existed
You almost forget that Taraji is a 46-year old mom when you look at her. When you see her on Instagram she makes strength circuits look easy. Spoiler alert. They’re not. Other exercises the star did to get in shape for her role in Proud Mary included bicep curls, chest presses, and seated chest flies. All of these can be done with little more than a dumbbell from the comfort of your home gym. Taraji however, worked with a trainer who made sure she was doing 4 sets of 8. When asked her favourite exercise, she stated,
“I really got into boxing earlier this year. I love it because it’s a full-body workout- you’re working every muscle, you’re working muscles you didn’t even know existed.”
3. Angelina Jolie Could Be An MMA Fighter
Angelina had a slim physique that she had to pump up to play the video game hero Lara Croft. She also needed a bit more padding, as she’s known to do 99% of all of her own stunts. To fill out and fuel her curves, she began her day with a spoonful of coconut oil. Then, she hit the weights. She stuck with a typical bodybuilding style workout meant to maximize muscle gain and add strength. To master those punches for her role, Angelina also incorporated kickboxing into her workout regime. She’s also a fan of Muay Thai and Krav Magha. She’s been known to do 3-4 2-hour sessions per week before one of her action films to practice her skills. Then, to stretch it all out the actress did yoga. With a regimen like that, Angelina could be a professional fighter.
2. Uma Thurman Works Out On Airplanes
“Six months of training. I learned Taekwondo.” Uma Thurman did not fake that physical strength she showed for Kill Bill. The actress filmed about 95% of her fight scenes, preferring to only use a double for moments where she would be thrown onto a glass table. So, to get in shape she had a personal trainer fly to China to help her. On top of martial arts training, Uma also did band workouts. They were the secret to her killer shoulders, and are exercises that the actress can do anywhere. Before a plane landed in JFK, the actress was seen doing yoga in the isles of the plane. She even used the flight-attendant station to add in some ballet barre. Kudos to her for finding creative ways to stay in such good shape.
1. Sofia Boutella Trains Until She’s Numb… Literally
Sorry Samuel L. Jackson, but Sofia Boutella was a fiercer villain than you. For her role as an assassin in The Kingsmen, Boutella did Taekwondo every day for three months straight. As a former dancer, the actress was able to put her flexibility and discipline to good use. To perform some of those kicks, Boutella would practice the same move over and over again to gain power and strength.
“The legwork I do is about performing one movement over and over again for long enough until the muscle goes numb…It’s hardcore, but it’s worth it.”
Wow, now if that doesn’t make her a little frightening, just watch her perform those kicks. Prior to being one of the fiercest henchmen around, she also had muscle strength from performing as a dancer alongside Madonna in her tour.
References” FittipDaily.com, EmiratesWoman.com, InStyle.com, Shape.com, Self.com, SuperHeroJacked.com
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