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Is there any better compliment than being cast as Superman on the big screen?
You’ll have to ask Henry Cavill. In real life, he may not be leaping over tall buildings in a single bound, but there’s no arguing that he certainly looks the part of Superman in “Man of Steel.”
The British actor underwent a grueling training regime for 6 months to prepare himself for the role. His training consisted of a mix of:
In a 2013 interview with ShortList, Cavill admitted that his training was “excruciating” but that he’d also broken through boundaries he didn’t know were possible.
Despite what some people may tell you, there’s no secret to getting fit. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort that Cavill did while filming, you can surpass boundaries you didn’t know were possible, too.
Keep reading to learn how the actor was able to achieve his impressive level of fitness.
To get in shape for “Man of Steel” and his two subsequent Superman roles, Cavill worked with trainer and former professional climber Mark Twight.
As a climber, Twight gained a reputation for attempting routes deemed impossible. In his 2002 book, “Kiss or Kill,” he explained: “I made life or death decisions like I was choosing between brands of beer.”
After retiring from climbing in 2000, Twight opened his training center, Gym Jones, in Salt Lake City, Utah. There, he brought the same level of intensity to his training with professional athletes, actors, and military personnel. In 2005, he trained the cast of the movie “300.”
Later, when Cavill was preparing for his role in “The Witcher,” he worked with Dave Rienzi, who’s also Dwayne Johnson’s strength and conditioning coach.
In a 2020 interview with BodyBuilding.com, Twight explained his personal training philosophy: “One reason that actors and actresses who train with us continue their training afterward is because of the psychological involvement we have.”
In the same article, Twight explained that one of the challenges working with Cavill was holding his condition for the entire 6 months of shooting.
In the ShortList interview, Cavill described the training process as “excruciating” but “wonderful” because he was pushed to a level that he didn’t know was possible.
In another interview with TRAIN magazine, Cavill compared his training with his character on screen: “Mark’s whole ethos is that fitness is not just physical strength and conditioning, it’s also strength of character, and that is so in tune with the character of Superman.”
The exact details of Cavill’s workouts while training with Twight haven’t been released, but some details have been revealed in various interviews.
Exercises he’s known to have included in his training are:
- barbell Bulgarian split squat
- kettlebell training
- CrossFit-style lifts
As Cavill’s coach, Twight put a focus on functional exercises and training movements over specific muscle groups. This helped build functional stretch as well as muscle mass.
Many of the exercises used in the program, such as the Olympic lifts, are also used in CrossFit.
If you want to build a specific routine using similar types of exercises that Cavill used to prepare for his Superman roles, you can search the CrossFit website for inspiration.
A CrossFit gym will also have most of the equipment that Cavill used in his workouts, such as:
- free weights
- pull-up bars
His fasted cardio was performed for 20 minutes at a heart rate of 125 to 135 beats per minute.
Henry Cavill’s workouts focused heavily on functional movements, such as kettlebell swings and Olympic lifts.
These types of lifts don’t fit nicely into traditional weightlifting categories like “core,” “lower body,” and “upper body.” Instead, they work multiple muscle groups — think of them as full-body exercises.
Some examples of exercises you can add to your program include:
- 3 sets of 10 pull-ups, with 45 seconds of rest
- 3 sets of as many kettlebell swings as you can in 60 seconds, with a 2-minute rest
- 5 sets of 5 deadlifts, with 2 minutes of rest between
- a squat of 5,000 pounds of total weight as quickly as you can — for example, 200 pounds for 25 reps, spread over 15 minutes
One specific exercise Cavill performed while training with Twight is called the Tailpipe. This exercise involves:
- Rowing 250 meters on a stationary rowing machine as fast as you can with heavy resistance.
- Holding two heavy kettlebells in a rack position (where you would hold a bar for a front squat) for the same amount of time.
- Repeat three times with a 45-second break between sets.
Cavill reportedly included fasted cardio in the mornings for 20 minutes while training for “The Witcher.” Some cardio options you could perform include:
If you want to build muscle, you’re going to have to eat more calories than you’re burning. Henry Cavill was allegedly eating more than 5,000 calories per day when preparing for his Superman role.
During the weight-gaining phase, he kept his calorie intake high and ate many high-protein and calorie-rich foods like:
When working with Twight, Cavill also took few supplements. The only supplements they included were:
In a Men’s Health 2019 interview, Cavill said, “Out of all the things I’ve done in the past, I think the fasted cardio stuff is actually working best for me.”
He has also included days where he eats basically anything he likes.
Before you embark on an intense fitness program like the Henry Cavill workout, it’s important to take a moment to assess your current level of fitness.
The cornerstone of any successful program is to gradually increase the difficulty over time. If you jump into strenuous training too quickly, you’re setting yourself up for injury.
Cavill worked alongside a trainer while he was preparing for his movie roles. You may consider working with a trainer, too, especially if you haven’t done Olympic lifting or functional training in the past.
A trainer can teach you how to perform each exercise and keep you at an appropriate level.
If you have any pre-existing injuries or medical conditions that could be made worse by working out, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor before starting a new program.
There’s no secret to getting fit. It all comes down to consistency, good habits, and hard work.
There’s no reason why you can’t improve your current level of fitness if you:
- train regularly
- get plenty of sleep
- eat a healthy diet
Even though it’s possible to reach the same level of fitness as Henry Cavill, it’s also important to keep in mind that it’s going to take a lot of hard work — and it’s not going to happen overnight.
Generally, it takes roughly 8 weeks to see noticeable changes to your body after starting a new program.
Cavill worked out for hours each day for 6 months to prepare for “Man of Steel,” and he was already relatively fit beforehand. If you want to achieve the same results, you’ll likely also need to train for about this amount of time.
If you’re not currently exercising regularly, it’s a good idea to build up some base fitness before jumping into a more advanced program.
You can start by meeting the
If you’re already relatively fit, you can try including functional exercises, like kettlebell swings, into your program.
As mentioned, many of the principles of Cavill’s training are similar to those of CrossFit. If you live near a CrossFit gym, you may find it helpful to train with a coach or trainer who can show you how to properly do the exercises.
Few specifics of Henry Cavill’s workouts have been released. But various interviews have revealed that his training has focused on functional exercises like kettlebell swings and Olympic lifts.
There are many different types of workouts you can perform to get fit. You may find that what worked for Cavill also works for you, but it’s only one of many options.
If you want a custom workout plan but don’t have experience making them yourself, you can try working with a personal trainer.