There aren’t many things that Henry Cavill and I have in common. We both like it best running watches and play Warhammer 40,000, and that’s about it. The internet’s favorite genre fiction megastar is well known for his impressive physique in roles such as Superman in DC movies (unfamiliar? Here’s how to watch all dc moves in order), Geralt of Rivia in the Netflix adaptation of Witcher, and his turn as Walker in Mission Impossible: Fallout. Naturally, every online fitness publication has tried to piece together the exercises that built her superhero physique.
In a men’s health video shared by Cavill and his trainer, Dave Rienzi, he talks about some of the principles behind his training, demonstrating several key moves including fasted cardio, Romanian deadlift, back hyperextension, static oblique holds, lateral raises and alternation. dumbbell curls. It’s not a structured workout per se, but a selection of moves used to highlight Cavill and Rienzi’s training philosophy.
All of these movements are performed with good form, manageable weights, and time under tension – slowly raising and lowering the weight – to stimulate growth. There’s good science to back this up: research from McMaster University in Canada found that a slow lifting motion, when performed to fatigue, produces greater increases in muscle protein synthesis rates that the same movement performed quickly.
It’s worth noting that the video doesn’t discuss any additional diets or supplements that Cavill might use to achieve a physique worthy of the man of tomorrow. So we may have an incomplete picture here. However, I knew I couldn’t recommend Cavill’s training principles without first trying them out myself at the gym. So I worked on some of the exercises in this video, just like Henry Cavill does them. Well, maybe with a little less weight.
I had a preconception that I hated fasted cardio with a passion. My idea of a good running time is an hour or more at a steady pace, when I’m full after a big overnight oatmeal breakfast, with a podcast in my best running headphones. Running fast on an empty tank, sapping my already depleted energy levels, felt like my idea of hell.
Still, I understand. The University of Cambridge found that aerobic exercise performed on an empty stomach induces higher fat oxidation (opens in a new tab) than exercise performed on a full stomach. It’s also easier to get up and run, start the day with movement and sunshine, rather than eating and waiting for digestion to kick in. So I felt more productive that morning, and maybe enjoyed my oats on them even more after my morning jog. To do again.
Romanian deadlifts (tempo 4/2/2)
Romanian deadlifts are a bit different from the standard deadlifts I’m used to. This involves keeping your legs straight, rather than bending your legs to grab the bar and straighten up.
“We had to focus on things to support the amount of stunt work I was doing,” Cavill explains in the video above. Rienzi had Cavill do the Romanian deadlift slowly, lowering the weight over four seconds and holding it at the bottom of the lift for two seconds, before raising it again.
After a day at work, I headed to the gym to try out four of Cavill’s bodybuilding moves. The Romanian deads were tough, much harder than the conventional deadlift I usually do in the gym. I started at around 175 lbs (80 kg) and dropped the weight after my first set. I used to rip the weight off the floor and pull my legs, back and butt up, not slowly lowering it under control. It became a common theme for this workout: using less weight, but better. At around 130lbs (60kg), I could control my movements better and complete sets properly.
Static Angled Grips
“Another key to Henry’s training is really focusing on core strength, so what we’re doing here is a static oblique grip,” says Rienzi. “What he’s doing here is extending his arms, squeezing his core and activating the transverse abs and obliques all at the same time.”
“It helps with stamina, if I have to re-do a fight scene over and over again,” Cavill adds. “It also allows for some nice explosive moves, which is very typical of the Witcher.”
I had never tried this until I saw Cavill and Rienzi do it. It was surprisingly difficult, even though I was standing still, pushing my arms in and out: because the weight was pulling me in one direction and I was pushing out at right angles to that direction. , the cable kept me constantly -balance.
Because I had never done this before, I had to tinker with finding just the right amount of weight, which I could resist with my heart and not just my arms. I didn’t think much about the exercise at the time, thinking it was a bit of a “trendy” move, but I definitely felt the pain in my abs the next day.
45 degree front side raises
Aaaargh. Lateral raises are tough at the best of times, but layering three different angles to hit all the different deltoid muscles around your shoulder? Extremely difficult, although great for muscle development.
“It allows us to target the medial deltoid and the anterior deltoid in one motion,” Rienzi said. Everyone likes to save time, except me: it’s really the exercise that I liked the least and the most difficult to do. Three different lifts in one rep, for eight reps, for four sets. The horror.
Alternating Dumbbell Curl and Static Hold
The last exercise we look at is a dumbbell curl with a static grip. Rather than curling a barbell, Rienzi has Cavill curl a set of dumbbells, one at a time, squeezing the biceps and holding the contraction at the top of the rep.
“What really helps me are my forearms,” Cavill says. “That constant time under pressure…when you’re holding a sword, the first few holds are good, but when you’re in hold 16 of the day and doing intricate movements with your wrists, your forearm starts to die.”
I really liked the way these loops are executed. Bicep curls are usually done at the end of the workout, after you’ve completed all compound movements like deadlifts, as an accessory exercise. Forearm perks aren’t just about swinging swords: it’ll also increase your grip strength the next time you come in for kills. Of Cavill’s entire routine, this and fasted cardio is probably the only exercise I’ll really incorporate into my regular gym life.
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