Few men are responsible for as many onscreen physiques as those of Jason MomoasAquaman‘ coach Mark Twight. Indeed, Twight’s credits as an architect of superhero bodies are matched only by his reluctance to discuss them in public.
Whether it’s the media or the public, months of training and dietary interventions boil down to this single workout for the beefy, muscular Spartans Twight helped carve out for Zack Snyder’s historical epic 300or all the misinformation surrounding Henry Cavil’s legendary reinforcement to play Superman, it can’t be easy to see your work butchered, reverse engineered, and criticized based on whispers and hearsay.
Or maybe Twight, whose credits also include training Special Forces soldiers and world-class athletes, just doesn’t think it’s worth getting involved in emotional social media debates about celebrity privilege, PED use, and right bench angle for optimal chest development.
No, Twight was hired to do a job, and he did it in spades.
Celebrity workouts, love them or hate them?
Personally speaking, I don’t know if I believe there is much value in seeing celebrity workouts after all, a good workout, from a good trainer is Well regardless of the intended recipient. That said, even the best workouts are only as effective as the schedule they’re placed into, the nutritional and recovery measures put in place, and most importantly, the intensity with which they’re all performed.
However, I always think it’s intriguing to see how the best trainers in the world put these actors to work when there is money on the line and deadlines to meet. If nothing else, you’ll come away with some workouts to try and some interesting celebrity talking points, and that’s exactly what we’ve prepared for you.
Luckily for us, provided we publish them unaltered and unedited, Twight has shared some of the grueling workouts he put eccentric Hollywood icon Jason Momoa through as he swelled up for his appearance as superhuman submarine Arthur Curry, AKA Aquaman, across the DC Extended Universe. But first, we have something much more useful for you than the sets, repetitions and exercises used context behind them.
Balancing weightlifting with rock climbing
Momoa, an avid climber, was extremely thrilled when he learned that Twight, a legendary figure in the climbing scene, would be handling physical training for the film franchise.
He told me he hid my first book, Extreme Mountaineering in a math textbook to read at school when he first started climbing. recalls Twight.
In fact, Momoa’s entire plan would have to be adapted to accommodate his desire to climb an indoor rock wall 2-3 days a week.
We’ve struggled constantly with competing demands,” says Twight. “Jason needed size for his role as Aquaman, but when he’s climbing, being lighter is key. A high volume of training was needed to make and solidify the change, so recovery practices, handled by his assistant, Damian, a massage therapist and physical therapist, were key.
Rock climbing, while not specifically geared towards building the kind of superhero physiques Momoa and other Justice League members have sported on screen, can be extremely taxing on the body, so to get around Momoa’s desire to hit the wall Twight focused on the less affected areas when in the gym.
We balanced weightlifting with climbing. The day before a climbing gym session we didn’t tire our climbing muscles, but concentrated on our chest, shoulders and legs.
Jason Momoa Chest Day Workout
Here’s a look at that chest champion day, who is sure to provide a pec pump, even for us non-metahumans.
Twight got Momoa warming up with a series of functional crawls, followed by throws and catches from various angles with a heavy medicine ball, a ladder pull-up that racked up a total of 55 reps, before finally starting to gain weight to the first big movement of the day the incline bench.
Perform 5 laps of the following circuit. Don’t rest between movements but rest 2-3 minutes between each round.
A1. Incline bench x 6
Choose a weight that you could do no more than 10 reps, fresh. Lie on a bench at a 45-degree angle, holding two dumbbells or a barbell above your chest (A), Slowly lower the weight, keeping your elbows at a slight angle to your torso, until the weight touches your chest (A). Press explosively until fully locked and repeat.
A2. Standing dumbbell press x 12
Place a pair of dumbbells across your shoulders, palms facing in. Take a breath, squeeze your glutes and create tension through your core. (A) Dip your knees in and use your legs to help as needed (B) press the dumbbells overhead. Lower them with slow shoulder control and repeat. Use a weight that starts to feel challenging after about 8 reps.
A3. Pushups x 24
Get into a plank position, with your core tight and your hands on the dumbbells (A)bend your elbows to slowly bring your chest to the floor (B). Keep your elbows close to your body as you push back explosively. Repeat, focusing on checking the quality of the movement.
What follows is a high-rep odyssey that will see you rack up a jaw-dropping, pec-pumping 108 reps, using just one machine. Follow Twights guidelines Exactly to achieve the desired chest swelling effect.
Perform the entire circuit without pausing between corners. Rest for 4-5 minutes and repeat one more time. And just like that, you should be SWOLE. adds Twight, knowingly.
B1. High angle cable flye x 36 (6, 12, 18 rep dropset)
Grab the cable stirrups from a high angle, overhead, and step forward, allowing the weights to pull your arms back until you feel a stretch in your chest (A). Lean forward and keep your arms relatively straight as you bring your hands down and bring them together, finishing at the waist and squeezing your pecs tight (B). Perform 6 heavy reps, drop 2-3 plates from the machine, and immediately do 12 more reps. Clear 2-3 more plates from the stack and finish with 18 reps.
B2. Medium angle cable flye x 36 (6, 12, 18 rep dropset)
After the last high angle flight, immediately reset the weights and reposition the cable at a medium angle, so the stirrups are roughly in line with your chest. Step forward until you feel a deep stretch in your chest, and again work your way through the same grueling 6, 12, 18 rep dropset as above.
B3. Low angle cable flye x 36 (6, 12, 18 rep dropset)
Finally, reset the weight stack and readjust the pulleys so you’re taking each hanger from the lowest possible angle. Step forward, allowing the weights to pull your arms down and back. Keeping your elbows slightly bent, bring your hands up and in front of your body until they touch. Squeeze your upper chest, difficult, before slowly returning to the starting position. Repeat the dropset protocol of 6, 12, 18 reps from the top, rest 4-5 minutes and repeat the entire pecs snapping process.
With nearly 18 years in the health and fitness field as a personal trainer, nutritionist, breath coach, and writer, Andrew has spent nearly half his life exploring how to help people improve their bodies and minds.
As our fitness editor, he takes pride in keeping Mens Health at the forefront of reliable, recognizable and credible fitness information, both through writing and testing thousands of workouts each year, diving deep into the science behind building muscle and fat loss or exploring the psychology of performance and recovery.
Whilst constantly updating his knowledge base with seminars and courses, Andrew is as much a lover of practice as he is of theory and regularly tests his training by tackling everything from Crossfit and strongman races, to ultra marathons, to multiple bouts of 24 hour training and (extremely unofficial) world record attempts.
You can find Andrew on Instagram at @theandrew.tracey, or just hold up a free pizza sign and wait for it to appear.
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