Ten years ago Ryan Reynolds was a completely different person compared to the lean, chiseled figure that now fills the Deadpool suit. The early 2000s saw Ryan burst onto our screens playing loveable frat boys in films such as Van Wilder and Waiting. Taking on the persona of such characters, he admits that diet and exercise were far from the foremost in his mind. But as the years progressed, Reynolds chiseled out a new career path for himself, one of a buffed super hero, and he needed to train hard for his body to fit his new persona.
It Takes Hard Work
Reynolds worked with his trainer of over a decade, Don Saladino, to get ready for his role as Deadpool. Both were intent on ensuring that not only did he look the part but that he was also creating strength, especially as he was eager to undertake the majority of stunts himself. To achieve these goals, Ryan and Saladino created a regime of high intensity cardio mixed with high repetition weight training, which he would complete over a 6 day week.
The most important thing about cardio is to ensure that your body and mind don’t get stale in their routine. Saladino created a series of exercises that would keep things fresh and work as many muscles as possible.
Plyometrics is all about moving away from mat work and getting as high in the air as you can. Plyometric movement is short, sharp movements that lengthen and shorten muscle contraction in rapid time. This increases muscular power, which results in being able to jump higher and run faster.
A succession of five wooden boxes are placed in a line about three feet apart. The boxes came up to Reynolds hip height and he would start at one one and jump with both feet together onto the first box, then straight down and continue this motion until all five boxes had been tackled and run to the beginning and start the process again. Ryan would go hard for 60 seconds, rest for 30 seconds and start again. Try this yourself this for five minutes. Your legs will be on fire to start, but eventually they will thank you for it.
From a feet together standing position, Reynolds would jump out to a full squat to parallel. He’d then immediately return to the start position and repeat for an entire 60 seconds. To give Ryan a real go for his money, his trainer eventually made him do 60 seconds of box jumps coupled with 60 seconds of jack squats, repeating these exercises over a five minute period!
Saladino knew the key to physical success is to ensure exercising never becomes stale. So rather than having Reynolds do the same circuit every day, it would also be mixed up with the following:
10 glute bridges
30 seconds cats and dogs
10 reach backs
10 toe touches
10 bear crawls
Repeat these over a five minute period
Overhead shovel throws
How to do it: Stand with a heavy medicine ball in your hands and feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Maintain a neutral spine as you bend at the knees to bring the ball between your legs. Swing the ball up to release it into the air above you. Retrieve the ball and repeat.
Do 20 reps.
How to do it: Lie on your back grasping a kettlebell in your right hand. Bend your right knee to bring that foot up to your butt. Press the kettlebell overhead. Now bring yourself up on your left elbow and forearm so that your upper body is upright. Now bring your back leg through and behind the body so that you are in a kneeling position. You should be resting on your back toe and your front heel. With the kettlebell still pressed at arms length, push off the front thigh to rise to a standing position. Reverse the motion to return to the start position.
Do 5 reps.
Repeat these with no rest over a five minute period
Playing Deadpool meant there would be a lot of fight scenes involved in the shooting of the film. It was only logical that Saladino create a program of high intensity fight training. Reynolds would rack up three hours of training per day, six times a week for the months leading up to donning the Deadpool suit. No pain, no gain was definitely the motto used in this training camp.
To ensure his muscles were looking at their prime, Reynolds would dedicate an hour of each workout to resistance training. Each day a different area of the body was targeted, and a series of high intensity, high repetition exercises were employed.
He followed the following schedule:
Day 1. Chest
Day 2. Back
Day 3. Shoulders
Day 4. Hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves.
Day 5. Biceps and Triceps
Crafting a Core
Reynolds has become renowned for his six pack abs. When he is in filming shape, he boasts a mere 3% body fat.
Each workout would begin with an intense 20 minutes stomach blasting workout, designed to blast fat and sculpt and define muscle.
Ryan would perform 15-20 reps each as a circuit, and the exercises would be alternated daily.
Decline Bench situps
Hanging leg lifts
Wood chops on cable
Swiss Ball crunches
Decline Bench Body Bar twists
The Wheel from Knees
The Deadpool Diet
The best workout is useless without proper nutrition to complement it. Reynolds was well aware that to achieve his goals, he would need to ensure that his dedication to nutrition matched his efforts in the gym.
Eat small amounts, regularly.
By eating every 2 to 3 hours, Reynolds was able to speed up his metabolism. Small, easily digestible meals allow the body to work to peak efficiency. Larger, more infrequent meals slow down the body’s digestion time, which leaves you feeling bloated and lethargic. Infrequent meals also encourages the body to go into ‘starvation mode’, which means the body will retain all fats and nutrients in fear that it may not receive any more sustenance for some time. But by eating every couple of hours, you can trick your body into working double time and therefore reduce cholesterol absorption
Prepare, prepare, prepare
Plan what you are going to eat the day before, and ensure you have the appropriate snacks with you for whenever your timer tells you it’s eating time. Setting reminders on your phone is a good way of ensuring that you stick to your designated eating times. Adequate preparation also helps eliminate any potential chances for ‘slip ups’ (such as ‘popping into’ a coffee shop for a ‘sweet treat’).
Banish the Carbs
If you really want to get serious about losing body fat, the carbs have to go. Reynolds went on a six month carb-free diet prior to filming Deadpool and the results speak for themselves.
Reynolds uses a mixture of creatine, CLA, whey protein and multivitamins to ensure that his body is getting all it needs during such intense training. The mix of creatine and whey protein also enhances muscle growth.
Deadpool Sample Diet Menu
Breakfast: Egg Whites omelette
Snack: Protein bar
Lunch: Tuna/chicken salad
Snack: Apple, Almonds, Protein Shake
Dinner: Poached white fish with steamed vegetables
All that training definitely paid off once Reynolds squeezed into that tiny Deadpool costume. Reynolds gained 20 pounds of hard muscle and his plyometric training allowed him to jump and move throughout the film with the ease of a skilled fighter. It’s reported that he teared up upon first seeing the Deadpool suit. It was a role he said he would murder for. Through hard work and determination he crafted himself a body that most watching the movie would die for.