Few screenplay roles can rival the sensational ‘Superman’ character. Superman is arguably Hollywood’s most versatile superhero who leaps over skyscrapers, swoops down alleyways, shoots military-grade lasers from his eyes, and uses extraordinary ingrained strength to perform near-impossible life saves.
But as Henry Cavill, Superman in “Man of Steel” reveals, training to look and play the Superman role on the big screen is far from a walk in the park. In this 2013 Shortlist interview, Cavill discloses that he went through a grueling workout regimen and strict diet to acquire and maintain a Superman-worthy physique and smash through boundaries he previously considered impossible.
Read on to learn how Henry Cavill attained and retained picture-perfect Superman physique, cat-like agility, and astounding strength through his debut Superman film‘Man of Steel and subsequent films. However, let’s first take a brief look at Henry Cavill’s screenplay background before diving into his diet plan and workout regimen.
Henry Cavill’s Word-Class Coach and Gym Training
Before debuting as Superman in the 2013 ‘Man of Steel’ film, Henry Cavill boasted an imposing lean and athletic body frame. He had previously starred in ‘Immortals’ in 2011, but possibly one of his qualifying traits was his natural and jutting jawbone that perfectly resembles that of Clark Kent, the original Superman.
Moreover, his personality and articulation of words made him a perfect successor to Christopher Reeves, the former Superman. Nevertheless, the 38-year-old British actor needed to heap up more body muscle and strength for the upcoming role, so he hired the former professional rock climber Mark Twight as his personal trainer.
Mark Twight is a former world-class climber who’s reputed to attempt seemingly impossible routes in his tenure. In his 2002 book titled “Kis or Kill”, Mark expounds that he made numerous life or death choices in his career. Having retired from professional climbing in 2000, he set up a first-rate physical fitness training center, Gym Jones, in the City of Salt Lake, Utah.
At the Gym Jones fitness center, Twight leverages his top-notch expertise, experience, and superior fitness gear to help film actors, military personnel, professional athletes and sports personnel achieve their physical fitness goals in record time.
Probably the best thing about Mark Twight and his fitness center and programs is that he’s an experienced professional. One of his highlight achievements was in 2005 when he trained the entire cast of the movie “300”.
There’s more: Twight teams up with his clients to come up with personalized diet and workout regimens for each case. Moreover, as this 2020 interview reveals, the trainer ensures each party is psychologically involved in the program to create outstanding results and repeat business.
When joining the Gym Jones fitness program, Henry Cavill had two definite objectives- to build up his muscle mass and preserve high-level muscular definition. The precise details of his exclusive workouts at the Gym Jones fitness center aren’t fully released. Nonetheless, numerous interviews have revealed most aspects of the training.
For instance, in this interview with TRAIN magazine, Cavill claims that Twight’s training doesn’t only target physical strength and conditioning. Rather, it’s a mix of world-class physiological and psychological training to nurture the strength of body and character alike in line with Superman’s character
Before we get into Henry’s workout routine, check out this quick video of what he was put through:
There’s no doubt that Henry Cavill was not fat and unfit duck before his role as Superman in ‘Man of Steel’. He had just recently (in 2011) featured in ‘Immortals’ and was still in great physical shape.
Nevertheless, he needed to bulk up sufficient muscle and then tone those muscles to do the DC comic character justice. Thus, he needed to work out at insane intensity levels to clock his set fitness objectives in record time.
On top of that, Cavill had to bank on a no-retreat-no-surrender attitude to smash through seemingly insane workout targets within a limited time span. Luckily, his ingrained passion and dedication to rise to the role of Superman set him on a sure path to success.
But wait, there’s more. Henry Cavill not only worked out for 5-6 days weekly but also integrated varying exercises and workout routines to hit his fitness target. Further, he slept 8-10 hours daily to give his body sufficient recovery time after a day of strenuous workouts.
But first, here are the prerequisites that made Henry Cavill’s Superman Workout Program transformative:
1. Prepared to be a Jack of All Trades
The Henry Cavill Superman Workout Program is a multi-faceted package consisting of a blend of training philosophies to create an all-around fit person. The Superman actor went through a grueling six-month fitness training switching between:
- Functional training
- Cardio and CrossFit training
- Resistance training
- Olympic weightlifting training
2. Appropriate Diet to Attain and Retain the Superman Physique
For this program to be successful, Henry Cavill had to be fond of healthy eating. Remember, he needed sufficient and properly balanced diets to bulk up and energize his body and mind for the training and Superman role. The program alleges that Henry Cavill would eat over 5,000 calories daily when preparing for the ‘Man of Steel’ role.
Beyond the food, Cavill needed to flood his system with essential supplements especially if he couldn’t derive the nutrients from his normal diet. The most vital supplements he incorporated in the diet included Zinc, Magnesium, multivitamins, probiotics, and fish oil.
3. Trained In Stages
An all-encompassing workout regimen would have been extremely challenging to stick to. Worse yet, it would have been easy to lose track of his progress amid the projected challenges. However, the Henry Cavill Superman Training Workout Program was broken down into several phases to make it easy to train and track results.
The four main phases of the Henry Cavill Superman transformation program were:
- First(Preparation) Phase– Involvedlight exercises to prime muscles for the exhausting training in the next phases
- Second (Bulking) Phase– Included various workout exercises and diet regimen to accumulate more body mass and muscle and put on more weight
- Third (Cutting) Phase– Involved burning off the excess body fat and toning the body to gain that anticipated picture-perfect build
- Fourth (Maintenance) Phase– Includedperforming various exercises and partaking of a specific healthy diet to keep the body in great physical shape for a long time. Henry Cavill needed to look, feel, and act Superman-fit for 120days straight, and this program nailed it.
4. Combined High-Rep and Heavyweight lifting training
The intensity vs. volume of recommended reps is a long-raging fitness debate. However, Superman needed to appear both imposing and strong, so the training program focused on both.
Low-rep (3-6) weightlifting training improves the strength of the body considerably while higher-rep (10-12) is excellent at improving muscular mass. Thus, the best way to bulk up and crank up strength was by training to lift in all the rep ranges (low, medium, and high).
5. Leveraged proteins for accelerated muscle gain
Cavill’s body needed a rich supply of building blocks and energy to transform to the Superman build within six months. Therefore, his Superman Transformation Program featured sufficient amounts along with a smart balance of high-protein and calorie-rich foodstuffs to build and fuel more body muscle respectively.
Common foods that are rich sources of healthy protein that Henry included in his diet included steak, chicken, eggs, yogurt, coconut milk, and protein powder.
6. Cardio for Life
From the comics to the big screen movies, Superman is unmistakable- he’s an imposing character with a robust build, easy-going countenance, and an air of confidence around him. Moreover, he boasts a unique V-taper (shoulder-centric) body shape with broad shoulders, a tapering torso, and a very slender waist.
Henry Cavill needed to naturally flare-up, tone, and maintain a picture-perfect physique for the ‘Man of Steel’ star role in the cast. Although the other types of workout training proved invaluable, the Superman star confesses in this 2019 Men’s Health interview that fasted cardio worked best for him.
Surprisingly, Henry discovered that performing 20-minute fasted cardio at a heart rate of 125 to 135 beats per minute enabled him to easily burn off excess calories and tone his muscles. Moreover, he recommends dancing, skating, rowing, running, cycling, and swimming as fasted cardio exercises to anyone yearning for a fit and beautiful build.
Henry Cavill Superman Workout Routine Details
This Henry Cavill Superman Workout Training Routine was an effort and time-intensive program. Typically, each workout session in the program was approximately 2.5 hours.
Moreover, this six-month workout program was split into two weekly workout routines- Superman Workout Phase 1: Cardio and CrossFit Training and Superman Workout Phase 2: Bodybuilding.
Superman Workout Type 1: CrossFit and Cardio Training
The first week of the Henry Cavill Superman Workout Routine involved following a CrossFit and Cardio training routine. This workout phase combined strength-building exercises with high-intensity drills to build stamina, improve core strength, and build up endurance.
Moreover, the CrossFit training helped the body to burn off excess calories consumed during the program’s first two (preparation and bulking) phases.
The objective of this day was to lift 10,000 lbs as quickly as possible. Cavill performed one rep of each exercise without a rest break between the reps. Fortunately, he could use any weight as long as he limited himself to one rep each round.
- 5 to 10-minute warm up session
- Bench press
Henry performed eight sets of 50-yard sprinting with one-minute resting intervals between sets.
Cavill used an intermediate weight (50-lb dumbbells) to perform as many sets of mid-rep exercises as possible within 10 minutes. Specifically, he did:
- 7 reps Bent Over Rows
- 7 reps Power Cleans
- 7 reps Push Presses
Cavill went through eight rounds of each of these exercises with each round lasting less than one mite (60 seconds) with a two-minute break between rounds:
- 20 reps Kettlebell Swings
- 60-yard Sprint
He performed as many rounds of the following exercises as possible within nine minutes:
- 3 Reps Back squats
- 6 Reps Pull-ups
- 9 Reps Push-ups
Superman Workout Type 2: Bodybuilding
After a week of CrossFit training, switching over to a bodybuilding routine was essential to help Henry Cavill’s body to build muscle mass and accumulate strength. Here are the specific exercises he used:
Monday – Upper Body
- Incline dumbbell press – 4 Sets, 5 Reps with a two-minute rest interval between sets
- Flat dumbbell press – 4 Sets, 5 Reps with a two-minute pause for rest between sets
- Weighted pull-up – 4 Sets, 5 Reps including two-minute breaks after each set
- Dumbbell or barbell row – 4 Sets, 5 Reps, and a two-minute rest interval after each set
Tuesday – Lower Body
- Deadlift – 5 Sets, 5 Reps (along with a 2-minute rest period after every set)
- Front squat – 5 Sets, 6 to 8 Reps (one-minute interval between successive sets)
- Front lunge – 4 Sets 8 Reps each leg (1-minute pause after each set)
- Calf raises – 5 sets, 12 Reps (one-minute rest between subsequent sets)
Wednesday – Rest Day
Cavill would let his body rest and recover from the onslaught of the demanding workouts.
Thursday – Chest, and Back
- Incline dumbbell press – 4 Sets, 8-10 Reps with 1-minute rest intervals
- Cable crossover – 4 Sets, 10-12 Reps along with one-minute rest pauses between sets
- Weighted chin-up – 4 Sets, 8-10 Reps including 1-minute recess after each set
- Seated cable row – 4 Sets, 10-12 Reps with one-minute breathers between sets
Friday – Shoulders and Arms
- Seated dumbbell press – 5 Sets, 8-10 Reps including a one-minute rest interlude after every set
- Side lateral raise – 5 Sets, 10-12 Reps along with 1-minute respite between sets
- Front lateral raise – 5 Sets, 10-12 Reps with one-minute rest between successive sets
- Preacher curl – 6 Sets, 10-12 Reps (1-minute rest break after each set)
- EZ-bar skull crusher – 6 Sets, 10-12 Reps, and a one-minute breather after each set
Saturday and Sunday – Soft Tissue Workout and Rest
Henry understood the importance of rest in allowing the body to recover and adjust to the new Superman frame, so he took Saturdays and Sundays of the program’s bodybuilding phase to rest and perform soft tissue exercises.
Moreover, he would switch between the CrossFit routine and bodybuilding program after every week for the next six months.
Mark Twight further incorporated the tough Tailpipe Workout into Henry Cavill’s Superman training. The exercise involved:
- Rowing 250 meters against heavy resistance
- Holding two heavy (24 kg) kettlebells in a ‘rack’ position as he focused on his breathing
- Performing the exercise thrice with 5-second rest pauses after each time
Henry Cavill’s Superman Diet Plan
Besides training hard, Henry knew that his success at attaining and maintaining the coveted Superman physique hinged a lot on his diet. He loved taking protein as we see from his dietary details.
Further, Cavill couldn’t follow the same diet plan through the entire six months as the Superman transformation program involves four different phases. Instead, he gradually cut down on his daily calorie intake from 5,000kcalto 3,500kcal toward the fourth phase when he hit 100kg body weight.
Henry Cavill’s 5,000-Calorie daily Superman diet plan for bulking body mass and weight includes:
- 2 cups blueberries
- 56gramsof protein powder
- 2 cups of cereal
- 3 cups low-fat milk
- 6 tablespoonfuls of almonds
- 3 tablespoonfuls of barley
- 56-grams protein powder
- 2 cups of grapes
- 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 1 1/5 oz sunflower seeds
- 4 1/2 oz chicken breast
- 12 peanuts
- 3 whole pitas
- 4 oz low-fat or non-fat cheese
- 4 cups of vegetable soup
- 4 crackers
- 1 1/2 cups of plain and low-fat yogurt
- 1 tablespoon hemp, flax, olive, or salmon oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoonfuls of barley
- 49 grams of protein powder
- 3 tablespoonfuls of almonds
- 2 tangerines
- 11 oz lean-cut beef
- 1 1/3 cups of fruit juice
- 4 cups of cauliflower
- 2 cups of rice
- 6 tablespoonfuls of almonds
- 2 cups of chickpeas
- 1 head of lettuce
- 1 cup of mushrooms
- 11 oz of skinless turkey breast
- 6 tablespoonfuls of almonds
- 1/4 cup of onions
- 3 cups of cherry tomatoes
Henry Cavill’s 3,500-Calorie daily Superman diet plan for cutting calories uptake and maintaining the Superman physique included:
- 2 eggs
- 5 egg whites
- 1 apple
- ½ cup oats
- Multi-vitamin or fish oil supplement
- 1 cup of brown rice
- 1 chicken breast
- 6 oz of tuna
- 1 banana
- 1 pear
- 2 slices of wheat bread
- PWO shake, whey, or water
Meal 4 (chicken wrap)
- 1 6-oz. chicken breast
- 1 large (10″) flour tortilla
- ½ diced tomato
- ½ cup of chopped lettuce
Meal 5 (Potato + shake)
- 1 sweet potato
- 8 oz of milk
- 1 scoop of whey
- 1 cup of oats
- 2 tablespoonfuls of peanut butter
- 1 glass of yogurt
- 1 cup of cottage cheese
We can all agree that Henry Cavill’s Superman Transformation Workout Routine and Diet Plan was a challenging and time-consuming endeavor. It took six straight months of grueling training and dieting to be crowned the ‘Man of Steel’ even though the actor was already previously in great shape.
Although we can all work our way to great physiques as Henry Cavill did, it’s important to appreciate that it won’t be an overnight transformation. Moreover, it takes months and weeks of continuous and targeted physiological and psychological conditioning along with a constant healthy diet to switch from a lean frame to a full-bodied build like Superman.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is through constantly challenging yourself.