Henry Cavill didn’t just need to be jacked to play Geralt in Netflix’s The Witcher. He couldn’t just look the part. No, the Man of Steel also needed to be both jacked and athletic. Why? Because he was going to be wielding Geralt’s sword throughout the series, doing a great many of his own stunts.
So Cavill worked with strength coach Dave Rienzi on an all-around program that didn’t just simply build jacked arms. It also gave Cavill the muscular endurance he needed to wield a weapon throughout the long shoot days he had to battle through. And it went beyond arms, too: Swords are massively heavy implements to use in a move, so Cavill needed core strength, trunk stability, and total-body endurance, too.
He wound up doing a bevy of different exercises in his sessions, everything from banded Romanian deadlifts for major hamstring and glute strength to Pallof presses to develop ultra-strong core strength.
And yes, he did do plenty of arm work, too, headed by these three moves that he loves. Inject them into your own arm blasts. They work best as finishers, after you’ve slammed your arms with, say, heavy standing curls, skullcrushers, or shoulder presses.
Dual Cable Reverse-Grip Kickback
Why: You’ll attack your triceps, the muscles on the backs of your arms, with this move, and you’ll do it in a way that offers little opportunity to cheat. If you keep your upper arms fully parallel to the ground the entire time, you’ll have to squeeze your tris extra-hard at the top of every rep, as they’ll face the full brunt of gravity.
How: Stand facing a cable machine and grab the 2 handles. Hinge forward at the waist until your torso is parallel to the floor—this is the start. Straighten your arms, flexing and squeezing your triceps; return to the start. That’s 1 rep; do 4 sets of 10, resting just 45 seconds between sets.
Three-Way Shoulder Raise
Why: Shoulder muscle isn’t all about the military press. Shoulder raises, when done correctly, help isolate the deltoids. The key to doing these is keeping your shoulder blades squeezed, and never letting your wrists rise drastically higher than your shoulders. You’ll hit your shoulders from multiple angles with this move.
How: Stand holding light dumbbells at your sides. Raise them out to your sides, then lower. Raise them out to your sides at 45 degree angles, then lower. Raise them out in front of you, then lower. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 5.
Iso-Hold Biceps Curl
Why: Building big biceps isn’t always simply about curling the heaviest weights. It’s about actively squeezing your biceps at the top of every rep and owning that position — and this curl variation forces you to attack that squeeze.
How: Curl 2 dumbbells; hold the up position. Squeeze your right biceps as you lower the left dumbbell, then curl it up. Repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 10 to 12.
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