No spoilers here, but there’s a scene in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Far From Home where Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio huddle in the middle of an epic battle with a gigantic intergalactic foe. As you can imagine, both characters are pretty winded during the clash.
In order to get the vibe right, Holland decided he would launch off a trampoline into a backflip and then land in the frame with Gyllenhaal to deliver his lines. Needless to say, this is not a regular occurrence on movie sets, and Holland’s idea surprised even the veteran actor Gyllenhaal.
“He is so physical,” Gyllenhaal said during a press conference for the latest addition to the web-slinging franchise. “The way he moves is insane.”
Holland has a background in gymnastics and dance, which has allowed him to bring a physicality to the role that fans haven’t previously seen. On top of his acting work on set, he spends as much time as possible working with the stunt crews so he can step into the action whenever possible. Before filming the latest in the Spider-Man franchise, he played another film role that required him to lose weight, so Holland’s team put in a call to London-based trainer George Ashwell to help him get back into shape.
“I was excited to work with someone who was already such an athlete,” says Ashwell, who works out of Twenty Two Training. Starting six weeks before Far From Home began production, he worked with Holland every day. Ashwell created a program that had the actor doing a combination of big fundamental lifts and functional movements for mobility. The work continued throughout filming: Holland trained in gyms built alongside the movie’s stunt rooms in London, Prague, and Venice.
Though the focus was on making sure Holland filled out the Spider-Man gear and could pull off his stunts, one scene in particular demanded that he looked like a superhero outside of the suit as well.
“The script that we were handed had a pretty big shirtless scene,” Ashwell says. “So we wanted to make sure that he looked his very best for that.”
They set a goal of having Holland gain one stone (about 14 pounds) of muscle without any increase in body fat. How did they do?
“Tom smashed it,” Ashwell says. “The kid is a machine.”
Perform this four-exercise circuit for five rounds. The first round is a warmup and the rest are considered “working sets.” Rest for 30 seconds between each exercise. Ashwell also recommends one minute of Functional Rotational Conditioning, or mobility movements to prime the joints, before and between each round.
Deadlift (2x bodyweight): 8 reps
Incline Press With Pronation (1/2 bodyweight each hand): 10 reps
Dip Bar Straight Leg Raises: 15 reps
Weighted Dips (8 kilograms weighted vest): 12 reps
Rather than prescribing meal plans, Ashwell instead opted to work with what Holland was previously eating and adjusting it as needed. This meant making sure that each meal contained two fist-sized portions of protein, two fists of carbs, and two fists of greens. Holland was eating half of that before they started training, but he needed to up the amounts in order to bulk up properly. He tried to stick with lean proteins and good carbs when possible.
Ashwell is a physical therapist as well as a trainer, and he puts a large emphasis on the treatment and recovery side of training. He worked with Holland for about 30 minutes on the treatment table after each of their workout sessions.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is in theaters now.