If you’ve ever wondered how stuntmen maintain peak physical condition – surviving falls from great heights, while your ankle rolls walking down the stairs – the answer is refreshingly simple: consistency.

For veteran Nicholas Daines – who’s worked on Batman, Venom, Jurassic World, Indiana Jones, and many more Hollywood blockbusters – the key to his 25-year+ longevity lies in having a resilient physique, which is the result of a straightforward but comprehensive full-body training plan. 

Alongside mobility and balance exercises, regular stretching and 30 minutes of daily cardio, when it comes to strength training Daines uses a simple three-day, full-body programme:

DAY 1

DAY 2

DAY 3

DB Bench PressBB Bench PressDB/BB Incline Press
Lat PulldownLat PulldownCable Row
Leg PressLunges/SquatsHack Squat
Standing Calf RaiseStanding Calf RaiseStanding Calf Raise
DB Shoulder PressDB Lateral RaiseDB Lateral Raise
Seated DB CurlSeated DB CurlSingle-Arm Preacher Curl 
Triceps PushdownTriceps PushdownSingle-Arm Triceps Extension
Seated Leg CurlSeated Leg CurlBack Extension

“I do 8-12 reps for every exercise,” Daines tells MF, “and each set should be done until momentary muscle failure. Once you increase your strength to the point that those 12 reps feel easy, increase your load (ideally by 3%).”

As you’re going to be working top to toe in every session, make sure you leave at least one day’s rest between workouts, to give your muscles enough recovery time before hitting them again. Rest days can be spent stretching or keeping your engine ticking over with cardio.

Sample full-body workout

Full-Body Training Programme Of A Hollywood Stuntman | Men's Fitness UK

1. DB Bench Press

Reps: 8-12
Rest: 60-90 secs
Sets: 3-4

  • Lie on a flat bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and your back against the bench.
  • Press the weights directly above your head, but don’t lock your elbows at the top.
  • Slowly lower the weights back to the start, flaring your elbows out to the sides as you do so.

Full-Body Training Programme Of A Hollywood Stuntman | Men's Fitness UK

2. Lat Pulldown

Reps: 8-12
Rest: 60-90 secs
Sets: 3-4

  • Sit at the pull-down station and take a wide, overhand grip on the bar.
  • Look forward, retract your shoulders blades and keep your torso upright.
  • Use your lats to pull the bar down the chest height. Avoid leaning back to aid the movement (drop the weight if you find yourself doing so).
  • Squeeze your lats at the bottom of the move, then return the bar with control.

Full-Body Training Programme Of A Hollywood Stuntman | Men's Fitness UK

3. DB Bulgarian Split Squat

Reps: 8-12
Rest: 60-90 secs
Sets: 3

  • Find yourself a step or bench – it needs to be just below knee height.
  • Assume a forward lunge position with your torso upright, core braced and hips square to your body, with your back foot elevated on the bench.
  • Lower until your front thigh is almost horizontal, keeping your knee in line with your foot.
  • Drive up through your front heel back to the starting position, while always keeping your movements measured.
  • To increase intensity, explode from the floor through your heel to hop off the ground (should you need to make it more challenging).

Full-Body Training Programme Of A Hollywood Stuntman | Men's Fitness UK

4. DB Shoulder Press

Reps: 8-12
Rest: 60-90 secs
Sets: 3

  • Set the back of the bench to vertical and take a seat.
  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand and position the weights on your thighs.
  • Now ‘kick’ the dumbbells up so you’re holding them at chin height – with elbows out to the sides.
  • Brace your core and glutes, avoid arching your lower back too much, and press the weights overhead.
  • Once arms are extended, lower the weights back to chin height and repeat.

Full-Body Training Programme Of A Hollywood Stuntman | Men's Fitness UK

5. BB Romanian Deadlift

Reps: 8-12
Rest: 60-90 secs
Sets: 3

  • Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Point toes outwards at an acute angle.
  • Grip the bar on the outside of your shins.
  • Bend your knees slightly.
  • Slowly descend the bar towards the floor as you bend your hips.
  • Keep your chest high and look straight.
  • When a stretch is felt, begin to extend your hips.

Full-Body Training Programme Of A Hollywood Stuntman | Men's Fitness UK

6. DB Biceps Curl

Reps: 8-12
Rest: 60 secs
Sets: 3

  • Stand tall, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Curl the dumbbells up to shoulder height, ensuring your elbows stay tight against your sides.
  • Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement, then lower the weights back down with control.

Full-Body Training Programme Of A Hollywood Stuntman | Men's Fitness UK

7. Triceps Pushdown

Reps: 8-12
Rest: 60 secs
Sets: 3

  • Stand in front of the cable, with feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Grab the bar with both hands and pull it down until forearms are just above parallel to the floor.
  • Slightly lean forward from the hips and push the bar straight down, keeping elbows locked in and focusing on the contraction in your triceps.
  • Pause for a second at the bottom, then return your forearms to the starting position.

Full-Body Training Programme Of A Hollywood Stuntman | Men's Fitness UK

8. DB Single-Leg Calf Raise

Reps: 8-12
Rest: 60 secs
Sets: 4

  • Stand with one foot on the edge of a step holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing.
  • Go up on to your tiptoes, keeping your body stable.
  • Pause briefly before returning back to the start, then lower your heel so that it dips below the platform to achieve the full range of motion.

 

 

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