How Michael Fassbender Got ‘Assassin’ Fit

Credit: 20th Century Fox

During the development stages of the movie adaption of Assassin’s Creed, the bestselling video game from Ubisoft, star Michael Fassbender knew that fans would be expecting a lot from action sequences, especially the parkour element that the franchise has become known for. “The universe is so fascinating it lends itself well to a movie, but I knew, most of all, people would be looking for some incredible rooftop flying scenes,” says Fassbender. “I really wanted to do those justice, and that was going to be a lot of work.” Though the actor was already pulling double-duty, serving as a producer on the project as well, that didn’t stop him from waking up early to participate in grueling workouts led by trainer David Kingsbury. “I was doing about an hour and a half of physical conditioning before every shooting day, getting as strong and fit as I could.”

Kingsbury, who was charged with getting the whole cast Assassin-ready, created a program that would both improve strength and prevent injury. “This movie was a very physical one for Michael and everyone in the cast,” he says. “So improving core strength was a big priority, all while taking care of their bodies.” Filming in remote locations meant not always having a training facility at the ready, but that didn’t stop the sessions. “On those days, we would just improvise a gym,” says Kingsbury. Compound exercises were executed on scaffolding, and the gap was filled with body-weight movements and martial arts training.

“If we had a long day, we would transition at some point into Muay Thai or boxing, because it helped get the right look aesthetically, not to mention that it was also helpful for their combat work in the movie.” Once he was strong, Fassbender wasn’t about to let someone else step in and take the punches for him, even though the studio may have preferred that. “I got to do about 95 percent of the fight scenes myself,” he says. “It was important to me that I did as much as possible.”

Kingsbury vouches for the actor’s boxing skills. “Michael is fantastic on the pads,” he says. “That was a part of the training that he really enjoyed.” The result is undeniable, with hand-to-hand combat that feels as thrilling on the screen as it does in the game. 

A Day in the Life of the Assassin’s Creed Cast’s Training

Kingsbury shared a day-long sample of how the whole cast got into killer shape. Good luck.

Deadlift: 

Trap Bar Deadlifts: 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 minutes rest between sets

Circuit 1:

Lunges (Weighted): 5 sets of 10 reps, each side

Pull-Ups (Weighted): 5 sets of 8 reps

Push-Ups (Weighted): 5 sets of 10 reps

Circuit 2:

Dips: 4 sets of 12 reps

Single Arm Rows: 4 sets of 12 reps, each side

Ab Wheel Roll Out: 4 sets of 8 reps

Boxing:

3 rounds of 3 minutes

Cool Down:

Spend 10-15 minutes working body on a foam roller

Assassin’s Creed hits theaters December 21.