After the Mountain — played by international strongman competitor Hafthór Júlíus Björnsson — the fittest men on Game Thrones are the ones not headlining a comic con or gracing a magazine cover. They're the stuntmen jumping off castle walls and swinging steel swords in the background.
To find out what it takes to get fit for Game of Thrones, we talked with award-winning stuntman and Dove Men+Care spokesman Bobby Holland Hanton. You wouldn't recognize his name or face, but in addition to battle scenes in the upcoming Game of Thrones season five, he's the stunt double for Chris Hemsworth's Thor, Christian Bale's Batman, and Ryan Reynolds' Green Lantern.
Hanton competed as gymnast growing up and had a stint as a semi-pro soccer player before beginning to train as a stuntman at 24 years old. "When I first started going to the gym, I didn't know what I was doing," says Hanton. "I just lifted the biggest weights I could." The slow, heavy workouts added bulk, but he wasn't lean like the actors he needed to stand in for, and the size didn't translate to performance. "I found it very difficult to move and do my stunts."
Hanton switched to circuit training with bodyweight exercises and quickly found he was building the lean muscle that looked good on camera, and functional strength to pull off the stunts required in a blockbuster. Hanton adds that his injuries are down by more than half since switching to bodyweight moves.
Here's Hanton's favorite circuit routine. He cycles through six exercises without any breaks and says he sometimes swaps in dips and calf raises. Start with four rounds and eventually build up to six. Keep your core tight throughout and take as little rest as possible. Your total workout time shouldn't be more than 20 minutes.
- Pull-up (12 reps)
- Push-up (12 reps)
- Bodyweight squats (10 reps)
- Alternating lunges (10 reps each leg)
- Downward dog push-up (9 reps)
- Treadmill sprint (40 seconds at a steep incline)