Kumail Nanjiani took his casting in The Eternals very seriously, as evidenced by his newly ripped physique. Best known for playing the oblivious Dinesh Chutai in Silicon Valley or his semi-autobiographical romantic comedy The Big Sick, the actor took his reported role as the genetically-enhanced samurai Kingo in the new Marvel movie as an opportunity to get into superhero shape.
Nanjiani’s transformation started with walking in the door of Granite Gym in Beverly Hills, home to personal trainer Grant Roberts. “I was excited to work with Kumail because I could tell he was ready to dedicate himself to the process,” says Roberts. “I have literally thousands of text messages to prove that point. Getting these kinds of results don’t happen without maximum effort.”
Here’s a look at what Roberts helped Nanjiani transform into:
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For over a decade Roberts helped actors prepare for the physical demands of their roles, for example helping Hilary Swank get ring ready for her Oscar winning role in Million Dollar Baby. Roberts even got a thank you in the actresses acceptance speech during the awards ceremony.
Before working as a trainer in Hollywood, Roberts was a champion body-builder competing out of Toronto, snagging the title of Mr. World Canada. So it stands to reason that he knows how to pack on the pounds, in the right way.
For nearly a year, five days a week, Nanjiani would show up at Granite for intense and dynamic sessions that would target no more than three different parts of the body. Roberts would employ electrical muscle stimulation, or EMS, pads putting out twice a week to encourage gains in targeted areas.
“I pushed him a lot harder than he was expecting,” says Roberts. It didn’t take long for Nanjiani to be fully on board for the challenge though. “He had just never worked out like this before. But once we really started, I saw his mindset change completely.” Their work didn’t end when Nanjiani left the gym either, Roberts was equally keyed into every other part of his day, working with him on his recovery, rest, and diet, along with nutritionist David Higgins.
Roberts also taught Nanjiani to focus on symmetry of the musculature, the way that body builders do, so that the actor would care more about the full picture. This dedication to “no weak spots” gave the actor a much more complete physique than he had ever had before.
By the time that Nanjiani left for filming in England, the actor had put on about 25 to 28 pounds of muscle, according to Roberts. “This is a big moment for him,” says Roberts. “I could tell that this role and movie meant a lot, it showed in the room, and he walked away a stronger person.”
A DAY IN KUMAIL’S CHEST TRAINING FOR “THE ETERNALS”
- Standing 45-Degree Cable Incline Fly: 4 sets of descending reps (each set heavier): 20/15/12/10
- Dumbbell Incline Press: 4 sets of descending reps: 12/10/8/8
- Low Cable Scoops: 2 sets of descending reps: 15/10
- Chest Cross (wide grip): 3 sets of 8 reps
- Chest Cross (narrow grip): 3 sets of 8 reps
- Single Standing Cross Body Cable Fly (slow 3-second hold finish, visualize the chest lines): 2 sets of 10 reps
- Body Weight Dips: to failure
- Heavy High Elbow Tricep Pushdowns (straight bar): 4 sets of descending reps: 10/10/8/6
- Standing Overhead Tricep Rope: 3 sets of 20 reps
- Lying EZ Bar Skull Crushers (elbows 45 degrees, bar goes past top of head to bench depth): 3 sets of 12 reps
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