How Ryan Reynolds Got in Superhero Shape for ‘Deadpool’

Follow the strength routine Ryan Reynolds used to bulk up for 'Deadpool.'
Follow the strength routine Ryan Reynolds used to bulk up for 'Deadpool.'Joe Lederer / 20th Century Fox

Ryan Reynolds admits that the first time he saw the finished Deadpool costume he wept. And why shouldn't he? It was a culmination of 11 years of hard work. Since the development began in February 2004, the project saw a seemingly endless carousel of directors, writers, and never-ending negotiations. But just like in the gym, hard work paid off, and the result was his dream gig, playing the iconic "Merc with the Mouth" in an R-rated movie where he could portray the character in all his wisecracking and gory glory.

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In the story, created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza, Wade Winston Wilson is an ex-military officer diagnosed with terminal cancer and then offered an experimental operation that will give him enhanced regenerative powers, keeping him alive. It becomes known later on that this was the same secretive facility that created the infamous X-Men Wolverine, and as a result Wilson is transformed into an equally deadly antihero named Deadpool.

Reynolds worked with his longtime trainer Don Saladino, owner of Drive 495, to get freakishly fit for the role, putting on seven pounds of lean muscle. But Saladino makes it clear that while they obviously wanted to build an aesthetically pleasing look, they were focused on actual strength over the superficial. To accomplish that they spent a good amount of time with movement training every day before they went to the weights to make sure that Reynolds's body was prepared for the variety of action that would take place before and during the filming.

Saladino also recommends developing a passion for the critical exercises, like deadlifts and squats. "Ryan loves deadlifts, and he loves squats because he knows that's how he's going to make real gains." And that's the attitude that it takes to get ripped like Ryan Reynolds.

Perform this routine before every strength session.

Foam Rolling: Hit tight muscles for 5 minutes. "I like rolling out some of the hotspots and I like that it's going to get fresh oxygen into the muscle and loosen up whatever is tight," says Saladino.

Movement Prep: Two circuits of 10 glute bridges, 30 seconds cats and dogs, 10 reach backs, 10 toe touches, 10 bear crawls. "After that, his body is activated," he continues. "This is important because he's going to be moving in all sorts of ways through his training. Every single joint needs to warm up."

Muscle Activation: Three circuits of 10 reps of bounding, overhead shovel throws, and Turkish get-ups. "You're getting the body prepared for a number of motions," says Saladino. "These are more expansive than your typical lifting movements."

Weekly Strength Plan
Saladino shared what Reynolds's weekly training schedule typically looks like, but stressed that it can be adjusted to fit your needs. "The biggest mistake that people make when making an exercise plan is not to listen to their body every day," says Saladino. "Ryan was a recent father and traveling a lot, so if he had been up all night with the baby, or just gotten off a plane from Singapore, you can best believe we were changing up the program. Learn to call an audible."

Day 1: Legs
Squats: 4 sets of 7 reps (take as much rest as needed)
Stationary Lunges: 4 sets of 10 reps (one minute rest)
One Legged RDL: 4 sets of 10 reps (one minute rest)
One Legged Leg Press: 4 sets of 8 reps (one minute rest)

Day 2: Shoulders
Dumbbell Press: 4 sets of 10 reps (90 seconds rest)
Side Raise: 4 sets of 10 reps (one minute rest)
Rear Delt Raise: 4 sets of 10 reps (one minute rest)
Front Raise: 4 sets of 10 reps (one minute rest)

Day 3: Off

Day 4: Back
Sumo Deadlifts: 7 sets of 4 reps (as much rest as needed)
Pull-Ups: 4 sets of 6 reps (as much rest as needed)
One Arm Row: 5 sets of 10 (one minute rest)
Machine Row: 4 sets of 10 reps (one minute rest)

Day 5: Chest
Bench Press: 7 sets of 4 reps (as much rest as needed)
Incline Press: 4 sets of 6 reps (as much rest as needed)
Dumbbell Flies: 4 sets of 10 reps (one minute rest)
Dumbbell Pullovers: 4 sets of 15 reps (one minute rest)

Day 6: Arms
Nosebreakers: 4 sets of 8 reps (one minute rest)
Tricep Dips: 4 sets of 10 reps (one minute rest)
Rope Pushdowns: 4 sets of 12 rep (one minute rest)
Sissy Bar Preacher Curls: 6 sets of 6 reps (one minute rest)
45° Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 10 reps (one minute rest)
Hammer Curls: 3 sets of 10 reps (one minute rest)

Day 7: Off

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