This article was originally published in 2016.
While we know nothing about whether Kit Harington’s Jon Snow will be back for Season 6 of Game of Thrones, we are certain about one thing: He’s physically ready for it. (Spoiler alert: Harington did return in a big way in Season 6—and he’s still kicking at the start of Season 8.) To get Harington in the kind of shape to sword-fight White Walkers while wearing what looks like 100 pounds of fur, celebrity trainer and author of The Feelgood Plan, Dalton Wong focused on compound exercises that mimicked the on-set moves.
“We were doing a lot of full-body movements, rather than the typical isolation exercises,” Wong says. “Lots of cable routines that would allow his body a fuller range of movement, because he would have to take that sword around the head.”
Wong also concentrated on strength-training workouts that honed in on the largest muscle groups in the body — the back, glutes, and legs — and were intense enough to double as cardio, too. This meant 45 minutes to an hour of lateral lunges, deadlifts, and upper body push and pull movements.
He shared one of Harington’s go-to workouts below. Try it two or three times a week, and get fit enough to fight the undead.
- Knee Hugs: Lie on your back and hug your left knee to your chest, while keeping right leg flat. Repeat four times, then switch legs.
- Thread the Needle: Position yourself on your hands and knees on the floor. Thread your left hand over to your right side, so that it hovers an inch above the floor. Lift the same arm up toward your left shoulder and look up. You should feel your chest opening. Return to start and repeat on the opposite side for 1 rep. Do 10 reps.
- Lunge Stretch: Start in a forward lunge on right leg, and plant hands on floor on either side of front foot. Use your right elbow against the inside of the right knee to deepen the stretch. Raise your hips high to straighten the right leg and stretch the hamstrings. Repeat four times, then switch sides.
You’ll need a heavy set of dumbbells (Harington uses 20- to 30-pounders). Complete four rounds of the following four exercises, resting one minute after each round.
- Pendulum Lunge: Holding dumbbells at sides, take a big step backward with right foot and lower right knee to floor. With your weight in your left heel, take a big step forward with right leg and bend your left knee so it just hovers above floor. Repeat on left leg, and continue alternating for 1 minute.
- Weighted Push-Up Rows: Get in plank position gripping a dumbbell in either hand. Bend elbows back and close to body to lower chest to floor, then press back up, locking elbows at the top. Keeping a perfect plank position, row your left hand up to your left ribs, elbow back and tight to the body. Lower the weight, and repeat on the right side. Continue alternating for 1 minute.
- Lateral Dumbbell Lunge: Stand holding dumbbells at sides, and lunge laterally to your right (if you were standing in the center of a clock, this would be like lunging to 1 o’clock), and putting 80 percent of your weight in your right heel. Press through your front foot to return back to start, and repeat on your left side (imagine lunging to 11 o’clock). Continue alternating sides for 1 minute.
- Kneeling Curl and Press: Start in a kneel with arms straight at sides and a weight in each hand. With palms facing out, curl weights to shoulders, then turn palms in to press the weights overhead. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to start, and repeat for 1 minute.