Hero Training: Robert Downey Jr.’s Muscle-Building Iron Man Workouts

Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man Workout / Iron Man / Marvel Studios, Film and Television Iron Man 2008, Robert Downey Jr

When Robert Downey Jr. first suited up as Iron Man, he got himself into prime shape. The Iron Man workouts he did below with his trainer helped him stack on 20 pounds of muscle. Later, in the tea,m-up films The AvengersThe Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Avengers: Endgame, Downey Jr. got in shape again for the role alongside his other jacked castmates Chris Evans (Captain America) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor). (See more on how they worked out here.)

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Even for a veteran Hollywood superstar like Downey Jr., you’d think it’d be a little intimidating to perform opposite men that are younger, more athletic, and physically primed to take on the roles of super-soldier and Norse God. Think again.

(Editor’s Note: This interview was originally done in 2012.)

“I’m not particularly tall, strong, fast, or aggressive,” Downey Jr. told us, “But I’m not faking it.” Far from it. Since 2003, he has trained using the Wing Chun technique made famous by Bruce Lee, a discipline that’s become a part of his daily routine—and his dedication to perfecting the art is evident in his performances. He is also a beast in the gym (see Downey Jr.’s plan below) but knows his limits: “I’m not a kid,” he told us, “And I’m not a professional athlete.”

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Getting in Iron Man shape, however, forced Downey Jr. back into the gym in conjunction with his Wing Chun training. “We cut way back on cardio and really increased the weight he was lifting,” says Brad Bose, Downey Jr.’s trainer. After months of hard work and consuming 5,000 calories a day, Downey Jr. had packed on 25 pounds of muscle and forged a physique truly worthy of Iron Man.

Here’s a look at the Iron Man workouts that helped Downey bulk up and get superhero ready:

The Iron Man Workouts Plan

Lower Body

Exercise Set Reps
Band Squat 4 8-12
Hamstring Curl 4 8-12
Leg Press1 4 8-12
Suspension Trainer Lunge* 3 15 – 20 each leg
Suspension Trainer Superman Squat* 3 15
Romanian Deadlift 3 8 -10
Sandbag Squat 3 8 -10
Ab Circuit** 3 rounds

*All of Bose’s suspension trainer work was done using a War Machine suspension trainer: crosscore-usa.com **Pick 4–6 exercises; perform two minutes of reps for each exercise.

Upper Body

Exercise Set Reps
Weighted Pullup 3 8 – 12
Weighted Dip 3 8 – 12
Swiss Ball Bench Press 3 8 – 12
Low Row 3 8 – 12
Continuous Tension DB Shoulder Press*** 3 8 – 12
Bosu Ball Pushup 3 15-20
Suspension Trainer Pushup* 3 Failure
Suspension Trainer Row* 3 Failure
Lateral/Front Shoulder Raise 3 8 – 12
Kettlebell Swing 3 40
Sand Bag Power Throw 3 12-15
Ab Circuit 3 rounds

*** Keep both hands in the up position, lowering only one hand at a time.

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