Last Updated on April 9, 2021 by admin
Ryan Reynolds is no stranger to heroic transformations. From Blade Trinity to X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Green Lantern, he’s donned (and discarded) the lycra in more slow-mo ab reveals than most. In Deadpool, he nailed the formula. Aged 40, no less.
The secret to getting in the shape of his life at an age when most of us are resigned to a slow and decidedly unheroic decline? That would be PT legend, Don Saladino.
Based in New York City, Saladino has been a strength coach and fitness trainer for 22 years. In that time he’s developed a client list that would put an Avengers roster to shame. From training Hugh Jackman for the role of Wolverine to helping Jake Gyllenhaal, Sebastian Stan, and Scarlett Johansson get in shape he’s earned a reputation as ‘The Superhero Coach.’
For Saladino, getting an actor in shape for a role isn’t just about building pecs and carving out abs. He knows that getting a client to look their best on-screen means putting as much emphasis on functionality as it does bicep curls.
“They have to look a certain way on screen but they also have to develop the resilience to withstand the vigor of a 15-hour shoot day,” he says.
Having worked together since 2011’s Green Lantern, both Reynolds and Saladino were comfortable in their partnership. When Reynolds landed Deadpool, they were determined to take his physical transformation to new heights.
“I’ve been working with Ryan for over a decade,” says Saladino. “Every movie he got ready for I prepped him for. He’s an incredible human being. He’s very talented, athletic, and humble. I can’t take full credit because he has such a drive.”
Now 44, Reynolds was already 40 when he and Saladino prepped for the first Deadpool film. Not that age proved a problem.
“Ryan has just turned 44 and I think his physique and structure now might be the best I’ve ever seen it,” says Saladino. “In Deadpool, he outdid Green Lantern. In Deadpool 2 he outdid Deadpool.”
With every transformation, then, the goal has been to outdo the last one. Which, when you’re walking around looking like Ryan Reynolds, to begin with, is pretty tricky.
Saladino’s approach to getting actors movie-ready makes a lot of sense.
“Every actor I work with, they’re two to three weeks out from being ready. Three hundred and sixty-five days a year, we need to be two weeks out from being able to be shirtless.”
This sounds like hard work, but it does negate the need for an unhealthy three-month crash diet before shooting starts. On Saladino’s plan, actors can go have a burger, but when it’s time to buckle down they aren’t turning up to set with 20% body fat.
“Ryan will come to me and say ‘We’re shooting Deadpool 2’,” says Saladino. “I’ll say ‘OK, where are you with nutrition? OK, great. Let’s ramp up the training.’”
“When you’ve been training with someone for 10, 11 years it’s not like you have to rewrite the book; you just have to tighten up and not allow yourselves to deviate off the plan,” he continues. “I think that’s something that most people overlook; they think they have to re-invent the wheel. If you’re training all year long, just start avoiding cheat meals and get rid of the little bit of alcohol you might be having.”
When it comes to diet, Saladino knows that the traditional method of dropping calories will most likely just make an actor irritable and tired on long shooting days. Instead, he takes a more sustainable, smarter, and safer approach.
“There’s such a smarter way to do things now where in the past actors are water-loading, dehydrating, and manipulating carbs too low,” he says. “It’s not the way you need to approach this.”
Saladino suggests that 95% of people who are working out don’t eat enough. This, of course, leads to those long evenings spent battling cravings.
In Reynolds’ case, upping his calorie intake lead to his best-ever physique.
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“Ryan and I understand that he needs fuel to keep his energy up throughout the day,” says Saladino. “When he did Green Lantern carbs were low and his energy was low. We introduced carbohydrates and I think that’s when his physique changed. Sweet potato is one of his favorite carbohydrates. He’d do oatmeal and protein in the morning. Brown rice and a little bit of fruit. His body became the best it has ever been when he started consuming carbs; it gave his body the energy it needed to start looking the way he wanted to start looking.”
While it’s true that bodies are made in the kitchen, you will have to lug a few weights around too. While Saladino is reluctant to release Reynold’s exact workout (“I’ll figure out the right time to publish it,” he says) he has revealed that every workout starts with movement.
“It starts with a level of functionality,” he says. “We’re spending 10 to 15 minutes allowing the body to move and open up.”
After that comes the strength portion of the workout. Over a ten year period, this has naturally evolved with Reynold’s body and role requirements.
“We’ve done everything from body part training to upper/lower body training to full body workouts every day,” explains Saladino. “That’s something we’ve been doing a lot more of lately. His body has been feeling great and we’re not crushing him with volume every workout. We’re coming in and hitting an upper push, upper pull, a squat, a hinge, and core work. The programs change according to how he feels and what he has to get ready for.”
While the Deadpool regiment remains under lock and key, Saladino was able to lift the lid on an example day that supersets pull with pushes for a whole body workout.
Typically, they’ll do variations of this four or five times a week. By focusing on multiple body parts every day they not only avoid fatiguing one area, but it means Reynolds won’t have to wait another week if he misses back day.
“Instead of coming in and destroying one body part like chest or back, we’re going to spread that out over five days,” says Saladino. “We’re accumulating the same amount of work but we’re spreading it out.”
The best news? Yes, you can ditch legs day. Because now every day is legs day.
- Start with 15 minutes of warm-up and movement. This could be yoga, stretching, treadmill work – whatever gets you loose.
- Then you’re going to superset trap bar deadlift for 4 sets of 8 reps, alternating with incline dumbbell press for four sets of 8.
- Next up, you’re going into four sets of 10 goblet squats, super-setting with four sets of inverted rows.
- Now we come to the ‘bicep, tricep, carry’ section of the workout – essential for building those patent Reynolds’ biceps. Work through, rope tricep pushdown for three sets of 12, straight into the hammer curls for three sets, and finishing with a Farmer’s carry, using a weight of your choice for 50 yards per arm, for three sets.
- Dig deep for a final burnout.
“At this point, we’ll determine if we want to get any high-intensity cardio in,” says Saladino. “Ryan enjoys doing three to five sets of 10 seconds of intensity on the bike ERG, or 50 to 100 feet climbs on the vertical climber.”
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Stick to a similar regime four or five days a week, and, with a lot of hard work, you too might find yourself in the best shape of your life. Super-suit not included.
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