A lot of strength and a bit of cardio. This was two weeks on the workout Gal Gadot used to get her in fighting fit form for Wonder Woman 1984.
There’s a reason so many of us are interested in what actors have to do to physically prepare for a role, especially if it’s a superhero movie (Hugh Jackman’s diet/exercise routine to shred for Wolverine will go down in history, believe me). If they share what their workout was for the weeks, sometimes months in the lead up to filming, maybe we can mould our bodies to look like them too. Maybe.
So naturally, when I saw Gal Gadot’s trainer had spilled on her Wonder Woman workout to The Hollywood Reporter*, I was curious. Tempted, even, to see if I could do it myself and committed to doing it for two weeks, Monday to Friday.
I had to make a few adjustments as not all the equipment was available at my gym (an assault bike, for example, which I’m really thankful for because those things are the devil), and it’s important to remember that this was in addition to the TWO HOURS of fight training she did for six months in the lead up to filming. I simply don’t have three hours to spend in the gym, but I did ramp it up with a HIIT and Hills class on the Peloton bike (which is a special exercise bike you can live-stream spin classes on and I’m very sorry to say they’re not available in Australia yet). Each day focused on a group of muscles, for example, days one and four were lower body and core, while days two, three, and five were upper body and core. The usual suspects: squats, lunges, static holds, hill climbers, etc. A sample day:
HIIT, Legs, Core
Warmup: Treadmill, 5 minutes; HIIT treadmill sprints, 3x for 30 seconds, with 30 seconds off
Front squat, 12 reps 3x
Walking lunge, 20 reps 3x
Mini band circuit, 3 rounds: Mini band curtsy step, 20 reps; mini band lateral walk, 15 reps each side
Skaters, 20 reps 3x
Windmill, 20 reps, 10 on each side
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What struck me most was how each movement focused on function, not isolated muscle work you get with machine weights. In fact, most days ask for free weights or body weight. Most trainers will tell you these are better because they promote the use of your stabilising muscles, which help prevent injury.
Indeed: “We weren’t going for the most muscle mass possible. We wanted to build a strong foundation, focus on keeping Gal mobile and uninjured,” trainer Magnus Lygdback told THR.com.
The first week was challenging because I was using muscles that I haven’t used in a long time. Yes, it’s a rookie error and part laziness but I don’t really do weights, even though every trainer on the planet will say you need to do at least some kind of resistance training for bone density and overall strength.
By day three, I was struggling to both walk and move my arms, and my fiancé would chuckle every time I tried to hoist myself out of bed in the morning. A few warm baths, morning stretching, and illegal amounts of Tiger Balm were my friends.
It got better quickly
But once week two started, I didn’t get that awful, immobilising muscle pain I did initially. It’s incredible how quickly your body adjusts to something new. And, for someone who has never really enjoyed exercise (see, I get bored REALLY quickly) I liked the variety so much I’ve actually kept up the Wonder Woman workout beyond the fortnight I originally committed to. It’s the start of week three and I’m feeling stronger already. Today I increased my dumbbells again for the bicep free weights from 10 to 15 pounds (4.5kg to 6.8kg) each, and I’ve also increased the weight on the leg press.
Will I ever look like Gal Gadot? Unlikely. But dare I say it, the Wonder Woman workout made me feel pretty super (sorry).
*For obvious copyright/plagiarism laws, I can’t copy the entire workout but you can read it yourself by following this link.