The ‘Iron Man 3′ workout: Tips from Robert Downey Jr.’s personal trainer

Credit: Zade Rosenthal
Credit: Zade Rosenthal

“Superheroes have good bodies, even if they have PhDs,” says Brad Bose, who would know: he’s Robert Downey Jr.’s personal trainer. “So it was important that Robert was extremely fit and had a good muscular build. Only, it had to look realistic. He’s meant to be a billionaire playboy, you don’t want him to get too big and end up looking like Captain America or The Hulk.”

Fortunately, Downey Jr. was almost ready to go for his third stint as Mr. Stark.“He’d recently finished filming ‘The Avengers’ so he was in good shape. But holding on to that muscle mass and definition for long periods of time isn’t easy,” adds Bose. “He had to get ‘re-buff’. We were doing two-hour sessions, three to four days a week. By the time we were done, he’d gained five pounds of muscle and trimmed off 10 pounds of fat.”


Functional Performance training vs. Body Building

“Robert’s cardio was never an issue,” Bose tells Metro. “A lot of people don’t want to talk about it but the truth is, he’s 48. He’s above the curve when it comes to being a fit individual but this is a young man’s training he’s doing.”

In order to gain muscle bulk, Downey Jr. spent the first month doing traditional weight training: push ups, bench press, etc. Once he and Bose were satisfied with his mass, they moved on to ‘Functional Performance Training’, a technique that engages all muscle groups simultaneously: “FPT isn’t just for aesthetics,” says Bose. “All the exercises are designed to get you muscular through strength. As opposed to body building, where you’re working one muscle group in isolation, FPT gets as many muscles and as many planes of movement, engaged at any one time,” he explains.

The logic behind the moves is this: “The body functions as a unit. Every time you’re doing an upper body movement, your legs should never be completely dormant. The ‘core’ (from the lower part of your rib cage to the lower part of your hip girdle) should always be engaged. The aim of FPT is to do things more dynamically. So we’ll push sleds, we use battling ropes, sledgehammers, tyres and so on…”

AND ON HIS DAYS OFF… Tracy Anderson & Kung Fu

“Robert is constantly doing something,” says Bose. “But in order to spend time with his wife, he does a lot of Tracy Anderson cardio classes. And he’s a brown belt in Kung Fu, so on the opposite days that he’s not working with me, he’s sparring with his coach, Eric Orum.”


Dips 3 sets 8-12 -80% 0f Max

Keeping you body upright or very slightly tilted forward on a dip bar, lower your body down until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle, then press back up until your arms are almost fully extended (straight). But do not lock the elbow.

Bandbell bench press 3 sets 8-12 reps -80% 0f Max

Using a band bell bar you are doing a bench press. The key to this exercise is having a bandbell bar, rubber bands about 12 inches long and kettlebells. Loop the band around the kettle bells and hang them on the bar.
Now the weights attached to the bar will swing and bounce when you perform this exercise forcing you to stabilize the bar with your abs and upperbody while you are performing a bench press motion. Do 8-12 reps and 3 sets.

Sand bag power throws 3 sets 12 -15 throws /set

Power throws are a full body exercise encompassing your full body. We use Alpha Strong bags because the handles of the bags are well made and well placed on the bag.

Using the handles that are closest to the middle of the bag squat down and grab the handles. Be sure to keep your abs engaged (tight). The first notion from here is to press up with the legs moving from a squat position (use your legs not your lower back) to a position where the bag is hanging at your waist and your legs are extended.

Now flip the bag up to rest on your chest (like you would on a clean and jerk).
Finally push the bag in a throwing motion releasing the bag. Quickly get to the bag and repeat this 8-12 times do 3 -4 sets. Tip when throwing if you throw with and upward motion you work more shoulders while an outward motion works more chest.

Surge 360 5 exercise circuit  (50 reps each arm x 5 exercises) (punches, windshield wipers, out & around, in & around, full rotations)

Punch straight out alternating hands 25 reps, keeping elbows high push the bars from side to side 25 reps, pushout and then bring the handles around in a circular motion 25 reps, pull handles in and then bring them around in a circular motion, push the handles ina punchlike movement but use your core to push the handles entirely to the side rotating at the waist, hip and knee.


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