David Ramsey has displayed serious fighting skills—not to mention impressive abs—during his tenure as John Diggle, a U.S. Army Special Forces sniper with an alter-ego, Spartan, on the the CW series Arrow. Now in its eighth season, the show is slated to say goodbye after a final 10 episodes this fall. When asked about the best part about his Arrow experience, Ramsey said, “Definitely the relationships. It’s been such a family. Nobody could really have predicted this universe that we’ve built, on-screen and off, out of what was really a B-character in the superhero world.”

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Season 8!!!

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Ramsey is all about keeping it real in this role. “What was really important to me was that it be true to the fact that he is highly military trained,” he said. “His approach would be direct, disciplined, and with a goal to end the fight, unlike with the lead character, Arrow. I wanted it to be authentic and also to make the styles of the two characters very different to give it an interesting look since they would be fighting alongside each other a lot.”  

Despite all the action, the worst on-set injury Ramsey suffered wasn’t from any of the martial arts or fight scenes. “I was leaving the trailer and got a herniated disc in my back from picking up my son while walking down the stairs,” he said.

Ramsey mostly goes old-school to stay in shape. “I love the new stuff like CrossFit, but for me what has always worked has been just been the classic approach of a regular split routine,” he said. “So legs and shoulders one day, chest and triceps the next with 10 minutes of cardio at the beginning and end of each workout.” At 47, he has learned what works for his body. “I lose weight very easily, so I don’t overdo the cardio,” said Ramsey. “I also need to maintain about six to seven hours of sleep at night or I feel sluggish.”  

Though in great shape normally, Ramsey can reliably take his physique to the next level in a very short time. “I’m 6’3” and normally live around 215, but I can easily put on eight to 10 pounds of muscle in a week or two,” he said. “If I have a scene where I’ll be shirtless or a photo shoot coming up, I’ll just ask for about 10 days to prepare. That’s for when you have to go from a six-pack to a 12-pack, which sometimes you need to do on a superhero show.”