'Luke Cage' Star Mustafa Shakir's Must-Have Fitness Gear

The brawny TV supervillain shares his tips to staying in shape.

'Luke Cage' Star Mustafa Shakir's Must-Have Fitness Gear
Courtesy of HBO/Paul Schiraldi

Mustafa Shakir is a busy man. The talented actor stars in the sci-fi short Let Them Die Like Lovers, which hit the Tribeca Film Festival in April. He’ll be reprising his role as Big Mike this fall on HBO’s The Deuce, in which he provides a quiet presence and plenty of muscle as the right-hand man to James Franco’s character. And in Marvel’s Luke Cage—which dropped its second season on Netflix on June 22—he’ll take on his most physical role yet, playing John McIver, aka Bushmaster, a super-strong supervillain who’s out for vengeance. So Shakir’s got plenty of incentive to stay in shape.


“These are physical characters, so I want to do them justice,” says the Harlem, NY, native. “I try to stay in the gym as much as possible. For Luke Cage, I went for a more slender approach, so I did lots of cardio to keep myself lean and slim.” That included plenty of fight choreography to prep for his role as the combat-savvy Bushmaster, something that complemented Shakir’s own background in martial arts.

Muscle Confusion

Shakir employs a mix of cross-training, weight training, and yoga and keeps his cardio simple by running, jumping rope, and hitting the bag. “I like to vary my workouts to keep my muscles confused,” he says, “so they continue to adapt and grow.”

Shakir's Gym Essentials

1. Chuck Taylors

“When I’m doing lower-body work, I usually wear Chuck Taylors. They’re comfortable and provide a good base. If not those, then a lightweight running shoe.”

2. Body Opponent Bag (BOB)

“I like hitting and kicking a standing bag like the BOB. It’s great cardio and lets me work on some of that fight training on my own.”