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Man of Steel: How Henry Cavill Got Superhero-Shredded

To bring the title role of Man of Steel to life, filmakers turned to the superstar trainer behind the jacked physiques in 300.

Man of Steel

Training actors for intensely physical roles isn’t new for Twight, either. Snyder first teamed up with the trainer in 2006 when he needed Gerard Butler and about 40 Spartan warriors to get ripped to the bone for 300, a movie in which the actors battle shirtless in nearly every frame. The result was one that made the number 300 synonymous with six-pack abs, as well as Twight’s style of high-intensity circuits. The experience, however, was draining enough that it “cured” Twight of any desire to work on big-budget Hollywood projects for the next five years—until Snyder came knocking again.

Twight met Cavill in February 2011, kicking of a partnership that would last a full year—roughly five months of prep time and seven months of shooting. No stranger to weights himself, Snyder knew enough about training to not just ask Twight to make Cavill look a particular way, but to also identify the pitfalls of the shooting schedule right of the bat. Snyder warned that Cavill had a shirtless scene in early October, then another just three weeks later, meaning he’d have to hit a peak and stay there for much longer than is usually required in filming.

“Peaking a guy for a few days is one thing,” Twight says. “What Snyder was asking for was ‘an entirely different problem.’ ”

The challenge, though, hooked Twight immediately. After an initial assessment of Cavill—or the “raw material” as he likes to call new clients—the prep period began. At the time, Cavill had recently finished shooting Immortals, a role for which the 6'1" actor leaned out to 170 pounds, meaning he needed to gain a considerable amount of muscle mass to get into the role of Superman.

But before the design of a training and nutrition program could even begin, Twight laid down the central rule of the prep period, the specifics of which he refused to negotiate: Cavill needed to get nine to 10 hours of sleep every night for the next five months, no exceptions. Few men, especially Hollywood leading men, appreciate being told to forget their nightlife and get to bed early, but Twight couldn’t have been more clear.

“It’s like, ‘Hey, guy, you want to be f—king Superman? Then do this one other thing, which might be the most important piece of it,’” Twight says. “If you don’t get the sleep, if you can’t recover, then we can’t continue with this training and we won’t achieve the objective. The predatory effect that a lack of sleep has on the rest of the work you do is shockingly powerful. The HGH and testosterone secretion that happens during these deep-sleep cycles is super-important.”

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