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

The first two months of training were a slow ramp-up for a far more intense period down the road. The dietary tweaks came slowly, including a simple supplement regimen of multi- vitamins, essential fatty acids (in the form of Udo’s Oil), probiotics, and magnesium. By the two-month mark, Cavill was training twice a day and shoveling 5,000 to 6,000 calories into his mouth, with no regard for the macronutrient profile. Cavill gained 20 pounds during this time, then saw his carbs limited and calorie count cut in half as the start date approached.

Actors typically dive headlong into intense training and a complete dietary overhaul, having only six to eight weeks of prep to hit their peak. While it might produce results, those results are unstable, according to Twight, and wouldn’t have worked for a project with a shooting schedule like the one used for Man of Steel.

“Stable fitness requires a wide, solid foundation,” Twight says. “The deeper that foundation, the more stable that condition will be, and the easier it is to maintain.”

Ease of maintenance was absolutely essential; Twight might have been able to demand two-a-day training sessions and 10 hours of sleep from his client during the prep period, but the moment filming actually began, there was no choice but to back of. Hotel living, 12- to 14-hour shoots, and dismal winter weather—none of it was conducive to keeping Cavill in superhuman shape. Five days of training became two or three; on a rare off-week, Twight could bump it back up to five days. The detrimental effect of fewer workouts, however, was minimized thanks to the base built earlier in the year. Depending on pre-workout interviews, Twight could step on the gas or hit the brakes accordingly.

The frames of the movie say it all. Cavill weighs between 186–190 pounds with an average of 5–7% body fat for most of it, but got down to around 3–4% for his shirtless scenes. An easy criticism of most superhero flicks is that the costumes are designed in such a way to accentuate perfect abs and pecs. Sometimes, the actors beneath these costumes might not even train very much. Cavill’s shirtless scenes, though, put any such suspicions to bed. His is a tight, hard-won musculature that reflects the actions of a man wholly dedicated to his program.