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John Wick racked up 76 kills in the original film—not too shabby for a retired hit man. The staples in his repertoire include judo, jiu-jitsu, gun fu (kung fu with guns), and hand-to-hand combat.
But it isn’t just these skills that let Keanu Reeves-as-John Wick rip someone’s face off with a roundhouse kick. No, what Reeves has—and you can have, too—is something that takes his abilities to a higher level: an enhanced sense of “proprioception,” or a heightened awareness of where every part of his body is and exactly what it’s doing at all times.
The following workout, which Reeves used to train for John Wick: Chapter 2, features multistep exercises that efficiently work several muscles and body parts together, to earn you not just a killer physique but killer moves, too.
This is not your traditional muscle building plan. Joint stability, mobility, injury prevention, and explosive power are its cornerstones. “Keanu’s body was put through the wringer,” says his trainer, Patrick Murphy. “I had to implement the safest, most effective program possible.” To accomplish that, Murphy made heavy use of bands: “They can be easier on the joints than free weights,” he explains, “but I also like the negative resistance they present.” Other tools in the box are unilateral exercises ike ice skaters and single-leg pistol squat hops, which enhance proprioception—the body’s ability to sense what all its parts are doing—and balance.
Perform each circuit two to three times per week. Complete 15–20 reps of each exercise and then move on to the next exercise (including for the warmup circuit below). That’s one circuit. Rest one minute upon completion then start again.
Band external rotations
Grab a folded towel and fasten your band at waist height. Stand to the side and hold the band in your far hand in front of your belly button, with the towel tucked between your elbow and side. Rotate your forearm out and to the side as far as you can. Resist the band as you return to start.
Band single-arm lateral raises
Move the band so it’s anchored low to the ground. Hold it in one hand and stand to the side and far enough away that your arm is fully extended. Slowly raise your arm up to the side to shoulder height. Resist the band as you return to the start.
Using light to moderate dumbbells (or none at all), stand with with your back to a wall. Bring your arms wide into the shape of football goal posts. Perform slow military presses, bringing hands up above your head. Aim to keep your arms against the wall the whole time.
Single-leg balance with leg reaches
Stand on one foot. Extend your other foot forward hovering it over the floor, bending the standing leg as needed. Come back through the center, then extend your free foot to the side in the same way. Come back through the center and extend the foot behind you.
Photography by James Michelfelder
￼Patrick Murphy is an L.A.-based celebrity trainer, murphyfitness.com