Workout Routines

Tom Cullen's 4-day 'Knightfall' workout program to get jacked medieval-style

Cullen's character on the legendary new History series is the medieval equivalent of a Navy SEAL. Here's how the actor got into battle-ready shape.

Tom Cullen's 'Knightfall' Workout Routine
Courtesy of A+E Networks
Courtesy of A+E Networks
Duration 90
Exercises 6-8
Equipment Yes

The Knights of the Templar were a Catholic military order that Cédric Proust, stunt coordinator for History's legendary new series Knightfall, describes as the "most advanced special forces" of their time. Founded in the 12th century, the Templars were the most skilled (and deadliest) warriors of the Middle Ages, a medieval equivalent of the Navy's SEAL Team Six or the Army's Delta Force unit.

Becoming a Templar was no easy task then, and it sure as hell isn’t one now—even if it's just for television. Just ask Tom Cullen.

For Knightfall, Cullen had to be in peak physical condition to play Landry, a veteran crusader and newly initiated leader of the Templars. To achieve that build, Cullen went through an “insane” training program that ultimately transformed his body into the “biggest and bulkiest” he's ever been. Here’s how he did it.

"My training process, personally, was long because I had to...get myself into a physical condition whereby I looked like someone who'd been fighting in a war since he was 11 years old," Cullen says.

Before donning any armor (which weighed more than 50lbs) or picking up a sword, Cullen weight-trained for three months. "I did a program called Get Swole, which was so hard," Cullen says. "It was insane. It was super-setting push and pull, and it would take about an hour and a half every day, just to get through [all the sets]. It was nuts."

Then came a two-and-a-half-week boot camp with the entire cast, when Cullen could finally put his months of training to work. Along with his fellow brothers of the Templar (or at least the actors who portrayed them), Cullen circuit-trained in the morning, then boxed, practiced sword combat, hit the weights, and finally finished off the day with some horse riding and more sword training—with only a brief break for a quick lunch of lean protein. Exhausting? Yes. Fun as hell? Absolutely.

"It was the most fun," says Cullen. "Also, for me personally to challenge myself to get that kind of fit. I've always been fit, but to get big and strong like that was a real fun journey and challenge to go on."

How it works

This four-day workout regimen is based on a program called Get Swole that Cullen used (and adapted in places) to train for Knightfall. "The important thing to remember," says Cullen, "is not to be put off by the amount of reps" and to "try and lift as heavy as you can and superset as fast as possible."

The best part? "The growth is fast," he says.

Directions

Do each day of this workout consecutively and take three days to recover. Exercises marked A and B are done without rest in-between (superset). Afterward, rest 90 seconds, and repeat for the prescribed number of sets. Complete all sets for one group before going on to the next. Perform exercises not marked A and B as straight sets.

Before tackling each day of the workout, Cullen ran a leisurely mile to the gym to gradually increase his heart rate. Once he got there, he sprinted for 10 minutes (30 seconds on, 30 seconds off) on the treadmill as a warmup.

Knightfall premieres December 6 at 10/9c on History.

Tom Cullen's 'Knightfall' workout to bulk up fast Day 1: Chest and back

Exercise 1A.

Wide-Grip Pullup You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Wide-Grip Pullup  thumbnail
5 sets
To failure reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 1B.

Bench Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Bench Press thumbnail
5 sets
12 reps
90 sec. rest

Exercise 2A.

Incline Dumbbell Flye You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Incline Dumbbell Flye  thumbnail
5 sets
12 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 2B.

T-Bar Row
exercise image placeholder
5 sets
12 reps
90 sec. rest

Exercise 3A.

Wide-Grip Pullup You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Wide-Grip Pullup  thumbnail
5 sets
Failure reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 3B.

Dumbbell Floor Flye You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Floor Press thumbnail
5 sets
12 reps
90 sec. rest
Support your upper body using a Swiss Ball.

Exercise 4.

Pullover/Triceps Extension You'll need: Barbell How to
Pullover/Triceps Extension  thumbnail
6 sets
12 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 5.

TRX Pushup You'll need: TRX How to
exercise image placeholder
5 sets
To failure reps
As needed rest

Tom Cullen's 'Knightfall' workout to bulk up fast Day 2: Legs and abs

Exercise 1A.

Squat You'll need: Squat Rack How to
Squat thumbnail
5 sets
12 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 1B.

Leg Press You'll need: No Equipment How to
Leg Press thumbnail
5 sets
12 reps
90 sec. rest

Exercise 2A.

Stiff-leg Deadlift
exercise image placeholder
5 sets
12 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 2B.

Hamstring Curl You'll need: Swiss Ball How to
Hamstring Curl thumbnail
5 sets
12 reps
90 sec. rest

Exercise 3A.

Walking Lunge You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Walking Lunge  thumbnail
5 sets
12 (each side) reps
0 sec. rest
Use a barbell for added weight.

Exercise 3B.

Standing Calf Raise You'll need: Box How to
Standing Calf Raise thumbnail
5 sets
12 reps
90 sec. rest
Hold a pair of dumbbells.

Exercise 4.

Ab-Wheel Rollout You'll need: Ab Wheel How to
Ab-Wheel Rollout  thumbnail
1 sets
50 reps
As needed rest

Tom Cullen's 'Knightfall' workout to bulk up fast Day 3: Biceps and triceps

Exercise 1A.

Cheat Curl You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Cheat Curl thumbnail
6 sets
8 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 1B.

Lying Triceps Extension You'll need: Dumbbells How to
 Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension thumbnail
6 sets
8 reps
90 sec. rest
Set the bench on an incline.

Exercise 2A.

Alternating Dumbbell Bench Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Alternating Dumbbell Bench Press thumbnail
6 sets
8 reps
0 sec. rest
Set the bench on an incline.

Exercise 2B.

Triceps Pushdown You'll need: Elastic Band How to
Triceps Pushdown thumbnail
6 sets
20 (last set at 1/4 range of motion) reps
90 sec. rest

Exercise 3A.

Bench Dip You'll need: Bench How to
Bench Dip thumbnail
5 sets
To failure reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 3B.

Biceps Curl You'll need: Elastic Band How to
Biceps Curl  thumbnail
5 sets
30 reps
90 sec. rest
Perform as an angled prone curl.

Tom Cullen's 'Knightfall' workout to bulk up fast Day 4: Shoulders and abs

Exercise 1A.

Arnold Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
How To Do A Standing Dumbbell Arnold Shoulder Press thumbnail
5 sets
12 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 1B.

Upright Row You'll need: Barbell, Dumbbells, Kettlebells How to
Upright Barbell Row thumbnail
5 sets
12 reps
90 sec. rest

Exercise 2A.

Lateral Raise You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Lateral Raise thumbnail
5 sets
12 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 2B.

Front Raise You'll need: Resistance Band How to
Front Raise  thumbnail
5 sets
12 reps
90 sec. rest

Exercise 3.

Crunch You'll need: Swiss Ball How to
Crunch  thumbnail
1 sets
50 reps
As needed rest
Use a Bosu ball.

Exercise 4.

Russian Twist You'll need: Medicine Ball How to
Russian Twist thumbnail
1 sets
50 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 5.

Crunch You'll need: Swiss Ball How to
Crunch  thumbnail
1 sets
20 reps
As needed rest
Perform each rep slowly.
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