Kumail Nanjiani became the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest (and most surprising) hardbodied celebrity last December when he shared, in his words, a “thirsty shirtless” post, immediately jolting the trajectory of his acting career into overdrive.
For the pop culture world, Nanjiani the superhero truly arrived the moment he posted the photo. For the actor, the moment had been a long time coming, with countless hours of work behind the scenes on his body—we were there with him then—and more importantly, on his career to be in the perfect position to be cast as Marvel’s first South Asian hero.
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I never thought I’d be one of those people who would post a thirsty shirtless, but I’ve worked way too hard for way too long so here we are. You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. I found out a year ago I was going to be in Marvel’s Eternals and decided I wanted to transform how I looked. I would not have been able to do this if I didn’t have a full year with the best trainers and nutritionists paid for by the biggest studio in the world. I’m glad I look like this, but I also understand why I never did before. It would have been impossible without these resources and time. So big thanks to @grantrobertsfit who started working with me at the beginning of the year and made me understand true physical pain for months and months. Then, once we started shooting, a massive thanks to @davidhigginslondon and his team (@ellispartridge, @thebeardypt, @tomcheesemanfitness) for training me almost every day and making me strong, limber and injury free. I can almost touch my toes now. (And thank you for forcing me to do cheat meals David.) Matthews Street Catering for their delicious and healthy meals. And finally, the biggest thanks goes to @emilyvgordon for putting up with me complaining and talking about only working out and dieting for the last year. I promise I’ll be interesting again some day. #thirstyshirtless (Photo by @markupson.) (edit: I left off one very important person: @lancecallahan who trained me for 6 years and helped me build the foundation I could use to do this. Thank you!)
You probably know how this has played out (and if you don’t, catch up here with Nanjiani’s wide-ranging Men’s Health cover story). Now, Nanjiani is pulling back the curtain to share even more about how he was able to bulk up and the particular inspirations he used to get there. He hosted the Men’s Health film crew at his gym with his trainer Grant Roberts to walk us through some of his favorite exercises.
“He’s not just any superhero—his secret identity is that he’s a Bollywood movie star,” says Nanjiani of his Eternals character, Kingo. “Those guys are super-jacked, so I had to really, really get into shape.”
But real world Bollywood stars weren’t the only measuring stick Nanjiani was using for his training. He had he MCU colleagues to worry about, too. “I wanted to look like someone who could believably hang with Thor or Captain America, so I knew that I really had to transform my body.” Even Nanjiani had to keep up with the Chrises.
If you want to try to follow Nanjiani’s lead, just remember that these moves aren’t meant to be completed as one workout. He credits these particular exercises as giving him a strong incentive to stick to his routine. “What’s kept me going to the gym is changing up the workout, finding exercises I like, and sort of mixing things up all the time,” he says.
Follow his lead, then include the exercises into your other sessions and you’ll be on your way to superhero shape.
Kumail Nanjiani’s Favorite Eternals Exercises
Power Plate Activation – 30 seconds
Legs and Core
Zercher Squats – 3 sets of 15 reps
Low Cable Scoops – 3 sets of 10 reps
Shoulders – Delt Giant Set Circuit
Dumbbell Front Raise – 3 sets of 8 reps
Standing Lateral Raise – 3 sets of 8 reps
Bent-Over Lateral Raise – 3 sets of 8 reps
Biceps with Electrical Stimulation Circuit
Cross Body Dumbbell Curls – 3 sets of 7 reps
Dumbbell Hammer Curls – 3 sets of 7 reps
Standard Dumbbell Curls – 3 sets of 7 reps
Dips – 3 sets till failure
Cable Row in Squat Stance – 3 sets of 10 reps
Want more celebrity workout routines? Check out all of our Train Like videos.
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