November 2016 Edit: I’m going to put myself through this program. I’m going to be adjusting it a bit and leaving it up for anyone who wants to do this for fun. (Also insert the usual disclaimer: talk to your doctor, don’t trust strangers on the internet, don’t hurt yourself and sue me, etc etc.) If I’m going to write this, I want to be sure it actually, you know, works.
I’ll provide links to that as soon as I finish it and either determine that I’m a dumb-dumb and missed the mark or that I was close-ish.
Also, scroll about halfway down the page to get to the actual workout. I go on a bit about how great it is to have women with guns being badasses in movies.
Another movie starring Tom Cruise fighting aliens?
You might be eye-rolling, and to be honest I did too. However, after just finishing the movie I have to say it far exceeded my expectations. Let me explain why.
First off, Tom Cruise is not the main badass role.
Emily Blunt is.
She plays Rita Vrataski, or who everyone in their world calls both “The Angel of Verdun” and “Full Metal Bitch”.
This is her:
Yeah, that’s her suit.
Instead of just a tank top and short-shorts like 99% of female-lead action movies, she actually has serious armor.
I won’t go into too many spoilers, but we learn that she is quite the tough ass.
For once, it was nice to see the woman be the badass who had a no-apologies approach to everything. She sacrifices at every turn and takes constant risks.
What really got my attention was that Emily Blunt actually looks believable as a warrior.
Most movies with a female-lead are always running around with not a single ounce of muscle to their frames.
They climb walls with ease and supposedly are strong enough to take down really buff dudes? Please. They rarely have any muscle, so it’s hard to believe they just overhead pressed 150 lbs. and threw that guy across the room.
Emily Blunt clearly worked insanely hard to add some size to her frame. I actually believe she is the badass character, Rita Vrataski. She has the physical frame to lift heavy weights, run through alien-infested fields, and throw around the huge sword she carries.
She looked pretty ripped, but there’s one scene where we really see her impressive size:
Shout out to Emily Blunt for putting in that much hard work. I rarely ever see women with actual built traps or shoulders in movies. Ever.
The suits they wore could weigh anywhere between 85 to 125 lbs. That’s a serious amount of weight to be carrying around.
According to Emily Blunt, she trained 6 days a week for 2 and a half hours every day doing everything from yoga, Krav Maga, gymnastics, weight training, to sprinting. She was able to accomplish her transformation in 3 months. Even Tom Cruise said he never had worked with anyone else who came to set that prepared and in shape.
“I wanted her to look lethal,” she said about her character Rita.
She mentioned that she also wore a weight vest to prepare for the giant suit she was going to wear in her action scenes.
The best part about Rita is that she doesn’t need anyone to “save” her like we all see in most movies. She can hold her own. She doesn’t spend any time feeling sorry for herself or whining over her circumstances. I have to applaud Emily for bringing such a real soldier spirit to Rita and making her a warrior to her core. We don’t see her have any emotional breakdowns or need approval from anyone. She does her job and fights like hell to the end, and is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice at any moment.
There’s no time for romance and there’s none of that “Oh let me assist you because you might not be strong” element. She is the strong one and she is using her gun more than anyone else in the movie. (Emily also said she laughed every time she shot Tom Cruise, which is funny to imagine.)
Of course, I don’t know her actual workout, but here would be my closest guess to her weight training routine. (Keep in mind, she worked out for over 2 hours every single day. This would not be a easy workout by any stretch of the imagination.) The workout I’m creating will not be that intense since most of us do not have that kind of time.
Also, I couldn’t find the actual workout online, just what people assume it is.. The trainer is hush hush so he can keep his business going. 100% understandable. I’ve heard that it’s a three-part circuit workout, but I’ve heard a few conflicting articles out there about the specifics, but we do know she trained for two and a half months. She also did all of her own stunts.
We do know her cardiovascular endurance was impressive, but so are her muscles, so we’ll look at a combination of both.
FYI: “sets” mean do the exercise three times. “reps” means how many you do.
So, 3 sets 12 reps mean do the exercise 12 times, then rest, then do it 12 times, then rest, then do it 12 times.
Also, if you want to burn fat, keep the rest times between workouts short. If you want to build muscle, keep the rest times a little longer. It’s been said that Emily’s trainer kept her at around 60 seconds of rest, so you can use that if you want.
Monday: Chest, Lats, and Back
Dumbbell Bench press – 3 sets 12 reps
Reverse-grip bent-over row – 3 sets 12 reps
Dumbbell flyes – 3 sets 10 reps
Wide-grip lat pulldown – 3 sets 12 reps
Push-up variations particularly the dive bomber/Hindu push-up – 3 sets of however many you can do. If you’re not strong, do them on your knees until you build up the strength.
Seated Cable Row – 3 sets 12 reps
Planks – hold them as long as you can or up to a minute. Keep your back straight and clench your butt (that’ll help keep your back straight). If you feel any part of your head, back, or hips start to get out of alignment, stop.
Prone cobra – Hold for 10 seconds, relax for five seconds, and repeat four more times.
End the workout with HIIT – high intensity interval training. This means you work out really hard for a length of time, then go slow, then push yourself, then go slow. It’s up to your current endurance on what you can handle. Ideally, you do between 15 and 30 seconds of intensity and between 30 to 60 seconds of rest, then rinse and repeat. Push yourself, but don’t hurt yourself. Do it for just a few minutes and leave the gym like a champion.
(You can read why HIIT is better than long-form cardio: click here.)
Tuesday: Shoulders, Trapezius, Abs, Booty
Dumbbell arnold press – 4 sets of 10 reps
Dumbbell bent-over lateral raise – 3 sets 10 reps
Dumbbell shrug (Do not skip these, these are the magic behind Emily’s shoulders looking so good in her famous push-up scene) – 4 sets 10 reps
Hanging leg raise – 3 sets to failure. (Meaning, for every set do it until you can’t any longer.)
Incline sit-up – 3 sets 15 reps
Single-leg glute bridge (or do regular bridge if it’s too hard) – 3 sets of 10 reps
Glute kickbacks (you can do these with or without cables. It’s up to you and what’s available) – 3 sets 10 reps
P.S. if you’re not a fan of either of the above two exercises, here is a list of more glute exercises and the rating for how well they work.
End the workout with HIIT
Wednesday: Quads and Calves
Squats (I prefer front squats, but do what you like) – 4 sets of 12
Walking lunges (you can do regular standing lunges if you don’t have space) – 3 sets 8 reps
Standing calf raise – 3 sets of 10
Bonus calf exercise (I have chicken legs so I add on extras for the people out there in the same position): Donkey calf raise – 3 sets of 12
Leg Extensions (if you don’t have this machine, switch it for a rear foot elevated split squat or a natural standing leg extension) – 3 sets of 10
I don’t end leg days with any HIIT because normally my legs are jello and they’re like “pls stop”. However, I absolutely make sure to foam roll and stretch after leg day. Actually, you should do that every day, but especially on leg day. Get to know the foam rollers at your gym, they will be your best friend to combat any soreness.
Thursday: Biceps, Triceps, Forearms
Wide grip dumbbell curls – 3 sets of 10
Tricep rope pulldown – 3 sets of 12
Hammer curls – 3 sets of 10
Dumbbell tricep extension (you can do lying, seated, or standing) – 3 sets of 10
Bonus tricep exercise (Emily’s are great and you can see that in her famous yoga pose) Reverse-grip cable pressdown – 3 sets of 10
Wrist curls – 2 sets of 10
Reverse wrist curls – 2 sets of 10
End the workout with HIIT
Friday: Hamstrings, Abs, Obliques
Step ups (be sure to do it like: this so it targets your hamstrings and butt better) – 3 sets for each leg, 10 reps
Romanian deadlifts – 4 sets 12 reps
Oblique cable crunch – 3 sets 15 reps
Dumbbell hamstring curl (or, lying leg curl on a machine) – 3 sets of 10
Sumo deadlift – 3 sets of 8
Weighted cable crunch (or planks) – 3 sets of 15
End the workout with HIIT
Anything you want. If you like yoga, do that. If you want to sign up for Krav Maga (we’ll cover it below), do that. This is her famous pose, which is a result of strength training and flexibility:
Alternatively, you can work on your speed and agility. Running up hills, ladder work, anything that works your speed, basically.
Bonus: wear a weight vest while you do so.
The Ultimate Move:
If you want a video how to do this, this will help: click here. Every time I’ve tried to do it my face smooshes into the mat, so I can’t provide a lot of help there. And yes, Emily said for the longer shots she needed foot wires to hold it, but she can absolutely do the pose.
You can read details on her diet: click here.
That might work for you, that might not. Just off ballpark without looking it up that sample meal plan would come out to 1,400-ish calories, which simply isn’t enough.
Knowing that Emily Blunt is around 5’7″ and around 120(ish) lbs, it appears she did a mini bulk for this program. That might have made her a little closer to 130 lbs with that lean muscle.
(I know because I’m 5’8″.)
Giving that she’s active and that she was adding a little size to her frame, she was maybe roughly around 1,800-2,100 calories. Maybe. Only because I hover around 2,200 when I’m bulking and she stayed pretty lean.
Plus, she’s incredibly active with her work/interviews/filming so I can imagine she needs more calories than someone who works a desk job (like I do) just to maintain her weight.
You can use my post: here to find your macros and why that’s a good approach.
Basically, find your maintenance calories/macros, then if you want to lose weight, subtract about 200-400 calories. If you want to build muscle, add about 200-400 calories.
Good job, Emily. You are definitely setting the bar high for action movies here on out.
LOOK AT THOSE TRAPS. (For those who aren’t aware, traps refer to the muscle – trapezius – that connects your neck to your shoulders.)
For my own nerdy mind, I also love to dive into the lifestyle and daily life of the characters I imagine workouts for. Not that you’re going to become Rita, but if you wanted to, this will get you closer.
So, let’s dive in.
In the Edge of Tomorrow, Rita is a war hero. She single-handedly won the previously huge battle before we meet Tom Cruise, giving her the nickname of “Full Metal Bitch”. She’s been hardened by the years of war before her and the years of war ahead. She’s lost loved ones and you can see that in her overall attitude because she doesn’t get too close to people.
At the same time, her reputation is much tougher than we find out she is as a person. Although she’s tough, she’s not completely heartless. She just wants to win the war.
Like a true warrior, she also is mentally prepared to sacrifice her life at any given moment. She trains hard, but knows if it comes down to it, she’ll do what she has to do.
Every day, she focuses solely on how she can improve herself. She focuses on the tasks at hand and what she can do to survive.
Anyone can apply this to their own life: focusing on what needs to be done today and getting on with it. There’s no need to overanalyze or plan everything out perfectly. Focus on dominating the day and finishing what you need to do.
As Emily said about preparing for her role, “Put your head down and do your work.”
Weighted vest. In most of the scenes, we see Rita walking around with a weighted vest, probably to prepare for all the gear she wears in every battle.
Helicopter blade for a sword. Apparently real helicopter blades run in the $4,000.00 ballpark, but you could possibly find some in a junkyard or government sale (if you’re lucky). Keep in mind, they might be hard to swing around, but if you do it I need to see a video of this.
Badass suit. I unfortunately can’t find much about the suit she was wearing, but give technology a few more years and I might have to come back and update this post.
Tactical outfits. This is a pretty thorough breakdown of her pants, gear, clothing, guns, and other accessories.
Hand-to-hand combat. Although there are a lot of guns at her disposal, she also uses her quick combat skills to overpower a lot of enemies. Any local Krav Maga classes could get you started on this path. Here’s a good post to get you started.
Sword fighting. What she does is a little different than regular fencing, because her sword is insanely huge and heavy. She also swings it around while spinning and running through the field.
General war-time and tactical skills. To say Rita is extremely versatile is an understatement. She can fly planes, drive speeding cars, take down enemies with ease… These are not easily attainable skills, but I love all the articles the Art of Manliness has on tactical skills.
Endurance. She rarely gets tired or worn out and can handle hours and hours of combat. This requires years and years of training, but if you want to train like an athlete and keep your body in top shape, it’s important to build your endurance to the point where hours of strenuous activity won’t exhaust you for days.
Of course, this is a much deeper look than just a workout behind a movie role, but like I mentioned earlier, ever since I was a kid I have been fascinated by fictional characters and how they operate. There will be a lot more posts to come like this, so if you’re interested, feel free to bookmark this site or sign up to receive e-mail updates when new posts are released.
(Generic disclaimer: *As always with any fitness program, talk to your doctor first / see a trainer / it’s not my fault if you hurt yourself / please don’t sue me / you assume all risk / etc etc. Also, if any exercise ever hurts in a bad way, stop doing it immediately.)