How Ryan Reynolds Got in Superhero Shape for ‘Deadpool’

MCU fans rejoiced earlier this year when news broke that not only would Ryan Reynolds be returning for a third Deadpool film, he’d be joined by Hugh Jackman’s previously retired Wolverine. The upcoming Deadpool 3 will reportedly see both characters catapulted into the main Marvel cinematic continuity via some multiverse shenanigans. All in all, it sounds pretty great.

But you don’t need to be a comic nerd to appreciate the pairing. Both Jackman and Reynolds are notoriously stacked making their inevitable muscle-bound face-off the most exciting gym-bro film since The Expendables.

It’s thanks to celebrity coach and fitness entrepreneur (and now Lumen ambassador) Don Saladino that Ryan Reynolds has been able to put the ‘super’ in superhero. Ironically enough, they were first introduced 14 years ago through Jackman, and have worked together on numerous projects ever since.

“We just hit it off, we had very similar fitness goals and a similar fitness outlook,” says Saladino of his first meeting with Reynolds. “We even had similar body types!”

The Mission

Unlike the CGI-heavy Green Lantern, Reynolds wanted Deadpool to feel authentic, which meant really feeling the role, physically. Whereas most actors work towards a certain day where they’ll be shirtless on set, Reynolds wanted to remain in top shape throughout, to really help him inhabit the role.

“I really respected that,” says Saladino. “For Deadpool, underneath the suit, his body looks incredible, but it’s not like he’s shirtless all film.”

To achieve this all-round fitness, Saladino says the emphasis was on “almost trying to become that person. To do that, you have to take ownership over the process; putting in those hours in the gym wherever we can, putting that time into the nutrition.”

In other words, like Deadpool himself, shit got pretty intense.

Battling It Out

When it comes to sculpting a superhero body, Saladino’s core tenet is movement.

“I would never do just straight bodybuilding, because he has to do so many of his own stunts,” Saladino says, explaining that while big muscles might look the part, they can be pretty restrictive when it comes to jumping through windows, rolling around with katanas, or just lifting your arms over your head. For Reynolds’ fight scenes across the three Deadpool movies, it was important he could move like an athlete.

It was also key to take a slow and measured approach to his workouts to retain a symmetrical figure, and to prevent his body type changing too much throughout filming. “The [Deadpool] suit is very tight—it’s perfectly fitted,” explains Saladino. Get too big, or lose too much weight and Reynolds simply wouldn’t fit in the suit.

Back to movement, each workout would begin with loosening up and foam rolling. “It was all about a dynamic warm-up,” says Saladino. “We might clean up in his thoracic extension by hanging from a pull up bar, with some thoracic rotations.”

Saladino likens the process of helping an actor move as efficiently as possible to flossing your teeth. “We’ll segmentally look at his body and we’ll just try and grease it,” he says. “When you’re flossing your teeth, you’re just making sure it’s smooth, and it’s clean. Like, I want to make sure that his joints are really flossed. So that’s like, number one focus early on.”

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