If you haven’t seen Alan Ritchson starring in the new Amazon Prime Video series reacherSo where have you been? Based on the best-selling books by author Lee Child, the series tells the story of a former US military police officer turned drifter named Jack Reacher who finds himself caught up in a deadly conspiracy.
But before reacher premiered, we caught up with the star of the show to find out exactly how he was hired to play Jack.
In an exclusive interview with men’s healthRitchson explains how he had eight months to prepare for the role, so he built a gym in his house, started lifting weights and ate a lot of calories. “It was a full-time job trying to eat enough to get strong for this role,” she says.
Before that, though, Ritchson says that five simple bodyweight exercises, which he’s been using for decades, formed the basis for Reacher’s weight. He can find exactly what they are below, as well as insight from our fitness editor, Andrew Tracey, and a handy 30-minute AMRAP that should get you ready to be marked as a Reacher.
“These five are the foundation of my routine, and have been for decades and have served me well,” says Ritchson. “[With these exercises] you can still hypertrophy and increase in size and you’re doing it in a safe and comfortable way.”
- Grab the bars of a dip station with your palms facing in and your arms straight.
- Slowly lower yourself until your elbows are at a right angle, making sure they stay tucked in against your body and don’t flare out. Climb back up to the top and repeat.
Ritchson says: “I’ve done, I don’t know, a billion dips in my day. It’s one of my main exercises, and I do them almost every workout, so I start or end with some dips. I love what they can do for a physique.” .
Tracey says: “Rivaling the bench press for chest-building prowess, dips also work the triceps hard. Raise your legs in front of your body at all times for a core-building bonus.”
- Grab the bar above you with your palms facing out and your arms fully extended. Your hands should be shoulder width apart.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together, exhale, and drive your elbows toward your hips to bring your chin over the bar. Lower under control back to the starting position.
Ritchson says: “If I do 25 pull-ups, my abs are tight at the end…so I kill two birds with one stone.”
Tracey says: “Building upper back muscles and biceps while challenging grip and core – a very functional movement and a sign of upper body strength.”
- Maintain top speed, keeping your torso upright and shoulders back, as you drive forward from the middle of your foot with each stride.
- Make sure your breathing is rhythmic and controlled to avoid burning yourself: inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth. Cover 80 m, keeping pace until you cross the line.
Ritchson says: “A lot of guys want to skip cardio, but man, you have to work your heart as much as your other muscles.”
Tracey says: “Burning calories, building endurance, and working your leg muscles without necessarily increasing size, sprints are a great way to build a more athletic frame.”
- Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your hands lightly touching your head.
- Engage your core and lift your upper body until your chest almost makes contact with your knees.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
Tracey says: “An abdominal building classic. To focus on your abs and avoid overworking your hip flexors, push your lower back into the ground and avoid sitting all the way down to keep tension in your core.”
- Starting in a plank position, slowly lower your chest toward the floor while making sure your abs are tight and your spine is in a neutral position.
- Slowly push back to the starting position. That is a repetition.
Tracey says: “Try doing these after dips for what is known as a ‘mechanical drop-set’. It will allow you to work the same muscles, but from a slightly “easier” angle, so you can still do reps and pump your chest, triceps, and shoulders.”
Reacher’s 30-Minute AMRAP
Ready to train like Reacher? Complete as many rounds of the following circuit as possible in 30 minutes (or however much time you have). That way if you ever find yourself fighting five guys in a prison fightyou know you’ll be ready.
“For 20 years, all I’ve done is this routine where I run to whatever park is near me and do push-ups, pull-ups, dips and sit-ups and then run in between and then run home,” says Ritchson.
- pull-ups x5
- Sauces x10
- push-ups x15
- Crunches x20
- 200m run
Reacher is available to stream on Prime Video now.
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