He may have got in MMA fighter-shape for Warrior, and bulked up to play Batman's arch nemesis Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, but British actor Tom Hardy's role in Mad Max: Fury Road was arguably his most challenging yet.
Coach’s sister title, Men’s Fitness, spoke with Hardy and his stunt double, Jacob Tomuri, to discuss staying in shape on set and the physical challenges that come with shooting such an action-packed film.
Hardy is no stranger to morphing his body into shape for a new role, but to play Max he had to overhaul his approach and start early. He undertook a gruelling six months of training to prepare for the blockbuster action movie. But the intensity didn’t let up once the cameras started rolling.
Tomuri was on set to keep Hardy fighting fit throughout the many months of filming. “While you’re there you’re doing it, you’re on it every day so there’s a level of fitness you need in a way, and you keep it by doing the stunts alone,” Tomuri tells us.
“It was a very physical shoot from the beginning,” Hardy adds. “From the training right through to the six months of shooting on the ground. You were physically active all day, every day.”
This rigorous preparation paid off in the long run. It allowed director George Miller to capture the visceral high-adrenaline action in an as authentic way as possible. “Nowadays the studio and filmmakers will want their talent to be seen in the middle of as much carnage as possible – where it is safe,” says Hardy. “He [George Miller] incorporated visual effects and actual real effects so everything you see actually did happen.”
Watch the video below, and then read on to find out how Hardy gets it done in the gym, with training tips from his longtime coach, Patrick 'P-Nut' Monroe.
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Train moves, not muscles
“For Warrior, I didn’t want to train Tom to look like he could fight, I wanted to train him to actually fight,” says Monroe. “We spent three months working striking and the muscles involved in that. We'd take the normal movements involved in striking and add resistance. For example, I would resist him when he was throwing a punch or throw strikes at him while he blocked with weights on his wrists and ankles. I knew it would be impossible for him to interpret the choreography without knowing how to move naturally. You can't act like you can dance if you can't dance.”
Send the right signals
“I do something called signalling, which involves sending signals to the muscles you want to develop as often as possible. So instead of doing a few sets of push-ups to failure over five minutes, you might do ten every five minutes for an hour, or do sets spread throughout the day. The body is purely utilitarian. It gets good at the tasks you set for it, but only those tasks. Considering this, it stands to reason that the best way to condition for true strength is to vary the tasks you give your body as much as possible. Which leads us to the next point.”
Confuse your muscles
“If you always do the same moves, the body will just get more efficient at them. Introduce variables: you might do ten fast press-ups, then one slow one, switch to your knees or place your arms wide or into a diamond position under your chest, and so on. The goal is to make every rep difficult. By making every rep hard and different, you’ll ensure that the body evolves, becoming stronger in multiple areas rather than narrow areas addressed by singular movements.”
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Between 2010 and 2016, Ben was the deputy editor of Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Ben also contributed exclusive features to Coach on topics such as football drills, triathlon training plans and healthy eating.
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