During lockdown, Stan enlisted the help of ‘Superhero Coach’ Don Saladino to create a workout he could do from the comfort of his own living room. Based in New York City, Saladino has earned his name as the celebrity trainer, training the likes of Scarlett Johansson and Jake Gyllenhaal and even Australia’s Golden Boy himself, Hugh Jackman.
The product of their partnership has been the Superhero Challenge, a four-week, dumbbell-only workout programme that launches anew every month and is designed to help you get the most out of your home set-up. It features exercise demonstrations, a nutrition guide, and even a zoom call from Stan himself in which he answers your fitness questions. If all that wasn’t enough, the profits even go to the Ronald McDonald House charity in New York.
“I met Seb eight or nine years ago,” says Saladino. “He was a referral through one of my other celebrity clients. At the time he was preparing for a Broadway show where he had to be shirtless. He was joking around saying ‘I gotta look better naked!’. So we dove into his training and became really friendly.”
The two set to work together for Stan’s role of Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier, in Marvel’s Captain America films and following Avengers movies. The biggest challenge for Saladino was transforming Stan’s body into that of a highly-trained soldier.
“[When we first met] it wasn’t about running him around, it was about putting on muscle,” Saladino says. But the Winter Soldier is a physical role that required real-world mobility, not just a bulk-and-cut ready for his contractual shirtless-scene role. “We dove into it knowing we have to look a certain way but we have to also move a certain way and develop that level of resilience.”
Nutrition was also critical. “Even if you’re eating the right foods, if the portions are uneven your body is going to be constantly guessing,” says Saladino. “It’s the biggest mistake people make, they don’t have that consistency of the volume of food they’re eating. Often it’s about being on a reverse dieting approach where you actually take on more calories slowly over time, while still losing weight and feeling more energy because you’re eating the right thing.”
So, just what is the Sebastian Stan Winter Soldier workout? Read on below. And for reference, the ‘Pick your poison cardio’ option means you can make the most of whatever you have access to at home - a treadmill, garage you can run around in, bike, kettlebell, swings, or just old-fashion burpees.
Pick Your Poison Cardio
Reps: 45 seconds
Rest: 45 seconds
Get your heart pumping however you fancy – sprinting, skipping, star jumps. Work for 45 seconds, rest for 45, repeat for 10 rounds total. Then, go into the workout proper.
Reps: 30 seconds per side
This twist on the traditional plank challenges your core in different planes of movement, and works your obliques and adductors as well as your abs. Get into a plank position but turned through 90 degrees one side, with your top leg resting on a bench. Lift your body off the ground, holding your bottom leg up, and in a straight line with your torso. After 30 seconds, switch sides.
Standing straight, hinge at the hips to touch your feet. Walk your hands out in front of you, letting your torso follow until you’re in a press-up position. Hold for a moment, then walk it back to the start and feel the burn.
Reps: 10 per side
Lie on your back with your feet up, knees bent at 90 degrees. Bring one leg in to your chest, bringing your opposite (straight) arm across your body to meet it. Reset, then repeat the movement with your opposite arm and leg. That's one rep.
Reps: 10 per side
Rest: 30-60 seconds
Get back into the plank position, with arms extended. Take it in turns to bring one hand up to the opposite shoulder, and back to the floor, squeezing your core the whole time.