Stephen Amell is the stony-faced, ripped-to-shreds, face of billionaire superhero Oliver Queen, from the cult TV show Arrow.
Featuring scores of shirtless frames, this is how he keeps in kick-ass shape all year round.
HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR YEAR-ROUND SHOOTS?
When asked about the training he does to prepare for a TV series that requires upwards of 23 episodes every year, Amell doesn’t skirt around the truth.
“It’s tough going,” he says while shaking his head and smiling. “When we ramp up towards filming, it’s like a boot camp with the training and the fight and stunt choreography.
We try to do different things because Oliver is like a ninja, you know?
With how he moves, you want that to be an accurate representation of who he is and his skillset. So the training incorporates all of that and is mindful of that.”
IS IT POSSIBLE TO CREATE A COMPLETE SENSE OF FITNESS?
While many actors get in shape for a single movie, Arrow is now in it’s sixth season, so he has to work hard to keep pushing his physique and abilities.
“When we get to the gym, it’s a lot of different circuits,” he explains. “We’ll box, do intensive cardio, the circuits are more bodyweight focused, but sometimes we mix that in with weights.
We’ll flip tires, or focus on heavy Olympic lifts. It is very much about shocking your body and shocking your muscles.
You want to keep them guessing and really put them to the test. Each day we try different things, but it is a lot of circuits.”
HOW DO YOU APPLY RESISTANCE TO YOUR TRAINING?
He’s single-handedly popularized the pull-up “salmon ladder” that’s become a feature on Crossfit and televised ninja competitions, so bodyweight moves always feature in his routine.
“I enjoy doing body resistance stuff,” he explains. “I do a lot of chin ups and pull- ups, incorporating different grips.
With the circuits, I do a lot of abdominal work, tricep push-ups, balancing exercises, different planks, different squats, box jumps, using ropes.
And often there’s box jumps mixed into push-ups mixed into balancing exercises. It is very much full body and functional.”
WHAT WORKOUT STRUCTURE DO YOU USE?
In the iron asylum, Amell creates a balance between fitness and strength.
“I do a number of circuits with five or so different moves, with a range of reps,” he says.
“I’ll work my muscles with bodyweight moves, cable moves, kettlebells, barbells, and make sure there’s a balance or movement element.
We incorporate the weightlifting into more functional training. It’s tough going. With the training, there’s boxing, ju-jitsu, and of course, the archery.”
WHAT KIND OF LIFTS FORM THE NUCLEUS OF YOUR ROUTINE?
Without any actual superpowers, other than a sweltering bank balance, he has to rely on being strong in every area, which is not the kind of power you can fake on the screen.
“With the weight lifting, we do Olympic type lifts, deadlifts, squats, bench press and chins,” he explains. “But to be honest, most of the time we don’t do heavy, heavy weights.
We incorporate barbells and weights to mix in with the different circuits I do. Most of my weightlifting is mixed into my circuit training.”
DO YOU PRACTICE FUNCTIONAL FITNESS?
His character is a master with the bow so all other exercise arenas need to fit around that prowess. “The training is very focused with what we’re trying to portray from Oliver on the show,” he says.
“It is very calisthenics based, and I get a kick out of that stuff. The look is part of it, but you need to know how to punch, kick, and move like your character.
The training informs that for sure, so those hours of sweat in the gym really do pay off both physically and mentally.
The workouts are very functional with a lot of body resistance. These are good for the show, because it helps me with the coolest moves.
And it also allows for me to do more stunts myself than they would like.
WHAT ARE THE ULTIMATE HERO FOODS?
“It’s your fuel. I try to stay away from gluten, dairy and processed sugars. This allows for a more regimented diet and more lean proteins, veggies and complex carbs.” says Amell.
“When you’re in it, you just have to make the time count and get best out of that time. The thing is, you never regret not working out –
even if you’ve busted your ass and you’re hurting. There is satisfaction to improving and working towards a specific goal.”
WHY DO YOU LEAD THE SOCIAL MEDIA RANKINGS?
Boasting 2.25 million Twitter followers, his genuine personality is one everyone wants to know better.
“I love it, I genuinely love it,” he says beaming. “It’s so cool. Being connected to the fan base makes shooting so much easier – making them a part of the journey.
Seeing people enjoy the show, seeing the great questions and comments…having the connection to the fans is great.
It really makes a world of difference for me on those long shoots, knowing that I want to do the best for these people that I have this amazing connection with
– even when I’m tired and cold and miserable. I feel very fortunate.”
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