You probably know Sebastian Stan from his supporting roles in Captain America movies. Yet few actors have made bigger physique transformations than he did for his back-from-the-dead return in the MCU. Now he has a string of movies lined up for this year, and these are his training secrets for success.

The only way to retain your gains is to make sure you’re constantly adapting and throwing out new challenges to yourself. And while Sebastian Stan can’t deviate too much from his Marvel-created physique, he does need to keep punching the all-change button when training. “It is always slightly different, with each film,” he says. “And I think it’s good to set out some time before you get into a full-on regime to clarify what you’re going for, just to make sure all of that hard work is going in the right direction.

Work hard and smart, you know,” he laughs. It’s really no joking matter, because by taking a few moments to decide on a two-month training plan, you’ll save yourself from wasting time with routines that don’t deliver results.

Goal setting

If you’re happy with the amount of muscle on your physique, you don’t need to shift your focus completely, instead just adjust the objectives of your routine. “For Infinity War, the goal with my trainer, Don Saladino was to build strength and then just develop my stamina and general fitness,” he explains. “Each of these films have posed different challenges, but we focused on building up some lean muscle, as well as what has always been important – working on my general fitness, my flexibility, stamina and agility. I like to do a lot of my own fight stunts when I can, so just having the general fitness really helps you, the movement and being able to control your body, and then being able to recover. The fight choreography is like dancing with someone, with the spacing and the speed and energy. Training in a more well-rounded way really helps that.” Truer words have seldom been spoken because even if you’re hell-bent on adding muscle, being fitter will also make sure you’re always heading toward your goal.

Variety is key

Even if you are cardio focused that doesn’t mean strength training should ever take a back seat as Sebastian will testify. “We definitely upped the weight training,” he explains smiling. “We lifted heavier and there was a bit more of a focus on that, fewer reps and heavier weights. We would do splits with the weight training, focus on specific areas each day, and then that would always be mixed in with bodyweight exercises, full body circuits, and functional training. A lot of dumbbell and barbell work.” That’s the Variety-Bell ringing again, so mix up your attack strategies in the gym and you’ll be duly rewarded.

sebastian stan running through woodland with a gun

Super mouth

It’s not tough to find sage advice on how to eat healthily. “There’s no real mystery or secret, I guess,” he explains. “The diet is very disciplined. Everything is pre-planned a good bit in advance, which is a great help, and that’s linked in to what the goal is. The diet was really cutting out sugar, eating more protein and then organic foods. No processed foods when I’m in training mode. It’s very, very boring. Chicken or a lean type of protein, and then salads, and protein shakes. Not fun, but it does the job. I’d be eating every three hours or so.” Standard advice that even superheroes live by.

Staying disciplined

Even with the pressures of multi-million dollar movies, motivation can be testing, but he equates it to his day job. “The discipline of exercise does link into acting – the focus on repetition and slowly refining things,” he explains. “You just have to do the work, and then it will show. And that means if you have to wake up at an ungodly hour, if you’re tired, if you don’t want to do it – the work doesn’t go away. You have to put in that work consistently and then things will progress. The drive that you get from the workout does also merge into the acting, putting all of that work and timing into something.”