Jonathan Majors 'Creed III' Workout: Upper Body Bulk-up
The actor pulled three-a-days to get his physique ready for the ring. Here’s a sample workout for your own blockbuster transformation.
Jonathan Majors has the kind of physique you only see in anime: deltoids the size of bowling balls, a shrink-wrapped six-pack, teardrop quads on thighs the size of tree trunks. The actor is a hulk of a man, making him a shoo-in to star in Creed III opposite Michael B. Jordan.
You might recognize Majors from one of his other big blockbuster roles: Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. He’s swiftly gained renown for meeting the intense physical demands of his roles with a level of training and preparation that’s tough to overstate.
If it’s not obvious, Majors was already in incredible shape leading up to Creed III, but he really maxed out his training. We spoke to the actor about his transformation. He relied on three-a-days (you read that correctly) to level-up his conditioning. He started every day with a hard-effort 5K, then went to the gym to work on stunts and boxing choreography with stunt coordinator Clayton J. Barber or Jordan (who better to train with than your on-screen adversary?).
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“I was shadowboxing with weights to build and condition the muscles, all with a lot of core training,” Majors says. “We knew the shirts were coming off.”
After, he’d go to a second gym to finish off his training with strength work. Majors joined forces with Corey Calliet, Jordan’s long-time trainer, who designed workouts to complement the actor’s cardio- and boxing-centric sessions.
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The workout below is a sample upper-body burnout that targets the shoulders, traps, back, and biceps. Majors would perform additional workouts throughout the week to address other muscle groups until every major body part was hit.
Jonathan Majors Workout: A Strength Routine to Burn Out Your Upper Body
What you’ll need: This is a full-gym workout. Exercises require a cable machine, cable row machine, lat pulldown machine, flat bench, preacher bench, pullup bar, barbell, and dumbbells.
How to do it: Complete the exercises in the triset back to back without rest. These are designed to stimulate and fatigue the same muscle group in slightly different ways for an effective burnout. After, complete the remaining exercises as straight sets, pausing briefly between reps and resting 60 to 90 seconds between sets.
1. Lateral Raise Triset 4×12 reps
A. Lateral Raise
How to do it: Stand tall with feet hip-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells by your sides, palms facing in. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows as you raise your arms out to your sides until they’re at shoulder level, palms facing down at the top of the movement. Lower the weights with control. Resist the urge to swing the weights for momentum; keep the raise strict.
B. Front Raise
How to do it: Stand tall with feet hip-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs, palms facing in. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows as you raise your arms up until they’re at shoulder level, palms facing down. Lower the weights with control.
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C. Rear Lateral Raise
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells. Keep a flat back as you hinge at the waist, letting your arms hang directly below your chest, palms facing in. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows as you raise your arms out to your sides until they’re at shoulder level, palms facing down. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement, then lower the weights down with control.
2. Barbell Military Press 3 x 12 reps
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, grasping a barbell with hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Clean the bar to your shoulders (alternatively you can set the bar on the supports of a power rack at shoulder level before loading weight plates). Squeeze your shoulder blades together and brace your core as you press the bar overhead, making sure to move your head back slightly as you lift the bar in front of your face. When the bar passes your head, press it up and slightly backward so it’s vertically aligned with the back of your head. Pause briefly, then lower the bar back to the front of your shoulders.
3. Dumbbell Shrugs 7 x 10 reps
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a pair of heavy dumbbells at sides, palms facing in. Keeping your arms extended, without engaging the biceps, bring your shoulders up in a shrugging motion. Pause at the top of the contraction, then lower with control.
4. Pullups 3 x Reps to failure
How to do it: Position yourself under a pullup bar. Grab it with an overhand grip, hands wider than shoulder-width apart. Hang from the bar with knees bent and ankles crossed. Keeping your core engaged and back straight, pull yourself up until your chin reaches the height of the bar, directing your eyes over it. Pause briefly, then slowly lower. Use a resistance band or assisted pullup machine if you burn out from standard pullups too quickly.
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5. Close-grip Pulldowns 4 x 15 reps
How to do it: Attach a V-grip handle to the cable machine. Grab it overhead and sit at the pulley station, torso upright and eyes focused in front of you. Arch your back and pull the handle down to your collarbone. Now, keeping your hands where they are, lean back so your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Pull the handle to your chest (think of it as a row). Pause briefly, then slowly raising your arms and torso up.
6. Seated Cable Row 4 x 15 reps
How to do it: Set the cable row machine to a moderately heavy weight with a V-bar attached to the pulley. Adjust the seat to your body, then sit with knees slightly bent. Keeping your back straight, outstretch your arms to grab the bar. Brace your core, then pull the bar back in a controlled manner, rowing it toward your upper abdominals. Contract your shoulder blades at the top of the movement, then reverse the motion.
7. Reverse Lat Pulldown 4 x 15 reps
How to do it: Set the lat pulldown machine to a moderately heavy weight with a straight bar attached to the pulley. Grab the bar with an underhanded grip, arms extended. Engage your lats, then pull the bar down until it hits your upper chest. Slowly bring the bar back to the starting position with control.
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8. Single-arm Dumbbell Row 3 x 10 reps each side
How to do it: Bring a heavy dumbbell to the right side of a flat bench. Place your left palm and left knee on the bench. Keeping your back straight, and torso parallel to the bench, reach down to grab the dumbbell in your right hand, palm facing in. Inhale, then row the dumbbell to your ribcage, exhaling at the top once your elbow makes a 90-degree angle. Pause briefly, then reverse the motion. Complete all reps on one side, then switch.
9. Barbell Curl 3 x 12 reps
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a moderately heavy barbell with arms extended and palms facing out. Keep your elbows tucked close to your body as you curl the bar up until it’s at chin height. Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement, then return the bar to the starting position with control.
10. Dumbbell Curl 3 x 12 reps
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding moderately heavy dumbbells at sides, palms facing out. Keep your elbows tucked close to your body as you curl the weights up until they’re at shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement, then lower with control.
11. Finisher: Preacher Curl Burnout 2 x 21 reps
How to do it: Set up a moderately heavy EZ bar on the preacher bench. Grasp the bar with hands wider than shoulder-width apart. For this finisher, you’ll complete 7 reps of three different curl variations for a total of 21 reps.
- Bottom-half Biceps Curl x 7 reps: Start with arms extended. Curl the bar from the bottom to midway. Squeeze your biceps, then lower and repeat.
- Top-half Biceps Curl x 7 reps: Starts at the top of a curl with biceps fully contracted. Lower the bar down to midway, pause briefly, then curl up.
- Full Biceps Curl x 7 reps: Start with arms extended. Curl the bar from the bottom to your shoulders, squeezing your biceps at the top.
Creed III is now playing in theaters. Check out more programs from Majors’ trainer, Corey Calliet, here.