Alan Ritchson packed on 30lb of muscle in eight months to play the title character of Prime Video’s hit show Reacher. With the unveiling of season two’s first few episodes last week, it’s clear he’s spent the time between seasons packing on even more muscle.
To prepare for the first season, “I built a gym in my house and all I did was eat and work out,” Ritchson told USA Today in a recent interview. Ahead of the show’s return, his aim was to pack on more muscle, “solidify what was there and to shape it.”
Bulking up was a change of piece for Ritchson, who’s prior exercise routine saw him running 13 miles-a-day in an attempt to stay slender enough to play a range of roles. “My body wants to be big,” he told USA Today.
While you might not have the same body type as Ritchson, or the chance to spend your nine-to-five clanking iron, you can use your time in the gym wisely and make some smart tweaks to a muscle-building workout plan.
Before a one-off Reps Like Reacher class at Barry’s Bootcamp in London, Barry’s shared a selection of exercises from the show’s stunt coordinator Buster Reeves.
Take a look at the nine dumbbell exercises below, then add them into your training as you see fit—either as added volume on a set training day, or combine them and decide on a rep scheme for a full-body dumbbell workout in their own right.
1 Champagne press
Reeves says “The champagne press that will create separation through the center of the chest and build pecs like plates of armor!”
How to do it Sit on a bench with your feet wider than hip-width apart to create a stable base and press two dumbbells together in front of your chest. Keeping the dumbbells touching, extend your arms overhead and move your head between your biceps. Lower the dumbbells slowly.
2 Renegade row to T push-up
Reeves says “The renegade row, push-up and twist combination will target your chest, back and abs in one move.”
How to do it Start in the high plank position, holding dumbbells. Your hands should be under your shoulders and your body should form a straight line from head to heels. Lift one dumbbell to your torso, lower it under control, then repeat on the other side. Bend both elbows to lower your chest to the floor, then push back up powerfully, lifting one dumbbell and twisting your torso to raise the dumbbell above you, extending your arm, and turning your head to look at the dumbbell above you. Lower the dumbbell to the floor under control then repeat on the other side.
Reeves says Reacher’s fighting style involves a lot of elbows, which means plenty of rotation so his core needs to be rock solid.
How to do it Sit holding a dumbbell by your chest. Bend your knees and lift your feet just off the floor. Engage your core and lean back slightly. Rotate your torso and the dumbbell slowly to one side, then the other side.
4 Single-leg dumbbell glute bridge
Reeves says “The power for fighting also comes from your legs and glutes. Work with a heavy dumbbell to target the glutes.”
How to do it Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor holding two heavy dumbbells on your hips. Lift one foot off the floor, and with push through the other foot to raise your glutes until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knee. Lower under control. Do all the reps on one side then switch sides.
5 Lunge with rotation
Reeves says “Reacher has big legs for a tall guy. Work yours with a lunge with dumbbell rotation to target two areas— legs and core stability.”
How to do it Hold a dumbbell in both hands by the ends and raise it to shoulder height. Step forward with your right leg and bend both knees until your rear knee is just above the floor. Rotate your torso to the right. Reverse the movements to the start. Repeat on the other side.
6 Bent-over row and reverse flye
Reeves says A set of 10 bent-over rows reps followed immediately by 10 reverse flyes reps, on repeat for two minutes will help build a deep back just like Reacher for that ‘tight T-shirt around the shoulders, baggy around the waist’ look.”
How to do it Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding light dumbbells. With a slight bend in your knees, hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back straight. To perform a bent-over row, raise the dumbbells to your torso, leading with your elbows, and lower under control. To perform a reverse flye, lift the dumbbells to the sides, keeping a slight bend in your elbow throughout. Lower under control.
7 Bent-over row to triceps kick-back
Reeves says “If you want the Reacher look, you need a wide back and triceps peeking out of the T-shirt. A bent-over row with medium dumbbells into a triceps kick-back will target the ‘nightclub’ muscles that personify the Reacher physique.”
How to do it Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding medium-weight dumbbells. With a slight bend in your knees, hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back straight. Raise the dumbbells to your torso, leading with your elbows, then extend your arms to move the dumbbells behind you. Reverse the movements under control to the start.
Reeves says “Create mid-delt shoulder caps just like Reacher by tweaking a regular frontal raise. Instead of lowering dumbbells all the way down to the waist, restrict your range of motion to be between chest and forehead height.
How to do it Stand holding two dumbbells and raise them to chest height with your arms extended. Raise the right dumbbell to forehead height, lower under control, then repeat on the other side.
9 Dumbbell swing squat
Reeves says Finish by working your hips, hamstrings and lower back—again major Reacher muscles.
How to do it Stand holding dumbbells by your sides. Bend your knees and push your hips back to squat and at the same time raise both dumbbells to shoulder height. Try to make the movement fluid.
Reacher returns to Prime Video Friday December 15th
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Harry covers news, reviews and features for Coach, Fit&Well and Live Science. With over a decade of training experience, he has tried everything from powerlifting to gymnastics, cardio to CrossFit, all in a bid to find fun ways of building a healthy, functional body.
- Jonathan ShannonEditor