How Tom Holland used bodyweight exercises to get ripped for Spider-Man 3

Getting into shape to play Spider-Man can't be easy but Tom Holland managed to do it with calisthenic style workouts

Tom Holland, the Spiderman actor, getting his photo taken at a red carpet event
(Image credit: Getty)

If you were to ask Tom Holland's personal trainer what kind of training is required to play the role of Spider-Man, best known for his super human strength, you will be surprised at his answer. 

Holland's personal trainer, George Ashwell recently revealed that much of his training consisted of a five-step bodyweight workout with some weighted exercises thrown in. 

According to the celebrity trainer the Spider-Man actor equipped his home with a versa climber (a cardio machine that serves much the same purpose as one of our best elliptical machines) and some free weights. A set of best adjustable dumbbells are great for building muscle at home since they provide a versatile weight range for you to work with all in one.

Holland had various different physiques to portray in the third Spider-Man movie. So when it came to building up to his final ripped physique as Spiderman his trainer had to design workouts that would help him to build muscle fairly quickly without causing injury.

"Because we weren’t aiming to bulk up too much we could do more muscle groups in one go," Ashwell explained to Esquire (opens in new tab). "It’d be a whole-body circuit split into perhaps a posterior chain legs exercise with a horizontal push and pull, (so chest and back) then anterior legs (like a squat) with a vertical push and pull."

As you can see in the Instagram post below Holland doesn't rely on a fully-kitted out top of the range gym to build and maintain definition in his muscles:

In order for Holland to reach the final Spider-Man physique he was regularly completing HIIT style workouts with both bodyweight and dumbbells to target multiple muscle groups in one session.

Tom Holland's five-step HIIT workout

  • Bear crawls 
  • Shoulder taps
  • Dumbbell thrusters
  • Renegade rows
  • Push-ups

If you're giving this a go in your next muscle-building session you should try to complete this four times over with as minimal rest as possible between each exercise but do take a full 60-second rest between each set.

The aim of this HIIT workout used by Holland when training toward the Spider-Man movie set is to build and improve on overall fitness while working to maintain sustainable muscle growth over fast gains. 

Calisthenic exercise has been proven to impact muscle growth for example, this 2018 study published in the National Library of Medicine (opens in new tab) found that using different progressive variations of bodyweight exercise can improve upper-body muscle strength.

Ashwell said, "Tom is one of the most body-aware people and is very easy to train". However, he steered away from getting Holland to train with more 'linear body building type movements' in order to avoid injury. 

The Spiderman actor has a history of injury so the focus on functional movements both prevented injury and got transformational results in time for the movie.

If you are looking to get into more HIIT style workouts and like the idea of mixing up weight training with cardio you may want to consider getting a pair of best cross training shoes are good for matching different styles of workouts and sports.

Jessica is Staff Writer at Fit&Well. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 


When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.