Build core strength with this Top Gun: Maverick star's upper body workout

In just seven moves, Glen Powell's routine develops chest muscle and a stronger core

Glen Powell training for Top Gun: Maverick
(Image credit: Ultimate Performance)

Top Gun: Maverick marked the return of the summer blockbuster, but its stars, like Glen Powell, had to fit their workouts around their filming schedule for the long-awaited sequel. If you're also tight on time, give Powell's seven-move workout a try to build upper body strength.

When you've got a busy schedule, it's worth prioritizing time-efficient routines, like picking up one of the best kettlebells and learning how to do kettlebell swings. Powell had to use this style of multi-muscle compound exercise to build chest and arm muscles in just seven weeks.

He worked with Nick Mitchell, a personal trainer and Global CEO of Ultimate Performance, to prepare for his role as Lieutenant Jake "Hangman" Seresin, developing screen-worthy lean muscle in less than two months.

According to Nick, "we only had three or four hours a week to train," so the pair used the type of compound exercises also favored by Chris Hemsworth's trainer to focus on his chest, shoulders, and arms and develop his core, including the rectus abdominis (six-pack) muscle.  

Watch Glen Powell's seven-move Top Gun: Maverick upper body workout

"It's a body building program and just normal hypertrophy [muscle-building] principles where you do a few workouts that are heavy, low reps. Then you might cycle into higher reps, more volume, and then... pull it back down to low volume," explains Mitchell.

"It's very easy to create a plan that works around you, works around your lifestyle, works around your stresses and your strains. And once you have the plan – go all-in. So, it's really that simple. It's a beautiful thing. You get out what you put in."

We've listed all the moves you need below if you want to give Glen's upper body Top Gun workout a try. Although he and Nick had access to gym equipment, you can use a set of the best adjustable dumbbells and modify the moves for at-home training.

Glen Powell's seven-move Top Gun: Maverick upper body workout

  • Incline bench press x 8 (45-second rest, four sets)
  • Semi-supinated pull-ups x 4 (60-second rest, four sets)
  • Dips x 8 (60-second rest, four sets)
  • Seated low pulley rows x 10 (60-second rest, four sets)
  • Hanging leg raises - as many reps as possible (no rest, three sets)
  • Swiss ball plank - hold until failure (no rest, three sets)
  • Single-arm cable shrugs x 15 (45-second rest, three sets)

Although there's a set amount of repetitions for most of the exercises, the aim is to do as many hanging leg raises as possible. This is a training technique known as an AMRAP workout, where you complete As Many Reps As Possible.

It's an efficient way to exercise as you keep the intensity high for muscle-building results even when you're tight on time. You can also apply an AMRAP approach to other moves, like the best exercises for weight loss.

When you exercise, you cause tiny tears in your muscle fibers that need to be repaired. Nick shared that Glen would use a post-workout shake to aid his recovery. "He can't have whey protein, so we would give him one of our vegan proteins." 

Your body uses protein to recover from these tears, which improves strength and muscle mass. You can find dairy-based whey or vegan-friendly options to support your goals in our guide to the best protein powder for weight loss.

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.