In Netflix’s Chaos Walking, Tom Holland plays a young colonizer left orphaned on an alien planet. His discovery of an astronaut, played by Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley, sets off a chain of events that leave the pair fighting for their lives.
Doing a project between Spider-Man appearances for Marvel meant Holland had to stay strong, but could experiment with his usual superhero routine, so he enlisted British trainer Yousif Mahdi Kampoori to develop a unique program fit for a dystopian survivalist.
“There’s no question if Tom wasn’t in Hollywood he’d be a proper athlete,” says Kampoori, who was connected with the actor through stunt double Bobby Holland Hanton. The two started working together off and on, doing intermittent sessions during the production of Spider-Man: Homecoming. “He was built to do that role.”
For Chaos Walking, the pair focused on functional training and calisthenics with a martial arts flair. Since they weren’t building a superhero body, they could step away from the heavier weights, which meant the naturally lean actor started looking even more shredded than usual. Kampoori bookmarked their superset sessions with shadowboxing and HIIT to give him the look of a striated survivor, struggling for every resource.
“I remember watching him doing a triceps extension during one of our sets and everything was popping,” says Kampoori proudly. “The kid has great arms.”
Following a month-long bootcamp in London, the trainer sent Holland to the Chaos Walking set in Canada with written programs and they continued to train remotely. “Tom is a machine,” Kampoori says. “He really put in the work, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.”
The Superset Workout That Got Tom Holland Shredded for ‘Chaos Walking’
Kampoori designed a superset program to develop functional strength in the naturally lean actor. Since Holland already had a strong foundation coming off filming Spider-Man: Homecoming, they were able to deviate from the norm and add nuance to the calisthenics moves they’d already mastered.
The training was also supplemented by Holland’s active gymnastics practice. “Tom has a huge gym mat in his backyard where he’d practice different stunts,” says Kampoori. “He’d go out there and pull off things even I’d have difficultly with.” It was that passion for explosive movement that led the trainer to add HIIT finishers and shadowboxing warmups to the regime. The workout below is an example training day.
Equipment needed: kettlebells and dumbbells
Directions: Complete the warmup, then get into the workout. The eight exercises are grouped into four supersets. Perform all reps for one exercise, then immediately move to the second, taking a 45-second break between sets for a total of three sets. Once that’s done, move on to the next block.
Warmup: Shadowboxing x 3 minutes: Keep your legs moving as you throw a jab/cross/slip left/slip right/hook/cross combination.
1A. Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Press x 5 reps each side
Select a kettlebell with challenging but manageable weight. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell firmly by the handle in a bottoms-up position with the bell facing the ceiling. Bring your elbow close to your body with the kettlebell in front of your face. Engage your core to keep your ribs from flaring out, and press the kettlebell up in a straight line overhead until your elbow hits lockout. Hold for a moment, then return slowly back to the starting position. Repeat all reps on one side, then switch arms.
1B. Banded Glute Bridge x 10 reps
Place a mini looped resistance band (heavy) just above your knees and lie down on the ground. Keep your arms down along your sides, bend your knees, and walk feet close to glutes (your fingertips should just be able to graze your heels). Drive through your heels to bridge hips up, creating a straight line between shoulders and knees. Maintain tension on the band; don’t let your knees cave in. Return to the starting position, then immediately drive back up. Don’t rest on the floor to increase time under tension.
2A. Trap Bar Deadlifts x 8 reps
Position yourself in the middle of a trap bar (also known as a hex bar) with feet hip-width apart. Bend at knees and hinge at hips to lower down and grab handles. Dig your heels into the ground, engage your core, and maintain a flat back and proud chest as you drive the trap bar up. The motion should be powerful and explosive. Engage your glutes at the top of the movement, then return the bar back to the floor in a slow and controlled motion.
2B. Chinups x 8 reps
Position yourself under a pullup bar. Grab it with an underhand grip, keeping hands slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart. Start the exercise by hanging with your knees bent and ankles crossed. Keeping your core engaged and back straight, pull your weight up until your chin reaches the height of the bar, directing your eyes over it. Hold for one moment, then return slowly back to the starting position, keeping a soft bend in arms to maintain tension.
3A. Kettlebell Box Squat x 8 reps
Position yourself with a box (or bench) behind you and feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the horns of a heavy kettlebell at your chest. Hinge at your hips and bend your knees to lower toward the box. Keep your back as straight as possible as you squat, then hinge your torso slightly forward just before you sit for a controlled and steady landing. Reverse the motion, pushing up with your legs and glutes to return back to the starting position.
3B. Dumbbell Floor Press x 10 reps
Select a pair of dumbbells with challenging but manageable weight. Sit down on the floor with dumbbells on either side of you, then lie down on your back. Bend your knees into a comfortable position, feet flat against the floor. Set up for a press like you would on a weight bench, triceps against the floor, elbows bent at 90 degrees. Press your arms up toward the ceiling until your arms hit lockout, bracing your core through the motion. Hold for a moment, then return slowly back to the starting position.
4A. Alternating Reverse Lunges x 10 reps each side
Stand with feet placed close together, moderate to heavy dumbbells in either hand. Lunge your right foot behind you, landing with the pad of your foot on the floor, heel elevated, as you bend both legs to 90 degrees. Hold for a moment, then powerfully return to stand, driving through your front leg’s heel. Switch sides on every rep.
4B. Dip to Knee Tuck x 10 reps
Position yourself at a dip machine, or between two dip bars. Grab the the bars and lift your weight up until arms are fully extended and body is aligned. Bend knees and cross ankles. Keep your back straight as you bend at the elbows to dip down, keeping them tight to your sides (not flared out). Continue the motion until your elbows are bent at 90 degrees. Pause briefly, then return to the starting position. From here, engage your core as you raise knees toward chest. Hold for a moment, then return knees back down to the starting position.
Find out where to see Chaos Walking by visiting this website