Miles Teller admits the preparation for Top Gun: Maverick was the most intense experience of his career. To play the son of Anthony Edwards’ beloved character, Goose, in the sequel to the revered classic, he had to learn how to fly fighter jets. He also had to transform his physique, bulking up then shredding, to prepare for a shirtless beach football game that’s now become an internet sensation. The scene pays homage to the iconic volleyball game from the original, where Tom Cruise’s character, Maverick, challenges his new recruits to up their game. In order to get in top shape, Teller ramped up his routine with the help of trainer Jason Walsh of Rise Nation.
Miles Teller’s Top Gun: Maverick Meal Plan
Walsh coordinated with Ornella Sofitchouk, his on-staff nutritionist at Rise Nation, to come up with a bulking meal plan . Since training was being pushed to the extreme, Teller needed plenty of protein, energizing carbs, healthy fats, and nutrient-rich vegetables.
A sample day of eating:
- Breakfast: 1 egg, 5 egg whites, 1.5 cups spinach, and half an avocado
- Post-workout: protein shake
- Lunch 1: 5oz chicken breast, half a sweet potato, kale, lemon, and olive oil
- Lunch 2: 5oz chicken breast, half a sweet potato, kale, lemon, and olive oil
- Dinner: 20oz fish or steak, brown rice, and grilled bell peppers
These amounts were reduced once Teller reached his goal and transitioned into the shredding phase.
This meal plan, combined with Walsh’s training regimen, got Teller from his usual weight of 185 pounds up to 210 pounds at 9 percent body fat. Before filming the beach football scene, they cut down the calories and upped the cardio to get him back to 185 pounds and 7 percent body fat. Recovery was a huge focal point as well, with the actor going to a nearby facility for ice baths, infrared saunas, and visits to the hyperbolic chamber. That might seem like a lot, but it was absolutely necessary given how intense the gym sessions were.
Miles Teller’s Top Gun: Maverick Workout
For Walsh, the focus was on physically preparing Teller for the intense flight training program he was being put through before production began.
“I’ve been working with Miles for years, and he’s someone who’s always taken the preparation very seriously,” says Walsh. The pair had already collaborated to get Teller ready for movies like Bleed For This and Thank You For Your Service, but this project was an opportunity to surpass previous boundaries.
“Miles told me he was going to be put through overwater survival training and pulling lots of Gs while filming,” Walsh says. As such, the protocol for Top Gun: Maverick called for a large lifting component, as well as rigorous core work to help Teller deal with the multiplied G-force. For the underwater escapes necessary to pass the survival course, there was a large emphasis on total-body mobility. By the end of the 10-week program, the actor had all the muscle he needed for the bootcamp and beach football. “How he looks in that scene aesthetically is a result of the hard work he put in,” says Walsh.
Here’s a look at a single day of programming in Teller’s training, where Walsh was looking to maintain the muscle mass he had gained while starting to lean out.
Start with 20 minutes on any cardio machine—ideally a VersaClimber—to warm the body up. Then, move on to the following EMOM (every minute on the minute) superset workout, which means you’ll alternate between the two exercises at the top of every minute (1:00, 2:00, etc.). Use the remainder of that minute to rest before you move on to your next set of reps. Editor’s note: Keep in mind this is a purposefully exhaustive session, and newcomers to this kind of training should scale back to 5 sets for each superset or even stick to just one of the three supersets as opposed to all (especially if you don’t have more than an hour to spend in the gym). “This is the biggest we’ve ever gone in the gym,” says Walsh. “Miles has put in a lot of work to be in a place where he could complete these.”
Do 4 reps of 1A then 4 reps of 1B at the top of the next minute. Repeat this alternating sequence until you’ve done 10 total sets (scale to your fitness level). By the end, you’ll have been working for 20 minutes. Choose weights that are roughly 75 percent of your max capacity to allow for intense but controlled efforts. Teller was going heavy at his training apex, for example, using 95-pound dumbbells for the rear-foot-elevated split squat.)’
EMOM Superset 1: 10 x 4 reps
1A. Trap Bar Deadlift
How to do it: Once the correct weight is loaded onto the trap bar, step into the middle of it with your feet hip-width apart. Grab the handles and hinge at your hips, keeping your gaze forward and chest up. Maintaining a flat back, push through your feet to stand. Squeeze your glutes at the top, then pause briefly before returning to the starting position.
1B. Dumbbell Bench Press
How to do it: Sit down on the end of a flat bench with dumbbells on knees. “Kick” your knees up to gain some momentum and lie back as you guide dumbbells over chest, palms facing out. Lower weights to chest, rotating hands so palms face one another. Press the weights up, extending arms until they’re straight, rotating palms to face out and keeping core engaged.
EMOM Superset 2: 10 x 4 reps
2A. Romanian Deadlift
How to do it: Hold a barbell with a shoulder-width grip and stand with feet hip-width apart. Hinge your hips back as far as you can. Allow your knees to bend as needed while you lower the bar close along your shins until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Keep your lower back in its natural arched position throughout.
2B. Dumbbell Shoulder Press
How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the dumbbells next to your shoulders with your palms facing forward. The elbows should be out at your sides, bent at a 90-degree angle. From your starting position press the dumbbells up, extending through your elbows until your arms are straight. Go as far as you can upward without touching the dumbbells. Slowly bring the dumbbells back down to the original position.
EMOM Superset 3: 10 x 4 reps
3A. Rear-Foot-Elevated Split Squat
How to do it: Stand in front of a flat bench with dumbbells in either hand. Get into a forward lunge position with one foot elevated on the bench behind you (the laces of your shoe should be down against the bench). Keep your core engaged and torso straight throughout the movement. Lower your body until your working leg is roughly parallel to the floor. Pause for a moment, then drive back up through the front foot’s heel. Complete half the reps on one leg before switching to the other side.
3B. Bentover Barbell Row
How to do it: With your lower back in its natural arch, crouch down and grab the bar with a slightly wider-than-shoulder-width grip, then extend your hips and knees to stand (as in a deadlift). Bend your knees until your torso is about 45 degrees to the floor. Allow your arms to hang straight down, and focus your eyes on the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and row the weight up until it touches your sternum. Lower the bar and repeat.
“Top Gun: Maverick” is now playing in theaters, Jason Walsh’s Rise Nation has worldwide locations.