Daniel Craig’s Bond workout revealed: is this the hardest over 50s exercise regime ever?
The name’s Bond… Bond workout. It may be No Time to Die but if you want a physique like Daniel Craig it may be time to diet, and workout strenuously. We’ve been picking through the archives to find out how
No Time to Die is in cinemas and Daniel Craig returns to his role as arguably the best Bond since Connery. On-set injuries, accidents, delays, arguments and a global pandemic have seen the film delayed by years, but the question on everyone’s lips during the movie’s premiere was: “will Craig still look good without a shirt on at 53 years old?”
The answer, annoyingly for any middle-aged blokes in the audience battling a beer belly, was ‘yes’ and this is down to Craig’s ability to throw himself into training about as much as he throws himself around on-screen. It’s also thanks to his long-term trainer Simon Waterson, an ex-Royal Marine who has trained Craig throughout his tenure as 007, as well as Pierce Brosnan and a whole host of the Bond cast and crew.
So what does it take to look like Bond? A five-day a week training session, a bit of light cardio at the weekend and a keen eye on nutrition is your short answer, but don’t panic, Craig’s routine isn’t actually as strenuous and untenable as you’d think.
The ultimate James Bond workout: equipment
Daniel Craig’s workouts involve a mix of classic power-lifting movements and more explosive plyometric exercises that train his body to be able to punch, kick, roll and flip his way out of trouble. For this reason, there’s no real need for any fancy or complicated equipment.
Most commercial gyms will have more than you need for this comprehensive workout, but if you’re training at a home gym or simply from a small space in your garage, you’ll need a few vital pieces of equipment
A set of dumbbells – Ideally a spread of weights that covers light, medium and heavy, dumbbells will allow you to add weight to squats and step-ups for powerful legs, as well as build a solid chest and shoulders. Better still, look at a set of adjustable dumbbells, which cover a great weight spread without taking up too much space.
A barbell and weight plates – although much bulkier than the previously mentioned dumbbells, a good old fashioned barbell and some weight plates are essential for some of the classic compound and powerlifting moves Daniel Craig carried out in his quest to carve out a 007 body.
An adjustable bench – relatively inexpensive and often with the option to fold flat for storage, a weights bench is one versatile sucker when it comes to working out and vital for super-spy pecs and abs. Weighted step-ups, incline press-ups and bench pressing all feature in this workout, so make sure you have access to a stable platform.
The ultimate James Bond workout: the format
“The workouts were a blend of powerlifting, with a lot of compound exercises thrown in. This allows you to work out extremely hard with heavy weights, and because it’s so intense the heart rate is elevated. Therefore, you are working not only on the development of nice lean muscle tissue, but you’re also getting a bit of cardio as well and keeping your body fat down,” Waterson told GQ in an interview when quizzed about Craig’s workouts for Casino Royale.
But according to Men’s Health, Waterson only had Graig training for 45 minutes a day, Monday to Friday, with an “active rest” at the weekend, which included a bit of swimming, light running and some stretching. Just 45-minutes a day sounds feasible, doesn’t it?
Waterson suggested that Craig worked out every day of the week to get in shape for his role, meaning workouts needed to be split up into body parts to allow sufficient time for rest and recovery.
If this doesn’t fit with your busy schedule, don’t worry, as it’s possible to combine elements from Bond’s short, sharp workouts into two or three longer sessions in the week (like we’ve done here), so long as you don’t over-do it with back-to-back workouts that focus a particular body part, such as the chest and shoulders.
Aim for 45 minutes of training time and keep the rest between sets to around a minute to ensure the heart rate is kept high for maximum fat burn and that you can pack all of the moves into a tight schedule. As with everything, start this programme using lighter and more manageable weights, slowly adding resistance as the weeks go on and your form and strength both progress.
The ultimate James Bond workout: the workout
Hit the ground running with an explosive start to the week, featuring heavy compound exercises for all major muscle groups that are designed to build strength and have the cardiovascular system firing on all cylinders. This is a heavy hitter, so make sure you get an early night on Sunday and load up with a healthy meal involving plenty of good carbohydrates.
The ultimate James Bond workout: Day 1
Clean and press
3 sets of 12 reps (rest for just 30 seconds between sets)
Grab a barbell and load it up with very lightweight plates, to begin with (you can gradually build on this with time). Place it on the floor in front of you with both hands in an overhand position – the feet should be around shoulder-width apart with the laces of your shoes underneath the bar. Lift the bar to waist height as if you were performing a deadlift, this is your start position.
Hinge at the hips by thrusting your butt backwards and explosively pull the bar up to chest height. Dip the body under the bar to assist with this and catch it in a front squat position. From here, explosively press the bar above your head and lockout. That’s one rep.
As you progress, you should be able to perform the steps of the move in a semi-seamless fashion, increasing the time muscles are under tension and spiking the heart rate thanks to minimal rest.
3 sets of 6 reps per leg (Rest for just 30 seconds between sets)
Get hold of a pair of medium weight dumbbells and keep them hanging by your sides. Step backwards with your left leg until it is extended behind you and simultaneously bend the right leg so the thigh is at a right angle with the floor. Ensure the knee of your right leg doesn’t creep over the tips of your trainers. Pause here for a second so the weight is focussed on your right quad muscle and then push through the heel of your right leg to a standing position. Repeat on the other side.
3 sets of 12 reps
With both feet raised up on a weights bench or stable platform (a sturdy chair will do), adopt the press-up position with both palms flat on the floor just under your chest. Push the body away from the floor by engaging the core, back and chest muscles. Keep your elbows tucked close to your sides to avoid excess strain on the shoulders.
Ensure reps are slow and controlled throughout this move to create the most time under tension for the muscle groups involved. This will likely prove a real shoulder burner after the big clean and press to begin with
Weighted Russian Twists
3 sets of 20 reps
Daniel Craig made waves when he exited the sea in his skimpies during Casino Royale and that was thanks to his muscular but not overtly chiselled physique. A strong looking core was part of the swoon-fest, which is why we’ve suggested some Russian Twists, because they are excellent at hitting a bunch of abdominal muscles at once.
Sit on the floor and grab a single, medium dumbbell in one hand. Raise the legs off the ground, brace the abs and lean back slightly. You should already feel the abs firing just to keep you in this position. Now, slowly rotate the entire torso to the right, keeping the weight close to your chest. Return to the centre and repeat on the other side.
The ultimate James Bond workout: Day 2
If the first day of training featured a little bit of everything, the second workout hones in on the upper body to sculpt a strong back, broad chest and shirt-filling arms to ensure Bond looks good when he takes the dinner jacket off.
Incline Bench Press
4 sets of 12 reps
This can be carried out with a barbell or dumbbells, depending what you have available in your arsenal. Set a weights bench to an incline angle that’s not too upright nor too flat and un-rack the barbell so arms are locked out and it’s hovering over your chest. Slowly lower the barbell to the chest, ensuring the shoulders are pinned back to form a solid lifting base. Keep elbows tucked towards your sides and explosively press back up to the start position, ensuring your chest muscles are contracted, glutes and abs activated.
If using dumbbells, follow a similar movement pattern but ensure the pinky finger on each hand is pointed towards the celling. This slight tilt in the dumbbells will place more emphasis on the chest muscles and take the strain away from typically sensitive shoulders.
4 sets of 8-10 reps
Approach a pull-up bar, tree branch or whatever you have access to and grab it with an overhand grip, hands around shoulder-width apart. Now hang so bodyweight is taken care of by your upper body.
Engage the core and glutes, creating a strong chain from feet to chest, squeeze the shoulder blades together and drive the elbows towards your hips so your chin raises above the bar. Slowly lower to the start position and repeat.
4 sets of 10 reps
Again, start with a lightly loaded barbell or medium dumbbells on this one. Going too heavy can easily lead to lower back problems. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, as if you were starting a deadlift. Stand up tall and then slowly lower the weight down your shins by thrusting your butt backwards. This is your starting position for the row.
Similarly to a pull-up, you should think about engaging your shoulder muscles just before the row itself, squeezing the shoulder blades together at the very top of the movement. Pause here and slowly lower to the beginning of the move. Ensure your core remains braced throughout to further protect the lower back.
The ultimate James Bond workout: Day 3
The third day is all about athletic movements that hit the lower body hard, but also train the upper body so it can move like a secret agent. “Aesthetics is a by-product of performance,” Bond’s trainer Simon Waterson told Esquire. “You’re never aiming for a specific look. It’s about a functional physique that looks like an athlete that can perform and do everything he’s going to be asked to do within the context of the movie.”
4 sets of 12 reps
Awesome for building big triceps and arms, the humble dip also works muscles in the chest and shoulders, while instilling the strength to handle your own body weight. For this, you’ll need dipping bars or two very stable surfaces that are around a foot or two apart.
Keep palms facing inwards and lock your arms out so legs are suspended off the floor. Now slowly lower your trunk towards the floor by making right angles with your elbows. There will be a temptation to flare the elbows outwards, but don’t. Keep them pinned at your sides to ensure maximum tension on the triceps.
To shift emphasis onto your chest and shoulders, you can lean forward slightly during the descent of the dip. This will create a stretch on the chest and will ask the shoulders to help when pushing explosively back to the top of the movement.
Weighted step-ups & box jumps
3 sets of 12 step-ups + 10 box jumps
This superset will work the leg muscles hard and encourage more explosive athletic ability thanks to the box jumps tacked onto the end. With a dumbbell in each hand (held at your sides) steps onto a raised platform that you can comfortably reach.
Rather than simply dragging yourself up, pause when the sole of your foot is on the platform and shift body weight slightly forwards so the quads and glutes are activated. Making sure that the knee doesn’t wander over your toes, push up onto the box, tapping the ball of your trailing leg on the surface before returning to the floor. Repeat on the other side.
Once all 12 reps are complete, ditch the dumbbells and go straight into the box jumps, explosively springing from the floor to your chosen stable surface and landing with soft knees. Repeat until sufficiently sweaty.
4 sets of 12 reps
A favourite of Schwarzenegger for building cannonball shoulders and generally improving strength and stability in this often injured area, the Arnold press keeps the shoulders under tension for longer, stimulating rapid muscle growth.
Grab a medium set of dumbbells in each hand and stand or sit on a stable seat or bench. Start with palms facing your chin, squeeze the shoulder blades and press the dumbbells overhead while simultaneously rotating the palms so they face outwards at the top of the move.
This rotation should be slow and controlled, with the crossover between palms facing in and out happening at around shoulder level. Start with lighter dumbbells while getting used to the movement pattern and make sure you brace the core and glutes throughout. This is easier if standing.
Battle ropes, boxing or sprints
6 sets of 45-second intervals
Finish the session with an explosive bout of cardio by reaching for whatever you have at your disposal. If in a gym or well-kitted out home set-up, grab the battle ropes and go for some alternating slams for 45 seconds.
Alternatively, you can go HAM on a punchbag or wind a treadmill up to sprint pace to finish things off. This short, sharp addition of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) will ensure the calories are burnt long after the workout has finished.