I did Ryan Gosling’s ‘Barbie’ ab workout — here’s what happened

a photo of a woman doing russian twists and Ryan Gosling as Ken in the Barbie film
(Image credit: Jaap Buitendijk/shutterstock)

The wait is nearly over — we’ve only got around a month to go until we see Ryan Gosling as Ken in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie Movie. In fact, the world is so excited about being transported to the 90s dream, there’s a world shortage of pink paint,  as we all rush to paint our homes a shade of Pepto Bismo pink. 

Starring alongside Margot Robbie, the 42-year-old The Notebook actor looks to be in seriously good shape, with a chiseled torso reminiscent of his plastic counterpart. Unlike Ken, Gosling’s abs are a product of hard work in the gym and a balanced diet. To find out more, I grabbed a set of the best adjustable dumbbells and gave his ab workout a go — read on to find out what happened.  

What is Ryan Gosling’s ab workout? 

According to the website Fitness Volt Gosling works out five days a week, spending about an hour and a half in the gym for each session. He reportedly has Wednesdays and Sundays off from training, where he does some form of active recovery. During his prep for La La Land, Ryan’s trainer, Arin Babaian, added Pilates to his workout schedule, to strengthen and tone his muscles, while also improving flexibility and posture. 

Here’s a typical ab workout for Ryan: 

Russian Twist with Plate or Ball: 3 sets of 12 reps

To do a Russian twist, sit on an exercise mat, and engage your core as you lean backward, lifting your legs off the floor, so you are in a V-shape position. You can cross your legs if it helps, and knot your hands together in front of your body or hold a plate or exercise ball as Ryan does. 

Bracing your core, twist your torso from side to side, and think about lowering your hands to the side of you as you twist. Follow your hands with your eye line. Continue to twist from side to side without dropping your legs to the floor. Here’s more on how to do a Russian twist

Hanging Leg Raise: 3 sets of 12 reps

To do a hanging leg raise, stand underneath a pull-up bar and grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Wrap your thumbs around the bar and fully extend your arms. Tuck your pelvis toward your spine and squeeze your stomach muscles. Hang from the bar with legs extended, then on your exhale, draw your legs toward your chest. Pause, then lower your legs to the starting position. Here’s more on how to do a hanging leg raise.  

Back Extension: 3 sets of 12 reps

To do this exercise, you’ll need a back extension machine. Place your thighs on the pad, and bend your knees to secure your feet. From here, lower your torso towards the floor, bending at your waist. Then engage your abs and move back to your starting position, making sure your shoulders, spine, and hips are in line. 

Ab Crunch with Stability Ball: 3 sets of 12 reps

For this exercise, perform a crunch on a stability or yoga ball. Ensure that your lower back stays pressed into the ball, and crunch your head and neck upwards, moving from your core, not your neck. 

Oblique Dumbbell Side Bend: 3 sets of 12 reps

For this exercise, stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in one hand, resting against the thigh. Next, engage your core, and bend at your waist, lowering the dumbbell down along your leg, towards the floor. Then engage your oblique muscles on the opposite side to the dumbbell to raise your torso back to your starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps, before switching sides.

a photo of Ryan Gosling as Ken

(Image credit: Getty/Gabe Ginsberg / Stringer)

I tried Ryan Gosling’s Barbie ab workout — here’s what happened 

To find out more about what it takes to get in Ken-worthy shape, I went to the gym and grabbed a set of dumbbells, here’s what happened:

I lifted more than I normally would

The first thing I noticed was that this exercise was relatively simple, without too many repetitions, so I grabbed a 17-pound dumbbell and got to work. I’d normally opt for a lighter weight when working on my arms and abs, but as I’d only have to repeat each exercise for three sets, and only two of the exercises were weighted, I pushed myself. 

As a reminder, when it comes to selecting the right weight for your workouts, you should choose one that is right for you and your body. The exercise should feel challenging, but not impossible, by the final few reps, and at no point should your form be compromised. 

The hanging leg raises were hell

I’ve never been a fan of hanging leg raises, and this workout made me hate them even more. I opted to do mine on the Captain’s Chair frame — here, your forearms are resting on the arms of the chair, supporting the body, your back is pressed against the Bosu ball, and you engage your core to drive your legs up. It’s far easier to maintain control using this machine, plus, if you don’t have a good grip strength, this allows you to work your core, without worrying about hanging onto the bar.

Despite using the Captain’s Chair frame, not the bar, these really hurt, and I won’t be doing them again in a hurry. 

It takes more than this to get abs like Gosling

This workout was pretty tough, and I definitely worked my core hard, but it takes a lot more than this to get Ryan Gosling's physique! 

Like most actors, Gosling proves consistency is key when it comes to making physical changes to your body. If you are looking to grow visible ab muscles, you’ll need to focus on your overall body fat percentage, not endless ab workouts. Diet is a big factor when it comes to your body fat percentage, and when preparing for his role in Crazy Stupid Love, Ryan is said to have followed a strict diet of fish, vegetables, and rice to build lean muscle. Here’s how to calculate your body fat percentage, and why it matters

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Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.