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I tried Tom Holland’s Spider-Man workout — and I failed

Tom Holland Jimmy Kimmel appearance
(Image credit: RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

Like pretty much everyone else, I’ve started my January fitness routine all guns blazing after relaxing and over-indulging during the holidays. Unlike everyone else, I’ve turned to the celebrity world for inspiration and one workout that caught my attention was the one Tom Holland used to get in shape for his role as Spider-Man. Tom is said to have gained 7kg of muscle mass in six weeks in the run-up to filming the movie to perfect Spider-Man’s athletic physique, so who wouldn’t want to try his workout? 

One thing I wish I’d known about Tom before I set out on this challenge is that he has a gymnastic background, so was no stranger to gravity-defying bodyweight exercises most gym-goers try to avoid. Tom’s goals were to build muscle without bulking up, as Spider-Man is known for being strong, but lean, so enlisted the help of London-based personal trainer George Ashwell. 

In an interview with Esquire, Ashwell said, “because we weren’t aiming to bulk up too much we could do more muscle groups in one go. It’d be a whole-body circuit split into perhaps a posterior chain legs exercise with a horizontal push and pull, (so chest and back) then anterior legs (like a squat) with a vertical push and pull.” He also shared the entire Spider-Man circuit, which is what I tried. Read on to find out what happened. 

I have also tried other superhero workouts — you can check out what happened when I tried Kumail Nanjiani's arm workout

Not for you? If I’ve completely put you off, why not head over to try this dumbbell workout with over 1.3 million views that is perfect for beginners. Alternatively, I’ve tried some of the best ab workouts on YouTube, so if a six-pack is your 2022 goal, I’ve got you covered. 

What is the Tom Holland Spider-Man workout? 

Ashwell said Tom completed four-to-five rounds of the following circuit: 

Deadlifts

Tom would lift two times his bodyweight for the deadlifts, completing 8-10 reps. He’d then have a 30-second break before moving on to the next exercise.

Incline press

For these incline presses, the bench is at 45 degrees, to focus on the upper chest. Tom would press with the equivalent of half his bodyweight in each, completing 10-12 reps, followed by a 30-second rest.

Dip bar straight leg raise 

One of the ab exercises that created that famous torso, the straight leg raises performed on the dip bar is a killer for the core. This is a bodyweight exercise, and Tom would do 12-15 leg raises.

Weighted dips

Staying at the dip bar, weighted dips work the triceps, shoulders, and arm muscles, as well as the upper and lower back. Tom would perform 15 weighted dips, before a 30-second rest.

Dumbbell thrusters

Dumbbell thrusters target the quads, glutes, shoulders, and triceps as you squat down, and lift the dumbbells above your head. This move is also said to help work on your balance — something that Spider-Man no-doubt needs in bucket loads. Tom used a dumbbell that was a quarter of his body weight in each hand, and did 10-12 reps. 

Bear crawls

A Cross-Fit move, bodyweight bear crawls are said to build core strength, get the heart rate up, and work the shoulders and quads. Tom would do 60-seconds of bear crawls, with a 30-second rest between sets. 

Renegade rows 

Renegade rows are a full-body exercise that also targets the stabilization muscles of the body. Tom would use a dumbbell weighing one-quarter of his body weight in each hand, and do 10-12 renegade rows on each side.

Chin-ups 

Another multi-muscle group exercise, when performed correctly, chin-ups work the arms and back. Tom would do 10-12 chin-ups, with a break of 30-seconds before heading to the final exercise in the circuit.  

Running 

The cardio element of the circuit involved the following pyramid sprints session: 

10-minute jog

Run at 80% effort for 30 seconds-1 minute

Walk at 3.5-4 mph 2 minutes

Run at 90% effort for 30 seconds-1 minute

Walk at 3.5-4 mph 2 minutes

Run at 100% effort (full sprint) for 30 seconds-1 minute 

Walk at 3.5-4 mph 2 minutes

Run at 90% effort for 30 seconds-1 minute 

Walk at 3.5-4 mph 2 minutes

Run at 80% effort for 30 seconds-1 minute

Cool down walk for 5 minutes

I tried the Tom Holland Spider-Man workout — here’s what happened

Let me start by saying — this one is tough. I headed to the gym with every intention to work out like Spider-Man, but by the time I got to the straight leg bar raises, I realized my own Spider Senses were telling me to step away and get back to my normal workout routine. (This is the one app I always use in the gym). 

Lacking the upper-body strength of Spider-Man, I found I wasn’t able to do one dip bar straight leg raise, let alone the 15 Ashwell had on the plan. I wasn’t ready to fail just yet, so unrolled an exercise mat and opted for leg raises from the mat, but I felt much less like Spider-Man as I lay on the floor. Next up came the weighted dips, and I was, once again, defeated by the dip bar. Again, I improvised, opting to do tricep dips against a weight bench. 

The dumbbell thrusters, bear crawls, and renegade rows passed in a blur of “wow, I have to do four or five rounds of this?”, but at least I could do the exercise. Then came the chin-ups, which are said to have been Tom’s favorite exercise in his preparation for the role, and I realized I’d never beat The Green Goblin. I skipped onto the running part of the workout, and back in my safety zone, I completed one round of the grueling run-walk workout on the treadmill. It’s also important to add that I was definitely not benching or lifting the equivalent of my own bodyweight, sorry Tom. 

After three rounds of the circuit, doing my modifications, I admitted defeat and went home. I’m sure nobody else in the gym knew I was training to be Spider-Man, but it definitely wasn’t a challenge I was going to win. Ashwell said Tom usually spent 30-minutes on the treatment table after each workout, and I can see why. For now, I’ll stick to Pilates, and leave the web-shooting, wall-climbing, superhero antics to Tom. 

As for other celebrity workouts, you can see how Taron Egerton built his impressive physique and how Chris Hemsworth gets arms like Thor's and give Ryan Renyolds’ Deadpool 2 ab workout a spin. 

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 four 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.