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Ryan Gosling’s ab workout — here’s how he got in shape to play Ken

Ryan Gosling as Ken in Barbie movie
(Image credit: Jaap Buitendijk)

There’s no doubt about it, the first look at Ryan Gosling as Ken in the Barbie Movie is amazing. The 41-year-old actor can be seen wearing a ripped denim vest, with a Ken-doll smile, bleached blonde hair, and ripped arms and abs, leaning up against a Pepto Bismo pink house. It’s a 90s dream. The photo has broken the internet, and we’re still over a year away from the film even being released (July 21, 2023).

Yet if you’ve been wondering exactly how The Notebook star built his impressive torso, I’m here to help. As a fitness editor, there’s nothing I love more than digging into the weird and wonderful workouts of Hollywood’s most famous stars. I set about trying to find Gosling’s ab workout. Read on to find out what happened. 

Looking for more workout inspiration? You’ve come to the right place. Here’s what happened when I tried Jennifer Aniston’s 15-15-15 workout, when I tried Chris Hemsworth’s 800-rep challenge, and when I tried The Rock’s arms and ab workout; spoiler, it hurt.

Ryan Gosling as Ken in the Barbie movie

(Image credit: Jaap Buitendijk)

What is Ryan Gosling’s ab workout?

Before getting into the workout, it’s important to note that what works for Gosling, or me, might not be right for your body. If you’re new to exercise or returning to the gym after an injury, it’s a good idea to check with a personal trainer to ensure you’re form is correct before adding weights to the workout. 

Next up, it’s worth stating that there isn’t a lot of information out there about Gosling’s workout routine. He’s a private guy and doesn’t share an awful lot of information with the world. According to one website (opens in new tab), his ab routine is as follows:

Two rounds of the following circuit
50 crunches
25 leg raises
25 flutter kicks
25-second reverse superman hold
Planks for 60 seconds  

Alongside an exercise routine including strength training, cardio, and most importantly, good nutrition, this workout would be enough to help you build abs. As we’ve mentioned before, defined abdominal muscles depend on a low body fat percentage, not how many crunches you do. Here’s how to calculate your body fat percentage.

Before undertaking a serious Muay Thai workout routine to get in shape to play Julian in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, Gosling is said to have trained with fitness coach Ashley Borden, who has transformed the bodies of a number of Hollywood stars, including the likes of Christian Aguilera, Mandy Moore, and Reese Witherspoon. If you’re looking for more ab workout inspiration, Borden shared the following core-focused full-body workout on her Instagram

The workout follows the structure of 1 minute of work, and 15 seconds of rest. Complete the following circuit four times:

2 x Dumbbell row to stand: Using a pair of the best adjustable dumbbells, complete two dumbbell rows before standing up, then repeat. 

Goblet squat hold with tap-outs on alternative legs to stand: Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell against your chest and squat down. Holding the squat, tap one leg out to the side, then the other, before returning to your starting position. 

Lateral lunge to overhead press (30 seconds on each side): Step out and complete a lateral lunge with a dumbbell in each hand. As you step back to your starting position, raise both dumbbells above your head for an overhead press. Complete 30 seconds on one side before switching to the opposite side. 

The weight used for the circuit above shouldn’t be so heavy that your form suffers, but should feel challenging by the final few seconds of the exercise. 

Whichever of the ab exercises above you opt for, remember that Ryan Gosling probably built his impressive torso by exercising consistently and eating a balanced diet. Unlike the spray tan, Gosling’s Ken physique won’t have happened overnight, and if you are looking for the best ab exercises to add to your routine, we’ve found them here. 

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.