Exclusive: This is Ryan Reynolds’ arm workout for Deadpool 3

a photograph of Ryan Reynolds in the gym and on the red carpet
(Image credit: Getty/Gilbert Flores / Contributor/Instagram/donsaladino)

As a fitness editor, there’s nothing I love more than diving into the workout schedules of Hollywood’s most famous faces, so imagine my delight when I joined Ryan Reynolds’ PT, Don Saladino, in the gym between clients. I say joined, Saladino was sitting in his impressive-looking workout studio in New York, and I was sitting in my spare room in London. 

But still, the man trains superheroes for a living and I was ready to pick his brains. 

“He's got phenomenal arm strength,” Saladino says when talking about Reynolds. The two have trained together for 14 years, and Saladino is the man behind Reynolds’ physique for some of his biggest movies, including the upcoming Deadpool 3. “We've done so many different splits,” he explains, when I ask what a normal week of training looks like for Ryan. It turns out the “normal” shifts all the time, depending on the role or character in question. 

“He's not strictly an athlete, but he's not a bodybuilder,” Saladino explains, “he lives in this area that I call performance physique. We always start our programs with some foam rolling and some breath work, we'll go through a dynamic warmup, then we'll go into a jump, throw, carrier, so we like to do some form of a jump, a medicine ball throw, and we'll carry weight.” 

It’s the nature of the job that things change, both with filming schedules and roles, Saladino points out. He’s used to it — he’s trained some of the most famous faces in Hollywood including Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, David Harbour, Anne Hathaway, and Emily Blunt. 

“I think that’s why [Ryan] has been successful — he recognizes throughout the year that his body needs different things," Saladino said. "If he’s training for Deadpool, and the goal is hypertrophy (and increased growth of muscles) but to maintain a level of movement, his training will go in one direction. 

"And then when he was training for the movie Spirited (the 2022 Christmas movie he did with Will Ferrell for Apple TV) he did a lot of dance training. And that is something that I absolutely love. Because it's very dynamic, it focuses a lot on elasticity.”

Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool 3 arm workout

While his training might change month to month, some things remain the same, and this base workout is one of them. “We’ll get a workout like this in maybe once a week,” Saladino explains. If Ryan is particularly fatigued from a hard week of training or filming, this is a workout that’ll target his arms, but not exhaust him. Ready to give it a go? Grab a set of the best adjustable dumbbells and give this a try. 

Superset 1

For this first superset, you’ll do four sets in total. “We’d start heavy with this,” Saladino adds. When doing a superset, do the two exercises back to back without any rest. Take a short rest between sets if needed. 

an illo of a close grip barbell press

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Close grip bench press: 6-8 reps 

To do a close grip bench press, start by lying on a bench, with a heavy barbell raised above your head — remember, the right weight for you will feel challenging by the final few reps, but not impossible. 

Grip the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart — this should be a narrower grip than your normal bench press. Hold the bar with your arms locked, straight above you, inhale, then slowly lower the bar down to your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body. Exhale, and raise the barbell back to your starting position. 

an illo of a man doing a bicep barbell curl

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Barbell bicep curls: 6-8 reps 

To do barbell bicep curls, start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your glutes and abs and curl the bar up towards your body, moving from the elbows. Squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower the bar back to your starting position.

Superset 2

Again, for the next superset, do the following two exercises back to back for four sets:

an illo of a man doing a dumbbell overhead press

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Dumbbell overhead: 8-10 reps 

Hold two dumbbells, and stand with your feet hip-width apart, with a slight bend in your knees. Engage your core, and raise the dumbbells to your shoulders, with your palms facing forward, and your elbows towards the floor. 

Press the dumbbells up towards the ceiling, so your arms are outstretched above your body (keep a slight bend in the elbow), and your palms facing forward. Lower the dumbbells back to your shoulders with control, before moving on to your next rep. 

an illo of a man doing a hammer curl

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Dumbbell hammer curls: 8-10 reps 

To do a hammer curl, grab a set of dumbbells and stand with your legs hip-width apart. Don’t lock your legs out — keep a soft bend in the knee. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing toward your body and your thumbs facing forward. 

Bend at the elbow and lift the lower arms to pull the weights up to your shoulders. Pause here, then lower the weights back down to your starting position. Read what happened when this fitness writer did 100 hammer curls a day for a week. 

Superset 3

For the final superset, do four sets of the following two exercises: 

an illo of a man doing a tricep pulldown

(Image credit: shutterstock)

Triceps rope push downs: 10-12 reps 

For this exercise, you’ll need to use a cable machine (or one of the best resistance bands) with a rope attachment. Start facing the machine, and adjust the rope so it is at chest level. Grab the attachment with an overhand grip, engage your core, and tuck your elbows into your sides. 

Push down until your elbows are fully extended but not locked out. Keep your elbows close to your body, but don’t bend your torso forwards during this move. As you exhale, return to your starting position slowly, and with control.  

an illo of a man doing a preacher curl

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Preacher curls: 10-12 reps

To do preacher curls, use a preacher curl bench, which is designed to let you sit down, with your upper arms resting on a surface that is slightly tilted inwards. You can do the exercise with a barbell, dumbbell, or EZ bar. 

Sitting on the preacher bench, with your armpits underneath the sloped section. Hold the weight in an underhand grip, with your palms facing up, and curl the weight up, keeping your upper arms flat on the bench, until your forearms are vertical to the bench. Pause here, then slowly lower down to your starting position. 

Your torso and upper body should stay still for the entire exercise — make sure the movement is coming from your biceps and you’re not rocking back and forth. 

This interview was set up in collaboration with Lumen, of which Don Saladino is an ambassador. Read our Lumen review here, plus our likes and dislikes after using Lumen for a year.

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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.