Here we take a look at Daniel Craig’s diet and workouts for his role as James Bond. Daniel Craig is possibly now in the best physical shape that he has ever been in (ignoring his injured shoulder). It seems that he has taken method acting to the extreme, and is in as good shape as the average British spy or special armed services soldier would be in. So, how does Bond get so fit?
For the Quantum of Solace Daniel Craig employed a new strength training coach, Simon Waterson, to help him to build on the success that he made while working on Casino Royale. This workout is a 5 day a week split training regime, with active rest at weekends. As we know from Devil May Care, Bond was a keen swimmer and tennis player, so these activities are ideal for weekends.
The Bond workout concentrates on different muscle groups each day, with an intensive interval training afterwards. The three main weight training workouts are Chest and Back, Legs, Shoulders and Arms, with some plyometric training and Power Training (Olympic weight lifting) exercises thrown in too.
“There’s no point in having great muscles if they can’t be used in a beneficial way like speeding across the ground, climbing, jumping and fighting.” Simon Waterson, Daniel Craig’s personal fitness coach.
Functional training is the key to success when it comes to attaining a James Bond physique.
- Day 1: Plyometric Circuit
- Day 2: Chest, Back and Leg Exercises (see below)
- Day 3: Active Rest – gentle swimming, yoga or other activities
- Day 4: Arms and Shoulders
- Day 5: Plyometric Circuit
- Day 6/7: Active Rest
Plyometric Circuit Training
The first two instalments of the James Bond workout, which Daniel Craig used to build his athletic frame for Casino Royal and Quantum of Solace, focused on weight training exercises to build muscle.
The plyometric circuit is more concerned with building functional athletic strength, as well as core strength. See the plyometric boxing workout for more on this type of training.
There are only four exercises. You can perform these either as a traditional circuit, with one set on each exercise, and repeating the circuit several times, or you can just perform several sets of each exercise before moving on to the next.
Weighted Knee Raises
For this you will need a Captain’s chair (also known as a hanging leg raise station). Position yourself on the chair with your forearms on the supports and holding that hand grips.
Lifting a dumbbell with your feet, while tensing your abs, raise your knees as high as possible towards your chest. Pause and hold before returning the weight to the floor.
Clean and Press
The clean and press is the classic compound exercise. If you are performing this routine on its own, ensure that you warm up well first.
Start by standing in front of a barbell, with your feet shoulder width apart. Squat down and grab the bar with a overhand grip (knuckles facing up). In one fluid motion, raise the bar to your chest while quickly standing.
The “clean” means that you lift the weight to your chest without it pausing along your legs/waist on the way up. One “clean” movement. From here, press the weight overhead. Return the weight to your chest, then lower back the floor, squatting down to the start position.
Weighted Step Ups
The weighted step up is a simple but often neglected exercise. Hold a pair of dumbbells with one foot on a bench. Then, while keeping yourself upright (do not lean forward!) push up off the floor with your other leg, to quickly stand up on the bench. Return the leg to the floor and repeat.
Work each leg separately, do not alternate on each rep.
To make “more plyometric” perform box jumps instead. For this a stable box is essential – do not attempt on bench. Simple stand facing a box, and then quickly squat down slightly before powering yourself up onto the box. A simple standing jump up. Extremely effective.
007 Chest and Back Exercises
Incline press-ups and plyometric press ups
The foundation of a strong back and powerful chest is the humble press up. Performed in military boots camps all over the world, this humble exercise is too often overlooked by gym goers. With your feet up on a bench, or chair, perform press ups, keeping your back straight at all times.
Aim for 3 sets of 10 to start with. In the final set, place your feet on the ground and attempt “clap ups”, i.e. push up powerfully enough to do a quick clap on each press up.
Incline Bench Press
To work the upper chest, lie on a bench at a 45 degree incline, and pump out 3 sets of 10 incline bench presses. Do not bounce the bar on your chest, and do not lock out your elbows. Keep the movement steady.
For this you will need a pull up bar. Hold the bar with an underhand grip (palms facing you), slightly wider that shoulder width apart. Pull yourself up until your chin just passes the bar, then carefully lower yourself, take a few deep breaths, and lift again.
Back to the 45 degree incline bench, this time using dumbbells. Hold a dumbbell in each hand directly above your chest, then lower your arms downwards and out to the side, keeping your elbows slightly bent, so that the chest expands, then lift again. 3 set of 10 reps.
James Bond’s Leg Training
No proper weight training session is complete without squats. Ideally use a barbell in a squat rack/cage. With feet shoulder width apart, perform full squats. Good form is essential, so read here for a full description on how to squat. Perform 3 or 4 sets of 10.
Deadlifts are the second most powerful compound exercise. Perform 3 or 4 sets of 10. Watch this video to learn how to deadlift properly.
The hamstring curl is not a classic exercise, but is a good isolation exercise to go along with the squats and deadlifts. Basically it performs the opposite movement to the squat, so that you are contracting the hamstring rather than expanding. Lie flat on a hamstring extension bench, stomach down, with ankles hooked under a padded bar. Lift legs as much as possible, and return slowly.
The lunge is another fantastic leg exercise. They can either be done with or without weights. Simply hold a dumbbell in each hand, ideally use the heaviest weight that you can hold and take a long step forward, bending your front knee, keep your back upright and straight, then return to standing position and repeat with the other leg.
Arms and Shoulder Workouts
Now we turn our attention to his arm and shoulder workouts.
Incline Biceps Curls
The first of the exercises to build 007 bigger arms are incline dumbbell curls. To do this lie on a bench inclined to 45 degrees and hold a pair of bells at your side, with your palms facing inwards. Slowly curl the dumbbells to your shoulders, turning your wrists as you lift, so that your palms face your shoulders when you finish the movement. Return dumbbells back to your side using the same twisting motion, finishing with your palms facing each other once again.
Tricep dips are the ultimate tricep exercise. They are also a compound exercise, and build a more athletic / functional muscle than isolation exercises such as tricep extensions. You need a pair of parallel bars (see here how to knock up some at home). Start by supporting yourself on the bars with your arms straight, and then slowly lower yourself until your upper arms are close to parallel to the ground. Push back up until your elbows are straight, but not locked. If you find this too easy, then use a weight belt.
Lateral raises are performed with two dumbbells. They work the front deltoids and lateral deltoids. Start with the bells in front of your waist. Keeping your knees slightly bent and your arms slightly bent at the elbow, raise your arms up outwards to the side, leading with your upper arms, until your elbows are at shoulder height. Slowly lower and repeat.
Shoulder Press / Military Press
The shoulder press can be performed with either dumbbells or a barbell, and either seated or standing. With a standing dumbbell shoulder press, hold the dumbells at your shoulders with palms facing inwards, and then push upwards and finish with the palms facing forwards. Return to start.
With a barbell shoulder press, hold the bar on your upper chest, then push upwards. If you have a bench with an upright back support, use this, as by steadying the body your focus more on the shoulders. Avoid leaning back, as this will utilize your pecs, and although easier, your shoulders will not gain so well.
A Note on Combining the Workouts
Together these three James Bond workouts can be combined into one session, or they can be performed individually. It depends on how intensive you want each exercise to be.
If you are planning to combine this with the Daniel Back and Leg Exercises with the Arms and Shoulders workout then you will need to modify or omit some exercises. For example you will not be able to perform the clean and press in the same session as the squats and shoulder presses.
Daniel Craig’s Fat Loss Diet
In an interview with chat show host Jonathan Ross, Daniel Craig revealed some little secrets about his fitness. Firstly he said that he has to start working out 6 months before shooting starts. This is the time for improving fitness and bulking up. Then in the final weeks leading to the start of filming he “de-carbs”, meaning that he severely restricts carbohydrates from his diet to encourage his body to start burning fat for energy and sugar. This is classic bulking / ripping cycling that bodybuilders perform.
Of course, some carbs are eaten as he continues to exercise. But the carbs eaten will be low GI carbs – salad vegetables, raw veges and fruits, pulses, nuts. Certainly no bread, no baked foods, no pasta or rice. Carbohydrates must provide essential nutrients and fiber, not excessive energy in the form of sugar.
During his bulking period he would eat a lot of food in general, and especially plenty of lean protein Muscles need protein for growth and carbs for fuel. Fat burning needs a restriction of energy, and specifically sugar. So diet is cycled through stages to help achieve his goals.
This article was originally published on Oct 25, 2008, and updated on Apr 25, 2011 and Oct 29, 2012.