In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Adam Driver returned as the powerful and feared Sith warlord Kylo Ren. He took over as the Supreme Leader of the First Order—following his assassination of Snoke—and is tasked by the returned Emperor Palpatine to finally wipe out The Resistance. The epic intergalactic war called for lots of intense lightsaber action, which demanded more athleticism from Driver than what was required for previous roles. But the former Marine was up to the challenge and got battle-ready with London-based trainer Simon Waterson.
“There is no doubt Adam’s military career came through in our workouts,” says Waterson. The trainer traveled with the cast during the long production period to make sure they were constantly keeping their fitness edge, as well as staying healthy. “I didn’t have to push Adam to go hard. He had all of that motivation. It was more about slowing him down.”
Waterson kept Driver guessing by taking taking two or more traditional exercises and combining them with a plyometric transition. The goal was to keep the actor limber, while also packing on muscle so he looked ominous inside of Kylo Ren’s armor.
Adam Driver’s Nutrition Principles
The nutritional guidelines were simple—high amounts of protein and a moderate amount of carbs. The carbs were necessary to keep Driver’s energy up because of how heavy and cumbersome his costume was on top of the extensive fight sequences. That also meant proper hydration was always a top priority. There were a few occasions, like Driver’s shirtless scene, that required him to dial back the carbs and ramp up the cardio.
Adam Driver’s Go-to Recovery Methods
Shoot days were very demanding for Driver, from the action to wirework stunts. After days on set and training, Driver did dynamic stretching and utilized trigger point precision tools (think Theragun or Hypervolt) to curb any muscle soreness.
The Workout That Transformed Adam Driver Into Kylo Ren
Waterson had plenty of time to whip Driver into shape, given that filming took place over seven months. This workout is part of the pre-production period, where the goal was to put on lean mass and enhance Driver’s explosiveness. The inclusion of Olympic movements helped build up Driver’s chest and arms, which are showcased a few times during the newest Star Wars trilogy.
“These workouts were all about the tempo and transitions,” says Waterson. “The movements should be fluid, like one continuous exercise without sacrificing form.”
Directions: Kick off the workout with a 10-minute dynamic warmup, then start the adapted superset workout completing 2 to 4 rounds of the full program depending on your fitness level. Since it hits a good amount of the body, this is a good routine to repeat twice a week—and see if you can advance the number of rounds you can do.
The Finisher: Cap off the routine with this ultimate burner: 5 sets of 25 ab-wheel rollouts with a 1-minute plank in between sets.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is now available on Disney+
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