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March 26, 2021 10 min read

The King of Atlantis and the Seven Seas, the Aquatic Ace, the Protector of the Deep—however you know him, it’s hard to argue Aquaman’s status as a classic pillar of superhero lore.

For the longest time Aquaman was considered the useless superhero. We’re not here to argue whether or not he really is useless, but you have to wonder what his schtick would be if he got stuck on land. Even though there were attempts to beef up the character, the negative label stuck to our fish hero. That is, up until recently.

With the recent Aquaman movie starring Jason Momoa, the “useless” label turned into the “absolutely shredded” label, seemingly overnight.

Not even mentioning Momoa’s acting chops, it’s obvious that he’s breathed new life into the character and made him into the superhero everyone wants to be rather than the superhero everyone picks on. And with some hard work, routine, and good food, you too can undergo a transformation worthy of a demi-god.

The Man Behind the Aquaman

As a Hawaiian, the role of Aquaman is fitting for Momoa. However, his “buff dude” acting repertoire extends much further than just his role in the Justice League.

He’s been on Baywatch Hawaii, played Conan the Barbarian, and really turned things up a notch as Khal Drogo in the Game of Thrones series. Even if you’re not that familiar with these roles, you can probably tell just by the names that most of them are going to call for a big, jacked physique.

And while Momoa’s genetics are often cited as part of the reason for his popularity and appearance in roles, the man is definitely no stranger to working out and maintaining an active lifestyle. Still, standing at 6’4’’ he is definitely not to mess with—especially when he’s in training mode.

While most of his workout and diet plan is relatively loosely planned around what he’s finding interesting and what role he’s training for, it’s safe to say that’s got a rock-steady workout routine that gets him the results he needs. Not only that, but it’s also a relatively unique routine as it goes against certain “common sense” tenants of training.

And while the workout we’ve provided below will get you the results you need to become the next Aquaman, keep in mind the flexible training philosophy of Mr. Momoa. 

Man doing weights

AR-7 for the Seven Seas

While it may not seem like it, Momoa doesn’t really have an extended history of lifting weights. Instead, he’s historically preferred to stay active and fit in other ways, such as climbing.

However, when it comes to training in a gym and preparing for a role like Aquaman, the Accelerated Results 7 (AR-7) program is the one which he opts for.

Depending on what you already know about weightlifting and bodybuilding, this might run slightly counterintuitive to how you think things should work in a workout strategy. The emphasis with the AR-7 program is on consistency and pacing rather than extreme lifts. In practice, this means using low weights and low reps—making up for the lower intensity by increasing the training volume. This means taking the least possible amount of rest time between sets.

With the increase of tempo, you’re going to be feeling the burn and the pump much sooner than if you were using heavier weights. This can effectively minimize the amount of muscle fatigue shortly after a workout. However, for Momoa it didn’t stop at one workout a day.

This kind of training program setup allowed him to work out up to 3 times on certain days since he wasn’t destroying his muscles after each training session. This isn’t to say that the workout itself isn’t tough.

The “7” in the name stands for the way that the sets and reps are set up with each exercise. This borrows from circuit training, in that there’s minimal rest between sets. So, for example, you would begin with 7 sets of an exercise, taking each set to 7 reps and resting 7 seconds between each set. The next circuit would include 6 sets of 6 reps each, allowing for 6 seconds of rest between each set. Finally, the last round would involve 5 sets of 5 reps each and—you guessed it—5 seconds of rest.

The rest time between circuits should be kept around 1 to 2 minutes.

One practical benefit to this type of training is that you’re knocking one exercise out of the park in a relatively short amount of time. So, if you’re used to waiting around for machines or benches to open up in the gym, that won’t be an issue anymore since you’ll be getting each exercise out of the way before starting the next.

Jason Momoa’s Workout

The workout below is just a sample of one workout that Momoa would do when training for the role of Aquaman. It’s a full-body workout routine that rightly places an emphasis on compound movements, which offer a much greater bang-for-your-buck when working out.

Once again, the AR-7 routine looks like this:

  • 1st round: 7 sets of 7 reps, with 7 seconds rest between sets
  • 2nd round: 6 sets of 6 reps, with 6 seconds rest between sets
  • 3rd round: 5 sets of 5 reps, with 5 seconds rest between sets

The amount of weight you use will depend on your own fitness and experience levels, but keep in mind the high tempo of this routine. You’re going to want to probably use a much lower weight than you’re used to—especially when you’re starting out with this program, to make sure that you don’t injure yourself going too hard.

This entails 110 reps of a single exercise, after all.

In terms of warming up, Momoa apparently did 100 push-ups and 100 squats in order to warm up for his chest workout. If that hasn’t made you sick yet, then try completing the routine three times a day like Momoa sometimes did. And if that doesn’t gas you out, then we’re not sure what will.

And of course, to get the shredded physique of Aquaman, Momoa included plenty of cardio throughout his workout regime—normally hitting the treadmill after a training session.

While the routine below is just one sample of what Momoa was doing to get in shape, it does offer a good idea of what most of his workouts included. Increase weights as you see fit throughout your progression, and focus on multi-joint movements to get the best results.

Monday: Chest

  • Flat Bench Press
  • Incline Bench Press
  • Incline Bench Dumbbell Press
  • Plate Push-Up
  • Chest Dips

Tuesday: Back

  • Medium-Grip Pull-Up
  • Reverse-Grip Chin-Up
  • Close-Grip Pull-Up
  • Seated Pulley Row
  • Reverse-Grip BB Bent-Over Row

Wednesday: Legs

  • Bodyweight Squat
  • Stiff-Legged Deadlift
  • Barbell Back Squat
  • Bodyweight Jump Squat

Thursday: Core

  • Medicine Ball Slam
  • Kettlebell Swing
  • Burpee
  • Leap Frog
  • 40-Yard Sprint

Friday: Arms & Legs

  • Barbell Military Press
  • Bodyweight Dip
  • Diamond Push-Up
  • Dumbbell Curls
  • Dumbbell Triceps Extensions

The Workout Plan and Recovery

With a workout plan this intense, it’s important to make sure that you’re allowing your muscles enough recovery time between workouts. Overworking yourself—while it might be tempting sometimes—it’s definitely not good for your long-term progress and can hurt gains in the short term as well.

It also warrants saying that Momoa’s training placed an emphasis on flexibility, switching exercises around, and keeping things interesting. This also plays into his diet which we’ll look at next, but it shows how much training is a mental game as much of a physical one.

Momoa doesn’t have a long history of working out with heavy weights in the gym, and yet he looks amazing. This is because he’s always emphasized staying active in fun ways, such as climbing, hill sprints, boxing, skateboarding, and yes—swimming.

This is especially useful for recovery days when you’re trying to get shredded. Adding in some light to moderate physical activity on rest days is a good way to maintain an active lifestyle while still allowing your muscles time to recover from working out. Not to mention that it’ll get you outside as well, which is good for both your mental and physical wellbeing.  

Guiness Beer

Powered by Guinness

As the heading suggests, Momoa is a big, big fan of Guinness. And with the amount of flexibility he extends himself when it comes to working out, you can bet your ass that he leaves room for a beer at the end of the day.

The Guinness and cigar diet sounds too good to be true—which it is—but that doesn’t mean you have to forsake all your favorite things if you keep your diet under control. What does “under control” mean?

Backing up your vices with a solid foundation built on clean eating is one way to achieve your goals while also living life to the fullest along the way. Of course, how effective this may be is entirely dependant on how hard you train and what you eat the rest of the time.

When it comes to Momoa, his diet is fairly standard “clean eating.” The biggest difference is that he does try to limit his carb intake significantly, especially when trying to prepare for a more shredded role. This diet is similar to the keto diet, which aims to replace carb intake with healthy protein sources such as lean meats and fish. And if you’re wondering—yes, Aquaman does enjoy fish, with his favorite being the Aku fish. Really makes you wonder about the telepathic control of sea life, but we’re not here to judge.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the things that powered Momoa while he was becoming Aquaman.

Fish Food (Excluding Guinness)

His personal trainer, Stuart Walton, made sure that Momoa’s diet stuck to the principles of nutrition, balance, and enjoyment. The enjoyment part we’ve already covered for the most part, but let’s take a closer look at the nutrition and balance.

Other than the aforementioned vices, Momoa cut all processed carbs and junk foods from his diet when training up for the role. These things he replaced with veggies and clean proteins, however, he also didn’t force a new diet on himself.

Rather, Momoa and his trainer worked with the things he already enjoyed and simply placed a greater emphasis on the healthier aspects of these foods. In order to give that extra edge to bulking up with minimal fat gain, they also counted Momoa’s macros to maintain a good ratio of carbs, to fats, to proteins.

It should be noted that while Momoa took a relatively lax approach to his diet (or so it sounds like), he was also an actor preparing to star in a big box office movie. That means plenty of support in terms of nutrition, training, and cooking. Anyone living a normal life will be hard-pressed to follow in an actor’s footsteps exactly and get the same results, but the general philosophy and thinking behind the fitness regime is what should be taken to heart.

Nevertheless, here are some of the main foods that Momoa enjoyed:

  • Fish
  • Lean meats
  • Peanut butter
  • Fruit
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Boiled Chicken Breast

Veggies and fruits took center stage—especially a ton of leafy greens. Fruits were mostly eaten before a workout or a long day of shooting the movie in order to provide a boost of energy.

Peanut butter also took a prominent role in the diet. However, make sure that it’s all-natural if you do decide to make it a part of your diet. It’s low in sodium, cholesterol-free, and a fantastic source of healthy fats. Opting for the all-natural route will ensure that you’re avoiding all that extra sugar.

And of course, chicken breast is one of the best sources of lean, healthy protein. Boiling it is definitely taking this already healthy source of protein to the next level, but however you prepare it, it’ll still be good for you. And while maybe not as health-conscious as boiled chicken breast, it’s no surprise that Momoa also regularly indulged in steak. And when you’ve got his physique, steak is probably a must-have.

Protein Powder

Supplementing for the King of Atlantis

When it came to supplements for the role, Momoa kept things relatively simple to get the Aquaman physique.

Whey protein powder is almost a given—especially since he was working out 3 times a day sometimes. With all of that exertion, it’s no surprise that he had to constantly be shoveling protein into himself. Protein powder is one of the best ways to get that extra protein in you when you’re trying to bulk. Make a shake and you can drink it through the day, easily adding extra protein and calories into your diet.

Momoa also used creatine, which is a natural substance found in all of your muscle cells. It’s a popular and safe supplement that lifters take in order to maximize energy production during a workout and ensure that they’re not leaving any gains on the table. Just make sure that you’re getting a high-quality product that’s been well formulated and reviewed.

Finally, Momoa also took mass gainers in order to bulk up for the role of Aquaman. These vary from type to type, but for the most part, they offer a boost of extra protein and carbs in order to get more calories into the diet. High-quality mass gainers will also offer a good array of vitamins, minerals, creatine, or other training enhancing ingredients.

Once again, it’s best to find a high-quality product, or opt for a stack that’s sure to get you the results you’re looking for—if you back it up with a healthy diet and enough exercise.

Lifestyle & Rest

Both a proper diet and exercise are excellent on their own, but it takes a fleshed-out routine to really make them work towards your goals.

Creating and maintaining a routine is one of the best things you can do when it comes to reaching your goals faster and more efficiently. Sticking to things you’ve scheduled in advance will ensure that you’re training enough, eating enough (and the right things), and perhaps most importantly it’ll help you get enough rest on a consistent basis.

As most of us know by now, getting enough rest is essential if you’re looking to pack on the gains—or even just maintain overall wellness. Sleeping with the fishes hasn’t been this cool since The Godfather. But these days it’s more important to get a good sleep rather than just any sleep.

However, even keeping all of these aspects in mind, Momoa still finds time to rise early in the morning at 5 am. He does something active first in the morning and makes sure to sweat hard before getting on with the day. Working out in the morning has several benefits—especially if you’re looking to get shredded and lose some extra fat.

So, if you’re looking to keep up with the Marine Marvel, prepare for some early days, good meals, hard workouts, and amazing results.