The Real Henry Cavill Man of Steel Workout

I’m a Superman guy. There are Batman guys, Wolverine guys, but Superman has always been my favorite superhero. What’s discerning is, there’s never been a man befitting of the title, Man of Steel, who’s played Mr. Kent on the silver screen. That is, until now. Henry Cavill is the first guy to play Superman who’s taken his craft seriously enough to add muscle. He not only acts like the Man of Steel, he actually looks like him. It’s refreshing. And this commitment looks like it’s going to revive a franchise that needs a solid shot in the arm.

We’ve done other superhero workouts on this site including the Bane Workout, to the Avengers Workout. Both have been a success, and were fun to give to you guys, but this one takes the cake. The focus of these workouts is always to build a body like the superhero. We take their strongest attributes, and create a program around them. For past programs we focused on things like the Hulk’s incredible strength, or Thor’s power, but Superman is different.

He possesses speed, power, strength, endurance, and agility. There’s no single attribute we can focus on that will suffice, we need to focus on them all. And not only that, as Cavill did, we have to build muscle to have the “show” along with the “go”.

To create a program that has every characteristic mentioned is no small order. But that’s exactly what we’ll do.

The Man of Steel Workout

Man of Steel Henry Cavill Workout

For the Man of Steel Workout we’ll use a 5 day split to cover everything we need to cover. We’ll have muscle building cadences (tempos), as well as cadences and exercises that will improve your power and athleticism. We’ll also add finishers to the end of every workout to improve agility and endurance.

Do this program for 4 weeks and, by the end, you’ll feel as though the energy from the sun gives you super powers as well. Let’s proceed.

What you need to know…

Cadences: For the muscle building portions of the workouts, we’ll be using different cadences on the eccentric portions of the exercise. This will increase the time under tension of the exercise, helping us break through plateaus and create more muscle damage during a set, which will help us build more overall muscle.

Wherever it gives a “4 sec cadence”, that means you’ll be using a 4 second tempo on the eccentric contraction of the exercise.

Eccentric Contraction: This is the aspect of the exercise where the muscle lengthens, so this isn’t the “curl” of a biceps curl where the muscle is shortening, but the way back down where the muscle lengthens. It’s also the way down of a chin up, squat, deadlift, and bench press, and the way up on a cable pulldown.

Giant & Super Sets: We’ll be combining a lot of our sets in this program to increase the lactic acid build up in the muscles we’re working. This will, by correlation, naturally raise our growth hormone (GH) levels as well.

Every exercise that’s laid out following the same letter, but a different number, is a part of the same set. So if you see “A1.” then “A2.”, complete A1., then immediately move on to A2., with rest only coming after both exercises have been completed.

The Warm-up

For every workout we’ll be doing the same warm-up. It’s an athletic warm up that will prepare your body for the rigors of the program. Perform 3 sets of the following set as your warm-up for the Man of Steel Workout.

Day 1. Full Body Pushes

Focus of set: to Build Muscle

A1. Bench Press – 8 reps. 4 second cadence.

A2. Lateral Raise – 12 reps. 3 second cadence.

A3. Rear Delt Raise – 20 reps. no cadence.

Rest: 60 seconds. Repeat Set 3x

Focus of the set: to Improve Power & Athleticism

B1. Squat – 6 reps

B2. Clap Push-ups – failure

Rest: 60 seconds. Repeat Set 3x

Focus of the set: to Build Muscle

C1. Front Squat – 12 reps. 4 second cadence.

C2. Hack Squat – 15 reps. no cadence.

C3. Seated Calf Raise – 12 reps. 4 second cadence.

Rest: 60 seconds. Repeat Set 3x

Focus of the set: to Improve Power & Athleticism

B1. Floor Press – 6 reps

B2. Dips – failure

Rest: 120 seconds. Repeat Set 3x


50 Burpees (done as fast as possible)

Day 2. Full Body Pulls

Focus of set: to Build Muscle

A1. Pull-ups – 8 reps. 4 second cadence.

A2. Upright Row – 12 reps. 3 second cadence.

A3. Inverted Row – failure. no cadence.

Rest: 60 seconds. Repeat Set 3x

Focus of the set: to Improve Power & Athleticism

B1. Deadlift – 6 reps

B2. Knuckle Push-ups – failure

Rest: 60 seconds. Repeat Set 3x

Focus of the set: to Build Muscle

C1. RDLs – 12 reps. 4 second cadence.

C2. Yates Row – 15 reps. no cadence.

C3. Barbell Curl – 12 reps. 4 second cadence.

Rest: 60 seconds. Repeat Set 3x

Focus of the set: to Improve Power & Athleticism

B1. Power Clean – 6 reps

B2. Chin-ups – failure

Rest: 60 seconds. Repeat Set 3x


10 push-up to chin-ups (done as fast as possible) – rest, 30 seconds and repeat 3x. Continue on Page 2 >>>

  • Louis

    Amazing workout! But what could u do if you don’t have access to a sledgehammer?

    • Dino

      Yeah, had the same thoughts for the sledgehammer.

    • Use a medicine ball and do med ball slams. I’ll add that to the article.

  • Jesse Regnart

    I love to do rotational one-arm slams in place of a sledgehammer

    • Another great alternative, thanks for bringing that up.

  • Chris

    Awesome workout! Really pumped to get started on this tomorrow!! What kind of nutrition do you recommend with this program?

  • Minhaz

    what is a good alternative to dips if one doesnt have parallel bars at his gym?

    • If you have a bench you can use that. Close grip push ups is another alternative.

  • Sam

    The layout of superset and giant sets looks intriguing. For the Day 5 Finisher, increasing weight?

    • For day 5 let the reps dictate your load. So fail at the rep count, whatever weight that requires, use that.

  • cane0713

    What do you recommend for people with really bad knees. (3 ACL Surgeries and terrible arthritis) Can’t do a lot of the jumping exercises or squats. Front squats hack squats and back squats cause a lot of pain and swelling. Dumbbell squats and Goblet squats are ok for some reason.

    • brandon m

      I would ask your doc, but coming from an anecdotal side:

      try doing unweighted one leg squats (pistols) and then stretching the knees before the squats, warmup is key for you…then after your workout use an alternating ice to heat protocol on the affected joints. take tylenonol as needed for arthritic pain, and use supplements of fish/flax oil at 125% RDA. also add in glucosamine and try that for a month…

    • Brandon hit the nail on the head. Start with bodyweight then work your way to single leg. Also make sure you’re training your hips. The quads will be secondary, but that’ll help you cain a lot of strength so you can increase weights for quad dominated lifts (hips: deadlifts, RDLs, hip thrusts)..

      • cane0713

        Thanks Guys. I do a lot of this already. I don’t take Tylenol though. Try and stay away from any time of pain meds. The thing that sucks is not sure about the cleans and snatches because you do somewhat of a little jump and slam your feet back down during the movement. Not sure if it’s as effective when not doing it so explosively. Any recommended substitutes for those. I can do hang cleans.. ..

  • Marc Daniel

    how heavy should the weights be? and if I’m trying to lower my body fat from 20+% to below 15 or 10% what do you recommend that I do? Thanks !

    • Let the reps dictate the load. So whatever the rep count, aim to fail at it + 1 left in the tank.

  • KBLifter49

    “feint of heart” should be “faint of heart” Feint means a fake move, like in a knife fight or fencing.
    Also, most people consider lateral raise to be a pulling move, not a push.

    • #1. Good eye on the feint, will change, thanks for pointing that out.
      #2. Incorrect. Shoulders are a pushing muscle – and aren’t considered a pulling muscle – along with chest and tris for the upper body. So delt work is pooled in with the other pushing muscles. You can argue that anything training the rear delt is a pulling exercise, and technically could be put in with pulls. I like lumping the entire delt into one day to give them more recovery time.

  • Giovanny Perera

    Chad, first amazing article I love your blog and second I train at a few different places depending on my schedule and I don’t always have access to a leg press machine. What could I do I’m place of that? I was thinking maybe zerher squats?

    • That works, single leg squat, step ups etc… anything that is a quad dominated exercise.

  • Daniyal

    When you say 8 reps for bench for 3 sets, should I aim to almost fail every set. Because that would mean doing the heaviest in my first set and working backwards. Or is it better to try doing the same weight across 3 sets, with the first set being relatively easy and the last one being the toughest one

    • Do one warm up set, then aim for failure thereafter.

  • John

    Looks like a great workout. Starting it next week. 2 quick questions

    1) Any substitute for Power Cleans?

    2) No rest between A1 to A2, correct?

    • a) a heavy upright row – activate your legs for more power.
      b) correct. Only rest after both are complete.

  • Frank McCall

    Hey, so I have a bad lower back. I usually push myself regardless. I’m always weary about squats, and don’t have a place to do proper cleans (although below some where you mentioned a heavy upright row as a substitute). Should I stick to body weight squats and leg extensions? Or should I try and incorporate weighted squats. If the weighted squats make ALL the difference, then i’ll suck it up, but is that smart with the condition my back is in? (my back from 1-10 is at a pain level of roughly 6 every day, never goes away, if I don’t stretch my hammys properly before exercise, we’re talkin 8). Any advice would be extremely helpful. Thanks.

    • The back is something you really have to watch. You DON’T want back pain at all. I’d really focus on stretching your hips (flexors and glutes), and strengthening those muscle more than your quads – but see a physio to get some exercises that’ll help with the back pain.

  • tom lancaster

    what supplements and diet would you recommend for this program and also how quick would it be before i started seeing results. many thanks tom.

  • Christian C.

    Just switched over from a long bulking program and tackled Day 1 and man, my legs were cryin! Excited to work one this one for a good 4-6 weeks!

    • That’s awesome! Keep at it man, glad you started the program.

  • Will

    Awsome workout just got done with my second week and am already seeing some results. I love the themed workout such as this one along with the Bane and Avengers workout. Keep em comin Chad!

    • Thanks man, great to hear you’re enjoying the program!

  • Jack Ryder

    are there any substitutes for Seated Cable Rows and inverted rows? or alternate ways to do these exercises as i dont have any machines or equipment other than barbells, dumbells and a bench press.

    • Bent over row, yates row, upright row… basically any pulling motion will suffice. All you really need is barbells and dbells anyhow, you’re all good.

  • Jonny

    From Atlas Shrugged:

    “The world is changing, Mr. Rearden! You can’t just live based on rigid principles!”

    “Try pouring a ton of steel without rigid principles”

  • Anonymous

    hey chad have you ever thought about doing a Saiyan Workout? (Saiyans are from the anime Dragon Ball Z)

  • john

    real henry cavill workout?

    just wondering where the man makers are? the tail pipe recovery? wall squats? air squats and quite a lot of other things that were actually in the workout he used that are not here. Ill assume this is your own variation from what has been said by him and mark?

    if you are a member at gym jones then you have access to the workout

  • Alexander

    Day 1 of this workout. I can’t feel my shoulders and my legs and I probably won’t be able to lift my bag tomorrow. But I’ll still go on with it all the way through, because everyone else failed at it. Hey Chad, how long should I keep this up for? Up until summer or earlier? You have said before that workouts need to change every now and then. Is that the case with this program or is it so intense that you can keep with it for longer?