The Workout That’ll Get You ‘Gladiator 2’ Ripped Like Paul Mescal
— 4 July 2024

The Workout That’ll Get You ‘Gladiator 2’ Ripped Like Paul Mescal

— 4 July 2024
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

Paul Mescal certainly looks the part of a hardened Roman warrior in those first-look images for Gladiator 2 (stylised as Gladiator II) — to the point we were all left wondering about the ungodly workout and undoubtedly protein-rich diet he was forced to endure for the Ridley Scott sequel.

The Academy Award-nominated thespian of Aftersun, All of Us Strangers, and Normal People fame recently revealed his preparation prioritised the forthcoming film‘s fight choreography over being “sculpted into a sex symbol.”

“I just wanted to be big and strong and look like somebody who can cause a bit of damage when s**t hits the fan. I think also, sometimes, one could, in striving for that perfect look, end up looking more like an underwear model than a warrior,” Mescal told Vanity Fair.

“Muscles start to grow, and that can be deemed aesthetic in certain capacities, but there is something about feeling strong in your body that elicits just a different feeling. You carry yourself differently… It has an impact on you psychologically in a way that is useful for the film.”

Co-star Pedro Pascal, who portrays Roman General Marcus Acacius, added: “I call him Brick Wall Paul. He got so strong. I would rather be thrown from a building than have to fight him again.”

Here’s how you can attempt to replicate the blockbuster results.

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Paul Mescal’s Workout (Gladiator 2)

Paul Mescal Workout Diet Plan (Gladiator 2)

By all accounts, the workout employed by Paul Mescal for Gladiator 2 had a heavy emphasis on functional strength as opposed to aesthetic bodybuilding. Although strangely enough, the man himself has yet to offer the public any specifics (aside from the footage below).

A template workout amalgamated from both BarBend‘s Jake Dickson and The Fitness Group director Steven Dick (via GQ) entails the following:

  • Dumbbell Chest Press (4 sets/8 reps)
    “Get some dumbbells. Lie down on a bench, a slight arch in the bottom of your back. Power the dumbbells straight up, keeping them in line with your nipples. Slowly lower the dumbbells until they touch your chest, then go again. For eight reps you’ll want a weight you can only just manage. If you’re unable to keep the weights straight while they’re in the air, you’ve gone too heavy.”
  • Military Shoulder Press (4 sets/6 reps)
    “Using a barbell or a set of dumbbells, start with the weight at the top of your chest and power it straight overhead, without locking your elbows. Control the weight back to your chest for one. You might want to sit down for this, in order to keep the spine straight.”
  • Lateral Raises (3 drop sets/10-10-10 reps)
    “Start with a heavy-ish dumbbell (maybe 12kg) in each hand. Using only your shoulders, bring the weight up from your waist until your arms are horizontal at 90 degrees, like a scarecrow. Don’t hunch your shoulders and don’t lift the weight forward (keep it out to the side). After 10, drop the weight and repeat, then do this a final time.”
  • Diamond Push-Ups AKA Tricep Push-Ups (4 sets/until failure)
    “Do this exactly as you would a normal push-up, but instead of having your hands under your shoulders, bring them under your chin, forming a triangle or diamond shape with your thumbs extended, tips of your index fingers touching. This re-directs the force through your triceps. Sorry about that.”
  • Bicep Dumbbell Curls (4 sets/21 reps)
    “Holding a dumbbell in each hand, curl the weights up to just below your elbow joint for seven reps. Now take it from the elbow up for seven. Finally, hit the entire range of motion for seven more. Only three more sets to go.”
  • Alternating Dumbbell Hammer Curl (4 sets/8 reps)
    “Stand straight with your torso in an upright position. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length, keeping your elbows close to your torso. The palms of your hands should be facing toward your torso. Keeping your upper arm stationary, curl the right dumbbell forward. As your bicep contracts, breathe out. Continue the motion until your bicep is completely contracted and the dumbbell is at shoulder height. Hold this position for a second while squeezing your bicep (only your forearm should be moving). Now slowly start to move the dumbbells back to your starting position. Repeat the movement with your left hand — this completes one repetition.)
  • Dumbbell Skull Crusher (3 sets/12 reps)
    “Start by lying on your back on a gym bench with legs to either side or resting comfortably on the footrest. Hold a dumbbell of your preferred weight in both hands, extended straight up above your chest, and with your fists in a vertical position. Move them down towards the back of your head by bending your elbows, trying to keep your upper arms straight and at a right angle to your body. Continue lowering the dumbbells behind your head until the top lines up with the edge of the bench. Bring it back to the starting position by reversing your movement, ending with the dumbbells once again extended in a straight line up from your chest.”
  • Chin-Ups (2 sets/until failure as a superset)
    Self-explanatory. Get it done.

Throw in some deadlifts, squats, traditional Roman sword drills — perhaps some light boxing and Greco-Roman wrestling to hone that very necessary fluidity of movement — and you’ll be a Colosseum-grade weapon in no time.

Remember: consistency is key, so keep showing up to put in the work. Because unfortunately, the workouts you take on occasionally and post on the ‘gram don’t echo in eternity.

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Paul Mescal’s Diet (Gladiator 2)

During his conversation with Natalie Portman for Variety’s Actors On Actors series, Paul Mescal briefly alluded to his diet for Gladiator 2:

“Lots of protein shakes… It’s a big departure from everything that I’ve done before, and so unbelievably fun,” he said.

“There is a physical robustness required for the character.”

While that also doesn’t really paint a detailed picture in the way of his training regimen, referring back to the expertise of BarBend, higher-than-average amounts of dietary protein are recommended: approximately 1.6 to 2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight daily.

Additional authorities note that bulking up for a “movie-worthy physique” also requires maintaining a daily caloric surplus of around 285 — 25% of the total caloric intake ideally coming from protein.

They also championed the virtues of bread, pasta, tuna, and chicken breast, as well as the occasional sugary treat of chocolate lava cake as an example (keep in mind fats and carbs also play a vital role in building muscle).

If all else fails, just follow the blueprint Chris Hemsworth laid out for his MCU Thor preparation.

Paul Mescal Workout Diet Plan (Gladiator 2)

RELATED: The Jig Is Up, Fellas… They Know About Our Roman Empire Obsession

What will Gladiator 2 be about?

Gladiator 2 follows Paul Mescal’s Lucius Vera (originally portrayed by Spencer Treat Clark) — the now-adult son of noblewoman Lucilla (Connie Nielson); and nephew of the villainous Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) — who is “inspired” by the actions of Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe).

“Decades have passed and Lucius has come of age far away from his mother. While he was still a child, Lucilla sent him to the northern coast of Africa, to a region called Numidia that was (at that point) just outside the reach of the Roman Empire,” explains Vanity Fair’s Anthony Breznican.

“He never fully understood why, and as he grew stronger, so did his resentment — even if his mother’s reasons had been pure… As Gladiator II begins, Mescal’s Lucius has a wife and child, and lives a relatively peaceful life with them until conquerors from his homeland begin to encroach.”

These “conquerors” are led by Marcus Acacius (Pedro Pascal) — a Roman general who has apparently been trained as a junior officer under Russell Crowe’s Maximus (although he wasn’t ever explicitly depicted in the first movie).

Now here’s the twist: once Lucius, the grandson of Rome’s former emperor, finds himself a prisoner at the very heart of civilisation, he encounters a familiar face — one that doesn’t immediately recognise him.

“The wrinkle is, when he gets to Rome as a prisoner and has a first round in the arena, he sees his mother — to his shock,” said director Ridley Scott.

“He doesn’t know whether she’s alive or not. How would he know? You don’t have telephones. There’s no press. And there’s his mother in the royal box looking pretty good after 20 years. And she’s with the general [Pascal’s Marcus Acacius] who he came face-to-face with on the wall in Numidia.”

Breznican elaborates: “Naturally, the film eventually finds Lucius and Acacius locking swords again, but then Lucius is prepared to fight everything and everyone.”

Then there’s the “dashing powerbroker” Macrinus (Denzel Washington); and as Scott himself reveals: “He’s an arms dealer who supplies food for the armies in Europe, supplies wine and oil, makes steel, makes spears, weapons, cannons, and catapults.”

“He is a very wealthy man. Instead of having a stable of racehorses, he has a stable of gladiators… He’s beautiful. He drives a golden Ferrari. I got him a gold-plated chariot.”

Paul Mescal, Pedro Pascal, Denzel Washington, and Connie Nielson are joined by a star-studded cast featuring Joseph Quinn (in place of Barry Keoghan) as co-Emperor Geta, Fred Hechinger as co-emperor Caracalla; along with May Calamawy, Lior Raz, Peter Mensah, and Matt Lucas.

Djimon Hounsou and Derek Jacobi reprise their roles as former gladiator Juba and Senator Gracchus, respectively.

Gladiator 2 release date: November 22nd, 2024 (US) and November 15th, 2024 (international/Australia).

Now that you’ve read all about the Paul Mescal workout and diet plan for Gladiator 2, check out the following related articles:

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Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]


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