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How to train like a stuntman

Fitness

Nicholas Daines, a stuntman who has doubled for the like of Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, reveals the training regime behind his work.

Meet Nicholas Daines – you might not recognise him but he has been in almost every movie you’ve seen lately.

Since 1998, Nicholas has worked with the biggest stars of Hollywood royalty including Angelina Jolie on ‘Maleficent’, Brad Pitt on ‘World War Z’, Tom Cruise on ‘Mission Impossible 5 – Rogue Nation’ and ‘Edge of Tomorrow’, Chris Pine on ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit’, Colin Firth on ‘Kingsman – Golden Circle’, Henry Cavill on ‘Justice League’, and Chris Hemsworth on ‘In The Heart of the Sea’. He’s has also doubled for stars including Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, and Robert Carlyle, and has been nominated for a Taurus World Stunt Award in the ‘Best Work At Height’ category for his death-defying fall from a glacier in ‘The Golden Compass’. This guy is no slouch. It kind of blows our mind to imagine the toll it would take on your body, and more to the point, how you train yourself to cope with being a stuntman in these top films.

“My training is very much using my own body weight and continually maintaining muscle tone rather than adding bulk,” he told us, pointing to the versatility required when it comes to stunt work: “In order to keep working at a high level refining my spatial awareness for work at height and being able to orientate your body in time and space to perform safely over and over again without hurting myself.”

This bodily awareness and commitment has enabled him to succeed in many fields: he’s also a wildlife presenter – with a degree in microbiology and animal physiology – and a model for high-profile ad campaigns, and he also competed for Team GB as a gymnast.  His experience is one he still draws on for professional stuntwork: “Gymnastics and high diving makes up a great deal of my training. These in themselves are fantastic all-round workouts But I combine this with HIIT workouts with supersets and Resistance training to cover all my bases.”

We asked Nicholas to give us a quick guide to his training sessions so you can get a taste of being a stuntman without having to set fire to yourself…

Train like a stuntman

  1. “HIIT workout with super sets of different exercises together. For example body weight squats super set, then wide grip pull-ups, into mountain climbers (press-up, then knees to chest), followed by dumbbell clean and jerks. 5 rounds of that fatigues you but you also get the cardio. I did a lot of this in lockdown.”
  2. “Core abdominal training is essential so lots of c-sits crunches combines with standing somersaults and straddle lifts to handstand.”
  3. “Another basic workout I swear by as a stuntman is a Weight Circuit workout consisting of  chest press, lat pull-down, biceps curls, triceps dips and pull-up leg raises to a bar. 3×20 of each. I will also do a standard 20 minute cross trainer on the highest level each session for fat burning.”

 

Nicholas Daines, Stuntman, athlete and fitness expert, www.nicholasdaines.com

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