How did Tom Hardy build Bane’s body for Dark Knight Rises?


Ok so I know the Dark Knight Rises came out over a year ago but give me a break ok? I’m a parent of a young child and also a business owner and blogger so I have precious little time to watch movies. That said, when I did finally get round to watching Christopher Nolan‘s incredible adaptation, the thing that impressed me the most was Tom Hardy‘s physique for the character of Bane. It wasn’t the fact that Bane was so large and muscular which impressed me, it was the fact that it was Tom Hardy who had built that body. Now, those of you who’d seen Tom Hardy previously in Warrior, may have assumed from his ripped physique that he is blessed with good genes – the kind of naturally athletic genes where you just have to kick about a football for a day or two and voila – you have a six pack (Brad Pitt is one such lucky individual). Well, if you assumed this you’d be wrong! Tom Hardy is in fact a naturally skinny, small guy who finds it hard to put weight on at all hence he has to work even harder than others to get the same results. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the below picture of Tom in his pre-gym days for proof.

Tom-Hardy-skinnyI am somebody who has a ‘naturally athletic’ build, meaning that my body puts on muscle very easily but it also puts on fat very easily. My body choices are only two: fat or muscular. I don’t have a third option of being skinny, it just wouldn’t ever happen to me and, believe me, I’ve tried absolutely everything I can in the past to be skinny but it just ain’t happenin’! That is why I know, from looking at the photo of a skinny Tom Hardy, that he is not naturally athletic. The body that he gained in Warrior was built through months of dedicated hard work in the gym and careful dieting.

Tom hardy warrior Similarly the body that he gained to play Bane was also a result of hard work and lots of eating. So enough chatting, let’s see how I would go about giving a skinny guy or ‘hard gainer’, as we in the industry call them, a stacked-to-the-max body.

Step 1 – Diet

This is the most important part to get right as a physique is usually built through 80% diet and 20% exercise. Hardy reputedly had to pack on 30lbs or roughly 2 stone of size to play Bane and he only had a few months in which to do it. I would guess that he ate every 2 hours and he would’ve been eating double his normal carbohydrate allowance and double his normal protein allowance. I would also guess that the eating didn’t stop when the lights went out as he would’ve had to wake up once or even twice a night to down a high calorie protein shake before going back to sleep. Each of his meals would’ve contained high-quality animal protein at least the size of 2 of his man-sized fists and the same quantity of carbs. It’s difficult to eat this bulk of food so it’s likely that he would’ve eaten a meal followed by a high calorie protein shake 2 hours later, followed by a meal 2 hours after that and so on for the entire day. He would also have consumed a healthy quantity of daily essential fatty acids to encourage natural hormone production of testosterone and human growth hormone. The timing of meals around his exercise would also be extremely important. He’d have to consume a high calorie protein shake within 30 minutes of his lifting session ending and then make sure he was consuming a carb-based recovery drink with water during the session itself to further guard against weight loss from exercise. Also he’d have to get a full 8 hours sleep in which to fully recover and let the body do its beautiful, natural process of muscle building.

Step 2 – Exercise

FACT: Tom Hardy stopped doing all cardiovascular activity completely during his months of training for the Dark Knight Rises. This was to eliminate the risk of losing any of the weight that he was putting on.  I’m not saying this is healthy in the long term but short term it was highly effective. To gain the impressive size he needed to, in order to make his 5’9″ frame look bigger than Christian Bale‘s 6’1″ frame, he had to pack on not just muscle but fat too. He would’ve done a lot of Olympic power lifting type of training such as deadlifts, chest press, push ups, pull ups, squats, military press, shrugs, snatches and all with super heavy weight and low reps (4 to 6 reps) with large rest periods (2 minutes) before repeating the sets to total muscle fatigue. Towards the middle period of his training regime, once his body was used to a high training volume, he would’ve employed classic bodybuilder techniques such as drop sets, pyramid sets, supersets etc… with the aim of totally wiping out each muscle to exhaustion. He would’ve split his routines along the lines of the following

  • Day 1 – Legs, abs, forearms
  • Day 2 – Chest, deltoids, triceps
  • Day 3 – Back, biceps,
  • Day 4 – REST
  • Day 5 – Chest, deltoids, triceps
  • Day 6 – Back, biceps, Legs
  • Day 7 – REST

Notice here that I’ve only inserted Abs once – his abs were covered by his costume during the duration of the film and it wasn’t important for him to have a six-pack but rather a large, muscular, barrel type of waist that made him look larger and more physically imposing – bouncers often have this kind of mid-section for the same reason (or maybe its because they hit the all-night takeaways one too many times whilst on the job!!). The reason why I suggest 2 rest days is that his lifting regime would be so exhausting that he’d need 2 days to recover and also because, remember, he’s naturally skinny so his training regime shouldn’t have been regular enough to make him lose weight.

Step 3 – Supplementation

Now, there are plenty of people out there who would prefer to build a body using nothing more than sweat, determination and the food that grows out of God’s green earth. If you are one of these people then what I’ve suggested above will certainly work for you. However, movie stars, who get paid thousands of dollars to look a certain way by a certain deadline, are rarely such people! I think that Tom Hardy definitely would’ve enlisted the help of one or two supplements. I’m not saying steroids – there are some malicious rumour-mongerers out there who suggest as such, I am not one of them. I do however think that he took creatine. Creatine is produced naturally by the human body and hence it is perfectly acceptable to ingest – it’s not the same as taking artificial testosterone which is what steroids are. All creatine does is help your muscles to work harder during training and recover faster after training. If you can train for longer periods and then recover quickly to train again sooner then you’ll build bigger muscles than you would if you were training less because what builds big muscles is training volume. The more you train and the heavier weight you lift, the more volume of work the muscle gets and the bigger it grows. In addition it’s likely that Tom Hardy took a solid base of multi-vitamins and minerals including high doses of iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamin D, calcium, vitamin B and Glutamine which supports lean muscle mass gain.

If you are a ‘hard gainer’ and want to get as big as possible the best thing to do is contact me or a local personal trainer to help you to reach your goals. Believe it or not, it is much much harder for a naturally skinny person to build muscle than it is for a naturally chunky or athletic person to get lean so it’s really the kind of quest that is best served by enlisting the help of a professional.

Categories: Celebrity Fitness Crush

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6 replies

  1. Tom Hardy pulled it off so well, no wonder he worked so hard it to get that look and body…and I loved the character BANE! STRONG & SCARY! OMG especially the mask and tom hardy bane coat.

  2. I agree with about the deit thing. I am a skinny and short guy. I try to eat too much but can’t.

    1. Because I am unable to eat double of my regular meal but with a great try I can increase only 10% of my regular diet.

    2. When I eat more than regular my bowel gets disturb and I start to shit too much. Sometimes leading to loose motions. Protein shake cause much disturbance.

  3. Impossible to pack that much muscle in a short few months without steroids.

    • When you can’t do it, it’s steroid. Do some research brother. Look at his body fat in Dark Knight Rises. It was NOT AT ALL low and he got little bit fat over stomach too in underground army scene. It’s not steroid. It’s with PROPER DIET and HARD WORK.

      Steroid is for bodybuilders who keeps 4% body fat with MUSCLES. Now that’s somewhat impossible (as you might say).

  4. excellent article, everything you say is basic common sense and i agree with the diet aspect, this is extremely important. Interesting that someone does a lot of hard work to gain a specific goal and the nay sayers all creep out of the wood work, in this case and point Mr Hardy gets big for his job and everyone says steroids. It is a common lesson in life if you want to achieve an out come you have to work hard and this is what Mr Hardy has done well. We should all take a leaf out of his book and tackle life with the same commitment.

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