Robert Downey Jr Workout For Iron Man: Lean Muscle Gains

The Robert Downey Jr. Workout for Iron Man 2 uses all sorts of exercises to make his fitness routine fun and challenging. Here they are:

  1. Indian Clubs
  2. Meels
  3. Wheelbarrows
  4. Fire Hoses
  5. Sled
  6. Truck Tires with Sledgehammer
  7. SUV Tires
  8. Bamboo Bars
  9. Bands

Robert Downey Jr. Workout: Indian Clubs

Indian Clubs are part of the Robert Downey Jr. workout where you swing objects that resemble bowling pins. Start out with 1 lb. clubs before you graduate to 5 or 10 pound clubs. Indian club training was a popular training method of ancient Persian wrestlers. Indian clubs are beneficial in shoulder strength, flexibility, forearm grip, core strength, coordination, cardio, and prevention of injury. Robert Downey’s trainer, Brad Bose says:

Indian Clubs were the center of a lot of Strongman shows [In the 1900’s], where guys would use these five and ten pound big wooden clubs and swing them around at speeds and do unusual movements, and [are] actually pretty good on the joints, because it’s a rotational movement.

Here’s a video illustration Indian Clubs in action:

Robert Downey Jr. Workout: Meels

Meels are similar to Indian clubs, and are another part of the Robert Downey Jr. workout. Meels are larger than Indian clubs, and are therefore heavier. Meels help train the shoulders, triceps, biceps, and core. Robert Downey’s trainer, Brad Bose says:

I called a couple of experts and learned how to train with them. Some of it’s crazy. But it’s great for shoulder work.

Robert Downey Jr. Workout: Wheelbarrows

The Robert Downey Jr. workout also takes advantage of Wheelbarrows. This looks just like it sounds, as long as you have a 650 lb. wheelbarrow in mind.

I made an obstacle course with cones and had Robert wield it in figure eight formations through the cones. It requires an immense amount of strength and skill.

If you want to get Wheelbarrows and the Sled (exercise #5) done at the same time, check out this Tough Mudder video:

Robert Downey Jr. Workout: Fire Hoses

Fire Hoses are the 4th exercise from the Robert Downey Jr. workout for Ironman 2. Fire hose exercises really cure the boredom of traditional workouts, by allowing you to go all out. There’s a ton of different ways to get moving using fire hoses, or other rope contraptions. Brad Bose says:

I filled fire hoses with sand and water, one of each, and got [Robert Downey Jr.] to whip them around. He would do almost squats while whipping the fire hoses up and down.

Here’s a video illustrating what you can do with old fire hoses:

Robert Downey Jr. Workout: Sled

Sled pulling exercises are a great, but grueling, way to burn fat while strengthening your arms, legs and core. The Robert Downey Jr. workout for Iron Man uses a sprinter’s sled with 50-pound weights. According to his trainer, Robert Downey Jr. would:

Stand stationary, and then pull [the sled] to him, drop it, then sprint 50 feet away again. He would pull, run and [then] pull again.

Here are 16 different sled pulling exercises for you to choose from:

Robert Downey Jr. Workout: Truck Tires with a Sledgehammer

Beating on Truck Tires with a Sledgehammer is a great way to get out your aggression, while working your arms, glutes, lats and core. The Robert Downey Jr. workout used the sledgehammer to beat on giant truck tires. Brad Bose, Downey’s trainer, says:

Downey beat the tires with a sledgehammer like you’d beat a drum. Then, we’d swing them overhead and pound the tires. That builds shoulder stability.

Robert Downey Jr. Workout: SUV Tires

The Robert Downey Jr. workout included an exercise where he would throw SUV Tires like a discus. This requires proper form, as it is easy to get hurt if you aren’t careful. The reason they used SUV tires is because they’re heavier than normal tires. Brad Bose says tire flipping is great for your abs.

Discus throwing:

Robert Downey Jr. Workout: Bamboo Bench Press

Bamboo Bench Press was the part of the Robert Downey Jr. workout where he got to focus on his chest. The key here is that the bamboo bars are much less stable than a normal bench press. So, Robert Downey Jr. had to constantly balance the weight. His trainer says:

We put rubber bands on bamboo bars then attached kettlebells to the rubber band on the bar. It’s like having a snake in your hands that’s trying to wiggle its way out of your hands while you’re trying to move it up.


Robert Downey Jr. Workout: War Machine

The War Machine is the device the Robert Downey Jr. workout used mainly to work his abs. The War Machine Pulley Training System was developed by the US military to give their soldiers an edge. The War Machine uses your bodyweight to do all sorts of exercises.

Robert Downey Jr. Workout: Exercise Bands

Exercise Bands are the last exercise from the Robert Downey Jr. workout for Iron Man 2. Downey’s trainer would attach exercise bands to stationary objects, and have Robert Downey Jr. simulate the breast stroke and back stroke. Bose says different movements help work different angles, helping give your arms a polished look.

Brad Bose would also weave in different cardio machines during the Iron Man 2 workouts. It is important to constantly switch up what cardio you do. This way, your body never adapts to one method of cardio. Bose would constantly switch up the cardio. Sometimes, Robert Downey Jr. would do kettlebell swings and other movements. Other days, they would weave elliptical and treadmill bouts in between the exercises listed above.

Robert Downey Jr. On-Set Workout

The Robert Downey Jr. On-Set Workout for Iron Man 2 was divulged in the March 2010 issue of Men’s Fitness.


Block I: Robert Downey Jr. On-Set Workout

  • Stair Climber (5 mins)
  • Push Ups (1 minute)
  • Bent Over Rows (1 minute)
  • Dead Bugs (1 minute)
  • Bear Crawls (1 minute)
  • Clean and Jerk (2 minutes)
  • (Rest for 2 minutes)

Block II: Robert Downey Jr. On-Set Workout

  • Stair Climber (5 mins)
  • Pull Ups (1 minute)
  • Kettlebell Alternating One-Arm Swing (1 minute)
  • Planks (1 minute)
  • Lateral Raises (1 minute)
  • Walking Lunges (1 minutes)
  • (Rest for 2 minutes)


Block III: Robert Downey Jr. On-Set Workout

  • Stair Climber (5 mins)
  • Hyper-extension Swiss Ball (1 minute)
  • Swiss Ball Dumbbell Chest Press (1 minute)
  • Bird Dog (1 minute)
  • Alternating One-Leg Press (1 minute)
  • Standing Long Jump (1 minutes)
  • (Rest for 2 minutes)

Block IV: Robert Downey Jr. On-Set Workout

  • Stair Climber (5 mins)
  • Medicine Ball Pushup (1 minute)
  • Swiss Ball Side Crunches (1 minute each side)
  • Swiss Ball Squat (1 minute)
  • Sumo Squat (1 minute)
  • (Rest for 2 minutes)


Here is the Robert Downey Jr. On-Set Workout, with a couple at-home modifications, as designed by Robert Downey Jr.’s trainer, Brad Bose:

Robert Downey Jr. Workout For Iron Man 3

The Robert Downey Jr. workout for Iron Man 3 / The Avengers reverted back to a traditional bodybuilding routine. Robert Downey Jr. was cast alongside Chris Evans (Captain America) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor), so Robert Downey Jr. wanted to look the part. Robert Downey Jr. says:

I’m not particularly tall, strong, fast, or aggressive. But, I’m not faking it. I’m not a kid anymore, and I’m not a professional athlete.


So, for The Avengers, Robert Downey Jr. got bigger than ever. The Robert Downey Jr. workout for Iron Man 3 got him up to 175 pounds. Then, for Iron Man 3, Robert Downey Jr. was all about getting “lean and mean.” The director wanted him that way. So, he focused more on martial arts, and less on weight training. Still, Robert Downey Jr.’s trainer provided us with 2 of his workout:

Lower Body Training:

For all exercises, Brad Bose, The Robert Downey Jr.’s trainer, would have him go for 8-12 reps. This is the best rep range for when you want to add lean muscle.

  1. Squat
  2. Hamstring Curl
  3. Leg Press
  4. Forward Lunge
  5. Romanian Deadlift
  6. Sandbag Squat
  7. Abs x3 (Choose 3 different abs exercises)


For all exercises, Brad Bose, The Robert Downey Jr.’s trainer, would have him go for 8-12 reps (Unless otherwise listed).

Upper Body Training:

  1. Pullups (Weighted)
  2. Dips (Weighted)
  3. Swiss Ball Bench Press
  4. Low Row
  5. Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  6. Bosu Ball Pushup (15-20 reps)
  7. Suspension Trainer Pushups (go to failure)
  8. Suspension Trainer Rows (go to failure
  9. Front Shoulder Raise
  10. Lateral (Side) Shoulder Raise
  11. Kettlebell Swing (40 swings)
  12. Sand Bag Power Throw (12-15 reps)
  13. Abs x3 (Choose any 3 different abs exercises)

Robert Downey Jr.’s trainer, Brad Bose, says he increased Robert Downey Jr.’s caloric intake up to 5,000 calories a day. This is in line with what a lot of popular celebrities, like The Rock workout, do to gain weight for their movie roles. Brad Bose says that:

We cut way back on cardio and really increased the weight he was lifting.

Robert Downey Jr. Martial Arts & Yoga

For all three movies, Robert Downey Jr. used martial arts and yoga to tone and stay in shape. Robert Downey Jr. used two disciplines: Yoga and Wing Chun Fu. Robert Downey Jr. did both disciplines 3-4 times a week with his trainer. This helped Robert Downey Jr. with both his physical and mental mindset for Iron Man. This was especially true for Iron Man 3, where the focus of the workouts were on being “lean and mean.” Wing Chun Fu has a highly physical, street-fighting aspect to it.


Robert Downey Jr. Workout Routine Sources

Sources for the Robert Downey Jr. Workout Routine include:

  • Interviews with Robert Downey Jr. while promoting Iron Man.
  • Interviews with Robert Downey Jr.’s trainer, Brad Bose.
  • Magazine Interviews in Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness (March 2010).
  • Web Articles from Bodybuilding, ABC 7, and WebMD.


Robert Downey Jr. Workout Videos and Interviews

Here are some Robert Downey Jr. Workout Videos and interviews:


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  1. This is some great workout info. I would love to workout with the different things that RDJ has used. Flipping tires and swinging clubs sounds like a lot of fun.

  2. Hello. WouLd u prefer order me best pre work supplements? Which i buy – animal pump. N.o exlode. C4. ?

    • For Supplements, I suggest the most important to be:
      Hydrolyzed whey protein-Optimum Nutrition is a good brand
      Pre-workout: You can try Animal Pump, but yes I prefer Cellucor C4 Extreme
      Multivitamins- I love Animal Pack

      Less important:
      ZMA-This is something that Hugh Jackman’s trainer has his clients take. It helps you sleep like a baby.
      Fish oil-Most fish oils are bad, because they burn the fish at such a high temperature, the omega-3?s denature. This renders the fish oil worthless. I get my omega-3s by eating chia and flax seeds.

      BCAA’s-This gives you energy during your workout. If your energy levels are great, then you don’t need it. If you’re doing cardio/weight training back-to-back, without eating, then BCAA’s might be a good idea. If you have time to eat in between your cardio and when you weight train, then just eat protein/carbs instead.

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