Before "Daredevil," actor Charlie Cox didn't fit the traditional superhero mold. He had the acting skills to star in the critically acclaimed "Boardwalk Empire," but Cox didn't have the chiseled body he'd need to successfully take on the lead role of Matt Murdock in Marvel's hit Netflix series.
That is, until he went on a tough muscle-building regimen, a long schedule of fight training, and a burly muscle-building diet. Now, the 33-year-old has a sculpted and ripped physique that would make any ass-kicking superhero proud.
Charlie Cox had to seriously step up his game to play the title role in Marvel's first Netflix series, "Daredevil.". After a thrilling response to the first season, Cox and the gang have taken the new series to another level, both visually and physically.
The truth is, before I did this show, I'd never really been in shape, I never really had a gym membership, and I'd always just occasionally go for a run, that kind of stuff," Cox told Business Insider.
On "Daredevil" Cox has to perform extensive fight scenes, exhibit great flexibility, and just look all-around awesome in the superhero suit. For a guy who wasn't a gym rat to begin with, it takes commitment to keep his fitness level high.
"It was such hard work to get into shape, that when we finished the first season, just on the off-chance that we were going to do it again, I didn't let myself completely go," Cox said. "I just couldn't bear the idea of having to start over again."
Charlie Cox Stats
Height: About 5’10”
Weight: 160-175 lbs
We would also estimate his body fat percentage to between 8-10% as he has very noticeable abs, so you need to be around 10% for that to happen.
Daredevil In Detail
Just who is Daredevil, you ask? Abandoned by his mother, Matt Murdock/Daredevil was raised by his bullish boxer father, "Battling Jack" Murdock, in Hell's Kitchen. When Matt tried to save a man from an oncoming truck, its radioactive cargo was splashed all over his face, robbing him of his vision.
Under the tutelage of a martial-arts master named Stick, he learned to channel his heightened senses into becoming a slick fighter, mastering ninjutsu, American boxing, judo, and jiujitsu to create his own hybrid martial art. Matt now uses his alter ego as well as his law degree to protect the people of Hell's Kitchen.
I love the training, especially the fight training. I got to do as much as I was able when it came to the actual fights, and because of that generosity, I made sure I could do the moves. I do as much training as I can to get comfortable with the sequences.
The great thing about this second season is that my character has now really honed his skills, and my stunt double, Chris, pulls off some moves that will blow your mind. I tried to do as much as possible, but Chris is insane," Cox says.
I'm not a trained fighter, so my technique isn't brilliant, but we really tried to use as much of me as possible," he adds. "[For the] second season, I've definitely stepped it up.
Even if you aren't training for a role on the big screen, it's not a bad idea to follow in Cox's footsteps. Research in the Muscle, Ligaments and Tendons Journal found that people who trained in kickboxing one hour a day for five weeks showed significant improvement in upper-body muscle power, anaerobic fitness, flexibility, speed, and agility.1
The writing is on the wall: If you want to improve your all-around physical prowess, take up a martial art to get in ass-kicking shape.
Daredevil is more acrobatic, agile, and athletic than your usual muscle-bound comic-book character. To hone his physique to perfection, Cox trained using a lot of multidimensional movements and didn't stick to a traditionally rigid training structure.
"[To train for] 'Daredevil,' it's not really your one day, one body-part thing," Cox says of his training split. "It's not the Monday is chest day, Tuesday is shoulder day type of thing. My trainer wanted me to train like an athlete because the character needs the movement—movement is a big thing, considering the physical aspects.
"There are a lot of multidimensional movements, jumps, and compound movement, so if I do something like a lunge, that will be mixed with an overhead press, and then there might be a rotation with that," says Cox. "It's sort of a full-body workout, and it's very flexible, to fit the role. There are weights, but then they're mixed in with plyometrics and fight training, so all of this is very adaptable. We spend about two hours [per workout] in the gym, jumping into different things, and I love it."
Some guys are naturally drawn to lifting and being in the gym, but that hasn't always been the case for Cox. "It was interesting because I've never really been a gym head before. I'd never even had a gym membership!" he laughs.
"With the first season, I had about a month to get into shape, so that was manic. With this second season, it's a lot easier to maintain [that muscle], but the aim is to be more a lean athlete than a bulked-up superhero."
And Cox's undoubtedly successful transformation is evidence that, with a little hard work and the right training, anyone can build slabs of muscle and get ripped without having to rely exclusively on moving around huge mounds of iron.
Charlie Cox Workout
Regarding his training style, his coach Naqam Washington said, "Nowadays, people train to get optimal movement from their body. They train like an athlete. And I have an MBA and MMA background, so it works well with Charlie. We did modern, sport-specific, MMA movement."
Cox works out three to six days a week, depending on where in the production schedule "Daredevil" is.
"I never do seven days [in a week], because you are supposed to rest. I tend to do five days," Cox said. "Before the show, when we're building up to shoot the show, I try to do six days a week. I try to get myself into good enough shape so when we start shooting, I can concentrate on the show and the acting part of it and not worry about it so much. So basically, I can do weeks where I do three or four times a week."
Cox's workout includes isolating body parts, but in a modern way.
His Workout is divided into 2 parts: Weight Training and Fight Training Session.
Training (Full Body):
- Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Chin-Up: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Weighted Front Box Jump: 3 sets of 10 reps
- Weighted Barbell squat jump: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Dumbbell Rear lunge: 3 sets of15 reps per leg
- Medicine-ball power slam: 3 sets of 20 reps
- Seated Cable Row: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
- One-Arm Dumbbell Row: 3 sets of 10 reps
- Jump Rope: 3 min.
- Shadow boxing: 2 rounds of 2 minutes
- Heavy bag punch combination: 3 rounds of 3 minutes
- Heavy bag power kick: 20 reps per leg
- Thai pads: 3 rounds of 3 minutes
- Focus mitts: 3 rounds of 3 minutes
- Jiu-jitsu: 1 hour
Cox doesn't forget the cardio
"I love to do cardio. I like to run and sweat a lot, and I think that's quite helpful," Cox, 33, said.
Washington gave three examples of Cox's cardio workouts.
The treadmill: "We'll put the treadmill at an incline, like on a hill at five, and I'll have him run. Every minute, we go all the way up to 12, and then go all the way back down. So it's like he's running up a hill, and it gets steeper every minute."
The rower: "I'd say, 'Charlie, you've got 500 meters in a minute, 45 seconds.' Boom, that's what he would do."
The prowler: "That's that football thing where you basically push it across the field. Every single offensive line practice where he does the three-point stance, he's moving like this big, metal thing across the field. Charlie does a version of that, but in the gym, back and forth for time intervals. Those are tough, my friend."
Charlie Cox Diet
"Be really militant with your food and the regularity of your food," the actor said. "One of the difficulties for me is that I'm naturally very skinny, so the problem that I have is trying to keep weight on, put weight on. I have to eat six, seven times a day, and I have to have a lot of carbohydrates to try and fatten me up so I have something to turn into muscle."
Washington explained that most of the work revolves around food intake.
You grow or you lose weight outside the gym, and basically, a lot of it is what you eat," Washington explained. "So if Charlie wants to gain weight in lean muscle mass, his caloric intake has to be more than his energy expenditure, mathematically. If you want to lose weight, your energy expenditure should be more than your caloric intake.
Washington explained that most of the work revolves around food intake.
"For the first season, I was quite skinny," he says, "but I ate a ton of chicken, broccoli, sweet potato, rice, and pasta. I put carbs in all my protein shakes, so I'd have a protein shake with sweet potato in it."
Meal 1: 6 Egg whites, 2 Whole eggs, 1 Banana and 1/2 cup Oats
Meal 2: 8 oz Chicken breast, 1 cup Brown rice
Meal 3: 1 Protein shake, 1 cup Oats
Meal 4: 8 oz Chicken breast, 1 cup Brown rice, 1 cup Broccoli
Meal 5: 1 Small Avocado, 1 Protein shake
Meal 6: 8 Egg whites
"But for Season 2, it's been all about maintaining a certain level [of fitness], so it's been very much about eating balanced. Of course, I ate a good amount of protein, but it was really all about training and eating like an athlete."