10 Cartoon Characters Who Will Inspire You to Train Your Hardest

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fittest one of all?

Before your Saturday afternoon training sessions, you might make some time for Saturday morning cartoons — especially if you like some cereal with your pre-workout. Or, your favorite cartoon characters may live only in your nostalgic memories. Regardless, you know that plenty of cartoon characters are just plain stronger than you.

Whether they’re bench pressing train cars, overhead pressing entire villages, or tossing entire starships into space, cartoon characters are often, well, cartoonishly strong. But they all get their strength from somewhere, working hard along their different heroes’ journeys to find their way to optimal strength — much like you, chasing your goals in the gym.

Here, we’ll lay out who we think are the 10 fittest and strongest cartoon characters. We’ll also give you workouts customized to each character if you want to get yourself closer to their popping muscles and absurd feats of strength. And if you disagree with our choices, that’s okay — these cartoons can handle themselves pretty well.

A note before we get into it: you won’t find your favorite comic book character (think: Miles Morales) or mythical figure (consider: Hercules) on this list. Even if they’ve lived their best cartoon life on the TV screen, they’ll be on the sidelines for this one if they started out in comics.

We did include anime based on manga, though, since original manga series are generally produced by one team. On the other hand, comic books go through several runs by different creators, which can cause inconsistencies in characters’ abilities. That means that characters like Sailor Jupiter and Naruto get to come out to play in our strongest cartoon character round up.

10 Fittest Cartoon Characters

Luisa Madrigal (Encanto)

Although Luisa Madrigal isn’t the protagonist of Disney’s 2021 hit Encanto, she certainly stole the hearts of countless viewers. Luisa runs (literally, with dumbbells in her hands) parallel to her little sister Mirabel’s hero’s journey as the film swept through generations of love, joy, trauma, and magic.

Throughout the musical, Luisa is a powerhouse of strength. Indeed, physical strength is her magical family gift, allowing her to hoist errant donkeys overhead with ease. That’s not to mention breaking boulders on her traps, going on morning sprints on a magical treadmill while hoisting hefty dumbbells, and overhead pressing her family’s home and entire village.

Work Out Like Luisa Madrigal

Luisa doesn’t just take her magical strength as it comes. She works to refine it daily. Viewers see her training in the background during the film itself, but also get a glimpse of her routine through Anika Fajardo’s novelization of the movie, A Tale of Three Sisters.

In it, her magically-sized bedroom is revealed to be full of weights, climbing ropes, and pulleys. Here’s how to get strong like Luisa.

If you don’t have access to a rope to climb or a sled to pull, substitute whatever kind of high-volume or heavy rowing you have access to. This might mean a rowing machine or loading up on Pendlay rows.

Garnet (Steven Universe)

Not all Crystal Gems are imbued with remarkable strength — but then again, even those that can pack a punch aren’t quite like Garnet. Perhaps her most famous song from Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe is literally called Stronger Than You. Granted, this song is about the strength of her heart rather than her skeletal muscles, but still. She’s pretty darn strong.

In addition to future vision, Garnet has rocket-propelled gauntlets and superhuman strength and speed. She can knock down massive stone pillars with an easy punch, and can throw other Gems — powerful (and heavy) in their own rights — clear through the ground. 

And when she’s thrown through solid rock by bigger, heavier Gems, Garnet comes right back swinging. Garnet’s biggest superpower is love, but her muscles aren’t very far behind.

Work Out Like Garnet

With this workout, you’ll be working on building a lot of raw strength and power. Garnet is both agile and strong, so you’ll be working to get yourself there, too.

If you’re not familiar with the more advanced versions of these lifts, feel free to scale them down as indicated. Don’t worry if you’re starting out by using an empty barbell, either — Garnet will be proud of you for learning a new lift.

She-Ra (She-Ra and the Princesses of Power)

There’s a lot to adore about Adora (we couldn’t resist). Not only is she a staunchly loyal friend — even to her enemies — but she also regularly transforms into a giant, sword-wielding, Grayskull-defending hero. You might know her as She-Ra, revived in 2018 in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.

Even when she looks like your average kid, Adora is well-trained and can hold her own in physical combat. But when she picks up her sword and transforms into She-Ra, her strength ascends to the next level. Capable of doing everything from throwing tanks to leaping through space, She-Ra is mega powerful.

Work Out Like She-Ra

This workout can’t help you breathe in interstellar space like She-Ra can, but it might help you breathe a lot better under a heavy barbell. Check out these moves to give you the kinds of explosive, raw strength that Adora has.

You’ll be working some major upper body endurance here, because (did we mention?) Adora can also kick butt with a sword.

Ty Lee (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

From running away to become a circus acrobat to being recruited by Fire Nation Princess Azula to join an elite fighting squad, Ty Lee may look small — but she’s not someone you’d want to meet on the battlefield.

While there are plenty of strong fighters in Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender, Ty Lee trained herself to stand out from a young age. She’s both an accomplished acrobat and powerful martial artist, capable of taking out dozens of older, powerful, and more experienced Earthbenders on her own — and quickly.

Work Out Like Ty Lee

With her ability to strike her opponents’ pressure points and temporarily immobilize them (called chi-blocking) Ty Lee has both excellent knowledge of the human body and command of her own. You’ll practice moves here requiring a great deal of acrobatic strength and coordination.

  • Ring Muscle-Up OR Pull-Up: 4 x AMRAP
  • Bar Dip OR Plyometric Push-Up: 4 x AMRAP
  • Archer Push-Up: 4 x 8 per side
  • Lateral Lunge into Lateral Bound: 4 x 8 per side
  • Burpee with Push-Up: 4 x one-minute AMRAP

Can’t quite manage pull-ups or dips? No problem. Perform band-assisted versions, or swap out pull-ups with lat pulldowns and bar dips with bench dips. Ty Lee will surely approve your heroic efforts either way.

Makoto Kino [Sailor Jupiter] (Sailor Moon)

You might know her as Lita if you watched the original 1992 American dub, but whether you call her Makoto or Lita, there’s no doubt about it — Sailor Jupiter is pretty darn strong. Even in her civilian clothes, she’s often seen jumping in to defend her best friends, lifting bullies clean above her head and throwing them down.

Of the Inner Senshi, Sailor Jupiter isn’t just the tallest. She’s also the strongest physically. She gains superhuman strength, agility, and leaping powers when she’s Sailor Jupiter, but even as Makoto, she can scrap — and win — against the best of them. She can dance and ice skate circles around Olympic medalists, too, which takes an amount of strength and body control that’s rare to come across in the weight room.

Work Out Like Sailor Jupiter

Sailor Jupiter doesn’t just toss enemies and bullies overhead. Makoto can also support her ice skating partners with full extension above her head — while smiling with the ease and thrill of the movement. Develop just some of that precision and power for yourself with this workout.

  • Snatch OR Power Snatch: 4 x 4
  • Clean & Jerk OR Clean & Press: 4 x 4
  • Overhead Suitcase Carry: 4 x 25 feet per side
  • Medicine Ball Slam: 4 x one-minute AMRAP
  • Battle Rope Slam: 4 x 30-second AMRAP

Yes, you’ll be doing a lot of slams to finish out this workout — which is exactly what Makoto does to the bad guys.

Rock Lee (Naruto)

Rock Lee might not be able to use ninjutsu or genjutsu, but that doesn’t mean he can’t go toe-to-toe — or rather, hand-to-hand — with his contemporaries. Based just on his training under Mighty Guy, he was able to work his way up to becoming one of the best taijutsu users in Konoha.

Lee can destroy a meteorite all by himself — a feat which all the pre-workout in the world probably wouldn’t help you do. He’s also able to unearth enormous tree roots and defeat foes who have fighting abilities he just can’t access. Just don’t give him any alcohol. He gets even stronger and faster when any alcohol touches his tongue.

Work Out Like Rock Lee

Think ankle weights are too small to make a big difference? Lee wouldn’t agree. He doesn’t only wear ankle weights while he trains — he also wears them while in combat, making him that much faster (and stronger) when he takes them off.

  • Sprint with Weighted Vest: 6 x 100 meters
  • Handstand Push-Up: 4 sets to failure
  • Box Jump OR Broad Jump with Ankle Weights: 6 x 8
  • Double-Under OR Single-Under: 4 x one-minute AMRAP

If you don’t have ankle weights, it’s okay to do your box or broad jumps without them. Just make sure to keep your movements as fast and efficient as possible.

Goku (Dragon Ball Z)

Perhaps you’ve heard of 2018 World’s Strongest Man Hafthor “The Mountain” Björnsson. He’s quite a strong fellow. Well, Dragon Ball Z’s Goku can lift an actual mountain with ease. Something else he can do with ease? 100 trillion sit-ups (it’s one trillion in the English dub, but 100 trillion in both the Japanese version and in the manga).

Even as an infant, little Goku could drag along boulders, and as a (slightly) older child, he was able to throw cars. With just a little bit of training from Master Roshi, the Saiyan could crush a 100-meter dash in 8.5 seconds. Even wearing weighted clothes, he can battle his way through opponent after opponent, making him the ultimate mortal to beat in Universe 7, and arguably even the Multiverse.

Work Out Like Goku

In base form alone, Goku can kick some serious behind. Use this workout to push your own base form to its limits (but remember that it’s only human to need breaks).

  • Atlas Stone Load OR Sandbag-to-Shoulder: 4 x 4
  • Burpee Box Jump Over with Weighted Vest: 4 x 10
  • Wall Ball Shot: 4 x 10
  • Sprint with Weighted Vest: 4 x 100 meters
  • Sit-Up: 4 x 30

If you can’t quite manage 100 trillion sit-ups, it’s okay to settle for the AMRAPs prescribed above. Remember that unlike Goku, you (probably) don’t have superhuman speed — so do these with slow discipline to really get the most out of them.

Larry the Lobster (Spongebob Squarepants)

The show may be named after the dude who lives in a pineapple under the sea (Spongebob Squarepants!), but Larry the Lobster takes the cake when it comes to physical prowess. As lifeguard for the Goo Lagoon brine pool, Larry needs to bring a certain level of strength to his daily life.

This unusually large (and buff) lobster can hoist a jetski, anchors dangling on a barbell, and several bleachers full of fish overhead. Larry can also punch Squidward clear through the ground and send Spongebob catapulting across Bikini Bottom by flexing his stomach. Those are some seriously powerful abs.

Work Out Like Larry the Lobster

Larry doesn’t mess around when it comes to his training. He’ll lift barbells, anchors, and and pretty much anyone and anything in Bikini Bottom to stay in shape (and show off his shape). You can do the same with this overhead powerhouse of a workout, featuring his classic overhead moves combined with bodybuilding forearm training to support Larry’s enormous claws.

  • Log Press: 4 x 4
  • Zottman Curl: 3 x 12
  • Reverse Spider Curl: 3 x 12
  • Plate Pinch OR Farmer’s Carry: 4 sets to maximum distance

Make sure you’re crushing back those Krabby Patties to supplement your gains here. You’ve got to have enough fuel to power these lifts.

Captain Planet (Captain Planet and the Planeteers)

He’s our hero. In between efforts to take pollution down to zero, Captain Planet is all about teaching his team — and viewers of the 1990 animated series — that their true strengths come from within.

But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have plenty of physical strength to go around. Captain Planet has an abundance of super strength, with the ability to heft entire starships and catapult them all the way out of Earth’s atmosphere.

Work Out Like Captain Planet

In honor of the Captain, consider riding your bike instead of driving your car to the gym. In addition to emulating his ethos, you’ll also be adding a hefty cardio component to your workout. That’s fitting, because Captain Planet also has super breath (even though he doesn’t technically need to breathe). This suggests that his lung capacity is — pardon the pun — out of this world.

  • Barbell OR Double Kettlebell Thruster: 4 x 8
  • Chest-to-Bar Pull-Up OR Band-Assisted Chin-Up: 4 x AMRAP
  • Burpee Pull-Up: 4 x AMRAP
  • Dumbbell Jump Squat: 4 x one-minute AMRAP

Combine all these elements into your training and make sure to recycle those old protein powder tubs. Then you, too, can rise to the level of Captain Planet.

Mr. Incredible (The Incredibles)

Pixar movies seem contractually obligated to make audiences cry, and 2004’s The Incredibles is no exception. Retired superhero Bob Parr just wanted to stay out of the limelight — but fate (and the movie’s plot line) call him both back into his training and his Mr. Incredible alias.

Parr doesn’t just automatically get his strength back. Like all strength athletes, he’s got to work for it. From bench pressing train cars to pushing freight trains down tracks, Mr. Incredible trains like he’s going to compete in powerlifting, strongman, or both. And we’re betting he could take home several wins.

Work Out Like Mr. Incredible

In what is arguably one of the greatest movie workout montages of all time, you’ll get to see a lot of what goes into Mr. Incredible’s training routine. He brings powerlifting and strongman training to the next level — and now, you can, too. No actual freight train required.

  • Bench Press: 4 x 6
  • Banded Dumbbell Incline Flye: 4 x 12
  • Yoke Walk OR Trap Bar Farmer’s Carry: 4 x 40 seconds
  • Sled Push OR Treadmill Push: 4 x 30 seconds

Combining lifting methodologies and strength sports like Mr. Incredible will help you get after some incredible gains for yourself. Just make sure you’re benching hard and pushing heavy.

Get Cartoonishly Strong

No matter who your favorite cartoon character is, you’ve got to admit that these folks are pretty freaking strong. And even though they’re probably — to quote Garnet — stronger than you, it doesn’t have to stay that way. 

You may not be punching holes in any starships in the near future, but that doesn’t mean you can’t train like you’re getting ready to. Work out like the fittest cartoon characters to become the strongest human you can.

Featured Image: @cartoonnetwork + @dreamworksshera / Twitter