Strength, speed, muscularity, and general physical fitness are often seen as admirable traits. After all, you might be working toward one or more of those goals right now. But what happens when a movie makes its villains into physical specimens?
If someone (or something) is chasing you, you definitely don’t want them to be fast. If you’re hiding behind a locked door, they better not be strong enough to rip that door right off its hinges.
But that’s what these 10 movie villains and monsters are; some of the most frightfully-fit antagonists, supernatural or otherwise, in film history. Things that go pump in the night — and how you can train just like them.
Fittest Movie Villains & Monsters
- Luke Hobbs (Fast Five)
- Bane (The Dark Knight Rises)
- Pyramid Head (Silent Hill: Revelation)
- Terminator (The Terminator)
- Thanos (Avengers: Infinity War)
- Angel Dust (Deadpool)
- Predator (Predator)
- Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
- Rictus Erectus (Mad Max: Fury Road)
- Scorpia (She-Ra)
Editor’s Note: Some of the content included in this article is explicit or violent in nature and may not be suitable for all viewers.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson isn’t known for his villainous appearances, but he’s downright terrifying in the fifth installment of the long-running Fast & Furious franchise.
Donned head to toe in black tactical equipment and without so much as a smile to be found, Johnson’s Luke Hobbs leads a special ops team in pursuit of the protagonists throughout the streets of Rio de Janeiro for the majority of the film.
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Hobbs is never more than a step behind his targets, and his looming presence culminates in a particularly vicious throwdown with Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto inside an abandoned warehouse.
Though Toretto does win their fight (debatably; Toretto is no slouch himself), The Rock brings a rare blend of frightening and ferocious to his first outing in the Fast franchise.
The Luke Hobbs Workout
Hobbs is a brawler. His intimidation factor comes from the very real prospect that he could snap you in half if he wanted to.
Despite commanding a proficient paramilitary outfit, Hobbs is just as competent with his bare hands as he is with a loaded weapon. If you were inspired (or frightened) by him, give this workout a shot.
To hunt the world’s fastest fugitives, you’ve got to be light on your feet while still packing a punch:
- Thruster: 4 x 3
- Muscle Clean: 3 x 6
- Prowler Sled Push: 3 rounds for distance with a heavily-loaded sled
- Medicine Ball Slam: 50 reps in as few sets as possible
- Plate Pinch: 3 sets held for as long as possible
You may have adopted a career in the weight room, but he was born in it. In 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, Batman faces off against a villain that is both clever and almost comically muscular for a bad guy.
According to some sources, actor Tom Hardy reportedly trained up to four times per day to bulk up for his role in director Christopher Nolan’s third entry in the caped crusader’s saga. Hardy’s first proper physique reveal comes midway through the film’s first act, and it certainly appears that he went the distance in the gym.
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All that muscle doesn’t slow him down, though. Over the course of the film, Bane tangles with Bats several times in some back-breaking, stone-shattering fights that prove lean muscle is anything but dead weight.
The Bane Workout
You may not be able to punch through stone pillars like Bane, but the right workout can definitely help you look like a comic book villain.
Bane has a beefy back, but he’s also agile and sports one of the tightest vice grips out there. You can cover all those bases with a lot of explosive posterior chain work (and hearty portions in the kitchen to ensure hypertrophy).
- Trap Bar Deadlift: 3 x 5
- Behind-the-Neck Push Press: 2 x 4
- Kroc Row: 3 x 15
- Dumbbell Shrug: 2 x 15
- Reverse Curl: 2 x 15
The aptly-named demon Pyramid Head in 2006’s Silent Hill: Revelation proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that you don’t need to be subtle to be scary.
As it pursues Rose and her companions through the titular town’s nightmarish landscape, you can’t help but notice that this supernatural stalker is, well, bizarrely well-built.
That temporary allure comes to a screeching halt as soon as you see Pyramid Head pierce a steel door with its eight-foot blade or hold an adult woman aloft with one arm. It’s one of the more innovative creature designs in the Silent Hill saga — a fitness model ripped straight out of the underworld.
The Pyramid Head Workout
If Pyramid Head inspired you to get your butt in gear (so you’re in better shape to escape it, of course) in the gym, power to you. It stands a good eight or nine feet tall, wields a massive steel blade, and definitely doesn’t skip chest day.
- Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 x 8
- Weighted Dip: 2 x 8
- Lat Pulldown: 2 x 12
- Face Pull: 2 x 12
- Lateral Raise: 2 x 20
- Neck Extension: 2 x 20
- Sledgehammer Around-the-World: 3 rounds of 30 seconds
In 1984, director James Cameron used the most popular bodybuilder in the world to create one of film’s most memorable villains when he released The Terminator.
Arnold Schwarzenegger bent bars, crushed skulls, and pursued protagonist John Connor with calculated efficiency. The Terminator is also transported back in time buck-naked, a premise that would be funny if not for how absurdly muscular the Austrian Oak was (and still is, frankly).
Schwarzenegger was the perfect casting for a character that is defined by its impeccable approach to hunting humans. That he’s built like a machine himself merely adds to the Terminator’s already-terrifying screen presence.
The Terminator Workout
In 2008, The Terminator was added to the Library of Congress in part because of its “aesthetic significance,” which is a sophisticated way of saying that a serial-killing, time-traveling, skin-wearing robot also happened to have one hell of a physique.
Schwarzenegger isn’t shy about sharing his approach to and philosophy behind the art of bodybuilding. The stone-cold Terminator, though, is another beast altogether.
- Deadlift: 5 x 5
- Overhead Press: 3 x 5
- Cable Flye: 2 x 12
- Cheat Curl: 3 x 6
- Farmer’s Carry: 4 rounds of 20 paces
- Weighted Plank: 3 sets of 20 seconds
He may be computer-generated, but the antagonist of 2018’s blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War made a very real impression on audiences across the globe.
Part of that villainous allure is undoubtedly due to Josh Brolin’s terrifyingly-pensive portrayal of the Mad Titan, but Thanos is also straight-up jacked. You have to be if you’re going to take on the Avengers and win.
Despite being one of the most compelling big-screen villains in recent memory, Thanos is on his own hero’s journey as he quests to collect the six Infinity Stones. He uses a combination of brute force (beginning with a convincing hand-to-hand takedown of the Hulk) and magic to trample his way through everything in his path.
The Thanos Workout
It’s hard to say for sure just how Thanos built himself up on his home planet before its fall to ruin. What’s obvious, though, is that he’s supremely confident and has the strength to back it up.
To wield the Infinity Gauntlet and put Bruce Banner in the dirt, you need some comically-large arms — and the finesse to use them in a fight.
- 15 minutes on the heavy bag
- Dumbbell Hammer Curl: 4 x 8
- EZ-Bar Skull Crusher: 4 x 8
- Weighted Pull-Up: 3 sets to failure
- Clapping Push-Up: 3 sets to failure
2016’s Deadpool might be a deeply sardonic superhero flick, but not all of its characters are played for laughs. Angel Dust, the muscle-bound, toothpick-chewing strongwoman played by former professional mixed martial artist Gina Carano, is more than a little imposing in the film.
Though not the movie’s primary villain, Angel Dust gets plenty of screen time to show off her gains and bone-crushing grip strength.
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She even goes toe-to-toe with Colossus, one of the canonically strongest mutants in the X-Men universe. Angel Dust proves that you don’t have to be a monster to have monstrous screen presence; you just need the fighting prowess to back it up.
The Angel Dust Workout
Not only does Carano bring all her martial arts experience to the table, but Angel Dust is strong and explosive to boot.
If you want to ragdoll people (and cars) around like she does, a series of strongman-inspired exercises are in order.
- Hang Power Clean + Push Press: 3 x 3 + 3
- Single-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Press: 4 x 6 per arm
- Prowler Sled Pull With Rope: 4 sets
- Overhead Barbell Carry: 3 rounds of 12 paces
There’s no doubt that the titular alien in the 1989 action classic Predator had gym access on its home planet.
While the film is often lauded for its gritty, somewhat campy and undeniably muscle-minded presentation, the extra-terrestrial antagonist deserves a round of applause for being in great shape as well.
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The jungle-stalking Predator spends the film hunting down a squad of elite commandos one by one until it ultimately falls prey to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Alan “Dutch” Schaefer. While undeniably muscular, the Predator is also agile, strong, and deceptively fast for its size.
The Predator Workout
The Predator suspends its victims from branches, which requires a strong back. It leaps from vine to vine, which takes coordination and a strong grip. It lies patiently in wait, perched on the side of a tree; that’s an isometric challenge.
If you were impressed — and terrified, naturally — by the Predator’s physical prowess, give this otherworldly workout a shot:
- Rope Climb or Rope Sled Pull: as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes
- Single-Arm Lat Pulldown: 3 x 12-15
- Side-to-Side Medicine Ball Slam + Bear Crawl: 3 x 6 reps per side + 30 seconds crawl
- Side Plank: 3 sets for max duration
Gaston spends the film pining after love interest Belle, who ultimately rejects his affections and rippling muscles. Despite having all of the attractive physical traits of a dashing knight, Gaston learns the hard way that looks aren’t everything in matters of the heart.
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Still, as Disney golden era antagonists go, Gaston stands out for being conventionally handsome and remarkably well-built. His design is both visually impressive and drives home one of the film’s themes, which makes his depiction all the better.
The Gaston Workout
Gaston is a lot of things, but humble isn’t one of them. You also don’t have to approve of his methods to admire Gaston’s muscularity and strength. After all, the guy hoists three women on a bench over his head with one arm while singing of his own glory.
- Bench Press: 4 x 6
- Barbell Row: 4 x 6
- Single-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Press: 2 x 12
- Dumbbell Flye: 2 x 12
- Concentration Curl: 3 x 8
- Burpee + Clapping Push-Up + Bicycle Kick: 3 x 5, 10, 20 with limited rest
The villains of the Mad Max franchise are renowned for their eccentric and apocalyptically-scary character designs.
(Seriously, there’s an electric guitarist in this movie perpetually jamming out while strapped to the front of a war convoy.)
Rictus Erectus is one such rogue; the son of the film’s principal antagonist Immortan Joe in 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Erectus is played by professional strongman and wrestler Nathan Jones, who stands at a ludicrously-muscular 6’10” tall.
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As sidekick baddies go, Jones’s portrayal is both awe and fear-inspiring. He uses his strength to great effect in the film’s climax, where Erectus rips a V8 engine out of a car with his bare hands. If any actor was ever properly-cast for a villain who creates terror through force, it’s the two-time World’s Strongest Man competitor.
The Rictus Erectus Workout
Jones’s career in strength sports undeniably contributed to his screen presence as a villain. While you may not be able to train your way to a seven-foot stature, you can borrow from strongmen to build yourself up like them.
- Tire Flip: 4 rounds of flips for 30 seconds
- Push Press: 4 x 4
- Sled Pull: 3 rounds on a heavy sled with limited rest
- Trap Bar Farmer’s Carry: 3 sets of 20 paces
- Axle Shrug: 2 sets to failure
If you don’t have an axle bar, use a pair of Fat Gripz or wrap two small towels around a standard barbell.
Okay, okay. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is an animated series, not a movie, but Scorpia is too much of a literal beast to let a technicality like that stop her. The former force captain for the no-good Horde starts off the series as a villain, helped along by her inhumanly-strong pincers and tail on an otherwise human body.
She can physically overpower the series’ hero, She-Ra, with ease — no small feat, considering that She-Ra herself can throw tanks and jump squat her way into space.
Scorpia sheds her villainous exterior to reveal her soft-like-a-cinnamon-roll nature as the show goes on. By the end of the series, Scorpia generally uses her physical prowess for lifting multiple soldiers and princesses off their feet and into a bear — erm, scorpion — hug.
But make no mistake. She can work herself into a scary fit of strength if anyone messes with her friends.
The Scorpia Workout
This workout might not give you a venom-injecting tail stinger, but it’ll take you a whole lot closer to having frighteningly-superhuman strength. Scorpia’s fighting style is like her hugging style — all in and at full force.
- Sandbag-to-Shoulder: 4 x 1
- Bag Over Bar: 6 bags x 12 total reps (one ascending ladder, one descending ladder)
- Yoke Walk: 4 x 40 seconds
- Atlas Stone Load: 4 x 1
If you don’t have access to some of the strongman specialty equipment, you can work with a normal barbell and substitute the Atlas stone for another heavy sandbag.
The Good, the Bad, and the Jacked
Fear is intrinsically linked to the unknown. However, these 10 villains and monsters leave little to the imagination and are, each in their own way, downright petrifying. Make no mistake — these baddies are far from role models. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be inspired and terrified at the same time. Give these workouts a shot you might just treat yourself to some new gains along the way.
Featured Image: @marvelstudios on Instagram