Kumail Nanjiani’s ‘Eternals’ Muscle Building Workout
Kumail Nanjiani’s training helped him achieve one of the greatest Marvel transformations of all time for Eternals. Try the muscle building routine for yourself.
In mid-2019, Kumail Nanjiani was filming the last episode of his hit HBO comedy, Silicon Valley. The show followed a group of nerdy app makers navigating the fierce world of high tech. Not much changed over the six seasons except, in the finale, the character of Nanjiani, the insecure coder Dinesh, had become an absolute unit – his biceps suddenly came out of the polo shirts.
The bundling was not the producer’s idea, nor a studio directive for Eternals (in theaters Nov. 5), in which Nanjiani plays Kingo, an arrogant, cosmic warrior living undercover as a Bollywood star. The only green light Nanjiani needed to get in shape was from himself.
The transformation took place at Granite gymnasium in Beverly Hills, a dimly lit basement that Grant roberts, the trainer behind Nanjiani’s incredible transformation, had quietly entered one of Hollywood’s most exclusive training facilities.
Although Eternals Concerning a group of immortal beings with superhuman powers, Marvel was perfectly happy that Kingo was the most “normal,” says Roberts. But for Nanjiani, who grew up obsessed with comics, the gig was a huge opportunity to portray a South Asian superhero in a Marvel franchise. He wanted a physicality that could compare to Superman or Thor.
Breaking the mold and the internet
Nanjiani had suffered punishment sessions five days a week in the past year Eternals. “Instead of worrying about how to keep it lean throughout, we focused on adding mass before making a proper cut.” At first glance, Roberts says Nanjiani had strong biceps and a strong back, but, uh, a lot of room for improvement. “I don’t mean to be insulting, but he probably had the sweetest core I’ve ever seen,” Roberts laughs. “I don’t know how he even managed to stand up straight!” “
Roberts combined new and old-school techniques to pump up Nanjiani, incorporating electronic muscle stimulation into her work with free weights and heavy core lifting. Always warming up started with the Power Plate, a vibrating platform that stimulates natural reflexes and draws attention to dormant muscle fibers. The workouts did not target more than three body parts, so each area was attacked dynamically.
After six months, Nanjiani entered a phase of sculpture. Michelangelo used a chisel to carve bundles of six waves, but Roberts prefers the cable machine.
To ensure symmetry, Roberts asked Nanjiani to take shirtless selfies every few weeks to gauge progress. Once on set, Marvel had a chef cook Nanjiani’s meals, and Roberts trained him virtually to preserve his hard-earned earnings.
“People have this misconception that once you physically get to a certain place, you can just navigate,” says Roberts. “But it’s a lot of effort and sacrifice to maintain a physique like that.” When it came to sacrifice, the most important thing for Nanjiani was to cut down on her favorite baked goods.
With Eternals in the box, he may start eating a treat or two again, but don’t expect him to fall back into his old ways. “I’ve seen a lot of actors take this trip and lose their motivation, but it’s different with him. We still train every week. I am very proud of what he has accomplished and I think this is just the start.
Kumail Nanjiani’s “Eternals” workout
This is Kumail Nanjiani’s sculpture training. In some cases, sets of drops are used, where the number of repetitions decreases and the weight increases to promote hypertrophy. Complete the prescribed sets for each movement, taking 45 seconds of rest in between.
1. Decline the cable chest press
Sets 1-2 (light weight): 20 reps
Series 3 (midweight): 15 reps
Series 4-5 (max weight): 10 reps
Adjust a 15 degree bench to the decline position in the middle of a cable machine with handle attachments at the lowest setting on either side. Grasp the handles, then lie down and bend your arms widely with the palms facing out. Press the arms up, squeezing the pecs up, then down (you will feel a stretch).
2. Incline Cable Flye at the chest press
Sets 1-2: 12 flyes / 8 presses
Sets 3-4: 10 flyes / 6 presses
Sets 5-6: 8 flyes / 4 presses
Adjust a 45-degree bench to the tilted position in the middle of a cable machine with handle mounts at the lowest setting on either side. Grasp the handles, then sit down with arms outstretched, elbows slightly bent, palms facing each other. Contract the pecs to bring the hands together. Squeeze up, then slowly lower. Perform the prescribed repetitions, then change the hand position to a wide-tilt cable chest press.
3. Flye single arm sling cable 4 x 15 repetitions
Place a grip attachment just below chest level on a cable machine. Stand in a staggered position. If the right foot is forward, grasp the grip with your left hand using a neutral grip. Place the right hand on the pecs to feel the activation. Strengthen the core and keep the shoulders square. Begin the movement from a chest stretch position. Perform a wide, loose flye across the body, extending past your midline. Move slowly with a concentric grip on each rep.
4. Dumbbell pull 3 x 12 repetitions
Lie face-up on a bench with your feet flat on the floor, holding a heavy dumbbell, arms straight above your head. Bend your elbows and engage the triceps to bring the dumbbell just behind your head. Increase the intensity by extending the elbows to perform a tricep extension, then reverse.
5. Giant triceps x 3 sets
Attach a straight bar to one side of a cable crossing machine and two handles on one clip over the other, both at the highest setting. Start with the straight bar, using a heavy weight. Hold the bar at forehead height with an overhand grip, elbows bent. “Throw” the weight down using the momentum to complete the Tricep Extension x 12 reps. Move to the other side, grasp the handles with a sneaky grip, lean at the hips, then extend through the triceps to perform reverse drag triceps pullbacks x 12 reps. Transform the hands into an overhand grip to perform tricep pushes x 8 reps.
6. Giant Biceps Triset x 3 sets
Attach a low straight bar to the cable machine and grab with a grip from below. Start halfway through a bicep curl with your arms bent 90 degrees, and do partial reps of the bicep curl x 7 reps, bottom to halfway, then immediately switch to the glide curl x 7 reps in heading towards the machine, extending your arms, and slide the bar up your torso pulling your elbows back (do not shrug your shoulders). Stop at chest height with your elbows fully bent. Immediately move to full bicep curls x 7 reps, stepping back to return to the original starting position.
7. Rope Cable Preacher Loop 4 x 15 repetitions
Tie a low tricep rope on a cable machine. Grasp the ends in each hand and sit down on the preacher’s bench with your elbows and arms firmly planted on the cushion. Start with your arms fully extended, then curl the tricep cord towards your face until it is fully flexed with your hands at each temple. Hold the contraction for a full second.
8. Extended cable tip loop 2 x 25 repetitions
Attach a shoulder-height EZ bar to a cable machine and place a flat bench under the bar. Using a narrow grip, do a slow curl towards the forehead, holding each repetition fully flexed for 3 seconds.