Keanu Reeves’ ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ Workout
Keanu Reeves had no idea when the character of John Wick was first pitched, that he’d be playing the relentless hitman for a decade. From the get-go, the modus operandi was to make the action feel as real as possible, which meant leaning into scenes most actors would politely decline. The physical strain of nonstop fight sequences would be a lot at any age, but it’s mind-blowing to think that Reeves, hurling nunchucks and being hurled through windows in John Wick: Chapter 4, is in his late 50s.
“John Wick action is a little different, because [director] Chad [Stahelski] wants to see the collisions and the wrecks,” Reeves says while promoting Chapter 4. “He wants that beautiful violence.”
The director’s vision is one that Reeves has supported from the beginning. In that pursuit, every production has come with a rigorous bootcamp where the actor drills gun handling, tactical driving, and martial arts with the stunt teams.
Related: Hiroyuki Sanada on Joining the ‘John Wick’ Universe, Reuniting With Keanu Reeves, and Staying True to His Sword
In order to be physically prepared for these tasks, Reeves has worked with elite trainer Patrick Murphy to keep his body strong and, in some cases, put him back together.
“I’ve never trained with anyone more hard-working than Keanu,” says Murphy. Early on in the process, the workouts were built to give Reeves the flexible strength required to bring a beat down with any weapon. But as production went on, the routines became more restorative in nature to compensate for the brutal sessions the actor was doing with the stunt team.
“No matter how he feels, or what he’s dealing with, Keanu has incredible grit,” says Murphy. “He brings an intense focus into every element of his training, whether he’s in the gym with me or on the gun range. The focus we all see in the John Wick character, I see in Keanu.”
Keanu Reeves Diet: Nutrition Strategies Fit for a Hitman
Murphy has Reeves stick with a whole-food diet as much as possible, mostly for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Because of the beating the actor’s body takes through the pre-production bootcamps and filming, it’s important his body is able to heal as quickly as possible. That was combined with a supplement regimen that also addressed inflammation and recovery, including bio-curcumin turmeric extract, NAD+ cell regenerator, and omega-3 from Life Extension.
On the “no-no” food list that Murphy gave to Reeves: baked goods, fried foods, pastas, fruit juices, vegetable oils, and alcohol. Of course, the trainer understood that some exceptions would be made at times. Nobody is going to tell John Wick not to have a glass of Japanese whisky at the Continental—or Keanu Reeves for that matter.
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How Keanu Reeves Recovers From John Wick Stunts
Since the actor was putting in four hours of stunt rehearsal and training every single day, recovery was taken very seriously. At the end of each session, Reeves would get deep tissue bodywork done by Jodi Mainwaring, then jump into an ice bath to bring down any swelling from the hits before calling it a day. Perhaps the most important step to Reeves’ recovery was a disciplined stretching routine that was executed every time they went to war.
Keanu Reeves John Wick: Chapter 4 Workout
This is a pared-down version of the warmup and workout Murphy would do with Reeves to encourage balance, stabilization, and power. There were no heavy lifts or pulls, because Reeves had to preserve his strength for the real action. Instead, the trainer utilized free weights, cables, bands and, when needed, machines for more resistance. The rest of the training involved calisthenics. That focus on bodyweight movements helped Reeves build endurance for his long action sequences.
Related: The Best Dynamic Warmup for Any Workout
What You’ll Need
No equipment is required for the warmup. For the workout, you’ll need a cable machine or resistance band, a dumbbell, and a BOSU ball.
How to Do It
Do two rounds of the warmup before doing two rounds of the workout. For increased difficulty, add another round to each.
1. Bird Dog x 10 reps each side
- Start out on all fours with your knees on the ground. Keeping your core activated, simultaneously extend your right arm and left leg until they’re parallel to the ground.
- Return to the starting position. Focus on staying balanced—no rocking back and forth—with your spine neutral. Alternate the working arm and leg on each rep.
2. World’s Greatest Stretch x 10 reps each side
- Start in a plank. Step your left foot forward into a low lunge.
- Place your right hand on the floor so it’s even with your left foot. Your right knee should remain hovering above the floor.
- Move your left elbow inside your left foot, and rest it on the floor. Square your hips so you feel a stretch on both sides, and try to keep your back flat.
- Move your left hand outside your left foot, and twist to reach for the ceiling. Switch sides on each rep.
3. Reverse Lunge to Leg Swing x 10 reps each side
- Stand with your arms by your sides. Step your right leg back into a reverse lunge, then drive through your left heel to stand and immediately swing your right leg straight out into a front kick.
- Lower your leg and repeat the next rep on the other side. Alternate on each rep.
4. Walking Lunge With Reach x 10 reps each side
- Stand straight with arms by your sides. Step your right foot forward into a lunge as you raise both arms overhead like you’re saluting the sky.
- Keeping your back mostly straight, allow your arms to reach slightly behind you.
- Repeat on the opposite leg. Alternate sides on each rep.
The John Wick Workout
1. Cable Step and Press x 10 reps each side
- Set a cable pulley to chest height and attach a D-handle or fix a resistance band to a fixed point.
- Grab the handle with your right hand in a fist and stand with your back to the cable pulley machine.
- Stagger your feet with your left foot forward, right foot back. The cable should rest outside of your shoulder with your elbow back. This is the starting position.
- Press the cable forward, like a slow-motion punch, rotating your hips as you do, until your arm is fully extended. Return to the starting position and repeat all reps on one side, then switch.
2. Reverse Lunge to Dumbbell Front Raise x 10 reps each side
- Stand holding a moderately heavy dumbbell at your left side, palm facing in.
- Step back with your right leg into a lunge while lifting the dumbbell straight in front of you until it’s parallel to the ground.
- Drive through your left foot to stand and lower the weight. Complete all reps on one side, then switch working arm and leg.
3. Low-to-High Cable Woodchop x 10 reps each side
- Connect a standard handle attachment to the lowest position on the pulley machine. Stand with your right side parallel to the cable tower, feet shoulder-width apart.
- Grab the handle with your left hand and clasp your right hand over your knuckles. Take a step away from the machine to create tension.
- Start with arms fully extended and a soft bend in the knees. Load the right side of your body as you twist your torso to bring the handle by your shin.
- Inhale, then exhale as you explosively drive the handle up across your body until your hands are above your head. Your back should be straight, core engaged, and arms extended.
- Hold for one count, then return to the starting position in a slow, controlled manner. Complete all reps on one side, then switch.
4. BOSU Explosive Pushup x 10 reps
- Start in a pushup position with hands on either side of a BOSU ball with the flat side up. Inhale as you lower into a pushup.
- At the bottom, push off the ball with explosive power so the BOSU comes off the ground. Keep your core engaged the entire time.
- Once you land, use the momentum to begin your next pushup.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is now playing in theaters.
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