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NO, GLEN POWELL didn’t just wake up in cover guy shape. (It just seems that way in our December issue). To get himself ready for his first MH cover, Powell committed himself to a focused gym routine that was all about creating a “look” for his upper body.

The actor worked out with Nick Mitchell, a longtime trainer and the global CEO of Ultimate Performance, which has locations in Los Angeles and around the world. Mitchell and Powell focused on building a unique look. “Not overly muscled,” says Mitchell, “eyes drawn to the detail of abs/serratus/intercostals, etc.”

That meant finding a unique balance between the heavyweight lifts that add raw muscle and strength, and the detail exercises that truly finish out a physique. Powell trained four days a week, working off a three-day split. He’d start each round of the split hitting arms, abs, and shoulders, take a day off, then train chest and back. After another rest day, he’d do a “leg” workout, but it wasn’t your typical leg day grind. It was “more for conditioning,” says Mitchell, “and promoting an athletic look.”

It all got Powell in cover-guy shape—and if you have a full gym setup, it’s a workout you can take on, too. If you take on Powell’s split, aim to train four days a week, resting at least one day in between each major workout. Make sure to warm up for each session, too, with a few bodyweight moves. Do at least 1 minute each of jumping jacks, reverse lunges, and planks before getting to the meat of each workout.

DAY 1
Arms, Abs, and Shoulders

Ab Circuit

DIRECTIONS: Do 4 sets of this circuit. Rest minimally between sets.

glen powell hanging leg raise

Ben Mounsey-Wood

Hanging Leg Raise

How to Do It:

  • Hang from a pullup bar, abs and glutes tight, a slight bend in your knees.
  • Tighten your abs, raising your legs so your thighs shift above parallel with the ground, aiming to shift your butt in front of you.
  • Lower with control.

Sets and Reps: That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12.

Decline Crunch

How to Do It:

  • Anchor your shins in a decline bench setup, back lying against the bench.
  • Tighten your abs and raise your torso until your torso is nearly perpendicular to the ground.
  • Slowly lower back down.

Sets and Reps: That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12.

Side Overhead Cable Crunch

How to Do It:

  • Set up a high pulley with a single D-handle, and kneel beneath it, about a foot away.
  • Grasp the handle with your right hand, and pull it close to your forehead. This is the start.
  • Contract your abs and round your back, pulling the weight downward and aiming to touch right elbow to left knee.

Sets and Reps: That’s 1 rep; do 8 to 10 per side.

Side Plank Hip Dip

How to Do It:

  • Get in side plank position, abs and glutes tight, right elbow on the ground.
  • Without bending at the waist, slowly lower your right hip so it nearly touches the ground, then elevate it toward the ceiling.

Sets and Reps: That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12 per side.

Stability Ball Pike

How to Do It:

  • Get in pushup position, legs on a stability ball.
  • First, keeping your legs straight, aim to drive your butt to the ceiling.
  • Return to pushup position.
  • Then, bend your knees toward your chest.
  • Return to pushup position.

Sets and Reps: That’s 1 rep, do 8 to 10.


Arm Circuit

DIRECTIONS: Do the exercises in order. Rest 90 to 120 seconds between each set. Do 3 sets.

Hammer Grip Cable Curl

How to Do It:

  • Wrap a towel a cable D handle and grasp each of its ends, palms facing each other.
  • Keep your palms facing each other as you bend only at the elbows and curl the cables to your chest.
  • Lower with control.

Sets and Reps: That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12.

Decline EZ Bar Triceps Extension

How to Do It:

  • Lie on a decline bench, abs and glutes tight, a loaded EZ bar held directly over your shoulders, arms straight. Tip your upper arms back just slightly. This is the start.
  • Now, bending only at the elbows, lower the bar to within an inch of your forehead.
  • Pause, then press back up.

Sets and Reps: That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12.

Incline Curl

How to Do It:

  • Set a bench to a 45- or 60-degree angle. Lie with your back on the bench, dumbbells held in both arms, weights directly below your shoulders, palms facing forward.
  • Without letting your elbows shift forward, curl the dumbbells upwards, squeezing your biceps.
  • Lower with control.

Sets and Reps: That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12.

Rope Overhead Extension

How to Do It:

  • Place a rope handle on a low pulley. Stand and grasp the rope handle with both hands, elbows close to your head, abs tight.
  • Without moving your upper arms, straighten your arms overhead.
  • Lower with control.

Sets and Reps: That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 12.


Shoulder Circuit

DIRECTIONS: Do the exercises in order. Rest 90 to 120 seconds between each set. Do 3 sets.

Cable Crossover Lateral Raise

How to Do It:

  • Set up in a wide cable machine, pulleys set low. Grasp the right D handle with your left hand and vice versa. Squeeze your shoulder blades and abs. This is the start.
  • Now raise the weights out to your sides, as if doing a classic dumbbell lateral raise, keeping your hands slightly in front of your shoulders the whole time.
  • Pause when your arms are parallel with the ground, then lower.

Sets and Reps: Thats 1 rep; do 10 to 12.

Reverse EZ Bar Wrist Curl

How to Do It:

  • Stand holding an EZ bar at your hips, abs and glutes tight, palms facing you.
  • Moving only at the wrist, curl the bar upwards until your hands are nearly parallel with the ground.
  • Lower.

Sets and Reps: That’s 1 rep; do 12 to 15.

Standing Cable Reverse Fly

How to Do It:

  • Stand in the center of a cable machine, pulleys set just slightly higher than shoulder height.
  • Grasp the right D handle with your left hand, and the left D handle with your right hand. Step back one step from the cable machine. Squeeze your shoulder blades. This is the start.
  • Now pull the D handles in a wide arc, aiming to pull your arms in line with your torso.
  • Hold for 1 second, then return to the start.

Sets and Reps: That’s 1 rep; do 12 to 15.


DAY 2
Upper Body (Chest and Back)

Triset 1

DIRECTIONS: Do the exercises in order. Do 4 sets. Rest 90 to 120 seconds between each round.

glen powell single arm pull down

Ben Mounsey-Wood

Single Arm Straight-Arm Pulldown

How to Do It:

  • With your torso at a 45-degree angle with the floor, grasp a cable rope in your right hand.
  • With just a slight bend in your elbow, pull it to your hip; keep your hips and shoulders square as you do this.
  • Return.

Sets and Reps: That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12 per side.

Ring Pullup

How to Do It:

  • Hang from a pair of still rings, palms facing each other.
  • Keeping your abs and glutes tight, pull your chest to the rings, then lower with control.

Sets and Reps: Do as many good-form reps as you can. (No rings? Use a standard pullup bar instead.)

Incline Bench Press

How to Do It:

  • Lie with your back on a bench set to a 30-degree incline, dumbbells held directly over your shoulders, shoulder blades squeezed, feet flat on the floor.
  • Bend at the elbows and shoulders, lowering the dumbbells toward your chest, aiming to keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle relative to your torso.
  • Press back up.

Sets and Reps: That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12.

Superset 2

DIRECTIONS: Do the exercises in order. Do 3 sets. Rest 90 to 120 seconds between each round.

Single-Arm Cable Low Row

How to Do It:

  • Set up in a cable row station, a D handle attached to the cable. Grasp it with your right hand, abs and glutes tight, hips and shoulders square, torso leaned forward just slightly.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades and row the rope to your right ribcage.
  • Lower with control.

Sets and Reps: That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12 per side.

Partner-Assisted Incline Fly

How to Do It:

  • Lie with your back on an incline bench set to a 30-degree angle, abs and glutes tight.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades and raise your arms, keeping your wrists directly over your shoulders.
  • Have a partner stand behind you and apply pressure to your elbows, essentially forcing you to open your arms in a wide arc. Resist that pressure as best as you can.
  • When your upper arms are parallel with the ground, have your partner lighten the resistance (but still apply some tension).
  • Hold, then bring your arms together, as if doing a fly, against this lighter resistance.
  • As your arms near the starting position, your partner should again apply more tension, forcing you to work harder to squeeze your chest.

Sets and Reps: That’s 1 rep; do 6 to 8. (No partner? Do regular cable flies instead.)


DAY 3
Legs/Conditioning

Triset 1

DIRECTIONS: Do the exercises in order. Do 3 sets. Rest 90-120 seconds between rounds.

Leg Extension

How to Do It:

  • Set up in a leg extension machine, butt glued to the seat, abs tight.
  • Moving only at the knee joint, straighten your legs, squeezing your quads.
  • Lower.

Sets and Reps: That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12.

Leg Curl

How to Do It:

  • Set up in a lying leg curl machine at your gym, abs tight, hands gripping the supports tightly.
  • Squeeze your hamstrings and curl the weight upwards.
  • Pause at the top, then lower with control.

Sets and Reps: That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12.

Walking Lunge

How to Do It:

  • Stand holding dumbbells at your sides, abs and glutes tight.
  • Step forward with your right leg, then bend at the knees and hips, lowering your torso until your right thigh is parallel with the ground.
  • Press up through your right heel, driving to standing position and immediately stepping forward with your left leg.
  • Once again, bend at the knees and hips, lowering your torso until your left thigh is parallel with the ground.
  • Press up through your left knee to drive forward into standing position again.

Sets and Reps: Repeat this process for 10 yards.

glen powell sled drag

Ben Mounsey-Wood

Sled Drag

How to Do It:

  • Attach a sled strap to a sled loaded with only light weight, then grasp its ends with both hands, chest facing the sled.
  • Begin to walk backwards with controlled steps. Gradually pick up speed.
  • Aim to walk for 20 yards.
  • Turn and drag the sled back to the start.
  • Add a 45-pound plate to the sled and repeat.
  • Continue doing this until you do a set in which you can barely move the weight. Then remove a plate and repeat the process.
  • Keep doing this until the sled is once again unloaded.
  • Rest 20 seconds between each set.

Treadmill Work

How to Do It:

  • Finish with a mix of treadmill sprints, aiming to run hard for 10 to 15 seconds, then rest for 30 to 45 seconds for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Less is more here; when you start to fatigue and feel like you can no longer run with any power, wrap the session up.
preview for Glen Powell | Gym & Fridge
Headshot of Ebenezer Samuel,  C.S.C.S.

Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is the fitness director of Men’s Health and a certified trainer with more than 10 years of training experience. He’s logged training time with NFL athletes and track athletes and his current training regimen includes weight training, HIIT conditioning, and yoga. Before joining Men’s Health in 2017, he served as a sports columnist and tech columnist for the New York Daily News.  

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