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The Secret Behind Robert Downey Jr.’s Muscle – How Did He Do It?


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Robert Downey Jr. is a prominent Hollywood actor who starred in over 80 movies. Most people have come to love him for his role as Tony Stark or Iron Man in the Marvel franchise. 

As today’s movies are heavily manipulated with CGI and other visual effects, some wonder if Robert Downey Jr.’s Muscle is really due to some kind of rigorous workout routine and diet, or is there something else at play? 

This article will answer questions regarding his physique and movie roles.

Table of Contents

Robert Downey Jr and His Superhero Body

The Secret Behind Robert Downey Jr.’s Muscle - How Did He Do It?
Bruce Lee – Famous Master of Wing Chun

RDJ has been practicing Wing Chun since 2003, a Chinese martial art technique that many Chinese superstars use, such as Bruce Lee, who popularized the discipline. It’s his primary training regimen that helped him keep his physique. 

Wing Chun Kung Fu is simple, efficient, and straightforward. It teaches offensive and defensive techniques that are helpful in real life and on-screen fighting scenes.

It’s especially beneficial to RDJ to make him stronger and reduce stress. Wing Chun also improves mental toughness, coordination, balance, and self-esteem. 

However, Wing Chun is not enough to be the perfect Iron Man. He also needs to strictly adhere to a training program promoting the muscles his millionaire playboy character must have, particularly after playing other roles in between Iron Man installments.

This includes Sherlock Holmes, the famous Arthur Conan Doyle detective character.

Here’s more on how Robert Downey Jr trained to achieve and maintain a more muscular frame.

Sustainable Exercise and Good Eating Habits

Robert Downey Jr. knows he is not an athlete and is no longer as young as his co-stars. So how does he keep up with his roles?

To avoid jeopardizing his career due to a sudden and unnecessary injury at the gym, he makes sure not to overexert himself. He also faithfully follows his meal plan.

If you are not familiar with a sustained exercise routine. In that case you have to start with basic exercises and then gradually add more advanced activities as you progress but still allow for adequate rest.

Inside the gym, he likes to maximize his time on compound exercises like squats, lunges, push and pull-ups, and so on to get more done in less time.

Then, he focuses on moves such as sit-ups, bicep curls, and other isolation exercises.

Outside of his rest days, it’s all about physical recovery, performing active recovery methods like yoga to improve flexibility, balance, and body strength.

Regular exercise is not effective without a proper diet. That is why RDJ maintains proper dietary habits.

For bulking, he would consume up to 3,500 calories and eats carbs to increase calorie intake.

Regarding beverages, he stucks to coffee, green tea, and of course, water.

Training With a Pro

Like most Hollywood actors and actresses training for film roles, RDJ relies on training and following professional suggestions to build his body up. His trainer, Brad Bose, encouraged and assisted him throughout his Iron Man era.

To embody Tony Stark, Bose recommended cutting back on cardio and doing heavier lifts while continuing his Wing Chun training.

With discipline, hard work, patience, and a daily intake of 5,000 calories, RDJ successfully gained 25 pounds of muscle and a perfectly sculpted Iron Man body. For comparison, in preparation for his Sherlock Holmes film, Bose said they combined high-volume and low-intensity exercise to improve his cardio levels and muscle endurance.

This way, RDJ’s body is not heavy and bulky and keeps him flexible enough to do his stunts.

Robert Downey Jr Muscle – The Iron Man Workout

If you want to bulk up and achieve a superhero body like RDJ, here’s an Iron Man-inspired workout routine based on RDJ’s original workout plan:

Monday: Lower Body Exercises

Band Squat48 – 12
Hamstring Curl48 – 12 
Leg Press48 – 12 
Suspension Trainer Lunges315 – 20 
Suspension Trainer Superman Squats315
Romanian Deadlift38 – 10 
Sandbag Squat38 – 10
Ab Circuit3
Leg Lifts25
Flutter Kicks25

Tuesday: Yoga or Meditation

Wednesday: Full Body Exercise

Air Squats48 – 12
Bench Press48 – 12
Lateral Pull Downs48 – 12
Arnold Presses38 – 10
Calf Raises315
Straight Led Deadlift38 – 10
Pull Ups38 – 10
Leg Lifts325
Flutter Kicks325

Thursday: Yoga or Meditation

Friday: Upper Body Exercises

Weighed Pull-up38 – 12
Weighted Dip38 – 12
Swiss Ball Bench Press38 – 12
Low Row38 – 12
Continuous Tension DB Shoulder Press38 – 12
Bosu Ball Push-up38 – 12
Suspension Trainer Push-up3FAILURE
Suspension Trainer Row3FAILURE
Shoulder Raise (Lateral / Front)38 – 12
Kettlebell Swing340
Sand Bag Power Throw312 – 15 
Leg Lifts325
Flutter Kicks325
Ab Circuit3

Saturday and Sunday: Recovery Day or Day-Offs

Robert Downey Jr Muscle: The Iron Man’s Meal Plan

Combine the above workout plan with Robert Downey Jr’s diet plan to make it more effective. Don’t forget the supplements. He takes protein shakes, vitamins, and creatine to fuel his gains.


  • 2 Eggs (scrambled or boiled for less fat intake)
  • 2 Bread Slices
  • 3 Tomatoes
  • Skimmed Milk


  • 2 Bread Slices
  • Chicken salad with Mayo
  • Green Leafy Veggies
  • Coffee of Tea (unsweetened)


  • Veggies such as carrots, green beans, broccoli
  • Lean pork, chicken, beef, and fish

It’s worth noting that in Iron Man 3, the creators decided to make a CGI Robert Downey Jr. as the actor broke his ankle during filming. If you want to compare what RDJ looks like after this workout and meal plan, it’s best to refer to earlier Iron Man installments.


Robert Downey Jr’s Muscle superhero-like frame is not a Hollywood gimmick. His body alone proves his exercise routine and diet are real and effective. 

However, you can’t expect the same results as RDJ even if you meticulously follow the plans above. Every individual has unique factors to consider that fit their health and lifestyle. To figure out the best workout and meal plan for you and to achieve your fitness goal in the schedule you allot to yourself, you need to work with professionals. 

Consult your doctors and find a reputable trainer who can assist you in getting to your objectives.


Avatar of Danny Loeb
Danny Loeb
Danny Loeb is a qualified Personal Trainer, Fitness Model and Writer. He enjoys blogging about health and fitness, messing around with Photoshop, and sharing his experiences with everyone.

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