How Benedict Cumberbatch Got Ripped For Doctor Strange 2

Benedict Cumberbatch isn't shy about adapting his physical appearance for a role — whether that means ditching the shower for "The Power of the Dog" or dropping 21 pounds for "The Courier." In fact, he told E! that these transformations are one of the things he enjoys most about his job, saying "I like that kind of element of acting. I like the transformative stuff."

In 2016, Cumberbatch made his Marvel debut in "Doctor Strange" as Stephen Strange, a character Marvel chief Kevin Feige has called "the anchor of the Marvel Cinematic Universe," per Variety. Although the actor had to make a lot of diet and exercise changes to get in shape for the part, he said the overall transformation into the character was "not that hard," per Entertainment Weekly. However, a leaked photo from the set of "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" revealed that Cumberbatch has now taken his body transformation to a whole new level. His newly buff physique mirrors those of the MCU's Chrises. So how exactly did Benedict Cumberbatch get so ripped for this superhero sequel, and why?

Benedict Cumberbatch has been lifting weights


Every actor has different methods of preparing and training for a role — be it mentally, physically, emotionally, or all of the above. Benedict Cumberbatch focused on his physical transformation as he got ready for his superhero debut as Doctor Stephen Strange in 2016, and again for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." A leaked photo of Cumberbatch training (pictured above) revealed that one way the actor has been getting his body in superhero shape is weight lifting.

Cumberbatch hasn't publicly shared his exact fitness routine for "Multiverse of Madness," but as the behind-the-scenes snap shows, he's definitely been working hard to get ripped for the Marvel film. According to a breakdown of Cumberbatch's fitness routine from Superhero Jacked, the actor would have been hitting the weights at least three times a week to see this kind of progress. His typical weightlifting routine would include dumbbell chest presses, shoulder front raises, and dumbbell bicep curls.

Pumping iron was also a key component of Cumberbatch's training for the 2016 "Doctor Strange" film. He later revealed that Kevin Feige told him it was actually one of the toughest fitness regimens that Marvel Studios has ever put an actor through, per The Sun. "I did go through quite a lot. [But] no pain, no gain," Cumberbatch added. With that said, he seems to have been hitting the weights even harder for the sequel.

He loves yoga

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Of course, weightlifting isn't the only thing Benedict Cumberbatch did to get ripped for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." The actor also regularly practiced yoga, one of his favorite forms of exercise, to help him get ready for the role. This is something that has stuck with him ever since he went to teach English in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery as a teenager. There he experienced the "amazing power of the mind," per BBC.

Alongside strengthening the mind, yoga is great for the core, which helped Cumberbatch with his wire work on the set of "Doctor Strange." Even though the actor had a stunt double, he still spent plenty of time moving around on a wire. In fact, "[Producers] Stephen Broussard and Kevin Feige said that I've done more wire work on this than any other film that they worked on," Cumberbatch revealed, per YouTube. "I get flung through a wall or suspended by a wire over a drop and then smashed into an asteroid in another dimension, flung off the edge of a building that's changing shape or knocked over a balcony or smashed through a cabinet." But it's not as bad as it might sound. As Cumberbatch quipped, "You can't actually say you're a superhero unless you've actually experienced some of the physical trauma."

Cumberbatch has continued practicing yoga, and with the multiverse expanding, his character will be flying around and casting more spells than ever, so having a strong core is essential.

Benedict Cumberbatch follows a strict plant-based diet

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It's true what they say — you can't out-train a bad diet. That's why Benedict Cumberbatch makes sure to watch what he eats. For the 2016 "Doctor Strange" film, "the diet was very strict for months before" production, Cumberbatch explained to E! This "strict" regimen continued during the entirety of his training and throughout filming, too. However, his diet didn't comprise "anything gross" like "drinking egg whites," the actor confirmed in an interview with Time Out. Instead, Cumberbatch revealed that he eats "a plant-based diet" and added "I would say that I'm vegan, but not everything I wear is [vegan]." As noted by Express, eating a vegan or plant-based diet is a great way to help the "body burn fuel steadily." As nutritionist Jenaed Brodell told the outlet, "It also helps keep your blood sugar in check, due to all the fiber in vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains."

Benedict Cumberbatch isn't the only Marvel actor who's gotten into superhero shape as a vegan — his co-stars Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson both adopted plant-based diets while training for the 2012 "Avengers" film. Hemsworth eventually returned to a carnivorous diet, but Cumberbatch has continued on the plant-based route, even throughout his training for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness."

Cumberbatch focused on strength training


Lifting weights, getting flexible on a yoga mat, and eating right isn't all Benedict Cumberbatch did to get in shape for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." The actor also incorporated quite a bit of strength training into his workout schedule. As explained by the American Heart Association, strength training is a combination of "simple, weight-bearing exercises that use free weights, machines or your body's own resistance." These exercises can be done as a solo workout, or in conjunction with cardio and weights training, as Cumberbatch did.

How Benedict Cumberbatch Got Ripped For Doctor Strange 2

According to Superhero Jacked, who have consolidated the MCU star's workout regimen, Cumberbatch would need to be working out a minimum of three to five times a week to achieve his superhero bod. On at least three of these five days, he would do extensive strength training. Cumberbatch revealed on "The Late Late Show with James Corden" that his workout exercises usually included "press-ups, pull-ups, and dips."

He gets plenty of cardio in too

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Along with weightlifting, yoga, and strength training, Benedict Cumberbatch's workout routine also includes plenty of cardiovascular exercise. Cumberbatch is a long-time fan of cardio activities like running, which he has been doing for years to keep fit. However, he needed to increase the intensity of his cardio while training for the MCU, so he decided to incorporate interval sprints. According to Superhero Jacked, his typical 20-minute interval sprint exercise would be split into two sessions. For the first, he would walk for two minutes, then sprint for one. Then, halfway through, he would cut down his walk time to one minute and run one, then walk one for the remaining session.

Cumberbatch also went through "months of physical training" to learn how to fight and move properly on the set of "Doctor Strange," executive producer Charles Newirth explained, per YouTube. Most of this combat and martial arts training took place alongside his stunt double George Kirby and his co-star Mads Mikkelsen. On the first episode of "SR Stuntmen React," Kirby revealed how intense their training got on set. Sometimes he and Cumberbatch would be in the middle of a scene (or training for one) and Mikkelsen would want to get in on the action too.

With Cumberbatch taking his workout routine up a few notches since 2016, there's little doubt the actor's been putting in a few days of high-intensity cardio each week to get ripped for the sequel.

He's been upping his calorie intake

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Benedict Cumberbatch eats pretty healthily all year. While filming the BBC detective drama "Sherlock" (a far less physically demanding role than "Doctor Strange"), Cumberbatch kept himself in "very good shape by eating very sensibly," his co-star Rupert Graves told the Daily Mail. The actor only ate "bananas, hummus, vegetables and nuts. And then he has a special lunch brought in," Graves added.

However, Cumberbatch's diet — though still plant-based — was a different when he started training for the 2016 superhero film. With all the exercise he was doing, he had to increase his calorie intake. While "spending hours with a personal trainer," Cumberbatch was reportedly "wolfing double the daily amount of calories" and drinking protein shakes, per Metro.

Given how much Cumberbatch has stepped up his physical training for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," it only makes sense that he has also upped his calorie intake again. As reported by Men's Health, the average recommended calorie intake for a man ranges from 1,822 and 2,322 per day. If Cumberbatch had to double his intake, he would have been eating anywhere between 3,600 and 4,600 calories per day — just shy of Chris Hemsworth's 5,000 calorie Thor diet.

Benedict Cumberbatch cut out alcohol

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Benedict Cumberbatch has never been a big drinker. He's often commented on how the portrayal of alcohol and drug consumption has been glamorized onscreen, but he's never been enticed himself. "The consequences are fairly clearly laid out," he told Radio Times.

He has had "the odd blow-out, now and again — a big birthday, or crazy weekend at a festival," but those days are long behind him. The actor and father of three describes himself to the outlet as "near-sober." Even at the end of a long day, the thought of having a drink doesn't appeal to him. "With that thing of having a glass of wine when the kids have gone to bed, I'm like, 'I'm quite tired, and I don't really fancy that glass of sugary alcohol,'" he explained.

Ditching the booze has undoubtedly helped Cumberbatch gain muscle tone while he's been training for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." Mind to Muscle Fitness confirmed that reducing your ethanol consumption makes it much easier to maximize protein synthesis, which is the process of building muscle.

He created 'the Shakespeare diet'

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Benedict Cumberbatch inadvertently created "the Shakespeare diet" while he was filming "Doctor Strange" and performing "Hamlet" at the same time. "It was the bedrock of keeping me healthy and sane during that time," he later told Entertainment Weekly. He had a busy few months while he balanced a starring role in a Marvel superhero film and a performance in a popular Shakespeare production.

He started out by doing an hour of training in the morning, rehearsing "Hamlet" for the rest of the day, and then trying to get home in time to put his newborn son to bed. When the curtain for "Hamlet" opened, Cumberbatch only got busier. He would still train in the morning, followed by rehearsals for "Doctor Strange," and then his "Hamlet" performance at the end of the day. "Hamlet was like a three-hour cardiovascular [workout]. I don't think I was in better shape during the film than I was when I was doing Hamlet and training for the film," he recalled.

Cumberbatch seems to have implemented the Shakespeare diet 2.0 while training for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" by repeating and adapting the process for the Marvel sequel. While he wasn't performing a Shakespeare play, Cumberbatch was also filming "The Bubble" and had to fit his training around that second project.

Benedict Cumberbatch likes to get physical on set

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Benedict Cumberbatch's training for the 2016 "Doctor Strange" movie started long before filming officially began. That's because Cumberbatch understood what it was really going to take to play a superhero. "You have to be incredibly fit," he explained, noting that training for just one fight scene can take days, per YouTube. "I started working out for this film, not just to be bigger to fill the suit so to speak of being this superhero, but also for endurance, to be able to take knocks, to be able to do multiple takes of fight scenes over five days."

Cumberbatch didn't just train for the bare minimum, either. He also enjoyed being hands on and did his own stunts wherever possible. "I was very fortunate that Benedict was so good at doing his own stunts and fight sequences. Benedict did all the action and stunts that were safe for him to do," director Scott Derrickson wrote on Twitter. However, the action sequences were a lot of work and took a physical toll — which is why it was so important for him to build up his strength and train hard. Since Cumberbatch has bulked up more than ever for his role in "Multiverse of Madness," it's likely he needed to be ready for even bigger fight scenes in the sequel.

He trains the 'right' way

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As the old proverb goes, "slow and steady wins the race." That's advice that Benedict Cumberbatch took to heart while filming "Doctor Strange." He didn't transform his body overnight — he did it all over a long period of time in a healthy way, rather than overloading himself. Cumberbatch is all about healthy choices rather than unhealthy shortcuts. "You can do a body-building thing where you're destroying your body to rip new muscle or you can do it the way I did it, which is quite diligently, over a long period of time, with a healthy diet," he told Entertainment Weekly in 2016.

Exercise and diet go hand in hand when it comes to body transformation, and Cumberbatch made sure he was packing on the pounds the right way, too. He focused on clean bulking, which is prioritizing "whole, minimally processed foods along with protein," rather than dirty bulking. (An example of the latter would be Robert Pattinson's famed pizza diet for "The Batman.") However, Cumberbatch had an even harder job bulking up for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" than he did for the first superhero film, because he had just lost 21 pounds for his role in "The Courier." While Cumberbatch told CinemaBlend it was all done in a "healthy" way, he said it was a "horrible" and "vulnerable" experience. This made it more important than ever that he put the weight back on the right way.

He didn't do it alone

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Benedict Cumberbatch should definitely be applauded for his dedication to his craft, but it's fair to say he's never really flying solo while making any big physical changes for a role. Transformations like this become a much easier process when you have a whole team of people whose job it is to specifically monitor an actor's diet and exercise. Alongside working out with a personal trainer, his stunt double George Kirby, and his castmates (notably Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelsen), Cumberbatch also had "someone editing [his] diet," he explained to Entertainment Weekly.

Moreover, he doesn't personally have to worry about his calorie intake or expenditure, or drawing up the perfect workout plan so he can hit all of his muscle groups in the gym; as he put it, "It's all handed to you. It's not that hard. You just really have to apply yourself." Cumberbatch has definitely applied himself and worked hard to create the image of Doctor Strange viewers have come to know, but he admitted he's been "lucky" to have this kind of support, saying, "People would kill for that kind of experience."

This trick gets Benedict Cumberbatch looking extra toned for shirtless scenes

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For the majority of his role in the 2016 "Doctor Strange" film, Benedict Cumberbatch is covered by robes and the Cloak of Levitation. So while his training no doubt helped him with stunts and physical exertion, his months of exercising and eating right came down to just 24 hours — the night before and the day of his "ubiquitous shirt-off moment," per "The Late Late Show with James Corden."

"I worked really hard for it," he said, noting the months of training he put into his physical transformation. "[But] then the day and night before you kind of dehydrate yourself, and then on the actual day on set — I don't even know if I should be saying this — you basically are told to eat Skittles and drink coffee because it dehydrates you ... It's horrible." Explaining why he had to do this, Cumberbatch noted that it makes the muscles (especially on the torso) look more toned. "Basically, your skin then shrink wraps around the muscle fiber."

If Benedict Cumberbatch has another shirtless scene in "Multiverse of Madness," he'll be undergoing this "horrible" process again. But it seems safe to assume he'll agree that the end result was worth it.