5 Bodyweight Exercises ‘Reacher’ Star Alan Ritchson Uses to Build Action-Hero Muscle

5 Bodyweight Exercises ‘Reacher’ Star Alan Ritchson Uses to Build Action-Hero Muscle

Move over Hemsworth, Johnson and Wahlberg, there’s a new shredded action hero in town.

If you haven’t seen Alan Ritchson starring in the new Amazon Prime Video series Reacher, then where have you been? Based on the bestselling books by author Lee Child, the series tells the tale of a former US military police officer turned drifter called Jack Reacher who finds himself caught up in a deadly conspiracy.

But before Reacher premiered, we caught up with the show’s star to find out exactly how he got jacked to play Jack.

In an exclusive interview with Men’s Health, Ritchson explains how he had eight months to prepare for the role, so he built a gym in his house, began lifting weights and ate a lot of calories. “It was a full time job trying to eat enough to bulk up for this role,” he says.

Before that though, Ritchson says five simple bodyweight exercises, which he’s been using for decades, provided the foundations for Reacher’s heft. You can find out exactly what they are below, as well as our fitness editor’s, Andrew Tracey’s, take on them and a handy 30-minute AMRAP that should prepare you to get ripped like Reacher.

“These five are the core foundation for my routine, and it’s been that way for decades and they’ve served me well,” says Ritchson. “[With these exercises] you can still hypertrophy and put on size and you’re doing it in a safe and comfortable way.”

weighted dips



  1. Grab the bars of a dip station with your palms facing inward and your arms straight.
  2. Slowly lower until your elbows are at right angles, ensuring they stay tucked against your body and don’t flare out. Drive yourself back up to the top and repeat.

    Ritchson says: “I’ve done, I don’t know, a billion dips in my day. It’s one of my primary exercises, and I do them almost every workout, so I’ll start or finish off with some dips. I just love what they can do for a physique.”

    Tracey says: “Rivaling the bench press for chest-building prowess, dips work the triceps hard too. Raise your legs in front of your body throughout for a core building bonus.”

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    1. Grab the bar above you with your palms facing away from you and your arms fully extended. Your hands should be around shoulder-width apart.
    2. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, exhale and drive your elbows towards your hips to bring your chin above the bar. Lower under control back to the start position.

      Ritchson says: “If I do 25 pull ups, my abs are tight at the end of it… so I kind of kill two birds with one stone.”

      Tracey says: “Building the muscles of your upper back and biceps while challenging your grip and core – a seriously functional movement and sign of upper-body strength.”

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      1. Maintain maximum speed, keeping your torso upright and your shoulders back, while driving off hard from the middle of your foot on each stride.
      2. Ensure your breathing is rhythmic and controlled to avoid burning out: in through the nose, out through the mouth. Cover 80m, keeping pace until you cross the line.

        Ritchson says: “A lot of dudes they want to skip on the cardio but man you got to exercise the heart just as much as the other muscles.”

        Tracey says: “Burning calories, building stamina and working the muscles of the legs without necessarily adding size, sprints are a great option for building a more athletic build.”

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        1. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and hands lightly touching your head.
        2. Engage your core and lift your upper body until your chest almost comes into contact with your knees.
        3. Return to the start position and repeat.

          Tracey says: “An abdominal-building classic. To focus on the abs and avoid overworking the hip flexors, push your lower back into the ground and avoid sitting up all of the way to keep the tension on your core.”




          1. Starting in a plank position, slowly lower your chest towards the floor while ensuring your abs are tight and your spine is in neutral position.
          2. Slowly push back up to the start position. That’s one rep.

            Tracey says: “Try performing these after dips for what is known as a ‘mechanical drop-set’. It’ll allow you to work the same muscles, but from a slightly ‘easier’ angle, so you can keep repping out and pump up your chest, triceps and shoulders.”

            Reacher’s 30-minute AMRAP

            Ready to workout like Reacher? Complete as many rounds of the following circuit as possible in 30 minutes (or however long you have). That way if you ever find yourself fighting off five guys in a prison brawl, you know you’ll be prepared.

            “For 20 years all I’ve ever done is this routine where I will run to whatever park is near me and I do press-ups, pull-ups, dips and sit-ups and then I sprint in between and then I run home,” says Ritchson.

            • Pull-ups x5
            • Dips x10
            • Press-ups x15
            • Sit-ups x20
            • 200m sprint

              Reacher is available to stream on Prime Video now.

              Daniel Davies is a staff writer at Men’s Health UK who has been reporting on sports science, fitness and culture for various publications for the past five years.

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