Train Like Daniel Craig With His 'No Time to Die'-Inspired Workout

Tom Ward
·6 min read
Photo credit: Eon
Photo credit: Eon

From Esquire

Undoubtedly one of the most anticipated films of 2021 (and 2020 for that matter), Daniel Craig’s final outing as super spy James Bond should have been done and dusted.

Now, after director disputes, on set injuries, fires literal and figurative and the small matter of a global pandemic to contend with, we’ll finally get to clap eyes on No Time to Die this April – the film’s third release slot after being pushed back twice.

For Craig, who famously said he’d rather slash his wrists than star as Bond again after 2015’s Spectre, the film marks the end of arguably the most beloved Bond run of all time.

With pressure to please both fans and studio coin-counters, the soon to be 53-year-old Craig knew that nailing the physicality of Bond in his final outing would be a vital component of bowing out on a series high.

And while Craig was never going to display the baggy physicality of the 57-year-old Roger Moore in his last outing, 1985’s View To A Kill, time waits for no man. Not even 007.

Not that Craig’s longterm trainer Simon Waterston was concerned. Having worked on two Bond films with Pierce Brosnan and all four of Craig’s previous outings, he was confident he had a spy-worthy training programme locked-in.

Waterson breaks every Bond film down into two categories: aesthetics and performance. Being fit enough to convincingly fight Dave Bautista on a train falls into the latter camp. Looking good shirtless while receiving a close shave from Moneypenny, the former. Usually, Waterson says, there is a natural order to which comes first.

“Aesthetics is a by-product of performance,” he explains. “You’re never aiming for a specific look. It’s about a functional physique that looks like an athlete that can perform and do everything he's going to be asked to do within the context of the movie.”

Going by the No Time To Die trailer, it looks like they nailed both.

The Mission

When Daniel Craig announced he would return as James Bond way back in 2017 a countdown was set in motion. It wasn’t the kind of countdown that meant the contents of Fort Knox would become irradiated when it hit zero, or will trigger war between the western powers and the USSR, but the kind of countdown that meant, approaching 50, Craig would have a limited time to get in the best shape of his life.

But, as is often the case in the world of James Bond, a little deus ex machina came in handy.

“The delays with filming actually benefitted us because when you’re delayed you get given more time,” explains Waterson. “It was a huge, huge benefit.”

With a training schedule programmed around the stunts Craig would be called upon to perform, there was now more time to meticulously practice jumping off of walls, getting up and down off the floor quickly and working through choreographed fights.

Photo credit: Eon
Photo credit: Eon

Naturally, things took a little longer than they would have 15 years ago, when the pair were gearing up to shoot Casino Royale. Accepting that Bond is ageing alongside Craig, Waterson says, was key.

“The physicality evolves with the character… and that’s a natural thing,” he says. “Daniel has always been very physical. I think it stems from when you’re at school and you play a bit of sport or do cross-country. Learning how you get to your optimum is key.”

Training

As for the actual training, like the Bond producers, Waterson knew he’d be remiss to change a winning formula.

Nothing had changed between this film and the last in terms of what we wanted to achieve, the process just took a little bit longer,” he explains. “Because Daniel is older you play it safe. We’re not trying to break any records.”

Having a 15-year relationship to fall back on meant Waterson knew exactly what Craig’s body would respond to, and what they could skip.

“No one is good at everything and no one wants to do everything,” he says. “You find the key things you enjoy as you go along and you merge them together for a workout that is enjoyable, sustainable and gives you great results. If you don't have to run 10k, why are you running 10k?”

To get Craig in fighting shape, Waterson focused on multi-directional workouts inspired by sports. For example, a warm-up typically involved running around and throwing a rugby ball about.

“I very rarely break things down into a specific compound exercise any more,” Waterson says. “It’s just not usable. There’s no way within the context of a movie that you’re ever going to do a deadlift. But you will probably use a lot of plyometrics; you are going to sprint up stairs, you are going to fall down stairs.”

“You have to be one of the fittest 50-year-olds on the planet to do these kids of movies,” Waterson continues, “Daniel is one of a few people who can actually do this, like Tom Cruise and maybe Liam Neeson. You don’t have to be in your 30s to be an action hero. You can be any age as long as you train age-appropriate.”

Photo credit: Slaven Vlasic
Photo credit: Slaven Vlasic

The Daniel Craig Workout

Want to build a physique fit for Her Majesty’s Secret Service? This workout, inspired by Waterson’s work with Craig, will have you fighting fit in no time. Complete three sets of the below, resting for one minute after each complete circuit to build explosive energy and a physique that will more than get the job done.

Clean and Jerk

Sets: 3

Reps: 10

Rest: None

Start with the big hitters, digging deep as your pivot at the hips to bring the barbell up into your chest so that it rests in front of your shoulders. Push through a squat to lift the bar overhead, finishing with your arms straight overhead. Reverse the move to return to the start position.

Weighted step-ups

Sets: 3

Reps: 10

Rest: None

Running up staircases after enemy agents takes a lot out of your legs. Prep by grabbing something heavy, like a dumbbell or kettlebell, and stepping up onto a box, alternating legs. Hit ten reps per leg, then move on to the next exercise.

Weighted knee raises

Sets: 3

Reps: 10

Rest: None

Hang from an overhead bar then contract your abs to bring your knees up to a 90-degree angle. Squeeze your core for a second, then lower your legs to the start. For extra points – and Bond-worthy abs– grip a dumbbell between your feet throughout.

Push-ups

Sets: 3

Reps: 10

Rest: None

The push-up is a staple of any muscle-building programme. From Connery to Brosnan, you can bet it’s had a place in every Bond’s fitness repertoire. Focus on pacing – slow and steady builds walking-out-of-the-ocean pecs.

Barbell bicep curls

Sets: 3

Reps: 10

Rest: 60 seconds, then repeat the whole circuit.

Another staple – and with good reason. Start with your arms straight, gripping the barbell with an underhand grip. Squeeze your biceps to lift the bar up and into your chest. (Note: the momentum should never come from your back or legs). Hold it at the top, thinking of queen and country, then slowly lower back down for one.

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