MF Guy: Spartacus' Dan Feuerriegel
A pacemaker could have slowed down this actor, but turning down the most physically challenging role of his career wasn’t an option.
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“I was born with this heart condition, but it’s never affected me—I’ve been able to play every sport I wanted to, and the doctors were amazed,” Feuerriegel says. “I got the scar [after I had surgery], and it’s a great talking point, but other than that my attitude didn’t change. I try to go as hard as I possibly can.”
Being on a show like Spartacus pushed that commitment to the limit. The most brutal workout the cast underwent was called a “Dirty 30” (see “Dirty 30s” below). “Some of the stunt guys called them ‘Squirty 30s,’ because so many of the cast members got sick,” Feuerriegel says. “Basically, you have 30 minutes to perform three sets of exercises. For one part, you’re sprinting for 25 meters and pulling a sled that has 75% of your body weight. You’ve got a minute—if you finish in less than a minute, you can take a break, but if not you just have to keep going. You’ve got to do that 10 times. Then [for example] you’ll carry 75-kilogram sandbags or do squats. By the end of it everyone is pretty dead.”
While the training is important, the actor’s nutrition is what will make the role—don’t forget, these actors are portraying slaves who do nothing but eat, sleep, and train. To that end, Spartacus trainer Tyrone Bell put Feuerriegel on a low-carb, high-protein diet. “I got nicknamed the ‘Carb Nazi,’” Bell says, laughing. “In the morning, they’d come in and do their first 40 minutes on an empty stomach—nothing but a black coffee or caffeine tablet to boost their metabolism.” As the day wore on, Feuerriegel would eat every 2.5 hours, with the meals consisting of a low-glycemic carbohydrate and some sort of animal protein. He’d stop ingesting carbs completely by around 2 o’clock in the afternoon.
Bell and Feuerriegel worked together around twice a week to maintain the actor’s strength levels. In his free time Feuerriegel would also cycle, play rugby, and sprint. “I just like to walk everywhere. That kind of helps, as well,” he says. While he may have entered the season a bit soft, he departed it stronger than ever. “[Feuerriegel] was quite weak in the beginning, and he’d admit it, too—not just physically, but he’d give up easily,” Bell says. “By the end of the season, he was solid. He was the last one to finish the workouts, because he’d just keep going.”
You have one minute to complete each exercise—if you finish in less than a minute, use the remaining time to rest. Complete all exercises back to back.
> Using 60–80% of your own body weight, pull the sled 25 meters in one minute. If you complete 25 meters in less than a minute, rest for the remainder. Repeat 10 times.
Situp Medicine Ball Throws
> Complete 10 reps against the wall in one minute. If you finish in less than a minute, rest for the remainder. Repeat 10 times.
Chinups (Assisted with Band)
> Complete 10 close-grip chinups in one minute. If you finish in less than a minute, rest for the remainder. Repeat 10 times.