The Knights of the Templar were a Catholic military order that Cédric Proust, stunt coordinator for History's legendary new series Knightfall, describes as the "most advanced special forces" of their time. Founded in the 12th century, the Templars were the most skilled (and deadliest) warriors of the Middle Ages, a medieval equivalent of the Navy's SEAL Team Six or the Army's Delta Force unit.
Becoming a Templar was no easy task then, and it sure as hell isn’t one now—even if it's just for television. Just ask Tom Cullen.
For Knightfall, Cullen had to be in peak physical condition to play Landry, a veteran crusader and newly initiated leader of the Templars. To achieve that build, Cullen went through an “insane” training program that ultimately transformed his body into the “biggest and bulkiest” he's ever been. Here’s how he did it.
"My training process, personally, was long because I had to...get myself into a physical condition whereby I looked like someone who'd been fighting in a war since he was 11 years old," Cullen says.
Before donning any armor (which weighed more than 50lbs) or picking up a sword, Cullen weight-trained for three months. "I did a program called Get Swole, which was so hard," Cullen says. "It was insane. It was super-setting push and pull, and it would take about an hour and a half every day, just to get through [all the sets]. It was nuts."
Then came a two-and-a-half-week boot camp with the entire cast, when Cullen could finally put his months of training to work. Along with his fellow brothers of the Templar (or at least the actors who portrayed them), Cullen circuit-trained in the morning, then boxed, practiced sword combat, hit the weights, and finally finished off the day with some horse riding and more sword training—with only a brief break for a quick lunch of lean protein. Exhausting? Yes. Fun as hell? Absolutely.
"It was the most fun," says Cullen. "Also, for me personally to challenge myself to get that kind of fit. I've always been fit, but to get big and strong like that was a real fun journey and challenge to go on."
How it works
This four-day workout regimen is based on a program called Get Swole that Cullen used (and adapted in places) to train for Knightfall. "The important thing to remember," says Cullen, "is not to be put off by the amount of reps" and to "try and lift as heavy as you can and superset as fast as possible."
The best part? "The growth is fast," he says.
Do each day of this workout consecutively and take three days to recover. Exercises marked A and B are done without rest in-between (superset). Afterward, rest 90 seconds, and repeat for the prescribed number of sets. Complete all sets for one group before going on to the next. Perform exercises not marked A and B as straight sets.
Before tackling each day of the workout, Cullen ran a leisurely mile to the gym to gradually increase his heart rate. Once he got there, he sprinted for 10 minutes (30 seconds on, 30 seconds off) on the treadmill as a warmup.
Knightfall premieres December 6 at 10/9c on History.