The training regimen for John Wick: Chapter 4 was almost as intense as the film itself. Here's the training that got Keanu Reeves ready for revenge.
Keanu Reeves had no idea when the character of John Wick was first introduced that he would be playing the relentless killer for a decade. From the start, the modus operandi was to make the action seem as real as possible, which meant most actors would politely decline to lean into scenes. The physical strain of nonstop combat sequences would be intense at any age, but it's overwhelming to think that Reeves, who hurls nunchucks and gets thrown through windows in John Wick: Chapter 4, is in his late 50s.
“John Wick action is a little bit different because [director] Chad [Stahelski] wants to see the collisions and the wrecks," Reeves says while promoting Chapter 4. "He wants that beautiful violence."
The director's vision supported Reeves from the start. To that end, each production comes with a rigorous boot camp where the actor practices weapon handling, tactical driving and martial arts with the stunt teams.
Related: Hiroyuki Sanada on joining the John Wick universe, reuniting with Keanu Reeves, and remaining loyal to his sword
To be physically prepared for these tasks, Reeves has worked with elite trainer Patrick Murphy to keep his body strong and, in some cases, put it back together.
"I've never trained with anyone more diligent than Keanu," says Murphy. At the beginning of the process, the workouts were designed to give Reeves the flexible strength needed to put down a punch with any weapon. But as production progressed, the routines became more restful to compensate for the brutal sessions the actor put on with the stunt team.
" matter how he feels or what he's dealing with, Keanu has an incredible determination," says Murphy. “He's intensely focused on every element of his training, whether he's in the gym with me or at the shooting range. The focus that we all see in the character of John Wick, I see in Keanu.”
"I've never trained with anyone more diligent," says coach Patrick Murphy. "The focus that we all see in the character of John Wick, I see in Keanu."
Keanu Reeves Diet: Nutritional Strategies for a Hitman
Murphy pushed Reeves to stick to a whole foods diet as much as possible, largely for their anti-inflammatory benefits. Due to the blows the actor's body takes from the pre-production boot camps and filming, it's important that his body is allowed to heal as quickly as possible. This was combined with a supplement that also addressed inflammation and recovery, including Life Extension's Organic Curcumin Turmeric Extract, NAD+ Cell Regenerator, and Omega-3.
On the "no-no" food list Murphy gave Reeves: baked goods, fried foods, pasta, fruit juices, vegetable oils, and alcohol. Of course, the coach knew that exceptions were sometimes made. body's going to tell John Wick not to have a glass of Japanese whiskey at the Continental — or Keanu Reeves, for that matter.
Also see: The 10 Most Popular Celebrity Workouts of All Time
How Keanu Reeves recovers from John Wick stunts
With the actor putting in four hours of stunt practice and training each day, recovery was taken very seriously. At the end of each session, Reeves had Jodi Mainwaring do some deep-tissue bodywork, then jumped into an ice bath to reduce any swelling from the punches before calling it a day. Perhaps the most important step in Reeves' recovery was a disciplined stretching routine performed each time they went to war.
Keanu Reeves John Wick: Chapter 4 Training
This is a reduced version of the warm-up and workout that Murphy would do with Reeves to promote balance, stabilization, and strength. There were no heavy lifts or pulls as Reeves had to conserve his strength for the actual action. Instead, the trainer used free weights, cables, bands, and machines for increased resistance when needed. The rest of the workout included calisthenics. This focus on bodyweight movements helped Reeves build stamina for his lengthy action sequences.
Also see: The best dynamic warm-up for any workout
what you will need
equipment is required for the warm-up. For the workout, you'll need a cable machine or resistance band, a dumbbell, and a BOSU ball.
How it goes
Do two rounds of warm-up before completing two rounds of exercise. Add one more round at a time for increased difficulty.
1. Bird Dog x 10 reps on each side
- Start on all fours with your knees on the floor. Keeping your core engaged, simultaneously extend your right arm and left leg until they are parallel to the floor.
- Back to the starting position. Focus on staying balanced - no rocking back and forth - with a neutral spine. Alternate the working arm and working leg on each repetition.
2. World's Greatest Stretch x 10 reps on each side
- Start in a plank. Step forward with your left foot into a low lunge.
- Place your right hand on the floor in line with your left foot. Your right knee should be off the floor.
- Move your left elbow into your left foot and place it on the floor. Align your hips so you feel a stretch on either side and try to keep your back flat.
- Move your left hand outside your left foot and twist to grab the ceiling. Switch sides on each repetition.
3. Reverse lunge leg swing x 10 reps on each side
- Stand with your arms at your sides. Kick your right leg back into a reverse lunge, then drive through your left heel to stand up and immediately swing your right leg straight forward into a front kick.
- Lower your leg and repeat the next rep on the other side. Switch on each rep.
4. Reach walking lunge x 10 reps on each side
- Stand up straight with your arms at your sides. Step forward into a lunge with your right foot while raising both arms overhead as if to greet the sky.
- Keep your back mostly straight and let your arms reach slightly behind you.
- Repeat on the opposite leg. Switch sides on each rep.
The John Wick Training
1. Cable step and press x 10 reps on each side
- Set a cable pulley at chest height and attach a D-handle or attach a resistance band to a fixed point.
- Make a fist on the handle with your right hand and stand with your back to the pulley machine.
- Step your feet with your left foot forward and your right foot back. The cable should be outside of your shoulder with your elbow back. This is the starting position.
- Push the cable forward as if punching in slow motion, rotating your hips until your arm is fully extended. Return to starting position and repeat all reps on one side, then switch.
2. Reverse dumbbell front lunge lunge x 10 reps on each side
- Stand and hold a medium-weight dumbbell to your left, palm facing in.
- Step back into a lunge with your right leg as you raise the dumbbell straight in front of you until it's parallel to the floor.
- Pass through your left foot to stand up and lower the weight. Do all reps on one side, then switch working arm and leg.
3. Low-to-High Cable Woodchop x 10 reps on each side
- Connect a standard handle attachment to the lowest position on the cable machine. Stand with your right side parallel to the cable tower, feet shoulder-width apart.
- Grip the handle with your left hand and place your right hand over your knuckles. Step away from the machine to create excitement.
- Start with your arms fully extended and a gentle bend in your knees. Engage the right side of your body while twisting your torso to bring the grip to your shins.
- Inhale and then exhale as you explosively drive the handle up your body until your hands are above your head. Your back should be straight, your core tight, and your arms extended.
- Hold for one count, then return to the starting position in a slow, controlled manner. Do all reps on one side, then switch.
4. BOSU Explosive Push-Up x 10 reps
- Start in a push-up position with your hands on either side of a BOSU ball, flat side up. Inhale as you lower yourself into a push-up.
- Bounce the ball below with explosive force to get the BOSU off the ground. Keep your core busy all the time.
- Once you land, use the momentum to begin your next push-up.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is in theaters now.