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Fitness & Health

01st Jun 2018

How to get ripped like Poldark

Want to get strong and ripped like Poldark actor Aidan Turner? Here is your proven plan of action.

Alex Roberts

Poldark protagonist Aidan Turner has gained a significant fanbase, in no small part thanks to his ripped, lean physique

With the show’s fourth series returning to UK screens on June 10th, many will be wanting to follow in the Poldark star’s footsteps.

As summer gets into full swing, following this training, nutrition and recovery plan can help you get ripped and ready for action.

Resistance training

Time is of the essence for any actor getting into shape for a role. They can’t afford to stay in the gym for hours.

Your situation may well be the same, if you lead a particularly busy lifestyle. Making the most out of your time spent working out is key.

For this, you need to pick the biggest bang-for-your-buck exercises. Compound lifts, to be precise.

A compound exercise works from more than one joint at a time, activating multiple muscles. They also burn a bucket load of calories in the process.

Poldark’s physique is lean and ripped, but it’s a stark contrast from the world of bodybuilding. This kind of plan does not follow a typical bodybuilding split of training a muscle group once per week.

Examples of compound exercises include:

  • Bench press
  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Overhead press
  • Power clean
  • Pull-ups
  • Dips

In terms of programming, frequency is key. Training these lifts once a week won’t cut it. Poldark’s training routine would look a lot more like an upper/lower split.

This can be achieved by training heavy upper body lifts on Day 1, with heavy lower body lifts on Day 2. Taking Day 3 as rest, you’ll be back in the gym for lighter-load upper and lower lifts on Days 4 and 5.


You won’t have to slog it out on the treadmill for hours on end – but cardio is still important.

In addition to fuelling a further calorie burn, improving your cardiovascular fitness can actually complement your wider strength training by increasing your VO2 max.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) added to the end of your resistance training sessions some two or three times a week is sufficient.

Try this Tabata-style finisher for size:

  • 20 seconds kettlebell swings, maximum intensity
  • 10 seconds rest
  • Repeat this cycle 8 times

More longer duration, steady-state cardio such as swimming and power-walking are both great tools, but are best kept for your rest and recovery days.


Getting lean like Poldark involves dropping body fat. Long gone are the days when it was thought that endless sit-ups would reveal your abs.

It’s now pretty common knowledge that spot-reducing fat is not a wise idea. You’d have to do thousands and thousands of sit-ups to lose a mere pound of fat.

Instead, you need to be in a calorie deficit. This involves burning off more calories than you take in through food and drink.

A physique like Poldark’s requires whole foods rich in micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and nutrients).

As a rule of thumb, basing your meals around these ingredients is a great place to start from. Your ideal lunch could look like this:

  • Palm-sized protein source: poultry is the leanest
  • Two fist-sized carb servings: basmati rice, sweet potato and quinoa are fine varieties
  • Two fist-sized veg servings: go green – e.g. spinach, broccoli, rocket and cabbage
  • Thumb-sized fat source: nuts/nut butter and olive oil work particularly well.

Calculate your daily calorie intake and see where a meal like this measures up as a proportion of that.

Wondering how many meals you should eat each day? What works for you is dependent on your individual goals, as leading exercise scientist Dr. Brad Schoenfeld recently told JOE.

‘From a fat loss standpoint, it really doesn’t matter. We reviewed all the research on meal frequency and found similar results, regardless of how many meals you eat – provided calories are equated.’


Your body isn’t actually built in the gym, and neither was Poldark’s.

That may shock you, but the explanation is pretty straightforward.

Physical training, with weights and cardio, is actually classed as a stress factor. You are essentially putting your body through hell when you’re pumping iron, or hammering away at those hill sprints.

Only as a result of an optimal recovery strategy will your body adapt to this stimulus by getting bigger, stronger and fitter.

When you’re pumping iron and putting your body through its paces, your need for greater recovery increases.

Three top rules for recovery:

  1. Sleep: aim for at least 6-8 hours a night. Sufficient sleep will boost your body’s natural production of testosterone and growth hormone, for muscle gain and fat loss.
  2. Steady state: this form of cardio, best performed with long walks and swimming, can help flush out the lactic acid that accumulates as a result of resistance training.
  3. Sauna time: as we explained here, a post-workout sauna session is associated with increased muscle growth due to the improved circulation it brings. Just remember to wear your pants.