The Dark Knight Rises is possibly one of the greatest films ever made, and just the mention of it has fans going gaga worldwide.
Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, Christian Bale as Batman, and director Christopher Nolan elevated the film to another level. However, none of this would have been possible without Tom Hardy as Bane.
The actor miraculously transformed himself for the role, so much so that he still feels the side effects, as we will see in this guide. And a common notion among many people was that Tom Hardy used steroids to bulk up quickly.
But does Tom Hardy use steroids? If you want to know, read this article as we discuss his workout regime, interviews, diet, etc., to find an answer.
Tom Hardy In The Dark Knight Rises
“The shadows betray you because they belong to me!”
These lines send shivers down our spine every time we watch The Dark Knight Rises. Not merely because of how Bane continues to punch Batman after grabbing him from the shadows but primarily due to Tom Hardy’s portrayal of the infamous DC villain.
It’s difficult to fathom how Tom Hardy transformed himself for the role, bulking up and gaining the required body weight to capture the audience’s imagination. And thanks to the fantastic actor underneath the mask and armor, you get lost in Bane’s world as he tries to crush Bruce Wayne’s spirit.
But a question that has often bothered fans is whether Tom Hardy used performance-enhancing drugs to gain muscle mass. Or was it purely weight training? We did some research and found the following bit of information.
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Did Tom Hardy Take Steroids For His Role As Bane?
During an interview for Men’s Journal, Tom Hardy replied sarcastically that he “took smarties” to get in shape for The Dark Knight Rises. It’s a veiled reference to the fact that he took legal steroids to gain body fat and build more muscle.
Interestingly, when the trailer for the movie was released, some fans complained that he didn’t look as huge as Bane in the comics. Reports state that the actor was more than just a little disappointed by this. He had added 5 pounds to his own body weight, on top of the 13 pounds he had gained the previous year for the movie Warrior.
He said that the massive muscle growth “ruined my body,” and evidently, he still has back pain. Even more telling is that he is a “little man” by his own admission, and too much weight gain would’ve caused his body to crumble.
We can understand how difficult it must have been for him to gain weight simply through an intense workout routine. This is where anabolic steroids come into the picture, as they mimic the functions of natural hormones.
They activate the body’s testosterone receptors to build muscle and stimulate the muscle tissues to bulk up through training.
Was It Pure Muscle Or Steroids?
The overwhelming evidence suggests that Hardy used steroids combined with resistance training to take on the role of Bane but let’s not jump to conclusions. Although he prepared for the role in barely 3 months and packed on 30 pounds, he is no stranger to quick weight gains.
As Hardy proved in Bronson, Hollywood actors can often gain massive amounts of muscle without steroid use. To play the role of an out-of-control boxer, Tom Hardy combined a high-calorie diet with bodyweight training, known as a sporadic cell workout.
It included 1,000 reps of push-ups, ab workouts, and resistance training. His personal trainer said the goal was to send constant signals to the muscles through several reps rather than in a single burst.
This simple but unorthodox method is better than steroids, leading to more muscle growth in a short period. And equally important is the diet because Charles Bronson wasn’t ripped like Bruce Lee, so Tom Hardy had to eat different meals daily. It mostly consisted of chicken and rice, following which he would have junk food, like pizza and Coca-Cola, to develop a layer of fat.
Something similar went into his role for the Batman film, which we discuss in the next section.
What Was Tom Hardy’s Training Program
For his role as Bane, Tom Hardy had to gain muscle on the shoulder, chest, and arms. If you look at Bane, he doesn’t have perfect form, but he’s a huge guy.
Fans were excited to see how Tom Hardy’s body would adapt to the role because he didn’t have the time to gradually add muscle over a few months. So, he followed a bulk-up matrix in descending ladder format, which consisted of 4 rounds, starting with 10 reps and ending with 3.
The palms are underneath the shoulders or “square,” which helps tuck the elbows close to the body. Lower your body gently and move the elbows alongside the torso for a maximum burn on the triceps.
The hands are wider than shoulder-width, so when you lower your body, it forms a rectangle with the chest, arms, and floor.
A slight variation of the above routine would be to space your fingers apart and point them outwards for maximum burn.
The arms should again be shoulder width apart for this routine but rest your body weight on the knuckles by forming a fist. Lower your body so the elbows jump back like a grasshopper’s legs, and you should feel the pain in the shoulders.
Form a diamond with the thumb and index finger while keeping your hands under the chest. Then lower the body to ensure your chest sits flush against the center of the diamond before raising yourself again.
The best part about this dynamic workout is that it attacks the muscles from all sides to stimulate hormones. And you can do it anywhere, such as at home, in the office, or even at a friend’s place.
Other Exercises Tom Hardy Followed
Those were the primary exercises to improve his physique, but there are other ways he could have bulked up while steering clear of steroid abuse.
1. Shoulder Flies
With feet shoulder length apart and dumbbells in your hands, face your palms upwards. Then raise your hands above your head, almost 180 degrees, to create a snow angel movement. Lower them back down gently and repeat for a few reps.
You can use a dip machine or a chair, whichever is readily available. Stretch your legs out in front and rest your hands on the seat with the fingers pointing inward. With your back straight, use your arms to push up before lowering the body and starting again.
3. Abdominal Exercises
With your legs joined together, lay down on a mat while keeping your hands behind the head. Lift your shoulders and head while simultaneously tightening your core to raise the legs before returning to the starting position.
What Did Hardy’s Personal Trainer Say?
So, what was the purpose of these exercises, and did they help Tom Hardy stay off steroids? Was he joking during the interview, or was he serious?
His trainer, Pnut, calls this technique signaling so that the body adapts how people want it to. He suggests that 10 press-ups every hour are better than 100 in a single session since it allows the body to evolve.
Doing these 4 times a day proved beneficial for Hardy, and he did them after waking up, before lunch, after work, and before bedtime. The entire workout lasts 20 minutes, but the key is having enough recovery time and not rushing.
Tom Hardy also used light weights and focused on achieving the perfect form by working out slowly. The key to muscle gain is “working out little, but often,” according to Pnut.
What Suggests Tom Hardy Used Steroids?
The above dialogue indicates that it’s possible to achieve Hardy’s large physique with a proper exercise routine and diet. But did he have the time, though? A tell-tale sign of steroid use is acne, and one of the images from the movie set shows acne on Tom Hardy’s back.
There’s no sure way to know whether Tom Hardy used steroids to gain muscle mass. But given the time crunch he had and the amount he bulked up, it certainly seems so.
Henry Cavill didn’t take steroids, even as Superman; other actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted to taking steroids at a very young age for bodybuilding. Even Sylvester Stallone said he took human growth hormone to bulk up for Rambo, though it doesn’t technically count as steroid use.
The bottom line is Hardy looked the part as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, no matter what die-hard DC fans say. And there’s no denying his physique lent weight to his well-established acting skills, so it was a perfect match.