The Workout Routine That Rebuilt Jeremy Renner’s Strength

The workout routine that rebuilt Jeremy Renner’s strength

The Avenger trained four days a week to bounce back from his near-fatal 2023 snow plow accident

WHEN JEREMY RENNER first returned to the gym in January following his snow plow accident in 2023, he barely touched heavy weights. Instead of lifting heavy, he’d grab resistance bands and work through basic rehab and activation drills. “We did a ton of band work,” says his trainer, Cat Cantella. “When we first started training, it was completely different from what it was now.”

Many of Renner’s muscles simply weren’t firing, according to Cantella. His right glute barely worked, she says, and several critical shoulder stabilisers also weren’t doing their jobs. The result: Plenty of clams, monster walks, and band presses. “He hated the band work,” says Cantella. “But that was the key in his workouts.”

As the months have worn on, Renner has gradually ramped things up, and these days, he’s back to training hard. He works out three to four days a week, says Cantella. Sessions can be as long as two hours. He’s built himself back up – as he shared in his extensive MH US cover interview.

Renner generally does one of three different workouts. On one day, he focuses on legs (which Cantella says are her “favourite” to program for him), and he’ll attack chest and back on a separate day. Those two days are packed with multi-joint moves that build muscle and strength. On separate arm days, he focuses on biceps and triceps. He also does serious core work in almost every session.

Want to train like Renner? Take on his upper-body session and his lower-body session, doing each once a week. Add in a light arm day once a week as well.

Directions: Do each workout on its own day. Aim to train as heavy as you can with good form while still hitting your required reps. Rest 90 seconds between sets of each move.


Day 1: leg day

Renner focuses on multi-joint moves done for high reps on this day. This means he doesn’t have to lift his heaviest; instead, he’s piling up time under tension on each move (and challenging his lungs during high-rep sets of moves like trap bar deadlifts).

Trap bar deadlift

Why: This blasts Renner’s hamstrings and glutes and provides underrated mid-back challenge, too.

How to Do It:

  • Position yourself inside the trap bar, with your shins aligned with (or just in front of) the center of the bar.
  • Push your butt back as far as possible, bend your knees, and reach down to grip the handles. Grip as tightly as possible.
  • Keep your head in a neutral position, keeping your gazed fixed at something in front of you. Squeeze your shoulder blades to create tension, and turn the pits of your elbows forward, facing out.
  • Make sure your hips are lower than your shoulders, then prepare to initiate the lift.
  • Push your feet through the floor to stand straight up, squeezing your glutes at the top.
  • To finish the rep, push your butt back as far as you can, then bend your knees to set the weight down.

Reps and sets: 3 sets of 12 reps

Nordic curl

To do a Nordic curl, you’ll either need a Nordic bench, or you’ll want to set up with your shins on a paid, a friend holding your ankles.

How to Do It: Your body should be in a straight line from shoulders through knees, hands across your chest (or grabbing your hamstrings). Slowly lower your torso toward the ground, without bending at the waist. When you can no longer lower any more, place your hands on the ground, “catching” yourself before you fall, and push yourself back to the start. Struggling with Nordics? Do leg curls on a machine instead, or do Romanian deadlifts with dumbbells.

Reps and sets: Do 3 sets til failure. Don’t expect to do many reps of this move, though; your goal on each rep is to lower as slowly as possible, which winds up being incredibly taxing on your hamstrings.

Dumbbell thruster

Why: Renner does this to blast his quads and glutes, while also building power and athleticism.

How to Do It:

  • Start standing with your feet at shoulder-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells. Raise them to your shoulders in a front squat position. Squeeze your shoulder blades, abs, and glutes.
  • Push your butt back, then bend your knees to lower down into a squat. Keep your core engaged to maintain proper posture.
  • Push through your heels to explode upward. As you come out of the bottom of the squat, use the power to drive the dumbbells overhead. Keep your abs engaged to prevent your ribs from flaring in the top position.

Sets and reps: 3 sets of 12 reps

Seated leg extension / lunge

Why: This move blasts Renner’s quads. If you don’t have access to a leg extension machine, do walking lunges or reverse lunges instead.

How to Do It:

  • Hold a dumbbell in one hand at your side, focus on keeping your body in a solid working position—squeezing your shoulder blades, abs, and glutes. Keep your free arm in a tight position to maintain balance and stability.
  • Keep your shoulders and hips square to the front as you step back. Step slightly to the side.
  • From here, lower down with your back knee coming to about an inch off the ground. Pause for a beat at the bottom.
  • Drive off your front heel to stand, focusing on maintaining a tight squeeze with your glutes. (It’s also okay to lean forward slightly if needed—you don’t need to maintain a completely straight torso throughout the move.)

Sets and reps: 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Barbell hip thrust

Why: The barbell hip thrust isolates Renner’s glutes, but it does so without fatiguing his entire body. That’s key since Renner is already deep into this session and has done several heavy weight moves already.

How to Do It:

  • Get down on the ground, with your back facing the bench. Place your shoulder blades against the bench.
  • Pick a point directly in front of you to focus your gaze to help to keep your spine in a neutral position.
  • Lift your hips up to find the proper position for your feet. Your shins should be parallel with the floor, with your feet about hip-width apart.
  • Roll the bar up to your hips just above your pelvis (for comfort, use a pad on the bar if possible). Grasp the bar with a tight overhand grip.
  • Drive the weight up, squeezing your glutes as much as possible. Open your knees up as you drive to help protect your knees. Pause at the top, emphasizing the contraction.
  • Lower back down to the start.

Sets and reps: 3 sets of 12 reps. After each set, rest for 5 deep breaths, then do 2 more reps.

Ab wheel rollout

Why: Renner loves doing this move, which challenges multiple core muscles (including abs, obliques and lower back extensors) to work to stabilize your spine as a unit. Focus on moving slowly for each rep.

How to Do It:

  • To save your knees, you’ll want a yoga mat or pad to kneel on to start. Sit with a wide stance holding the ab wheel with both hands.
  • Keep your head in a neutral position, looking at the ground directly in front of you. Squeeze your shoulder blades, abs, and glutes to create tension.
  • Turn the pits of your elbows forward to activate your lats and putting your shoulders into external rotation.
  • Round your back, then press into the floor to roll out as far as you can. Keep your back rounded and avoid any arch.
  • Pause for a brief count in the fully extended position and squeeze your abs.
  • Round your back to begin rolling the wheel back slowly. Make sure the wheel is moving before you shift your hips back.

Sets and reps: 3 sets of 15 reps

Leg press

Why: Leg presses blast Renner’s quads, glutes, and hamstrings. They also let him move a heavy weight without any stress to his spine. Because of that, Renner can do them late in a workout and take his sets to the limit.

How to Do It:

  • Place your feet on the sled with your knees at least hip-width apart to start.
  • Press through the sled with your feet, maintaining tension in your torso. Release the sled from the safety lock, then control the weight down.
  • Watch your knees as you lower the weight, making sure you don’t allow them to cave in or track excessively outward.
  • Lower down as far as you can, maintaining upper body tension with your back flush against the pad. Don’t allow your butt to raise off the seat; if you shift you’ve gone too deep.
  • Press through the pad with both feet to raise the wait back up, extending your knees.

Sets and reps: 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Farmer’s walk

Why: The farmer’s walk finishes out Renner’s leg day, challenging his core strength and his grip and pushing his lungs to the limit. Use a heavy weight on these to get the most out of them.

How to Do It:

  • Stand holding a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells with a strong grip. Squeeze your shoulder blades, abs, and glutes to create full body tension and shift your pelvis into a neutral position.
  • Walk forward, focusing on maintaining proper posture. Keep your gaze on the ground slightly ahead of you to keep a neutral spine. Keep the weights level as you walk.

Sets and reps: 3 sets of about 40 meters


Day 2: chest and back day

By attacking chest and back on the same day, Renner insures that he keeps his upper body strength in balance, building the strong back muscles necessary to protect his shoulders from injury. He also blasts his abs and lower back muscles too.

Barbell Bench Press

How to Do It:

  • Start by laying back on the bench, placing your hands on the bar at about shoulder-length apart (this will vary for everyone, so aim for what’s comfortable for you). Screw your shoulders into the back pad, then squeeze your shoulder blades, abs, and glutes to create tension and plant your feet flat on the floor. Engage your lats and turn the pits of your elbows forward, like you’re trying to break the bar.
  • Press up to lift the weight off the rack. Lower down to your chest, controlling the weight.
  • Push the bar up explosively, fully extending your elbows at the top of the rep.

Sets and reps: Do 3 sets. Start with 12 reps in the first set. Each set after that, increase the weight while doing two fewer reps. If you have shoulder issues, ditch the barbell and do dumbbell presses instead.

T-Bar row

Why: This move blasts Renner’s midback muscles. Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together as you do each rep.

How to Do It:

  • If you don’t have a T-bar setup, use a landmine attachment and a cable machine grip. Stand over the barbell, hinge forward, and hold the grip under the bar.
  • Row the weight up, pausing briefly at the top and squeezing your mid-back.
  • Return the weight back down to the ground under control.

Sets and reps: 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps

Barbell incline press

Why: This move attacks Renner’s upper chest and shoulders. If you have shoulder issues, skip the barbell, though, and do dumbbell incline presses instead.

How to Do It:

  • Start with an adjustable bench at an incline. Make sure you’re positioned well on the bench—that means you’re driving your glutes into the bench, abs tight, and shoulder blades engaged. Your feet should be flat on the floor.
  • If you’re using a barbell, engage your lats and rotate the pits of your elbows out like you’re breaking the bar. If you’re using dumbbells, work with the dumbbell heads slightly turned in, with your elbows at roughly a 45 degree angle.
  • Press the weight up overhead. Keep your upper arms perpendicular to the ground.
  • Lower the weight down toward your chest. Don’t worry about touching your chest—instead, aim to work within your mobility and aim to get your elbows slightly below your shoulders.
  • Drive the weight back up overhead.

Sets and reps: 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Cable row

Why: Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades on each rep. You’ll blast your lats while also challenging your rhomboids, the critical muscles between your shoulder blades.

How to Do It:

  • Take a seat on the machine with your feet planted, a little wider than shoulder width. Drive the heels, and squeeze the glutes. Grab onto the cable handle.
  • Sit up tall with a slight bend through the knees. Tighten up the abs and low back to maintain a perpendicular angle to the floor with your torso.
  • Roll the shoulders back and down. Squeeze them together as you row, thinking about pinching a pencil in between them. As you do this, pull the handle back towards you, landing right above your belly button.
  • Pause here for a moment before returning the handle, still squeezing the shoulder blades. Once you’ve returned the weight to the stack, then allow the shoulder blades to relax, without pulling the torso forward.
  • Repeat to go for another rep.

Sets and reps: 3 sets of 12 reps

Back extension

Why: This move helps Renner isolate his lower back extensors, while also providing underrated glute work, too. Don’t rush the reps; focus on lowering with control on every rep.

How to Do It:

  • Set up by lining up the pads on the back extension machine about two to three inches below your hip crease, locking your legs securely on the pads, feet flat and secure on the base.
  • With your legs locked in, focus on squeezing through your glutes while creating torso rigidity. Round out your upper back to focus more on your glutes.
  • Drop your torso as low as possible while maintaining as much core tension as possible.
  • Pause momentarily at the bottom, then drive up.

Sets and reps: 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps

BOSU pushup / pushup

Why: Sure, Renner can bench, but adding in pushups brings underrated benefits, insuring that his abs and glutes fire to help him keep his torso stable.

How to Do It:

  • Start in a high plank position, with your palms flat on the floor, stacked directly below your shoulders.
  • Squeeze your shoulders, glutes, and core to create full-body tension. Your spine should form a straight line, with a neutral spine.
  • Bend your elbows to descend to the floor, stopping with your chest just above the ground. Your elbows should be at a 45 degree angle relative to the torso.
  • Press back up off the floor, raising up to the top position with your elbows fully extended.

Sets and reps: 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Dumbbell row

Why: Renner trains his rows heavy, building blasting his lats and midback muscles, and driving underrated rear delt development too.

How to Do It:

  • Stand with your feet at shoulder width apart in front of the bench. Push your butt back and lower your torso down, extending your off arm to rest your palm on the bench. Make sure your shoulders stay above your hips.
  • Grab the dumbbell with your working hand. Squeeze your glutes and abs to create full-body tension. Your back should be flat, with your head in a neutral position.
  • Squeeze your mid-back muscles to drive your elbow up, rowing the weight. Keep your shoulders level and avoid rotating your lower back.
  • Pause for a beat, then lower the weight back down.

Sets and reps: 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps per side

This article originally appeared on Men’s Health US.


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