Tobey Maguire’s Trainer on How His Training Has Evolved Since 2002's Spider-Man - Men's Health Magazine Australia

Tobey Maguire’s Trainer on How His Training Has Evolved Since 2002’s Spider-Man

Legendary PT Duffy Gaver talks us through sculpting Maguire’s Spider Man physique 20 years after his wall-crawling debut.

When Tobey Maguire burst onto the cinema scene in Sam Raimi’s Spider Man in 2002 he set the world of super hero films in motion with a blockbuster that is still considered one of the best in the genre. Sure, it was Iron Man that kicked off the MCU proper in 2008, but Maguire’s impact remains undeniable. So much so, in fact, that (Spoiler alert) he returned to the role for last year’s Spider Man: No Way Home, donning the lycra again two decades after his debut in the role.

Now 46, there was only one person Maguire could call when it came to recapturing the fitness and agility or a 26-year-old. That man is Navy Seal turned celebrity PT Duffy Gaver. Not only has Gaver appeared in front of the camera in the likes of Se7en and The Rock, over the years he’s also helped some of Hollywood’s biggest A-listers hone their physiques, including Brad Pitt, Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson.

“Tobey was the first movie star I trained. It was a big deal,” Gaver recalls. “It was cool to work with him on the most recent Spider Man to see him again and train with him again. A lot had changed in our lives in 20 years.”

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That first time around, Gaver and Maguire had six months to train. That’s a decent amount of time in anyone’s book, but Gaver remembers Maguire’s vegetarianism being a hurdle that had to be overcome. “It was a lot of supplemental proteins, protein shakes,” he says. “A woman called Jackie Keller owns a company called NutriFit and we used her for that, she went out of her way to help us get his nutrition on point, including daily drop offs of food for him.”

The minutiae isn’t important as straightforward reps and just putting the work in

Gaver recalls that Maguire was “very disciplined about showing up and making the workouts five or six days a week.” The effects to his physique were clear to see on-screen, but the real benefit, Gaver says, was how Maguire came to carry himself.

“I think it had a good effect on him personally,” he says. “He hung out with a pretty powerhouse group of young actors, including Leo. And he became the guy in his peer group whose physique was fantastic, and I thought that was a good experience for him. I think a lot of young men don’t get to feel good about their physical being in that way. There’s something great about feeling healthy and strong.”

The Spider Plan

Feeling healthy and strong was still the goal, despite the huge amount of time that had passed between spider-films. Thankfully, as a supporting actor, the demands on Maguire’s performance and physique weren’t quite as full on as they were when filming the first in 2001.

“We’re talking about a 21 year difference in body,” Gaver sighs. “It wasn’t the same issue as before, though; on the first film we had the shirtless scene on the first day so we were working towards that.”

This time around there was no shirtless scene. Without the need to be absolutely chiseled to the core, Gaver explains the emphasis on diet was less important. Instead, they could focus on building a general sense of physical wellbeing, recapturing some of that confidence from Maguire’s youth.

“This time it was just about getting a bit fitter and feeling a bit more capable,” Gaver says. “It was a very different goal. This time it was about building physical integrity. His role this time around was very different, it was about being confident so he could focus on the acting.”

Web of Time

If Maguire’s body had changed, you may be forgiven for thinking that training methods and approaches have changed in 20 years too. Gaver says otherwise. “Training then and training now is the same training,” he says. “The people that want to sell you stuff want to pretend that the fitness industry is massively different now, but it’s not. If you want a big back you get it the same way. If you want to put size on your shoulders and arms it comes the same way.”

One thing that was different was the resources available to Maguire on set. “This time around the good thing was, myself and some friends have a company called BMF Mobile Gyms,” Gaver explains. “It was nice to have our trailer on the set, with the right tools. Then we could fit in workouts around their schedule; whether Tobey, Andrew or Tom had a 20 minute window or a 90 minute window we could tailor it to that.”

The Workout

How do you go about actually building a Spider Man-ready body, then? Turns out it’s pretty simple.

“The training was the same kind of stuff as the first time around,” Gaver explains. “Basic strength, circuity stuff. I like doing back and chest. My favourites are pull-ups, push-ups, goblet squats, pull-downs, more push-ups, dumbbell rows, sit-ups, some band work, flexibility stuff.”

And it really is that simple.

As anyone who’s worked with Gaver knows, his no-nonsense approach to fitness has no time for excuses, or gimmicks. In other words, it’s just about putting the work in.

“A lot of people look at these articles and think there’s a missing key in them,” Gaver explains. “Well there isn’t. But two things are important. Firstly, how you look at training makes a difference. If you look at it like it’s something you have to do, like eating your fucking vegetables, that’s a crappy way of looking at it. Look at it like something you’re lucky you get to go do. The other thing to know is that it’s just about straightforward workouts. The minutiae isn’t important as straightforward reps and just putting the work in.”

With that in mind, this 20 minute, no-frills workout should help get your spider sense tingling in the best possible way. Inspired by Maguire’s recent efforts with Gaver, it starts with an assault bike warm-up before focusing on solid, reliable moves requiring minimal equipment.

Put the work in, leave your excuses at home, and you too can build lifelong, reliable muscle. Here’s how:

Assault bike, 15 minute warm-up


Reps: 12, 10, 8,8

Sets: 4

Rest: 30 seconds

How to: Grab an overhead bar, your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Push off from the ground as you contract your shoulder blades, squeezing them together as you pull your chin over the bar. Hold for a second then relax the lats to slowly lower back to the start position. Control is key here.


Reps: 20, 20, 18, 16

Sets: 4

Rest: 30 seconds

How to: Get down on the ground, your toes slightly wider than body-width, your hands palm-down on the floor at shoulder width. Engage your core to keep your body steady as you push down through your hands, extending your arms for one. Lock out those elbows then slowly lower to the start position for one. Bouncing – pumping up and down quickly without fully extending those arms – is of course cheating.

Goblet Squats

Reps: 20lbs for 20 reps, 25lbs for 20, 30lbs for 15, 35lbs for 15

Sets: 4

Rest: 30 seconds

How to: Get hold of the required dumbbell and hold it vertically at chest height. Move your feet slightly wider than your hips, keeping those toes pointing forward. Sit back onto an imaginary seat, keeping your back straight, head up and the dumbbell held out in front of you. Push down through your heels to drive back up for one rep.


Reps: 80lbs for 15 reps, 90lbs for 12, 100lbs for 12, 110lbs for 10

Sets: 4

Rest: 30 seconds

How to: Take hold of an overhead bar. Lean slightly back in your seat, keeping your back straight. Contract your lats as you pull the bar down, into the top of your chest. Hold for one then slowly reverse the movement to return the bar to the start.


Reps: 12

Sets: 5

Rest: 30 seconds

How to: See above. Don’t bounce!

Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows

Reps: 35lbs for 20 reps, 40lbs for 15, 40lbs for 15, 40lbs for 12

Sets: 5

Rest: 30 seconds

How to: Holding a dumbbell in each hand bend your knees slightly and hinge at the hip so your upper body is almost parallel to the floor. Keep your core tight and your back straight as you row the weights up to your chest. Lower and repeat.


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Tom Ward

By Tom Ward

Tom Ward is a freelance writer and author. He is a winner of the GQ Norman Mailer Award and a PPA Award. Find him at

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