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How Ruby Rose got in serious shape to play Batwoman

Ruby Rose is an actress, model, and DJ who's gained quite a bit of notoriety for all three pursuits — from Orange Is the New Black to xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, she's turned heads everywhere she's gone with her dapper sense of style and smooth-talking screen presence. But as Batwoman, a fearless crimefighter who debuted as part of the DC Elseworlds crossover event in 2018, her physical achievements were the star. Rose's Kate Kane is an impeccable athlete, sprinting, tumbling, and apprehending all manner of criminals with apparent ease and no superpowers. Superheroes are supposed to be able to do all that stuff, of course, but for us regular human beings, developing the strength and coordination for beating bad guys — even onscreen — is a tough job. How did Ruby Rose get in shape to play the redheaded heroine? As we found out, this star's devotion to fitness goes way beyond Gotham.

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Making the gym part of her routine

Routine is powerful, and there's nothing top athletes rely on more than making their workouts part of it. While hitting the gym has, at times, been something Rose did every single day of the week — witness the grueling gauntlet she put herself through for her part in xXx: The Return of Xander Cage — she typically keeps it to five days out of seven. Though that's a step back from total devotion, she's still made working out out as much a part of her life as brushing her teeth and stopping by the grocery store. A glance at her Instagram reveals the truth of this: Shots of her hefting weights, gripping pull-up bars, and clad in martial arts uniforms are as prominent as those of her in evening wear and on the set. Habits are hard to break, but when they're good, they can keep you in incredible shape.

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Working out with friends

Internal motivation is key to getting in shape, but having a buddy who can goad you into one more push-up, rep, or round of sparring can be enormously helpful. Rose has found this to be the case over and over again: There are more than a few paparazzi and Instagram shots of her heading to the gym arm-in-arm with a buddy. Vin Diesel, however, looms large as perhaps her favorite workout partner. As she told news.com.au, Diesel was a "big brother" to her as they put each other through rounds of training that ranged from sniper practice (befitting Adele, the character she played) to tree climbing. Diesel was friendly, but set the bar high for Rose, who noted that "if Vin did five hours, I did five hours. If he did half an hour, I did 31 minutes." When she isn't tackling workouts with Diesel, she's also found the group-based energy of SoulCycle classes inspiring.

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Lots of strength training

Though cycling, running, and other forms of cardio are important building blocks of any fitness regimen, they're best accompanied by strength training. It's no surprise that Rose, known for her taut abs and strapping biceps, incorporates it heavily into her workouts. Her Instagram reveals more than a few dumbbells — and not the vinyl-coated, fuschia-hued two-pounders you might expect to find dusty and forgotten beneath somebody's bed. Rose works with serious slabs of iron and tight resistance bands that give her headline-making musculature. She pushes herself relentlessly as well: scrolling through her various social media timelines reveals ever-escalating racks of weights, intensifying machine routines, and muscles that grow more and more defined. She's not afraid, as some women are, of looking bulky, intimidating, or otherwise unacceptable — refreshingly, she appears to cherish the gains her weight-lifting grants her. As she cheekily noted to a friend on Instagram, she might just "start looking like the Hulk soon!"

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Body weight exercises

Not all strength training is created equal, however. Training that incorporates the athlete's body weight is considered particularly effective, challenging, and even fun. The most basic forms of body weight exercises are well-represented in Rose's repertoire, but there's more than a few exotic forms as well, such as training with silk ropes. Rose recalls having to "pull my body weight up, after ten hours of shooting the day before" on the set of xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. Aerial silks, as they are often known, have become a unique and popular form of body weight exercise in recent years, often connected to the performing and circus arts — but don't let their exoticism fool you. Even the most delicate twirl done with them takes an intense amount of concentration and raw strength. As Rose noted, reflecting on her routine months after the movie premiered, training with them made her "so ripped!"

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Eating lots of protein

Vegan diets are notoriously heavy on fruits, vegetables, and other low-calorie staples, and perhaps just as infamously devoid of the type of protein that fills most people's diets. But when it comes to staying healthy, and especially building muscle, one can't skimp on protein — something Rose clearly understands. An accomplished chef, her meat-free burgers, created with Impossible Foods' innovative and notably convincing meat substitute, convinced best friend Nina Dobrev to consider veganism herself. Energy-packed calories are key to her level of fitness: It isn't enough to pile on the fruits and veggies. In revealing the contents of her fridge on Instagram, Rose made it clear just how much of her physique is fueled by protein-rich foods. Dairy-free yogurt and cheese, protein shakes, egg substitutes, and even meat-free roasts fill her shelves, proving that eating vegan doesn't mean denying yourself the building blocks of muscle. And when she isn't in the mood for meat substitutes? She's no stranger to a good old-fashioned protein shake.

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Enormous amounts of sit-ups

Rose's abdominal muscles merit an article in and of themselves — and they have the press to prove it. Elle, the Daily Mail, and People have all highlighted her chiseled midriff over the years. But achieving that sort of definition takes an enormous amount of work: 300 sit-ups, to be exact, every single day. And she isn't bemoaning this intense detail of her already impressive fitness regime — in fact, she celebrates how that enormous block of crunches makes her feel. "Life is better after 300 sit-ups," she enthused in a caption of a picture prominently featuring the area in question. Given how strong she discusses feeling in nearly every interview, it's clear that the benefits of such an intense routine go beyond the aesthetic — but when she takes to the red carpet in belly-baring jumpsuits, dresses, and tops, it's likely she appreciates the the way they make her look as well. 

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Martial arts training

Rose was, clearly, already in incredible shape before being cast as Batwoman. But to don the mantle of Gotham's premiere heroine, known for her combat readiness and military-honed skills, she decided to kick it up a notch. Chronicled on her Instagram, Rose added martial arts training to her already impressive repertoire of skills. Under the tutelage of the Venerable Abbot Shi Yan Fan, a 34th generation ordained Shaolin warrior monk, Rose studied at Shaolin Temple LA, an establishment that preserves and spreads Shaolin culture. While there, Rose had her choice of lessons: the temple's offerings include Dharma Meditation, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Tea and Philosophy, Chan Buddhism, Shaolin Kung Fu, Weapons Training, Performance Training, and a number of community outreach programs. After weeks of intense training, she brought what she learned to the screen as the fearsome Kate Kane and made the edge the temple gave her apparent in every kick and tackle.

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Having a background in boxing

Before Batwoman — and indeed before xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, Orange Is the New Black, and most of her other roles — Rose was a boxer. Videos of her amateur career abound online, and they're not too shabby: after a mere three months of training, she won 60 to 44 against lightweight Yi Sia in 2012. She trained hard for her wins, going two to three hours per day in the ring in preparation. Boxing is a notoriously intense workout, but Rose was game: "There's a lot celebrities can do for charity, like Dancing with the Stars," she joked, "but I'm not much of a dancer." Though her acting career took off quickly, cutting her career as a boxer short, Rose refers to it often, and still considers herself a boxer. With a rise that meteoric and a record that impressive, it's no mystery as to why.

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Not relying on one diet, exercise, or machine

It's clear that Rose pushed herself in all manner of ways to best embody Kate Kane. Perhaps the single most important aspect of Rose's training that made her such a blockbuster Batwoman, however, is its varied nature. Rose has never relied on any one tool, regime, diet, trick, or fad to get in shape. She's explored new things, to be certain: hiking, cycling, combat, and more. Yet she remains open and interested in trying new ways to keep herself in tip-top shape. "Exercise and eating healthy are a big part of my life," she told TRAIN for HER magazine, listing off the many routines, sports, and machines she's tried. But what matters most, she emphasizes, is health itself, however it is attained. It's "thrilling," she remarked, when tackling a new way of pushing her body to its limits, to "start seeing yourself improve." Given how vastly she's succeeded in perfecting her athleticism so far, it's likely we'll be watching her improve for many years to come.