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How Andrew Garfield Got Ripped To Play Spider-Man

Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man swung onto the big screen in 2012, but he began his transformation into the wall-crawler long before fans got to see his first film. "The Amazing Spider-Man" movies caught some flak from critics, but Garfield managed to embody the friendly neighborhood superhero in a way that his predecessor didn't quite manage. From his physicality to his wise-cracking from behind the mask, Garfield truly brought the comic book version of Spider-Man to life.

The two "Amazing Spider-Man" movies show off Garfield's dedication to the character in a big way. The actor spent months of grueling training that included lifting weights, jumping over cars, and even learning yoga to be able to properly move his body like a teenage boy with spider-like abilities. Even while filming 16 hour days, Garfield would spend hours working out to make sure that he could do justice for Marvel's greatest superhero.

With all the attention that Andrew Garfield is getting after "Spider-Man: No Way Home," there's a chance that he may get to don the suit again if Sony revives the tragically canceled "Amazing Spider-Man 3". If that happens, he'll be back in the training room. Here's what it will take for him to get ripped as Spider-Man one more time.

Garfield doesn't go to the gym when he's not Spider-Man

For Andrew Garfield, getting his body into perfect Spider-Man shape meant spending hours in the gym lifting weights and training to move his body just like a spider can. Unlike some actors who thrive on working out and taking daily trips to the gym, the excessive exercise was just a sacrifice Garfield was willing to make in order to play one of his dream roles. When asked in an interview to give advice to a kid who might want the perfect Spider-Man body, Garfield responded frankly, saying, "Dude, I can't preach about going to the gym because whenever I'm not playing Spider-Man, I'm not in the gym."

Garfield admitted that he does enjoy being active, but he's far from a gym rat. His advice to the would-be superhero was to identify whatever way your body wants to move and to lean into that activity. "If line dancing is your thing, just go do line dancing. ... We need to move. Our body wants to move. ... But lifting weights is not for me." Garfield's trainer from "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" — Armando Alarcon — disagrees with the actor on that point. He told Coach Mag, "Andrew will say he is not ... a 'weights guy,' but his physicality and his ability say otherwise." After seeing "The Amazing Spider-Man" films, we have to agree with that take.

He used to be a gymnast and a skateboarder

Without a deep love for pumping iron in the gym, Andrew Garfield found himself relying on some childhood skills and passions as he began training to become the wall-crawling web slinger. "I used to be a gymnast when I was a kid," Garfield told RTÉ Kids. That history gave him some familiarity with Spider-Man's movement and flexibility and meant that he wasn't going into his superhero training entirely cold.

Garfield was also able to lend some more specific abilities from his past to "The Amazing Spider-Man" franchise. "I used to be a skateboarder," he added in the interview. Of course, when it comes to the big stunts that are seen in the films, Garfield had the assistance of wires and the occasional stunt double, but when Peter is flexing his skater boy skills in the first movie, that's all Garfield. He was able to infuse the character with his own personality and hobbies in a way that created a unique and unforgettable Peter Parker.

He did most of his own stunts

When it came time to create a new universe for "The Amazing Spider-Man," the filmmakers also wanted to take an approach to the action that was different from what had come before. Stunt coordinator Andy Armstrong agreed to join the project on the condition that he be allowed to use practical effects instead of CGI whenever he possibly could (via New York Daily News). "Not to knock the earlier movies, but they feel dated now purely because CGI has come a long way," Armstrong said, adding, "This new film became a very good opportunity to show what we can do with real-life stunts."

Luckily for everyone involved in "The Amazing Spider-Man," Andrew Garfield was more than ready to take on as many stunts as possible. "I do about 70% of it," he said in an interview, "and then 30% of it is done by these two incredible stuntmen." The result of all that dedication is web-swinging like fans had never seen before. When Spider-Man flies above cars in New York City, that's really happening, and more often than not, that's really Garfield behind the mask.

Training involved parkour and wire work

Because Andrew Garfield was committed to doing his own stunts and truly embodying Spider-Man, he had to do much more than just get into shape to prepare for the role. Behind-the-scenes footage shows some of the off-the-wall training Garfield went through. He practiced all of the climbing and jumps that Spider-Man does on a daily basis while saving the citizens of New York. He also had to familiarize himself with walking and crawling along strands of webbing just like the friendly neighborhood hero.

In one of the most iconic moments in the first "Amazing Spider-Man" film, Peter links up strands of webbing to pick up on the vibration of lizards crawling through New York's sewers. The scene really puts the "spider" in "Spider-Man," and part of why it feels so believable is because Garfield really is laying, walking, and crawling along those strands like a real-life spider. Despite how natural Garfield makes it look, he let his spider-like abilities go when the cameras finally stopped rolling. "When you realize you can manipulate your body, it's empowering, but it's just so much work," he told Total Film. During production, he constantly tried to think about his environment in terms of Spider-Man's abilities, but after everything wrapped, he says he "tried to let it go."

Four months of training for The Amazing Spider-Man

How much training really went into Andrew Garfield's first outing as Spider-Man? "Don't get too excited," Garfield told Total Film, "seven hours a day, for four months." For someone who doesn't consider themselves a fan of going to the gym, that's an extreme amount of physical training. Of course, it wasn't all just lifting weights and jumping over cars. "Two hours was body work, and the next three or four was all the other stuff," Garfield said. Despite his distaste for the gym, he loved the experience. "It was like summer camp, it was like circus school. It was just pure fun."

His trainers — who were all, in Garfield's words, "experts and geniuses" — also had him on a special diet while training for the first film. It was "a lot of bland food and existential dilemmas ... with weights in my hands." Garfield threw himself into the challenge of it all, and his dedication not only paid off in the film but also impressed his trainers over and over again. "Andrew was fabulous," Andy Armstrong told New York Daily News. "He was at our training facility every day learning the stunts, beating himself up, and doing everything that he could."

More than brute strength

Having the body of a superhero and the know-how to pull off epic stunts just wasn't enough for the level of realism that Andrew Garfield — and everyone else working on "The Amazing Spider-Man" — wanted to bring into the project. He needed to be a master at moving his body. According to New York Daily News, Garfield took parkour classes to learn how to properly move around the cityscape of New York, and he took yoga classes to learn how to truly control his body's motion the way someone with heightened senses might be able to.

All of the work was about bringing a comic book to life in a believable way. In addition to the classes, Garfield's trainers put mirrors around the training facility and taped pictures of iconic Spider-Man poses to them so the actor could practice them and memorize how they felt on his body. "You have a big obligation to the fans to do your best and create something that's close to what they've seen in the comic book world," said stunt coordinator Andy Armstrong. "The Amazing Spider-Man" franchise had its ups and downs, but there's no denying that Garfield nailed Spider-Man's physicality from beginning to end and truly brought the comic book to life.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 required some bulking up

In "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," Peter isn't just a high school graduate but also a more experienced hero. This meant Andrew Garfield's training routine needed to change to take those extra years of swinging from buildings and defending the city into account. "In the first film, we didn't use a lot of weights, but in this film, we did," Garfield's trainer, Armando Alarcon, said in an interview with Coach Mag. "The split was 50-50 with bodyweight exercises." Alarcon also said that they focused primarily on full-body exercises to really spread out muscle development.

Training for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" began in November 2012, three months before filming started, and continued throughout the entire production. Alarcon said that he and Garfield would train for an hour or two a day, even on top of 12 to 16 hours of filming each day. The only time they didn't train "was if he just physically couldn't." With a schedule full of battles against Jamie Foxx and Paul Giamatti, who could blame Garfield for needing a break every now and again?

Diet is key

As anyone who regularly works out knows, diet can be just as important as exercise when it comes to building muscle. Andrew Garfield is naturally thin and has a metabolism that burns through calories almost as quickly as he consumes them, so his trainers had a real challenge on their hands when it came to his diet. Speaking to Coach Mag, Armando Alarcon said, "The only way we could continue to build muscle was to give him 4,000 to 5,000 calories a day." Most of those calories came from high-energy vegetables and meats to power his workouts while also preventing his body from draining his muscles.

The specialized diet forced Garfield to more or less abandon his favorite foods. "Every once in a while, he would have pasta, and then he would tease me by eating the occasional piece of cake," said Alarcon. Indeed, Garfield is known for having something of a sweet tooth. When filming wrapped on the first "Amazing Spider-Man" film, Garfield told Total Film that he rushed to his favorite restaurant in Los Angeles for a tres leches cake, which he called "the most beautiful cake you've ever witnessed."

Prepping for big fights

Even with his body in superhero shape, Andrew Garfield still had to go the extra mile to prepare for Spider-Man's fight scenes. "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" has some epic battles between Spidey and his villains, and they leave the wall-crawler more beaten down than anything he'd dealt with in the past. Getting Garfield into the proper headspace for someone who'd just been smacked around by Electro's energy blasts was the responsibility of his trainer Armando Alarcon.

"I wanted to ravage his body so hard that he understood what it felt like," Alarcon told Coach Mag about his plan for the pre-fight workouts. The goal was to wear Garfield down "mentally and physically" so he could properly get into the headspace of a Spider-Man at the end of his rope. Battling with Electro pushes Spider-Man to the very edge of his abilities, and Alarcon's workouts — which involved "just lifting and constantly moving" — pushed Garfield to the edge of his. From the stunts to the superhero body to the true exhaustion of battle, Garfield's commitment to bringing Spider-Man to life never wavered, and the film was made better for it.