Female stunt doubles have enviable physiques that rival those of today's sexiest celebrities. Now you can steal fitness secrets from three of this season's top behind-the-scenes stars.
"I doubled as Zoe's character, Gamora, a space-age warrior woman who does a ton of running and jumping," says Bruce, who built strength and stamina with high-intensity interval training. "I also did yoga to sculpt a lean lower body like Zoe's," she says.
GO THE DISTANCE
To last until "scene" was called, Bruce did workouts that alternated 20-second sprints with one minute of rest (for eight sets). If you need staying power for a 10-K (or even a marathon boot-camp class) and don't have hours to spare, follow suit: Research shows cardio sprint intervals can increase aerobic capacity as well as, if not better than, longer, less intense slogs.
GET SOME AIR
To shape slim legs that could still kick ass, Bruce did hot yoga five times a week and traded some of her usual heavy-lifting squats for body-weight squats and box jumps, which help develop explosive power. Try her ladder circuit: Do one squat and 10 box jumps, then two squats and nine jumps, until you get to 10 squats and one jump.
Staying hydrated is crucial, whether you're fighting in a leather bodysuit or working out in the summer heat. Bruce swigs plain H2O or, during the most grueling days on set, coconut water, which contains electrolytes like potassium (too little can lead to muscle cramping) to help replenish the stores lost from perspiring.
Scarlett's character, the Black Widow, is known for her agility, so Johnston added gymnastics to her regular martial-arts workouts (she's a third-degree black belt!). She also increased flexibility and total-body strength with dynamic, airborne tumbling moves.
NAIL THAT FORM
In fight scenes, every move has to be precise to avoid injury, says Johnston. While you might not be battling super villains anytime soon, working out with poor form (say, a sagging back or knock-knees) can wreck your joints and strain your muscles. "I stay focused by reminding myself how important each and every movement is to my overall goal," says Johnston.
DO SOME BUTT BUSTING
For Scarlett's trademark derriere, Johnston hit up her go-to booty move: the fire hydrant. "Get into tabletop position on hands and knees, bend one leg behind you to 90 degrees, and pulse your foot toward your butt," says Johnston. Switch legs. Try it out to the side, too. Do three sets of 25 reps.
STRENGTHEN YOUR MIND
Your job may not actually put you in mortal danger, but you still need a way to decompress. "I carve out a few minutes each day to meditate or just breathe," says Johnston. Plus, research suggests that such mindful practices may actually boost your workout performance.
To fill in for Charlize in this Wild West flick, Hensley perfected her cowgirl: think saloon fights, desert duels, and travel on horseback. She added riding to her regular routine of running, cycling, lifting, and fighting, hitting the trails an hour or two each day.
BE A BALLER
Spending time in the saddle calls for a rock-solid core. "If your middle's like a noodle, you'll fall right off," says Hensley. For a bulletproof midsection, put your feet on a stability ball when you do planks or pushups; the instability increases the difficulty.
CYCLE THROUGH IT
The other key to staying on a racing horse? Killer leg and butt muscles, says Hensley. Work calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes in an indoor cycling class that challenges you to alternate between sitting and standing on the pedals.
"Even though it's my job to be in shape, I still feel exhausted after toughworkouts," says Hensley. "To avoid feeling worse later, I always take time to cool down." Research suggests that doing active recovery exercises (like walking or foam rolling) may help you bounce back by improving blood flow, reducing soreness, and speeding muscle repair. Do something light for just 10 to 20 minutes, even if what you really want to do is plop on the couch, says Hensley.