From the goofy Jung Kim in Kim’s Convenience to the utterly ripped titular character in Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Canadian actor Simu Liu’s body has undergone a major transformation in recent years. No longer just a scrawny bit-part player, the 32-year-old star is now kicking ass on a global level, leading the biggest box-office blockbuster of 2021, and his physique hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Being the first Asian actor to play the lead in a Marvel Studios film carries a certain level of weight, so naturally, Liu stepped up his training to compensate. The former accountant-turned-movie star practically lived in the gym to look the part, adding a serious amount of muscle prior to filming, but the Simu Liu workout plan isn’t just a straightforward strength-training regime. With elements of martial arts, HIIT training and traditional lifting thrown in, it’s an all-out body assault. Complementing the physical is the nutrition side of things, with Simu Liu’s diet plan serving as the catalyst for his cut-figure.
So, whether you’re looking to get fighting fit or just trying to bring out your own inner superhero, the Simu Liu workout and diet plan will test your limits. Here’s how the actor whipped himself into shape for the massive Marvel flick Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Stick to the plan and you may very well end up with a Simu Liu body of your own.
Who is Simu Liu?
Born in the Chinese city of Harbin, Simu Liu spent the first four years of his life raised by grandparents, before immigrating to Canada. He grew up in Erin Mills, an area of Ontario as an only child, where he excelled in maths and business. Naturally, he moved into the world of finance graduating from Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario with honour in 2011 before taking on a role as an accountant at Deloitte.
Unfortunately, as many accountants find out, the high-flying world of finance isn’t always that exciting and on a whim, Liu tried his hand at stunt work. Landing a role as an extra in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, Liu worked his way up before nailing his big break in the CBC television adaptation of the hit Canadian play Kim’s Convenience. From there, the actor’s star continue to rise, peaking at Comic-Con 2019 when Marvel Comics announced the cast for the upcoming action film Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The announcement was major news, with the coveted role representing the first time an Asian actor had led a Marvel Studios film. Two years and a USD$95.6 million record-breaking Labor Day holiday box office showing later, Simu Liu is riding Hollywood’s biggest wave.
Age: 32 years
Height: 6 ft 0 inches
Weight: approximately 175 lbs
Acting career: 2011 to present
Simu Lui’s Shang-Chi Diet Plan
As most fitness fanatics know, a solid physique may be built in the gym, but it’s revealed in the kitchen. For Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, lead actor Simu Liu undertook an extensive nutrition overhaul, opting for the much-maligned and often-discussed ‘Marvel Diet’. Focusing on reduced 12-hour windows of eating, high-protein food sources and carbohydrate cycling, the diet is critical for lasting success.
The Marvel Diet
In order to maintain a lean figure while building muscle mass, the Marvel food plan utilises a low/low/high-carb cycle with 12-hour minimum fasting between the day’s last meal and next day’s first. Here is the Marvel Diet Scarlett Johansson followed for Black Widow, as outlined by The Hollywood Reporter.
- Pre-Workout Breakfast: 2 egg whites, 2 whole organic eggs, 1/2 avocado, Green veggies (21 g protein, 0 g carbs, 21 g fat)
- Snack (20-40 minutes after workout): Smoothie: 1 scoop Garden of Life protein powder, 1/2 banana, 1 tbsp peanut butter, a handful of spinach, and water or ice (20 g protein, 14 g carbs, 10 g fat)
- Lunch: 4 oz. chicken or 200 g turkey mince, Green veggies, salad or stir fry, 1/2 avocado or nuts, 100 g rice (39 g protein, 29 g carbs, 16 g fat)
- Dinner: 4 oz. wild salmon/fish of choice, Green veggies, salad or stir fry (30 g protein, 0 g carbs, 14 g fat)
Total intake: 115 g protein, 75 g carbohydrates, 50 g fat
- Pre-workout Breakfast: 3 egg whites, 1 whole organic egg, Fruit (e.g., apple), 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1 slice toast or English muffin, 5 g coconut oil, Green veggies (23 g protein, 25 g carbs, 12 g fat)
- Snack (20-40 minutes after workout): Same as a low-carb smoothie
- Lunch: 4 oz. chicken or 200 g turkey mince, Green veggies, salad or stir fry, 30 g avocado or salad dressing, 100 g white rice (30 g protein, 30 g carbs, 10 g fat)
- Dinner: 4 oz. chicken breast or fish 100 g white rice, Green veggies, salad or stir fry (30 g protein, 30 g carbs, 0 g fat)
Total intake: 105 g protein, 125 g carbs, 35 g fat
For Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, however, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Filming for the hit Marvel flick took place in Sydney, Australia, but was disrupted by the pandemic. Being a multicultural city loaded with great food options, staying dedicated to the diet during the downtime was apparently quite difficult for Liu.
“As the start-up date kept getting pushed, I was like ‘Okay, maybe I can loosen up a bit.’ Then all of a sudden, they said ‘we’re starting again’ and I had to get back into shape,” Liu told Asian-American news website NextShark. “I’m a big food guy. I’m outing myself as someone who didn’t follow their ‘Marvel Diet’ as much as they should have. When you have chilli crab with Michelle Yeoh on the table, you don’t say no to that.
Simu Lui Workout
When it came time to don the Marvel moniker, Simu Liu had some serious work to do. Despite having some knowledge of Wing Chun, Taekwondo, and gymnastics, the former accountant wasn’t exactly the superhero shape most fans are used to seeing. That’s where the hyper-mobility based Simu Liu workout plan came in. The actor teamed up with renowned trainer Bart Kwan, who crafted a dedicated Shang-Chi workout regime that encompassed martial arts, strength training and functional fitness, ensuring lean muscle growth. In an interview with Men’s Health, Liu revealed that while bulking up was important, staying agile was critical to the role.
“Obviously, learning the martial arts is a big part of my training, but the other part of being a Marvel superhero is, well, looking like a superhero,” Liu said. “So when we were building that superhero workout, that Marvel body, it was really important for us not to sacrifice range of motion and explosiveness, because I’ve still got to be able to throw a punch at the end of the day.”
Liu needed every ounce of that explosiveness for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The former stuntman-turned leading actor performed all his own stunts for the Marvel film, including the ridiculous bus scene that has captivated audiences across the globe.
As a general rule, Simu Liu’s workout focuses on multi-lateral movements and supersets to optimise efficiency. Specifically, the regime utilises supersets that make use of similar movements, one loaded, one with your bodyweight. This protocol allows Liu’s body to get accustomed to working against resistance before immediately removing it to increase power. Here is the Simu Liu workout plan devised by superstar trainer Bart Kwan, as explained in Men’s Health.
- Airfan Bike x 5 minutes
- 1A. Banded Trap Bar Deadlift – 5 sets of 5 reps
- 1B. Box Jumps – 5 sets of 5 reps
- Sled Push to Sprint – 5 rounds of 20 yards
- Rotational Med Ball Slam – 3 sets of 5 per side
- 4A. Lat Pulldown – 3 sets of 15 reps
- 4B. Dumbbell Lateral Raise – 3 sets of 15 reps
While the above workout will keep you lean and increase explosive power, it’s not the only aspect of Simu Liu’s workout regime. The actor also undertakes a serious amount of strength training which was the catalyst behind his bulging shoulders and defined upper body. In a video posted to Instagram, Liu confirmed he does perform standard lifting movements, once again focusing on compound lifts. Here is Simu Liu’s workout guide for strength training.
Strength Workout – Upper Body
- Heavy Deadlifts – 5 sets of 5 reps
- Kettlebell Swings – 5 sets of 25 reps
- Sled Push to Sprint – 5 rounds of 20 yards
- Incline Dumbbell Chest Press – 4 sets of 12-15 reps
- Arnold Press – 4 sets of 12-15 reps
- Barbell Bent-Over Row – 4 sets of 12-15 reps
Does Simu Liu do his own stunts?
Remarkably, Simu Liu does all his own stunts. In an interview with Insider, marvel executives confirmed that it was really Liu himself doing all those moves on the bus, with no stunt doubles used.
Does Simu Liu know martial arts?
Despite leading one of the biggest martial arts films of all time, actor Simu Liu went into Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings with little experience. The actor studied Kung Fu pricinples and took extra classes to prepare for the role.
Is Shang-Chi an avenger?
Yes. During the Marvel NOW! relaunch, Shang-Chi joins the Avengers after being recruited by Captain America and Iron Man. The group then joins the Galactic Council to fight against the Builders.