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Taking on the role of one of perhaps the most legendary frontman in music history is no easy task, and Rami Malek had his work cut out for him to become Queen’s Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. But beyond the obvious stuff like learning Freddie’s mannerisms, Rami Malek also had to get into shape and to do that he enlisted the help of celebrity trainer Jay Cardiello. The trainer who has worked with clients like 50 Cent and Kevin Love, explained the goals for Rami Malek saying:
When you look at Freddie Mercury when he got on stage at Live Aid, he was muscular, he was ripped. [Malek] had to pack on muscle, and we had to do it in a smart way.
Jay Cardiello is right, if you look at Freddie Mercury’s Live Aid performance, he was wearing a tank top that showed off a muscular and toned physique. But it’s really the physicality of the performance itself that shows those muscles at work and just how ripped the singer really was. For Rami Malek to convincingly play Freddie Mercury and deliver on the climactic performance at the end of the film, he too had to get in shape.
Getting in shape isn’t a one size fits all thing though, and certainly not when the goal is to look and move in a certain way. Freddie Mercury was in shape, but not in the same way Arnold Schwarzenegger or Chris Hemsworth are famous for; his fitness was more function than form. So as Jay Cardiello told Men’s Health, Rami Malek had to put on muscle, but in a smart way.
Freddie Mercury was muscular at Live Aid, but not bulky. Therefore, Rami Malek needed to put on muscle to look the part, but in a way that achieved a similar aesthetic. That means that he didn’t work out like a bodybuilder, lifting a ton of heavy weights to bulk up and increase size.
Instead Jay Cardiello had Rami Malek primarily stick to bodyweight exercises and intervals of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off, to pack on lean muscle. Some of the exercises in his program included a single-leg squat to press, breakdancers, stability holds, unilateral rotations and marching rows, all of which you can see in a video on Men’s Health. The result of all this is that Rami Malek packed on the muscle to look like Freddie Mercury did at Live Aid, but the look wasn’t the only goal.
In addition to making sure Rami Malek looked the part physically, this program was also designed to make sure that he could move like Freddie. So the unilateral movements of some of those exercises were meant to improve Rami’s athleticism and balance so he could perform on stage with the same kind of charismatic physicality that Freddie Mercury did. The result of all that training is a muscular and athletic physique that’s not just for show.
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