Workout Routine

Viola Davis’s Full-Body Workout for The Woman King

Viola Davis is in the best shape of her life. The Academy Award, Emmy, and Golden Globe winner, (yes, all three!), is getting even better at her craft with age. In her latest outing, Davis is tackling a rather complex role. Viola Davis stars in The Woman King, alongside John Boyega and Sheila Atim.

In the film, Davis essays the role of a real-life general, the leader of a women-only West African regiment of the Dahomey Kingdom, referred to as the Agoji or Dahomey Amazons. The role presents an action-packed venture for Davis, which sends her off into uncharted territory, a departure from her preferred dramatic masterclasses. Nevertheless, Viola Davis, being the legend she is, excels on all fronts. To get into the shape of a warrior-leader, Davis had to go through some gruesome training, and at 56, this was no easy feat. Davis began preparing for her role as far back as 2020, when she started her prep to get fitter to sell the part.

In this piece, we’ll take a look at the intense training Viola Davis underwent for her role in The Woman King.

Viola Davis’s Full-Body Workout for “The Woman King”

In conversation with Jimmy Fallon, Davis had the following to say:

“I was 56 when I trained to be this warrior: five hours a day, hour and a half of weight training, three and a half hours of martial arts (punching), 10.0 on the treadmill. And as I was running on that treadmill , I said, ‘I’m gonna have a damn heart attack’.”

Davis said that the film took seven years to get made, but felt that every minute spent in preparation was worth it.

“There is nothing that can be said about being 56 and running at 10.0 on the treadmill. Literally every day was *intense gasping*, but then to see it on the screen, I’m like ‘I did that.'”

Viola Davis’s trainer even revealed what goes into their preparation behind the scenes. She said that the two train together thrice a week, focusing on full-body movements and building strength while getting leaner in the process.

“Mondays, we usually do a cardio kickboxing-style workout. Focusing on her punches and kicks. Wednesdays, we work on strength, heavy weights, medicine balls, lots of legs, upper body, and always core.” On Fridays, Mclain emphasizes resistance bands and weighted exercises to “build strong and fast legs.”

The duo were wise to add fast, explosive movements to their routine, as Davis has more fast-twitch muscle fibers than slow-twitch. Her trainer said that Viola enjoys bicep curls and deadlifts the most.

She always comes alive “when she can do some punching and kicking,” she adds. As for the moves she dreads? That would be squats, step-ups, and push-ups.


Viola Davis looks in incredible shape for her role in The Woman King. It’s clear that her trainer has repeatedly gone back to the drawing board to chalk out the perfect routine for the actor, because Davis looks better than ever. The two have clearly worked incredibly hard to build an incredible physique to match Davis’ powerhouse performance, and it shows.

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