Pedro Pascal’s Fitness Routine for ‘The Last of Us’ Is Extremely Attainable
Pedro Pascal is on a tear right now. Sure, all the ‘daddy’ stuff is getting old, but for those of us who’ve been rooting for Pascal since Narcos, there’s much to celebrate about the 48-year-old actor’s ascension to the top of the culture.
He’s starred as Joel, a grizzled, world-weary smuggler in HBO’s mega-budget video game adaptation The Last Of Us. And of course, there’s also Disney’s most successful Star Wars spin off, The Mandalorian, now prepping for its fourth season on Disney+.
But while the Star Wars physicality is largely thanks to stuntmen, in The Last of Us Pedro Pascal is front and centre, portraying the same man both in his thirties and fifties. To help him nail the physicality—and mindset—of a man doing the best he can in a zombie apocalypse, Pascal reached out to celebrity trainer David Higgins, with whom he’d first worked on Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
Here’s how Pascal reached peak fitness, and by mistake became the internet’s crush in 2023.
After meeting on the first of two ropey Kingsman sequels, Higgins and Pascal stayed in touch, working together whenever the opportunity arose. For The Last of Us, Pascal had a very specific vision in mind, and knew Higgins could help him get there.
“It was more to do with finding his physicality within the character,” Higgins explains, “more of a focus on mobility and movement rather than the aesthetic—there’s no shirt off scene.” In other words, Pascal’s Joel isn’t a heartthrob ready to unveil a six pack at a moment’s notice. It isn’t that kind of show. He’s an older dude a bit beaten down by the world. Portraying that was what mattered.
“It was about being mobile and strong and and efficient with his movements,” Higgins adds. “It was grounded in the character more than anything else. He was playing a sort of tough, hard man so it was more of a mental transformation.”
On The Road
With The Last of Us shooting in deepest, darkest Canada, Higgins and Pascal had to think on their feet. After initially working together in Higgins’ London gym, the remote locations necessitated a largely equipment-free plan. Luckily, this perfectly suited their idea for the character, with an emphasis on bodyweight exercises and mobility-lead core engagement. “It was a lot of abs and mobility, along with calisthenics,” Higgins explains.
Like his character, Pascal—who is now 48—also had some age-related niggles to attend to. “Similar to all of us,” says Higgins, whose background is in exercise rehabilitation. “We looked at his lower back and general tension with some mobility programming. I’m always coming at the body at more of a fix that and then build it kind of approach.”
As expected, Higgins describes Pascal as “a dream” and “a real sweetheart.” Which isn’t to say that he embraced every aspect of their training with open arms… “He was a bit like ‘Oh my God, I have to do another,’ when there was something he didn’t like to do, like the rest of us are,” Higgins recalls.
“Sometimes I had to go no, no, come on, you can do this,” Higgins says. In other words, Pedro Pascal is a normal man, after all.
“He’s so athletic and he has so much potential; he doesn’t necessarily realize how good he is,” says Higgins, who recalls Pascal excelling at most calisthenics movements. “[After a while] the general bodyweight exercises—stuff like mountain climbers, bodyweight lunges, glute bridges, plank—started feeling more natural,” Higgins adds.
Thankfully, using Higgins’ method, you can get Pascal’s grizzled The Last of Us look without having to live through the end of the world. Based on bodyweight movements, you won’t need any gear, meaning you can deploy this workout anytime, and place.
With a focus on mobility, it will also help loosen up stiff joints, opening up your body – ideal if old injuries continue to nag or you spend most of your day at a desk.
Complete five rounds of the below, working on each exercise for one minute, with a 30 second rest between exercises, and sets. Aim for once or twice a week in addition to your usual workout and stretching routine, and you’ll soon see the benefits.
With your stomach facing the floor, extend your body to its full length, extending your arms beneath your chest to create a 45-degree angle between your body and the ground. One by one you’re going to bring your knees into your chest while maintaining this position. Try to move quickly without losing form.
Stand facing away from a bench. One leg should be straight, the other bent behind you so your shoelaces rest on the bench. Bend at the knee of your straight leg to squat down, keeping your rear leg in place for balance. Extend your hip and knee as your push down through your heel to return to standing. Do one minute per leg. If you’re finding this too easy, feel free to grab a pair of dumbbells or a kettlebell too.
Lie on your front with legs and arms extended like Superman. With a very slight arch in your back, you’re going to raise the alternate arm and leg simultaneously before swapping (so: right arm, left leg; left arm, right leg). Keep going for 60 seconds. If your back begins to hurt, stop and stretch it out before continuing.
Get down on your hands and knees, then extend your legs behind you so your toes and palms are your only link with the ground. Keeping your core tight and back straight, bend at the elbows (keep the tucked to your body) to bring your chest and nose close to the ground. Hold, then exhale as you straighten your arms to push back up.
A tough one after the push-ups, this. After your 30 seconds of hard breathing, get back into push-up position, but with your forearms, not palms, along the ground. Keep your back straight, grit your teeth and hold the position for 60 seconds.
David Higgins is the author of The Hollywood Body Plan. Find out more at davidhigginslondon.com
This story originally ran on British GQ with the title “Pedro Pascal’s fitness routine for The Last of Us is actually really attainable’”
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