The Lord of the Rings Workout: One Plan to Rule Them All


Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men, doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

An incredible poem, from the greatest fantasy epic ever told (Tolkien had quite a knack for poetry).  A little while back, we posted a Star Wars Workout on Nerd Fitness and the response was overwhelming: “GIVE US MOAR WORKOUTS!” you said.  “KEEP THE NERD COMING” you said.

So I said, “Stop yelling at me!” and “Your caps lock is broken!”

And then we made more workouts.

In honor of one of my favorite stories, and a great companion to our “Walk to Mordor” guide, I wanted to bring you another fantasy-themed-workout.

Not only is this workout incredibly nerdy, but it’s also an epic workout that will go perfectly with your Star Wars Workout and  Beginner Bodyweight Routine (just remember to take a day off between each!)

So…shall we…GO to Mordor?

The Lord of the Rings Workout

LOTR Workout

In honor of the number of rings listed in the poem, we’ll be doing things a bit differently with this workout.

As always, make sure you start with a proper warm up!  Can’t have you pulling a muscle before we start our battle with the Nazgûl.  For exercises which require a dumbbell, pick a weight that makes the number of prescribed reps difficult, doesn’t cause failure.

There are 3 books, and thus three mini workouts. In each mini workout, you are going to complete 1 set of each exercise and then move directly onto the next one. Depending on your level of fitness:

  • I am a hobbit, and new to working out: Do each Book ONCE before moving onto the sequel.
  • I am an elf, and this seems like a fun challenge: Do each Book TWICE before moving onto the sequel.
  • I am a Dúnedain, ranger of the north: Do each Book THREE TIMES before moving onto the sequel.

What’s that you say? You don’t have time to do all three books in one single workout? Cool. Spread them throughout your day!

Now, we had far too much fun creating this workout – we all got a chance to geek out, even if we didn’t cover anything before the third age.  Sorry, we’re saving the Valar for the next one!

Superset 1: The Fellowship of the Ring

Hobbit Hole

3 “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” Slams (3 medicine ball slams – feel free to yell “YOU SHALL NOT PASS” each time you do this.)

7 Legolas Bow Pulls (7 renegade rows).

9 “One does not simply walking lunge into Mordor” (9 lunges, each leg).

1 Minute: Hip “Bridge of Khazad Dum” (hip raises and hold at the top position for 1 minute)

Superset 2: The Two towers

two towers cover

3 Riders of ROWhan (3 bodyweight rows)

Gimli “Shall I get you a box?” jumps. (7 box jumps – REALLY explode)

9 Helm’s Deep-Squats.  (9 bodyweight squats – get your ass to the ground. Way down.)

1 Minute Tower of Orthanc Holds (Kick up against a wall and hold a handstand for as long as you can until 1 minute is complete, in as few as sets as possible. Can’t hold a full handstand? Check out the variations in our Guide to Handstands.)

Superset 3: The return of the king

Aragorn Legolas

3 Eowyn “I am no Man!”makers  (3 manmakers)

7 Light of Galadriel raises (7 arm overhead dumbbell presses)

9 “Army of Dead”lifts (9 light weight reps, barbell or dumbbell)

1 Minute Samwise Gamgee Carries (As demonstrated here by AKLulu carrying me at a NF meetup) A heavy sandbag over the shoulder works too.  No sandbag? Just carry two dumbbells around the gym for a minute.

destroy the ring! save middle earth!


Now, before you go complaining that you don’t have time to complete this work out…remember what Gandalf says: “All you have to decide what to do with the time that is given to you.”

If you can only complete two circuits per section, or 1 circuit per section, that’s okay. It just gives you an opportunity to level up the next time you attempt this work out. Do this workout every other day, or occasionally instead of your other regularly scheduled workouts.

Work your way up to the Dúnedain Level and beyond for each.

Remember, your diet is the most important part of any equation (“but what about second breakfast?”).

We’ll be adding this workout to our beginner fitness courses, Men’s Fitness 101 and Women’s Fitness 101, complete with high-definition demonstrations of every exercise (here’s a sample) along with high-definition warm ups and cool downs.

What other movies/games/books would you like us to cover in future workout routines?

What kind of questions do you have about this workout?

“The road goes ever on…and on…”


NF Meetup

PS: Thanks to all the Austin Rebels who came out this past weekend to hike/ruck the Greenbelt! For those of you who couldn’t make it, be sure to check our meetup page so you don’t miss the next Rebel gathering.


photo source: Andy Zeigert: GandalfJeff Hithcock: Hobbit HomeSanjeev Beekeeper: Art of Two Towers,  Andy Zeigert: Aragorn and Legolas, I_Believe_: One Ring, Riccardo Cuppini: LOTR Scene

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91 thoughts on “The Lord of the Rings Workout: One Plan to Rule Them All

  1. Oh, I see, you insist on conflating Katniss analyzing who she can trust in llife and death situations with who to choose as a romantic partner.

    They’re really not the same thing. It really blows my mind how I can see criticisms of Katniss as BOTH being cold because she doesn’t consider Peeta and Gale enough and as agonizing over them too much.

    And…why not? Wendy didn’t used to be a name and then it was a name mostly for boys. Now it’s considered a girl’s name. Names come in and out of fashion all the time. You don’t hear about any babies being named Adolf or Judas, now do you? Similarly their spellings change. Jackson is now also being spelled as Jaxon. Jayden is a relatively new name that was pretty obscure before. Before Topher Grace rose in fame, few Christophers were shortening their names in this fashion.

    The same goes for slang and other words entering the language. Words like “email”, “internet”, “lol”, “sexting” only don’t sound stupid to you because you’re accustomed to using them (unless you’re a language elitist, I guess). It just sounds like you’re not really familiar with how words and language evolve or how cultural practices and values impact that evolution. As such, it’s rather silly that you seem to expect that to be an adequate basis for why the series as a whole is “tripe”.

    I’ve read Battle Royale too. It’s funny you think Hunger Games is tripe because I have the same thought about Battle Royale, which I first read years ago. It basically glorifies all the awful violence and murder the kids do to each other and paints it as some really badass thing (the way some people like to glorify war) when it’s just atrocious. It was so gratuitous, I found it difficult to get through. I thought Hunger Games was going to be some American knock-off of this and avoided it for a long time, but then, refreshingly, it wasn’t.

  2. I absolutely love this and would really like to feature it on my blog ( Since my blog is all about eating, I imagine we could use some working out as well…if I link back to this source, is it okay if I use this? Thank you so much!

  3. Oh I never said “Battle Royale” was good literature. Shakespeare it aint. But what it is, a piece of Japanese pulp fiction, it does well and doesn’t pretend to be ancient Rome in future America.

    A few side notes:
    – Babies are still being named Adolf…in Germany. There is even a brand of steak seasoning with the name.
    – Ridiculous name spellings (Jaxon, Ashleigh, Emmuhlee) are still ridiculous.
    – No one should take queues, of any kind, from Topher Grace.
    – “Sexting” does, in fact, sound stupid. Most portmanteaus are idiotic media buzz words. And no, I am not a language snob; I used “aint” didn’t I?

    I’ve got a good working knowledge of how language evolves. We, the English speaking members of planet Earth, got our bastard language because the Brits kept getting invaded or otherwise occupied by other nations and tribes for centuries. It’s where we got words like “beef” from the French “boef” and the word “f*ck” from (probably) the German “ficken”. My point is that an author cannot throw in a kaleidoscope of weird names, completely leave out names that are already centuries old (John, William, Sarah, etc) and extremely common, and NOT give us a smidgen of rationale behind it.

    The author must, as you stated above, indicate to the reader what cultural shifts lead to Plutarch and Enobaria coming into vogue as names. It could have been, in all of Katniss’s exposition, something as simple as “District 2 has a population of people who used to be called Romani (gypsies)”. There. Boom. Plot hole filled.

  4. I know. You called it “the pulp novel”, it was quite clear you weren’t talking about it as literature.
    Really? Because you sound like a language snob and a snob in general with such a traditionalist view of how names should be spelled and what words should be used.
    Actually, yes, an author can do that. She is telling the story. Nobody in her story remembers the old world, our world, and especially since she is telling her story from a first person perspective, just HOW is her character, who knows so little about the distant past, supposed to justify or rationalize how things have changed from that past?
    Not only is this hardly a plot-hole, I can’t stress enough, that it would be incredibly unrealistic for Katniss to know this. Please ask the average 16 year old today to tell you about the Etruscans and admire the disbelieving and/or confounded look you get.
    No, she doesn’t have to indicate any of this backstory. You just like to demand that she does. Have fun with that.

  5. I am so happy I have found this blog in time to see this piece of epic awesomeness! I particularly like how you break it down for beginners and more advanced fitness types. And yes…. the Dunedain should be a step above the elves.

  6. Every story has plot holes until the author rewrites it to fill it or remove the offending element.

  7. Sigh…

    A few points:
    – Having differing or negative opinions to things that you like, and expressing them in a cogent manner, does not a snob make.
    – Avoid ad hominem statements or claims about people while you are in discussion with about literature. It is a low-class thing to do and shows more about yourself than the one you are trying to cast aspersions about.
    – Katniss clearly knows things about the distant past because she identified her area as “what was once called Appalachia”. Of course, there’s no explanation how she learned this forbidden knowledge, but let’s just jump over that for now and assume that Greasy Sae (great name!) told her.
    – You’re right; no author HAS to write back story. But imagine TLOTR without the back story of there the rings came from. Or Moby Dick without telling us why Ahab hated the whale (he COULD have just really hated whales). Or Ender’s Game without telling us about the two previous “Bugger” wars. These authors didn’t HAVE to include so much back story but they recognized that without it the entire plot and pretense of their work is weakened.

    Then again, these authors didn’t write their works for the YA audience so they knew that their readers would be a touch more discerning than, in your parlance, “your average 16 year old”.

  8. I guess that you could withhold backstory as a litterary device; without backstory your perception of the story changes. Because we know so little about Panem the story appears to me, in a hollistic sense, more dire and more primal and therefore appeals more to pathos. TLOTR operates on a more intellectual level, describing the scenery, emotional insights kept to a minimum and with an immense amount of backstory that you can explore at your leisure.

  9. I don’t have a problem with your different or negative opinion. I’m just pointing out that your reasons for your opinion are silly and elitist.

    Ad hominem because… you said you weren’t a language snob despite your finicky requirements for what are acceptable words or acceptable spellings for names and I disagreed…? If you want to avoid that, don’t set yourself up as some sort of arbiter as to what name-spellings and what words are acceptable. 😛

    So, let me get this straight, because Katniss knows one historic detail, you demand that her character should have the capability to give us detailed historic backstory to justify negligible details of her current culture, such as what people choose to name their children and what words are part of their language?

    Wait, wow, you’re comparing the backstory of the One Ring, clearly central to the Fellowship of the Rings mission, to the history lesson and cultural evolution story that would explain how the people of Panem name their kids or what words they use. Right. Do you think that I’m against backstory for some reason? All I pointed out was that you were demanding pointless backstory from the author that absolutely is not central to the story she is telling. It would NOT weaken “the entire plot or pretense of their work”.

    And you close with more elitism. That sentiment is very dear to your heart isn’t it? 🙂

  10. You keep saying that “I demand, I demand” when, in actuality, I am stating an opinion about a work of fiction. If it were a “demand”, I would have CARED ENOUGH to email the author and tell her so; improve your reading comprehension, or at least stop distorting what you’re told to fit your preconceived notions.

    Let’s lay the “language snob” thing to rest. If you really think that you know me well enough to stake that claim then you’re an idiot (oops, is that an ad hominem?). So just stop harping on that point.

    A character having forbidden knowledge sets up the expectation that said character may know more. I didn’t write that plot hole; you can take that up with Suzanne.

    Nice try. I am illustrating how much more complete a story’s tapestry becomes when the author cares enough to use back story. You want a better comparison? How about how much time JRRT spends describing the Shire. Using your line of reasoning one could purport that all those “pointless geography lessons” really didn’t contribute anything of value.

    My last paragraph was irony. You, yourself, were the first to cast doubt on the intellect of teenagers with your non sequitur about the Etruscans. My use of it was to put that back on you. So, no, elitism is not a sentiment dear to my heart but clearly having the last word is to yours.

    I’m sure you’ll reply. But I can guarantee I won’t read it. Enjoy screaming about how right you think you are into an empty room.

  11. If you’re going to bring reading comprehension up, then you should examine your own words:
    “The author must…indicate to the reader what
    cultural shifts lead to Plutarch and Enobaria coming into vogue as
    That’s phrased as a demand. A person doesn’t have to take some special action to make a demand, so it’s confusing that you’d think so.

    I don’t need special knowledge of you to make that claim. If you don’t want to impart that impression, the burden rests on you not to make sweeping and exclusionary statements about language and names. It’s not hard to avoid.

    Eh….? Although there is plenty of forbidden knowledge in the books, nowhere is it indicated that knowing the region was once called Appalachia is forbidden knowledge, nor would such a vague piece of information be much of a hook upon which to hang expectations of her having scads more knowledge. Though I’m sorry your expectations were disappointed. 🙂

    Depends on what you mean by “geography lessons”. Since the whole story is about a physical journey, the actual routes they take are relevant, though the landscape in general probably less so.
    Regardless, this is still a false equivalency. Hunger Games is about a revolution. While some of their history touches upon that, it’s mostly their recent history and, no, the names of their children and the specific words or slang they use and the origins thereof, do not. I’m a little blown away that you’re so invested in trying to set this up as super important story information that is missing as opposed to acknowledging that it’s incidental to the story itself.

    No, I didn’t. 🙂 You read it that way because it’s an attitude you hold, so you’d expect to hear it from someone else. I was merely pointing out the fact that it is obscure knowledge. Don’t conflate intellect and knowledge. That the average teenager doesn’t know anything about the Etruscans doesn’t mean the average teenager is stupid. 🙂

    Why screaming? Are you angry? O_o

  12. Sweet Lord of the Rings who knew it would be the nerd in me that would motivate my work outs . . .

  13. This is hands-down one of the most hilarious workout routines I’ve ever read. As a fan of the movies (only READ The Hobbit, not the trilogy) I kind of want to go out into the woods and pretend I’m training for the most epic of Middle Earth battles 😉

  14. Now all I can see is Frodo and Sam doing walking lunges into Mordor. I can’t stop laughing.
    This seems like a great workout, though, so I’m going to try it soon!

  15. Walking Dead, Nightwing, Arrow (the CW), Flash, Pokemon, Doctor Who, Etc.

    I would suggest Breaking Bad, but I’m rather worried to see how that would turn out O.o

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  17. as an FYI I have a male friend in his 30’s named Gale. Plutarch is the name of a Greek historian who died in 120 AD

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