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

  1. I love this!! It’s motivating, not to mention hilarious. Though I am sad it’s stuff I’d have to do with a gym membership. Any suggested alterations for doing these at home?

  2. I get the sense that he wanted to keep this as a beginner workout . . . finding a gym with rings can be a journey in of itself.

  3. exactly! finding a gym with rings can be difficult. Wanted to keep it easy for everyone to do!

  4. Rings are only about $30-$40, about a month at a moderately priced gym. They are pretty much a must have tool in the toolbox of the bodyweight strength trainer…rings + doorway pullup bar = dip station and inverted row station.

  5. Tried this today. Felt good. The man makers were not as bad as I thought they’d be. Granted I only used 20s… Heavier next time

  6. It would be great if you made a Game of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire workout!

    Also, I might be asking too much on this one, but maybe, could you do more workout routines that can be easily done at home, with few to no equipment?

  7. awesome workout. I plan on doing this one today. As for a suggestion for another movie workout…..enter the dragon of course!!!!!

  8. Great stuff!! Love these themed workouts.

    Other ideas:
    Game of Thrones
    The Matrix
    Star Trek
    Any Marvel/DC comic character (Thor, Iron Man, and Batman come to mind)
    World of Warcraft
    Splinter Cell
    Assassin’s Creed (already done?)
    Green Lantern

    Obviously not all of them. That would take years. But just some ideas.

  9. I don’t have any questions. Just wish you guys had a gym here in my town so I could come play with you guys!

  10. I feel so honored demonstrating Samwise Gamgee carries in my pretty dress! I’m still amazed by how photogenic Steve is while he’s tossed over a shoulder.

  11. With Game of Thrones you can change the workouts by different Houses and maybe sigil related I.E. Lannister(lion), Stark(Direwolf), Targaryen(Dragon)

  12. But if you don’t decide to stick with bodyweight and move on to something else, then you have these rings lying about. Sometimes it easier as a beginner not to have any equipment required. If you get more serious about it later, then you can invest 🙂

  13. I like this idea! Anything you can suggest to replace the medicine ball slams? I don’t currently have a medicine ball 🙁

    Also, a Doctor Who theme’d one would be awesome!

  14. I agree. I’m looking for a climb a tree while your friend hurls arrows at you type of workout. And eating right ties right in to the name.

  15. How about an Ender’s Game workout (the movie sucked but the book is great). Ender does some serious a$$ kicking despite his diminutive nature.

  16. As much as I love the good Doctor, 90% of those workouts would be running…either to or from things.

  17. I love the idea behind these workouts. Personally, though, I prefer that the movements focus on training you as if you are going to do things characters in the movie do. For example, the “You Shall Not Pass” throws make sense. But doing bridges because there is a bridge in the movie? Doesn’t really spark the imagination in the same way for me. I’d love to see these focus on movements that make you feel like you are one of the characters, rather than playing word games to create weak connections between the movie and the exercises.
    I actually designed an Avengers workout for my kids, where we did things like “Hulk SMASH” movements, or SpiderMan Crawls, or swinging Thor’s Hammer, stuff like that. They loved it, because they liked imagining themselves as Avengers. Imagining themselves as bridges, not so much.
    What do you guys think?

  18. Hunger Games, Avengers, Naruto, Full Metal Alchemist, Rurouni Kenshin, Trigun, Legend of Zelda, Shadow of the Colloseus. I really love these themed work outs! Brilliant!

  19. Is that the workout where you climb trees while entertaining endless internal monologue that indirectly agonizes over whether to choose the rugged guy or the pretty boy?

  20. Dark Souls workout sounds like a great idea 😀
    ….at first.
    But wouldn’t it have to be almost impossibly hard, and take try after try to get right? Definitely an expert workout.

  21. ^that is a fantastic idea. Even if just so you could say you’re doing a Direwolf workout.

  22. Considering that the first Dark Souls workout I tried, which had me doing a set of exercises every time I died, healed (or basically did anything to wage my way through the game), had my arms so sore I couldn’t raise them to shoulder height for four days….I’d have to emphatically agree. Yes.

  23. How about a Blade based workout? I mean, did you see how ripped Ryan Reynolds was? Or maybe an old school Mike Tyson Punch Out one? Boxing kicks your ass.

  24. Very well done sir! This is pure Awesomeness! I’m not only motivated but also entertained. This brings out the nerd in me. Keep it coming.

  25. In “Ender’s Shadow” it talks about all kinds of workouts Bean did which were pretty cool too.

  26. These themed workouts have me pumped up! I’ve recently joined the Rebellion and I feel I’ve found my home!
    I’m voting for a Kill Bill workout ; )

  27. I read the books, all 3. Hell yes it was endless! “Oh Peeta only saved my life to gain my trust so he can kill me later!”

    The whole series is awful tripe. And to prove my point heres a short list of nonsense to come out of HG:
    Tracker jackers
    Avox (couldnt just call them “mute”?)

    And we’re expected to swallow that in some far flung, post-US, future people would decide to name their kids:
    Peeta (now thats a manly name. but at least its not…)
    and my favorite….Katniss

    Puke. Give me the pulp novel “Battle Royale” any day.

  28. Awesome idea! I definitely second a Zelda-themed workout. What about an Uncharted workout? Could be a really parkour workout with lots of jumping, climbing, hanging, etc. Some other ideas could include elements from other games/movies: Sherlock Holmes, Journey, The Last of Us, Splinter Cell, Divergent, etc.

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