One of the hardest parts about being an active WWE superstar is staying in ring shape despite the grueling travel schedule and many responsibilities that come with the job. Every single WWE Superstar is a tremendous athlete, regardless of where they are in the overall pecking order, and a superhuman work ethic and focus in the gym are behind every spot or bump a fan sees in the ring.
The bodies fans see on their television screens every week do not just magically appear, but the work that goes into those bodies is not something the public normally gets to see up close. I wanted to learn firsthand how rigorous the workout of a WWE superstar could be.
This is where Celtic Warrior Workouts came in. WWE Superstar Sheamus created a YouTube channel that gives fans an inside look at what a professional wrestler's workouts are like. This channel doesn't only include variations of his own workouts, either. Sheamus brings a new Superstar or athlete on his channel every week and introduces fans to the different types of workouts they do to stay fit. His goal in the long run is to have viewers embrace what he calls "brave change" -- a willingness to explore and try different things.
In Sheamus' words, "it's just about taking that first step to changing your life." In a special 2018 wrap-up episode, Sheamus guided me through a medley of his favorite workouts from different WWE superstars and other athletes who had been on his show in previous episodes.
To preface this, I consider myself an avid gym-goer. I work out 4-5 times a week, but Sheamus' workouts were comprised of many things that I had never done before, and they pushed me to my limits. Each workout was designed for more than just aesthetics; it served to help a function of the body in the squared circle.
Farbod Esnaashari ran the gauntlet of WWE superstar workouts with Sheamus.
Farbod Esnaashari ran the gauntlet of WWE superstar workouts with Sheamus. Video by Tim Fiorvanti
Here's how it went down, with a run-through of each step along the way.
Elias: A 5x5 warmup workout. Five deadlifts, five bent-over rows, five cleans, five overhead presses and five squats. This was incredibly tiring and really jumpstarts your body. Elias considers this his recovery-day workout.
Carmella and Sasha Banks: A glute workout. Glute bridges with a plate on the stomach. As the sets went on, it started becoming very tiring. Whatever set number you're on is the number of seconds for which you have to pause.
Brandon Rumbaugh: Brandon Rumbaugh is a one-legged veteran with an inspiring workout. He does a one-legged leg press. We didn't have a leg press at this particular gym, so we had to use a giant tractor tire. Following the glute bridges, this really weighs on you.
Daniel Bryan: A hybrid core and chest workout. A kettlebell chest press, extending the opposite arm and leg with each press. It took multiple tries for me to figure out how to do this, and it's a lot for the brain to comprehend.
Al Rawley: Al Rawley is a 94-year-old World War II veteran. This was a standard preacher-curl workout, but we had to do a modified version because there was no preacher-curl equipment at the gym. The slight modification made it so hard that it felt like a first-time exercise, despite it being something I've done before.
Josh Rafferty: Josh Rafferty is an MMA fighter turned coach. His workout was a brutal sequence of crunches while getting punched in the stomach. I was legitimately two seconds away from throwing up while doing this.
What made this whole workout feel very authentic was the time constraint we were on. Smackdown talent flies into a town on Saturday morning for a live event, and then they immediately drive from town to town over the next few nights. Just to get to the gym, I drove two hours to meet Sheamus in Hollywood at 9:30 a.m. on three hours of sleep, and we were in a rush to make sure we got to SmackDown Live by 11 a.m. We finished the entire workout in an under an hour, and the only thing I ate before working out was a protein bar. It felt like I got a taste of what it was like being on the road with him.
It goes further than the workout or the time crunch, too, as finding a gym with the proper equipment is its own task. For Sheamus, packing all of that in and then filming the workout for his show stretches his time to its limits.
"One obstacle is basically finding gyms on the road, and finding someone to film," Sheamus said. "Because it's basically me and a handheld camera."
Working out is a critical part of the process in building up a body that's fit for weekly TV, but diet is an equally difficult challenge.
"Diet is the biggest factor in everything," Sheamus said. "It's the most important thing. You can go to the gym five times a week, but if you're not eating right, then you're really wasting your time."
Being on the road adds an extra layer of difficulty to the dieting challenge. Some WWE Superstars find food on the road, while others like Sheamus bring their own meal prep that they pack each time they head out on the road.
"I use meal preps, Nutrition Solutions," Sheamus said. "I bring them on the road, and I have a big cooler bag. I have four meals a day, and I bring some protein powder as a meal replacement in case I don't have time to eat food."
The concept of dieting can sound very challenging, but meal preps can really ease that challenge. While it may sound boring or monotonous to take a chunk of your already-limited time at home to prepare meals or pack everything you need together, Sheamus has found a way to make it a task that he handles with both efficiency and creativity.
"You want to eat food that you enjoy. You don't have to eat bland chicken and rice," Sheamus said. "I just want to stay in shape and keep my body fat at a certain level. I like to have buffalo meatballs with green bean and mashed potatoes. It's all calorie-controlled."
All of that discipline also allows for the occasional cheat day every now and then, once his weekly loop of shows is done.
"Sometimes I might have a cheat day like a pizza or something with Rusev on a Wednesday," Sheamus said. "Pizza Wednesdays when we get back off the road. But I try to keep it pretty strict."
It can be a tall task for beginners to make dramatic healthy changes in their lives, let alone dig into the Celtic Warrior Workouts. You can't simply dive into the deep end and hope you'll learn how to swim right away -- it's a process that takes time.
The first step is implementing some form of physical activity.
"One of the most important things I tell people is to just be active -- you don't have to go to the gym," Sheamus said. "You can do squats in your living room, pushups, or you can go for walks. Any sort of activity. Any type of exercise works."