Dave Bautista: Instagram

Dave Bautista has always been a bodybuilder. He started as a bouncer, became a wrester and eventually a WWE superstar, and then transitioned to acting, where he’s climbed through the ranks to be much more than his muscles. This year, the 6’4″ Bautista has major roles in three potential blockbusters: Knock at the Cabin, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3, and Dune: Part 2. Throughout it all, the now 54-year-old Bautista has hit the weights and heavy bag nearly daily and maintained a healthy diet designed to maintain muscle and deflect fat.

The Barbell looks at the training, eating, and motivation of wrestler, actor, and bodybuilder Dave Bautista.


Dave Bautista told Men’s Health how his training has changed over the years:

“When I first started working out in the WWE, I was very concerned about how I looked. You know, I wanted to look like a star. I wanted to look the part. So it was very much a bodybuilder-style workout routine. Further on in my career as I started getting injured, I realized I didn’t have to put that much pressure on my body, and do that much damage to my joints….So then I started to focus towards the end of my career on better cardio shape. Cardio has always been a struggle for me because I have severe asthma. I’m still medicated daily for my asthma.”

Dave Bautista muscles
More muscle, more hair, less ink: Bautista poses for FLEX magazine, 2005 / Instagram

For Men’s Journal, Bautista explained how he trained to play the perpetually shirtless Drax in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019):

“Being in the Avengers got me to hire a personal trainer. Because literally for the first time in my film career, I was really concerned about looking better. I wanted to not only look big, but I wanted to look toned. I wanted to look like a superhero, that big figure, small waist look. We focused on making my muscles look more rounded, my waist more tapered, my back wider, and my thighs more developed. We went back towards a real bodybuilding style, but not with heavy weights. We focused more on power training.”

Dave Bautista trainer
Joe Bennett and Dave Bautista in 2018. / Instagram

Bautista hired as his trainer Joe Bennett, aka Hypertrophy Coach, who said:

“Dave needs a little more stress from his training than the average athlete to maintain his desired level of muscularity, but he also wants a higher level of function than the average bodybuilder so he can move in his [movie] scenes well. So his exercise selection revolves around very big, efficient movements, with a smaller percentage of purely aesthetic movements kept in as well. We put a lot of thought into making sure every exercise fits Dave’s unique structure, because injury prevention is paramount.”


Hardest workout: “Fight training is the hardest training I’ve ever done. It’s HIT training while you’re getting punched in the face, and it sucks. And I don’t think people realize how grueling a five-minute round is. It’s the most grueling thing that I’ve ever done in my life.”

Favorite exercise: “Not that I’m great at it, but I really love squatting. I’m one of those tall guys who, for some reason, I had this complex when I was younger that I never wanted to be the guy with skinny legs. I love squatting. Love it.

Peak bench press: 450 lbs. (204 kg.)

Workout soundtrack: Metallica, old-school hip-hop like Wu-Tang Clan, Rage Against the Machine

Dave Bautista workout
Bautista in his home gym. / YouTube


This is the most recent training routine of Dave Bautista. He trains six days a week, with Thursdays off, and works body parts twice weekly. He finishes these weight-training sessions with cardio and martial arts sessions.

Monday & Friday: Chest & Arms

Machine Chest Press — 5 sets x 10 reps

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press — 5 sets x 10 reps

Pec Deck Flye — 4 sets x of 10 reps

Cable Flye — 4 sets x 12 reps

Preacher Curl — 4 sets x 10 reps

Incline Dumbbell Curl 3 sets x 12 reps

One Arm Triceps Extension — 3 sets x 12 reps

Lying Triceps Extension — 4 sets x 12 reps

Bautista workout
Bennett watches as Bautista grinds out machine chest presses. / YouTube

Tuesday & Saturday: Back & Shoulders

Barbell Row — 5 sets x 10 reps

One-arm Dumbbell Row 4 sets x 10 reps

Front Pulldown — 4 sets x 10 reps

Pull-up — 4 sets x 10 reps

Machine Shoulder Press — 4 sets x 10 reps

Face Pull — 3 sets x 12 reps

Side Lateral — 3 sets x 12 reps

Dumbbell Shrug — 3 sets x 12 reps

Dave Bautista workout
Bautista reps out a unique exercise: lying cable side laterals. / YouTube

Wednesday & Sunday: Legs

Squat — 4 sets x 8 reps

Leg Press — 4 sets x 10 reps

Hack Squat — 5 sets x 8 reps

Romanian Deadlift — 4 sets x 10 reps

Leg Extension — 3 sets x 12 reps

Standing Calf Raise — 3 sets x 15 reps

Walking Lunge — 4 sets x 20 meters

Bautista training
Martial arts is a regular part of Bautista’s workouts. / Instagram


Dave Bautista told Men’s Health how his diet has changed through the years:

“Way back when, when I was bodybuilding, it was all about getting calories in and getting high-high-high protein. And I used to eat typically everything. And I found out in about 2005 that I was terribly allergic to dairy, and it affected my asthma, so I cut that out. And then in about 2010, I started [jiu-jitsu] training with Cesar Gracie, and the whole team was under a glutton-free diet, most of the guys were vegetarians or pescatarians. And so I cut out red meat and I cut out pork in 2010. So I was just eating poultry since then, dairy-free, glutton-free, and about 6-7 months ago I just completely cut meat out of my diet and went predominantly plant-based. But I do have fish a couple times a week, and I do eat eggs….I’ll go vegan eventually.”

Dave Bautista diet
Bautista shows off his well-stocked refrigerator. / YouTube


Current diet: ovo-pescatarian (vegan except for eggs and fish) “I play with my diet a lot. During the day, I am all protein and fats. And then at night, I’ll usually have one very low-carb meal.”

Diet staples: rice and beans, greens, eggs (for breakfast), fish (twice weekly), vegan protein powder

Go-to snacks: banana with almond butter, (vegan, gluten-free) grilled cheese sandwiches

Dave Bautista diet
Bautista’s breakfast: omelet (this one when he was still eating turkey), Special K cereal with fruit and oat milk, celery water / Instagram

Go-to comfort food: “Go-to comfort food is sushi, easily, all day long, any day, every day, all day, every day.”

Supplements: “I take a f**k-ton of supplements. But most of them are old man health supplements, like CO Q-10, ribo [riboflavin, i.e. vitamin B2], and some fish oil.”

Animal-based food he misses: “The only thing that’s killing me is because I grew up on chicken adobo, which is a very common standard Filipino dish. And it’s one of the few dishes that I make constantly. I make it for myself, I make it for my friends. And now I still make it for my friends, but I have to just sit there and watch them eat it, and it’s torture.”


Bautista workout
Dave Bautista in his home gym. / YouTube

In the Men’s Health video, Bautista showed off his two-story gym, located at his Tampa Bay home, well-equipped with weight-training and cardio equipment as well as an array of punching bags and martial arts matted areas upstairs. Of his gym, he said:

“This is not only a place where I can stay in shape. But this is also like, this is my sanctuary. I come here for peace of mind. It’s therapeutical for me. It’s not something that I have to do to stay in shape, but something that I need to do to keep my mind right.”

Dave Bautista workout
Dave Bautista in his private gym with his custom-made Drax dumbbells. / Instagram