Viola Davis' trainer used DNA testing to personalize her workouts and diet for 'The Woman King.'
The intense workouts included strength training and sprints, and the actress ate more to build muscle.
DNA tests may help athletes identify strengths and weaknesses, but some research suggests its overrated.
"I was always muscular and thicker, and I felt like my femininity could not be created with this canvas. And then all of a sudden, with this role, my muscles, my arms, my thick legs, my heavy voice were perfect," Davis said. "I felt unapologetic about it. I celebrated it physically in every way,"
Davis and her co-stars trained three hours a day for nine months, using unique programs designed for them with the help of DNA testing, according to her trainer.
Trainer and nutritionist Gabriela Mclain told People that the workouts focused on functional exercises at a high intensity for Davis and fellow actresses Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim, and Adrienne Warren.
The routines include sprinting, weightlifting, and two hours of weapons training with a stunt coordinator to mimic the fitness that real-life warriors would need for battle, according to Mclain, since the movie is based on a true story.
"There's all kinds of enhancers you can take to get lean and ripped and all that, but I did not want them to look like Miss Olympia, I tried to stay authentic so they look like warriors," she said.
Mclain also said she did DNA testing for Davis and co-stars prior to training so she could customize their workout and diet programs.
DNA testing may help athletes identify certain genetic markers that may make them more suited for strength or endurance training, and could flag higher risk of injuries to help guide their training, according to Men's Health.
However, research suggests many of the companies providing DNA fitness testing can overstate the benefits, and more evidence is needed to determine if the tests can actually improve training and performance.
Mclain said the DNA testing ahead of film training helped her protect the actresses from injury and get the most out of the intense workouts.
"There's no one plan fits all. Everybody needs to train in a different way," she said.
The actresses were also on a strict, personalized nutritional plan that included five meals and a gallon of water a day, so they were eating enough to build muscle, according to Mclain.
She said the actresses were enthusiastic about the training and even asked for more work as they started to see the pay off with impressive results.
"These women literally worked their butts off and everything you're gonna see on that screen is real, 100%. Their skills, their body, every member of the cast; it's just real and it's earned," Mclain said.
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