Benedict Cumberbatch’s Transformation from “Doctor Strange” to “Sherlock”

Credit: Jeff Spicer / Stringer

Everyone knows Sherlock Holmes isn’t a jacked-up superhero, so it’s unlikely even the acting prowess of Benedict Cumberbatch could convince fans otherwise. Needing to go through some rapid weight loss between wrapping Doctor Strange and starting on Sherlock, Cumberbatch completed an impressive body transformation so he could nail both roles.

According to reports, there was very little time between the end of filming for Doctor Strange and the start of filming for Sherlock. Because the bodies of the characters are so different, Cumberbatch had to knock off some weight in a hurry, but he likely didn’t have to adopt a strict diet of strength training plan to do so. Here’s why.

Putting On Muscles Is Hard

If you’re a fan of Cumberbatch, you likely noticed he was much bigger and muscular than ever on screen in Doctor Strange. For this role, Cumberbatch had to adopt a strict diet and workout routine focusing on hypertrophy and strength. Hypertrophy simply means “grow,” and strength training was needed to perform some stunts, surely. And sometimes, a good way to start a hypertrophy program is with some strength training.

Your body doesn’t necessarily want to grow or get stronger, and depending on your genetics, it can be a big time struggle—especially for someone like Cumberbatch who has an ectomorph body (long and thin). For him to achieve the body he brought on screen for Doctor Strange, you can bet he had a pretty strict diet (consisting of a lot of food that was probably high in protein and carbohydrates then fewer carbs as he got closer to filming) so he had enough energy to push through workouts and grow muscle tissue. So, he was doing a lot more than riding an exercise bike or yoga!

Getting Back to Normal for Sherlock Holmes

Because Cumberbatch is not naturally muscular and didn’t have a big, strong physique prior to his role in Doctor Strange, his body was likely happy to get back to its natural state following filming. By consuming less food and likely changing his training schedule, he was probably able to shed the size quite quickly. It likely was only a matter of weeks before Cumberbatch slimmed down to get ready for his next role, because it was closer to his body’s natural design. And considering it probably didn’t take him very long to build the muscle—just plenty of hard work—it would disappear rather quickly if he wasn’t maintaining a higher-than-normal caloric intake or working out to promote growth.

Factor in that he was likely working with trainers throughout the prep for both, it becomes much easier to see how he was able to transform his body so quickly. Doing something so rapidly is quite difficult for the average person, like you or me, and thankfully we don’t have quick deadlines where we need to add or remove 20 pounds in a few weeks. When looking to lose weight, the best approach is to pace so you lose between of one and two pounds per week; so you would need 10 to 20 weeks to lose 20 pounds.


Press Trust of India, “Benedict Cumberbatch reveals his weight issues,” News18, December 26, 2016;, last accessed December 28, 2016.