Another summer is upon us, and for some that means holidays, beaches and of course, the big summer movies. For this comic book fan, they don’t come much bigger than The Avengers. This movie brings together one of the biggest cast of action/adventure superheroes on a screen to date. The movie is based on a team of super humans who are to become earth’s saviours from an evil leader, nothing new here. You can imagine, with the roles that are being played in the film, that the workout regimes had to be very effective. The Avengers workout toned and ripped the stars to flawless physiques and real super human muscles, so how did they do it?
Chris Evans / Captain America:
Chris Evans’ workout, to play the role of Captain America, was a revisit from his workout for the Captain America film. While he always kept a ripped physique, he had to build a great deal of muscle for this role that was beyond his normal weight. Chris had to undergo a training regime that included 2 hours of working out each day for approximately 4 months. While the workout was not as brutal as the first time round, he had to get back into the muscle building role which brought him back to the point of having a great deal of protein to help increase his muscle bulk, while not gaining too much weight.
Chris’ workout was mainly based on bodyweight exercises, this was because being always on the road bodyweight exercises were the only thing he could stay consistent with. They allowed him to move quick and maintain his balance so that he wouldn’t get hurt during filming. “I don’t think my body is suppose to be as big as it got for Captain America. There was a strain on some joints. After a month and a half of training I found my right shoulder would click and my left pec would hurt…every guy I know has some sort of freak injury.” The standard bodyweight exercises are pull-ups, push-ups and sit-ups and those made up a majority of his workout. But you can’t become Captain America just with bodyweight exercises, and in fact Chris’ workout consisted also of strength training. His goal was to look as much as possible like the comic book hero, that is to say he was working the muscles that would actually show on camera. He therefore must have done alot of deadlifts, bench presses, shoulder presses and squats. These movements build the most muscle but also increase your metabolism so you burn more fat.
Captain America in the comics had wide shoulders and muscular abs, so Chris’ trainer also made him do compound exercises where the core is activated in any movement, helping to define the abs. His diet for the movie, according to him, was the hardest part. “The workout was one thing but the eating was the tough part…so it was just a matter of going home and just constantly eat those bland pieces of chicken”. If these actors achieve a body that you appreciate, it’s because they put in the hard work everyday. If you have the same passion and want that physique, you can have it.
Scarlett Johannson / Black Widow:
Another revisit role, and therefore another revisit for the actress to the workout that she undertook when she debuted her role as Black Widow in Iron Man. While Scarlett has always been slim, she has not always been as strong as the role required. Therefore she had to undergo a workout that focused on toning her body and losing any excess weight in order to fit into the skin tight costume, which she is reported as saying she had no room to wear anything underneath at all.
Since she had to play a role that required both slimness and strength, her trainer had her work on a lot of core exercises as well as strength training, agility training and fight training. An interesting change in Scarlett was that before the role, she stated that “lunges suck and chin-ups are impossible”, yet after 5 months of working out she ended up loving the strength training aspects of it the most.
Playing the role of Thor was also a revisit for the actor. Hemsworth was never a weightlifter in the past but kept a very athletic physique through regular activity in sports. However, for the role of Thor, he had to take part in a muscle building routine in order to gain the body of the Norse God. By focusing on compound weightlifting exercises he was able to target more that one muscle group at a time, and increase the rate at which his body added on the dense muscle he needed for the role. There was also the addition of muscle confusion, supplements and a strict high-protein diet. With !2 unique workouts accommodating the needs of the actor, he increased his metabolism very quickly while building strength through resistance and the muscle confusion technique. Muscles were actually able to be targeted, hence the maximum results could be reached.
When Hemsworth first received the role of Thor, he admitted to looking through the comic books and realising that the Thor of the comics was ‘like 500 pounds or something and there was no way I (he) was going to get that big’. Whenever a person even begins to consider working out, they must take into consideration their current level of fitness. It is always recommended that you confer with your doctor before beginning any workout, especially an intense one. You have to make the decision to be fully dedicated and that means preparing your mind, otherwise you won’t stay on the program. The Hemsworth workout required that he follow a regime of ever-changing challenges. By changing hand positions, speed, reps and weight amount, he was able to keep his muscles from ever being able to fully adjust to the workouts and therefore kept them growing and never plateauing. This level of intensity requires making rest a priority. While the actor has always been an active athlete, he had never pushed his muscles so hard with weightlifting and without giving them the proper amount of rest, he would not have safely succeeded with his muscle building goals.
Hemsworth knows that it’s not just about the gym routine, but a superhero diet as well. He says he always felt like he was eating all the time and he had to stick to proteins, fruits and veggies. By utilising those three groups, he was able to quickly transform his body. The veggies and fruit are key pieces of the diet as they provide fibre, which can strengthen cardiovascular health, and their antioxidants aid muscle recovery. He also ate for value, not just for enjoyment. Rather than going after heavy carbs, he stuck to foods like Quinoa which act as a carb and protein.
Again, it is important to remain realistic with result expectations. Hemsworth had to get the body he needed within 3 months and therein set out to do it. Remember that while the workout took that long to complete, he was also already in great shape, so don’t let the desire for immediate results get you down. To obtain the desired physique is going to take time and serious motivation.
Naturally each actor had a personal trainer, and a nutritionist. While men had very different physiques to try and create as compared to Scarlett’s, they each took their workouts in stages, and built the superhero bodies that you see in The Avengers. When the men entered phase one of their workouts they were placed on high carbohydrate and high protein diets. This was a way to outsmart and body fat and then the muscle was able to start producing. Phase two centered on building strength and sculpting the body to perfection with a drastic cut in carbohydrates and more focus on nutrient rich foods and proteins. This was the stage where to two actors, who were on very similar journeys really had to dig deep, because the exercises got really tough. This is why they get paid the big bucks!
While The Avengers movie will thrill many a superhero fan, the workouts needed in order to buff up for their roles were no joke and should not be attempted lightly. Be inspired.