How Chris Hemsworth Literally Achieved the Body of a God

Not only is Thor a superhero; he’s also a Norse God. When Marvel Comics adapted the god of thunder for the comic book page, Thor’s powers – aside from his immortality – were his superhuman strength, speed and durability. So the actor playing Thor had big boots to fill when the character came to the big screen, having to have the physical wellness of a deity rather than a mere mortal – not an enviable fitness goal by any means, but somehow Chris Hemsworth managed it.


The Australian actor, who has now taken on the Norse God role in three movies, comments, ‘In the comic strip Thor looks to be around 500lb [227kg], so obviously that wasn’t my goal, but it was very important for me to look the part and be as powerful as strong as I could while still maintaining that element of agility.’ Therefore, Hemsworth recruited the assistance of Michael Knight, director of Michigan-based personal trainers Art of Strength, to help him get into superhero shape. So how did Knight take a relatively unknown actor, and turn him into the formidable God of thunder we all know and love?


According to Knight, ‘Chris’s regime was split into two parts. The first was a bodybuilder-type protocol focused on high-weight, low-rep moves designed to pack on maximum size, while the second was total-body circuits designed to shift his excess fat while maintaining muscle.’ And if you think Hemsworth found it easy to get into part-god, part-superhero shape, think again! ‘The kettlebell routines that Mike put me through were intense,’ the 30-year-old former Home & Away star admits. ‘Partly because I’d never used them before but also because it’s a heavy combination of cardio and weightlifting. Most of my training previously was geared more around cardio – mainly boxing and Muay Thai, with some elements of weights. I hadn’t experienced kettlebells, but it’s a great way to build functional strength.’


If Hemsworth found the training itself tough, that’s nothing compared to the toll of having to bulk up on a tight and jam-packed schedule. Not only did he have to get up to his impressive physique; Hemsworth had to start the programme while filming another movie. Knight recalls, ‘When I started working with Chris he was doing 12-hour days on the set of Red Dawn, but he still had the time and energy to train for between 60 and 90 minutes five days a week after his shooting commitments were over. Above all, he has an amazing work ethic, always pushing himself further and harder. It shows that if you’re prepared to work hard you can get the results you’ve always wanted.’ Hemsworth adds, ‘It was certainly exhausting at times, but I prefer to be training than not. It gives me more energy and I just generally feel better about myself. I feel like I’ve earned that beer at the end of the week.’


But it wasn’t just for one movie that Hemsworth donned the hammer and big red cape; the actor has now starred in three films as Thor (Thor, The Avengers and Thor: The Dark World) and is currently filming his fourth (Avengers: Age of Ultron). So now he is returning to the big screen, how has his diet changed? According to Hemsworth, if you want to look like the God of thunder, you need to pack in the protein: ‘I basically overfeed on protein and endless amounts of chicken breast and steak and fish and vegetables and brown rice,’ he says. So, perhaps with kettlebells and a lot of protein, you can wield the hammer of the Gods too!

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