Australian hunk Chris Hemsworth so impressive with his physical transformation in the first Thor movie, that moviegoers can look forward to a full blown franchise. With two movies done and one in the works, Chris has had to maintain his bulk through hardcore training and diet. But how did he manage to add twenty pounds of muscle in just three months to land the role in the first place?
A Realistic Plan
When he first landed the role of Hercules, Chris immediately went to the comic books to get an idea of what was expected of him. He soon knew he had a major challenge on his hands . . .
I got the part and immediately started looking at the comic books. The guy’s 500 pounds or something. I thought, ok, I’m not going to get to that, but I have to get bigger. So it became about eating a lot and training a lot.
The 20-Pound Muscle Gain Workout
In order to get bigger, Chris recruited the services of trainer and former Navy Seal Duffy Gaver. Gaver knew that what was needed to get the Aussie actor in the shape needed to play a convincing Thor was old fashioned bodybuilding training that concentrated on compound moves and heavy weight. The goal was to add twenty pounds of muscle in three months. To get that in perspective, most bodybuilders would be delighted to put on ten pounds in an entire year!
Duffy and Chris focused on developing impressive arms and shoulders. When scrutinizing the script, they noticed that Thor spent a lot of time displaying his arms and delts, but not a whole lot of time revealing his entire torso. That meant that the showy muscles were to be prioritized.
The twelve week program that Gaver came up with for Hemsworth was built around a five day split. This allowed them to go all out on specific body parts with each training session. Even though you don’t get a lot of focus on Thor’s legs in the movies, moves like squats are a vital contributor to overall growth and needed to be included. Here the full five day workouts that got Hemsworth to add 20 pounds of muscle in just 12 weeks . . .
Monday – Back
- Pull Ups – 5 x 20, 15, 12, 10, 10
- Push Ups – 5 x 20
- Hammer strength two-arm throw – 4 x 12
- One Arm Dumbbell Row – 4 x 12
- Swiss Ball Hyperextension – 4 x 25, 20, 15, 15
Tuesday – Chest
- Barbell Bench Press – 8 x 12, 10, 10, 8, 8, 6, 4, 4, 4
- Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 4 x 12
- Hammer Strength Bench Press – 4 x 15
- Weighted Dips – 4 x 10
- Cable Flyes – 4 x 12
Wednesday – Legs
- Squats – 7 x 10, 8, 6, 4, 4, 3, 3
- Leg Press – 1 set to failure
- Walking Lunge – 4 x 20
- Leg Extension – 3 x 20
- Single Leg Curl – 3 x 20
- Standing calf Raise – 3 x 20
Thursday – Shoulders
- Military Press – 7 x 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 3
- Arnold Press – 4 x 12
- Barbell Shrug – 4 x 12
- Dumbbell Lateral Raise – 3 x 15
- Dumbbell Front Raise – 3 x 15
- Dumbbell Rear Delt Flye – 3 x 15
Friday – Arms
- Barbell Curls – 3 x 10
- Skull Crusher – 3 x 10
- EZ-Bar Preacher Curl – 3 x 10
- Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension – 3 x 12
- Dumbbell Hammer Curl – 3 x 12
- Rope Pressdown – 3 x 12
- Barbell Wrist Curl – 3 x 20
- Barbell reverse wrist curl – 3 x 20
As you can see this is an extremely intense workout. The compound moves, such as squats and bench press involved a huge number of sets and went as low as 3 reps with maximum weight. As an example of how intense the training was, when Chris had exhausted his thighs with 7 sets of squats at a max poundage, he’d jump straight onto the leg press. Duffy would load up 6 45-pound plates on each side and the actor would pound out as many reps as he could. Then Duffy would strip off a plate from each side and he’d continue on again until failure. This stripping method would continue until there was just one plate on each side of the machine and Chris could hardly move his legs.
The results of this training were astonishing. Hemsworth literally became Thor. The thick, husky look that he developed, especially through the chest, back and arms were just what the producers were after.
The Thor Mass Gain Diet
I feel as if I’ve been busy, but all I’ve been doing is eating all day.
All of that intense training placed maximal stress on Chris’ body. When he staggered out of the gym each day, he was in a catabolic, or muscle depleting state. His glycogen and glutamine levels were all but used up and his muscle cells actually had micro-tears in them. What he needed to allow them to rebound and grow was plenty of quality nutrition and rest. With the five day split that he was training on, rest was in short supply which made eating even that much more important.
To gain muscle you have got to eat a lot of protein, the building block of the human body. Most guys need to take about 0.75 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. In his quest to develop a Thor-like physique, Chris doubled that figure to 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight. At a weight of 180 pounds when he started training, that meant that he’d be consuming 360 grams of protein each day.
To get protein constantly into his muscle cells, Duffy had Chris eating every three waking hours. That meant six meals per day, each one packing in a huge 60 grams of protein. The preferred protein sources were:
- Eggs ( a dozen per day)
- Skinless chicken breast
- Fresh fish
- Lean red meat
- Whey Protein Powder
Duffy knew that, important as protein was, he couldn’t neglect carbs. Chris was expending a huge amount of energy through his training. Carbohydrates would provide the fuel to power those workouts. In addition to fibrous, green leafy carbs and starches like sweet potatoes and brown rice, he had the actor downing high carb pre workout drinks featuring glucose heavy maltodextrin.
In order to maximize his training, Chris took a supplement stack immediately after his workouts. His stack included the following:
- Branch Chain Amino Acids
By committing totally to his grueling workout and diet regime, Chris was able to achieve what many thought was impossible – he packed on 20 pounds of solid muscle in just 12 weeks. And he did it absolutely drug free! What’s more, he has held onto that muscle, refining it into an even formidable package. If you thought he looked superhuman in the first two movies, just wait until Thor:Ragnorak hits theaters in 2017!