The 'Thor' workout: Get a body like Chris Hemsworth
As Chris Hemsworth reprises his role as the God of Thunder in “Thor: The Dark World,” we ask his trainer, Michael Knight, about how he stays fit and strong.
"Once you get an actor to their desired shape, the tricky part is keeping them there — a lot of people tend to slack off,” says Michael Knight, who’s been training Chris Hemsworth on and off for years. Yup, even the star of the new “Thor: The Dark World” has a hard time maintaining that god bod.
“Chris is in and out of movies, so the hardest part for me is making him lose weight quickly, and then getting him to put it back on without his body looking like hell,” says Knight. Hemsworth lost 30 pounds to play a Formula 1 driver in “Rush,” and then had to put it right back on in time for “Thor.” "So I always try and simulate the same workout in order to maintain his body shape in the long term.”
The maintenance workout — designed by Knight just for Hemsworth — comprises three 20-minute sessions, which the star does up to five times a week.
“My system is effective, and means you don’t have to go out and do things that are going to tear up your body — like too much running or heavy weights,” Knight says of his regime, which he adds “starts off slow and finishes with a fury.”
“On some days, you’re going into the time-under-tension method, which is where you’re using really heavy weights to tire your core, and kettlebells. On other days, you might be doing double kettlebells or working with a heavy tire, and finishing with a cardio blast. Whatever you do, each 20-minute session will leave you pretty shot.”
"But you’ll always be working the hips and the legs — they’re the largest muscles in the body, and unless they get stronger, nothing else can,” says Knight. You’re sometimes going to hit the same part twice in that week, sometimes once, but you’re always going to start fresh again on Monday.
Unless you’re auditioning for “Thor 3,” you don’t need to train exactly like Hemsworth. But this abbreviated version should still do the trick. Here’s an overview of what your week will entail:
Monday: Chest day
Today is a big barbell day. Your body is going to be torched.
Highlights: Barbell squats and barbell bench presses followed by double kettlebell front squats and inclined dumbbell presses.
Tuesday: Back day
You’re going to be a little sore from Monday. You want a total body workout that’s intense, but not so hard it’s going to crush your body.
Highlights: An active warmup of one-legged dead lifts, followed by back-weighted pull-ups, and double kettlebell circuits to work the hips and the core.
Thursday: Shoulder day
After taking Wednesday off, this is a big day as you’re coming off from recovery. Go back to your barbells.
Highlights: An active warmup of dead lifts and strong-man log presses followed by light squats and thrusters. Finish with ropes gone wild.
Friday: Chest day
You’re doing dumbbells today.
Highlights: Inclined dumbbell presses with squats, followed by push-up circuits and kettlebell swings.
Saturday: Back day
This is a “show me what you’ve got left” day, then take Sunday off.
Highlights: Unweighted pull-ups, dead lifts and a metabolic cardio circuit, followed by jump ropes.
What's on Thor's plate?
When it comes to food, you need structure. Knight suggests keeping your diet clean by sticking to complex carbs, lean protein and healthy fats. “Eat for fuel, not for enjoyment. But enjoy what you eat,” he says. Knight recommends:
Protein: Chicken, fish, plant-based protein powder, whole eggs, turkey, cottage cheese
Carbs: Oatmeal, green vegetables, brown rice, sweet potatoes and very little fruit (Although Metro is hesitant to recommend cutting fruit from your diet, Knight insists on it for this plan.)
Fats: Grass-fed butter, coconut oil, avocado