All gods have superhuman qualities. In Thor's case, he's got superior strength and speed -- plus biceps. Unfortunately, we mere mortals -- including Chris Hemsworth, who stars as the Norse God of Thunder in the upcoming "Avengers" film -- have to work hard if we want to look the same, according to Mike Knight, Hemsworth's personal trainer.
"People want to be as powerful as a bodybuilder but at the same time be fast and look sleek and slender," he says. "Combining the two physical attributes isn't so easy -- it requires merging two different body types. However, it's not impossible."
Bodybuilders look good, but their bodies aren't functional for everyday life. And those who are less muscly? Not so impressive. To help you get the best of both worlds, Knight created a system that can make you both lean and muscular.
How to look like a Norse god
Knight treated Hemsworth like an offseason bodybuilder:
"First, I bulked him up and made him put on as much weight as possible. After that, I stripped off all body fat, leaving nothing but pure muscle."
The regime was split into two parts:
Bodybuilder type workouts based on high weight, low repetition moves designed to get Hemsworth as big as possible
"Infusion" circuits mixing bodybuilding and martial arts to shift the excess fat gained in phase one, while maintaining muscle.
To reach his ideal weight of 235 pounds, Hemsworth spent 12 weeks doing classic bodybuilder exercises that included inclined presses, Turkish get-ups, windmills, squats and pull-ups. To add bulk, Knight integrated kettlebell weights, a great metabolic tool that builds up core strength.
According to Knight, the heavier a kettlebell, the safer. "Never hold less than 50 pounds in each hand. Anything below that and you'll be tempted to use your arms to lift the weights. This is when you'll get hurt. When using kettlebells, you need to use your hips to do the lift."
Food of the gods:
What you eat is crucial if you want to be strong: "Chris needed to bulk up, so it was a matter of upping his calories so that he could gain up to two pound a week. Towards the end of training he was eating 6,000 calories a day but working out so much that he was burning them right off. His diet included huge quantities of grains, vegetables, lean protein and potatoes. After he got big, Knight then had to get him back down to 218 pounds.
Once he had gained muscle, Hemsworth went on a four-week fat loss plan.
He focused on "infusion" training, a combination of bodybuilding and mixed martial arts. Knight devised a total-body circuit that included sledge hammers, "ropes gone wild," log presses, Prowler sprints and, once again, kettlebells.
"I had to get Chris moving quickly and constantly," says Knight. "Can't do a push-up? Hold a plank, so long as you keep doing something."
One of Knight's favorite MMA moves was "ropes gone wild": For this move, Hemsworth held a 55-foot rope in each hand, lifting and lowering to create an undulating motion -- his heart rate could reach up to 190 beats per minute doing this.
The caveman diet
Chris ate like a caveman; his diet was supersimple and consisted of nothing other than clean foods that weren't loaded with garbage.
"Chris could eat anything that came off trees and from the ground, such as nuts and berries," says Knight.
Look good Stark naked
Want to be an Iron Man? Robert Downey?Jr.'s trainer made him a fitness machine.
Engineering genius Tony Stark is a bit of a nerd, so Downey Jr. couldn't look too buff. His trainer, Brad Bose, focused on resistance training and cardio workouts using the rowing machine and treadmill, and put him on a protein-rich diet.