It's no secret that Chris Hemsworth has huge muscles. After all, he is the only Avenger who can easily lift the mythical hammer. But Chris doesn't just act his part, he also works hard to look and feel like Thor too.
Chris has been playing Thor in the Marvel Universe for over 10 years now, but it took a long time in the role before he mastered his muscle-building routine. In a recent 2021 interview, Chris told Men's Health: "For years I probably overtrained. People who do muscle-building often don't realize it's a sport that shouldn't be seven days a week, two hours a day. I was doing that in the previous Thors, and was coming up sorer, with less energy."
Chris opened up about the pressure he felt from Hollywood expectations. "There's an aesthetic that the role requires," he told Men's Health. Intense, daily muscle-building was just as much a part of his career as was his acting.
It really wasn't until the pandemic that Chris finally had time to experiment with different workout routines and exercises, with the help of his team of trainers. "This time round I was fortunate enough to have a solid period at home to try a multitude of nutritional and training methods, to build the strongest version of myself and the character yet," Chris posted on Instagram.
Having learned much about balance, Chris now shares what he knows and all of his trainers' tips in a subscription health and fitness app, Centr.
So what are Chris's latest muscle-building tactics? Read on to find out, and next check out how to Get Killer Abs Fast With 3 Effective Exercises.
He works out multiple muscles at once
Chris and his personal trainer Luke Zocchi recommend compound, or multi-joint, movements as a part of the Centr Power muscle-building philosophy. This basically means choosing exercises that will activate more than one muscle at a time. "Compound exercises increase the heart rate more than isolated exercises because the body needs to oxygenate more muscles at one time, meaning the heart has to pump more blood around the body. To do that, the heart rate has to rise," explains Chris's Centr team.
Full-body workouts, like the recent Functional Slam Workout that Chris posted on Instagram, will include compound exercises. One of the exercises in The Functional Slam Workout, for example, is the front squat. Previous Eat This, Not That! reporting shows that squats activate your abs, obliques, transverse abdominis, and more. "A great full-body workout to help build explosive power and strength @centrfit 💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻," wrote Chris on his Instagram post.
He repeats the same exercises a lot
If you take a look at Chris's workouts on Instagram, you'll notice that after he lists all of the exercises, he'll add the number of times to repeat. On New Year's Eve, Chris posted: "Try this little no equipment burner before you hit the champagne on New Years 💪🏻. Do 2 x rounds total, with 1-minute rest between rounds." That's because repetition is key. We all know that the first set never feels that bad, but by the time you're on your second or third, that's when you really start to push yourself. "Building muscle takes consistency and repetition," says Chris's Centr team, "which means you'll be doing the same lifts, but trust the process."
He doesn't take water breaks in the middle of reps
Chris may have designated rest time in between each exercise, but there are no breaks during the exercise. For example, a few weeks ago, Chris posted a 10-minute, low-impact workout on Instagram with his trainer Luke. They did each exercise for 40 seconds and had a 20-minute rest in between exercises. Even though they both were getting tired, they pushed themselves to keep going. The reason for this is another principle of the Centr Power muscle-building philosophy: tempo, or "the time your muscles spend under tension," explains the Centr website. If Chris only did mountain climbers for five seconds before taking a break, then his muscles wouldn't be activated for a long enough time.
He challenges himself
From before his Thor days until now, Chris has surely gotten stronger. But that's because he never gets too comfortable doing the same exact thing. "It's also important to challenge your muscles to train to failure – the point where you can't complete another rep," explains the Centr team in their "Build Muscle like Chris Hemsworth" program. Imagine if Chris did 5 push-ups and never tried doing more than that. Captain America might have taken over Thor's hammer for good.
He doesn't just lift heavy weights
A lot of people think that building muscle requires heavy weights, but Chris's workouts are about more than just lifting. "Transitioning from heavy weight training to a lot more bodyweight functional movements concentrating on agility, strength and speed," he wrote on Instagram along with a video of his workout. Some of his exercises included boxing, squats, push-ups, and sit thrus. Especially since the pandemic, Chris has worked with his trainers to develop a lot of non-equipment workouts like this one. His trainer Luke told Men's Health that these functional workouts have helped Chris improve his day-to-day movements. Chris's functional exercises focus more on everyday movements like walking, jumping, reaching, stretching, etc.
He has a recovery routine
Over the past few years, Chris has learned to value recovery time when it comes to building muscle. "I get a lot of questions about my training but not much about my recovery which is equally important for optimal health. The key factors are rest, repair and nutrition," he shared on Instagram. Chris's trainers say that recovery is needed so that your muscles can grow and repair themselves. This means eating good and sleeping well, but also doing recovery exercises that will speed up those muscle repairs.
Want to learn more about muscle-building? Check out This 2-Second Trick Helps You Build Muscle Faster, Says Top Trainer.