Over the past decade, with the ascendance of the comic book film, we’ve seen a small group of actors transformed from more or less average Joe into the real world manifestation of a superhero. While superhero films have been around for decades, it is safe to say that Christopher Reeve never had the physique of Henry Cavill. Of course, you can make the argument that some of these men were already in pretty good shape – which is true – but there are those who made radical transformations, perhaps none more startling than Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy. Which naturally begs the question – how can we put into practice some of the methods used to help us achieve our own superhero transformation. Herewith we’ve compiled some of the common themes each man had to adopt, and below we provide an outline of each specific regimen.
1. You Need To Consume A Lot of Calories (much of it in protein)
With rare exceptions where a meaningful amount of weight loss was involved, all of the actors had to increase their caloric intake dramatically. To build that sort of muscle requires fuel – so healthy carbohydrates were used to fuel the workouts with copious amounts of protein in the form of chicken breasts and eggs to provide the key building blocks for muscle. Protein shakes were integral in their processes if for no other reason than it is hard to eat five or six thousand calories of solid food. The shakes provided a big caloric punch without the mental sense of another meal.
2. They Found the Right Supplements for the Job
Many of these men started at different levels of physical condition and had somewhat different goals. For someone like Hugh Jackman, who had to put on a substantial amount of muscle for the latest Wolverine, he used Creatine to help gain muscle mass, BCAAs before and after workouts, and L-Carnitine while cutting to help metabolize fatty acids. In much the same way, Chris Evans consumed low carb protein shakes between daily meals with BCAAs to gain muscle mass and minimize the corresponding increase in fat. Further, he took glutamine with every meal to prevent the cannibalization of muscle for energy and took multivitamins and omega fatty acids for general health purposes. Conversely, for someone like Chris Pratt, nutritionist Dr. Phil Goglia had to suggest supplements that would help him shed substantial excess weight. To find out which supplements are right for you, take this five minute free online consultation.
3. Compound Exercises are Key
The single commonality in all the workout routines was the use of compound exercises – bench presses, squats, dead lifts, pull ups, kettlebell swings – to really help drive muscle gain and build strength. Some, like Henry Cavill, used a workout that resembled a Crossfit WOD twice a day with a great degree of variety but still retaining a focus on Olympic lifts. Almost all of his exercises were compound in nature. Others, like Hugh Jackman, focused on direct strength training using four primary exercises – the barbell bench press, the back squat, the weighted pull-up and the deadlift. The logic behind this is fairly straightforward – compound exercises stimulate more muscle fibers while promoting the release of more hormones (including testosterone, the primary muscle building hormone), which results in the greatest possible increase in lean muscle mass. Since many of these actors are looking to put on as much as ten to twenty pounds of muscle, they need to work the exercises best suited toward that goal. Fortunately, most of us have more modest goals than that.
4. You Must Lift Heavy
If there was a single take away in reviewing all the workout routines that were integral in the transformations, it was that everyone eschewed higher reps in favor of heavier weight. Chris Hemsworth would do 3 sets of every exercise, at 10, 8 and 6 repetitions. Hugh Jackman would generally do 4 sets of a given exercise anywhere between 3 and 5 reps in each set. Similarly, Chris Evans primarily would do 2 sets of each exercise with between 5 to 7 reps. Of course, the lower the rep count the more of the one rep maximum the actor would do. Even Henry Cavill would use relatively heavy weight at times during his Crossfit program. So why do they lift heavy? Primarily to put on muscle mass. While 3 rep sets is extreme, a substantial amount of research suggests that heavier, low repetition sets result in a greater proportion of muscle fibers activated which in turn means more growth. So for those out there looking to put on muscle mass – especially those hard gainers who struggle to put on a pound or two – we suggest focusing on moving to lower reps per set while increasing your weight (all while never sacrificing form, which should be a given but we’ll say it anyway).
Now that your training regimen is all set, it’s time to get your nutrition under control. Check out the customized solutions that WellPath has to offer.