July 28, 2020 9 min read

If you remember a childhood of looking up to your DC Comics or Marvel superheroes like Captain American, Iron-Man, Deadpool, Doctor Strange, The Incredible Hulk, Falcon, Luke Cage, Superman, Hawkeye, and others, you probably did a fair bit of bulging, rippling, and tough role play!

Well, now you can bring your comic book superhero dreams to life and become one yourself with the right workout and nutrition plan.

Want to be suave, smooth, and strong like Batman, a fighting-fit Amazonian like Wonder Woman, or one of Marvel Cinematic Universe's incredible Avengers? Read on, and see how real-life actors transformed themselves with the most effective workout routines to best emulate our childhood heroes.

Ant-Man

Ant-Man Characteristics: Mightily strong and agile, Marvel Comics' Ant-Man, aka master thief Scott Lang, is a microscopic, subatomic size-shifter, all while maintaining the strength of his normal size. The Ant-Man suit enables Lang to harness subatomic ‘Pym Particles’ to grow or shrink, gain strength/weight, and control an army of ants using his mind.

Actor: Paul Rudd is probably one of the most surprising superhero castings of all, due to his acting history as just a regular-bodied, good-looking guy. Taking on the role of Ant-Man at the age of 46, Rudd proved that just about anyone can transform their physique from regular to amazing given the time and dedication.

Body Transformation Time: Not much of an exerciser before, Paul Rudd’s role prep took 12 months during which he completely overhauled his unhealthy lifestyle to build the look needed to play the role of Ant-Man.

Workout:To be as lithe, athletic, and ripped as Ant-Man, you’ll need a well-designed mixture of cardio, strength & functional training. Training x5 a week with x2 days rest, get ready for some serious pains and gains:


Workout Day 1

  • 40-minute cardio before breakfast
  • Jumping push-ups: 3 sets, 15 reps
  • Leg raises: 3 sets, 20 reps
  • Plank: 3 sets, as long as you can hold
  • Dumbbell bench press: 3 sets, 10 reps
  • Dumbbell shoulder press: 3 sets, 10 reps
  • Wide-grip lat pulldown: 3 sets, 10 reps

Workout Day 2

  • 40-minute cardio before breakfast
  • Barbell shoulder press: 4 sets, 15 reps
  • Split squat: 2 sets, 12 reps per leg
  • Sit-Ups: 3 sets, 20 reps
  • Kettlebell swings: 3 sets, 12 reps
  • Wide-grip lat pulldown: 3 sets, 12 reps
  • Stiff-legged barbell deadlifts: 3 sets, 8 reps
  • Barbell shrugs: 3 sets, 12 reps

Workout Day 3

  • 40-minute cardio before breakfast
  • Overhead clean and press: 3 sets, 12 reps
  • Box jumps: 4 sets, 10 reps 1 x 10 4 x 10 30s
  • Lunges: 3 walking lengths, 1 min each
  • Barbell push and press: 3 sets, 6 reps
  • Seated alternating incline bench dumbbell curls: 5 sets, 8 reps
  • Lying dumbbell tricep extensions: 5 sets, 8 reps

Let this serve you as a general template. To get maximum benefit, switch up the exercises by increasing weight or speed as you progress, or find alternatives that target the same muscle groups.

Diet: If you want to move as fast as Ant-Man, there is little room for carrying extra weight. To achieve the supple and swift look, you’ll need to take on a fat-blasting eating plan that’s low on simple carbs, rich in protein, and high on healthy fats, e.g.:

  • Breakfast: 3 poached eggs, sauteed kale, black coffee
  • Snack: Whey protein shake, a small handful of walnuts
  • Lunch: Grilled chicken, quinoa and broccoli
  • Snack: Whey protein shake, a small handful of hazelnuts
  • Dinner: Organ meat burgers and grilled vegetables 
  •  

    Supplements: 

    Batman

    Batman Characteristics: Unlike most superheroes, DC Comics’ Batman represents human strength, genius-level intelligence, and wealth at its highest peak. Bruce Wayne, Batman’s real human name, is the ‘James Bond of Superheroes’ — suave, strong, and passionate to a fault.

    Actor: Well-known for his method acting, Christian Bale was the obvious choice for casting directors when choosing him for the role in Batman Begins.

    Body Transformation Time: Having just wrapped up filming The Machinist 63 pounds underweight, Bale was given only 6 months to put that weight back on, and add 39 pounds more in muscle. Naturally, this extreme time-frame isn’t for everyone and can be dangerous by putting the body under pressure. To do this safely, extend the expectation of your results with an additional 6 months.

    Workout:The Batman routine consists of 5 strength-training days a week and cardio every day, with the goal of increasing muscle growth as quickly as possible. Here is a 3-day sample that you can recycle from training to training:

    Workout Day 1

    • 20 min HIIT cardio
    • Bench press: superset to failure
    • Tricep Dips: 3 sets, 15 reps
    • Deadlift: to failure
    • Push-ups: 3 sets, 15 reps
    • Box Jump: 3 sets, 15 reps
    • Burpees: 3 sets, 10 reps
    • Planks: 4 sets, as long as you can hold
    • Side Planks: 4 sets, as long as you can hold

    Workout Day 2

    • 20 min HIIT cardio
    • Deadlift: superset to failure
    • Chin-ups: 3 sets to failure
    • L sit hold: 3 sets, 30 secs
    • Shadowbox: 3 sets, 1 min
    • Jump rope: 3 sets, 1 min
    • Flutter Kicks: 3 sets, 50 reps
    • Planks: 4 sets, as long as you can hold

    Workout Day 3

    • 20 min HIIT cardio
    • Squat: 3 sets, 15 reps
    • Hanging rows: 3 sets, to failure
    • L sit hold: 3 sets, 30 secs
    • Heavy Bag: 3 sets, 1 min
    • Leg raises: 3 sets, 50 reps
    • Planks: 3 sets, 1 min-
    • Side Planks: 3 sets, 1 min

    Diet:Putting on weight can be just as challenging for some body types, as is losing weight for others. If you are looking to bulk up fast, you’ll need to up your calorie intake with healthful carbohydrates, fats, and quality protein.

    Make sure mealtimes are spread out every 2-3 hours, with carbs making up more than half the portion and the rest with protein and a little fat. To maintain and grow muscle, consider that you will need to consume approximately 1-2 grams of protein per pound of your body weight per day.

    Supplements: To get to Batman’s optimum human physical and mental strength, you need an ultimate stack of supplements that pump your muscles and aid recovery to the max. Look for:

    Black Panther

    Black Panther Characteristics: As the king and protector of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, Marvel Comics' Black Panther, aka T'Challa, is a masterful, superhuman combo of strength, stamina, genius intellect, martial arts, and unparalleled reflexes. With the addition of body armor made from vibranium, Wakanda's most valuable metal, Black Panther is able to absorb kinetic vibrations and energy within his vicinity.

    Actor: No stranger to vigorously physical roles, Chadwick Aaron Boseman was a perfect fit to play T’Challa with his ready-made athleticism and background in weight, flexibility, and combat training.

    Body Transformation Time: As a physically fit individual both on and off-screen, the amount of training Boseman had to do on top of his regular regime was minimal. This doesn’t mean that his regular routine isn’t any less grueling — he was just always ready to be the Black Panther! And so can you.

    Workout: To achieve Black Panther’s form, you’ll need to train twice a day with classic bodybuilding workouts, circuit, and combat training.

    • Bodybuilding Workouts: These should be focused on compound exercises that focus on multiple muscle groups at the same time, such as squats, deadlifts, pullups, and bench presses. Stick with higher repetitions, e.g. between eight to twelve with short rest periods of half a minute. This will help to grow lean muscle.
    • Circuit Training: Combine high-intensity aerobics and plyometric movements to burn calories while increasing endurance, explosivity, and flexibility.
    • Combat Training: Try a varied mix of martial arts, such as karate, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and capoeira to learn as many combat styles as possible.

    Diet: In his day-to-day life, Boseman prefers to stick to a plant-based diet that’s mostly vegan. For the role of Black Panther, a calorie-rich vegetarian/pescatarian approach was adopted to build lean muscle mass. Based on staple complex carbohydrates like brown rice and sweet potato, his diet would also include omega fats and proteins from fish, nuts, and eggs.

    Supplements:

    • Vegan protein shake: Promotes muscle growth and repair while ensuring even vegan superheroes have a complete source of essential amino acids.
    • Vegan immune support capsules: Even with a vibranium suit, Black Panther needs to maximize his body’s defense system with a superhuman immune system.

    Spiderman.

    Spider-Man

    Spider-Man Characteristics:Marvel Comic's science whizz and genius teen Peter Parker transforms into an arachnid superhero after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Becoming Spider-Man, Parker’s superhuman senses deliver speed, stability, coordination, fast reflexes, strength, balance, and an undeniable talent for webbing spider web material to help fight crime.

    Actor: Trained gymnast Tom Holland was cast to play Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Far From Home after Toby Maguire was retired from the role.

    Body Transformation Time:Despite his gymnastic background,Holland still had to work with a trainer every day to add on 14 pounds of muscle and become the lean, agile, and defined superhero arachnid.

    Workout: To get Spider-Man lean, ripped and ready, you don’t have to do a lot of weightlifting. This physique is a more realistic goal for a vast majority of guys. By focusing on integrating sports and bodyweight exercises into your workout regime, you’ll easily reach Tom Holland’s Spider-Man form in no time.

    As an example, use this workout at least 3 times a week with 1 day of rest between each, and add lots of extra-curricular activities in your spare time such as basketball, hiking, and boxing:

    • Push-ups: 3 sets, 30 reps
    • Walking lunges: 4 sets, 20 reps per leg
    • Pull-ups: To failure
    • Crunches: 3 sets, 20 reps
    • Side Crunches: 3 sets, 20 reps

    This workout is extremely beginner-friendly and easy to integrate into your lifestyle, especially as no gym equipment is needed. As you progress, you may want to add weighted straps to your ankles, or arms.

    Diet: Tom Holland followed a fat-busting high protein diet to stay as lean as possible while also building muscle for a defined, athletic look. Although you need to watch out for calorie consumption, with this sort of diet it is better to calculate micronutrients on an individual basis to get the most out of it.

    Some of the foods and drink you can eat in the high protein, healthy fat Spider-Man diet is:

    • Eggs
    • Poultry
    • Red meat
    • Organ meat
    • Seafood
    • Leafy greens
    • Electrolyte-rich mineral water
    • Metabolism-boosting black coffee

    Supplements:

    Thor

    Thor Characteristics: A true endomorph with his imposing stature and superhuman strength, Thor is a mythical member of the advanced Asgardian race of Viking gods.  Wielding his trusty, magical hammer Mjolnir, he masterfully utilizes thunder and lightning to overpower his adversaries like Thanos, Loki, and Ultron.

    Actor: Australian actor Chris Hemsworth was cast as Marvel Studio's Thor in 2011, after having put on 20 pounds of muscle especially for the audition.  

    Body Transformation Time: With a great head start on his audition, Hemsworth’s Thor body transformation didn’t take longer than 4 months. By the time he starred in  Thor: Ragnarok in 2017 which was produced by Marvel Studios in collaboration with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, his physique was exactly that of the Nordic god.

    Workout:According to Hemsworth’s trainer, Luke Zocchi, the Thor workout plan is a mix of your usual bodybuilding and functional training. Many of the movements are designed to reflect Thor’s fighting style, which is powerful from the ground up with big shoulder swings and an open chest. If you prefer training that is upper-body heavy, then this 2-part workout is for you.

    Part 1: Functional Workout 

    • Ab crunches: 3 sets, 20 reps
    • Push-ups: 3 sets, 20 reps
    • Pull-ups: 3 sets, 120 reps
    • Bodyweight squat: 3 sets, 20 reps
    • Box jump: 3 sets, 12 reps
    • Kettlebell swings: 3 sets, 12 reps

    Part 2: Bodybuilding Workout 

    • Hammer curls: 3 sets, 6 reps
    • Military press: 3 sets, 10 reps
    • Barbell deadlift: 3 sets, 8 reps
    • Barbell bench press: 3 sets, 6 reps
    • Barbell squat: 3 sets, 12 reps

    Diet: To be as big and burly as the lightning-wielding Thor, Chris Hemsworth adopted a protein-rich, high-calorie diet to fuel the building of his muscles. In preparation for the role and during filming, Hemsworth ate 6 times a day with foods that included chicken breast, fish, steak, plenty of vegetables, fruit, brown rice and quinoa.

    Supplements:

    • Muscle-building capsules: Unless you’re a larger body type like Hemsworth, you’ll need some serious pump to help you along your gains.
    • BCAA capsules: To support muscle recovery and make fat loss more effective.
    • Immunity support: With good levels of zinc to reduce lactic acid.

    Getting superhero fit is hard work no doubt. Not only does it take physical strength, but also a passionate, obsessive mentality geared towards excellence of the human form. To get the most out of these workouts, make sure you’re applying the superhero mentality to all areas of your life — movement, rest, and dedication to self and others. That’s what makes a true superhuman powerhouse!


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