June 12, 2020 10 min read
In a previous post, we looked at the Vikings. Men and women forged out of the ice, stone, and snow of Scandinavia. Their grit and power as warriors was unparalleled during the age of the Vikings—something that we still hold to a high regard today.
But if we hold these mortals in high regard, just imagine what their gods must’ve been like.
Introducing the god of thunder, lightning, sacred groves, and strength. A protector of mankind, and of sanctity and fertility. But, most importantly (at least for our purposes), the god associated with Chris Hemsworth.
Like most of his co-stars in the Avengers Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hemsworth’s portrayal of the god of the thunder has been a fan-favorite since the first Thor movie in 2011. While his Australian charm and good looks have a lot to do with his popular portrayal of the superhero god, there’s no denying that his physique has played a major role in properly articulating the character on the silver screen.
While Hemsworth has always been beach-ready, the role of Thor necessitated a major change in his workout and diet routine. And it hasn’t stayed static, either. We’ll be going over some of the god of Thunder’s workouts and how you too can wield Mjölnir (no promises on this one).
Like we mentioned, Hemsworth has always been beach-ready, but relatively lanky and tall. And while he’d previous successes in Hollywood prior to his Thor role, it was really the Marvel cinematic universe that required him to pack on some muscles.
Back in 2011 with the first Thor movie, Hemsworth reportedly gained 20 pounds of lean muscle mass in order to portray the comic book character—which makes sense. In the comic books, Thor is a hulking figure with bulging arms and a ripped physique. Staying true to this, Hemsworth packed on the 20 pounds with a very traditional bodybuilding-style workout. A lot of heavy lifts and isolation movements paired with intense compound exercises. More importantly, the lifts were of a heavier load and at a lower rep count. This effectively maximized hypertrophy and make Hemsworth into the 2011 Thor.
Following this, the actor decided to switch things up a bit and go for a more athletic look. He’s said that his character looked too blocky in the first movie, which is fair. Not only as Thor but also a superhero, the role called for not only strength but also agility and athleticism. After all, Thor isn’t just sitting around and looking pretty for most of the movies, barring some exceptions.
This transformation, while not transforming his character entirely, did revamp his workout routine. No longer were his sets at a low 4 or 5 reps, but he instead increased them to 8 to 12 reps. While still looking at the heavy classic lifts such as the deadlift, bench press, and squat, Hemsworth also added in some more functional movements.
This included CrossFit, rope circles, boxing training circuits, and even Muay Thai. And the effects on his physique are evident. In “Ragnarok,” Hemsworth looks leaner and meaner than ever before. You can tell that his character isn’t a bodybuilder any longer, but functionally fit to the degree where you could actually see him doing all the stunts that Thor does. He might’ve not packed on as much muscle as on his first stint as the god of thunder, but he definitely looks just as strong, and even more athletic.
And finally, no Thor character arc would be complete without the evolution of Hemsworth into fat Thor in “Endgame”. In one of his final reprisals of the role, Hemsworth prepared by…donning a fat suit. So, no, we’re not advocating to let yourself go for the sake of being the god of thunder—but it’s important to remember that anyone can fall off the horse and get back up again. Just like Thor will most likely do in “Love and Thunder.” So maybe take that as some inspiration. Or if you’re currently in the shoes of fat Thor, there’s nothing stopping you from reversing the character arc and ending up as jacked Thor.
As the evolution of Thor has illustrated, things are always switching around with Hemsworth’s workouts. The routine sample we’ve offered below is just that—a sample. Hemsworth has stated in the past that it’s difficult for him to give a day-by-day breakdown of his workouts since he and his personal trainer incorporate different strategies and routines based on goals and in order to keep things fresh. Much like lightning, their workouts always strike in a different place.
So, things like boxing circuits, Muay Thai, and even an active recovery process on the rest days (such as a hike or cycling) will help in getting results from this routine. This will obviously be more difficult with a professional personal trainer at your disposal, but try to add in different movements and exercises that you wouldn’t normally do. Not only will this keep things fresh and new, but that’ll also motivate you and it’ll be better for your body’s general athleticism.
This is a difficult routine so start slow if you need to, and while a recommended break between workout is anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds, take more time if that’s what you need—especially when starting out. Furthermore, Hemsworth had 6 months to prepare for the original role, and therefore he had to get down to business without any distractions. You probably don’t have that same privilege, so don’t expect to be wielding Mjölnir or Stormbreaker in a few weeks.
Speaking of personal trainers, Hemsworth has also had Duffy Gaver and Luke Zocchi to help him in training throughout the Thor process. More recently, it’s been Zocchi that has built on the Thor foundational physique to make him more athletic and agile rather than just big and bulky. Having a professional can be great for motivating, but it’ll also help in giving you a wide range of different exercises to choose from. Not only will a wide range help in building sometimes underdeveloped muscle groups, but it’ll also keep things spicy and develop a good range of motion.
Use the workout as a general guideline on how to get that god-of-thunder physique. While Hemsworth and his trainer do like to switch things around, they always do come back to splits, where they focus on different parts of the body on different days.
Furthermore, focus on developing a good range of motion, strength, agility, and general athleticism. This means a lower load spread over a higher amount of reps. Also, things like cardio and conditioning won’t hurt either. If you want to see progress faster, do some kind of active recovery exercises on your rest days, such as hiking, swimming, or cycling.
Day 1: Back
Remembering to keep reps high and load low, do 5 sets each of the first two exercises with 15 to 20 reps each. The row two rows should be done with 4 sets and 12 reps, while the swiss ball hyperextension can be done in 4 sets with 15 to 20 reps each.
Day 2: Chest
For the bench press, do 8 sets of 8 to 12 reps each, depending on your comfort level. For the remainder of the exercises, try to stick to 4 sets each. In terms of reps, do anything from 10 to 15 in order to maximize endurance and strength training.
Day 3: Legs
Although the god of thunder, Thor still needs a firm foundation to stand on. Do 7 sets of 5 to 8 reps of the back squat, followed by one set of the leg press, going until failure. The walking lunge should be done over 4 sets and 20 reps each. Make sure to keep your posture correct though the entire movement, chest held high like the god himself. The leg curl and the calf raise will be done over 3 sets and 20 reps each.
Day 4: Shoulders
If you’ve been following this daily routine through the workweek, Monday to Friday, then today will be Thursday. Otherwise known as “Thor’s day” in Old English—so make sure not to disappoint any gods that might be watching on Thor’s shoulder day.
The military press is done over 7 sets and 5 to 8 reps, followed by 4 sets of the Arnold press with 12 reps each. The rest of the exercises should be done over 3 sets and 10 to 15 reps.
Day 5: Arms
And finally, the arms. One of Thor’s most defining features, at least in the comics. To get these bulging biceps, make sure to do 3 sets of 10 reps for the first four exercises. The hammer curl and rope pull-down can be done with 3 sets and 12 reps, while doing 3 sets of 20 reps for the last two exercises. Done properly, not only will you look like a god, but you’ll feel like one too.
Day 6 and 7
For his own Thor routine, Hemsworth works out 6 days a week in order to get into god-like shape for the role. The 7th day is a rest day, but it’s important to remain somewhat active even while you’re recovering.
It’ll also be beneficial to add in a core circuit somewhere in the routine, in order to really entrench the idea of functional fitness. You can do variations of the plank, leg raises, or sit-ups. This will really activate your core and get you in thunderous shape in no-time.
The most powerful in Norse mythology, and one of the most powerful in the Marvel universe, is Mjölnir. This mythical hammer was said to be able to level mountains, and only those who were worthy could wield it (i.e., Captain American).
It makes sense then to add in some hammer workouts in your routine. Not only will these get you ripped, but it also plays an important role in staying true to one of the central themes of Hemsworth’s workouts—variety.
A sledgehammer isn’t often found most gyms, however. Not only is it relatively dangerous compared to other gym equipment, even more so in the hands of a beginner, but it also requires some open space and tools to use. If you have a sledgehammer and space to do the workouts below, then by all means, go ahead. But for those of us who might not have the tools required, there’s a good substitute that’s becoming increasingly popular.
Indian clubs, and even maces and steel clubs, can be found in some gyms around. There are even Indian club-focused fitness studios that have been opening up, focusing on an ancient technique that’s only recently being re-discovered in the West. Maces and steel clubs on the other hand are also excellent when it comes to functional training that emphasizes strength and mobility. A.k.a., the perfect tools to use when training to be Thor.
So, while the exercises below are meant to be used as hammer-focused movements, feel free to substitute with some other amazing tools that will have far-reaching effects on your general athleticism.
Much like the name implies, grab a sledgehammer and swing it. Begin the movement from behind, holding the hammer as it points down and back. Then, with both hands, swing forward as hard as you can—preferably hitting a big tire or something that’s just as rugged but not too bouncy.
This will be a great full-body conditioning exercise, but your upper body will definitely be emphasized. Remember to keep your core tight in order to remain stable throughout the movement. Furthermore, your rotational strength and range of mobility will also be improved.
This time you’ll be swinging the hammer towards a tire, almost a golfing action. Gripping the hammer in both hands, begin the movement slightly behind you and to the side. Swinging the hammer across in a chopping action to finish the movement. Make sure to alternate sides in order to engage both sides of your body.
Like the exercise above, keep your core activated in order to maintain stability and power. A great exercise for the trunk, your hips will also benefit from having to mobilize in a wider range of movement.
Holding the hammer in one hand (it should be lighter than a full-on sledgehammer), cast it in a controlled movement around your opposite shoulder and behind your back. End the movement in an upright position in front of you. Also, remember to alternate sides.
Make sure you have a good grip when attempting all of these movements, but especially this one. It’ll really push your range of mobility, focusing on the wrists and shoulders. As always, keep your core engaged. Not only will this help in terms of core activation and development, but it’ll also help keep you stable with such a wonky movement.
A variation on the first hammer exercise we looked at, this one also requires you to do an overhand chop, but this time also performing a squat. Gripping the hammer with both hands, bring it behind you and strike down, hitting a tire. As you come down in the movement, make sure to bend your knees and keep your back in a neutral position.
Doing this with a heavy hammer, like a sledgehammer, and also bending at the knees will exert a huge amount of downwards force. If your training has been missing some pizazz, this is one definite way to get you back on the proverbial horse.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, doing what Hemsworth did and putting on so much lean weight didn’t just come down to the workout routine. He ate clean, and he ate a ton—6 times a day apparently.
If you really want to lean into the whole Viking god thing, then maybe a Nordic diet is the one for you. Quite similar to the Mediterranean diet of whole grains, fish, legumes, and vegetables. There’s also a high number of berries that are consumed, which have a number of major benefits for your health.
The diet is relatively low in red meat and sweets, which is something to consider when looking at Hemsworth’s diet as well. With the last few movies, he’s made a major attempt to cut back on animal proteins, trying to go vegan and consuming solely vegetable protein.
But if your goal is “Endgame” Thor, then, by all means, don’t quit the dirty bulk and definitely don’t forget the beers.