Superheroes are a constant source of inspiration. Unless we’re talking about fat Thor, they tend to be jacked, shredded, and overall healthy. It’s a great source of inspiration for those of us looking to improve our physiques.
The issue is that many of the bodies we see on the silver screen are just that—superhero bodies. What is actually doable for your average guy that has to work? What results can you achieve without a personal trainer and dedicated nutritionist?
Enter: Chris Pratt, a.k.a., Star Lord, and one of the Guardians of the Galaxy. While he sported a very aesthetic physique in the movie, he had more humble athletic beginnings than most other fit movie stars.
Pratt began his rise in popularity with the role of Andy Dwyer on the sitcom, “Parks and Recreation.” For those of us who know this character, it’s surprising that the chubby goofball was ever cast as a Marvel superhero.
During the filming of Parks and Rec, Pratt almost reached 300 pounds at certain points. He’s said in the past that he gained weight for the role, and while it was humorous, he never felt happy with his body.
Then came his roles in “Moneyball,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” and finally, “Guardians of the Galaxy.” For the first two, he would lose weight just to gain it back again, but with the role of Star Lord, he’s stuck with his fitness regime and maintained a healthier weight.
In fact, Pratt lost a whopping 60 pounds in just 6 months of training, turning himself into a shredded action star and witty, defender of the galaxy. Before we look into how he trained, let’s take a look at the methods he used to undergo this amazing transformation.
To turn Andy Dwyer into Peter Quill, it was personal trainer Duffy Gaver that was chosen for the role. If the name rings a bell, it’s because Gaver has also helped Chris Hemsworth get into the role of Thor.
Gaver trained Pratt for five months in 2013 in order to get Pratt in the shape he needed to be in. This tended to be broken down into five to six gym sessions per week, with rest days devoted to active recovery, such as hiking, swimming, or sports.
The five months of training under Gaver were broken down into different training regimes to give Pratt the best chance of success, and the best body possible. The first two months were devoted to just bodybuilding type workouts. This means moderate weights and lots of reps, going for volume over intensity.
The next two months were bodybuilding along with conditioning training, to help Pratt lose some body fat. And finally, the last month was all about conditioning. This involved cardio circuits (which we’ll look at down below), along with mountain biking, swimming, circuits, and high-intensity training routines.
Putting all of this together and adding in a dash of Pratt’s amazing work ethic, we got the Star Lord that we all know today. One key in this training regime was that Pratt remained constantly active.
Obviously, this is easier said than done (especially if you’re an actor who’s getting paid to get fit), but even rest days can work for you if you add in some kind of activity. While it may not seem like a lot from week to week, overtime all of your hikes, walks, or bike rides, will add up and help you reach your goals faster.
Gaver has also said that Pratt was an extremely hard worker, training even when it wasn’t necessary. This work ethic obviously paid off and elevated both the character of Quill, and Pratt’s lifestyle.
We’ll go into more depth at the end of this article, but it’s worth mentioning at the beginning that Pratt had a lot of help from nutritionist Phil Goglia in transforming his body. His eating emphasized micronutrient-rich foods, enough protein to keep his muscles growing and developing, and very importantly, he cut out all alcohol for eight months.
Whether that’s a small price to pay to look shredded is up to the individual, but it’s worth it if you’re planning on maintaining your physique. His water intake was also increased a lot which definitely helped with his training and his weight loss.
Any good workout routine will include a warm-up, so it goes without saying that Pratt warmed up before every gym session. He did some very fundamental and basic movements, but that doesn’t take away from their effectiveness.
Warming up is necessary to get the blood flowing to your muscles, your heart rate up, and loosening up your joints and muscle groups. Not only will all of these things lead to bigger gains due to increased blood flow, but you’ll also be at a much lower risk of injuring yourself.
And, as we all know, injuring yourself is maybe the worst thing you can do when trying to develop your body. Here is a sample of the warm-up that Pratt did:
When it comes to the treadmill, feel free to incorporate some other type of cardio. Pratt did his on an incline, so make sure that your at least breathing heavy and working up a sweat by the time you’re finished. Cycling or jump roping are also good options to raise your heart rate and get you in the groove for lifting.
Dynamic stretching is also a good idea to do before workouts, and it’ll help you become more limber and mobile in the long run. While this may seem pointless when talking about muscle gains, keep in mind that better mobility will lead to better ranges of motion throughout your workouts. That means more of the correct muscles utilized in every lift, and ultimately, fewer gains left on the table.
The workout below is inspired by the physique that Pratt got in the end and the training style of his personal trainer, Duffy Gaver. It’s organized in a four-day split, and it includes a cardio circuit and Tabata training that Pratt would’ve most likely utilized during the conditioning phase of his workout regime.
Keep in mind that the rep ranges for these workouts are designed to maximize muscle growth, that is, hypertrophy. The higher rep ranges (and therefore, higher volume) means that you should be going slightly lighter to moderate on the weights.
You want to be gassed out by the end of each set, but you don’t want to overdo it. Especially if you’re just starting out, you might want to substitute some of the more difficult exercises such as pull-ups, for more accessible ones.
As always, the point is to push your body hard enough to develop and grow, but not hard enough to injure yourself or overwork yourself. Everything needs to be balanced out with rest, and that’s what the rest days are for.
But as we saw above, Pratt remained constantly active during his training. That means his rest days were spent doing active recovery. Anything from a hike to a soccer game qualifies for this—the point is to get your body moving and not equate “rest” with being lazy.
It’s also a good idea to be diverse with the things you do. Obviously, you want to do something you’ll enjoy—this will have both physical and mental benefits. But varying your activities will ensure that your body is developing in a wide range of directions, leading to a well-rounded physique and conditioning.
If you’re looking to keep your gains far into the future, this type of development is key. So, without further ado, let’s look into the training routine.
Day One: Back, Biceps, and Abs Routine
Day Two: Chest and Triceps Routine
Day Three: Active Rest Day
If you’re starting on Monday, your Wednesday will be one of your rest days. Of course, we know that this means remaining active in some way. Doing something you enjoy will go far, but also try to vary your activities.
This rest day will go along with another rest day on the weekend, depending on if you do the Tabata training and the cardio circuit. We should also mention that sleep is very important.
While rest days should be for resting, generally speaking, the quality of your sleep from day to day will dictate how fast and efficiently you progress in your training. There’s no easier way to ruin your progress and kneecap your gains than by keeping a poor sleeping schedule. Your muscles need to heal and grow, and bedtime is when they’re going to be doing that.
Day Four: Legs and Core Routine
Day Five: Shoulders and Traps Routine
Whether you want to include this is up to you, since it will be varyingly beneficial. As always, the success of any training routine will depend on your starting level and your goals.
Obviously, a training routine won’t be good if it doesn’t match up with your goals and takes you in a different direction, but your starting fitness level should also dictate what you do. For example, if you’re trying to lose a bit more flub than Pratt was initially, it would be a good idea to include conditioning training from the get-go, rather than months into the training routine.
This will largely depend on you, but keep in mind that too much cardio can eat into your muscle gains. If you’ve already got some kind of muscular foundation and are just trying to lean out, then including conditioning would be a good idea. However, if you’re skinny fat, lifting and doing cardio cautiously is the way to go.
Here is an example of a cardio circuit routine that’ll get your heart pumping and sweat dripping:
Following from the cardio circuit above, this is another great way to condition your body and start getting shredded rather than jacked. Include this when you’ve already built up a foundation of muscle since it will be hard to do both high-intensity workouts while trying to develop bigger muscles.
Feel free to customize this as you want, but keep in mind that it’s meant to be challenging. You really want your heart pounding and sweat dripping off you for this one. Push yourself hard and the belly fat will begin to turn into a six-pack.
For this workout, do 20 seconds on with 10 seconds of rest for each exercise. That means going as hard as you can for those 20 seconds and keeping strictly to the time constraints. Together, this will amount to five rounds that you’ll begin from the top once you finish the leg lifts.
There are no big secrets to Pratt’s eating, but it goes without saying that the diet played a big role in his transformation into the Star Lord.
One thing he’s brought up in the past is the amount of water he was told to drink—and the number of times this forced him to go to the washroom throughout the day. Not only did this support his training, but it also helped in terms of weight loss.
It also shouldn’t come as a surprise that Pratt cut out the alcohol and the junk food. Processed foods were replaced with healthy alternatives that were micronutrient-rich and fit into his macros. And speaking of macros, Pratt also went low-carb and steered completely clear of refined carbs such as pastries, breakfast cereals, and white bread.
In order to support the amount he was training, it was necessary to fill up his plate with a ton of healthy protein. The building block of your muscles, protein is essential if you’re looking to get into better shape. Some of the foods that were included in his diet were:
But of course, this doesn’t mean that cheat meals are completely off the table. Just make sure you use them properly. That is, they’re meant as a way to treat yourself mentally and can even help you lose weight if you’re doing low-carb. However, cheat meals (or days) shouldn’t ruin your diet.
Sticking to things you’ve scheduled in advance will ensure that you’re training enough, eating enough of the right things, and most importantly it’ll help you get enough rest on a consistent basis. Maintaining a routine that covers all your bases is the best thing to make consistent gains in your training, and the only way to keep those gains over the long term.
Pratt had the benefit that he had to get in shape for a role—this is his job, after all. Chances are that you’re not a Hollywood actor with a nutritionist and a personal trainer, so things will be more difficult. But if you cultivate the right mindset and the right routine, there’s no way you won’t reach what you’re aiming for.