Chris Hemsworth, besides being known for his role as Thor, is now gaining more attention for his action star role in Netflix’s latest movie – Extraction. As was the case with his role as Thor, Hemsworth’s physique is on full display in Extraction which has caused guys to seek out the secrets getting a body like Hemsworth. In this article I’m going to walk through a strategy on how I would coach you if you requested to build a body like Chris Hemsworth.
Building a body like Chris Hemsworth starts with knowing where you’re starting from right now. If you’re 50 lbs overweight – your strategy will be much different than if you’re super skinny and need to pack on muscle. When it comes to transforming your body – it’s not enough to know the destination. You need to get crystal clear on the starting point so that you can have an effective game plan to reach your goal. Looking good naked starts with being crystal clear on where you are today.
WHAT’S YOUR STARTING POINT?
Getting a body like Chris Hemsworth begins with an assessment of your current body. Are you overweight ? Super skinny with low muscle mass? Or maybe a combination of the two?
Hemsworth keeps his body fat around 10-12% which allows him to build muscle and keep a chiseled physique. If you’re currently higher than 15% body fat I’d strongly recommend focusing on leaning down first. Getting lean allows for more insulin sensitivity – which basically means your body can shuttle nutrients to where they need to be more efficiently. This results in an easier time with building muscle. Plus, when you’re leaner you look bigger which adds to the aesthetics Losing fat should be the first step for anyone who’s over 15-20% bodyfat. A rapid fat loss plan to kick things off may be the right move in some cases too.
If you’re super skinny and need to add muscle – your clear focus is packing on size. This doesn’t mean jamming loads of calories into your mouth which ultimately leads to tons of fat gain along with a little muscle. You still need to be calculated with training and nutrition to add muscle. However you will be eating more than someone who needs to lose fat. Keep mind building muscle takes time – usually much longer than losing fat. However, you’re at a huge advantage with being lean already. Small amounts of new muscle will make a drastic difference to your physique.
If you’re “skinny-fat” – you’ll want to jump into what’s called a “re-comp” (losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time). This is definitely a more detailed process than focusing on either fat loss or muscle gain. You’ll rotate periods of burning fat with periods of focusing on muscle. A re-comp is the most enjoyable approach when it comes to body transformation – you get to eat more and see progress on both muscle and fat loss which leads to more motivation.
MINDSET FOR SUCCESS
No matter where you’re starting from, the importance of mindset can’t be overstated. If you go into a body transformation expecting overnight results – be prepared for disappointment. Creating a body like Chris Hemsworth will take some time. It’s not that it’s impossible, but it will take work.
That being said, its also very important to use Hemsworth’s physique for inspiration not comparison. Comparing your genetic body to someone else’s genetic make-up is a slippery slope. There are certain things that are truly God-given. For example – you might have abs but they look different than someone else’s. That’s genetics at play. You might not build muscle as fast as your friend Mike who trains at the same gym. That’s simply genetics. Don’t allow comparison to steal your thunder. Instead use others’ success as inspiration to achieve your ultimate best. Being inspired gives you fuel. Comparison drains your tank.
Now let’s recap for a minute. You know where you’re starting from, you’re committed to the long-term process, and you’re inspired (not comparing) by a Hemsworth type of physique. What else can you do to stay mentally focused?
The final step is to get into character. It’s fitting that we’re talking about a celebrity physique like Chris Hemsworth’s because when you mentally get into character it can make a world of a difference. Getting into character is when you start to think and operate like the person you want to become. If you start making decisions based around what the future version of you would do – you’ll start to choose things that help you reach your goals. Many people are stuck in their current ways and mindset which leads to massive struggle. When you literally commit to acting like the jacked, ripped and muscular version of yourself you’ll start choosing the foods, workouts and habits that help you get to those goals.
BEING LEAN IS TOP PRIORITY
We’ll get to the muscle side in a bit, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to be around 12-15% bodyfat. This is where you’ll look way more impressive – even if you don’t carry loads of muscle mass. Being leaner allows definition to shine through which makes you look much bigger than you really are. I’ve worked with guys who lose 30 lbs and they look 20 lbs bigger afterwards simply because they have more definition.
Unless you’re already super lean – your top priority should be reducing body-fat. Let’s walk through some straightforward strategies on how to get started with fat loss. Keep in mind that initially you probably won’t see dramatic changes in the mirror, but if you give it time you’ll start to notice results happening faster and faster. Fat loss is like compound interest. It starts slow but starts to move rapidly as things pick up steam.
LOSE FAT LIKE CHRIS HEMSWORTH
Actors like Chris don’t stay super lean year round. They allow their body-fat to go up when they aren’t filming. However, they usually don’t allow themselves to get out of control. For guys I work with I suggest staying around 15-17% body-fat year round and then chiseling down to 10-12% for the summer. This can be harder for some guys than others. It’s why I want to map out a few key points that will empower you to get lean and stay lean for life.
First, if you’re interested in learning more about exactly how to lose body – fat – here’s a video that breaks it down in depth:
You might not be sure what your body fat percentage is currently. It can be hard to figure out by just looking in the mirror – so here’s a visual breakdown of body fat percentages. These aren’t perfect but they’re close enough to give you a starting point.
If you’re above 15% body-fat you should strongly consider leaning down first before focusing exclusively on building muscle. This is precisely what I help our clients achieve inside my Novak Method Coaching System. Your focus should be simple and centered around 4 main areas: mindset (we covered that piece), movement, muscle and macros. Lets dive into a few key points that will help you lose fat consistently.
Addressing movement is relatively simple. Most of us live pretty sedentary lives. We sit all day in the car, at the office, on the couch and at the dinner table. Our bodies just don’t burn that many calories so it’s easy to overeat (especially with food being around us constantly). When we get intentional about our daily activity – fat loss starts to happen quickly. The fastest way to get intentional is to start tracking your daily steps. Find your daily average and start adding 2,000 to that goal. This usually means targeting around 8-12k steps per day. When actors, like Chris Hemsworth, start prepping for movie roles they immediately start doing more cardio (walking, HIIT, cycling, etc.) to start adding more caloric burn to their day. Handle your movement and you’ll be well on your way to losing more fat and building a Action Star physique.
Along with movement being low hanging fruit for fat loss – the second area (and more challenging one for most) is Macros. The food you put in your mouth is the ultimate judge and jury when it comes to fat loss results. It’s much easier to out-eat a training regimen than it is to out-train a poor diet. Ripped and muscular actors like Chris Hemsworth have their nutrition dialed in – especially when prepping for a movie role.
Where you start with your diet depends a lot on your nutrition history, but there are a few things that make sense when attempting an impressive transformation. First up is knowing the amount and types of food you’re eating. If you’ve never tracked calories and macronutrients before – I highly suggest starting. You won’t have to track forever, but tracking for a few months gives you clear picture of your nutrition habits. Plus, it gives you the freedom to eat a variety of foods and create healthy versions of things like pizza, burgers and french fries.
To make things super simple for fat loss eating – track your calories and hit your protein goal. I’d be willing to bet quite a bit of money that guys like Chris Hemsworth do a really good job of managing their calories and hitting their protein targets on a consistent basis. For protein – targeting .75-1g per pound of lean body mass is a good place to start. Calories depend heavily on the person. For fat loss I’d suggest somewhere between 10-12x your bodyweight, but if you have more weight to lose these numbers might change. Building muscle will require more calories – usually between 14-15x your bodyweight. Once again, calories are highly individual so you’ll need to test things out and see what your body responds best to.
Chris Hemsworth and many other action movie stars carry an above average amount of muscle mass. However, this level of muscle isn’t unattainable by any means. We’re not talking about high level, juiced out bodybuilders here. We’re also not talking about guys like The Rock who are not only hard-working genetic freaks, but who also dabble with performance enhancing drugs. In fact, I know many all-natural guys who have built a lot more muscle than Hollywood action stars. I’ve also been around guys who look huge on camera but in real life they aren’t massive. They just look bigger because they have lower body fat – which enhances definition.
You’ll need to build muscle to have an Action Star Physique, but you won’t need to take all sorts of drugs to get there. What you’ll want to focus on is building a streamlined physique that has an emphases on the V-Shape – wide shoulders and back, tight waist and enough leg development to balance things out.
This is, of course, easier said than done. However, most guys who want to build muscle start doing insane workout routines that are way too high in volume and exercise variety. They do tons of machine and cable work when they should be focused getting strong and developing thicker, stronger muscle.
The best bet is to focus on the basic compound movements. Bench press, pull-ups, rows, shoulder press, core work, deadlifts and squats should make up 80-90% of your training. Throw in some extra shoulder and arm work and you’re golden. As you gain experience you can add some conditioning work to sculpt an even more athletic-looking physique. After all, guys like Chris Hemsworth don’t just look impressive. They can use their bodies for stunts and athletic endeavors too.
When structuring a muscle building plan it’s important to give your body enough time to adapt to different stimulus. Don’t change things up constantly. All that “muscle confusion” crap is total bogus. Instead, stay consistent for 3-4 weeks and then change things up if needed. You can always add in challenges or quick conditioning pieces to spice things up. After 3-4 weeks you can change rep schemes, set totals, and even mix and match some compound movements.
Here’s an article I wrote on 5 Things You Aren’t Currently Doing to Build More Muscle
Muscle is built through the process of progressive overload. This means doing more weight, more reps with the same weight, more sets, or a combination of all 3 over time. For example if you currently bench press 100 lbs for 3 sets of 10, and next week you bench press 100 lbs for 3 sets of 12 – you have made progress in the progressive overload department.
Keep in mind you won’t always get stronger. Some days you’ll barely hit the same numbers you did the week prior. This is normal. In fact, at some point you will “max out” your strength on certain exercises. That’s part of the process. Thats where you can try more advanced versions of exercises, slow tempo down or change rep targets to continue to see improvements.
Building a body like Chris Hemsworth requires extra attention to areas like the chest, upper back and shoulders. Be sure to include overhead press, side laterals, heavy shrugs, heavy barbell and dumbbell rows, bicep curls, push ups and incline press. Don’t skip leg day EVER, but understand that you may need a little extra work for areas like the chest and upper back.
If you don’t have access to all the exercises that I’ve mentioned here – don’t worry. You can build a rock solid physique at home too. Check out this article. And for the best home workout equipment on the planet – check out this article too.
A rock solid training routine would involve training your upper body 2-3x per week and your lower body 2x per week. That’s how I would set up your training plan if you were aiming for a Hemsworth-esque physique. Of course weak points would be targeted more often and if your lower body needed more or less we would adjust for that too. I’d recommend avoiding the one-bodypart per day approach simply due to not being able to hit body parts frequently enough to stimulate growth.
Now we get to the fun stuff. Let’s say you have a gut and you aren’t carrying around tons of muscle either. You have a “skinny-fat” physique and you’re not ok with just losing fat or just building muscle. This is where the recomp strategy comes into play.
Recomps usually start with a moderate fat loss phase where calories are slightly below your maintenance level. Combined with a well thought out training plan – you’ll be mostly burning fat to start but also investing in progressive overload to maximize muscle gain as much as possible.
Once you’ve leaned out a bit – we may switch the focus to adding muscle. Calories come up to maintenance or slightly above and training intensity rises up. This allows for recovery and gives you a chance to take advantage of your higher insulin sensitivity from dropping fat and getting leaner.
You’d then cycle back to a moderate or even more aggressive fat loss phase before starting the process all over again.
Here’s what a successful recomp transformation looks like:
Recomps are the most enjoyable type of transformation to go through – you get to shred up and have periods of eating more and training with full intensity. Overall it can be really fun if put together properly. Most Hollywood Movie Stars using a recomp to get into their roles for action parts. They have to build muscle and lean out over a short period of time so a recomp-style strategy is usually the best route.
GIVE IT TIME
Building a body like Chris Hemsworth or any other action star takes time. There’s really only a couple ways to speed up the process: 1) Take steroids or 2) Hire a coach that can guide you on how to reach your goals faster while avoiding costly mistakes so that you reach your desired physique with way less headache.
Either way, it pays huge dividends to simply commit to the long game. That way you can enjoy the journey along the way. The real secret is that the ultimate satisfaction comes from doing the work required to reach the goal. Once you reach your target – you’ll feel great, but you’ll be on to the next project. It’s the same with guys like Chris Hemsworth. They look like Thor for a bit and then they have to get in shape for their next role. Give it time, effort and dedication and you can reach the Action Star Physique you’ve always wanted.