Of all the actors who had to pack on mass for a movie, few in recent memory have taken to the task with such zeal, and notable success, as Chris Hemsworth when he landed the part of Thor. For the first film, Hemsworth hit the gym with trainer and former Navy SEAL Duffy Gaver, who applied an old-school bodybuilding approach—with careful attention given to Hemsworth’s arms and shoulders. Thor, after all, often appears sleeveless, but rarely shirtless. All told, Hemsworth gained 20 pounds, laying the foundation for a physique he’s maintained at or close to peak condition for Thor’s recurring role in The Avengers and the solo sequel, Thor: The Dark World.
“We’ve pretty much stuck to the original template,” Gaver says. “Of course we’ve had some variation over time to keep things interesting and prevent plateaus, but this is the basic template.” Gaver embraces a simple training model, and despite his high-powered clientele, makes no attempts to jazz it up with new equipment or exotic exercises.
“So many of the products you see advertised on infomercials right now did not exist when the frst Mr. Olympia contest was held, which should tell you something,” Gaver says. “I appreciate my niche in the training industry because when someone comes to me, they want to get to it. They’ve got a timeline, and at the end of this, someone’s going to put a camera on them, they’re going to blow it up to 30 feet tall and it’s going to be a part of public record forever. There’s no particular exercise combination that will ever beat the guy who realizes, ‘Hey, this all comes down to hard work.’ ”
Hemsworth in particular was a model of consistency, and the physique he built has made “Chris Hemsworth Workout” the top search suggestion when you punch the actor’s name into Google. The Internet, though, is a minefield of shameless, click-baiting “Thor Workout” imitators. Fortunately, you don’t need to look any further than the full, unabridged template we present here, with exercises demonstrated by IFBB physique pro Sadik Hadzovic. So get ready to hit the gym, and remember: There are no shortcuts.
“People see Chris and they think he was on steroids, but he didn’t touch a single substance,” Gaver says. “It was just red meat, heavy weights and some protein powder. He crushed every single workout. He simply decided to look like Thor.”
Note: Complete any exercises paired A and B as supersets. Complete any exercises marked A, B and C as trisets.
Click through for the workouts: