Whether it’s summer blockbuster season, or the latest instalment in a comic book franchise, Superhero films are well known for taking regular Joe actors and turning them into (literal) men of steel. Take Christian Bale for instance, who added an eye watering 109lb’s (49kg) in order to play the role of Bruce Wayne in 2008’s Batman Begins after weighing only 121lb for his role in The Machinist. Or Chris Hemsworth, who despite finding his initial fame as a high school drop out in Australian series Home & Away, eventually became known for his almost superhuman biceps as the God of Thunder, Thor. Transformations happen like this across Hollywood all the time, even outside of the Superhero genre. But is it impossible when you don’t have private gyms, personal trainers and all the supplements you could ever need at your fingertips? Absolutely not.
Getting in shape simply comes down to three things.
And no matter how much people tell you it’s X amount of one and X amount of the other, all three take 100% focus and dedication if you hope to push your body out of its comfort zone and into the world of blockbuster muscle gain. Giving it your all in the gym and getting a solid eight hours at night won’t mean anything if you’re eating like an unsupervised child at a birthday party. Likewise, hitting all your macros and lifting like a king will send you very quickly off the rails if you’re living on 3 hours of kip a night.
One thing you’ll notice very quickly about the workout routines of Superhero’s is the variation. Very rarely will their routines be left to stagnate, rather consistently evolving. The human body is the king of adaptation, it’s how we learn and how we survive. But to truly break through your body’s limits, you have to throw the unexpected at it and, to use a clichéd term, shock the system. Lifting heavy is essential for big muscle gains, so rather than just focusing on t-shirt muscle moves such as bicep curls and ab crunches, look for big compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts and bench press. These moves hit a variation of different muscle groups, meaning you get more bang for your buck, and a more impressive physique. Adding elements outside of just simply bodybuilding such as Strongman or CrossFit will give your body a huge boost, so look to exercises like rope climbs or heavy farmers carries to improve your grip, and give your arms something they weren’t expecting.
Chicken, rice and whey protein? It’s a start, but you’ll need more. Although the aforementioned will make a serious dent in your body fat percentage and help you pack on muscle, if you’re lacking in healthy fats, minerals and vitamins, you’re going to run yourself into the ground, affecting both your progress and your mental health. Aim for wholefoods wherever possible, and beware of protein powders and supplements packed with fillers and flavourings. Although they may help you hit your goals, remember your overall health is equally as important. Healthy fats such as coconut oil, avocado and nuts will keep your hair, skin and nails in great shape, whilst keeping on top of your vitamins and minerals by eating a varied number of fruits and veggies will not only help you feel great, it will also help your body function at its maximal potential.
Your parents weren’t lying when they said getting enough sleep was important. Whilst we sleep our bodies start to heal and repair and if you’re training properly and eating right, this is where all the progress begins as your muscles begin to grow. Being well rested helps with cognitive function, leading to smarter decision making and better mood. When we’re tired or under-rested, it’s very easy to skip the gym or reach for that chocolate bar for a quick pick me up. But when we’re feeling at our best, we’re much more likely to make better informed decisions. Not only this but studies have shown that an estimated 60-70% of your Human Growth Hormone, the hormone responsible for everything from metabolism to hair growth (clues in the name), is produced whilst we sleep. Get into a routine of winding down in the evening, putting your phone or laptop away and remembering how important it is that we recover.
Combining all three elements, and giving them everything you’ve got is a sure-fire way to get yourself that Hollywood Hero body.