Fitness

Steal Chris Hemsworth’s Functional Fitness Routine To Live Longer and Move Better

Goodbye, superhero strength. Hello, everyday fitness.

Add functional training to Chris Hemsworth’s infamous and intensive fitness regimen.

For 10 years, the A-lister busted his ass to play Thor. With every movie, Marvel’s favorite Asgardian god seemingly swole before our eyes—at his biggest, for Thor: Love and Thunder, he was 220 pounds of pure muscle. His secret sauce: Old school bodybuilding, eight meals a day, and loads of protein powder. But the 40-year-old actor’s big rig days appear to be behind him. In a recent Instagram post, Hemsworth shared he’s swapped the heavy weights for functional training.

“Doing a lot less heavy weight sessions lately and incorporating sprint work and more functional movements,” he wrote in the post.

Functional fitness mimics how we move every day. It helps strengthen the muscles we use in daily life. Given the Hemsworth’s Disney+ series Limitless and its focus on lengthening your life and healthspan, his newfound focus on function over aesthetics isn’t exactly a surprise, but one we’re most definitely here for.

How Hemsworth’s Workout Boosts Functional Fitness

Want to boost functional fitness like Hemsworth? Here’s how the functional exercises in his workout can improve the way you move.

Sprints

Hemsworth starts his workout by smoking extreme athlete and friend Ross Edgley in a round of sprints. Studies have shown that sprinting may lower your risk of all-cause mortality, improve cell health, and boost immune response (123).

That said, sprints are only a solid longevity pick if you can do them with perfect form. Push through bad form, and your risk of injury skyrockets. And a nagging injury can set you back from working out at all (which is key for a long and healthy life).

If your sprint doesn’t look quite as pretty as Usain Bolt’s, swap in a different high-intensity activity you can rock with good form. Go all-out, pushing yourself as close as you can to your 100 percent threshold.

Explosive power exercises

Hemsworth powers through ball slams like they’re his daily breakfast. Ball slams are a great way to build upper strength.

Studies have shown as you age, you can lose as much as three to eight percent of your muscle mass per decade (4)—slowing down your metabolism, and decreasing your strength and functional ability to complete daily tasks with ease.

While you can lose strength fast, you’ll lose power (our ability to apply force, quick) even faster (5). It’s pretty straightforward to build lower body power—sprints, jump squats, or explosive step ups will get the job done. Upper body power exercises are harder to come by, but ball slams are one of the best (even longevity physician Peter Attia, M.D. swears by them).

Another solid option is battle ropes. Hemsworth shows off a set of alternating waves, but single arm waves, rope slams, and side-to-side slams are other ways to functionally work your core while pushing your upper body as hard and as fast as you can.

TRAIN BETTER

Compound exercises

Hemsworth turned to compound exercises to pack on even more muscle for Thor: Love and Thunder, and he doesn’t shy away from them in his new functional routine (peep the push-ups). Compound exercises—like push-ups and squats—use several muscle groups collaboratively to perform a movement, and tend to best mimic the way we move in everyday life.

Compound movements are typically sorted into a few specific movement buckets: Squat, hinge, push, pull, and carry. There are all kinds of compound exercise variations, some of which might be better if you have a nagging injury, weakness, or limited range of motion that might hold you back from doing a classic compound exercise with good form and without pain.

Consider push-ups, for example. Classic push-ups are great to hit your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core, but they can be tough on your wrists. Hemsworth takes the strain off his wrists and increases the challenge on his shoulders by performing his push-ups on push-up bars.

Functional core work

You won’t find crunches in Hemsworth’s functional routine. To hit his core, he leans on two important categories of core training to get the job done: rotational and anti-rotational core exercises. Both are essential for building a functional core.

Hemsworth targets rotational strength by using a med ball to do wood chops and trunk rotations. Rotational core exercises are designed to build strength as you twist through a rotational pattern, increasing explosiveness and power through that specific range of motion, and improving your ability to move your body as an integrated system.

We also spy some bear crawls in Hemsworth’s routine. Bear crawls are great for what trainers like to call “anti-rotation” core work. Anti-rotation core exercises—like shoulder taps and plank rows—focus on preventing movement or twisting at the core. Building anti-rotational strength can help reinforce core stability, which is essential for basically all human movement.

References