Ross Edgley and Chris Hemsworth walking towards their icy plunge.

Meet Ross Edgley, the Extreme Athlete Behind Chris Hemsworth’s Insane "Limitless" Challenges

Watching Chris Hemsworth learn to control his stress by tiptoeing along a platform projecting from the top of a skyscraper in the first episode of “Limitless” made our palms sweat.

What really got our hearts racing: his next two physical challenges: a 250-yard open water arctic swim and a 100-foot rope climb thousands of feet above the ground—all in the name of longevity.

Hemsworth’s trainer for the challenges: extreme athlete Ross Edgley.

In the show, Edgley explains the methods—or at least, reasoning—behind his madness. Cold exposure can fight inflammaging (1), boost your immune system (2), and improve mental well-being (3) (just a handful of reasons why plunge tubs are making a comeback), while rope climbing builds the kinds of muscles scientifically proven to keep you healthy and strong as you age.

But who exactly is Edgley and what does he do? Here’s the scoop.

He’s Crushed Several World Records

A scroll through Edgley’s Instagram is like a highlight reel of what the human body is capable of. He completed the World’s Longest Staged Sea Swim—a 1,780-mile swim around Great Britain—in just 157 days. In the process he accidentally became the first person to swim the length of the English Channel, and the fastest person to swim the 900 miles from Land’s End to John o’Groats in a mere 62 days (more than halving the previous record).

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Dude Likes To Eat

Edgley’s insane feats require serious bulking; sometimes up to 15,000 calories a day. In his book The Art of Resilience, a key lesson is to “make your body an instrument, not an ornament.”

He’s not always eating clean. Edgley’s feed is peppered with platters of burgers, pastries, and his personal favorite: cheesecake, which earned an entire section in his book, The World’s Fittest Cookbook. When asked why he told Men’s Health, “Because it’s cheesecake!” Fair enough.

He’s Responsible For Chris Hemsworth’s Enviable Muscles

Edgley isn’t just the mastermind behind his own training, he’s also responsible for Thor’s massive bis and tris. Edgley shares that Hemsworth’s impressive physique was built over years of training before the cameras ever started rolling for Thor: Love and Thunder.

While an official training plan hasn’t been released, snippets have surfaced of Hemsworth lifting heavy, flipping tires, pulling cars, repping out rope climbs, and packing down 4,500 calories a day to fuel for muscle growth. In short, getting ripped was his full-time job. When asked what it’s like working with Hemsworth, Edgley jokes, “it’s like training a thoroughbred horse.” 

He Gets Help From Creatine

Your typical athlete isn’t quick to share their supplement stack, but in a refreshing twist, Edgley isn’t shy to share he gets help from creatine.

Edgley explains that when you do something fast and powerful like a spring or lifting weights, you break down adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for energy. Creatine helps you replenish the ATP energy system. “When you look at 100 meters for instance. It looks like Usain Bolt is speeding up towards the finish line, it’s not that he’s speeding up, it’s just that he’s decelerating less. His ATP system is more efficient (as well as, of course, biomechanics and things like that),” Edgley says in an Instagram post. “That’s why I take creatine.”

He’s An Advocate For Barefoot Running

As someone looking to boost strength and resiliency to support his many feats, Edgley has taken an interest in foot health, and regularly participates in barefoot running. “Studies show running barefoot might actually be easier as it helps to relearn forgotten foot physiology,” he told Red Bull.

According to a study from the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, barefoot running provides increased proprioception and strength (4). Plus, it helps you strike with your midfoot as opposed to striking with your heel which can increase your risk of injury.

To put it to the test, in true Edgley fashion, he decided to explore the benefits firsthand, covering 1,000 miles barefoot—carrying a 110-pound backpack. The result? He felt he could “feel his feet again,” built up intrinsic muscles in his feet, and found his pacing was easier and more natural.

1. Vargovic, P. et al (2016). Continuous cold exposure induces an anti-inflammatory response in mesenteric adipose tissue associated with catecholamine production and thermogenin expression in rats. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27560796/
2. Stacey, D. et al (2010). Effects of recovery method after exercise on performance, immune changes, and psychological outcomes. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20479533/
3. Essi, A. et al (2019). Effects fo Water Immersion Methods on Postexercise Recovery of Physical and Mental Performance. https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2019/06000/Effects_of_Water_Immersion_Methods_on_Postexercise.5.aspx
4. Lieberman, D. (2012). What We Can Learn About Running From Barefoot Running: An Evolutionary Medical Perspective. https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/dlieberman/files/2012c.pdf

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