Playing a superhero is a great gig for any actor. With studios like Marvel and D.C. dominating the box office, playing a superhero means instant superstardom.
But, it’s not easy being a screen superhero, and very physically average actors have to get in phenomenal shape, often very quickly. Not just for a week or a month, but for as long as it takes to shoot the movie. As a lot of big-budget movie franchises are shot back-to-back, this can mean years of training.
For the Captain America Workout, American actor Chris Evans has dedicated almost a decade to staying in superhero shape. During this time, and without Hulk-like special effects, Evans has honed his physique to give us one of the most believable portrayals of a superhero ever. No padded suits, no armour, and no CGI; that’s Chris Evans up there on the screen.
How did he transform himself into the much-loved First Avenger? Here’s how!
How did Chris Evans Prepare for Captain America?
Getting into superhero shape is not easy, but it’s not rocket science either. However, it does require dedication, time, and effort. Chris Evans relied on several tried and tested methods and systems to develop a body worthy of carrying Cap’s famous stars and stripes shield.
Work out with a Qualified Personal Trainer
Actors are a lot of things, but knowledgeable about exercise is not usually part of their skill set. A lot of actors hire trainers to help them get in the best possible shape, and for Captain America, Chris Evans worked with well-known celebrity trainer Simon Waterson.
Trainers design workouts and then lead their charges through them, making sure each exercise is done correctly.
Using a trainer meant that Evans was free to focus on working out as intensely as he could. Waterson pushed Evans to his physical and emotional limits because that’s how you build a superhero – with sweat!
The character of Captain America is super-strong, and for that strength to be believable, Chris Evans needed to pack a lot of muscle onto his frame. The best way to do this? Lift heavy weights. Heavy weights build muscle much more effectively than light weights. As a result, Chris Evans’ Captain America is just as strong as he looks.
Cardio is a popular form of exercise for fat loss, but it’s all but useless for building muscle. It takes a lot of time and energy and can even lead to muscle loss. That’s precisely the opposite of what Evans needed for his role as the First Avenger.
Instead of lots of cardio, Chris Evans’ workouts revolved around high-intensity strength training, which builds muscle and burns fat at the same time.
Plyometrics are gymnastic or athletic exercises that involve jumping. Evans did sets of squat jumps, box jumps, hurdle jumps, and depth jumps to keep his heart rate high between strength exercises. This helped him burn fat and get lean without having to resort to muscle-stripping cardio.
You are what you eat, and if you eat lots of fatty junk, that’s how you will look.
Chris Evans combined his hardcore workouts with high calorie but healthy meals to provide his body with the energy needed to power through his training sessions and recover afterward. Gaining muscle means eating a lot of food, and missing a meal can bring progress to a crashing halt.
Evans has since revealed that he found eating to become Captain America harder than the training.
Chris Evans’ Workout Routine
If you want to look like Captain America, you’ve got to train like Captain America!
But, be warned, this is not a workout for the faint-hearted. Chris Evans has been playing and training to be the Cap for over a decade; he has earned the right to train like a superhero. Most of the people reading this article have not!
If you are new to exercise or are out of shape, don’t dive headfirst into the First Avenger’s workout. Instead, spend a few months building a basic level of fitness and strength before you step things up and go toe to toe with Steve Rogers himself.
But, if you are fit, strong, and healthy, why not try the Captain America workout for yourself. While you might not create Chris Evans’ physique, you will still come out looking and feeling like a superhero!
Monday – back and abs
- Weighted chin-ups and or pull-ups: 4 sets of 4-6 reps
- One-arm kettlebell row: 2 sets of 4-6 reps
- Wide grip seated cable row: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
- Wide grip lat pulldown: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
- Overhead cable crunches: 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps
Tuesday – chest and upper back
- Incline bench press: 4 sets of 4-6 reps
- Dumbbells or barbell bench press: 3 sets of 8 reps
- Cable crossover: 2 sets of 10-12 reps
- Face pulls: 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Wednesday – rest day
Even Captain America can’t lift weights every day. On rest days, Evans does yoga, stretching, or uses a foam roller.
He may also do some interval training if he needs to work a little more on his fitness or burn some fat.
Thursday – legs, lower back, and abs
- Barbell deadlift: 3 sets of 4-6 reps
- Lunges: 2 sets of 6-8 reps per leg
- Leg press: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Calf raises: 5 sets of 10-15 reps
- Hyperextension: 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions
- Cable woodchoppers: 3 sets of 10-15 reps per side
Friday – shoulders, and triceps
- Seated dumbbell shoulder press: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
- Weighted pull-ups: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
- Cable crossover: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Side delt raises: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Rear delt raises: 2 sets of 10-12 reps
- Barbell curl: 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Overhead triceps rope extensions: 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Saturday – rest day
Same as Wednesday.
Sunday – mixed workout
- Barbell squat: 3 sets of 4-6 reps
- Standing military presses: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
- EZ-bar curl: 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Front box jump: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
- Incline inner biceps curl: 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Kettlebell sumo high: 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Military pushups: 3 sets of 25
Chris Evans Diet
Building muscle and getting lean is 70% nutrition and 30% training. Whatever you do in the gym, so long as you work hard, should make you stronger and more muscular. But, if you want to avoid gaining fat and, in fact, get lean as you build muscle, your diet had better be spot-on.
Chris Evans worked with a nutritionist to help him fuel his superhero workouts, and the exact details of his diet are a trade secret. That said, judging from his training and what he was trying to achieve, a typical day of eating for Chris Evans probably looked like this.
Breakfast: Chicken Sausage Frittata
1 chicken sausage
½ cup zucchini
1 clove garlic
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
5 dry basil leaves
5 egg whites
½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
Lunch: Tuna Burger and Salad
1 can of light chunk tuna
1 egg white
½ cup dry oats
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups Romaine lettuce
1 cup chopped vegetables
Dinner: Chicken and Peppers with Brown Rice
2 x 6-ounce chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove crushed garlic
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 large sliced red pepper
1 medium sliced yellow pepper
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon corn starch
Salt and pepper to taste
This probably looks like a lot of food, and that’s because it is! Building muscle requires stacks of calories, protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats, especially if you are Chris Evan’s height and weight.
If you are not as big as the Cap, don’t try and eat like him, as you’ll just end up gaining a whole lot of fat. Follow the principles of the Captain America diet, but not the quantities.
Supplements to use
In the original movie, skinny Steve Rogers was transformed into the mighty Captain America by Howard Stark’s super-soldier serum.
Sadly, no such thing exists outside of Hollywood.
But, that said, some supplements may enhance your workouts and speed up your progress.
Unlike the super-soldier serum, no supplement will work overnight but, if you are looking for an extra edge, some well-chosen supplements can help. These are the supplements that Chris Evans used to get the best possible results from his workouts and diet.
Natural Testosterone Booster – Testogen
Testosterone is the mother of all muscle-building hormones – or should that be the father?! The more your body produces, the faster you’ll pack on mass, and the leaner you’ll be. Testosterone is also crucial for sex drive, energy, and even your mood. Testogen increase your natural production safely and effectively, and with no unwanted side effects.
Protein Powder – Performance Lab
Even if you eat a lot of high-protein foods, you may still benefit from using a protein powder supplement. Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth, and not consuming enough could undermine your progress. Protein powder supplements make getting enough protein much easier, especially if you are unable to eat high-protein foods like eggs, meat, or fish during the day.
Fish oils – Omega XL
Intense training can be hard on your body. Joint and muscle pain are not uncommon and can plague you even on rest days. Fish oils are natural anti-inflammatories that can help ease soreness and pain. They are also good for your skin, hair, brain, and heart health.
Branch Chain Amino Acids
BCAAs are the building blocks of protein. Using them can speed up your recovery from intense workouts, preserve your muscle tissue and prevent catabolism, and even give you energy during training. While you can use BCAA capsules, if you do, you’ll have to take a lot of them. A BCAA drink mix is a much more convenient way to add amino acids to your diet.
Glutamine is an isolated amino acid with several handy benefits. It increases human growth hormone, increasing lean muscle growth, and fat burning in the process. It’s good for your digestive health too, which means your body will be able to turn more of the food you eat into muscle. Glutamine is also an excellent immune system booster and can help reduce the severity and duration of post-exercise muscle soreness.
Looking at Chris Evans as Captain America, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a role he was born to play. But, just three months before getting the part, Evans was just another skinny Hollywood actor. He was definitely not superhero material.
Aware of just how much work would be required to transform himself into Steve Rogers, Evans threw himself into both his training and diet and, like his character, went from zero to hero.
It wasn’t an overnight transformation, and it required enormous effort and dedication, but the results are clear to see; Chris Evans embodies Captain America and has become one of the most popular superhero actors around.
Evans isn’t all show and no go, either. His role as the First Avenger is very physical, and he does a lot of his own stunts. The fights might be choreographed, and the leaps and falls are carefully planned, but they still require a supreme level of fitness and, dare we say, superhero strength and power.
While you might not get a role in the next Marvel or D.C. blockbuster, you can transform your own physique, just like Chris Evans did. It’ll take time, energy, and sweat but, if you commit to the process, you CAN do it.
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