Since the creation of the superhero, those of us that have read their comic books or watched them on television and in the movies have wanted to look like them. Most of the superheroes that we know and love all have insanely good physiques that make it believable that they would have the ability to take on all of the bad guys. Perhaps more than any other group of superheroes, the most famous of all is the team known as the Avengers.
Worldwide, movies that feature the Avengers have pulled in more than $3 billion at the box office. Not only do we love the characters that we see on screen, but many have gotten to the gym to even look like them. The most prominent members of the Avengers are Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).
So how do we get to look like our favorite superheroes, who are all in tremendous shape (yes, even Robert Downey, Jr. if you could have imagined saying that 15 years ago)? Let’s take a look at the workouts that the main actors went through to get into alien-fighting shape.
The first Avenger, Captain America is the creation of a serum given to Steve Rogers to make him into a super soldier. Rogers was a diminutive man before the serum, and actor Chris Evans had to look like someone that transformed into a science experiment gone right (for once). Evans would put on 30 pounds of muscle in three months to prepare for his role, saying that his workouts were often brutal.
Since Captain America is super strong, Evans ditched most of the cardio that he had been doing to focus on strength training. The focal point was the chest and shoulder area, and Evans would do two sets with five reps of each exercise. The exercises were:
- Kettlebell thrusters
- Barbell bench presses
- Incline push-ups
- Standing military presses
- Barbell incline bench presses
- Kneeling military presses
Captain America also has huge arms, so Evans followed a routine where he did three sets of eight reps of the following exercises:
- Incline hammer curls
- Overhead cable curls
- Kettlebell rows
- Weighted tricep dips
- Bar curls
- Incline inner biceps curls
Finally, Evans did leg and back workouts twice a week, doing two sets of 10 reps on these exercises:
- Kettlebell swings
- Barbell deadlifts
- Front box jumps
- Kettlebell sumo pulls
- Barbell squats
As for his diet, Evans had to eat very clean to get his Captain America physique as he needed to gain weight, but only from pure muscle. Evans was eating countless amounts of green vegetables and chicken, focusing on protein. He would also add in walnuts, yogurt, brown rice and fruits for an all-around diet. To put on that much muscle, you can’t do it from food alone, so Evans was also taking a lot of protein supplements that included Omega-3 and whey shakes. It wasn’t easy, but Evans was able to pull off the incredible transformation in three months.
Throughout his career, Robert Downey Jr. had never really been a fitness nut and his physique could have been described as wiry. That was before he got his life together and landed the role as Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. Even though Iron Man is not a big guy and depends on his suit for his power, Downey decided to get into great shape for the role.
Downey was only 150 pounds when he started his training, which focused on staying away from cardio and more on strength training. After a few months, Downey was able to put on 25 pounds of muscle thanks to his daily workout routine. His routine was a bit different than the one Evans did for Captain America, though.
Downey would switch up his lower body and upper body workouts on a daily basis, working out six times per week. Here is the lower body workout that Downey followed for the role:
- Hamstring curls (Four sets of 10 reps)
- Leg presses (Four sets of 10 reps)
- Band squats (Four sets of 10 reps)
- Suspension lunges (Three sets of 15 reps)
- Suspension squats (Three sets of 15 reps)
- Sandbag squats (Three sets of eight reps)
- Romanian deadlifts (Three sets of eight reps)
- Ab circuits (Three rounds of two minutes each)
It’s not a short workout routine, and the upper body routine is even longer. Check it out:
- Low rows (Three sets of 10 reps)
- Swiss ball bench presses (Three sets of 10 reps)
- Weighted dips (Three sets of 10 reps)
- Weighted pull-ups (Three sets of 10 reps)
- Front shoulder raises (Three sets of 10 reps)
- Bosu ball push-ups (Three sets of 20 reps)
- Sand bag power throws (Three sets of 12 reps)
- Kettlebell swings (Three sets of 40 reps)
- Suspension push-ups (Three sets until failure)
- Suspension rows (Three sets until failure)
- Ab circuits (Three rounds of two minutes each)
The only female in the main group of Avengers, Scarlett Johansson really stuck out as Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow. Johansson had the tough task of wearing a skin-tight lycra catsuit for the role, so she knew she had to be in the best shape of her life. That’s when she enlisted the help of professional trainer Bobby Strom who was able to get her into that shape.
With just over a month to prepare for the role, Johansson worked out for seven days a week, sometimes getting into the gym for 90 minutes at a time. A big part was the total body circuit, which started with a 15 minute warm-up on the treadmill. During this time, Johansson would sprint for 20 seconds, then jog for 40 seconds, repeating until the 15 minutes was up with a five minute walking cool down at the end.
When that was over, Johansson would get into the circuit, which included these exercises:
- 10 Reverse lunges
- 10 Medicine ball slams
- 10 Lat pulldowns
- 10 Jump squats
- 10 Split squats
- 20 Speed lunges
- 20 Bosu ball abductions
That was just the first day as Johansson had to try and get in four sets of 30 reps for each of her other exercises on non-circuit days. These exercises included a lot of curls, shoulder presses, crunches, push-ups, pull-ups and more. Needless to say, Johansson was able to fit into the lycra suit without much of a problem once training was over.
Chris Hemsworth was a natural choice to play the Norse god Thor, as he was already in fantastic shape before the role. However, Hemsworth would train hard to put on an extra 20 pounds of muscle, making him perhaps the largest of the human-based Avengers. To focus on his back, Hemsworth would do five sets of pull-ups, push-ups, dumbbell rows and two-arm rows.
To work on his chest, he focused on various forms of bench presses, chest presses, weighted dips and cable flyes. Next were the legs, which included seven sets of squats, leg presses until failure and multiple sets of calf raises and lunges. What really caught attention was his shoulder and arm routine, which you can find here:
- Barbell shrugs (Four sets of 12 reps)
- Arnold presses (Four sets of 12 reps)
- Dumbbell front raises (Three sets of 15 reps)
- Military presses (Seven sets of declining reps)
- Barbell curls (Three sets of 10 reps)
- Skull crushers (Three sets of 10 reps)
- Dumbbell triceps extensions (Three sets of 10 reps)
- Dumbbell hammer curls (Three sets of 12 reps)
- Wrist curls (Three sets of 20 reps)
To finish his workout off, Hemsworth would do the ab circuit, which included planking (both general and each side) for 60 seconds and then hanging leg raises (12 each).
Mark Ruffalo plays scientist Bruce Banner in “The Avengers”, who transforms into the Hulk, a massive green monster that can destroy anything. Ruffalo didn’t exactly have to look like the Hulk, but decided to get into solid shape anyway. Instead of focusing on getting buff like his co-stars, Ruffalo decided to lose weight and participate in yoga to give Banner the lean look.
Ruffalo gave up soda and didn’t have any meat for three weeks while preparing. Even when his weight loss program was over, Ruffalo didn’t have cravings for junk food anymore. Ruffalo was able to drop about 15 pounds while training for the role, achieving the lean look that only Bruce Banner could have in the group.
The final Avenger is marksman archer Clint Barton aka Hawkeye, who was played by Jeremy Renner in the films. Renner eats very clean, chopping up his eating into five small meals per day to boost his metabolism. As for his workouts, he would go on a three day rotation to prepare for the role. Day one focused on his chest, which included three sets of 15 reps unless otherwise noted:
- Cable fly low pulley
- Cable fly high pulley
- Narrow grip bench press
- Incline DB press
- Gironda neck press (Five sets of 10 reps)
Day two focused on Renner’s back, which included:
- Wide grip pull-ups (Three sets of 15 reps)
- Chin-ups (Three sets of 15 reps)
- Seated cable rows (Three sets of 10 reps)
- Grip cable pull-downs (Three sets of 10 reps)
The final day in the rotation was for the legs and arms, which included another five exercises:
- Dumbbell curls (Three sets of 15 reps)
- Squats (Four sets of 15 reps)
- Running (20-30 minutes)
- Triceps dips (Three sets of 12 reps)
- Cardio workouts (Such as box jumps)