13 Celebrity Hunks on How They Got Their Superhero (or Supervillain) Bodies

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Celebrities are known for their uncanny ability to completely overhaul their bodies when a role calls for it, but a few actors’ transformations into superheroes (or supervillains) have been downright jaw-dropping. Sure, they have trainers and nutritionists on call, but it’s up to them to do the work — and judging from their bulging biceps and eight-pack abs, that was no easy feat. From Ryan Reynolds’s surprise workouts to Ben Affleck’s 4 a.m. training sessions, here are the ways 10 Hollywood hunks got into super shape.

1. Jason Momoa (Aquaman)

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Jason Momoa was already shredded when he ruled the small screen (and the hearts of women everywhere) as Khal Drogo in “Game of Thrones,” but he had to make a few changes to his diet to get the muscle definition to portray Aquaman in the upcoming DC Comics film.

LIVESTRONG.COM talked to the 38-year-old actor’s trainer, Stuart Walton, to learn exactly what Momoa ate in preparation for his take on the perpetually shirtless hero, and you might be surprised to learn that no foods were off limit. Instead, the pair worked on manipulating Momoa’s macronutrient intake. Before an intense workout, he’d load up on carbs: fresh fruit for sweat sessions early in the day or rice and quinoa before training in the evening. For protein and fat, the ocean-dwelling superhero appropriately loved to munch on sashimi (mostly barramundi and salmon), as well as steak, avocados and olive oil.

2. Mustafa Shakir (John "Bushmaster" Byrne)

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Did you know that a vegan diet can lead to just as much bulk as a protein-packed one? By the looks of Mustafa Shakir's "Luke Cage" ripped supervillain body, it looks like it. The actor, who plays John "Bushmaster" Byrne on the hit Netflix series, credits his toned body to his animal product-less diet. "I'm very strict," the actor told Men's Health. Shakir thrives off whole foods and vegetables, raw foods, beans and nuts. On the no-no list? Alcohol and caffeine.

Read more: This ripped 'Luke Cage' villain is all about that vegan life

3. Hugh Jackman (Wolverine)

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Hugh Jackman has always been fit, but his metamorphosis into Wolverine is often lauded as the ultimate superhero transformation. In order to bulk up and get ripped, the 49-year-old Aussie fasted — every single day. Jackman followed the 16:8 diet, which entails fitting all meals into an eight-hour period and then fasting for the remaining 16.

“Seventy percent of your physique is your diet, and diet is the biggest change that happens,” Jackman revealed to the L.A. Times. On the workout front, the actor started training six months before shooting, following a progressive-overload plan to build strength on basic exercises (think squats and deadlifts). According to Men’s Fitness, the point is to “start extra light, using only a small percentage of your max, and gradually up the weights and drop the reps so that you’re smashing through plateaus in only a few weeks.”

Read more: 13 DOs and DON’Ts of Intermittent Fasting

4. Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern)

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Ryan Reynolds is no stranger to playing superheroes, but according to his trainer Bobby Strom, the actor doesn’t have “the same physique every time.” In order to prepare for his role as the Green Lantern, the 41-year-old Canadian started training a year in advance. Strom kept the father of two on his toes by changing up his workouts every day.

But no matter what, the first 20 minutes of every session were devoted to abs. Strom also told WebMD that he cooked for the actor six days a week. “I’d make a healthy Bolognese: 97 percent fat-free ground bison sauteed in a skillet with broccolini and my own marinara sauce, along with black pepper, a little cayenne and some garlic. No salt, so sugar, served over brown rice or a top-quality brown rice pasta.” Doesn’t sound half bad.

Listen now: How to Calm Down in Under 3 Minutes

5. Chris Pratt (Star-Lord)

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Before his debut as Star-Lord in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Chris Pratt was known as the adorkably doughy Andy Dwyer in “Parks and Recreation.” When the 38-year-old decided to audition for the role, he was tipping the scales at around 300 pounds. When he nabbed the part, he shed 60 pounds in an impressive six months.

The secret to Pratt’s transformation? Loads of calories, loads of water and loads of working out. In addition to doing P90X, running, swimming, boxing, kickboxing and even a triathlon, Pratt’s nutritionist upped his daily caloric intake to a whopping 4,000 calories and had the actor downing water nonstop throughout the day. “I was peeing all day long every day. That part was a nightmare,” the actor told Men’s Fitness.

Read more: Chris Pratt’s Healthy On-Set Snack Is About to Be Your New Favorite

6. Chris Hemsworth (Thor)

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To be fair, Chris Hemsworth pretty much always looks like a superhero, but in order to play the hammer-wielding god of thunder, the 34-year-old needed to ramp up his workout routine as well as his diet. Talking with MTV, Hemsworth revealed that, like many actors, he ate often (almost every two hours) and subsisted mainly on protein.

“I basically overfeed on protein — endless amounts of chicken breasts, steak and fish and vegetables and brown rice,” he said. The father of three also went hard with longtime trainer Luke Zocchi and was sure to mix up his routine. “My workouts are about being diverse,” he told Men’s Health. “It’s easy to get bored. If I’m doing arm day, I’ll work in box jumps in between sets. By working in more cardio you keep shocking your body, and you prevent having problems in certain areas.”

Read more: Shirtless Chris Hemsworth Shows Us How to Get a Body Like Thor

7. Michael B. Jordan (Erik Killmonger)

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Before Michael B. Jordan stepped into his role as the villain in Marvel's newest superhero blockbuster, "Black Panther," he had to gain some serious muscle to play the title character of "Creed." Jordan’s trainer, Corey Calliet, revealed that in order to get in shape to play the son of Rocky Balboa’s rival-turned-friend, Adonis Creed, the 30-year-old actor combined cardio with circuit training four days a week to melt fat and gain muscle.

But to prepare for his role as Erik Killmonger, Jordan took his training to the next level. In a recent interview with Ellen DeGeneres on “The Ellen Show,” he explained that he followed a strict regime of six meals, two to three workouts and a gallon of water a day. You heard that right: two to three workouts every day. Having to drink so much water unfortunately meant frequent late-night bathroom breaks, and Jordan’s meal plan too up so much time that it prevented him from socializing. “I mean it’s hard to go out to a club or party when you’re like, oh wait, meal prep, I’ve got to go pop this thing in the microwave,” he tells DeGeneres. “It’s tough to socialize when you’ve got to get in shape like that.”

8. Chris Evans (Captain America)

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In order to get into Captain America shape, Chris Evans started working with top U.K. trainer Simon Waterson three hours a day a “couple months” before shooting started. Waterson put the 36-year-old on a high-weight, low-rep regimen that was packed with squats, deadlifts, incline bench presses and weighted dips and chin-ups.

“He also did a lot of body-weight moves and included some plyometrics to fire up his fast-twitch muscle fibers, such as squats to box jumps,” Waterson told Coach magazine. In terms of eating, the actor stuck to a not-so-flavorful diet of lean protein, rice and veggies. “The tricky part was eating everything all the time. It’s sounds fun, but it’s not. [I was eating] bland, naked pieces of chicken and rice,” Evans told Extra. That’s some true dedication from a true American hero.

Read more: 16 Diet-Friendly Healthful Carbs

9. Henry Cavill (Superman)

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In order to look like he was faster than a speeding bullet in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” Henry Cavill turned to strength coach Michael Blevins. Blevins devised a plan for the Man of Steel that entailed four phases: preparation, bulking, leaning out and maintenance. The bulking portion involved lifting weights in a complex fashion that built muscle, strength and speed simultaneously. The 34-year-old actor did this in circuit fashion, which also boosted his endurance.

“There’s a misconception that cardio will negatively impact muscle,” Blevins told Men’s Fitness. “A larger work capacity can allow you to train harder and longer. Building muscle without conditioning is akin to having an impressive engine without a gas tank — it’s worthless.” Cavill also increased his food intake during his months of getting into superhero form. “I’m on 5,000 calories a day,” he told Total Film magazine while shooting “Man of Steel.” “You’ve got to eat protein first, then a little bit of carbs. You’ve gotta keep your hunger levels going.”

Read more: 13 Strange Celebrity Diets

10. David Harbour (Hellboy)

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Everyone’s favorite bearded “Stranger Things” crush, David Harbour’s character — police chief Jim Hopper — is known more for his propensity for booze and whipped cream-topped waffles than he is for his physique. So when he was cast as Hellboy, Harbour turned to trainer Don Saladino to whip him into shape.

Saladino had the 42-year-old actor start his workouts with bear crawls to sculpt his shoulders and abs, and then switch to a series of targeted strength-training moves — including the “suitcase carry,” which involves gripping a heavy kettlebell in each hand while doing lunges or another targeted movement. Harbour also had to swap out his beloved Ben & Jerry’s for organic veggies cooked in coconut oil and grass-fed beef. Harbour wasn’t necessarily a fan, though. “I want to bring love handles and eating sandwiches back,” he joked to Women’s Health Mag.

Read more: 9 Unhealthy, Even Dangerous Weight-Loss Diets

11. Tom Hardy (Venom)

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After his roles as Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises” and Max Rockatansky in “Mad Max,” Tom Hardy is no stranger to getting ripped. But for his role as Eddie Brock in the upcoming “Venom,” the 40-year-old decided to mix up his training routine. According to Metro UK, Hardy did mixed martial arts, boxing and jiu-jitsu training five days a week — sometimes twice per day — with pro MMA fighters, trainer Mark Mene and the Royal Marines Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Association.

As far as the actor’s diet was concerned, he reportedly filled up on lean proteins, complex carbs and loads of leafy greens. With all of this said, though, Hardy revealed that his superhero transformations may come at a cost. “I think as you get into your 40s you have to be more mindful of the rapid training. I haven’t damaged my body, but I’m certainly a bit achier than I used to be!” he told the Daily Beast.

Read more: Tom Hardy Is in Serious Beast Mode While Training for “Venom”

12. Ben Affleck (Batman)

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Ben Affleck started training for his role in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” while he was shooting “Gone Girl,” which, as many can imagine, wasn’t easy. Before starting his 14-hour day, the 45-year-old would get up to train with Walter Norton Jr. at 4 a.m. All in, Affleck’s superhero transformation took about 15 months of training anywhere from 90 minutes to two-and-a-half hours a day, with a “six days on, two days off” schedule.

“We did [a lot of] bodybuilding,” Norton told Men’s Journal. “We wanted him to be strong, but we wanted to add mass. We lived on a lot of the basics: 80-pound dumbbell curls, heavy-loaded carries and farmers walks with 60-pound weights.” The father of three also followed a diet plan that consisted of 35 percent lean protein, 45 percent carbohydrates and 20 percent essential fats.

Read more: 12 Health Trends That Are Not Healthy

13. Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man)

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When Robert Downey Jr. had to suit up to play Iron Man again in “The Avengers,” the 52-year-old actor turned to his beloved Wing Chun technique — the martial arts practice made famous by Bruce Lee. In conjunction with Wing Chun training, Downey went into beast mode at the gym with trainer Brad Bose.

By cutting back on cardio and increasing the weight he was lifting, Downey was able to pack on 25 pounds of muscle. In order to retain his bulk, though, the father of three had to go on an equally intense diet. “He ate every three hours,” Bose said. “We kept him on 30 percent protein, 30 percent fat and 40 percent carbohydrates. He was taking in more than 5,000 calories a day for nine months. If you don’t eat that much, your body won’t accept the weight.”

Read more: The Benefits of Intuitive Eating and 10 Steps to Get Started

What Do YOU Think?

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What do you think of these celebrity diet and exercise routines? Have you ever gone on an extreme diet? Would you try one of these workouts to get into superhero shape? What does your normal workout look like? How would you like to change it up? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Read more: 10 Free Workouts to Get You Fitter and Stronger

Chris Hemsworth’s Diet and Workouts Will Help You Get Superhero Fit

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Celebrities are known for their uncanny ability to completely overhaul their bodies when a role calls for it, but a few actors’ transformations into superheroes (or supervillains) have been downright jaw-dropping. Sure, they have trainers and nutritionists on call, but it’s up to them to do the work — and judging from their bulging biceps and eight-pack abs, that was no easy feat. From Ryan Reynolds’s surprise workouts to Ben Affleck’s 4 a.m. training sessions, here are the ways 10 Hollywood hunks got into super shape.


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