Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Thor Program

Following hot on the heels of our green lantern workout I thought I'd give some love to the other big comic book movie this year- Thor, the god of thunder.

If you've seen the movie you'll know that Chris helsmworth is a pretty impressive specimen. It's not the first time we've seen actors undergo incredible transformations for a movie role. Daniel craig of course packed on some muscle to provide women with a reason to watch Bond movies, Tobey McGuire defied decidedly poor genetics to get in shape for spiderman, and Hugh jackman became Huge Jacked Man for wolverine (he wasn't that huge but that was too good a pun to pass up)

So here is the premise- an A-list actor walks into my studio tomorrow and says he has 12 weeks to transform his body for a movie role. What do I do with him?

I will make the assumption that our hypothetical actor has been lifting weights prior to this. They move reasonably well and are not complete beginners. Here's what I'd do-

1- I would have him train twice a day. I have never seen a more effective method of rapid body transformation than twice-a-day training. Of course not everyone can do it, not many people have the time or the motivation. But a multi million dollar movie contract and the ability to focus solely on preparing for a movie role for 12 weeks of your life should help here.
Generally the morning session would be heavy lifting and power work, while the later session would be higher rep work, with more isolation exercises for key muscle groups. On which note...

2- I would focus on the upper body, and in particular the shoulders. Of course lower body exercise would be included, but the overall volume of work would be less. A few sets of squats and deadlifts twice a week would be the extent of it. This will give us the total body muscle building effect of these great exercises, boost the metabolism and testosterone production, but not be enough work to detract from our gruelling upper-body schedule.

How many movies have focused on the action hero's impressive hamstring development anyway? It's all about the abs on upper body in Hollywood.

However! I would have the actor perform power snatches every day in the morning session provided he can do them well. It wouldn't have to be particularly heavy, but frequent power snatching builds the traps and shoulders like nothing else.

3- I would build the program around pressing. Overhead, incline and some flat bench pressing for lots of sets of 3-5. This would be balanced with higher rep rowing exercises in the 8-12 range. The pressing muscles are the ones which will make the biggest visual impact, along with ....

3- abs. The big screen loves abs. This is going to come mostly from diet of course, but since this article is already becoming a bloody masters thesis I won't go into too much detail, here's the bullet points

6 meals a day

The bulk of the carbohydrates to be consumed before and after training sessions

Eat high quality meat and fish, and lots of veg each meal.

Post workout protein shake with simple carbs.

The usual basic supplements (multi vit, fish oil, magnesium) with perhaps a few extras to help fat burning in the final month.

Direct ab training would be done in the last couple of weeks on a 3 days on, one day off rotation.

4- as we move into the final phase it would be all about maintaining muscle mass while getting as lean as possible. It's possible for relatively small actors to look very impressive on screen as long as they have good abdominals, and even in a perfect world muscle gain is a slow process. So our time in this phase would be better spent dialling things in and getting our imaginary mega star as ripped as possible.

Sled work would be added every day and the carb content would come right down.

The result would be a ripped, athletic, bad mofo ready to swing hammers and punch bad guys in the silver screen.

Now, what possible application could this have for the average person with a job? Well, I have clients right now on our elite body program sticking to a schedule like this and their results are phenomenal. It can be done, it's just a matter of prioritising your body for a period of time. Brutally hard work, definitely not for everyone, but that's what it takes to look like the God of Thunder.

(by the way, in the interests of this article not turning into an even bigger rambling mess I haven't included a sample training program. If you want one, drop me an email at and I'll pop one over. Not my fault if it kills you)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Training male vs female clients

We have about a 50/50 mix at aegis between male and female clients. Though the methods for training each are broadly similar, there are a couple of considerations

- women generally have higher work capacity, they can do more work per session. I frequently put female clients through workouts that would kill a small horse.

-while men have greater relative upper body strength, there's far less of a difference on lower body exercises.

- women are capable of more reps at a given percentage of their max. For example, a guy lifting 90% of his maximum weight on an exercise might only get 3 reps, while a woman might get 5 or 6. So when writing programs, where I would a have guy do 3-5 reps I'll have a woman do 4-6.

- women always want to take less rest between sets, men want to take more. It's often necessary to slow women down so they are able to perform the exercises correctly for the required reps. Men you just have to shout at til they get off the floor.

- women don't care about the weight on the bar. Whereas it's sometimes all men care about. You need to sometimes reign men in from putting too much weight on the bar and lifting with ugly form. With women it's usually a case of convincing them they are stronger than they think.

-muscles to emphasise on women for aesthetic purposes are different to men. The program will still be based around big movements (though I'll do a lower volume of heavy deadlifts with women and more squatting instead) but I'll often program in some higher rep exercises at the end of a session for specific muscle groups.

With women you want to develop the glutes, hamstrings, deltoids, Lats and triceps. You want to de-emphasise the traps, forearms and neck.
With men the traps, forearms and neck are "power" muscles that can and should be developed.

So, small differences worth considering when your putting a program together.