Chris Evans takes Captain Americas body to the next level, with a high protein diet and hard work in the gym, Chris Evans put on 30 pounds of muscle.
Evans trained for three months and said “I’ve always liked going to the gym, but these weren’t normal gym sessions. I was puking at the gym. They were brutal, absolutely brutal.”
‘The studios had a very specific idea about how they wanted Chris to look,’ says Evans’s personal trainer Simon Waterson, the man also behind the radical transformations of Daniel Craig as 007 and Jake Gyllenhaal as the Prince of Persia.
‘My brief was to build Chris a strong, big and lean body that was realistic, functional and in proper proportion. In the movie, his character is physically transformed into the perfect soldier specimen so he had to look the part.’ ￼
Strength Training Program
Evans explains: “The preparation was really about me bulking up looks wise, so it was a lot of weight training so I could get big. The training regimen was based on heavyweight/low-rep sets of the classic compound lifts. I did stuff like squats, deadlifts, shoulder press, incline bench presses, weighted dips, and chin-ups.”
Evans says with a laugh. “It’s a very balanced workout, hitting every single muscle—I think even my toes got bigger, “We would take two muscle groups, whether it was chest and back or biceps and triceps and we would just destroy those muscles, literally, destroy them for just over two hours. Then we’d cool down with core and abs. “I’d also work with a lot of different angles and grips. For example, for chest I’d do close-grip incline press, incline bench flyes, and incline press-ups. And then I’d do kneeling shoulder-press sometimes, to incorporate more abs.”
“Monday to Friday we’d hit the different parts of the body. On Saturday, it would be my rest day and then on Sunday, if there was something that needed extra work or wasn’t feeling particularly fatigued, I’d hit that too.
“We’d also mix up the free weight stuff with bodyweight stuff. I’d do lots of different weighted pull-ups, weighted dips, press-ups with a plate on my back. Simple-but-effective exercises, basically the classic bodyweight and bodybuilding stuff.”
“I did some gymnastic classes, which were a lot of fun. I got to use acrobatics more, so he’s flipping off things and spinning and jumping and using his environment. I also did some plyometrics, stuff like squat-to-box-jumps. The aim was to keep my heart rate high throughout the workouts, and that helped with my general fitness and especially during filming when had long days and was running around or doing fight scenes.”
Simon Waterson Chris Evans Personal Trainer
The transformation didn’t come easy – Evans especially hated leg training. ‘But then who loves training legs?’ says Waterson. ‘Because if you are doing it properly it is the most painful session there is. Legs never hurt just for a day afterwards – it always lasts into the week.
But your legs and glutes are the biggest and strongest muscles in your body so you must train them hard to get bigger and leaner everywhere else. So many men ignore legs because they want big arms, but pushing your lower body to the limit will transform your upper body faster than anything else thanks to a big growth-hormone response.’
‘The biggest challenge for Chris was eating enough to put on muscle but avoid storing any excess energy as fat,’ says Waterson. ‘We relied on low-carb protein shakes in between meals and snacks such as fruit and nuts. I also had him take branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) throughout the day to reduce muscle tissue breakdown and encourage growth. The aim each day was about 2g protein per kg of bodyweight.’
The No Cardio Program
“Honestly, for Captain America I don’t do a lot of cardio because I’m not trying to lose weight, it’s all about putting on the muscle. It’s big weights and training to put on the muscle.
I mean, we might do a few sprints just to make sure I’m loose and conditioned, but that’s about it, to be honest. We’d warm up and do some intervals for 10-15 minutes.
“Really though, the cardio training comes from doing the circuits, which are much more effective because you’re working at a much higher heart rate. But you just leave the gym unable to move; it’s really intense.
“Ultimately it is about the performance rather than just looking good, having big muscles. In the film I have to sprint a lot, throw the shield, jump over things. But the circuits cover a lot of that. There was no jogging, no rowing, no stationary bike—nothing. If I do cardio I’ll disappear (laughs).”
“I had lost weight in between filming “The Avengers” and this, so it was really about bulking up as clean as possible, so I had a high protein diet nutrition to play Captain America.
“The equation is around 2 grams protein per kilogram of bodyweight and that’s achieved with a bunch of chicken,” he laughs. “But then I’d also consume other sources of lean protein and some protein shakes through the day. But the eating is the thing I like the least (laughs), because I’d feel full all the time. ”
“I’d eat porridge, walnuts, raisins, low-fat Greek yogurt, a scoop of protein and maybe sliced banana for breakfast, which is generally an hour or two before I work out. Then through the day I’d eat a lot of things with a good protein source, lots of fish and meat.
He adds: “Then I’d eat salad with the protein source, lots and lots of salad, lots of dark green, leafy vegetables, and then also a handful of almonds here and there. It was basically a high-protein diet, but then balanced with vegetables and fruits and some complex carbs, things like brown rice and porridge.”
“Supplement-wise I used a bit of glutamine, whey protein shakes, branched-chain amino acids, then 500mg supplements of Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 fatty acids every single meal to make sure that my joints were functioning well—I needed it because the working out was so intensive, especially with things like the gymnastics.
“The branched-chain amino acids were basically there to fill the chain of repair of protein. The glutamine was used to stop me going catabolic or burning muscle tissue as energy, and was also good for my immune system.
“I think the protein shakes during the day would be normal whey-based shakes containing around 30g protein. But then before going to bed I would gulp down a protein shake that was primarily casein, for slow-release protein overnight.”
“As Captain America, I’ve stepped it up a notch. He moves so fast and he kicks ass in this film and it makes sense because this isn’t just the guy who’s been given the ability of speed and power, he’s been training, he’s been training hard,” says Evans.
“Captain America’s got the frame of mind to absorb this information, so you can only assume with training and his ability, the guy should really be dangerous—and he puts that to use in this movie.”
“We really wanted to show his ability in this one, it wasn’t just, ‘Make him like Jason Bourne,’ you know? If Jason Bourne can do it, Cap should just be eating up these things. So we had a bit of fun turning up his power, turning up his speed, cranking those things up a notch. So in this movie the fights are a lot more grisly and impactful, and in my opinion, way cooler.”
Bodybuilding.com. 2015. Captain America’s Training Plan. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/chris-evans-captain-america-training-plan.html. [Accessed 30 April 15].
Chris Evans – Captain America workout | Men’s Fitness UK. 2015. Chris Evans – Captain America workout | Men’s Fitness UK. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.mensfitness.co.uk/exercises/celebrity-workouts/1932/chris-evans-–-captain-america-workout. [Accessed 30 April 2015].