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Health And Family

How Chris Evans got his Captain America body

WELL-BEING - Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit - The Philippine Star

Have you seen how Chris Evans held a flying helicopter with his mighty biceps in Captain America: Civil War?

Week after week, beefy super heroes wow us with their super powers on the big screen. The latest is the First Avenger Captain America. While I have written about how Chris Evans trained for his first Captain America movie, I can’t help but snoop again on how he gained more muscles.

This is the fifth appearance of Chris Evans as Captain America.  He has always been trained by Simon Waterson who was recently interviewed by Men’s Fitness.

“When I first started working with Chris for the original Captain America film, the studio had a very specific idea about how they wanted him to look. 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,” Waterson said.

Evans increased his weight from 77kg to 82kg, and reduced his body fat percentage from 12.5 to just 8%. Waterson gave the actor a training program based on high-weight/low-rep sets of the classic compound lifts, specifically squats, deadlifts, incline bench presses, and weighted dips and chin-ups to help Evans develop lean muscle mass quickly.

“He also did a lot of bodyweight moves and included some plyometrics to fire up his fast-twitch muscle fibers, such as squat-to-box jumps. The aim was to keep his heart rate high throughout the workouts. I didn’t want to ignore this aspect of fitness because once filming started, Chris was effectively going to have to work out on camera during the action scenes while wearing a 6kg costume, as well as carrying a helmet and shield.”

“Chris had done some weight training before, but as with a lot of guys, it had been focused on the vanity muscles — chest, arms, and abs. These guys are always amazed when I point out that they have muscles on the backs of their bodies, too. But Chris was great to train. He understood the importance of a balanced physique. I had to work him hard but at a sensible pace — I couldn’t afford to have him sidelined for four weeks with an injury,” Waterson explained.

Waterson revealed that Evans hated leg training. “But then who loves training legs? 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,” he clarified.

“The biggest challenge for Chris was eating enough to put on muscle but avoid storing any excess energy as fat. We relied on low-carb protein shakes in between meals and snacks such as fruit and nuts. I also had him take BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) throughout the day to reduce muscle tissue breakdown and encourage growth. The aim each day was about 2g protein per kilo of bodyweight,” he shared.

Captain America’s one-day sample meal plan from Waterson includes a breakfast of porridge with dark berries and walnuts, a morning snack of protein shake and 5g BCAA, a pre-workout snack of apple with almonds, a post-workout snack of protein shake and 5g BCAA, followed 20 minutes later with chicken salad and brown basmati rice, then another protein shake as afternoon snack, and lean protein for dinner, such as fish, chicken or beef, with vegetables but no starchy carbohydrates.

Waterson also shared the leg workout Evans hated but understood he needed for that overall balanced physique. It starts with squats, three sets of six to eight repetitions each. The bar should be rested against the back of the shoulders, not on your neck.  “Hold the bar with an overhand grip slightly wider than your shoulders. Keep your elbows pointing down. Your feet should be just wider than shoulder-width apart with your toes pointing outwards slightly. Squat down until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Drive back up through your heels,” Waterson directed.

The second exercise is the lunge, again three sets of six to eight reps. Rest the barbell on the back of your shoulders while standing tall. “Point your elbows behind you to retract your shoulder blades and keep your back upright and core braced throughout. Take a big step forward, but keep your knee over your front foot and not beyond it. Lower down until both knees are bent at 90° before pushing back off your front foot to return to the start position,” he said.

The third is the leg press followed by calf raise and hamstring curl. All three are done on selectorized strength machines. Again, three sets of six to eight reps for each exercise are prescribed.

What are Captain America’s thoughts about his physical training? 

Evans explained to Bodybuilding.com: “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.”

“The preparation for Captain America 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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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,” Evans said.

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