If you saw the trailer for Gifted starring Jenny Slate and Chris Evans, you might be wondering what happened to Captain America’s superhero muscles. Not to knock Evans—he still looks extremely fit—but the muscularity he shows off in the Marvel movies is definitely lacking.
Building and Maintaining Muscle Is Hard
Seeing a more natural-looking Evans is the result of a different training style and diet than he uses for his bulked-up superhero body and is likely more indicative of what he looks like most of the time. In order to keep up a superhero body, you need to have a superhero workout and diet regimen. Building and maintaining muscle requires a high-protein diet and hard work in the gym.
Now I’m not saying that Evans doesn’t follow a strict diet and workout routine all the time—he still looks lean and muscular in Gifted—but he definitely ramps up his intensity when he’s got to leap over buildings and battle the bad guys.
Chris Evan’s Full Body Workout For “Captain America”
In order to pack on muscle and symmetry to produce a comic book caliber body, Evans used bodybuilding, circuit training, and plyometric techniques. To provide volume and definition, he hit his muscles from virtually every angle to create fullness and three-dimensional musculature.
This is accomplished by using various grips and adjusting your body angle to focus on different areas of the muscle. For example, you can perform a flat bench barbell press that focuses primarily on the muscle fibers in the middle of your chest. By moving to a bench with an incline and performing the same motion, you can focus on the fibers in the upper part. Likewise, a wide grip lat pulldown will prioritize different muscles than a close grip lat pull-down. These varying angles and grips are used to promote shape and not necessarily strength.
The plyometric component of his training was to implement quickness and power for his explosive action scenes, so he performed movements like box jumps, squat to box jumps and side to side jumps. Because be was looking to gain weight for the role, he avoided cardio sessions and instead improved his fitness through circuit training.
The Keys to Building Muscle
If you want your muscles to grow, you’ve got to eat. The old saying is, “To get big you’ve got to eat big.” Chris Evans definitely eats big to get into Captain America mode, but he isn’t eating everything in sight. He adopts a very strict diet that’s low-carb, high-protein and contains plenty of leafy green vegetables and healthy fat. A high-protein diet is essential to build muscle because proteins—particularly animal proteins—provide the amino acids required to build muscle.
After you break your muscles down in a workout, you need to feed them the right nutrients to rebuild bigger and stronger. Eating about 1.2 to 1.6 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass is proven to build muscle, especially when the protein is distributed evenly throughout the day.
Eating five to six meals of leafy greens and protein throughout the day is the best way to give your muscles what they need—using sources like egg whites, turkey, chicken, lean beef, protein powder, tilapia, salmon, and Greek yogurt. Snacking on walnuts, almonds and other healthy fat sources throughout the day are also recommended. Complex carbs can be implemented in the morning and evening, or around workouts. Food like brown rice, sweet potato, and oats are the best sources for muscle-building.
“Captain America’s Training Plan,” Bodybuilding.com web site, http://www.bodybuilding.com/content/chris-evans-captain-america-training-plan.html, last accessed November 3, 2016.