After seeing Chris Evans on set for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it’s hard to believe he was ever anything but built and well-muscled. But he didn’t wake up like this (only Beyonce does that). It takes work to get the body of a superhero.
Evans isn’t big naturally (he tends to weigh in at 170-180 pounds), so he had to up both his workout routine and food intake in order to get to the 200-pound goal weight required for his role. He explains, “I’m very skinny naturally. I’m kind of a little bony kid, so getting big is tough, you know. It’s hard to keep the weight on. The second you stop filming, you pull the plug, and I don’t even think about the gym for months. It’s a really daunting task gearing back up.”
The brothers who directed the movie (Joe and Anthony Russo) actually had a very specific idea of what shape they wanted Chris Evans to be in based on his character’s life story: “This isn’t just a guy who was given the ability of speed and power. He’s been training. He’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. We show that. We’ve had a little bit of fun kind of turning up his power, turning up his speed, and so the fights are a lot more grisly and impactful and, in my opinion, cooler.”
In an interview with Marvel, Evans said his training was varied and challenging. He was even enrolled in gymnastics classes which helped him learn the choreography of his fight scenes more seamlessly. In the end, he appreciated the results: “When it’s sharp, when it’s neat, it just feels so good.”
The one difficulty he Evans did have with training? The eating part: “It’s not so much what you’re eating, it’s the quantity. Aside from the weight training, which is brutal — although when you walk out of the gym you feel great — it’s in between the workout that’s tough, just eating, eating, eating. It sounds pleasant, but it’s not pizza and doughnuts, it’s just bland chicken. Very lean, dry, simple food that provides protein. You always feel bloated and uncomfortable.”
The man behind the scenes.
Simon Waterson trained Evans for the first and second Captain America movies. He’s also trained Jake Gyllenhaal for The Prince of Persia, Halle Berry in Die Another Day, and two Bonds: Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. What makes him so special? He’s a former British Royal Marine who uses his military training to help celebrities get fit for roles.
His workout approach is three-fold: plyometrics, weight-training, and core exercises. Waterson uses a version of CrossFit that’s “functional, dynamic, and not aesthetic.” He emphasizes natural body movements as much as possible.
Waterson also blends exercises together to get his clients results. For example, he’ll use a plyometric move and transition it to a strength exercise like squat thrusts into pull-ups. The key to these workouts is allowing little rest between sets.
The standard supplementation Waterson gives to clients like Chris Evans is 180 grams of protein powder per day, BCAAs, glutamine, and fish oil. Protein for muscle-building, BCAAS to keep the body from going catabolic, glutamine for immunity, and fish oil for healthy fats.
If you want to try a sample workout based on Waterson’s principles, check out the HIIT workout.