Australian actor Chris Hemsworth plays the impressively muscular Marvel superhero Thor on screen and recently suited up as the face of the Boss Bottle's latest edition to the fragrance empire, Tonic, but off-duty he's much more casual. "I spend so much time in board shorts at the beach, and so I don’t tend to wear that with the kids," explained the father of three on a recent afternoon in New York. "But when I’m dressing up and going out, this is nice and light." Here, the actor breaks down his fitness, nutrition and sunscreen essentials.
Okay, so what’s it like to be a real life superhero?
It’s great. The kids think it’s pretty cool. One of them in particular is more impressed than the other two. I remember the moment when he first saw [Thor], because I was kind of not wanting them to see it for a while, and I didn’t know if they’d be able to kind of make the distinction between that and reality. My mother-in-law, his grandmother, showed it to him finally, and I remember him running to the door and saying, “Papa, Papa, did you go to work today? Did you fight the monsters like Thor, like Thor? Are you as strong as Thor? Will I be as strong as Thor?” That’s one thing, you get him to eat his food and like, you want to be like Thor? You want to be strong? You better eat. You want to fight the monsters? That helps him eat more food, but the other two are kind of like, “Yeah, Dad’s the whatever,” a little less interest.
When it comes to raising your kids, what do you want them to be really conscious of health-wise?
I want them to be aware of all the shit that is in processed food and all the stuff, all the additives that we’re unaware of and you know, and then anything with too many ingredients on the back I think be wary of if it’s as much unprocessed food as you can have, less sugar. We’re very mindful of sugar with the kids because, you start looking for all these breakfast cereals, this type of milk, or lactose-free milk, or rice milk or whatever and then it’s got like nine, 10 grams of sugar, and you look on the back of anything now there’s four or five, nine, 10, 12 grams of sugar, and before you know it you’re addicted to sugar, little drug addicts. Try and get them to understand the dangers of sugar in particular, I think because it’s just everywhere. It’s in so many products.
In terms of training, what goes into prepping for a role like Thor?
It’s just a lot of heavy weightlifting, you know, isolated muscle groupings. I think how it’s changed over the years. The first time I did it I would just do weightlifting. I didn’t work in as much sort of cardio or functional flexibility, sort of movement training which I do now. It’s much better. I was, I think, probably a little bigger the first time around, but I felt very stiff and sort of uncomfortable. Now, I feel much more, like it’s useful kind of muscle, functional kind of movement and training.
Do you do yoga or a have a specific stretching style?
A little bit, yeah. I think yoga’s one thing that becomes a part of flexible in my lower back, which has been good for me. So I do a lot more Pilates, core. It’s tough. You can have a completely cosmetic muscle, or just complete sort of cosmetic bodybuilding stuff which is fine on screen, but I think a lot of times it’s about next level is when you can tell its function when people move differently, and it suits out lifestyle better. I feel with all the sort of back problems and knee problems and whatever, the more I kind of moved and had a larger range of motion, a lot of those issues with kneeling, certain joint pains were tended to dissipate the more I kind of… larger, more versatile sort of training.
Who do you work out with, primarily?
My trainer...I have a trainer who’s also my best mate from school since we were kids, Luke Zocchi. He has a site dedicated to helping people with training and nutrition as well. It’s fantastic, and so a lot of this stuff. He would just come up with different ways to train, and things that keep you kind of intellectually, emotionally, kind of involved or interested in a different way. When you’re doing the same thing and the same sort of work out is predictable, and you know, become pretty mundane. Luke finds all sorts of ways to be a little more invested in it and challenges your brain as well as your body. You want to kind of stay active, because it becomes a habit. [He makes it] unpredictable and a different, unique, and then you’re like, "Cool, this is you know, this doesn’t feel repetitive anymore."
What about nutrition?
Yeah, he takes care of all of that for me too. Basically, I need a pretty high protein diet when we’re putting on the muscle. Lately, we’ve tried to pull back on the animal proteins and introduce a lot more legumes and certain grains, just to live on an all protein consumption for the effect on the environment, but the effect on your body kind of taking that much protein after a while. I noticed that I felt quite lethargic at times when I should be fit and healthy. I think it’s because my body’s trying to process all that protein. So we’re not fully vegan or anything, but we’re kind of trying to see if we can hold this weight, incorporate a lot of that style of eating.
That’s awesome because environmentally, it has such an impact.
It’s huge, yeah. The cattle industry is one of the biggest causes of global warming.
In the beauty world, there’s this urban myth that all these derms go to Australia and pick up bags of zinc oxide as opposed to buying sunscreen. What sunscreen-wise do you like for your family or for you personally?
There are a couple of good organic, local Byron Bay-made sunscreens, but I wear a lot of zinc as well just as a certain thicker barrier with spending so much time in the sun. Vertra is a great almost invisible zinc for the water. I think that prevention is the most important key. The moisturizers are good, but I think the vast majority of the longevity of your skin is done by preventing it from being damaged in the first place. But no, we want the magic pill. No one wants to, it’s the same with trying with fitness. It’s like, "What's the the quickest way I know to get fit or stay fit?"
Watch: Alexander Skarsgård's First Kiss Made Him Cry