When it comes to life inspiration, it doesn’t get much better than Chris Hemsworth.
A father of three, a devoted husband and an internationally-acclaimed actor, it’s hard not to love the 35-year-old Australian. In fact, he’s become somewhat of a Men’s Health legend — inspiring thousands of readers to build their best-ever body.
For some, however, building a body worth of Asgard continues to seem a near-impossible task. But what if we told you that it needn’t be that way? That the Avengers star swears by two deceptively simple fitness hacks to stay energised, to stay fit and to stay in the best shape of his life?
(Related: We spoke to Chris Hemsworth’s PT to get his best muscle-building tips)
Well, you’re in luck. Speaking exclusively to Men’s Health UK, Chris Hemsworth gave us the skinny on two habits that have transformed the way he operates day-to-day, wherever he is in the world.
“I’ve been doing a lot of cold showers recently,” says Hemsworth, the #BOSSBottled global fragrance ambassador, who has recently finished filming the as-yet-untitled sequel to Avengers: Infinity War. “It’s like cold water therapy, like Wim Hoff — he’s really interesting.”
Wim Hoff, for the uninitiated, is a so-called ‘extremophile’, swearing by the purported benefits of extreme cold exposure and modified breathing. For Hoff — a man who ran a marathon at a bone-chilling -20C — exposing yourself to sub-zero temperatures is a lifestyle. But science has his (and Hemsworth’s) back.
(Related: We asked Wim Hoff for his best zen secrets)
The benefits can be myriad. From a bolstered immune system to improved mental health, sharpened awareness and red-hot weightloss, it’s become more fact than fiction. And Chris Hemsworth is a big fan. “When I was in New York, I was so jet-lagged and I was having cold showers and it was freezing water. It was incredible. I felt instantly awake and instantly refreshed and adrenalised. It also teaches you how to breathe deeper and breathe properly and that’s a big one.”
(Related: This guy took cold showers every day for a week — here’s what happened)
He’s not wrong — not only will cold showers help you breathe deeper and clearer, but, according to research published in the journal Medical Hypotheses, icy water can be used to treat depression while making you considerably more productive — think steady laser-focus rather than jittery coffee highs — throughout the day. Not bad when you have to squeeze training sessions in-between interviews, filming and make-up.
For Chris, the other-worldly trend for bio-hacking doesn’t end there. As with fellow Marvel alums Hugh Jackman, Terry Crews and Benedict Cumberbatch, Hemsworth has firmly placed himself in the camp of intermittent fasting — a fitness trend that’s grasped everyone from the Hollywood elite to bro-science bodybuilders.
(Related: Hugh Jackman trials the 16:8 diet)
“I’ve been doing a lot of intermittent fasting now — eating between 12pm and 8pm,” he explains. “I’ve found that it dramatically increased my energy levels. I’ve found that once you get over the initial shock in the first week or two of not eating [as regularly], your body kicks into a different state. I’ve found myself eating less calories but not feeling starved.”
(Related: 5 celebrities who swear by intermittent fasting)
For what it’s worth, the benefits of intermittent fasting are a little polarising on planet fitness. Research has shown it can improve blood sugar levels and decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer. However, some studies have found a link between intermittent fasting and a heightened risk of diabetes.
While the battle wages on, Hemsworth seems to be reaping the rewards. His appearance in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War saw Thor’s hulking physique stripped down to a leaner, more mobile frame compared to the bodybuilding aesthetic seen in the original 2011 film.
(Related: Chris Hemsworth’s diet hack is saving the world)
Likely to be a result of combining functional training with smarter diet hacks like intermittent fasting, Hemsworth says, “There’s a lot of evidence and research around such diets, boosting the immune system and a whole lot of things like energy increase [and] heightened awareness… I found that doing it over the last few months I noticed a really positive change.”
Consider Hemsworth your new body of evidence.