I had the great pleasure to speak with Duffy Gaver who trained actor Chris Hemsworth in preparation for the movie Thor. Duffy is no stranger to hard work as he is a former Marine and Navy Seal and his list of clients includes the cast of Ocean’s Twelve, Adam Sandler (Don’t Mess with the Zohan) and Brad Pitt (Troy and Mr. and Mrs. Smith).
What is your fitness philosophy?
Hard work pays off… It’s like a bank account. You can’t go putting pennies in a bank account and then want to draw out hundred dollar bills. If you invest a hundred bucks at a time – every time you go into the gym, you get on your tri-bike, you get in the pool, you know what, I’m going to drop a hundred. I’m going to f*cking give it everything I got. Then you get to draw it out on the day… You get to go on screen and take your shirt off and you get to show ‘em the goods.
The fitness industry – and this is just my personal view – tries to come off to make it sound like it’s so complicated that you need to: a) Go to somebody for expertise or b) Buy something. The truth of it is, it’s not like that at all. You’re fit. Just go out and use it. You are fitness… For your average healthy human being, there’s no difference between a very overweight person and a very fit person other than sheer effort and a little bit of concentration. You know there’s a massive difference between a donut and a chicken breast. I don’t need to tell you that. You know there’s a difference between watching TV and going for a jog. If you keep making donut and TV choices, guess what you’re going to look like? If you keep making chicken breast and jog choices, guess what you’re going to look like? Chris (Hemsworth) has just made a series of fantastic choices. He’s been disciplined about his diet and his work ethic is without question in the gym.
We’re very impressed with Chris’s ability to push himself. Did you have to do any interventions on his diet or did he come in ready to go?
He’s pretty smart about diet and whatnot – he knows that pizza doesn’t get you where a nice lean steak gets you. So he’s smart. We also talked about it a lot and then about two-thirds of the way through training, we consulted with a nutritionist that I work with here in Santa Monica – Phil – and he just tightened up the diet… Took a little of the starchy carbs out, threw in a little more protein… It worked great – just to get his calorie load up. Look, there’s about 8 million diet books out there and the truth of it is, you give me 2 minutes at a table, I can explain nutrition to you and you can go “Yeah, ok. I got it.” You can take off and be fit.
What are your quick tips for everyday people? What should they be looking at?
Whether or not they really want to be fit. I only say that because look, if I tell you “Look, this is what I want you to eat. I want you to eat chicken, broccoli, and some oatmeal – a big chunk of chicken, a bit of broccoli, and a little bit of brown rice” and you start talking to me about “You know, I don’t really like this. I like that and I like this”, then we’re not really having a conversation. The conversation is “Do you really want to do this?”
If I sit down with you and I say “Hey, this is what I want you to eat – chicken, broccoli, brown rice. I don’t want you to eat any brown rice for dinner and I’d like you to eat quite a bit of fish” and you go “OK”, you and I are probably off to the races.
What did you tell Chris to do for his workouts?
Chris is smart. He sees through what I call the smoke and mirrors of the fitness industry… Now there’s ropes in the gym, there’s hoops, hula hoops in gyms now, there’s kettlebells in gyms now. There’s all these gadgets but the truth is, none of those gadgets were around when Arnold Schwarzenegger was Mr. Olympia. So are they necessary? No. Do they brighten up the gym? Sure. But if you want to get big, you’re going to have to go back and you’re going to have to go old school. You’re going to have to pick up some barbells and some dumbbells. You’re going to have to go heavy, you’re going to have to go with the old lifts. You’re going to have to do squats and leg presses. You’re going to have to do some heavy curls. You’re going to have to do some heavy, heavy dumbbell rows. Nothing’s changed. The human body isn’t changing. The sales and marketing tactics are changing – the sales and marketing tactics change hourly. The human body isn’t moving. It’s just deciding whether or not you’re going to work out hard or not.
So what did Chris do? He got back to basics. He lifted hard, lifted heavy. Some days we went incredibly heavy and some days we’d keep it lighter and keep the movement as perfect as we could and rep out, and that keeps your muscles growing.
As you know, your body’s an adaptation machine. So if you pick up heavy weight and you keep saying “I want to lift this. I want to do this. I want to do this” your body will say, “OK, great. Feed me. Let me rest and I will give you everything you ask for.” If you say “I want to sit on the couch and eat cheese puffs”, then your body’s gonna say, “Great, I’m gonna be the best sit-on-the-couch cheese puff eating machine you’ve ever seen.”
What’s your favourite exercise?
What’s your favourite sport?
What books are you reading right now?
Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution.
Do you have any training rituals?
What’s your favourite food?
“The StayFitAnywhere Spring Superhero Workout” is inspired by the movie Thor, which opens in theatres on May 6th, 2011. Enter to win a pair of tickets to the advance screening in 3D through our contest.
Josh Neumann, BHK, PTS, TSCC-1
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