Chris Hemsworth has an enviable set of abs — anyone who's watched his hammer-wielding antics as Thor can see that. But his recent Disney+ documentary, Limitless, shows the Australian actor's motivation to exercise extends beyond aesthetics.
As the founder of the workout app Centr, it's been increasingly clear that Hemsworth is interested in longevity and developing a healthy body that's built to last. So, when he released a four-move bodyweight core workout on Instagram, I was intrigued to see what it had to offer.
Eager to give it a go, I unrolled my yoga mat and set to work. The session itself looks simple enough; 20 repetitions of four exercises, performed as a circuit for four rounds. Easy, right? (Spoiler: it's not.)
Chris Hemsworth's four-move core workout
A photo posted by on
I'm a big fan of this workout. Although your mid-body muscles are involved in daily activities like walking, lifting, and balancing, you don't usually focus on your abs exclusively, since they generally engage to connect your upper and lower body.
This approach will work your rectus abdominis muscles (responsible for the six-pack shape), but it misses many important muscles elsewhere in the core (there are big differences between abs vs core training, after all).
It's not very true to everyday life either as most of us don't move like toy figures, hinging at the hips and staying rigid everywhere else.
Hemsworth's workout, on the other hand, tested my core strength, coordination and balance by challenging me to bend, twist, stabilize my spine and maintain tricky positions.
First-up, the cross-body mountain climbers eased me into each round. Holding a plank position throughout meant spine-stabilizing muscles like the transversus abdominis and mulitifidus came into play, but I was able to work my way through them without a hitch. Then came the kick sits.
This move will boost your shoulder stability and fire up your obliques (the long muscles running down the side of your abdomen, responsible for twisting and sideways bending motions). It's also a good test of your coordination and balance.
My first few tries were wobbly, and it took me a while to get into any sort of rhythm. But, after several failed attempts, I was able to string them together in a breakdance-esque fashion that added an element of fun to this fitness test.
By the final round, my shoulders felt as tired as my midsection muscles. But Hemsworth's workout waits for no one, and I quickly had to move on to 20 bicycle crunches.
These weren't actually too bad, and I soon found myself reaching 20 and readying myself for the final exercise — flutter kicks. On the face of it, these look like the easiest of the lot; aside from a light kicking of your legs, there's minimal movement going on.
But what you're actually doing is maintaining a hollow hold position — a favorite among gymnasts. This pose requires full-body tension and core strength to keep your legs and shoulders off the floor; the longer you hold it, the more difficult it becomes.
As a result, I found myself tempted to rush through the final few repetitions. But, as with all core strengthening exercises, it pays to take things slowly to increase the time your muscles spend under tension. So, I forced myself to pump the brakes and, despite a shaky final five, I was able to finish the last exercise in a single set.
A photo posted by on
It's not a surprise that Hemsworth is in great shape — his personal trainer adds compound moves into his routines so he can still train around his movie-making commitments.
But when you have time to focus on a specific area, this four-move workout is a fun way to skip the sit-ups and crunches in favor of a range of movement patterns that'll strengthen your core and improve your performance in other exercises.
The final, most important lesson from this session is to have fun with movement. Exercising for happiness is probably the greatest motivator out there, so find something that puts a smile on your face and keep at it!
Get the Fit&Well Newsletter
Start your week with achievable workout ideas, health tips and wellbeing advice in your inbox.
Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.
Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.
This trainer's six-move workout builds muscle all over and boosts your mobility in just 18 minutes
Workout Improve your balance, coordination and stability while fending off future injuries with this short strength training workout
By Harry Bullmore Published
This five minute routine can ease "tech neck" and undo the damage of scrolling on your phone all day
Workout Correct poor posture and ease stiffness with these six moves
By Maddy Biddulph Published