Zocchi and Hemsworth worked on overhauling his training and diet, and Hemsworth began doing yoga one or two days a week with his wife, actress Elsa Pataky.
At the same time, Hemsworth tried out a vegan chef to begin expanding the repertoire of plant-based meals he liked to eat. By the time “Avengers: Infinity Wars” rolled around, Zocchi estimates that 90 percent of Hemsworth’s meals were plant-based, with little to no impact on his build.
Hemsworth still eats meat, but these days, it’s a smaller part of his overall diet.
“I’ve learned how important nutrition is and how important your mental well-being and approach to it is,” Hemsworth says. If these pieces are off or he hasn’t gotten enough rest, he says he doesn’t get the same results.
Another more recent change involved adding meditation to the end of his workouts, Zocchi says, zoning out on his back on the mat and just breathing for five to 10 minutes to get his head straight before returning to set.
Interestingly enough, Hemsworth says he actually prefers the less bulky version of himself, and he is relieved when he can set aside the hammer for a while and engage in a much broader range of activity, as he did to prepare for playing Agent H in this summer’s forthcoming “Men in Black: International,” a spinoff of the Tommy Lee Jones/Will Smith franchise that plays to his comedic chops, as well as his brawn.
“We lifted nowhere nearly as heavy [for this role],” Zocchi says. “And we have started doing more functional bodyweight training five days a week.”
In fact, Zocchi says, now there’s no reason Hemsworth’s workouts have to take much longer than 40 minutes, even when he’s preparing for a big role. “We always train with a lot of intensity, [but now], we [also] take bigger rest periods,” Zocchi adds.
Focusing on recovery
Indeed, to ensure that the 35-year-old actor can retain his action-star status for years to come, rest and recovery have become a bigger part of the equation.
While Hemsworth has been lucky enough not to sustain any major injuries in all his years of heavy lifting for “Thor,” Zocchi says, like most people, he will occasionally get a sore back and relies on massage and stretching to get back on track.
Just as important, he says, Hemsworth is careful not to push too hard with strength training if he’s feeling too sore or tired. Instead, he will focus on cardiovascular activities such as playing soccer, basketball and tennis, which he did recently with pals on set in India, “none of which I was any good at it,” Hemsworth says with a chuckle. The main idea was just “having a laugh at yourself and with your mates.”
Hemsworth says it’s this group dynamic that stokes his competitive nature and keeps him going with a workout before or after long days on set. On location, he will often work out with Zocchi, his assistant, his stuntman, and even his hair, makeup and wardrobe team if they’re up for it.
These days, after fine-tuning his food, workouts and mental well-being practices, training for a role feels less like a “disciplinary training regimen” as it had in the past and more of an active lifestyle choice.
“A lot of people don’t realize that the body does respond in a much more efficient way if it’s treated with respect rather than just beating the hell out of it and expecting results,” Hemsworth says. “The maintenance and rest and repair are just as important.”