- If you want to build muscle, prioritize lifting weights, says Chris Hemsworth’s personal trainer.
- Doing strength training before cardio helps you focus your energy on making gains, he said.
- Getting enough rest between sets and doing compound lifts can help you get the most from your workouts.
To max out on your muscle gains and achieve a superhero physique, you should focus on strength training before doing cardio in a workout, according to Chris Hemsworth’s personal trainer.
Starting your workout with weights helps make sure you have enough energy to push your muscles to grow, said Luke Zocchi, Chris Hemsworth’s longtime personal trainer and head trainer at Centr.
“Focus on using as much energy as you can on the lifts,” Zocchi told Insider.
Centr’s fitness programs offer variations of Hemsworth’s muscle building workouts for your fitness level and gym access, using evidence-based techniques like emphasizing heavy strength exercises first.
The technique is part of what helped Hemsworth build his signature athletic aesthetic, said Zocchi, who helped the actor train for Thor and other starring roles.
The weights-first approach helps make sure cardio doesn’t interfere with your gains and puts the focus on muscle, whether you’re trying to bulk up or lose weight to become leaner.
Prioritize lifting heavy, especially if you’re short on time
Muscle-building happens when you challenge your body with more and more resistance like heavier weights or more reps, a principle known as progressive overload.
To get the most out of your gym sessions, you want to be able to work hard enough to signal to your muscles that it’s time to adapt by growing bigger and stronger, according to Zocchi.
Lifting first in a workout ensures that you have the most energy available to stimulate your muscles, he said. More energy also helps you tackle compound movements that work multiple muscle groups at once, like deadlifts, squats, and presses, to build full-body strength and muscle.
You’ll also want to get enough rest between sets and focus on your breathing, Zocchi said.
“It’s amazing how much more you get out of the gym when you do that,” he said.
Fast-paced weight lifting can be great to boost your overall fitness or improve cardio endurance without running, but for the best muscle and strength gains, you should have time to recover between sets, evidence suggests.
And if you’re pressed for time and have to choose between strength training and cardio, Zocchi said strength training is the way to go if your goal is maximizing lean muscle.
Even if you’re trying to lose weight, lifting weights can help you burn fat over time by increasing your overall metabolism as you get stronger and more muscular.
Diet is more important for weight loss than cardio
Many people incorporate loads of cardio into workouts to get shredded, and while it may help burn calories, it’s not as important for fat loss as what you eat, according to Zocchi.
“Diet is really overlooked when it comes to keeping your body fat low,” he said.
To lose weight, including body fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit by burning more energy than you eat in the form of calories. But it’s much easier to consume calories than burn them off, which is why experts say you can’t outrun a bad diet.
Strategies like eating more protein and enough carbohydrates, and focusing on nutrient-rich whole foods can help you burn body fat for a leaner physique while minimizing any muscle loss, according to a nutritionist.