August 5, 2020

Chris Evans Workout: How Captain America Gets Fit


Chris Evans Workout

Chris Evans, who stars as Captain America, has put in a lot of time in the gym. He had to be in caliber shape for the shirtless scenes that define his character. The Chris Evans workout is a combination of plyometric circuit training, strength training and abs as a cool-down.

To get in Captain America shape, Chris Evans uses personal trainer Simon Waterson. He recently filmed Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Chris Evans’ workout comes directly from an interview his trainer gave to GQ Magazine:

On Monday we would do a circuit, then back & arms: a lot of big deadlifting, shrugging, the usual bicep curls. On Tuesday I would do a little bit of cardio and abs. On Wednesday we’d do a circuit then heavy, heavy legs. On Thursday, cardio with some abs. On Friday, a circuit then chest, arms and shoulders. Saturday would normally be a rest day and then Sunday would be what I call a “catch-up day”, if something hasn’t been fatigued, or needs working, or is looking a bit out of place.

Chris Evans’ workout starts with plyometric circuit training. This is where you do 4-5 exercises in a row, without rest. This gets your heart pumping, so that you’re in the fat-burning zone while strength training.

Then, for the strength training, Chris Evans does 4 sets of each exercise, 10-12 reps per exercise. He then finishes by doing either abs, or stretching, as a cool-down.

Chris Evans Workout | Monday

Chris Evans’ workout uses plyometrics on Monday, followed by a back & arms workout. So, the Winter Soldier’s routine consists of:

  • Plyometric Cardio Circuit: 3 sets
  • Back & Arms Workout

The plyometrics are done as a cardio/ warm up routine. This is so Chris Evans maintains a fat-burning heart rate throughout the workout. The Monday workout also includes deadlifting, shrugging and bicep curls.

Perform the plyometric cardio workout in circuit format. That means do 1 set of each exercise without rest, then repeat the entire circuit 2 more times. Do 8 reps of each exercise, then move onto the next exercise. As you do the squat thrust, do the pushup while you’re on the ground, then stand back up to finish the circuit.

Plyometric Cardio Circuit

8 reps each / 3 sets: Rest one minute once you complete a circuit. Then complete the circuit–one set of each exercise– again.

  • Stiff-legged Deadlift
  • Squat Thrust
  • Weighted Pushup
  • Weighted Pull-ups
  • Weighted Dips

For this circuit Simon Waterson, Chris Evans’ personal trainer, says the weight they use includes:

Dips with 20 or 30 kilos dangling between your legs. Press-ups with a 25-kilo plate on your back. Those types of exercises are very simple but once the body starts to adapt to it the gains you get are just phenomenal.

Translation Table:
  • 20 kilo = 45 lb. plate
  • 25 kilo = 55 lb. plates
  • 30 kilo = 65 lb. plates

For the weighted dips, Simon Waterson says to start with just your bodyweight. Make sure you can do all the sets with your elbows reaching 90 degrees. Then, you can start adding weight to make the exercise more challenging.

Simon Waterson would have the Captain America actor start every the Monday workout with a metabolic circuit. After that, they move onto standard (non-circuit) bodybuilding with weights:

Chris Evans Monday Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Deadlifts 4 10-12
Lat Raises 4 10-12
Seated Cable Rows 4 10-12
Shoulder Press (Kneeling) 4 10-12
Dumbbell Side Raises (Lateral) 4 10-12
Bent-Over Lateral Raises 4 10-12
Barbell Bicep Curls 4 10-12
Dumbbell Hammer Curls 4 10-12
Triceps Extensions 4 10-12
Barbell Shrugs 4 10-12

Back & Arms Workout – Detailed Video Demonstrations:

  • Barbell Deadlifts
  • Lat Raises
  • Seated Cable Rows
  • Shoulder Press (Kneeling)
  • Dumbbell Side Raises (Lateral)
  • Bent-Over Lateral Raises
  • Barbell Bicep Curls
  • Dumbbell Hammer Curls
  • Triceps Extensions
  • Barbell Shrugs

One might think that the Captain America workout should be all about developing the shield-throwing muscles. But, Chris Evans’ personal trainer Simon Waterson says:

I wasn’t concentrating on him throwing the shield to be honest, but conditioning-wise within that routine there was what you would call medial and lateral rotation – that is basically where you’ve got a pair of dumb-bells out in front of you and you’re retracting them to your sides. Medial rotation is very much for posture, but will benefit you throwing a shield or any other object.

Chris Evans Workout | Tuesday

Chris Evans’ workout routine for Tuesday:

  • Up-Hill Treadmill or Speed Cardio
  • Plyometric Circuit Training
  • Followed by an abs routine

Simon Waterson likes his clients to do incline treadmill. This Up-hill Treadmill type of exercise is deceptively easy at first, but gets harder as you go for 45 minutes.

Simon Waterson also  switches this up with speed intervals, which can be done in 10-15 minutes after a warmup. Trainer Simon Waterson says that on some days:

We’d warm up and then do some intervals for ten to 15 minutes. Really though the cardio training comes from doing the circuits, which are much, much more effective because you’re working at a much higher heart rate.

The Chris Evans Tuesday workout includes cardio & abs. Waterson says you have your choice of:

  1. 45 minutes of uphill treadmill (very steep incline with 4.0 speed), or
  2. 10-15 minutes of speed intervals (where you sprint as fast as you can for 1 minute, followed by recovery for another minute)

It’s good to switch up between slower uphill cardio, and speed intervals. Each cardio workout focuses on fat-burning, but does so by utilizing either fast-twitch or slow-twitch muscles. 15 minutes of HIIT (High intensity interval training, or speed intervals) is preferred by most when it comes to fat-burning.

But, not everyone has joints that can handle that type of activity on a constant basis. Research shows that it doesn’t matter if you go fast or slow. If you’re going to go slow (uphill treadmill) then make sure to go for a longer period of time.

Preparing for Captain America, Chris Evans ramped up his cardio. In the weeks before filming Captain America, he did both exercise routines on his cardio days.

Plyometric Cardio Circuit

8 reps each / 3 sets: Rest one minute once you complete a circuit. Then, do 2 more circuits.

Video Demonstrations:

  • Wood Chops
  • Push Press
  • Dumbbell Lunges
  • Goblet Squat
  • One-Arm Medicine Ball Pushup

Abs Workout – Detailed Explanations

Simon Waterson would have the Captain America actor do abs every other day as a cool-down. They would switch it up, to work different sections of the abs group. 3 sets of 30 of each:

Abs workout: Waterson would have the Captain America actor do abs every other day. They would switch it up, to work different sections of the abs group. 3 sets of 30 of each:

  1. Ab Crunches
  2. Upper Body Crunches
  3. Reverse Crunches
  4. Double Crunches
  5. Bicycle Crunches

Captain America has to sprint from time to time. So, Chris Evans’ trainer made sure he was in shape for the job:

 The cardio training that Chris did was fairly standard. I’d maybe add a few sprints in there, just to make sure that his hip flexors were loose and that he was capable and conditioned. What we forget is when we watch the movie, we see the one shot of him running down the street after someone. That shot was done in eight takes: that’s like doing eight 100m sprints right after each other.