How to Train Like a Hero

How to Train Like a Hero

Straight-talk fitness advice from the guy who turned the 285-pound Chris Pratt of Parks and Recreation into the lean, muscly Chris Pratt of Marvel fame.

By Kellee Katagi

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Duffy GaverIf you care even a whit about fitness, when a book from Thor’s trainer comes across your desk, you should drop everything and read it. And when you do, Hero Maker: 12 Weeks to Superhero Fit (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2020) by Duffy Gaver will not disappoint.

Duffy’s client list reads like a Who’s Who of Hollywood action stars: Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Pitt, Tobey Maguire, Pierce Brosnan, Ashton Kutcher, Channing Tatum, to name a few. And Duffy himself is the real deal—anyone who’s been a Marine sniper, a Navy Seal and a Hollywood stuntman certainly knows a thing or two about fitness.

What he knows can be both good news and bad news, depending on how you look at it.  

First the good news:

Anyone can be fit.

“Some people are very intimidated about the fitness thing,” Duffy said in a phone interview from his Southern California home. “They see themselves as being a different form of person—like, there’s athletes, and then there’s me. But they’re the same type of person. If we dissect both, it turns out, in retrospect, they’re exactly the same. It’s just what you chose to do with it.”

Get rid of preconceived notions of what you can and can’t do, Duffy advises in Hero Maker. Wipe the slate clean. Everyone can get fit if you put your mind to it.

The bad news.

There’s no shortcut.

The biggest hurdle, however, is actually putting your mind to it, Duffy says. “It really comes down to: You pony up on the effort or you don’t. You pony up on discipline or you go home,” he elaborates. “Everybody is supposed to be fit—that’s what you were built to do—to be fit and be in motion and strong and athletic. But psychologically in this day and age, not everybody is prepared. They’re not in. And they’ve got every excuse in the world.”  

Once you commit, you can get—and stay—in shape, Duffy says. You don’t need a special program or gear or food or supplements. “That’s all just marketing,” he says. “They convince you that there’s a problem so they can sell you the Band-Aid to fix it.” The pathway to fitness is simple: move more, eat better. “If I put a doughnut in front of you or a chicken breast, which should you choose?” Duffy asks. “We’re all nutritionists. We all know how to eat better.”

The inspiration:

Find your reason.

When actors approach Duffy about training, they have goals in mind, he says. “It is very specific: In six months, in four months, or whatever, you’re going to take your shirt off, and they’re going to film it.” And with millions of dollars potentially on the line, there are compelling reasons to take it seriously.

For us non-Hollywood types, whose jobs aren’t on the line, we have to discover our “why.” Duffy suggests survival as a strong “why.” 

“I know only one person who ended up in the hospital from COVID—a good buddy of mine who’s overweight,” he explains. “If you look at yourself in the mirror and you’re like, ‘Eh, I could probably do a better job’—something like this comes along and goes, ‘No, you need to do a better job or it’s too late.’ This little thing is going to kick the s*** out of you because you didn’t bother taking care of yourself.”

What to do:

Everything works.

Once you commit, just get moving. “If your current state of fitness is doing nothing, then something works,” Duffy says. Get up and go for a run? Yeah, that works. Do pullups and pushups? Sure, that works. Get onto a weight-lifting program? That works. You want to go keto? Great. Go keto. You want to go South Beach Diet? Knock it out. If you’re expending no energy thinking about what you eat, then if you adopt almost any diet that’s going to clean up your diet to some degree, you will make progress.”

Also, don’t focus on the scale or mirror. “All you need to do is more than you did last time,” Duffy says. “Like Ashton Kutcher—I never weighed him, I never did anything. But when I met him, he could do one pullup. When I was done with him, he could do 23. The guy that can do 23 pullups does not look like the guy who can do one.”

For Duffy’s 12-week detailed workout plan, plus a simple nutrition guide that anyone can follow, hit up Amazon for a copy of Hero Maker.

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