Why Superheroes Need Muscle

Superheroes Need Muscle

The hero has always been a flawed version of the ideal. Courage is his (or her) most prized attribute, along with honor. From Boewulf to Lancelot. William Wallace to King Arthur. The hero’s physical skill and stature rivals the strength of his spirit.

He’s never a mindless brute, as Wallace displayed time and again winning battles with his mind as much as his tennacity, heart, and will. He’s also rarely merely a brain. If he is, he requires pieces around him to carry out what he seeks to accomplish.William Wallace

Today’s heroes have taken new form. Gone is the sword, in its stead: x-ray vision, flight, and superhuman strength. But the characteristics remain. Strength of character and vulnerability to accompany the hero’s physical prowess.

As I sat down last night after a long day’s work, I looked at my video collection. The Gladiator, Braveheart, the Godfather, Goodfellas, the Patriot, We Were Soldiers, 300, Batman Begins. Instead of choosing one of those fine films, I decided to watch something new: the Amazing Spider Man.

I liked the movie. It was fun, entertaining, the acting was fine, the plot as well. There was, however, one major flaw: Spider-man, when in costume, looked like a bulemic runway model, not an action hero or a superhero. With recent films like Thor, the great Batman Series, and even Ironman being portrayed by actors who respect every aspect of their craft – physical transformation included – the Spider-Man movie, and it’s lead, was a dissapointment.

His acting was good, but he cared nothing for the physical transformation that Peter Parker was supposed to have gone through after having been bitten by that wonderful little spider. With the physical transformations of Christian Bale (Batman), Tom Hardy (Bane), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Chris Evans (Captain America), Henry Cavill (the Man of Steel – AWESOME transformation), and Mark Ruffalo (the Hulk) – who amazingly turned green and put on a few hundred pounds mid-scene – Andrew Garfield’s lack of commitment to his craft and his character was disheartening.

It would be like me showing you how to build muscle if I still weighed under 150 lbs. Or showing you how to lose fat if I was an obese 300 pound human being. Or writing articles and books without ever studying how to become a better writer. And thus, for a movie to be believeable – yes I’m talking about films where the heroes fly around in tights and turn into green, muscular Hulk’s – the actor needs to pack on a respectable amount of muscle.

Garfield lost some of my respect. Maybe he was given bad advice. Spider-Man is a smaller hero, but he still has muscle. He’s still ‘above the average man’ from a physical standpoint. And the character should have been treated as such. In his suit Garfield looked sickly. He didn’t in any way resemble a hero, or even an 8th grade bully. He looked more like the gangly pre-teen girl who’d started her growth spurt before the boys.

Lucky – and I say that with a massive smile on my face – Henry Cavil, the start of the new Superman movie, The Man of Steel, takes more pride in every aspect of his craft (I may sleep outside in my Superman costume for this one).

So What Could Garfield Have Done?

If he actually took some pride in his character, and attempted to build a Spider-Man-like physique, what physical attributes would he focus on? How would he train?

How Spider-Man Should Have Trained

PS. After every superhero movie the men’s magazines – Men’s Fitness, Men’s Health – always come out with the story of the lead actor’s transformation. Garfield’s, being non-existant, was the obvious exclusion from the recent actor transformation-related articles.

#1 He should have focused on his grip-strength.

Strength is essentially what a human can lift. Spider-Man, being a climbing and swinging type of a guy, would need to be able to swing from ‘vine to vine’, climb up tall buildings completely vertically, and often hold on to an adversery, or a car, with his hands.

There is but one program – actually an all-encompassing site focused on grip strength training –  that focuses on grip strength – that I would recommend. It’s a skill and talent we all need. As men, grip strength is important. It’s awesome to lift a lot with the use of straps, but in the real world straps aren’t available.

If you need to come to the aid of someone in REAL LIFE, you’re most likely going to need to have a strong grip. Check out how this unique site will help you get there (it’s created by one of the strongest guys around, a real life action-hero in his own rite)…

The Grip Authority (THE Grip Strength Site)

#2 He should have build lean, athletic muscle.

Why focus solely on hypertrophy when you get get stronger, and in better shape at the same time? Double and triple sets. Fast-paced workouts with an explosive cadence, followed by short workouts with a slower cadence. The PowerHowse Challenge would have helped Garfield pack on the lean, ripped muscle that would do the Spider-Man suite some justice.

Yes, this is the program that helped me gain 32 pounds of lean muscle. I created it. So I clearly love it, but it’s a great program and hundreds of guys – and a few ladies – are getting awesome results doing the program. Find out more about my transformation here:

#3 He should have focused on his nutrition.

One part of building superhero muscle is doing the proper training. The other part – and a large portion of the solution – is in the diet. Garfield clearly didn’t follow a “bulking” or muscle building training program, and he sure as hell didn’t get on a meal plan that would help him build muscle without experiencing many fat gains.

A good buddy of mine, Kyle Leon, is one of the foremost minds in muscle-building nutrition. He’s put together a program that he customizes for each individual’s goals, body, and obstacles. It’s a program like no other. Learn more about Kyle’s unique story, plus a few of the secrets that have helped him help thousands (not a misprint) of skinny guys pack on lean muscle.

Build Muscle with gaining Fat

  • Chad, in my opinion Tobey Maguire had a pretty spot on physique when he was playing Spider-Man in the last three films. I think Garfield has the acting chops to play Peter Parker, but you’re right about the him just not looking the part when he’s suited up. He’s lean, but barely has any muscle definition. At the very least, they could have added on some mass to his frame in post-production.

    Also, it sounds like you’ve got an awesome movie collection….I’m planning on watching the Batman trilogy this weekend when I have a bit of free time.

    • The Batman Trilogy is awesome. You’re in for a treat. Ya man I pride myself on my movie collection, I love movies!

  • Lee

    Agreed, absolutely hated the new Spiderman movie, much preferred the Tobey Maguire movie, he was much more up for the part physically also just didnt see the point in re-doing the whole story again so recently after the last ones. Garfield was a terrible actor choice and the movie was too slow for me, too much drama not enough action for me.

    • Ya I don’t fully understand why they made the movie again so close to the original. Just a money grab I guess.

  • Chad,
    I enjoy the blog, and I usually agree with you, but not this time. I actually appreciate how skinny Spider-Man looked in the latest film. He’s not a warrior like Thor or a guy who trains constantly like Bat Man – he’s an ordinary kid. That’s what made Spider-Man unique when he was created; he was the first super hero who was also just like his readers: a guy who got picked on, had problems with girls, and troubles at home. In the source material, he is always drawn as skinny guy, especially in the beginning. Maybe by the time we get to the sequel he should have packed on some lean muscle through his new efforts as a super hero, but for an origin story, skinny is just fine.

    • No need to agree. This article was pure opinion. I figured about 50% of the readers would agree and the other half wouldn’t. I definitely see where you’re coming from.

  • Superheroes should be jacked. ‘Nuff said.

    But I’m going to say more anyway. Superheroes are larger than life. They’re mythical. When a “superhero” looks like the kid getting bullied in the hallway, you lose that mythical aura that sets them apart. You lose respect.
    I want my superheroes to be more than human. They should look every bit the fierce ass-kicking-head-smashing beasts they are. Anything less is just a dissapointment.

    • Exactly what I was going after with this article, well said Trevor!

  • Scott Howse

    I think Garfield was a bit too skinny as well, but i don’t think he would have to pack on tons of muscle to catch tobey. hopefully he’ll gain some more if not…. ya i’ll still go see it…emma stone dude:)

  • I agree with this, there’s a reason they’re called superheroes – they supposed to possess extraordinary power and ability. Doesn’t exactly describe Garfield’s portrayal of spiderman. I mean how am I supposed to perceive Garfield as a classic superhero when he’s skinnier than me? Other than that I enjoyed the movie…

  • turling

    Hmmm…he looks a lot like the new Q in Skyfall. And, I wouldn’t consider that guy a superhero by any stretch of the imagination. The guy at least could have put in a little bit of effort. And, my 10 year old son agrees. “Thats’ Spiderman…?”

  • David

    I had this same conversation with a buddy of mine last week, and his position was the same as yours. Yes, Garfield is a bit on thin side, but his portrayal of Spiderman wasn’t bad. I actually thought it was better than Toby’s. To me, he seemed more like the Spiderman I grew up reading. Long, lanky and intelligent. Spiderman has always been a superhero of character and intelligence rather than of brute strength.

    Anyhow, just my humble opinion.

    • I hear ya man. I thought his acting was good, just needed to look like a superhero.

  • David 3rd to post

    I see what you mean, Garfield in no way looks heroic, that being said the character he portrays is not supposed to be huge. I personally think he should have been stronger but not Tom Hardy strong, maybe more like Bruce Lee. I mean he needs to look like he can pack a punch but at the same time he needs to be light and quick. The parkour/freerunning build would have been ideal. But apart from that I thought Garfield was a better Peter Parker than Maguire, at least this time we didn’t have to sit through ten minutes of Tobey’s ridiculous crying face. Anyway cool article.

    • Bruce Lee would be ideal! Great thought. Ya Garfield’s acting was spot on. That crying face was hilarious, haha, forgot about that.

  • david39


    Just wanted to say that I Absolutely Love your website. Great motivation. Please Keep up the good work!! I totally agree with you on the Spider Man Physique. While it is true. He is not suppose to look anything like the Hulk, Bane, Thor, or even Batman. However, his DNA Was in Fact genetically altered. I believe and agree with David 3rd to post. Garfield should have Definitely put on some Lean Muscle Mass. very similar to Bruce Lee @ the Very Least. The character is still in the beginning of his metamorphosis with his new Powers and is still a high school kid. However, he is something entirely different as well. He is suppose to look like he has Amazing speed and agility. He does not have to look powerful. Spider Man was always much stronger than he appeared. Spider Man was always my favorite. Him and the Hulk. I just feel that the producers did such a good job on the writing, acting, and production of the Movie itself. They should have also made certain the character physically represented and stayed to True to the Physique that belongs to one of the Greatest Comic Book Super Heroes of All Time. However, this is just my opinion.

    • I agree. Spider-man doesn’t need to be huge AT ALL. A little effort would’ve been nice though. Great comment, thanks for this David. And thanks for always commenting, really appreciate it. Glad you’re liking the articles.

  • Aussie

    I think we can all agree that Garfield’s Spider-Man was “LIGHTWEIGHT!!!!!! YEAHH BUDDAYYY”

  • Angelus

    Hey Chad,

    I ALWAYS agree with you, however this time I will disagree. First off, Spiderman is a 17 year old in this movie, and there are some scenes in which he’s topless, and his arms (specifically the triceps) look rather big. His chest looked lean too. I get what you mean, but can you imagine what jumping, swinging and climbing on a daily basis would do to your body fat? It would be 40% lower in less than a month. In the comics, and especially the Ultimate Spiderman comics which the movie took a lot from, Spiderman always looked rather skinny. Heavily toned, but skinny. He’s not bulky like Batman, Wolverine, Thor or Captain America, since he is also described as a ballet dancer when he is moving around or fighting. All those other characters usually use brute force to fight, while Spiderman is always jumping around and does a lot of evasion stunts in the air or 6 ft above the ground (spinning around and stuff), which means that he must be very light. And he must be very, very flexible, something a bulky body unfortunately doesn’t provide. Your blog is still awesome by the way