I tried Chris Hemsworth’s 800 rep barbell workout — here’s what happened

A photo of Chris Hemsworth
(Image credit: Centr/Instagram)

When it comes to workout inspiration, it doesn’t get better than Chris Hemsworth’s Instagram account. From his go-to bodyweight workout that can be done from just about anywhere, to the exact arm workout he used when training for Thor, the actor has been very open about his gym routines, in fact, he’s even launched his own workout app — Centr. 

Unsurprisingly, his workouts are no joke, so when I saw Hemsworth had uploaded a new barbell workout, I headed down to the gym to give it a go for myself. I’ll caveat this by saying as a fitness editor, I work out pretty regularly, although I’m definitely not lifting anywhere near as heavy as Thor himself. This probably isn’t a workout to try if you’re a complete beginner, and if you’re new to the exercises in this workout, it’s a good idea to ask a personal trainer to look at your form before adding weights.

Read on to find out what happened when I attempted Hemsworth’s 800-rep barbell challenge. If you’re looking for more workout inspiration, you can also check out what happened when I did 100 dead bugs a day for a week, or when I added 30 sit-ups a day to my workout routine for 30 days, and how I tried The Rock’s arms and ab workout; it hurt. 

You can also read our Centr review if you want to check out the Hemsworth-backed app. 

What is the Chris Hemsworth 800 rep barbell workout? 

The workout shared on Hemsworth’s Instagram page is 10 rounds of the following circuit. You’ll need a barbell, but if you don’t have one, the entire workout can be done with a pair of dumbbells (take a look at the best adjustable dumbbells here). 

  • 10 x Bicep curls  
  • 10 x Overhead press 
  • 10 x Tricep extension  
  • 10 x Squat  
  • 10 x Lunge on the left leg  
  • 10 x Lunge on the right leg  
  • 10 x Bent over row  
  • 10 x Standing twist  

At the beginning of the video, Hemsworth says the eight exercises should be completed without any break in between. 

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I tried Chris Hemsworth’s 800 rep barbell workout — here’s what happened 

I’ll warn you now, this workout is relentless. I went into this workout all guns blazing, so to speak, grabbing a barbell and getting to work. I’ll start by confirming that my bar was a lot lighter than Hemsworth’s — from the looks of things, he’s using an Olympic Weightlifting Bar that weighs in at around 45 pounds, or 20kg. Luckily my gym had a few different options, and I selected a bar weighed that 22 pounds, or 10kg — I’m no superhero.

I noticed for the bicep curls Hemsworth held the bar in a pronated grip, with his palms facing towards his body and his knuckles on top of the bar. The pronated grip targets the outer arms and forearms as well as the biceps, but is also slightly more challenging than traditional bicep curls. Unlike Hemsworth, I performed slower reps to ensure my form was correct. 

When I got to squats, I found it really difficult to hold the barbell in one hand (I’m only 5-foot-1, compared to Hemsworth’s 6-foot-3), so I swapped the barbell for an 8kg dumbbell to ensure I was getting my form right. For the final few rounds of the workout, I placed the barbell over my shoulders, as I had in the squats, to really blast my legs. 

The lack of breaks between exercises during the first couple of rounds felt fine, but by the eighth round, I was a sweaty mess. Hemsworth didn’t give any instruction on how long the breaks between rounds should be, but I gave myself two minutes between each set, although this crept up to three before the final few rounds. 

Hemsworth called this workout a “monster,” and he wasn’t wrong. Even moving at a much slower pace, with a much lighter barbell, 10 rounds was a killer. My whole body ached by the time I’d finished, and rather than looking out the window at Byron Bay from my gym, I found myself lying on a sweaty exercise mat in the local leisure center. Who said getting in superhero shape was glamorous? 

While I wouldn’t recommend this workout to complete beginners, it can definitely be adapted. As I did, you could grab a lighter pair of dumbbells or a lighter barbell for the exercises, or just aim to do three or five rounds, rather than 10. Give it a go — just pack a towel, and one of the best water bottles.

Next: I tried Chris Hemsworth’s 250-rep dumbbell workout — and here’s what happened.

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.