Natalie Portman's Diet and Training for Her Role in Thor: Love and Thunder

How did Natalie Portman build her new muscular build? We tell you the preparation routine that the actress followed to embody her new role.
Natalie Portman's Diet and Training for Her Role in Thor: Love and Thunder
Leonardo Biolatto

Written and verified by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 02 August, 2022

No one was oblivious to the biceps Natalie Portman showed off in the promotional images for Thor: Love and Thunder. The actress, more commonly remembered for less muscular roles, surprised everyone with her muscular upper limbs capable of carrying the iconic hammer.

However, in this case, there are no routine secrets. Portman herself revealed in several interviews what her diet and training was like to acquire the unique physique of her character.

It’s also very interesting to note that she has been a vegan for ten years. So, her eating plan had to be designed in detail to acquire the protein that would allow her to gain muscle volume.

Natalie Portman’s diet with vegan protein

The image of the small Portman in the iconic film The Black Swan involved sacrifices in the diet of the actress. Now the plans have been reversed.

In “The Black Swan,” I was asked to be as small as possible. Now they wantd me to be as big as possible. -Natalie Portman

Incorporating protein to help build muscle in vegans is a challenge for trainers and nutritionists. There are even plant-based protein supplements to aid in the process, but it’s not the same as ingesting animal protein.

Since considerable muscle bulking was required here in less than a year, we know that the actress took advantage of such supplements. In general, she drank a protein shake after the morning workout, one at noon, and one with dinner.

As her routines were scheduled very early in the morning, breakfast included oatmeal, a very interesting energy source for vegans who exercise. At mid-morning and mid-afternoon, she consumed salads, according to the requirements of her metabolic calculation prepared by sports nutrition specialists.

A classic lunch for Portman during her training for Thor: Love and Thunder was falafel. This chickpea-based meal brings in leguminous proteins that are optimal for supporting muscle tissue growth.

In the same vein, the vegan curry dinner served the same purpose. For that, the main ingredients were taken from legumes.

A protein shake for Natalie Portman's Diet and Training for Her Role in Thor: Love and Thunder
Vegan protein supplements can support muscle development for athletes who follow this style of eating.

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The actress’s workout to gain biceps

Natalie Portman’s trainer Naomi Pendergast was in charge of getting her in shape for Thor: Love and Thunder. Pendergast explained how she organized the workout routine that brought out the biceps in a noticeable way. She had a direct order from the film studio to tone her arms to the extreme.

However, to get to the specific routines, the actress’s entire body had to be strengthened first so that it would be able to withstand the weighted loads that were to follow. It took four months of pre-conditioning to do this.

During this period, the main goal was to build strength and endurance. So there was an anaerobic component, like running, but component, but there was also an anaerobic component, but also an elasticity and agility in the movements.

Two days of the week were focused on injury prevention. How so? By performing actions that almost nobody notices when they go to the gym:

  • Pilates
  • Stretching
  • Relaxation work
  • Balance development

Injury prevention work in the routine is key when dealing with people who are going to noticeably increase their loads. There is a great risk of exposing the fibers to ruptures that will be poorly repaired or lead to tendonitis due to overexertion.

Natalie Portman’s supersets for superhero biceps in Thor: Love and Thunder

Naomi Pendergast commented in interviews that Portman’s muscle toning method for biceps was based on the superset system. What is this? It involves eliminating rest between sets while combining exercises that are traditionally performed separately.

This leaves us with long, grueling sets of repetitions that chain one movement with another. According to a scientific study published in 2019, supersets don’t always lead to greater muscle hypertrophy, although they do help overcome plateauing.

In other words, with supersets, it’s easier to keep progressing in muscle mass gain. And this was key for Natalie Portman, who had a few months before filming and could not consider a years-long plan.

Natalie Portman's Diet and Training for Her Role in Thor: Love and Thunder
Before the training, Portman had less muscle mass, especially in the upper limbs.

The point-by-point routine

Next, we’ll take a look at Natalie Portman’s routine to boost her biceps, as revealed to the media by her trainer. As you will notice, this is not an impossible plan. However, it does require dedication and an accompanying diet to go with it.

  • Superset 1: Horizontal rowing with dumbbells and dumbbell raises behind the head
  • Superset 2: Front raise with dumbbells and a reverse plank
  • Superset 3: Standing dumbbell arm raises and a side plank with a twist
  • Superset 4: Biceps curls and a triceps press
  • Superset 5: Dumbbell biceps kick and jump squats

Between each superset, instead of doing the typical static rest, Portman had dynamic recovery exercises scheduled. For example, she would do a roll-up or a back stretch.

In addition, to sustain the dynamism of her body, the trainer interspersed moments of boxing and performing some sprints of no more than 50 meters. In this way, the actress’s body didn’t lose mobility, which would happen if she were only focused on hypertrophy.

Natalie Portman’s diet and training for Thor aren’t impossible

Unlike other routines that actors reveal, this plan of Marvel’s new heroine does not seem far-fetched. Strictly speaking, with a good professional accompaniment, almost anyone can prepare to achieve the supersets we describe.

As for diet, Natalie Portman’s vegan option is a lifestyle choice beyond the Thor franchise. It’s not an indispensable condition for those who want to follow the same routine.

However, it is interesting to note that the actress was able to have muscle hypertrophy despite not ingesting animal proteins. Several pieces of research support the need for a supplement for vegan athletes who want to develop more mass in their fibers.

If this is your case, make sure to consult a nutritionist. A professional will be able to recommend the best supplementation for the results of your work in the gym to be productive.

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  • Krzysztofik, Michal, et al. “Maximizing muscle hypertrophy: a systematic review of advanced resistance training techniques and methods.” International journal of environmental research and public health 16.24 (2019): 4897.
  • Rogerson, David. “Vegan diets: practical advice for athletes and exercisers.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 14.1 (2017): 36.