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The Avengers Workouts

3 trainers to the stars reveal what it takes to get in superhero shape.

Explosive Moves continued...

For many of the exercises, Bose would cap Downey, 47, at 80% of his maximum capability to help prevent injury.

"After age 40, shoulder stabilization becomes important, and pull-ups and dips put an unusually large strain on the shoulder capsule," Bose says. "Doing these to failure risks the shoulder capsule unnecessarily; therefore, we stay at 80% of max reps."

Downey worked his legs with exercises such as lunges, squats, and leg presses. For his abs, he would do a three-round circuit of four to six exercises, spending two minutes on each.

"Our goal was to bring back as much muscle as possible as quickly as possible," says Bose, who boosted Downey's protein intake to promote muscle growth. He also added creatine to Downey's already organic diet. While generally safe when used appropriately, creatine may affect the kidneys at higher doses. If you use creatine, make sure to drink plenty of water and let your doctor know of any supplements you're taking.

Bose uses a variety of equipment when designing a workout. One in particular that he likes -- and which Downey spent a lot of time with -- is the War Machine, which uses a pulley system to provide resistance, stability, and core training.

"It's inexpensive, versatile, and gives really good results," Bose says.

Keep It Interesting, and Stay Focused

Strom says that before she came to work with him, Johansson had had enough of the dull, repetitive workouts a previous trainer had put her through. "She'd lost all interest in training," Strom says.

Strom's approach with all his clients -- celebrity and otherwise -- is to vary the workouts so that no two are exactly the same. "That's how you keep yourself challenged. That's how you keep pushing through the walls that come up."

"If you are bored, your muscles get bored and they don't change," says Steve Zim, creator of the popular fitness app ZimFit.

He also says that you need a goal going in. For instance, visualize what you want your body to look like so that you know what you are working towards, Zim says.

Actor Chris Evans had a very clear mission when he showed up at Zim's gym. Evans had to go from skinny to all muscle in order to play the Human Torch in 2005's Fantastic Four. A month later, he had the superhero body he needed.

You likely won't need to pursue your fitness goals on such a tight schedule or as intensely, Zim says. "Things are different when your goal is to have your shirt off in front of a camera."

Still, Zim notes, you will want to work hard enough so that you see progress quickly. "If you don't see a result," he says, "you get frustrated and bored."

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