Hafþór 'Thor' Björnsson Shares the Diet and Cardio Workout Behind His 50kg Weight Loss

·3-min read

The mantle of “World’s Strongest Man” is a heavy one to bear. Since relinquishing it, Hafþór Björnsson feels considerably lighter. More than 50kg lighter, to be precise.

“I feel so much better than when I weighed 205kg,” the strongman-turned-pugilist tells MH. “I’m obviously healthier, but I am also more focused.” In the pursuit of weightlifting records, bigger is better. “But when I had to force-feed myself every day, I used to get so tired,” he says. “Now, I’ve retired from that.”

Björnsson, whose formidable size earned him the role of Gregor “the Mountain” Clegane in Game of Thrones, is speaking to MH from Dubai, where his days are structured and repetitive. He eats the same five meals every day and boxes six times a week, while taking on four strength workouts – two upper body, two lower body – and four endurance sessions. Assault bike intervals are “a killer”, but they mimic the stop-start nature of a fight and train him to stay mentally sharp in a state of exhaustion. On other days, he rides at a steady pace for up to an hour. (“You’ll be on there for half an hour, and you’re just, like, ‘Fuck, I still have half an hour left?’”) In total, Björnsson is in the gym for up to five hours per day.

Yet he trusts that the rewards will be worth it. “If I stay focused, I’ll reach my goal,” he says. “I’m that kind of person. I love being obsessed. I love seeing results.”

When you’re working at such an intensity, you need to rest hard, too. Björnsson knows that he walks a “fine line” between pushing his limits and compromising his recovery, so he takes his rest as seriously as his work. As well as ice baths and saunas, he is an advocate of the Graston technique, a form of soft tissue therapy using metal instruments.

But the hard graft hasn’t dulled his passion for boxing. “I am absolutely loving boxing right now, and I enjoy it more each week,” he says. “It is hard. But I like hard work.”

Photo credit: supplied by Scarlett Wrench
Photo credit: supplied by Scarlett Wrench

Eat Like Thor

Björnsson eats five times a day, balancing protein with slow-burning carbs. Here’s a sample menu.

Breakfast

  • Chicken, 200g

  • Eggs, 3

  • Greek yogurt, 150g

  • Berries, 100g

  • Oats, 40g

Lunch

  • Tenderloin beef, 220g

  • White rice, 180g

  • Greens, 100g

  • Chicken, 220g

  • Potatoes, 250g

  • Greens, 100g

Dinner

  • Salmon, 220g

  • White rice, 100g

  • Greens, 100g

Snack

  • Greek yogurt, 250g

  • Almond butter, 30g

  • Banana, 100g

Photo credit: Andri Már Engilbertsson
Photo credit: Andri Már Engilbertsson

Train Like Thor

For ring-ready fitness, take on Björnsson’s quick-fire cardio routine.

Repeat these exercises for three minutes, take 60 seconds’ rest, then jump on the assault bike and go at it hard for three minutes. Rest and repeat for four rounds.

Squat Jump

Squat down, keeping your back straight, until your thighs are parallel with the floor and your bum is about level with your knees. Explode upwards into a jump, and go straight into the next squat.

Burpee

From a standing position squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor and place your palms on the floor. From there kick your feet back as far as you can while keeping your arms extended. As soon as your feet land jump them back in towards your hands, then jump up into the air. Land and immediately squat down to go into the next rep.

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

Press-ups

Get down into a press-up position. From there lower your body until your chest is an inch from the ground then explosively drive up by fully extending your arms.

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