Episode 4: ‘Strength’

February 15, 2023

This episode has a different way of accomplishing the fourth task of living a healthier and longer life. Hemsworth has to complete a rope climb of 100 feet that hangs over the mountains in Australia. In preparation for the climb, it will take Hemsworth three months of training with sports scientist Ross Edgley. The main focus over the next three months is to target a wider range of muscles and not just the major ones. The preparation was quite basic considering that the body has to use all muscles to climb a rope and, overall, this episode was tedious and repetitive.

Gaining more muscle mass is a long journey and that is what sets this episode apart from the rest as it is no longer a four-day process. To start off, Hemsworth takes a pretest to show areas in his body that are lacking the requirements needed to rope climb. Canadian-American Physician Peter Attia explains that although Hemsworth looks in shape, the results show it is not the same for his body internally. Stamina allows the body to keep energy flowing for prolonged periods of time, but unfortunately, the results showed Hemsworth was lacking stamina. Another thing that is needed most to slow the aging process is the mitochondria. In a diagram that is shown, Hemsworth narrates along to explain why the mitochondria are so important. In the muscles, there are tiny power plants that provide energy to the body to keep things running smoothly. As people age, the mitochondria begin to malfunction and break down, accelerating the aging process. To help the mitochondria replenish, endurance exercises can help push back the aging. 

Hemsworth has to start from the beginning in order to access the smaller muscles in the body that are required. Ten weeks before the climb, he has to learn the proper form and techniques that will provide an advantage for him to achieve this task. Viewers will see the struggles Hemsworth has and the self-doubt that begins to show because he has only gone a few meters up and feels the fatigue. Despite his doubtfulness, Hemsworth knows that his body needs improvement, and the only way to do that is to keep training. The determination sparks interest in Edgley as he is able to then push Hemsworth harder during workouts. Over the course of the next couple weeks, Hemsworth continues to do daily workouts along with adding length to the rope to see how far he has come since the beginning. It is interesting to see how bringing in different experts to help Hemsworth is helping him target a variety of muscles in his body just to maintain the proper body physique needed. While Hemsworth has a larger body mass, this gives him a disadvantage because that is more weight required to pull up on the ropes, but he also is required to take in the proper amount of nutrition to help gain 40 pounds of muscle. The most confusing aspect of that is how the weight is a disadvantage but gaining the muscle that makes him heavier is what is needed. 

How a person physically looks on the outside does not necessarily match what is on the inside, and vice versa. A man named Norman, who was in his 60s, found his son’s bicycle in the garage and decided to cycle around his neighborhood. He found that he loved cycling and each day he went further and further until he joined a cycling group for elderly people. Norman appeared to be skinny and pale, just like any other person when they begin to age, but he also noticed that diseases and other sorts were not affecting this group of men. Test results showed that the group of men had an immune system just like people in their 20s, and now at the age of 85, Norman continues to ride his bike. This relates to how Hemsworth is a bulky, strong man, but is lacking stamina internally while Norman looks weak on the outside, but is healthy on the inside. 

There are four weeks until the rope climb, so the group helping Hemsworth sets up 80 feet of rope to see how far his training has come. The beginning was very easy and Hemsworth was able to get up about halfway when the lactic acid and fatigue kicked in. At that point, he gave up, but viewers can see how defeated and disappointed he felt in himself, so that gave him more motivation to keep training. During the one week that is left, Hemsworth hurts his ankle and is concerned because that is the foot he anchors the rope with. Attia makes the decision to push back the climb and keep training even though this will have a greater disadvantage on Hemsworth. Hemsworth also needs to face one more task before the climb and that is his role in Thor. He has to gain weight and then drop some of it after, and while directors are showing preparation for Thor, viewers can see the stress in Hemsworth.                                                     

As the day of the climb arrives, Attia explains that this is no longer a controlled environment and it is the real test. All the emotions Hemsworth was shoving down, have risen to the surface and have overtaken control of his body. Ultimately, Hemsworth knew the longer he waited to begin, the more emotions and fatigue would kick in. The entire climb Hemsworth gave himself doubtful thoughts and this made the rope, distance, everything, more difficult. In each episode, viewers can see that he always doubts himself and that is why he stops halfway through. In Hemsworth’s mind, he thought giving himself a quick break would help relax his muscles, but Attia explains that stopping is the worst thing to do because even though the body feels like it is resting, it is just the fatigue taking over the body. In the end, Hemsworth returns his thoughts to a positive mindset and it shows as he pushes his way through to the top. Despite the pain his body felt, the smile on his face gives priceless reaction from everyone around him and even surprises himself knowing he was able to achieve another task.