Comic book and superhero fans will dress as their favorite characters when Wizard World Chicago Comic Con begins Thursday in Rosemont. But it takes more than a costume to build the powerful muscles of Wolverine, or Lara Croft’s lean, curvy look, or the stamina of, say, a ghostbuster.

So who you gonna call?

RedEye rang up Total Nonstop Action Wrestling star Lisa Marie “Tara” Varon, as well as trainers Joey Thurman and Marcus Warren of Morph Personal Training, to get some tips for getting into superhero shape:


“Wolverine is a strong, stocky, powerful character meant to be intimidating at first sight,” Thurman says.

Nutrition: Diet comprised of high amounts of quality calories consisting of protein from lean meats and equal to higher amounts of quality carbohydrates, such as quinoa, oats (preferably steel cut oats), whole grains and spelt bread. You will need to eat your greens to get and maintain that six-pack, so eat a lot of veggies.

Training: To get the amount of muscle that Wolverine has you must train the way he looks—heavy and hard. Lift weights 4 to 5 days a week focusing on compound heavy movements such as squats and presses. Do 6 to 12 reps per exercise. Your cardio should consist of running sprints, jumping rope or boxing a couple days a week for 20 to 30 minutes. Intensity is the key.


The tall dark and handsome superhero demands respect at first sight” Warren says, “from his lean muscular build to his good looks and charm.” Or in the case of Batman, broodiness.

Nutrition: Diet is very clean and healthy, consisting of high quantities of quality protein (lean meats and fish), limited amounts of carbs, and lots and lots of vegetables (with some fruit added in for a treat).

Training: Workouts will consist of 2-4 days a week of resistance training focusing on your superhero “beach” muscles of the chest, abs, and arms, but don’t forget the rest of your body to complete your hero physique!  Some great bodyweight exercises would be pushups, pull-ups, squats, and crunches for reps of 8-12 focusing on 2-3 body parts per workout. Cardio would be done 3-4 days a week consisting of running, biking, stair climbing, or anything to get your heart rate elevated for about 30-45 minutes consistently.


Climbing buildings isn’t an easy task, which is why Spider-Man, aka Peter Parker, is a small and agile individual. He can climb from building to building without problems.

Nutrition: Watch the amount of calories you take in, as Spidey doesn’t need as many calories to maintain his smaller physique as, say, Wolverine does for his massive muscles. Your calories will come from high amounts of carbs by eating whole grains, moderate amounts of protein and high quantities of vegetables.

Training: Resistance training twice a week consisting of a full-body workout doing 10-20 reps per exercise to achieve muscular endurance and lean muscle tissue. Great resistance exercises would include push-ups, planks, rows and lunges. Cardio will be done 3 to 4 days a week, including long-distance runs, bike rides or walks of 45 to 60 minutes.


Fighting the marshmallow man doesn’t require you take your shirt off, but it does require strength to carry a proton pack while chasing ghosts.

Nutrition: “To have an above-average build, your nutrition requirements aren’t going to be as strict,” Warren says. “The main thing will be to eat a balanced, clean diet of good protein, carbs, vegetables and healthy fat. If it comes pre-packaged try to stay away from it.”

Training: Weight train 2 to 3 times a week focusing on your biceps, back, legs and core muscles. Do 10 to 15 reps an exercise, and do exercises like rows, pull-ups, bicep curls and lunges. Cardio should be added a couple days a week for a consistent 30 to 60 minutes in the form of walking, riding a bike, swimming or rock climbing.