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Super-strength secrets of the Hollywood hulks

After a few years in which it seemed as if the meek would inherit the Earth -- Shia LaBeouf as an action star? really? -- the classic strongman is back in “Thor,” “Captain America,” “Conan the Barbarian,” “Fast Five” and more.

This summer’s heroes aren’t the first in recent years to bulk up, but there are certainly more now than before. Click through to learn their muscle-bound secrets.

-- Patrick Kevin Day and Noelene Clark  (Guy Roland / Lionsgate)
Jason Momoa -- Conan the Barbarian
Height: 6'4"

Weight: 235 pounds

Heroic secret: No poultry is safe from the savage sword of Conan. The Hawaiian actor consumed 56 chicken breasts a week while augmenting his own pecs to play Conan and the perpetually topless Dothraki horselord Khal Drogo in the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” (Andrew Mendoza / Lionsgate)
Gerard Butler -- King Leonidas, ‘300'
Height: 6'2"

Weight: Somewhere between 187 and 220 pounds

Heroic secret: According to Men’s Health magazine, Butler did the “300-rep Spartan workout” before filming, which included 25 pullups, 50 135-pound deadlifts, 50 pushups, 50 jumps on a 2-foot box, 50 floor wipers, 50 single-arm clean-and-presses using a 36-pound kettle bell, and 25 more pullups. (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Hugh Jackman -- Wolverine, ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’
Height: 6'3"

Weight: 190 pounds

Heroic secret: Wolverine is weighed down by his adamantium-laced bones, but Jackman had to put on weight the old-fashioned way: He ate his way there. To prepare for “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” the actor had daily 90-minute workouts, in which he bench-pressed up to 315 pounds, and ate 6,000 calories a day. (About 2,700 calories a day are recommended for adult males.) (James Fisher / 20th Century Fox)
Robert Downey Jr. -- Tony Star, ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Iron Man 2'
Height: 5' 8½"

Weight: 175 pounds

Heroic secret: Trainer Brad Bose told Us magazine that he helped Downey gain 20 pounds of muscle in a month with a “Rocky IV meets high-tech training” routine, including beating truck tires with a 20-pound sledgehammer and pushing a custom-built wheelbarrow with 700-pound weight stacks around an obstacle course. Downey combined the DIY workouts three days a week with kung fu training three days a week. (Francois Duhamel / Marvel Studios)
Christian Bale -- Bruce Wayne, ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘The Dark Knight’
Height: 6'

Weight: 220 pounds

Heroic secret: After dieting down to 121 pounds for “The Machinist,” Bale packed on 60 pounds in two months, in time for a “Batman Begins” screen test, by eating high-carb food like bread and pasta, according to People. A strict diet of chicken, tuna and steamed veggies combined with three hours daily running and weight-training with trainer Efua Baker helped him add an additional 40 pounds over the next few months. Ultimately, he dropped back down to 190 pounds for the role. (David James / Warner Bros.)
Chris Evans -- Steve Rogers, ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’
Height: 6' 0½"

Weight: Between 170 and 190 pounds

Heroic secret: Although Evans had a body double and CGI effects for the “before” version of Steve Rogers, the buffed-up “after” version was all sweat. To put on 20 pounds of muscle for the movie, Evans worked out two hours daily (and sometimes twice daily) with a trainer and maintained a protein-heavy diet, even when he wasn’t hungry, the actor told USA Weekend. “It was just grueling,” he said. Evans also did push-ups in between takes to pump up the broad new chest he’d built for the role, the movie’s director told the Los Angeles Times. (Jay Maidment / Marvel Studios)
Dwayne Johnson -- Luke Hobbs, ‘Fast Five’
Height: 6' 5"

Weight: 280 pounds

Heroic secret: To gain 30 pounds for the action hero role, Johnson ate 6,000 to 8,000 calories a day, took a daily multivitamin and glutamine supplement and followed a regimen of “sweat, spit and sometimes training so hard I throw up a little bit in my mouth,” he told the Los Angeles Times(Jaimie Trueblood / Universal Pictures)
Chris Hemsworth -- Thor, ‘Thor’
Height: 6' 3"

Weight: Between 190 and 209 pounds

Heroic secret: Hemsworth gained so much bulk for the role, his costume didn’t fit. Before, his fitness regimen was sports-based, playing Australian Rules Football, boxing and surfing, he told Men’s Health. To pack on the pounds for the part, he began lifting weights for the first time, varying weights, reps and speed. He also relied on a constant intake of food, mostly from protein sources, vegetables and fruits. (Zade Rosenthal / Marvel Studios)
Tobey Maguire -- Peter Parker, “Spider-Man”
Height: 5'9"

Weight: Unknown. But the actor had to bulk up significantly to play Spider-Man after having slimmed down to just 137 pounds to play jockey Red Pollard in “Seabiscuit.”

Heroic secret: To go from high school nerd to muscle-bound hero, Maguire underwent six months of six-day-a-week training, which included martial arts, weight lifting, gymnastics and, yes, massage. Spider-Man is one of the more sensitive superheroes. (Merrick Morton / Columbia Pictures)