Designer Superhero workouts Part 2: Asgardian Power-House

After the last instalment of designer superhero workouts, this one seems like a walk in the park. Just minus the walking. And maybe even the park. There will be no cardio in this one. Just iron. Lots of gorgeous iron.

Many have tried to bring a definitive Thor based workout to the masses when the first Thor movie was released, but failed miserably, because they are those same harbingers of falsehoods and fitness myths that I find myself battling in literary format 24/7. That is unless I can actually get my mitts on ’em. Then its red to the elbow o’clock.

I rest my well-informed case. That is just begging for an injury.

I rest my well-informed case. That is just begging for an injury.
Worse yet, the ‘personal trainer’ will have some bull-s**t justification for this ‘Final Destination’ style death waiting to happen. You’d be safer eating a bowl of corn flakes filled with claymore mines.

It has been attempted by bodybuilding.com, behindtheworkout com, muscleandbrawn.com, and even Men’s ‘Health’ magazine. Only on the extremely rare occasion these sites / publications have some decent information; these particular articles in question was farcical.

None of the above clearly have any understanding of the biology, kinesiology or any of the myriad concepts that influence the complex machine that is the human being to stimulate attribute improvement.

I can, without doubt beloved reader, having spoken to no one that has tried these so-called workout plans, be sure that they didn’t get the results they were looking for. They may have got some results, but nowhere near as constructive as a truly well-informed, anatomically and plan adhering to the fine science of kinesiology.

The biggest problem we face with these articles, is that the majority of the writers of them are merely familiar with exercise equipment and seemingly completely lacking any  understanding of anatomy, apart from a vague awareness of humanoid form. Taking advice from these ill-informed cretins is akin to asking a bus driver how to perform brain surgery.

Now that I’ve just made a bunch of enemies within the fitness and fitness magazine industries; (imagine thunder and lightning whilst reading this please), your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor presents:

The Asgardian Power-House Workout

Majestic, powerful a freakin' deity for crying out loud. Who wouldn't want such power.

Majestic, powerful and a freakin’ demigod for crying out loud.
Who wouldn’t want such power?

This periodized program like the other designer Superhero workout plans will be a 12 week  fast-track, hard-core plan. But will have an extra week post-main plan, as a kind of ‘warm-up’ week. The power work involved is extremely intense business and if strict form and perfect technique is not adhered to may lead to injury. Therefore, this ‘warm-up’ week is to ensure that you, beloved reader, do not get injured.

Remember, beloved reader, this series of workouts are for the truly hard-core among us, those who will let nothing stand between them and god-like power.

No chance Super-ham, it's an Excalibur situation.

No chance Super-ham, it’s an Excalibur situation.

Unlike the extremely complex Spiderman workout, which would have required either a gym, (EEK), membership or very comprehensive and expensive set of home workout equipment. The Thor workout is can be done at home away from all those sweaty-know-it-all-gym-rats. This is all free weights, as primal as it gets; picking up huge items made of cast iron and showing them who’s the boss. Like a boss. An Asgardian boss.

If you haven’t done so already, please read ‘Designer Superhero Workout Basics‘. Without further delay, let’s get you, beloved reader, uncompromisingly strong.

As these exercises require perfect technique; your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor has used his valuable and very limited online storage space to provide you with the best instructional videos I could find, as well as some handy links. Be sure to absorb the videos safety and exercise technique information only; the rest is superfluous.

That is until Level Up has its own studio. Then yours truly will be providing you with bullet proof instructional videos. Yay.

Week 1: Foundation techniques

This week takes the full workout plan of phase 1 of this periodized program, and breaks it down into only one of the exercises per day. Start mega-light, just the barbell with no added resistance to begin with.

When you become comfortable with the technique itself; slowly, gradually bring the resistance up. I would suggest at no more than 2.5 kg  increases per set, if not even smaller increments.

Do as many sets as possible to get the muscles used to contracting in that manner. It’s a strange kinesiological fact, but muscles seem to have the need to ‘learn’. You have the whole workout to master one single exercise each day of this week. This also adds the advantage of having a pretty good idea how much weight you’ll be lifting before you begin the routine proper.

Perform 5 repetitions each time, rest about a minute before the next set. This is a cheeky tactic invented by the legendary Reg Park .

Legendary body-builder Reg Park ha the ideal Superhero physique.

Legendary body-builder Reg Park had the ideal Superhero physique.

Squats

The following is some of the best squatting technique advice I’ve had the pleasure to encounter. It is also your first opponent on the path to Asgardian might. Also known as Monday. That’s it. The first day of ‘warm-up’ week is squats, squats, squats and then more squats. Enjoy.

Dead-lifts

This will be Tuesday’s workout, dead-lifting. Called by some the ‘king of lifts’ because they work almost every muscle in your body.

I could happily watch her dead-lift all day. Also she is a shining example that women doing weights, does not produce this:

Please don't kill me, please don't kill me, please don't kill me, please don't kill me.

Please don’t kill me, please don’t kill me, please don’t kill me, please don’t kill me.

Bent-over barbell rows

A tricky exercise to maintain proper form on, but if perfected, one of the most effective techniques to get the latissimus dorsi pumped up. I’m pretty sure you’ve figured out by now that this is the only move on the agenda for Thursday.

By now, if you are going to the gym for these training sessions you may find the meat-head, jocks and gym-rats are probably gonna give you weird looks, ignore them, they should be concentrating on their own workouts.

If they are staring because they don’t understand what you’re doing, then that just demonstrates their lack of fitness knowledge. Even worse; these malefic perpetrators of misinformation may try to give you ‘advice’. Politely decline, preferably with a wry smirk upon your face that tells them “I know something you don’t know.” Ignore them.

This movement will produce that Superhero ‘V’ shape so desired by many.

Military press

Friday is here. Yay. Half day at work for most of you Londoners, so extra fuel in the tank for the splendid exercise known as the military press. Bet you can’t guess how it got named,eh?

This will blast the deltoids extremely hard, so just as with all the exercises before begin with just the barbell, to get used to the technique, perform 5 repetitions, rest one minute, add a little resistance and have at it again.

Now that's what you call a military press y'all. Soon, beloved reader, soon you shall know the strength of Asgard.

Now that’s what you call a military press y’all. Soon, beloved reader, soon you shall know the strength of Asgard.

Phase 1: Power – 3 weeks

This phase will only last 3 weeks, because it’s so very intense. However, you will be doing all 5 of the above power moves in one gruelling session.

All exercises should be as heavy as possible but with perfect form, 5 sets of 5 repetitions on each of them. We want limit your ‘rest’ periods between sets to no more than a minute, this will be difficult at first, so begin with two minutes, then take 15 seconds less ‘rest’ between sets with each new training session. It’s gonna be tough. But it’s gonna be worth it.

Do the things that others wont today, so that you can do the things others can’t tomorrow.

Chris Hemsworth, proves my well-informed point. Just look at those luscious pecs.

Chris Hemsworth, proves my well-informed point.
Just look at those luscious pecs.

The workout: 5 sets of 5 reps

Squats

Dead-lifts

Bench press

Bent-over barbell rows

Military press

Perform the workouts 3 times a week, preferably Monday, Wednesday and Friday, giving you 2 days to recover, plus you have the weekend off. After such brutal training week 2 days of rest will be required, get plenty of extra sleep.

Or if you can’t schedule it like that, then arrange the training pattern so that you can get 2 full days rest, but never perform the workouts on consecutive days, you will be overworking the muscles causing atrophy, ,also inviting injury and that is detrimental to our quest to god-like Asgardian strength.

"Come at me bro."

“Come at me bro.”

Phase 2: Hypertrophy – 3 weeks

This section of the periodized program will be a 3-way body-part split, utilising only compound movements, (exercises where multiple joints move, therefore more muscle fibres recruited, and more hypertrophy), wherever possible. Once again try to schedule these workouts for Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and plan for a 2 day rest period during the week.

If possible always workout in the morning when testosterone levels are at their highest, it makes you primal. 4 set of 8 reps for all exercises involved. No exceptions. This is the perfect rep range due to the different muscle fibre types within skeletal muscle. Allow you friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor to blow your Asgardian brain with Earth science.

By Odin’s beard! What is this Earth ‘science’ you speak of?

There it is, the mighty Odin's beard.  Envy it.

There it is, the mighty Odin’s beard.
Envy it.

Type I Fibres: Also called slow twitch fibres or oxidative fibres. They have the largest capillary count, many mitochondria, and heaps of myoglobin giving them a red colouration. These muscle fibres are geared toward endurance, very resistant to fatigue and able to contract continuously over an extended period of time and generating adenosine triphosphate by oxidative, (aerobic), metabolism. Therefore they are stimulated by high rep ranges, around 10 to 15 reps, even more reps, 15 to 25 for advanced endurance athletes.

Type II Fibres: They can be split into a further 2 categories.

Type IIb Fibres: We’ll cover IIb first, because type IIa are a relatively recent discovery. Also known as fast twitch or glycolytic fibres,   type IIb have a lower myoglobin and capillary count giving them a white, (looks like chicken meat), colouration. This allows for high contraction velocity, gearing them toward anaerobic metabolism, making them effective for short yet more intense workouts. They are generally stimulated by a rep range of 1 – 6.

Type IIa Fibres: These are adaptive muscle fibres, strange as it sounds. They adapt to whichever type of work the other fibre types are doing. So when the fast twitch fibres are doing their thing, they start going glycolytic and when the slow twitch are doing their thing, they start going oxidative. They look pink due to the combination of oxidative and glycolytic capabilities. Most people don’t have many of these fibres; a shame given their properties.

Thus, 8 reps per set hits a nice mid-range, stimulating all fibre types, and any type IIa will adapt to both kinds of input.

Temporary X-ray vision for y'all.

Temporary X-ray vision for y’all.

Adenosine Triphosphate? Speak sense foolish mortal.

Adenosine triphosphate: (ATP from now on), is considered by biologists to be the ‘currency of life’. ATP, a nucleotide, powers cellular metabolism, and is present in the cytoplasm and nucleoplasm of every cell. The structure of ATP is an ordered compound of three phosphates, connected to each other by oxygens and sandwiched on either side by more oxygens.

These oxygens each have a negative charge, so their just itching to get away from each other. Because of this ATP is just bursting with energy, about 7.3 calories per mole, (30.6 kj/mol), and is a lot happier as a molecule when it has only two phosphate bonds.

Whenever we make any physical movement, an appropriate amount of these little guys, all little ticking time bombs of energy, are more than happy to shoot of one of the phosphate bonds and power up cellular metabolism. Sweet. However, once it has shot one of the bonds it becomes a redundant compound, adenosine diphosphate, (ADP), and goes into a little mood having no desire to create any more energy. Each gram of skeletal muscle has around 7 – 8 mol of ATP stored ready to go, then once it’s fired its load creatine phosphate comes to the rescue. Yay.

That's what our dear ATP looks like.

That’s what our dear ATP looks like.

Now you have been suitably scienced

Day 1: Pectoralis major, triceps, calves

Incline dumbbell bench press:Now we are fully hitting every muscle at every angle  rather than building all-round power, thus adding slabs of mighty beef-cakery all over the show, this fine exercise targets the clavicular fibres of the pecs.

Bench press: You should be very familiar with this one by now. Level up your strength beloved reader.

Skull crushers: A wondrous name for a wondrous technique that suits our hammer wielding subject perfectly. These will not only hit the triceps nicely, but are a ‘sports specific‘ movement for carrying out devastating hammer attacks upon those foolish enough to mess with Asgard.

It was difficult to find a decent instructional for this one, but fear not, beloved reader, after searching the strange realm you mortals call the internet, we have a marvel of your ‘Earth science’ to show you the ways of augmenting hammer based attacks. Preferably aimed at the skull. Then crushing said skull.

Close-grip bench press: You have to be careful with hand positioning on this exercise, otherwise you’ll just be repeating unnecessarily the normal bench press again.

The focus of close-grip bench press is to blast the triceps into a hypertrophic frenzy, adding solid combat ready muscle with which to wield a hammer, or any bludgeon of your own choosing for that matter.


Standing calf raises: This will act as a kind of ‘cool down ‘after all that extremely heavy iron shifting. But if done properly you will have trouble walking temporarily.

Day 2: Latissimus dorsi, biceps, Abs

Bent-over barbell rows: You’ve done tons of theses bad-boys. Nuff said.

Bent-over dumbbell rows: This initially seems like a move that will produce similar results to the above, but whilst it still works the latissimus dorsi, it also works: lower and mid-trapezius, rhomboids, teres major, teres minor, and infraspinatus. The supination, pronation or neutral grip positioning will change the targeted muscles quite dramatically.


Preacher hammer curls: Yes! That is the actual name of the excise, how cool is that, and it’s relevant to our program. Get hammering my Asgardian chums.

Barbell curls: Finishing off the biceps in a brutal way, by the end of this hypertrophic phase you will be able to display a fine ‘gun show’.

Vertical bench leg raise: These will produce abs that you could be seen through a skiing jacket. As an added bonus the instructor is hot. Yay.

Day 3: Legs, shoulders, forearms

Squats: Monday on ‘warm-up’ week made you very aware of these quadricep builders of doom.

Walking Dumbbell Lunges: To truly promote hypertrophy in such a massive muscle group as quadriceps, we need at least 2 compound movements to make them powerful. This is another ‘sport specific’ exercise that will have you charging at alarming speeds toward your enemy upon the battlefield.

Stiff legged dead-lifts: This variation on the deadlift, (kinda like ‘diet dead-lifts’), will not only keep your body prepared for another power phase, (Yup, there’ll be another), but work the hamstrings in an isometric manner, not only causing muscular strength gains, but building a formidable lower body stability. Ice hockey players utilise this exercise to make their stance solid and steadfast upon the ice.

Arnold press: A great exercise for the anterior and lateral heads of the deltoids. They also add punching power for when you’ve thrown your hammer and are waiting for it to return to your hand to punish the enemies of Asgard.

Behind the neck press: The sibling exercise to military press, now you have these training techniques under your belt, you’ll have no problem lifting opponents over-head and hurling them to land in a crumpled and defeated heap of broken flesh and bone, whilst waiting for that pesky hammer you’re still waiting to return.

Dumbbell shrugs: These slight and mild mannered in appearance dumbbell shrugs are vital at this point, a lot of the exercises in this routine have only worked them synergistically, or worked only 1 or 2 parts of the 3 sectioned muscle. Shrugs target the meaty part at the top of the shoulders. Kinesiologically, they are working whenever you are bearing weight in your hands in order to support the shoulder girdle.

Forearm curls: All Asgardian warriors need a firm grip on their weapon of choice, (preferably hammer of course), and this exercise will round off your physique nicely. If you’ve got massive biceps and triceps but skinny forearms, a warrior you will not look like. There are 2 variations of this technique demonstrated below, pick whichever feels right to you.

I think that's Thor's way of saying "Don't quit". Or he just wants to go ballistic bludgeon style.

I think that’s Thor’s way of saying “Don’t quit”.
Or maybe he just wants to go ballistic bludgeon style.

So what’s next?

Simple. Repeat the power phase again, (but obviously without the extra ‘warmup’ week), you’ll notice a massive increase in strength. Then repeat the hypertrophy phase.

That’s the whole 12 weeks. By the end of it you will be buff and strong, and with the nice weather here in good old blighty, plenty of opportunity to get your top off and make others feel ashamed of their laziness.

If you get bored with the exercises and the exercise order, you can substitute them for others that work a similar group of muscles, and even re-arrange the 3-way hypertrophy split. For example, you could substitute seated cable rows for one arm dumbbell rows, preacher barbell curls instead of barbell curls, or even body-weight dips in place of skull crushers.

You could rearrange the body-part split per workout thus:

Day 1: Legs, triceps, abs, Day 2: Lats, shoulders,  forearms, Day 3:Pecs, biceps, calves.

Unfortunately, due to our strict mistress kinesiology, the power phase is unchangeable. Sorry, beloved reader.

Diet

This is the complicated part. But without decent nutrition, the workouts will not be as effectual and you won’t recover properly from all your hard work. Diet is 80% of the battle.

Try to eat every 3 hours, to keep the metabolism boosted and a steady stream of nutrients coming in to help you recover from the workouts. It’s possible to get away with eating every 5 hours, but 3 hours between protein ‘fixes’ will give you optimum protein synthesis, thus yielding the fastest results.

I know this is tricky to do, and for those of us on a limited finances difficult to afford, but with a little imagination and efficient budgeting it can be done; your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor also suffers these conditions, but it is still attainable.

Get your protein from high quality sources: eggs, milk, fish, beef, chicken, and for those of us, like yours truly, with those horrifying afflictions known as employment, protein shakes and protein bars. There are some very reasonably priced protein supplements around for the convenience of maintaining good nitrogen balance. GNC and Holland and Barrett are constantly having guerilla warfare style sales wars, so keep checking them out.

You’ll also want good quality sources of carbs, wholemeal versions of baked products, oatmeal, pasta, (make sure it’s cooked Al dente), and nothing with processed sugar. But you knew that already. Right?

This is the only diet plan on Level Up thus far that has fat restrictions in the diet. Get your sources of dietary fat from quality foods such a fish, nuts and seeds. No saturated fats. Also the little things help, use cooking spray when you fry food, use low fat spreads, fat-free milk etc.

Count the Macro-nutrients

It seems like a major hassle to begin with, but check the nutritional stats of every meal you eat. Eventually you’ll get so used to it, you’ll be able to approximate and / or guesstimate how much is in what food.

Protein: This is the chief nutrient for building strength and power. Protein’s crucial role in the body includes building, maintaining and repairing body tissue. It is especially important to physically active individuals whose muscle tissue is constantly in need of repair.

Protein has other roles in the body; all enzymes and hormones, which perform vital functions, are proteins. In addition, proteins are used to aid in the immune process. But the liver can only handle so much in one sitting. It is widely debated what the actual number of grams of protein it can effectively deal with; speculations range from 32 to 48 grams. For the purposes of maximizing muscle gains but limiting gluconeogenesis, (there will be plenty of glucose knocking around already), You should aim for hitting 40 grams of quality per meal and hopefully managing that at least five to six meals each day with a minimum of three hours between each  protein fix.

Protein is made of amino acids. Ain't it pretty.

Protein is made of amino acids. Ain’t it pretty.

Carbohydrates: Our main source of energy. They are chains of small, simple sugars that are broken down and enter the body as glucose. Glucose is essential for the body, as it is the preferred source of energy in our brain, heart and central nervous system. For this reason, we won’t be doing anything silly to maintain rippage like Atkins’ diet. Atkins’ had a reasonable idea, but neglected to mention that without glucose from carbs in  your diet to metabolize fat, muscle tissue would be broken down and converted into sugar for that very purpose, defeating the object entirely. Aim for roughly the same amount of carbs as you do with protein. With the exception of doubling the carbs 1 hour before and one hour after a training session. The trick with carbs and getting buff is to keep the Glycemic Index low.

Fat: The misconception about fat is that it is always bad for you. In fact, fat is essential for maintaining a healthy body and is a vital metabolic precursor to various steroid hormones. The trick is to eat a moderate amount of the good fats and none of the bad fats. Saturated and trans fats must be avoided while increases levels essential fatty acids, such as omega 3 and omega 6.

Going out of the realms of macro-nutrients and into micro-nutrients briefly; fat plays a vital role in the digestion of vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are fat soluble, meaning they need fat in order to be absorbed into the body. So don’t completely remove all fats from your diet.

Supplements

Not essential, and also another budget concern. Your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor wouldn’t normal suggest spending your hard-earned / hard-embezzled cash on such things, but the following 2 supplements truly are the real deal, and will add great gains on the path to Asgardian glory.

Creatine phosphate: imaginatively named, eh? Remember ATP? Creatine phosphate, (CP), turns up and ‘lends’ ADP its one and only phosphate, restarting the whole cycle again. There is roughly 3.5 and 4 grams of CP stored per kilogram of skeletal muscle, but this is used up in a matter of seconds during intense physical exertion. By supplementing CP, you can get an extra few seconds of oomph when pounding the iron. It doesn’t sound like much on paper but it makes a massive difference to anaerobic metabolism. Supplemented CP must be cycled, however, as with everything the body produces itself, if it is coming in artificially it will cease its own production. EEK.

The optimum cycle of CP supplementation is 9 weeks on and 3 weeks off. Powdered form is the best absorbed into the skeletal muscles. Remember to look out for the health food store sales.

Glutamine: Basically, whenever your body needs to make a repair, glutamine is the prime amino acid it goes to for most chores. When any part of your body needs healing, say from a cut, recovery from a hangover, sleep deprivation, and especially hard training regimes; its glutamine that gets taken straight from the muscles, reducing strength, unless there is some spare via supplementation. Glutamine is almost essential, it will have you regenerating like Wolverine. Sweet.

He speaks truthfully. Vote, beloved reader, for the next designer Superhero workout.

He speaks truthfully. Vote, beloved reader, for the next designer Superhero workout.

That’s right, beloved reader, I want you to leave a comment on this post, email me or post on Level Up’s Facebook page, which designer Superhero workout you want to see next. Bring it on, y’all.

Stay tuned for more.

Until next time. Stay informed.

Empty Hand

This one is a favourite here at Level Up. Not just because it’s an awesome combat skill, but also because it’s one of the few structured martial arts that doesn’t involve the use of any weapons.

Batman narrowly missies Wolverine with a well formed Yoko tobi geri.

Batman narrowly misses Wolverine with a well-formed Yoko tobi geri.

That’s right, beloved reader, today your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor will be helping you level up your skill in one of the greatest unarmed fighting systems from the east.

Karate

Shotokan to be precise; the unified form of Karate founded by the late, great Gichin Funakoshi. Before we hit the resistance training in all it’s kinesiological glory, let’s get to know more about the art of the empty hand.

The tiger emblem of Shotokan Karate.

Contrary to popular belief Karate is not a Japanese martial skill, it’s Okinawan, but because it has been developed and popularised by Japanese exponents the terminology of the combat sport is now almost exclusively in the Japanese language. It started life called simply ‘ti’, or in Japanese, ‘te’. It’s also not as ancient as many think.

In 1372 trade relationships were established with the Ming Dynasty of China by King Satto of Chūzan. This led to some forms of chinese martial arts being introduced to the Pechin class of the Ryukyu Islands. Given the similarities between them, it is reasonably safe to assume that the Chinese martial arts to influence Karate’s development, Fujian White Crane probably being one of the main culprits. In 1429, however, the political centralization of Okinawan King Shō Hashi brought with it a ban on all weapons, at the time all martial skills were weapon based with little need for unarmed combat to be practiced unless for sport, this was reinforced in after the invasion of the Shimazu clan in 1609. These both played important factors in how Karate and it’s sibling martial art Kobudō evolved. Kobudō is responsible for bringing us delights such as nunchaku, tonfa, , sai and kama. Whilst developed at the same time and for the same reasons, Karate and Kobudō are separate arts but often mis-categorised together.

Funakoshi Sensei getting serious with a Makiwara.

Funakoshi Sensei getting serious with a Makiwara.

During all this developmental chaos, along came Gichin Funakoshi; the father of modern Shotokan. He had trained in both popular styles of that time’s Okinawan karate; Shōrei-ryū and Shōrin-ryū. Funakoshi was quite known for his writing, he was an avid poet and philosopher as well as being a Karate master. In 1939, after many successful years of nurturing his Karate style and teaching a plethora of students, he built the first official Shotokan Dojo in Tokyo.

Shotokan derives its name from Funakoshi’s pen name, Shoto, meaning ‘waving pines’ and Kan means training hall or house. Thus Shotokan’s can be translated as ‘house of Shoto’. He also changed the way the characters for Karate written, from meaning ‘China hand’ to ’empty hand’. The two words sound the same in Japanese but are written differently. It was his belief that the term ‘Chinese’ would be misleading and people would think Karate had originated with Chinese boxing. Funakoshi’s interpretation of the word Kara to mean ’empty’ caused problems for him in Okinawa, thus he remained teaching in Tokyo.

Ryu demonstartes a Soto-uke block whilst in a Kokutsu-dachi stance. Thanks Ryu.

Ryu demonstrates a Soto-uke block whilst in a Kokutsu-dachi stance. Thanks Ryu.

The resistance training

There are a lot of techniques that need augmenting here, but hold faith beloved reader. Your’s truly, holding a 4th Dan in this wondrous discipline, is unabashed in advising you. Unfortunately Level Up is still an impoverished little company, therefore we will have to make use of links to other sites for the time being. Stay tuned though, as Level Up studios will be coming this summer. Yay.

Lunge with twist: These bad boys will be an invaluable help for your stance work, especially with zenkutsu dachi, and the twist at the end will assist in all those gyaku-zuki punches you undoubtedly be drilling endlessly. These don’t have to be practiced with a medicine ball, or any resistance at all.

Leg extension: That’s right, another exercise for the quadriceps, we need them. Powerful legs will accommodate all the tough stances we encounter and even the newest Karate exponent knows that with a good kick you raise the knee first, then extend for maximum power and range.

Reverse-grip chins: Helpful for a fast pull back to launch another kizami/gyaku/oi-zuki punch, and for giving all-round physical development.

Decline press ups: Even though the waist is the prime mover in any punching movement, the pectoralis major  assists in this. So for powering up all our ‘zuki’ moves we’ll be focusing on the clavicular fibres; it’s already much easier to punch godan and chudan heights, so hitting upper chest will add oomph to our jodan height attacks.

Supination curls: The supination movement of these will augment many punches / blocks, whilst working both biceps brachii and brachialis. Nice.

Arnold press: Yes, these are named after Arnold Schwarzenegger. Their pronation / supination movement nicely mimics the twisting, power generating motion of many Shotokan punches and blocks.

Dips: Great for adding punching power and speed. Once again, even though the waist produces the power of the strike the triceps assist the movement by extending the elbow.

Knee raise: Few realise that to get height in a kick, not only do you need flexibility, but well conditioned abs to raise the thigh above waist level. These do the trick nicely in combination with the leg extensions from earlier, we’ve successfully added greater range and power to our kicks.

Standing calf raise: To get the fullest extension on all those mae geri kicks, you will need decent contractile strength in your gastrocnemius. Add resistance to these when you feel comfortable with the movement.

I'm afraid even your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor can't teach you the Hadoken technique.

I’m afraid even your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor can’t teach you the Hadoken technique.

Perform one set of each exercise for as many repetitions as possible, but with perfect technique of course. When you feel you’ve got these sussed, perform them again for a circuit training effect, this will get the heart and lungs pumping nicely as well. Repeat the circuit as many times as desired.

Basic Terminology

Before we delve into the terms and jargon, your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor should give you a quick insight into Japanese language vowel pronunciation.

“a” as in father ; “i” as in feet ; “u” as in flute ;”e” as in bed ; “o” as in okay.

Age Tsuki

Rising punch

 

Age Uke

Rising block

 

Ashi Barai

Foot sweep

 

Awase Tsuki

U-punch

 

Bensoku Dachi.

Cross-legged stance (also female horse stance or Kosa Dachi)

Boshiken Tsuki

Thumb fist

 

Choku Tsuki

Straight punch

 

Chudan

Middle area

 

Chudan Uke

Inside circular block

 

Empi

Elbow strike

 

Fudo Dachi

Free stance

Fumikomi Geri

Stamping kick

 

Furi Tsuki

Circular punch

 

Gedan

Lower area

 

Gedan Barai

Downward block

 

Gedan Uchi Barai

Outside downward block (open hand)

 

Go

Five

 

Goju

Fifty

 

Gyaku Mawashi Geri

Reverse round house kick

 

Gyaku Tsuki

Reverse punch

 

Hachi

Eight

 

Hachiji Dachi

Natural stance (feet shoulder width apart, toes pointed slightly out)

Hachiju

Eighty

 

Haisoku Barai

Instep block

 

Haisoku Geri

Kicking with the instep

 

Haito Uchi

Ridge hand strike

 

Hajime

Begin

 

Han Zenkutsu Dachi

Half front stance

Hasami Tsuki

Scissors punch

 

Heiko Dachi

Parallel stance (feet shoulder width apart)

Heiko Tsuki

Parallel punch

 

Heisoku Dachi

Closed foot stance (feet together)

Hidari

Left

 

Hiji Uchi

Elbow strike

 

Hiji Uke

Elbow block

 

Hiki Uke

Pulling/grasping block

 

Hiza Geri

Knee kick (also called Hiza Ate)

 

Hiza Uke.

Knee block

 

Hyaku

One Hundred

 

Ichi

One

 

Jodan

Upper area

 

Jodan Uke

Upward block

 

Ju

Ten

 

Kagi Tsuki

Hook punch

 

Kaikoken Tsuki

Crab shell fist

 

Kakato Geri

Heel kick

 

Kama-De

Bear hand

 

Kamae

Ready and alert

 

Kanketsu Geri

Stamping kick, joint kick

 

Keikoken Tsuki

One knuckle fist

 

Kiba Dachi

Horse riding stance

Kime

Focus

 

Kizami Tsuki

Leading punch, or jab

 

Ko Uchi

Bent wrist strike

 

Ko Uke

Wrist block

 

Kokutsu Dachi

Back stance

Kosa Uke

Cross block

 

Kote Uchi

Forearm strike

 

Ku

Nine

 

Kuju

Ninety

 

Kumite.

Sparring

 

Mae Geri Keage

Front snap kick

 

Mae Geri Kekomi

Front thrust kick

 

Mae Tobi Geri

Jumping front kick

 

Mawashi Geri

Round house kick

 

Mawashi Tsuki

Round hook punch

 

Mawashi Uke

Round house block

 

Migi

Right

 

Migi Heiko Dachi

Right foot forward Heiko Dachi

Morote Uke

Augmented block

 

Musubi Dachi

Formal attention stance (heels together, feet at an angle)

Nagashi Tsuki

Flowing punch

 

Nagashi Uke

Sweeping block

 

Naihanchi Dachi

Kiba Dachi with the heels out and toes in

Nakadaka Ken

Middle finger knuckle fist

 

Nanaju

Seventy

 

Naname Shiko Dachi

Diagonal straddle leg stance

Neko Ashi Dachi

Cat foot stance

Ni

Two

 

Nidan

Second dan

 

Nidan Geri

Double front snap kick (back leg first)

 

Nihon Tsuki

Double punch

 

Niju

Twenty

 

Nukite Tsuki

Finger thrust or spear hand

 

Oi Tsuki

Lunge punch

 

Randori

co-operative sparring

 

Rei

Bow

 

Ren Geri

Double front snap kick (front leg first)

 

Renoji Dachi

The letter “Re” stance (or “L” stance)

Roku

Six

 

Rokuju

Sixty

 

Sagiashi Dachi

Heron stance

San

Three

 

Sanbon Tsuki

Triple punch

 

Sanchin Dachi

Hourglass stance

Sandan

Third Dan

 

Sanju

Thirty

 

Seiken Tsuki

Fore fist strike

 

Sesan Dachi

Side facing straddle stance

Shi

Four

 

Shichi

Seven

 

Shiko Dachi

Straddle leg stance

Shodan

First Dan

 

Shotei Otoshi Uke

Open hand dropping block

 

Shotei Tsuki

Palm heel thrust

 

Shotei Uchi

Palm heel strike

 

Shotei Uke

Palm heel block

 

Shuto Uchi

Knife hand strike

 

Shuto Uke

Knife hand block

 

Sokutei Harai Uke

Sole of the foot block

 

Sokutei Osae Uke

Pressing block with the sole of the foot

 

Sokuto Geri

Kicking with the foot edge

 

Soto Uke

Outside forearm  block

 

Sukui Uke

Scooping block

 

Tate Tsuki

Vertical punch

 

Tettsui Uchi

Bottom fist strike (or hammer fist strike)

 

Tobi Nidan Geri

Jumping double kick

 

Tsumasaki Geri

Kicking with the tips of the toes

 

Uchi Hachiji Dachi

Natural stance with heels out and toes in

Uchi Uke.

Inside forearm block

 

Ura Tsuki

Short punch (palm side up)

 

Ura Uke

Back hand block

 

Uraken Uchi

Back fist strike

 

Ushiro Geri

Back thrust kick

 

Ushiro Mawashi   Geri

Round house to the rear kick

 

Washi-De

Eagle hand

 

Yama Tsuki

Mountain punch

 

Yame

Stop

 

Yoi

Ready

 

Yoko Geri Keage

Side snap kick

 

Yoko Geri Kekomi

Side thrust kick

 

Yoko Tobi Geri

Jumping side thrust kick

 

Yoko Uke

Circular block

 

Yondan

Forth Dan

 

Yonju

Forty

 

Zenkutsu Dachi

Front stance

Stay tuned for more

Until next time. Stay informed.

 

The Dark Geek Rises

That’s right, beloved reader, even the bat himself had to start somewhere. After his parents were gunned down, he couldn’t instantly pull on the cowl and make Gotham City’s criminals cower with fear. Thus, your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor will be taking you through a zero to hero fitness guide starting from complete scratch.

beforeafter

It’s all up-hill from Adam West.

Bat-fan year one

Okay, so it’s not really the whole first year of training but I had to put the pun in somewhere. We begin with bodyweight work, the core of any good training routine. And just like when Bruce started out, we rely on minimum equipment. Just follow the handy video links, (sorry but Level Up still doesn’t have its own studio yet), to get started on your journey to bad-assery.

Warm-up: No need to go overboard with this, just get your heart rate up a little and make sure the muscles are warm to avoid injury. Do some jumping jacks and a few minutes jogging on the spot is plenty to get you prepped and primed.

Squats: Every mighty structure has a solid base, and the human body is no different. Never miss leg work, it is your foundation to a power. If you can’t quite manage the full range of motion in a squat hold onto something for support, until the quadriceps are strong enough. Once your comfortable with squats, progress on to lunges.

Press ups: A solid staple of any training routine. Press ups can be done anywhere, anytime and Batman has them for breakfast. If you can’t do full-bodied press ups yet don’t worry, you’ll be able to do them soon enough. Start with bar press ups, then gradually work up to doing knee press ups until you become can perform the real thing. As you become stronger you can progress to even more advanced press ups, continually challenging yourself.

Press ups target the bat-pecs. Triceps and deltoids assist in the movement.

Press ups target the bat-pecs. Triceps and deltoids assist in the movement.

Dumbbell rowsIgnore the dumbbell part, anything that offers some resistance will do; a jug of milk or a packed suitcase make great improvisations and a couple of chairs will make a sufficient stand-in for the bench. Your Rogue Advisor doesn’t expect you to be chinning just yet, but this is how we get the lats strong enough to deal with them.  Eventually work up to inverted rows, you don’t even need a bar for this, you can perform them on the edge of your dinning table.

batmanweights

If you’ve got bat-weights then go for it, but they’re not essential.

Crunches: Even the Bat’s abs had a subtle beginning. Strength gains are stealthy critters, they sneak up and surprise you when you least expect it. Thus, beloved reader, you will be moving on to more advanced exercises, like crunch ups and incline crunches before you know it. Yay.

Bat-fan begins

You just worked every muscle in your body, even the ones that weren’t targeted specifically by an exercise would have been assisting or stabilising in one or more of the movements. Better yet it only takes about 10 minutes, easy to fit into your daily routine, so none of that “I don’t have time to workout” false-hoodery. If you’ve anything left in the tank do them all again, then you’ve successfully completed a circuit training workout. Challenge yourself by seeing how many ‘circuits’ you can manage,  maybe try for an extra one per week.

Perform as many repetitions as humanly / inhumanly possible for each of the exercises and keep a record of it. An Excel spreadsheet is good, it’s nice to look back on a training log and see how far you’ve come, plus it keeps tabs on how many reps to beat in the next workout. After training be sure to stretch, it will help to avoid injury and DOMS. No need to go overboard here either, just one stretch for each muscle targeted in the workout, held for 20 to 30 seconds. Easy.

Soon, beloved reader, this could be you.

Soon, beloved reader, this could be you.

If you can do the more advanced versions of any of the exercises then go for it, but perfect form is vital, don’t sacrifice the benefits for the sake of ego.

The workout can be done up to three or four times a week, but not on consecutive days; your body will need to recover. The magic happens when you get proper rest and nutrition.

But why resistance training? What about cardio?

Prepare to be scienced.

Not going to science you too hard here, we want to keep things simple.

You can great results from cardio, but you have to do a lot of it. I mean a hell of a lot of it, and really regularly too. Most of us just don’t have the time to invest to take the cardio path. Also, this may sound daft, but you only burn calories when your engaged in the cardio.

Seems obvious right? Keep reading.

You need to do hours of this cardio business for it to be effective. Plus it needs to performed regularly; around 60% of the benefits of cardio a lost after 2 to 3 days if not maintained.

You need to do hours of this cardio business for it to be effective. Plus it needs to performed regularly; around 60% of the benefits of cardio are lost after 2 to 3 days if not maintained.

Resistance training however, burns calories when you’re doing it and then boosts metabolism for up to 90 minutes after working out; burning even more of those nasty little calories. Sweet. Not only that but the muscle you’re building will boost your BMR all day long. Yup, all day long. As a handy bonus, resistance training will give you augmented strength that has practical application in everyday situations. Thus, beloved reader, resistance training is the most efficient route to looking good for the upcoming nice weather. Yay.

During this training your weight wont change much, but your body composition will. You will have more lean mass and less fat, so ignore the  scales; how much you weigh is actually a poor indication of how much excess fat you have.

Avoid these evil contraptions of deception. Who really cares how much you weigh?

Avoid these evil contraptions of deception. Who really cares how much you weigh? Gauge your results in the mirror instead.

But all the good workouts in the world will do you no good if you eat crap. Fact. For now keep it simple; you already know most of what’s bad for you so avoid things like sweets, crisps and especially fizzy drinks. Try to eat more often yet smaller meals during the day, and include fruit, veg and lean meats.

Don’t pay any heed to all the terrible fad diets and slimming gimmicks, they are peddled by thieves and scammers and we don’t fund them, we bring them to justice! There is no miracle pill or technique for an instant six-pack, it takes working out and eating right. Sorry, beloved reader, but that really is the ‘secret’.

The Bat only hungers for justice.

The Bat only hungers for justice.

Stay tuned for more.

Until next time. Stay informed.