The X-Factor; Designer Superhero Workout Training Tips and Advice

Greetings true believers

With the new series of articles on Designer Superhero Workouts just beginning; I thought it only wise to give you some handy tips and advice to help you get the most from your workouts.

That’s right, beloved reader, today we learn from that diverse gang of Super Heroes, the X-Men. Thus, Your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor will be sciencing you upside the head mutant style.

So what can we learn from these genetically mutated folk?

We can learn a lot of handy training tips and tactics from these diverse and over-the-top politically correct chaps.

Periodization

What’s this periodization business? 

Periodization can be defined as a system for program design that plans appropriate cycles and training phases. The system used in the Designer Superhero Workouts.

The human machine, being what it, is an incredibly adaptive organism; quickly responding to its input. You lift heavy you get strong. You stretch you’ll get flexible. You run for hours upon hours per day, you will have improved cardiovascular endurance.

But because it adapts to the input, it will become complacent, thus reducing the results. When this happens things need to be switched around a bit, to ‘shock’ the body into having to adapt again, producing new results. Do you think the X-Men do the same training day in day out in the danger room? Nope.

It has been time and time again proven for success in achieving training goals and has a track record of over 50 years of development. Research has confirmed that periodization has the ability to produce significantly better results than straight set training or normal progression type training. Michael JordanMuhammad AliUsain Bolt, Babe Ruth, Tiger woods, and Bruce Lee have all used this wonderful training tactic. It also provides the ultimate training log. Looking back on a year’s periodized training will really give clarity on how much you have accomplished over that time.

Program Design

This represents a periodized table of progression, working up to a competition.

Any good training programme should be considered as ongoing and therefore broken down into calendar based blocks of time based periods that usually termed as ‘cycles’.

During each cycle prioritize working on the attributes which will benefit the athlete. Within these cycles we have Macrocycles, planning the overall outline of the program and commonly lasting for three-month periods, give or take, depending on the individual athlete’s goals.

Macrocycles are then, in turn, broken down again into smaller more manageable segments called Mesocycles.

Training Phases

These are the Mesocycles, which enable the athlete to efficiently track their progress, maybe reassess their goals if necessary and tailor the routine to suit and desired changes; such as training tactics, nutrition, intensity etc. The cycles run from 3 to 12 weeks, but great yields can result from longer or shorter periods, dependant upon genetics, muscle fibre composition and already established attribute levels. A 3 to 8 week Mesocycle suits most people.

Hypertrophy phase: During this is the phase for the athlete will be most effective hitting a rep range between strength training and endurance training; that will stimulate all the different fibre types, thus, the greatest overall hypertrophy.

Hugh Jackman preparing to do some heavy squats for a hypertrophy phase.

Strength / power phases: Characterised by extremely high levels of intensity, all-out short distance sprints, lifting extremely heavy but for very low reps or a three-minute round in the boxing ring.

The easiest transition between phases is from strength to power; gradually decrease the reps from the usual 8 down to a range of 1 to 6, whilst also removing some exercises to really focus on the core movements for power: such as barbell squats, deadlifts,  bench press, bent-over barbell rows, military press etc.

Endurance phase: This phases consists of lower intensity but higher-volume workouts. Muscular and cardiovascular endurance will be the primary focus. It also functions as an experimental phase of sorts.

If there are new exercise techniques that need to be introduced, this is the phase for it. Given the low intensity, (weight usually), gives the athlete the opportunity to master them, the added repetitions required for the high-volume element.

Transitional phase: This is the transitional phase, to morph one phase into another. For example:gradually bringing the reps up when moving from a strength phase to an endurance phase, and visa versa.

Swimming is a fine example of ‘active rest’. I’m sure there are rules about adamantium claws in the swimming pool though.

Active rest: On ‘rest’ days it can sometimes be a good idea to get  what is known as ‘active rest’, keeping you geared up athletically but recreationally.

Body-weight Exercises

Hank McCoy demonstrates the value of bodyweight exercises.

If you wish to attain Beast-like agility, then add body-weight exercises as often as possible, like chin ups, pull-ups and bodyweight dips. When you can add extra resistance to those, you’ll be able to perform great feats of agility.

It’s common sense; let’s say you perform jumping squats whilst holding 2 dumbbells; when you get rid of the extra weight of the dumbbells, your jump height will be significantly higher.

You can also add a flexibility routine. A greater range of movement will facilitate greater dexterity.  

Break it down and rebuild it

BAMF!

When Nightcrawler teleports, all of the atoms in his body disassemble, pass through another plane of existence, then reassemble at another point in space and time.

A similar process is occurring in your skeletal muscle when you are working out, the exertion of the training breaks the muscle down, actually damaging the tissue. The body then reacts to this by re-growth geared toward the new input.

This anabolic process occurs when you are resting and eating, that’s when the cells get reassembled. Once the skeletal muscle has been nicely broken down, even they haven’t travelled through another plane of existence, we still need to put them back together.

Thus we need . . .

SNIKT!

“Recovery bub”

The sooner one can recover from a training session, the sooner one can train again, speeding up the results. That’s simple for Wolverine; he regenerates. It doesn’t matter how much he gets cut, smashed, pummelled, drinks or smokes; he never takes any lasting or permanent damage or even gains a scar.

So, bereft of mutant powers how can we get recovering at such a rate?

Protein: Already covered this in ‘The Asgardian Power-House‘, but a little more detail couldn’t hurt. Get plenty of it, from high quality sources. The reason for this is that the building blocks of protein are called amino acids, and they all have a different and vital function.

Human protein is formed from 20 amino acids that are found within proteins.  Alanine, Arginine, Asparagine, Aspartic acid, Cysteine,  Glutamic acid, Glutamine, Glycine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Proline, Serine Threonine,  Tryptophan, Tyrosine and Valine.

Humans can produce 10 of the 20 amino acids. The others must be supplied in the food. Failure to obtain enough of even 1 of the 10 essential amino acids, those that we cannot make, results in degradation of the body’s proteins—muscle and so forth—to obtain the one amino acid that is needed. Unlike fat and starch, the human body does not store excess amino acids for later use—the amino acids must be in the food every day.

Non-Essential amino acids: The 10 amino acids that are essential, those that can be converted by the liver from other nutrients are; alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine. Tyrosine is produced from phenylalanine, so if the diet is deficient in phenylalanine, tyrosine will be required as well.

Essential amino acids: Are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. This means we must consume them and / or supplement them in our diets. Supplementation may be the only option for some of these if you’re vegetarian and the only option if you happen to be vegan.

Glutamine

This is the stuff I’m talking about, the very brand that yours truly uses. It’ll have you recovering like Wolverine.

We’re going to focus on one really important one for regeneration. Glutamine plays a role in a variety of biochemical functions, including: Protein bio-synthesis, as any other of the proteinogenic amino acids, regulation of acid-base balance in the kidney by producing ammonium, nitrogen donation for many anabolic processes including the synthesis of purines, carbon donation, as a source, refilling the citric acid cycle, nontoxic transporter of ammonia in the blood circulation.

Basically, whenever your body needs to make a repair, glutamine is the primary amino acid it goes to for most reparation chores. When any part of your body needs healing, say from a cut, recovery from a hangover or even sleep deprivation, it’s glutamine that gets used, and a great majority is extracted straight from the skeletal muscles. Unless there is some spare via supplementation. There aren’t many supplements worth spending your hard-earned or hard-stolen cash on but glutamine is without doubt one of them, get it in powdered form, for ease of absorption.

Sleep

Most of us don’t get anywhere near enough sleep, the regeneration magic happens then But when we are so busy in our daily lives with those vile afflictions known as day jobs, those wondrous affairs called social lives and those horrors we address as responsibilities; sleep is the first thing Sleep deprivation can have a big impact on our metabolism; slowing it down and hoarding fat and not getting enough sleep slows glucose metabolism by as much as 30 to 40 percent, causing even more fat gain. EEK

Eve Van Cauter, PhD , from the University of Chicago Medical School, studied the effects of three different durations of sleep in eleven men aged 18 to 27.

For the first three nights of the study, the men slept eight hours per night; for the next six nights, they slept four hours per night; for the last seven nights, they slept 12 hours per night. Results showed that after four hours of sleep per night, they metabolized glucose least efficiently. Levels of cortisol were also higher, which has been linked to memory impairment, age-related insulin resistance, and impaired recovery in athletes.

Van Cauter said that after only one week of sleep restriction, young, healthy males had glucose levels that were no longer normal and showed a rapid deterioration of the body’s functions. This reduced ability of the body to manage glucose is similar to those found in the elderly. This study shows that sleep deprivation can negatively impact physiology that is critical for athletic performance — glucose metabolism and cortisol status.

While no one completely understands the complexities of sleep, this does indicates that sleep deprivation can lead to decreased activity of human growth hormone (which is active during tissue repair), and decreased glycogen synthesis.

Psylocke demonstrates sleeping. Never mind showing off all the psychic abilities and martial skills, eh?

So how much sleep is required?

It going to differ from person to person, but the general consensus is 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, more for is required for athletes due to greater physical exertion. A minimum of 6, preferably 7, and if you’re raining hard 8 to 9 hours.

Some of our genes act as internal clocks and release hormones according to cycles called circadian rhythms, which are triggered by darkness and light and alternate over 24-hour periods. When we mess with these rhythms by not getting enough sleep, our metabolism of glucose declines, and our level of cortisol increases. Further, sleeping for long stretches is naturally anabolic.

During deep sleep, our bodies release growth hormone, which stimulates the healing and growth of muscle and bone. So while it’s possible to push through a lack of sleep during any one day, proper sleep helps athletes by boosting areas of performance that require cognitive function, reaction time, hand-eye coordination and of course it aids recovery from grueling workouts.

Anything else? It is a pretty big team to learn from

Use your mind.

The mind-muscle-connection

Great things can be accomplished with strong focus, concentration and visualisation. A technique utilised by many athletic pros to maximize muscle and performance. By developing a strong ‘mind-muscle connection’ ,this connection is made by visualizing the muscle being trained and focusing on the feeling of it working through its complete range of motion during each rep.

When applying the technique don’t think about where you feel the muscular stimulus, think about where you’re supposed to feel the stimulus. For example; during press ups the muscle that should be shifting all the weight are the pectoralis major, but a lot of people end up focusing too much on the arms, triceps specifically, which are only assisting the movement. Instead you must focus on contacting the pectorals thereby bringing the arms together and forward, the triceps assisting only to extend the elbow joint. Continue with this thought process during the negative phase of the movement, focusing on the feeling of the pectorals stretching.

Keeping your mental focus channeled in this manner will direct the majority of stress to the target muscles of your chest, maximizing muscular stimulation. It sounds daft, far-fetched even a little sci-fi but believe in your Rogue Advisor, beloved reader, the mind-muscle connection is the real deal.

Visualization

Some athletes routinely use visualization techniques in both training and competition. Those who’ve used these techniques have cultivated not only a competitive edge, but also found renewed mental awareness, and a heightened sense of focus.

Visualization is also referred to as guided imagery, mental rehearsal, mediation, etc. Regardless of the term applied, the techniques and concepts are the same. Visualization is the mental process of creating an image or intention of what you desire.

Colossus. Clearly.

“Throughout my bodybuilding career, I was constantly playing tricks on my mind. This is why I began to think of my biceps as mountains, instead of flesh and blood. Thinking of my biceps as mountains made my arms grow faster and bigger than if I’d seen them only as muscles.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

This technique can be used to increase the ‘intent’ of the result of a competition or training session. By visualizing the desired scene, complete with reverie of a previous best performance or a future target, the athlete is then ‘steps into’ that feeling. While imagining these scenarios, the athlete will imagine in perfect detail, all the myriad sensations of the way it feels to perform in the desired way, or the results wanted from that training session.

And finally

Keep it cool.

No really. It does wonders for you. Every time you get stressed out, start vexing or get your raging bellyache on, you get a massive surge of nasty old cortisol, which breaks down muscle tissue. So when you have to skip a meal or a workout, don’t be miffed but don’t use cortisol as an excuse to slack off either. Temperature also affects testosterone levels. Everyone knows that guys who sleep in the cold have a higher sperm count right? That’s because testosterone is boosted when the testicles are at just the right chilly temperature. Yay.

Until next time. Stay informed.

 

OCDB: Street Fighter – Yuki Shiori

On May 14th  your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor set the task to create an original Street Fighter Character to win a rather humble prize.

Using the awesome Hero Machine 2.5 you, beloved reader, had the challenge to create a unique awesome character. I present to you the winner. Yay.

雪詩織

Yuki Shiori

Natalie Raymond, Forest Gate, UK.

By Natalie Raymond, Forest Gate, UK.

Special Moves

Suriru Ni Odoru Enjeru Tachi, (Angels dancing in the thrill): By repeatedly hitting LP button she unleashes a flurry of slender throwing daggers, each causing tiny amounts of damage, (about as much as a blocked special move), and only have a range of roughly 2/3rd the screens width.

They render her immobile whilst she throws them, reducing her defences.

Itoshiki Rival, (Beloved Rival): This is a taunt move, by pressing back twice and LP or LK, she will flick her hair back in a provocative manner, blow them a kiss and giggle girlishly.

It leaves her vulnerable but if she pulls it off it will enrage the opponent, causing them to charge blindly at her. Very handy to do before the following move.

Asu E Tatchidaun, (Touchdown to tomorrow): She can jump onto the edge of the screen and jump off again, effectively double jumping like Chun-Li does, if timed properly she can somersault and land directly behind her opponent if they are close enough, (see above).

Kuraishisu-Ikari Wo Komete Hashire, (Crisis-Run with Anger): This is a charging technique, tap forward twice to close the gap, if timed correctly this works very well with the next move.

Wasurenaide, (Don’t Forget): In close proximity to an opponent  especially a grappler or wrestling type, press forward twice rapidly. Yuki will blow a powdered substance in their face, stunning them for a few seconds, the effects having made them forget where they are and what they were doing.

It does no damage, and has an extremely short range, virtually point blank. But does allow her a brief advantage.

Akuma To Tenshi No Kisu, (Devil and Angel’s Kiss): By pressing down, forward down, forward then any punch in one smooth movement, Yuki will throw one of her manrikigusari, (the ninja-tastic weapons she has in  each hand), which will momentarily stick in them

It has a range of about 2/3rds of the screen, and causes damage damage based on which punch used, but LP is faster.

She has about a millisecond before her opponent instinctively pulls it out, but if she’s fast enough and presses the same D-pad and punch button, the other will stick into them and she will then she will spin, pulling both of the weapons out of them causing additional damage. The manrikigusari then return to her hands.

Mayonaka No Etoile, (Midnight Opera): Press diagonally away, down then back followed by either all three punches or kicks.

This is a teleportation move; she’ll disappear in a puff of smoke and reappear either directly behind her opponent if all three punches were used, or as far away from the opponent as possible if all three kicks were used.

This could be anywhere on screen calculated by the greatest possible distance from the opponent.

Konya Wa Hurricane, (Tonight a hurricane): Press down, forward down then forward + any punch, this is kinda like a hadouken move but the little hurricanes she releases are quite slow, more often than not that’s the point if the move, like most of her other moves, to tactically position her opponent for the actual attack she wishes to use. She can also perform this whilst jumping, the release of the small hurricane allows her to stay in the air for a short time.

Misuteriasu Naito, (Mysterious Night): Press LP-LP back LK+HP, the screen will go dark for a moment, the only thing to be seen are a flurry of blows from Yuki in rapid succession, leaving her opponent on the floor. Similar to Akuma an evil Ryu’s special move.

Bio: Her birth name was Yuiko Tanaka and she was raised by fairly wealthy parents in one of the more pleasant districts of Osaka, she never had to want for much and this led to her becoming undisciplined and lazy.

She was an only child, so without any siblings she was spoiled rotten by them. Even allowing her to set up a music recording studio in her home and starting an all girl band with her equally lazy and rich friends, she was the vocalist and sometimes rhythm guitarist. They were called ‘The Blade Runners’, and actually had quite a following.

At one of their gigs in a fairly high profile venue called ‘Boomers’, they played one of their best gigs ever, they seemed totally professional. Fortunately for them a talent hunter from Toshiba EMI was at the gig, and they were about to get a contract for at least three albums.

That night they celebrated, a little too hard. Full of booze and recreational drugs Yuiko grabbed a bottle of water from the bar and decided to walk the six miles home to sober up enough that her parents hopefully wouldn’t realise that she’d been up to stuff her parents would have her grounded for.

After the first mile and a half she decided it was a bad idea and started trying to hitch a ride home. A limousine pulled over and offered her a ride. In the back of the limo she engaged in polite conversation with a portly man named Kobayashi San, who had two silent large ‘friends’ with him. They said not a word, she reckoned they were his carers at first, as Kobayashi San was so old.

It all seemed pretty hospitable at first, as far as she was concerned, anyone with a limo was rich and therefore respectable. They weren’t, they were kidnapping her. The two silent ‘carers’, she now realised were in fact hired thugs. They quickly bound and gagged her, she struggled as best she could, but with all the alcohol and drugs in her she didn’t put up much of a fight.

For days, maybe weeks she was like this, not knowing where she was, only knowing something was happening when she was manhandled from the car.

Once off the car her bonds and blindfold were removed, when she looked around she saw why they were no longer necessary. She was far North, she knew that because she was surrounded by snow capped mountains. Whilst lazy in her studies, she knew well enough the geography of her own country. She was in Hokkaido. Hundreds of miles from home.

Her kidnappers locked her in a cabin and left her there with the bare minimum of living utilities. This was far removed from the luxurious lifestyle she was used to.

As soon as she was locked up, she overheard the kidnappers making some phone calls, luck was beginning to find her, the hangover was gone now she could think clearly and the cabin walls were thin and she could hear almost every word. They were holding her for ransom, but what they did not realise is that they had taken the wrong person.

Yuiko knew this meant she wasn’t valuable to them anymore. She had to escape. And fast, she scanned the ramshackle hut for anything to get her out.

There weren’t any windows and the door whilst weak was reinforced with iron bindings and plenty of chains and other locks. Desperately searching she found only a broomstick  At least she could give one of them a whack before they killed her.

As she sat there, resigned to her fate, a ray of sunlight made her squint. It originated from a very weak looking ceiling. She could hear her kidnappers arguing outside, luck was with her again, she had some cover noise.

She made haste piling up the crappy and sparse furniture in the cabin to climb up to the ceiling and began bashing it with the broomstick. The ceiling gave way easily but the arguing outside had stopped and she could hear the bolts and locks being opened on the other side of the door. This brought her more precious time.

She climbed through the ceiling to the roof and had feeling of horror, all around was vast fields leading only to mountains, and she still had to make an eight foot drop without breaking her legs and somehow outrun large thugs to getaway. After sizing up the jump, she slowly positioned herself at arms length dangling from the edge of the roof, but she couldn’t find the courage to let herself drop, that was until she heared the door open and the thugs, not realising she was on the roof start ransacking the cabin looking for her.

This gave her all the motivation she needed, she let go of the roof and fell awkwardly, dislocating a shoulder. That wouldn’t stop her from running as fast as her legs could carry her. She ran faster than she thought she could ever run, partly due to fear for her life and partly from all the cardiovascular exercise she’d had dancing on stage and in nightclubs.

By the time the thugs realised where she had gotten too, she had a good head start. the thugs were on the roof, guns at the ready, but they made the mistake of simply jumping straight down the eight foot drop, the first one landed running, gun pointed in her direction, the second landed badly, twisting his ankle and misfiring his gun, shooting his colleague in the butt, slowing him considerably, but not quite enough, he was still closing the distance.

As he closed the distance he began to fire, most bullets missing except for one, hitting her in the calf, flooring her. She got back up and tried to hobble away. As the thug was reloading his gun a flash of thrown steel came out of nowhere, neatly impaling his trachea and slowly choking the thug to death on his own blood. She heard a blood curdling scream from the cabin and then another.

Then an old man suddenly appeared next to her as she lay on the floor, blood gushing from her calf and looking exhausted. He threw her upon his shoulder and with speed she never thought possible ran towards the mountains.

For weeks the kindly, yet mysterious and a little scary old man nursed her back to health in a secret training compound high in the mountains. They had many conversations during this recovery period. Turns out his name was Kage and he was the last of the Yuki clan of ninja. With no one left to pass his ninjutsu secrets to he offered to train her. She happily accepted, never wanting to feel that weak or afraid again.

For five years, she trained rigorously under the kind old ninja’s tutelage and learned all the Yuki clan secrets. Ninja training she found was unique from clan to clan.

The Yuki clan’s teaching method involved singing to complete each technique, something that came naturally to her. When her training was complete, Kage renamed her, she was now Yuki Shiori, roughly translated into English; Snow poem.

When the the old man had nothing left to teach her he suddenly became very ill, as if passing his knowledge to her was the last thing he was fated to do before he expired. When the old man passed away, she equipped herself with a vast array of ninjutsu gear and buried her Sensei. Then made her way back to the cabin,

Two thugs corpses were there, so she looted them for money, and the limo was also still there, the corpse of Kobayashi San slumped by the driver’s seat door, throat slit from ear to ear and a wide eyed look of incredulity on his pale lifeless face. Looting his body was a true windfall, rolls of cash in golden money clips and expensive jewellery that she could pawn on her journey back to Osaka in the limo she had no qualms about stealing.

After weeks of driving south for weeks  she finally made it back to Osaka. She dumped the stolen limo, and headed straight for her parents house. At first they were overjoyed to see her, but they sensed the dramatic change in her and from then on were apprehensive around her, almost fearful.

Being 26 years old now, and having a shed load of looted gangster cash, she decided to get her own place, in the apartment above the bar where she had played her last gig. She got the old band together, her voice was even better than ever, almost preternatural, she barely even required a microphone to be heard.

But with paying rent on the apartment and funding the band without a proper day job she was rapidly running low on funds. Then she heard about the Street Fighter contest . . . . .

Until next time. Keep creating.