Breaking Bat; Zero to Hero Fitness guide to Becoming the Dark Geek

That’s right, beloved reader, we continue our epic fitness quest to be closer to a to the greatness of the Bat. Following on from the Dark Geek Returns we take a bold step away from the improvised equipment and possibly even into that foreboding establishment known as a gym. EEK.

As you get more powerful, you too can stand high above city skylines and look cool.

As you get more powerful, you too can stand high above city skylines and look cool.

If you haven’t been following the core exercises from the first and second instalments, then your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor strongly suggest hitting the basics first, beginning with The Dark Geek Rises.

Unless of course you’re already a more advanced athlete or have been studious on your mission to Bat-dom, then read on. There are a some new training concepts to get to grips with. Thus if you are not yet familiar with them be sure to click on the handy links that lead to the articles explaining them.

Gym membership? Or set up your own Batcave?

It's a rather comprehensive Bat-gym, but I wouldn't recommend building it with lego. Looks cool though. Lego rules.

It’s a rather comprehensive Bat-gym, but I wouldn’t recommend building it with Lego.
Looks cool though.
Lego rules.

At this stage you will require actual resistance training equipment, the improvised stuff just won’t cut it at this stage. Whilst a gym has fantastic facilities it is, more often than not filled with under qualified personal trainers, people who think they are personal trainers just because they’re big and off course those that your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor loves to hate; the jocks, meat-heads and gym-rats.

Just look at the twat. A perfect example of a gym-rat, a barely passable physique due to lack of knowledge, yet reckons he knows it all. Avoid these exponents of falsehoods.

Just look at the twat.
A perfect example of a gym-rat, a barely passable physique due to lack of knowledge, and yet probably reckons he knows it all.
Avoid these exponents of falsehoods.

Thus at this stage I would recommend purchasing home equipment, you won’t need much at this stage, and before I suggest what to equip yourself with, I must offer the disclaimer that I am not sponsored by any of these brands, (although I wish I was, Level Up is a skint institution).

I am simply advising on the most inexpensive and effective way for to begin building your own gym.

You’ll need dumbbells like these

http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/9017362.htm

Free weights are superior to machines because you are supporting the resistance and moving in a kinesiologically correct way.

And a weight training bench like this 

http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/9063017.htm

Dumbbell benches are the best to start with, When we begin to include barbell exercises a 2 part squat stand will prove to be the next and most versatile piece of workout equipment.

Both suggestions are available at Argos and Amazon, (once again I am not affiliated). Then you’ll have perfectly adequate equipment to be able to avoid the above pictured harbinger of mis-information and his frankly annoying haircut.

Goddamn do I want to slap him.

Training tactics

The training tactic of periodization, (As explained in The X-Factor; Designer Superhero Workout Training Tips and Advice), isn’t plausible in the Bat’s workouts; he must train all the components of fitness in the most efficient manner possible. All his attributes must be top-notch 24 / 7 to keep up with the countless evil-doers of Gotham City.

Must be breakfast time for the bat.

Must be breakfast time for Master Bruce.

By now, advancing as any diligent Bat-fan, you would have progressed to the most advanced of the pre-prescribed exercises. The set and reps will be different now, and you’ll have to familiarise yourself with the concept of pyramiding, (not to be confused with the money-swindling scam).

Pyramiding

Pyramiding is pretty simple; instead of using periodized phases to concentrate on training one component of fitness and more than likely stimulating one muscle fibre type at a time, (This is covered in Designer Superhero workouts Part 2: Asgardian Power-House), for weeks on end, pyramiding hits them all in one efficient workout. Sweet.

By performing 3 sets of 10 / 8 / 6 reps respectively, you’re improving muscular endurance, hypertrophy and strength all in one exercise, but the resistance must increase with each set, but make sure each time it is a weight you can handle without sacrificing perfect form.

This does mean that the ‘rest’ periods between sets will be spent increasing the amount of weight on your newly purchased, (and of course cherished), dumbbells. Alternatively you could purchase several dumbbell sets, budget allowing, to improve the flow of each session.

One of the advantages of the gym. Doesn't it look pretty.

One of the advantages of the gym.
Doesn’t it look pretty.

The Workout

The exercises and exercise order remain the same, with only one essential addition. No more circuit training though , you’ve already built a solid cardio base by performing the workouts in that manner previously. Now it’s down to nice and simple do all the sets and reps for an exercise and then move on to the next.

As for the cardio element, there will be some extracurricular activity for you, but we’ll get to that later. Perform the workout every other day, never on consecutive days, as that will overwork the muscles, decreasing attribute gains, hypertrophy and increase the potential for injury.

Unlike its predecessors, this post is embellished with the best, (but still not perfect), video instructional guides that your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor could find. When viewing these please note only the exercise technique and ignore any other advice.

Such improvisations will only continue until Level Up has financed its own studio facilities to bring you, beloved reader, the complete and bulletproof advice.

Walking lunges: That’s right, beloved bat-fan, the first exercise advancement shows its hypertrophic face straight away. This modified version of lunges will make sprinting a lot quicker.

Incline dumbbell bench press: As you should have now advanced to decline push ups, these should prove no problem for a Dark Knight in the making.

When adjusting the weights bench to the incline position, only move it to the next setting along from the bottom. A commonly made mistake by many is to perform incline chest exercises at a higher incline; this takes the work away from the pectorals and forces more effort on the shoulders at an awkward and potentially injury causing angle.

Dumbbell rows: Without having to improvise using chairs will make this a lot easier to maintain proper form. Even though you may have moved on to the more advanced exercises prescribed in the earlier 2 instalments, you’ll be able add more resistance this way, and really give each side of the lats a good seeing to.

Seated supination curls: Another modification, being seated upright on the bench will eradicate any temptation to ‘swing’ the dumbbell curl, and because you’re supinating during the movement, you will be working biceps brachii, brachialis and brachioradialis, producing nice full and powerful arms.

Yet another common mistake made when adjusting the bench to the upright position, is setting it to the very top position. The human spine just isn’t designed to be that bolt upright and straight. Instead set it to the next placement down from the top; this accommodates the natural curvature of the spine, and sets the bench to the correct position for the next exercise.

Seated dumbbell shoulder press: Only slightly adjusted for the new regime, being seated reduces any chance of the pectorals assisting.

Dumbbell tricep bench press: A tricky exercise, but worth the effort, no more boring bench dipping.

Standing Calf raises: A new exercise. Yay. Calves were already being synergistically worked by the quadricep exercises from the previous routines. now we focus on them.

Bench hip-flexions: A fresh tactic to get those desired by all abdominal ‘washboard’ effect. These will seem really tough at first, trust me, I’ve been through the learning process of fitness just as you are now.

This gruelling exercise is the only exception to the sets and reps rule. perform 4 sets of 15 repetitions, you may not be able to do that many at first, but trust yours truly once again, you’ll build up to it quicker than you think.

But what if we opt for the gym with all its splendid facilities?

If you opt to go to the gym do not sign up at Fitness Worst. It has the highest turnover of clients due to its poorly trained instructors and is severely overpriced.

If you opt to go to the gym do not sign up at Fitness Worst. It has the highest turnover of clients due to its poorly trained instructors and is severely overpriced.

Then there will be some slight adjustments to the workout, minor ones mostly

Replace walking lunges with barbell squats, make sure you use the proper squat station, so if you need to bail out you can drop the bar on the safety rack.

DO NOT use a lumbar support belt. I know it sounds like bad advice but they are actually the leading cause of lower back injury whilst performing squats.

If you really want to bust your back up, there are other ways. DO NOT use the belt.

If you really want to bust your back up, there are other ways.
DO NOT use the belt.

The restriction caused by the heavy-duty and distracting and uncomfortable belt hinders the stabilizing muscles from doing their job correctly. When a muscle is stabilising the working muscles, they are not completely rigid, they constantly but subtly move and adjust to maintain your posture.

The support belt should only be used if you have suffered a previous lower back injury, that’s what they were designed for.

This is the sort of squating station you'll need to use. Note the many safety 'drop points' incase you need to dump the barbell in a hurry.

This is the sort of squating station you’ll need to use.
Note the many safety ‘drop points’ incase you need to dump the barbell in a hurry.

Avoid most of the fancy machines, especially the smith machine like it was a Justin Bieber gig, it doesn’t have a natural range of movement and will do nothing but hinder your form and by proxy your hard-earned training results.

There are a couple of exceptions though; the leg extension machine, (that doesn’t yet apply to the current workout), and the seated and standing calf raise machines. The latter of which will make calf raises a lot more convenient.

If your triceps development has become mighty enough then use the triceps dipping station.

The superior exercises for triceps.  Some gym-rat may 'inform' you that it's a chest exercise.  Falsehood.

The superior exercises for triceps.
Some gym-rat may ‘inform’ you that it’s a chest exercise.
Falsehood.

Lastly, replace dumbbell rows with the consistently effective Bent-over barbell rows:

And of course, don’t forget to stretch after to avoid delayed onset muscle soreness.

Nutrition

Diet basics have already been covered. You know what foods are bad for you, so avoid them, especially carbonated sodas and ‘sports’ drinks. Learn to love water.

You’ll need to eat more than usual to recover from the workouts, those muscles need feeding. Try to fit 4 to 5 meal into your schedule, but make sure they are 3 hours apart at least, otherwise the liver cannot cope with the macronutrient onslaught, which will cause a lot of them to be stored as subcutaneous fat.

Keep it high protein, around 30 to 40 grams per meal, and in the region of 50 grams of carbs, from quality sources such as oats, brown rice and pasta, (cooked Al-dente).

Don’t worry too much about dietary fat; another myth of the fitness industry is that all fat is bad.

Not so. As long as it comes from healthy foods like fish, nuts, seeds and tofu. Be sure to include plenty of green vegetables and fresh fruit too.

What about this dubious sounding extracurricular activity you mentioned?

The Bat is more than just an olympic standard athlete. He has probably the most versatile set of skills ever. Like lock picking, and observational skills; watch some Columbo and Poirot, take notes and augment your detective skills. On non-training days go play some basketball.

Yes, beloved reader, you read that correctly. Basketball, it has a multitude of benefits: That’s where you will be getting your cardio, you’ll have to dodge large ‘opponents’ whilst training target practice, and it improves manual dexterity, a basketball isn’t an easy object to manipulate.

You will be under constant pressure to avoid ‘attacks’, and it will even improve your jumping ability.

The Dark knight also has Martial arts skills that make Bruce Lee look like a choir boy.

He's good at fisticuffs.  No doubt.

He’s good at fisticuffs.
No doubt.

Sorry Mr Lee, but facts are facts. Conveniently karate is one of the Bat’s many Martial styles in his vast arsenal of combat expertise, so check out the Empty hand articles for some bad-ass anti-villain moves.

Stay tuned for more.

Until next time. Stay informed.

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.

 

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.