Designer Superhero workouts Part 3: The Fastest Man Alive Workout

Alongside the Green Lantern, the Flash is kinda unique among the Justice League, in that he only has the one super power.

Superman has pretty much every power going, and as his epic tale continues he’s discovered even more powers, Hawkgirl is super strong and can fly, Martian Manhunter can fly, is super strong, (again), shape shift and read minds.

Batman of course needs no powers, he is and always will be superior to all of them. Just watch the movie ‘Justice League: Doom’ for irrefutable proof.

Even more so than the other extreme hard-core DSW’s, the Flash’s is an extremely intense, high volume and time-consuming regime; you’ll need keen time management skills to fit this regime into your lifestyle.

This borderline insane routine will involve gruelling cardiovascular work, flexibility and resistance training. Now that I’ve either inspired you to rise to the challenge or tell me to get stuffed, I present:

The Fastest Man Alive Workout

I'd be looking smug too if I had the best superpower of all. Your arguments are invalid.

I’d be looking smug too if I had the best superpower of all. Your arguments are invalid.

There will be no hypertrophy work, (that’s not to say you won’t have some hypertrophy, it’s unavoidable), but a lot of fat burning cardio.

The justification for this is to keep the physique as sleek and light as possible; the less weight to move-the faster it will be propelled. Simple.

By the end of the 12 week program you will end up having a sexilly low body fat percentage; probably in the region of a mere 10%, maybe even as low as 7%, (bearing in mind the average body fat percentage here in the UK is 30 to 40%).

This won’t make you look skinny or ‘twiggy’ though, on the contrary, it will enhance the definition of your skeletal muscle. People will be able to use you like a living anatomy chart, and sculptors will want to carve statues in your likeness.

A six-pack is without any shadow of a doubt on the agenda, (or possibly an eight-pack, a rarity dependant upon genetics). That and of course, the attribute that brought you to this article: speed. As per usual, we will have to rely on the ‘best’ instructional videos available on the web, until Level up has its own studio.

The first ever Flash, (not the Barry Allen style workout we use in this post), way back in 1940.  The first Flash was Jay Garrick.

The first appearance of the Flash, (not the Barry Allen we know and love today, (I refuse to base it in Wally West on sheer principle), way back in 1940.
The first Flash was Jay Garrick.
He looked rather daft.

Phase 1: Fat burning, base strength and flexibility – 2 Weeks

But why strength and flexibility training? Aren’t we going for super speed here?

We will be training strength because of the way the different muscle fibre types react to training. Low rep heavy weight training stimulates the Type IIb Glycolytic Fibers. This is already fully covered in the ‘Asgardian Power-House’ workout, it’s worth checking out so that you have a more thorough insight into why the workout is constructed this way.

Also referred to as ‘fast twitch’ fibers, (the name is a bit of  a giveaway to why we will be training them), because they contract with great force against heavy resistance, thereby removing the effort of movement.

Thus, you have on half of the speed equation. By improving flexibility, and thus agility, makes it is easier for a limb to move through it’s designed range of movement.

The easier it is to move through that plane of movement combined with the  ‘fast twitch’ muscle fibers removing the effort against resistance we have the other half of some kind of mutated athletic algebra.

Strength + Agility = Speed

The Flash of the 90's TV series, way to much hypertrophy to be believable.  Plus it was a well cheesy show.

The Flash of the 90’s TV series had way too much hypertrophy to be believable.
Plus it was a well cheesy show.
But Mark Hamill made some groovy guest appearances as the Trickster; a cheap-ass Joker rip-off.

The first part of each day is the toughest; your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor truly sympathises, as he has already endured such rigours and you will need to dig deep for the discipline, but the results are worth it.

As you read further, it will seem very like a very high volume of work, but that’s only in the early stages. Persevere, beloved reader, and everything will fall into a neatly science-filled package of logical athleticism.

Morning Cardio: Cardiovascular exercise first thing in the morning upon awakening and on an empty stomach. It’s the first and only thing you do upon awakening, no morning tea and crumpets, oh no.

It’s tough to find the motivation I know, even now, when your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor engages in such training. but the results are worth the work.

During this time you may consume zero calories; none of those vile, sugar-filled, diabetes instigating ‘sports’ drinks. water will be your only sustenance. The reason for this is glycogen based.

Glycogen is stored carbohydrates, mainly in the liver and the skeletal muscle. Most of the stored carbohydrates have been consumed by metabolic processes during the night whilst asleep as the body goes dutifully about its routine repairs, leaving only the subcutaneous fat to be burned during the morning cardio. Day one will be a 45 minute walk, brisk pace, but just a walk.

During low intensity activity such as this your body will derive its energy from fat rather than carbs anyway, but with no carbs stored up first thing in the morning, this cheeky tactic will ‘trick’ your metabolism, training it to actually want to burn fat more often than carbs. This is the principle of specificity.

Soon, beloved reader, you will be associated with this logo. Enjoy the speed.

Soon, beloved reader, you will be associated with this logo.
Enjoy the speed.

But with all this cheeky metabolic trickery, what happens to our metabolism when we do have carbs?

Never fear, beloved reader, carbs will still be used during high intensity training, as it will always remain the most readily available fuel source.

If you’re not doing any intense work, the carbs will be neatly stored away in the liver, (around ten percent of the liver’s mass is stored glycogen), and in the skeletal muscles, ready for action.

Now for the really hard part, once you’re done you’ll probably be hungry, but alas, the fat burning effect continues for around 90 minutes after the cardio. Thus, take advantage of this extra subcutaneous fat burning bonus and once again, consume naught but water, lots of water, it will make you feel full until you can break your fast.

Straight after the walk after follow the stretching routine outlined in ‘My common Sense is Tingling’. After all that discipline a rejuvenating breakfast is in order; plenty of replenishing carbs, but don’t go over the top with carbs, around 70 grams from quality whole grain sources and because you had no carbs in you to begin with, they will all be stored away, with  none of them converting to fat.

Oatmeal is the best option; add some complementary protein, 3 to 4 scrambled eggs with only half the yolk’s removed, (to reduce the fat content), will provide roughly 24 – 32 grams of high quality protein.

Carb-up after the morning walk, but from quality sources, no cereals though, they will mess with your Glycemic Index.

Carb-up after 90 minutes after the morning walk, but from quality sources, no cereals though, they will mess with your Glycemic Index in negative way, causing fat gain.
Wally West indignantly eats in front of a hungry ape. Dick.

The Resistance Training

Perform these workouts three times week; preferably Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings to allow recovery from the morning’s exertions and giving you the weekend away to rest from the gym but not the cardio.

All exercises a 4 sets of 6 reps, unless otherwise specified. Without extremely comprehensive home gym equipment, you will have to endure that sweaty dungeon permeated with man foam and twats known as a gym. About an hour before resistance training get a nice 30 grams of protein and 70 grams of carbs meal in you.

Some people find that they feel sick working out after solid food, if that’s the case for you, then try a high carb whey protein shake, they absorb quickly and won’t have you puking in the gym.

I dare you to go into the gym wearing this.

I dare you to go into the gym wearing this.

Lunges with split jump: The technique is quite difficult, perform a few sets to get used to it, then grab hold of some dumbbells, as heavy a weight as you can handle but with perfect form hitting each leg for six reps, that’s the amount of reps required to stimulate strength. Be sure to check your ceiling is high enough before doing this tricky exercise if you are training at home.

Standing leg curl: You’ve just blasted the front of your legs, it’s only fair to blast the back.

Alternate high cable crossovers: When sprinting, the body should be at a 5 degree forward angle. Thus, when the arms move forward, it’s the upper pectorals and anterior deltoids that are doing the work, and that’s what this exercise targets. They also give you a mean hook punch. Bonus.

Single arm cable rows: Just as when the arms go forward torso muscles, different torso muscles pull them back, now we hit the lats.

Alternating front dumbbell raises: Use the instructors preferred method of alternating the movement. Once again ‘sports specific’.

Bent over dumbbell laterals: You just hit that all important anterior deltoid for bringing the arm forward in the last exercise, now we hit the posterior deltoid for bringing the arm back. The lateral head of the deltoid would have got plenty of work from both these shoulder exercises.

Dumbbell side curls: The Purpose of this maneuver is to strengthen the outer head of the biceps, which are responsible for bending the elbow, (the larger inner head of the biceps only bends the elbow when the hand is fully supinated), and will facilitate and stabilize proper arm positioning during running.

Dumbbell kickbacks: The reverse movement of the arm when running, generates plyometric style power for the forward movement, thus dumbbell kick backs are the most ‘sports specific’ for our purposes.

Captain’s chair knee raises: Kinesiology, being the enigmatic mistress that she is, plays tricks with us. When most limbs move dynamically, hardly any of the muscles in it are being used. Whilst raising the knee vertically, it’s the abdominals that take the strain; so for a broader sprint stride, these are the perfect exercise. This is the one exception to the sets and reps rules, stick with 4 sets but aim for 12 to 15 reps, abs are durable and dense, they need an extra pounding.

Standing calf Raise: To add extra ‘spring’ to each sprinting stride, you’ll need decent calves, plus if you want a well-rounded physique you’ll want to be doing these.

Try to keep the ‘rest’ periods between sets to a mere 45 seconds, and definitely no longer than a minute. Once you’re done with that it’s immediately onto the stretching again.

Phase 2: Interval training, strength and more flexibility – 2 Weeks

We up the ante now by including LIIT, (Light Intensity Interval Training). Interval training is a type of discontinuous exercise that involves a series of low to high-intensity periods interspersed with ‘relief ‘periods. The high-intensity periods are typically at or close to anaerobic exercise, while the recovery periods may involve either complete rest or activity of lower intensity.

Morning Cardio: Sorry, beloved reader, that morning struggle for discipline just got tougher. I’m not really endorsing this workout am I. You still have to go straight out for a 45 minute walk first thing in the morning, but now you’ll be adding some slightly higher intensity at regular intervals, by jogging every 5th minute. Keep it at a jogging pace only though, the sprints come later.

Soon, beloved reader, you will have the 'i'm going freakin' fast' blur lines following you.

Soon, beloved reader, you will have the ‘i’m going freakin’ fast’ blur lines following you.

Then continue to build the jogging part each day. On day two walk for three minutes then jog for 2 and so on. By day 9 of this two-week block you should be up and out of bed and doing a full on 45 minute jog.

This once again ‘tricks’ your metabolism, but now into wanting to burn fat at higher intensities. If you had been jogging 45 minutes at the start of the workout, your metabolism would have had a panic attack and started breaking down muscle tissue for the liver to convert into carbs, keeping the body desiring glucose instead of fat for energy.

The Resistance Training: Breath a sigh of relief, beloved reader. Nothing changes with the resistance training until phase 3. Just keep trying to increase the weight.

Phase 3: Interval training, strength / endurance blending and of course flexibility – 4 Weeks

Morning Cardio: Now we up the ante once again: sprints. You don’t need to do this first thing in the morning anymore, but wait at least an hour after breakfast before going berserker at it.

It’s now reduced to 30 minutes. Because of the intensity of this phase’s cardio, you’ll only be doing it three times a week in between resistance training days. No longer do we flirt with flimsy old LIIT training, now you’re going for HIIT, you guessed it, High Intensity Interval training. Begin by just jogging 5 minutes for a warm-up, during the next 30 minutes continue jogging but convert every 5th minute into an all-out-give-it-everything-you’ve-got sprint.

This is what I mean by

This is what I mean by an all-out-give-it-everything-you’ve-got sprint.

Each day add 15 seconds to the sprinting section until you reach a 2/3 ratio of jogging / sprinting respectively. Don’t convert any of the last 10 minutes to sprints, just jog to cool off from the extreme intensity of the  workout, jog pleasantly for 5 minutes after the last sprint to cool down, then get down to your beloved stretching routine. However, sports science dictates there is actually a perfect sprinting technique. Follow the advice below.

Resistance Training

Now we get down to some wonderful supersets, these are explained more fully in the Spider Man DSW. We will be mainly engaging in opposing muscle group supersets.

This is when you do two exercises that target opposing muscle groups, one muscle gets to rest while the opposite muscle works. You can pair back and chest, biceps and triceps, hamstrings and quadriceps, etc. Now because you’ll be doing 2 exercises back to back, your ‘tricking’ your skeletal  muscles again.

Each exercise will still be 6 reps but by moving straight on to the next one, you’ll actually be doing 12 reps, the range required for muscular endurance. Thus we have the skeletal muscles contracting fast and strong, and also over an extended period. Your workout will look like this:

Lunges with split jump / Standing leg curl

Alternate high cable crossovers / Single arm cable rows

Alternating front dumbbell raises / Bent over dumbbell laterals

Dumbbell side curls / Dumbbell kickbacks

Captain’s chair knee raises / Standing calf Raise

The last superset is the exception to the ‘rule’, utilising staggered supersets, by doing this your body will adapt to lifting the knee of the front leg high and rapidly, whilst the calf adds ‘spring’ for propulsion from the rear leg. Then you know the drill: stretching. You love it.

This will make the workout shorter but way more intense, but should last only thirty minutes so get a high protein, high carb meal in straight after stretching; aim for 40 grams of protein and 90 grams of carbs for maximum recovery.

Make sure you get proper rest and nutrition, especially with the last 4 weeks high intensity workouts. Get 4 to 5 meals a day, around 25 to 30 grams of protein and roughly twice that in carbs, ensure all meals are at least three hours apart so that the liver can effectively deal with the nutrients. Get as much sleep as possible too, minimum 7 hours per night, 9 if possible.

Make sure you get proper rest and nutrition, especially with the last 4 weeks high intensity workouts.
Get 4 to 5 meals a day, around 25 to 30 grams of protein and roughly twice that in carbs, ensure all meals are at least three hours apart so that the liver can effectively deal with the nutrients. Get as much sleep as possible too, minimum 7 hours per night, 9 if possible.

So what’s next?

That’s the whole 12 weeks. By the end of it you will be strong, durable and flexible and of course, freakin’ fast.

The last phase is the ultimate phase, just continue with the last phase for as long as you like and if you get bored with the exercises and the exercise order, you can substitute them for others that work the same group of muscles. If you want to improve sprinting even further, invest in some ankle and wrist weights, by the time you take them off you’ll make Usain Bolt look like he’s made of lead, trying to run through swamp land with the Juggernaut pushing him backwards.

Or for a massive Wally West sized ego boost, enter some sporting events. Performing this routine will leave all others in your dust in short and long distance sprints. More Flash.

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.

Designer Superhero workouts Part 1: The Web-Slinger Physique

Remember that day in primary school, when the teacher would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  I bet some were predictable answers like; fireman, police man or astronaut.

Sure? But where are you going with this?

As you can see, the web-slinger's physique is sleek, yet with some emphasis on quadriceps and lats.

As you can see, the web-slinger’s physique is sleek, yet with some emphasis on quadriceps and lats.

But I bet you the majority of those kids answered either Spider man or Batman 

If you haven’t already read the ‘Designer Superhero Workout Basics’, I would strongly advise that you do before proceeding. Spidey’s workout plan is probably the hardest to follow due to the unique combination of strength, flexibility and muscular endurance, he pretty much has all of all the components of fitness in high levels at his disposal. During the plan we will also be covering advanced fitness tactics; split body part training, interval training and super sets. Phew. This 12 week program depends on its 28 day cycles, meaning 14 workouts per cycle for most of the DSWs. If you want this plan to work, he  you can’t miss a single one. Not one.

Thus, without further delay; your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor presents to you, the equally friendly neighbourhood Spider man fast-tracked periodized workout plan.

legospidey

Phase 1: Foundation Strength – 4 weeks

Alas, beloved reader, Level Up being the impoverished company that it is, lacks its own recording studios, (how many posts have I had to put that in now? Think of all the posts your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor will have to go back and edit when Level Up does have recording equipment and that’s after producing videos for every conceivable exercise, and then some), for now  just follow the handy links, along with some handy videos wisdom too.

Barbell front squats: Spidey has quite the robust quadriceps;  front squats will get them nice and powerful for all the mighty leaps an athletic Spidey fan will be doing. Go as heavy as possible, whilst maintaining perfect form, for 4 sets of 8 repetitions.

Incline cable bench press: Due to the web-slinging nature of our subject, we’ll be using as many cable based exercises as possible; cables are the closest thing we have to webbing to work with.  As with all the exercises in this phase go as heavy as possible, 3 sets of 8 reps for this.

Pull ups: Spidey needs a lot of strength for all the wall-crawling business, plus these will get those lats flaring like  Bruce Lee. You know, like the scene in ‘Way of the Dragon‘ when Bruce Lee is warming up ready to kick seven shades of s**t out of Chuck-not-as-hard-as-the-meme-says-Norris, and he does that flex where he looks like a freakin’ cobra flaring up to attack.

All apologies, beloved reader, but your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor can only teach you how to be strong enough to wall-crawl. Not how to stick to sheer surfaces.

All apologies, beloved reader, but your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor can only teach you how to be strong enough to wall-crawl. Not how to stick to sheer surfaces.

Once you’ve done as many reps as possible, take a minute’s, (no longer than one), ‘rest’ and repeat for a total of 4 sets. If you can’t do pull ups yet work up to them with inverted rows, then progress to inverted rows with the feet elevated, then do them on a progressively higher bar until your there. Try adding resistance to each stage to speed up progress. If you can already manage pull ups, then you are among the elite few, but should try to add resistance anyway. Don’t be embarrassed to use the  pull up assist machine or resistance bands to help either, that’s what their for..

How freakin' cool is that!

How freakin’ cool is that!

Cable alternating curl:  Keeping in theme with our web substitute exercises  we work the biceps on the cable machine. Spidey would be using those biceps over and over again during his web-slinging shenanigans, and alternately as he swings from one web-line to the next above the crime filled streets of Brooklyn. As with most of the movements in the strength phase exercises go for 3 sets of 8 reps.

Behind the neck barbell press: Whilst these work all three heads of the deltoids, they put more focus on the lateral and posterior heads. Aim for 3 sets of 8 reps. If performed incorrectly this exercise can cause great injury, if you already have a recurring neck or shoulder injury, then substitute seated dumbbell shoulder press instead, not as productive for the Spidey effect, but a fairly sufficient compromise.

Triceps Dip: A tough exercise but an essential one, aim for as many reps as possible, and if you can add resistance to your own bodyweight you’ll be totally bad-ass. Try for as many reps as possible for 4 sets.

Any decent gym will have at least one of these gruesome contraptions. Loop the chain through a weight disc and wear it round your waist whilst dipping. Or purchase one for your home gym.

Any decent gym will have at least one of these gruesome contraptions. Loop the chain through a weight disc and wear it round your waist whilst dipping. Or purchase one for your home gym.

Vertical leg-hip raise: This killer move will give you abs of doom. Spidey’s legs are all over the show when he’s web-slinging, but what most non-kinesiologists rarely realise is that the leg muscles aren’t putting much of the work in; the abs do the heavy lifting and the flexibility facilitates the movement. Same sets and reps with these bad boys as you did with the dips.

abs work and flexibility training will allow you to bust moves like this

Abdominal work and flexibility training will allow you to bust sweet moves like this.

One arm single leg calf raise: Kinesiologically speaking, calves must be the penultimate exercise. (forearm muscles are last for obvious reasons), as the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles support you during pretty much anything you do apart from sitting. This cheeky exercise replicates Spidey’s equally cheeky tactic of  springing off a wall whilst attached to a web-line. Nice. Go heavy on these for 8 reps, change legs, repeat for 3 sets.

Cable one arm wrist curl: I don’t think you’re ever likely to find more cable exercises in any other workout, but they suit our purpose. A Spidey physique requires a strong grip and this will work the forearm flexor group of muscles, that ultimately produce grip strength. Forearms are extremely durable, so you should be able to go fairly heavy for 8 reps, swap hands, and repeat for 4 sets. After doing these you will have temporary loss of dexterity. Be prepared.

Grip-strength essential. No matter how cute you are.

Grip-strength essential. No matter how cute you are.

After each workout it is essential that you stretch, not only will this give you improved flexibility and speed up recovery, but it will prevent unwanted injury and DOMS.

Perform all the exercises conscientiously. Take one minute ‘rest’ in between sets, but no longer; this will keep the ‘pump’, when that is happening more blood is flowing to the muscle in question and therefore more nutrients will reach it. Perform these workouts every other day, rest on the days in-between. Although, on some of your days off however, you’ll be doing some different training I’m afraid. But it will be so beneficial that I’m not even sorry.

Welcome to interval training

What gruelling skulduggery will you have us doing now? 

Fear not beloved reader, it’s not as bad as it sounds

Interval training is a type of discontinuous exercise that involves a series of low to high-intensity periods interspersed with ‘relief ‘periods. The high-intensity periods are typically at or close to anaerobic exercise, while the recovery periods may involve either complete rest or activity of lower intensity.

spiderman-reboot-set-2012-best-movies-ever-andrew-garfield-costume

See? This is how Spidey starts his day. Interval training. He off all people should take more care crossing the road though.

Thus, on your off days, go for a 30 minute walk, don’t bother doing this training on a treadmill, those blasted contraptions are the worst fitness equipment ever invented; you’re doing all that hard work and not even covering any ground, you should feel cheated by them. Plus there is only so much meat-headery, jock filled, sweaty gym visits that can be tolerated.

The weather is getting nicer so hit the park instead. Begin with 30 minute walks, then every 4th minute, sprint all-out as hard and fast as the Flash. A stopwatch will be helpful. Select 2 of your off days per week and gradually build up the length of the sprint time. For example, on the second session walk for 3.5 minutes, then sprint full-out for 90 seconds.

spider-man-2012-on-set-images-andrew-garfield-best-movies-ever-4

He then bursts into sprints at regular intervals. It all makes sense now.
Although anyone else would have been mugged in Brooklyn by now.

Add 5 minutes to the total workout time each week until you reach 45 minutes, that’s the maximum length of time you can reap the benefits from this training. Max-out the intervals to 2 minutes walking, 3 minutes sprinting.  Perform these training sessions first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and consume zero calories apart from water for 90 minutes after; this will produce the optimal fat burning effect for that sleek Spidey look. Keep these up for the entire 12 weeks. With all this hard work you must ensure that your rest days are complete rest days, and get the proper nutrition for optimum recovery. The faster you recover, the harder you can push yourself on the next workout.

If you choose to, you could easily replace regular interval training with Fartlek training.

Look at this cute Lego Spidey, and calm yourself. There is more work ahead.

Look at this cute Lego Spidey, and calm yourself. There is more work ahead.

Phase 2: Split body part routine – 4 weeks

Now you will be working different body-parts on each workout, this will add more focus om each muscle to reap the greatest rewards. The workouts still occur every other day without fail, and the interval training is still on 2 days per week. During this phase all sets and reps are 3 and 10 to 12 respectively, unless otherwise specified.

Day 1: quadriceps, latissimus dorsi, waist

Barbell front squats: Exactly the same as before. Leg and lat strength are the key essentials to the Spidey physique, so try to maintain the weight from before but push hard for the extra reps, adding one rep per week is impressive enough.

Dumbbell jump squats: Now we’re getting serious. Get the heaviest dumbbells you can manage with perfect form and leap as high as you can with them. Being sure it is a controlled and disciplined motion. As with all the exercises slowly and progressively increase the resistance. It’s simple science; the higher you can jump whilst encumbered, the even greater your leaps will be without the added baggage.

Want to jump to great heights? Dumbbell jumping squats are the king.

Want to jump to great heights? Dumbbell jumping squats are the king.

Pull ups: Same drill as before, but the following exercises will ensure you get veritable wings of muscle. If your progression has been meta-human then try these:

Cable kneeling row: Handy for saving falling innocents caught on a web-line. Also works mid-trapezius, teres minor, teres major, rhomboids, and infraspinatus. That enough muscles for you?

Cable twisting standing high row: The perfect movement to emulate ground to air take off web-slinging. Note how the reps are gradually increasing for muscular endurance, whilst the strength gained from the last 4 weeks is maintained. As an added bonus the obliques get a bit of a workout, warming up the waist for more brutality.

I rest my well-informed case.

I rest my well-informed case.

Vertical hip-leg raise: Same as above, but hopefully, by now you should be totally owning them with abdominal rippage to make Vin Diesel cry.

Hyper-extension: As strong as you are making the front of your waist, you should not neglect the back. Take great care with these and do not add any resistance. Unfortunately few gyms have these wonderful lumbar empowering devices, so you may have to settle for the terribly named Superman exercise. That’s the third DC reprobate to infiltrate a Marvel hero’s post! The audacity! Slightly different on the reps with this one, aim for 3 sets of 15 reps.

One arm single leg calf raise: This time aim for 3 sets of 10 to 12. As if you didn’t know that already.

Day 2: pectoralis major, deltoids, arms

Incline cable bench press: Same as before, just more reps

Cable standing incline fly: Yet another cable exercise; this one hitting the clavicular fibres of pectoralis major. Your pecs will burn, but it’s a kinda nice feeling. The feeling you get when you know you’ve done a good job.

Cable alternate curls: You know these well by now. Endure, beloved reader, endure. Tis worth the effort.

Behind the neck press: Same as before, attempting to maintaining the previous weight, whilst maintaining the same weight. Don’t worry if you can’t, adding reps is a cruel mistress.

Cable lateral raise: Your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor shouldn’t even need to explain the applications of such a cool looking exercise. This movement specifically targets the lateral head of the deltoids. I’m pretty sure you’ve sussed the sets and reps by now.

All that tough work on rear and lateral deltoids allows for web-slinging business like this. Yay.

All that tough work on rear and lateral deltoids allows for web-slinging business like this. Yay.

Triceps dips: Same drill as phase 1, but you should be far more competent with them and hopefully adding resistance to the exercise.

Cable bent-over triceps extension: These are handy for mid-web-slinging, when letting go of one web-line and shooting more webbing, more than likely with some groovy acrobatics thrown in for good measure. Sets and reps are well-known to you by now beloved reader.

Cable one arm wrist curl: Reps do not increase in this phase, Stick with 15 reps for 3 sets.

Super sets

No really. They are actually called that. Become informed, beloved reader, on some of the painstaking tactics that athletes use to improve their performance and / or muscular gain, including yours truly. They sound harsh, are harsh, but will make an elite athlete out of you, in epic proportions.

Types of Super sets

There are many options available when it comes to super-setting. These are just  few of them. Do not fear, beloved reader, we will not be utilising them all. Just most of them. EEK.

Pre-Exhaustion Supersets. This involves two exercises for the same muscle group. The first exercise is an isolation move, which targets one muscle group, and the second is a compound movement, which targets multiple muscles. Example: Leg extensions, which target the quads, followed by squats. The quads are tired, but the other muscles used in squats (glutes, hamstrings and inner thighs) are fresh, allowing greater exhaustion on the larger muscles.

Post-Exhaustion Supersets. This is the opposite of pre-exhaustion. You start with the compound movement and follow that with the isolation exercise.

Compound Superset: This is a tough way of training since you’re putting together two compound exercises, requiring more energy and strength. Remember, compound exercises are those that work several muscle groups at a time.

Isolation Supersets: In this type of training, combine two isolation exercises.

Opposing Muscle Groups: When you do two exercises that target opposing muscle groups, one muscle gets to rest while the opposite muscle works. You can pair back and chest, biceps and triceps, hamstrings and quadriceps, etc.

Staggered Supersets: In staggering, you do an exercise for a different muscle between sets. For example, during a straight set of chest presses, you could throw in a set of calf raises or crunches while you rest your chest muscles. This saves time, allowing you to work one muscle group while the other rests.

Tri-Sets: This is the same as a superset, except you’re doing three exercises rather than two.

Phase 3: Split body part routine with super sets – 4 weeks

The body part split is slightly different this phase, but due to the added intensity, and time-saving factor of moving directly from one exercise to the next, there will be a greater volume of work. This is the most challenging phase.

頑張って

Ganbatte

As always, that wonderful land of the rising sun takes Western shows and turns them into to something crazy. Also i has giant robots in it.

As always, that wonderful land of the rising sun takes Western shows and turns them into to something crazy.
Also it has giant robots in it.

The weight you will be using this phase will be lower than the last two, but fear not, beloved reader, strength gains stay with you for a very long time and the continued work you are doing will easily maintain your hard-gained attributes. If you are so bad-ass you are still using the same weight or even increasing the resistance; I tip my proverbial hat of awe to thee. Unless exceptions are given, perform 3 sets of 15 reps.

Day 1: pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, deltoids

Incline cable bench press: / Pull ups: You should be very familiar and adapt at these exercises by now. But it gets harder.

Cable incline fly: / Cable kneeling row: The new chest exercise will make you feel the burn, during theses three super sets, you’ll be basically owning the cable machine. Screw the gym-rats, they’re more than likely using it wrong anyway.

Cable standing fly: / Cable twisting high row: By this point your pecs an lats are shattered, This is a good thing, for they will recovery to become stronger and more durable.

Behind the neck press: / Cable lateral raise: / Cable reverse fly: Here we have applied the deltoid shattering tactic of tri-sets. Enjoy.

Dumbbell shrugs: /One arm single leg calf raise: The first is detailed below in the handy vid, go light on these and aim for 25 reps, one of the few exceptions to the above rules emulating Spidey’s physique.

Day 2: quadriceps, arms, waist

Barbell front squats / Dumbbell jump squats: Here we use one of the harshest super set techniques; the compound super set. You should be very familiar with both these knackering exercises, now you must perform them one straight after the other. Aim for 3 sets of 15 reps each. That’s the hardest part out-of-the-way.

Dumbbell side lunge: /Cable bent-over leg curl: This is also exhausting, but helps to strengthen those cool Spidey poses. We take advantage of the opposing muscle group super set. All exercises in this phase will be 3 sets of 15 reps, per side if applicable. Note that only in the final phase hamstring exercises have been added, they are the most difficult muscle to increase flexibility. But you should have been working on that after every training session.

Triceps dips / Cable alternating curl: Again we use the opposing muscle group super set, it’s clearly the most useful to enhance Spidey’s movements. Unlike before, these will be relegated to the 3 sets of 15 reps.

Cable forward triceps extension: / Concentration curls across the body: Using opposing muscle group super sets yet again, (this tactic seems to be the most functional for Spidey’s movements). The first move is excellent or that initial web-shoot-and leap maneuver. The point of the second curling exercise isn’t just to facilitate the super set. The biceps have two separate ‘heads’, which both need work. This curling technique focuses on the outer head, which has only been synergistic in some exercises up to now.

Vertical leg hip raise: / Hyper extension or Superman /Cable twists: Here we take advantage of two super set tactics, tri-sets and opposing muscle group sets. With the hip raises nothing has changed, Just have at them furiously. The cable twists are for those awkward mid-air web-slinging hijinks when you need to make a quick U-turn. These work the obliques, adding to that sleek waist we want.

Cable reverse curls: / Cable one arm wrist curl: Using the tactic of training opposing muscle groups, we now totally annihilate your forearms.

This is why we work the wrist extensors, it's not easy doing the 'Hail Satan' to shoot webbing all day.

This is why we work the wrist extensors, it’s not easy doing the ‘Hail Satan’ to shoot webbing all day.

Diet

This is the section that most will despise in the series of customized workouts. During phase 1 try to get 40 g of quality protein and 60 g of quality carbs per meal. Phase 2 reduce protein to 35 g and maintain the 60 g of carbs. Phase 3, the toughest, keep the protein at 30 g but increase the carbs to 70 g. Simple. Aim for 4 to 5 meals per day, at least 3 hours apart from each other.

You have to really want it

This plan will only work if you stick with it. You really have to want it, but it is only 12 weeks out of your life to achieve heights of awesomeness that few have the drive to go for. It is very difficult and complex, in fact the most difficult and complex of all the designer Super hero workouts, that’s why I got it out-of-the-way first.

Dig deep for you discipline, it will be worth it. If it’s any consolation, the Spidey workout is very similar to your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor’s, except because I train at home I perform the free weight versions of the exercises and keep the protein in my diet as high as possible throughout for greater hypertrophy. Also sometimes I will extend phases if I am still getting significant results. It can be done.

Now it’s up to you what you want to continue doing with this. You can maintain the Spidey look by continuing phase 3 indefinitely. You could work through all three phases again to become even more powerful, even take gymnastics classes. Or maybe you’ve been barred from the gym for constantly hogging the cable stations.

You have now graduated the   Spider man school of bad-assery. Yay

You have now graduated the Spider man school of being a hero but never seeming to get the girl. See below.

So what’s next?

Simple. Repeat all the phases again,  you’ll notice a massive increase in attributes trained in each period. That’s the whole 12 weeks. By the end of it you will be strong, durable and flexible.

Alternatively, just continue with the last phase for as long as you likeand 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 2-way hypertrophy split.

Stay tuned for Thor

Until next time. Stay informed.

The Dark Geek Returns

That’s right, beloved reader, we continue our zero to hero Bat-guide to a more powerful you. Following on from the Dark Geek Rises, we will elaborate upon the solid foundation of easy to follow, do-anywhere exercises, that allow the avid bat-fan to come one step closer to heroic emulation of the dark knight himself.

If you haven’t yet been doing the core exercises from the first post, then your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor would suggest hitting the basics first.

Unless of course you’re already a more advanced athlete then read on, or if this still isn’t enough to break a sweat; then rest assured this bat-themed series of articles will continue into the future, becoming more advanced with each post and bringing you, beloved reader, closer to the attributes of the Bat.

Bat-fan: The Long Workout Plan

Keep up the workouts and you too could be decking kryptonians well into your sixties.

Keep up the training and you too could be decking kryptonians well into your sixties.

Okay, it’s not really that long, just three new exercises. Last time we covered the core movements of squats, press-ups, dumbbell rows and crunches. Continuing with bodyweight and / or improvised weight training equipment, we introduce a selection of new exercises that require no gym membership. Best to avoid those terrifying places for now; they are full of meat-heads, jocks and gym-rats; all of which will attempt to bamboozle and beguile you with their so-called knowledge.

Alas, Level Up has still yet to finance its own studio in order for your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor to bring you the infallible versions of the exercise techniques. Until then follow the handy links to know what’s going on.

Dumbbell curls: Unlike the first post where we allowed some muscles to ‘get off lightly’ by being worked only as synergists, this post we’re going to make sure that everything gets a fairly targeted. This new round of techniques we begin adding more detailed strength training, and ensure that we have at least one exercise per body-part. The dumbbell curls will specifically work the biceps brachii.

Dumbbell shoulder press: Now we target the deltoids. As stated in the first Bat-themed workout post, if you don’t own any dumbbells then ignore the dumbbell part. Use any resistance you can find, a couple of jugs of milk for example, can add all the resistance you need at this stage. Remember it is the movement itself that elicit the attribute building effect we desire, the weights / improvised weights are just there to offer resistance.

All good examples fo homemade weights. But don't limit yourself to these items, (and don't drink the vile seed of sabotage in the middle), use your imagination, everyone's home is a potential gym.

All good examples of homemade weights. But don’t limit yourself to these items, (and don’t drink the vile seed of sabotage in the middle), use your imagination, everyone’s home is a potential gym.

Bench dip: These will work the triceps, which were only synergistic in the press ups before. Just improvise some chairs instead of a bench for now, and if you can’t do these yet don’t worry; work your way up to them gradually by doing these until you’re strong enough. Or if you want to go totally bad-ass advanced, then do them like this.

That’s it. That’s all the new exercises you will need for now. Every muscle has been directly targeted as a result, leading to even more strength gains. Yay.

Sorry beloved reader. Even with all the training in the world I can't guarantee an awesome background to your antics.

Sorry beloved reader. Even with all the training in the world I can’t guarantee an awesome background to your antics.
It will, however, guarantee an awesome pose.

The exercise order

Kinesiology is a wonderful mistress, but a strict one. Your workout / exercise order should look something like this:

Squats

Press ups

Dumbbell rows

Dumbbell curls

Shoulder press

Bench dips

Crunches

Of course it may vary a little depending on how advanced the version of the exercise is, but the general exercise order will be the same. The exercises are ordered in this manner to ensure that any muscles that are synergistic in a movement are not exhausted before they play their supporting role, guaranteeing proper form and therefore the least chance of injury and the greatest strength gains.

Continue as you were before, adding more reps / resistance / circuits when you feel comfortable to do so. Depending on how bad-ass you feel, increase the frequency of the workout plan, from 2 to 3 times a week to every other day, but be sure to have at least one rest day between workouts.

Remember to keep a training log; it’s satisfying to look back on past workouts and see how powerful you’ve become. The hard work pays off.

Equestrian skills are optional.

Equestrian skills are optional. But definitely cool.

If you’ve already gone ahead and got yourself equipped with iron to pump, then mayhaps you’ll want to do multiple sets, with one minute ‘rest’ in between each set, rather than circuits. If you have gotten real serious and purchased might fine pump-ables, start out with a nice basic 3 sets of 8 repetitions at the heaviest you can manage without compromising proper exercise technique.

Most importantly. You’re never too old to workout

Last post we destroyed the excuse of “I don’t have enough time.” This post we eradicate the “I’m too old”, bail-out.

With aging you experience declines in muscle and joint strength, and coordination. You lose muscle mass and gain fat. Chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, become more prevalent.

Exercise reduces these problems. Much of the decline in physical health and ability attributed to aging is accelerated by inactivity. While nothing can turn back the clock or make you live forever, a well-rounded exercise program can slow and even reverse many factors associated with the aging process.

Muscle and joint strength: You can’t teach an old bat new tricks. Wrong y’all. The skeletal muscles are no different, no matter their age, they will still respond positively to resistance training. As muscles and joints become stronger, daily activities become easier and balance improves. resistance training also improves bone density, making breakages less likely.

From training strength,  one can derive all other attributes; such as balance.

From training strength, one can derive all other attributes; such as balance.

Exercise as physical therapy: Exercise is often prescribed for orthopedic problems, such as rotator cuff injury, back aches and so forth. Many of the health problems that become more common with age, such as arthritis, insomnia and diabetes, respond favorably to exercise.

Mental well-being: Much research supports the connection between regular physical activity and psychological well-being. Exercise helps prevent and treat depression. People who exercise regularly report feeling stronger, more energetic and more capable.

You’re never too old.:  So it’s not so much, “I’m too old”,  now it’s more like “I’m too old not too”. Unless you have a health problem that could be made worse by exercise (check with your doctor before starting an exercise program), you are never too old to start exercising. Begin slowly and build gradually.

Stay tuned for more. 

Until next time. Stay informed.

Addressing the Target

There should be a boom in this wonderous and deliciously roguish art given recent TV programming and RPG rogue and / or ranger enthusiasts should start their larceny and / or geekiness glands pumping.

Oliver Queen. If you haven't seen the show simply titled 'Arrow', then I suggest you do so immediately.

This is Oliver Queen.
If you haven’t seen the show simply titled ‘Arrow’, then I suggest you do so immediately. Now.

That’s right, beloved reader, today your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor will be taking you through kinesiological attribute enhancement for the noblest and most dextrous form of marksmanship.

Archery

So what makes a good archer? The same mighty stuff as any other athlete; firstly knowledge in one’s chosen art, then the discipline to apply the know how, followed by the hard work to see it all through to fruition.

We wont be going too deep into technique; trying to teach someone the finer points of archery from a blog would be like trying to teach a vegan how to prepare Halal. Therefore, beloved toxophilite, we will cover the very basics and then the juicy kinesiology. Yay.

1 – Stance: Stand perpendicular to your target, feet roughly shoulder width apart and straddling the shooting line. Balance your weight evenly over both feet, maintaining perfect posture but don’t stiffen your spine, it will need to remain flexible to absorb recoil. Place your back foot parallel with the line and angle the forward foot slightly toward the target whilst keeping a little slack in the knees.

2 – Nock: Sounds simple but there is a technique to this, all these stages matter. Nocking the arrow is the part where you place it against the bow-string and also preparing to draw. Be  sure that the index feathers point away from the bow, lay the arrow itself upon the arrow-rest, then snap the nock onto the bow-string under the nocking point. Simple. This process guarantees a consistent draw every time, assisting accuracy. Once your set, take the string in the first joint of the first three fingers of the drawing hand.

3 – Pre-draw: Raise the bow towards the target and lock the extended bow arm into position.

At a point like this you'll really want to be drawing faster. With enough practice it'll all happen in a flash.

At a point like this you’ll really want to be drawing faster. With enough practice it’ll all happen pre-trampling / goring rather than post mutilation.

4 – Draw: This is where the kinesiology comes in; pushing with the tricep of the bow arm and pull back with the latissimus dorsi, posterior deltoid and outer head of the biceps brachii of the drawing arm until the bow-string touches your nose and lips. Your elbow should stop behind and slightly above your shoulder, putting the resulting muscular tension on the mid-trapezius fibres.

5 – Anchor: The final stage of a correctly performed draw sequence. In the anchoring stage the drawing hand comes to rest against your face before aiming and releasing. The anchor point can be either the chin or cheek, whichever you feel most comfortable with.

6 – Aim: This really cannot be instructed, it will become second nature over time. Try to align the bow-sight with the target and try to factor in wind, distance and drift.

7 – Release: Squeeze all those muscles tight that you now are working to hold the position, open the drawing hand and let that arrow fly.

8 – Follow through: When the arrow leaves the bow, continue pulling the drawing hand along the base of your neck and allow the bow to move forward in your bow-hand. Then inspect your handy-work.

Hawkeye demonstrates the stance and by proxy those muscles used when performing it, that we will be focusing on.

Hawkeye demonstrates the stance and by proxy those muscles used when performing it. That’s what we will be focusing on.

The supplementary workout

Because that’s what it is. When you are training for a skill such as archery, the resistance training is an added bonus to hours of technical drills and target practice. This routine would be best practiced only once or twice per week, and not on consecutive days. Why are we focusing on enhancing the above stance? Because pulling back a bow-string isn’t an easy task, then to keep it steady whilst aiming is even harder. Therefore, beloved reader, we are strengthening the muscles involved so the archer themselves can maintain the stance for extended periods, allowing longer to aim with fresh perspective and therefore greater accuracy. Logic. Follow the handy links for exercise instruction, (sorry but Level Up still is bereft of recording equipment; stay tuned), and perform two to three sets of each.

Seated cable rows, (with isometric contraction): We begin the workout with focus on the lats and the mid-trapezius; they are doing the greatest deal of work. First the lats are the prime movers in pulling the bow-string back with the hands somewhere between a supinated and pronated grip, thus the choice of grip on the exercise. Once back there though, the mid-trapezius is holding everything steady for as long as it takes to make the shot. That’s where isometrics comes in handy, at the peak of each concentric movement hold that position of two seconds before repeating the movement; really focusing on the mid-trapezius. Go comfortably heavy on these; enough weight to manage 10 to 12 reps with perfect form.

Bent-over dumbbell flye: Next is the rear head of the deltoids. It has already been assisting the lats and traps on the pull, now we want them to become inexhaustible pillars of contraction. Be really carefull with form on this movement, keeping the lower back perfectly straight and be sure not to cheat / swing the weight up into position. Mid to light weight with these, perform around 12 to 15 reps on this movement.

Dips, (with isometric contraction): The tricep of the extended arm is stabilising the bow, thus we need to work the three-headed rear of the arm muscle with isometric work. Pause and hold at the lowest point of the dip, the mid-point of the movement and at full extension for 10 seconds. This tactic essentially takes the plyometric effect out of the equation, forcing the triceps to become stabilizing machines. Nice. Only perform one set of these for as many reps as possible.

Concentration curls: Just as the triceps have three ‘heads’ that make up the whole muscle group, biceps have two distinct ‘heads’. We will be focusing on the long head, (outer head), that is also assisting with our bow-string pulling. Go super light on these, they are the proverbial cherry on the kinesiology cake and nothing more. Aim for 12 to 15 reps.

Cable twists: Once the bow-string is pulled all the way back, any further turning to aim is done by the transverse abdominus. This little number will not only make the action of turning to aim quicker and easier, it’ll tone the waistline to heroic slimness. Sweet.

Note that it’s not a full body workout, that would be entirely up to the individual archer whether or not they wish to pursue such levels of fitness. This supplementary workout is intended to strengthen basics.

Hopefully you feel a little more ballistically inclined.

Hopefully you feel a little more ballistically inclined.

Terminology

Just to keep things concise and informative, beloved reader, I present the terminology of this fine skill in all it’s medieval jargonified glory.

  • Addressing the Target: The archer’s stance straddling the shooting line prior to shooting the arrow.
  • Aim: Visually lining up a sight pin to the center of the target; if a sight is not used, visual placement of the tip of the arrow on a specific point while shooting at a target over a given distance.
  • Anchor Point: The fixed position of the bowstring hand on the jaw or cheek while holding or aiming.
  • Archer’s Paradox: Situation in which the arrow flies in the direction aimed although its initial movement is in a different direction.
  • Arm Guard: Device worn on forearm and wrist areas of the bow arm to protect the arm from impact.
  • Arrow Plate: The piece to which the arrow rest is attached.
  • Arrow Rest: Device mounted just above the arrow shelf on the bow on which the arrow rests during draw, hold and release.
  • Arrowsmith: Individual specializing in making arrows and/or arrowheads.
  • Back: The side of the bow limb away from the string.
  • Bare Bow: Method of shooting which does not use a bow sight.
  • Billet: One of two short pieces joined at the handle to make a bow.
  • Blunt: Arrow with a blunt tip for use on small game.
  • Bow Arm: The arm in which the bow is held.
  • Bowyer: One who makes bows.
  • Brace/String Height: Distance between the pivot point of the bow and the string. AKA: Fistmale.
  • Bracing: Process of stringing the bow in preparation for shooting, by placing the bowstring loops into position in the notches of the bow.
  • Bull’s Eye: The center of the target or that part of the target face with the highest scoring value.
  • Butt: A mound of straw on which the target face is placed.
  • Cast: the speed with which an arrow is shot.
  • Clout: Shooting at a relatively long distance at a large target lying, or painted, flat on the ground.
  • Composite Bow: Bow composed of two or more materials, such as wood and fiberglass. Invented by H.W. Allen in 1966, designed with an eccentric pulley system to maximize pull weight poundage at mid-draw and minimize stacking at full draw.
  • Bow Creeping: Undesired forward motion of the bowstring from the anchor point immediately prior to release.
  • Crest: Colored bands on the arrow used to identify a set.
  • Director of Shooting: The individual in charge of shooting. AKA: Field Captain; Lady Paramount.
  • Double Round: Shooting the same round twice.
  • Draw: The process of moving the bowstring with nocked arrow from brace height to the archer’s anchor point on the face.
  • Drift: Deviation in the flight of an arrow due to wind.
  • End: A set number of arrows which are shot before going to the target (typically 3, 5, or 6) to score and retrieve them.
  • Face: The side of the bow nearest the string. AKA: Belly.
  • Finger Tab: Leather device worn to prevent blistering on the surface of the three drawing fingers.
  • Fletching: The stabilizing feathers attached to an arrow between the nock and crest. See vane.
  • Follow-Through: The act of holding the release position until the arrow has struck the target.
  • Freestyle: Style of shooting using a bow-sight.
  • Flu-Flu: An arrow with large or spiraled fletchings, which increase drag and reduce the arrow’s range.
  • Grip/Handle: The center portion of the bow where the hand exerts pressure during the draw.
  • Grouping: The arrangement of the end of arrows on the target face after they have been shot.
  • Hanging Arrow: An arrow that does not penetrate the target, but dangles from its point.
  • Hen Feathers: The two feathers on either side of the index feather. Traditionally, these feathers are not as flamboyant as the index feather.
  • Hit: An arrow which embeds itself within one of the scoring areas on the target face.
  • Holding: The act of maintaining the bow and arrow in a stable position at full draw prior to release.
  • Index Feather: The feather at right angle to the slit in the nock of the arrow and usually a different color from the remaining feathers. AKA: cock feather.
  • Kick: When the bow shoots with a jar to the bow hand.
  • Kiss Button: A contact point on the bowstring for the archer’s lips to touch as to insure consistency and accuracy of the anchor point.
  • Let Down: Releasing tension after drawing without releasing the arrow.
  • Limbs: The energy-storing parts of the bow located above and below the riser.
  • Longbow: A long, relatively straight bow that preceded the recurve bow in many cultures.
  • Nock: Device on the end of the arrow opposite the point, made with a groove for holding the arrow to the bowstring when placed in position for shooting.
  • Nocking: The technique of placing the arrow on the bowstring in preparation for shooting.
  • Nock Locator: The stops on the serving of the bowstring which mark the nocking point for the arrow.
  • Nocking Point: The position on the string where the arrow is placed. Typically marked by the nock locator.
  • Notch: The slits at the ends of the bow for the string.
  • Overdraw: Drawing the arrow beyond the face of the bow or drawing the bow to its point of maximum stress on the limbs.
  • Peeking: Undesired motion of the archer’s head at time of release in an attempt to follow the arrow trajectory into the target.
  • Plucking: Undesired lateral motion of the string hand and arm away from the bowstring at time of release.
  • Point/Pile: The tip of the arrow that pierces the target. Classifications include: target; field; broadhead; and blunt.
  • Point-Blank Range: Distance at which the archer may utilize the center of the target as an aiming point.
  • Point-of-Aim: A technique, whereby the archer uses a mark unattached to the bow and usually on the ground as an alignment point.
  • Pressure Point: Place on the arrow plate against which the arrow lies and exerts pressure when the arrow is released. It can be cushioned or spring-loaded.
  • Quiver: Any device designed to hold arrows not being shot.
  • Range: Area designated for target or field archery.
  • Rebound: An arrow that bounces off the target face.
  • Recurve Bow: Bow manufactured so the ends of the limbs deflect toward the back of the bow to increase leverage when the bow is braced.
  • Release: The act of putting the arrow into flight due to a release of pressure on the bowstring. AKA: Loose.
  • Riser: The areas of the bow just above and below the grip.
  • Round: Term used to designate the number of arrows to be shot at specific distances at specific target faces or targets.
  • Self Bow: A bow made of one piece of wood or raw material.
  • Serving: Protective thread wrapped around the bowstring where the arrow is nocked.
  • Shaft: The body of the arrow upon which the nock, fletching, and point are mounted, and the crest is printed.
  • Shooting Line: The line straddled by archers during shooting which indicates a specific distance from the target in target archery.
  • Sight/Bow-sight: Adjustable device attached to the bow which facilitates the aiming process for the archer.
  • Skirt/Petticoat: The outermost perimeter of the target face outside the scoring area.
  • Spine: The measured deflection of an arrow when depressed by a two-pound weight at its center.
  • Stabilizer: Weighted device added to the riser of the bow and designed to reduce torque and absorb shock upon release.
  • Stacking: Disproportionate increase in bow weight during the last few inches of the draw.
  • Stave: Full-length piece of wood used to make a bow.
  • Tackle: Equipment used by an archer.
  • Target Captain: Individual at each target designated to determine and call the score of each arrow and pull them from the target.
  • Target Face: The scoring area of the target.
  • Tiller: Device for holding the bow at draw and to inspect the curvature.
  • Toxophilite: Individual pursuing the sport of archery, as a participant and/or student.
  • T-Square: Device used to measure brace height and locate the nocking point on the bowstring.
  • Trajectory: The parabolic flight pattern of an arrow following release.
  • Tuning: Adjustment of arrow rest, pressure point, string height and nocking height to improve arrow flight; includes determination of correct spine.
  • Vane: A term used most commonly when fletching is made of plastic or rubber instead of feathers.
  • Weigh/Draw Weight: The bow manufacturer’s determined number of pounds required to draw each bow’s string at a given draw length.
  • Windage: The effect of wind on the arrow’s flight.
  • Window: Viewing space between the side of the bow and the string at full draw.
You should now feel able to select a perk. Yay.

You should now feel able to select a perk. Yay.

Until next time. Stay informed.