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

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

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

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

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

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

Gym membership? Or set up your own Batcave?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’ll need dumbbells like these

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

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

And a weight training bench like this 

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

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

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

Goddamn do I want to slap him.

Training tactics

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

Must be breakfast time for the bat.

Must be breakfast time for Master Bruce.

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

Pyramiding

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

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

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

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

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

The Workout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nutrition

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

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

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

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

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

What about this dubious sounding extracurricular activity you mentioned?

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

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

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

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

He's good at fisticuffs.  No doubt.

He’s good at fisticuffs.
No doubt.

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

Stay tuned for more.

Until next time. Stay informed.

The 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.