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 Rises

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

beforeafter

It’s all up-hill from Adam West.

Bat-fan year one

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

batmanweights

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

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

Bat-fan begins

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

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

Soon, beloved reader, this could be you.

Soon, beloved reader, this could be you.

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

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

But why resistance training? What about cardio?

Prepare to be scienced.

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

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

Seems obvious right? Keep reading.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bat only hungers for justice.

The Bat only hungers for justice.

Stay tuned for more.

Until next time. Stay informed.