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.
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
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.
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 .
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
The workout: 5 sets of 5 reps
Bent-over barbell rows
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.