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.


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


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 . . .


“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.


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.


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.


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, behindtheworkout 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.


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:

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



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.

Empty Hand

This one is a favourite here at Level Up. Not just because it’s an awesome combat skill, but also because it’s one of the few structured martial arts that doesn’t involve the use of any weapons.

Batman narrowly missies Wolverine with a well formed Yoko tobi geri.

Batman narrowly misses Wolverine with a well-formed Yoko tobi geri.

That’s right, beloved reader, today your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor will be helping you level up your skill in one of the greatest unarmed fighting systems from the east.


Shotokan to be precise; the unified form of Karate founded by the late, great Gichin Funakoshi. Before we hit the resistance training in all it’s kinesiological glory, let’s get to know more about the art of the empty hand.

The tiger emblem of Shotokan Karate.

Contrary to popular belief Karate is not a Japanese martial skill, it’s Okinawan, but because it has been developed and popularised by Japanese exponents the terminology of the combat sport is now almost exclusively in the Japanese language. It started life called simply ‘ti’, or in Japanese, ‘te’. It’s also not as ancient as many think.

In 1372 trade relationships were established with the Ming Dynasty of China by King Satto of Chūzan. This led to some forms of chinese martial arts being introduced to the Pechin class of the Ryukyu Islands. Given the similarities between them, it is reasonably safe to assume that the Chinese martial arts to influence Karate’s development, Fujian White Crane probably being one of the main culprits. In 1429, however, the political centralization of Okinawan King Shō Hashi brought with it a ban on all weapons, at the time all martial skills were weapon based with little need for unarmed combat to be practiced unless for sport, this was reinforced in after the invasion of the Shimazu clan in 1609. These both played important factors in how Karate and it’s sibling martial art Kobudō evolved. Kobudō is responsible for bringing us delights such as nunchaku, tonfa, , sai and kama. Whilst developed at the same time and for the same reasons, Karate and Kobudō are separate arts but often mis-categorised together.

Funakoshi Sensei getting serious with a Makiwara.

Funakoshi Sensei getting serious with a Makiwara.

During all this developmental chaos, along came Gichin Funakoshi; the father of modern Shotokan. He had trained in both popular styles of that time’s Okinawan karate; Shōrei-ryū and Shōrin-ryū. Funakoshi was quite known for his writing, he was an avid poet and philosopher as well as being a Karate master. In 1939, after many successful years of nurturing his Karate style and teaching a plethora of students, he built the first official Shotokan Dojo in Tokyo.

Shotokan derives its name from Funakoshi’s pen name, Shoto, meaning ‘waving pines’ and Kan means training hall or house. Thus Shotokan’s can be translated as ‘house of Shoto’. He also changed the way the characters for Karate written, from meaning ‘China hand’ to ’empty hand’. The two words sound the same in Japanese but are written differently. It was his belief that the term ‘Chinese’ would be misleading and people would think Karate had originated with Chinese boxing. Funakoshi’s interpretation of the word Kara to mean ’empty’ caused problems for him in Okinawa, thus he remained teaching in Tokyo.

Ryu demonstartes a Soto-uke block whilst in a Kokutsu-dachi stance. Thanks Ryu.

Ryu demonstrates a Soto-uke block whilst in a Kokutsu-dachi stance. Thanks Ryu.

The resistance training

There are a lot of techniques that need augmenting here, but hold faith beloved reader. Your’s truly, holding a 4th Dan in this wondrous discipline, is unabashed in advising you. Unfortunately Level Up is still an impoverished little company, therefore we will have to make use of links to other sites for the time being. Stay tuned though, as Level Up studios will be coming this summer. Yay.

Lunge with twist: These bad boys will be an invaluable help for your stance work, especially with zenkutsu dachi, and the twist at the end will assist in all those gyaku-zuki punches you undoubtedly be drilling endlessly. These don’t have to be practiced with a medicine ball, or any resistance at all.

Leg extension: That’s right, another exercise for the quadriceps, we need them. Powerful legs will accommodate all the tough stances we encounter and even the newest Karate exponent knows that with a good kick you raise the knee first, then extend for maximum power and range.

Reverse-grip chins: Helpful for a fast pull back to launch another kizami/gyaku/oi-zuki punch, and for giving all-round physical development.

Decline press ups: Even though the waist is the prime mover in any punching movement, the pectoralis major  assists in this. So for powering up all our ‘zuki’ moves we’ll be focusing on the clavicular fibres; it’s already much easier to punch godan and chudan heights, so hitting upper chest will add oomph to our jodan height attacks.

Supination curls: The supination movement of these will augment many punches / blocks, whilst working both biceps brachii and brachialis. Nice.

Arnold press: Yes, these are named after Arnold Schwarzenegger. Their pronation / supination movement nicely mimics the twisting, power generating motion of many Shotokan punches and blocks.

Dips: Great for adding punching power and speed. Once again, even though the waist produces the power of the strike the triceps assist the movement by extending the elbow.

Knee raise: Few realise that to get height in a kick, not only do you need flexibility, but well conditioned abs to raise the thigh above waist level. These do the trick nicely in combination with the leg extensions from earlier, we’ve successfully added greater range and power to our kicks.

Standing calf raise: To get the fullest extension on all those mae geri kicks, you will need decent contractile strength in your gastrocnemius. Add resistance to these when you feel comfortable with the movement.

I'm afraid even your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor can't teach you the Hadoken technique.

I’m afraid even your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor can’t teach you the Hadoken technique.

Perform one set of each exercise for as many repetitions as possible, but with perfect technique of course. When you feel you’ve got these sussed, perform them again for a circuit training effect, this will get the heart and lungs pumping nicely as well. Repeat the circuit as many times as desired.

Basic Terminology

Before we delve into the terms and jargon, your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor should give you a quick insight into Japanese language vowel pronunciation.

“a” as in father ; “i” as in feet ; “u” as in flute ;”e” as in bed ; “o” as in okay.

Age Tsuki

Rising punch


Age Uke

Rising block


Ashi Barai

Foot sweep


Awase Tsuki



Bensoku Dachi.

Cross-legged stance (also female horse stance or Kosa Dachi)

Boshiken Tsuki

Thumb fist


Choku Tsuki

Straight punch



Middle area


Chudan Uke

Inside circular block



Elbow strike


Fudo Dachi

Free stance

Fumikomi Geri

Stamping kick


Furi Tsuki

Circular punch



Lower area


Gedan Barai

Downward block


Gedan Uchi Barai

Outside downward block (open hand)








Gyaku Mawashi Geri

Reverse round house kick


Gyaku Tsuki

Reverse punch





Hachiji Dachi

Natural stance (feet shoulder width apart, toes pointed slightly out)




Haisoku Barai

Instep block


Haisoku Geri

Kicking with the instep


Haito Uchi

Ridge hand strike





Han Zenkutsu Dachi

Half front stance

Hasami Tsuki

Scissors punch


Heiko Dachi

Parallel stance (feet shoulder width apart)

Heiko Tsuki

Parallel punch


Heisoku Dachi

Closed foot stance (feet together)




Hiji Uchi

Elbow strike


Hiji Uke

Elbow block


Hiki Uke

Pulling/grasping block


Hiza Geri

Knee kick (also called Hiza Ate)


Hiza Uke.

Knee block



One Hundred






Upper area


Jodan Uke

Upward block





Kagi Tsuki

Hook punch


Kaikoken Tsuki

Crab shell fist


Kakato Geri

Heel kick



Bear hand



Ready and alert


Kanketsu Geri

Stamping kick, joint kick


Keikoken Tsuki

One knuckle fist


Kiba Dachi

Horse riding stance




Kizami Tsuki

Leading punch, or jab


Ko Uchi

Bent wrist strike


Ko Uke

Wrist block


Kokutsu Dachi

Back stance

Kosa Uke

Cross block


Kote Uchi

Forearm strike











Mae Geri Keage

Front snap kick


Mae Geri Kekomi

Front thrust kick


Mae Tobi Geri

Jumping front kick


Mawashi Geri

Round house kick


Mawashi Tsuki

Round hook punch


Mawashi Uke

Round house block





Migi Heiko Dachi

Right foot forward Heiko Dachi

Morote Uke

Augmented block


Musubi Dachi

Formal attention stance (heels together, feet at an angle)

Nagashi Tsuki

Flowing punch


Nagashi Uke

Sweeping block


Naihanchi Dachi

Kiba Dachi with the heels out and toes in

Nakadaka Ken

Middle finger knuckle fist





Naname Shiko Dachi

Diagonal straddle leg stance

Neko Ashi Dachi

Cat foot stance





Second dan


Nidan Geri

Double front snap kick (back leg first)


Nihon Tsuki

Double punch





Nukite Tsuki

Finger thrust or spear hand


Oi Tsuki

Lunge punch



co-operative sparring





Ren Geri

Double front snap kick (front leg first)


Renoji Dachi

The letter “Re” stance (or “L” stance)







Sagiashi Dachi

Heron stance




Sanbon Tsuki

Triple punch


Sanchin Dachi

Hourglass stance


Third Dan





Seiken Tsuki

Fore fist strike


Sesan Dachi

Side facing straddle stance







Shiko Dachi

Straddle leg stance


First Dan


Shotei Otoshi Uke

Open hand dropping block


Shotei Tsuki

Palm heel thrust


Shotei Uchi

Palm heel strike


Shotei Uke

Palm heel block


Shuto Uchi

Knife hand strike


Shuto Uke

Knife hand block


Sokutei Harai Uke

Sole of the foot block


Sokutei Osae Uke

Pressing block with the sole of the foot


Sokuto Geri

Kicking with the foot edge


Soto Uke

Outside forearm  block


Sukui Uke

Scooping block


Tate Tsuki

Vertical punch


Tettsui Uchi

Bottom fist strike (or hammer fist strike)


Tobi Nidan Geri

Jumping double kick


Tsumasaki Geri

Kicking with the tips of the toes


Uchi Hachiji Dachi

Natural stance with heels out and toes in

Uchi Uke.

Inside forearm block


Ura Tsuki

Short punch (palm side up)


Ura Uke

Back hand block


Uraken Uchi

Back fist strike


Ushiro Geri

Back thrust kick


Ushiro Mawashi   Geri

Round house to the rear kick



Eagle hand


Yama Tsuki

Mountain punch








Yoko Geri Keage

Side snap kick


Yoko Geri Kekomi

Side thrust kick


Yoko Tobi Geri

Jumping side thrust kick


Yoko Uke

Circular block



Forth Dan





Zenkutsu Dachi

Front stance

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.


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.


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.