Designer Superhero workouts Part 4: The Amazonian Warrior Workout

Diana Prince is like some of her other comrades in the Justice League, she is an outlander.

Superman and Martian Manhunter both come from other planets, which is more extreme, but doesn’t detract from the fact she spent many years isolated on a paradise island with nothing to do but train, train and train some more.

This workout should have a larger target audience to be fair, not just our beloved comic fan’s admiration of the title heroine, but also for RPG warrior players and fans of Link.

For in this gruelling regime we will be getting you ready to fight sword and shield style, like an Amazonian princess is trained, and like an adventurer is trained.

The Amazonian Warrior Workout

To really hit all the components of fitness required to be a mighty warrior, we'll be using some new tactics. CrossFit.

To really hit all the components of fitness required to be a mighty warrior, we’ll be using some new tactics. CrossFit.

What in Gaia’s name is this CrossFit business? It sounds like a fitness fad, aren’t we supposed to avoid those?

It’s fairly new on the fitness industry scene but it has been around for quite a while and has proven it’s worth. It will turn you into a true warrior.

CrossFit’s origin comes from it being used as the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies, tactical operations teams and military special operations units. I feel that should endorse the value of this workout.

Designed specifically for training people who will see real combat scenarios upon a real battle field. So effective is CrossFit that soon it’s regime was adopted by champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.

As you can see, CrossFit does what it sounds like it does.

As you can see, CrossFit does what it sounds like it does.
Everything.
At once.

Unlike the other DSWs, the periodization will only be reflected by increased reps, increased weight or time reductions. CrossFit is a different animal altogether, that doesn’t care for hypertrophy nor focusing on one component of fitness at a time.

Be sure to carb up an hour before each session, at least 90 grams of complex slow releasing carbs. I strongly suggest doing this with a high carb protein shake, they will absorb quickly and leave nothing in your digestive tract to puke up.

The workouts are so intense, hurling from the exertion does happen. Been there, done that, but to my credit carried on, my resulting time was abysmal, however, I persevered, and if a guy who isn’t genetically geared for fitness and spent most of his teenage life as a porker that ain’t too shabby.

After completing the 12 week slog that is the Amazonian Warrior Workout, you'll have no trouble handling armed and armoured foes.

After completing the 12 week slog that is the Amazonian Warrior Workout, you’ll have no trouble handling armed and armoured foes.

Phase 1: The 5 workouts – 4 weeks

That’s right, beloved reader, you’ve got 5 workout sessions, one for each of the 5 ‘working’ days of the week.

As always; when your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor plans these sojourns to levelling you up in a considerate manner that gives you the weekend off.

Ain’t I a darlin’.

Each session is a race against the clock; that doesn’t mean sacrificing good exercise form just to teach a stop watch who’s boss though.

As soon as you’ve finished one exercise you move straight on to the next, no fancy sets with ‘rest’ periods in this brutal regime.

Unfortunately, Level Up being the impoverished little organization it is at the moment doesn’t have the means for your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor to instruct you in the exercise techniques himself.

Level Up  will have a studio soon. Just gotta get the funding.

Until then, beloved reader, you’ll have to make do with the ‘best’ instructional videos the internet has to offer.

Do not heed the falsehoods of the instructors unless otherwise stated, just copy the exercise technique.

If you can deal with this DSW, you also will be able to give Kryptonians a kicking.

If you can deal with this DSW, you also will be able to give Kryptonians an ass kicking.

Monday

You don’t need to go to that vile nest of hormonally manipulated meatheads the gym for the during first workout at least.

You could do this workout in the park, all you will need is a decent tree branch to use as a pull up bar.

Run a mile: These exhausting workouts will tax you to your body to its limits. Aim for a 10 minute mile, that’s the rough average for most people. Attempt to decrease the time with each session.

Pull ups: Find your tree branch, or if you’re in the gym the chinning bar, and do as many as possible. Some advice to work up to ‘full-bodied’ pull ups.

Decline press ups: Immediately after finishing the pull ups, find something to raise your feet onto, a park bench will suffice, and get pressing, do as many as you can.

Bodyweight squats: Back up on your feet instantly and perform as many as possible.

Run another mile: That’s right, beloved reader, we begin and finish the first workout with cardio. Even though you should be tired by now, still try to beat your original time.

Challenge time: The goal is to complete the circuit in 40 minutes, but an hour is a perfectly respectable time.

By the end of this phase you should be hitting at least 25 pull ups, 50 press ups and 100 squats, but of course aim for more. It will be important for later workouts.

With the help of the following workout, this feat of power will be common place for you.

With the help of the following workout, this feat of power will be common place for you.

Tuesday

A short yet exhausting workout for Tuesday, only two exercises but vital ones for warrior skills. Complete this circuit 3 times. 21 reps on the first, 15 on the second and a mere 9 on the third.

Jumping pull ups: A lower impact version, with different applications to the regular pull up, designed with producing killing machines in mind.

If you can’t perform all the reps required in one sitting then have a short ‘rest’ and carry on the same exercise until they are all done. Imagine combat scenarios when performing all these exercises and what their application would be.

Despite the video’s instructor’s ‘advice’, only use overhand grip.

Thrusters: Unless you have a decent barbell set at home, you’ll need to be in the gym for this one.

Challenge time: 10 minutes. Harsh isn’t it. But that’s the kind of terrifying training Diana would have done.

Wednesday

Wednesday's workout will bestow you with uncanny speed.

Wednesday’s workout will bestow you with uncanny speed.

This workout we shall dub ”The Seven’. As the name implies, perform seven reps of each exercise, for seven devastating circuits.

Handstand push ups: The ultimate deltoid bodyweight exercise, (did I not warn you that these DSWs were hard-core?), handy tips in the following video on how to work up to these.

Thrusters: Yup, again. Seven reps then straight onto the next exercise

Knees to elbows: Kinesiology being the sly temptress that she is, ensures that when we move a limb through a great range of motion,  barely any of the muscles in that limb are being utilised.

In this example, lady kinesiology teaches us that the abdominals raise the thighs via the hip-joint, with the quadriceps doing nothing more that a little fundamental stability work.

Powerful abs + flexibility = high kicks, a nice surprise maneuver against any opponent, and a good tactic for creating distance between oneself and short blade wielders. With the added bonus of being able to shout “This is Sparta”, if one is so inclined to do so.

Deadlifts: If you’ve perused ‘The Asgardian Power-House’ workout you would have already encountered these wonderful whole body power building bad boys.

Burpees: Researched as I have I cannot fathom how this exercise got its name. However, it is very versatile, training you to dodge under and over attacks in one tidy package.

Kettle bell swings: These are very handy for the RPG warrior enthusiasts who like to play it two-handed weapon style, this will add plenty of power to those Claymore uppercuts we all adore.

Also with the power generated in the shoulders will make bringing up a  shield or sword to block or parry with the greatest of ease.

Pull ups: Yup, these again. By the time you’re done with this DSW, you should have levelled up your pull ups to an insane amount.

I must point out, that doing all these pull ups on consecutive days, (as well as some of the other exercises), seem not to follow the rules of kinesiology, it does though, just not if you want hypertrophy; you’ll get some, that’s inevitable.

The point of overworking the muscles in such a brutal manner is to force your body to adapt to the movement, ‘tricking’ your muscles into thinking it’s a common occurrence during its daily doings. Just like a Martial artist ‘tricks’ his body into attacking with great speed by spending endless hours drilling the same punch, kick, block or throw.

Now you just have to repeat that six more circuits. Enjoy the burn.

Challenge time: The best that can be humanly, (or rather inhumanly), managed on this is around 20 minutes, but for now aim to complete in 30 to 40 minutes.

The combination of handstand press ups, burpees and kettlebell swings, you'll have the meanest uppercut punch in the Galaxy. Bonus.

The combination of handstand press ups, burpees and kettlebell swings, you’ll have the meanest uppercut punch in the Galaxy. Bonus.

Thursday

Another workout with only two exercises, it last 5 rounds of the following exercises:

Muscle-ups: If you’ve ever watched the awesome show ‘Ninja Warrior’, you may have seen some of the contestants warming up for the event doing these. Perform 7 reps of these per round. The following video actually has good advice.

BurpeesAgain, but imagine now, beloved reader, the agility you will have developed that is combat situation orientated by combining these two exercises, perform a harsh set of 21 reps per round of these.

Now simply repeat 4 more times.

Challenge time: 15 minutes, harsh I know, but as that amazing biological machine that is the human body adapts, you’ll look back on how hard all this seemed and have a wee chuckle to yourself.

With the training from the previous four workouts, you'll have the skills to take on multiple opponents.

With the training from the previous four workouts, you’ll have the skills to take on multiple opponents.

Friday

This will seem like taking it easy, it’s the same workout as Monday’s, but remember to keep tabs on improving running the mile at the beginning and end of the session and improving the reps on the other exercises. There are target reps and times to get the best results from this workout.

If it’s any consolation, your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor, has ditched the Spiderman DSW, (I did complete it to ensure it worked before publishing), and is currently using this regime. Although I do not own kettlebells, thus substitute weight discs with a chain securing them together.

Phase 2: Almost the same 5 workouts – 4 weeks

Monday

The same as last phase, however; by the end of this phase you should have shaved a minute off both the one mile runs. You should be performing 30 pull ups, 75 press ups and 200 squats. Feel the burn baby.

Challenge time: You should be getting closer to 40 minutes by now, but 45 to 50 is still very respectable.

Tuesday

On Tuesdays, keep increasing the weight on the thrusters, but reverse the exercise order.

Challenge time: Still a mere 10 minutes, but you will eventually get there. 15 to 20 minutes should roughly be your current time by now.

Wednesday

This is where it gets a little nastier. By now you’ve realised this mid-week workout is the most brutal.

Now it’s something that I like to call ”The Eight’. That’s right, beloved reader, it’s the same as ‘The Seven’ but eight reps on all exercises and eight circuits.

Challenge time: Is now 22 minutes, to account for the added resp, but you should be close to 30 minutes by now.

Thursday

This workout is for warriors of all kinds. Even those well versed in playing the ocarina.

This workout is for warriors of all kinds.
Even those well versed in playing the ocarina.

Nothing changes on the Thursday, that workout is set in stone as a stand alone steadfast bad boy already.

Challenge time: 15 minutes, in all likelihood, you’re probably doing it in 20 by now.

Friday

Wonder Woman going for a run.  Picture taken from the 2011 unaired pilot.

Wonder Woman going for a run.
Picture taken from the 2011 unaired pilot.

You already know the drill, I’m sure. Just keep aiming for more reps and less time.

Phase 3: Almost the same 5 workouts – 4 weeks

Monday

You guessed it, the same as last phase and the phase before, however; by the end of this phase you hopefully should be running a very respectable eight minute mile and be performing 40 pull ups, 100 press ups and 250 squats.

Challenge time: You should be getting closer to 40 minutes by now, but 45 is still very respectable.

Tuesday

Change the exercise order back to Phase 1’s, you will then notice an awesome increase in both resistance and reduction in time.

Challenge time: 10 minutes still, you should have  hit it after the cheeky technique swap. But if not don’t worry, this is an extremely hard workout.

Wednesday

This is the point in the plan that you will really hate me. Now you are to perform nine reps and nine circuits. I call it  ‘The Bloody Nine’. Enjoy

Challenge time: Due to added reps, 25 minutes. You should be close to that already. Keep at it.

'The 'Bloody Nine' workout wil hone your warrior reflexes to the extent of being capable of defeating multiple minotaurs. Mythical creatures ain't got s**t on Diana.

‘The ‘Bloody Nine’ workout will hone your warrior reflexes to the extent of being capable of defeating multiple minotaurs.
Mythical creatures ain’t got s**t on Diana.

Thursday

Don’t mess with Thursday. It’s perfect as it is.

Challenge time: 15 minutes, as this has remain unchanged, you should have at least breached the 20 minute mark.

Friday

Just keep going as you were. Hopefully by now your mile runs are so fast that all yo need is a Flux Capacitor to enjoy some time in 85.

Challenge time: Still 40 minutes, but whilst you’ve been shaving time off the runs, the extra reps on the resistance training could have counteracted that.

As always remember to stretch straight after the workout, it will aid in recovery.

Diet

You know exactly what i'm thinking. I am not abashed nor ashamed of this.

You know exactly what i’m thinking.
I am not abashed nor ashamed of this.

Not much to say here, with the brutal intensity of the workouts you’ll be able to eat pretty much what you want. That doesn’t mean pigging out on crappy foods though.

You already know the foods to avoid, confectionery, fizzy drinks, kebabs and the such. Make sure you get plenty of quality carbs from wholemeal sources, fruit, veg and lean meats for protein, never exceed 32 grams per meal, nor 90 grams of carbs.

Make sure each meal is at least three hours apart, otherwise the liver cannot process all the nutrients and store them as subcutaneous fat. If it’s in your budget splash out on a Glutamine supplement, that stuff gets you healing like Wolverine.

So what’s next?

You could, keep going with the last phase indefinitely, becoming more badass on a regular basis. Or you could take Monday and Friday’s workouts, remove the time limit and have a fairly comprehensive general fitness routine that you could do 3 to 4 times a week.

Alternatively, you could try your friendly neighbourhood Rogue’s tactics, when finished with one DSW, move on to the next. Give it a go, it keeps it interesting.

Wonder Woman over the years.

Wonder Woman over the years.

Stay tuned for BAMF!

Until next time. Stay informed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gym membership? Or set up your own Batcave?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’ll need dumbbells like these

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

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

And a weight training bench like this 

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

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

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

Goddamn do I want to slap him.

Training tactics

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

Must be breakfast time for the bat.

Must be breakfast time for Master Bruce.

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

Pyramiding

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

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

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

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

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

The Workout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nutrition

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

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

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

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

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

What about this dubious sounding extracurricular activity you mentioned?

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

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

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

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

He's good at fisticuffs.  No doubt.

He’s good at fisticuffs.
No doubt.

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

Stay tuned for more.

Until next time. Stay informed.

The X-Factor; Designer Superhero Workout Training Tips and Advice

Greetings true believers

With the new series of articles on Designer Superhero Workouts just beginning; I thought it only wise to give you some handy tips and advice to help you get the most from your workouts.

That’s right, beloved reader, today we learn from that diverse gang of Super Heroes, the X-Men. Thus, Your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor will be sciencing you upside the head mutant style.

So what can we learn from these genetically mutated folk?

We can learn a lot of handy training tips and tactics from these diverse and over-the-top politically correct chaps.

Periodization

What’s this periodization business? 

Periodization can be defined as a system for program design that plans appropriate cycles and training phases. The system used in the Designer Superhero Workouts.

The human machine, being what it, is an incredibly adaptive organism; quickly responding to its input. You lift heavy you get strong. You stretch you’ll get flexible. You run for hours upon hours per day, you will have improved cardiovascular endurance.

But because it adapts to the input, it will become complacent, thus reducing the results. When this happens things need to be switched around a bit, to ‘shock’ the body into having to adapt again, producing new results. Do you think the X-Men do the same training day in day out in the danger room? Nope.

It has been time and time again proven for success in achieving training goals and has a track record of over 50 years of development. Research has confirmed that periodization has the ability to produce significantly better results than straight set training or normal progression type training. Michael JordanMuhammad AliUsain Bolt, Babe Ruth, Tiger woods, and Bruce Lee have all used this wonderful training tactic. It also provides the ultimate training log. Looking back on a year’s periodized training will really give clarity on how much you have accomplished over that time.

Program Design

This represents a periodized table of progression, working up to a competition.

Any good training programme should be considered as ongoing and therefore broken down into calendar based blocks of time based periods that usually termed as ‘cycles’.

During each cycle prioritize working on the attributes which will benefit the athlete. Within these cycles we have Macrocycles, planning the overall outline of the program and commonly lasting for three-month periods, give or take, depending on the individual athlete’s goals.

Macrocycles are then, in turn, broken down again into smaller more manageable segments called Mesocycles.

Training Phases

These are the Mesocycles, which enable the athlete to efficiently track their progress, maybe reassess their goals if necessary and tailor the routine to suit and desired changes; such as training tactics, nutrition, intensity etc. The cycles run from 3 to 12 weeks, but great yields can result from longer or shorter periods, dependant upon genetics, muscle fibre composition and already established attribute levels. A 3 to 8 week Mesocycle suits most people.

Hypertrophy phase: During this is the phase for the athlete will be most effective hitting a rep range between strength training and endurance training; that will stimulate all the different fibre types, thus, the greatest overall hypertrophy.

Hugh Jackman preparing to do some heavy squats for a hypertrophy phase.

Strength / power phases: Characterised by extremely high levels of intensity, all-out short distance sprints, lifting extremely heavy but for very low reps or a three-minute round in the boxing ring.

The easiest transition between phases is from strength to power; gradually decrease the reps from the usual 8 down to a range of 1 to 6, whilst also removing some exercises to really focus on the core movements for power: such as barbell squats, deadlifts,  bench press, bent-over barbell rows, military press etc.

Endurance phase: This phases consists of lower intensity but higher-volume workouts. Muscular and cardiovascular endurance will be the primary focus. It also functions as an experimental phase of sorts.

If there are new exercise techniques that need to be introduced, this is the phase for it. Given the low intensity, (weight usually), gives the athlete the opportunity to master them, the added repetitions required for the high-volume element.

Transitional phase: This is the transitional phase, to morph one phase into another. For example:gradually bringing the reps up when moving from a strength phase to an endurance phase, and visa versa.

Swimming is a fine example of ‘active rest’. I’m sure there are rules about adamantium claws in the swimming pool though.

Active rest: On ‘rest’ days it can sometimes be a good idea to get  what is known as ‘active rest’, keeping you geared up athletically but recreationally.

Body-weight Exercises

Hank McCoy demonstrates the value of bodyweight exercises.

If you wish to attain Beast-like agility, then add body-weight exercises as often as possible, like chin ups, pull-ups and bodyweight dips. When you can add extra resistance to those, you’ll be able to perform great feats of agility.

It’s common sense; let’s say you perform jumping squats whilst holding 2 dumbbells; when you get rid of the extra weight of the dumbbells, your jump height will be significantly higher.

You can also add a flexibility routine. A greater range of movement will facilitate greater dexterity.  

Break it down and rebuild it

BAMF!

When Nightcrawler teleports, all of the atoms in his body disassemble, pass through another plane of existence, then reassemble at another point in space and time.

A similar process is occurring in your skeletal muscle when you are working out, the exertion of the training breaks the muscle down, actually damaging the tissue. The body then reacts to this by re-growth geared toward the new input.

This anabolic process occurs when you are resting and eating, that’s when the cells get reassembled. Once the skeletal muscle has been nicely broken down, even they haven’t travelled through another plane of existence, we still need to put them back together.

Thus we need . . .

SNIKT!

“Recovery bub”

The sooner one can recover from a training session, the sooner one can train again, speeding up the results. That’s simple for Wolverine; he regenerates. It doesn’t matter how much he gets cut, smashed, pummelled, drinks or smokes; he never takes any lasting or permanent damage or even gains a scar.

So, bereft of mutant powers how can we get recovering at such a rate?

Protein: Already covered this in ‘The Asgardian Power-House‘, but a little more detail couldn’t hurt. Get plenty of it, from high quality sources. The reason for this is that the building blocks of protein are called amino acids, and they all have a different and vital function.

Human protein is formed from 20 amino acids that are found within proteins.  Alanine, Arginine, Asparagine, Aspartic acid, Cysteine,  Glutamic acid, Glutamine, Glycine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Proline, Serine Threonine,  Tryptophan, Tyrosine and Valine.

Humans can produce 10 of the 20 amino acids. The others must be supplied in the food. Failure to obtain enough of even 1 of the 10 essential amino acids, those that we cannot make, results in degradation of the body’s proteins—muscle and so forth—to obtain the one amino acid that is needed. Unlike fat and starch, the human body does not store excess amino acids for later use—the amino acids must be in the food every day.

Non-Essential amino acids: The 10 amino acids that are essential, those that can be converted by the liver from other nutrients are; alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine. Tyrosine is produced from phenylalanine, so if the diet is deficient in phenylalanine, tyrosine will be required as well.

Essential amino acids: Are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. This means we must consume them and / or supplement them in our diets. Supplementation may be the only option for some of these if you’re vegetarian and the only option if you happen to be vegan.

Glutamine

This is the stuff I’m talking about, the very brand that yours truly uses. It’ll have you recovering like Wolverine.

We’re going to focus on one really important one for regeneration. Glutamine plays a role in a variety of biochemical functions, including: Protein bio-synthesis, as any other of the proteinogenic amino acids, regulation of acid-base balance in the kidney by producing ammonium, nitrogen donation for many anabolic processes including the synthesis of purines, carbon donation, as a source, refilling the citric acid cycle, nontoxic transporter of ammonia in the blood circulation.

Basically, whenever your body needs to make a repair, glutamine is the primary amino acid it goes to for most reparation chores. When any part of your body needs healing, say from a cut, recovery from a hangover or even sleep deprivation, it’s glutamine that gets used, and a great majority is extracted straight from the skeletal muscles. Unless there is some spare via supplementation. There aren’t many supplements worth spending your hard-earned or hard-stolen cash on but glutamine is without doubt one of them, get it in powdered form, for ease of absorption.

Sleep

Most of us don’t get anywhere near enough sleep, the regeneration magic happens then But when we are so busy in our daily lives with those vile afflictions known as day jobs, those wondrous affairs called social lives and those horrors we address as responsibilities; sleep is the first thing Sleep deprivation can have a big impact on our metabolism; slowing it down and hoarding fat and not getting enough sleep slows glucose metabolism by as much as 30 to 40 percent, causing even more fat gain. EEK

Eve Van Cauter, PhD , from the University of Chicago Medical School, studied the effects of three different durations of sleep in eleven men aged 18 to 27.

For the first three nights of the study, the men slept eight hours per night; for the next six nights, they slept four hours per night; for the last seven nights, they slept 12 hours per night. Results showed that after four hours of sleep per night, they metabolized glucose least efficiently. Levels of cortisol were also higher, which has been linked to memory impairment, age-related insulin resistance, and impaired recovery in athletes.

Van Cauter said that after only one week of sleep restriction, young, healthy males had glucose levels that were no longer normal and showed a rapid deterioration of the body’s functions. This reduced ability of the body to manage glucose is similar to those found in the elderly. This study shows that sleep deprivation can negatively impact physiology that is critical for athletic performance — glucose metabolism and cortisol status.

While no one completely understands the complexities of sleep, this does indicates that sleep deprivation can lead to decreased activity of human growth hormone (which is active during tissue repair), and decreased glycogen synthesis.

Psylocke demonstrates sleeping. Never mind showing off all the psychic abilities and martial skills, eh?

So how much sleep is required?

It going to differ from person to person, but the general consensus is 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, more for is required for athletes due to greater physical exertion. A minimum of 6, preferably 7, and if you’re raining hard 8 to 9 hours.

Some of our genes act as internal clocks and release hormones according to cycles called circadian rhythms, which are triggered by darkness and light and alternate over 24-hour periods. When we mess with these rhythms by not getting enough sleep, our metabolism of glucose declines, and our level of cortisol increases. Further, sleeping for long stretches is naturally anabolic.

During deep sleep, our bodies release growth hormone, which stimulates the healing and growth of muscle and bone. So while it’s possible to push through a lack of sleep during any one day, proper sleep helps athletes by boosting areas of performance that require cognitive function, reaction time, hand-eye coordination and of course it aids recovery from grueling workouts.

Anything else? It is a pretty big team to learn from

Use your mind.

The mind-muscle-connection

Great things can be accomplished with strong focus, concentration and visualisation. A technique utilised by many athletic pros to maximize muscle and performance. By developing a strong ‘mind-muscle connection’ ,this connection is made by visualizing the muscle being trained and focusing on the feeling of it working through its complete range of motion during each rep.

When applying the technique don’t think about where you feel the muscular stimulus, think about where you’re supposed to feel the stimulus. For example; during press ups the muscle that should be shifting all the weight are the pectoralis major, but a lot of people end up focusing too much on the arms, triceps specifically, which are only assisting the movement. Instead you must focus on contacting the pectorals thereby bringing the arms together and forward, the triceps assisting only to extend the elbow joint. Continue with this thought process during the negative phase of the movement, focusing on the feeling of the pectorals stretching.

Keeping your mental focus channeled in this manner will direct the majority of stress to the target muscles of your chest, maximizing muscular stimulation. It sounds daft, far-fetched even a little sci-fi but believe in your Rogue Advisor, beloved reader, the mind-muscle connection is the real deal.

Visualization

Some athletes routinely use visualization techniques in both training and competition. Those who’ve used these techniques have cultivated not only a competitive edge, but also found renewed mental awareness, and a heightened sense of focus.

Visualization is also referred to as guided imagery, mental rehearsal, mediation, etc. Regardless of the term applied, the techniques and concepts are the same. Visualization is the mental process of creating an image or intention of what you desire.

Colossus. Clearly.

“Throughout my bodybuilding career, I was constantly playing tricks on my mind. This is why I began to think of my biceps as mountains, instead of flesh and blood. Thinking of my biceps as mountains made my arms grow faster and bigger than if I’d seen them only as muscles.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

This technique can be used to increase the ‘intent’ of the result of a competition or training session. By visualizing the desired scene, complete with reverie of a previous best performance or a future target, the athlete is then ‘steps into’ that feeling. While imagining these scenarios, the athlete will imagine in perfect detail, all the myriad sensations of the way it feels to perform in the desired way, or the results wanted from that training session.

And finally

Keep it cool.

No really. It does wonders for you. Every time you get stressed out, start vexing or get your raging bellyache on, you get a massive surge of nasty old cortisol, which breaks down muscle tissue. So when you have to skip a meal or a workout, don’t be miffed but don’t use cortisol as an excuse to slack off either. Temperature also affects testosterone levels. Everyone knows that guys who sleep in the cold have a higher sperm count right? That’s because testosterone is boosted when the testicles are at just the right chilly temperature. Yay.

Until next time. Stay informed.

 

Designer Superhero workouts Part 2: Asgardian Power-House

After the last instalment of designer superhero workouts, this one seems like a walk in the park. Just minus the walking. And maybe even the park. There will be no cardio in this one. Just iron. Lots of gorgeous iron.

Many have tried to bring a definitive Thor based workout to the masses when the first Thor movie was released, but failed miserably, because they are those same harbingers of falsehoods and fitness myths that I find myself battling in literary format 24/7. That is unless I can actually get my mitts on ’em. Then its red to the elbow o’clock.

I rest my well-informed case. That is just begging for an injury.

I rest my well-informed case. That is just begging for an injury.
Worse yet, the ‘personal trainer’ will have some bull-s**t justification for this ‘Final Destination’ style death waiting to happen. You’d be safer eating a bowl of corn flakes filled with claymore mines.

It has been attempted by bodybuilding.com, behindtheworkout com, muscleandbrawn.com, and even Men’s ‘Health’ magazine. Only on the extremely rare occasion these sites / publications have some decent information; these particular articles in question was farcical.

None of the above clearly have any understanding of the biology, kinesiology or any of the myriad concepts that influence the complex machine that is the human being to stimulate attribute improvement.

I can, without doubt beloved reader, having spoken to no one that has tried these so-called workout plans, be sure that they didn’t get the results they were looking for. They may have got some results, but nowhere near as constructive as a truly well-informed, anatomically and plan adhering to the fine science of kinesiology.

The biggest problem we face with these articles, is that the majority of the writers of them are merely familiar with exercise equipment and seemingly completely lacking any  understanding of anatomy, apart from a vague awareness of humanoid form. Taking advice from these ill-informed cretins is akin to asking a bus driver how to perform brain surgery.

Now that I’ve just made a bunch of enemies within the fitness and fitness magazine industries; (imagine thunder and lightning whilst reading this please), your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor presents:

The Asgardian Power-House Workout

Majestic, powerful a freakin' deity for crying out loud. Who wouldn't want such power.

Majestic, powerful and a freakin’ demigod for crying out loud.
Who wouldn’t want such power?

This periodized program like the other designer Superhero workout plans will be a 12 week  fast-track, hard-core plan. But will have an extra week post-main plan, as a kind of ‘warm-up’ week. The power work involved is extremely intense business and if strict form and perfect technique is not adhered to may lead to injury. Therefore, this ‘warm-up’ week is to ensure that you, beloved reader, do not get injured.

Remember, beloved reader, this series of workouts are for the truly hard-core among us, those who will let nothing stand between them and god-like power.

No chance Super-ham, it's an Excalibur situation.

No chance Super-ham, it’s an Excalibur situation.

Unlike the extremely complex Spiderman workout, which would have required either a gym, (EEK), membership or very comprehensive and expensive set of home workout equipment. The Thor workout is can be done at home away from all those sweaty-know-it-all-gym-rats. This is all free weights, as primal as it gets; picking up huge items made of cast iron and showing them who’s the boss. Like a boss. An Asgardian boss.

If you haven’t done so already, please read ‘Designer Superhero Workout Basics‘. Without further delay, let’s get you, beloved reader, uncompromisingly strong.

As these exercises require perfect technique; your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor has used his valuable and very limited online storage space to provide you with the best instructional videos I could find, as well as some handy links. Be sure to absorb the videos safety and exercise technique information only; the rest is superfluous.

That is until Level Up has its own studio. Then yours truly will be providing you with bullet proof instructional videos. Yay.

Week 1: Foundation techniques

This week takes the full workout plan of phase 1 of this periodized program, and breaks it down into only one of the exercises per day. Start mega-light, just the barbell with no added resistance to begin with.

When you become comfortable with the technique itself; slowly, gradually bring the resistance up. I would suggest at no more than 2.5 kg  increases per set, if not even smaller increments.

Do as many sets as possible to get the muscles used to contracting in that manner. It’s a strange kinesiological fact, but muscles seem to have the need to ‘learn’. You have the whole workout to master one single exercise each day of this week. This also adds the advantage of having a pretty good idea how much weight you’ll be lifting before you begin the routine proper.

Perform 5 repetitions each time, rest about a minute before the next set. This is a cheeky tactic invented by the legendary Reg Park .

Legendary body-builder Reg Park ha the ideal Superhero physique.

Legendary body-builder Reg Park had the ideal Superhero physique.

Squats

The following is some of the best squatting technique advice I’ve had the pleasure to encounter. It is also your first opponent on the path to Asgardian might. Also known as Monday. That’s it. The first day of ‘warm-up’ week is squats, squats, squats and then more squats. Enjoy.

Dead-lifts

This will be Tuesday’s workout, dead-lifting. Called by some the ‘king of lifts’ because they work almost every muscle in your body.

I could happily watch her dead-lift all day. Also she is a shining example that women doing weights, does not produce this:

Please don't kill me, please don't kill me, please don't kill me, please don't kill me.

Please don’t kill me, please don’t kill me, please don’t kill me, please don’t kill me.

Bent-over barbell rows

A tricky exercise to maintain proper form on, but if perfected, one of the most effective techniques to get the latissimus dorsi pumped up. I’m pretty sure you’ve figured out by now that this is the only move on the agenda for Thursday.

By now, if you are going to the gym for these training sessions you may find the meat-head, jocks and gym-rats are probably gonna give you weird looks, ignore them, they should be concentrating on their own workouts.

If they are staring because they don’t understand what you’re doing, then that just demonstrates their lack of fitness knowledge. Even worse; these malefic perpetrators of misinformation may try to give you ‘advice’. Politely decline, preferably with a wry smirk upon your face that tells them “I know something you don’t know.” Ignore them.

This movement will produce that Superhero ‘V’ shape so desired by many.

Military press

Friday is here. Yay. Half day at work for most of you Londoners, so extra fuel in the tank for the splendid exercise known as the military press. Bet you can’t guess how it got named,eh?

This will blast the deltoids extremely hard, so just as with all the exercises before begin with just the barbell, to get used to the technique, perform 5 repetitions, rest one minute, add a little resistance and have at it again.

Now that's what you call a military press y'all. Soon, beloved reader, soon you shall know the strength of Asgard.

Now that’s what you call a military press y’all. Soon, beloved reader, soon you shall know the strength of Asgard.

Phase 1: Power – 3 weeks

This phase will only last 3 weeks, because it’s so very intense. However, you will be doing all 5 of the above power moves in one gruelling session.

All exercises should be as heavy as possible but with perfect form, 5 sets of 5 repetitions on each of them. We want limit your ‘rest’ periods between sets to no more than a minute, this will be difficult at first, so begin with two minutes, then take 15 seconds less ‘rest’ between sets with each new training session. It’s gonna be tough. But it’s gonna be worth it.

Do the things that others wont today, so that you can do the things others can’t tomorrow.

Chris Hemsworth, proves my well-informed point. Just look at those luscious pecs.

Chris Hemsworth, proves my well-informed point.
Just look at those luscious pecs.

The workout: 5 sets of 5 reps

Squats

Dead-lifts

Bench press

Bent-over barbell rows

Military press

Perform the workouts 3 times a week, preferably Monday, Wednesday and Friday, giving you 2 days to recover, plus you have the weekend off. After such brutal training week 2 days of rest will be required, get plenty of extra sleep.

Or if you can’t schedule it like that, then arrange the training pattern so that you can get 2 full days rest, but never perform the workouts on consecutive days, you will be overworking the muscles causing atrophy, ,also inviting injury and that is detrimental to our quest to god-like Asgardian strength.

"Come at me bro."

“Come at me bro.”

Phase 2: Hypertrophy – 3 weeks

This section of the periodized program will be a 3-way body-part split, utilising only compound movements, (exercises where multiple joints move, therefore more muscle fibres recruited, and more hypertrophy), wherever possible. Once again try to schedule these workouts for Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and plan for a 2 day rest period during the week.

If possible always workout in the morning when testosterone levels are at their highest, it makes you primal. 4 set of 8 reps for all exercises involved. No exceptions. This is the perfect rep range due to the different muscle fibre types within skeletal muscle. Allow you friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor to blow your Asgardian brain with Earth science.

By Odin’s beard! What is this Earth ‘science’ you speak of?

There it is, the mighty Odin's beard.  Envy it.

There it is, the mighty Odin’s beard.
Envy it.

Type I Fibres: Also called slow twitch fibres or oxidative fibres. They have the largest capillary count, many mitochondria, and heaps of myoglobin giving them a red colouration. These muscle fibres are geared toward endurance, very resistant to fatigue and able to contract continuously over an extended period of time and generating adenosine triphosphate by oxidative, (aerobic), metabolism. Therefore they are stimulated by high rep ranges, around 10 to 15 reps, even more reps, 15 to 25 for advanced endurance athletes.

Type II Fibres: They can be split into a further 2 categories.

Type IIb Fibres: We’ll cover IIb first, because type IIa are a relatively recent discovery. Also known as fast twitch or glycolytic fibres,   type IIb have a lower myoglobin and capillary count giving them a white, (looks like chicken meat), colouration. This allows for high contraction velocity, gearing them toward anaerobic metabolism, making them effective for short yet more intense workouts. They are generally stimulated by a rep range of 1 – 6.

Type IIa Fibres: These are adaptive muscle fibres, strange as it sounds. They adapt to whichever type of work the other fibre types are doing. So when the fast twitch fibres are doing their thing, they start going glycolytic and when the slow twitch are doing their thing, they start going oxidative. They look pink due to the combination of oxidative and glycolytic capabilities. Most people don’t have many of these fibres; a shame given their properties.

Thus, 8 reps per set hits a nice mid-range, stimulating all fibre types, and any type IIa will adapt to both kinds of input.

Temporary X-ray vision for y'all.

Temporary X-ray vision for y’all.

Adenosine Triphosphate? Speak sense foolish mortal.

Adenosine triphosphate: (ATP from now on), is considered by biologists to be the ‘currency of life’. ATP, a nucleotide, powers cellular metabolism, and is present in the cytoplasm and nucleoplasm of every cell. The structure of ATP is an ordered compound of three phosphates, connected to each other by oxygens and sandwiched on either side by more oxygens.

These oxygens each have a negative charge, so their just itching to get away from each other. Because of this ATP is just bursting with energy, about 7.3 calories per mole, (30.6 kj/mol), and is a lot happier as a molecule when it has only two phosphate bonds.

Whenever we make any physical movement, an appropriate amount of these little guys, all little ticking time bombs of energy, are more than happy to shoot of one of the phosphate bonds and power up cellular metabolism. Sweet. However, once it has shot one of the bonds it becomes a redundant compound, adenosine diphosphate, (ADP), and goes into a little mood having no desire to create any more energy. Each gram of skeletal muscle has around 7 – 8 mol of ATP stored ready to go, then once it’s fired its load creatine phosphate comes to the rescue. Yay.

That's what our dear ATP looks like.

That’s what our dear ATP looks like.

Now you have been suitably scienced

Day 1: Pectoralis major, triceps, calves

Incline dumbbell bench press:Now we are fully hitting every muscle at every angle  rather than building all-round power, thus adding slabs of mighty beef-cakery all over the show, this fine exercise targets the clavicular fibres of the pecs.

Bench press: You should be very familiar with this one by now. Level up your strength beloved reader.

Skull crushers: A wondrous name for a wondrous technique that suits our hammer wielding subject perfectly. These will not only hit the triceps nicely, but are a ‘sports specific‘ movement for carrying out devastating hammer attacks upon those foolish enough to mess with Asgard.

It was difficult to find a decent instructional for this one, but fear not, beloved reader, after searching the strange realm you mortals call the internet, we have a marvel of your ‘Earth science’ to show you the ways of augmenting hammer based attacks. Preferably aimed at the skull. Then crushing said skull.

Close-grip bench press: You have to be careful with hand positioning on this exercise, otherwise you’ll just be repeating unnecessarily the normal bench press again.

The focus of close-grip bench press is to blast the triceps into a hypertrophic frenzy, adding solid combat ready muscle with which to wield a hammer, or any bludgeon of your own choosing for that matter.


Standing calf raises: This will act as a kind of ‘cool down ‘after all that extremely heavy iron shifting. But if done properly you will have trouble walking temporarily.

Day 2: Latissimus dorsi, biceps, Abs

Bent-over barbell rows: You’ve done tons of theses bad-boys. Nuff said.

Bent-over dumbbell rows: This initially seems like a move that will produce similar results to the above, but whilst it still works the latissimus dorsi, it also works: lower and mid-trapezius, rhomboids, teres major, teres minor, and infraspinatus. The supination, pronation or neutral grip positioning will change the targeted muscles quite dramatically.


Preacher hammer curls: Yes! That is the actual name of the excise, how cool is that, and it’s relevant to our program. Get hammering my Asgardian chums.

Barbell curls: Finishing off the biceps in a brutal way, by the end of this hypertrophic phase you will be able to display a fine ‘gun show’.

Vertical bench leg raise: These will produce abs that you could be seen through a skiing jacket. As an added bonus the instructor is hot. Yay.

Day 3: Legs, shoulders, forearms

Squats: Monday on ‘warm-up’ week made you very aware of these quadricep builders of doom.

Walking Dumbbell Lunges: To truly promote hypertrophy in such a massive muscle group as quadriceps, we need at least 2 compound movements to make them powerful. This is another ‘sport specific’ exercise that will have you charging at alarming speeds toward your enemy upon the battlefield.

Stiff legged dead-lifts: This variation on the deadlift, (kinda like ‘diet dead-lifts’), will not only keep your body prepared for another power phase, (Yup, there’ll be another), but work the hamstrings in an isometric manner, not only causing muscular strength gains, but building a formidable lower body stability. Ice hockey players utilise this exercise to make their stance solid and steadfast upon the ice.

Arnold press: A great exercise for the anterior and lateral heads of the deltoids. They also add punching power for when you’ve thrown your hammer and are waiting for it to return to your hand to punish the enemies of Asgard.

Behind the neck press: The sibling exercise to military press, now you have these training techniques under your belt, you’ll have no problem lifting opponents over-head and hurling them to land in a crumpled and defeated heap of broken flesh and bone, whilst waiting for that pesky hammer you’re still waiting to return.

Dumbbell shrugs: These slight and mild mannered in appearance dumbbell shrugs are vital at this point, a lot of the exercises in this routine have only worked them synergistically, or worked only 1 or 2 parts of the 3 sectioned muscle. Shrugs target the meaty part at the top of the shoulders. Kinesiologically, they are working whenever you are bearing weight in your hands in order to support the shoulder girdle.

Forearm curls: All Asgardian warriors need a firm grip on their weapon of choice, (preferably hammer of course), and this exercise will round off your physique nicely. If you’ve got massive biceps and triceps but skinny forearms, a warrior you will not look like. There are 2 variations of this technique demonstrated below, pick whichever feels right to you.

I think that's Thor's way of saying "Don't quit". Or he just wants to go ballistic bludgeon style.

I think that’s Thor’s way of saying “Don’t quit”.
Or maybe he just wants to go ballistic bludgeon style.

So what’s next?

Simple. Repeat the power phase again, (but obviously without the extra ‘warmup’ week), you’ll notice a massive increase in strength. Then repeat the hypertrophy phase.

That’s the whole 12 weeks. By the end of it you will be buff and strong, and with the nice weather here in good old blighty, plenty of opportunity to get your top off and make others feel ashamed of their laziness.

If you get bored with the exercises and the exercise order, you can substitute them for others that work a similar group of muscles, and even re-arrange the 3-way hypertrophy split. For example, you could substitute seated cable rows for one arm dumbbell rows, preacher barbell curls instead of barbell curls, or even body-weight dips in place of skull crushers.

You could rearrange the body-part split per workout thus:

Day 1: Legs, triceps, abs, Day 2: Lats, shoulders,  forearms, Day 3:Pecs, biceps, calves.

Unfortunately, due to our strict mistress kinesiology, the power phase is unchangeable. Sorry, beloved reader.

Diet

This is the complicated part. But without decent nutrition, the workouts will not be as effectual and you won’t recover properly from all your hard work. Diet is 80% of the battle.

Try to eat every 3 hours, to keep the metabolism boosted and a steady stream of nutrients coming in to help you recover from the workouts. It’s possible to get away with eating every 5 hours, but 3 hours between protein ‘fixes’ will give you optimum protein synthesis, thus yielding the fastest results.

I know this is tricky to do, and for those of us on a limited finances difficult to afford, but with a little imagination and efficient budgeting it can be done; your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor also suffers these conditions, but it is still attainable.

Get your protein from high quality sources: eggs, milk, fish, beef, chicken, and for those of us, like yours truly, with those horrifying afflictions known as employment, protein shakes and protein bars. There are some very reasonably priced protein supplements around for the convenience of maintaining good nitrogen balance. GNC and Holland and Barrett are constantly having guerilla warfare style sales wars, so keep checking them out.

You’ll also want good quality sources of carbs, wholemeal versions of baked products, oatmeal, pasta, (make sure it’s cooked Al dente), and nothing with processed sugar. But you knew that already. Right?

This is the only diet plan on Level Up thus far that has fat restrictions in the diet. Get your sources of dietary fat from quality foods such a fish, nuts and seeds. No saturated fats. Also the little things help, use cooking spray when you fry food, use low fat spreads, fat-free milk etc.

Count the Macro-nutrients

It seems like a major hassle to begin with, but check the nutritional stats of every meal you eat. Eventually you’ll get so used to it, you’ll be able to approximate and / or guesstimate how much is in what food.

Protein: This is the chief nutrient for building strength and power. Protein’s crucial role in the body includes building, maintaining and repairing body tissue. It is especially important to physically active individuals whose muscle tissue is constantly in need of repair.

Protein has other roles in the body; all enzymes and hormones, which perform vital functions, are proteins. In addition, proteins are used to aid in the immune process. But the liver can only handle so much in one sitting. It is widely debated what the actual number of grams of protein it can effectively deal with; speculations range from 32 to 48 grams. For the purposes of maximizing muscle gains but limiting gluconeogenesis, (there will be plenty of glucose knocking around already), You should aim for hitting 40 grams of quality per meal and hopefully managing that at least five to six meals each day with a minimum of three hours between each  protein fix.

Protein is made of amino acids. Ain't it pretty.

Protein is made of amino acids. Ain’t it pretty.

Carbohydrates: Our main source of energy. They are chains of small, simple sugars that are broken down and enter the body as glucose. Glucose is essential for the body, as it is the preferred source of energy in our brain, heart and central nervous system. For this reason, we won’t be doing anything silly to maintain rippage like Atkins’ diet. Atkins’ had a reasonable idea, but neglected to mention that without glucose from carbs in  your diet to metabolize fat, muscle tissue would be broken down and converted into sugar for that very purpose, defeating the object entirely. Aim for roughly the same amount of carbs as you do with protein. With the exception of doubling the carbs 1 hour before and one hour after a training session. The trick with carbs and getting buff is to keep the Glycemic Index low.

Fat: The misconception about fat is that it is always bad for you. In fact, fat is essential for maintaining a healthy body and is a vital metabolic precursor to various steroid hormones. The trick is to eat a moderate amount of the good fats and none of the bad fats. Saturated and trans fats must be avoided while increases levels essential fatty acids, such as omega 3 and omega 6.

Going out of the realms of macro-nutrients and into micro-nutrients briefly; fat plays a vital role in the digestion of vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are fat soluble, meaning they need fat in order to be absorbed into the body. So don’t completely remove all fats from your diet.

Supplements

Not essential, and also another budget concern. Your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor wouldn’t normal suggest spending your hard-earned / hard-embezzled cash on such things, but the following 2 supplements truly are the real deal, and will add great gains on the path to Asgardian glory.

Creatine phosphate: imaginatively named, eh? Remember ATP? Creatine phosphate, (CP), turns up and ‘lends’ ADP its one and only phosphate, restarting the whole cycle again. There is roughly 3.5 and 4 grams of CP stored per kilogram of skeletal muscle, but this is used up in a matter of seconds during intense physical exertion. By supplementing CP, you can get an extra few seconds of oomph when pounding the iron. It doesn’t sound like much on paper but it makes a massive difference to anaerobic metabolism. Supplemented CP must be cycled, however, as with everything the body produces itself, if it is coming in artificially it will cease its own production. EEK.

The optimum cycle of CP supplementation is 9 weeks on and 3 weeks off. Powdered form is the best absorbed into the skeletal muscles. Remember to look out for the health food store sales.

Glutamine: Basically, whenever your body needs to make a repair, glutamine is the prime amino acid it goes to for most chores. When any part of your body needs healing, say from a cut, recovery from a hangover, sleep deprivation, and especially hard training regimes; its glutamine that gets taken straight from the muscles, reducing strength, unless there is some spare via supplementation. Glutamine is almost essential, it will have you regenerating like Wolverine. Sweet.

He speaks truthfully. Vote, beloved reader, for the next designer Superhero workout.

He speaks truthfully. Vote, beloved reader, for the next designer Superhero workout.

That’s right, beloved reader, I want you to leave a comment on this post, email me or post on Level Up’s Facebook page, which designer Superhero workout you want to see next. Bring it on, y’all.

Stay tuned for more.

Until next time. Stay informed.

Designer Superhero workouts Part 1: The Web-Slinger Physique

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

Sure? But where are you going with this?

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

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

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

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

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

legospidey

Phase 1: Foundation Strength – 4 weeks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How freakin' cool is that!

How freakin’ cool is that!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to interval training

What gruelling skulduggery will you have us doing now? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phase 2: Split body part routine – 4 weeks

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

Day 1: quadriceps, latissimus dorsi, waist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I rest my well-informed case.

I rest my well-informed case.

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

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

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

Day 2: pectoralis major, deltoids, arms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Super sets

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

Types of Super sets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

頑張って

Ganbatte

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

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

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

Day 1: pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, deltoids

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

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

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

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

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

Day 2: quadriceps, arms, waist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diet

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

You have to really want it

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

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

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

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

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

So what’s next?

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

Alternatively, just continue with the last phase for as long as you likeand if you get bored with the exercises and the exercise order, you can substitute them for others that work a similar group of muscles, and even re-arrange the 2-way hypertrophy split.

Stay tuned for Thor

Until next time. Stay informed.

Designer Superhero Workout Basics

Greetings true believers

Reckon you know the names of all these Marvel characters?

Reckon you know the names of all these Marvel characters?

This pre-post to the series of Super hero specific workouts, will outline the basics that need to be adhered to. These ‘rules’ aren’t steadfast and unbreakable, they are adaptable to individual needs and also sometimes ‘tweaked’ for each specific character’s physique requirements.

Unlike most of the workouts thus far on Level Up, you will need equipment for this training, and also isn’t advisable for a total beginner. If however, you have been working out, or following the Batman zero to hero fitness guide, then your body will be primed and ready.

OK Dc fans, can you name all these chracters?

OK DC comic fans, can you name all these characters?

The Plan

Each customized workout plan will be a 12 week intensive fast-tracked journey to bad-assery, separated into 4 week blocks, this is known as periodized training, (see the Hulk link above for more information),and covering, dependant on the hero in question, one or more of the components of fitness.

1. Cardiovascular Fitness: Cardiovascular fitness is the ability of the heart, lungs and vascular system to deliver oxygen-rich blood to working muscles during sustained physical activity.

2. Muscular Strength: Muscular strength is the amount of force a muscle or muscle group can exert against resistance.

3. Muscular Endurance: Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle or muscle group to repeat a movement many times for an extended period of time.

4. Flexibility :Flexibility is the degree to which an individual muscle will lengthen, producing greater range of movement and thus, augmenting agility.

5. Body Composition: Body composition is the amount of fat in the body compared to the amount of lean mass, muscle, bones etc. this is the one we all want. Lean bodies with great attributes. Sweet.

Equipment

That is an impressive home multi-gym.  Dear Santa . . . . .

That is an impressive home multi-gym.
Dear Santa . . . . .

Unfortunately you will be needing either a gym membership or some comprehensive home training equipment for these workouts. Sorry, beloved reader, but some heroes are just so very mighty this will be essential.

The gym: Be warned , beloved reader, these overpopulated establishments are full of morons, degenerates and cretins. Then you once you’ve avoided the instructors and so-called personal trainers, you have to deal with the people who go there to work out, a  good percentage of which are meat-heads, roid-heads, jocks and gym-rats. They will attempt to impart their ‘wisdom’ upon you.

Heed not their ill-informed mewlings. The truth you require can be found right here at Level Up.

Hideeous freaks such as this are a fine example of roid-heads. Avoid, evade and don't feed them after midnight.

Hideous freaks such as this are a fine example of roid-heads. That is not the physique of a Super hero, that’s just to be avoided, evaded and never fed after midnight.

The home gym: Your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor prefers the home gym set up. It means you can have a nice paced workout and don’t have to wait for an equipment hog to get of the bench / cable / barbell etc. you need.

It’s also an investment, rather than paying extortionate gym fees indefinitely, you already have all the gear you need and it ill pay for itself in about a year.

Diet

All the training in the world wont get you anywhere if your stuffing your cake hole with, well, cake.

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. 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, as our hero of ‘Don’t make me Ingrey, you wouldn’t like me when I’m Ingrey’ has demonstrated.

Get plenty of 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.

That's the kind of tasty business you wanna be munching to get results

That’s the kind of tasty business you wanna be munching to get results

If you go for the protein supplement options, be sure to get the ones with plenty of carbs in, you’ll need the energy, (If I catch any of you, no matter how beloved that reader may be, doing the vile Atkins diet, I will be forced to have stern words, all I have to say is “Shazam” and things get ghetto), they are extremely handy to sneakily get a quick protein fix if you work in a crappy job like mine where you don’t really get breaks. Thus your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor’s pockets are generally full of protein bars, and I have mastered the art of stealth eating. A skill to be reckoned with.

Protopure Recovery are generally the best value for money, and taste fairly good. Go for the chocolate cookie or chocolate, caramel and peanut flavours. Yum.

Protopure Recovery are generally the best value for money, and taste fairly good. Go for the chocolate cookie or chocolate, caramel and peanut flavours. Yum.

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?

Get healthy fats in your diet too, from fish, nuts and seeds. Bingo. You already know the foods to avoid, so I hope I wont have to bore you with all that skullduggery.

The First Instalments

The first two workouts in the series will be Spider man, followed by Thor, this is due to the very different attributes they have, giving you, beloved reader, an insight into how unique each plan will be.

You don't want to get involve in that.

You don’t want to get involved in that.

For a little extra advice and inspiration before you begin your sojourn to a customized Super look, (just in time for the nice weather), check out ‘‘The Legend of You’.

Not many of my beloved readers bother hitting the handy links I work so hard to provide you with valuable information, however I implore you to check each one on this post as they have great relevance to the subject matter.

Until next time. Stay informed.

 

My Common Sense is Tingling.

It’s already tricky enough to schedule even a general fitness routine into our daily lives, but it is worth making time to add flexibility training? It will increase your range of movement, which will allow you to do groovy things, like our friendly neighbourhood Spiderman.

That’s right beloved reader; the unspoken promise suggested by the geeky title of this blog will be fulfilled. We will be covering the nerdy and the cool, in very constructive ways.

Flexibility

Spidey's first appearance.

Spidey’s first appearance.

So why would we ever want to bother stretching?

For our aforementioned geeky purposes, flexibility training is justified thus: increased range of movement via stretching = agility, or in hardcore adventurer terminology; DEX. Having a high dexterity score gives us a better armour class, improves our balance and even helps with nefarious talents such as lock picking.

However, in that place with awesome graphics and crappy gameplay; the real world:

It decreases muscle stiffness and increases range of motion, which will also slow the degeneration of joints.

A flexible muscle is less likely to become injured from an extensive movement. So you won’t pull anything whilst busting web slinging maneuvers, or awesome kung-fu kicks.

It helps relieve post-exercise aches and pains. After a hard workout, stretching the muscles will keep them loose and lessen a shortening and tightening effect that can lead to DOMS. reducing muscular tension and enhancing muscular relaxation. Habitually tense muscles tend to cut off their own circulation resulting in a lack of oxygen and essential nutrients. So for the bodybuilders reading, stretching will actually assist in increasing muscle mass.

It’s just common sense that a flexible joint requires less energy to move through a wider range of motion, a flexible body improves overall performance by creating more energy-efficient movements. Therefore improving speed. Yay.

Now that everyone’s common sense is tingling, let’s cover the different ways to produce this hyperbolic effect

I rest my well-informed case.

Deadpool puts to rest my well-informed case.

Static stretching

Static stretching is the most commonly practiced. The muscle groups are stretched without moving the limb itself and the end position is held for 20 to 30 seconds. It’s this kind of stretching that I would recommend for the reader who wants the fitness benefits with the least hassle getting them. Keep it simple. Incorporating these into your fitness routine is easy, just perform one stretching exercise per muscle after the muscle’s been worked, it’ll fit nicely into the rest period between exercises / sets.

stretch-lunge-side1

Spidey stretches his adductor, (inside thigh), muscles.

This category also includes static active stretching which is an effective way to increase active flexibility. It requires the strength of the opposing muscle groups to hold the limb in position for the stretch. Yoga is a good example of static active stretching. However, static active stretching is not recommended before a sporting event, it’s most effectively applied after training.

A fine example of static active stretching. Spidey's wrist extensors are flexing so that his forearm flexors stretch. Either that or he's doing a double 'hail satan'.

A fine example of static active stretching. Spidey’s wrist extensors are flexing so that his forearm flexors stretch. Also a double Hail Satan.

Dynamic stretching

Dynamic stretching uses speed of movement, momentum and active muscular effort. Unlike static stretching the end position is not held. It is similar to ballistic stretching except that it avoids bouncing motions and tends to incorporate more activity-specific movements. Arms circles, exaggerating a kicking action and walking lunges, are examples of dynamic stretches. A walking lunge dynamically stretches the hip flexors by emphasizing hip extension and can reduce muscle tightness around the hip-joint necessary for competition, a good warm-up for martial arts competitors.
Dynamic stretching is useful before competition and has been shown to reduce muscle tightness which is one factor associated with an increase occurrence of musculotendinous tears and strains. If you don’t mind looking ridiculous, you may want to try this out.

Ballistic stretching

Ballistic stretching involves active muscular effort similar to dynamic stretching. However, ballistic stretching uses a bouncing or jerking movement to increase the stretch.

Ballistic Stretching isn’t recommended, it is a prescription for injury – muscle  pulls, muscle strains, and muscle tears can all result from ballistic  stretching. You can also end up with tendon, ligament, and joint trauma from  such aggressive stretching.

Isometric stretching

An advanced form of flexibility training that must be prescribed with caution, it is useful for developing extreme range of motion associated with martial arts, ballet and gymnastics.

Spidey demonstrates an Isometric calf stretch. Thanks Spidey. Thidey.

Spidey demonstrates an Isometric calf stretch. Thanks Spidey.

An isometric, or static contraction occurs when tension is created in the muscle group without a change in its length. A chair, wall, the floor or a partner can act as the resistance to bring about a static contraction and isometric stretch.
Aside from increasing range of motion, a second purpose of isometric stretching is to develop strength in stretched positions.

How Isometric Stretching Works

When a muscle is stretched, some muscle fibres are elongated while others will remain at rest. This is similar to the “all or none” principle of muscle contraction. The greater the stretch, the more individual fibres are stretched fully (rather than all fibres being stretched to a greater extent). When a muscle, that is already in a stretched position, is subjected to an isometric contraction, additional fibres are stretched that would have otherwise remained at rest. Those resting fibres are pulled on from both ends by the muscle groups that are contracting. Fibres already in a stretched position (before the onset of the isometric contraction) are prevented from contracting by the inverse myotatic reflex and stretch to greater extent.

Isometric Stretching Guidelines

Here are the general guidelines that must be followed if isometric stretching is to be beneficial…

1. Leave 48 hours between isometric stretching routines.

2. Perform only one exercise per muscle group in a session.

3. For each muscle group complete 2-5 sets of the chosen exercise.

4. Each set should consist of one stretch held for 10-15 seconds.

Last but not least we have PNF stretching

PNF stretching, (or proprioceptive muscular facilitation) is one of the most effective forms of flexibility training for increasing range of motion. PNF techniques can be both passive (no associated muscular contraction) or active (voluntary muscle contraction). While there are several variations of PNF stretching, they all have one thing in common – they facilitate muscular inhibition. It is believed that this is why PNF is superior to other forms of flexibility training. Both isometric and concentric muscle actions completed immediately before the passive stretch help to achieve autogenic inhibition – a reflex relaxation that occurs in the same muscle where the golgi tendon organ is stimulated. Often the isometric contraction is referred to as ‘hold’ and the concentric muscle contraction is referred to as ‘contract’.

Amazing Spider-Man 003_21

Now I will science your face off

When a muscle is suddenly stretched, the nervous system sends out a flag called the stretch reflex, also known as myotatic reflex. This reflex causes the muscle to contract, thus, putting a block on any further increase in amplitude to protect itself from harm. However, through training, the critical point at which this reflex is fired can be reset to a higher level. Also, with increased stretching over time, the number of muscle sarcomeres is thought to increase in series. These new sarcomeres are added onto the end of the existing myofibrils.

With increased stretching over time the fascial sheaths encasing your muscles – the epimysium, endomysium, and perimysium may undergo semi-permanent change in length. Other tissues adapting to the stretch include tendons, ligaments, fascia, and scar tissue.

muscle_anatomy

Another theory suggests that muscle cells may control and modulate stiffness and elastic limit co-ordinately by selective expression of specific titan isoforms.  Meaning, some muscular tissue in the body is better suited for flexibility increase than others.

Stretching is thought to stimulate the production and retention of gel-like substances called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). These GAGs, along with water and hyaluronic acid, lubricate connective tissue fibers, maintaining a critical distance between them. This prevents the fibres from touching one another and sticking together. As a result, excessive cross-linkages are not formed.

Now that you are all suitably scienced up, proceed on your way to agility

As we like to keep our training efficient at Level Up, perform static stretches, with a few isometric stretches for good measure at the end of a resistance workout. Not only does it save on time, but also yields the greatest flexibility results, various studies and my own personal knowledge and experience support this. When performing this routine, work up gradually. Move into the stretch slowly until you only just feel the stretch then hold it for 20 to 30 seconds. If you force the stretch too far or over train to get results faster, you may end up damaging ligaments and tendons. EEK.

Each new stretching session push the stretch a little further, build gradually and avoid injury. Train hard but train conscientiously. This is the very same regime the your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor followed to achieve box-splits. It works.

Adductor stretch: These aren’t like dynamic lunges for hypertrophy, lower your body slowly, being sure to keep your back straight as possible throughout. Keep the leg to be stretched bolt straight and locked in position. As with all stretches hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

Hamstring stretch: This will be the toughest, hamstrings are tightened on a daily basis; when we are seated and walking are enough to reduce their flexibility. Persevere beloved reader.

Calf Stretch: only hold the wall for balance and keep both feet completely flat on the floor. The leg of the rear calf being stretched must be kept bolt straight and locked in position.

Quadriceps stretch: Unlike with the other stretching exercises, you can make an exception with the tough and durable quadriceps, and really pull the stretch with all your might.

Abdominal stretch, Lying oblique stretch, Lumbar stretch,  Gonna need a flexible waist for all those web-slinging maneuvers. Nuff said

The splits: That’s right, beloved reader, the ultimate flexibility attainment. Your friendly neighbourhood Rogue advisor searched high and low to find a decent and safely instructed video to demonstrate how to achieve this. Diagrams will not suffice. But worry not! yours truly discovered this exceptional Australian Martial artist, Mr Rick Spain.


spiderman reading

For more on stretching and flexibility, check out: Stretching Scientifically by Tom Kurz, The Anatomy of Stretching by Brad Walker and for the Martial artists among you, Ultimate Flexibility: A Complete Guide to Stretching for Martial Arts by Sang H. Kim

Until next time. Stay informed.