My First Super Villain Part 2

WTF, beloved reader, it seems your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor actually has a nemesis. After the copyright vindication event from ‘My First Super Villain’, I continue to be harangued.

This is how yours truly depicts his nemesis.

This is how yours truly depicts his nemesis. Somewhat similar, but on differing paths of morality.

There is of course the possibility I have contracted a rare case of multiple Super Villains; whom may gang up on me Sinister Six style and give me a hard time of it like poor old Spidey.He seems to spend more time getting his ass kicked than kicking ass, then ends up running to the Fantastic Four for help. I feel for the web slinger, I really do, but I don’t want to spend a single day filling his shoes.

Weird thing is, shortly after the copyright incident Google warned me that my Gmail account had been hacked into, and bizarrely, the only messages this fiend messed with were all the entries for the ‘No Disintegrations’ competition. The saboteur deleted all of them, yet left untouched emails containing sensitive personal information bar the one below. That means, regrettably, that I will not be able to add the other 671 to the ‘Original Character Database’.

Any of my beloved reader’s creations that are not in the database will be added if you would be so kind as to resend them. Google assure me the Gmail account is now safe. It is also clear, that while my villain is trying to destroy L.U.F.A.S with filthy underhanded tactics, he is also trying to rob me!

Trying to steal from a real rogue!

The circled section, is what was stolen from me.

The circled section, is what was stolen from me. £310.50! The Gaul!

 

WTF Rogue Advisor!

Fear not, beloved reader, for every bullet this cad fires at me simply re-establishes my invulnerability to such poorly applied larceny

And thanks to the clue in the attempted theft, I won't have to go far for it.

And thanks to the clue in the attempted theft, I won’t have to go far for it.

All funds, thanks to my rather efficient and helpful bank staff, have been returned and a fraud investigation is on the hunt for my nemesis. I’m not too sure if I want them to catch him or not.

Mayhaps my own brand of vigilante justice will be the required vindication. Your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor doesn’t mind getting red to the elbow bringing down villains.

In  his villainous arrogance, he left a damming clue; the money was taken by a company, that I assume my nemesis works for, (even Super Villains have day jobs, they need a lot of dough to cover the expense of all that ostentatious clothing and minion’s wages), in Southend-On-Sea, a vile and abhorrent seaside town, filled with cutthroats, bandits and hoodlums. Perfect territory for a villain to recruit like-minded evil doers.

This is what the abominable seaside town looks like. It has the longest pier in the world. Not that anyone gives 2 f**ks.

This is what the abominable seaside town looks like. It has the longest pier in the world. Not that anyone gives 2 f**ks.

 

so what’s your plan?

I have a good idea who is actually inconveniencing me, I won’t name them here, that’d give the game away, eh?

In the meanwhile, I will add my vision of my nemesis to the ‘Original Character Database’. Whoever they are, they earned it.

Until next time. Stay on your guard.

 

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.

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’.

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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.

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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.


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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.