Coming Soon, DSW Part 4: The Amazonian Warrior Workout

Greetings, true believers.

As voted by you, the next in the series of truly hardcore DSWs is in the works. Do you have what it takes to tackle the gruelling training that an Amazonian Warrior Princess endures?

That’s right, beloved readers, the next Designer Superhero Workout will be the Justice League’s total babe; Wonder Woman.

Who wouldn't want that. . . I mean want to be like that. Ahem.

Who wouldn’t want that. . . I mean want to be like that. Ahem.

As more often than not these brutal series of workouts, lead to that vile burrow of the jocks and meatheads known as the gym.

Thus our good chum and patriot, (for USA at least), Captain America will be dishing out advice on how to deal with the war zone that is the gym.

Hustle people. Get your ass to the post office, quick sharp.

Hustle people. Get your ass to the post office, quick sharp.

Stay tuned for more.

Until next time. Stay informed.

“These Aren’t the Roids You’re Looking for”

A terrible  thought crossed my ever pontificating mind that after reading some of the training articles here at Level Up, some beloved readers may be tempted to take a chemically assisted shortcut to hypertrophy. Thus, it is my duty to inform you on the pros and cons, and of course science y’all upside the head.

These ARE the Droids you're looking for however.

These are the Droids you’re looking for however.

Anabolic Steroids

Yup. That terrible buzz-word has finally appeared on Level Up, but fear not, your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor is here to keep you informed of the effects, side-effects and dangers of these nefarious chemical compounds. The advice bit will follow, but in the interests of true journalism, (I’m qualified and everything now.Yay), I present a the tale of how they came to be.

Percy Lavon Julian, unsung hero of medical science

This man is responsible for a myriad of medical breakthroughs.

This man is responsible for a myriad of medical breakthroughs.

Overall our knowledge of the great people who brought us groundbreaking milestones in medical science is pretty lacklustre. Can you honestly say that you have ever heard of this great man?

Occasionally a scientist will be so prominent as to be noticed by all; Albert Einstein is an obvious example, also consider those who are well-known for their inventions, again an obvious example would be someone like Thomas Edison. It is sad but true that the vast majority of the things we use every day were created by people whose names are unknown to us; because they never got credit for them or we just plain old couldn’t be bothered to learn who the brainiac was.

If you look in your medicine cabinet, at least half of what you find there was because of the genius of Percy Lavon Julian. Born April 11, 1899 he was one of the first African-Americans to receive a doctorate in chemistry. He was the first African-American chemist inducted into the National Academy of Sciences, and the second African-American scientist inducted from any field.

Our unsung hero working hard.

Our unsung hero working hard.

He specialised in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants, it was one of the most crucial advancements in modern medicine. Ever used birth-control pills? An asthma inhaler? Taken medication for arthritis, eczema, chronic lung illness or even cancer?

You can thank Percy Julian for inventing the steroids required to produce them. On these merits alone, Julian should have been recognised and revered. He wasn’t however, because he was a black man living under the Jim Crow laws. Enacted between 1876 and 1965 these laws mandate a “separate but equal” status for African-Americans. The separation in practice led to conditions for African-Americans that tended to be inferior to those provided for white Americans, systematizing a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages.

Some examples of Jim Crow laws are the segregation of public schools, public places, public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants, and even drinking fountains. Even the U.S. military was also segregated. Before Julian made his epic discoveries, he was a promising chemist and was hired as a faculty member at the traditionally black school Howard University. No other African-American had ever earned a PhD in chemistry up to that point, due to the ridiculous Jim Crow laws, but that would not stop Julian.

Despite his talents and intellect, no school would offer him a place in a doctoral program; but he persevered and applied to overseas schools, eventually securing himself a fellowship to get his doctorate in Vienna, Austria. Julian sent letter after letter to one of his colleagues back at Howard University. Unwisely he bragged about his sexual exploits and gossiped about his former co-workers. Some years later when he returned to work for Howard, his colleague whom had received all the letters, he and Julian had a falling out. The letters were handed to the black press and published, tarnishing his reputation.

This was then compounded by him having an affair with his assistant’s wife. He was forced to quit University; humiliated and vilified by the black press. This remained a problem, as they chose to hold a grudge against him for years. A paint company in Chicago called Glidden hired him as director of research, an unprecedented move at the time, considering the laws. It was here that he saw the research he was performing could do much more than make paints. In 1940, Julian discovered the technique to isolate the hormones progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone from; wait for it, soybean oil! Following this discovery he was able to synthesize $10,000 worth of these hormones a day.

That's right, beloved reader. Julian's genius was such, that he could use the oils of this humble food to create hormones.

That’s right, beloved reader. Julian’s genius was such, that he could use the oils of this humble food to create hormones.

Within a few years this led to another scientist figuring out how to use cortisone to treat arthritis. He later started his own company to synthesize steroid intermediates from the Mexican wild yam. His work helped reduce the cost of steroid intermediates to large multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Julian on the cover of Time magazine for his achievements.

Julian on the cover of Time magazine for his achievements.

During his lifetime he received more than 130 chemical patents. Yet, even after all his achievements, becoming an award-winning scientist, a wealthy businessman and community member, Julian and his family still had to suffer prejudice and segregation because of the ridiculous and prejudiced Jim Crow laws. During the 1960’s equal rights movements were becoming stronger, more forceful.

Julian was loath to adopt a more aggressive way of fighting for equality. but he eventually joined the NAACP, (whose tactics at ensuring equality were a lot more aggressive than they are now), It is heartbreaking, for a man of such significant accomplishments to resort to violent methods against bigotry that shouldn’t even ever have existed. But people can only be pushed so far before taking drastic measures.

But that story ended on such a negative. Why, Rogue Advisor, would you subject us to this?

Apologies, beloved reader, but the tale had to be told

The pros of roids 

Various anabolic steroids on display there. Not to sure whether the dumbbell shaped thing should be taken orally or I.V.

Various anabolic steroids on display there.
Not to sure whether the dumbbell shaped thing should be taken orally or intravenously?

Anabolic steroids by definition are a synthetic derivatives of testosterone. Modern anabolic steroids are created from Mexican Sarsaparilla root, (wild yam). The root itself has no anabolic qualities in its natural form, but can be synthesised into testosterone. Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, it is produced by the testes, in layman’s terms ‘balls’.

It is an androgen responsible for hypertrophy and also an androgenic, which causes facial hair to grow and the deepening of voice etc. Testosterone is the big daddy when it comes to  growth and repair of tissues such as skeletal muscle. The primary mode of anabolic action with all anabolic/androgenic steroids is the activation of cellular androgen receptors to increase protein synthesis, thus the requirement for a perfect diet, chock full of glorious tasty protein filed foods, and also a genetic ‘blessing’ to have a great number of these receptors.

Feel informed.

That’s the stuff produced by your balls guys.

We are all born with a certain amount of these and that is that, they cannot be increased nor decreased. The number of receptors is set in stone until the end of our days, thus anabolic steroids will not have a noticeable effect on anyone with a low androgenic receptor count. For those of you a high amount of androgenic receptors, consider this: Working out actually destroys the skeletal muscle tissue, breaking it down and leaving it temporarily weak.

The body, being the wondrous adaptive machine that it is, then reacts to this by re-growth of the muscle tissue. When they are fully healed again, they are better prepared for the stresses that caused the initial damage by adapting to the new input with increased strength and hypertrophy.

This is the Supervillain 'Balloon Man', his powers include looking hideous.

This is the Supervillain ‘Balloon Man’, his powers include looking hideous.

This anabolic process require resting and eating enough protein, unfortunately, many factors can limit the amount of protein we can absorb and the rate at which we absorb it, therefore slowing our progress and limiting the gains from our workouts. That’s where the appeal of taking the chemical shortcut comes in; The faster the skeletal muscle regenerate via protein synthesis, the sooner you can pump iron again.

Supplementing external anabolic compounds increases hormone levels, and thus the speed and efficiency of protein absorption, speeding up the muscular regeneration, thus being able to pound the iron more often, thus building strength and size at a  greatly increased frequency. However, even if you’re pumping yourself full of roids, if you don’t genetically have enough  androgen receptors to deal with them, don’t consume enough protein  and miss workouts; you’ll be wasting time. Anabolic steroids alone do not build alone. You have to do the work, the diet and have the receptors.

The cons of roids

Little fella will never be the same again.

Little fella will never be the same again.

There were already a few cons in the pros section, how bad can it be?

Legalities: I don’t really need to go into this do I? It’s against UK law. Nuff said. Acne: Rampant acne is one of the more obvious indicators of steroid use. The sebaceous glands, which secrete oils in the skin, are stimulated by androgens, increasing the level of skin hormones, enhancing the output of oils. It most commonly causes large patches of acne to  develop on the back, shoulders and more often than not the face. Not such a bad side effect? Try the rest of them.

Aggressive behavior: Can be one of the scarier sides of steroid use. Men are typically more aggressive than women because of the significantly higher testosterone difference, and especially increasing this with the use of steroids. Yet some bodybuilders and powerlifters like this effect for the use of lifting heavier and more explosive.

But is that really worth hurting people for? Especially if one were to enter a rage and hurt a friend, family member etc. It most definitely is not the Superhero / Level Up  way of doing things. Yet some bodybuilders and powerlifters like this effect for the use of lifting heavier and more explosive.

You'll be sorry. Too a lot of people, maybe even those you love.

You’ll be sorry. Too a lot of people, maybe even those you love.

Birth defects: Anabolic steroids can have a profoundly impact on the development of a fetus. Adrenal Genital Syndrome in particular is a very disturbing occurrence, in which a female fetus can develop male reproductive organs. Woman should not use anabolic steroids or other medications that may be harmful to the fetus, and always check with your doctor first.

Blood clotting: Anabolic steroids have been proven to increase prothrombin time, or the duration it will take for a blood clot to form. This basically means that while an individual is taking steroids, he/she may notice that it takes slightly longer than usual for a small cut or nosebleed to stop seeping blood. This leads to exacerbated life threatening situations if the athlete ever requires invasive surgery.

Heart damage: If the steroids in question are being administered intravenously, they will always pass through the tricuspid valve of the heart, the first through which de-oxygenated blood flows through in order to be re-oxygenated for the next cardiovascular cycle. If enough damage is caused to the valve, de-oxygenated blood will flow back the way it entered, damaging the valve even more and reducing hemoglobin levels.

All that scar tissue, ruining it's functions, will never heal.

All that scar tissue, ruining it’s functions, will never heal.

Liver damage: As with everything that is taken orally, it will at some point be processed by the liver. And of course damage it, irreparably. Even a long-term alcoholic can recover around 60% of their liver’s original functionality. Steroid damage to the liver is permanent.

And this, beloved reader, is the irreparable damage to the kidneys through anabolic steroid usage.

And this, beloved reader, is the irreparable damage to the kidneys through anabolic steroid usage.

Kidney damage:  Since your kidneys are involved in the filtration and removal of byproducts from the body, the administration of steroidal compounds (which are largely excreted in the urine) will cause them some level of strain. There is actually some evidence to suggest that steroid use can be linked to the onset of Wilms Tumor in adults, which is a rapidly growing kidney tumor.

Gynecomastia: The  medical term is for the development of female breast tissue in the male body. This occurs when the male is presented with unusually high level of oestrogen, particularly with the use of strong aromatizing androgens such as testosterone and the most popular oral steroid Dianabol. The excess estrogen can act upon receptors in the breast and stimulate the growth of mammary tissues. So if you want the boobs plus pecs combo guys, get roiding!

An A-cup at least, there are worse cases, and surgery is the only option.

An A-cup at least, there are worse cases, and surgery is the only option.

Testicular shrinkage: Steroids can make your balls shrivel up guys. Need I say any more? If that wasn’t enough it can cause baldness and prostate cancer.

I ain’t touching that s**t

Wise words. But the saddest truth is this:

Anabolic steroids are only a shortcut. The maximum hypertrophy any person can ever attain is genetically predetermined. It’s limited by your very DNA, you can only get so big. Why rush it? Also, most people can only produce roughly 1.5 pounds per week, your body actually limits the hypertrophy to take pressure from bones and joints. Steroid use cannot change this anatomical fact.

I rest my well-informed case.

True story.
I rest my well-informed case.

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.