To View The Sky; Empty Hand Part 5

Following on from Empty Hand Part 4, your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor presents you the with next mighty Kata in order of advancement through the formal Karate gradings.

Kanku Dai is the longest Kata in the Shotokan syllabus, with 65 movements and is the most complex and demanding Kata thus far.

It is the first of two Kanku katas; they do not follow the Embusen or ‘H’ shaped path, like the Heian Katas. Better start getting used to that, beloved reader, they seldom do from this point on.

That’s right, beloved readers, today we learn one of Shotokan karate’s most symbolic Katas. Ganbatte.

This is a shot of sunset on the South coast of Okinawa. Perhaps the inspiration for the Kata's naming.

This is a shot of sunset on the South coast of Okinawa.
Perhaps the inspiration for the Kata’s naming.

Kata History

Unlike most of the Kata that have Chinese origins, Kanku Dai was created  in Okinawa, rather than adapted and / or modified from the original Kung Fu as some are.

Before being changed to Kanku-dai, the kata was originally called Kushanku, (the Okinawan mis-pronunciation of Kung Siang Chin), the name taken from a Chinese military advisor who visited Okinawa under government orders.

He  resided  in Okinawa from 1756-1761. Kushanku, also called Kosokun in some styles of Karate, was a master of a variety of Chinese Martial Arts. He impressed the natives of Okinawa, by showing off his combat skills by easily dispatching larger opponents.

Sensei Sakugawa. Mighty in Martial skill and radical of beard.

Sensei Sakugawa. Mighty in Martial skill and radical of beard.

Okinawa’s top Martial Artist at that time was Tode Sakugawa. Sakugawa was one of the top students of monk and Astronomer Peichin Takahara. Takahara, sent his student to train under Kushanku as he believed him to be the most skilled Martial Artist to ever to set foot in Okinawa.

Sakugawa studied under Kushanku for 6 years. When Sakugawa was 28 years old, Kushanku passed away and from the teachings left to him devised the Kushanku Kata as a way to honour his instructor and in its own way act as documentation of what he had learned from his teacher.

This illustrates the importance of kata, not only are they the most practical method of Martial practice, but they preserve the knowledge of the techniques.

Although the kata is now named Kanku-dai, it is not an abbreviation of Kushanku. It was when Gichin Funakoshi introduced karate to mainland Japan he gave the Kata a new, Japanese name of Kanku-dai, which means to ‘to view the sky’. He also changed the names of many of the Kata he taught, to have Japanese names, such as the Passai became Bassai.

Once again our instructor will be that 80-year-old guy that can kick seven shades out of all of you

先 生 金 澤 弘 和

Sensei Hirokazu Kanazawa 

Sensei Kanazawa showing perfect form as always. And more nice scenery.

Sensei Kanazawa showing perfect form as always.
And more nice scenery.

観空大

Kanku Dai

The Bunkai

As you can see from the Kata, it contains pretty much all the techniques from the Heian Katas. Kanku Dai is where each of the Heian Katas, (Empty Hand Part 2), are derived, so it’s kind of like a compilation-and-then-some-Kata.

The father of the Heian Katas as it were, most Sensei thinking the Kata too complicated to teach to new students broke it down into 5 easier to learn, shorter Katas.

Until next time. Stay tuned for more.

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.

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.

Designer Superhero workouts Part 3: The Fastest Man Alive Workout

Alongside the Green Lantern, the Flash is kinda unique among the Justice League, in that he only has the one super power.

Superman has pretty much every power going, and as his epic tale continues he’s discovered even more powers, Hawkgirl is super strong and can fly, Martian Manhunter can fly, is super strong, (again), shape shift and read minds.

Batman of course needs no powers, he is and always will be superior to all of them. Just watch the movie ‘Justice League: Doom’ for irrefutable proof.

Even more so than the other extreme hard-core DSW’s, the Flash’s is an extremely intense, high volume and time-consuming regime; you’ll need keen time management skills to fit this regime into your lifestyle.

This borderline insane routine will involve gruelling cardiovascular work, flexibility and resistance training. Now that I’ve either inspired you to rise to the challenge or tell me to get stuffed, I present:

The Fastest Man Alive Workout

I'd be looking smug too if I had the best superpower of all. Your arguments are invalid.

I’d be looking smug too if I had the best superpower of all. Your arguments are invalid.

There will be no hypertrophy work, (that’s not to say you won’t have some hypertrophy, it’s unavoidable), but a lot of fat burning cardio.

The justification for this is to keep the physique as sleek and light as possible; the less weight to move-the faster it will be propelled. Simple.

By the end of the 12 week program you will end up having a sexilly low body fat percentage; probably in the region of a mere 10%, maybe even as low as 7%, (bearing in mind the average body fat percentage here in the UK is 30 to 40%).

This won’t make you look skinny or ‘twiggy’ though, on the contrary, it will enhance the definition of your skeletal muscle. People will be able to use you like a living anatomy chart, and sculptors will want to carve statues in your likeness.

A six-pack is without any shadow of a doubt on the agenda, (or possibly an eight-pack, a rarity dependant upon genetics). That and of course, the attribute that brought you to this article: speed. As per usual, we will have to rely on the ‘best’ instructional videos available on the web, until Level up has its own studio.

The first ever Flash, (not the Barry Allen style workout we use in this post), way back in 1940.  The first Flash was Jay Garrick.

The first appearance of the Flash, (not the Barry Allen we know and love today, (I refuse to base it in Wally West on sheer principle), way back in 1940.
The first Flash was Jay Garrick.
He looked rather daft.

Phase 1: Fat burning, base strength and flexibility – 2 Weeks

But why strength and flexibility training? Aren’t we going for super speed here?

We will be training strength because of the way the different muscle fibre types react to training. Low rep heavy weight training stimulates the Type IIb Glycolytic Fibers. This is already fully covered in the ‘Asgardian Power-House’ workout, it’s worth checking out so that you have a more thorough insight into why the workout is constructed this way.

Also referred to as ‘fast twitch’ fibers, (the name is a bit of  a giveaway to why we will be training them), because they contract with great force against heavy resistance, thereby removing the effort of movement.

Thus, you have on half of the speed equation. By improving flexibility, and thus agility, makes it is easier for a limb to move through it’s designed range of movement.

The easier it is to move through that plane of movement combined with the  ‘fast twitch’ muscle fibers removing the effort against resistance we have the other half of some kind of mutated athletic algebra.

Strength + Agility = Speed

The Flash of the 90's TV series, way to much hypertrophy to be believable.  Plus it was a well cheesy show.

The Flash of the 90’s TV series had way too much hypertrophy to be believable.
Plus it was a well cheesy show.
But Mark Hamill made some groovy guest appearances as the Trickster; a cheap-ass Joker rip-off.

The first part of each day is the toughest; your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor truly sympathises, as he has already endured such rigours and you will need to dig deep for the discipline, but the results are worth it.

As you read further, it will seem very like a very high volume of work, but that’s only in the early stages. Persevere, beloved reader, and everything will fall into a neatly science-filled package of logical athleticism.

Morning Cardio: Cardiovascular exercise first thing in the morning upon awakening and on an empty stomach. It’s the first and only thing you do upon awakening, no morning tea and crumpets, oh no.

It’s tough to find the motivation I know, even now, when your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor engages in such training. but the results are worth the work.

During this time you may consume zero calories; none of those vile, sugar-filled, diabetes instigating ‘sports’ drinks. water will be your only sustenance. The reason for this is glycogen based.

Glycogen is stored carbohydrates, mainly in the liver and the skeletal muscle. Most of the stored carbohydrates have been consumed by metabolic processes during the night whilst asleep as the body goes dutifully about its routine repairs, leaving only the subcutaneous fat to be burned during the morning cardio. Day one will be a 45 minute walk, brisk pace, but just a walk.

During low intensity activity such as this your body will derive its energy from fat rather than carbs anyway, but with no carbs stored up first thing in the morning, this cheeky tactic will ‘trick’ your metabolism, training it to actually want to burn fat more often than carbs. This is the principle of specificity.

Soon, beloved reader, you will be associated with this logo. Enjoy the speed.

Soon, beloved reader, you will be associated with this logo.
Enjoy the speed.

But with all this cheeky metabolic trickery, what happens to our metabolism when we do have carbs?

Never fear, beloved reader, carbs will still be used during high intensity training, as it will always remain the most readily available fuel source.

If you’re not doing any intense work, the carbs will be neatly stored away in the liver, (around ten percent of the liver’s mass is stored glycogen), and in the skeletal muscles, ready for action.

Now for the really hard part, once you’re done you’ll probably be hungry, but alas, the fat burning effect continues for around 90 minutes after the cardio. Thus, take advantage of this extra subcutaneous fat burning bonus and once again, consume naught but water, lots of water, it will make you feel full until you can break your fast.

Straight after the walk after follow the stretching routine outlined in ‘My common Sense is Tingling’. After all that discipline a rejuvenating breakfast is in order; plenty of replenishing carbs, but don’t go over the top with carbs, around 70 grams from quality whole grain sources and because you had no carbs in you to begin with, they will all be stored away, with  none of them converting to fat.

Oatmeal is the best option; add some complementary protein, 3 to 4 scrambled eggs with only half the yolk’s removed, (to reduce the fat content), will provide roughly 24 – 32 grams of high quality protein.

Carb-up after the morning walk, but from quality sources, no cereals though, they will mess with your Glycemic Index.

Carb-up after 90 minutes after the morning walk, but from quality sources, no cereals though, they will mess with your Glycemic Index in negative way, causing fat gain.
Wally West indignantly eats in front of a hungry ape. Dick.

The Resistance Training

Perform these workouts three times week; preferably Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings to allow recovery from the morning’s exertions and giving you the weekend away to rest from the gym but not the cardio.

All exercises a 4 sets of 6 reps, unless otherwise specified. Without extremely comprehensive home gym equipment, you will have to endure that sweaty dungeon permeated with man foam and twats known as a gym. About an hour before resistance training get a nice 30 grams of protein and 70 grams of carbs meal in you.

Some people find that they feel sick working out after solid food, if that’s the case for you, then try a high carb whey protein shake, they absorb quickly and won’t have you puking in the gym.

I dare you to go into the gym wearing this.

I dare you to go into the gym wearing this.

Lunges with split jump: The technique is quite difficult, perform a few sets to get used to it, then grab hold of some dumbbells, as heavy a weight as you can handle but with perfect form hitting each leg for six reps, that’s the amount of reps required to stimulate strength. Be sure to check your ceiling is high enough before doing this tricky exercise if you are training at home.

Standing leg curl: You’ve just blasted the front of your legs, it’s only fair to blast the back.

Alternate high cable crossovers: When sprinting, the body should be at a 5 degree forward angle. Thus, when the arms move forward, it’s the upper pectorals and anterior deltoids that are doing the work, and that’s what this exercise targets. They also give you a mean hook punch. Bonus.

Single arm cable rows: Just as when the arms go forward torso muscles, different torso muscles pull them back, now we hit the lats.

Alternating front dumbbell raises: Use the instructors preferred method of alternating the movement. Once again ‘sports specific’.

Bent over dumbbell laterals: You just hit that all important anterior deltoid for bringing the arm forward in the last exercise, now we hit the posterior deltoid for bringing the arm back. The lateral head of the deltoid would have got plenty of work from both these shoulder exercises.

Dumbbell side curls: The Purpose of this maneuver is to strengthen the outer head of the biceps, which are responsible for bending the elbow, (the larger inner head of the biceps only bends the elbow when the hand is fully supinated), and will facilitate and stabilize proper arm positioning during running.

Dumbbell kickbacks: The reverse movement of the arm when running, generates plyometric style power for the forward movement, thus dumbbell kick backs are the most ‘sports specific’ for our purposes.

Captain’s chair knee raises: Kinesiology, being the enigmatic mistress that she is, plays tricks with us. When most limbs move dynamically, hardly any of the muscles in it are being used. Whilst raising the knee vertically, it’s the abdominals that take the strain; so for a broader sprint stride, these are the perfect exercise. This is the one exception to the sets and reps rules, stick with 4 sets but aim for 12 to 15 reps, abs are durable and dense, they need an extra pounding.

Standing calf Raise: To add extra ‘spring’ to each sprinting stride, you’ll need decent calves, plus if you want a well-rounded physique you’ll want to be doing these.

Try to keep the ‘rest’ periods between sets to a mere 45 seconds, and definitely no longer than a minute. Once you’re done with that it’s immediately onto the stretching again.

Phase 2: Interval training, strength and more flexibility – 2 Weeks

We up the ante now by including LIIT, (Light Intensity Interval Training). 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.

Morning Cardio: Sorry, beloved reader, that morning struggle for discipline just got tougher. I’m not really endorsing this workout am I. You still have to go straight out for a 45 minute walk first thing in the morning, but now you’ll be adding some slightly higher intensity at regular intervals, by jogging every 5th minute. Keep it at a jogging pace only though, the sprints come later.

Soon, beloved reader, you will have the 'i'm going freakin' fast' blur lines following you.

Soon, beloved reader, you will have the ‘i’m going freakin’ fast’ blur lines following you.

Then continue to build the jogging part each day. On day two walk for three minutes then jog for 2 and so on. By day 9 of this two-week block you should be up and out of bed and doing a full on 45 minute jog.

This once again ‘tricks’ your metabolism, but now into wanting to burn fat at higher intensities. If you had been jogging 45 minutes at the start of the workout, your metabolism would have had a panic attack and started breaking down muscle tissue for the liver to convert into carbs, keeping the body desiring glucose instead of fat for energy.

The Resistance Training: Breath a sigh of relief, beloved reader. Nothing changes with the resistance training until phase 3. Just keep trying to increase the weight.

Phase 3: Interval training, strength / endurance blending and of course flexibility – 4 Weeks

Morning Cardio: Now we up the ante once again: sprints. You don’t need to do this first thing in the morning anymore, but wait at least an hour after breakfast before going berserker at it.

It’s now reduced to 30 minutes. Because of the intensity of this phase’s cardio, you’ll only be doing it three times a week in between resistance training days. No longer do we flirt with flimsy old LIIT training, now you’re going for HIIT, you guessed it, High Intensity Interval training. Begin by just jogging 5 minutes for a warm-up, during the next 30 minutes continue jogging but convert every 5th minute into an all-out-give-it-everything-you’ve-got sprint.

This is what I mean by

This is what I mean by an all-out-give-it-everything-you’ve-got sprint.

Each day add 15 seconds to the sprinting section until you reach a 2/3 ratio of jogging / sprinting respectively. Don’t convert any of the last 10 minutes to sprints, just jog to cool off from the extreme intensity of the  workout, jog pleasantly for 5 minutes after the last sprint to cool down, then get down to your beloved stretching routine. However, sports science dictates there is actually a perfect sprinting technique. Follow the advice below.

Resistance Training

Now we get down to some wonderful supersets, these are explained more fully in the Spider Man DSW. We will be mainly engaging in opposing muscle group supersets.

This is 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. Now because you’ll be doing 2 exercises back to back, your ‘tricking’ your skeletal  muscles again.

Each exercise will still be 6 reps but by moving straight on to the next one, you’ll actually be doing 12 reps, the range required for muscular endurance. Thus we have the skeletal muscles contracting fast and strong, and also over an extended period. Your workout will look like this:

Lunges with split jump / Standing leg curl

Alternate high cable crossovers / Single arm cable rows

Alternating front dumbbell raises / Bent over dumbbell laterals

Dumbbell side curls / Dumbbell kickbacks

Captain’s chair knee raises / Standing calf Raise

The last superset is the exception to the ‘rule’, utilising staggered supersets, by doing this your body will adapt to lifting the knee of the front leg high and rapidly, whilst the calf adds ‘spring’ for propulsion from the rear leg. Then you know the drill: stretching. You love it.

This will make the workout shorter but way more intense, but should last only thirty minutes so get a high protein, high carb meal in straight after stretching; aim for 40 grams of protein and 90 grams of carbs for maximum recovery.

Make sure you get proper rest and nutrition, especially with the last 4 weeks high intensity workouts. Get 4 to 5 meals a day, around 25 to 30 grams of protein and roughly twice that in carbs, ensure all meals are at least three hours apart so that the liver can effectively deal with the nutrients. Get as much sleep as possible too, minimum 7 hours per night, 9 if possible.

Make sure you get proper rest and nutrition, especially with the last 4 weeks high intensity workouts.
Get 4 to 5 meals a day, around 25 to 30 grams of protein and roughly twice that in carbs, ensure all meals are at least three hours apart so that the liver can effectively deal with the nutrients. Get as much sleep as possible too, minimum 7 hours per night, 9 if possible.

So what’s next?

That’s the whole 12 weeks. By the end of it you will be strong, durable and flexible and of course, freakin’ fast.

The last phase is the ultimate phase, just continue with the last phase for as long as you like and if you get bored with the exercises and the exercise order, you can substitute them for others that work the same group of muscles. If you want to improve sprinting even further, invest in some ankle and wrist weights, by the time you take them off you’ll make Usain Bolt look like he’s made of lead, trying to run through swamp land with the Juggernaut pushing him backwards.

Or for a massive Wally West sized ego boost, enter some sporting events. Performing this routine will leave all others in your dust in short and long distance sprints. More Flash.

Stay tuned for more.

Until next time. Stay informed.

“Help Me, Beloved Reader, You’re My Only Hope.”

A Level Up fan has a plan, an attempt to get an audition for the next Star Wars movie.

Your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor is always willing to assist a L.U.F.A.S fan, but I cannot do this alone.

With your help beloved reader, we can make a difference.

With your help beloved reader, we can make a difference.

Thus beloved reader, I beseech and implore you for help in this matter of epic proportions.

How satisfying would it be to see one of my beloved readers in Star Wars. It would make this larcenous heart proud.

The man in question is Dave Walpole, just watch his promotional video and honestly tell me you wouldn’t want to help this man.

Assisting in his quest is simple just email the video by copying its URL to this email: dave_walpole@yahoo.ca

Please be sure to note the ‘dot,ca’ for Canada.

Until next time. Assist your fellow Star Wars fans.

Tatsu Maki Sen Pu Kyaku! L.U.F.A.S’ Second Competition Winner!

On May 14th  your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor set the task to create an original Street Fighter Character to win a rather humble prize.

Using the awesome Hero Machine 2.5 you, beloved reader, had the challenge to create a unique awesome character.

The response was even better than before, thus even though the deadline for entries was the 21st, the colossal task of selecting the best from so many awesome characters has taken yours truly until now to decide who will become the proud new owner of a little plush Ryu.

Without further ado let us peruse and pontificate upon these marvels of pugilistic creation

Old Man Tang

Old Man Tang by Orest Chekansky, Minsc, Russia.

Old Man Tang. By Orest Chekansky, Minsc, Russia.

Special Moves

Drunken dodge: press down twice; the old drunken master falls flat on his back, ducking under most attacks, he takes a second to recover, leaving him vulnerable.

Staggering charge: Down, forward down, forward; the charge causes minor damage but puts Master Tang on the other side of his opponent.

I’m not that old; Hold back one second then release forward – Tang spins his staff through the air at his opponent, but it has limited range and may just drop on the arena floor.

Have a drink on me: Press down, forward down, then forward – he proceeds to sup from his wine flask and then proceeds to spit it in his adversary’s face, stunning them, this gives him a chance to get close for his next move.

The drunken coup de grace; If he can get close enough, he can grab with light and middle punches, after which he somersaults over his opponent, and then proceeds to strangle them with the cord on his wine flask, whilst drinking out of it.

A brave effort but not the best i’m afraid Mr Chekansky, after inspecting the 203, (an even better result than the last number of entries. Yay.), I only wanted to include the one’s with Bios. The Bio wasn’t a prerequisite for the competition but extra detail brings the character to life. Still though 5th is still better than never posted.

Ax L Lee

By Daniel Ingrey, Brighton, UK.

By Daniel Ingrey, Brighton, UK.

Special Moves

Rock you like a hurricane: QCF + kick. Ax. L performs a roundhouse which he follows up with a hit by swinging his famed guitar, “Skeggöx”. Type of kick determines strength and speed of the attack.

Bat out of hell: QCB + punch. Ax. L summons a colony of bats that swarm at the enemy by hammering out a high-pitched riff on Skeggöx.

Raining Blood: Hold back for two seconds, forward + punch. Ax. L runs at his opponent and unleashes a barrage of punches. The punch chosen determines the distance.

Reign in Blood: Hold back for two seconds, forward + kick. Similar to Raining Blood, but this time Ax. L will jump in the air before landing and unleashing a combo of punches. Punch chosen determines distance again.

House of Pain: Back + middle punch. Ax. L swings Skeggöx forwards by holding the neck of the guitar. This counts as two hits.

Bio: Ex member of an 80s hair metal band, Ax. L turned to the Street Fighting circuit to make rent after his band’s declining sales in the 90s.

Nice try Mr Ingrey, but I can’t help but feel you’ve attempted to appeal to my love of 80’s and rock. Nice puns with the move names, very Slayer.

Kunio Maeda

By Adrian Bennett, Kansas, USA

By Adrian Bennett, Kansas, USA

Special Moves

Brass MonkeyPress down for a second then up for Kunio to perform a backflip that avoids any special attack.

U-BootPress forward and any kick button to perform a drop kick that will floor the opponent for one second.

Flaming Dr.PepperHold back for one second then forward and any punch button whilst close to the opponent, Kunio will burst into flame, grab his opponent and suplex them.

Hangman’s BloodWithin grappling distance of the opponent, press forward, down then down forward and all three punch buttons. Kunio whips off his tie and wraps it round their neck and power slams them into the floor.

Sake BombWithin grappling distance of the opponent, go through a full 360 degree rotation of the D-pad then press punch. Kunio will pick up his opponent, shake them around like a cocktail then tombstone them into the floor.

Bio: Kunio was the greatest bartender in Kyoto, he learned all his moves watching wrestling shows constantly whilst at work. He discovered he was immune to fire when a Yakuza racketeering operation burned his bar down with him tied up to a chair inside, because he refused to pay them.

A very unique character, your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor researched each of the moves; they are all real cocktails, thus I provided links for those beloved readers who enjoy a tipple. Nice angle Mr Bennet, but the stiff competition you are up against is legendary.

The Force

By Cyntac Wong. UK

By Cyntac Wong. Brent, UK

Special Moves

Kamehameha – LP/MP/HP: Fan Service for the DBZ Fans: Unleashes a ball of pure energy of differing power and speed (seeks at Max Power level and causes double chipping damage).

Iron Skin – HP + HK + MP + MK: Hardens the skin of The Force into Iron reducing Damage by 1/3rd for the duration of the effect and allows him to shrug off attacks (50% at Max Power Level).

Quad Slash – LK/MK/HK: Strikes out four times with his double Katana blades with each slash hitting harder and further. (each Kick hits at a different angle making it useful as an anti air attack).

Mind Flay – LP/MP/HP: Reaches out with his mind and grabs his opponent. (each punch activates a different type of throw. LP – Crush and Head Bash MP – Off Screen Throw HP – Ragdoll and Mind Snap).

Can Fly – by pressing LP + MK

Max Power Level – LK+MK+HK: The Force activates a reservoir of power being saved for troubled times. This gives him increased speed, damage resistance and damage. No chipping damage is taken and there is a small regenerative effect. Lasts 30 secs.

Hyper Combos: (consumes 1 energy bar),

Gaia Strike LP+MP+HP: Summons a Giant Fist rippling with energy and lava from the ground that smashes his opponent causing multiple hits and high damage. (if done whilst flying this comes from space with flames from re-entry thrown in).

Lightning Strike LK+MK+HK: The Force summons great bolts of lightning that arc out and strike the opponent at range while they swirl around him in a great column. This gathers rocks, street furniture, bits of buildings as well as his swords. The lightning bounces around these and The Force fires the whole death dealing bundle at his opponent.

Mega Combo: (consumes 3 energy bars),

Street Justice – LP+MP+HP: The Force reaches out a short distance with his mind and grabs his opponent. He closes and strikes them multiple times with his blades, and then launches them skyward with a kick after a flurry of elbows and knees. As the opponent stunned flies upwards he teleports above them nailing them with a Gaia Strike of pure energy he has created around himself ending at his fist. The opponent flies down with The Force driving them faster into the ground with the Gaia Strike and causing a huge impact.

If carried out with LK+MK+HK after launch he summons every last ounce of energy and detonates an H-Bomb an inch from their face. (causes more damage but renders him unable to use Hyper Combos or Max Power Level).

Bio: Able to manipulate Forces like any other Telekinetic except he has taken this down to a fine art by learning how to manipulate Small Nuclear Forces.

Able to create energy at will by simply fusing two hydrogen atoms together harnessing the energy that creates along with other vigorous chemical reactions.

A deep knowledge of science and chemistry has led to a number of other skills that are limited only by his imagination. This imagination has been tempered by study of the modern arts of comics and anime.

Fusing his own flesh into harder metals and conjuring items shaped of pure energy. Taking these materials and increasing their density 1000 fold to create impenetrable armour and devastating weapons.

This however calls up a huge effort to achieve and the huge amounts of energy yielded by one fusion are held in reserve and unlocked as he fights. Conservation of energy applies and he will eventually run out of this power leaving him with simple TK powers.

It takes hours of meditation to achieve a single fusion which must be done light years away from earth. To rush this would be too dangerous. When gearing up for a huge fight 3 or 4 fusions may be needed but in a pinch he can draw energy from any other matter.

He is untrained in serious fighting styles but actually uses gravity and other forces to unbalance his opponent, slow their movements and help predict what they will do next.

WOW! What a detailed and amazing entry from Mr Wong. The inclusion of powerbar details very nearly got you the prize, and the Bio is brilliantly in depth. A truly believable Street Fighter character.

Behold! To The Victor Go The Spoils!

雪詩織

Yuki Shiori

Natalie Raymond, Forest Gate, UK.

By Natalie Raymond, Forest Gate, UK.

Special Moves

Suriru Ni Odoru Enjeru Tachi, (Angels dancing in the thrill): By repeatedly hitting LP button she unleashes a flurry of slender throwing daggers, each causing tiny amounts of damage, (about as much as a blocked special move), and only have a range of roughly 2/3rd the screens width.

They render her immobile whilst she throws them, reducing her defences.

Itoshiki Rival, (Beloved Rival): This is a taunt move, by pressing back twice and LP or LK, she will flick her hair back in a provocative manner, blow them a kiss and giggle girlishly.

It leaves her vulnerable but if she pulls it off it will enrage the opponent, causing them to charge blindly at her. Very handy to do before the following move.

Asu E Tatchidaun, (Touchdown to tomorrow): She can jump onto the edge of the screen and jump off again, effectively double jumping like Chun-Li does, if timed properly she can somersault and land directly behind her opponent if they are close enough, (see above).

Kuraishisu-Ikari Wo Komete Hashire, (Crisis-Run with Anger): This is a charging technique, tap forward twice to close the gap, if timed correctly this works very well with the next move.

Wasurenaide, (Don’t Forget): In close proximity to an opponent  especially a grappler or wrestling type, press forward twice rapidly. Yuki will blow a powdered substance in their face, stunning them for a few seconds, the effects having made them forget where they are and what they were doing.

It does no damage, and has an extremely short range, virtually point blank. But does allow her a brief advantage.

Akuma To Tenshi No Kisu, (Devil and Angel’s Kiss): By pressing down, forward down, forward then any punch in one smooth movement, Yuki will throw one of her manrikigusari, (the ninja-tastic weapons she has in  each hand), which will momentarily stick in them

It has a range of about 2/3rds of the screen, and causes damage damage based on which punch used, but LP is faster.

She has about a millisecond before her opponent instinctively pulls it out, but if she’s fast enough and presses the same D-pad and punch button, the other will stick into them and she will then she will spin, pulling both of the weapons out of them causing additional damage. The manrikigusari then return to her hands.

Mayonaka No Etoile, (Midnight Opera): Press diagonally away, down then back followed by either all three punches or kicks.

This is a teleportation move; she’ll disappear in a puff of smoke and reappear either directly behind her opponent if all three punches were used, or as far away from the opponent as possible if all three kicks were used.

This could be anywhere on screen calculated by the greatest possible distance from the opponent.

Konya Wa Hurricane, (Tonight a hurricane): Press down, forward down then forward + any punch, this is kinda like a hadouken move but the little hurricanes she releases are quite slow, more often than not that’s the point if the move, like most of her other moves, to tactically position her opponent for the actual attack she wishes to use. She can also perform this whilst jumping, the release of the small hurricane allows her to stay in the air for a short time.

Misuteriasu Naito, (Mysterious Night): Press LP-LP back LK+HP, the screen will go dark for a moment, the only thing to be seen are a flurry of blows from Yuki in rapid succession, leaving her opponent on the floor. Similar to Akuma an evil Ryu’s special move.

Bio: Her birth name was Yuiko Tanaka and she was raised by fairly wealthy parents in one of the more pleasant districts of Osaka, she never had to want for much and this led to her becoming undisciplined and lazy.

She was an only child, so without any siblings she was spoiled rotten by them. Even allowing her to set up a music recording studio in her home and starting an all girl band with her equally lazy and rich friends, she was the vocalist and sometimes rhythm guitarist. They were called ‘The Blade Runners’, and actually had quite a following.

At one of their gigs in a fairly high profile venue called ‘Boomers’, they played one of their best gigs ever, they seemed totally professional. Fortunately for them a talent hunter from Toshiba EMI was at the gig, and they were about to get a contract for at least three albums.

That night they celebrated, a little too hard. Full of booze and recreational drugs Yuiko grabbed a bottle of water from the bar and decided to walk the six miles home to sober up enough that her parents hopefully wouldn’t realise that she’d been up to stuff her parents would have her grounded for.

After the first mile and a half she decided it was a bad idea and started trying to hitch a ride home. A limousine pulled over and offered her a ride. In the back of the limo she engaged in polite conversation with a portly man named Kobayashi San, who had two silent large ‘friends’ with him. They said not a word, she reckoned they were his carers at first, as Kobayashi San was so old.

It all seemed pretty hospitable at first, as far as she was concerned, anyone with a limo was rich and therefore respectable. They weren’t, they were kidnapping her. The two silent ‘carers’, she now realised were in fact hired thugs. They quickly bound and gagged her, she struggled as best she could, but with all the alcohol and drugs in her she didn’t put up much of a fight.

For days, maybe weeks she was like this, not knowing where she was, only knowing something was happening when she was manhandled from the car.

Once off the car her bonds and blindfold were removed, when she looked around she saw why they were no longer necessary. She was far North, she knew that because she was surrounded by snow capped mountains. Whilst lazy in her studies, she knew well enough the geography of her own country. She was in Hokkaido. Hundreds of miles from home.

Her kidnappers locked her in a cabin and left her there with the bare minimum of living utilities. This was far removed from the luxurious lifestyle she was used to.

As soon as she was locked up, she overheard the kidnappers making some phone calls, luck was beginning to find her, the hangover was gone now she could think clearly and the cabin walls were thin and she could hear almost every word. They were holding her for ransom, but what they did not realise is that they had taken the wrong person.

Yuiko knew this meant she wasn’t valuable to them anymore. She had to escape. And fast, she scanned the ramshackle hut for anything to get her out.

There weren’t any windows and the door whilst weak was reinforced with iron bindings and plenty of chains and other locks. Desperately searching she found only a broomstick  At least she could give one of them a whack before they killed her.

As she sat there, resigned to her fate, a ray of sunlight made her squint. It originated from a very weak looking ceiling. She could hear her kidnappers arguing outside, luck was with her again, she had some cover noise.

She made haste piling up the crappy and sparse furniture in the cabin to climb up to the ceiling and began bashing it with the broomstick. The ceiling gave way easily but the arguing outside had stopped and she could hear the bolts and locks being opened on the other side of the door. This brought her more precious time.

She climbed through the ceiling to the roof and had feeling of horror, all around was vast fields leading only to mountains, and she still had to make an eight foot drop without breaking her legs and somehow outrun large thugs to getaway. After sizing up the jump, she slowly positioned herself at arms length dangling from the edge of the roof, but she couldn’t find the courage to let herself drop, that was until she heared the door open and the thugs, not realising she was on the roof start ransacking the cabin looking for her.

This gave her all the motivation she needed, she let go of the roof and fell awkwardly, dislocating a shoulder. That wouldn’t stop her from running as fast as her legs could carry her. She ran faster than she thought she could ever run, partly due to fear for her life and partly from all the cardiovascular exercise she’d had dancing on stage and in nightclubs.

By the time the thugs realised where she had gotten too, she had a good head start. the thugs were on the roof, guns at the ready, but they made the mistake of simply jumping straight down the eight foot drop, the first one landed running, gun pointed in her direction, the second landed badly, twisting his ankle and misfiring his gun, shooting his colleague in the butt, slowing him considerably, but not quite enough, he was still closing the distance.

As he closed the distance he began to fire, most bullets missing except for one, hitting her in the calf, flooring her. She got back up and tried to hobble away. As the thug was reloading his gun a flash of thrown steel came out of nowhere, neatly impaling his trachea and slowly choking the thug to death on his own blood. She heard a blood curdling scream from the cabin and then another.

Then an old man suddenly appeared next to her as she lay on the floor, blood gushing from her calf and looking exhausted. He threw her upon his shoulder and with speed she never thought possible ran towards the mountains.

For weeks the kindly, yet mysterious and a little scary old man nursed her back to health in a secret training compound high in the mountains. They had many conversations during this recovery period. Turns out his name was Kage and he was the last of the Yuki clan of ninja. With no one left to pass his ninjutsu secrets to he offered to train her. She happily accepted, never wanting to feel that weak or afraid again.

For five years, she trained rigorously under the kind old ninja’s tutelage and learned all the Yuki clan secrets. Ninja training she found was unique from clan to clan.

The Yuki clan’s teaching method involved singing to complete each technique, something that came naturally to her. When her training was complete, Kage renamed her, she was now Yuki Shiori, roughly translated into English; Snow poem.

When the the old man had nothing left to teach her he suddenly became very ill, as if passing his knowledge to her was the last thing he was fated to do before he expired. When the old man passed away, she equipped herself with a vast array of ninjutsu gear and buried her Sensei. Then made her way back to the cabin,

Two thugs corpses were there, so she looted them for money, and the limo was also still there, the corpse of Kobayashi San slumped by the driver’s seat door, throat slit from ear to ear and a wide eyed look of incredulity on his pale lifeless face. Looting his body was a true windfall, rolls of cash in golden money clips and expensive jewellery that she could pawn on her journey back to Osaka in the limo she had no qualms about stealing.

After weeks of driving south for weeks  she finally made it back to Osaka. She dumped the stolen limo, and headed straight for her parents house. At first they were overjoyed to see her, but they sensed the dramatic change in her and from then on were apprehensive around her, almost fearful.

Being 26 years old now, and having a shed load of looted gangster cash, she decided to get her own place, in the apartment above the bar where she had played her last gig. She got the old band together, her voice was even better than ever, almost preternatural, she barely even required a microphone to be heard.

But with paying rent on the apartment and funding the band without a proper day job she was rapidly running low on funds. Then she heard about the Street Fighter contest . . . . .

Double WOW!!! That seals the deal, that swings the prize and all the glory is your’s Natalie. Such an in depth biography has astounded your friendly neighbourhood rogue Advisor, and you are clearly a Bubblegum Crisis fan as all the moves are named after songs by Priss and the Replicants. How can i possibly deny the prize to such worthy entry. Let me know where you would like your prize to be sent to, or alternatively as we live a few towns apart I could deliver it to you in person and have the pleasure of meeting one of my beloved readers.

For those of you who don’t know what bubblegum Crisis is follow the handy link. It is an Anime not to be overlooked, although it often is unfortunately.

Until next time. Keep creating.

Hadouken! L.U.F.A.S’ Second competition!

Welcome, beloved reader, to the second L.U.F.A.S competition.

Your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor regrets that the prize is humble, such is the nature of the impoverished Level Up. Using the handy link below you can access the incredibly fun Hero Machine 2.5. With enough creativity, one can make any kind of character using it. Thus you are hereby challenged to create a Street Fighter character.

Hero Machine 2.5

Isn't it a wonderful feeling to kick seven shades of s**t out of your mates in video game format.

Isn’t it a wonderful feeling to kick seven shades of s**t out of your mates in video game format.

The rules are simple; create a pugilistic enamoured character using the awesome Hero Machine 2.5, and email it to your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor for the chance to be the proud new owner of a little plush Ryu.

Ha-freakin'-Do-Ken y'all.

Ha-freakin’-Do-Ken y’all.

Behold! An example character, with special moves included, that is one of the parameters of winning.

Streetfighterpunk

Lex O’Leary. She’s Irish, she’s punk, and she has weird special moves.
The palm trees and giant mosquitoes are completely irrelevant. I just liked that background.

After making a glorious image of pugilistic excellence, detail the character’s moves, using references to light, medium and heavy punch and kick buttons, and explain how to pull them off on the  joystick / D-pad.

Lex O’Leary’s Special moves

Celtic fury: Lex spins both pairs of her nunchuks, kinda like E Honda‘s hundred hand slap – press any punch button rapidly, the stronger the punch the weaker her defence will be.

Luck o’ the Irish: This move allows her to dodge any attack if timed properly – press forward, diagonally forward  down, then forward.

Have that you Sassenach: Lex dashes across the screen, grabs her opponent and smashes her forehead into their nose, splaying it across their face in a red smear of gristle and gore – hold the directional button back for one millisecond, then press forward and all three punch buttons at the same time.

Four leaf clover slam: With this devastating maneuver, Lex slips around the back of her opponent and puts them in a kind of full nelson grappling style grab but by holding them fast with her nunchuks.

Once she has them in her paddy clutches, she then proceeds to backflip their face into the floor 4 times in a row – press forward, then a full rotation of the joystick / D-pad to grab them and then press punch, the lighter the punch the faster she pulls it off but the less damage she does and visa versa.

Goddamn that's a cool picture. be inspired.

Goddamn that’s a cool picture. Be inspired.

Now it’s your turn, beloved reader

Make your Street Fighter character with special moves explained then email them to your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor. Deadline for entries is the 21st May. The best entries will be blogged and immortalised for all to admire.

leveluprogueadvisor@gmail.com

Until next time. Keep creating.

To Storm a Castle; Empty Hand Part 4

Following on from Empty Hand Part 3, your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor presents you the with next mighty kata in order of advancement through the formal Karate gradings.

This powerful display of Shotokan prowess does what it says on the tin. This is the Kata you need when you really have to kick seven shade of s**t out of every mother fu**er in the place. Bassai Dai means ‘To Storm a Castle’.

It is the first of two such brutal katas; they do not follow the Embusen or ‘H’ shaped path of the five katas presented in Empty Hand Part 2, but move at varying different angles as if attacking and being attacked by multiple attackers in a close environment.

This s how you do the business D&d style. Non-D7D players will have to use that seldom come by stuff called imagination.

This is how you storm a castle D&D style. Non-D&D players will have to use that seldom come by stuff called imagination. D&D is awesome. Deal with it.

Kata History

Born in 1796, Sokon ‘Bushi’ Matsumura created Bassai Dai, he was a pioneer of the practice and the development of the Okinawan style of Shuri Te. He began his training at the age of 14, by the age of 25 he was acknowledged for his achievements in Martial skill. Matsumura’s combat prowess and fearsome reputation got him a massive promotion as Chief Of Security to the Okinawan King. In effect he was head bodyguard.

An honourable position, but an unenviable one, the Okinawan King was little more than a puppet to the Japanese overlords. It was these same overlords who banned the carrying of weapons on Okinawa, (ironically triggering the birth of both Karate and Kobudo), even the bodyguards to the Okinawan King were not allowed to carry weapons.  Making them the only bodyguards to a head of state in history who were not allowed to carry weapons.

Due to the technology of Japan's' isolation at that time, this is the best picture you're gonna get of him. Deal with it.

Due to the technology of Japan’s isolation at that time, this is the best picture you’re gonna get of him. Deal with it.

In 1853,  Japanese isolationism was forcibly ended by an American fleet led by Commodore Perry.  An often overlooked footnote of history is that Perry stopped at Okinawa merely for supplies, before going to Japan to go about his true business.

Whilst seeming arrogant and headstrong, Perry understood the Japanese mindset at that time. He deliberately set about bullying the unarmed Okinawan’s so that when he arrived at Japan he would bring with him a pugilistic reputation.

The Okinawan’s had no clue as to Perry’s true intentions;  likely, they would have viewed it as an invasion. When Perry led a parade up to the Shuri Castle, (the King’s own centre of government), joined by 2 companies of armed US marines, 50 naval officers, 2 brass bands, and some big f**k you Okinawa cannons from the ships! EEK!

Commodore Perry. A twat. A fat twat. Deal with it.

Commodore Perry.
A twat. A fat twat.
Deal with it.

Despite the odds, a lot of non-Okinawan ass was kicked that day. Perry didn’t attain the reputation he desired. That’s bullying for you.

Everybody working for the King, whether they were a Head Of State or just a Clerk, would be required to be a very competent Martial artist.  If a situation broke out, everybody would be expected to jump in and help out.

It is also known that Matsumura studied psychology diligently; one tale of how another Okinawan already skilled at Karate asked Matsumura to teach him.  Matsumura refused, so the other man challenged Matsumura to a duel.  Matsumura, knowing that the other man was superstitious agreed, but set the time and place for the duel at dawn by a graveyard.

A very spooky setting for a superstitious man.  When they met and confronted each other, Matsumura issued a loud kiai, (shout), and the other man surrendered without a single blow being struck. That is the definition of the art of fighting without fighting, eh?

The sanity of the King of Okinawa was slowly diminishing, he issued a proclamation that Matsumura could defeat a bull without consulting Matsumura. He set a date for the duel. With a freakin’ bull. However, Matsumura knew the keeper of the mighty bovine in question and made an arrangement with him.

This may have been what the bull looked like. Or not. Deal with it.

This may have been what the bull looked like. Or not. Deal with it.

Each night for a week preceding the duel, the bull would be penned up so tight that it could not move.  On the day of the duel, the bull was close to being crippled, the spectators, didn’t seem to realise this was abnormal. The unhealthy bull was  released into the ring; Matsumura glared at the bull, the beast took one look and run away in fear.

During the American bombing on Okinawa in World War 2, most of the records of this time were destroyed. However, the irony of history is that records taken by Perry and his crew during this time gives us all the insight we need. Paintings and photographs taken by Perry’s expedition show that when Perry lead his parade to the Shuri Castle.

So what’s all this got to do with the kata?

OK, back to Bassai Dai

Another, less than 21st Century style portrait. Deal with it.

Another, less than 21st Century style portrait.
Deal with it.

Suckers that ‘we’ are for consistency here at Level Up, once again our instructor will be the Shotokan Karate legend himself

先 生 金 澤 弘 和

Sensei Hirokazu Kanazawa 

Sensei Kanazawa demonstrates a perfect Yoko tobi geri. Deal with it.

Sensei Kanazawa demonstrates a perfect Yoko tobi geri. Deal with it. Bet you can’t.

披 塞 大

Bassai Dai

The Bunkai

That’s right, beloved reader, even though you can clearly see that Sensei Kanazawa had to slow his movements for the audience in the demonstration below, you can clearly see that the bunkai work. At the risk of sounding arrogant, you friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor has had to employ these tactics against some of the less desirable denizens of Southend-On-Sea and Hackney, (South-East ‘Brooklyn’ level violence areas, for non-British readers).

 Until next time. Stay tuned for more.

OCDB: Rogue Advisor’s Nemesis

Your unfriendly neighbourhood Rogue Harasser

This is how yours truly depicts his nemesis.

This is how yours truly depicts his nemesis.

Powers / abilities: This yet to be located troublesome cad, seems to have similar powers as yours truly. Troublesome indeed. The cur looks to have augmented himself with cybernetics.

Skills: Hassling your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor, and clearly has superior computer skills. And appears handy with firearms.

Statistics: Strength-100, Agility-100, Speed – 100, Endurance – 100, Intelligence – 100, Charisma – 100, (One would assume this being my arch-enemy)

Origin: Unknown.

Now it’s your turn, beloved reader

Create any type of character you wish with Hero Machine 2.5, then email them to your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor.

leveluprogueadvisor@gmail.com

Until next time. Keep creating.

 

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.

 

OCDB: Rogue Advisor

Your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor

With HeroMachine 2.5, you can create groovy characters such as this perfectly accurate depiction of yours truly.

With HeroMachine 2.5, you can create groovy characters such as this perfectly accurate depiction of yours truly.

Powers / abilities: Little is known about the nefarious and elusive Rogue Advisor. He is somewhat like a cross between Batman and Iron man. All his attributes are the best a human may ever attain. He is a genius able to create powerful items that make Starktech look like Fisher Price crap. His cowl makes him immune to all mind affecting powers, and perfect infravision, and gives him an early warning system ‘spidey sense’.

The rest of his cladding is bullet proof, stab proof, fire-proof and stronger than adamantium, yet supple as leather. He his boots allow him to walk anywhere, despite the surface tension. He has been mistaken for Jesus whilst walking on water, and also misidentified as Spiderman whilst walking up the side of Big Ben.

Skills: He is a master of Martial arts from across the world, an acrobat and skilled in espionage. He can move in complete silence if he wishes. There is no lock he cannot pick and no trap or alarm he cannot disarm. He leaves no trace nor evidence of his movements.

Statistics: Strength-100, Agility-100, Speed – 100, Endurance – 100, Intelligence – 100, Charisma – 100

Origin: Unknown.

Now it’s your turn, beloved reader

Create any type of character you wish with Hero Machine 2.5, then e-mail them to your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor.

leveluprogueadvisor@gmail.com

Until next time. Keep creating.

“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.