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- The Neuroscience of Genius And Increasing Intelligence
- How Caffeine Affects Neurotransmitters and Profoundly Changes Your Brain
- A Detailed Guide to Your Brain – So You Can Start Hacking It
- Almost Every Bodyweight Exercise Ever (150+ Moves)
How to Become Batman – A Detailed Training Program and Analysis
One of the reasons I like to give when people ask me why I train so hard is this:
If Batman and I ever met, we would have something in common.
It’s cool to emulate your heroes, so why not emulate a superhero? How much more badass is that than trying to become ‘regional manager’ (no offense to regional managers). That’s really what the Bioneer is all about and it’s why we discuss everything here from nootropics, to ambidexterity, to bodybuilding.
And if you’re going to emulate a superhero, it makes sense to start with one who has no powers. Batman is the most relatable and the most human. My attempts to transform like Optimus Prime have met only with failure and disappointment.
Batman forged his power through will and grit alone and as a result he is able to stand toe to toe with aliens and Gods. Sure, he’s fictional but that doesn’t mean we can’t be inspired by the stories.
So let’s imagine, hypothetically, that you were training to become Batman. What would that actually involve?
Watch the shorter video version and/or dive into some deep discussion in the full post below!
Batman’s Martial Arts Training
We’ll start with martial arts. Batman needs to fight criminals so it’s not really enough to just workout, you need to be able to put that muscle to good use with the right fighting method. What martial art does Batman use?
Well, that all depends on which version of Batman you’re talking about but there are three martial arts in particular that stand out to us as particularly interesting. They are:
- The Keysi Fighting Method – As this is the fighting style that was used when choreographing the Christian Bale Batman films
- Ninjitsu – As it’s generally lore that Batman trained with Ninjas and many of his techniques – such as the use of shadows and shuriken (in the form of Batarangs) – is certainly ‘Ninjitsu-esque’
- Mixed Martial Arts – Because let’s be honest, Batman probably knows all the martial arts and will combine them in the ring
The Keysi Fighting Method (invented by Justo Di’guez and Andy Norman) is all about elbow blows and knee blows, along with some close range grappling. It’s about getting in close to your opponents to render their usual hooks and jabs ineffective and then quickly incapacitating them. This is a good strategy in any fight – especially as in my experience thugs and muggers tend to start with a right hook (no really, it’s practically a given). Keysi fighting makes particular sense for a guy who has knives attached to gauntlets too.
There are other things that make the Keysi Fighting Method perfect too. For starters, it places some emphasis on combating multiple opponents with a ‘360 degree’ approach. It’s a modern fighting style that is designed for use against muggers and other street opponents. And it’s also somewhat ideal that KFM should be based on Jeet Kune Do, which in turn was developed by Bruce Lee – perhaps the closest real-life specimen to Batman-esque fighting prowess.
The Ninjitsu element is kind of the opposite. It’s a soft style of martial arts that involves moving stealthily through the shadows, using weapons and tools and employing techniques like distraction and fear. It also involves the use of pressure points and a lot of additional ‘skills’ such as rope climbing, horsemanship and more.
So really Batman is about combining these methods: using stealth, tools and fear to get the upper hand on his opponents and then getting in close to quickly eliminate them. This is in accord with my experience playing Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. Mixed martial arts is largely about controlling the range and being able to fight at a distance as well as up close and it would provide a perfect modern training ground for practicing and honing your skills.
So if you wanted to fight like Batman, you should take up Keysi Fighting Method and Ninjitsu for a while then start competing in MMA. Sorted. Next?
Batman Does… CrossFit??
When Batman isn’t out fighting crime, he’s mainly training to get into awesome shape. Again, depictions of his training routine vary greatly depending on the source but a relatively recent publication suggests it looks something like this:
(This comes from The Batman Files which you can find here.)
Now, any fitness instructor will tell you that that’s pretty much impossible. What’s the closest analog we have to this? Well, I hate to say it… but that would be CrossFit.
The combination of intensive cardio, big Olympic-style lifts and bodyweight training all look an awful lot like the training you’d get at a CrossFit box. Unfortunately, if you were using this kind of training to this extent, you would almost certainly be overtrained and your nervous system would fail you (along with your bones, muscles and will to live). The only shot Batman would have at sticking to a regimen like this would be if he was taking roids.
So… Batman is a CrossFitter on roids? Not really what most of us want to hear…
It is also worth pointing out though that he’s the goddamn Batman. Which may explain some of his recovery ability.
So what’s the best training you could actual follow to achieve Batman like feats? Well, CrossFit when done safely is actually a great approach to ‘general preparedness training’ so regardless of its controversies that would actually be a good type of training to take up.
Either way, we know that Batman would be much more interested in building strength rather than size so he wouldn’t train like a bodybuilder. Rather, he would focus on performing low repetitions of very high weights with functional movements to increase his ability to recruit muscle fiber and technique. He might use overcoming isometrics even – which means pulling or pushing against a completely immovable force. And he would definitely do lots of CV, though HIIT (high intensity interval training) has been shown to be more effective than steady state cardio.
He’s probably also use some form of stretching/yoga (maybe acroyoga?) to keep himself limber, combined with parkour, rock climbing (certainly buildering) and lots of bodyweight training.
I won’t put a precise workout here then but a training plan you utilize should incorporate:
- Heavy weight compound movements for low reps (squats, bench press, deadlifts, clean and press)
- Bodyweight training (dips, pull ups, press ups, handstand press ups)
- HIIT training (Tabata, sprinting, punch bag)
- Parkour/Free Running (more likely parkour than free running – in reality Batman would likely have little time for backflips)
- Bouldering/Rock Climbing
- Martial Arts Practice
I can also pretty guarantee Batman would sleep in a hyperbaric chamber to increase his VO2 max. Again, this is a guy willing to do everything he can to improve his performance.
Supplements and Diet
To maintain this kind of training Batman would need to be eating a ton of protein and carbs just to allow himself to recover. He’d also probably be using all kinds of supplements, seeing as he’s something of a scientist and certainly on the cutting edge.
Unfortunately, as mentioned I also find it pretty hard to imagine a scenario where Batman wouldn’t be using steroids. That might be pretty controversial but let’s be honest – steroids give you a massive advantage over the opposition when it comes to training and it’s the only way you could genuinely recover from the kind of training that is frequently suggested. We know that Batman isn’t much concerned with his own health (he spends his nights being hit in the face) so why would he turn down such physical gains?
According to the DC Wiki, Batman is able to bench 1,000 pounds while at the same time keeping pace with the best speed and endurance athletes in the world. That pretty much necessitates steroids or at least some kind of genetic mutation.
The only argument against steroids is a story called Batman: Venom. In that story, Batman uses the fictional ‘venom’ serum which is essentially a performance enhancing drug. Unfortunately, the substance starts to drive him mad and ‘cloud his judgement’.
This tells us that Batman is willing to go to extreme lengths to gain a physical advantage but on the other hand, roid rage might be an issue for him. There are ways of reducing roid rage so we can leave this mystery up to you. Here is a Reddit thread where the subject is discussed in more detail.
Anyway, you probably do care about your health and I don’t recommend steroids at all, so in a real world scenario the best supplements would likely be: protein shake (only to supplement a high protein diet) and creatine (there is no downside). The rest you should get from a diet that is super-high in nutrients and just everything.
Skills, Psychology and Tools
So, so far you are combining CrossFit with Ninjitsu, the Keysi Fighting Method and MMA. This will make you pretty lethal but it’s only part of the story.
Batman is much more than just a ripped fighter. He’s also a got tons of tricks up his sleeve and is constantly getting the drop on his opponents. He is constantly aware of his surroundings and he’s always one step ahead.
Basically he’s Sherlock Holmes – which is no coincidence as Holmes was actually one of the original inspirations for the character.
When looking at martial arts, it helped to think about who has come the closest in real-life to Batman-like performance. In terms of mental performance, I think that the closest to Batman is…
No wait – here me out. The skills of an illusionist are very similar to the skills you’d need to be Batman. This is all about distracting opponents, leading the eye and staying very much aware of everything that’s going on around you. I’m not saying that Derren Brown could use his skills to fight crime any time soon if he wanted to – but what I am saying is that practicing magic might actually be a good way to develop some Batman-like skills.
There’s an urban legend about a group of thieves trying to steal David Copperfield’s wallet. He managed to trick them into thinking his pockets were empty, simply by using misdirection. Batman would be proud!
A more advanced version of these sorts of skills are taught at MI5 and the FBI. Being trained as a spy would definitely be useful for your Batman CV then. One of the things that new MI5 agents are required to do in training is to walk into a bar and get the passport number off of a ‘target’ just by talking to them. It’s a fun mental exercise thinking about how you might do this – but it’s a whole different ball game actually trying to do it for real.
Also important is ‘situational awareness’, which means being aware of everyone and everything in any given space and thus able to respond quickly and efficiently to threats. There’s a great post on that over here at The Art of Manliness.
Would Batman be using nootropics? As I’ve often written, I find that there are few nootropics where the positives drastically outweigh the negatives other than those cognitive metabolic enhancers like creatine and CoQ10 (I have written about my favorite Nootropic stack here).
Finally, Batman would likely have dedicated time to training himself in a wide myriad of different skills and abilities. These would include things like:
- Becoming ambidextrous
- Developing functional synaesthesia
- Wearing disguises
- Boomerang throwing
- Toughening the hands and feet
- Forensics (this is a big one)
- Knot tying
- Breath holding
- Using weapons
- Lie detecting
- Memory techniques
- Pressure points
I used to enjoy this site called ‘Building Batman‘ which focused on precisely this kind of thing. Sadly, the site no longer seems to be getting updated but there’s still some cool stuff there.
Equipment is the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to becoming Batman. Unlike Iron Man, Batman’s equipment is pretty conservative, so all you’d need is some kind of light armor (like Kevlar), a few weapons (taser, baton, shark spray) and some tools (grappling hook, batarang). Batman would probably also have some kind of night-vision goggles built-into his mask and he’s probably get a kick out of health tracking etc.
The only tricky part would be replicating Batman’s cape and gliding ability. Interestingly though, this is sort-of-possible using electro active smart materials. These are soft materials that stiffen when an electric current gets run through then and which can this way form rigid structures using a kind of ‘memory’. In theory this could turn a cape into something you could glide with…
…unfortunately the bad news is that you’d still be travelling too fast if you leapt off of a building wearing something like this. Buildings are just too low sadly. But is it completely unfeasible to think that we could get around this problem one day in the future?
Watch this video to get the full scoop on this:
Is it Possible?
So taking everything into account… is it possible to become Batman?
I’d answer that it certainly would be possible to develop near-Batman-like skills in a number of different areas. Batman is pretty much Bruce Lee + Rich Froning + Derren Brown and accomplishing that is at least somewhat possible, especially with steroids thrown into the mix.
And there are actually people out there trying to become super heroes. The ‘Real Life Superheroes’ are a bunch of people who don costumes and patrol the streets looking for crime – no really!
Still though, if you were to get rushed by 10 attackers with weapons, even these skills wouldn’t be enough to protect you and you’d probably end up as a bloody pulp. And no amount of training is going to be enough to help you if someone pulls a gun.
There’s a cool book you can find here discussing the genuine possibility of becoming Batman.
In reality though, most people reading this site aren’t interested in fighting crime but rather just the idea of achieving the peek human performance like Batman. Is that possible? To some extent, sure and if you were to follow the training protocols outlined in this post you’d be pretty darn bad-ass. Of course you’d also be exhausted and have no time for anything else though, which is why most of us will choose to specialize to some degree instead.
Personally I train with a combination of heavy light weights, do plenty of bodyweight training, stretch regularly and beat up a punch bag on a regular basis. I maintain my optimum nutrition as far as possible and use a few supplements and am constantly researching ways to improve my mental and physical performance. For the most part, that’s been good enough for me!