Batman Training Begins: Your Training Origin Story Starts Here!

By on July 2, 2019

You are not ‘unfunctional’.

Batman Training Begins

If you work a desk job nine to five and can’t currently touch your toes or get into a deep squat, then chances are you may believe yourself to be unfunctional, or maladapted. You are lacking some of the basic human movements after all!

But you’re not. In fact, you are perfectly adapted and highly functional for your current lifestyle. We are adaptpods and in this case, you have become extremely good at sitting and using your brain for long periods. Unused muscle, neural tissue, and range of motion has atrophied and what’s left, is highly adapted to your current lifestyle.

The goal of The Bioneer is not to make functional people though, it is to create super functional people. Being super functional means being capable of things that we will likely never need to be required to do, but so that we’re ready for anything. Like Batman. Because that’s awesome.

Being super functional means being capable of things that we will likely never need to be required to do

In this way, you could say that there is no such thing as a non-functional individual. To demonstrate this, consider that a couch potato actually has more fast twitch muscle fiber than someone who goes for occasional runs. The reason for this, is that fast twitch muscle fiber is energy hungry and harder to sustain. Someone who eats a lot and relaxes hard has the energy surplus to sustain that explosiveness, whereas the runner will trigger a trade-off: power for endurance.

Batman brain

The problem comes when you attempt to go from a highly sedentary lifestyle, to this kind of training. Without necessary adaptation, that’s when you invite injury and/or slow progress.

This is your origin story.

All the Batman, Nightwing, ninja, Spartan, and other workouts I’ve shared thus far are for the highly experienced. But that’s not how you start out. Bruce Wayne wouldn’t have gone straight into muscle ups, ninja training, and crazy high bench pressing. He’d have had to build the necessary mobility, foundational strength, and work capacity first.

So that’s what we’re looking at in this video: how to build the foundations for a next level training program. And this video will also be relevant for anyone looking to transition from a more static, bodybuilding-type workout, to a more functional and intensive one; as well as anyone who feels they might have gotten off to a bad start with training that is forming poor habits – as I did!

Batman memory

This is how Batman training begins. This is your origin story.

Part One: Muscle Strength

Of course the first thing anyone starting out needs to do, is familiarize themselves with the different types of exercise, the various muscle groups, and how they work together. I’m not going to go into that now, but a primer is something I’ll consider for future.

Assuming you’re at that point then, the next thing to decide is how hard you’re going to push yourself. How many sets and reps for each muscle group, how often to train, and etc.

Bicep Curls Batman Training

My recommendation for absolute beginners is to start with some isolation movements, using high reps and low weight. That means things that only involve a few joints (ideally just one), such as bicep curls, tricep push downs, chest press, and lat pull down. Aim for around 12-15 repetitions, stopping just before failure.

The reason we’re starting here, is because these moves are simple enough to avoid injury, while allowing us to encourage blood flow to the working muscles and cause a little metabolic stress and muscle damage. In other words, this can trigger hypertrophy which is important for seeing those early gains which helps with adherence. When you see progress, it keeps you committed.

Pump Work Dumbbell Curls

The other reason we’re doing this and starting out with lighter weights, is in order to strengthen the tendons to prevent injury. Whereas muscle strength can increase in as little as 8 days, tendons only show structural change after around 2 months of consistent training (study). Therefore, in order to prevent injury you should start with this light, high repetition work for at least that long before increasing the challenge. This is why I don’t recommend launching straight into big heavy compound lifts as a complete noob.

Finally, as an added bonus, this pump work will also help you to increase your mind-muscle connection. You’ll learn to feel the working muscle, and to identify the difference between the ‘good pain’ and the ‘bad pain’. This will later allow for far more intuitive training methods.

Mobility

The other big issue when it comes to switching to a functional and multi-modal training program is mobility. Mobility refers to your ability to move into a large range of motion without using external force.

So if you pull your foot up to your butt, that’s flexibility. But if you just try to move your foot into that position through its own strength, that’s mobility.

Mobility Training

Poor mobility is absolutely rife these days, with so many people spending long hours working in offices, sitting in a single position. The result is that certain muscles such as the hip flexors and pecs will shorten and become stiff, while others such as the glutes can become elongated and weak. The hamstrings suffer more complex issues. Being polyarticular (meaning that they cross more than one joint), the hamstrings are both lengthened and tightened.

How can you start training like Batman when you can’t stand up?

This makes us great at sitting, but not so much else: even your ability to stand is severely hampered due to issues like kyphosis and anterior pelvic tilt creeping in. Your muscles’ natural resting position and mild amount of tension (called tonus) is all wrong, leaving you stiff and hunched. This in turn can lead to compensatory movement patterns, chronic pain, and severely hampered range of motion. How can you start training like Batman when you can’t stand up right??

Consider that many people are unable to perform something as simple as a full squat, ass to grass with heels on the floor – even without additional weight. This is partly due to limitations in ankle mobility (though squatting only requires a minimal 33-45 degrees of dorsiflexion, which most people can handle), knee flexibility, or hip flexion. Should you really be sticking 100kg on your back if you can’t actually get into the correct position to squat with no weight? This is something that the human body should naturally be able to do, and that toddlers do with no problem at all!

Squatting Mobility

Likewise, you should ensure that you have good shoulder mobility in order to raise your hands directly above your head. This will improve your military press but also handstands and other related moves.

There are lots of things you can do to improve your mobility. Increasing flexibility with static stretches will help for example: holding a position with a little external force for around 30 seconds. Your body will fight you during this as your nervous system sees this increased range of motion as a potential injury risk and tends to react by shortening the muscle. That’s why – according to Relax Into Stretch by Pavel Tsatsouline – the best way to improve your flexibility is to really relax during the stretch and to tell your bod that it’s safe and okay to hang out here. Remember that all static stretching should go at the end of a workout, not the start.

Batman stretch

But remember that mobility and flexibility are two distinct and separate entities. Many other factors go into mobility, including strength and muscle control. Even if you have the flexibility to move into certain positions, you might lack the requisite strength with the muscle stretched in that position for example. I’m going to create an entire video on this very soon with the Nightwing Part 4 episode, but until then I recommend incorporating light movements into all the positions you wish to enter. A deep squat, an overhead press, a hinge movement, external rotation at the shoulder, and some ankle, wrist, and hip mobility drills.

Crab flexibility

Perform these slowly and with very light weight to prepare yourself to take on more weight later on. While you do so, listen to your body and look for areas of imbalance, pain, or poor mobility. You can even film yourself training to see how your technique is impaired. Kelly Starrett, author of Becoming a Supple Leopard, recommends using training as a diagnostics tool to identify potential issues before they develop further. This is certainly a very good idea at this early stage of your training to ensure you are building on stable foundations. Doing this myself, I recently realised I had some pain still in my right ankle where I once broke it – and this has been limiting my performance.

Eccentric isometrics are static holds with the muscle in the stretched position, an example being holding a low goblet squat with a kettlebell, or hangs from a pull up bar. These moves will allow you to develop not only increased flexibility and strength at the range of motion, but also stronger tendons and greater hypertrophy.

Preparing for advanced calisthenics

Closely linked to your mobility is your core stability. A lack of core strength can result in corrective movement patterns such as overextension during squat. This is a concave back which is an ‘overcorrection’ for the arched back. It’s not a whole lot better.

Hollow Body Hold

Practicing the hollow body which I outlined in the Nightwing Core Training video is an effective way to develop this, as is holding plank, and using push ups with correct posture and high rep ranges.

It’s also important to make sure we incorporate movements to strengthen tendons that will come in useful later for advance calisthenics, that perhaps you wouldn’t use in a more conventional training program. I’m talking in particular about those elbow tendons which can be a limiting factor in exercises like rope climbs and the planche. So add in some straight arm static holds like the crow pose to start out your calisthenics journey, and perhaps some pseudo planche push ups. Other good options are RTO (rings turned out) ring dips and support holds on the rings. Hammer curls are great too.

Front Lever Pull Up

I also recommend toughening up the grip and fingers, which you can do with fat grips or a finger board, and adding in a little explosive training like clapping push ups and explosive pull ups.

Work capacity

The last thing we want to build during these early phases of our training is work capacity (or workout capacity). This is the ability to continue training for long periods of time without tiring, which in turn allows for better strength and performance gains over time. The more you can train, the faster you’ll see results. And if you’re taking on Batman-levels of training, you’ll need the energy systems to support this. Just take a look at the insane amount of volume shown in Batman’s training program outlined in the Batman Files.

Battleropes Work Capacity

I recommend incorporating at least a resistance cardio finisher at the end of each workout. That means finishing up with 15-20 minutes of battle ropes, heavy bag work, the rowing machine, or the bikes on a high resistance. This is what Ross Edgley, author of The World’s Fittest Book calls ‘Horsepower Training’ and it’s brilliant. Check out my full Work Capacity video for more.

The Program

All of this will be incorporated into a four-day program which will consist of a push day, pull day, legs and core day, and finally a full-body circuit day. The full program is below as ever. Follow this and you will be ready to move onto a more advanced program, injury free. You are now ready to become ready for anything!

Batman mobility

Mobility Drill

Use a few times a week, either after your workouts or in the morning/evening.

1 X 1 Minute Touch Toes/Pancake

1 X 1 Minute Butterfly Stretch

1 X 1 Minute Downward Dog

1 X 1 Minute Cobra Stretch

1 X 1 Minute Overhead Opener

1 X 1 Minute Static Goblet Squat (Weighted)

1 X 30 Seconds (Both Sides) Seated Knee Twist

1 X 30 Seconds (Both Sides) Knee To Chest

1 X 30 Seconds (Both Sides) Standing Quad Stretch

1 X 30 Seconds (Both Sides) Triceps Stretch

1 X 30 Seconds (Both Sides) Shoulder Stretch Across Body

 Batman workout pull day

Pull Day

Warm Up

2 X 10 Light Deadlift

2 X 10/Or Failure Chin Ups

2 X 10/Or Failure Towel Pull Ups

3 X 12 Bicep Curls (Wide Bar Ideally)

3 X 12 Dumbbell Rows

2 X 10 Lat Pull Down/Seated Rows

1 Minute Dead Hang

15 Minutes Rowing Machine

Batman push day

Push Day

Warm Up

2 x 10 Light Military Press

2 x 10 Light Bench Press

2 x 1 Minute Crow Pose/RTO Support Hold

3 x 20 Push Ups

3 x 15 Tricep Push Down

3 x 15 Dumbbell Press

10 Minutes Heavy Bag/Battle Ropes (with breaks)

 Batman workout

Leg and Core Day

Warm Up

2 x 10 Light Squats

2 x 15 Lunges

2 x 15 Hamstring Curls

2 x 15 Leg Extensions

2 x 15 Calf Raises

2 x 10 Leg Press

2 x 10 Hanging Leg Raises/Frog Kicks

2 x 1 Minute Hollow Body

3 x 20 Bicycle Sit Ups

20 Minutes Cycling High Resistance

 Batman strength

Circuit

Warm Up

1 Minute Kettlebell Swing

1 Minute Neutral Grip Explosive Pull Ups

1 Minute Explosive Push Ups

1 Minute Squat/Box Jumps

1 Minute High Knees

1 Minute Plank

1 Minute Rest

Repeat x 3

 

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About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

2 Comments

  1. Devin Greene says:

    Late to the party question. What are your thoughts on using 5/3/1 (Jim Wendler’s powerlifting training program) technique for incremental strength gains on the major compound lifts in unison with the techniques you put forward here? I would like to advance my general fitness to the point where I can train in your advanced batman program, but I also really care about strength gains along the way. I gave it a try with the upper split the other day, and it seemed to be alright.. But can you forsee any longer term complications I may face moving forward?
    Thanks for your hard work. I am a big fan of the content!

  2. Gustav says:

    Hey
    How Long should i Stock to the Batman begins workout before I move on to the more advanced version?
    Best regards
    Gustav

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