Workout Like Batman: The New Batman Training Program Part 2

By on December 18, 2019

In part 1, we discussed the usefulness of leverage tools and hybrid movements. The aim was to hit more unusual angles and positions using heavy weights, and to combine movements into complex sequences. This time, we’re going to see how to combine that into a Batman routine that builds power, endurance, and explosiveness.

Batman Workout Part 2

Gymnastic Strength Training and Mobility

Another form of training that is functional in the best sense of the word, is gymnastic strength training. I’ve talked about this a whole lot on the channel, but being able to gain control over your own body weight, and training things like balance, straight arm strength, core stability… all those things will make you much more unstoppable. They’ll also help with proprioception, balance, stability, and explosiveness.

Weighted calisthenics

While agility is a concern though, we’re looking at agility combined with absolute strength, explosiveness, and control. That’s why I think the ideal choices for Batman would be gymnastic rings and weighted calisthenics. Gymnastic rings require you to stabilize your entire body through the range of motion, developing proprioception, grip strength, and power. Adding additional weight meanwhile makes a lot of sense for a guy who carries so much gear on his belt and wears a bulletproof suit of armor everywhere. This also builds endurance and fitness, and allows us to keep working with a heavy weight in a safe manner. It also means we can drop the weight later, in order to keep doing more repetitions AND it’s another example of a form of training that we’ve actually seen Batman using.

Metabolic Conditioning and Calisthenics

So the other day, I met Grant for a workout and sparring session. It’s been years since I sparred properly, and Grant basically eats, sleeps, and breathes martial arts – so I was expecting to get my ass kicked. I was not mistaken.

What I was quickly reminded of though, is just how quickly sparring wears you out. Partly this comes down to strategy and economy of movement (I am way over enthusiastic with my blocking, which is partly due to my karate training), but that’s only part of the reason that I was gasping while Grant was still throwing out crazy kicks and rapid combos of punches.

Sparring

It also comes down to endurance. By which I mean both cardio and muscle endurance – or strength endurance. Batman needs to maintain his output during long fights against multiple opponents, only to then give chase across the rooftops!

This is again where Batman would differ from a typical strength athlete. He isn’t looking to lift something heavy once, but rather to output massive strength for hours on end without giving up.

Batman needs to maintain his output during long fights against multiple opponents, only to then give chase across the rooftops!

Metabolic conditioning is the perfect solution to this problem, because it uses resistance training with minimal recovery to force the body to adapt to long training sessions or, in Batman’s case, battles.

My favorite example is simply alternating between press ups and pull ups to failure and then only giving yourself either 20 or 30 seconds to recover, for a total of 5 rounds. You can also throw in explosive jump squats for good measure if you want to increase the cardio and hit the legs too (alternating between upper body and lower body movements works great for metcon circuits as it forces the circulation to redirect blood from one part of the body to another). The key is to exceed your personal best each time, so that you complete more total reps within your workout.

Batman functional training

This lets us continue to train and build muscle, while also increasing work capacity, efficiency, and endurance. The result is that you won’t burn out during workouts quite so quickly, and you’ll develop a powerful, and ripped physique.

This is another way we’ll be using calisthenics, though these more explosive movements will come at the end of the workouts.

Along with the calisthenics, we’ll also be using resistance cardio finishers such as battle ropes and heavy bag work. Bag work will be scheduled all three days as the first finisher so that we can practice technique and punching power. I recommend using 3 short rounds of about 3 minutes with a 1 minute recovery time, using each to focus on a different skill or technique. As this is Batman we’re talking about, make sure that you train both orthodox and southpaw – Batman is ambidextrous which gives him a big tactical advantage. This is one of the reasons there is so much unilateral work in the program. This also helps us build up strong obliques and core stability, excellent for wrestling and parkour.

Crawls

Focus has also been given to contralateral movements like the crawl, as well as movements in the transverse and frontal plane where possible.

Lots of the earlier movements in each workout combine more than one move to create a single hybrid exercise. Examples include the barbarian squat which is a clubbell pull over to clean, combined with a squat; or the renegade row push up. Later movements become simpler and more explosive performed for higher volume, and are often combined with resistance cardio to develop endurance and real world strength.

Cardio acceleration keeps the heartrate much higher for the resistance training, and creates an entirely new kind of challenge.

As before, I’ll also be using some mechanical drop sets. To reiterate, that means you’ll perform as many movements as possible of a more compound exercise (like the hybrid movements), before switching to the simpler variation within the same set to continue targeting the muscles that are still able to work.

We’re also going to include sprints as a form of metcon and cardio acceleration. Cardio acceleration means the sprints will be interspersed with a safe form of calisthenics. This keeps the heartrate much higher for the resistance training, and creates an entirely new kind of challenge. I feel that this perfectly mirrors the kind of dynamic situation Batman might find himself in: forced to fight off a bunch of bad guys then chase someone across a rooftop, then carry on fighting!

Cardio acceleration with sprints

For the sprints, you will simply mark a short distance and then sprint there and back repeatedly for the full minute.

Brain Training

Batman is not just built like an ox with the grace of a supple leopard – he is also a master detective, and tactician. He’s focused, ruthless, and able to make rapid decisions under pressure. He has a photographic memory, stoic demeanor, and inventor’s ingenuity.

I made a whole video in the past looking at Batman-style brain training, and in future I’ll be looking at how to acquire skills like Bruce Wayne. In my SuperFunctional Training Program (available through the link), I champion the importance of specifically training the brain and mental skills just as you do your body.

The batman workout

But that’s a topic for a different video. For now, I just want to find a couple of ways to ensure that our training is also going to benefit the grey matter.

Using complex movements such as the hybrid exercises and the clubbell stuff is a great start. Learning encourages brain plasticity, making it easier to grasp new concepts and gain new skills in future. Learning physical movements is perhaps the best kind of learning for triggering these benefits.

Likewise, focusing on the body during movement and listening to your proprioceptors can help to develop attention and focus, and prevent cognitive decline.

Bag work

When hitting the bag, consider using complex combinations. Remembering and repeating these movements can train you to stay focused during action, and is great for the working memory. This is something I really struggle with, so I’ll be making that a focus going forward.

I’ve also included some quasi-isometric movements following the finishers. These are extremely slow movements – usually bodyweight movements – performed so that the entire rep takes a whole minute. Try performing an air squat that takes one minute, and you’ll find it not only takes a tremendous amount of control, but that it is also great for mobility (you can’t rely on momentum) and helps to show you where you may be lacking strength. You’ll develop great connectivity between your muscles and your sensory motor cortex, greatly enhancing proprioception and perhaps even embodied cognition.

stretching legs

This also doubles as a form of mindful movement, as seen in practices like Yoga, Tai Chi, and Shaolin Kung Fu. And it will work as the perfect cool down to prevent blood from pooling in the muscles after an intense workout.

I also think we can benefit from a little meditation at the start and end of the workout. Meditate using a bodyscan meditation before you train and focus on contracting then relaxing each muscle. This will help to wake up your connection between your muscles and sensory motor cortex. When you go too long without using your muscles, you literally forget how to activate and listen to them properly! This can also be an excellent form of diagnostics, allowing you to check for tightness or aches and pains before you begin training.

Bodyscan meditation

End with a five minute hakalau meditation. This means looking forward and engaging your peripheral vision. This will help to calm down your heart rate, while also helping you to build your awareness and attention. By engaging the peripheral vision and “staring” into space without focusing on a single point, you can enter a sympathetic state or even a flow state. Special operatives use a similar splatter vision to search for targets in a crowd, while survivalists use “owl eyes” to look out for hazards and things to eat while exploring. Batman could benefit likewise from training his situational awareness and his ability to spot clues during detective work this way.

All this additional meditation will mean these routines also increase your focus, awareness, memory, and whole brain connectivity.

Putting it All Together

Whether it’s the routine outlined in The Batman Files, the one shown in Batman v Superman, or any countless programs put together by fans, Batman’s training often resembles CrossFit. This makes some sense, given that Batman needs to be powerful, strong, endurant, agile, fast, and explosive. CrossFit achieves this by using heavy movements performed for high reps, and combining that with other modes of fitness like sprinting.

Kettlebells for Batman workout

The problem is that CrossFit programming is a little sporadic. As Coach Sommer of Gymnastic Bodies points out, there are “no home-grown iron crosses” in CrossFit, seeing as there’s nothing focusing on straight arm strength. And we all know how performing crazy high repetitions of deadlifts and squats can be a recipe for disaster. There’s also a lot of focus on competition, which means greater emphasis on a few select moves rather than all-round functional performance. And this also means technique can sometimes go out the window in favor of volume.

These tools should be perfectly suited to honing a Batman-like physique that’s built for performance and durability.

But the idea of using resistance training as metabolic conditioning and doing higher reps of strength moves is a good one. We can have our cake and eat it, by taking the heaviest and most complex moves and placing them at the start of the routine, and then taking the lighter, simpler movements and placing them at the end of the routine with higher volume. This uses the same structure as a reverse pyramid workout, or a powerbuilding routine. But instead of using heavy compound lifts at the start of the routine and lighter isolation movements at the end, we’re instead combining complex kettlebell, clubbell, gymnastic ring, and weight vest movements at the start, then transitioning into explosive calisthenics, bag work, and resistance cardio.

Battle ropes

These tools should be perfectly suited to honing a Batman-like physique that’s built for performance and durability. The kettlebell is a useful tool because the offset nature of the weight allows us to create and resist momentum, and to train at angles that we might not be used to. The clubbell has this same advantage but it moves the center of gravity even further from the point of contact, creating a lever. This places greater strain on the forearms, the grip, and the stabilizing muscles. You can choke up and down the grip in order to increase or decrease the length of the lever and the relative resistance.

What’s more, is that swinging a clubbell can actually help to create some joint separation. With so many movements compressing the joints, this helps lubrication and improves mobility. It also strengthens tendons and encourages a different kind of strength.

While I highly recommend investing in a clubbell, kettlebells, rope, and gymnastic rings, there are smart ways you can substitute many of these movements. You can use a towel instead of a rope to climb from a pull up bar for example, or you can use a dumbbell or barbell with weights on just one side to mimic a kettlebell or a club. Moves like the bent press work just fine performed with a regular barbell.

Train either barefoot or wearing minimal footwear. This will help develop further proprioception, balance, and foot strength.

Whenever possible, train outdoors. It will help you to benefit from the fresh air and sun, and if it’s cold or wet, it will help to build more determination and will power too – which is really Batman’s number one superpower.

Focus on the training and listen to your body!

The program will consist of three full body routines to encourage maximum volume for each muscle group during the week. There are only three days scheduled, which allows plenty of time for rest. I also recommend a day of steady state cardio, to help improve the aerobic system. Rest hard the other days.

Nutrition is for a future video, but as a very rough guide, make sure to drink plenty of water, eat lots of protein, and consume a large number of carbs to optimize recovery. Remember that performance is Batman’s goal, so we don’t need to get down to 5% body fat or anything crazy! Also aim for nutrient dense foods that will fuel the brain and body during this program and further encourage recovery. Batman can’t afford to get a cold, so get plenty of vitamin C!

The New Batman Program

“>” denotes a mechanical drop set, perform both exercises in a single set, changing once you can’t do any more of the first exercise.

Remember: This program is NOT for beginners.

Day 1

5-10 Minute Bodyscan Meditation

Kettlebell Swings 3 x 20

Turkish Getup 1 x 5 (each arm)

Barbarian Squats 3 x 10

Goblet Coassack Squat 2 x 8

Military Press 2 x 10

Weighted Ring Dips 2 x Failure

Weighted Ring Pull Ups 2 x Failure

Rope Climb 2 x 1 Minute

Gama Cast 2 x 10

Tricep Dips 2 x 10

Bag Work 10 Minutes

Battle Ropes 5 Minutes

Quasi Isometric Air Squat 2 x 1 Minute

5 Minute Hakalau Meditation

Day 2

Rest

Day 3

Steady State Cardio (40 Minutes Running)

Day 4

5-10 Minute Bodyscan Meditation

Dead Hang Leg Raises 2 x 10

Kettlebell/Barbell Bent Press 2 x 8

One Hand Kettlebell Clean and Press 2 x 10

Goblet Pistol Squat 2 x 3

Clubbell Hammer Swing 1 x 10 (Each direction)

Renegade Row Push Ups 2 x 10

Burpees 2 x 10

Clapping Push Ups > Pus Ups 2 x 25

Bent Rows 2 x 10

Pull Up Bar Face Pulls 2 x 10

Bag Work 5 Minutes

Push Up/Pull Up Metcon Circuit x 5:

                Push Ups to Failure

                Pull Ups to Failure

Battle Ropes 10 Minutes

Quasi Isometric Pull Up 2 x 1 Minute

5 Minute Hakalau Meditation

Day 5

Rest

Day 6

5-10 Minutes Bodyscan Meditation

Dead Hang Around the Worlds 2 x 10

Unilateral Kettlebell Swing to Clean 2 x 8

Kettlebell Push Up to Clean and Press 2 x 6

Alternating Kettlebell Press With Glute Bridge > Kettlebell Press 2 x 15

Waiter Carry Lunge Walks 2 x 1 Minute

Weighted Rings Turned Out Push Ups > Weighted Push Ups 2 x Failure

Spider-Man Crawls 2 x 1 Minute

Explosive Weighted Push Ups > Weighted Push Ups 2 x Failure

Cable Punches 2 x 10

Clubbell Flag Press 2 x 8

L-Sit/V-Sit 2 x 1 Minute

Clubbell Side Swing 2 x 10

Metcon Circuit:

                Push Ups x Failure

                Pull Ups x Failure

                30 Second Sprints

Bag Work 5 Minutes

Quasi Isometric Push Up 2 x 1 Minute

5 Minutes Hakalau Meditation

Day 7

Rest

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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.

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