Train to be Captain America and Stop the Civil War
You’re probably chomping at the bit to see the newest chapter in the Avengers saga, Captain America: Civil War. It looks to pit all of our favorite heroes against each other in a crazy, confusing, joyful battle with a mind-boggling, unknown outcome. Who will win? I guess we’ll all have to go to the theater and find out.
Training is a lot like a civil war sometimes. Different groups taking sides and standing their ground no matter what. Principles are formed, beliefs are followed and lines are drawn. Arguments ensue and opinions are cultivated over which style of training is superior.
Let’s break down a few of these beliefs and form a plan to build the ultimate super hero physique complete with all the size, strength, power and conditioning you can take and stop the civil war.
The Civil War of Training
Years ago you had those who exercised and those who didn’t. Then cardio training became popular and lines were drawn between aerobic junkies and weightlifting meatheads. Fast-forward to today and now you have bodybuilders, powerlifters, Crossfitters, Olympic lifters, hybrid trainers, course runners, bodyweight gurus, yoga followers and the list goes on. The divides are many, vast and wide.
Everyone has their “thing” and many are so devoted and steadfast in their style that arguments ensue and hate is dished-out like pizza at your local Planet Fitness gym. What is the newbie to believe? Furthermore, what is anyone who is interested in the latest tips and technique to do regarding building a superhero physique?
Unite the Best Methods
The obvious answer is to take the best of all worlds and build an effective program around sound and tested principles to produce the best outcomes possible. Training styles such as Zumba excluded (sorry Zumba enthusiasts) most modes of training have something to offer.
Bodybuilding (hypertrophy): Optimally develops hypertrophy (muscle size) and is the best method for inducing reshaping of the body. Think of a sculptor chiseling away at a piece of granite. Since you can’t carve a pebble you will need to build a foundation of muscle to work off of.
Powerlifting (low-speed strength): Utilizing principles of pure strength power lifting simply gets you strong – period. With the ability to assist other styles of training power lifting translates over to ever other mode by providing the simple but vital element of strength.
Olympic lifting (high-speed strength): As the fast form of strength Olympic lifting uses the skill of power (not to be confused with power lifting). Power, here, is defined as speed strength – your ability to move weight as fast as possible using an enormous amount technique. Think jerks, cleans and snatches.
Muscular endurance: Muscular endurance is simply your ability to train under submaximal loads repeatedly without tiring. High-rep sets of push-ups, chin-ups and sit-ups fit this description. However, any exercise can be used for muscular endurance such as high-rep sets of bench presses or squats.
Conditioning: Conditioning is a broad topic and casts a large umbrella over many facets from long, slow distance cardiovascular exercise to quick, high-intensity, short bouts of explosive sprints. Whatever the mode of conditioning, the fact is that the cardiovascular system is taxed somehow.
Of course there are many nuances, degrees and levels of each style of training, but these are the main categories we’ll focus on when structuring your ultimate physique plan of action.
Recruit Your Own Army
Is the civil war starting to end yet? It should because it’s time to start uniting instead of dividing and take advantage of all of these modes of training. Use them to your advantage, exploit them and bury the proverbial hatchet once and for all.
The best plan will utilize all of these principles and combine them to make one kick-butt program. You will build muscle, gain strength, develop power and get in better shape all at once and, as an added bonus, you won’t get bored doing it. Besides, I’m sure you have your favorite exercises but just didn’t know where to fit them into a comprehensive program. No worries.
Let’s look at a few principles to follow and finally put a program together.
7 Principles of War
Below are a few things to keep in mind when following this plan. These aren’t necessarily hard and fast rules but simple guidelines to make the program as effective as possible and keep you on track.
You will perform a dynamic warm-up/stretching session prior to each workout.
This gets your body primed for the work ahead, fills your limbs with blood and activates the central nervous system. Since it includes so many modes of training you will need a full-body prep to be ready for battle.
You will train four times per week.
Since you will be experiencing several different training styles, it’s imperative you get the right amount of rest and recovery. A good example of how to structure your training days is to work out on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday with Wednesday and the weekend for rest.
You will alternate modes of training.
Whether you are performing hypertrophy, power, strength or endurance, you will alternate days of different modes of training. This program carefully schedules which days go where so you can recover properly and train as effectively as possible and take full advantage of your energy.
Perform the program for six to eight weeks.
Running the program for this amount of time is enough to see significant changes but not too long to get too burnt out. After the six to eight weeks is up you can either take a few days of rest and start over or shift to one of your traditional routines for a time before coming back to the program.
Replace exercises where necessary.
Of course the exercises in this program aren’t set in stone you may find some aren’t right for you. Simply find comparable replacement exercises and move on – don’t overthink it.
Practice active rest.
On your rest days (which should be three per week) you can fill them with active rest such as pick-up games of basketball, swimming, hiking or anything that isn’t too structured or intense and taxing.
Have fun but challenge yourself.
Work hard, take on the challenge and strive to improve but not at the expense of it feeling like a job you hate. If you push too hard you’ll want to quit. Give your body time to adapt, progress in baby steps and enjoy the ride. Think of the long-term.
Your War Plan
Here’s a bird’s-eye view of what each week will look like. Each day you will focus on a specific mode of training with minimal work in other areas. For example, on day one you’ll focus on strength with some work devoted to power, hypertrophy and conditioning.
- Monday: Day 1 – Power
- Tuesday: Day 2 – Speed and Agility
- Wednesday – Active rest
- Thursday: Day 3 – Strength
- Friday: Day 4 – Hypertrophy and Muscular Endurance
- Saturday – Active rest
- Sunday – Active rest
The following will be performed prior to each training session. You can increase or decrease the volume slightly, but be sure to do something similar to prime your body for the work to come. Perform all moves with little rest for one or two rounds of 10 reps each:
- Jump squats
- Lateral lunges
- Hanging leg raises
- Inverted rows
Be sure to perform a comprehensive full-body stretching routine after each session.
|Hang clean and press – Warm-up sets||2||12-15|
|Hang clean and press (90 seconds rest between sets)||3||4-6|
|Jump squat or box jump – Warm-up set||1||10|
|Jump squat or box jump (30 seconds rest between sets)||4||10|
|Plyo (hand clap) push-up – Warm-up set||1||10|
|Plyo (hand clap) push-up (30 seconds rest between sets)||3||5-8|
|Walking lunge (60 seconds rest between sets)||3||Length|
|Single arm dumbbell or kettlebell flat bench press (60 seconds rest between sets)||3||5-8|
|Bent-over barbell or dumbbell row – Warm-up set||1||12|
|Bent-over barbell or dumbbell row (60 seconds rest between sets)||3||5-8|
|3-way plank: alternate from side, middle to other side without rest – 10 to 20 seconds each. 1 set alternating every 10 to 20 seconds for 1 to 2 minutes|
|Sprint intervals: Total of 6 to 8 sprints with one minute rests|
|Speed and Agility|
|Timed sprint (at least 20 yards). 3 minute jog, 5 rounds all-out (60-120 seconds rest between rounds)||5|
|Superset: Front, side, side and reverse lunge with weight (dumbbell or kettlebell) goblet grip. 3 rounds of 5 reps each direction. (120 seconds rest between rounds)||3|
|Single-leg dumbbell calf raise (30 seconds rest between sets)||3||12|
|Superset: Reverse-grip chin-up with incline bench dumbbell press – Warm-up||1||12|
|Superset: Reverse-grip chin-up with incline bench dumbbell press (60 seconds rest between supersets)||3||8-12|
|Superset: Dumbbell shrug with hyperextension (60 seconds rest between supersets)||3||8-12|
|Superset: Floor crunch with bent-knee hanging leg raise (No rest)||3||15-20|
|Barbell back or front squat – Warm-up||2-3||8-12|
|Barbell back or front squat (120 seconds between sets)||4-5||5|
|Barbell Romanian deadlift – Warm-up||1||12|
|Barbell Romanian deadlift (120 seconds between sets)||4-5||5|
|Superset: Flat bench barbell press with wide-grip or close-grip pull-up – Warm-up||2||12|
|Superset: Flat bench barbell press with wide-grip or close-grip pull-up (60 seconds between sets)||4-5||5-8|
|Superset: TRX row and plyo push-up (60 seconds between supersets)||3||10-15|
|Superset: Hanging leg raise with planks – Plank for 20-30 seconds (No rest between sets)||3||15-20|
|Sprint intervals: Total of 6 to 8 sprints with one minute rests|
|Hypertrophy and Muscular Endurance|
|Superset: Standing dumbbell or barbell shoulder press with rope face pull – Warm-up||2||12|
|Superset: Standing dumbbell or barbell shoulder press with rope face pull (No rest between supersets)||4||10-15|
|Weighted rear foot elevated Bulgarian split squat – Warm-up||2||12|
|Weighted rear foot elevated Bulgarian split squat (30 seconds rest between sets)||3-4||10 each leg|
|Superset: TRX curls with parallel bar triceps dips – Warm-up||1||12|
|Superset: TRX curls with parallel bar triceps dips (No rest between supersets)||4||10-15|
|Superset: Dumbbell sumo deadlift with single leg calf raise (No rest between sets)||3||10-15|
|Superset: Bicycle crunch with Lying leg raise (No rest between sets)||3||15-20|
|Sled pull or drag or farmer’s walk – 3 lengths (60 seconds rest between sets)||3|