Ryan Hall MS, CSCS, Wellness Coordinator
Superman, The Hulk, The Flash, Mr. Fantastic & He-Man walk into a gym…stop me if you have heard this one! You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. Sit tight as I drop a little superhero analogy on you. First off, a little comic book background on our subjects:
Superman (Muscular Endurance): As the saying goes – “Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…nanana…it’s Superman!” With this intro behind us, Superman represents all that is seen as muscular endurance; speed, strength and power.
Hulk (Muscular Strength): The green giant with the strength to destroy buildings, throw a tank and pretty much put any power lifter to shame. I don’t know of a better epitome of muscular strength in the comic world.
Flash (Cardiovascular Endurance): Does this one really need any explanation? With the ability to move, think and react at light speeds as well as having superhuman endurance that allows him the ability to run incredible distances, there is no one better to represent cardiovascular endurance.
Mr. Fantastic (Flexibility): Some of you may be wondering who this one is, think Fantastic 4. Mr. Fantastic has the ability to stretch his body like a giant rubber band, i.e. he’s very flexible.
He-man (Body Composition): Think Arnold Schwarzenegger in a loin cloth at his peak. Yeah, that’s He-Man. Not to mention the superhuman strength and speed.
Okay, introductions out of the way I’ll get to the point. My question to you is: who do you want to be? In other words, what is your goal? Too many people start off an exercise routine not knowing what they really want. They want to lose weight, get stronger, bulk up their muscle mass and be able to run a half marathon. That all sounds fine and dandy, but you have too many contradicting factors. You can’t bulk up and lean out at the same time. It’s incredibly hard to build serious muscle mass and train for cardiovascular endurance. And not to mention become a yoga master and dead lift 600 pounds. The way you train needs to match what your goals are.
If you are looking to gain muscle mass and you are starting off as a scrawny 6 ft – 175 lbs, you will probably need to go through a bulking process where you are consuming extremely high amounts of calories and limiting your cardiovascular exercise in order to gain not only muscle, but some excess fat in order to push heavy enough weight to make the muscles grow. You say you want to get faster and run a marathon? You should probably skip max dead lift day. Training the muscles to be able to work hard for long periods of time is your strategy. Think lots and lots of lunges and core work. You want that rock hard six-pack? Nutrition should be your first thought, but moderately heavy weight coupled with moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise is your route. And it is really hard to pull off a Handstand Scorpion Pose (yoga – look it up) if your traps, shoulders and biceps are so large that you can’t scratch the back of your own neck.
My advice here is to have a goal in mind before you step foot in the gym. Think long and hard, do you want to lose that spare tire? Look good in a bikini? Sculpt that chest and back? Bench press 450 & Squat 600? Are you thinking you’d like to try your hand at a marathon or triathlon? Or do you just want to be Batman? That’s my goal, just be Batman!
Batman (All Around Bad***): But wait, wouldn’t Superman embody this description? The answer is yes, except for the fact that he is not human and Batman is just like the rest of us. No special powers, no magical abilities, just grit, determination and looks good in a spandex suit.