Be your own super hero

Become as ripped as Wolverine, as strong as the Hulk, and as nimble as Spider-Man with our superhero-inspired program

WOLVERINE
Since 2000, Jackman has unveiled a more impressive—and more shredded physique every time he appeared on-screen as the surliest member of the X-Men. In Logan, the character is older, grayer, and clearly not in the same peak and condition displayed in 2013’s The Wolverine or 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. But the centenarian still looks and fights better than most looks geriatrics born in the late 1800s.

Off-screen, Jackman’s continued efforts to make strength gains and age gracefully have reminded us of something: You don’t need to be a mutant to gain super abilities. You just have to work as humanly possible and take care of your mind and body.

Admittedly,  the workout plan we’re providing won’t turn you into a superhero. However, since it was created by 47-year-old superhuman celebrity trainer Ron Mathews, winner of the Masters 45–49 division at the 2016 CrossFit Games,  we’re sure you’ll look, perform, and move like one after eight weeks. Even better, exposure to gamma radiation, radioactive spider bites, or adamantium skeletal bonding isn’t necessary.

The Hulk
YOU’D SMASH everything, too, if you turned green every time someone pissed you off. The Incredible Hulk’s feats of strength include leaping great distances thanks to his super strong leg muscles. Rumor has it the Hulk can jump hundreds of miles—and orbit around the Earth—in a single bound. And it must be nice for your physical strength to be limitless when you become stronger as you get more agitated. The Green Goliath, who’s been part of the Avengers, grows to more than seven feet tall and more than 1,000 pounds when he transforms from 5’10” egghead, Robert Bruce Banner, Ph.D.

1. STRENGTH LIKE THE HULK

Mathews’ plan relies on tried-and true powerlifting exercises—like the bench press, squat, and deadlift—and more functional, complex movements such as thrusters and power cleans to help you acquire Hulk-like strength. The program benefits your body’s central nervous system (CNS), which increases your body’s ability to recruit muscles for athletic feats, such as leaping from rooftop to rooftop, sprinting after a villain, or kicking down a door (see page 52 if you need a refresher).

SNATCH-GRIP DEADLIFT

Remember: Most of the power should be generated in the initial pull when your hips are low. If you’re still yanking the bar in the middle of the range of motion, then it’s too heavy. “Keep the chest up and maximize core tension,” Mathews adds. SNATCH

BENCH PRESS “Make sure that you’re controlling both phases of the movement—the negative and the positive—and don’t bounce the bar off your chest to initiate upward barbell movement,” Mathews says.

2. AGILITY LIKE SPIDER-MAN

Mathews included extra volume in the plan so as to induce hypertrophy, while the agility and speed work will improve your coordination, ability to accelerate, and teach your body how to transfer your newfound superstrength into dynamic movements. Essentially it’s combining SpiderMan’s nimbleness with Quicksilver’s speed while offering a blend of the Hulk’s size and Wolverine’s cut physique. In the end, you’ll have acquired new muscle, increased one-rep max, and an improved pair of lungs that will take you pretty far in any endeavor you take on—super or not.

Spider-Man
SPIDEY COMBINES HIS acrobatic ability with his web-slinging skills to traverse New York City from rooftop to rooftop. Luckily, his superhuman kinesthetic ability enables him to avoid injury despite getting tossed around by nearly every villain he’s faced, including Randy Savage as Bone Saw McGraw in 2002’s Spider-Man.

SINGLE LEG SHOULDER BRIDGE Keep your grounded foot planted at all times and “drive down into the heel to maximize the posterior muscle activation and minimize quad activation,” says Mathews. “Use your hands for balance; all of the weight should be in the heel that’s on the floor.”

BAR MUSCLE-UP These are a little bit easier than muscle-ups on rings (the bar is stable, unlike the rings) but not by a lot. They still require a ton of upper-body strength and power.

3. SPEED LIKE QUICKSILVER

Quicksilver
FORGET USAIN BOLT. Quicksilver’s superhuman speed allows him to travel at speeds exceeding the speed of sound for hundreds of miles without getting tired! And his talents don’t stop there. His speed allows him to fly, create cyclones, and run up walls and across water. Take that, Jesus.

BUTTERFLY SITUP “The butterfly leg position puts more emphasis on the abdominals because it doesn’t allow you to use the hip flexors [during the rep],” explains Mathews. “The low-back support pad was made for butterfly situps and enables you to go all the way back.”

KETTLEBELL SWING  “Russian swings stop at the eyes and emphasize the hip pop and hamstrings. By using an American swing, you go overhead and not only work the hip pop and hamstrings but also the shoulders,” Mathews says.

BUTTERFLY SITUP “The butterfly leg position puts more emphasis on the abdominals because it doesn’t allow you to use the hip flexors [during the rep],” explains Mathews. “The low-back support pad was made for butterfly situps and enables you to go all the way back.”

Wolverine
MAYBE IT’S THE amazing drugs in Canada, but Alberta’s Wolverine can withstand nearly anything—all the way down to the cellular level—thanks to his self-regeneration abilities. His body, if damaged or destroyed, recovers far faster than any of us mere mortals. The guy rallied from a gunshot wound, a sword through the chest, and an atomic bomb—in minutes! And don’t get us started on poisons and diseases—he’s immune. These powers give Wolverine, who’s more than 100 years old, more endurance and slow down the aging process. No wonder Hugh Jackman looks like he does after 17 years playing this guy.

4. RECOVER LIKE WOLVERINE

Odds are you’ll never be able to take a bullet to the dome and walk away, like Wolverine in 2003’s X2 . But some of Logan’s other ultra recovery abilities can be achieved through careful planning and meal prep.

Look at the Big Picture “Pay attention to your overall diet,” notes Ryan Andrews, R.D., a strength and conditioning specialist and a coach with Precision Nutrition. “That includes how much food you’re eating, staying in tune with your hunger cues, and following a diet made up of high-quality, minimally processed foods.” In other words, think of your overall recovery efforts as the sum everything that enters your system pre-, intra-, and post-workout.

Time It Up
After Wolverine gets through turning sentinels into confetti he enjoys lighting a cigar and downing a brew (presumably Labatt Blue). Adopt a different plan of attack. “After your workout, your muscles are primed to restore glycogen and protein levels,” says Erica Giovinazzo, R.D., a CrossFit coach and nutritionist with Brick CrossFit in Los Angeles. “Stick with lean, quick-digesting protein sources, such as a protein shake, chicken breast, egg whites, or fish.

“Give your body 30 to 60 minutes to recover so it can focus on digesting the nutrients,” she says.

Go to Collagen
The high levels of glycine in collagen protein might help preserve your joints during high-volume training periods. While there’s no recommended dose of glycine—an amino acid that supports collagen, tendon, and ligament growth—diet alone most likely won’t provide a sufficient amount since it’s most abundant in the animal parts humans don’t usually eat: tendons, ligaments, and bones. Meat, dairy, and eggs provide minimal amounts. The collagen in our joints, tendons, ligaments, and throughout our body will not optimally repair itself after heavy intense training sessions. What’s more, a study published in Current Medical Research and Opinion concluded that after 24 weeks of supplementing with collagen hydrolysate, participants experienced less activity-related joint pain.

Lean on Leucine

This branched-chain amino acid helps to kick-start your muscles’ synthesis response, so you begin the recovery process faster, says Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D., director of the Human Performance Lab at CUNY Lehman College in the Bronx, NY. “Research has shown that there’s a leucine threshold of about 2 to 3g that’s ideal for spiking a response post-workout,” he says. Foods high in leucine include chicken, soybeans, beef, nuts, seeds, fish, and beans.

5. FOCUS LIKE PROFESSOR X

Professor X
WHEN YOU HAVE a Ph.D. in genetics, biophysics, psychology, and anthropology, and an M.D. in psychiatry, your brain must be functionally pretty good. Don’t think about lying to him because he can read minds and even project his own thoughts into your mind. And if you cross him, Professor X can simply induce mental paralysis, loss of memories, even amnesia. On second thought, I’m sure we all have times we’d like to forget…

Professor Charles Xavier didn’t become head X-Man because he could deadlift a ton of weight. It was Chuck’s ginormous think muscle and psionic powers that gave him his edge. For those of us not blessed with Professor X’s super abilities, these brain-boosting tips can help you get your mind in top condition:

Chill Out
“Meditating everyday for 10–20 minutes has been shown to increase certain areas of your brain, namely the the hippocampus—which is where you store your memories—while decreasing the size of your amygdala, the brain’s stress epicenter,” says Julia Samton, M.D. Additionally, a 2016 Texas Tech University study reported that a meditation modality called Integrative Mind-Body Training can significantly improve your immune function.

Crunch on More Kale
Eating vitamin K–rich foods, such as spinach, collard greens, and kale, can slow cognitive decline. A five-year study tracked eating habits of 950 older adults and found that people who ate one to two servings of veggies per day had the cognitive ability of a person 11 years younger than those who consumed none.

Stop Pulling All-Nighters
After subjects in a Belgian study stayed awake for 42 hours, scientists used MRI scans to track mental sharpness. As you’d expect, the more sleep deprived the subjects were, the more their cognitive abilities declined. Above all, researchers stressed that it’s not so much how much you sleep, but how much you’ve been awake that can cause the decline.

Get a Hobby
A four-year Mayo Clinic study found that regularly engaging in a hobby, such as playing board games, painting, or woodworking, lowered the risk of cognitive impairment in elderly subjects.

Try Ginkgo Biloba
A study in the journal Human Psychopharmacology found that subjects taking ginkgo extract were better able to recall info than those taking a placebo. However, don’t rely on it to give you a midday energy boost, as results vary on its effectiveness to provide that benefit.

6. 8 WEEKS TO A SUPERBODY

ROW Powerful, complete reps are actually more useful than quick ones, even in a race. Lean forward and let the chain recoil fully into the chamber. Then extend your legs and row the handle to your chest

EXERCISES
Back Squat
Bench Press
Military Press
Deadlift
Thruster
Power Clean

Split

DAY  FOCUS
1 Lower Body
2 Speed work, Agility, Mobility
3 Upper Body
4 Rest
5 Full Body
6 Plyometrics, Unilateral Explosion drills, Mobility
7 Rest

Percentages

Base the percentages below off of 95% of your true 1-rep max. Test your 1RM at the beginning of the progam, and again after eight weeks.
DEADLIFT/BENCH/BACK SQUAT

WEEK  PERCENTAGE  REST
1 & 2 60% 60 sec
3 & 4 70% 90 sec.
5 & 6 75-85% 105 sec.
7 & 8 80-85% 120 sec.

MILITARY PRESS/THRUSTER

WEEK  PERCENTAGE REST
1 & 2 55% 55% 60 sec.
3 & 4 60% 90 sec.
5 & 6 65% 105 sec.
7 & 8 65+% 120 sec.

POWER CLEAN

WEEK  PERCENTAGE  REST
1 & 2 60% 60 sec
3 & 4 65% 90 sec.
5 & 6 70% 105 sec.
7 & 8 75% 120 sec. 120 Sec.

DAY 1
Complete three rounds of the warmup.

WARMUP EXERCISE  REPS
Dive Bomber Pushup 5
Single-leg Shoulder Bridge 5
Pullup 5
Situp 10
Air Squat 15

 

EXERCISE  SETS  REPS  REST
Back Squat Squat 5 5 60 sec.
Barbell Row 4 12 45 sec.
Romanian Deadlift Deadlift 4 4  45 sec.
Neutral Grip Low-row 4 10 45 sec.
Leg Extension Superset with 3

3

10

10

 60 sec
Straight-leg Raise 4 12 30 sec
Bicycle Pedal 4 20 30 sec.
Crunch 4 20 30 sec.

DAY 2
Complete three rounds of the warmup.

WARMUP EXERCISES  REPS
Walking High Kick 10 yds
Walking Samson Stretch 10 yds
Walking Lunge 10 yds
Bear Crawl 10 yds

 

EXERCISE  SETS  REPS  REST
Treadmill Jog 1 3:30 min (5%  incline) 30 sec.
Treadmill Sprint* 5 20 secs run (7% incline) 40 s
Treadmill Sprint Sprint* 5 15 sec. run (10% incline) 45 sec.
Treadmill Sprint* 5 10 sec. run (12% incline) 50 sec
Treadmill Jog 4 2 min. 0%  incline 30 sec.
Row Intervals 1 1 min. sprint 2 min. recovery
High Knee Drill 4 20 yds 30 sec.
Karaoke 4 20 yds 30 sec.
 Side Shuffle 4 20 yds 30 sec.
Back Pedal 4 20 yds 30 sec.
Pigeon Stretch 1 60 sec. 60 sec.
Lizard Pose 1 60 sec. 60 sec.
Couch Stretch 1 60 sec. 60 sec.

*These sprints should be at or near full speed and performed one into the other with only the prescribed rest.

DAY 3
Complete three rounds of the following exercises as a warmup.

EXERCISE REPS
Dive Bomber Pushup 5
Single-Leg Shoulder Bridge 5
Pullup 5
Situp 10
Air Squat 15

 

EXERCISE SETS  REPS  REST
Bench Press 5 5  60 sec.
Incline DB Flye Superset with 4 10
Incline DB Press 4 10 60 sec.
Military Press 5 5 60 sec.
J Press 5 8 60 sec.
Plyometric Pushup 4 8-12
Superset with Superset with Pushup 4 10 60 sec.
Hanging Leg Raise 4 12 60 sec.
Butterfly Situp 4 25 60 sec

DAY 4
Rest

DAY 5
Complete three rounds of the warmup.

WARMUP EXERCISE  REPS
Dive Bomber Pushup 5
Single-leg Shoulder Bridge 5
Pullup 5
Situp 10
Air Squat 15

 

EXERCISE SETS  REPS  REST
Deadlift* 5 5 60 sec.
Pullup 4 8-12 45 sec.
Thruster 5 5 60 sec.
Lat Pulldown 4 10 60 sec.
Power Clean 5 5 60 sec.
Kettlebell Swing 4 15 60 sec.
Muscle-up 4 2-8 60 sec.
V-up 4 15 30 sec.
Oblique Crunch Crunch 4 15 (each (each side) 30 sec.
Feet-up Crunch 4 20 30 sec.

*Substitute: Snatch-grip Deadlift

DAY 6

Complete three rounds of the warmup.

WARMUP EXERCISES REPS
Walking High Kick 10 yds
Walking Samson Stretch 10 yds
Walking Lunge 10 yds
Bear Crawl 10 yds

 

EXERCISE  SETS  REPS  REST
12-inch-high Forward Hops 5 10 yds 30 se
Single-leg Lunge jump 4 10
Superset with Single Leg 4 10 30 sec.
Box Jump (24-inch) 4 15 45 sec.
Burpee 4 10 30 sec.
Single- leg Box Jump** 4 10 60 sec.
Squat Jump 4 10
Superset with Bodyweight Squat 4 10 60 sec.
Seated Hurdler Hurdler Stretch Stretch 1 60 sec. (each side) 30 sec.
IT Band Stretch (Diagonal Stretch) 1 60 sec. (each side) 30 sec.
Triangle Pose 1 60 sec. (each side) 30 sec.

*Perform the superset on the left leg then immediately on the right leg before resting 30 seconds. **Perform 10 jumps onto a 12- to 20-inch box off your left foot, landing on both feet. Immediately perform 10 reps off your right foot.

DAY 7
Rest

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