Superhero Muscle: 5 Challenges To Help You Get It

Just to cover my ass, I would like to say that Superman is a copyright of DC comics, and I in no way own him or the above image. Go here if you want to see more on Superman.

There I sat.

Glued to the television.

My adolescent self refusing to budge.

No amount of food or incessant name calling from my parents could pull me away.

I watched as one of my many idols soared around the screen--pummeling bad guys along the way.

Although I loved many superheroes at that time (who am I kidding...I still love superheroes), in this particular instance I was watching Superman, and who couldn't take notice of his above average physique.

I mean the guy is flat out jacked (they don't call him Man of Steel for nothing).

What's important to note, however, is that these superhero's weren't just balls of muscle that couldn't move.  Au contraire--they were ATHLETIC.

Jumping, running, cutting, punching, throwing, flying...they could do it all.  Granted, Superman had an unfair adavtange on account of the fact that he's from another planet, but a guy like Bruce Wayne really is the epitome of human performance.

Anyways, what I'm getting after is this:  I've been obsessed with superhero's for a long time now, and I know you are too since you're still reading this blog.

So, as here are 5 ways to spice up your training and help you pack on that superhero caliber muscle.

Work to failure

Saying this will burn you out is an understatement, but exhausting the muscle plays a key role in hypertrophy.  Just pick a weight and go until your form falls to pieces.

There's obviously more than one way to approach this, but here are two ideas to get you started.  Also, feel free to adjust the sets as needed.  This is just for demonstration purposes and may or may not have enough volume to really get you what you want:

Keep the sets static but go up in weight each week:

Week 1:  3 x failure @ 60 lbs

Week 2:  3 x failure @ 60 lbs

Week 3:  3 x failure  @ 65 lbs

Week 4:  3 x failure @ 70lbs

Keep the weight static and add a set each week:

Week 1:  2 x failure @ 60 lbs

Week 2:  3 x failure @ 60 lbs

Week 3:  4 x failure @ 60 lbs

Week 4:  5 x failure @ 60 lbs

Please know that working to complete and utter failure is not something you should do on the reg.  It's more a tool you can use from time to time depending on where your training is at.

Timed Sets

Instead of always working for reps, try working for a set amount of time.  This makes it super easy to track your progress and modify volume from week to week.  Just pick a reasonable amount of time to do work for, and see how many reps you can do with good form.

Try and beat it the next set, and the set after that.  When you come back the next week, you can increase the time, increase weight, or add a set.

For example, you can do something like this over the course of 4 weeks (again, adjust sets as need be):

Week 1:  3x35 seconds @ 50lbs

Week 2:  3x35 seconds @ 55lbs

Week 3:  3x35 seconds @ 60lbs

Week 4:  3x35 seconds @ 65lbs

On the Minute Sets and Never Ending Sets

These are like brother and sister, and fall pretty much in the same category.  Be warned, they turn from not so bad to downright miserable pretty quickly.  Side note, they are fun to perform in a group setting.  If you have a couple of good training partners, throw this in as a challenge and see who comes out on top.  Here are several ways to attack this:

First, pick one weight and one rep scheme and see how long you can go before you either don't make the time requirement, or tap out.  For example, do 5 reps of back squat at 225 on the minute for as long as you can.

Second, pick one weight and add reps with every minute.  For example, do 1 deadlift at 225 on the first minute, then 2 on the second minute, then 3 on the third minute, and so on until you can't go any longer.

Third, pick one rep scheme and add weight with every minute.  For example, say you choose to do 5 reps at 50% of your bench press max on the first minute.  On the second minute, add 5-10 pounds, on the third minute, add another 5-10 pounds, and keep doing so until you're done.

Tonnage Training

If you don't know what tonnage is, don't worry.  It's simply the total amount of volume lifted, so multiply weight x reps x sets and you have your tonnage for the day.

For example, say I did 4 sets of 5 reps at 300 lbs in the back squat.  Multiply 4 x 5 x 300 and you get 6000.  Usually, people pick sets and reps first, and then lift.  With this approach, you're going to be working backwards.

Pick tonnage and then see how quickly you can lift that amount of weight.  When you come back the next week, try and do it faster or increase the tonnage.

You can do this with one movement, or combine several movements.  Here are two examples:

Lift 5,000 pounds in the back squat as fast as possible.

Lift 10,000 pounds as fast as possible using the back squat, power clean, and bench press.  You can only do one rep of each lift and must go in that order.

  • A Superhero Workout?

The path to acquiring superhero muscle is by no means a walk in the park.  It takes some serious work and planning on your end, but the payoff is totally worth it.

about the author

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James Cerbie is just a life long athlete and meathead coming to terms with the fact that he’s also an enormous nerd.  Be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram for the latest happenings.