How to be Batman

We’ve talked a lot on here about training styles, nutrition, general fitness, and techniques for improving your physical and mental wellness. It’s time to stop beating around the bush and tell you what you’ve all really wanted to know from the moment you read the first article we put up. Quite simply: how do we become Batman, already?!

Whether you prefer comics or just the various movie appearances, I think just about everyone can agree that Batman is a pretty badass kinda guy. He’s rich, a genius, knows more martial arts than most people know local gas stations, and he takes out superpowered bad guys like yesterdays garbage. When in doubt, always be yourself…or let’s be honest, be Batman.

Let’s talk about how!

As a disclaimer, I can’t make you into a billionaire genius, which is a drag, but I also promise not to shoot your parents in a dark alley somewhere after the Opera, so I guess it’s an okay payoff. What we’re going to talk about here is the physical characteristics that make The Dark Knight capable of taking on anyone, anywhere, anytime and come out on top.

CrossFit adheres to developing ten components of physical fitness: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, coordination, agility, balance, accuracy, power, and speed. Four of these are developed through Training, four through Practice, and finally two are developed by the combination of both. Below, we’re laying out what each of these components of fitness really measure, as well as exercises that can develop them.

Then, at the end, we’ll bring it all together in a Batman Training Plan (which is not for the faint of heart).

Training Components

Four of our components of fitness are improved through Training, which can be defined as activity that leads to physiological improvements in performance at the muscular or system level. So what does that actually mean? You do something that causes a simple, measurable improvement in the Performance of your body, and that improvement can be confirmed/seen “under a microscope”, so to speak.

Endurance

The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen. Training for endurance involves taxing the ability of the body to get and use oxygen, or said another way, maintain effective breathing while engaging in strenuous physical activity. The marathon runner who never seems to be winded, or that “one guy” who can do 21 Barbell Thrusters with 95 lbs and still be breathing normally, are good examples of people with trained endurance.

There are two ways to tax the endurance system:

1. Long-term, Steady-state Cardio [LTSSC] (e.g. jogging 3-4 miles)

2. High Intensity Interval Training [HIIT] (e.g.sprinting 300-400 meters)

Of the the two, HIIT takes the least time but LTSSC takes the least effort.

Stamina

The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy. Most people will confuse endurance and stamina, or assume they’re basically the same thing. While they’re related, they are different measures of ability. Let’s use running a marathon as the litmus test that compares the two:

1. If you can finish the marathon, but want to do it faster, then you’re working on developing Stamina (ability to sustain a faster pace).

2. If you can’t finish the marathon at any pace, then you’re working on your endurance (the ability to complete a specific amount of work).

We can use long term cardio or HIIT to train stamina as well, using a standard distance/amount of work and attempting to complete it at an increasingly quick pace.

Strength

The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force. The best example of this is your one repetition maximum for a given exercise. If your max Deadlift is 200lbs today, and one month from now it’s 250lbs, then your maximal strength has increased by 25%. Pretty easy to measure.

Overall, you should be using compound exercises to build overall maximal strength. Some good choices are the Deadlift, Back Squat, Bench Press, and Pull-up.

Flexibility

The ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint. Can you touch your toes, reach around to the small of your back, or get your knees tight into your chest? These are all measures of flexibility around your joints.

The best way to improve your ability to move is to move. Make sure that you’re going through the best range of motion you can, every rep, and so auxiliary work to increase range of motion before and after your workout. A daily stretching routine morning and evening can take you far in mobility work.

Practice Components

Coordination

The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement. Any movement that has the athlete coordinating limbs, trunk, and head to accomplish a task in different orientations (standing, sitting, balancing on one foot, etc.) will help train your sense of coordination.

One of the biggest challenges facing adult athletes is developing a new sense of where their body is in relation to itself. Many adults were young athletes specializing in certain sports (baseball, soccer, etc.) and will develop some coordination quickly if it relates to old skills. Other people don’t have those skills to fall back on, so they start at the same basic skill level for all types of muscular coordination. The lucky few who engaged in whole body sports like gymnastics will be at a large advantage later in life.

Practice movements like Bear Crawls, Crab Walks, throwing verious medicine balls at different height/distance targets, and shifting balance between feet while holding a weight to help the body develop it’s coordination.

Agility

The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another. While it takes coordination to run effectively in a straight line, it takes agility to run forward and transition seamlessly into a long jump without stopping.

Much like coordinating the body to complete a single movement pattern, agility combines multiple movement patterns into a flow. You can differentiate an agile athlete from a clumsy athlete based on how well they switch between unrelated movements. For example, someone who can run very swiftly and jump very high, but who has to stop to switch between the two, is not agile. In contrast, someone who can run moderately well and jump about average, but who can combine them with a smooth transition, is more agile than the athlete who may otherwise be considered more “fit”.

Practice “flowing” one movement into another. At the start, combine moves that are related, using similar body parts and directionality, such as running a certain distance and then jumping to a target without slowing down. As you become more agile, combine upper and lower body movements, change directions frequently, and generally try to flow together movements that are less and less related to one another.

Balance

The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support base.

Balance is often considered a subset of coordination, but we call it out here because it can be separately tested and developed on it’s own. The most effective way to get your balance improved is to place the body in a less stable position – like balancing on one foot – and then try to go through your regular patterns of movement (bending, squatting, throwing, etc). You’ll know you’ve gotten better balanced when you stop falling down!

Accuracy

The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

Another fairly simple thing to develop, accuracy can refer to controlling your own movement, such as by jumping between targets, or controlling the movement of another object with your body, such as throwing a medicine ball at a target. Improvements to your accuracy come from learning how your muscles react to different movements and how outside objects react to your muscles acting on them.

Training & Practice

Power

The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.

Power is basically the combination of strength/flexibility training plus practicing coordination. Being able to quickly and easily Back Squat 300 lbs with full range of motion in proper form is a good example of power at work.

Speed

The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.

Speed is primarily the combination of stamina plus agility, with some balance and strength thrown in. Being able to string together 30 Wall Balls at a decent weight is a good example of this.

The Batman Training

As promised, here is a one week plan for training to be Batman. Good luck!

Monday

  • 3 sets of 5 each at 75% of your One Rep Max: Deadlift, Back Squat, Bench Press
  • 1 hour target practice
  • 1 hour sparring

Tuesday

  • 3 sets of 10 each: Pull-ups, Sit-ups
  • 1 hour parkour

Wednesday

  • 3 sets of 5 each at 80% of your One Rep Max: Deadlift, Back Squat, Bench Press
  • 1 hour target practice
  • 1 hour sparring

Thursday

  • 3 sets of 10 each: Pull-ups, Sit-ups
  • 1 hour parkour

Friday

  • 3 sets of 5 each at 85% of your One Rep Max: Deadlift, Back Squat, Bench Press
  • 1 hour target practice
  • 1 hour sparring

Saturday

  • 3 sets of 10 each: Pull-ups, Sit-ups
  • 1 hour parkour

Sunday

  • 30 min sprint intervals
  • 3 mile run for time