With superhero films and comic-book adaptations all the rage in Hollywood, there are more chiseled and jacked actors taking to the screen than you can count on two hands. Want to get yourself in just as good of shape as some of those heroic actors? We have the workout for you.
CHEST AND SHOULDERS LIKE THE HULK
Bruce Banner didn’t have to hit the gym before throwing tanks across town and crushing cars between his palm—he simply got irradiated. But since experimental genomic modification is out of reach for the average dude, we asked Men’s Fitnesstraining adviser Jason Ferruggia for a routine to build a gigantic chest and shoulders.
CHEST: GYMNASTICS FLYES
“Gymnasts have tremendous pectoral development,” says Ferruggia, who suggests modifying the old-school dumbbell flye with gymnastics rings for a better chest workout. Lifeline USA Jungle Gym makes a good pair (get them at lifelinefitness.com), or use blast straps (elitefts.com) as shown here. Set up a barbell high in a power rack and loop the straps around it, letting them hang slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Grab them, keeping your body tense in a straight line, and lower your torso down by widening your arms as far as is comfortable . Reverse the motion until your arms are out in front of you . Perform two sets of as many reps as possible as the last chest exercise in your workout, resting two minutes between sets.
SHOULDERS: HANG CLEAN AND PRESS
Grab a barbell overhand at shoulder width. Keep your back fl at and lower it to knee level . Straighten, shrug up, and come up on the balls of your feet. Then, flip your wrists over , and press the weight straight overhead . Reverse the motion to return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do one set of six to eight reps, rest 90-120 seconds, and then use a lighter load for a second set of 10-20 reps.
FOREARMS LIKE WOLVERINE
Wolverine may have the most impressive forearms of any comic-book hero. Follow this program from C.J. Murphy, a Boston-based strength coach, to one-up him.
Place two small plates together, smooth side out, and grip them with your fingers . Curl, rotating your wrists out as you go . Lower them back to your sides. That’s one rep. Do four sets of 8-12 reps, resting little between sets.
REVERSE THICK-BAR CURL
Use Tyler grips or wrap a towel around a normal bar, grab it with a shoulder-width, overhand grip , and curl . Lower it to complete one rep. Perform four sets of 8-12 reps, resting as little as possible between sets. Do one of these exercises after each normal workout.
HAMMER CURL WITH TWIST
Wrap towels around two dumbbells or use the Tyler Grips again and curl them with your palms facing your sides . When your forearms are parallel to the floor, rotate your wrists inward so your palms face the floor . Then rotate them back outward until they face the ceiling . Rotate them back so that they face inward again, and lower your arms back to your sides. That’s one rep. Perform three sets of 8-12 reps, resting as little as possible between sets.
SPEED LIKE THE FLASH
To build blink-and-you’ll-miss-me speed, increase your power and improve your running form. Patrick Beith, a speed and performance expert in North Attleboro, Mass., shows you how—red bodysuit not required).
Teach your foot to drive straight down and land underneath your hips properly: Bring your right knee up in a skipping action, so your left leg is hopping . As soon as your right heel clears your left knee, drive the right leg down in a “piston”-like action. . You should land on the ball of your foot. Each hop is only a couple of inches off the ground. As your right leg drives down, your left arm should also be going down and vice versa. Keep your torso tall and straight. Do this for 15 yards. That’s one set. Perform three sets at an easy pace.
“Strength equals speed,” says Beith, so make this move a part of your lifting routine. Stand on one leg and raise the other in front of you as high as you can . Keep your lower back as straight as possible and your torso upright. Squat down as low as you can on one leg . Then return to the starting position. (Stand in front of a wall to use for support if you need it.) That’s one rep. Perform three sets of 10 reps on each leg, resting three minutes between sets.
Find a hill or other surface that’s inclined approximately 15 degrees-you want to sense resistance when you sprint it, but it shouldn’t feel like you’re climbing a mountain. Sprint up the incline for 25 yards, and then walk back down, resting for two minutes. That’s one set. Perform eight sets. “This teaches you to apply greater force to the ground while running as fast as you can,” says Beith.
AGILITY LIKE SPIDER-MAN
Spidey relies on quick reflexes to stay one step ahead of his arch-nemeses. You can improve your ability to react and change direction with explosive speed-whether on the athletic field or in the street-using the exercises and drills below, provided by Joe DeFranco, a strength coach in Wyckoff, N.J.
Set up a box or aerobics step in front of you, high enough to be challenging, but low enough to be safe. Stand athletically and bend your hips and knees to gather momentum . Explosively jump onto the box and hold for a second . Then step off the box. That’s one rep. Perform six sets of three reps, resting 60 seconds between sets. Do this first on a lower-body day.
SLALOM ROPE SKIPS
Stand with your feet together holding a jump rope, and imagine a line beneath your feet. Begin skipping rope while simultaneously jumping side to side, back and forth over the line, as quickly as possible, keeping your feet together. Continue for 30 seconds. That’s one set. Perform fi ve to six sets, resting 30-60 seconds between each set before lifting.
“This can be part of your cardio workout,” says DeFranco. Find a field or court with a lined surface, or set up cones to act in place of lines. You need three lines spaced five yards apart from each other. Straddle the middle line, get into a three-point stance, and place one hand on the ground. Now turn and sprint five yards to your left and touch the left-most line with your left hand. Now turn and run 10 yards to your right and touch the right-most line with your right hand. Finally, turn and sprint back five yards to the line you started at. That’s one shuttle. Perform six to eight shuttles, resting 60-90 seconds between each. Begin each shuttle by running in a different direction than you did in the previous one. For example, in your second shuttle, start by sprinting to the right.