August 30, 2013
Are you Batman or the Penguin?

(sigh)…. To be fit like Batman. Ladies, you can be fit like Bargirl. To avoid confusion from here on out “Batman” will refer to both Batman and Batgirl.

So why should we strive to be fit like Batman? Because he is a superhero.  He is a human superhero. Other heroes are mutants, aliens, cyborgs, or hobbits, but Batman is 100% human. He is just a guy. And through his dedication and effort he became awesome. Batman is awesome. And you can be awesome too.

In order to fight crime and battle villains Batman must be in great physical condition. He trains his body every day to withstand the rigors of being a hero. His life depends on his physical condition… and so does yours. But Batman is not worried about chronic diseases. He is too busy fighting crime. He has to make sure he can hang on to his rope while climbing up buildings. He has to sprint across rooftops while wearing a very heavy suit. He has to throw bad guys around. He has to be fit if he wants to live. You have to be fit if you want to live, as well. You can survive by being a couch potato, but in order to live you must have health and fitness. The renaissance writer and doctor, Francois Rabelais, once wrote, “Without health, life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering – an image of death.” Man, Batman must have read this because he is healthy and living and taking names.
Batman has some basic physical necessities. Let’s look at them:

Pulling ability: Batman has to pull himself up onto buildings and hold on with one arm to his grappling gun. Have you ever tried hanging on a pull up bar by one arm for any amount of time? It is hard. But Batman can do it. Because he must. You should be able to do a pull up as well, both men and women. If you cannot do one now, make it a goal to do one good pull up. What would you do if you were hanging off a cliff? Well, you would just hang there if you cannot do a pull up. Did you see Cliffhanger? Stallone was jacked in that movie. Pulling strength is vital to your health. Batman has a pumped up chest, but because he pulls he does not get should impingement issues or anterior cross syndrome. Nope… he is too busy punching the joker in the face. Speaking of punches…

Pushing ability: Batman can do a ton of pushups. Why? Well, not only to push rubble off of him after destroying buildings with his awesomeness, but pushing strength = punching strength. The Dark Knight will never use guns. That being the case his punches better pack a mean wallop. What does this mean for you? Hopefully you never have to punch someone, but ladies, I highly recommend you keep a jab and cross in your arsenal. Pushups will help you deliver a solid strike that will make your opponent regret messing with you. Fellas, this goes for you too. On another note… anyone watch Shark Week? Every once in a while you hear of some poor swimmer having a shark bite their leg. They then punch it in the eye ball and the shark lets go and swims away. So, if you are ever swimming and see a big hungry fish swimming towards you, punch it in the face, and then swim, very quickly! Guys should be able to do 25 pushups in a row. Ladies should be able to do 10. From the feet! There is no such thing as a girl pushup; just a real pushup and a modified pushup. When we test your awesomeness below, we will do so with a modified pushup.


Leg Strength:  Batman uses his legs to carry around a heavy suit. Also, he carries troubled damsels to safety and hauls bad guys to jail by tossing them over his shoulder. All of the above requires leg strength and conditioning. You need this as well. Your legs are the base of your strength. The core is the foundation of your strength, but that is a major tangent… let’s stay on track. What would you do if you went hiking and a big boulder fell onto your buddy? Hopefully you would use your awesome leg strength to hoist the boulder and toss it aside. What if Sasquatch jumped out of the bushes and charged you? um… use your leg strength to ninja kick him in the chest.  What if you had to pick up your spouse, can carry them away from a burning building? Again… leg strength. Hopefully these things would never happen (especially a Sasquatch sighting), but it is better to be prepared than be out of shape. Also, if you need to kick zombies in the face your leg strength will be a key to your survival.

Let’s not forget about the conditioning. Batman must be in great shape both aerobically and anaerobically if he wants to stalk Gotham’s criminals and put them in jail. Fighting is hard work. I would argue that mixed martial artists are some of the most well rounded athletes in regards to their physical conditioning. Batman was trained by ninjas… so yeah, he is a mixed martial artist. Your ability to live depends on your conditioning as well. Any physical activity you do relies on your conditioning. The better condition you are in, the more adventurous activities you can enjoy. I am sure Batman likes to take leisurely hikes up K2, spar with Mike Tyson, and then ride his Bat-Cycle in a tornado. His conditioning would allow for these epic activities. Your conditioning should allow you to live as well. Alexander the Great believed that the body should be the servant of the spirit and not the master of it. That means that any single physical activity you wish to do, you should be able to accomplish it. The moment your physicality limits your ability to do what you wish, it is time to make a change. Make a Bat-change and get that conditioning. If you cannot run a mile without stopping, then stop what you are doing and make a plan to get running.

Want to take the Batman Fitness Challenge, and see how awesome you are? Here we go:

Perform the following exercises in order. There will be a strength portion and a conditioning portion. Keep track of your reps and time.


1.  60 seconds of barbell squats - Men: use 135lbs, Ladies: use 95lbs. Do as many reps as possible.

2. 60 seconds of pull ups - Full pull ups as well. You can kick all you want but you better straighten those arms out and get your chin above the bar. Do as many reps as possible. Ladies, if you cannot do a full pull up, then I guess we can settle with a recline row (modified pull up)

3. 60 seconds of pushups -Men from the feet. Ladies from the knees. Make sure to touch your chest to the ground and lockout those arms. Again, do as many reps as possible.
Add up your reps.


4. 1000 feet on the Versa Climber – that’s right, the Sisyphus Machine. If you don’t know what a Versa Climber is, that is ok… Go watch Rocky IV and see Drago cry while training on this machine. If you don’t have access to a versa climber, then do a 2500m row. Go as fast as you can.

5. 1 mile run – sweet and simple, and run as fast as you can.

Add up your time

So how do you stack up to the heroes?

Level: Batman

Total reps – 110-130 reps Total Time – 13 minutes and below

Holy smokes, you need to quit your job and become a crime fighter. At least go Sasquatch hunting for a challenge. You must wake up at 4am to go sprinting uphill in the snow to play hit-for-hit with a yeti. Congrats!

Level: Robin
Total reps – 90-109 Total Time – 15 minutes to 12:59

You are pretty awesome, and with some practice you could be even more awesome. Better leave the bear wrestling to Batman, but you could surely handle a wild camel or dingo.

Level: Jim Gordon

Total reps – 70-89 Total time – 16 minutes to 14:59

So you can handle yourself in a tight situation, but hopefully that situation does not last more than 60 seconds. You have the strength to toss a villain or two in the gutter but let’s hope it is not a mob you are battling. Try working on your pull ups and aerobic power to get you to the next level.

Level: Joker

Total Reps – 40-69 Total Time – 18:00 - 15:59

Ok, we need to talk. In order to be really awesome we need to get you to at least Jim Gordon status. You may be the smartest person on the planet, but unless you can build a robot, your brain will not lift a boulder or pull yourself up from a cliff. Things to work on: running, pulling, and pushups. The leg strength and sprint speed will follow. Now get moving.

Level: Penguin

Total Reps – Below 40 Total Time – Longer than 18 minutes

If you ranked a Penguin, don’t be worried. He doesn’t work out, and there is room to grow. The penguin needs to work on everything: Leg strength, pushing, pulling, running, and sprinting. There is only progress to be made with the Penguin. If only he would put down the cigar and pick up a dumbbell. It would be best to get some more workouts under your belt before trying to ride your bike in a tornado or rock climbing. Get that strength so you can live!

Let’s wrap this up. The point to all of this is that your fitness level directly affects your ability to enjoy physical activities. It also directly affects your ability to survive any situation that requires physical mastery. Be the master of your body. Don’t let it master you. Be like Batman.

Remember, Batman had support. He could not be totally awesome without Alfred, Robin, and Commissioner Gordon. If you need a refresher on how to be a fitness hero then re-read this one..

Images courtesy of:
Image courtesy of DC Comics 

Written by Clark Masterson

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