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Marvel Yourself: Train Like the Black Panther

Regardless of who your favourite superhero is, one of the most impressive physiques in the recent run of Marvel films is that of the actor Chadwick Boseman. Playing the role of T’Challa, the King and protector of the African nation of Wakanda, he’s perhaps better known to film fans simply as the Black Panther.

The Black Panther character is an expert martial artist, combining agility and athleticism with a powerful physique, boasting exceptional strength, speed and endurance capacity. This will no doubt have been reflected in the training that Chadwick Boseman undertook for the role – his hard work and dedication in representing the physical components of the Black Panther is clearly shown off by his physique.

Chadwick has a lean and athletic physique, well-muscled through his shoulders, arms and wide back, without being as bulky – typical of someone who spends a lot of time training solely for muscle growth. We think he likely combines explosive compound lifts such as rows, squats and presses with explosive body weight training, high intensity interval training and using boxing style training to keep him light on his feet. Plenty of core work to allow him to stay strong and prevent injury due to the physical demands of the role.

Using these exercises as a guideline, we have designed a ‘Black Panther Workout Plan’ we think will help you develop an explosive, functional and athletic-looking physique. Each workout is designed to be short and sharp, taking around 30-40 minutes. It switches between gym-based and home workouts, so we think even the busiest person can fit one these three workouts into their daily routine.

1. PULL-UPS

A great way to target all the muscles of the back. If you struggle with full pull-ups, use the assisted pull-up machine or learn how to use resistance bands to give you a helping hand. There are also ‘Australian’ pull-ups, which are much easier to perform for beginners, or a useful addition to bodyweight back training to work the back from different angles.

2. BARBELL JUMP SQUATS

Great for working the muscles of the leg and encouraging the development of explosive ‘functional’ power, jump squats are the staple exercise for many athletes for this very reason. If you struggle with this movement or feel unstable, start by using bodyweight jump squats and build your confidence from there.

3. SQUAT INTO PUSH PRESSES (THRUSTERS)

This is a more advanced move, so please (as with all the exercises described here) seek proper instruction before attempting this manoeuvre. The thruster is a great exercise as it’s taxing on the shoulders, core and quads, whilst also being very taxing on the cardiovascular system. The key with these is to control the load – don’t go too heavy and focus on movement quality.

This is basically performed as a front squat, but instead of stopping at the top of the squat we use our momentum to drive the bar upwards to help press it. Then we return the bar to the shoulders before performing our next squat, making sure we are squatting as deep as possible.

4. LANDMINE PRESSES

These are great for developing the muscles of the shoulder and explosive power. Keeping one end of a barbell securely in a corner of a rack, place a small amount of weight on the other end. Lift the weighted end to shoulder height, making sure the other end is anchored firmly in position.

We want to initiate the press with a little leg drive, so start with a slight bend in the knees – as you drive up with the legs, use the momentum to press the weighted end explosively upwards along the natural path of the bar until the shoulder is fully extended. From this point, lower the weighted end under control, bending the knees to cushion the weight back on to the shoulder.

5. DEAD STOP PENDLAY ROWS

The Pendlay row is a staple accessory exercise for Olympic weight lifters and powerlifters to develop strength and power in their back muscles. Unlike a normal bent-over row, the body is kept as parallel as possible to the floor, bending much further forwards at the waist. The bar is then pulled vertically from the floor, as explosively as possible, to around the belly button.

Unlike a normal barbell row – or deadlift – the bar is kept out in front of the body by a few inches, making sure the body is bent over and parallel to the floor, setting the hips back, the knees bent and the core tight. Move the bar explosively off the floor, keeping the elbows tucked in and driving upwards. Once touching the stomach, hold for one second then lower the bar back to the floor under control. Re-set each repetition by letting the bar come to a complete ‘dead-stop’, taking out any momentum, and focus on making sure that each repetition is as explosive as possible from this position.

6. BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES

Using a combination of classic bodyweight exercises like press ups, pike press-ups and dips, these moves are augmented with more dynamic movements such as clap push-ups and core exercises. The ideas is to create a muscle conditioning circuit that will help to build an athletic looking, explosive and mobile physique.

7. CARDIOVASCULAR CONDITIONING

Here we combine high intensity interval training principles with high energy demand activities that will improve your overall fitness and muscular endurance. This includes boxing (either hitting the bag or partnering up for pad work), skipping, burpees and rowing or cycling sprints.

Workout 1: Muscular development and explosive power

PULL-UPS
AMRAP (As Many As Poss)
3 Sets
60s Rest

Workout 1: Muscular development and explosive power

DEAD-STOP PENDLAY ROW
8 Reps
3 Sets
120s Rest

Workout 1: Muscular development and explosive power

LANDMINE PRESS
3 Sets
90s Rest

Workout 1: Muscular development and explosive power

JUMP SQUATS
15 Reps
3 Sets
90s Rest

Workout 1: Muscular development and explosive power

THRUSTERS
20 Reps
3 Sets
90s Rest

Workout 2: Muscular endurance

PRESS-UPS
AMRAP (As Many As Poss)
3 Sets
60s Rest

Workout 2: Muscular endurance

PIKE PRESS-UPS
AMRAP (As Many As Poss)
3 Sets
60s Rest

Workout 2: Muscular endurance

JUMPING LUNGES
AMRAP (As Many As Poss)
3 Sets
60s Rest

Workout 2: Muscular endurance

DIPS
AMRAP (As Many As Poss)
3 Sets
60s Rest

Workout 2: Muscular endurance

PLANKS
60s Hold
3 Sets
60s Rest

Workout 2: Muscular endurance

HANGING KNEE RAISES
AMRAP (As Many As Poss)
3 Sets
60s Rest

Workout 2: Muscular endurance

AUSTRALIAN PULL-UPS
AMRAP (As Many As Poss)
3 Sets
60s Rest

Workout 3: Cardiovascular conditioning

ROWER/ BIKE SPRINTS
30s Work Interval
30s Rest Interval
5 Intervals

Take 2-3 minutes rest before moving on to the next exercise.

Workout 3: Cardiovascular conditioning

BURPEES
45s Work Interval
60s Rest Interval
3 Intervals

Take 2-3 minutes rest before moving on to the next exercise.

Workout 3: Cardiovascular conditioning

BAG/ PAD WORK
45s Work Interval
45s Rest Interval
5 Intervals

Take 2-3 minutes rest before moving on to the next exercise.

Workout 3: Cardiovascular conditioning

SKIPPING
45s Work Interval
60s Rest Interval
3 Intervals

Take 2-3 minutes rest before moving on to the next exercise.

Workout 3: Cardiovascular conditioning

MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
30s Work Interval
45s Rest Interval
3 Intervals

Take 2-3 minutes rest before moving on to the next exercise.

To make this more or less challenging you can increase/decrease the work interval, increase/decrease the rest interval or increase/decrease the number of intervals.


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