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Superhero Fitness

Superheroes With Gym Power

Growing up I remember being inspired by comic book superheroes and their endless pursuit of justice, and I was always excited when I read that one was able to achieve their super fighting abilities through ordinary means that even I could do, like exercising.

Here's some of the comic book superheroes that didn't always need a shot of radioactivity to fight crime. These stories will prove a man can be a superhero without gamma rays, exploding planets, or radioactive spiders.

The Golden Age of Superheroes the 1940s

These characters were around since the 1940s and originally got their superhero powers from a punching bag and a barbell.

The comic book character of Al Pratt the Golden Age Atom some believe was actually based on the real life story of Joe Greenstein a strongman entertainer that could change a car tire without any equipment, or bend steel in his bare hands.

The Golden Age Atom's secret identity of Al Pratt was a first class 98 pound weakling at 5'1" inches tall until he was mugged in front of the girl of his dreams, and then found Joe Morgan, a fight trainer that was down on his luck, to train Al into a short powerhouse. Although, this story originated in the 1940s I didn't get to read it till the early 1980s. I wasn't around that far back. The story was new to me and it introduced me to the concept that physical fitness and training can turn a skinny kid into a superhero. The Atom's training appeared to be nothing more than what any other fighter would use like good old fashioned weight lifting and boxing. Later on, by the 1960s, the Atom would get more comic booky powers related to radioactive energy. Everybody was powered by radioactivity in the 1960s.

The Atom's trainer also happened to train two other superheroes who only had their fist to get by with that of the Wildcat and the Guardian.

The Wildcat's real name was Ted Grant who became a heavy weight boxer. Great boxing skills come in handy when fighting criminals.  Wildcat would go on to train Batman himself in the art of boxing as well as the Black Canary. Ted Grant didn't grow up a skinny kid like Al Pratt. His father vowed on his baby son's crib that the child would not grow up afraid of life, he encouraged his son in sports and paid for great coaching until his father's death. You know 9 times out of 10 a comic book heroes' parents are dead. In college Joe Morgan, the Atom's trainer,  trained Ted Grant. Once his parents had deceased, Ted was unemployed and broke until one night that he saved "Socker" Smith, the heavyweight boxing champ, from a mugging. "Socker" took Ted under his wings and soon Ted was a heavyweight champ in his own right.

Jim Harper the Guardian, also trained by Joe Morgan,  was originally a cop from Suicide Slum.

Batman's Fitness Plan

Batman is the biggest of the big as far as non-super powered heroes go. What motivates him to do his push-ups every morning? Nothing but a deep hatred for the cowardly criminal element of the world that is responsible for the death of Bruce Wayne's parents.  Determination to rid the world of crime is a great motivator to help Batman lift those weights and train in several martial arts for cardio every week. Luckily, he has all the time in the world to train thanks to the millions of dollars left to him by his rich parents.

Batman is physically at the peak of human ability in dozens of areas, notably martial arts, acrobatics, strength, and escape artistry. Batman is also a firm believer in exercising his mind as Batman is one of the world's greatest scientists, engineers, criminologists, and tacticians, as well as a master of disguise.

And Batman is a world class fitness trainer, or actually super hero trainer as he trained a few Robins in his day starting with Dick Grayson who grew up to become Nightwing, and occasionally fills in for Batman when he gets his back broken, or is supposedly dead. You know how superheroes tend to die every once in a while, but it's all good because a great superhero physical fitness routine can really do wonders for you even after a comic book death.

The Incredible Hulk

No, he really doesn't count in this category,  as far as a hero that got his crime fighting talents the natural way, but he deserves honorable mention as the super hero that motivated me as well as a million others to pump iron. Maybe that does have somewhat to do with Lou Ferrigno who portrayed the green skinned goliath on television every week in the late 1970s, but at any rate who doesn't aspire to be the Hulk when you push that heavy bench press rep or squat. In the back of your mind there's that little voice that says the madder I get the stronger I get. Must smash!  Please don't run down to the local Gamma radiation testing facility to gain muscle. Eat your green vegetables. Pretend they are filled with gamma rays instead of good old antioxidants.

Articles and other sections

In the Superhero Actor Workouts section we take a look at how actors got into shape to play superheroes on screen.

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