The Superhero Civil War Workout: Choose Iron Man or Captain America

civil war cover photo
Today’s article is from Nerd Fitness’s newest team member, and Master of the Fitness Universe, Jim Bathurst. Take it away Jim!

Have you seen Captain America: Civil War yet?

Last week, we talked about why Captain America or Iron Man might be right in the epic battle within the Marvel universe.

Today the choice is yours: The Iron Man Workout or the Captain America Workout.

Iron Man wants to work within the new superhero registration law. He believes that the heroes of the world need to operate within the rules and regulations for the safety and well being of everyone. That’s why the Iron Man workout includes more classic, structured movements. And because this is Iron Man, we’ll primarily be using iron (weights) — these things write themselves!

Captain America is opposed to these superhero regulations and wants to be able to move and operate freely. You’ll notice his workout includes more bodyweight movements and non-traditional movements in multiple directions.

Warm up

Each workout will start with the same warm up.

  • X-Men Jumping Jacks: The X-Men have declared neutrality in the Civil War, so whichever workout/side you choose you can start off with jumping jacks (passing through an “X” position, of course)
  • Spidermans:  While Spiderman appears to be on the side of Iron Man, I am willing to bet he still sides a lot with Captain America and the desire for superheros to protect their identities. He gets put in both camps in my mind, and is another good addition to the warm up.

So let’s do this. The full warmup; run through four times:

  • 10 X-Men jumping jacks
  • 5/side Spiderman and twist

Are you ready for the workout? The below workouts are two separate options. One workout is more bodyweight focused, one more barbell focused. Like Civil War, there aren’t clear cut answers as to which is better.

In fact, you could alternate between the two. Doing either one three times a week would be a great training week.

The Iron Man Workout

Iron Man

The exercises

Iron Man Deadlift

What’s more metal than deadlifting? I submit nothing. Pick a weight that you can move comfortably for 10 reps. You can use barbells, dumbbells, or kettlebells. If using dumbbells, only lower the weight to just below your knees.

Black Panther/Bear Crawl
We’re looking to tap into our inner animal and crawl along the floor. Pick a distance that takes about 20-30 seconds to cover. Too easy? Crawl lower and/or crawl backwards too!

Vision Farmer’s Walks
Vision has the ability to manipulate his density. We’re going to getting a feeling for that by grabbing the heaviest dumbbells we can manage and walking around. Pick a distance that takes 20-30 seconds to cover. If your hands get exhausted during the workout, pick a lighter dumbbell, or just carry one around (switching hands as you need).

Black Widow Wall Chair Sits
Remember that awesome scene in The Avengers where Black Widow beats up a room full of baddies while strapped to a chair?

How does one even build up strength in such a tough position? Wall sits! Find a solid wall to plant your shoulders, back, and hips against and sit there for 30 seconds.

Too hard? You can sit a little higher on the wall, or reduce the amount of time. Too easy? Hold a weight in your lap!
(Fun fact: Sitting in a chair and not doing anything is the favorite activity of Marvel movie executives when asked when a Black Widow movie is going to come out…)

War Machine Curls
Grab a barbell or dumbbells. We’re working on our guns here. Again, these things write themselves.

Do this workout as two separate circuits — complete all 4 sets of the first circuit, and rest before starting the second circuit. (Take rest as needed after each set of Deadlifts and Bear Crawls, with a longer rest period before starting the second circuit.) 

Circuit 1, 4x through:

  • 10 Iron Man Deadlifts
  • Black Panther Bear Crawl

Short Rest Between Circuits (2 min)

Circuit 2, 4x through:

  • Vision Farmer’s Walks
  • 10 War Machine Curls
  • Black Widow Wall Chair Sit
  • Black Panther Bear Crawl (repeat)

The Captain America Workout

Captain America

The Exercises

Captain America Shield Plate Halo

Just like putting a shield on your back! Helps loosen up the shoulders while building strength.

Bucky Fall
Inspired by this article and its proposition that Bucky should be using the parachute landing. This exercise amounts to a reverse crunch to standing position. This can be done with or without a light medicine ball or weight.

A little too dynamic for you? Simply lay down on the ground, and then get back up anyway.
Dan John would agree this is a great exercise, and the scientists say it’ll make you live longer (Bucky is over 100 years old, so maybe there’s something to that).

You’ve got the option of doing 5 to 10 reps of this exercise, as I know this may be a very new exercise for many.

Falcon Pushup and Twist
Sam Wilson is one of Captain America’s best buds, so of course he would make an appearance here. One of my favorite moves he does in the movie is that jump and twist as he’s wrecking people. We could ask you to channel your inner Dacascos and do a butterfly twist, but let’s just hit a pushup with a twist instead. This can be done from the knees or an elevated surface as well.

Hawkeye Archer Ring Rows
The archer row is an awesome way to work the upper body in an asymmetrical pulling action. This same sort of asymmetrical pulling can also be done on a bar set around hip or chest height (think of a bar at a playground, or a smith machine set up at the proper height). Are you closer to the Incredible Hulk than Bruce Banner? Do some archer pull ups!

Too intense? You can also work your superhero archery skills with resistance bands. Step back and turn the body as you pull with the arm. If you only have one band, you can complete all the reps on one side before switching to the other arm.

Ant Man Jump (Box Jump)
Here you can imagine you’re jumping onto Iron Man’s arm (forward roll optional). If jumping is a bit too much, step up onto a box or bench instead. Step down from the box or bench in either case. Extra points for snarky remarks made while jumping (we love you Paul Rudd).

Scarlet Witch Wall Walks
The Scarlet Witch can alter reality for her enemies. What better way to turn your own world upside-down than to do some handstand wall walks?  If this too challenging, go with twice as many inch worms.

The workout should be done as a single circuit, 4x through:

  • 5 times each way Captain America Shield Plate Halo
  • 5-10 Bucky falls
  • 10 total (5/side) Falcon Pushup and Twists
  • 10 total (5/side) Hawkeye Archer Rows (10 per side for those using bands)
  • 10 Ant Man Box Jumps
  • 3 Scarlet Witch Wall Walks (or 6 Inch Worms)

The World Needs Heroes

Civil War Cover

The world needs heroes, and we need heroic workouts to fight back the forces of evil. Whether you’ve sided with Cap or Iron Man, understand that we’re all fighting for the same thing:

A life we can be proud of. So which side do you choose? Which hero do you resonate more with? And which workout did you choose?

Sound off in the comments!


Photo: Marvel Wiki: Civil War Concept Art

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    21 thoughts on “The Superhero Civil War Workout: Choose Iron Man or Captain America

    1. What if I like Ironman but I like Caps workout better?! How am I supposed to pick a side!? Also, awesome post Jim, I’m excited to see the new stuff you bring to NF!

    2. Fantastic post! The workouts are great and, even though I’m Team Cap, I may just have to alternate with some Team Stank, I mean Stark, workouts! Also, the Widow zinger & Dacascos reference were the best parts of this article. Can’t wait to see more!

    3. AHH I love this! I can’t wait to see this movie. I will probably do the Iron Man workouts because I LOVE weight lifting (newly discovered about two months ago). I never knew my little girl arms could feel so super strong without looking like man arms hahaha! I encourage all of the ladies to pick IRON MAN!!!! 😉

    4. Weight lifting rocks, but give the wall walks a go too! Best thing to make your arms stronger. Get after it!!

    5. Agreed to that! Sooo hard to try and nail everyone down on one particular side!

    6. Yes! I wore out my VHS copies of “Only the Strong” & “Best of the Best”… I would watch them before every belt test as I came up through the ranks 20 years ago.

    7. Love the shield plate halo concept! Will do! I guess I’m team Cap :0)

      PS: More like *Jedi* Master of the Fitness Universe, amirite? *nudge nudge*

    8. I love these workouts! And the teams work out(ayyy) pretty well for me, since I am both TeamCap and don’t have any iron weights, haha. Tiny question though: Is there anyting I can substitute for the ‘shield’ from the shield plate halo? And is it more important to go for something the same size or something similar in weight?

    9. Now I’m picturing a mash up where Luke Skywalker transforms into He-Man, but naturally the power sword is a light saber. So much win.

    10. These look like fun! I’ve been looking to shake up my workouts and do something different, so I’ll give them a try…Team Iron Man FTW!

    11. Just did a quick trial run of the Cap workout ahead of starting this tomorrow and it’s gooooood! Those wall walks! Damn! Doing it with my partner in crime as they’re taking on the Iron Man variant so we can compare and switch. No Civil War here, just killer abs.

    12. It was a tough choice, but I’m gonna have to go with the Iron Man Workout. The reason: I love Deadlifts! haha
      Awesome Post as always Jim, Can’t wait for the next superhero Workout!

    13. I love Iron Man … but want the body of capt. It’s a really fun post with lots of interesting workouts especially the Scarlet Witch Wall Walks… i am going to try that after this comment 😀

      Thank you for this interesting post man…
      also checkout my site if you want to 🙂 http://www.boostintensity

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