How To Work Out The Marvel Way

When people learn that I once weighed 230 pounds, they ask how I lost the weight. While the diet answer (portion control) has remained the same over the years, the exercise answer has changed. After I ballooned back up to 215 in the months leading up to the birth of my second kid — sympathy weight happens — I used Wii Fit to burn most of the 50 or so pounds I had to lose. But, eventually, I ran up against a problem: boredom.

You can only watch that poorly defined avatar of yourself run along the paths of Wuhu Island for so long before you crave a different visual distraction.

Enter the Marvel Method.

It’s my system to this day for keeping committed to my twice-daily runs, and here’s how it works:

  1. Run for half an hour each time you workout, whether that’s on a treadmill or back and forth in your living room like I do. Hell, even an elliptical machine will work.
  2. Watch half an hour of a Marvel movie during each workout.
  3. Do not allow yourself to watch any more than that half hour. Your reward for working out the next time is getting to see the next part of the movie.

Now, I call this the Marvel Method because that’s the film series I began with. But I’ve also done it with the X-Men films, the Lord of the Rings series, and more. I’ve rewatched all of Lost and Battlestar Galactica while doing it (using the last 12-14 minutes of any given episode as a recovery period). In short: it works.

Here’s how the Marvel Method will work out for you:

  • Workout 1-4: Iron Man
  • Workout 5-8: The Incredible Hulk (screw you, it’s good)
  • Workout 9-12: Iron Man 2 (as prize for getting through 12 workouts, sit back and watch Marvel One-Shot: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer)
  • Workout 13-16: Thor (since this one is short, consider watching Marvel One-Shot: The Consultant during the last few minutes of the last workout; it fits well here)
  • Workout 17-20: Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Workout 21-25: The Avengers (add Marvel One-Shot: Item 47 at the end of the last workout, and note that this one is 5 workouts instead of 4)
  • Workout 26-29: Iron Man 3
  • Workout 30: Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter and Marvel One-Shot: All Hail the King
  • Workout 31-37: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 1, episodes 1-7
  • Workout 38-41: Thor: The Dark World
  • Workout 42-49: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 1, episodes 8-16
  • Workout 50-53: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Workout 54-60: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 1, episodes 17-22
  • Workout 61-64: Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Workout 65-74: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 2, episodes 1-10
  • Workout 75-82: Agent Carter, Season 1, Episodes 1-8
  • Workout 83-91: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 2, Episodes 11-19
  • Workout 92-96: Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Workout 97-99: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 2, Episodes 20-22
  • Workout 100-125: Daredevil, Season 1, Episodes 1-13
  • Workout 125-129: Ant-Man
  • Workout 130-139: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 3, Episodes 1-10
  • Workout 140-165: Jessica Jones, Season 1, Episodes 1-13
  • Workout 166-173: Agent Carter, Season 2, Episodes 1-8

Here are some follow-up notes:

  • Whenever a movie is longer than the last workout, feel free to relax and enjoy the last few minutes of credits and the post-credits scene.
  • Whenever a movie is shorter than the last workout (as with The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Thor: The Dark World), either rewind just long enough to make the last workout an even half-hour, or, as noted, add in one of the Marvel One-Shot short films.
  • When watching episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., chill for the last 12-15 minutes, try not to call it Agents of S.U.C.K. like all the “cool” kids do, and remember that it’s all building toward something pretty awesome.
  • I watch everything digitally (via iTunes/Apple TV in my case), which makes this much easier, but Blu-Ray will work, too. No excuses!

Eventually, of course, you’ll be able to add future Marvel movies to the rotation. And I guarantee you, that, on at least some level, this will work. The films actually tell pretty compelling stories within each half hour and the cliffhangers keep you coming back to the routine. Though I’ve gained weight here and there over the last couple of years, I’ve always managed to take it back off again by sticking to this method.

If you decide to try it, good luck to you. And if you feel so inclined, tweet me at @ecc1977 to let me know how it’s going.

P.S. Yes, I did steal the title from Stan Lee’s How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way, but tell me you wouldn’t have done the same.

P.P.S. Updated 2 September 2014 to fix mistake in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America: The Winter Soldier sequencing.

P.P.P.S. Updated 23 December 2014 to add Guardians of the Galaxy and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2.

P.P.P.P.S Updated 31 January 2016 to add new material released since last update.