How to Determine Your PERFECT Workout Plan

You hear it every day on TV: “The Perfect Workout Plan!”

You read about it in every magazine: “The one secret you need to lose weight!”

You find it on every fitness website: “Why this plan works and why that plan doesn’t.”

It can be confusing, and it can be intimidating.  Don’t you worry though, as I’ve come up with a solution to determine the PERFECT workout plan that will get you the results you want and allow you to have success.

Where did I find it?

Trekking through the Amazonian jungle, I stumbled across an ancient training plan, written in hieroglyphics on the wall of an temple from a long lost civilization.

Nope, that’s not it.  

How about…Mad scientists created the world’s most scientific 7-minute workout

Hmmm, nope. that’s not it either.

Here’s how I really discovered the PERFECT WORKOUT PLAN.

The Perfect Workout Plan

high road low road

I get a few emails a day from people asking me advice on what plan to train with.

They want to know if the Rebel Fitness Guide is the perfect workout plan, or if they should be doing P90x, Insanity, a gymnastics routine, Couch To 5K, Yoga Strength, a bodybuilding routine, 7-Minute Abs, etc… Unfortunately, all routines tend to present different information, require different diets, and make an effort to present themselves as superior to all other training routines.

So, I reply with something they probably don’t want to hear, but need to hear:

The BEST workout and diet plan is the plan that you actually follow through with.

The best coaching, training plan, and/or diet plan based on your dietary needs doesn’t mean ANYTHING if you don’t actually follow through with it!

I’m proud to say that the Rebel Fitness Guide has helped a ton of people (like Joe, Ryan, Veronica, and Bronwyn) get healthy, but it’s not because it’s the best plan in the entire world.  It worked for them because they tried it out and it WORKED FOR THEM!

The plan helped those people succeed because it lined up with the Triforce of Awesome of Nerd Fitness:

  • Happy – You enjoy what you are doing; you can wake up with a smile on your face.
  • Healthy - You can do the things you want to do without your body slowing you down, and you get a clean bill of health from your doctor.
  • Feel great and look good naked - You feel comfortable in your own skin, you have confidence, and you don’t think badly about yourself.

Now, here’s the thing: there are almost an infinite number of ways to accomplish those three goals, and every single person will have a different definition of what each of those things means.

  • If you are a marathon runner, your ideal “look good naked” will certainly be different than somebody who wants to be a bodybuilder.
  • If you hate lifting weights in a gym, your “happy” might be outdoor gymnastics or Parkour.
  • “Healthy” might be running a mile in less than 6 minutes, being able to do 10 pull ups, or having low cholesterol.

You know what? That is AWESOME. That’s what makes us different, special, and weird .

I once wrote an article called “What is Your Profession?“, creating different character classes based on your fitness goals.  This is one of Nerd Fitness’s most popular and discussed articles (450+ comments).  

It was one of my favorite articles to write, and the start of Rising Heroes, a project that is currently in beta testing as we speak (Sign up for the email list if you’d like to learn more, as we’ll be making another announcement on this really soon).

The reason that article has resonated so well with Nerd Fitness Rebels is that WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT.  Some of us are Warriors, others are Scouts or Monks, or Assassins or Druids.

This is what makes the Nerd Fitness community so freaking great.

Uh, so how do I pick which plan is right for me?

run road

“Thanks for nothing Steve, you just told me all options can work. What the heck do I do then?”

For starters, your first step is to determine what your primary goals are, and what the most important thing is to you:

  • If you want to run faster or improve your 5k time, then a running training program could work.
  • If you just want to lose weight and get stronger, something like the Rebel Fitness Guide could work.
  • If your goal is primarily to look good, a body building routine might work best for you.

Now, I already know what your next response is going to be, because I get this ten times a day too:

“Well, I want to lose some weight, build some muscle, and also build up more endurance.”

Here’s the truth: your body can only do so many things at once, and the three goals above will pull your body in three completely separate directions. Although there are some people with crazy genetics that are exceptions, more often than not:

If you want to build bigger muscles and add mass: You need to eat more calories than you burn, which means you won’t be losing fat. These are two separate physiological processes, as building bigger more explosive muscle requires fast twitch muscles, and you build those by doing fast-twitch activities.  Building up your endurance with lots of long distance running puts more emphasis on your slow twitch muscles and makes building bigger muscle and mass way more difficult.

If you want to lose weight, you need to eat a caloric deficit.  Remember, you can’t outrun your fork. And while strength training CERTAINLY helps you keep the muscle you have and allows you to get stronger, don’t expect to put 20 lbs of muscle while losing 20 lbs of fat.

If you want to get better at endurance, don’t expect to also build bigger muscles! Your body is going to use all of your excess calories to fuel your endurance instead of fueling the muscle building process.  You can run sprints while eating to build bigger muscles, which can help add to your endurance capabilities, but if you want to be the best runner possible, you gotta be running!

If you try to do all three at once, you’ll most likely never make true progress in any direction and get discouraged.  Instead, pick one main focus for the next few months and build your training around that.  Make that goal your primary focus, and then be satisfied with minimal/incremental gains in other areas as a side effect:

For example, my friend Ryan from Gold Medal Bodies wanted to perform a one-handed handstand, so he spent 14 WEEKS focusing on just that ONE movement. All other exercise was supplemental.  His endurance probably suffered, he probably didn’t build as much muscle as he could have following a bodybuilding routine, but he didn’t care. He found something that he wanted  to accomplish and built his training around it.  

These days, my goal is primarily focused on muscle and strength building, so I follow a routine that focuses on those things. I spend too much time traveling, I can’t squat and deadlift much these days, and I play basketball on Tuesday nights: all of these things are taking away from my potential, but I’m happy (which means it’s a routine I’m going to continue following through!).

Find a routine that lines up with your goals, and as long as they make you happy and keep you healthy, you have my full support.

I know what I want – what now?

act now

“Well, I have my goals, but how do I pick the right plan for that goal?”

Do enough research to make you feel comfortable about starting that plan for your goals. Watch youtube tutorials, read up on basic workouts, and try to find somebody in your situation that has succeeded with that plan before (if possible).

And then start.  

Like, now.

Today.

Don’t become an underpants gnome.  Pick a plan, and try it out for 30-60 days. Follow it to a T. Do exactly what they recommend, and then reevaluate.

Here’s the truth: ANY halfway decent plan will produce results, as long as you are consistent. 

How will you know if it’s working? Remember: “That which gets measured, gets improved.”

You need to become your own guinea pig.  Every two weeks, take more measurements or new photos and track your progressTake notes on your workouts.

Ask yourself:

Am I feeling better? Am I looking better? Am I happy?

If so, GREAT.  KEEP DOING IT!

If not, identify why you’re not seeing results: 

  • Are you actually following the plan? Or are you cheating?
  • Are there small adjustments you can make to improve your process?
  • Are you trying to do too much?  Are you trying to accomplish 30 goals at the same time instead of focusing on dominating just one or two?

If after 6-8 weeks you don’t see ANY results in any way (weight loss, strength increase, endurance improvement) – which I would highly doubt – Congrats! Cross it off your list, and move on to another one.  Take the lessons you learned from your previous effort (“this worked, that didn’t” or “I could NEVER stick with that”), and make an informed decision moving forward.

Just don’t keep trying to succeed in the same way that lead to no success last time, or you’ll continue to get the same lackluster results.

As long as you are tracking your progress with more than one metric, you should be able to tell if you are moving in the right direction!

What if I don’t fit in?

fit in

“You will be judged…or you will be ignored” - Seth Godin

I think it’s important to have convictions in this world.  I am a firm believer in these ideals, and I have built the programs and products at Nerd Fitness based around what I believe will help the greatest number of people have the greatest chance for success at the three goals above (happiness, healthiness, and looking-good-nakedness).

That being said, I know there are a million and one ways for people to get healthy, and I love that.

It’s why our message board is segmented into guilds and classes: because everybody is different! 

Embrace your differences.  Be thankful that we’re not all clones of one another.  We might be a tight-knit group, but we’re a tight-knit group of misfits and weirdos, of oddballs and outsiders.  Nothing makes me happier!

If you want to focus on bodybuilding, more power to you.

If you want to be a powerlifter, that’s awesome.

If you are a vegan (or paleo), there’s no reason we all can’t coexist!

As long as you are happy AND healthy, keep doing what you are doing, and let others do the same.

Just like in any quality MMO group, we need people of all different classes here at Nerd Fitness and in the Game of Life!

Tell me what your goals are. I’d love to hear about what you’re working on.

What program are you following?  Do you have a question on what to pick?

Leave a comment and share your story with your fellow rebels!

-Steve

###

Guillermo Mountain MexicoToday’s Rebel Hero: Guillermo from south of the border, Mexico!

Guillermo is a third year internal medical student, and has retaken control of his life, both in school and his training.  He sent along this picture of him climbing a mountain down in Mexico on a recent adventure.

Thanks for sharing Guillermo, and thanks for inspiring the Rebellion!

Want to be the next Rebel Hero? Take a photo of you doing something epic in your Nerd Fitness gear and send it to [email protected] so we can feature you on the site!

photo sources: beach, road split, egg, runner

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  • http://www.nerdfitness.com/ Steve Kamb

    if it works for you and makes you happy, keep it up!

    -steve

  • http://www.nerdfitness.com/ Steve Kamb

    thanks Anna!

  • http://www.nerdfitness.com/ Steve Kamb

    hey Debora

    You can build strength and lose weight. strength doesn’t necessarily equal muscle.

    You can build very strong, tight, dense body by lifting weights and eating a caloric deficit.

    Compare that to trying to build bigger muscles, you need to overload your body with calories.

    So you can get stronger, but you won’t get big muscles unless you eat like you’re trying to get big muscles.

    I’m gonna guess you don’t want big gigantic muscles, but rather you want to lose weight and look better. You’re on the right path :)

    -Steve

  • http://www.nerdfitness.com/ Steve Kamb

    Hey Elle!

    i guess i could have clarified better (and will update the article): when I say “building muscle” i mean getting bigger and putting on mass. You can definitely get stronger and stronger muscles, but they won’t get bigger, if you are not eating enough calories.

    That being said, you definitely will see some gains across all areas when you strength train: you’ll build some muscular endurance when you are doing circuit style strength training, and you’ll build VO2 Max when running sprints (which will help with endurance).

    All of that being said, if you want to get really good at something, focus on that one thing rather than doing a million things and then getting mad when you’re not good at that one thing.

    -Steve

  • http://daybreakrun.com/ JoeFilipowicz

    Thanks Steve! I am a frequent reader over there. Love the site. Size and muscle are definitely not priorities, but I do want to build strength and a strong foundation too. Got the big 4-0 in a couple months, so I want to be aging gracefully, you know. ;)

  • Alan Crawley

    Loads of our gym members are totally not into the gym. Instead they just love hitting pads which kinda makes them forget their exercising. It’s all good, like you say about Pakour.. you just gotta find something you like and something you’re going to keep doing.

  • Anna Pham

    This sounds very interesting. I might try this since I am struggling with keeping a workout plan

  • Brian

    Each diet plan and exercise routine will be different for an individual. You can’t run before you can walk.

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  • Tim Deringer

    I like a variety of different exercises. I always use a power tower for whatever I do after learning more about isometric exercises and the many muscle groups I could work using them. It was difficult at first, then I got a much better tower (thank to help from http://www.bestromanchair.com). It’s all about listening to your body.

  • Hannah

    on kind of a similar note, i too am after a lower body fat percentage. so from what i’m gathering here, i need to have a caloric deficit, and replace fat with muscle? [in a general sense, not in a body-builder sense, that is] i’ve unwittingly been eating almost entirely paleo for a while now, and i’m wondering what exactly i need to be doing on the work out side of things to get nice and lean. a lower body fat percentage is really my only goal [i don't mind a higher weight, a gain in muscle, any of that], and i’ll have fun getting to it any way i can. i’ve recently really started to enjoy exercise in general, so i like running, lifting, doing body weight circuits, all of it.

    so, should i go heavier on the strength training? and maintain a caloric deficit? or…something else?

    i’m a newby here, so more than anything, i just want a good strong start. all of the “classes” you outlined in your MMO IRL article sound appealing, but i’m guessing i’ll find out that one is better than all the others once i get past this hurtle of starting out and figuring out what works for me.

    any advice or insight is welcome! thanks so much!

  • Pearl Ramirez

    I’m glad that I found this Blog Post. Now I know that my workout plan is really perfect for me. I got my workout plan at ExerciseAholics webpage. You can check it too. I’m sure all of you will love these routines for it shows a fast result but remember to have a proper diet.

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  • Ryan

    Great stuff on here. For more just like it check out http://creatingabetter.me/healthy-eating-with-a-busy-lifestyle/