Nerd Fitness » Blog http://www.nerdfitness.com Level up your life, every single day. Thu, 03 Sep 2015 14:09:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How to Use Primal Movement to Rebel Against Captivity http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/09/02/how-to-use-primal-movement-to-rebel-against-captivity/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/09/02/how-to-use-primal-movement-to-rebel-against-captivity/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 11:30:32 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=24645 This is a guest post from Camp NF instructor Jonathan Mead.

I’m no historian or anthropologist, but I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to see that over time, we’ve come to move less and less thanks to amazing advances in technology.

Simply put, our bodies are capable of amazing things, but we no longer NEED to do these things in order to survive. How did this happen, and how has it changed us as a species?

  • First, the agricultural revolution allowed people to specialize and outsource movement to farmers (the birth of the division of labor).
  • Then, there was the industrial revolution, which allowed for even less movement with the advent of machines to do much of the work for us.
  • Finally, the technological revolution made movement practically obsolete. A meal, book, even a date on OKCupid is just a click away. Hell, you can now order pizza by sending an emoji.

Although it’s not our fault we don’t HAVE to move much anymore, it IS our responsibility to address it. Our lives simply don’t require it any more – the Empire (boo!) took over and changed the way we live by removing ANY physical requirement from existence.

Unfortunately, this sets us up for disaster when we do try to move more often: when we go from sitting for 10-12 hours a day to trying to train martial arts or Parkour, playing kickball or even picking up groceries, it’s no wonder injuries are commonplace.

If you’re looking to improve your physical well-being, remain injury-free, and set yourself up to succeed with whatever form of fun activity you choose to get your heart racing, it’s time to start moving like we are genetically designed to move.

Let’s take a look how to master our body’s controls, and rebel against captivity.

Anti-fragility is your natural, primal state

caveman museum

Believe it or not, you grow stronger when you expose your body to chaos. The problem is, modern zoo living life has made everything very predictable, and much too comfortable.

This isn’t a surprise if you’ve ever seen the movie Madagascar: take an animal raised in temperature-controlled captivity, and compare them to an animal raised in the wild: which one do you think is better prepared to handle life in the jungle?

In Steve’s article on Becoming Antifragile, he talks about how some things grow stronger through unpredictability, breakdown and stress. It’s no surprise that our man-made habitat – traveling from couch to car to computer desk each day – has allowed our bodies to break down. Like in WALL-E, modern life has removed the “survival of the fittest” aspect from the human race, and thus we no longer to take care of ourselves physically to get food or shelter.

We need to reintroduce this element into our lives as much possible if we’re going to level up our bodies.

Think for a moment about how your joints and ligaments would develop:

  • Option one: walking in an air conditioned gym on a treadmill at precisely 3.5 miles per hour.
  • Option two: traversing a trail covered with rocks, dirt, mud and branches in your way. You might need to hop from rock to rock on all fours, crawl under a branch, and jump over the mud.

Because of the natural variability of terrain and your tasks for the day, your joints are going to be moved in many different ways, in many different angles. You’re forced to respond to the elements and constantly adapt.

Take away the unpredictability of life — like sitting in a chair all day, or never lifting anything heavier than 3 lbs — and you create weakness and vulnerability that can result in problems when you face any real world scenario that requires even a base level of physical fitness.

Disaster!

It sounds counterintuitive, but our bodies crave unpredictability and continuous stressors. Too much of the same pattern in our temperature-controlled, artificially lit, smoothed-edges lives, and we become increasingly vulnerable to injury and breakdown.

In fact, there has been a recent study that showed an increased chance of children developing peanut allergies when they are kept away from peanuts beginning at birth. This is why playing in the mud as a kid can actually be really beneficial for your body’s immune system development.

So get started, get uncomfortable, and start pushing your body outside of its “safe” zone. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Antifragility is the goal!

So, how do we fix this mess and start moving better?

squat child

Good question! The most important thing is to start exploring your body…no, not like that!

That’s next week’s article (kidding).

What I mean is research the way your body moves. Be curious!

Of course, it’s easy for me to say that, but a bit tougher to explain. You see, most of us have gotten so far away from this way of living, that we need a framework to get us back on track. If you’re somebody who struggles with lower back pain, despite all of modern life’s creature comforts, make sure you start implementing the below movements. Don’t set yourself up to suffer through inaction!

Here are two movements you can start with RIGHT NOW that every human should master:

Here’s the gist of the video:

  • Squat DEEP! Believe it or not, an “ass to grass” squat is the natural human resting position, and it results in less lower back pain among indigenous people despite a lack of access to things like chairs. For people who don’t live in a civilized modern society, this is how they rest! So, how do you do it? Arrange your feet shoulder width apart and begin lowering yourself down, leading with your tailbone as if you’re feeling for a chair behind you. Keep lower until your thighs are touching your calves. Make sure your heels stay on the ground. Try to hold this position for as long as you can, even if it’s just for a few seconds, gradually working up to being able to hold for several minutes. Try it while watching TV, playing video games, or reading. Just do it (Desk jockeys – be sure to avoid hunching forward!).
  • Hang out. Did you know that our shoulders are meant for us to hang? We evolved to be able to “hang out” on branches (just look at the way kids naturally hang and swing on the playground). It’s actually critical for the health of our spine and shoulders. If you can, mount a pullup bar in your doorway and spend 10-30 seconds hanging each time you go through. If your hands aren’t strong enough, use a bit of assistance by putting your feet on a chair.

Creating the habit of all-day movement

jumping dog

As you’ve probably guessed by now, the real benefit comes when we start to implement old-school movement throughout our modern lives. Our paleolithic ancestors were constantly moving and dealing with mother nature throwing chaos at them. They simply had no other choice but to continually move and adapt.

As Anthony Mychal points out, we send our bodies conflicting information all day long if we don’t actively work on it: if you stretch for 10 seconds (“Hey body! Being mobile and flexible is important!”), the other 86,390 seconds we’re saying “Hey body! Stretching isn’t important! In fact, sitting is!”

So, how can you make natural movement a lifestyle or a continual fixture in your day?

The key isn’t to pledge to move more and sit less, but to change your environment and your habits so that these changes become a natural part of your life, and we start to tip the scales back in favor of “move! squat! hang!”

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Consider a standing desk. As this viral infographic proved, sitting is correlated with higher mortality rates. Most of us work on the computer these days, which creates a whole host of issues. One of the best ways to combat this is to create a standing desk. This can be accomplished with something as simple as a couple of boxes to put your monitor on (how I started out) or by investing in an adjustable height desk. (This is not to say to stand ALL day, which might have its own problems. The idea is that you’re moving more).
  • Put a medicine ball and tennis ball under your desk. The medicine ball can be used to stretch your calves by placing your toes and the ball of your foot on the ball. And the tennis ball can be used to massage and stimulate your feet.
  • Consider a cobblestone mat for your house. The more you vary the terrain you walk on, the more you stimulate your feet and create healthy unpredictability.
  • Squat while you eat. This is a habit I recently started. I try to squat while I eat as much as possible. This definitely helps you if you have a low coffee table to eat at, similar to a low, Japanese-style dining table where you sit cross-legged. It’s how humans used to eat before the advent of chairs. Squatting also helps massage the internal organs and builds healthier, stronger knees.
  • Put a pullup bar in your doorway, and hang every time you go through the door. Hanging and brachiating is a natural human pattern and our shoulder joints are designed for brachiation. Why hang? Hanging and swinging creates healthier shoulders. Aim for 30 seconds of passive hanging every time you go through your door.

These are just a few habits you can start implementing to incorporate more primal movement into your daily life.

where do I start?

caveman

The unsexy part of leveling up – especially with something like fundamental, foundational movement – is going back to the basics.  By drilling these patterns into our day, our bodies adapt and thus build a solid foundation of awesome.

Remember, the second Rule of the Rebellion is that you’re in “for life.”

In other words, it’s not about diets, or short-term fixes. It’s about creating a new lifestyle.

To get back to your natural health you need to create a lifestyle of movement. One way to do this is to start with a habit.

To make it dead simple, I’ve created a 30-Day Squat Challenge. The absolute simplest, most basic place to start is with the squat. When you join the challenge (bring a nerdy friend for support!), you’ll get a quickstart guide to squatting. It covers the basics of form and increasing your flexibility in the squat. You’ll also get daily tips and inspiration.

The challenge is simple: For a total of 10 minutes a day, squat. You don’t need to do it all in one sitting squatting. It can and should be spread throughout the day.

Do it every day for 30 days to create the habit.

Here are some ideas to level up your squats:

  • Squat while you’re waiting for the bus.
  • Squat while you poop (seriously, there are a lot of benefits to this).
  • Squat while you work on your laptop (use a 14-18″ box).
  • Squat while you’re waiting in line (takes a bit more courage).
  • Squat through your whole meal.
  • Give away your couch and squat while watching television.

I challenge you to level up your natural strength:

Click here to take the 30-Day Squat Challenge.

My question for you: Where is your favorite unconventional place to drop into a squat? Share in the comments below.

-Jonathan

PS: Jonathan is one of our instructors at Camp Nerd Fitness this September!

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photo source: Jordan Colley Visuals: bunny squat, pepe pont: dog jumping, imamon: toy caveman, m01229: museum caveman, David Boyle: Super Caveman

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How to Instantly Build Confidence, Backed By Science. http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/08/25/how-to-instantly-build-confidence-backed-by-science/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/08/25/how-to-instantly-build-confidence-backed-by-science/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 13:45:37 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=26429 Confidence. Can it be developed?

It’s one of the most desirable traits when it comes to finding a partner, one of the most desirable traits when it comes to employment, and a hell of a way to make a positive first impression.

I’m sure you can conjure up someone you think of as “confident.”

  • James Bond’s uncanny ability to stay calm, cool, and collected under pressure, and then utter a perfectly timed and witty catchphrase.
  • That female friend of yours who can strike up a conversation with anybody and everybody, making them feel like they’ve found a new best friend within minutes.
  • Your buddy who has quickly advanced through a company, and just seems to have “it.”

Whether you’re young or old, gay or straight, male or female, human or cyborg, confidence will make your life better!

Can confidence be built, or is it outside of our control?

Today, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about confidence, and how you can quickly implement a few tactics to kickstart your leveling up.

what is confidence?

Steve Fitness Skeptic Goggles

Before I dig into how to improve your confidence, I want to talk about what it really is. 

I’m NOT talking about the guy who focuses on building six-pack abs and big biceps, who attends seduction classes, follows word-for-word scripts and approach techniques to hit on people, makes sure to get a pump before walking out the door. This dude often lacks a base level of confidence and self-respect, and is approaching confidence building from the wrong angle; his strategy is a house of cards to cover up a level of insecurity.

Real confidence is about being true to who you are (and being excited about it!). Think of your friend who acts completely differently depending on who she might be trying to impress, even if the person they’re pretending to be doesn’t line up with who they really are (or want to be).

The late Mitch Hedberg said it best: “If you stand in the meat section at the grocery store long enough, you start to get mad at turkeys. There’s turkey ham, turkey bologna, turkey pastrami. Someone needs to tell the turkey, ‘man, just be yourself.’”

So, we want to practice the type of confidence that is built around knowing who you are as a person and understanding what’s important – like Ron Swanson in Parks and Recreation, one of the greatest characters on one of the best shows out there.

Ron is known for the hilariously awesome credo and code that he lives by:

This pyramid guides his decision making process, even if some of it is unpopular or “uncool.” Tom Haverford on Parks and Rec, on the other hand is the antithesis of this.

He’s chasing tactics to be ‘confident’ but for the wrong reasons:

Ron’s quiet confidence and steadfast conviction to who he is as a person makes him great, and why the racoon hat works for him when it failed as a tactic for Tom.

In the Nerd Fitness Rebellion, this is the type of confidence we seek: not necessarily changing who we are to impress people, but rather staying true to who we are as we level up our lives. We are all works in progress, but we also need to have self-respect: that we are worthy as partners, friends, co-workers, and people. We accept where we’re at currently, but we work every day on self-improvement.

As Henry Rollins says: “I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect.”

So, while we level up, we can use the tactics in this article to enhance ourselves and make sure we are presenting our best possible selves to the real world. I want you to think about the type of confidence you’re trying to develop, even if you don’t have it quite yet:

The quiet confidence of somebody who commands respect?

The boisterous person that walks in the room and instantly everybody wants to become best friends with?

The lovable goofball that doesn’t take herself too seriously?

Once we know the type of person we’re working towards becoming, we can apply the information below to help us level up until we reach that goal.

Stand up straight, get big, Move confidently!

personality

Did you know that sitting a certain way for just a few minutes before a date or interview can greatly boost your chances of success in the encounter?

How crazy is that!? Seriously. Just by changing your posture you can physiologically develop more confidence within minutes. That’s right. Not just “appear” more confident, but actually BE more confident, based on how you are standing or sitting.

That’s like a free power-up!

How we are treated and how how we treat ourselves is mostly dependent on our non-verbal communication – how we stand, how we walk, how we look, and so on. Once we understand these things, we can hack our body language to improve our confidence subconsciously.

As Amy Cuddy points out in her TED Talk, our bodies can literally change our minds:

What Amy is saying: if you are trying to become more confident instantly, adopting a power pose for just a few seconds can change how you feel and act.

By adopting a power pose before entering a tense situation, you will subconsciously adjust how your brain responds. As the aforementioned study points out: 

“High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern.

In short, posing in displays of power caused advantaged and adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes.”

Another study in the European Journal of Psychology examined people’s self-confidence based on posture:

The applicants who were slumped over had lower self-confidence, as expressed by their answers, than those who sat up straight. This research shows that whether you sit up straight at your desk or slump in your chair impacts the chemicals produced in your brain, which, in turn, affect what goes on in your mind.

So how do we use this to our advantage? Before you enter any situation when you need confidence and courage (going out to a bar, asking for a raise, asking somebody out over the phone)…adapt a power pose for a few moments beforehand!

Here are some examples of power poses that you can use throughout the night, before you go out, and when you want to openly display your confidence:

  • Hands raised above head in victory pose
  • Hands on hips like Superman or Wonder Woman
  • Legs crossed, hands behind head
  • Sprawled out across a seat

Strike these poses and set yourself up to succeed. Practice in a stairwell, in your cubicle, in a bathroom stall, or while looking in a mirror; just do it whenever you need a quick burst of confidence before entering the challenging situation.

take pride in your appearance

tie

In addition to how we stand and walk, how we dress can drastically influence our levels of confidence as well.

Yup. How you dress can ACTUALLY boost how confident you are, in addition to how people will treat you (which in turn then affects your confidence even further!)

Two things happen when you wear clothes that present you in the best possible light:

  • You treat yourself differently, and become more confident in the right clothing.
  • You will be treated differently by people. Jaywalk while wearing a suit, for example, and people will be 350% more likely to follow you than if you wore a t-shirt.

So, by putting on the right kind (or properly fitting clothing), we can change how we view ourselves, in addition to how others view us: setting us up doubly for a confidence super boost.

As pointed out in a recent New York Times article, studies have shown that you can trick your brain based on what you are wearing, which is referred to as “enclothed cognition.” When you dress in a certain way, you can trick your brain into changing how you react to certain situations, or adjust how much confidence you have.

What about how other people treat you? I can hear you thinking (I have superpowers): “I just wear what’s comfortable, and if people judge me for it, that’s their problem.” We’ve all said the above when we’ve been treated in a way we’re not happy about, or when somebody didn’t take the time to get to know us. As nerds, it’s like it’s built into our DNA: “how dare that person not respect me for me, regardless of my appearance.”

The truth: 99.9999% of people will never get to know the real you. They can only go off what they see and subconsciously process that about you within fractions of a second. So, being more confident starts by dressing the part, and how you dress can affect the outcome of an interaction:

Experiments have shown that women who dress in a masculine fashion during a job interview are more likely to be hired, and a teaching assistant who wears formal clothes is perceived as more intelligent than one who dresses more casually.”

So how does one start to dress better, to get both benefits of changing how you view yourself and how others view you? Guys – if you’ve ever worn a perfectly tailored suit for a wedding, or ladies, a dress that made you feel like a superstar, you know what I mean.

Depending on your style, that might be dressing like a musician, or in a suit, or in jeans and a tee shirt – it comes down to fit and how good YOU feel in those clothes! After all:

“What about suits and ties? “If you associate those clothes with power and confidence, it’s going to have a huge impact [on subconsciously making you act more powerful and confident],” he says. “But for some people, wearing suits makes them feel like a phony, as Holden Caulfield would say. So it’s really about what the symbolic meaning of the clothes is to the person.”

So, it all comes back to YOU being YOU, and dressing in a way that accentuates that. Dress the part for the type of confidence you WANT to exude, and your body will respond in kind.

Making a Great First Impression

Level Up Social Skills

Okay! We’ve prepared, but now we’re going out into the wild!

Social interaction can be a HUGE challenge for many, and even the most confident looking person can fall apart as soon as they encounter another human. So how can we set ourselves up to win before we even start to speak?

Here are the two most important tips, backed by science, that will make you appear more confident and can help you on dates, interviews, or any other social interaction:

1) Smile, fool! People will respond to the emotions you project. If you are projecting “I am happy and fun,” they will subconsciously want to be happy too. The best way to trick your brain into being happy and fun is to start with a smile. As this study and this study point out, smiling can make you happier, and change how you think and feel about yourself.

2) Eye contact. This is challenging, as it makes most people feel incredibly awkward. Do you walk around looking down at the ground, avoiding eye contact with others? Or if you happen to lock eyes with somebody, do you quickly look away? Most of us do these things automatically, and it screams “I am insecure.” As you’re developing confidence, really focus on maintaining eye contact with people, as it can certainly affect how you are treated.

As Art of Manliness points out in this article on Eye Contact: “Numerous studies have shown that people who make higher-levels of eye contact with others are perceived as being:

  • More dominant and powerful
  • More warm and personable
  • More attractive and likeable
  • More qualified, skilled, competent, and valuable
  • More trustworthy, honest, and sincere
  • More confident and emotionally stable

If you’re on a date or having an intense conversation with a boss, maintaining eye contact is a huge part of exuding strength, confidence, and self-respect.”

Try it today. While walking down the street, maintain eye contact with strangers as you walk by them. If they look at you, despite everything in your brain telling you to turn away, maintain your gaze! Try a smile, a brief head nod, and continue on your way.

Also, don’t forget to blink. You’re welcome :)

Fake it ’til you become it.

Jump

Along with everything above, there’s one last thing we can to do build confidence: Fake it!

There are many different kinds of confidence – think about the characters or people that you admire or people you respect and would like to emulate. Start by identifying the person you’d like to be more like, and emulate them.

As Derek Halpern, founder of Social Triggers, explains in this following video, ask yourself “how would a confident person act in this situation?” And then, act how that person would act.

It’s okay if it feels weird or it’s not how you would normally act – you’re acting. Like a scientist testing a hypothesis, you’re merely trying things out. This can help remove a lot of the fear of rejection or awkward situations:

Derek is a friend of mine, and I’ve witnessed him take over a room in New York City within five minutes simply through his actions, mannerisms, and voice; it was hilarious and inspiring. After he did this in multiple locations within an hour, I knew he had the code cracked…but I also know from our conversations that Derek wasn’t born confident – it was a skill he actively built and worked on over the years to improve.

I realize this might sound counterintuitive to what I’ve been explaining: how can faking it improve ACTUAL confidence (aka the true confidence we seek)? Just as how we stand or dress can physiologically change our brains, adopting certain “confident” traits can also physiologically change our brains – allowing us to exude the very confidence we’re trying to build! Just remember we are embodying and emulating the positive traits of the confident and charismatic people, and using those things to present our best selves.

I want you to try the following TODAY:

1) Wear clothes today that you feel DAMN good in, that fit your body type.

2) Before you head out in the wild, strike a power pose for 2 minutes.

3) When you walk, do so tall and proudly.

4) The next stranger you see (or coffee shop barista, waitress, receptionist, whoever), work on maintaining eye contact while smiling.

And then report back on how you were treated or how people responded compared to how you are normally treated! Did you carry yourself differently? If you who used to be shy and have actively improved your social confidence, do you have any tips for your fellow socially awkward Rebels?

-Steve

PS: Almost 2,000 Rebels joined Nerd Fitness Yoga last week, and it’s been awesome seeing so many people get started with yoga for the first time. If you missed out, take the free flexibility challenge and we’ll be opening doors again later on in 2015!

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photo source: walking on air: ryan claussen, Danbo’s Life: Carlo Ciccarelli, personality: vic

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Nerd Fitness Yoga is Now Available (Now Closed.) http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/08/18/nerd-fitness-yoga-is-now-available-until-friday/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/08/18/nerd-fitness-yoga-is-now-available-until-friday/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 13:30:06 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=27213 Nerd Fitness Yoga is finally here!

After a year+ of planning, an intense week of filming back in February, and six months of development, we’re finally launching our first new product in almost two years!

Nerd Fitness Yoga is officially available for the next four days! This course has been designed from the beginning to help people of all ages, shapes, and sizes start improving their health and flexibility, with the same charm, corny humor, and quality you’ve come to expect.

If the initial reviews and excitement (see below!) are any indication, we’re off to a killer start!

In fact, last week we did an early launch to NF Academy members, and OVER 800 people have already joined the party!

I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve created as a team, and I’m so excited to share it with you today.

It’s been quite the ride to get here:

  • Nearly seven years ago, I started Nerd Fitness with a half-broken laptop hoping to help a few folks get fit.
  • Five years ago, I put out my first product, complete with videos filmed on an iPhone, in a playground with screaming children. It was ugly, but it got NF started!
  • With Nerd Fitness Yoga, we’ve leveled up our quality big time. We have hours of high quality footage, filmed in a studio that looks like a Super Mario Brothers level, and we’ve optimized the experience for viewing on any device (mobile, tablet, desktop).
  • All the videos can be streamed to any device, or downloaded to any device for viewing when you don’t have access to the internet!

Now, I’m not going to go through alllll of the benefits, features, and bonuses that come with Nerd Fitness Yoga, as all of that stuff is listed out in detail right here!

Yes, it will help you get more flexible. Yes, it will hold your hand through half a dozen yoga routines. Yes, it features some corny jokes by me. Yes, it is all done in a way that makes yoga approachable and fun.

Yes, I want you to check it out! 

I will tell you that it was an absolute blast to film this stuff with Staci from Team Nerd Fitness and Kate Marolt (our professional yogi and longtime NF Rebel!), and I’m glad we can finally release it to the world today.

Here are a few things our early adopters are saying about their first NF Yoga experience:

1Amanda

2Kevin

3Double

4Karl

5Mary

There are more reactions and first impressions we captured listed here. We’re so pumped people are loving it!

The Yoga Toga Party

Tomorrow, Wednesday August 19th, we’re hosting a Yoga Toga Party on Google Hangouts!

I will be joined by Staci and Kate to have a fun launch party and Q&A.

Yes, we will be wearing togas and having fun.

Why a Yoga Toga party? Because Toga rhymes with Yoga, and I don’t get many opportunities to wear clothing that rhymes with products that I’m launching. Also, because why the hell not! Life is short, let’s have some fun.

So, whether you’ve already picked up Nerd Fitness Yoga, have no desire to ever, or are on the fence, come hang out at the party! We’ll be answering questions about Yoga, health and fitness, or my life in general (like how my first 48 hours in NF HQ’s new location have gone). That’s right, in my quest to become Captain America I have relocated to New York City.

Make sure you add the Yoga Toga Party to your calendar!

The Yoga Toga Party will be taking place at this link at 10 pm EST on Wednesday, August 19th. If you can’t make it live, that’s okay – we’ll be recording it (but it won’t be nearly as fun as dropping in live!)

Doors close on Friday

Because this is the first time we’ve launched a course like this, Nerd Fitness Yoga is only available until Friday at 11:59 pm EST

We’re excited to watch our first eager batch of Rebels level up with NF Yoga. Then we’ll reopen the doors much later this year, potentially at a higher price.

NerdFitnessYogaWalkthrough

If you want to be one of the first Rebels to join us, watch my nerdy, late night video walkthrough I recorded that shows you each section, parts of actual sessions, and everything that’s included.

We know Nerd Fitness Yoga isn’t for everybody, so no matter what, thanks for reading up to this point. You can expect Nerd Fitness to continue as normal, with free articles every week, a free message board community, and a few more free features up our sleeves launching soon for the whole community.

I also have one more gigantic announcement about something happening in early 2016, but I can’t talk about that until next month…

Thanks again for being a part of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion – this community has already exceeded my wildest expectations from when I first started back in 2009, and there is a lot more fun to be had.

Hope to see you in Nerd Fitness Yoga!

-Steve

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How to Make Tortilla Espanola http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/08/13/how-to-make-tortilla-espanola/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/08/13/how-to-make-tortilla-espanola/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2015 14:30:39 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=26647 This is a recipe from Team NF Rebel Chef Noel.

Hard-working Rebels have struggled for years to figure out how to make a portable breakfast to take to work. In fact, for those who aren’t intermittent fasting, you may have a goal of eating a healthy breakfast to start your day off right.

The closest many of us have come to solving this riddle is by making a favorite of The Rebellion: Prosciutto Wrapped Egg Muffins. However, I rarely make them because I’m a hot mess in the kitchen and I get egg EVERYWHERE. Plus, I find prosciutto prohibitively expensive and I have ruined many muffin tins and lost much of my breakfast to…well…them sticking to the pan. Solve this problem for me Jedis of the egg muffin order; you’re my only hope.

I may have discovered a solution for us muffin dunces. Recently I went on an Epic Quest of my own and discovered something called Tortilla Espanola.

This Spanish dish just might be something foreign we can add to our healthy breakfast arsenal. It’s healthy, tasty, and traditionally, there are only 4 ingredients. That means it’s super easy to make!

Tortilla Espanola is a Spanish dish that is essentially an egg cake with potato and onion. It’s cut into triangles or squares and served at room temperature as tapas. You might think: cold egg? Gross! But there’s no reason you can’t warm it up in the microwave before you head out. (But, before you do, give it a try traditionally and keep it chilled or at room temperature.)

Tortilla Espanola:

Noel_Tortilla_Espanola_001

Serves: 2-3
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/3 cup (78.86ml) diced sweet potato – I used sweets to keep it Paleo; if you eat regular potatoes, feel free to go traditional and sub those!
  • 1/3 cup (78.86ml) diced yellow onion
  • 3 Tbsp (45ml) olive oil

Optional ingredients to spice it up:

(these are what I used in mine)

  • 1/3 cup (78.86ml) red bell pepper
  • 1/2 sausage link – I used Applegate Farms chicken apple sausages. Look for something with minimal processing, chemicals, and no added sugar or wheat. These sausages are also pre-cooked and ready to eat. If your sausages are raw, please COOK THEM FIRST before adding them to your eggs.
  • 4 cherry tomatoes – cut into quarters

I didn’t use these, but they are also good choices. Choose your favorites!

  • Mushrooms
  • Bacon – cook it first then chop it after removing it from the pan. As a bonus, you can use the bacon grease to saute the rest of your veggies!
  • Spinach

 Equipment:

  • Cast iron or other oven-safe saute pan
  • Spatula
  • Bowl
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife
  • Potato Peeler

Instructions:

Check out the video version of this recipe here (or below)!

The next 16 steps are really just three: we’ll be cutting and cooking our veggies, mixing them in with our eggs, and cooking the whole thing.

Let’s go!

1. Wash all your veggies.

2. Chop all your veggies. If you need a reminder about how to do this, check out these links:

Tortilla_Espanola_002

Cut the little tomatoes into quarters and the sausage into medallions and then chop those in half or into quarters.

A quick note – We’ll want to dice these things pretty small so they incorporate well into the egg mixture. The bell pepper and mushroom instructions above are for larger chunks. 

When you’re done, everything should look like this:

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3. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in your pan. This will take a minute or so. Once it is hot, it will slide easily around the pan.

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4. Toss in your diced sweet potato. Stir to coat with oil and let them cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want them to cook through, but you don’t want them to burn, so stay attentive! A fork should be able to easily pop in to the chunk when finished.

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5. When they’re done, remove them from your pan. Scoop them into a bowl and let them cool while you cook the onion and other veggies.

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6. Place another 1 tbsp of olive oil in your pan and let it heat up. It should heat up more quickly this time since your pan is already hot.

7. Toss in your onion, bell peppers, and other veggies like mushrooms or spinach if using. Stir these to coat with oil and let them cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When they are finished cooking, the onions should become translucent.

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When they are done, remove them from the heat. Place them in a bowl and set aside to cool. Be sure to remove your pan from the heat so it doesn’t get too hot.

8. Now break your eggs into a mixing bowl and scramble them. Mix in all your sautéed ingredients plus the ingredients that didn’t need to be cooked (tomatoes and sausage). If you’re using bacon, now’s the time to add it. Stir to incorporate them really well.

Tortilla_Espanola_011

9. Put your pan back on the heat and add another 2 tbsp oil. Let it heat up for a minute or so. Heat and oil are super important at this point. If you don’t let the pan get hot enough or add enough oil to coat the pan before adding the eggs, your egg will stick. Major bummer.

10. Once your pan and the oil are hot, tilt the pan to coat the bottom and sides. Then grab your bowl full of egg and dump it into the hot pan. Now leave it alone!

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11. While the egg is cooking in the pan, turn on your broiler. If your broiler has the option of “HI” or “LO,” go ahead and set it to low. Make sure everything is out of the oven before turning it on – we don’t want any melting disasters.

12. Once the egg has cooked for about 1-2 minutes on your stove top (or until the egg solidifies), turn off the heat. Take your spatula and run it around the sides of the pan, gently unsticking the egg from the sides. You’ll thank me later.

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13. Now place the pan in the oven under the broiler. We do this so that the top of the egg cooks — you’ll notice at this point, it’s still a little raw and runny. Let it cook for another 5-10 minutes (depending on your broiler). Check it frequently to make sure it’s not burning.

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14. Once the egg on the top is cooked, pull it out of the oven. Remember to use an oven mitt! (I burn myself way too often grabbing hot pan handles).

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15. Take a rubber spatula and run it around the sides and the bottom of the pan gently. We’re un-sticking any stuck egg from the pan.

Take a plate and place it on top of the pan.

Flip the pan over to flip the egg onto the plate. (This step is clearer in the video.) You can see in the picture that it stuck a little bit to the pan.

That’s not a huge deal. Life goes on…

Noel_Tortilla_Espanola_017

16. Let the egg sit on the plate to cool before you cut into it. Move the egg to a cutting board by simply sliding it from one surface to the next and cut it into triangles or squares. For bonus points, if you have dinosaur shaped cookie cutters, use those to cut your egg. Because that sounds awesome.

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Ole!

If you want, you can serve these on a plate with guacamole or salsa. Personally, I just put it in a paper towel and eat it on the go. It’s a pretty easy quick snack or breakfast for the busy Rebel!

Trying and discovering new foods is one of the best parts of travel, in my opinion. Trying recipes or spice combinations from other lands is just one of the ways we can bring the magic of a trip back home.

Let’s hope this solves the breakfast problem for some of us who are egg-muffin challenged.

Have you tried foods while traveling that you’d like to try to cook at home?

What is your favorite on-the-go breakfast?

Did you find the video helpful?

Let us know in the comments!

-Noel

PS: Have you joined our free 5-Day Flexibility Challenge yet? We’re opening the doors for Nerd Fitness Yoga next Tuesday for 4 days, but you can start testing your flexibility today!

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How to Touch Your Toes: Become Bendy Like Gumby! http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/08/10/how-to-touch-your-toes-become-bendy-like-gumby/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/08/10/how-to-touch-your-toes-become-bendy-like-gumby/#comments Mon, 10 Aug 2015 13:57:04 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=26626 It’s something we’ve talked about since we were kids in gym class: “can you touch your toes?” We even had the “sit-and-reach” test in the Presidential Fitness Test (remember that!?).

Is there a point to it though? Why does “touching your toes” actually matter?

Well, to start, developing proper flexibility and mobility is crucial when it comes to strength training – not being able to touch your toes can reveal a plethora of muscle imbalances that leads to poor form (and potential injury) when performing major movements such as squats, deadlifts, olympic lifts, and more.

But we’re not just talking about injury – better flexibility and range of motion boosts our strength gains (and vice versa!).

As this study shows, “short-term strength training increases flexibility and strength in sedentary adult women… strength and flexibility can be prescribed together to get optimal improvements in flexibility.”

And according to Dr. Alexander Rosado, DPT, not being able to touch your toes could be a major indicator of an issue or future issue (ranging from plantar fasciitis to lower back pain).

It’s tough to get strong as hell if you injure yourself, and what’s the point of a lot of strength if you can barely move your body to take advantage of it?

If you are unable to touch your toes, it’s most likely because of one of these five major reasons:

1) Shortened/tight posterior chain muscles. Although most people think not being able to touch our toes just means your hamstring muscles are inflexible, in reality our whole system (including the lower back) can play a huge role as well! As Mark Rippetoe explains in this video about the Romanian deadlift, what you may think is a lower back issue is also a hamstring issue (and vice versa). You see, the posterior chain is an interconnected series of muscles that includes our back muscles, erector spinae (muscles along our spine), lower back muscles, butts, and hamstrings. Weak mobility points in one place in the system can become debilitating (and often easy to spot) when we do compound movements like the deadlift.

If you’re somebody who sits at a desk all day and struggles to touch your toes, you probably aren’t strengthening or lengthening these muscles because the chair is doing all of the work for you.

2) You have relatively long legs compared to your torso and arms. People with long legs and short torsos will have a greater challenge than people who have short legs and long torsos and arms. But fear not, you too can level up and get those toes touched.

3) You have too much body fat. If you are overweight and happen to have a big stomach, it can certainly make touching one’s toes more challenging. Because you already know that diet is 90% of the battle when it comes to weight loss, focus on nutrition to begin losing weight. This may be a factor in making it easier to touch your toes.

4) You’re not warmed up yet. If you JUST woke up or spent all day in a car, you’re familiar with the rigidity that makes you feel like a steel girder. Your muscles act like rubber bands; the more they are used, the more they are warmed-up, and the further they can stretch. This is why we encourage people to go through a mobility warm-up before exercise!

Let’s put a plan in place to finally touch our toes!

Test your flexibility

Stretching

Before we can implement a strategy to develop more flexibility that allows you to touch your toes, we need to know your starting point.

As Peter Drucker said, “That which gets measured gets managed.” Or in this case, that which gets measured gets more flexible! 

The following comes from our free 5-Day Flexibility Series, which you can sign up for today!

TOE TOUCH TEST (click on image to watch video demonstration)

Toe Touch

Stand straight with your legs about hip width apart.You want your legs to be straight, but don’t aggressively lock out your knees either (this feels like a “microbend” to a lot of people).

Begin by bending and leaning forward towards the ground with your quads (front of your legs).

Let your body rest naturally, as if you were a ragdoll. Keeping your hands relatively close together, straighten your fingers and begin to stretch down slowly to the ground.

Do this 2-3 times to get warmed up. Try to keep your legs straight by flexing or activating your quads; keep your legs straight, without your knees nearly locked.

Other than the microbend, don’t bend your knees to help you get closer to the ground! I’m watching you. If you’re videotaping yourself on these to track your progress, note that depending on your body (and your hamstrings) your legs may not look 100% straight.

When you are ready, reach towards the ground and hold it for a few seconds. Measure the distance in one of the following ways:

  • If you aren’t touching the ground, have a friend measure the distance from your tip of your fingers to the ground. If you don’t have a friend with you, place your hands on your legs and note where the tips of your fingers end up.
  • If you can touch the ground, you’ll want to flatten your hands as much as possible, and record the distance from the top of your head to the ground. As you can stretch further, the top of your head will actually get closer and closer to the ground.
  • If this seems easy, try hugging your calves and pulling your head in towards your body.

Record your measurement in a document or on a piece of paper (if you’re part of the flexibility challenge, we have a document you can print out), and/or save the photo/video to show how far down you are reaching.

Improve Your flexibility

GUMBY

There are two key factors that will determine whether or not you are successful in gaining the ability to touch your toes as you practice over the next few weeks:

  • Actively stretching your muscles JUST past the point of comfort. Like strength training by adding 1 rep or a few pounds to an exercise, we want to stretch just beyond the point where we stretched last time so our muscles have to elongate.
  • Consistent practice and effort! You can’t improve your flexibility by stretching for 5 minutes once a month. You’d be better off stretching for 30 seconds spread out 10 times throughout the month.

That’s right. Studies confirmed that actively focusing on touching your toes for 30 seconds, 3 times per week was enough to lengthen hamstring muscles in 4 weeks. Here’s another study that shows 30 seconds of effort results in a more flexible frame!

I‘m sure there’s an inappropriate joke to be made here about 30 seconds of effort, but I’m better than that (I think).

In less time than it takes to update your Facebook status, you could be touching your toes and make Gumby proud. And I know you have time.

FLEXIBILITY PRACTICE!

All I’m asking for is 2 minutes. 2 minutes! You can even spread these movements out throughout your day – I like to do them after I work out. After a long day at a desk, after driving, or upon waking up are all good times to work on flexibility!

Through each of the movements below, make sure you are breathing slowly and steadily.

TIME FOR THE MOVEMENTS BELOW:

  • Standing toe touch stretch – 30 seconds
  • Cat/Camel – 30 seconds (switch positions every 5 seconds)
  • Star stretch – 30 seconds (as many slow reps as you can)
  • Moon the sky – 30 seconds (as many slow reps as you can)

1) Standing toe touch stretch: Flex/activate the front of your legs, keep them straight, and bend over at the waist juuuust past the point of discomfort; hold that position for 30 seconds. Repeat this process every other day and hold it for 30 seconds.

toe touching stretch

2) We can loosen up a tight lower back by doing 30 seconds of moving back and forth every few seconds by doing a “cat” and then a “camel”:

table_top_cat_camel_3_big

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3) You can also do what we call a star stretch to help stretch those legs out! Stand with your legs spread wide, and arms extended (hence the term Star!), and then reach down with one hand to your opposite leg; hold for five seconds, back to start, and repeat with the other leg.

star stretch

4) Here’s another favorite movement of mine that helps improve my flexibility and mobility: the “Moon the Sky” stretch! This is a great stretch to mix into your pre-workout warmup to get your legs, butt, and back prepared for work:

  • Squat down and put your hands under your feet
  • Slowly move your butt up with your hands remaining under your feet.
  • Raise your butt and try to straighten your legs
  • Go a TEENY bit higher each time until you can fully straighten your legs!

Here’s what I mean:

Moon the Sky

Test your toe-touching abilities before and after doing the 2-minutes of exercise above, and I bet you’ll notice a difference right away – just wait to see what you can accomplish in a few weeks!

The cool thing about flexibility is that any combination of the stretches above will help you improve your flexibility as long as you consistently work on it a tiny bit every day.

I do mobility work when I wake up, after I work out, throughout my day (when working at my desk), and at the end of my day for a minute or two before bed. All added up, it’s less than 5 minutes of time, but its enough to show me some results!

Join the Flexibility Challenge

yoga-interest

Today kicks off a free 5-Day Flexibility Challenge for those who sign up for the Yoga List! It includes a downloadable worksheet for you to track your measurements, video demonstrations of each movement, and instructions on how to work on your flexibility.

You can sign up for the Flexibility challenge, and next Tuesday, August 18th, we’re launching our first new product in almost two freaking years: Nerd Fitness Yoga!

In our quest to build a leveled up body, strength + flexibility = the ability to do and try anything without our bodies holding us back.

Take the Flexibility Challenge, and take a step towards Gumby-Status!

Can you touch your toes? Can you commit to 30 seconds every other day for the next few weeks? I know you can. You know you can. Let’s get it done!

-Steve

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Photo credit: the adventures of Gumby and R2D2, Storm troopers and Gumby

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A Nerd’s Guide to Yoga: 4 Movements to Try TODAY. http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/08/05/a-nerds-guide-to-yoga-4-movements-to-try-today/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/08/05/a-nerds-guide-to-yoga-4-movements-to-try-today/#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2015 15:32:20 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=26614 WTF is a “downward dog” anyways?

Is there a downward cat?

Do I have to shop at lululemon now?

When somebody mentions they practice yoga, these might be some of the questions that enter your mind. I know it’s what I thought about!

Although I was initially afraid of trying yoga for years, I now freaking love it and practice it whenever I can. It’s my favorite solution for improving mobility and flexibility, staying injury-free when strength training, and even quieting my overactive mind.

Regardless of how you choose to level up your life, I’m going to convince you in the next 10 minutes that yoga is a great activity to mix in between strength training or running sessions.

And I can be quite persuasive. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. See?

It’s also something you can get started with TODAY: I’m going to challenge you to complete a 4-move routine at the end of this article that you can complete anytime, anywhere.

Let’s do some yoga!

What IS Yoga exactly?

downwardDogOutside

Yoga means lots of different things to different people… like Windfarm Yoga apparently, to the woman in the photo above. As one commenter on this humorous and controversial article pointed out:

“The only thing I know for sure about yoga is that whatever you’re doing when you practice it, you’ll be assured by someone that it isn’t “real yoga.”

I’m not interested in that particular aspect of the yoga debate: people need things to argue about and get offended over because Internet. What’s important to me is getting more people interested trying yoga out because it’s damn fun and can really improve your life.

After all, as this fantastic Vox article explains:

“Yoga seems to help alleviate lower back pain, improve strength and flexibility, and reduce inflammation in the body — which, in turn, can help stave off chronic disease and death.

Emerging research suggests yoga can increase body awareness, or attention to the sensations and things going on inside you. That’s no small matter: Researchers think heightened body awareness can improve how well people take care of themselves.”

Science is essentially telling us: Yoga can help you become more flexible like Black Widow, improve your strength like the Hulk, extend your life like the elves of Rivendell, and give you mental awareness like Yoda.

The jury is still out as to whether or not it grants us telekinetic powers.

When I approached yoga years ago as an attempt to improve my flexibility and to combat poor posture, I was initially worried about looking foolish or finding some aspect of the exercise that didn’t sit right with me.

Instead I found a complementary, enjoyable activity that helped improve my flexibility and mobility, alleviated my lower back pain, opened up my hips to combat a lifetime of sitting, and even helped me quiet my overactive mind! Plus, it was like a power-up for my strength workouts.

It’s now an activity I do with regularity throughout my week, incorporating yoga stretches during the day in between desk sessions, after working out, and attending the occasional class to level up.

Why should I care about Yoga?

NF Yoga

If you read Nerd Fitness, you’re probably a skeptic. After all, one of the Rules of the Rebellion is to question everything!

So you might be thinking: “Steve, you’re not going to ask me to start speaking in mantras, chanting OMMMMMM, and work on improving my spiritual chi.”

As somebody who started yoga with the exact same reservations, I sit before you a changed man. For starters, if you decide the spiritual aspects of the practice aren’t for you, you’re not alone: research into yoga’s history can lead down an internet rabbit hole of controversy that is bottomless.

So we’re not going to jump in that fight. Instead, what you will find when it comes to yoga is study after study showing that this form of exercise is incredibly beneficial:

1) A body prepared to handle anything: at Nerd Fitness, we are huge fans of strength training, and yoga is its perfect compliment. it elongates your muscles, improves your flexibility, can release tension in your neck and shoulders, and helps you do things like touch your toes! It can help you build stronger muscles, improve balance and stability (especially for our older rebels), and make you more “antifragile” (my favorite term of 2014).

As this study points out, “yoga subjects exhibited increased deadlift strength, substantially increased lower back/hamstring flexibility, increased shoulder flexibility, and modestly decreased body fat compared with control group.”

2) Yoga is great for lower back pain: If you’re one of the 31+ million people like myself who struggle with lower back pain, yoga can help. Yoga really helps those of us stuck at a computer all day long as well.

3) Yoga can help meet weight loss goals when combined with a healthy diet. Look, we all know our diet is responsible for 80-90% of our success when it comes to weight loss. The other 10-20% of the equation is participating in physical activities that push your body outside of their comfort zone.

Yoga is a great way to burn a few extra calories and keep your brain focused on “I am doing healthy things and thus I should be eating healthy foods!” It can help improve our fight against cardiovascular diseasehypertension, and obesity. It’s also a great rest day activity to keep you on track when you’re not doing your other workouts.

4) Speaking of which…yoga can be done every single day, and can be done anywhere. No gym required, no equipment required – no excuses! On top of that, because it’s a low-impact activity and doesn’t overly tax your muscles like a powerlifting session, you can do yoga every single day, anywhere you can find a soft place to sit down: your living room, a park, a beach, your bedroom, on the moon, etc.

5) Yoga can quiet an overactive mind: We Live in a world with a distraction around every corner; we read Facebook or our favorite blog while checking email and texts… while trying to work a day job. If you’re anything like me, your mind races a million miles an hour, and trying to develop a sense of control and calm over your mind is like herding cats. We’ve already explained the benefits of Meditation for Nerds; yoga can be tremendously helpful with becoming more aware of our bodies and help with reducing stress and anxiety.

Lastly, if yoga is good enough for badass Dhalsim from Street Fighter II, it’s good enough for me:

i’m scared to get started!

babyFaceplant

If you’re like me, one of the following sentences has run through your head when you think about yoga:

Okay, I’m ready to try yoga! But what studio should I go to? Google just told me there are 5 studios close by. And I can’t pronounce any of their names. Which one is best? Did Yoda do yoga?

Okay, I picked a studio! But how many people are in the class? What if I fall over when I try a move? Am I gonna be surrounded by pros? What do I wear? Who’s that guy next to me? 

Okay, I’m in my class! But what if I can’t do this move? That dude put his leg behind his head! What if I fart during class? Do I get perma-banned? 

These are all of the questions I asked myself between “Yeah, yoga!” and “holy crap I just did my first class.”

I mustered up 20 seconds of courage to attend an actual studio… which scared the farts out of me! I know that if a guy who runs a fitness site is scared to go to a yoga class in person, there have to be others here in the community who are too but still want to get started with yoga.

Although one can quickly search YouTube for free yoga videos, it’s tough to get ourselves to stay dedicated or feel connected to the teacher unless they’re speaking our language!

We set out to solve all of the problems I went through above, and ended up with Nerd Fitness Yoga, which we’re launching publicly on August 18th! This is a course you can follow along with in the comfort of your own home, and it’s built specifically for members of the Rebellion: easy to follow instructions, an inviting attitude, and yes… some corny jokes from yours truly.

This course will work for men and women of all shapes, ages, and sizes, giving anybody the confidence to get started IMMEDIATELY. Follow it regularly and you can expect the benefits of the dozens of studies I linked above when it comes to yoga practice.

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In addition to a HUGE pose library and step-by-step instructions, it also contains all of the following full length yoga sessions filmed in HD:

  • Water sessions: Two beginner yoga videos (25 minutes each)
  • Fire sessions: Two intermediate yoga videos (30 minutes each)
  • Star sessions: Two advanced yoga videos (40 minutes each)
  • Deep stretching routine (40 minutes)
  • 6 supplemental mobility videos (that will help with lower back mobility, how to finally touch your toes, and so on)

All of these videos can be streamed or downloaded to any device as many times as you’d like so you can practice yoga wherever, whenever.

The higher priced version of the product will include a few extra bonuses like coaching calls, and even a Nerd Fitness Yoga Mats for anybody that wants to rep the Rebellion while working on their downward dog!

I’m proud as hell of this product. We don’t have many things for sale at Nerd Fitness, so you know that when we do put something out, it’s worth checking out.

To celebrate: we’ve created a Free 5-Day Nerd Fitness Flexibility Challenge that we’ll be starting next week for anybody on our Yoga Interest List.

We’re going to give you benchmarks to test your flexibility, along with tips, tricks and video demonstrations on how to improve flexibility in every way!

4 poses you can do right now

A big reason Nerd Fitness and the Rebellion are successful in getting people healthy is that we encourage people to take action immediately. Not tomorrow, not after breakfast, RIGHT NOW!

We know teeny tiny steps can eventually result in big changes, which is why I’m sharing 4 yoga poses you can start with right now. All photos below come from Nerd Fitness Yoga, with our Yoga partner (and NF Rebel for 4 years) Kate Marolt!

Try to hold each of the following positions for 30 seconds. Yes, even if you’ve never done Yoga before and have no intentions on doing it again… I’m challenging you to give this a shot right now!

Make sure you are breathing in a relaxed, slow, deep manner throughout – not anxiously holding your breath in the movements. Inhale through your nose as you move into a pose, breath in and out slowly as you hold the pose, and then breath out as you move out of the pose.

CHAIR POSE (30 seconds)

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Chair pose is the basis for many of the more advanced moves we explore in our Fire and Star series. It primarily stretches the chest and shoulders, while helping strengthen your core and legs.

Start by standing with your arms out in front of you. Slowly bend your knees, moving them gradually more forward, in front of your toes. At the same time, drop your hips and butt back as you try to achieve a 90 degree angle with your thighs and calves.

As you sit down, your arms will come straight above your heads (next to your ears) pointing up with palms facing in.

To scale this down, you’ll find it a little easier to keep your arms out in front of you – or coming towards your chest forming a “ball of energy.” Drop your hips only as low as you can comfortably maintain for a stable hold.

FORWARD FOLD (30 seconds)

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This pose primarily focuses on stretching the lower back, hips, hamstrings, and calves.

Start by standing and gently bend forward as you lengthen your torso and spine. As you fold toward the ground, keep your knees straight (but not locked out). Grab the back of your calves or, if you can, rest your fingertips on the ground next to your feet.

As you breathe in, you can lift slightly and extend your torso and spine forward. As you exhale, you can fold forward again into the stretch.

To scale this down, you may use blocks to help you touch as you fold or only fold to the Halfway Lift variation. Keep your knees straight and your spine long, and fold as far as you can comfortably go.

LUNGE (30 seconds each leg)

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The Lunge is a major building block for poses of all difficulty levels. This pose will primarily stretch and strengthen the groin, hamstrings, hips, and knees.

In most cases, you get into lunges by starting in a forward fold and slowly stepping one of your legs back behind you. If you need to, you can scoot your foot back several times until you are able to have about a 90-degree angle on your forward knee.

Bend your torso over your front knee and lengthen your spine forward. Your weight should be pressing down through your heels and your back leg should be active with your knee straight throughout.

To scale down, you can use blocks on each side to balance yourself without having to reach all the way down to the floor. At anytime, you can also drop the back knee down to the ground coming into Low Lunge instead.

DOWNWARD DOG (30 seconds)

downward_dog_2_big

This pose primarily focuses on stretching the shoulders, hamstrings, and calves.

The first few times you get into Downward Dog, you’ll want to start on your hands and knees (what we call Table Top), but with your arms a little bit forward of your head. Pushing into your hands and toes, slowly lift your knees off the ground.

If you can, slowly straighten your knees (don’t lock them) as you gently stretch your heels down to the ground. Once comfortable, you can work your shoulders back towards your tailbone.

To scale this down, you can lift your heels further off the ground and/or bend your knees for easy modification. You can also use blocks to elevate your arms as another alternative.

Start today

BabyDoesYoga

If this baby can do Yoga, so can you!

I don’t care if you’re at home, in a cubicle or office, I want you to use 3 minutes of courage to hold the poses above!

Even if you’re not interested in checking out NF Yoga and never attend a yoga class, try to repeat these movements throughout the day to help combat a day at the desk! I personally get up every 15-20 minutes and go through a few movements (Downward Dog is my favorite) to stay limber.

I’d love to hear from you: did you REALLY complete the 4-movement yoga routine above? And where did you do it? An office? In your cubicle?

Remember, who cares if your coworkers think you’re weird – getting judged for doing something healthy is a badge of honor you should be proud of!

…and Downward Dog!

-Steve

PS: Here’s that link again to the Yoga Interest List sign-up! Starting next week we’re going to have a free 5-day NF Flexibility Challenge that we’ll be emailing out to everybody on the list, complete with video demonstrations, advice, tips, and tricks!

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Photo Sources: Nevada the sprinkler dog, downward, Baby Yoga , puebla 04.jpg,

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What Should I Do On My Off Days? http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/07/30/what-should-i-do-on-my-off-days/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/07/30/what-should-i-do-on-my-off-days/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:43:33 +0000 https://new.nerdfitness.com/?p=26872 “Steve, what am I supposed to do on days when I’m not training?”

We get this question all the time here at Nerd Fitness. Since we advise most people to train 3 days per week with full body strength training routines, many Rebels have a few off days each week.

When you complete a full body workout routine, or do lots of compound movements like squats, push-upsoverhead presses or deadlifts, our muscles get broken down. Then, over the next 24-48 hours hours, those muscles get rebuilt a tiny bit stronger.That’s why it doesn’t benefit us to work out every day; we don’t want to destroy our muscles without giving them a chance to grow back stronger.

That then begs the question: what are we supposed to do on those days? How can we keep up the habit of exercise and not let a day of non-training derail our progress?

Are there things we CAN do on our off days?

That’s why I’m here, my dear Rebel friend: you ask the questions, I answer them! You set em up, I knock ’em down!

So let’s dig into what you can do on a day “off” from training.

Plan Your Off Days Like a Training Day

The biggest problem most people have with off days is that they become cheat days! Because they’re not training, they’re not thinking about being fit and it’s much easier to slack off and lose momentum.

This is bad news bears.bear

Remember, exercise is probably 10-20% of the equation: how we eat and rest is the other 80-90%!

So plan your off days deliberately! They’re not off days, they’re rest days, and they serve a vital role in building an antifragile kickass body capable of fighting crime (or roughhousing with your kids in the backyard).

Whether it’s scheduling one of the activities below at the same time you normally train every day, or deliberately adding a morning mobility/stretching routine to your day, doing SOMETHING every day is a great way to remind ourselves “I am changing my life and I exercise daily.”

Personally, I know I am far less likely to eat poorly when I’m doing some active recovery than when I’m not doing anything deliberatelyOn days when I’m not training, I try to block off a similar amount of time to work on myself in some way to maintain momentum, and I encourage you to do the same if you struggle with losing momentum if even taking one day off.

It could be flexibility training, mobility training, meal prep, and more. I’ll cover these below! Whatever it is, do SOMETHING every day, even if it’s for just five minutes, to remind yourself that you are making progress towards your new life.

Let’s dive in to your off-day options!

Work on Mobility

cat rest

We’ve all felt that soreness the day after (or two days after) strength training – our muscles have been broken down and are incredibly tight from all of the heavy lifting.

For that reason, one of the best things you can do on an off day is to work on your flexibility and mobility. After all, what good is strength if we can’t move our body properly to utilize it! Dynamic stretching and mobility work helps prepare our body for the rigors of strength training and keeps us injury free!

Regardless of whether or not you have a training day scheduled, start each morning with a mobility warm-up: a series of dynamic movements that gets your body activated and wakes up your muscles, joints, and tendons. If you live in an apartment or are just getting started, feel free to leave out the jumping jacks:

This gives us a chance every morning to check in with our bodies and reminds us mentally “I am leveling up physically, might as well eat right today too.”

Here’s another favorite mobility routine from my friend (and coach) Anthony Mychal. It says it’s a warm-up for tricking, but it’s quite helpful for those of us mere mortals: 

If you spend all day at a desk, doing some basic mobility movements throughout the day can keep your hips loose and keep you thinking positively. Here’s an article on how to dominate posture at your desk job.

Do a Fun Activity

soccer

We are genetically designed to move, not sit on our asses for 60+ hours a week. Not only that, but we are genetically designed to have fun doing so too!

Which means we can spend time on our off days working on our happiness AND stay active at the same time.

This fun activity can mean something different for everybody:

  • Go for a bike ride with your kids
  • Go for a run around your neighborhood
  • Play kickball in a city league (I play on Thursdays!)
  • Play softball
  • Swim
  • Go for a walk with your significant other
  • Go rock climbing
  • Learn martial arts like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Capoeira or Kung Fu
  • Take a dance class
  • Try Live Action Role-Playing (LARP!)
  • Play on a playground
  • Roll down a hill and run back up it

I honestly don’t care WHAT you do, as long as it’s something you truly enjoy doing – it puts a smile on your face, it gets your heart pumping. Exercise does not need to be exhausting or miserable. If you haven’t found an activity you enjoy yet, you haven’t tried enough new things.

The point is to get outside, remember it’s a damn good day to be alive, and that we are built to move.

Intervals, Sprints, Or Walking

run sprint

“But Steve, I have this big party coming up and I really am trying to lose as much weight as possible.”

Okay okay, I hear you – if that’s the case, then 90% of the battle is going to be with your diet (which you can learn about here), but there are SOME things you can do on your off days that can help you burn more calories:

1) Interval Training  In interval training, you’ll be varying your running pace. This means you may switch between jogging and walking, or walking and sprinting (there are few different methods of interval training). This training style can help speed up your metabolism for the hours after you finish.

2) Sprinting If you like the idea of burning extra calories and building explosive power and speed, check out our article on becoming the Flash. Find a hill, sprint up it, walk down, and repeat the process for 10-20 minutes. No need to overthink it!

3) Long walks Walking is a low-impact activity that burns extra calories and doesn’t overly tax your body. What a “long walk” will be is different for everybody based on their level of fitness, but walking is one of the best things you can do for yourself!

If you want to take a more active recovery day, the most important thing is to listen to your body. Destroying ourselves for 6+ days a week can really wear us down, causing long term problems if we’re not careful.

Yoga for the win!

yoga-interest

You might not realize it, but yoga is the perfect complement to strength training:

Strength training makes us stronger, but it can tighten up our muscles and make us sore.

Yoga, on the other hand, lengthens our muscles and tendons, aids in their recovery, and helps our body develop better mobility and flexibility.

It’s the perfect way to create a strong AND mobile body, ready for anything and everything we throw at it. It’s kind of like turning your body into a swiss-army knife: prepared to be strong, flexible enough to avoid injury, and truly antifragile.

Now, if you’ve never been to a yoga class before, it can certainly be intimidating, especially if you’re a ones-and-zeros programmer wary of the practice’s more spiritual aspects. That was my concern years ago before I got started with it; I had to muster up 20 seconds of courage to attend my first yoga class, and I’m so glad I did.

Here’s how to get started with Yoga!

  • Nearly any commercial gym you join will have yoga classes.
  • Most yoga studios have classes throughout the day.
  • Follow a plethora of videos online if you want to get started at home.
  • Check out Nerd Fitness Yoga launching soon!

Nerd Fitness Yoga is something we’ve been working on for months and I can’t wait to share it with you!

When you sign up for more information here we’ll be sharing a cool flexibility challenge to help you gauge just how flexible you are and how you can improve your flexibility.

what do you Do On Your Off Days?

maldives relax

As we know, a healthy body is made in the kitchen, not in the gym. It’s important to stay diligent with healthy nutrition even on days when you’re not hitting the gym.

One of the best ways to do that is to use one of your non-training days to prepare your meals for the week! NF Team Member Staci Ardison does all of her meal prep for the week on Sundays, and looks at it like an activity that is furthering her fitness journey.

I like to use one of my off days to break a mental sweat too! On Tuesdays, I take fiddle lessons, which is a mental workout so taxing that I can’t wait to get back to deadlifts!

Here’s another thing you can do on off days: Have fun. 

Whether it’s playing a video game, getting caught up on a movie or TV show, or reading a book, it’s important for us to do the nerdy or fun things that make us who we are. As the Rules of the Rebellion state: fitness can become part of we do, but not at the expense of who we are!

I’m currently playing through Batman Arkham Knight (add me on PS4 and Xbox One: “RebelOneNF”!), and as I collect the Riddler Trophies, I think to myself: “I am rebuilding muscle like Batman.”

How do you stay on target even on days when you’re not “training?”

I’d love to hear from you – do you take the day off completely? Do you challenge yourself in a different way?  Do you try to do something every day to keep the momentum up, or do you actually take days off?

Leave it in the comments!

-Steve 

PS: Speaking of flexibility, I’d love for you to join the Nerd Fitness mobility challenge that kicks off soon. We’ll be sending out an email series to all people on our Yoga Interest List with exercises, videos, and challenges to test your flexibility.

We put a lot of work into it and we can’t wait to help you get more limber!

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Study Suggests We’re Doomed to Stay Fat. Wait, What!? http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/07/28/study-suggests-were-doomed-to-stay-fat-wait-what/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/07/28/study-suggests-were-doomed-to-stay-fat-wait-what/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 19:03:25 +0000 https://new.nerdfitness.com/?p=26807 We’re all screwed!

And we’re going to stay fat forever.

At least, that’s what a recent study conducted by researchers at King’s College, London, suggested: “The chance of returning to a normal weight after becoming obese is only one in 210 for men and one in 124 for women over a year.” If the person is severely obese, the chances are even less.

Ruh roh.

It had me thinking that maybe we’re already doomed. After all, we’re doing all of this hard work, trying our best and making changes…and yet years later we end up back where we started. Crap.

And then I dug into the study.

And it gave me hope for Nerd Fitness and the Rebellion.

What The Study Revealed

donut

“Of 278,982 men and women, the study found that only 1% of people who were obese at the start of the study were successful in losing weight AND maintaining the weight loss.”

The pointed out that the prescribed “count calories, eat less calories than normal, and exercise dutifully” failed 99% of people after 10 years.

There are two ways to look at this study:

1) Once we are overweight it’s nearly impossible to create lasting results. It’s like we are trying to hold back the tide, or fight an army of White Walkers with both hands behind our back. This self-limiting belief can crush us and convince us to give up.

2) Conventional medicine’s current strategies to tackle obesity are failing to help the majority of obese patients shed weight. A prescribed “eat less and move more” regimen fails to factor in dozens of other elements that create lasting change! Something needs to change.

But, as the home page of Nerd Fitness says: You don’t have to take advice from the Dark Side. There’s a better way to get healthy, a way that creates actual change in our lives and long term results.

After all, we have a MASSIVE community of people here in the Nerd Fitness Rebellion who HAVE drastically changed their lives, so what’s going on here? We are the Watchers on the Wall, and we are fighting off the white walkers – how are we getting results while most of the mainstream are stuck on this up-down roller coaster?

As we have seen through countless studies, YES: consuming less calories than you burn – and continuing eating that caloric deficit for an extended period of time – will result in weight loss for a strong majority of people.

This is where most of the mainstream advice that those 278,982 people were following stops. Implementing strategies such as diets does result in people having short term success. We’ve even seen a turning of the tide here in America, where we’re finally starting to consume fewer calories as a whole.

It’s not so much that this advice doesn’t work (it does!), it’s that this is only one part of a much bigger picture). In turn, they’ve failed in ACTUALLY getting people to follow their advice over the long term. And that’s the only thing that matters.

As Morpheus tells Neo, “There is a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path.” 

Frankly, the results in the study don’t surprise me! I get emails daily from people saying “Steve, I know what I need to do, I just can’t get myself to do it.”

Here at Nerd Fitness we understand what it takes to implement something for the long haul:

Instead, modern medicine is telling people to move more and eat less without the rest of it. It’s obvious this is a recipe for failure: when your environment is working against you at home, when society is designed to make eating healthy so difficult, and when your social circles are working against you, of course only 1% of people are going to succeed.

That would be like trying to: 

Sure, it’s possible. But less than 1% of us can actually do it! If we look at our success through that lens, it’s clear we’re failures… but we can adjust the constraints to work FOR us rather than against us.

Or, in gamer terms: why not just press the damn A button?!

Let’s learn how.

Use all your tools

yoda

I’m proud that the Nerd Fitness Rebellion is a group of average Joes and Jills who think differently. When I started Nerd Fitness seven years ago, I knew that mainstream diet and fitness advice sucked, and it wasn’t getting people lasting, long term results.

That was the whole point: rebelling against this insanity!

So, let’s take a look at how to use more than the joystick, and ensure that ALL of us get healthy. Like Batman with a fully equipped utility belt, we need to use all of the tools at our disposal in order to succeed long term:

Set yourself up for long term success with habits that last PERMANENTLY: This is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Once you understand how your brains work and how to build new habits, you can start attacking them with small, deliberate, permanent changes. If you struggle with willpower, you’re not alone. You have to understand how willpower works first!

So we start with tiny changes we can live with, and then we slowly expand them as we build momentum. We prove to ourselves we CAN change. “I just need to try harder” never works – you need to understand HOW to try, and then try smarter.

Diets don’t work. No, I don’t mean “the Paleo Diet” (which is a lifestyle change or nutrition adjustment, not a temporary diet). What I mean by “diet” is a temporary change to one’s life for a short period of time. You can also add things like juice cleanses and detoxes to this list, also known as destroying yourself 90 days at a time unsustainably. I cover all of these popular weight loss tactics that perfectly fall under the reasons 99% of people struggle to keep weight off a decade later.

We don’t do short term changes; our goal is long term, permanent solutions. We need to be deliberate in our efforts to change our lives: this is not a short term fix. It’s a fundamental adjustment to how we make decisions daily that sets us up to succeed.

Build an environment that supports you: We are products of our environment, and we are affected by everything around us subconsciously all day long. For that reason, like Bruce Wayne and his Batcave, we too need an environment that creates effortless success for us rather than tempting us back to the darkness.

We know that really focusing on hacking the source code of our lives can have a drastic effect on every decision we make, and can set us up to succeed long term:

  • We adjust our environment so we have to rely less on willpower to say no to certain foods: not keeping junk food in our house, not driving past our favorite fast food place, only going to healthy restaurants so we’re not tempted.
  • We set ourselves up to succeed by lowering the barriers between us and healthy choices. Sleeping in our running clothes, blocking time-wasting websites, preparing healthy meals for the whole week. We need to make our new default effortlessly “healthy.”

A great support system: Fighting this battle alone is like going up the toughest dragon in World of Warcraft solo – why not build a great team to fight alongside you? As the saying goes, “you are the average of the five people you associate most with,” so surround yourself with a killer Justice League.

We need people who support and inspire us to get healthier rather than drag us back down. If a great support system can cure drug addicts, it can certainly help with living a healthier life. It starts by surrounding yourself with people that care and want you to succeed, not sabotage your efforts.

We know that types of food we consume factor in greatly: consuming 600 calories of Twinkies is not a great long term solution compared to 600 calories of chicken, fish, avocado, and leafy vegetables.

In fact, most of the processed junk we eat today is designed to target certain parts of our brain that make us say “MORE MORE MORE” – if you’ve ever eaten one of something and then can’t get yourself to do anything else until you’ve eaten the whole bag, you know what I’m talking about. It’s tough to restrict calories when your brain has been hijacked!

If you want our nerdy take on this, read: “Star Wars Explains Why We’re Fat.” 

We CAN win.

sword

I know we have a lot of people reading Nerd Fitness who are just getting started on their weight loss journey, many of whom who probably have gone up and down in weight for years (wondering if it’s hopeless).

This study is going to divide people into two camps:

  • I knew it. This is why I can’t lose weight – I’m doomed! Why bother! I’m off to McDonald’s.
  • Okay, clearly something’s not working. I need to try something different. I need to try smarter, not harder.

I have a hunch most of society probably fits into Group A, and most of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion fits into Group B.

I’d love to hear from you:

Have you successfully defeated the evil forces of long term weight gain?

Did you fail one way before succeeding in another?

If you’ve struggled, what keeps you trying? And how are you trying differently?

-Steve

PS: Nerd Fitness is Hiring! We’re looking for some more help delivering fun, approachable, and meaningful content. Apply at the links below!

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My 7 Favorite Push-Up Variations and the NF Push-Up Challenge! http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/07/22/my-7-favorite-push-up-variations-and-the-nf-push-up-challenge/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/07/22/my-7-favorite-push-up-variations-and-the-nf-push-up-challenge/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 21:32:31 +0000 http://new.nerdfitness.com/?p=26765 The push-up is my favorite bodyweight exercise.

Although I personally love training with free weights in gym, a big portion of my workout revolves around bodyweight exercises- and that means lots of push-ups.

In fact, I once spent a year exercising around the world and did so without setting foot in a gym – it gave me a chance to really focus on bodyweight exercises as the only way to get fit, and changed my perspective on working out.

Today I’m going to share with you some of my favorite variations of the push-up that show you just how versatile and fun they can be. With this one movement and its variations, you’ll never have an excuse for not getting stronger again :)

Let’s crush push-ups!

Push-ups: Basic Scaling Variations!

pushup lego

I’ve already written a whole article on how to do a proper push-up years ago, but here’s a quick refresher! First, ZERO equipment is needed. This means you have no excuse not to do them. Second, they are an all-star compound movement: they work all of the muscles in your chest, shoulders, and arms, and even help strengthen your core (it’s practically a moving plank!).

If you are doing a proper push-up, your elbows should be tight at your side, not flared way out. Keep your arms at your side, and your core and butt tight so your body forms a straight line from head to toe.

One of the best things about push-ups is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re 200 pounds overweight or built like King Leonidas; there’s a type of push-up you can do TODAY. You can make them easier or harder, depending on your skill and your needs.

Let’s look at a basic level and work our way up:

Level 1: The wall push-up: Stand facing the wall, a few feet from the wall. Think of this like a vertical push-up. The further away from the wall your feet are, the more challenging it is! Too hard? Get closer!

Level 2: If you can complete wall push-ups with ease, level up to a lower surface. Place your hands on an elevated surface like stairs or the back of a bench, and complete a push-up with your arms close by your side. The higher the platform, the less difficult the exercise will be. The best part about the elevated push-up is that you can do it anywhere: use a kitchen counter top, a couch, or whatever floats your boat!

And here’s Staci with a more elevated platform:

Here’s me, with a lower platform:  Level 3: Now, if you don’t have access to a wall or elevated platform, or you’re ready to start working towards a classic push-up, consider the next step up: the knee push-up. Make sure you keep your body tight: from the top of your head to your knees should form a straight line. Depending on your current level, any of the above variations can get you started. The goal is to continue to progress the difficult as you gain strength, and then you can move up to the classic push-up! Dominated the classic push-up? move on to elevated push-ups!

Level 4: Elevated Push-Ups

Elevating your feet puts an increased amount of emphasis on your upper chest, shoulders, and triceps. Now, make sure you continue to keep your body tight and in a straight line – don’t let your butt sag! The higher your feet, the more of an emphasis on your shoulders and triceps, and less on your chest (thus the greater difficulty). Once you’ve mastered the classic push-up and started elevating your feet, you can mix in some challenging variations to keep things interesting!

The diamond push-up

When people think of building bigger arms, they probably think of doing more bicep curls. Actually, because the tricep is a bigger muscle, you’ll get bigger arms faster with a greater emphasis on building your triceps. And there’s no better way to do that than with a diamond push-up (or a triangle push-up, as pictured below):

Really focus on solid form here – diamond push-ups challenge your triceps and even your wrist tendons and flexibility. You can also do these on your knees if you’re looking to isolate your triceps more:

The Side-to-Side Push-up

If you are trying to work your way up to a one-handed push-up, a great place to start is by building up your shoulder/chest/and tricep to collectively support more and more of your body weight. Here’s what I mean:

Get into the classic push-up position and move your hands farther apart. Now, lower yourself down towards one arm only – you should feel like you’re supporting a lot of your weight. To complete the rep, slide horizontally over to the other arm, and push up. The farther apart your hands, the higher percentage of your bodyweight will be supported by that side of your chest/shoulder and arm (thus getting harder)! Think of this like a Level 3 movement on the way up to Level 10: one-handed push-ups.

The Plyometric Push-up

An explosive and powerful body is a healthy body.StevePlyoPushUp And building explosive strength (power) helps with every other kind of strength! A plyometric movement recruits muscles to fire very quickly and rapidly, creating a ton of force in a little bit of time. Thus, power! Get into a classic push-up position, lower yourself to the bottom of the movement, and then EXPLODE up by forcefully pushing your hands off the ground. If you push hard enough, you should launch yourself up in the air. Boom. See here: Most people can’t start off doing regular plyometric push-ups. A great variation is to do them on your knees. You can even elevate your hands if necessary to make the exercise a level easier.

 

The Divebomber Push-up

A fun push-up name for an incredibly challenging push-up variation. If you’re working your way up to handstand push-ups (see the next variation!), this is a great place to start. Be warned: these are brutally difficult :)

Get yourself into a downward dog (shameless Nerd Fitness Yoga plug here!), and then move your head towards your hands. The rest of your body should follow. As you finish descending, push up through to a cobra yoga pose.  You’ll REALLY feel these in your shoulders and triceps, as your head moves towards your hands.

To complete the rep, reverse the process back to the start.

As you develop strength here in your shoulders and triceps (which are emphasized more than your chest in this movement), you’ll get closer and closer to being able to pull off the mother of all push-ups: the handstand push up.

The Handstand Push-up

Oof. That’s the sound of me falling on my head as I tried to learn how to do a proper handstand push over the past few years! Here on Nerd Fitness we’ve already written an extensive article on how to do a handstand, and we’ve covered push-ups, so we might as well combine the two, right? Before you work on handstand push-ups, you can start by working your way up by doing Pike Push-Ups, which turns a push-up into a pretty difficult shoulder and tricep exercise! Once you’ve mastered that movement, you can work your way up to the handstand push-up.

Kick up against a wall, and without flailing your elbows way out to the side (which can wreak havoc on your shoulders and elbow joints), slowly lower yourself down until your head touches the ground softly. Then raise yourself back up.

If this is too challenging for you, consider just working on the negative portion: lowering yourself as slowly as possible, and then kicking back up into another handstand and repeat the process.

The Nerd Fitness push-up Challenge

stormtrooper pushups

The most important part of using bodyweight exercises for strength training: consistently and progressively increasing the difficulty.

Not only that, but on days when you are training your upper body (or any day when you are doing a full bodyweight routine, mixing in push-ups at the end of a workout is a a challenging way to close things out.

Remember – we all have to start somewhere, but we have to start. Doing a crappy push-up is better than doing no push-up.

So I challenge you:

Complete 30 push-ups TODAY.

I don’t care which variation you do. I don’t care if you do one every 30 minutes for the next 15 hours, or if you do all 30 at once.

But I want you to do 30 push-ups today.

And then leave a comment letting us know which type you did and how it went.

We’ll select one person at random to give away a free membership to the Nerd Fitness Academy, where most of the videos in today’s article came from. The Academy has workout plans, diet advice, and a leveling system where you earn experience points when you complete quests.

So, drop and give me 30!

-Steve

photo source: themofojt: Stormtrooper Pushups

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How to Survive Sitting All Day http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/07/13/how-to-survive-sitting-all-day/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/07/13/how-to-survive-sitting-all-day/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 15:00:52 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=26630 Although it’s “just a desk job,” working in an office can wreak absolute havoc on our bodies.

If you’re somebody who spends all day at a desk and computer (which I’m guessing applies to a majority of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion), you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Whether it’s lower back pain, wrist pain, a really tight neck, or a lack of mobility, when we spend all day at a desk to pay the bills, our bodies often get stuck picking up the tab.

What can we do to counteract this office life we have to live?

Although I’ve done some crazy things like exercise around the world, most of my time is spent sitting at a desk for 10+ hours a day, connecting with readers, writing articles, and watching stupid cat videos on YouTube.

I feel like I’ve cracked the code for staying limber despite sitting all day, and I want to share it with my fellow desk-dwellers!

Set your workspace up to succeed

bad monitor desk

If you work a desk job, you probably spend more time at your desk than you do at anything else in your life.

And yet, that time is often spent sitting in a chair that’s too low, with a desk that’s too high, and our necks bent down looking at a screen at an angle that makes us feel like Quasimodo.

That can result in all sorts of nasty stuff, like eyestrain, shoulder pain, back pain, arm pain, wrist pain, and neck pain.

Desk jobs might not seem physically taxing, but they can certainly cause us some physical problems. If you’re going to level up your office life, it’s time to do a desk audit.

So let’s start with setting your desk chair at the proper height so you can type without scrunching your shoulders up. I swear, 90% of desk/chair combos, in offices or in coffee shops have this ratio wrong.

You want to sit in a chair at a height where you can sit with your shoulders relaxed and pulled back, you’re sitting up tall, and your forearms are parallel to the ground or or lower, meaning you don’t need to reach up to your keyboard, nor shrug your shoulders.

I can tell when I work at a desk that’s the wrong height, and you probably can too: my shoulders shrug up, I get tense, and my neck bothers me for the next few days.

So, set your desk at the right height for you!

1. PICK A GREAT CHAIR:

You probably spend more than a third of your existence at a desk chair, so do what you can to make sure you’re setting in a chair that is not destroying your spine!

Last year, in an effort to fix my back issues, I bought a great desk chair (the Herman Miller chair). Honestly, it’s been fantastic, and my back feels great sitting in it for extended periods of time. But, I know it’s incredibly pricey.

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a great chair (unless you can afford it) – you simply need a chair that has an adjustable height so you can set it so your feet are comfortably on the floor, a solid cushion to sit on, and good lower back support.

If your company supplied you with a crappy office chair, ask for the money to buy a good one (“it’ll improve my productivity!”), and head to an office supply store and try out a bunch of chairs. If they won’t pay for it, consider making the upgrade yourself.

A quick search on Amazon revealed this chair that has the best reviews ever – not bad for $150!

2. SET YOUR MONITOR AND DESKTOP PROPERLY:

If you work with a laptop, you are spending most of your day hunched over a tiny keyboard and trackpad.

Even if you work with a desktop computer, it’s certainly possible the monitor is not high enough for you to be able to not have to tilt your head down to look at it.

You want the height of your monitor to be such that you can look straight ahead and not have to adjust your neck angle to view the screen.

After spending a few years hunched over a laptop, I fixed my posture by adjusting where my eyes have to look by drastically raising the height of my monitors. Just raising my viewing angle was enough to get me to stop slouching, I no longer shrug my shoulders for hours, and my spine/back/shoulders/neck no longer hate me!

You don’t need anything fancy. I even just added some books to get the right height:

Desktop Set up

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to change your setup, and I’ve found that the inexpensive solutions above were well worth the money invested. Feel free to prop your monitor up with whatever you have around.

For laptop users, a separate keyboard and mouse can alleviate a lot of the “cramped” feelings and prevent you from ending up hunched over a laptop.

IF YOU WANT TO REALLY NERD OUT: check out this cool site from Ergotron (note: not a member of the Autobots). Simply put in your height and it can help you determine the height of your chair, keyboard, and monitor.

DeskSetUp

 

Now, if you have Quad Desk, or a Dwight Schrute exercise ball, you will probably have a different set of problems on your hands.

This should get you started with setting your desk up to win. But what about the rest of the day when you’re not sitting?

Staying limber in the office

cat stretch

Along with having a properly constructed office or cubicle, there are a few other things you can do to combat officitis:

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING – don’t stay in the same position for hours upon hours! Studies suggest the best plan for prolonged spinal health is to consistently alter your work environment – move around, stand when possible, sit…just don’t sit in the same position for 8 straight hours!

Set a timer every twenty minutes, and get up and do something! Take a lap around the office, do some shoulder rolls, neck rolls, or twists. I use a program called “focus booster” that pings me every 20 minutes to get up and do something (take a lap around NF HQ – my apartment – or do a quick stretch).

If you have your own office, or you work in a cubicle and don’t mind getting some funny looks, feel free to try some of the following:

The Couch Stretch: because I’m on my ass all day, my hip flexors tend to get tight. So I make sure to do a two minute-couch stretch every single day to help open up my hips:

The Thoracic Bridge Stretch (Hat tip to my buddy James Clear for finding this):

Consider dropping down into a basic body weight Grok Squat:

Own your office space

workspace desk

To answer your final question: you do not NEED a standing desk, even though the internet has a LOT to say about sitting all day.

I often stand when doing basic tasks like checking email or chatting with Team NF, but I really struggle with writing creatively while standing, so I’m almost ALWAYS seated for article writing.

If you ARE interested in a standing desk, we’ve actually already written a whole article about it on Nerd Fitness a few years back, but most of the ergonomic advice from the regular chair carries over.

We are all products of our environment, and by making small subtle changes to our batcaves we can set ourselves up to win.

I’d love to hear from you –

How have you combatted the evil forces of officitis?

How have you altered your working space to set yourself up to be healthy?

-Steve

NF_Logo_Large PS: Speaking of mobility, we just announced Nerd Fitness Yoga coming out later this month! Sign up for updates to get some cool bonuses and be the first to learn more about it!

PPS: How I made it this far without an Office Space reference is mind-boggling. even quoted that movie in my graduation speech. So, here you go: down with TPS reports!

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