The Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! Guide to Becoming Quasi-Famous and Inspiring Others

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Please tell me you’ve played Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! for the NES.

If you have, then you’ll understand when I say that it’s one of the games that defined my childhood. I can’t count the dozens and dozens of hours I spent working my way through the different circuits, beating the crap out of Glass Joe, trying to dodge Bald Bull’s charge, and watching in awe as Iron Mike Tyson knocked me out with a single punch. Sure it’s a fun game, easy to play and almost impossible to master, but there’s one reason above all others that this game really resonated with me:

It’s a damn good underdog story.

Little Mac, the main character in Punch-Out!!, is five foot nothin’, a hundred and nothin’, and has hardly a speck of athletic ability (to loosely quote Rudy, another great underdog story). Sure he’s not the biggest guy, definitely not the most talented, and he trains by running the streets of NYC in a pink jumpsuit (come on!). However, whatever Little Mac lacks in ability and talent, he sure makes up for with intelligence, determination, and heart:

  • Intelligence to defeat more talented fighters by outsmarting them.
  • Determination to get get up after being knocked down.
  • Heart to truly believe he could go from a nobody to heavyweight champion of the world with enough hard work.

There’s just something awesome about a simple dude from humble beginnings who goes onto accomplish greatness, especially a guy that most of us nerds can relate to. Yup, I feel so strongly about this that I ended the previous sentence with a preposition.  That’s how I roll. But enough about grammar; let’s move onto the real reason I wrote today’s article:

I want you to be the next great underdog success story.

I want you to be the next big thing, because I truly believe you can turn your life around and inspire others.  This country’s weight problem continues to go in the wrong direction, so it’s up to us to reverse the mojo one person at a time. Whether you become a inspiration for just your circle of friends, your coworkers, or for hundreds of thousands of people, if your story can motivate just one person to make a change and get healthy then you’re a hero in my book.

Here is your step-by-step guide to becoming the next Little Mac:

  1. Decide that you want to make a change. This is incredibly important – if your head isn’t in it for the right reason, you won’t succeed. Find something that will inspire you to make a change – your kids, your family, your girlfriend or boyfriend, whatever. Find the motivation you need, every single day, to level up your life.
  2. Set specific, obtainable goals. Now that your your mind is made up, it’s time for you to start setting goals for your journey. “I want to lose weight” isn’t going to cut it. “I want to lose 50 pounds by June” is a specific goal that you can get behind.  Once you’ve set your goals, you can tailor your diet and workout towards reaching them. If you have a goal to lose a certain amount of weight by a certain amount of time, break that down into months/weeks so you know if you’re on track or if you need to make adjustments.
  3. Weigh in and take a picture. You might hate the way you look and hate being in front of a camera, but still take a picture of yourself.  You don’t have to show it to anybody or put it up on a website or anything like that. Hell, you don’t even have to look at it. Just hold onto it. Secondly, weigh yourself, first thing in the morning, and make a note of what time and what day of the week you do it.
  4. Tell somebody you’re making a change. Some people (like Tyler at and Steve at have made websites to track their diets, workouts, and weigh-ins to keep themselves accountable. If you’re interested in starting a website, you can launch a free blog over at to get the ball rolling (buy an official domain name if you’re serious about going global with your story).  If you DON’T want to start a website, feel free to tell family, friends, or co-workers that you’re getting in shape and that you would love their support. These are the people who will keep you accountable and keep you motivated.
  5. Keep your stats on a consistent basis. Because you live with yourself every single day (you lucky dog), you probably don’t realize any changs when you start to look different (if you’re losing weight and exercising), so comparing before and after pictures on a monthly/weekly basis will really help you see how far you’ve come.  Secondly, when dealing with the anonymity of the internet, these pictures do wonders for your credibility.
  6. Ask for help when you need it. If you have a blog, write about your struggles. If you have friends, tell them what’s working and what’s not. If you’re keeping this all to yourself, tell me and I’ll do what I can.
  7. Inspire Others – As you start to get in shape, might start to receive emails and comments from friends (or strangers if online) offering support or asking questions.  Go out of your way to respond to every single one of them: these are the people who you could inspire down the road.

They say people who are most successful in life are often those who are too busy to be looking for it. I doubt when Tyler set out to lose 150 pounds he thought his life would change the way it did.  Initially, he just wanted to lose weight and take care of his family.  Look at him now: sponsorships, TV and radio appearances, and thousands of lives impacted.  It’s an awesome story, and one from which you can learn.  I firmly believe this next statement.

Why Not You?

Sounds simple enough, right? 

Why not lose some weight and inspire others to do the same!  I bet you have some reservations about telling your story and putting yourself out there.  I understand that the internet is a scary place and you might not be ready to step into the spotlight.  That’s fine!  You don’t have to plan to end up on television selling products on infomercials or anything like that.  As I’ve said previously, if you manage to only to motivate just one other person, you’re already If you’re going to lose weight, I think you should document your success and failures in case you DO have a dramatic transformation.

In case you’re not aware, there are hundreds of thousands of people in your exact same situation, struggling with the same things you’re struggling with, looking for motivation to succeed.  I want you to be that person – lead by example and those around you might just do the same.  Positive peer pressure and momentum are two very powerful influences in healthy living.

Share Your Story, Help Others Do the Same

This is what I need you to do.  If you have a blog, please let the community know what it is so they can follow your progress. If you don’t have a blog, simply leave a comment about your successes, failures, and goals for the future.

I want to make an impact on as many lives as possible by helping Nerd Fitness become something bigger than just a blog post twice a week.  I want to help facilitate a kick-ass community of awesome people improving their lives, helping one another, and inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.

Please tell me your story, I can’t wait to hear about it.

So who wants to play some Punch-Out!!?



Reader Spotlight: From World of Warcraft to the World of Wildland Firefighting

While you’re reading this, I’m getting ready to go on another cruise for my job with Sixthman. This week, it’s Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Simple Man Cruise, a cruise loaded with southern rock legends and upcoming bands.

While I’m out cruising through the Caribbean, I figured today would be a good time to introduce you to Alexander, a 25 year old Wildland Firefighter from Salt Lake City, Utah. Essentially, Alexander went from being an online hero in World of Warcraft to a real life hero in the world of wildland firefighting. This is quite the lengthy read but pretty freaking cool, so set aside 15 minutes when you get a chance to read through it all.

Alexander’s Story

Hi, I’m Alexander.

Like many people my age, I was raised on video games. Instead of team sports and learning to hunt, I was finding raiding parties and calculating drop rates. There is nothing wrong with the wide world of virtual sports. However, I feel there is a side of man that is lost when he delves too deep into the virtual world. You can see it in the fitness and health levels of our peers. Obesity is rampant. Real world communication skills are being left by the wayside. Our connection to our bodies and nature is deteriorating with every new app that is developed. I found Nerd Fitness and realized I had found a group of kindred sprits: people who wanted to make that connection with their bodies again, but retain the wonderful world of geek.

Settling for “Meh.”

My typical days used to go like this: Get up, speedily take a shower, eat some captain crunch, and rush downstairs to cram a little gaming in before I had to go off to my retail job. I was a paint salesman at a local paint store. Not terribly exciting or lucrative, but I could fund my geeky endeavors well enough.

While at work, I would usually “nourish” myself with a run to Carl’s Jr. or Del Taco. As soon as I returned home, I would glue myself right to that computer or console until it was unreasonably late and do the whole process again the next day. Dinner usually consisted of whatever my mom was making that evening. Everything seemed great. Living in my parents basement, playing lots of video games with my friends. I had a girlfriend who tolerated my geeky obsessions. I felt content.

However, as I started into my 23rd level (year) on this planet, I began to feel a growing emptiness. I couldn’t put my finger on it. After all, I had the life! What did I possibly have to be empty about? I noticed my family was beginning to irritate me more often. My normal activities didn’t seem to fulfill me any longer. I felt antsy and nervous playing video games, as if I were doing something wrong. 14 to 16 hours of World of Warcraft didn’t feel acceptable anymore. I was skinny. I didn’t feel healthy. I didn’t feel alive. The answer to every question in my life was “Meh.” As Khalil Gibran so eloquently put it, “Desire is half of life. Indifference is half of death.”

Something had to be done.

I began searching. I wanted to fill this emptiness. I searched the internet and only found people selling magic cure all pills or juvenile advice from Ask Yahoo. I tried different hobbies. Piano. Started running more often. Ran 3 marathons. Nothing seemed to help.

I thought to myself, “Maybe I need a fulfilling career. People always say a fulfilling career is important.” I had obtained my Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) license a few years back in search of some excitement. While I found some of EMT life exciting, a lot of it is cleaning up vomit and arguing with hobos. But I digress.

The Wildland Quest

Screen shot 2010-01-20 at 3.35.21 PMWhile working on the ambulance, I had heard mention of something called, “Wildland.” Just the word sounded intriguing. So I investigated further. From what I could tell, these “Wildland Firefighters” climbed up and down burning mountain sides with chainsaws slung over their shoulders, cutting down trees and ordering around aircraft. That sounded like it could fill some emptiness!

I found a local fire department who had a Wildland division. I was informed that in order to be considered for an interview, I had to pass a physical test. 1.5 miles ran in under 11:30.

“No problem!” I thought to myself. “I’m a runner for Crom’s sake!” Sure enough, the trials rolled around, and I passed them with flying colors. Then it was onto the interview. I traveled to the fire department and had my panel interview. I’d been through plenty of interviews. This will be no problem right?


I did not wear a tie, I was red and flushed, and I stumbled over all of my words. I gave cliché’ answers to their questions and did not let my personality show through. I was not hired. I was devastated.

This was the turning point.

I will say it again: failure was my turning point. It is an important lesson to learn in life. You will benefit and develop far more from your failures than from any of your successes. I had finally begun to understand it. The metamorphosis had begun. I had found what I needed to fill that void in my life. A quest! A quest to become like the heroes I had always pretended to be, but in real life. “Meh” was no longer an acceptable answer to any question, and I knew it.

Hero Class: Wildland Firefighter

Up until this point, fitness had been a secondary aspect of my life. Despite having two Ironman / sponsored bike racers for uncles, my passion for fitness did not extend much further than running.

I never enjoyed weight lifting, no matter how many times I tried it. Despite my desire to have a muscular body, I never had the true fire to follow through.

My defeat became my fire. I was now determined to succeed at obtaining a spot on the 2009 season, Unified Fire Authority, Wildland Fire Crew. I set specific goals for myself. I began lifting weight and running daily. I didn’t change my diet very much, for at the time I didn’t understand how vital it was to fitness. I trained hard, I didn’t want any reason to exist to not be hired. I started forming relationships with local firefighters and learning more about the job.

Spring of 2009 rolled around, and it was time for attempt #2. When I arrived, I was informed that the cut off time had been lowered this year to 10:30. This was due to the high volume of applications they had received to be a firefighter. Over 200 applications had been received to fill 12 spots. I knew I had to give it my all, so I pushed through all 5 and 1/2 laps in 09:30 minutes and lapped two people. On to the interview.

This time I wasn’t taking any chances. I had any of my firefighter friends call the station and make a recommendation on my behalf. I had practiced my answers to the interview questions. I wore a tie. I remained calm. The interview went well. I was hired.

Now the real work began.

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Fireline Fitness: FINISH HIM!

Now that I’ve bored you with my life story, lets get down to the meat and potatoes of the matter. Wildland Firefighter Fitness. I thought I was in shape for this job. Then I worked out with the guys. Here’s what we did and what happened. First of all, we have a certified Crossfit trainer on our crew, which meant many of our workouts consisted of Crossfit circuit training.

Here’s one of the workouts that we do on occasion: Draw from a deck of cards,
Where the value of the card equals the reps of the exercise and the suit of the card equals the exercise.

• Hearts = Sprint a given distance
• Clubs = Pushups
• Spades = Leg Lifts
• Diamonds = Pullups
• Joker = 15 burpees

Brutal. Not only do we do lots of these bodyweight exercises, but we also do tons of sprints, weight lifting, and hiking through the woods with 50-80 pounds of equipment (Helmets, tools, water filled, gas cans, chain saws, and packs). A lot of us even play team sports together like Rugby, Ultimate Frisbee, and Softball.

I finally Change My Diet

trainingOn an average day on the fireline, a Wildland Firefighter is likely to burn anywhere from 4000-6500 calories a day. This means the food he must consume must be of high nutritional value, for every bit of it is going to be used up. During my first season, I did not change my diet much- I simply just ate a lot more of the stuff I was used to eating.

However, once the season ended, I inquired to the CrossFit trainer as to what I should eat in the offseason, and he recommended I switch to either the Zone Diet or a Paleo Diet – no bread, very little sugars, some fruit, unlimited vegetables, lots of meat, lots of seeds and nuts, and tons of water, coffee and tea. As a result, my body fat percentage has decreased greatly with a good deal of muscle definition developing. Once I began to understand how the body broke down nutrients, I really started to see results.


Due to my recent plunge into wildland firefighting I have found a new fire for life. My previously developing gut has been stopped and reversed. I gained a healthy 15 pounds of muscle.

I have more energy than I ever. I spend more time focusing on training and fitness and less on video games. I feel fulfilled and have set up a system for a achieving goals. Its basically a quest system, but for life. I write my quest on a white board, and the things I have to do to complete that quest. I achieve it. Erase it and replace it with the next one.

I look at myself like a character sheet. I have a level, a class, stats (STR DEX CON etc.) that I always want to improve. I have a skill section that I want to add too. I use movie characters for inspiration.

I have come to the realization that Nerdiness does not need to be left by the wayside in order to become a healthier and more whole person. It simply need to be channeled and used as a tool and means to an end, as a opposed to an end in itself! We are intelligent people. Intelligence can be harnessed into braun!

A Few More Questions

Steve asked me some interview questions I thought I’d include at the end here.

Q: Favorite videogame of all time?
A: Starcraft. People are still playing this game in tournaments. Its replayablity is unmatched. Its just an all around great game and a classic that is has been fine tuned over 10 years.

Q: Are you playing any game right now?
A: Borderlands! Roleplaying + Guns = Awesome. Simple concept executed very well. Lots of fun builds to make. Great co-op action.

Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be, and why?
A: Tied between invulnerability and the ability to fly. Both would enable me to do all sorts of heroic things. That is what I would do with a superpower, just go around and find people to help.

Q: What’s your movie to live by?
A: 300, hands down. Love your woman. Love your children. Fight with and for your brothers in battle. Have convictions. Be rugged. Don’t complain. Face and revel the challenges of life!

Q: If you had to give one piece of advice to a complete stranger, what would it be?
A: Always remember, the past no longer exists. The future is not certain to come. You could die at any moment, for any reason. Treat every moment as if it were your last. Are you living up to your potential? Are you grateful for every moment? Are you living the way you want to be remembered?

Thanks Alexander! Readers, if you’re interested in hearing more about his story, you can shoot him an email at [email protected].

Alright guys, I’ll be out at sea until Monday afternoon, so I apologize that I’m so backed up on email responses to you all. I promise I haven’t forgotten about you. If all goes according to plan, I’ll have a new article on Monday, and things will be back to normal on Tuesday.



If you haven’t already done so, download my free E-Book, “A Newbie’s Guide to Fitness” and please sign up for the RSS Feed of Nerd Fitness or get NF posts daily via email.

The Definitive Guide to Hacking Into the Matrix – Are You the One?

I know why you’re here.

I know what you’ve been doing – why you hardly sleep, why you live alone, and why night after night, you sit by your computer. You’re looking for him. I know because I was once looking for the same thing. And when he found me, he told me I wasn’t really looking for him. I was looking for an answer. It’s the question that drives us.

It’s the question that brought you here.

“What is the Matrix?”

If you didn’t pick up on it, that intro was lifted straight out of The Matrix, one of my favorite movies of all time and one that certainly belongs in every nerd’s collection.  This movie and its themes are very similar to a lot of my personal views on fitness and life, so today’s post was an inevitability.  I want to start by address the world in which we live:

The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the wool that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth…You are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch.  A prison for your mind.


From here on out, I’ll be Morpheus and you be Neo.  K?  Good.  I am going to help break your mind out of the “jail” it’s currently occupying.  “But I’m not in a jail!” you say.  Are you sure?  Tell me if this routine sounds familiar:

  • Wake up tired.
  • Skip breakfast and drive to work, maybe stopping for a large coffee at Dunkin Donuts.
  • Eat a bagel or donut that one of your co-workers brought in.
  • Sluggishly work your way through a full day of desk work.
  • Pick up your lunch at a drive-through window.
  • Eat whatever is put in front of you for dinner.
  • Watch a few hours of television.
  • Drink a few beers, eat some ice cream.
  • Go to bed.

This routine is your jail, and it is holding you captive. Don’t feel too bad, there are hundreds of millions of people trapped in there with you.  I’m here to tell you that there is more to life than this. I know there is great potential within you – we won’t know how great until you take the Red Pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.  It’s time to break out.

I’m trying to free your mind

Remember when Neo woke up in the real world and asked Morpheus why his eyes hurt?  I will never forget Morpheus’s response:

“Because you’ve never used them before.”

Today is your first day seeing the world for what it really is – You are in the Matrix, and everybody around you is completely unaware.  Ignorance and apathy have slowly but steadily turned our country into a bunch of overweight zombies just drifting through life, waiting to become batteries.  They don’t really live life – they just exist.

You are not like everybody else – you are an anomaly.  Once you recognize the fact that you are different, you need to use this to your advantage: let’s start by cutting through all the bull**** that is keeping you locked up.

It is the wool that has been pulled over your eyes

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You are not a battery.

Don’t let the ads you see on TV and the Internet keep you caged.  These ads, programs, and products are created by Agents who are afraid you’ll discover how to beat the system.  Want to defeat them?  Let them know they no longer have any influence over you:

  • You don’t need supplements. Weight loss supplements, weight gain supplements, hyrdoxycut, cortislim, etc. – Don’t mess with them.  A healthy diet and exercise is the only safe way to lose weight.
  • 4 weeks is not enough time to “ripped.” It is going to take months of hard work and dedication to get incredible results.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s an overnight process.  Don’t spend money on products that make these promises.
  • Low fat does not mean healthy.  Most low-fat products are loaded with processed sugar and high fructose corn syrup.  Read the ingredients, and be smart about what you’re eating.  Common sense goes a long way.
  • No amount of exercise can fix a bad diet. Your diet is 80% of your success or failure – eating better will make your life better.  Vegetables, lean meats, fruits, and nuts.  Stay away from sugar.  Don’t buy from a vending machine or a drive-through window.  The more REAL food you can eat the better off you’ll be.
  • You don’t need to spend two hours a day in the gym.  If you’re eating healthy, 30-45 minutes in the gym doing compound movements with free weights (pull ups, dead lifts, overhead presses, squats, push ups) is enough for you to build muscle.  Don’t believe what you read in muscle-building magazines.

Everybody is looking for a cheap and easy solution to wellness, and money-hungry Agents are eager to keep status-quo by developing the next great weight loss system, product, or health food that over-promise and under-deliver.  Buy into the hype for any of the things listed above and the Agents win.  I hate Agents; please don’t help them.

Now this is where the fun starts.  Let’s find out what you can accomplish by hacking your existence in a system that can’t hold you.

What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?

Not gonna lie, you probably won’t be able to dodge bullets any time soon.  However, I guarantee there are things you are capable of doing that you didn’t think were possible.  Want an example?  Take three and a half minutes to watch Damien Walters doing some of the most amazing stuff I’ve ever seen:

The Most Amazing Video I Have Ever Seen

If you are willing to work hard, there are very few things in life that are impossible.  I don’t care who you are or what kind of shape you are in right now.  If you make a change and dedicate part of your life to a new activity today, within a few years (or sooner) you will be an expert.  People do it all the time, so why not you?

I know Kung Fu

Be honest: when Neo downloaded hundreds and hundreds of skills into his brain within seconds you thought to yourself, “how cool would it be if that was actually possible!”  I’m here to tell you that it IS possible – it’s just going to take a lot longer.

As you saw in the video above, Damien found something that he loved to do (run and jump and flip), and dedicated himself to becoming really really ridiculously good at it.  He picked a skill, “downloaded” the information required to start learning it, and then practiced it over and over until he was an expert.

If you want to be a great great barefoot runner, you can read a book on barefoot running, watch some YouTube videos on how to run barefoot, find a barefoot running club, and then go run a marathon barefoot in a few months.  If you want to be a black belt in Brazilian Ju-Jitsiu, go sign up for a beginner class at your gym and work your way up the rankings.  Maybe you want to be an accomplished power lifter – pick up a copy of Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength and then get start lifting heavy things!  Whatever it is that makes you excited, give it a shot.

Neo was excited to learn Kung Fu. These are the skills I am excited to learn at some point:

  • Capoeira. Brazilian break-dance fighting.  Awesome.
  • Parkour. Why not?
  • Breakdancing. This would probably go hand and hand with Capoeria.  I’m currently a “not-terrible” breakdancer, but I’d like to be a lot better

I look at people who are experts in these skills as life-hackers – they have figured out how to hack into the Matrix and get what they want out of life.  For each skill, I plan on finding my own Morpheus (or group of Morpheuses…Morpheui?)  and learning from them.  Sure learning to dance like these guys might seem like a complete pipe dream now, but even they had to start somewhere, right?  Why not me?

Why not you?

Why not now?

What are you waiting for? You’re faster than this. Don’t think you are, know you are.

I don’t care if you are 400 pounds and haven’t exercised a day in your life: there is a better, upgraded version of yourself hiding inside.  Neo couldn’t beat Morpheus in a sparring match because he wasn’t confident enough in his abilities.  You might think now that you could never do what Damien did in the video above, or that you simply weigh too much and you could never have a six-pack.

I’m here to tell you that you’re a better and more capable person than you give yourself credit for – I have no doubt in my mind that this is true.  I need you to believe that with 100% conviction.  You need to know that deep inside you is a more kick-ass version of you just waiting to get out.  You need to know that you can honestly accomplish whatever you put your mind to.  Don’t think you are going to lose weight and get in shape; don’t think you’re going to change your life and free the minds of those around you.

Know you are.

I can only show you the door, you are the one who must walk through it.

Morpheus showed Neo what was possible if he was willing to work for it, but he didn’t babysit him through the whole process.  He gave Neo the tools and the resources but the left the action up to him.  He didn’t hold his hand when jumping between buildings.  He jumped, and told Neo to follow.

I hope you read this blog today and say “I want to make myself a better person.”  More importantly, I want you to read this blog and then take action towards becoming a better person.  I can’t hold your hand though.

I need you to jump.

Make a pact with your fellow hackers (read: Nerd Fitness readers) to not sleepwalk through life.  Pick a new skill you want to download and then do one thing every day that get better at that skill.  Nerd Fitness exists to show you what’s possible with your life if you’re willing to work for it.  It’s up to you to make it happen.

What skills do you want to download in 2010?  How are you going to make sure the Agents don’t win? Please share in the comments below.



Monty Python and the Holy Abs

Okay Monty Python, grab your coconuts, load up your “horse,” and get started on your quest for those rock-hard abs you’ve always wanted.

I’m going to guess for most of you, abs are the Holy Grail of physical fitness.  Ryan Reynolds had abs that were so defined on Blade 3 that one writer assumed he had ab implants.  The actors in 300 became famous not just for their biceps and pecs but more for their abs that looked painted on.  Everybody is after them, but nobody can find them!

So what’s the deal? Are people looking in the wrong place?  Or are some people just genetically blessed with abs and others aren’t?  Let’s get one thing out of the way first.

95% of all Fitness Marketers are Full of ****

Think of the last 10 infomercials you’ve seen on TV (Weezer Snuggies don’t count).  I’d guarantee 2/3rds of them are designed to “give you a flatter stomach” in just a few minutes a day, three times a week!  Let me know any of these sound familiar:

These are the ones I can remember off the top of my head.  They’re all designed to “target your upper and lower abs, work those obliques, and build a set of sexy abs you’ve always wanted!”  New ab machines pop up every other day, and unfortunately people keep buying them!  You’re like Sir Galahad, chasing the Holy Grail into a building of ridiculously attractive women: sure it might make you feel better about yourself in the short term, but it ain’t gonna get you what you really want in the long run.

So why don’t these machines work?

Muscle is Different from Fat

If you’re a female, you’ve probably said “I want to tone up” at some point in the past.  If you’re a dude, you probably want to get “ripped.”  Here’s how it works: you have your bones, then muscle on top of your bones, then on top of the muscle you have fat, and then on top of the fat you have skin.

These are completely different materials.

Your muscle doesn’t turn into fat if you stop working out, and your fat doesn’t turn into muscle if you exercise all day long.  If you just eat better, you WILL lose fat but you won’t build muscle.  If you eat like crap but lift weights like crazy, you could have a body like Ryan Reynolds trapped inside a body that looks like Jabba the Hutt.


What this Means for your Stomach

It is 100% impossible for you to spot remove fat. If you have fat on your gut, doing crunches all day long will NOT get rid of the fat.  Depending on your genetic makeup, your body stores fat in various amounts in certain locations.  For chicks, it’s usually thighs and butt.  For dudes, it’s usually the gut.  You have absolutely NO control where the fat gets stored, and you have no control where the fat comes OFF your body once you start eating right and exercising.

You know what that means? 10,000 crunches a day will do almost nothing to reduce your beer gut (other than help with the calories you’ve burned doing the exercises).  The crunches will build up the muscle under your fat, but the fat isn’t really going anywhere.  So what’s the secret?

Ehhhh, I don’t want to spill the beans…

Get on with it!  Yes, GET ON WITH IT!

Okay, I’ll tell you.  Your abs are a direct correlation of your body fat percentage!  (Boring, I know).

  • Guys, unless you have a body fat percentage below 10%, you won’t see your abs.
  • Girls, unless you have a body fat percentage below 12-14%, you won’t see your abs.

You probably have a great set of abs right now (if you do any sort of weight lifting), you just can’t find them underneath all the fat.  This means that if you’re interested in “toning up” or “getting ripped” it is 95% DIET.  If you’re serious about developing a good looking stomach, it all comes down to what you eat.  Because you need to get to a really low body fat percentage, you need to be extremely dedicated with each meal.  It’s boring, it’s a lot of work, and it’s really difficult.  This is why most people don’t have abs.

Here’s my advice for all of those ab machines: don’t spend a single dime on an ab machine EVER. It is a complete waste of time.  Planks, side planks, and crunches on a stability ball are more than enough to work your abs.  Exercises like squats and deadlifts work your abs and core like CRAZY.  These are the only two exercises I do to work on my abs.

Enough about exercises though, let’s talk about what you’re eating.

Here’s How to Fix Your Diet

Analyze everything you eat, and find out where you can cut calories. (Remember 500 less calories a day = 1 lb of body fat loss per week). You can’t target specific areas of fat on your body; as you exercise more and eat healthier you’ll lose body fat all over.  It’ll probably come off your stomach last, so be patient and stick with it.  Once your body fat percentage drops into the single digits, you’ll start to see those abs you’ve quested after for years.

Okay so lets review what you need to do if you want a good lookin’ stomach:

  1. Eat less. Seriously. As they say “abs aren’t made in the gym, they’re made in the kitchen.”  Which is a really dumb phrase, but 100% true.  If you want to see them, you need to drop your body fat below 10%, so start by eating less!  This is 90% of the battle.  More important than eating less…is eating healthier.  You can do so by:
  2. Cut the crap out of your diet. No processed foods, no liquid calories, lots of veggies and lean meats.  Fruits and nuts are good too.  Follow a Paleo Diet to drop your body fat percentage the quickest.  I cut my BF% almost in half in three months, from 11% down to 6% following this type of diet.
  3. Sweat more. So you want to impress chicks on the beach huh?  RUN.  Better yet, SPRINT on days you’re not lifting weights or doing a body weight workout.  Have you ever seen an Olympic sprinter not have crazy abs?  Interval training for the win!
  4. Build your core - Squats and deadlifts work your core like crazy.  If you’re not a fan of these two exercises (and you should be), do exercises like planks, side planks, stability ball crunches (not crunches on the ground), and jumping knee tucks.  Notice there isn’t a single mention of a normal sit up or crunch.  Your abs are muscles too, so don’t work them two days in a row, they need to recover.  Honestly though, these exercises are such an afterthought compared to your diet when it comes to your abs.

How can you tell when you’ve got abs? The easiest most accurate way to determine if you have abs is this: look in the mirror.  Do you see abs? You have a body fat percentage below 10%.  Don’t see abs?  You DON’T have a low enough body fat percentage yet.  It’s science.

Now, if you’re looking for a more accurate measurement of your body fat percentage, I recommend picking up an Accumeasure Body Fat caliper.  It’s super cheap, and it works just as well as any of the other way more expensive methods.

Good luck in your quest, brave knight.



photo: JoeBone

New post coming soon

Hey guys,

So I know Monday is usually the day I post a new article, but I’ve been on a boat for the past four days and due to some freak weather issues, I didn’t have any free time to finish up the post I was working on.

If you’re curious about how The Rock Boat went, check out the lastest posts on Sixthman’s Blog.  I thought about rushing to finish an article, but I figured it was better to wait and post something actually worth reading and sharing.

I want to thank you all for the comments and emails about the message board.  I have another cruise coming up in a few weeks and I have some paper work to fill out about getting my LLC set up, but I’ll be reaching out to most of you as soon as possible when I get one set up.

Thanks for your patience guys!


Would You Join A Nerd Fitness Message Board?

Hello from the Port of Tampa!

Later on today, I’ll be headed out to sea on The Rock Boat X.  For those of you who aren’t aware, I work for Sixthman, a company that specializes in producing floating music festivals.  It’s one of the best jobs in the world, and I am a lucky s.o.b.  If you’re interested in following our adventures at sea, you can read about it (starting with my post Friday morning) on

While I’m out slaving away on a cruise ship in the Caribbean (w00t!), I wanted to get your opinion on something.  After seeing the great success and awesome community that has formed over on Art of Manliness, I’m considering creating a message board section of Nerd Fitness.  This will be a place where the NF Community (temporary name until we decide on a bad-ass one) to interact with each other, ask questions, post success stories, and really get to know each other.

I’ve gotten a chance to know most of you through email, but I want you all to get to know each other. I know a giant supportive community can/will make us all better people: pick us up when we’re down, encourage us when motivation is lacking, and push us all to level up our lives every day.

However, there’s an ugly side of message boards that I’m familiar with too: trolls, spam, stupid fighting over useless ****, name-calling, and sometimes an unwelcome vibe towards newbies and outsiders from the long-timers.  These are the things that make me scared to start a message board.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this. I also want to know if this is something you’d actually consider joining.  If you’re reading this, and you have some opinions on message boards, please leave a comment below.  What I want to know:

  • If you’re interested in joining a message board
  • If you have suggestions on how to keep the community tight but inviting
  • Suggestions on how to keep out the trolls
  • If you’d be interested in beta-testing the boards
  • Your experiences with message boards in general.

I’ll take the number of comments I get as a rough estimate of people who’d want to help get this community started, so please just leave a quick comment if you have any interest.  I think a few dozen passionate posters is more than enough to get things off the ground, so I’m interested to hear what you have to say.

Peace out, it’s Rock Boat time!



If you haven’t already done so, download my free E-Book, “A Newbie’s Guide to Fitness” and please sign up for the RSS Feed of Nerd Fitness or get NF posts daily via email.

photo: source

Become A Jedi: How the Force Can Help You Get in Shape

Want to learn the ways of the Force?

Good, you’re in the right spot.  Here is your step-by-step guide to using to becoming a fitness Jedi master.  Yes I realize this might sound a bit ridiculous, but hear me out.  Instead of light sabers and billowy robes, I’ll be discussing how to get you in the best shape of your life…and into pants that fit.

You must unlearn what you have learned

Unfortunately, there is a lot of crap information out there when it comes to losing in weight and getting in shape.  If your idea of a balanced breakfast is a bagel and a glass of orange juice, we have a lot of work to do.  What about exercise?  Let me know if this sounds familiar:

  • Spend 30-45 minutes on a treadmill or elliptical
  • Wander over to a few machines, crank out a few reps on various exercises
  • Go do some crunches on a mat
  • Drive home, drink a Gatorade, and feel good about yourself

Your heart is in the right place, but it is misguided.  You might think lifting weights will make you bulky, hours of cardio is the best way to lose weight, and drinks like Gatorade and Vitamin Water are good for you.  Young padowan, you have much to learn, so let’s start by forgetting whatever you thing you know (unless you’ve been getting your info from Nerd Fitness…you can keep that info).  Luckily, there is hope for you yet.  Once you’ve cleared your mind, I’d start your re-education here:

Find your Yoda

Screen shot 2009-12-26 at 3.14.35 PM

Mentors are invaluable. Obi-Wan had Qui-Gon Jinn, Luke had Yoda, and I have Mike Rickett.  Every time Mike (a fitness guru with 20+ years of experience) comes into town, I learn more from him in an hour over dinner than I could learn in a week of reading any fitness book.  I’m glad I have Mike to teach me new exercises, new routines, and push me to be a more well-rounded and balanced individual.

You need to find your own Yoda.

If you want to run marathons, find somebody who has run multiple marathons and borrow the best parts from their routine.  If you want to be a better Ultimate Frisbee player, hop on some message boards and find the best players in your local league and how they prepare for events.  If you want to be a better weight lifter, if you want to make sure your form is good on your exercises, ask around and find a great trainer to get you started.  If you want to lose a LOT of weight, find others that have been successful in doing so.

I understand a lot of you guys probably work out in your house and don’t have others to look up to.  If this is the case, shoot me an email at [email protected] and I’ll gladly do what I can for ya.  If you need motivation, have questions, or whatever, please don’t hesitate to ask.  My emails are starting to pile up these days, so it might take me up to a week to get back to you, but I WILL get back to you.

Learn the ways of the Force

The Force is responsible for everything that a Jedi does and how he acts; it’s the life force that binds everything together.  When getting in shape, you need to learn the ways of the Force and understand how everything in your life is interconnected:

  • Your bad diet can and will affect your performance in the gym.
  • Your poor sleeping habits can and will affect your weight loss.
  • Your daily exercising can and have a positive influence on how you eat.

The Force affects everything around you. Exercising every day but eating and sleeping poorly will NOT give you the results you want (“these aren’t the results you’re looking for”).  You need to find a good balance in your diet and exercise, focusing on actionable goals and results.  Once you learn that everything is connected, and that everything you do affects everything else, you are one step closer to becoming who you want to be.

This journey will change your life.  As you start to change your diet and begin exercising regularly, you will start to sleep better and feel better.  You’ll have a new found sense of confidence, which will allow you to exercise more in public and eat better in public.  Every action you take will either lead you closer to the dark side (boo) or the light side (yay).

Once you are armed with this information, the choice is yours.

This is some rescue. You came in here and you didn’t have a plan for getting out?

“I’m Luke Skywalker.  I’m here to rescue you.”  Remember that great scene?  As it turns out (and Princess Leia so readily noted), Luke only KIND OF had a rescue plan; luckily R2D2 bailed everybody out of the compactor.  If you don’t have a walking trashcan to help keep you in line, you’re going to need a good plan if you want to succeed.  Most importantly, you need to be like a Jedi – direct and specific.

  • “I want to get in shape” is half-assed. “I want to lose 20 pounds by June 2nd” is a plan.
  • “I’m going to work out today” is half-assed. “I am going to do 4 sets of squats, 5 sets of bench presses, 3 sets of pull ups, and then do 3 sets of planks” is a plan.
  • “I’m want to eat better” is half-assed. “I am going to cut all of the processed carbs out of my diet and give up soda” is plan.

The more you can plan ahead, the less you’ll have to improvise along the way (and the less chance you have of ending up in a trash compactor).  If you want to be a kick-ass Jedi, you need to plan out your workouts (sets, reps, time of workout, etc.) before you walk into the gym so you know exactly what you need to accomplish to advance your training.

Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will.

Screen shot 2009-12-26 at 7.00.18 PM

The Dark Side sucks.  Okay it’s actually pretty awesome (which is why people always want to play as the Sith in any Star Wars game), but for today’s lesson we’ll assume that it’s bad.  When it comes to getting in shape, you can either choose to take the path of the Jedi (hard work, common sense, awareness, dedication, and a strong balance), or you can choose the seemingly faster, easier path of the Dark Side:

  • Diet pills
  • Useless ab machines
  • Trendy diets
  • The next “miracle weight loss cure”

These are products and plans that somebody would try to use only if they wanted to cheat the system and get results without putting in the effort.  These things are a waste of time, a waste of money, and/or extremely dangerous to your health.

You don’t need supplements, you don’t need pills, you don’t need training aids, and you don’t need to buy an expensive system that promises results in 4 weeks.  You need hard work and dedication.   The Dark Side currently runs the fitness industry and it’s only getting worse as this country gets fatter and lazier.  You need to join the good guys.

Avoid practically every advertisement you read on Google Ads, every commercial that promises results with minimal effort, and every product that sounds too good to be true.  As General Akbar would say, “It’s a TRAP!”

A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind.

If you want to be a Jedi, it takes a ****-load of training, studying, learning, and dedication.  There’s no weekend Jedi course at the local community college.  You can’t take an online light saber webinar.  These dudes are 100% dedicated to their cause, always learning and improving.

If you’re going to get in shape, it takes a ****-load of training, studying, learning, and dedication. Okay, so it’s really not as tough as becoming a Jedi, but it certainly will take dedication.  A few weeks at the gym and a special diet  for a month isn’t going to cut it.  If you’re expecting results without actually having to do anything, click the red X in the corner of this page because this is clearly not the website for you.

Being a Jedi isn’t a profession: it’s a way of life. Getting in shape is no different.

If Obi-Wan wanted to stop being a Jedi, he couldn’t exactly walk up to Yoda and say “here’s my two weeks notice.”  He is a Jedi, and that will never change.  This is the mindset you need to have when beginning your path towards fitness: it’s not a job, it’s who you are.  The choices you make and the actions you take will sculpt your future.

Choose wisely.

Do or Do Not. There is No Try

This is one of the best quotes ever, and one of the cornerstones of the Nerd Fitness philosophy. You can either lift the x-wing out of the swamp, or you can’t.  You can either lift that weight, or you can’t.  You can get in shape, or you can’t.

Every January, gyms are filled with the misguided hopes and dreams of people who try to get in shape but don’t put forth their full effort.  Sure, they try eat better for a few weeks but don’t really want to give up junk food.  They try exercising but quickly give up when it’s cold, or dark, or they’re sleepy.  Listen, if you’re not gonna go at this “in shape” thing with your full dedication, don’t bother wasting your time.  You can’t half-ass being a Jedi, you can’t half-ass being in shape.

Now, I’m not saying your only option is to start exercising for three hours a day and completely change everything you eat. Instead, you need to pick one or two things every month and then DO those one or two things without fail.  Whatever your one change is, do everything in your power to make that one change a habit, and then do everything in your power to make that habit part of who you are.  Try one of these:

  • Give up soda - these calories are absolutely detrimental to your weight loss, even if it’s diet soda.
  • Get up 30 minutes earlier and exercise in the morning. Get your exercise in before your day even starts.
  • Give up fast food during the week. Eventually, work towards giving it up completely.

May the Force be with you

You now have the tools at your disposal to change your life if you are willing to work for it.  I didn’t want to make this post too long, and I tried to stick with just references from the original trilogy, but I’m sure there were some glaring metaphors that I missed.

Any Star Wars fans out there want to chime in?


P.S. This is the last post for 2010, see you back here for a new post on January 3rd, 2010!


picture: PasuKaru76, Andres Rueda, Star Wars Blog

Nerd Fitness: A Look Back and A Look Forward

Yes, I realize every other website out there has done one of these articles in the past week, blah blah blah, shut it!

Did THOSE articles have a picture of kick-ass fireworks?  DIDN’T THINK SO!  Ahem.  Let’s start with a quick look back at how this site started, and then move onto where it’s headed in 2010:

Nerd Fitness Begins

I won’t go into too much detail about what my goals were for 2009 because I really didn’t have any.  Way back in January, I made the decision to start writing this blog simply because I wanted to bring a unique perspective to the online fitness community which was oversaturated with super-generic, give-me-your-money websites.  This was my “plan”:

  • Write every day
  • Figure out what the hell I was doing later.

I spent 9 months executing part 1 of this plan to perfection: I spent all of my free time writing and none of my time doing any marketing or relationship building because I simply didn’t know any better.  Part 2 of the plan didn’t come into play until September – Josh over at wrote an article saying he’d write a guest post for any fellow blogger that wanted one (and he ended up writing like 50 guest posts in a few months…Josh is the man).

This was the ah-ha moment I needed.

I nervously emailed Josh asking him for a guest post on Nerd Fitness and instantly received an email back saying he’d love to write one.  This was my first experience with a well-respected blogger and I realized he was a lot like me: hard-working, honest, and eager to connect/help.  A few weeks later, I wrote my first guest post ever for his site, 7 Life Lessons we Can Learn from Where the Wild Things Are, and things have snowballed since then.

The best decision I ever made for this site was changing my post-frequency from five relatively generic articles a week to two well-researched, unique articles that are actually worth reading (I hope). Now that I don’t have to focus on publishing an article every night, I can actually take some time to build relationships with NF readers (that’s you) and other writers out there.  Not surprisingly, Nerd Fitness’s growth and my own happiness have increased incredibly since I’ve made this change.

Time to Grow Up!

Now that I’ve hit my stride and started to connect with a lot more people, I want to take Nerd Fitness to the next level.  I don’t mean that in a corporate “think outside the box” kind of way (which would be super lame), but actually level up this website like an RPG.  I have a great feeling that 2010 is going to be the best year yet. This is what I expect to accomplish:

  • Create an LLC – Hopefully this isn’t a surprise to you guys, but I’d like for this website to bring in a steady income some day (gotta pay the bills, right?).  I still plan on writing two kick-ass free articles every week until forever, so don’t worry.  I feel like ads would kind of devalue the site, so plan on getting creative to bring in the dough.  One of the biggest ventures will be to…
  • Create an E-book available for purchase - Expect a more in-depth post on this in the near future complete with all the details on what will be in it.  I received such a great response from my free E-book that I fell like this is the next logical step.  Now, a big reason why I’d like to start bringing in money through the site is that I want to…
  • Completely redesign - I’m currently using a stock WordPress template, but I’m getting to the point where a custom design needs to happen – this page needs more personality!  I have a great vision in my head and it will certainly cost money to make that vision a reality.
  • Create a Nerd Fitness Army/Militia/Clan/Guild - I’d like to start keeping track of all people interested in being a part of the Nerd Fitness community, yet I have no way in getting in contact with everybody right now.  Chris has his small army, Baker has his Militia…I just need to come up with a kick ass name for the NF Community.  Suggestions are welcome!
  • Earn At Least One More Training/Fitness Certification – I am not a fitness expert.  There are far more qualified and experienced individuals out there who could give you scientific, biological explanations for exercise and diet.  I don’t have that type of background: my degree is in Economics and my day job involves the production of music cruises.  I just happen to love fitness, I have a thirst for knowledge, and I really enjoy helping people get in shape.  I do have a basic personal trainer certification, but I want more and I want to learn more.  In the meantime, I fortunately have some friends in the industry with over 20+ years of experience – they’ve been nice enough to offer their advice and answer any questions I might have when writing articles or filming videos.  Thanks guys.
  • Increase my subscriber count by at least 400% -  Why 400%?  Why not!  I think this is a goal within reach if I continue to produce inspirational/educational/comical content worth reading.  I feel like I’m doing a lot of things right and helping a lot of people turn their lives around(I hope so anyway), so I just need to find a way to get in front of a bigger audience.  To do that, I plan to..
  • Write at least 6 Guest Posts on Other Prominent Sites – I already have one guest post in the works for one of my favorite sites that I can’t WAIT to finish.  Moving forward, I plan on targeting great websites with strong active followers that have nothing to do with fitness.  I’d imagine most of you guys would never in a million years visit a generic fitness website, so I’d rather try to snag the intelligent blog readers from awesome sites that want to get in shape but are turned off by all of the crap that exists out there in the fitness industry.

Phew! I realize that sounds like a lot to accomplish in the next twelve months, but I think these are all goals within reach if I continue to bust my ass.  If you have any concerns, comments, or questions about where Nerd Fitness is headed in 2010, please email me at [email protected] and I’ll gladly talk to you about it.

When I started this website I never expected to feel so good about helping others, and I never expected to bring together such a kick-ass group of readers. I feel like I’ve really gotten to know a lot of you extremely well, and I look forward to getting to know the rest of you (email me!).  Thank you for making Nerd Fitness what it is today, and thanks for coming back.  I’m going to make all of you proud in 2010.

Everybody have a great Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Festivus), and we’ll see you on Monday!



If you haven’t already done so, download my free E-Book, “A Newbie’s Guide to Fitness” and please sign up for the RSS Feed of Nerd Fitness or get NF posts daily via email.

photo from Bob Jagendorf

How to Guarantee Victory Against the Motivation Monster

Today marks the the shortest day of the year.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you’re currently dealing with minimal daylight, decreasing temperatures, crappy weather, and probably a strong desire to channel your inner brown-bear and just hibernate until Spring.  Some of you might think this is due to stuff like “seasonal depression” or the “winter doldrums” or whatever.


It’s all the Motivation Monster’s fault.

What the hell is a motivation monster, you ask? It’s this tiny little monster that lives inside of you, surviving only on your wasted motivation.  He gets hungry early in the morning, after long days of work, definitely on weekends, and especially during the winter months.  Want to know the worst thing about him?  Feeding him only makes him stronger and hungrier.  Skip a workout here, take a few days off to stuff your face there, and suddenly that little monster is all grow’d up and hungry for more.  Next thing you know, it’s March, you’re up 30 pounds, and in even worse shape than when you started.

Yep, he sucks.

Luckily, I’m going to arm you today with so much freaking motivation and determination that you’ll be able to kick the Motivation Monster square in the crotch and keep the “level up my life” train a’rollin!  Here’s exactly how you do it:

Give Yourself Something to Look Forward to

Want to know the greatest anti-”motivation monster” movie ever?  The Shawshank Redemption, hands down.  If you’ve seen it then you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about: Andy Dufresne spent 20 years in jail before finally breaking free, moving to a beach in Mexico, fixing up an old boat, and filming Corona commercials (I imagine).  I’ll never forget what Red (Morgan Freeman) told Andy earlier in the movie:

“Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”

You see, at this point in the movie Red’s motivation monster had already got the best of him.  Luckily, by the end of the movie Red got his ass in gear, made it out of prison, and found this note from Andy before joining him down on the coast:

“Remember Red.  Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

Motivation Monsters HATE hope – it’s their kryptonite. Andy never lost hope; he had a distinct future in mind that he fully expected to live, and then spent every day working towards that future.  It was his incredibly strong willpower that allowed him to survive all the bull**** and eventually get everything he ever wanted out of life.

As Jimmy Valvano famously once said, “Don’t give up.  Don’t ever give up.”

What specifically do you have to look forward to? What do you hope will happen in your future? Do you have a vacation coming up in February?  How about a 5/10/20-year high-school reunion to go back to where you can show all of your classmates how much weight you’ve lost?

Whatever it is, paint a picture of your future and be as specific as possible.  David Turnbull wrote a great post last week on how to design your future and work towards it.  You’ll be surprised how effective this is at keeping your motivation monster at bay.  Visualize this future, and find a way to do one thing every day to get closer to it.

Form New Habits

Humans are creatures of habit.  These habits can be positive or negative, pushing you closer to the life you want or holding you further back.  It’s your job to determine which of YOUR current habits are beneficial and which ones are feeding the monster.  Once you know which ones you need to change, it’s your job to get started.

Luckily, Leo over at Zen Habits wrote a great post on 29 ways to successfully ingrain a new habitHere it is in a nutshell:

  1. Write down your plan.
  2. Identify your triggers and replacement habits.
  3. Focus on doing the replacement habits every single time the triggers happen, for about 30 days.

Although Leo’s plan will work for ANY habit (and I encourage you to use it as a guide for whatever you need), I specifically want to discuss exercise in this post – I know for a fact that once exercise becomes a regular habit for you, the rest of your life will start to fall in place as well: you’ll have more energy, you’ll have a better outlook on life, and other habits will start to change more quickly.

Keep Your New Habit Rolling

Every single day for the next month, you’re going to schedule a 30 minute block of time for exercise and NEVER MISS IT. I don’t care that Christmas and New Year’s Eve is right around the corner: use those 30 minutes to sweat out the gallons of Bud Light you drank.  Your body will thank me later.

Newton taught us that a body at rest tends to stay at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion.  If exercise is a brand new concept to you, it’s going to be a pain in the ass to get the ball rolling and keep it rolling – you’re so used to feeding the motivation monster that it won’t go quietly.  However, put in a week or two of consistent exercise, drop a few pounds, and that inertia that once kept you stopped will keep you going.  Science ftw!

A lot of people ask “when’s the best time to work out?”  And my response is always, “whenever works best for you.”  If you want a more specific and personal answer however, I would go with first thing in the morning.  At the end of the day, it seems like there are ten times the number of obstacles and distractions trying to drag you down:

  • Traffic jams
  • Staying late at work to finish a report
  • Problems with your kids’ homework
  • Wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend wants to go out to dinner to celebrate some anniversary that you probably forgot (whoops)

For these reasons, I’ve found that exercising first thing in the morning works best.  Obviously, this requires waking up at least 30 minutes earlier which probably sounds like the worst effing thing in the world to you right now.  You know what? For the first few days, yeah…it is pretty crappy.  That monster is extra hungry, your bed sheets are extra nice and warm, and forgoing sleep for sweat sounds stupid.

For all of you saying “I’m not a morning person,” when was the last time you gave it a shot? I’m not talking a day or two of “early rising” and then calling it quits either.  Give yourself a full week of waking up early before you give up.

Now, if you’re willing to give the morning thing a shot, there are a quite few tricks to getting up earlier that help a whole lot.  Medhi over at has written an incredible post on how to wake up early – I highly recommend you read the whole thing.  If I had to single out one tip that has saved my ass more times than I can count, it’s this:

Put your alarm clock ACROSS the room.

Ever since high school, my alarm clock has been as far away from my bed as possible.  I can’t reach up and hit SNOOZE so I have to physically GET UP and out of bed to go turn it off.  If you’re a snoozer and you want to start waking up earlier, this will probably change your life.

Now, let’s say you’ve managed to crawl out of bed 30 minutes early…what the heck do you do now?  Get your heart pumping: jump rope, do the Nerd Fitness beginner body weight workout, walk the dog, go for a run, etc.  Whatever it is that gets you moving, do it.

This is now your new habit, and soon enough it will become part of who you are.

Stay Inspired

Once you have something to hope for, something to look forward to, and a habit you’re going to fix, the next thing you need to do is find a way to STAY motivated.  The monster inside you never sleeps and is always hungry, so you need to constantly fill yourself up with motivational awesomeness so the well never runs dry.  I’ve found that the best way to stay motivated is to have a “go-to” library of quotes and videos for whenever the situation requires it. Here are some of the quotes and videos that keep me going:

  • “Get busy living, or get busy dying”I have this quote hanging on the wall in my bedroom.  It’s the first thing I see every morning before going to work and it’s the last thing I see at night before going to bed.  It reminds me to be thankful every day for what I have, but to constantly strive for more.  It’s this quote that keeps me writing for Nerd Fitness, and it’s this quote that helps me push myself beyond my limits.
  • Where the Hell is Matt?I watch this video on a weekly basis.  There is a whole world out there for me to see, and that working as hard as possible at Sixthman (my day job) and working as hard as possible at Nerd Fitness will eventually allow me to see these places and have stories of my own.  If you have any desire to travel and/or start a small business, I also HIGHLY recommend reading Chris Guillebeau’s blog as he is one of the best in the business at travel-hacking and inspiring people (myself included) to create legitimate small businesses.
  • 300 – If I have time, I’ll watch the movie.  If not, I’ll just watch the trailer.  These dudes are in such peak physical condition and kick so much ass that after watching, all I want to do is lift weights, train in the wilderness, and yell things like “THIS IS SPARTA” when kicking people into bottomless pits.  This movie has shown us what’s possible in terms of human physical perfection if you’re willing to work for it.  As they say, “appearance is a consequence of fitness.”
  • 40 Inspirational Speeches in 2 Minutes – If there were an Oscar for “editing awesome movies into awesome YouTube clips, Matthew Belinkie would have my vote.  This video is guaranteed to immediately inspire you while simultaneously beating down the motivational monster in you.

Remember folks: there’s more to this life than sitting behind a desk until you’re 65. Life is happening right now, not tomorrow.  Life doesn’t care that it’s cold, or dark, or rainy.  Therefore, you can’t either.

How do You Plan on Winning?

What’s your defense against the motivation monster?  What do you do to make sure you get your exercise in every day?  Care to tell me that this is the corniest thing you’ve ever read?

Whatever it is, let’s hear it.



If you haven’t already done so, download my free E-Book, “A Newbie’s Guide to Fitness,” and If you like what you see, please sign up for the RSS Feed of Nerd Fitness or get NF posts daily via email.

photo from: Jelene

Advanced Body Weight Workout – WARNING: This Will Kick Your Ass

If this little dude can get in shape without a gym, what’s your excuse?

Most gyms these days are loaded with chumps, meatheads, pushy salesmen, and people who suck at working out.  (If you DO go to a gym, make sure you DON’T suck at it).  Luckily, you can burn fat, build muscle, and get a great workout using just your body weight.  Most of you saw the Beginner Bodyweight Workout I posted last week.  If you didn’t, I’d recommend starting there before moving onto this routine, because this is uber-advanced and designed for nerds looking for a brutally difficult challenge.

Are you ready for this?

NF Advanced Body Weight Workout

Warning: this workout that will have you sweating like a pig and leave you sore all over the next day. If you’re just moving beyond the beginner body weight workout for the first time, this workout might seem ridiculously difficult.  That’s because it IS ridiculously difficult – the first time I did this routine, taught to me by fitness guru and mentor Mike Rickett, I wanted to throw up afterwards and couldn’t walk straight for two days.  You’ve been warned!

Obviously, if this routine is too tough, there are quite a few variations you can make to lessen the difficulty and then build your way up to the real deal. Remember, it’s important to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, but safely.  Don’t try to do too much or you’ll just end up hurting yourself.

NOTE: I do use a pull up bar in this routine. If you don’t have one at your home, you can head to a park and use their pull up bar, or substitute inverted body weight rows until you are strong enough to do pull ups and chin ups.  I include a video of how to do these inverted rows in your home at the end of this post.

Before you start, WARM UP - Never ever ever ever forget to warm up.  If you’re strapped for time, cut short your workout, not your warm up.  You can run in place, jump rope, do a few push ups, pedal on a stationary bike, jog up and down your stairs, etc. 

Here’s the NF Advanced Body Weight Workout:

Nerd Fitness TV – Advanced Body Weight Workout

If you want to write down everything, here it is:

  • 10 one legged squats – each side [warning super-difficult, only attempt if you in good enough shape]
  • 20 body weight squats
  • 20 walking lunges (10 each leg)
  • 20 jump step-ups (10 each leg)
  • 10 pull ups [or inverted body weight rows using your kitchen table]
  • 10 dips – bar stools
  • 10 chin ups [or inverted body weight rows with underhand grip]
  • 10 push ups
  • 30 second plank

That’s one complete rotation.  If you’re up for it, try to do 3 complete circuits.  Stop when you need to, get water when necessary, but try to finish it as quickly as possible while still practicing PERFECT FORM.  The first time I went through this routine it took me right around 18 minutes.  What is it with me and 18 minutes of hell?

You can cut short the number of repetitions, but never half-ass a rep.  If you can only do five or six pull ups, bring a chair over to the bar, hop up above the bar and lower yourself down.  If you can’t do a plank for 30 sec, hold it for 15, and work your way up to 30.  If 20 body weight lunges is too many, only do 10 and work your way up to 20.  Challenge yourself safely and within reason.

Can’t Do Pull Ups? Do These Instead

I’m going to guess that the most difficult exercise for most people in this routine will be the pull ups and the chin ups. If you don’t have a pull up bar, or if you’re not strong enough to do pull ups yet, here is a video on how to do Inverted Body Weight Rows using just your kitchen table.  Most importantly, make sure your table is strong enough or you’re going to snap it in half.  It isn’t optimal, but it’s better than nothing, and a good step up from the dumbbell rows in the Beginner Body Weight Circuit.  Inverted body weight rows are certainly tough, but not as tough as pull ups and chin ups.  Attempt these at your own risk!

Nerd Fitness TV – Inverted Body Weight Rows

How to Scale Your Routine

As I said earlier, this whole routine is scalable based on your ability. For example, here is a sample routine for somebody who has conquered the beginner workout but can’t do the full routine above:

  • 10 Body Weight Squats
  • 10 Walking Lunges
  • 15 Jump Ups
  • 3 Pull Ups (or 6 inverted body weight rows – overhand grip on table)
  • 8 dips (or 10 decline push ups if these are too tough)
  • 3 Chin ups (or 6 inverted body weight rows – underhand grip on table)
  • 10 push ups
  • 30 second plank
  • 30 jumping jacks

Whatever your fitness level, find a way to push yourself a litter harder, get better, be faster, and grow stronger (thanks Daft Punk!) Keep track of your exact routine, how long it took you, which exercises wore you out, exactly how many reps you did, etc.

Then, the next time you do this routine (make sure you wait at least 48 hours before attempting it again), try to do the whole routine with one or two more repetitions or with less down time between exercises.

Your thoughts?

There you have it guys.  I would love to hear what you think! I got a lot of great comments on the Beginner Body Weight video, and hopefully those of you who are looking for more of a challenge are getting it here.

Do you want to see more routine-based videos? More videos like the Inverted Body Weight Row videos showing you how to do specific exercises? Let me know what you want to see, and I’ll make it happen.


PS – For any of you who plan on doing this routine during the next few days, I apologize in advance for how your whole body will feel the next morning!



photo: eyeliam

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