Nerd Fitness: Helping You Lose Weight, Get Stronger, Live Better. https://www.nerdfitness.com Level up your life, every single day. Mon, 29 Nov 2021 22:44:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.6.6 How to Stretch: 3 Full Body Stretching Routines To Cool Down https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/how-to-stretch/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/how-to-stretch/#disqus_thread Mon, 29 Nov 2021 06:28:26 +0000 http://nerdfitness.com/blog/?p=11533 Today, you’re going to learn how to stretch. If your warm-up is the appetizer, and your strength-based workout is the main course, then a post-workout stretching routine is the dessert (sorry for making you think about Creme brulee). In this guide, we’ll cover it all (click to get to those sections): Beginner Full Body Stretching Routine Video Advanced […]

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This LEGO is ready to play some sports! Should he stretch before or after his exercise?

Today, you’re going to learn how to stretch.

If your warm-up is the appetizer, and your strength-based workout is the main course, then a post-workout stretching routine is the dessert (sorry for making you think about Creme brulee).

In this guide, we’ll cover it all (click to get to those sections):

Now, if you’re stretching as part of a strength training routine, you might be interested in our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program.

We don’t just focus on weight loss, but helping people level up their entire lives. That includes nutrition, mobility, goal setting, and even overcoming fears and becoming an actual superhero.

Okay, let’s get bendy like Gumby!

Beginner Full Body Stretching Routine Video

The Beginner Full Body Stretching Routine:

  1. Reach above and fully extend your body.
  2. Keep legs straight, bend forward and stretch for 10 seconds.
  3. Stretch towards the left for 10 seconds, and then the right for 10 seconds.
  4. With legs together bend forwards for 10 seconds.
  5. Squat down and hug your knees to your chest.
  6. Roll onto your back in the same position.
  7. Kneel and lean back with arms extended and rock forwards stretching the lower back (repeat 3-5 times).
  8. Sit with the bottoms of your feet together, lean forward and stretch (repeat 2 or 3 times).

You can do this routine both AFTER your strength training routine, and also on your off days. Do your best to stick with this routine regularly to get maximum benefits like increased mobility and flexibility!

Advanced Stretching Routine

This advanced stretching routine is a mix of yoga, stretching, tai-chi, pilates, and awesome.[1]

Although I move quickly through the movements to keep the video short, don’t confuse my movements with bouncing. Stretch as far as you can, hold it for a few seconds without bouncing, and then repeat the process

Is Yoga Good for a post-workout stretch?

Yoga is awesome.

It can help improve flexibility, strength, and mindfulness.

Plus, if you’re looking for a stretching routine to cool down with after your training, yoga almost seems built for it. Oftentimes a yoga routine will end in corpse pose, the perfect posture after a hard training session.  

Here is a FULL yoga routine you can do anywhere. It’s a great routine to follow on your non-training days:

Want more free videos and demos on yoga poses? You can click right here for “21 Yoga Poses for Beginners.”

Using a Foam roller for post-workout stretches

Do you own a foam roller?

With that and a little floor space, you’ll have all you need for the perfect post-workout stretch.

Let’s show you how to do the following:

  • Thoracic Spine
  • Glutes (both sides)
  • Quads (one at a time)
  • Abductors

Here’s a video demonstrating the moves, plus a T-Rex (this is Nerd Fitness after all):

Want more tips on starting a foam roller practice? Click right here for our article “How to Use A Foam Roller.”

Should I stretch Before or After A Workout?

Let’s get the answer to this question right out of the way: “Should I Stretch BEFORE or AFTER My Workout?”

The science is pretty clear on this one: “Strech AFTER a Workout”

Here’s why:

  1. This consolidation of studies didn’t find any benefits to stretching before a workout.
  2. Static stretching will not result in the reduction of the chance of injury.
  3. Static stretching can actually decrease your potential for strength gains and performance.
  4. If you stretch after your workout, your muscles will be warm and less likely to suffer an injury.[2]

Instead, you should be doing a dynamic warm-up before your workout (jump jacking, leg swings, arm circles).

Coach Staci covers such a warm-up in this video:

As this study shows, “a dynamic warm-up” can also help reduce soreness after a workout.

Okay, back to stretching.

Stretching AFTER a workout CAN be helpful, but perhaps not for the reason you’d expect!

Stretching hasn’t been proven to reduce soreness or improve one’s recovery time, but stretching CAN help improve flexibility.

This is super helpful if you have the flexibility and mobility of this robot:

So stretching after a workout allows you to work on flexibility and mobility without needing to worry about losing your strength (if you had stretched before your workout)!

And with improved flexibility comes improved performance in almost all areas of life (yup, even THAT).

  • Also, as you get older, your flexibility and mobility start to go…making you FEEL older.
  • If you can stay flexible, you’re more likely to stay happy and healthy for far longer.
  • Staying flexible keeps you active, and staying active keeps you young.

If you are interested in improving your mobility, make sure you check out these two guides:

  1. How to Touch Your Toes– which will walk you through 4 stretches to help you reach those little piggy wiggies.
  2. Flexibility Practice for the Inflexible – which provides exercises and stretches to help even the most rigid of us to improve mobility.

One last point – even if you’re JUST going to do some stretching, it’s still a good idea to warm up first for about five minutes. Again, it could just be with some legs kicks and arm circles:

Arm circles like so are a great way to get your heart rate up before doing HIIT.

pARTING WORDS ON STRETCHING EXERCISES

What’s that? You want even more stretching recommendations?

Depending on how you’re feeling, where you’re sore, and so on – you can throw in some additional movements:

#1) The Ballet Stretch

#2) The Full Body Stretch:

#3) The Back Stretch:

No matter what training you’re doing, whether it’s with bodyweights, actual weights, or running, always make sure you take some time post-workout for some stretching exercises: you’ll be improving your flexibility which gets more important every day you get older!

The Tick is stoked you are putting on weight, muscle or fat, it means our strategy is working.

Before I dip out, if you want Nerd Fitness to help you along with your fitness journey, here are three ways we can help:

#1) If you want a professional coach in your pocket, who can do video form checks, provide feedback, and adjust your workouts based on your experience level, check out our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program

For example, let’s say you have an old injury and couldn’t perform one of our streteches. A Nerd Fitness Coach can work with you to create a customized routine for your exact situation. 

Personally, I’ve been working with the same online coach since 2015 and it’s changed my life. You can learn more by clicking on the box below: 

#2) Exercising at home and need a plan to follow? Check out Nerd Fitness Journey!

Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

Plus, you can take part in flexibility challenges alongside a group of nerds who are all trying to better themselves!

Try your free trial right here:

#3) Become part of the Rebellion! We need good people like you in our community, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion.

Sign up in the box below to enlist and get our Rebel Starter Kit, which includes all of our “work out from home” guides.

Alright, your turn:

Do you have any favorite post-exercise stretches?

Any difficult areas you try and troubleshoot after your training?

What do you do to help with post-workout recovery?

Let us know in the comments!

-Steve

PS: With all this talk on post-workout stretching, did you remember to warm up before your workout? I got you!

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All photo citations: Decathlon, Amazing, 145, Batman, Nevada, FoamYoga.

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What is Seasonal Affective Disorder? (How to Slay the SAD Beast!) https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/is-seasonal-affective-disorder-a-real-thing-how-to-slay-the-sad-beast/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/is-seasonal-affective-disorder-a-real-thing-how-to-slay-the-sad-beast/#disqus_thread Wed, 24 Nov 2021 06:23:47 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=1432642 Winter is approaching and with it comes SAD. No, I don’t mean the emotion (although that’s part of it). I’m talking about Seasonal Affective Disorder. Luckily, we have some tips and tricks for treating SAD that our Online Coaching Clients use. Today, we’ll share them with you too. Here’s what we’ll cover: What is Seasonal […]

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This photo shows Link about to do battle with the SAD monster.

Winter is approaching and with it comes SAD.

No, I don’t mean the emotion (although that’s part of it).

I’m talking about Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Luckily, we have some tips and tricks for treating SAD that our Online Coaching Clients use. Today, we’ll share them with you too.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Disclaimer: We’re going to be discussing some issues that may be difficult for some going through a tough time. If you (or someone you know) aren’t coping so well, PLEASE see the links at the bottom of this article with some resources from all around the world. Obviously, we recommend discussing this information with your health professional – none of this is a diagnosis, but rather a starting point for discussion.

BUT, armed with the right weapons, we can ward off the winter monster, or even keep it in full hibernation.

From here, mental health wizard and resident NF Family Rebel Correspondent, Dan Schmidt, will take it away:

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

As Coach Jim mentions in the video above, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder that, spoiler alert, has a seasonal pattern. 

(Plus, it’s a really clever acronym.)

It’s also known as:

  • Winter depression
  • Winter blues
  • Seasonal depression.

In a nutshell, SAD makes people with ‘normal’ mental health experience depressive symptoms at a specific time each year – most often winter.

Charlie Brown saying "I always end up feeling depressed."

SAD can be a cruel, powerful, and damaging arctic foe.

But armed with the right weapons, we can ward off the winter monster, or even keep it in full hibernation.

How Do I Know if I have SAD?

This picture shows Mario acting a little SAD

Most of us feel a little glum in winter…it’s natural to feel a little down.

Cold mornings, less time outside, and often it’s not as easy to get out and do our favorite things:

A gif of an RV outside

So for a lot of us, winter just sucks a little. 

We’ve known something was up since the 6th century, but SAD remained a mythical creature until the 1980s in the West when it became officially recognized as a mood disorder. While we’re still not 100% sure of how it works; it’s pretty clear to see that SAD especially thrives in the cooler, darker climates.

For example, studies show[1] SAD’s prevalence in the U.S. ranges from around 1% in Florida to 9% in Alaska. Looking around the world, in Oslo, Norway, around 14% of the population will be impacted by SAD,[2] while us lucky buggers Down Under are barely impacted at all, with estimates that only around 1 in 300 Aussies (0.33%)[3] will experience SAD during the “winter.”

A picture of a sand "Snowman" that says "meanwhile in Australia"

Yes, SAD can occur for some people during summer and other seasons, but this is particularly rare compared to winter prevalence.

Common SAD symptoms include:

  • low mood for most of the day.
  • loss of interest in your usual activities.
  • drowsiness and low energy (lethargy).
  • fatigue, irritability, and severe mood swings.
  • Irregular sleep patterns (too much and/or too little)
  • eating more than usual, especially craving sugar and carbohydrates, leading to weight gain.
  • loss of interest in things you normally enjoy doing.
  • intrusive or disturbing thoughts.

Depression is not just a fancy word for feeling “bummed out”, and SAD is just as serious as any other depression and needs to be dealt with promptly and effectively. (See the end of the article for a list of mental health services links.)

“But how do I know the difference between general winter glumness, or if I’m being mauled by the SAD beast like Leo in the Revenant?”

This gif shows a man being attacked by a Bear, cartoon style.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • “Do you feel like you can’t get yourself out of this rut?”
  • “Have you lost an interest in things that you usually enjoy?”
  • “Have you felt this way for more than two weeks?”

If so, then it could be time to have a chat with a professional and perhaps seek treatment. Once again, SAD is just as real and can be just as devastating as Major Depressive Disorder; the only difference is the yearly regular onset.

This bitter beast can take over someone’s entire wellbeing, and left untreated, the consequences can be devastating.

So let’s learn how we can slay the SAD, or even better, keep it in hibernation this year, so we nerds can continue to conquer all year round.

What is the best treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder? (Slaying the SAD Beast)

A picture of a Games of Thrones bobblehead, who is about to slay the SAD monster.

As with any injury or illness boss battle, you need to use the right medicine weapon to save the day. And there are many weapons you can equip yourself with to slay SAD.

Here is how to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder: 

#1) GET SOME LIGHT

Light helps the body produce serotonin (hormone that affects mood) and reduces the production of melatonin (hormone that makes you sleepy).[4]

Starting with natural light is best, even though it’s not always easy. If the sun happens to be peeking out from the clouds, try and get outside for a nice walk. Even on cold or cloudy days, outdoor light can help, particularly in the morning. Just make sure you bundle up properly. The Norwegians have a saying “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing!”

Also, making your work and home environments as light and airy as possible and sitting near windows can help too. 

A gif of someone opening a window to help with SAD

If you feel you’re just simply not able to get enough natural light, ‘Light Therapy’ is generally one of the first weapons picked up to slay SAD.[5] It can start alleviating symptoms in just a few days. It’s incredibly simple, and sitting under bright fluorescent globes or in front of a therapy lamp (again, particularly in the morning) has shown to be effective against SAD[6] (Anecdotal, but I once met a young woman who started to feel better just by increasing the wattage of her bedroom lightglobes).

Be forewarned that Light Therapy is not appropriate for everyone, including people with bipolar disorder – talk to a professional if this is a route you want to take.

#2) EXERCISE AND DIET

Surprise, surprise, our old friends come to the rescue once again. It’s clear[7] that exercise is key in keeping the blues at bay, so rug up and take a long walk, and be sure to work out when possible.

Gonzo knows he has to eat protein to match his strength training goals, but he doesn't eat chicken, for obvious reasons.

Exercise and other types of physical activity help relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can increase SAD symptoms.

If you’re really keen to take on winter, try the Winter Is Coming Workoutand start building that summer body early. For those who don’t like the freezing weather, that’s cool (get it?), you can always do Steve’s 20-minute hotel room workout (pro tip: you don’t actually need to be staying in a hotel room to do the workout… that was $250 I’ll never get back).

As for nutrition – while there is no well-established link between healthy nutritional practices and a reduction in SAD symptoms. BUT, studies HAVE shown links between healthy eating – like the Mediterranean diet – and a decrease in general depression.[8]

So anything we can do to eat healthy this time of year may certainly help.

Plus, Steve has already highlighted that if you’re going to eat unhealthy foods during winter, let’s at least be smart about it and negate the impact the holidays have on our waistlines. Try your best to provide a counterbalance to those comfort foods, and keep your diet as close as you can to what it is the rest of the year.

#3) GET SOME VITAMIN D

When exposure to sunlight is low, your body makes less Vitamin D.[9] According to this study,[10] Vitamin D deficiency affects nearly HALF of the world population. It is important for overall health. Our friends over at Examine say that if your diet is decent and there’s only one supplement you’re taking, it should probably be Vitamin D during these upcoming months.

The research is a little mixed when it comes to Vitamin D’s effectiveness in battling SAD,[11] but some studies[12] do show an improvement to everyone’s depression scale scores (those with or without SAD). Overall, if you aren’t getting enough sunlight in the winter, consider picking up some Vitamin D!

Recommendations differ for the amount of Vitamin D needed – or if you even need it – so further blood work and a talk with your doctor is a good choice here.

#4) MEDITATE

Meditation has been shown to help alleviate symptoms of depression.[13] Now, you don’t have to shed all your worldly possessions and go live in the mountains:

Aang from the Last Airbender meditating

But if you’re suffering from the winter blues, a simple mindfulness practice may help. Even just a few minutes a day can go a long way.

If you want, Nerd Fitness Journey has a meditation adventure to help you build up the habit.

It’s free to try, right here:

#5) EMBRACE THE SEASON

Going back to foreign sayings – there’s a Danish concept of “hygge.”

While there’s no direct English translation, it essentially means coziness and comfort

Things like:

  • Wrapping yourself up in a blanket.
  • Enjoying a good book.
  • Or sitting by a warm fire.

Garfield sitting by fire

So instead of lamenting the change of seasons – EMBRACE these other experiences that we get to enjoy.

#6) THERAPY

Talk Therapy (Psychotherapy) and cognitive behavioral therapy sound scary but really aren’t.

A psychiatrist saying "Do not be alarmed"

Psychotherapy focuses on helping you to build skills to deal with the stresses in your life, along with identifying and changing negative thinking patterns.

Therapies such as these assist with relearning some of the patterns and thoughts in your life that aren’t doing you any good.

(You can read the Nerd Fitness Guide to Mental Health for more info.)

It can feel daunting and really weird ‘opening up’ to a stranger at first.

But having a coach to talk through your negative thoughts and feelings, someone who can teach you to manage those better, is generally quite effective.

Most people will notice an improvement in as little as two weeks. Really, the “weird” stigma is usually the biggest barrier to even doing the thing in the first place!

#7) MEDICATION

Finally, some people with SAD benefit from antidepressant treatment, especially if symptoms are severe. We’re not here to offer any medical advice, so please see your doctor if you think medication may assist you.

Moving forward with SAD (This too shall pass)

A picture of Link in the sun, who overcame SAD

It’s normal to have some days when you feel down, and the holiday season can be especially hard for some.

When short days and miserable weather are piled on top of this, it’s easy to see why ‘winter blues’ is so common. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, please speak to someone and see your doctor. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed, you feel a sense of hopelessness, you have intrusive thoughts, or you turn to alcohol/substances for comfort or relaxation.

Above all, take care of yourself this winter: 

  • Be sure to get enough rest, and take the time to relax.
  • Participate in an exercise program or engage in another form of regular physical activity.
  • Get outside when you can.
  • Make healthy choices for meals and snacks when possible.
  • Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or health professional if you feel you’re having a tough time.

And if someone reaches out to you, rememberWe are Rebels, we fight conventional wisdom and smash stigmas. Never leave a fellow nerd behind.

The Rock saying "we have to do this together"

If you feel the bitter, arctic beast starting to rise from its summer slumber, remember that you are not alone, and there are ways to slay the frosty fiend. You are strong enough to beat this, and the entire Rebellion has your back.

Want a little more from us?

If you want to continue your journey with Nerd Fitness, we have three great ways for you to do so:

#1) Our Online Coaching Program: a coaching program for busy people to help them make better food choices, stay accountable, and get healthier, permanently.

You can schedule a free call with our team so we can get to know you and see if our coaching program is right for you. Just click on the button below for more details:

#2) If you want an exact roadmap for getting fit, check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

Plus, we have Missions specifically designed to help you stay active, no matter what the weather is like outside.

Try your free trial right here:

#3) Join the Rebellion! We need good people like you in our community, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion.

Sign up in the box below to enlist and get our Rebel Starter Kit, which includes all of our “work out at home” guides, the Nerd Fitness Diet Cheat Sheet, and much more!

Alright, that does it for me. Rebels, take care of yourself and each other.

Do you have your own secret weapon to slay the SAD? We’d love to hear from all you Rebels about how you keep your mind healthy during winter; the more ideas we all have, the better! Let us know in the comments!

– Dan

PS – If you, or someone you know, would like further support, here are some excellent links and services that will get you started in the right direction:

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Photo source: lilu330 © 123RF.com

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How to Improve Your Grip Strength & Wrist Mobility: The 6 Best Exercises https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/how-to-improve-your-wrist-mobility-and-grip-strength/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/how-to-improve-your-wrist-mobility-and-grip-strength/#disqus_thread Tue, 23 Nov 2021 14:00:50 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=1846079 Do you find your grip a limiting factor in the gym (I see you chin-ups and deadlifts)? Or in everyday life (looking at you, pickle jars)? If so, don’t worry! We’ve got a handle on this (pun 100% intended). As the lead trainer of our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program, I’m going to outline a number of […]

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Improve your grip strength and wrist mobility with barbells

Do you find your grip a limiting factor in the gym (I see you chin-ups and deadlifts)?

Or in everyday life (looking at you, pickle jars)?

If so, don’t worry! We’ve got a handle on this (pun 100% intended).

As the lead trainer of our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program, I’m going to outline a number of helpful, handy (sigh) stretches and exercises to help eliminate pain and build you some powerful, useful hands and a strong grip.

Now, it goes without saying that the hands and forearms are anatomically complicated areas.

I am also not your mother, or your doctor. If anything in the article below causes pain, or your pain is not alleviated by these stretches – call in the pros!

See a physical therapist or sports massage practitioner.

Why Grip Strength And WRist Mobility Is So Important: Basic Holds.

Grip strength is crucial for exercises like the deadlift

We use our hands for EVERYTHING. 

Whether it’s everyday tasks like carrying groceries, opening jars, and lifting suitcases, or gym-related activities like chin-ups, rows, and deadlifts.

Of course, you probably also type at your computer for hours – with resulting aches and pains at the end of the workday.

Guess what?

Stretching out the hands and building up a strong grip can help in all of those areas.

A strong grip has even been correlated to lower mortality rates – and you can also imagine the usefulness of a stronger grip for aging individuals if they happen to slip.

Our point is that it’s always better to have a stronger grip!

This is a favorite area of expertise for me. I’ve worked my grip for years and years, and recently won a local grip competition:

Jim won the local grip strength competition

In fact, I’m currently typing this one-handed while squeezing coal into diamonds with my other hand.

Not really, but I promise my grip strength is above average.

SO WHERE TO START?

The hands are complex, and training them can seem just as complicated.

We’ll simplify matters a bit and you can categorize the grip exercises into the following general types:

#1) CRUSH

You can improve your grip strength with captains of crush grip crushers

This is what you probably think of when you think of a “strong grip”. This is the whole hand closing in around something. A strong handshake. None of that dead-fish handshake stuff!

#2) PINCH

Try the pinching movement to improve grip strength

Think of making an alligator mouth with your hands, and chomping down. In this grip, there tends to be a lot more work/stress on the thumb. This is important to work, as the thumb is a vital part of a strong grip!

#3) SUPPORT

Can you hang from a bar? You can train this to improve grip strength

This is similar to crush, but rather than the ability to close, this type of grip tests the ability to hold.

#4) EXTENSION

You can do hand extensions to balance your grip training

Every action has an opposite reaction, right? This type of grip work is all about strengthening the opposing muscles. We were built to grab and hold onto things, so these muscles will not be as strong.

#5) WRIST WORK

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Oleksiy TOROKHTIY (UKR🇺🇦) (@torokhtiy) on

Wrist movement and wrist stability is the focus here. In order to be able to transfer energy from the body through the hands (for opening those pickle jars) we need to make sure every link in the chain is strong.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

When putting together a grip routine of your own, it’s a good idea to cycle through these different types of grips over the course of the week, in order to work different muscles and different angles.

If you have to pick just a few, I’d put my money on stretches, crushing, and extension to get your hands strong and keep them healthy!

Before we go further, I want to mention that if you’re improving your grip as part of a strength training practice, you’ve come to the right place! We have a free guide Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know, that will walk you through every aspect of building muscle and growing stronger. Want in?

Grab it for free when you join the Rebellion (that’s us!) below:

How to Improve Your Grip Strength and Mobility Quickly.

Here are the best exercises you can do to strengthen your grip quickly:

  1. Dumbbell head grab: Put a dumbbell on its end and pick it up by the head. Could anything replicate a pickle jar more? Be careful with this exercise if the dumbbell is too big, as the thumb can easily be strained if it’s stretched too far. Hold for time (~30 seconds) or go for heavier weight.
  2. Farmer’s walks: Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells (heavy for you) and walk around! Don’t have space to walk? Just stand there! 30 seconds minimum!
  3. Plate curls: A wrist strengthener that works the biceps too! Anything past 25 lbs becomes insanely hard. ~10 repetitions. Watch the face!!
  4. Plate pinches: If you’ve got a pair of smooth metal plates, you can sandwich them together with the smooth side out. You can also use thick bumper plates. Pick them up with one or two hands and hold for time (~30 seconds) or go for heavier weight. World class grip athletes can pick up a pair of 45 lb plates with one hand!
  5. Barbell finger rolls: How to work the crushing grip without grippers. You can use an empty bar or load up some weight. Get the bar to your fingertips, then squeeze and crush! ~10 repetitions.
  6. Towel chin-ups: Regular chin-ups too easy? Throw a pair of gym towels over the bar and challenge that grip. A great exercise to prepare for rope climbing!

Next, let’s talk about some stretches and exercises to perform at the gym.

#1) STRETCHES AT THE GYM

The only addition I have to your stretching routine that can be done at the gym is banded wrist stretches. The addition of the band can help open up your wrist joint a bit more. The band should be pulling in the opposite direction of the stretch (fingers face one way, band pulls the other way).

10-15 repetitions.

you can do banded wrist stretches to improve wrist mobility

#2) EXERCISES AT THE GYM

While we recommend picking up some grippers as specialized grip equipment, there are TONS of options to work the grip at the gym with existing equipment! This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but should give you plenty of ideas.

The one warning I give for any of these exercises is WATCH YOUR TOES. The grip can give out fast and unexpectedly, so we don’t want to crush any little piggies!

This list is certainly not exhaustive, but it’ll get you started!

Other Easy-Grip Exercises to Integrate:

  • Bar hang: Simply hanging from the bar or gymnastic rings will build up your grip strength! If you can’t hang freely, put your feet on the ground for an assist. Couldn’t be simpler! Work up to one minute or more!
  • Wrist curls/Reverse wrist curls: What many may think of when they think of “grip strength” exercises. Not bad for some wrist strength. ~10 repetitions. Pictured – Left: Wrist curls, Right: Reverse wrist curls.

do wrist curls and reverse curls for mobility

  • Barbell levering: We’re getting into crazy town with this one. An unbelievable wrist exercise that is not for the beginner. Grab the bar with one hand, off-center, and lift it to parallel. You can lift to the front and the back. I would also recommend using a 15 lb/5 kg bar, or one of those lighter “bodypump” bars for this. The leverage is crazy! This can also be done at a faster pace with PVC pipe.

Do barbell levering to improve grip strength and mobility

Things can get really crazy when you start combining exercises…Plate pinch farmer’s walks with bumper plates, anyone?

…and speaking of NF Coaching, if you’re worried that your grip strength is holding back your training, we can help!

Our certified coaches can do an assessment, design a program to increase your grip and overall strength, and provide support and accountability. It’s kind of like having a coach in your pocket (not literally – via an app).

Plus, our coaching app lets you record and send a video of your movement directly to your coach, so you can take comfort knowing you’re training correctly:

How To Improve Grip Strength and Mobility At The Office.

Alright, you’re ready to jump into grip strength training!

I’ve outlined a number of stretches and exercises for you to do, no matter where you are and what equipment you have. Skim over and see what you can add to your daily mix or gym training!

#1) STRETCHES AT YOUR DESK

You might be reading this while sitting at your computer right now.

We put a LOT of stress on our hands and wrists over the course of a day, so take the time to take care of these hard workers!

Below is a quick and dirty stretch routine, just three moves. This is good for a warm-up or just for overall hand health. We spend a lot of the day at our computer with our elbows bent and our hands in a pronated position (palms turned down), therefore stretches with our elbows extended and hands supinated (palms turned up) is a good idea.

A post shared by Nerd Fitness (@nerd_fitness) on

The stretches from the video:

  • Fingers back, palms on desk: You can stretch straight backwards, or rock gently left to right. 10-15 repetitions.
  • Finger back, palms lifted off desk: You can lift the palms and get a bit more stretch through the fingers and first knuckle. Again, stretch straight backwards, or rock gently left to right. 10-15 repetitions.
  • Fists together, back of hands on desk: Make two fists, with the thumbs on the outside of your fingers. Bend your elbows and put the knuckles together like two cogs in a machine. Bend your elbows and put the back of your hands fully on the desk. Keep your fists together (this will be tough) and fists tightly closed (this will also be tough) as you bend and flex your elbows. 10-15 repetitions.

Give it a shot, I bet your hands feel noticeably different (and better) afterward.

If you have additional time, the first two stretches can also be done with your fingers forward!

You can also stretch the thumbs out on the desk. Moving into and out of the stretch shown below. You may be surprised how good this feels if you’ve never done it before. Again, 10-15 repetitions.

Do thumb stretches to improve hand health

A final stretch, if you have the time between updating Excel and checking Facebook for the 100th time (I kid, I kid), is stretching your wrists in the direction of your thumb.

If you think about how your hands are often oriented on your keyboard, you’ll see that they are often bend toward your pinky.

Avoid keyboard wrists by practicing grip strength and wrist mobility!

So let’s stretch them in the opposite way! Make like you’re about to karate chop someone with one hand. With the other hand, grab the chopping hand and pull it sideways in the direction of your thumb.

Do the ulnar stretch to improve hand health

Going gently into and out of this stretch for 10-15 repetitions. It may not feel as intense as the previous stretches, but it will still help.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of hand and wrist stretches, but it should give you plenty to work with!

#2) EXERCISES AT YOUR DESK

Do you know there’s already an excellent piece of grip strengthening equipment present in many offices? What is that?

The rubber band!

Snag one off that rubber band ball in your desk and do these simple rubber band extensions:

Do rubber band extensions for hand health

If one band gets too easy, put two or more on! This is a super easy exercise to do while you’re on a phone call or that conference call (that you’re not paying attention to anyway) that gets the blood moving through the hands and helps balance out your vice-grip like hands.

Another grip exercise that can easily be done at your desk is closing grippers. Now, this does require an investment (~$20/gripper), but you’ll find that these grippers last FOREVER (I still use some grippers that are over a decade and half old!)

You can improve your grip strength with captains of crush grip crushers

I would personally recommend Ironmind’s “Captains of Crush” grippers.

They are built to last and strong.

Consider the following when making your gripper purchase:

  • If you are just starting out with your grip, I would look at the Guide and/or the Sport (60lb and 80lb respectively).
  • If you have a bit of strength, the Sport and/or the Trainer is the way to go (80lb and 100lb).

If you can close the Guide, you’ve got a pretty solid grip. If you can close the Sport, you have way above average grip strength, in my experience.

A fun bonus with these grippers at your desk is that EVERYONE who sees them will try and pick them up and close them. Great way to start a conversation with your coworkers!

You may be thinking, “eh, I’ve already got a gripper I bought from the store”. I’ll tell you that the strength in that gripper is probably minuscule compared to Ironmind’s. Time to upgrade!

You may also be thinking, “eh, I’ve got a tennis ball/stress ball that I can keep by my desk and crush”. Both of those might be better than nothing, but not by much. The grippers will allow a smoother movement and quantifiable progress. Did I mention they’re just $20 a pop?

“Jim, I can’t wait. I want to work my grip NOW.” Ok, ok, grab the biggest, heaviest book in the office you have. Grab it in that pinch grip position (fingers on one side, thumb on the other). This may be easy, if so, then “walk the book” in your hand by moving your fingers up and down the spine while you hold it in mid-air. Do this for several trips. Tough!

Do the book walk for hand health and grip training

How to Improve your Grip Strength and Wrist Mobility At Home.

If you work out at home, there are still a few things you can do.

  • Bar hang: A home chin-up bar is one of the most useful pieces of equipment to have. Just like the gym version, you can put your feet on the ground to assist. Work up to one minute!
  • Grocery bag farmer’s walks: What’s better than taking only one trip to bring your groceries inside? Absolutely nothing. You can use those tough, reusable bags and load them up with anything. Stand in place or walk around the neighborhood.

Never make two trips carrying groceries again thanks to grip training

  • Sledgehammer/Barbell/heavy bar levering: As with the barbell levering at the gym, this is a tough exercise and should be approached slowly. Grab closer to the sledgehammer head to make it easy, farther to make it tough.

You can do levering with a sledgehammer and you're strong as hell

Get Started With Rings And Handstands, Level Up Your Grip!

No (wo)man is an island, and no exercise exists in complete isolation. These grip exercises are a blast, but we hope you can also use them to help strengthen a deadlift, or work toward your first chin-up.

There are also various bodyweight exercises that will help strengthen your upper body AND build your grip strength at the same time.

#1) THE FALSE GRIP HANG

For example, here is a video from our rings course in Nerd Fitness Prime on doing a false-grip hang – and then doing scapular retractions. This is a killer grip strength exercise:

The false grip is an incredibly challenging grip variation that one must learn to build up to a muscle-up (a pull-up that transitions into a dip). Just like before, you can put your feet on the ground to assist this exercise.

#2) CROW POSE

Here’s a video of an exercise that builds up grip and wrist strength, pulled from Nerd Fitness Prime (which contains a course on doing handstands):

A staple of yoga classes everywhere, though we’ll be focusing on it for a different reason than a yogi might. We’re using this exercise as a foundational exercise to build up into the handstand. You won’t believe how much grip strength is involved in the crow pose until you are digging your fingers into the ground!

A Strong Grip Is Always Helpful!

It’s been said “There’s never been a strong man (or woman) with weak hands.”

We’d have to agree wholeheartedly. There is never going to be a point in life where you say “Boy, my grip was too strong!”.

You might have some questions about how to mix these exercises in with your normal routine, or how you can use these things to improve your lifts safely and without injury. Or maybe all of the above just overwhelmed the heck out of you and you’re trying to make sense of it all.

If that sounds like you, you’re in the right place.

I’m the lead trainer of the 1-on-1 NF Coaching Program, where we help busy, normal people like yourself build muscle, lose weight, and level up their lives!.

You can learn more about our coaching program by clicking on the image below and scheduling a call with us to see if we’re a good fit!

You have a pair of incredibly useful tools at arm’s length, might as well make the most of them!

We hope you now have a handle on things (have to bring it back full circle). Go out and get a grip!

Leave any questions you have on grip strength or wrist mobility below in the comments.

-Jim

PS: What should you do after you improve your grip and wrist strength? Get started on doing muscle-ups and downward dogs, which you can learn all from our new app!

Try it for free right here:

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Photo Source: Reece & Emma Meins Chalky bar grip

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How an accountability partner changed Brent’s life https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/how-an-accountability-partner-changed-brents-life/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/how-an-accountability-partner-changed-brents-life/#disqus_thread Tue, 16 Nov 2021 22:49:56 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=3950188 Meet Brent, a member of Nerd Fitness Coaching who just found out he no longer needs blood pressure medication. Awesome! Oh, and he’s also celebrating losing over 35 pounds. Incredible! What’s crazy is that he did it all in about six months…which is BONKERS! However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Brent. He had […]

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Brent before and after

Meet Brent, a member of Nerd Fitness Coaching who just found out he no longer needs blood pressure medication.

Awesome!

Oh, and he’s also celebrating losing over 35 pounds.

Incredible!

What’s crazy is that he did it all in about six months…which is BONKERS!

However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Brent.

He had done the New Year’s resolution dance quite a few times…but always seemed to fizzle out.

“I didn’t know what I was doing,” Brent admits.

However, instead of going through the same “start and stop” pattern again, Brent decided to do something different – he decided to ask for help!

Let’s find out how it went.

 

#1) Brent Started Exercising in a Way He Enjoyed

Brent before and after

“When I joined the coaching program, my coach asked me a novel question:

What exercise do I actually enjoy doing?

I hadn’t thought about it before – I always figured I’d just have to slog through my workout.

I admitted to my coach that I enjoyed running, so we quickly built a program around doing 5ks.”

Takeaway: Half the secret of getting in shape is moving in a way we enjoy.

(The other half is nutrition, but we’ll get to that.)

So when we first start exercising, we should focus on what excites us!

  • Like walking? Perfect, go first thing in the morning.
  • Enjoy rock climbing? Great, join a nearby gym.
  • Look forward to kickball? Awesome, sign up for a local league.

The important thing at first is to enjoy the activity! Then, we’re much more likely to make it a habit (our goal here).

There’s a reason Brent’s coach asked about his preference. They knew finding his passion would be critical for building consistency.

Here are our tips for running a 5k if you wanna get going yourself. 

#2) Brent Mixes in Strength Training

Brent before and after

Although Brent loves to run – and even knocked out a couple of 5ks during the last six months – he also started a strength training practice.

“My coach advised we mix in some strength training as part of my 5k training. The goal was to build some muscle and also prevent injury during my runs. 

The big surprise was just how quickly this helped me lose weight. My belt size shrunk fast because of all the workouts.”

Takeaway: Strength training can go a long way towards transforming our bodies.

Obviously, it’ll help us grow strong. But it might also help us slim down.

That’s because building and maintaining muscle takes a lot of calories.

As Brent learned, the side effect of strength training might be a lower body fat percentage (as we explain in our Guide to Body Recomposition).

#3) Brent Leveled Up His Nutrition

Brent before and after

“I never thought too much about what to eat – I just ate whatever was in front of me.

But since I wanted to lose some weight, my coach took me through a little Nutrition 101. 

Now, I think about:

  • Where is my protein coming from?
  • Where is my fiber coming from?
  • Is this enough energy for my needs?

I don’t follow any sort of diet. But these simple lessons from my coach changed the way I eat, without too much effort.”

Takeaway: If we’re trying to lose weight, nutrition will be a big part of the puzzle.

However – as Brent learned – we don’t necessarily need to follow any sort of “diet.”

Just some good healthy habits might be enough:

  • Eating lean protein at every meal.
  • Eating fruits and veggies throughout the day.
  • Matching our energy intake to our energy needs.

This might be the trick if “going on a diet” hasn’t quite worked out yet. For more on our philosophy here, check out The Nerd’s Guide to Healthy Eating

4) Brent Created Accountability

Brent before and after

“To be honest, I think accountability to a coach and my financial investment helped me form habits more than anything. 

Just knowing that someone would check in on me – and that I was paying for it – made me push through on days when I didn’t want to.

Now, I work out and train without too much thought. They’ve just become normal parts of my life.

Having accountability at first really helped me get here.”

Takeaway: Having someone check in on us can be critical when we’re starting a new habit.

Sure, a coach might be a great way to go about it.

But there are others:

  • A friend who also wants to start working out.
  • A group of co-workers who walk on breaks.
  • An online group of folks with the same goals. 

Accountability was missing during Brent’s previous attempts to get in shape.

It really can be the difference-maker.

How Will You Close Out 2021?

Brent before and after

I’m super proud of Brent and what he’s accomplished the last year.

However, if you personally didn’t meet your fitness goals in 2021, don’t beat yourself up over it.

Getting in shape is tough stuff and the ongoing pandemic didn’t make it any easier. 

But, as we close out this year, it can be important to ask: how will I handle my goals next year?

What can I do for the remainder of this year, to help me build momentum?

If you think one of our coaches might be able to help you prepare for 2022, we’re here for you.

Person grabbing another person from falling with quote "I got your back"

With Nerd Fitness Coaching, you’ll gain:

  • Confidence on exactly what to do. No guesswork needed, you’ll simply log into our coaching app and follow the plan laid out for you.
  • A program tailored to your needs. We won’t just say “do this workout” or “eat broccoli.” You can get that for free on the internet. We’ll find out what works best for you as an individual. Plus, if it’s not working for whatever reason, NBD. We’ll absorb that information like a non-judgmental scientist would, and together we’ll create a new path forward.
  • A partner to help you make your goals. Many people can set goals and hit them by themselves. But some of us can’t (I personally needed a coach to hit my fitness goals too). If you’ve been struggling by yourself, know that it’s okay to seek help from an expert who knows the way.

Interested?

You can schedule a call to see if we’re right for each other right here:

Even if you decide not to join our coaching program, do one thing:

Think about how you can build accountability. Even if it’s just to yourself, with a daily journal.

But being asked “Am I doing what I said I would do?” can be incredibly powerful.

You have to look not much farther than our friend Brent for proof.

-Steve

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How to Deadlift Safely With Proper Form: Step-by-Step https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/strength-training-101-the-deadlift/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/strength-training-101-the-deadlift/#disqus_thread Tue, 09 Nov 2021 16:23:52 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=23143 Deadlift day is my favorite day of the week. After reading This Ultimate Guide to Deadlifts – a part of our Strength 101 series – it’ll be yours too! Click any link below or scroll down to read the whole guide: What are the benefits of the deadlift? What is proper deadlift form? How to […]

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When we get together, we deadlift!

Deadlift day is my favorite day of the week.

After reading This Ultimate Guide to Deadlifts – a part of our Strength 101 series – it’ll be yours too!

Click any link below or scroll down to read the whole guide:

Teaching people how to deadlift and get comfortable with barbell training is one of my favorite things about our 1-on-1 online coaching program

We do video form checks via our coaching app, we’ll build a program that fits your schedule, and even help you get your nutrition dialed in too.

If that sounds like something you’d be interested in…

Oh, and if you like this guide, we have an entire Strength 101 Guide that you can download free when you join the Rebellion (our free community).

I’ll send you the ebook when you sign up in the box below!

Let’s do this.

What Are the Benefits of the Deadlift?

When Rebels get together, we deadlift like shown here.

The deadlift is a true full body movement.

While most people would consider it a “back” exercise, others will argue that it’s a “leg” exercise.

In my book, it’s an everything exercise.

And who am I?

I’m Staci Ardison. I love the Legend of Zelda.

This is me deadlifting 455 lbs (206 kg) at a bodyweight of 150 lbs (68 kg):

The one and only Staci, showing you how to deadlift 455 pouds.

Back in 2011, I could barely lift a pink dumbbell.

But then I fell in love with heavy barbell training and the deadlift changed my life:

Deadlifting helped Staci transform in the pictures above.

I’m now a regular powerlifting competitor and a Senior Coach for the NF coaching program, where I help people like you hit their strength training goals.

I’ve written this guide on Deadlifts because it’s the exercise that will change your life too.

So why is the deadlift so great?

Well, when you deadlift you use every single muscle in your body:

  • Your arms, forearms, and hands hold onto the barbell and make sure the bar stays in the right position and stays stable throughout the lift.
  • Your shoulders and traps hold the weight and hold it stable.
  • Your back and core help keep your entire body tight and stable to help keep your spine secure.
  • Your posterior chain[1] and legs to act as a lever and lift the weight.

Whenever anyone asks me where I got my shoulders/abs/etc, I answer the same: deadlifts.

I promise you, learning how to deadlift will change your life.

Why do a million crunches when I can just do deadlifts instead?

Way more fun! Plus, deadlifting is actually more effective at building a strong core.

On top of that, the deadlift is a basic human movement. Other than the squat, there might not be another movement that is more “functional.”

From the grocery store, to moving a piece of furniture, to picking your child up off the floor – you are deadlifting.

As you build solid form deadlifting in the gym, your form for picking things up in real life will also improve.

This means you’ll be less likely to injure yourself now and later down the line (not only because you are stronger, but because your body knows how to properly handle the weight).

And this goes further than just picking up objects – how you move while shoveling snow, doing yard work, and doing other basic everyday life tasks will all dramatically improve from deadlifting.

Don’t be that guy/gal with back problems from lifting that random object!

Oh, and by the way, the effectiveness of the deadlift isn’t limited to an age or gender – even grandma thinks they’re cool.

Can your grandma rock a deadlift like this lady here?

The deadlift is awesome – perhaps the purest measure of strength: either you can pick the weight off of the ground, or you can’t.

What Is Proper Deadlift Form? How to Deadlift Safely

Camp Nerd Fitness was great for many reasons, but also because of deadlifting!

When doing a deadlift you’ll be lifting a dead weight off the ground (hence the name, duh).

The deadlift can actually be taught in one sentence:

“Bend your knees and bend over with a flat back to pick up a loaded barbell off the ground.”

It looks like this (this is Team NF’s Steve pulling 420 pounds):

Rebel Leader Steve showing how to do a 420 lb deadlift.

Of course, this sentence doesn’t do the awesomeness of this exercise justice.

Here’s how to do a conventional barbell deadlift:

  1. Step up to and under a barbell with your feet angled slightly outward, at hip-width apart.
  2. Bend over and grip the barbell with both hands at shoulder width.
  3. Bend your knees until the bar almost touches your shins.
  4. With a neutral spine, flex your butt and brace your stomach.
  5. Pick the bar up off the ground (It helps to think “press DOWN into the floor with your feet through your heels”).
  6. Continue pressing down with your legs until the barbell passes your knees, then thrust your hips forward until you are standing up.
  7. Reverse your movement until the bar returns to its starting place on the ground.
  8. High five yourself for you doing a deadlift.

(Don’t worry I’ll get more in-depth below.)

Oh, what’s that?

You want even MORE detail on each of those steps!? Sure.

PHASE ONE: The Deadlift Setup.

*NOTE: Always warm up properly, and start with just the bar, even for deadlifts!

This series of photos shows you how to setup the deadlift.This photo shows you the deadlift setup progression from the side.

  1. Load the bar and secure the plates with collars. If you are just starting out with the movement, begin with 5-10 lb plates, using boxes or blocks to elevate the bar to about where it would be with 45 lb plates attached (if your gym has training plates that are this size, even better!). You may also be able to use your gym’s power rack for this.This picture shows a deadlift rack, great for...deadlifting!
  2. Step up to the bar as if you are about to JUMP. Naturally, your feet should end up about hip width (8-12 inches) apart, and your feet slightly angled outwards (5-10 degrees). 
  3. Look down – the bar should be over the middle of your feet. If you’re wearing laced shoes, the bar would be approximately over the tied part of your shoelaces.Do your shoes look like this? Then you're ready to deadlift!

PHASE TWO: Preparing to lift the bar!

Here are the next steps to take before lifting the bar off the ground (I’ll petition Websters to add the word “deadliftoff” to the dictionary):

  1. Without moving the bar, or your hips, bend over and grab the bar. Your legs should still be straight at this point. Your grip width will be slightly outside of your legs, but not so close they touch. For now, a simple double overhand grip (both palms facing behind you) will work. We will discuss options in grip in more detail later! 
  2. Now that you’re holding onto the bar (but not moving it), move your hips down. While you do this, your shins will come forward until they touch the bar Stop moving your hips down when your shins touch the bar. 
  3. Press your chest out and flex your pecs like you’re King Kong getting ready to bang on your chest for intimidation. As you do this, your back should flatten, and your spine should go into a neutral spine position.

This is the final starting position of the deadlift: everything is tight and in position and you’re ready to pull.

To Recap we DON’T want your back to round or hyperextend.

Make sure your back is neutral like above when starting the deadlift.

If you’re just starting out, getting into a neutral spine might feel like you’ve gone too far (hyperextended), so don’t be afraid to ask a friend for help or to record yourself so you can see what you’re doing.

We also do form checks with our 1-on-1 coaching clients for stuff just like this.

PHASE THREE: Deadlifting with proper form (THE DEADLIFTOFF!)

This series of photos shows you the progression of the deadlift pull.

If your setup looks and feels good, you’re ready to lift.

Here is the Conventional Deadlift, as demonstrated by me (Staci) and Jim from the NF Coaching Program:

Here are those steps in written form.

Inhale and fill up space deep in your stomach (like a deep belly breath), and while keeping your entire back, butt, and core tight with your chest puffed out, drive down through your heels and the bar should lift off the ground:

  1. All of your weight should be on your heels and midfoot. You should be able to wiggle your toes the entire time (though that is not a part of deadlifting!). Imagine you are pushing the earth world away from the bar with your heels rather than pulling the bar up.
  2. During the movement, your entire body should move upwards at the same speed. This means that your butt should not rise faster than your chest, or vice versa. You may have heard of the term “stripper deadlift” – this is when your butt rises first before your chest.
  3. Your arms should stay straight the entire time. They are just there to hold onto the bar – they are not bending or pulling at all. Your legs and core are doing all the work!
  4. The bar should stay in contact with your body the entire time – you will literally be dragging it up your thighs. This is why you see many powerlifters with chalk or baby powder covering their legs (and why they typically wear socks that cover their shins, to prevent cuts and scrapes). Do not let it come forward. If you were to draw a line that follows the bar’s path from the floor to lockout, it should be a straight, vertical line.
  5. As you are pulling, you should be squeezing your glutes like you’re pinching a penny between your…well, you know. Once the bar passes your knees, think of getting your hips under the bar by squeezing your glutes. So while you’re pulling with your arms, you’re pushing through the floor with your feet, pushing your butt under the bar.
  6. At the top of the movement, you should be standing tall and proud with your chest open, like if you were King Kong getting ready to pound his chest.
  7. At the top, do not hyperextend and lean back. You want to keep your spine neutral and everything tight.

This is a different angle of the deadlift pull, shown from the front.

I realize that’s a lot to take in, and that’s okay! You’ve read this far and I’m proud of you.

Many people are so afraid of the deadlift and avoid it at all costs because they’re afraid of splitting themselves in half or getting injured in another way.

That’s why we not only created this awesome guide on deadlifts, but also a way to review technique and proper movement so you have the confidence you’re doing it correctly.

If you want an expert to check your deadlift form and help build a workout program specific to your goals, check out our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program. Our coaching app lets you record and send a video of your movement directly to your coach who will provide specific feedback:

Setting the Bar Down (Should I drop the bar on a Deadlift?)

This series of photos shows the down progression of the deadlift.

Okay! You got the weight off the ground and finished the movement. But now what!?

Your body should descend all at the same time, just as it ascended during the deadlift, only in reverse!

Unlock your hips and slowly move your hips backward until the bar lowers past your knees, then bend your knees and slowly lower the bar to set it down (make sure you unlock them at the same time.

Don’t unlock your knees first, as it will cause a lot of awkward movement, and possibly your lower back to round).

I REPEAT: DO NOT DO THIS:

Do NOT unlock your knees first on your deadlift!

Don’t lose tightness until you let go of the bar.

This is extremely important – a large amount of deadlift injuries come from people getting super excited about making a lift, losing tightness, and then putting the bar down wrong.

You want this to be a quick movement – lowering the deadlift slow will take a lot out of you and leave you sore for days.

Should you drop the bar during the deadlift?

The eccentric part of the deadlift (lowering it) is actually riskier than the concentric (picking it up) part of the deadlift.

Many coaches will advocate dropping your deadlift (especially with advanced athletes where they can’t afford to sacrifice performance later in the week).

In our opinion, especially if you’re training in a commercial gymI would recommend putting the bar down (especially if you want to compete in powerlifting competitions – the lift does not count if you drop it).

So, practice putting the bar down properly. It’s just as important as practicing picking it up.

By the way, we have a massive Strength 101 Guide that you can download free when you join the Rebellion (our free community). 

Get the guide when you sign up in the box below!

Proper Deadlift Grip, Straps, and other Equipment

The hook grip shown here is one way you can do the deadlift.

Grip strength is a huge part of the deadlift. If you can’t hold on to the bar, you can’t lift it!

Here’s how to improve your grip strength quickly.

There are two main grips when it comes to the deadlift.

#1) Double overhand grip. Your palms are both facing towards your body. This is the safest grip, and the best grip for beginners to start with.

This is how beginners should start deadlifting.

#2) Mixed Grip: One hand grabs the bar with an overhand grip, and another hand grabs the bar with an underhand grip.

The mix grip shown here has many disadvantages but some uses for the deadlift.

The mixed grip has many disadvantages:

  • It places uneven stress on your shoulders
  • It can aggravate problems in the biceps on the side in which your palm is facing outwards
  • It’s easier for your lift to be uneven as you’re literally gripping the bar it with uneven hands.

So why do a mixed grip?

You can physically lift more. The bar wants to roll out of your hands, so by using a mixed grip you are more likely to not have your grip fail you on a heavy lift. 

As you start to lift more than your grip can handle, you can consider doing a mixed grip for your heaviest lifts, but be sure to use the double-overhand throughout your warm-up sets. Consider doing grip strength work as well.

#3) Hook grip: This grip is where you put your thumbs under your fingers.

The Hook Grip is a great way to do the deadlift.

This type of grip is preferable to the mixed grip due to the fact that it doesn’t introduce any imbalances. However, it does have one major disadvantage:

It hurts like hell!

From personal experience, you get used to it and your thumbs can manage, but prepare for pain when you learn to do the hook grip!

No matter what grip you use, you’re probably going to want to invest in some chalk! It’s absolutely optional and initially won’t be incredibly useful.

However, after you start to put some weight on the bar, chalk will be enormously helpful for hanging on to the bar (I use this kind of lifting chalk). I certainly find this to be a better, smarter, and safer option than either straps or gloves.

Speaking of which…

Here are some common questions on deadlift equipment: 

#1) “Should I use straps while doing deadlifts?”

Ehhh, probably not. Straps can help you lift more than your hands can hold with an overhand grip, but relying on straps could cause your grip strength to be undeveloped down the road.

You’re better off developing your grip strength alongside your deadlifts.

Short answer: consider using straps strategically when doing high volume deadlifts, but don’t rely on regularly them for max lifts: improve your grip strength.

Instead, chalk, stronger grip strength, and a hook grip for max lifts is your friend!

#2) “Should I wear gloves while doing a deadlift, Staci?”

Nope.

Gloves actually create space between your hands and the bar, and it reduces your grip security, increases the diameter of the bar, and makes the bar harder to hold on to.

This means the gloves are doing the exact OPPOSITE of what you think they’re doing.

Use chalk instead, my friend.

I don’t recommend using gloves unless you have an injury like a ripped callus.

Speaking of ripped calluses, or if you’re worried about getting rough hands from deadlifting – make sure to take care of your hands and they are less likely to happen!

#3) “Do I need to use a lifting belt?” 

When starting out, you don’t have to worry about using a belt.

However, as you get to really heavy weights, it may be something to look into.

Belts need to be worn correctly in order to be effective.

Note: While you may be able to lift more using a mixed grip and a belt, they’re definitely not necessary to lift heavy.

Here’s a video of Anthony Mychal deadlifting 550 lbs at the powerlifting competition at Camp Nerd Fitness – double overhand with no belt:

#4) “What kind of shoes should I wear to deadlift?”

GREAT question. I don’t care what kind of shoes they are, as long as they are flat.

You really have four options for deadlifting shoes:

  1. FLAT SHOES: Chucks work great. I personally prefer to deadlift in either socks or zero drop minimalist shoes. Do NOT wear clunky athletic shoes with thick heels or shoes with those pockets of air bubbles in the heels.
  2. DEADLIFTING SHOES: Getting a bit fancy here, but if you are competing or just want shoes you can deadlift in, consider deadlifting shoes.
  3. GO BAREFOOT: If you don’t want to invest in new shoes, deadlift barefoot. Just don’t go walking around the gym in socks – you might get kicked out or have a weight roll across your feet!  
  4. SLIPPERS: No, not fuzzy Snoopy ones. Look into deadlift slippers – they’re just fancy socks approved for competition.

Still here, eh? Amazing! 

We want to be part of a community that helps you reach your goals. Whether you want to deadlift for the first time, or you’re trying to hit the 1,000 club, our Nerdy Coaches want to help.

Let us take care of everything so all you have to worry about is following the instructions and picking up the weight!

7 Common Faults and Mistakes while Deadlifting

Don't use weights like these incorrectly doing your deadlift.

DON’T DO THESE THINGS:

#1) Rounded Back – not keeping your spine in neutral the entire time. Letting your lower back round at all is a huge no no. [2]

Do NOT round your back like so during your deadlift.

#2) Looking up (with your neck) – Along with keeping a neutral spine, hyper extending your neck to look up is also something we want to stay away from.

Do NOT look up like this during your deadlift

#3) Hyperextending at the end of the movement – The spine should still be in neutral even at the top. Hyper extending at the top is actually not something we actually strive for or need to do.

This is NOT how you want to end your deadlifting movement.

#4) Treating the deadlift like a squat with the bar in your hands. You are not starting in a squat position and standing up – it is a different movement.

Squats are great, but don't deadlift like one as shown here.

#5) Letting the bar come forward – The bar needs to stay over your midline and be dragged up your body the entire lift – any movement forward of your midline should be avoided.

Don't let the bar come forward during your deadlift as shown here.

#6) Butt rises faster than your chest (also known as the “stripper deadlift”) – your chest should lead the movement, and your entire body should move upward at the same pace.

Don't let your butt raise faster than your chest during the deadlift.

#7) Bending your arms – your arms should stay straight. Don’t bend your elbows to try to get the bar up faster.

Do NOT bend your arms here like Staci during your deadlift.

NOT SURE YOUR FORM IS RIGHT? I hear you – Personally, I deadlifted with bad form for years and I didn’t even realize it.

It wasn’t until I enlisted the help of an online coach who checked my form via video and helped me with the right “mental cues” to get me to start deadlifting correctly.

If you want somebody to check your form – AND build the workout for you – consider our 1-on-1 online coaching program with form check:

What Are the Different Types of Deadlifts?

The conventional deadlift is great, but there are so many others to choose form as shown here.

So far we’ve addressed the conventional/traditional barbell deadlift.

There are MANY different variations of deadlifts, and you can use whichever one floats your boat (if you have a boat to float, that is).

Here are 8 different deadlift variations:

1) Conventional Deadlift – Your hands are just outside your feet, standing at about hip-width apart. Our article has been highlighting this form of deadlift.

Rebel Leader Steve showing how to do a 420 lb deadlift.

2) Sumo Deadlift – Your hands are inside your feet with a wider stance.

This is an example of the sumo deadlift.

3) Hex or Trap Bar Bar Deadlifts – Use a specialty bar made just for deadlifting which changes the biomechanics.

4) Snatch Grip Deadlift – Your hands will use a wide grip like in the Snatch.

To snatch deadlift, hold your grip wide like this.

5) Romanian Deadlift: Think of this as the top half of a conventional deadlift (imagine you’re a “drinking bird” bending over at the waist).

Coach Staci showing the Romanian deadlift

 

6) Deficit Deadlift: This movement increases the range of motion of your deadlift, since your feet are elevated compared to the bar.

Someone doing a deadlift with a deficit

7) Rack Pulls: Conversely, this decreases your range of motion with the deadlift, since the bar is raised higher.

A man doing a deadlift from a rack, known as a rack pull deadlift.

8) Dumbbell Deadlift Variations: For either accessory work, or if you don’t have access to a barbell and weights.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Staci Ardison (@staciardison) on

This guide covered primarily the conventional deadlift, because it’s a great variation for beginners and an exercise you can do every week for the rest of your life.

Once you get comfy with it though, move onto others. Need more tips for strength training moves?

I would highly recommend you do 3 things:

  1. Pick up Starting Strength: the bible of barbell training.
  2. Hire a trainer to help you do the movement correctly!
  3. Consider working with an online coach for your workout and nutritional guidance.

Oh and don’t forget to grab our Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know when you sign up in the box below:

Frequently Asked Questions on the Deadlift

A Rebel doing the deadlift!

#1) “What do I do if I can’t get into the proper starting position?”

While you are getting the mobility to get into the correct starting position, you can put the bar on blocks to raise it up a few inches to help you get in the right position.

Each workout, start with the bar a little lower, until it is just on the floor.

You can use all sorts of things to raise a deadlift bar up, like these boxes.

#2) “What weight do I start deadlifting with?”

Always start with just the bar. Then progress as described in our Strength Training 101 article “How Much Weight Should I Be Lifting?”

Each week, your goal should be to lift SLIGHTLY more than last week.

That’s it. By going SLOWLY, you’re giving all of your muscles, joints, tendons, your grip, and your central nervous system a chance to level up together.

So start small. Lift more each week.

#3) “Should I do ‘touch and go’ or ‘dead stop’ if I’m doing a set of multiple reps?”

A dead stop means letting the weight settle completely on the ground before doing the next rep, while “touch and go” reps means you’re essentially bouncing the weight at the bottom of the movement and going RIGHT into the next rep.

Touch and go reps are thus easier:

  • The stretch reflex where your body quickly rubber bands in the other direction.
  • Locomotion: the bar is already in motion, so it’s simply easier to lift something that is already moving than it is to lift something that is completely stopped.
  • Bounce: If you are at a gym that has rubber bumper plates, these plates actually will bounce a little when they hit the floor – helping you lift the weight.

HOWEVER,  while “touch and go” reps are easier, they are also more dangerous. It’s easier to mess up your form if you aren’t resetting every rep and easier to get fatigued.

It is also in the eccentric (lowering) part of the “touch and go” deadlifts that most people get hurt. This is one of the most technically demanding, important lifts out there and should be treated with respect.

For that reason, resetting between every rep is preferred for general strength programs. This allows you to reset, get your form right, and get your breathing right on every rep.

Yes, If you are doing a CrossFit WOD, you might be doing touch and go for time. Awesome. You do you, boo.

#4) “Okay, I get it. Deadlifts are great! How often should I deadlift?”

I love your enthusiasm and I would never ask you to curb it, but there are some things we need to take into consideration when adding deadlifts into our program.

(Here’s how you can build your own workout routine, by the way.)

Heavy deadlifts are extremely taxing on the central nervous system.

This means your body needs more time to recover. In fact, it’s so taxing that some coaches recommend taking the deadlift out completely for their more advanced, sport specific athletes.

Most good strength programs only deadlift once a week – and it’s lighter volume than with your squats.

Both Starting Strength and StrongLifts only include ONE set of 5 deadlifts. Meanwhile, they program 5 sets of 5 for squats.

In our Coaching Program, we add deadlifts into each person’s workout on a case-by-case basis.

Generally, it’s once per week, and we’d love to help build a program for you that has you deadlifting 400+ pounds in no time!*

*Okay it’ll definitely take longer than “no time,” but it might happen sooner than you think!

Get Out There and Deadlift: Next Steps

Deadlifting is Staci's favorite exercise of all time.I am so excited for you to start deadlifting, because it’s the ultimate physical AND mental exercise. 

For people looking for the next step, we’ve built 3 options that might float your boat:

1) If you are somebody that wants to follow a tailor-made program designed around their life and goals, check out our popular 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program.

You’ll work with our certified NF instructors who will get to know you better than you know yourself, check your form, and program your workouts and nutrition for you.

2) If you want a snazzy app to teach you exactly how to start crushing deadlifts (using things you might have around the house), check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

Try your free trial right here:

3) Download our free Strength 101 Guide, which you can get when you sign up in the box below:

So, as Mark Rippetoe, Starting Strength author said:

“The deadlift also serves as a way to train the mind to do things that are hard.”

If you can pick up hundreds of pounds off the ground, what else can you accomplish?

I have a big question for you:

  • Are you going to start deadlifting TODAY?
  • If it not today, how about TOMORROW?

Note: these are the only two acceptable answers 🙂

If you have more questions about how to fit deadlifts into your workout, please leave them in the comments below.

Big or small, what questions do you have on the deadlift?

-Staci 

PS: Here are our other free articles in the Strength 101 series:

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photo/media source:[3]

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How to Do a Proper Dip: Get Strong With the Dip Exercise https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/how-to-do-a-perfect-dip-no-tobacco-required/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/how-to-do-a-perfect-dip-no-tobacco-required/#disqus_thread Tue, 09 Nov 2021 14:29:53 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/?p=3026 Today you learn one of the most underrated exercises of all time: the dip. It’s something we remind our coaching clients not to overlook, and I’m excited to share the exercise with you today. Here’s what we’ll cover so you can learn the bodyweight dip: What is the dip exercise? What muscles does the dip […]

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The parallel bar dip exercise is one of the best exercises for building upper body strength!

Today you learn one of the most underrated exercises of all time: the dip.

It’s something we remind our coaching clients not to overlook, and I’m excited to share the exercise with you today.

Here’s what we’ll cover so you can learn the bodyweight dip:

A quick note: we have compiled ALL of our strength training content into a comprehensive guide that will remove all the confusion and answer all the questions you have about weight training! Grab our guide, Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know, when you sign up in the box below!

What Is the Dip Exercise? What Muscles Does the Dip Train?

The dip is a compound, bodyweight exercise.

You grab two parallel bars, hoist yourself up, and then lower your entire body by bending your elbows.

Bodyweight dips are a great exercise to include in an strength training practice.

When you hear “compound exercise,” it’s referring to multi-joint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups at the same time. 

The dip exercise trains your:

  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Tricep
  • Back
  • Abs

You may be thinking, “abs?”

Yep! You need to stabilize your body as you raise and lower yourself.

Which is one of the reasons bodyweight dips are so great!

Some would even argue that dips are the best chest exercise out there, even better than the bench press.

There’s some logic to it.

  • When you think about it, the bench itself offers a lot of support during the bench press. So do your legs. 
  • With the dip exercise, your upper body is supporting your entire body. Thus a fuller workout. 

Instead of isolating your chest for 5 exercises, your shoulders for 5 exercises, and triceps for 5 exercises, just do dips!

How to Do a Proper Dip Exercise

First of all, make sure you can do a dip. 

Don’t hop up there and then lower yourself unless you’re fairly confident you can get through at least one of these things. We can’t have you tearing any muscles or falling on somebody, because that would suck. 

Head to our progression plan if you can’t do a full dip yet. 

Here’s how to do a proper dip exercise:

  1. Grab the parallel bars (or rings), and hoist yourself up. At this point look straight ahead, and contract your stomach muscles (just like when you do squats and deadlifts). If you’re keeping your abs tight for all of these exercises, you’ll never have to do a crunch again and you’ll still have washboard abs.
  2. Bend your knees if you like (so your feet are behind you), for stability purposes, but keep your head up and look straight ahead.
  3. Keeping your elbows at your side, lower yourself until your triceps are parallel to the floor. A lot of folks will recommend you go past parallel, but I think this puts too much strain on your shoulders at a weird angle and can cause injury/discomfort. I only go down to parallel and haven’t had any issues, so I’d recommend the same.
  4. Once you hit parallel, explode back up until JUST before you’re able to lock your elbows. By not locking your elbows, you keep the tension in your muscles and don’t jack up your joints. w00t.
  5. Now do another one. And then another!

Those are dips.

Keep your elbows as tight as possible, engage your abs, and hold your body in balance as you go up and down.

A gif of Steve doing bodyweight ring dips

Are you doing it right?

Check your form by recording a video of yourself and matching it against the videos and gifs here. If it looks close then you’re doing great!

Want to have an expert review your form? Our coaches can do just that in our spiffy app!

What If I Can’t Perform a Dip? (Progression Plan)

Have no fear, with a proper plan we'll have you doing dips in no time.

If you don’t quite have the strength to do a full bodyweight dip, follow our progression plan below.

You’ll be doing the complete dip movement before you know it!

Level 1 Dip Progression: Knee Push-Ups

Knee push-ups like this are a great way to progress to a regular push-up!

If you’re just starting to develop your push muscles, our first stop will be knee push-ups. We’ll build your strength up so you can start doing…

Level 2 Dip Progression: Push-Ups

This gif shows Staci doing a push-up in perfect form.

Can you do a push-up with proper form yet? If not, that’s our stop.

Push-ups will help you develop chest muscles for doing proper dips. Only after you can do 20 proper push-ups should you consider trying to do a dip.

Level 3 Dip Progression: Assisted Dips

A resistance band is a great way to get started with this bodyweight exercise.

It’s now time to do some dips! With a little bit of assistance…

We’ll use a resistance band to help support your weight while you grow stronger. You can progress with weaker and weaker resistance bands until you feel comfortable trying a proper bodyweight dip.

How about using an assisted dip machine?

You may see these at the gym, but our advice would be to use a resistance band instead of this contraption.

We’re not huge fans of machines here at Nerd Fitness.

Here’s why: an assisted dip machine stabilizes your body during the movement, which means your own muscles don’t need to do any of that stabilization work! We’d rather you stick with resistance bands than mess with this contraption, as it still makes your muscles work together throughout the movement.

You can check out some brands to buy, and how to train with them, in our Guide to Resistance Bands.

Sure, if you don’t have bands and can ONLY do dips with the machine pictured above, it’s not the end of the world! Just make sure you are also doing other movements as well that DO recruit those stabilizer muscles (push-ups, presses, and so on).

ALSO, if you find yourself getting stuck on “assisted dips,” you’re not alone. Lots of folks find it difficult to move beyond the support of the band.

We work hand-in-hand with people like you to master bodyweight training in our Online Coaching Program. If you don’t know how to add dips into your workouts, or you just want somebody to give you the exact workout to follow every day, we got you!

Tips and Tricks for Performing the Dip Exercise

In this section, we'll make sure you don't make any newbie mistakes when doing dips.

Here are some extra tips on getting better at dips:

#1) Get your setup correct at the start.

When people experience pain with their dips, it’s probably one of two things:

  • When your arms go too far back, they can close off the shoulder and start to cause pain.
  • If you allow your shoulders to round forward during the movement, it can again close off the area and create discomfort.

Coach Jim shows you how to avoid these two issues in the video “How to Do Pain-Free Dips,” which you can check out right here:

#2) Don’t swing – this goes for practically every exercise. If you start swinging your body as you go up and down, you take the emphasis off the muscles you’re actually trying to work.

Save swinging for the playground:

This dog keeps his swinging to the playground.

#3) Don’t flare out your elbows if you can avoid it – the more “out” your elbows are, the more emphasis on your chest. Elbows tight = emphasis on shoulders and triceps.

Nicholas Elorreaga does a good job showing the difference here:

#4) Don’t do half reps – again, this could be another universal rule. Challenge your muscles by bringing your triceps parallel to the ground, then make sure you extend arms to almost “elbows locked” at the top:

You can see here that Steve is doing a complete rep when doing his dip.

#5) Don’t go too fast  – you want to be slow and in control during your dip. When you go too quickly, proper form is often sacrificed. Make sure you train safely by going slowly…this isn’t a race!

#6) Don’t settle for cheap substitutes – don’t use dip machines or other isolation tricep machines:

Our advice is to not use machines like this. The bodyweight dip will provide a fuller workout.

These don’t recruit any of your stabilizer muscles, put your body at weird angles, and don’t give you full results. Stick with bodyweight dips!

Variations on the Dip (Advanced Dip Moves)

We'll show you some advanced dip variations in this section, so you can rock dips like this blue dude.

Once you can do 3 sets of 15 dips no problem, you have a few options to ramp up the difficulty:

#1) Add weight to your bodyweight dips by:

  • Picking up a dumbbell between your feet (challenging)
  • Wearing a weighted backpack (awkward)
  • Wearing a belt with weights hanging off it (what I do)

My favorite method for doing weighted dips includes a special belt (shown here).

#2) Go Slower: keep your abs tight, and lower yourself ridiculously slow.

Your body will have to recruit every muscle in your chest, shoulders, and triceps (including all stabilizer muscles) to keep your body under control.

#3) Try Ring Dips:

The ring dip is a great way to build back and shoulder muscle.

Lower yourself down until your chest touches the rings (yes, that low!), and then push up until you are in a straight arm support position.

If you’ve never played with gymnastic rings before, the instability of the rings will provide a greater challenge than your standard dip station.

You can also lower the height of your rings to utilize some support from your feet:

The floor can help a lot when doing ring dips!

Raise the rings higher and higher as you grow stronger and stronger. 

Make sure you check out our “Guide to Training with Gymnastic Rings” if you’d like to learn more. 

How to Do Dips at Home

It's time to learn what triggers your habits

If you’re training at your home gym, you can absolutely do bodyweight dips.

Here are two variations to try:

#1) Bodyweight Dips Between Two Chairs or Bar Stools:

This is all going to be about the chairs or barstools you can find.

The important thing here is the stability of your furniture – don’t pick anything that’s wobbly. However, if you have a couple tall and sturdy chairs or bar stools, you can set them up on either side of you to perform your bodyweight dips.

If they’re too high for you and you can’t quite get your feet on the ground for assisted dips, no problem. Just stand on a few books or a short stool to help you gain support.

#2) Bodyweight Dips Off a Countertop:

Another great option is to perform dips on the corner of two sturdy countertops. As long as you can place your hands to the side so they can face forward, and you have plenty of room to maneuver between them, then you’re solid.

One thing you should be careful with is bench dips, which could be done off of a couch:

A gif of a woman doing a bench dip

The trouble with this comes from your arms being behind you.

As we covered in the “How to Do Pain-Free Dips” video above, this position is a common problem area for causing pain in bodyweight dips. If it hurts when trying the bench dip, stick to the other two home variations above.

When Should You Do Dips in Your Workout? (Getting Started)

This man clearly knows to "dip" when the occasion arrives.

Now that you know how to do dips, let’s discuss when to do them.

Unless you’ve been strength training for years and know what you’re doing, we recommend that you pick a full-body routine that you can do 2-3 times a week.

So let’s build a full-body workout right now! 

You want a workout routine that has at least one exercise for:

  1. Quads (front of your legs).
  2. Butt and hamstrings (back of your legs).
  3. Chest, shoulders, and triceps: (“push” muscles).
  4. Back, biceps, and grip ( “pull” muscles).
  5. Core (abdominals and lower back).

Dips would make a great addition to your “push” muscles (chest, shoulders, triceps).

So a sample workout routine that includes dips could look like:

  1. Barbell squats: 5 sets of 5 reps.
  2. Barbell Deadlifts: 3 sets of 3 reps.
  3. Dips: 3 sets of 15 reps.
  4. Pull-ups (or chin-ups): 3 sets of 8 reps.
  5. Planks: 3 sets, 1 minute hold each.

That’s all! 

Do your full-body workout and then go play some Nintendo.

Mario earned his video game time, because he did his dips earlier.

Need some help getting started? 

I have three great options to help you with your dip and strength training journey:

#1) If you want step-by-step guidance, a custom strength training program that levels up as you get stronger, and a coach to keep you accountable, check out our killer 1-on-1 coaching program:

2) If you want an exact blueprint for crushing dips, check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

Try your free trial right here:

3) Join the Rebellion! We need good people like you in our community, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion. 

Sign up in the box below to enlist and get our guide, Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know. It’ll help you start incorporating dips into your training:

That should get you going on mastering the bodyweight dip.

Alright, now I want to hear from you:

Do you head to the gym to crush dips? 

Are you currently progressing through assisted dips?

Any tips or tricks we missed?

Let us know in the comments!

For the Rebellion,

-Steve

PS:  Want to learn more? Read the rest of our Strength Training 101 series:

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Photo source: Fitness time, Lost, Assisted Dip Machine, Blue benny, Maltz Challenge, The Harbor Divers of Stone Town, Visiting Friends.

GIF source: Weighted dips, Bodyweight Dip, Bench Dips.

 

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How to Use a Rowing Machine (Beginner’s Workout) https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/how-to-use-a-rowing-machine/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/how-to-use-a-rowing-machine/#disqus_thread Thu, 04 Nov 2021 16:06:31 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=3947460 The rowing machine – it’s so hot right now. Rowing classes are everywhere. It’s easy to find professional and Olympic athletes hyping up the machine’s ability to provide a full-body workout. All well and good…but how do you actually use the thing? Well my friend, you’ve come to the right place to find out. Many […]

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Man using row machine

The rowing machine – it’s so hot right now.

Rowing classes are everywhere. It’s easy to find professional and Olympic athletes hyping up the machine’s ability to provide a full-body workout.

All well and good…but how do you actually use the thing?

Well my friend, you’ve come to the right place to find out.

Many clients in our Online Coaching Program tell us they want to start rowing, but they don’t know how. Today, we’ll explain how we get them going with row machine workouts.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Alright, you ready?

Let’s row, row, row your rower.

How to Use a Rowing Machine (Video Tutorial)

In the video above, Coach Staci explains the ins and outs of using a rowing machine.

What? Who’s Staci?

Welp, she’s a Senior Coach here at Nerd Fitness and an all-around badass powerlifter.

She also knows a thing or two about using a rowing machine, since she’s gotten several CrossFit certs (they love the rowing machine at CrossFit).

If you’re going to learn about using a rowing machine, she’s not a bad person to talk to.

But first, let’s back up here a bit…

What Are the Benefits of Using a Rowing Machine?

Team of Lego men rowing a boat

The rowing machine was originally invented for water rowers to train offseason.

You might hear the indoor rowing machine called an ergometer, or “erg” or “ergo.” They get this name since rowing machines often measure the energy produced from the workout in units of ergs.

Animation of the words

They’ve grown in popularity, because of the many benefits offered by this one stationary machine.

For example, the rowing machine offers:

  • A Full-Body Workout. If we use proper rowing technique, we’ll hit every major muscle group in our body. Upper, lower, core, we’ll work it all. This is one of the main reasons they’ve become so popular.
  • Low-Impact. While a workout from a rowing machine can get intense, it’s considered to be little to no impact. That’s why it’s sometimes recommended to patients with osteoarthritis.[1]
  • Versatility. We can do a lot with an ergometer. We can train for duration and/or intensity. We even do a HIIT workout. Or we can combine it with bodyweight movements in a circuit. Plus, since some of them fold up, they’re perfect for those who need to train in small spaces.

Alright, let’s now go over some terminology so you know what’s what with the ergometer.

Rowing Machine 101: Terms to Know

Row machine

When it comes to the rowing machine, there’s some vocabulary that would be worth discussing quickly.

First, let’s chat about the rower itself:

#1) Foot Plate – no matter the rower, there will be a place for you to strap your feet in.

Strapping feet into row machine

You’ll want to set your feet so that the strap goes over the ball of your foot. This will allow you to have the most powerful stroke.

Coach Staci demonstrating proper stroke technique

You should be able to lift your heel in this position.

#2) Handle – also called “the bar.” This replicates the handles of an oar.

Your hands should be approximately shoulder-width apart.

#3) Rail – the central beam of the rower, which allows the seat to roll forward and back.

#4) Display Monitor – while these will differ from model to model, the rower will normally have a screen to show some basic info:

  • Strokes per minute (Stroke Rate)
  • Split Time (more on this momentarily)
  • Duration of workout

Etc.

For the Concept2 model – the rower Coach Staci demonstrates above – you can hit any button and select “Just Row.”

Demonstration of monitor for Concept2 row machine

This will be the easiest way to get going.

#5) The Damper – The lever on the side of the flywheel housing (or fan cage) that controls airflow.

Demonstration of row machine damper

The difference in Damper settings:

  • The higher the setting, the more air is allowed to flow. This requires more work to spin the flywheel.
  • The lower the setting, the less air is allowed to flow. This requires less work to spin the flywheel.

Think of this sort of like bicycle gears – it affects how the rowing feels but does not necessarily reflect the resistance:

  • A setting of one will feel fast and easier to pull, but you’ll need to move quickly to generate power.
  • That said, cranking the damper up to ten doesn’t mean a better workout either. It just means a tougher pull – like trying to move a rowboat.

We recommended you aim for a Damper setting between 3 and 5 (which is also where most competitive rowers have it).

Note: some indoor rowers use a water tank to create resistance, so any similar Damper setting controls the amount of water moving through the system. You can still use the same recommendations for damper numbers.

More on that here:

Next, let’s talk about some terminology for the sport of rowing itself.

Rowing has been around for centuries and a lot of the vocabulary has carried over to the indoor sport.

Rowing Terms to Know:

#1) Split

Split time refers to the time it takes to row 500 meters, also known as the “split per 500.” This will likely be shown prominently on your Display Monitor.

If the number goes down, it means you’re going faster! Woot.

#2) Strokes Per Minute (SPM)

This is also called Stroke Rating and it’s exactly what it sounds like: the number of strokes you take per minute.

A higher SPM doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going faster – you can also go faster by putting more power into each stroke.

#3) Paddle (or Rest)

Normally in the sport of rowing, you never stop completely. You just row or “paddle” a little bit easier.

Sort of like you do in HIIT workouts.

However, if you need to stop completely in your workout, don’t stress it. It’s fine to even get off the rower from time to time…it’s not actually a boat.

You do you.

Batman giving thumbs up

Next, we need to discuss the four parts of the rowing stroke, but we’ll jump to a new section for that.

The Four Parts of the Rowing Stroke

Woman on row machine

The rowing stroke is broken out into four parts:

  1. The Catch
  2. The Drive
  3. The Finish
  4. The Recovery

It’ll look like this:

Coach Staci demonstrating proper rowing technique

Let’s cover each.

#1) The Catch

This is the start of the stroke:

  • Our knees are bent and our shins are roughly vertical.
  • Our body leans forward slightly to about a 1 o’clock position and our arms are straight.

Like so:

Coach Staci demonstrating the catch position

This puts us in the ideal position to generate power.

#2) The Drive

As the name would suggest, this is where we’ll be driving and generating power for the stroke.

The order in which we generate power is key:

  • It should go legs first
  • Then lean back with the body
  • Then pull with the arms

It’ll look like this:

Coach Staci demonstrating the drive

They should blend smoothly right into each other, so a good reminder is:

  1. Legs
  2. Body
  3. Arms

A great drill to practice the Drive: 

Start with JUST the legs:

Coach Staci demonstrating legs only drill

THEN the legs and a slight backward lean with the body:

Coach Staci demonstrating drill with legs and leaning body

FINALLY, the legs, body, and arm pull together:

Coach Staci demonstrating drill with legs, body, and arms

This can be done with or without the rowing handle.

Common mistakes with the Drive:

A) Pulling hard with the arms first. We’ll see the elbows bend early. This greatly decreases the amount of power we can put into the stroke.

Coach Staci demonstrating incorrect form, pulling arms too early

We want to keep the arms straight and wait until the handle passes the knees BEFORE we first bend the arms.

B) Letting the body pull forward while we’re driving with the legs.

Coach Staci demonstrating incorrect technique, by being pulled forward during the return.

Instead, we want to keep a strong and stable midsection so that we can go smoothly from the leg drive to the body lean.

#3) The Finish

This will be our position after the Drive:

  • Our legs are extended and our body is leaning back slightly.
  • The handle is about at our solar plexus.
  • Our shoulders are down and our wrists are straight.

It’ll look like this:

Coach Staci demonstrating correct finish position

A great drill to practice the Finish: just work on the arm motion. 

Coach Staci demonstrating a rowing drill by just using her arms while leaning.

Keep the legs extended and lean back slightly. Then pull with just the arms.

Common mistakes with the Finish:

A) Shrug the shoulders up by the ears.

Coach Staci demonstrates incorrect form with shoulders shrugged

This is often accompanied by bent wrists and chicken wing arms.

Coach Staci demonstrates incorrect form with "chicken wings"

Instead, we want the shoulders down and the elbows closer to the sides, with enough space between the arms and body for a grapefruit to fit.

B) Pulling the handle too high – to the neck or face.

Coach Staci demonstrates incorrect form with the handle too high

We want the handle down at the solar plexus, not up orbiting in the solar system!

C) Leaning back too far – we’re not trying to perform the one-person luge here!

Coach Staci demonstrates incorrect form leaning too far back

We only need to lean back slightly, at about an 11 o’clock position.

#4) The Recovery

Coach Staci demonstrates proper technique for the recovery

This is how we return back to the starting position.

  • Just as we had a proper order for the Drive – legsbodyarms – we’ll have a proper order for the recovery by reversing it – arms, body, legs.
  • Straighten the arms, then lean the body forward slightly, and finally bend the legs to head back to the Catch.

Common mistakes with the Recovery: Bending the legs too early when recovering from the stroke. You’ll know you’re doing this when you have to lift the handle up and over the knees.

Coach Staci demonstrating incorrect technique, bending the knees too early

Instead, wait for the handle to PASS the knees before fully bending the legs.

There you have it, the four parts of the rowing stroke.

You’ll get better at this as you go, I promise.

Rowing is like golf: the relentless pursuit of the perfect stroke.

Happy Gilmore being coached on his swing with caption "it's all in the hips"

One way to check your form would be to record yourself doing a rowing stroke.

If it looks close to the gifs and videos found in this guide, you’re doing great!

Oh, and if you want an expert to review your form, you can do so in our snazzy Coaching app.

You can learn more here:

When to Add the Rowing Machine to Your Workout

A coupe rowing machines in the gym

A rowing machine can fit into our workout in all sorts of ways.

We can row:

If you want to give the rowing machine a whirl, including it as part of your warm-up wouldn’t be a bad idea. Since it’s a full-body exercise, it’s a great way to prep our body for the workout ahead.

To warm up with the rower, aim for about 5-10 minutes at a steady pace. 

Once you get the hang of the rower, you can look to incorporate it with some of these ideas:

#1) Interval Training

Interval training or HIIT is all about flipping between intensity.

Going hard one moment, then resting another.

So after your warm-up, you could row intensely for two minutes, rest or “paddle” for a minute or two, then back to intensity.

A fun way to do this is to build up the duration and then pull it back with a “Meter Pyramid.”

To Row a Meter Pyramid:

  • One minute of intensity, followed by one minute of paddle.
  • Two minutes of intensity, followed by two minutes of paddle.
  • Three minutes of intensity, followed by three minutes of paddle.
  • Four minutes of intensity, followed by four minutes of paddle.
  • Three minutes of intensity, followed by three minutes of paddle.
  • Two minutes of intensity, followed by two minutes of paddle.
  • One minute of intensity, followed by one minute of paddle.

If you start this off with a 5-minute warm-up, it’ll take about 37 minutes.

#2) Circuit Training

You could also mix in some other exercises as part of your rowing workout. Flipping between rowing and some bodyweight exercises, for example.

Here’s an example Row Machine Workout Circuit:

Repeat.

We could aim for 3-4 circuits here, but even 1-2 is a great start.

#3) Steady State

This is exactly what it sounds like: rowing at a constant pace.

After a warm-up, find a pace that you can stay with. Then stay with it.

A good frame of mind here would be about 50% of your effort, but don’t overthink this.

Put on a good podcast or your favorite playlist, find a Stroke Rate you can maintain for 10-30 minutes, and get rowing.

You can pretend you’re in a competition if it helps!

Two people rowing outdoors

Also, mix and match! The important thing is that you’re doing some type of workout. Don’t fret if it doesn’t fit into the exact format you find here or on other websites.

For more ideas here, check out How to Build Your Own (Full-Body) Workout.

Should a Beginner Use a Rowing Machine? (Next Steps)

Team rowing boat in bay

There you have it, my friend.

You now have everything you need to get started rowing.

Don’t overstress if you’re not doing anything 100% right as you start.

Like anything, you’ll get better at it as you go.

Plus, it’s not like you’ll be ejected into the water from an indoor rower.

Rower falling overboard

But, if down the road you do want to take it outside, there are all sorts of leagues and clubs you can join.

It could be a great way to get out and make friends!

Granted, you’ll need SOME type of body of water around you, but if you live next to a lake or large river, there’s likely a team out there that would love to meet you.

Practice indoors for a bit, then take 20 seconds of courage to put yourself out there.

What’s 20 seconds of courage?

We explain it all to you in this video:

Oh, and if you want to continue having Nerd Fitness propel your journey, here are three ways we can help:

#1) Our Online Coaching Program: a coaching program for busy people to help them make better food choices, stay accountable, and get healthier, permanently.

If ever you come across a snazzy piece of equipment and what to learn how to use it, your very own coach can help you!

Plus, they can guide your nutrition and help you level up all areas of your life. 

You can schedule a free call with our team so we can get to know you and see if our coaching program is right for you. Just click on the image below for more details:

#2) If you want an exact roadmap for building a full-body workout, check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app tells you exactly what days to exercise, what days to rest, and helps you track it all so you know if it’s working for you.

Interested?

Try your free trial right here:

#3) Join the Rebellion! We need good people like you in our community, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion.

Sign up in the box below to enlist and get our Rebel Starter Kit, which includes all of our “work out at home” guides, our Strength Training 101 eBook, and much more!

Now, your turn:

  • What’s your experience with row machines?
  • Do you use them as part of your training?
  • Any workouts I’m missing?

Let me know in the comments!

-Steve

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Photo source: vadymvdrobot © 123RF.com, Legoland Somerville (Boston), indoor rower, nd3000 © 123RF.com, malkovkosta © 123RF.com.

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Proper Push-Up Ultimate Guide: How to Do Push Ups with Correct Form https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/proper-push-up/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/proper-push-up/#disqus_thread Thu, 04 Nov 2021 15:21:37 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/?p=8109 The push-up is one of the best exercises on the planet. It’s a foundational movement in strength training, and an exercise EVERYBODY should be doing regularly. However, it’s also an exercise that about 95% of people get wrong and do incorrectly. Fortunately, after reading today’s ultimate guide, you’ll know exactly how to do a proper push-up […]

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Rebel Leader Steve doing a push-up near some water.

The push-up is one of the best exercises on the planet.

It’s a foundational movement in strength training, and an exercise EVERYBODY should be doing regularly.

However, it’s also an exercise that about 95% of people get wrong and do incorrectly.

Fortunately, after reading today’s ultimate guide, you’ll know exactly how to do a proper push-up with correct form:

Before we jump in, if you’re looking for a way to train anywhere (like with push-ups), you may be interested in the new app we built!

Nerd Fitness Journey will guide you through a workout routine that can be done anywhere, all while creating your very own superhero!

You can give it a free test drive right here:

How to Set up for a Proper Push-up (Staging)

Steve is setting up a proper push-up in this photo.

When it comes to push-ups, your form is crucial. Each push-up needs to be done with proper form so that your total reps measured from workout to workout are on equal footing.

This gif shows Staci doing a push-up in perfect form.

If you did 20 push-ups two days ago, and then today you did 25 push-ups by only going down halfway, sticking your ass up in the air, etc., it’s absolutely impossible to tell if you got any stronger.

Another angle of showing how to setup a proper push-up.

Here’s how to get into proper push-up position:

1) On the ground, set your hands at a distance that is slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. 

Draw a straight line from your chest/nipple down to the floor – it should be directly over your thumbnail.

Depending on your strength and experience, your hands should be angled in a way that feels comfortable to you. For me, my hands are set up so that my middle finger points straight up and away from me.

2) To alleviate wrist pain (if you have poor wrist flexibility) do your push-ups holding onto push-up handles (so your wrists aren’t as compromised), or a bar:

Staci showing you an elevated push-up

If you’re hardcore, you can do them on your knuckles (as long as you’re on a semi-soft surface like grass or carpet or broken glass. Wait, scratch that last one).

3) Your feet should be set up in a way that feels right and comfortable and in balance. For some, that might be shoulder-width apart.

For others, it might be with your feet touching. Generally speaking, the wider apart your feet, the more stable you’ll be for your push-ups.

4) Think of your body as one giant straight line – from the top of your head down through your heels. Your butt shouldn’t be sticking way up in the air or sagging. You’re essentially holding a plank throughout the entire movement.

Here Rebel Leader Steve shows you the classic push-up.

5) If you have a problem getting the proper form with your body, try this: clench your butt, and then tighten your abs as if you’re bracing to get punched.

Your core will be engaged, and your body should be in that straight line. If you’ve been doing push-ups incorrectly, this might be a big change for you.

Record a video of yourself to make sure you’re doing it correctly.

6) Your head should be looking slightly ahead of you, not straight down.

I read somewhere that said “if you’re doing them right, your chin should be the first part of your head to touch the floor, not your nose.”

Looking up helps you keep your body in line, but feel free to look down if that helps you concentrate more.

7) At the top of your push-up, your arms should be straight and supporting your weight. You’re now ready to do a push-up.

8) I want to draw special attention to that first step with hand position: nearly EVERYBODY does push-ups with their arms out far too wide and their shoulders flared. This is bad news bears. 

If I was looking down at you from above, your arms and body should form an ARROW, not a T.

As you can see, you want your arms to be like an arrow, not a T when doing push-ups.

WARNING: If you have been doing push-ups with your arms flared, doing them with proper form will be significantly more difficult!

How to Do a Proper Push-Up (Correct Push-Up Form with Video).

In the 5-minute “Perfect Push-Up” video above, featuring yours truly and two of our coaches, we take you through EACH of the steps of a push-up, including some variations!

Here’s how to complete one perfect repetition of a proper push up:

  • With your arms straight, butt clenched, and abs braced, steadily lower yourself until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle or less. Depending on your level of experience, age, and flexibility, 90 degrees might be the lowest you’re able to go. Personally, I like to go down until my chest (not my face), hits the floor. That way, I know I’m going the same distance each and every time.
  • Try not to let your elbows go flying way out with each repetition. Keep them relatively close to your body, and keep note of when they start to fly out when you get tired.
  • Once your chest (or nose/chin) touches the floor (or your arms go down to a 90-degree angle), pause slightly and then explode back up until you’re back in the same position.

Once you get down like so for your push-up it's time to...push...up.

Do as many as you can until you start to feel your form slip (even slightly); you are done for that set.

Here’s why you should focus on form over quantity:

  • 10 good push-ups and 5 crappy ones are tough to quantify against eleven good push-ups.
  • If you can only do 10 of something, write down your results and aim for 11 next time.
  • Perfect form allows you to keep track of your improvements week over week.

Want to know where push-ups should fall into your workout routine? I have three options!

1) Try Nerd Fitness Journey!

Nerd Fitness Journey will guide you through a bodyweight workout routine that can be done anywhere (yep, even there). You can try it for free right here:

2) Do them as part of our Beginner Bodyweight Workout Routine! This workout has been done by hundreds of thousands of people as their first strength training workout.

3) Make your own workout with push-ups by following our Build Your Own Workout” guide! It’ll walk you through everything you need to build an exercise program for your goals in 10 steps.

How Do You Train to Do Push-Ups? (Where to Start If You Can’t Do a Push-Up.)

Don’t worry if you can’t do a push-up yet. As we lay out in the video above, we have a plan that will help you get there.

You need to start with an easier push movement, and work up to progressively more difficult types of moves that will eventually result in you doing true push-ups.

This is the exact strategy used in our guide, “Get Your First Push-up!

We’ll progress from Level 1 Push-ups to Level 4 Push-ups:

  • Wall Push-Ups: Level 1
  • Elevated Push-Ups: Level 2
  • Knee Push-ups: Level 3
  • Regular Push-ups: Level 4

LEVEL 1: HOW TO DO WALL PUSH-UPS

Stand in front of a wall. Clench your butt, brace your abs, and set your hands on the wall at slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

Walk backwards with your feet until your arms are fully extended and supporting your weight (generally one decent sized step back with both feet will suffice). Keeping the rest of your body in a straight line, steadily lower yourself towards the wall until your nose almost touches the wall, and then explode back up to the starting position.

HOW TO TRAIN WALL PUSH-UPS:

Do 4 sets of wall push-ups with a 2-minute rest between sets, every other day. Keep track of how many repetitions you can do WITH PROPER FORM for each set in a notebook for easy comparison to previous workouts. Once you can do 4 sets of 20 repetitions of wall push-ups, you can progress to knee push-ups.

LEVEL TWO: HOW TO DO ELEVATED PUSH-UPS

As we demonstrate in this video above from Nerd Fitness Prime, elevated push-ups are just what they sound like – your hands are on an elevated surface, whether it’s something as tall as a kitchen table or as low as a few blocks that are inches off the ground. This will depend on your level of strength and experience.

If you’ve just progressed from wall push-ups, pick something that is at a level that’s right for you – I generally find the back of a park bench or the side of a picnic table to be a perfect height for doing incline push-ups. Like so:

HOW TO TRAIN ELEVATED PUSH-UPS:

Do 4 sets of elevated push-ups with a 2-minute rest between sets, every other day. Again, keep track of all of your stats for how many proper form repetitions you can do in each set. Once you can do 4 sets of 20 repetitions, it’s time to either move to regular push-ups, knee push-ups, or a lower height for your hands to be supported.

Once you can do 4 sets of 20 repetitions, it’s time to either move to regular push-ups, knee push-ups, or a lower height for your hands to be supported.

To work on progression, try to doing your elevated push-ups on the stairs in your house. As you get stronger, you can move your hands to lower and lower steps until your hands are on the ground.

LEVEL THREE: HOW TO DO KNEE PUSH-UPS

Knee push-ups like this are a great way to progress to a regular push-up!

Once you’re comfortable doing wall or elevated push-ups, proceed to knee push-ups. Your shoulder and hand placement will look just like a regular push-up (an “arrow”, not a “T”), but you’ll stabilize yourself on your knees instead of your feet. As demonstrated here:

HOW TO TRAIN KNEE PUSH-UPS

Once you can do 4 sets of 20 repetitions on your knees, you can start thinking about doing regular push-ups.

To recap, if you can’t do a regular push-up, move from:

  • Wall Push-Ups: Level 1
  • Elevated Push-Ups: Level 2
  • Knee Push-Ups: Level 3
  • Regular Push-ups: Level 4

How do I know the above progression will work? Well, it’s the exact plan we use to help people crush push-ups in Nerd Fitness Journey!

You can see how we scale our bodyweight workouts right here:

What Are Other Types of Push-Ups? (Push-Up Variations)

These stromtroopers need some variety in their push-up routine...if this drill instructor ever lets up.

Basic push-ups can get boring…

Fortunately, there are dozens upon dozens of variations to make things more difficult for you.

Once you’re cranking out perfect form push-ups like it’s your job,[1] try some of these advanced variations on for size.

Click on each for a video demonstration (these are some of the push-up variations pulled from NF Prime):

#1) One-legged Push-ups: introducing some variety and balance by removing one of your legs for less stabilization:

 

#2) Side-to-Side Push-Ups 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)!

 

#3) Decline Push-Ups – these work your shoulders and triceps more so than normal push-ups.

 

#4) Diamond Push-Ups – keep your arms tight at your side, rotate your hands outward, and keep your elbows tight as you lower your body. Works your triceps like crazy.

 

#5) Dive-Bomber Push-Ups – funky, difficult, but oh so fun. I’d explain it, but just watch the video

 

#6) Plyometric Push-Ups – these are brutal and will wear you out just after a few repetitions. Just don’t hurt yourself and smash your face during a failed attempt (not that I’ve ever done that. Shut up my face always looks like this)!

 

#7) Handstand Push-Ups – This goes without saying, but you should be able to do a proper handstand before attempting these!

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.

Rotate some of these advanced push-ups into your workout routine and you’ll be well on your way to a great strength training practice.

If you want more strength building tips, we also have a comprehensive guide, Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know, when you sign up for the Rebellion (that’s our community) below:

How to get better at push-ups

These LEGO characters love to stay fit doing the beginner bodyweight workout

So you’ve learned how to do a push-up, you can do a few of them, but you want to get better! 

Here are some tips to help you along the way:

  1. Get healthy! As you lose weight (which is 80% nutrition!), you will have to move less weight around than before, which will make your push-ups easier to manage. Have you had trouble losing weight in the past? Check out our article “Why Can’t I Lose Weight?” to find out why.
  2. Don’t cheat on the last few push-ups – when you’re tired, it’s easy to skip out on good form for your last few reps. As soon as you do one bad form push-up, you’re done. Finish up your four sets, write down your numbers, and try to beat those numbers next time.
  3. When starting out don’t do push-ups two days in a row. You need to give your muscles time to rebuild and recover – take off at least 48 hours in between your push-up adventure. However, when push-ups became a warm-up exercise for you – you can do them every day if you want. If you’re advanced, you can consider a PLP program.
  4. Get enough protein into your system after finishing up your workout – protein helps rebuild the muscles you just broke down doing push-ups, and it helps them rebuild those same muscles stronger than before. You can read our ultimate guide on protein for some tips on how to up your protein intake.
  5. If you can do 4 sets of 20-25 perfect form push-ups no sweat, then it’s time to start looking into push-up variations to keep things interesting.
  6. Build up your core with planks – this will help keep your core strong so that it’s not the weakest link in your proper form push-ups.

Coach Staci showing you the front plant

These 6 tips will be a great addition to your strength training plan. Keep at it and before you know it you’ll be doing one-arm push-ups like Batman.

One arm push-ups are hardcore, which is why Batman does them.

What’s that? You don’t have a strength-building plan!!! Well then…

What’s Your Strength Building Plan?

Once you get comfortable with regular push-ups, you can try plyometric push ups like this.

It makes me sad when we get emails from people who struggle and try and work hard to get healthier, and to be better at push-ups, and just can’t seem to make any progress.

If that’s you, you’re not alone!

1) Consider working with an online coach (or in-person trainer).

Helping people learn push-ups and other bodyweight exercises is why we built our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program: We build programs for busy people to cut through the noise and just get results

2) Exercising at home and need a plan to follow? Check out Nerd Fitness Journey!

Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

Try your free trial right here:

3) Join our community! We have hundreds of thousands of people, and I send out two free emails every week to help them level up their lives. Join our free community today, and I’ll send you a dozen free ebooks, including TONS of workout plans you can do anytime, anywhere. 

Join the community by signing up in the box below:

YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT: go home, set up a camera, and check your form on your push-ups.

I hope you’ll find that your form is as good as you expected, but it’s okay if it’s not, it’ll give you something to work on.

Go do some push-ups, and work on getting better with them every day.

You’ll be moving from Level 1 to Level 4 push-ups and beyond!

-Steve

PS: Not to brag, but I typed this entire article while doing 1-handed push-ups. 

PPS: Okay no I didn’t. But it would have been cool if I did, right?

PPPS: No? Fine. Sigh.

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Photo source:[2]

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Intermittent Fasting Beginner’s Guide (Should You Skip Breakfast!?) https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/a-beginners-guide-to-intermittent-fasting/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/a-beginners-guide-to-intermittent-fasting/#disqus_thread Mon, 01 Nov 2021 05:59:39 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=19118 “…Tony the Tiger tells us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day! It’s grrrrrreat!” This adage about breakfast has become commonplace that it’s readily and unquestionably accepted as fact. Well then, what’s with the growing popularity of Intermittent Fasting and SKIPPING breakfast? (Tony just audibly gasped.) In this Ultimate Guide to Intermitting […]

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Tony the Tiger wants you to keep eating breakfast. Should you, or should you try intermittent fasting?

“…Tony the Tiger tells us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day! It’s grrrrrreat!”

This adage about breakfast has become commonplace that it’s readily and unquestionably accepted as fact.

Well then, what’s with the growing popularity of Intermittent Fasting and SKIPPING breakfast?

(Tony just audibly gasped.)

In this Ultimate Guide to Intermitting Fasting, I’ll teach you everything about the science of fasting and what results you can expect:

ALSO, if you’re interested, Nerd Fitness Journey has an intermittent fasting adventure that you can start today!

This fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life, all while building your very own superhero!

Sign-up for a free trial right here:

What is Intermittent Fasting?

“Conventional wisdom” isn’t that smart.

We’re going to take two widely accepted healthy eating “rules” and turn them on their head:

RULE #1: You HAVE to eat first thing in the morning: Make sure you start off with a healthy breakfast, so you can get that metabolism firing first thing in the morning!

“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.”

There are even studies that show those that eat earlier in the day lose more weight than those who ate later in the day or skipped a meal.[1]

RULE #2: Eat lots of small meals for weight loss. Make sure you eat six small meals throughout the day so your metabolism stays operating at maximum capacity all day long.”

In other words,eat breakfast and lots of small meals to lose weight and obtain optimal health.”

But what if there’s science and research that shows SKIPPING BREAKFAST (the horror! blasphemy!) can help with optimum human performance, mental and physical health improvement, maximum muscle retention, and body fat loss?

This cat is surprised at the evidence that fasting may be better than eating breakfast.

That’s where an Intermittent Fasting Plan comes in.

Intermittent fasting is not a diet, but rather a dieting pattern

In simpler terms: it’s making a conscious decision to skip certain meals on purpose.

By fasting and then feasting deliberately, intermittent fasting generally means that you consume your calories during a specific window of the day, and choose not to eat food for a larger window of time.

There are a few different ways to take advantage of intermittent fasting, which I learned about from Martin over at LeanGains, a resource specifically built around fasted strength training:

INTERMITTENT FASTING 16/8 PLAN

What it is: Fasting for 16 hours and then only eating within a specific 8-hour window. For example, only eating from noon-8 PM, essentially skipping breakfast.

Some people only eat in a 6-hour window, or even a 4-hour window. This is “feasting” and “fasting” parts of your days and the most common form of Intermittent Fasting. It’s also my preferred method (4 years running).

Two examples: The top means you are skipping breakfast, the bottom means you are skipping dinner each day:

This is an example of an intermittent fasting plan. Download our worksheet to create your own!

You can adjust this window to make it work for your life:

  • If you start eating at: 7AM, stop eating and start fasting at 3pm.
  • If you start eating at: 11AM, stop eating and start fasting at 7pm.
  • If you start eating at: 2PM, stop eating and start fasting at 10pm.
  • If you start eating at: 6PM, stop eating and start fasting at 2AM.

INTERMITTENT FASTING 24 HOUR PLAN

Skip two meals one day, where you take 24 hours off from eating. For example, eat on a normal schedule (finishing dinner at 8PM) and then you don’t eat again until 8PM the following day.

With this plan, you eat your normal 3 meals per day, and then occasionally pick a day to skip breakfast and lunch the next day.

If you can only do an 18 hour fast, or a 20 hour fast, or a 22 hour fast – that’s okay! Adjust with different time frames and see how your body responds.

Two examples: skipping breakfast and lunch one day of the week, and then another where you skip lunch and dinner one day, two days in a week.

This shows another schedule you can try for your intermittent fasting plan.

Note: You can do this once a week, twice a week, or whatever works best for your life and situation.

Those are the two most popular intermittent fasting plans, and the two we’ll be focusing on, though there are many variations of both that you can modify for yourself:

  • Some people eat in a 4-hour window, others do 6 or 8.
  • Some people do 20-hour fasts or 24-hour fasts.
  • Another strategy is to eat only one meal a day (OMAD).

You’ll need to experiment, adjust to work for your lifestyle and goals, and see how your body responds.

Let’s first get into the science here behind Intermittent Fasting and why you should consider it!

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

A picture of gears, which will represent how intermittent fasting works.

Now, you might be thinking: “okay, so by skipping a meal, I will eat less than I normally eat on average (2 meals instead of 3), and thus I will lose weight, right?”

Yes.

By cutting out an entire meal each day, you are consuming fewer calories per week – even if your two meals per day are slightly bigger than before. Overall, you’re still consuming fewer calories per day.

This shows you the differences in calorie consumption if you skip a meal with intermittent fasting.

In this example, you’re eating LARGER lunches and dinners than you normally do, but by skipping breakfast you’ll consume 500 less calories per day.

And thus, weight loss! 

This is highlighted in a recent JAMA study[2] in which both calorie restricted dieters and intermittent fasters lost similar amounts of weight over a year period.

That doesn’t tell the FULL story, as the timing of meals can also influence how your body reacts.

Intermittent Fasting can help because your body operates differently when “feasting” compared to when “fasting”:

When you eat a meal, your body spends a few hours processing that food, burning what it can from what you just consumed.

Because it has all of this readily-available, easy to burn energy (thanks to the food you ate), your body will choose to use that as energy rather than the fat you have stored.

During the “fasted state” (the hours in which your body is not consuming or digesting any food) your body doesn’t have a recently consumed meal to use as energy.

Thus, it is more likely to pull from the fat stored in your body as it’s the only energy source readily available.

Burning fat = win.

If you can burn a little extra fat while intermittent fasting, that could be a win!

The same goes for working out in a “fasted” state.

Without a ready supply of glucose and glycogen to pull from (which has been depleted over the course of your fasted state, and hasn’t yet been replenished with a pre-workout meal), your body is forced to adapt and pull from a source of energy that it does have available: the fat stored in your cells.

Why does this work? Our bodies react to energy consumption (eating food) with insulin production.

The more sensitive your body is to insulin, the more likely you’ll be to use the food you consume efficiently, and your body is most sensitive to insulin following a period of fasting [3].

These changes to insulin production and sensitivity can help lead to weight loss [4] and muscle creation [5].

Next: Your glycogen (a starch stored in your muscles and liver that your body can burn as fuel when necessary) is depleted during sleep (aka during fasting), and will be depleted even further during training, which can lead to increased insulin sensitivity.

This means that a meal following your workout will be used more efficiently: converted to glycogen and stored up in your muscles or burned as energy immediately to help with the recovery process, with minimal amounts stored as fat.

Compare this to a regular day (no intermittent fasting): With insulin sensitivity at normal levels, the carbs and foods consumed will see full glycogen stores and enough glucose in the bloodstream, and thus be more likely to get stored as fat.

Back to fasting: growth hormone is increased during fasted states (both during sleep [6]and after a period of fasting). Combine this increased growth hormone secretion:[7], the decrease in insulin production (and thus increase in insulin sensitivity [8]), and you’re essentially priming your body for muscle growth and fat loss with intermittent fasting.

The less science-y version: Intermittent fasting can help teach your body to use the food it consumes more efficiently, and your body can learn to burn fat as fuel when you deprive it of new calories to constantly pull from (if you eat all day long).

TL/DR: For many different physiological reasons, fasting can help promote weight loss and muscle building when done properly.

This man is stoked he gets to lose weight while fasting.

I know Intermittent Fasting can be overwhelming for many, which is why we sought to simplify the practice for our new app: Nerd Fitness Journey.

When you get started, we won’t have you jumping into the deep end. Instead, we’ll provide small missions so you can gradually grow accustomed to skipping meals.

If you want, you can sign-up for a free trial right here:

Should I Eat 6 Small Meals a Day?

A photo of a small plate. Does it help with weight loss?

There are a few main reasons why diet books recommend six small meals:

1) When you eat a meal, your body does have to burn extra calories [9] just to process that meal. So, the theory is that if you eat all day long with small meals, your body is constantly burning extra calories and your metabolism is firing at optimal capacity, right? Well, that’s not true.

Whether you eat 2000 calories spread out throughout the day, or 2000 calories in a small window, your body will burn the same number of calories processing the food [10].

So, the whole “keep your metabolism firing at optimum capacity by always eating” sounds good in principle, but reality tells a different story.

2) When you eat smaller meals, you might be less likely to overeat during your regular meals. I can definitely see some truth here, especially for people who struggle with portion control or don’t know how much food they should be eating.

However, once you educate yourself and take control of your eating, some might find that eating six times a day is very prohibitive and requires a lot of effort. I know I do.

Also, because you’re eating six small meals, I’d argue that you probably never feel “full,” and you might be MORE likely to eat extra calories during each snack.

Although grounded in seemingly logical principles, the “six meals a day” doesn’t work for the reason you think it would (#1), and generally only works for people who struggle with portion control (#2).

If we think back to caveman days, we’d have been in serious trouble as a species if we had to eat every three hours. Do you think Joe Caveman pulled out his pocket sundial six times a day to consume his equally portioned meals?

Fasting was probably a natural condition for our cavemen ancestors.

Hell no! He ate when he could, endured and dealt with long periods of NOT eating (no refrigeration or food storage) and his body adapted to still function optimally enough to still go out and catch new food.

A recent study (written about in the NYT, highlighted by LeanGains) has done a great job of challenging the “six-meals-a-day” technique for weight loss [11]:

There were [no statistical] differences between the low- and high- [meal frequency] groups for adiposity indices, appetite measurements or gut peptides (peptide YY and ghrelin) either before or after the intervention. We conclude that increasing meal frequency does not promote greater body weight loss under the conditions described in the present study.

That’s why we made this:

This infographic discusses how snacking isn't necessary for weight loss.

Should I Try intermittent fasting? (6 Things to Consider)

Fruit is a great and healthy way to break a fasting period.

Now that we’re through a lot of the science stuff, let’s get into the reality of the situation: why should you consider Intermittent Fasting?

#1) Because it can work for your goals. Although we know that not all calories are created equal, caloric restriction plays a central role in weight loss.

When you fast, you are also making it easier to restrict your total caloric intake over the course of the week, which can lead to consistent weight loss and maintenance.

#2) Because it simplifies your day. Rather than having to prepare, pack, eat, and time your meals every 2-3 hours, you simply skip a meal or two and only worry about eating food in your eating window.

It’s one less decision you have to make every day.

It could allow you to enjoy bigger portioned meals (thus making your tastebuds and stomach satiated) and STILL eat fewer calories on average.

It’s a point that Coach Matt makes in this video on intermittent fasting:

#3) It requires less time (and potentially less money). Rather than having to prepare or purchase three to six meals a day, you only need to prepare two meals.

Instead of stopping what you’re doing six times a day to eat, you simply only have to stop to eat twice. Rather than having to do the dishes six times, you only have to do them twice.

Rather than having to purchase six meals a day, you only need to purchase two.

#4) It promotes stronger insulin sensitivity and increased growth hormone secretion, two keys for weight loss and muscle gain. Intermittent fasting helps you create a double whammy for weight loss and building a solid physique.

#5) It can level up your brain, including positively counteracting conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.

As explained here in this TEDx talk by Mark Mattson, Professor at Johns Hopkins University and Chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging, fasting is grounded in serious research and more studies are coming out showing the benefits:

#6) Plus, Wolverine does it:

#7) Boy George is a fasting fan (and apparently reads Nerd Fitness!):

So if both musicians and adamantium-clawed superheroes do Intermittent Fasting, it can probably work for you too, if you can make it work for your particular lifestyle and situation!

If you’ve tried implementing something like this in the past and not had success, I hear ya!

That was the specific problem we set out to solve when we created Nerd Fitness Journey, our fun habit-building app. The tasks and missions we assign are small – like drinking a glass of water or taking a 5-minute walk – so the steps you take won’t be too scary.

You can try out the app (including our Intermittent Fasting missions) for free right here:

What Are the Negative Effects of intermittent fasting?

A woman hungry from intermittent fasting

In my own experimentation with Intermittent Fasting since 2014, I have found very few negative side effects with Intermittent Fasting. 

The biggest concern most people have is that Intermittent Fasting will lead to lower energy, focus, and the “holy crap I am hungry” feeling during the fasting period and ruin them.

Will fasting make you hangry like this Muppet? Most likely, you will get use to your new eating pattern.

People are concerned that they will spend all morning being miserable because they haven’t consumed any food, and thus will be miserable at work and ineffective at whatever task it is they are working on.

The following are my thoughts and experiences, and your results may vary:

Yes, the initial transition from EATING ALL THE TIME, to intermittent fasting MIGHT be a bit of a jolt to your system; it was for me.

However, once I got through the transition after a few days, my body quickly adapted and learned to function just as well only eating a few times a day.

Although I fast for 16 hours per day with no issues, the following might help assuage your fears that skipping breakfast will cause your body to eat itself and your brain to implode:

After 48-hours of fasting in a recent study [12], “cognitive performance, activity, sleep, and mood are not adversely affected in healthy humans by two days of calorie-deprivation.” You’ll be fasting for far less time than that.

“So why do I feel grouchy and lethargic when I skip breakfast?” 

In this nerd’s humble opinion, a good portion of the grumpiness is a result of past eating habits. If you eat every three hours normally, and normally eat as soon as you wake up, your body will start to get hungry every three hours as it is now used to consuming food every three hours.

If you eat breakfast every morning, your body expects to wake up and eat food.

Once you retrain your body to NOT expect food all day every day (or first thing in the morning), these side-effects become less of an issue. In addition, ghrelin (a hormone that makes you hungry [13]), is actually lowest in the mornings and decreases after a few hours of not eating too. The hunger pains will naturally pass!

Personally, I found this grumpiness subsided after a few days and now my mornings actually energize me.

Does this bunny fast in the morning to get his energy?

It’s important to understand that Intermittent Fasting is NOT a cure-all panacea. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that if you skip breakfast and then eat 4,000 calories of candy bars for lunch and dinner that you will lose weight.

If you have an addictive relationship with food and you struggle with portion control, figure out your calorie goals and track your calorie intake in your meals to make sure you’re not overeating.

If you skip breakfast, you might be so hungry from this that you OVEREAT for lunch and this can lead to weight gain. Again, the important thing here is that with an intermittent fasting plan, you’re eating fewer calories than normal because you’re skipping a meal every day.

Think about it in caveman terms again. We certainly found ways to survive during periods of feast and famine, and that remains true today. Imagine if you needed to eat in order to be active and alert: what would hungry cavemen do?

They would go find food, and that probably required a ton of effort. It actually takes our bodies about 84 hours of fasting [14] before our glucose levels are adversely affected. As we’re talking about small fasts (16-24 hour periods), this doesn’t concern us.

AN IMPORTANT CAVEAT: Intermittent Fasting can be more complex for people who have issues with blood sugar regulation, suffer from hypoglycemia, have diabetes, etc. If you fit into this category, check with your doctor or dietitian before adjusting your eating schedule. It also affects women differently (there’s a whole section dedicated to that here).

Can I Build Muscle and Gain Weight While Intermittent Fasting?

A muscular back without skin

You’re damn right you can!

(We have our big “how to build muscle” guide, in addition to a whole “Strength 101” series – and I’d recommend you read those if you’re looking for a place to start strength training.)

In fact, I have been intermittent fasting since 2015 while building muscle and decreasing my body fat percentage:

Steve Kamb turning into Captain America with the help of an intermittent fasting plan.

I still eat roughly the same number of calories I was consuming before, but instead of eating all damn day long, I condense all of my calorie consumption into an eight hour window.

  • 11 AM Work out with heavy strength training in a fasted state.
  • 12 PM Immediately consume 1/2 of my calories for the day (a regular whole-food meal, followed by a calorie-dense homemade protein shake).
  • 7 PM Consume the second portion of my calories for the day in a big dinner.
  • 8 PM – 12 PM the next day: Fast for 16 hours.

In a different method, my friend Nate Green packed on a crazy amount of muscle while fasting for a full 24 hours on Sundays – so it is possible. [15]

I’m not kidding when I say this has revolutionized how I look at muscle building and fat loss.

Intermittent Fasting can change how we look at gaining muscle and losing weight.

Ultimately, this method flies in the face of the typical “bulk and cut” techniques of overeating to build muscle (along with adding a lot of fat) before cutting calories to lose fat (along with some muscle) and settling down at a higher weight.

I prefer this method to the bulk-and-cut technique for a few reasons:

  • There’s far less of a crazy swing to your weight. If you are putting on 30 pounds and then cutting 25 to gain 5 lbs of muscle, your body is going through drastic swings of body mass. Your clothes will fit differently, you’ll have different levels of definition, and your body will wonder what the hell is going on.
  • You’re consuming less food and thus spending less money. Rather than overeating to put on 1 pound of muscle and 4 pounds of fat in a week or two, you’re aiming to eat exactly enough to put on 1 pound of muscle without adding much fat on top of it. Yeah, it’s a delicate balance, but there’s far less swing involved. You are just slowly, steadily, and consistently building muscle and strength over many months.
  • There’s never a need to get “vacation-ready”: we all want to look good naked, right? When you are just adding muscle, you don’t need to worry about getting your body ready before by drastically altering your diet (avoiding a miserable crash diet like the Military Diet). [16]
  • You can make small adjustments and stay on target. Keep your body fat percentage low, build strength and muscle, and if you happen to notice your body fat creeping up, cut back on the carbs. Within two weeks you should be back at your preferred body fat percentage and can continue the muscle building process.

A note on BCAA consumption. Martin from LeanGains [17] recommends consuming Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) as a supplement with regards to fasted training to aid your muscles through your workout.

Personally, I used BCAAs for about 6-8 months during my initial start with fasted training (consuming them before training), though haven’t used them in the past 2+ years. I didn’t notice any adverse effects to not taking them with regards to my performance. Your value may vary!

Now, it should go without saying that if you want to build muscle while fasting, you need to work out. Specifically, by lifting heavy.

This Muppet knows strength training will help him gain muscle and lose weight.

If you want help building a workout routine designed to create muscle, I have 3 options:

#1) “Build Your Own Workout Routine” and get your hands dirty. Our guide will walk you through building a full body exercise program in 10 simple steps.

#2) Follow our Strength Building Guide and start training today. You’ll want to do lots of heavy compound lifts like the Barbell Squat, Deadlift, Bench-Press, Dip, Bodyweight Row, Pull-ups, and Push-ups

Get strong as hell, eat enough protein, and you’ll hit your goals.

#3) Try the workouts in our fun habit-building app, Nerd Fitness Journey!

NF Journey will guide you through a workout routine that can be done anywhere, all while creating your very own superhero! No guesswork needed, just follow the progression plan laid out in the app and grow strong!

You can give it a free test drive right here:

Should You Do Intermittent Fasting and the Keto Diet?

This LEGO does love to fast, but by skipping dinner, never breakfast.

We have a crazy extensive guide on the Keto Diet in case you’re not familiar with it, so here it is in a nutshell:

By only eating fat and protein, your body must adapt to run on fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. In the absence of carbs/glucose, your body converts fats to ketones and uses them for fuel.

This process is called “ketosis,” and there are two ways for a body to enter ketosis:

  • Eating in a way that induces ketosis (very low carb, high fat).
  • Fasting…Hey, that’s what you’re reading about right now!

We actually have an amazing success story here on Nerd Fitness, Larry, who followed our strategies, went Keto and start intermittent fasting. He ended up losing weight, getting stronger, AND overcame the challenges of rheumatoid arthritis (click on the image for his story)!

Larry transformed through the Keto Diet and Intermittent Fasting.

Here’s how the fasting portion of it works:

As your body enters a fast period when there are no sources of glucose energy readily available, the liver begins the process of breaking down fat into ketones.

Fasting itself can trigger ketosis.

Fasting for a period of time before kicking off a Keto-friendly eating plan COULD speed your transition into the metabolic state of ketosis, and fasting intermittently while in ketosis could help you maintain that state.

I personally love fasting for the simplicity: I skip breakfast every day and train in a fasted state. It’s one less decision I have to make, it’s one less opportunity to make a bad food choice, and it helps me reach my goals.

WHY KETO + IF WORKS = eating Keto can be really challenging. And every time you eat, it’s an opportunity to do it wrong and accidentally eat foods that knock you out of ketosis.

You’re also tempted to overeat.

So, by skipping a meal, you’re eliminating one meal, one decision, one chance to screw up.

Note: if you’re thinking “Steve, am I losing weight because I’m skipping 1/3rd of my meals for the day, AND eliminating an entire macronutrient?”, then you’d be right.

Both Keto and IF have secondary effects that could also be factoring in – physiological benefits which I explain in both articles.

Your value may vary!

You need to decide what works for you.

As this gif explains, you need to do you when it comes to intermittent fasting.

You probably won’t become “keto-adapted” (your body running on ketones) just skipping breakfast every day – your body will still have enough glucose stored from your carb-focused meals for lunch and dinner the day before.

In order to use fasting to enter ketosis, the fast needs to be long enough to deplete your carb/glucose stores, or you need to severely restrict carbohydrates from your meals in addition to IF in order to enter ketosis.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Experiment and try different strategies that will work for you.

By skipping a meal or minimizing carbohydrate intake, you’re more likely than not to lose weight:

  • You can do intermittent fasting without eating a Keto Diet and lose weight.
  • You can do a Keto Diet without intermittent Fasting and lose weight.
  • You can combine them and lose weight.

Sticking with Keto is BRUTALLY difficult, and probably not the right diet for 98% of the planet. Those people would be better off following our “Start Eating Healthy” guide with small changes.

That’s actually why we designed Nerd Fitness Journey to be a step by step progression plan. Our nutrition adventure won’t have you abandoning all carbs on Day 1 (which probably won’t work), but instead will have you create small habits that you can follow permanently.

If this sounds like a winning strategy for you, check out our free trial of the app right here:

Does Intermittent Fasting Have Different Effects on Men and Women?

Silhouettes of happy young people jumping in sea

The quick answer is: “yes, Intermittent Fasting can affect men and women differently.” 

Anecdotally, we have many women in our online coaching program that swear by Intermittent Fasting, while others have had adverse effects.

Let’s dig into the science and studies.

A recent PubMed summary concluded that “fasting can be prescribed as a safe medical intervention as well as a lifestyle regimen which can improve women’s health in many folds [18].

Now, in that extract, many of the studies cited are focused on specifically calorie restriction (and not just fasting), and they also say that “future studies should address this gap by designing medically supervised fasting techniques to extract better evidence.”

More science needs to be done on the difference in fasting results for men and women.

Digging into the PubMed Archives brought me to the following conclusions [19]:

One small study (with 8 men and 8 women, all non-obese) resulted in the following: “Glucose response to a meal was slightly impaired in women after 3 weeks of treatment, but insulin response was unchanged. Men had no change in glucose response and a significant reduction in insulin response.”[20]

Another small study (8 women) studied the effects on their menstrual cycles after a 72 hour fast – which is significantly longer than any fast recommended in this article: “in spite of profound metabolic changes, a 72-hour fast during the follicular phase does not affect the menstrual cycle of normal cycling women.” [21].

Yet another study tracked 11 women with 72 hour fasts (again, longer than we’d recommend) and it found that “Fasting in women elicited expected metabolic responses – included increased cortisol (a stress hormone) – and apparently advanced the central circadian clock (which can throw off sleeping patterns). [22]

Those studies above, in working with small sample sizes, and different types of fasting than recommended here, would lead me to believe that fasting affects men and women differently, and that many of the weight loss benefits associated with intermittent fasting (that affect insulin and glucose responses) work positively for men and negatively for women.

There are also a series of articles[23] out there that dig into the potential reproductive health issues, stress challenges, induction of early-menopause [24] associated with fasting (and calorie restriction) for women.

Precision Nutrition – a great resource – recommends not attempting Intermittent Fasting as a woman if:

The challenge associated with all of this is that there aren’t enough long-term studies, with large enough sample sizes, specifically targeting female humans, with relation to the different types of Intermittent Fasting.

ALL OF THIS TO SAY: It does appear that men and women will have different experiences with intermittent fasting; we’re all unique snowflakes (yep, especially you), and your body will be affected by intermittent fasting differently than the person next to you.

There is enough evidence as cited in the articles and studies above that would give me pause to recommend Intermittent Fasting for women, especially if you are considering getting pregnant in the near term.

If you are looking to attempt fasting for weight loss reasons, my research has shown me that Intermittent Fasting could be less effective for women than men with regards to weight loss, and thus you would be wise to keep your efforts elsewhere:

Now, if you’ve read the above warnings, you are still curious about Intermittent Fasting, and you want to give it a try as a female, that is your choice!

You know your body best.

You, like this woman, know your body best. So do what feels right when it comes to fasting.

So, get blood work done, speak with your doctor and get a check-up.

Give intermittent fasting a shot, track your results, and see how your body/blood work changes as a result of Intermittent Fasting and decide if it’s right for you.

Your milage may vary, so speak with a doctor or find a doctor versed in intermittent fasting plans and treat it like an experiment on yourself!

Top 6 Questions about Intermittent Fasting

This LEGO is interested in levelling up his life with temptation bundling.

1) “Won’t I get really hungry if I start skipping meals?”  

As explained above, this can be a result of the habits you have built for your body. If you are constantly eating or always eat the same time of day, your body can actually learn to prepare itself for food by beginning the process of insulin production and preparation for food.

After a brief adjustment period, your body can adapt to the fact that it’s only eating a few times a day. The more overweight you are, and the more often you eat, the more of an initial struggle this might be.

Remember, your body’s physical and cognitive abilities most likley won’t be diminished as a result of short term fasting.[25]

2) “Where will I get my energy for my workouts? Won’t I be exhausted and not be able to complete my workouts if fasting?” 

This was a major concern of mine as well, but the research says otherwise: “Training with limited carbohydrate availability can stimulate adaptations in muscle cells to facilitate energy production via fat oxidation.”[26]

In other words, when you train in a fasted state, your body can get better at burning fat for energy when there are no carbs to pull from!

I’ll share some of my experiences, now doing heavy strength training for 3 years in a fasted state:

For my first “fasted” workout or two after starting an IF protocol, it was very weird to not eat before training. However, after a few sessions, I learned that my body could certainly function (and even thrive) during my training sessions despite not eating a pre-workout meal.

Here I am pulling 420 lbs. at 172 BW after a 16 hour fast:

 

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A post shared by Steve Kamb (@stevekamb) on

3) “I like the idea of fasted training, but I work a regular 9-5 or a night shift and can’t train at 11AM like you do. What am I supposed to do?”

Depending on your training schedule, lifestyle, and goals, go back to the portion above where I talk about the 16/8 protocol and simply adjust your hours of fasting and feasting.

LeanGains digs into various options here, but here is really what you need to know:

  • Don’t overthink this. If you can’t train until 5pm, that’s okay. Consume a small meal for lunch, or shift your Intermittent Fasting window to eat all of your meals in the 8 hours post workout. Better to do that than abandon it as a lost cause and have 0% compliance.
  • If you are an elite athlete, speak with a coach or nutritionist about your specific concerns and expectations. Otherwise, make intermittent fasting work for you Consider trying the 24-hour protocol below instead of the 16/8 protocol.
  • If you train later in the day (say, 7pm) but break your fast before training (aka Lunch), make it a smaller meal focused around fats and protein – which should be a solid goal even if you aren’t Intermittent Fasting! Try to time your carb and big meal consumption to happen AFTER your workout.
  • If you exercise BEFORE work, but then don’t eat until lunchtime: consider a protein supplement immediately after your workout, or simply wait until lunch to start eating. See how your body responds and adjust accordingly.

Do what you can, and don’t psyche yourself out! Get started and adjust along the way.

4) “Won’t fasting cause muscle loss?”  

We’ve been told by the supplement industry that we need to consume 30 g of protein every few hours, as that’s the most amount of protein our body can process at a time.

Along with that, we’ve been told that if we don’t eat protein every few hours, our body’s muscle will start to break down to be burned as energy.

Again, NOT TRUE! Our bodies are quite adept at preserving muscle even when fasting [27], and it turns out that protein absorption by our body can take place over many many many hours.

Not only that, but you can even burn fat AND build muscle at the same time if you have the right system in place!

Protein consumed in a shorter period of time has no difference on the body compared to protein spread throughout the day.    

5) “What about my body going into starvation mode from not eating?” 

Now, the thought process here is that when we don’t feed ourselves, our bodies assume calories aren’t available and thus choose to store more calories as opposed to burning them, therefore eliminating the benefits of weight loss with fasting.

Despite Cartman's concern, you won't enter starvation mode with intermittent fasting.

Fortunately, this is NOT true.

Starvation mode is significantly overblown and sensationalized these days. It takes a dramatic amount of starvation, for a long, long, long time, before your body kicks into “starvation mode”. We’re talking about 24 hour or 16 hour fasts here, and starvation mode takes significantly longer than that.[28]

In other words: starvation mode should not be factoring into your decision here.

5) How much should I eat while intermittent fasting? 

Simple: Eat for your goals! You do know how many calories you should eat every day, right? 

If your goal is weight loss, you still need to consume fewer calories than you burn every day to lose weight. If your goal is bulking up, you’ll need to consume more calories than you burn every day. Intermittent Fasting isn’t a cure-all, it’s a PART of the puzzle.

To start, begin intermittent fasting and eat your normal sized meals and track your weight and performance. If you are losing weight and happy with the progress, keep doing what you’re doing! If you are NOT losing weight, you could be eating too much. It’s a message I really strike home in our guide “Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

That’s why you should track your calories for a week, and then target a 10% reduction in calories and continue. Here’s a calculator for you to determine the amount of calories you need daily.

Lastly, if you want a plan for slowly “wading into the water” calorie restriction, check out our new app!

Nerd Fitness Journey has missions where you tally the calories you normally eat, keep a food journal, and plan your next meal. We do all of this BEFORE we recommend even taking any food off your plate.

To learn more on why, start your free trial right here:

8 Tips and Tricks about Fasting 

A fasting woman not eating a cupcake

#1) Don’t freak out! Stop wondering: “can I fast 15 hours instead of 16?” or “what if I eat an apple during my fasted period, will that ruin everything?” Relax. Your body is a complex piece of machinery and learns to adapt. Everything is not as cut and dry as you think.

If you want to eat breakfast one day but not another, that’s okay. If you are going for optimal aesthetic or athletic performance, I can see the need to be more rigid in your discipline, but otherwise…freaking chill out and don’t stress over minutiae!

This leopard knows that you'll be fine while doing intermittent fasting, just try it out and you'll be fine.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good when it comes to your intermittent fasting plan.

#2) Consider fasted walks in the morning. I found these to be very helpful in reducing body fat, and also gave my day a great start to clear my mind and prepare for the day.

Simply wake up and go for a mile walk. Maybe you could even start walking to Mordor?

#3) Listen to your body during your strength training workouts. If you get light headed, make sure you are consuming enough water.

If you notice a significant drop in performance, make sure you are eating enough calories (especially fats and protein) during your feasting window.

And if you feel severely “off,” pause your workout. Give yourself permission to EASE into intermittent fasting and fasted workouts. This is especially true if you are an endurance athlete.

#4) Expect funny looks if you spend a lot of mornings with breakfast eaters.

A few weeks back I had a number of friends staying with me, and they were all completely dumbfounded when I told them I didn’t eat breakfast anymore.

I tried to explain it to them but received a bunch of blank stares. Breakfast has become so enGRAINed (zing!) in our culture that NOT eating it sounds crazy.

You will get weird looks from those around you…embrace it. I still go to brunch or sit with friends, I just drink black coffee and enjoy a conversation.

#5) Stay busy. If you are just sitting around thinking about how hungry you are, you’ll be more likely to struggle with this. For that reason, I time my fasting periods for maximum efficiency and minimal discomfort:

  • My first few hours of fasting come after consuming a MONSTER dinner, where the last thing I want to think about is eating.
  • When I’m sleeping: 8 of my 16 hours are occupied by sleeping. Tough to feel hungry when I’m dreaming about becoming a Jedi.
  • When I’m busy: After waking up, 12 hours of my fasting is already done. I spend three hours doing my best work (while drinking a cup of black coffee), and then comes my final hour of fasting: training.

#6) Zero-calorie beverages are okay. I drink green tea in the morning for my caffeine kick while writing. If you want to drink water, black coffee, or tea during your fasted period, that’s okay. Remember, don’t overthink it – keep things simple! Dr. Rhonda Patrick over at FoundMyFitness believes that a fast should stop at the first consumption of anything other than water, so experiment yourself and see how your body responds.

If you want to put milk in your coffee, or drink diet soda occasionally while fasting, I’m not going to stop you. Remember, we’re going for consistency and habit-building here – if milk or cream in your coffee makes life worth living, don’t deprive yourself.

There are MUCH bigger fish to fry with regards to getting healthy than a few calories here and there during a fast.

80% adherence that you stick with for a year is better than 100% adherence that you abandon after a month because it was too restrictive.

If you’re trying to get to a minimum bodyfat percentage, you’ll need to be more strict – until then, however, do what allows you to stay compliant!

#7) Track your results, listen to your body:  

  • Concerned about losing muscle mass? Keep track of your strength training routines and see if you are getting stronger.
  • Buy a cheap set of body fat calipers and keep track of your body fat composition.
  • Track your calories, and see how your body changes when eating the same amount of food, but condensed into a certain window.
  • Sign up for Nerd Fitness Journey, where the Intermittent Fasting Adventure will help you track your compliance with skipping meals:

#8) Don’t expect miracles. Yes, Intermittent Fasting can potentially help you lose weight, increase insulin sensitivity and growth hormone secretion (all good things), but it is only ONE factor in hundreds that will determine your body composition and overall health. Don’t expect to drop to 8% body fat and get ripped just by skipping breakfast.

We cover all of this throughout our online courses in Nerd Fitness Prime, but you need to focus on building healthy habits, eating better foods, and getting stronger.

This is just one tool that can contribute to your success.

Getting Started with Intermittent Fasting: Next Steps

Don't overthink intermittent fasting. Relax, try it, and see how you feel!

Intermittent fasting can potentially have some very positive benefits for somebody trying to lose weight or gain lean body mass.

Men and women will tend to have different results, just like each individual person will have different results. The ONLY way to find out is through a conversation with your doctor and self-experimentation.

There are multiple ways to “do” an Intermittent Fasting Plan:

  • Fast and feast regularly: Fast for a certain number of hours, then consume all calories within a certain number of hours.
  • Eat normally, then fast 1-2x a week: Consume your normal meals every day, then pick one or two days a week where you fast for 24 hours. Eat your last meal Sunday night, and then don’t eat again until dinner the following day.
  • Fast occasionally: probably the easiest method for the person who wants to do the least amount of work. Simply skip a meal whenever it’s convenient. On the road? Skip breakfast. Busy day at work? Skip lunch. Eat poorly all day Saturday? Make your first meal of the day dinner on Sunday.

After that, get started! Take photos, step on the scale, and track your progress for the next month.

See how your body responds.

See how your physique changes. See how your workouts change.

And then decide if it’s something you want to keep doing!

4 years later, I have no plans on going back to eating breakfast. Sorry General Mills and Dr. Kellogg!

I wonder if Ryan wouldn't eat his cereal because he was trying an intermittent fasting plan?

If you’re worried about all of this stuff, or aren’t sure when to eat and stop eating, try out our new app!

The Intermittent Fasting Adventure within Nerd Fitness Journey was specifically designed for a beginner who is interested in experimenting with fasting.

Plus, if you learn fasting isn’t for you, you can follow along with other nutrition adventures for sustainable paths for weight loss.

You can try it for free right here:

But enough about me, let’s talk about you!

I’d love to hear what questions you have! 

  • What are your questions about intermittent fasting?  
  • What are your concerns?
  • Have you tried intermittent fasting?
  • Have you had success with it, either with muscle gain or weight loss?

Thanks for leaving your comment, I’m excited to get the conversation started.

-Steve

PS: Before you take off, grab our Intermittent Fasting Worksheet to help you start your fasting practice:

PPS: Make sure you check out the rest of our guides on losing weight:

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Photo Source:[29]

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How Many Calories Do You Burn While Walking? A Hobbit’s Guide to Walking (with Calorie Calculator) https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/walking/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/walking/#disqus_thread Thu, 28 Oct 2021 12:00:31 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/?p=13645 There’s two things every nerd should know: How many calories do I burn walking a mile? How far is it to Mordor? Today, we’re answering both of them (and much more).  Walking is a great form of exercise and something we often recommend to folks starting our coaching program. Some have had great success walking, […]

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There’s two things every nerd should know:

  1. How many calories do I burn walking a mile?
  2. How far is it to Mordor?

Today, we’re answering both of them (and much more). 

Walking is a great form of exercise and something we often recommend to folks starting our coaching program. Some have had great success walking, including Megan, who has a daily practice to maintain her weight loss journey.

Megan before and after

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Without further ado, let’s jump in.

How Many Calories Does Walking Burn? (Calorie Calculator)

In true Nerd Fitness fashion, we scienced the crap out of this, and even created a handy calculator for you – simply put your stats in the calculator here:

Calculate Calories Burned While Walking Calculator

Calculate Calories Burned While Walking Calculator

Enter your weight in pounds.
Enter the distance walked in miles. Partial miles is fine (e.g. 1.5)
We used the formulas and information found on this page for this calculator

A few things to remember about the above equation:

There’s a difference between gross calories (total calories) expended and net calories (additional calories) expended! Your body burns most of its calories every day JUST by existing.

  • Gross calories: calories burned while walking PLUS the calories burned just existing
  • Net calories: ADDITIONAL calories you burned thanks to exercise.

Also, our calculation is an ESTIMATE. You’re a unique snowflake, and no box or formula can capture your awesomeness/uniqueness. This equation below is JUST a starting point!

Also, if you don’t feel like playing with our calculator (boo), here’s something you should know:

On average, a mile burns about 100 calories when walking.

ANY exercise pales in comparison to a much more important part of the weight loss equation: nutrition.

It’s what Megan credits most of her weight loss journey to.

Megan before and after

If you’ve come this far, and you want to learn more about why walking is so amazing, continue reading.

And you’re damn right, I’ll show you exactly how to walk to Mordor too.

What Are The Benefits of Walking?

Walking along roads or hiking can burn a lot of calories

We are designed to walk. It’s in our DNA, and it’s a huge part of our emergence as the dominant species on this planet (along with opposable thumbs, big brains, and Nintendo).

Let’s get the basic stuff out of the way:

Every day, it’s recommended by the CDC that we walk around five miles, or 10,000 steps.[1]

Hence the reason why your Fitbit – which I’ll get to shortly – has that 10k step goal as its default number.

Unfortunately, we Americans tend to average HALF that: 2.5 miles or 5,000 steps.

And I’d imagine that people who work outdoors or have more physically active jobs drag that average wayyyy up.

Which leaves us desk jockeys, who don’t walk nearly enough.

Animated gif of man coming home from work and sitting at computer

We use our feet to get us from the front door, to our car, to our desk, to our car, to our front door, to our couch… where we put them up while watching four hours of TV before going to bed.

Not walking enough can be a big factor in the creep-up of weight gain over the years.

You might have questions like:

  • Can I walk more to lose weight?
  • Is walking REALLY good for me?
  • Do I need to do more intense exercise?

Long story short:

You should walk more and it can help you lose weight and be healthier.

Short story long, here’s why walking is important:

#1) Walking burns calories without exhausting you. If you walk the recommended mileage each day (5 miles instead of just 2.5), it can lead to a tremendous amount of weight loss over time. You’ll burn an extra 100 calories walking just ONE more mile each day than normal: When that’s multiplied out, it’s an extra 700 calories burned per week, which results in approximately a pound of fat lost every five weeks, or 10 pounds in a year.  You can scale up your distances to get your desired results!

#2) Walking doesn’t add to training stress. If you are strength training regularly, adding in more weight training or running can lead to burnout, breakdowns, and injuries. If you are trying to look like a super-hero, extra cardio sessions (or long-distance cardio sessions) might kill your gains. But you can just walk. You can walk great distances, provided you’ve built up your body’s physical ability, and not get tired or sore – walking (especially outside while soaking in some sunlight) can make you feel better, not worse.

#3) Walking is low impact. Unlike running, which can wreak havoc on people’s joints if they run improperly or are severely overweight, walking doesn’t have those impact issues. If you go for a walk and your feet or joints hurt, you’re doing it wrong – read the next section!

#4) Walking can burn fat. Because walking is low impact and low intensity, your body doesn’t need to pull much glycogen and glucose stores to fuel itself, which happens when you strength train or push yourself into “aerobic training” with higher intensity cardio. Proponents of intermittent fasting suggest walking in a fasted state in the morning before eating anything in order to help burn extra fat. It’s a little controversial, so this will have to be something you attempt and measure for yourself.

#5) Walking relieves stress. Seriously! Put on your favorite playlist, and go for a pleasant walk around your neighborhood or through the woods as the sun is going down. It’s a recipe to forget the worries of your day.

Bonus points if you can get someone to follow you with a boombox:

Man skipping followed by woman holding a boombox

#6) Walking improves mental health (especially in older hobbits). Walking can improve mental health, increase brain size, improve memory, and is correlated with improved, longer lifespans.[2]

How Walking Can Change Your Life

crossing three stepping stones in a river

If you are severely overweight and can’t run or strength train, walk on.

If you are building muscle and bulking up, walk on.

If you are trying to lose weight, walk on.

If you struggle with following a routine, or have failed in the past with weight loss, walk on

Why? I’m a HUGE fan of small habit change and tiny victories – walking is the PERFECT habit builder. If you’re brand new and starting out, go for a walk TODAY and begin your journey to Mordor.

This afternoon, go for a five-minute walk. Tomorrow morning before work, before breakfast, as SOON as you wake up, put on your shoes, and go outside for a five-minute walk. No snoozing, no lying in bed, no checking email or Twitter. Put on your headphones, pick your favorite song, go outside, and start walking.

Here’s why:

  • Walking for just five minutes a day is the start of a new habit.  Every morning for a few weeks, you’ll have to force yourself to walk. Initially, it will take effort and willpower to walk instead of snoozing. However, with each passing day of success, you’ll need to use less effort and willpower to get out the door. After all, it’s only five minutes, right? Once it’s something you do automatically without thinking, you can add on to it by increasing your walk time.
  • Walking briskly outdoors in the fresh morning air can be a great caffeine-free wake up call! If you make walking the FIRST thing you do in the morning, especially if you’re doing it before anybody else is awake, there will be zero distractions and no reason to say “sorry, I didn’t have time.” Of course, we like caffeine too (in moderation).
  • Walking will give you a chance to gather your thoughts and clear your head before the day begins. We’re constantly distracted at home: TV, iPads, smartphones, etc. Walking is so primal – no gadgets, just walking. Many people cite walking as the impetus for their creative or intelligent breakthroughs.   
  • Walking and successfully building a habit will give you a habit blueprint to follow for anything else you’d like to accomplish: “Hey, I was able to make walking a habit, what else can I tackle in the same way?” Slow and steady wins. One foot in front of the other, my friend.

How to Walk Properly

Footprints in the sand

“Uhhh, Steve, I know how to walk. I do it every day!”

Welp, if you’re starting from only walking from your car to the office, we need to make sure you’re walking the right way for when you push that mileage up.

Let’s start with your feet, provided you’re not gonna glue hair to your feet and go barefoot to become a hobbit.

I recommend walking in shoes that have a wide toe box and minimal drop (height at the heel vs height at the toes), as we discuss in our monster post on healthy feet and footwear:

You might not be used to walking with minimal cushioning under your heels, so walk slowly and land softly. Walking on softer surfaces to start isn’t a bad idea either.

We were designed before the invention of big clunky shoes… thus, we should be able to walk without big clunky shoes.[3] If you are interested in going barefoot as a runner, get started by walking short distances first. Your feet will toughen up (though they probably won’t grow hair quite like Frodo and Sam), your joints and muscles around your feet and ankles will strengthen, and your knees will deal with less stress.

When going for a lazy stroll, focus on landing softly, which is much easier when you don’t have thick-soled shoes to cushion your stride: land softly with your heel barely touching before rolling onto the middle (ball) of your foot, and then push off. You might need to take shorter strides than you’re used to if you were a big heel striker with a long stride.

If you’re aiming to walk quickly and up the intensity, shorten your stride and aim to land in the middle of your foot while pumping your arms. This is more easily done when walking uphill (which is also a great way to burn extra calories).

Is Walking Enough for Weight Loss?

Don before and after

Can walking help you lose weight?

You’re darn right it can!

The above photos are from Don, one of our coaching clients. Don credits his daily walking practice with helping him lose 85 pounds!

He’s not our only example here:

Megan before and after

Megan, who I mentioned earlier, is another client who walks daily to maintain her weight loss.

Case closed?

Of course not!

Both Don and Megan also made adjustments to their nutrition to reach their amazing results.

One of the Rules of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion is that we know “you can’t outrun your fork.” No amount of exercise can counter a bad diet, as your nutrition will be responsible for 90% (not an exaggeration) of your success or failure.

Here’s an example:

  • Let’s say you go for a 5-mile walk, which takes you 90+ minutes.
  • If you then consume a 20 oz Gatorade and a small bag of Fritos (a typical snack for many here in America), you will have already undone all of the calories burned while walking.

Depending on your nutrition and love/hatred for exercise, this is either great news or bad news!

The BAD news: you can’t eat very badly in mass quantities and then expect to lose weight with a bit of exercise every week, even if it’s strenuous.

The GOOD news: Even if you dislike exercise, you can avoid exercise and still lose weight! Instead, put ALL of your focus instead on fixing your nutrition, and then go for a walk every once in awhile.

I’d also consider reading the following:

Oh, and if you want to see if a Nerd Fitness Coach can build you a program to lose weight while doing movements you enjoy (like walking), click on the button below:

The Best Practices for Walking (Tips and Tricks)

Autumn walk way

#1) Focus on posture! Head up! Shoulders back! Walk with a confident stroll – practice this one in the morning if you’re not used to walking like this. It’s also a great way to appear instantly more confident; we nerds and hobbits need all the confidence we can get! Look around at your surroundings with your head up, arms swinging in rhythm.

You can also do some well placed neck swings and jacket removals:

Zoolander walking and removing jacket

#2) Walk uphill to burn more fat. If you are walking on a treadmill, set it to an incline to increase the intensity and thus increase the amount of fat burned. Just don’t be that person who sets the incline way up, then holds onto both sides and leans their body back to be perpendicular with the incline. Keep good posture, lean forward into the incline, shorten your stride, and pump your legs.

#3) Hiking is a great way to practice walking, enjoy the scenery, and play Lord of the Rings in the woods with plastic swords and capes. Not that you should do that (you totally should). Here’s a beginner’s guide to hiking!

#4) When walking downhill, especially while barefoot (or wearing minimalist shoes), keep that stride short and be careful on how you are walking. Make sure your knee is bent when you land and absorb the impact rather than jamming the impact through your heel, knee, leg, hips, and lower back.

#5) Consider going for fasted walks in the morning. When you wake up first thing in the morning, your body has burned through most of the carb-fueled energy stores during the night. Which means when you go for a walk first thing in the morning, your body is more likely to have to pull from the only fuel source available to it: fat! This is the entire philosophy behind things like Intermittent Fasting or really low-carb diets like the Ketogenic diet.

#6) Get yourself a sturdy walking stick, if only so you can use it to battle imaginary ogres, goblins, cavetrolls, etc. It can also make you feel far more adventurous than if you’re just walking, and help you get up hills and land softly when going back down.

#7) Try Temptation Bundling. Load up an audiobook or your favorite podcast, and tell yourself that you can ONLY listen to the book or podcast while walking.

Is a Fitbit Helpful for Walking? (Which Fitness Tracker Is Best for Me?)

what you need to know about Fitbits and Pedometers to track calories burned walking

If you’re somebody who has been interested – or is getting interested – in walking, you’re probably familiar with step-tracking devices:

Personally, I’m a huge fan of fitness wearables, but not for the reasons you’d think.

For starters, you’re wearing a constant reminder that you are prioritizing movement, which can only be positive. You can even trigger it to remind you to get up and move every hour.

Our Fitbit trackers can help us with analyzing trends and getting in more steps.

It can also allow you to see how many steps you normally take, and thus allow you to prioritize moving MORE.

Although Fitbit has a history of being sued for the inaccurate heart-monitor portion of its devices, I’m less concerned about heart rates and 100% accuracy of step distance, and instead think in terms of personal improvement.

Just like with tracking your bodyfat percentage or your weight, “that which gets measured gets improved,” and that carries over to your total steps. The fact that you’re tracking it means you’re going to be more aware of it, which means you’re going to be more likely to be able to improve it.

And that’s why, in a weird way, I’m not very concerned about the total accuracy of these devices. Even if your scale is off by 5 pounds, or your body fat caliper is inaccurate by 1%, as long as you use the same device and measure in the same way under the same conditions, you can track trends and paint the picture of your health and whether or not it’s improving!

And that’s what these fitness trackers should be used for: a reminder and a trend tracker!

What you SHOULDN’T do: take your fitness tracker as gospel, and use that to calculate down to the calorie and macro how much food exactly you can consume.

What you SHOULD do: track your trend over time, and see if you can improve your average. Use the technology to aid your fitness quest. Use the community portion of the band to compare your stats against friends and get some positive friendly peer pressure to get you off your ass.

Okay, if nerdy fitness technology isn’t nerdy enough for you, let’s go full-nerd.

How to Actually Walk to Mordor

Frodo and Sam are walking buddies and actually walked to Mordor

Did you know it’s 1779 miles between Hobbiton to Mount Doom? [4]. We can actually determine how far Sam and Frodo walked, and then set out on the journey ourselves! It’s one thing to go for a stroll around your neighborhood. It’s another to know that, “If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.”

Sam and Frodo walking out of the Shire

So let’s take a look at how far we need to walk first:

  • 458 miles: Go from Hobbiton to Rivendell.
  • 462 miles: Set out with the Fellowship from Rivendell, through Moria, to Lothlorien.
  • 389 miles: From Lothlorien, down the Anduin, to Rauros Falls.
  • 470 miles: Follow Frodo and Sam on the quest from Rauros to Mt. Doom.
  • 535 miles: From Minas Tirith to Isengard
  • 693 miles: From Isengard to Rivendell.
  • 397 miles: From Rivendell to Bag End.
  • 467 miles: (bonus!) Follow Frodo to the Grey Havens and return home with Sam.

Following this path, you need to walk a total of 1779 miles to get from Hobbiton to Mt. Doom. Then it’s time to destroy the ring and get carried to Minas Tirith by the Great Eagles.

Thorin carried by the eagles

Then you’ll walk 1625 miles back to Bag End (and an additional 467 miles if you’re interested in doing a round trip to the Grey Havens).

Obviously, you don’t need to move at the same speed as the hobbits (18 miles on the first day is no joke! Damn, those hobbits covered some ground!), but it’s still fun to track your walks and your total miles to see where you’d be on your journey.

However, like Frodo and Sam, it starts with the first step.

I’ve created a Google Doc that you can copy for yourself to track your distances to follow Frodo and Sam on your journey to destroy the One Ring.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Open the document, and then click on “file,” “save a copy,” and then you can edit your own copy of the document.  
  • Track your distances with a pedometer, Fitbit, your iPhone or Android phone.
  • Input your distances and work towards completing each section of the journey over months. As you input your distances, it will automatically let you know when you reach each destination so you can get you started on the next one. 5 miles a day on average will have you destroying the Ring within one year.

Oh, and if you’re curious, according to my rough gorilla math, Frodo burned at least an additional 61,0000+ calories (100,000+ gross calories) by walking “there and back again” – you’re welcome[5].

Cast of The Hobbit giving thumbs up

What’s that?

You want some help getting out the door?

You got it – but only cause you asked nicely.

Here are three ways to level up alongside Nerd Fitness. 

#1) Our Online Coaching Program: a coaching program for busy people to help them make better food choices, stay accountable, and get healthier, permanently.

You can schedule a free call with our team so we can get to know you and see if our coaching program is right for you. Just click on the image below for more details:

#2) If you want an exact roadmap on how to get in shape, check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

We even have fun missions that will help you walk more, all while you earn XP! Righteous. 

Try your free trial right here:

#3) Join the Rebellion! We need good people like you in our community, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion.

Sign up in the box below to enlist and get our Rebel Starter Kit, which includes all of our “work out at home” guides, the Nerd Fitness Diet Cheat Sheet, and much more!

Alright, your turn:

What questions do you have about walking? 

How have you incorporated it into your daily routine?

And have you walked to Mordor?

Let me know in the comments!

-Steve 

Photo source: fourbrickstall Hiking in Candelario, Lego Frodo, logoboom © 123RF.com, gynane © 123RF.com, arushigakaito © 123RF.com, snehit © 123RF.com, Thad Zajdowicz Keep walking! HMM!, Frodo and Sam

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