How to Determine Your PERFECT Workout Plan

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

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

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

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

Where did I find it?

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

Nope, that’s not it.  

How about…Mad scientists created the world’s most scientific workout that they don’t want you to use because it’s too powerful! 

Hmmm, nope. that’s not it either.

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

(shhhhh: want a “damn good workout” plan you can follow at home right now? Get our Beginner Bodyweight Workout routine worksheet you can print out and follow when you sign up in the box below:


The Perfect Workout Plan

high road low road

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

They want to know if the Nerd Fitness Academy is the perfect workout plan, or if they should be doing P90x, Insanity, a gymnastics routine, Couch To 5K, Yoga Strength, a bodybuilding routine, 7-Minute Abs, etc…

Unfortunately, all routines tend to present different information, require different diets, and make an effort to present themselves as superior to all other training routines.

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

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

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

I’m proud to say that the Nerd Fitness Academy has helped thousands and thousands of people get healthy, but it’s not because it’s the best plan in the entire world.  It worked for them because they tried it out and it WORKED FOR THEM!

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was one of my favorite articles to write, and the start of Rising Heroes, our monthly story-driven, habit-building, team-based experience!

The reason that article has resonated so well with Nerd Fitness Rebels is that WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT.  Some of us are Warriors (power lifting), others are Scouts (endurance sports) or Monks (martial arts), or Assassins (gymnastics) or Druids (yoga).

A proper program should be developed around a person’s biology, age, goals, diet, free time, etc. Some people love figuring this stuff out on their own: they love the trial-and-error, two steps forward and three steps back but then 4 steps forward chaos! That was me: I spent 6 years tripping over myself in a gym until I finally started getting results.

If that sounds like hell to you, you’re not alone! We hear from people every day who are so overwhelmed with HOW to get in shape that they want help.

If you are someone who doesn’t have months or years to waste, and just be “told exactly what to do,” check out our uber popular 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program.

Your own Nerd Fitness Coach who will get to know you, your goals, and your lifestyle, and develop a workout plan that’s specific to not only your body, but also to your schedule and life. We take the guesswork and uncertainty out of this process for hundreds of people – and we’d love to be able to pair your with a coach who can do the same.

Click the image below to schedule a quick, free call with a NF Team Member to see if Coaching is a good fit for you – and what Coach may be the best fit.

Coaching Workouts

If you are wanting to go at it on your own, that is possible TOO – and we are gonna spend the rest of the article helping you avoid common pitfalls when doing just that.

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

run road

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

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

  • If you just want to lose weight and get stronger, something like The Nerd Fitness Academy could help you like it’s helped 40,000 students.
  • If you want to run faster or improve your 5k time, then a running training program could work.
  • If you want to build flexibility but don’t have time to go to Yoga, maybe Nerd Fitness Yoga could work.
  • If your goal is primarily to look good, a bodybuilding routine might work best for you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These days, my goal is primarily focused on muscle and strength building, so I follow a routine that focuses on those things. Mostly squats, deadlifts, handstands, and gymnastic rings, but I’m happy (which means it’s a routine I’m going to continue following through!).

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

I know what I want – what now?

act now

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

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

And then start.  

Like, now.


If you need a routine to follow that helps you get stronger, lose weight, and get started with bodyweight training OR weight training, download our free Strength Training 101 guide.

It covers ALL of that and more – put your email in the box below and I’ll send it to you right away so you can get started!

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

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

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

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

Ask yourself:

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


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

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

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

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

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

What if I don’t fit in?

fit in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


PS: If you’re somebody that wants an expert to guide them through the training process, I hear ya (I have a fitness coach myself who programs my workouts!).

That’s why we built two options for people:

1) If you are somebody that wants to know they are following a program that is tailor made for their life and situation and goals, check out our popular 1-on-1 coaching program. You’ll work with our certified NF instructors who will get to know you better than you know yourself and program your workouts and nutrition for you.

2) Good at following instructions and want a blueprint to follow? Check out our self-paced online course, the Nerd Fitness Academy. The Academy has 20+ workouts for both bodyweight or weight training, a benchmark test to determine your starting workout, HD demonstrations of every movement, boss battles so you know when you to level up your routine, meal plans, a questing system, and supportive community.


photo sources: beach, road split, egg, runner

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  • thanks Anna!

  • hey Debora

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

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

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

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

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


  • Hey Elle!

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

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

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


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

  • Alan Crawley

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

  • Anna Pham

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

  • Brian

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

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  • Tim Deringer

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

  • Hannah

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

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

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

    any advice or insight is welcome! thanks so much!

  • Pearl Ramirez

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

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  • Ryan

    Great stuff on here. For more just like it check out

  • monu rana

    i am doing exercise since 3 years but i m still confused what type workout routine i am follow which cause i gain muscle

  • Marcus Smith

    Nice blog for a prefect workout plans on daily bases. The workouts can be determined according to individuals requirment. I think this workout plan will helpful for those people who want to increase their strength by losing weight. In just few weeks you will definitely see results. Personal trainers of Innerfight also guide better about the workout plans

  • Jeff
  • Elizabeth

    I’ve never been a gym-goer, and have typically gotten my exercise by doing some sort of activity, like hiking or playing soccer. Now, I’m a graduate student and my schedule doesn’t allow for those kinds of activities. It’s been a stressful adjustment and my body has paid the price. I need to get that exercise back into my life, not just for my body, but for my mind! My school has a good gym (though I’m not sure the hours will work out) and there are a ton of great 24-hr options in my area. I want to start going to an actual gym and include that in my schedule. I’ll admit, having never really used gym equipment or followed that kind of work out routine, I’m intimidated. But I know once I get started and once I go, and keep going, that intimidation will fall away and I will feel myself returning to that healthier person I used to be. I’m scared, but bring it on!

  • rashidha

    Hi, I want to thank you for sharing this article with me. I Know that so many people are looking for the best fitness centers in Chennai to get strong and fit body. I personally think there are a lot of people not choosing just one goal because we all like to get instant solution for all problems. That’s the problem

  • Jennifer

    Great stuff. Very valuable information. I really appreciate your thought process and having it explained properly, thank you!
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  • Gabs

    I am a Mother of two, who started a fitness plan calendar with a you tube trainer, It worked well until I read an article on NF about losing weight and going Paleo. My focus was then to go Paleo, I am now almost 30 days Paleo, and want to get back into a fitness plan that sticks. I don’t have much time to cook and do some crazy workout plan. Ideally I would love to rock climb and zumba, but these things are not available at the hours I need them. My little one is under 1 and I need to be around. So how can I ease into a good fitness plan?

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  • Malachy Okeke

    Hey Steve! Thanks for sharing your great ideas. I liked this post so much, I even quoted you in my latest blog:!Finding-Your-Ideal-Workout-Routine/clfr/1

    I’d love if you could check it out when you get a chance.


  • Malachy Okeke

    Hey Steve, thanks for sharing your great ideas. I liked this post so much, I even quoted you in my latest blog post!Finding-Your-Ideal-Workout-Routine/clfr/1

    I’d love if you could check it out when you get a chance. Thanks!

  • Daniel Galun

    I’m gonna go make some fries and watch a movie…

  • kira oulds

    My two goals are cutting fat, and toning/perking up my bum. Can I do those two at once? I do 3 spin classes a week and 2 days of glute works. Good?

  • Gloria Cole

    Okay, i’ve just finished a thirty days of yoga thing on youtube and sadly have discovered it’s probably not for me. I wanted it to be but it wasn’t. I don’t have fitness goals, i don’t care about most things people put forward as goals, and i’m not really motivated by goals. I’m 30 wks pregnant, and a stay at home mom for a very active toddler. And i’m one of those artsy types, you know the kind who’d rather sit in the library and read during recess then play tag. Also any freetime i have i’d rather put toward being creative rather then getting sweaty. I want to be healthy and lose the baby weight but nothing i’ve tried i enjoy. I take a ballet class when i’m not in the third trimester, but that is because it’s art. Plus a single hour long class isn’t enough according to curent social convention. My fitness enthusiast friend says there is something out there, but i’m pretty sure there’s not. So i guess i’m asking for outside help.

  • Nay Wall

    Hi, just had a baby 2 months ago. Breastfeeding, so the extra baby weight came off quick, however I plateaued at 10lbs from my pre pregnancy weight (which still was overweight for me). I’m finally starting to feel more stability in my joints which is a relief. The relaxin really did a number on the laxity in my joints this time! I’ve always wanted to be a runner (but it’s never stuck). I have enormous boobs and a short stature and have been asked many times if I played soft ball or soccer. Think I should try out something like cross fit or the like? Nervous about being judged…

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  • Pk

    I hv started working out after a gap of 16 plus years ( hv done all the boozing n smoking possible for me). Im working on endurence n muscle building and im completing 2ind month now n need advice about the schedule .

  • Jeanne

    I would like to workout, but want to start with only bodyweight exercises until I see some weight loss, get some core strength, and then increase to free weights. It is also expensive for gym memberships and equipment. Thing is, will I actually see any results from just bodyweight exercises. I am a light person, 105 lbs, at 5’2″. I have between 23-26% body fat and I am a female, which isn’t all that bad, but on me it looks like I could be more toned. So, what do you say? Will bodyweight exercises, given proper nutrition, and enough time say 30-60 days, with maximum reps, show any results? Thanks in advance 🙂

  • BonBon

    I think you’re on the right track with ballet, you just need something to keep you active. Have you tried any other dance or acrobatic/circus arts? You might like aerial silks, bellydance, or acroyoga (which you could do some of with your toddler maybe?), just to name a few that I like. I’m also a fan of pilates (mat classes, I haven’t tried the reformer machine thingies), and I think that goes really well with ballet.

  • Gloria Cole

    1. I have been curious about some of this though most would require me to a. Have a bigger budget, quit ballet, or give up knitting. And b to go farther into city limits of the nearest city then i can without breaking out in histerics (the smalest amount of traffic or the tiniest thought i might be lost triggers my claustrophobia) i have tried pilates before but only on tapes and i get bored really quick with anything on tape. I tried a different youtube yogi and it may be that i just can’t deal with more than twenty minutes at a time. Of course now there is a three year old and an eight month old running around so my time is even less mine than before, and less predictable.

  • Roman Peshkov

    Really nice article! I like it very much. But I guess, it is not for everyone. Everything is individual

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  • Bindu Bharti

    I am a short height girl 5’1 with an increased belly. As I am a Graphic Designer I have to spend long hours on my system which lead to regular back pain and nothing helped me to get relief from it. I an looking for some exercises that will help me out not only to get a fit body but also get rid from this belly fat.

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  • Good stuff, thanks for sharing.