The Beginner’s Guide to Handstands

I bet you’ve always wanted to do a handstand.

It’s okay, you can admit it.

It demonstrates balance and control over your body, something we happen to put great importance upon here at Nerd Fitness. It’s also one HELL of a party trick, something you can work on without a single piece of equipment, builds functional strength and muscular endurance, and it’s a skill you can work on in just a few minutes every single day.

How do I know this? Because I’m typing this while in a handstand RIGHT NOW. Okay, I can’t do that. But Jim, Master of the NF Fitness Universe can:

jim typing

I love working with gymnastic rings, because they have such a great tutorial level. Handstands are exactly the same way: it’s a great skill to work on as a beginner, but also is infinitely challenging depending on your skill level.

Plus, in addition to Jim, Luke Skywalker does them. It’s time to stop looking at other people doing cool things and start today saying “hey, I can do that too!”

5 Common Mistakes When Doing A Proper Squat

Can you do a bodyweight squat? Great!

Now, can you do a PROPER bodyweight squat?

Right now you’re asking, “What’s the difference, Steve you weirdo?!”

Today I’m gonna drop some bodyweight squat knowledge bombs on you. Don’t worry, they don’t hurt! Instead, they’ll make your body feel good, and you’ll say: “OOHHHHHHHH, that’s what a squat is!”

Like other basic movements like the pull-up and push-up, most people think they know what a bodyweight squat is, and they think they’re doing them right… but are they?

Judging by the people in my gym, 80%+ of people are actually making some major mistakes in their squat, making the movement inefficient at best and dangerous at worst!

If you have any interest in ever being able to do a barbell squat, you need to first nail the mechanics for a proper bodyweight squat.

We got you covered: by the end of this article you’re going to know exactly what to do and how to remind yourself to keep good form.

We were recently at Camp Nerd Fitness, and NF Team members Staci and Jim along with myself put together a quick 5 minute video explaining the ins and outs of (and common problems people have with) bodyweight squats.

Watch the video and check out the mistakes most people are making with bodyweight squats below.

5 Common Mistakes When Doing a Pull-Up

Can you do a pull-up? How about a chin-up?

Whether you can or you’re working towards your first, are you suuuuuuure you’re learning how to do them the right way?

As someone who has been training in a commercial gym for the past 15 years, I see people every day doing “pull-ups” and “chin-ups” … but probably 90% are doing them wrong.

It’s like watching Joffrey sword fight. Yeah, he’s putting a lot of energy into it and moving around, but anyone with experience can tell that it’s not terribly effective.

Whether you can string together 10 pull-ups already or are still working towards your first one, today we’re going to cover all of the big mistakes people make when doing a pull-up or chin-up, and how to make sure you’re doing them right.

Your shoulders, back, and arms are complex pieces of machinery – do proper pull-ups and you’ll be building uber strength and mobility in all the right places. Do them improperly and you might be setting yourself up for an injury.


I can tell you’re awesome, so I went ahead and made a video for you to walk you through all of this stuff. Watch the video below and read about the mistakes underneath it to make sure you’re training your pull-ups correctly!

A Beginner’s Guide to Training With Gymnastic Rings

If I was stranded on a deserted island and could only bring one thing… it would be a Super Nintendo.

But if I could bring TWO things, the second would be a pair gymnastic rings.

(Apparently both food and water don’t rank high on my list; I’m cool with that.)

In this nerd’s humble opinion, there’s no greater piece of equipment for building strength, adding muscle, and gaining mastery over your own body than having the ability to do some basic moves on gymnastic rings. And the best part? ANYONE can learn how to use gymnastic rings to get in great shape.

(Yes, even you.)

In fact, it’s our opinion here at Nerd Fitness that building a great-looking, great-performing, great-everything body comes easiest as the result of three major training philosophies:

  • Barbell training with things like squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses
  • Bodyweight training with core movements like pushups and pullups, and rings training training with muscle ups, dips, push-ups, and pull-ups.
  • Fun “cardio” – walks, dancing, ultimate frisbee, whatever you actually enjoy.

Show me somebody, male or female, who trains with their bodyweight, with rings and with barbells, and I’ll show you one healthy, bad-ass individual!

I used to think rings were only for gymnasts. But much like other bodyweight exercises, rings are great tools for beginners, too.

Young or old, male or female, big or small, you can start simply by spending a few bucks on a set of gymnastic rings and working on some very basic movements.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a complete beginner or a super-advanced fancy person (and it certainly doesn’t matter if you’re “skinny” or “stocky”, male or female, Gungan or Wookie): Anyone at any experience-level can train successfully — and safely — with rings.

“BUT STEVE I DON’T KNOW HOW TO TRAIN WITH RINGS, HALP” you’re probably saying to your computer right now.

Don’t worry boo, I got you covered.

How to Get Started With Bodyweight Training Today!

Today you take your first steps towards becoming a ninja/jedi/assassin/superhero, without needing to step foot in a gym.

Interested? Of course you are!

That’s 4 amazing things all combined into a nerd mecha-robot.

Here’s the deal: It doesn’t matter if you’re a 300-pound guy who wants to lose weight and get back in the dating scene; it doesn’t matter if you’re a mom of three who wants to drop a little fat and gain a little muscle; it doesn’t matter if you’re an in-shape twenty-something who’s just looking for a new workout challenge.

Right now — right in front of you— are all the tools you need to get into amazing shape and live a healthier, happier life.

So…just where the heck are these tools? Check the mirror! Seriously go look in the mirror.

Did you go look? That’s okay if you didn’t. But keep reading.

How a 330 lb High School Dropout Lost 140 lbs and Turned His Life Around

Talk about an Origin Story straight out of a comic book!

At 330 lbs, Joe was unemployed and a highschool dropout. Living rent-free with his grandfather, Joe would sleep all day and wake up at the start of the evening. Having grown up with unhealthy habits, Joe says he’d been binge-eating as long as he can remember. He developed a hypothyroid issue as a teen, and hadn’t bothered to take care of it.

Many of us feel trapped by our situations, and so we do what Joe did for years. Instead of using this as an impetus to change, we make ourselves feel better by falling even deeper into these negative habits. Joe says he would eat “entire loaves of bread with peanut butter or entire 2 pound boxes of chicken fingers” at night. “I’d have to use two baking trays to make them all. I’d stay up until 5-7am watching Turner Classic Movies or Buffy. Sometimes I had the energy to play videogames.”

He wasn’t taking care of himself physically, or mentally. Things felt dire: “Every night I went to bed thinking/hoping I’d die. I was a total wreck. It’s hard to remember.”

But – spoiler alert – Joe turned things around. This is a Nerd Fitness success story after all!

Joe is now 28 and has lost 140 lbs. Like many of our success stories, he used fitness as a gateway to change his entire life: Now he’s finishing a Masters in Library and Information Science and completing an 8-month work term in a special library dedicated to atmospheric and meteorological sciences.

Let’s hear some more from Joe to hear how he looks, feels, and acts like an entirely different person than he was a few years ago.

A Degenerate Gambler’s Guide to Effortless Weight Loss

Have you heard the story about the MIT Blackjack Team?

Made famous in the book, Bringing Down the House, it’s the story of an unlikely group of nerds who took casinos throughout the United States for millions upon millions of dollars back in the 90s by doing the unthinkable: they “beat the House” by playing perfect blackjack, counting cards, and knowing when to bet big and when to bet small. This story was then further immortalized in the Kevin Spacey flick, 21, and they will forever be remembered as “the group of kids who crushed the casinos.”

That… wasn’t supposed to happen.

Hence the expression “The House always wins.” You see, if you were supposed to have an advantage in Blackjack, the game wouldn’t exist in a casino! In reality, there is a series of small and seemingly insignificant rules that casinos employ to give the House a teeny tiny advantage (say 50.1% to 49.9%) in the game of Blackjack. They know that if you play long enough, statistics eventually kick in and they will take all of your money.

Just as the tiny percent “house edge” advantage results in enormous and consistent long-term profits for the Casino, a few “house edge” decisions we make on a daily basis result in long-term weight gain over the years.

It’s why we wake up a decade later, look down, and say “where the Hell did this gut come from?” Like a casino slowly bleeding us out of our chips, our weight slowly creeps up until we realize, “The house won. I’m fat.”

Today, we turn the tables and move that slight edge back in our favor.

Stop Foot Pain: A Nerd’s Guide to Healthy Feet

This is a guest post from Camp NF Headmaster, Kate Galliett of

Living with foot pain? Think you’ll be wearing orthotics your whole life? Ack!

You’ve fallen victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is to “never get involved in a land war in Asia.” But only slightly less well-known is: “do not believe that you are stuck with weak, flat, bunion’d, or heel-spur’d feet.”

Ok, so Vizzini the Sicilian didn’t say it quite like that.

But this statement is no less true than his original one.

I’ve had the pleasure of helping a lot of people fix their feet up to be super strong, pain-free, orthotic-free, and awesome, and I’m going to teach you what I taught them.

Given that your feet are your base of support, they influence the power output of your hips and glutes, and they carry you off to every adventure you go on – it’s crucial they function well.

Your feet have a lot of working parts: bones, joints, muscles, tendons, connective tissue, and nerves that all need to work together properly. When this anatomy doesn’t get to express itself well, any number of things can go wrong. From developing “flat feet” to the more scary stress fracture, and everything in between.

Sometimes our shoes make this a real challenge. But do not fear! Today I’m going to fix your feet and make sure you can walk all the way to Mordor.

How to Make Chicken Satay

This is an article from NF Rebel Chef, Noel.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever get inspired to cook (or eat) by a work of fiction.

Maybe you’re revisiting those Redwall books after ten years or more, and you come to a chapter dedicated to a feast. Or maybe you get to book 3 of Harry Potter and it’s not even cold outside, but darn it, you’re pining over a hot mug of Butterbeer. Oh yeah. We’ve all been there.

Recipes on Nerd Fitness are often inspired by travel or favorite foods re-imagined as paleo dishes.

Today’s recipe doesn’t come from a great work of fiction or a chapter in a novel about a feast… it comes from a memory of one line in a ridiculous television show and an old love for a sauce that I just can’t have any more… not because I’m a hard core paleo person, but because I developed a peanut allergy in my 20’s.

This one goes out to all you people who love ridiculous television and also to those of us who cannot eat peanuts. For those of you who don’t give a crap about TV and can eat peanut butter, just consider this a cooking adventure on easy mode.


Now, if you don’t know what Chicken Satay is, it’s a Southeast Asian dish made of marinated pieces of chicken that are skewered, barbecued, and served with a dipping sauce (usually a tasty peanut concoction).

This recipe is about as complex as the Fajitas we made last time. We’re going to cut up some chicken and veggies and then mix a few ingredients together for our tasty sauce. After our chicken marinates, we’ll put our chicken on sticks (if you want), or just toss it in a pan to cook and enjoy!

Sound like something you can manage? Heck yeah it does. Let’s get at it!

A Nerd’s Guide to Anxiety

This is an article from NF Rebel Family Correspondent and Mental Health Professional, Dan.

We all know the feeling…increased heart rate, feeling overwhelmed, can’t think clearly, palms sweaty, knees weak, mom’s spaghetti…sorry, I lost my train of thought.

Anyway, that feeling is called anxiety and we all feel it sometimes. It could be about our medical test results, public speaking or whether the Pokémon GO servers will load today.

Anxiety is a normal human emotion that’s part of everyday life. We evolved anxiety to help us avoid danger or perform at our best. A predator near by, or running out of food? The warning bell of anxiety turns on, and changes our physiology to encourage us to act.  Sounds pretty cool, right? And for most of us, anxiety kicks on and off in our day-to-day in the modern world without too much trouble.

But for many others, the feelings of anxiety can be much more extreme. It’s like they have it maxed out on their character sheet, and instead of being helpful, it’s an intense and persistent feeling that makes some aspects of day-to-day life an ongoing battle.

This is surprisingly common, but like a lot of mental health issues, we don’t talk about it much because of a stigma which comes from a lack of education and understanding. So let’s change that today!

We briefly covered anxiety in ‘A Nerd’s Introduction to Mental Health’, but today we’re digging a little deeper. The signs, the types, how we can manage it, and maybe even if we can turn it from our enemy to our secret weapon. 

The Biggest Enemy You’ll Ever Face…

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

-Richard Feynman, Nobel Laureate in Physics

You are about to enter a battle of wits with the greatest enemy you have ever faced.

Sure, you’ve slayed dragons in World of Warcraft, you’ve crushed tests in school after pulling an all-nighter, and you survived an encounter with your miserable boss that made you want to set the building on fire like Milton from Office Space.

This enemy is different. It knows you better than you know yourself. It’s been studying every move you make since the day you were born. It’s been whispering subversive messages in your ear every minute of every day. It’s like playing chess against a computer that has tracked every move you’ve ever made.

Ruh roh.

Luke Skywalker knows what I’m talking about. He couldn’t defeat Vader and the Emperor until he confronted this very same enemy in the swamps of Dagobah.

It’s hard to even SEE this enemy. Fortunately, there’s usually one place you can look…

Create a Free Character Today and Join the Fight!

War is coming…

Okay not really, but like the start of any great epic nerdy movie, we need to set the stage: WAR IS COMING.

There we go!

Every day, our modern world is being dragged further into the darkness. Fast food to keep us fat, technology and entertainment expertly crafted to distract us and make us lazy, forcing us into a life void of direction. This insidious sickness has been wreaking havoc on us unsuspectedly for decades, and only now are we starting to fight back.

Hmmm, that’s a bit dramatic. But I bet I got your attention, right?

Today is a big day for the Nerd Fitness Rebellion. Starting RIGHT NOW, you’ll notice some changes around here, and we’ve just released a fun update that can be the foundation on which you’ll be building your leveled-up life.

You can now create your free Nerd Fitness Character, turning yourself into a video-game character, and start completing a multitude of quests designed to challenge you and help you get stronger, lose weight, and live a healthier life.

We’ve been working on this for years, and today we’re excited to add a fleshed-out questing feature to the mix!

If you’ve been reading NF for a while and you’re already sold, stop reading now and click below to create your free character today!


If you need more convincing, keep reading below about the benefits you get from joining the 20,000 people who have already created an NF character.

Motivation: You’re Doing It Wrong.

Dear motivation, I owe you an apology.

I’ve been pretty hard on you lately, and it’s not entirely your fault. You see, most people use you as an excuse or beat themselves up over not having enough of you:

  • “I’m just not motivated to exercise.”
  • “Why can’t I get myself motivated to eat better? I suck.”
  • “I’ll start writing my first novel when I’m motivated.”

Look, I like you. You’ve helped me through some really tough times in my life. When I watch a YouTube video of Rocky climbing a mountain in Russia, it makes me want to train harder. When I watch a movie like Whiplash, it makes me want to practice music more. When I watch a documentary like Jiro Dreams of Sushi, it makes me want to perfect any craft that I’m working on.

You help me get started. you make me feel like I can conquer the world.

But – and I hate to say this – you’re just not very reliable. Like the friend that enthusiastically makes plans with you only to bail via text message with some lame excuse.

You fill people’s heads with illusions of grandeur. You get them all fired up to make changes in their lives and fill them with a sense of hope, only to disappear the next day when they need you most.

So, I guess I should say, “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.” And I know it’s not your fault; you’re the bad boy that mothers warn their daughters about (even though they married one!).

Motivation, I’m gonna teach the Rebellion how to deal with you, properly.

Cooking 101: Basic Knife Skills

This post is from Rebel Chef Noel.

Hello brave Rebel. Are you ready for an adventure in knife skills?

Imagine this – you’re in a kitchen-like dungeon. Torture devices hang from the walls – maces and hammers and sharp objects of varying size and cleanliness – pots big enough to boil 6 or 7 human heads. The room you’re in has a blue tile floor and several metal prep tables lined up neatly in the center of the room.  A 10 burner cook top flanks the wall to your party’s right and several stacked ovens sit beside it.

It’s been a while since these kitchens have been used. They’re dirty and fly infested. They smell like mold and rotting meat. The sick, yellow bulbs of the fluorescent lights above you flicker. Most of them have burnt out, but a few remain on their last legs. You just want to get the heck out of there.


You start making your way to the swinging door on the opposite side of the room, careful not to step in the puddles of god-knows-what as you cross the kitchen dungeon.

You and your party make it about halfway across the room when the room begins to heat up. You hear a heavy, metallic *clink* as the door behind you locks shut. You’re trapped.

A red glow appears in the cracks of the swinging doorway, and a mechanistic CHEFBOT 2000 kicks his way through the doors armed with a flamethrower at his back, a massive meat tenderizer in his left hand and a sharp chef’s knife in his right. Smoke pours from atop his tall chef’s hat.

The heat emanating from him is immense, and the smoke billowing from his hat is filling the room, sure to suffocate you and your friends if you don’t do something.

Let’s make sure you have kick-ass knife skills to defend yourself!

How Amy Gave Up Perfection and Lost 116 lbs

Amy lost 116 lbs in 13 months.

That might sound like a big, daunting number. Amy certainly felt that way once. She had no idea how to go about losing weight, had tried and failed before, going in half heartedly:

I would cut my portions or eat salads for a week but I really did’t have the information to lose weight in a healthy way. I also thought I had to be perfect. If I ate a cookie, or if I missed a workout – I just gave up.

In the quest to get healthy, sometimes it’s simply about finding a way to go workout when the situation isn’t perfect (it’s too hot, it’s too cold, you’re tired, you’re busy…) or eat right when we really don’t want to.

Amy’s path forward embraced the realistic, sometimes reluctant heroism of heroes like Deadpool or Wolverine.

“It isn’t ever going to be perfect – no one is perfect. The way I eat today isn’t perfect but it’s a helluva lot better than the way I used to eat. I tried things, and some of them worked and some didn’t so I kept what worked and changed what didn’t until I got to something that worked and I could live with for the rest of my life. Don’t be afraid to try, you can always make changes as you go. In fact, if you never have to make any changes, you are probably doing something wrong.”

Let’s learn a little bit more about how Amy lost the weight, got in shape, and transformed her life in the process.

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