Superhero Movie Workouts – Are They Worth It?

Last week, each NF post centered around a movie star who got in shape for a particular role and what each one of them ate, how they exercised, and what resources were at their disposal to get it done.

In case you missed any of the posts, here they are:

I had an absolute blast writing these posts, and I’ll certainly be doing more of them in the future because I really enjoyed finding out what goes into preparing for a role in certain flicks.  However, I want to make things clear; they were written with as much emphasis on entertainment as education.  These are people who were paid millions of dollars to look like they do, had all the time and resources in the world, personal trainers, specialized diets, and great genetics.  Oh, and they also already started off in incredible shape!

More often than not, after these movies were shot the actors quickly lost their figures because they couldn’t (and weren’t expected to) keep up the torrid pace of exercise and dieting that they had stuck with for months months.

EQ 2What does this mean for you?  The best analogy I could come up with involves playing a game like World of Warcraft or Everquest.  You know how you make your character, and then you spend hours and hours and hours leveling up, getting better stuff, fighting tougher enemies, etc?  It takes forever, but you have a blast doing it and you really get that sense of accomplishment when you make it to the highest level.  There’s always going to be people that have more time to play than you do, or have better resources, but you’re still happy because you’re playing with friends, you’re doing it at your own pace, and you have a life outside of the game (hopefully).

Then there are powerlevelers: these guys already started out ahead and spent lots of money to ‘twink’ their characters, making them far more powerful than if they were playing legitimately.  Hell, sometimes they even pay other people to level their characters for them.  They get to the highest level in record time and can probably kick your guy’s ass.  You know what?  Screw those guys.  You made it to the top while having a job, you did it legitimately, and you’re having fun with it.  That’s what’s important.

Fitness is no different. If you really want to look like King Leonidas, go for it.  Just know that it might take you a really freaking long time to get there because you simply can’t dedicate eight hours a day to being in shape.  I think it’s okay with setting lofty goals because you’re more likely to bust your ass to achieve them.  If you say you want to lose 5 lbs, you’ll half-ass it because “hey, it’s only 5 lbs.”  However, if you say you want to lose 80 lbs, cut your body fat percentage, and run a marathon, then you’ll make some serious changes to your lifestyle to make it happen.  Have the lofty goals, but pair them with realistic expectations.  If you’re a 300 lb 6ft 5inch guy, looking like Brad Pitt in Fight Club probably won’t happen.  Pick somebody with a similar body type to yours, and then set your goals from there.  Once you know how you want to look like, factor in what you can actually get accomplished while still living your life.

Don’t know what your goals should be or how long it should take you to accomplish them?  Shoot me an email at and I’ll gladly answer any questions you have.  Also, If you have any requests on future movie hero-workouts, post a comment or email me.

Go get it.


How to Look Like Brad Pitt in Troy

In today’s “How to Look Like A Superhero,” we’ll be checking out Brad Pitt’s routine to get in shape for the movie, Troy.

A few years back, you went to the movie theaters expecting to see the next epic, the next Gladiator, the next outlet for your macho, kick-ass, behavior.  Instead, you got “Troy,” and you probably fell asleep during the boring middle parts.  And then you got mad because they made both sides seem like the good guys, and you already knew how it was going to end, and yet you hoped it wouldn’t be THAT bad.  But it was.  The only thing worth watching again was that first scene where Achilles takes down the giant with one stab of his sword, which was freaking AWESOME.

Achilles Fight in Troy

Brad PittSo let’s say you decided you want to look like Achilles and you’re ready to hit the weights just like Brad did! Before you Google “Brad Pitt Troy workout,” know that everything you’ll find is either misleading or incorrect information.  I’m sure one or more of the routines I’ve found is the correct one, but honestly I don’t like any of them.  You’ll find routines that focuses exclusively on the upper body and completely ignores the lower body: a great way to look top-heavy and ridiculous.  Secondly, you’re looking at a guy who had 7 months to train for this role and had a personal trainer, strength coach, stretching coach, masseuse, yoga coach, and more.  So, rather than give you a routine that won’t work for most of you, I’d rather amend the listed routines and provide you with a better, healthier, safer routine that will still have you looking like you’re the best fighter in Greek history.  Brad went from approximately 160 lbs. in Fight Club to 185 lbs in Troy, which means he had some serious muscle to build and weight to gain.   As a thin guy with a very low body fat percentage, Brad’s metabolism most likely operated faster than the speed of light.  In order to put on at least 20 lbs of muscle, he needed to break his pre-movie routine into two phases, commonly known as a “Bulk and Cut” routine.


When you’re very thin and looking to put on muscle mass, you will need to eat a LOT more than you’re eating, lift heavy weights, and keep your basic cardio to a minimum.  Now, as you’re gaining muscle mass, you’ll also be gaining a little of fat.  It’s inevitable. It’s okay though, that’s why this is called the “Bulk” phase.  What you’ll want to do is concentrate on compound exercises (bench press, pull ups, deadlifts, and squats are the four biggies) to promote growth throughout your whole body.  Although Brad only concentrated on his upper body, you’re going to NEED to do deadlifts and squats too; these exercises will pump up your legs and back, which happen to the be two parts of your body where you can gain the most weight the fastest.

To get the most out of these exercises, you should concentrate on completing between 12 and 6 reps with each set for each exercise, often training to absolute failure.  Absolute failure = by the time you’re on your final rep of your last set for that exercise, it should feel like that’s the last possible thing you could lift.  Heavy weights, lots of compound exercises, and minimal cardio. Cardio will take away from your weight gain.  Instead, I’d recommend working your cardio into your routine by minimizing the amount of time in between sets, waiting no more than a minute before starting up again.  To see a routine that I’m currently using with these principles in it (that has allowed me to gain 12 lbs in 7 weeks), read my blog here.  Personally, I like training the whole body when I’m in the gym, and I imagine that’s how the warriors of old would have trained as well: not concentrating on sculpting their triceps, but rather concentrating on lifting heavy weights and getting ready to kill people!

BPTOnce Brad reached the correct amount of weight and strength he desired, he flipped a switch and spent 3 months working on cutting the fat off his body (hence the “cut” phase of the routine), leaving nothing except muscle on his body.  You might think this is where you give up the weight training and just start running everywhere.  Wrong.  If you do that you’ll quickly lose all the muscle you just gained, because it takes your body 6 months to get used to its new weight and will quickly revert back to its old size if you stop.   To keep your weight and cut your body fat, continue training with weights but incorporate more cardio and sprints into the routine to shed the excess weight.  To get the most of out of your cardio in the lowest amount of time, read about interval training here.


Apparently Brad ate 4 meals a day that consisted of high amounts of protein and low amounts of carbohydrates.  He also gave up smoking, drinking, and eating junk food.  These three things right here are HUGE factors that contributed to Brad’s success in the gym and on the screen.  Now, when it comes to the rest of his diet, I have to disagree with his trainers once again.  Considering he was training for 3 hours a day, removing carbs from his diet robbed him of necessary energy to get through these grueling workouts!  Also, I don’t think four meals a day is enough to give him constant protein throughout the day to build those muscles.

My suggestion?  If you’re skinny and trying to bulk up, you need to be eating close to 4000 calories a day, and those 4000 calories should be composed  of at least 1g of protein per lb of body weight and 1.5 to 2 times that number of grams of complex carbohydrates.  Take these numbers, divide them by 6 or 7 (depending on how often you can eat), and that’s what you need to be eating close to ALL day long.

Here’s an sample of times when you need to eat:

  • 7:00AM: Breakfast
  • 9:30AM: Snack
  • 12:00pm: Lunch
  • 2:30PM: Snack
  • 5:00pm: Dinner
  • 7:30pm: Late night snack
  • 10pm: Pre-bed snack

troy-560At each of these meals (including dinner), I’d aim to get AT LEAST 30 grams of protein, 45 grams of complex carbs, and 10-15 grams of good fats.  Think lots of chicken, tuna, steak, eggs, protein shakes, and protein bars for your protein, and whole grain pasta, oats, brown rice, potatoes, and whole grain wheat bread for your complex carbs.  Also, you can eat all the fruits and vegetables you want.  I’d limit the amount of carbs you eat at the very end of the day (your last two meals) because studies have shown that your metabolism is slower at the end of the day (when you’re not exercising), so those carbs would get turned to stored fat while you sleep.  As long as you’ve been exercising, the protein you eat at the end of the day will be used to rebuild your muscles while you sleep.  If you’re worried that you’re eating too much, I guarantee you’re not – think about how tough it’s been your whole life to gain weight.  If you put on a few extra pounds, it will probably take you only a few weeks to lose the ones you don’t want.  When in doubt, eat.

After you’ve bulked up enough and you’re interested in shredding the excess fat from your body, I’d continue to eat every 2-3 hours and keep your intake of protein high.  I’d cut some of the carbs from your diet, but make sure you’re still eating enough to give you energy to get through your workouts.  I’d work on finding a balance between increased amounts of sprints and interval training for cardio and a decreased amount of calories until you find a good balance.  You want your weight to remain constant and your body fat percentage to decrease.

There you have it! It might not be the exact Brad Pitt Troy workout you expected, but it will certainly get the job done (Trust me, I know…because it’s working for me right now as we speak).  My advice: if you’re looking to follow a specific routine by following a specific celebrity, pick somebody other than the genetically gifted Brad Pitt.  If you’re skinny and trying to bulk up, follow Ryan Reynolds for his transformation in Blade 3, and for you bigger guys looking to slim down, try Daniel Craig’s routine to prepare for Casino Royale.  Just keep in mind that these guys had personal trainers and specific diet plans to get them where they needed to be.  Expect to get less successful results if you’re picking a routine while working a full-time job, raising a family, and not having the time or money to eat 10 professionally prepared meals a day.

You can probably sense a trend with all of these routines: lots of protein every 2-3 hours, sprints for cardio instead of long runs, keep your routines specific: compound exercises, between 3-6 sets and 6-12 reps per set.  Work yourself to exhaustion, give your muscles ample time to recover, and you’ll be sacking Troy in no time.  I realize this is a weird sentence if you know a dude named Troy, but he’s probably an ass and should be taken any way.  My apologize to all the people named Troy who aren’t full of themselves out there.


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How To Look Like Gerard Butler in the Movie 300

In today’s “How to Look Like A Superhero,” we’ll be checking out Gerard Butler’s routine in the movie, “300.”


“Madness? THIS IS SPARTA!” screams King Leonidas before he kicks a Persian messenger into a 10,000 pit that happens to exist on the edge of town.  Easily one of the most testosterone-filled, uber gory, macho films ever created, 300 took the world by storm, suddenly making it okay to walk around in a loin cloth and yell things at people.

You’ve watched the movie, and you say to yourself in between your 3rd and 4th donut, “yeah, I want to look like that guy.”  Well Skippy, here’s your chance to shine.   To prepare for this role, Gerard Butler went through some of the most physically demanding training of any actor in recent memory to look like the true King of Sparta.  Similar to Daniel Craig’s training for Casino Royale, Gerard went through many different circuits and unusual exercises to build terrifying amounts of lean muscle and destroy any body fat on him.  By the time the movie started shooting, King Leonidas was one bad mofo you did NOT want to **** with.  Gerard had to make three significant changes to his life during the four months getting ready for 300: his diet, his exercise routine, and his mentality.  Yeah, not only did the guy have to eat like a warrior and train like a warrior, but he had to think like one too.


To accomplish the monumental task of becoming a Spartan King, Gerard tapped Mark Twight, a world-class mountain climber, who insisted on training like your life depended on it.  He also kept his usual personal trainer, and often trained with both on a daily basis.  After weight training, and circuit training, he’d go and do training with all the stunt/sword/spear trainers and work on his fight choreography, and then go practice the moves after he learned.  When it’s all added up, Gerard often trained for six hours a day, for more than four straight months.  Gerard would even lift weights in between individual shots to build up the lactic acid in his muscles and puff up their size (blog post coming on this soon).  Personally, I think six hours a day is way too much training, and having two trainers is overkill, but it worked for Gerard and I won’t doubt the man with these results.  He literally devoted his life to the physicality of the role, and it shows.

300Back to the routine: rather than doing individual muscle group exercises every day, Gerard did exercises and routines that literally beat the crap out of him.  Flipping massive tires, sprinting while being tied to a bungee cord, olympic ring exercises, and other unconventional exercises worked out his entire body and kept his muscles guessing, shocking them into continual growth and development.  Think bootcamp style training, where weights and cardio and mixed in together and done without breaks.  If it sounds miserable, it’s because it is miserable…and I mean that in the best way possible.

For example:

  • Instead of doing regular pushups, he would put his feet on a bench, and extend out while supporting himself on just two olympic rings hanging from the ceiling.  Not only would his body weight cause the rings to swing all over the place, but he would do crazy amounts of pushups on the rings, working every single fiber in his chest, triceps, and shoulders.
  • By flipping tires, Gerard would get an intense lower body, lower back, and shoulder work out.
  • Doing pull ups until his arms fell off.  Pull ups will work every muscle in your back, biceps, and forearms.

Noticing a pattern?  Instead of training with machines or barbells, Gerard wanted to train like a warrior, flipping over heavy objects, doing pull ups with his body weight, etc.  To look like a warrior, you must train like one. Let’s talk about the famous 300 challenge (you can read more about it here), where you have to try and complete 300 reps of various exercises as quickly as possible:

  • 25 pull ups
  • 50 dead lifts with 135 lbs
  • 50 pushups
  • 50 box jumps
  • 50 floor wipes – maybe the worst thing ever.
  • 50 clean-and-presses with a 36lb kettle bell
  • 25 more pull ups

Each actor on the movie’s goal was to finish this circuit as quickly as possible.  One guy did it in approximately 18 minutes.  My first time trying this “test,” it took me an hour and a half and I wanted to die.  I’ll be trying it again soon.

Now, for you mere mortals, you can make great strides in the gym without exercising for six hours a day.  In fact, I’d say that unless you’re a genetic freak or on steroids, this amount of training will most likely do more harm than good.  I’m guessing that Gerard’s training varied from cardio, to strength, to flexibility, to power, to stability.  I guarantee Gerard wasn’t working each muscle group every single day, because his muscles need time to recover!  That’s when the real growth happens: on your days off.  If you work your muscles in different ways, from different angles, with different goals each day (speed, strength, agility, etc.) you can work out like crazy and still see crazy results.  Gerard, know that I’m not calling you crazy.  Please don’t hurt me.  I’m a big fan of Sparta.


GB 300I’ve scoured the internet looking for Gerard’s diet to prepare for this role, and I simply couldn’t find it.  However, after studying similar routines and consulting various sources, I’m pretty confident I can guesstimate what he ate on a daily basis.  To build muscle, cut body fat, and have enough energy to train for six hours a day, he had to eat:

  • Insane amounts of protein (which can be found in eggs, grilled chicken, tuna and other fish, steak, protein shakes, and protein bars),
  • Complex carbohydrates – oats, potatoes, multi-grain pasta, brown rice, eaten with his first few meals of the day to give him the energy to get through these grueling workouts.
  • Limit carbs in the afternoons and evenings – because metabolisms slow down at the end of the day, and these carbs would then be stored as fat.  Some disagree with this, so feel free to take it or leave it.
  • Lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Water. LOTS of water.

Because he needed to not only be strong but have an extremely low body fat percentage, Gerard probably cut out nearly anything from his diet that wasn’t efficient.  His body fat had to be in the single digits so you could see all the hard work he put in the gym.  (Read here to find out the truth about your abs).   To keep the energy levels constant, and keep enough protein in his system to constantly rebuild all his muscles after exercise, he would have to eat between 5 and 8 meals a day, spread out every 2 or 3 hours.  Each meal would contain at least 30 grams of protein, a vegetable or two, some complex carbs, and water.  Obviously this takes a lot of fine-tuning to ensure maximum muscle building and energy refueling without eating too much to build fat.  It’s a science.  Gerard treated his body like a machine and did everything possible to operate it as efficiently as possible.

Here’s a video discussing his role as King Leonidas and the training necessary to make it happen:

I’ll leave you with one of the most inspiring quotes I’ve read from Gerard about this training regiment: “You know that every bead of sweat falling off your head, every weight you’ve pumped — the history of that is all in your eyes,” says Butler of his dedication. “That was a great thing, to put on that cape and put on that helmet, and not have to think, Shit, I should have trained more.”

“Instead, I was standing there feeling like a lion.”

Here’ the 300 trailer, just to get you pumped up for the rest of the day.

300 Trailer

“Spartan, come home with your shield…or on it.”


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How to Look like Daniel Craig in Casino Royale

For part 2 in the “Look like a Superhero” series, we’ll be taking a look at Daniel Craig for his role in Casino Royale.

Not bad for 40!

So, you want to look like James Bond huh? Daniel Craig, the most bad-ass 00-agent since Sean Connery, spent months with a personal trainer turning himself into a 007 killing machine.  Not surprisingly, he completely changed his life for this movie: working out five days a week, eating almost exclusively healthy food, and having a personal trainer and dietitian to keep him in line.  Unlike Ryan Reynolds in Blade 3, Daniel didn’t have to add tons of weight, he needed to lose weight, build muscle, and get cut.

Daniel took a different approach to fitness compared to other celebrity routines.  While some people concentrate on one muscle group per day, working it only once a week, Daniel often did full body circuits, supercharging his heart rate and building muscle and endurance at the same time.  Rather than trying to look like a perfectly sculpted pretty boy, he wanted to look like a guy that could sprint for 3 miles, lift up a car, rip your head off, and then sleep with your supermodel girlfriend.  It’s not a bad look to go for, I guess.  If you’re into that kind of thing.


DC TuxBefore we get to the workout, let’s talk diet.  If you want to look like you could kill a man with your bare hands, you won’t get there pounding a 2 liter of Mountain Dew and eating Ho-Hos.  Like everything else I’ve been preaching, your diet will account for at least 80% of your successes or failures.  Here’s an analogy: you think James puts REGULAR gasoline in that Aston Martin?  Hell no.  Premium! Your body is the same way.  If you want to get the most out of your routines, you want to give your body the best fuel possible at all times.

First and foremost, Daniel Craig gave up smoking.  There was no compromise on this one.  Secondly, he was allowed to drink, but only on Friday nights and Saturdays.  If you think he’d mix some protein powder into those shaken Martinis, it doesn’t work.  Drinking dehydrates you, and your body needs that hydration to use the protein to rebuild your muscles.  Keep this in mind next time you think it’d be smart to make a margarita protein shake.

Daniel also cut out all the crap from his diet, ate 5-6 times a day, cut out carbs in the afternoon and evenings, ate lots of vegetables and fruits, and concentrated on eating high quality protein (fish, eggs, chicken, protein shakes, etc.)  “Wow that doesn’t sound like any fun,” you might be thinking.  That’s because it’s not fun.  It’s boring and you have to give up a lot of the stuff you might like to eat.  Face the facts: if you want to look like a 00 agent, you’re going to have to completely change how you eat, make sacrifices, and stick to a strict diet.

Here is a typical day for Daniel on his diet (From Squidoo):

  • Breakfast: 2 Poached Eggs and 2 pieces of Toast
  • Snack: Protein Shake -or- fruits and Nuts
  • Lunch: Meat or Fish with small amount of Brown Rice -or- Baked Potato
  • Snack: Protein Shake -or- Yogurt with some Nuts
  • Dinner: Meat -or- Fish with some type of Leafy Green Vegetables like Salad, Spinach, or Broccoli.

Because Daniel was more concerned with cutting body fat while building muscle, his carb intake was very low.  Also, the guy’s 40 (damn!), which means he has a slower metabolism; if you’re 20, skinny as a rail, and trying to look like James Bond, you’re going to want to eat WAY more complex carbs.  If you’re on the bigger side of the spectrum and trying to slim down…this diet will work for you.


Please know that Daniel was training with a professional on a daily basis (millions of dollars certainly help).  If you don’t have the luxury of a trainer, make sure each exercise is done with light weights until you have the form down PERFECTLY.  Heavy weights + bad form = injury, lost time, and no supermodels.  Suck.

DC Bond GunI’ve seen all kinds of routines all over the internet when it comes to what Daniel Craig actually did for his workout.  Honestly, I don’t care which one is right, because they all have the same basic principle.  The most reputable source I found was Men’s Health, so that’s the one I’ll analyze here.  According to their site, Daniel would do weight training Monday through Friday, and then some light cardio and stretching on Saturday and Sunday.  Nowhere on the site does it mention seducing attractive women, but I imagine this is built into his cardio on the weekends (zing!).

Some workout routines (like Ryan Reynold’s from Blade) followed a “one muscle group per day” routine.  Daniel instead took the full-body route on Mondays and Fridays, working out his entire body, doing sets back to back, limiting rest between sets, and building cardio right INTO his weight training.  You might wonder why a guy who’s trying to trim down wouldn’t do more cardio.  The lack of straight cardio is important for these two reasons:

  • DC wanted to look muscular and cut, not lean.  If he just did cardio, he’d look like a marathon runner.  Where’s the intimidation there?
  • The higher percentage of lean muscle you have, the faster your metabolism works.  You know how some people complain about slow metabolisms?  I know a lot of it has to do with genetics, but I bet they don’t do any sort of weight training either.  If you’re trying to cut your weight, doing just cardio will only get you so far.  Weight training builds lean muscle, which speeds up your metabolism, which will help you lose even more weight.

Let’s take a look at his full body circuit routine on Mondays and Fridays, from Men’s Health.  On this day, Daniel would do 10 reps of each exercise and then move immediately onto the next exercise and do 10 reps, then move onto the next one.  He would do three complete circuits of these exercises, minimizing rest.  If you don’t know some of these exercises, you can read about them on the MH website.

  1. Clean and Press
  2. Weighted Knee Raise
  3. Weighted Step-ups
  4. Pull ups
  5. Incline Push up
  6. Triceps Dips

Now, the reason he can do these exercises back to back to back is because they work different muscle groups.  When you do a pull up, you use your back and biceps.  For an incline push up, you use primarily your chest, shoulders and triceps..which means you can do these two exercises back-to-back without overexerting yourself.  Personally, I might rearrange these exercises slightly, splitting up the push ups and dips, because they both work your chest, shoulders, and triceps (although in different capacities).  Of course, I don’t look like James Bond (YET), so I’ll leave the routine planning up to his trainers.  Here is the rest of his schedule; you can click on each day to see the specific exercises:

On each of these days, Daniel would work out just the muscles in the group he was isolating.  For each exercise, he would complete 4 sets of 10 reps.  Again, if it were up to me, I would have started with 12 reps, and increased weight each time while decreasing the reps in each set (12, 10, 8, 6), but I’m not the one with the golden gun (GET IT? I’m on a roll).  I’m a big fan of this routine because it works the cardio right into his weight training.  Nothing bores me more than running long distances, or even worse, running on a treadmill.  By lifting weights in quick succession with minimal rest between sets and exercises, you can get a great cardio workout while burning fat and building muscle at the same time.

Here’s an interview with Daniel Craig talking about his diet for Casino Royale:

James Bond Interview

Long story short: you can look like this at age 40 if you have a lot of money, a personal trainer, a diet coach, great genetics, and five days a week to train.  If you don’t have those things, you can still get the Bond look; it just might take you longer than it took Daniel Craig.  I really want to go watch Casino Royale now.


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How to Look like Ryan Reynolds in Blade 3

For part 1 in the “look like a superhero” series, we’ll be taking a look at Ryan Reynolds for his role in Blade 3.

Blade 3 Straight onSo you want to look like Ryan Reynolds in Blade 3 huh?  Sure he might be a jackass, and most likely full of himself…but DAMN the man is cut.  First and foremost, let’s get a few things out of the way: RR was already in decent shape and had a low body fat percentage before he started his six months of training for Blade 3.  Secondly, he has great genetics, he got paid insane amounts of money for this role, and he had a personal trainer and dietitian to keep him on track.  I guess when you don’t have a day job or kids, working out for 3 hours and eating 8 meals a day is actually an option.  Keep this in mind when you don’t look like this overnight.

As a guy who was already in great shape, had a low percentage of body fat, and only had to worry about adding lean muscle, Ryan only had to worry about adding good weight and cutting the little fat he had.  You can see where this is going: Ryan was already in shape and had to get to an almost unhealthy body fat percentage for this role.  As soon as the role was done, he took a break, because training this much was beyond crazy.


Damn Van Wilder!

I’m going to start with the diet first, because it is absolutely the most important thing.  I worked out for YEARS and couldn’t put on any weight; it wasn’t until I fixed my diet and I got big almost overnight.   Ryan ate right and it shows. His diet consisted of eating between 6 and 8 meals a day, every 2 hours, with a lot of protein and complex carbohydrates in throughout the day and just protein (no carbs) after 8pm.  He also ate a lot of protein and carbs immediately after his workouts to promote growth; the carbs to refuel his body so the protein can be recruited by the body to JUST BUILD MUSCLE.  Where did he get all that protein?  A lot of eggs, chicken, steak, protein bars, and protein shakes. For his carbs, he ate a lot of oatmeal!  Good ole fashioned oatmeal (without added sugar).  Sounds boring?  It’s because it IS BORING.  Ryan had it down to a science and treated his body like a machine, getting the exact amount of nutrients necessary to gain mostly muscle and not fat.  My guess is that he probably spent the first four months putting on 15 lbs (10 of which is muscle, 5 of which is fat), and then the last two months cutting the fat, leaving just the muscle.  If you’re going to gain weight, this is how it’ll happen.

Read more about why protein is so important here.

I’ve found a few different places where it lists a typical day for Ryan.  From

  • Breakfast: 2 eggs, some “good” fat like a spoon of almond butter or slice of avocado, and 1 cup of oatmeal with applesauce
  • Midmorning snack: protein bar
  • Lunch: albacore tuna wrap or chicken and salad
  • Mid-afternoon snack: protein shake (whey and water), protein bar, or apple and almonds
  • Dinner: broiled fish or chicken, brown rice, vegetables, and salad
  • Evening Snack: protein shake


Not only did Ryan eat 8 meals a day, but he also took supplements to help him get there.  No, not steroids.  He did take creatine (a BIG boost for building muscle), L-glutamine, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), whey protein powder, and a multivitamin.  Three years ago, when I put on 18 lbs. in 30 days, I was taking a meal replacement supplement that had creatine in it, so I can attest to the fact that it does in fact work.  However, I stopped using it since and have managed to gain plenty of healthy weight without it.  I can tell you that it does work, I just choose not to take it.


Blade 3 shirtRyan worked out for probably 3 hours a day to prepare for this role.  Now, that’s not three hours of weight training, but weight training and fight training and stuff like that.  However, he did do some form of weight training six days a week.  Ryan would work out a specific body part to almost absolute failure each day.  Example: Chest on Monday, Legs on Tuesday, Back on Wednesday, Shoulders on Thursday, Arms on Friday. When I say failure, I mean FAILURE: he would absolutely destroy his chest on Monday, and then not work it again until the following Monday.  To get maximum muscle building potential, Ryan would keep the number of reps in his sets between 6 and 12.  (Why between 6 and 12 reps?  Read here).

I don’t have his specific routine but I can guess his chest routine: Bench press (bar or dumbbells): 12 reps at a certain weight, wait only 1 minute, add weight, do 10 reps, wait 1 minute, add weight and do 8 reps, wait 1 minute, add weight and do 6 reps.  Then repeat this with incline dumbbell flys (same structure of increasing weight, wait, and reps).  Then repeat with another chest exercise until your body physically cannot lift anything.  Want to get more complex?  Superset some of these exercises with each other.  Make sure you have a spotter for each exercise, because you want to struggle with your last few reps.  If you can do it without a trainer, you should be probably be lifting heavier weights.  A warning: You will be sore. Very sore.  Which is why you won’t work that muscle group again for another week.

Now, He also exercised his abs religiously, and did so by allegedly doing between 500 and 1000 situps to start each workout.  GOOD LORD. Personally, I don’t have time to do 1000 situps.  Also, I don’t want to do 1000 sit ups! Eff that.  I believe your abdominal muscles need rest in between workouts  like every other muscle (although the do recover faster than other muscles, some say), so I would recommend giving yourself at least a day off in between ab exercise days.  As for how to do the workout, once you can do more that 25 sit-ups at a time, doing MORE and MORE of them is a waste of time.  I’d recommend adding weight (doing sit ups on a ball, with a 25 lbs plate on your chest, for example) instead of adding reps.  Your workout stays the same length of time, you just up the intensity.


RR was already in great shape, and did NOT want to lose any weight, he needed to gain 10-15 lbs. of muscle.  Because he was doing intensive fight training along with the weight training, cardio was definitely not something that would not be beneficial for him.  By exercising daily, and doing the exercise and routines that I talked about above, Ryan was able to work his cardio INTO his weight training by minimizing downtime between sets.

Here is a training video from the set of Blade 3:

Blade 3 Training Video

So there you have it. Just think, if you have millions of dollars, great genetics, and all the time in the world to train, of COURSE you can look like this. If you don’t have those things, you just have to make do with what you have.  I don’t have the time to train 3 hours a day and I don’t have somebody to prepare my meals, but I’ve managed to go from 173 lbs to 184 lbs. (keeping my body fat percentage at 9%) working out just 3 hours a week over the past two months.  You can read about my current routine here.  Once I get to 185 lbs, my goal weight, I’m going to REALLY analyze my diet, add in some extra sprints, and maintain my weight while decreasing my body fat.  I don’t think I’ll be able to get down to 3% like Van Wilder here, which is fine.  I work a full time job and I run this blog, so I don’t have the time or resources to get there.  Ryan didn’t even maintain that level of fitness after the movie finished shooting, because THAT LEVEL OF FITNESS IS CRAZY!  I’m sure he was glad to have his life back afterward.

My recommendation – read this story for entertainment, and then find a way to pick and chose parts of it that can help you become who you want to be. Find a way to be in shape, and be happy with that level of fitness.

Any questions regarding this routine leave a comment and I’ll certainly help out.


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Nerd Fitness 2.0 is on the Way!

Happy Friday everybody!

I’ve spent most of this week out of town for my day job, and you can see why the updates haven’t been consistent if you read the blog I wrote for Sixthman today.  I know, how terrible, I had to hang out with a bunch of musicians and watch them create songs for three days, poor Steve.  Anyways, it’s made me realize that there will often be weeks where I won’t be able to update every single day. Because of this, I’ve decided there needs to be a better way for this community to grow even if I haven’t written a blog for that day.

This weekend in Atlanta is expected to be pretty crappy unfortunately, which means I’ll have plenty of time to move Nerd Fitness over to a new platform.  Instead of having just the blog, I’ll be making NF more of a full-scale website with easier access to previous articles so you can read about exactly what you want to learn.  I’ll also be expanding the more technical part of the website, providing descriptions of specific workouts and exercises for those of you getting started and in search of guidance.  Once I can get things squared away, I’m going to look into developing a Nerd Fitness message board that will allow you guys to interact and help each other out.  I’ve been on a few message boards, and understand that they can be both a pain in the ass and detrimental if people use them for the wrong reason.  I envision a board where healthy discussions, tips, funny stories, and motivational advice exist; I’m even considering making the board invitation-only so that only people who REALLY want to be there will have access.

What do you guys think?  Would you use a message board?  Would you be more/less likely to use it if it was exclusive?  Personally, I’d rather have five dedicated posters who are actually getting something out of it than 1000 people who spam and flame each other.  Eventually, I’d like to create a Nerd Fitness starter-kit for guys who want to get in shape but don’t know where to begin and aren’t ready for a gym membership.  Rather than making something and hope it’s what you’d want, I’d rather build it with your help and make it as beneficial as possible.


Damn you Ants!

Damn you ANT!

Damn you ANT!

Sorry about no update yesterday.  The day job has been hectic in a really good way.

Earlier this week, I spent two days writing about running and running shoes, and I’ve manged to get two of my toes infected…which means I won’t be running for quite a while.  Last weekend while my friends were in town, I walked through an ant pile down at our pool.  While my friend Sarah was busy saying, “oh they won’t bother anybody,” the ants were busy attacking my feet with the firey passion of a thousand suns (I don’t know what that means, but it sounds like a lot).  They bit a few of my toes which then swelled up like crazy.  Being an idiot, I wore sneakers all day on Saturday while helping out at Pet-a-palooza – think music festival except with way more dog poop than normal – which gave me crazy blisters, which then became infected over the past two days.  AWESOME.

Now that I’m back from Augusta, I plan on heading to that pool tomorrow afternoon and absolutely GOING TO TOWN on that ant hill with a big-ass can of Raid.  I will end them.  Ants aside, I’m realizing that I’m going to have to get creative if I’m going to stay on my fitness routine.  Being out of town for four days, not sleeping much, eating sporadically, and not being able to wear shoes has certainly thrown a wrench in my workout.  As I’ve stated in a previous blog, it’s important to find a way to get exercise in there even if it it has to be in an unconventional way.  I won’t be able to run for probably two weeks, so I’m going to have to find other ways to get cardio.

Here are some thoughts:  Split up my workouts so I hit up the gym more often – five days a week instead of  three days a week- and supercharge my workouts (minimal rest between sets, lots of supersets, etc.) so I get an aerobic workout too while lifting weights.  Also, I’m thinking of maybe swimming to get my heart race pumping without needing to use these feet!  Other options would be to do a boot camp style thing in my house in the morning without shoes on, maybe running in place, jumping rope, jumping jacks, etc. etc. etc.

It’s a setback, but it’s no excuse to start slacking and take some days off.  I’ll find a way around it, because I know that I need to stay on track.  I’m very close to hitting my goal weight, and I only have ten more days to get there.

Stay on target!


Couch to 5k: Get Off Your Ass!

My friend Kappy, a bigger guy by most standards (his nickname is Grande Rojo), has been following the “Couch to 5k” plan on over the past few weeks; I decided to check it out and make sure he’s following a good plan.  After going over the website, I am now fully supportive.  I’m a big fan of interval training, so I’m glad that this program is built around them; it’s a great way to exercise both your body and your heart.

My recommendation?  Sign yourself up for a 5k race and time it so the race occurs at the end of your “couch to 5k” training cycle.  Sure you can skip your training and just go to the 5k, but I don’t think you’ll be to happy when you get passed by a 75 year old grandmother pushing a stroller.  Hopefully this will give you the motivation you need to actually follow your training regiment for the race.  Now, once you finish one race, sign up for another one, and work on improving your training and your time.  Always have something to look forward to, something to strive for, and a goal to reach.  Once you there, set another one!

If you’re reading this in a desk chair or your couch at home,  maybe the Couch to 5k is the kick in the pants you need to get started.  Follow the directions exactly and in 9 weeks you’ll be crossing the finish line.

What are you waiting for?  Put down the remote, buy a GOOD pair of running shoes, and start the Couch to 5k plan today!


PS – I do have one complaint about the Cool Running site.  The first ad I saw on there was for PIZZA HUT!  Come on people.  Try running a 5k with Pizza Hut in your stomach and tell me it’s a good idea.

I Take Sports WAY Too Seriously.

Bruins LoseI realize this has nothing to do with nerds or fitness, but it’s relevant I swear. I was going to write a  post last night, but I got sucked into watching the Red Sox, NBA Playoffs, and NHL playoffs, and it ended up being the worst case scenario:

  • The Red Sox lost in 12 innings, and David Ortiz went 0-7, stranding 15 runners in scoring position.
  • The Celtics lost game 6, which means game 7 will now be played on Sunday night, when I’ll be on a plane headed to Miami.
  • The Bruins lost game 7 in overtime, and the goal was scored by the same jerk who sucker-punched our player two days ago and didn’t get a rightfully-deserved suspension.

Talk about a rough night. Yes, I realize as a Boston fan, I have absolutely nothing to complain about this decade (3 Super Bowls, 2 World Series, and an NBA Championship).   However, losing in such a fashion still destroys me.  My friends even tell me that it’s more fun watching me watch a game than it is to watch the game itself.  After these games ended and I tried to pull my night together, I just couldn’t.  I don’t know why I get so emotionally involved.  I mean, I never met these guys, I don’t live in Boston anymore, and none of them are actually from Boston…and yet every night I scream at my television, get way too excited over a win, and far too depressed over a loss.

I remember a few years back when the Red Sox lost to the Yankees in extra innings in the playoffs (Aaron f***ing Boone) and I had an Econ mid-term the next day – I was so crushed that I just went to bed and BOMBED the test.  That’s not the right way to go about life!  I’m alive! I have a job! I have my health and a good group of friends!  I have nothing to complain about!

I gotta relax.  It’s not the end of the world.  Growing up playing sports gave me an outlet for my competitive nature.  Now, I’m reduced to watching people making millions of dollars and having my night hang on the outcome of a game thousands of miles away.

I gotta join some league or something that will allow me to get competitive. Maybe it’s time to join a tennis league, or start playing pick-up basketball again.  All my friends are playing Ultimate Frisbee, but I can’t join their league due to timing conflicts.

Any suggestions?


Hey Big Guys! Your Excuses End Here.

Terence lost 200 lbs in 11 months.

Terence lost 200 lbs in 11 months.

I don’t care how old or how big you are, it’s never too late to make a change in your life.

Meet Terence Haynes, a 430 lb., 45 year-old guy who suddenly decided to completely change his life.  He set out to lose 200 lbs in one year, and did it.  After losing all the weight, he rediscovered his passion for sports and a desire to continue improving his life: he went back to college and joined the college wrestling team.

If you have nine minutes to burn this morning/tonight/tomorrow, watch this video on ESPN.  For you big guys/girls out there who have lost hope, who think it’s a waste of time, or perhaps you’re just too far down the road that you can’t get in shape.  This guy ate 20,000 calories a day and was literally eating himself to death…so he enlisted the help of a personal trainer, cut his diet to a healthy 1800 calories (which must have felt like starvation for weeks), and exercised 4-6 days a week.

Obviously losing 200 pounds in a single year is an extreme case, but when you go from 20,000 calories to less than 2,000, and start exercising almost every day instead of sitting on a couch…you will get extreme results.

If you’re looking for motivation, here it is:

Terence Haynes Video

If you don’t have time to watch the video, feel free to read the article here.

Now, if you’re looking to get back into exercising, make sure you consult your physician before you start any exercise to make sure it’s okay, and then take it slow.  Instead of concentrating on the numbers on the scale, concentrate on fitness goals – The scale might lie to you, but your body won’t.

Take it one day at a time, do a little bit more every day, eat right, and your weight will drop before you know it.


Getting Started Again After a Break

Get back on the horse SON!

Get back on the horse SON!

Let’s say you just got back from vacation, you’re just getting over the flu (fully recovered), or you had friends come in for a long weekend.  Not surprisingly, you probably had too much to eat or drink and your body started to get used to this whole “doing nothing” thing.  It happens to everybody, and who cares?  We’re all human, we’re all entitled to vacations, and we’re all entitled to have some damn fun.  We only get one chance at this thing called life, so we might as well enjoy it, right?

However, once things go back to normal I highly recommend jumping right back into your routine, no matter how tired or worn out you feel.  It’s easy to come up with any excuse to stay home: I’m too tired, I’ll just wait one more day, why should I, ehhhhh, etc.  We all know that it’s 8 million times either to put that first day off a little longer because you’re not ready.  Being as cliche’ as possible: there’s no time like the present, so just do it.

To put it simply: Get your ass off the couch, and do something!  Taking unexcused “days off” is a slippery slope, and one that can derail your success extremely quickly.  Unless you’re sick or hurt, you owe it to yourself to get out there.  You might be tired, you might have a crappy workout, so what!! Toughen up and get through it.  You’re going to do this because you’re motivated, and you realize that skipping today, whether or not you get on track the next day, will make skipping the next time that much easier…and maybe that time you can’t get right back on track.

I woke up yesterday morning feeling like crap, and I wanted so badly to take the day off for exercising.  Because I’ve made myself accountable via this website, and I’ve had really great success on my current workout plan over the past five weeks, I decided that skipping is NOT an option.  Once you remove the “slacking” as an option it gets much easier to get to the gym.

This is another reason I highly recommend working out with a friend who keeps you accountable: whenever you’re not feeling good he can drag you there, and whenever he doesn’t feel good you can drag him there.  Just make sure you don’t pick a slacker as a partner or you’ll both make each other feel better about skipping.

Now let’s say you’re going to a tough time in your life, you have eight projects due over the next three weeks, or you just can’t get to the gym consistently.  Expecting to have time for the gym five days a week during this time period is crazy.  However, the WORST thing you can do is say to yourself, “well if I can’t go consistently, why bother going at all – it’s a waste.”  Not true, idiot!  If you can find time to go to the gym at least once a week, do a full body workout (which you can get done in 30 minutes) , and keep your diet on a regular track…you’ll be able to start things right back up where you left off instead of having to play catch-up.  Sure, you might not see any gains during those three weeks, but it’ll be like you’re treading water instead of drowning.  Plus, going to the gym for the first time in a week is much easier to do than going to the gym for the first time in a month.

Go.  If you can get there you’ll feel 100 times better afterwards.


Nerd Fitness: Beyond Diet and Exercise

I can only show you the door.  You're the one who has to walk through it.

I can only show you the door. You're the one who has to walk through it.

I realized this weekend that Nerd Fitness should be the catalyst for improving people’s lives.  That is my goal for for this site – to facilitate good changes in people’s lives, to allow them to find their inner strength, their true motivation, to realize that exercising is a microcosm for their future successes in life.  I want Nerd Fitness to be the place that allows people to become 2.0 versions of themselves.

I see people every single day in the gym paying crazy amounts of money for personal trainer sessions and then half-ass it.  Of course, the trainer doesn’t care, because he gets paid either way.   This drives me bonkers.  I think it’s smart to have a mentor, and a trainer can make sure you’re doing exercises with proper form so you don’t get injured.  However, if you’re intelligent (and if you’re reading a nerd fitness site I’d like to think you are), you can be smart about getting in shape and not have to spend thousands of dollars.  I’d much rather see a really skinny or overweight guy in the gym by himself, with his headphones in, recording his results on his iPhone…pushing himself every day to get better.  I’d rather hear about the programmer who decided to start riding his bike to work, ultimately lost over 100 pounds, and will soon compete in a Ironman Triathalon.  These are the guys who will be successful in life, and will help others along the way.  These are the people I want in the Nerd Fitness community.

Now, why did I decide to start a fitness website, even though there are already a million of these things out there already? It’s because 99% of the sites out there are extremely overwhelming, beg you to spend 4 easy payments of $89.99 for their program, and endorse products that probably aren’t good for you (but make the site owners an extra 20 bucks a week).  I know what it’s like to have no clue  where to start…and it sucks.  I created Nerd Fitness to approach wellness from a different angle – I’m not a body builder and I have absolutely no desire to become one; I’m just a normal guy with a day job that wants to help other people become better versions of themselves.  I want to make things as easy and fun as possible for you guys, because your lives depend on it.  Why not have fun, look better, and live longer!

I want to help, and I need your help. I want you to email me at and let me know what questions you have about your exercise plan and diet, if you got a gym membership and need a routine, what you’re struggling with, and let me know how I can help.  I don’t have all the answers, but I can put you in touch with people who can answer the questions I can’t.  I want you to email me and let me know what topics I should be writing about more often; I want to know if my articles are too confusing, too long, or too short; I want to know where I can improve so that I can help you improve.

My friend Saint’s success (losing over 30 lbs in a few months) has shown me that if somebody is determined to change their lives, they can do it without a personal trainer yelling at them five days a week.  Hell, Saint didn’t even have a gym membership!  Fitness is what you want it to be: if you want to run marathons, you can.  If you want to climb mountains, play Ultimate Frisbee, study karate,  or win the Tour de France, you can.  There’s no right way to get in shape; you just need to find out what makes you happy and healthy and stick with it.  I don’t care if you’re 18 or 80, fat or skinny, in shape or immobile; there’s a better version of you waiting around the corner, and I want to help you get there.

Like Morpheus says in the Matrix, “I’m trying to free your mind, Neo…but I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.”


email Steve at

What’s Better – Free Weights or Machines?

Dumbbells for the win!

Dumbbells for the win!

What a weekend – I had nine friends in town (2 from Massachusetts, 1 from Ohio, 1 from New York, 2 from D.C., 1 from Memphis and 2 from Nashville), so our apartment got kind of hectic.  However, the daily updates are back!

For those of you guys with limited time in the gym, you need to be concentrating on exercises that work and recruit as many muscles as possible.  Sure you can use a machine and work out a single muscle group decently, but your range of motion is extremely limited – you can push it out, and then lower it back to the starting position.  Although this certainly helps prevent injury by not allowing you to drop weights on yourself, it’s limiting the amount of work your muscles can do in the same amount of time.

If you’re a daily reader of the blog, you know that I am a big fan of efficiency.  If you can get more done in less time, why do anything else?  Because of this fact, I strongly prefer free weights to machines for many reasons.

  • When you use free weights, your body has to use every single muscle to keep the weight stabilized as you raise and lower it. Because you’re using these extra muscles (that you’re not using if you’re on a machine) to keep things steady as you lift, you’re getting more done in less time!
  • Because you’re using free weights (like dumbbells) you get to work both your left arm and right arm independently, instead of using a barbell you can find out if your body is out of balance.
  • Machines often put your body in weird positions or at odd angles which can cause injury (shoulder press machines, pec deck machines, etc.) I’ve learned to stay away from because they put unnecessary stress on unwanted muscles and joints at funny angles.
  • Free weights make you feel better about yourself (this is my own opinion).  You see a weight, you pick it up.  The next time you’re there, you either try to pick up that same weight more times than before, or pick up a heavier weight.   If you’re on a machine, you’re just pulling a pin or turning a dial.  It’s not as easy/fun to see the growth.

Now, there are a few things to consider when using free weights, and that is the safety factor.  If you don’t have good form, or you don’t have a spotter, you can get “injured bad” because you could drop the weights on yourself or mess up a muscle by doing it incorrectly.  Make sure you practice perfect form, and really concentrate on isolating the muscles used in the exercise and you can see greater gains in the same amount of time.

This is why I prefer to do incline dumbbell press instead of a chest press machine, squats with a barbell instead of in the smith machine, straight pull ups instead of lat pull-downs on a machine.  It seems more natural, more muscles get recruited in the process, and I get more out of it.

Here is my routine now. I keep it simple, I use free weights, and I’m seeing great results.


Battle of the Bulge: Domino’s Bread Bowl, KFC Chicken Pot Pie, and the Taco Bell Fiesta Taco Salad

It’s all going downhill people!

Although I believe in taking responsibility when it comes to your weight, I know the fast food chains of this country aren’t helping.  It like a nuclear arms race except with fat and calories.  The prices get smaller, the amount of food gets bigger, and your body hates you just a little bit more each time.  Today’s heavyweight battle will take place between the Domino’s Bread Bowl (Chicken Carbonara), KFC Chicken Pot Pie, and Taco Bell Fiesta Salad, three ‘meals’ where you get to eat the thing they’re packaged in (bowl, pie crust, taco shell).  Let’s find out which one is more damaging to your arteries, heart, self-confidence, well-being, and dignity.

The Chicken Carbonara

CarbonaraAh yes, the Chicken Carbonara.  If you go to Domino’s website, they don’t have the nutrition facts up for the bread bowls yet.  Luckily, the people over at called up Domino’s and got the scoop.  I don’t blame them, if I was on their marketing team, I’d conveniently ‘forget’ to add this to the nutrition list too.  Oops!  Let’s see what we got here for the biggest offender:

Things that jump out at you immediately: 740 calories, 28 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 05. grams of trans fat,  1140mg of Sodium, and 94 grams of carbs. Good lord.  Oh, and that’s just for half of it, because they call these little meals “two servings”…which means you can double everything listed above if you take down the whole thing.  When you can crank out 50 grams of fat, 1500 calories, 2300 mg of sodium and close to 200 g of carbs in one meal, you know your body is going to hate you.  That’s 120% of your daily saturated fat suggested intake in one single meal, in one tiny bowl.  But hey, it was only 5 bucks right?

I think the reason they list it as two servings is just in case you’re not interested in eating the bowl.  Who would order a bread bowl and not eat it?  Isn’t that the big appeal of this thing?  I also love that if you order a Bread Bowl online instead of calling you get $1 off your bill, which means you can get a heart-attack baked into a bread bowl without even have to leave your computer chair or pick up a phone.

To put this in perspective, if you want to burn off the calories from eating one of these things, you have to run 15 miles.  Yeah, that’s worth it.  Moral of the story: if you’re going to run a marathon tomorrow, feel free to eat 2 of these things and you’ll almost finish burning the calories at the end.

The KFC Chicken Pot Pie

potpie_Here we have the KFC Chicken Pot Pie.  Yikes.  690 Calories, 40 grams of fat, 31 grams of saturated fat, 1760 mg of sodium, and 57 grams of carbs.  Throw in a biscuit to complete the failure pot-pie and you get another 200 calories and 6 grams of saturated fat.  Okay, so the calories, carbs, and sodium is lower than the Bread Bowl.  Big deal.  You also have 37 grams of saturated fat in this pie of pain – that’s 200% of your daily requirement, condensed into a 5 dollar meal made by some yokel.  YEE HAW!  Search “KFC Chicken Pot Pie” on Google and the second link that comes up is a website begging people not to eat them.  That can’t be good for business.

I do have to give props for KFC coming through with GRILLED chicken on their menu now.  I bet the Colonel is rolling over in his grave and their marketing people are thinking, “Our name is Kentucky FRIED chicken, how the hell do we spin this one?” – but it’s a step in the right direction.  I haven’t check the nutrition on it yet, so they might be injected with gravy and lard.  Grilled > fried.  Every time.

Taco Bell Fiesta Taco Salad

tb-salad“Check under the beans,” says the allegedly attractive girl (I don’t see it) to the dude trying to find the lettuce in his “salad” in the new Taco Bell commercial for the Fiesta Taco Salad.  What drives me nuts is that it seems like this country has given up completely on even TRYING to be remotely healthy.  Polishing off one these salads of sorrow will fill your stomach with this conglomeration of chaos (alliteration ftw!): 845 calories, 45 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat (suck!), 1780 mg of sodium and 80 grams of carbs. Trans fat is the worst thing for you, and this has 1.5 grams of the stuff.  Taco Bell has never been known for healthy choices.  However, I think this one takes the cake in that they call it a salad, and then make fun of the fact that it’s so unhealthy for you that it’s just “technically a salad.”  Cue the Bud Light “Giant Taco Salad Inventor” commercial:

Taco Salad Inventor

Now, you take any of these three meals and add in a side item of fries, breadsticks, a coke, etc. and you’re looking at a really cheap way to kill yourself slowly.  With everybody feeling the pinch from the economy being in the gutter, these fast food companies will continue to produce the cheapest, unhealthiest option and wave it in front of your face with multimillion dollar marketing campaigns.  It makes me sad watching these commercials, because I know the people buying this crap will ultimately end up in the hospital with heart problems and it will be my tax dollars paying for it.

Just say no people!  Friends don’t let friends eat this stuff.


How Jim the Biker Lost Over 100 Pounds

Big Jim at over 320 lbs

Before: Jim at over 320 lbs

Meet my friend Jim.  He’s the man.

About a year ago, I met a friend through work named Jim Hodgson and somehow we got on the topic of fitness.  When he told me that he used to weigh over 320 pounds I couldn’t believe it; Jim seemed like one of the healthiest guys I’ve ever met; he rides his bike everywhere, he competes in races, and has insane amounts of energy.  Oh, and he could totally kick my ass in Counter-Strike.  When I put this site together, I asked Jim if he’d be interested in talking about his story, his success in losing so much weight,  and hopefully pass along some words of wisdom to other big guys who might think it’s already too late for them to make a change or they don’t have the right genetics to be healthy.

After: Jim over 100lbs lighter!

After: Jim over 100lbs lighter!

Jim is truly an inspiration, and my favorite part about it is that he lost over 100 lbs. in an non-traditional matter; he didn’t like dieting, and he was smart enough to recognize that burning more calories than consuming calories would produce weight loss….so he just set out to burn as many calories as possible every day.  Today’s post is really long, but if you’re tipping the scales and think all hope is lost this could be the thing that gets you off the couch and on the road to a better life.  Read it on your lunch break!


Hey Jim, can you describe a typical day before you decided to change your life, what did you weigh?

Jim: I remember stepping on the scale when I sort of had that “Ok, that’s enough” moment, and the needle went around twice. It’s not supposed to do that.  The number in my mind is 320, but I don’t know how precise that is. Definitely well into giant fat man territory, though.  I would get up, eat some Lucky Charms, go to work, smoke cigarettes, do some coding, smoke more cigarettes, go eat a big burger for lunch, then eat a bigass meal that night and plop down and play games or watch TV. Basically I shoveled in the calories and didn’t burn any of them.

Did one thing push you over the edge? What was your motivation to make that change?

Jim: I always thought I would. I guess I just sort of figured that now was the time. Not getting any younger, all that. I spent a lot of years sort of fantasizing about losing weight and what I would do if I lost it, but not actually losing it.  So finally I was like “I guess I should get started.”  I bought a bike and started riding it to work. That’s how I lost the first 60 or so.

How about today?  Describe a typical day now, and now what do you weigh?

Jim: I actually don’t know. The last time I weighed it was 216 but that’s been a while. I personally never had much luck with scales. I would weigh myself every week and my weight would go up or down and it would affect me psychologically. So instead I just worked on my calorie intake and worked on my calorie output through exercise and stopped weighing.

I burned 4000 calories today on an 87 mile road ride [NF note: Holy ****!]. I can eat pretty much whatever I want.  I feel a lot better not obsessing when I’m up 3lbs from last time I weighed or whatever. Just stick to the plan. If you feel like crap, maybe you have a crap workout, but you still work out. If you stay in the game, you cannot fail no matter how slowly you progress. Stay in the game.

For me, weighing in on the scale is like the stock market. If you watch it every day it goes up or down, but if you look at it over a long period of time it trends in a certain direction. I’m much more concerned with my athletic ability and capacity for running at a certain pace or cycling at a certain pace for a given length of time.

As far as a typical day, I have a weekly schedule. I get up around 6am in the spring/summer/fall. In the winter I do a base building spin class so I get up before dawn so I can get in two hours before 7am. The rest of the time I get in a morning workout, then go to work (I like to be at my desk and cranking by 8 at the latest), then do an evening workout. On the weekends I do long runs or long rides. Wednesdays I do long swims. I go to bed around 10 or 11 usually.  I try to work in rest days but I feel slack on rest days so it’s a struggle. I also hate tapering for long races.

Lets talk about the future: what are your goals moving forward?

Jim: I want to continue to grow my business [NF: the link is at the end of the article], continue to get more fit, continue to be a positive force for people who need it, meet the right girl and start a family.  I really have all my goals exactly in place. It feels great. Now all I have to do is work hard.

What’s the most important thing that had the most impact on your weight loss?

Jim: Getting to the point where exercise and being active is not only fun, but a part of my life. I’m in a triathlon club. I’m on a cycling team. I have races I’m looking forward to and a growing list of stats and results from races I’ve done in the past.  Working out is not something I do because I think I should. Each workout has a purpose, and each week of workouts fits into a schedule that builds specifically for my racing goals for the year.

It makes it a lot easier to put a given workout into perspective, rather than feeling like a hamster on a wheel. I did the elliptical machine thing for a long time and I had some success with it, but I’m much more stoked about riding all day with my teammates than about trying to get on an elliptical machine and watch CNN or listen to my iPod.

Favorite video game of all time?

Jim: I’d have to say Counter-Strike. I’ve been playing it since beta 6.5 when the m4 still had a scope and there were drivable vehicles. I love that game. It’s the best FPS ever made in my opinion.  I still play CS a few times a week just to headshot a few n00bs and blow off steam. I love gungame. I’ve also recently been into Left 4 Dead, and I played through Fallout 3. My schedule is getting too packed to play much anymore, but I still like doing a Rock Band night with my friends.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be, and why?

Jim: I’d like to win the Tour de France, or win Kona. Not really a superpower since people do those things, but you know, I would want my superpower to be doing it without performance enhancing drugs. I’d probably rather win the Tour since that would annoy the French. America, baby. F*** yeah!

If I had to pick a real superpower I would pick flight, but that would probably get me disqualified from racing so I wouldn’t want it anymore…and I would pick incredible power to attract women, but I already have it. Sup, ladies? [NF note: hahahahahaha, nice.]

Do you have any advice for other guys in the same boat, trying to lose a large amount of weight?

JIm: I had much better luck with getting my calorie output up than getting my calorie intake down. Last week my heart rate watch recorded 12000 calories burned. I expect to probably have a 20000 week this summer. That means I still get to eat my favorite foods but I don’t gain weight because I’m super active. After my first marathon I ate half a large pizza, then went out that night for a cheeseburger. Hell yes.

Other items that helped me:

  • Stop drinking
  • Quit sodas. Yes, including Diet Coke.
  • If you smoke, quit
  • Stop eating so much. Hey-ohh!
  • Start racing.

In my experience, losing over 100lbs changed my life in a lot of ways that I thought it would and a lot of ways that I didn’t see coming at all. I used to be a really goofy silly guy and I’m not anymore. I used to sit around and watch TV all the time and I don’t do either one anymore. I don’t smoke or drink anymore. I don’t stay out late because I have a race or a training ride or my business to go to.

So, friendships that I had that were based on those things went through big changes. Or in other words, all of my friendships went through big changes because I went through big changes. I lost some friends. I made a bunch. Ultimately I am a million times happier now than I was.

People will hate on you and say discouraging stuff that they either don’t know or don’t care is discouraging. I have always been Big Jim. Granted, I am still 6’1″ and 210, and I swim all the time so I’m pretty thick, but I’m still tired of being Big Jim.  People are going to try to marginalize you and explain away your accomplishments because they know that if you can do it, they can too. I’m sick of talking about my Ironman race coming up in August because everyone says the same thing. “Oh my god, I could NEVER do that!” It makes me ill because that’s the mental attitude I had that kept me fat and miserable. F*** that.

Losing massive weight or training for a race as as easy or hard as flipping a switch. If you’ve decided you’re going to do it, nothing can stop you. If you haven’t, nothing can get you going.

Flip the switch.

If you haven’t noticed yet, Jim’s the man.  Follow Jim’s progress towards participating in the Ironman Triathalon this summer over at Jim Hodgson: Fat man to Iron man, follow him on twitter at, and check out his new social media company at

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