The Ultimate Guide to Building Any Physique (or Skill Set)

Earlier in the year, I heard something that made my head explode.

The 2016 Summer Olympics had just ended. The internet was aflutter with a debate about Usain Bolt, the fastest man on the planet.

The debate was about how quickly Usain Bolt could run a mile.

Scientists, marathon runners, cross country coaches, Olympians, and others had one heck of a debate. People started calculating his pace from 100 meters or 400 meters and extrapolated that out over the course of a mile. Math geeks couldn’t get enough of the thought experiment.

So obviously this begs the question: “Well, how fast does he actually run a mile?”

There’s just one problem:

Usain Bolt has never run a mile.


As pointed out by the New Yorker, “Usain Bolt’s agent, Ricky Simms, won’t say whether he believes that his client could run a mile in less than five minutes. But Simms confirmed that the world’s greatest sprinter has, in fact, never tried running that far: ‘Usain has never run a mile.’”

Let that sink in for a second.

The fastest man on the planet has never run a mile. In Usain’s mind and his coach’s mind, he’s built to run short distances quickly, so why even bother running a longer distance? He has built a healthy frame designed to do exactly what he needs it to do.

I thought about this, my own training, and the training of the people whose physiques/talent I admire… and it made me come to a logical conclusion:

For most people, training in a way that you enjoy will get you 90% of the way there (with a good nutrition strategy). 

However, if you want to LOOK or perform a certain way, how you train IS crucial.

And like Usain, it may not fit your typical idea of what fitness is. Instead, you’ll be deliberate with your daily choices, training and eating in a way to build the body (and physical performance) you want. 

Follow these 3 missions and learn how.

Want to look like the superhero of your choice? Change your mind.


The other day I was talking to a close friend about my personal 3-year transformation thanks to gymnastic rings and advanced bodyweight exercises.

His response surprised me: “That’s just not me, though. I’m not built like you, like a gymnast, so I can’t train with rings. I don’t have the body type to do what gymnasts can do.”

I have heard things like this from other members of our community, and I bet you’ve said similar things too:

  • Easy for him to run a marathon, he’s got the body of a runner.
  • Of course he/she can [do that activity you admire], he/she has genetics like _______.
  • I need to lose a lot of weight before I can try rock climbing/martial arts/parkour. To the treadmill, ugh.

We see somebody doing something we want to do, or looking how we want to look, and our first thought is “Well, because genetics/lifestyle/opportunity/excuse, they can do that and I can’t.”

We use this mentality to justify our current position, let ourselves off the hook for not trying, explain why we don’t look a certain way, and give ourselves an an excuse why we can’t try/do something.

Or, we might think we need to be a certain weight until we can start doing that thing that we’re intrigued by. So we do a few machines, we run on a treadmill, we do a few bicep curls. We move from diet to diet or from workout plan to workout plan.

We do “fitness,” dislike it, and then also get mad that we’re not building a body we’re proud of and that we don’t like the people on magazine covers.



This is me smacking you on the nose with a rolled up newspaper. Stop it.

The truth of the matter is the exact opposite: our bodies are INCREDIBLE pieces of machinery – they reshape themselves and adapt to whatever is thrown at them.

Run fast, and your body builds muscle in the right places to be more efficient with sprints. Train like an MMA fighter and your body will start to resemble a guy that gets in the octagon. Run distances and your blood cells and joints and muscles start to adapt to covering long distances and tiring less easily.

So change your thinking right now. FORM (your body) follows function (the stuff you do with your time):

Gymnasts don’t train on gymnastic rings because they are built like superheroes. The opposite is true: they are built like superheroes BECAUSE they train on gymnastic rings!

Runners don’t just look like runners and thus run a lot. They look like runners BECAUSE they run a lot!

MMA fighters aren’t built like machines and thus fight and do martial arts. They look like MMA fighters BECAUSE they train in a certain way.  

Usain looks like Usain because he intentionally trains to build that sprinting machine!

This means you need to identify the TYPE of person you want to look like or have skills like and follow a specific plan to train like them. Or in Nerd Fitness Terms, pick your class (explained below) and then ask “What would [my future avatar] do?”

You need to find your own path to “fitness,” and forget the rest of it.

If it’s going to be a challenge, you might as well be challenging yourself in a way that actually helps you achieve your goal physique, right?

Mission 1: Select your Class

rock exercise

Take the next few minutes and find somebody known for a particular skill or sport you admire, or someone who you’re interested in looking like.  What activity are they good at or known for?  What’s the body type you’re going for?

And then start acting like that person. Immediately.

I’m guessing you’re here (or you first came to Nerd Fitness) because you wanted to lose a few pounds (or hundreds of pounds), gain some strength/muscle, look better naked and feel better about yourself. And that’s exactly how I started training (for me, it was wanting to get bigger, stronger, and feel better about myself).

Whatever brought you here, welcome. Now let’s get you where you want to go.

Know this: the path to that success is dependent on knowing the TYPE of physique or skills you’re looking for, and then training, eating, and acting like the people who have that particular physique or can do those particular things.

(It sounds simple, but nearly everyone misses this point in how they decide to train. Most people have training ADD and don’t focus on nutrition.)

Here’s why this methodology is so important.

Your body responds to every piece of stimuli it receives and adapts accordingly. The more signals you can send it to adapt in a certain way, the more likely it will be to adapt to handle that stimuli.  

This means it’s time to start hitting your body with the right stimuli immediately and frequently:

You don’t need to lose weight before you train like a gymnast. Start training like a gymnast NOW so your body starts to develop like that of a gymnast from day one.

You don’t need to lose weight before you train like a parkour traceur or a marathon runner. Start training like a traceur or go for your first long walk or 10 second jog NOW and your body will start to adapt over time to look like your heroes.

You don’t need to become more bendy before you can try Yoga. You become more bendy BY trying Yoga. The more you do, the more your body responds accordingly.

Want to get bigger and build muscle? Don’t run just because you think fitness = running (this path will never get you where you want to go!). Start hitting your body with strength training and barbells and bodyweight movements and tell it “better get used to this by getting stronger!”

Every meal, every push-up, every step walked, every mile run, every second practicing a handstand, every second doing ANYTHING is sending tiny signals to your body “change and get better at this thing.” THAT’S how you get started building a body to be proud of, and that’s how you end up building a body that looks like the body you want to have!

I love video games that operate like this, games like Morrowind or Skyrim: You don’t allocate points to improve skills – there’s no “add +1 to archery” or “add +1 to sword fighting.” You improve those skills by USING them! Shoot enough arrows, and archery gains +1, swing a sword enough times and you gain +1 sword fighting!

Conveniently, that’s how life works too.

Note: this doesn’t mean doing the workout of the most elite people you can find. Jumping into the Octagon and fighting an MMA bout tomorrow if you’ve never thrown a punch is bad news bears.  Going from your couch to running the Boston Marathon next week is a recipe for disaster. Instead, start with the basics for the TYPE of person you want to be. But START TRAINING LIKE THEM IMMEDIATELY. That’s the most important part.

Here’s what this looks like in real life:

  • Want to look and perform like a marathon runner? Get started with long walks and small jogs.
  • Want to look and perform like Georges St. Pierre or Ronda Rousey? Find a beginner Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class and show up.
  • Want to look and perform like Usain Bolt? Try your first hill sprint and see if you can find a beginner sprinters program. Also know that strength training will be crucial for you.
  • Want to look and perform like NF Team Member and deadlift hero Staci? Try your first barbell deadlift or bodyweight squat. But start.
  • Want to look and perform like NF Yoga instructor Kate? Do your first downward dog today. It doesn’t have to be perfect. 

Whenever I’m faced with a decision of what I need to do, if I should workout or skip it, if I should eat this or that, sleep in or get up, etc., I ask myself “What would future Gymnast Steve do?”

And then I do that thing.

Remember: if you just want to lose a few pounds and not hate exercise, pick something you love. If you’re looking to build a certain type of physique, make sure you are training and eating in a way that lines up with those goals and forget the rest!

Of course, this poses a challenge: It’s possible (likely in fact) that you’ll be afraid to start. Why? Because you’re probably going to be awful at whatever you are just starting!

If you’re really overweight, the thought of doing parkour might make you want to throw up. Or if you’ve never done a gymnastics move before, you might think you need to get really strong first before you even attempt any movements. Going for a run is a ‘fit person’s game’, not yours. That’s why its crucial that we learn to get terrible out of the way. It sounds terrifying, but embracing terrible, as I explain in this video, is a LOT of fun!

Once you have your training path selected, it’s time for your next mission:

Mission 2: Overcome Genetics and Age with Lifestyle


In this game of life, you are randomly assigned a character/race. You might be a waifish high-elf, or a lumbering troll/ogre. You might be predisposed to be better at strength training or running. Or predisposed to Type-2 diabetes and had parents that fed you junk food your whole life. It ain’t fair, but that’s life, bub.

Just like some players get power-leveled, BUY the best gear, or cheat in some video games, there are genetic freaks out there and people who have opportunities you don’t. The top 1% of athletes or actors or actresses in their respective field have incredible genetics, financial incentive to succeed at their physical craft, and decades of training in a very that have allowed them to sculpt their physiques to suits their life’s needs: to be the best at something.

Some people just hit the genetic lottery, and it is what it is.

Some are naturally predisposed to running fast, others are predisposed to running for distance. Some people build muscle effortlessly, while others struggle to put on any weight at all. Some people are naturally predisposed to accumulating fat.

As we explain in our Guide to Genetics: You might be predisposed to being a great runner, but WANT to be a powerlifter, or vice versa. Or, you might put on fat easier than other people and want to be a marathon runner. Welp, you can either complain about it, force yourself to do the thing you dislike just because you’re better at it, or you can just DO the thing that brings you happiness and purpose with your training.

Depending on your genetics, age, job, lifestyle, how many kids you have (playing life as a Multiplayer Game!), or how much disposable income you have, yes: all of these factors will affect your training and ability to transform.

But you WILL be able to transform.

You might have a slower journey or lower maximum skill level based on the above factors. But it’s not your starting location/race, but rather your choices once you start playing that will determine how your character transforms.

You see, we all have baggage. ALL OF US. We’re all pretty freakin’ weird people with inner and outer demons we’re battling.

And yet, we find ways to succeed despite our baggage. We have single moms doing Nerd Fitness Yoga with their sons in our community. 60-year-old women who started powerlifting at age 59 (and are now going to powerlifting competitions). Age does not matter! Guys who are built like ogres have fallen in love with marathon training. We have a community of parents, students, people struggling financially, with mental health issues, and with incredibly difficult physical health issues, all making progress each day.

REGARDLESS OF WHERE YOU ARE IN LIFE, I guarantee we have somebody in our community who has it worse, is older, has the same injury you do, has more children, less money, and has found a way to succeed in the way you want to succeed.

This realization leaves you with two choices:

  • Rationalize why you don’t look like that person, why you’re a unique snowflake with unfixable problems for whatever reason, and go back to Netflix. (I get it. So many good shows!)
  • Get EXCITED: if they can do it, so can you! Yes. Even you. Even in that situation. I promise. Learn from them. And then do what they do.

Once realized, this is amazing:

… that you AND YOU ALONE have the ability to do and become whatever you want.

But it starts with personal responsibility, the GREATEST skill you can learn if you want to live better. Wherever you are right now– age, money, family size, waist size — is your place in life at this moment. Some of those things are things that you chose, other things have been thrust upon you (genetics, etc.).

Find somebody your age, with your body type, who has succeeded how you want to succeed. And start emulating them. You might not have the potential to look like King Leonidas or Black Widow, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get to a place that YOU’RE proud of with your particular genetic makeup and situation. 

It might not be your fault, but it’s your responsibility to accept it, and take action with it.

Mission 3: Conquering Nutrition is 90% of Physique


Now that we’ve talked about picking your character type and training like them despite whatever your life situation is, we need to talk about your nutrition.

I can see you eating that donut right now, by the way. Put it down.

Every day, your body uses a certain number of the calories you consume to perform basic bodily functions like breathing, pumping blood throughout your body, brain functions, liver functions, and so on. This is called your basal metabolic rate. Any calories you consume over this amount essentially need to go somewhere and do something.

Depending on how you train and how much you eat, your body will respond to those extra calories in one of three ways:

  • Your excess calories go to building more/bigger muscles.
  • Your excess calories are burned off with additional activity.
  • Your excess calories get stored as fat.

Conversely if you eat LESS calories than you burn every day, your body has to make tough decisions and determine what to do with the lower quantity of calories it consumes: does it preserve the muscle you have and burn the fat you’re storing? Does it conserve those calories and burn fat and muscle equally? Does it use the calories to fuel runs instead?

So how do you tell your body WHAT it should be doing with calories and transform the way you want?

Through your own Sorting Hat, like in Harry Potter! Each calorie entering your body is sent to the Sorting Hat, which tells them which of three houses to join:

  • Build muscle and strength: Pick up heavy things or do advanced bodyweight training and you’re “sorting” those extra calories into muscle building.
  • Burn as energy: If you choose to run a lot, the body will sort the calories into “use as energy” house, fueling your runs with more and more efficiency.
  • Store as fat: If you sit around like a bum, you’re signaling to your whole body “meh, please sort these calories to the “fat storage” house. Mmmm double stuf oreos.”

Like Harry influencing the Sorting Hat to put him in Gryffindor, you can influence how the Sorting Hat works for the calories you consume through training type, intensity, and frequency!

Take me for example: I’m built like an elf. I have thin wrists and ankles, I struggle to put on any weight, and I’m naturally predisposed to be a runner (I was built like Steve Rogers but wanted to be Captain America). But since I wanted to look like and train like a gymnast, I just started doing that! And over time my workouts and diet signaled to my body, “you better build big muscles here and here so Steve can do his strenuous rings workouts.”

And unsurprisingly, my body listened, and I’m stronger, bigger, healthier, and happier than ever.


My training and diet each day signal: “I am a gymnast, and I am strong.” It flies in the face of my genetics, but I get to direct my own Sorting Hat!

It’s all to signal to my body what I chose: “YOU ARE A GYMNAST, BETTER ADAPT AND LOOK LIKE ONE.”

Start asking your new identity the following question, and where you want your body to sort the calories you consume:

  • Am I signaling to my body through my training to my body what to do with these calories?
  • Am I eating how the person I want to look like would eat?
  • Am I recovering how the person I want to look like would recover?

Don’t overthink it, just ask yourself with each meal: “is this what a [what you want to be] would eat?” Ask yourself this with EVERY nutrition decision you make every day. The more times you can answer yes to that question every day, the faster you will see results.

To show how important your training signaling is to your diet: Imagine two identical twins eat the exact same food for 3000 calories a day. Twin 1 lifts heavy weights every day. Twin 2 sits on his ass every day. 12 months later, one will have used those extra calories to build muscle and more closely resemble King Leonidas. The other will have used those extra calories to store more fat and resemble Jabba the Hut.

They eat EXACT same amount of food and have the same genetics, but due to different signaling through activity, their Sorting Hats will make sure they develop VERY different physiques and abilities.

Hang something on your wall that says “what would a runner/Olympic lifter/fighter do?” and then do that.

Repeat this, meal after meal, decision after decision, month after month, year after year, and you will start to become that person.

Just don’t expect to have it happen overnight!

Impatient? Use performance goals, not physique goals


I leave you with one final piece of advice: be patient, my friend.

Although your mentality can change in an instant, it can take years and years for your body to catch up. Depending on what your goals are, you might need to make DRASTIC sacrifices like Katniss Everdeen

Your nutrition might need to be solid, your training might need to be intense, and you might need to start saying no to a lot of things you enjoy but don’t line up with your goals.

If this is really what you want, that’s okay!

Three years ago when I started my gymnastics journey, I told my friend Anthony (who is coaching me online) how I had made some progress in the past but would always slide back after a few months. I was eager, willing, and ready to get started and couldn’t wait to get results, and he told me:

“Stop thinking in terms of weeks and months. We’re going to think of your training in terms of years and base our daily expectations on that. A decade from now you’re going to be in better shape than you are right now. But it starts by expanding your timeline and setting proper expectations.”

So, how did I get out of my head and be okay with the long journey?

I stopped worrying about what I looked like, I started thinking about performance based goals instead:

  • Can I do 5 muscle ups in a row? (I can now!)
  • Can I hold a handstand for 60 seconds?
  • Can I deadlift 405 pounds?
  • Can I hold a front lever for 5 seconds?

With my goals focused on performance, I didn’t have my eye on a the final form I would take and be “done.” Instead, I just picked whatever the “next” level of difficulty is. No “Before” and “After” – just “what’s next?” And that’s how I actually, finally, transformed.

So start asking yourself THESE types of questions instead of what the scale says:

Can I run a mile in 7 minutes flat?

Can I last 3 rounds in a MMA fight?

Can I squat 1.5x my bodyweight for 5 reps?

Use performance goals to keep focused on what’s in front of you, while signaling to your body each day to transform the way you want to transform. The number on the scale doesn’t define you. Instead, focus on what you’re capable of today that you weren’t yesterday, and fuel your body to help you achieve that goal.

As they say, “Appearance is a consequence of fitness.” Work on getting better at the skill, and your body will develop as a result. Make sure your nutrition is dialed in, and things will happen.

What are you going to do today?

Which brings us to TODAY. Start by asking yourself: “Am I training like the person I want to be? Am I eating like the person I want to be? Am I making decisions like the person I want to be? Am I recovering like the person I want to be? Am I working towards goals that help me become the person I want to be?

Here are some steps to get you started:

If you’re looking for a more Comprehensive Path to follow, try one of our premium courses. It’s tough going it alone, and often times it’s easier to have a specific path and resources to keep you accountable and tell you exactly what actions to take next.

If you want to build a specific physique, we can get you there if you’re willing to work for it:

  • The Nerd Fitness AcademyJoin 25,000 students in our flagship course to get you started on the right foot with your first year of fitness. We walk you through your journey to help you build strength, lose weight, and get started living healthier with workout routines, boss battles, missions, meal plans, and more. We cover mindset, habit building, and more.
  • Nerd Fitness Yoga Easy-to-follow stretching routines that makes learning the basics of Yoga fun. Watch these videos on any device and get started fixing lower back pain, improving your posture, and finally touch your toes for the first time!
  • Nerd Fitness Rings and Handstands For the aspiring gymnast or those who just want to learn great party tricks while also building strength, muscle, and power. The course is closed currently but we’ll be opening doors again in 2017, so sign up to be notified! 

It’s your turn. Leave a comment below and tell me who you want to look like:

  1. Name/Type of person you want to emulate.
  2. How they train: running, yoga, martial arts, powerlifting, gymnastics.
  3. What your OLD self would use an excuse as to why you don’t look like them.
  4. TWO signals you can teach your body today to start training like that person:
    • One workout adjustment you can make to help your body adapt.
    • One dietary adjustment to fuel your body for your activity.
  5. Some sort of “HELL YEAH, STEVE” from you letting me know that you’re in.

And I’ll even bribe you because I want you to START. Leave a comment below, and I’ll pick 5 winners at random to snag a signed hardcover copy of my book, Level Up Your Life!

Ready? Gooooooo!



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  • Night

    1. Mark Devine (

    2. crossfit,yoga,run,swim,martial arts etc

    3. my excuse: I am old broken-down overweight and don’t have the time to commit

    4. more consistency will help the physical adaptation and getting rid of the sugar and grains will help fuel for success

    5. Hell Yeah! Thanks Steve for inspiration

  • jim

    Oh man…I am guilty of the whole “paralysis by analysis” curse…I have several totally different types of training I like/enjoy and I’ll start one only to switch 2-3 weeks later…sometimes sooner..IT’S A CURSE!!! I did however post sometime ago in the forums that I was going to sign up for a martial art or boxing class..and I did yay! I even had my 1st Muay Thai fight last year double yay! So Steve I am going to take your advice here and pick a person that has a look I want to attain even though I know it will be very hard. Conor McGregor it is, we are roughly the same height and neither of us are naturally “big” guys…I think I can! haha. Thank you for the inspiring post!…..Oh and Staci is my deadlifting hero 100%!

  • Lindy

    Great article! Being a very (read extremely) goal orientated person, having a list of performance based goals is exactly what I need. Being a nerd, I love the idea of selecting a class and and just being a person in this crazy world, I really benefit from the inspiration and guidance. Well done Nerd Fitness, for supplying the best fitness advise to be found anywhere. As a single mom, resources such as time and money are tight, but with some of the basic guidance, myself and my 12 year old son, have started making lifestyle changes to daily life and getting motivated by our “class”. Even our diet has changed, not for calories and kilograms, but for health and strength. I even have some friends asking about joining us 🙂

  • I can totally relate to this and am actually a product of the solid theory of the post. I always wanted to look like the Hulk (just regular colour though) 🙂 . BUT I joined the army and had to pretty much become a runner, as a result of this I became an endurance trainer and could easily run a marathon. (but had the physique of Peter Parker ).

    (( Oh! I just got an idea for a spin off series – “Peter Parkour” ))!!!

    Fast forward a few years when military life was behind me and the physical function to do my job was not needed, I was back to training like the Hulk again and even ended up winning a trophie in a bodybuilding show.

    Really enjoyed reading as always, cheers!

  • OCRassassin

    1) Barney Stinson
    2) Training?
    3) Genetics, money, legend(wait for it…)ary awesomeness
    4a) Be awesome
    4b) Whenever I get tired, I just stop being tired and be awesome again
    5) (Track)Suit-up!

    For anyone wondering if this can be good advice while being opposite of Steve’s, see below.

  • Barb

    LOVE this article! Such a great reminder that the only person standing in your way is yourself.

    1) I’ve always wanted to be flexible and move with grace and control like ballet dancers and yoga people

    2) They dance and stretch every day and eat quality calories instead of junk

    3) I’m much more naturally built like a berserker/warrior type and just assumed I was meant to crush things not move prettily lol…umm, why not both?
    4) Going to find that ballet workout dvd that I bought and never used because of #3 above and I will substitute water for my soda/coffee today

    5) Totally pumped because I’m sure that following my joy will lead to better results than following my logic…thanks for the pep talk Steve!

  • Katie Schuh

    1. Gender-bent Joakim Broden ( Seriously, this man does like 200+ shows a year and they’re all this insane

    2. Well this is what the Sabaton guys do… ( so probably start with bodyweight training and maybe invest in some freeweights at some point when I have the extra cash.

    3. I don’t have the energy to exercise, I’m too clumsy/uncoordinated to do serious training, etc.

    4. Get back into my old bodyweight routine (I was doing well over summer but it all fell to pieces once this semester started) and start eating more veggies!

    5. We hold the rebel banners up with pride! The charge is crimson and the Hammer is the sign! (

  • Ben Stark

    Here is my two cents.
    1) I want to look like my hero from my youth, Bruce Baumgartner or Matt Ghaffari. Two great American heavyweight wrestlers. One thing about wrestling and I would say other fighting sports is that body type plays less a role than skill. Athletes adapt their style to their body; John Smith v. John Fisher, Baumgartner compared to Kerry McCoy. Very different looking people.
    2) Lots of different kind of training. Lifting, running, cycling, swimming, sparring
    3) “I am too old and injured to do that”
    4)a: stay active on my rehab plan so I can back to my contact sports.
    b: stay strict on my LCHF diet, it can be tough during the holidays, but this diet has been the most successful for me to lose weight.

  • Ed

    Just the article I needed as was going to postpone respawning until new year.

    I would love to look like Steve or one of the Kavadlo brothers. So most of my training will be bodyweight calisthenics with so gymnastic ring work.

    My old excuse would be interested onto have the time or money.
    I have orders a set of gymnastic rings and planned my healthy eating week.

    Steve……. HELL YEAH!!!!!!

  • Emma Starkman

    Hi there! I am ready to try this out. And good timing too, because I’ve been thinking I need a role model of sorts. Weeeeeeeeeee!

    1. I want to be a boxer – there is a girl in one of my MMA classes that I totally respect and want to emulate. I also want to be a runner (is that too much? mehh nahh – I want to just run more)
    2. To train: Power endurance training & distance running
    3. I always say “I just don’t care” (that’s a total lie)
    4. I want to take a few personal training boxing classes, and drink more water (& less sugar… – just win more than I lose)
    5. HELL YEAH. Did you see Dr. Strange yet?

    I’m stoked. And clearly love using parenthesis….Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • K.Star

    A surfer girl, but my excuse was that I had no upper body strength and too much lower body weight (thanks, bum). They swim, they wipe-out, they keep swimmin’!
    I can bring my beach gear to work with me & head right to the water. I can realize I’m going to suck and get mouths full of salt water, and go anyways. I will eat more protein at lunch so I don’t feel zapped by end of work. Hellllll to the yaaaaaaaas, Steve-o! I’m in. Don’t need the book though, I’ve got it 😛

  • Jonathan Blair

    I want to look like
    1. Oliver Queen from Arrow
    2. Martial Arts
    3. My old self will tell me that it’s impossible…who cares? It’s not like it matters. It’ll take years.
    4. Two signals a) level up my pushup b) Cut out sugar and crap carbs
    5.Hell yea Steve, Let’s do this

  • Jonathan

    I want to look like
    1. Oliver Queen from Arrow
    2. Martial Arts
    3. My old self will tell me that it’s impossible…who cares? It’s not like it matters. It’ll take years.
    4. Two signals a) level up my pushup b) Cut out sugar and crap carbs
    5.Hell yea Steve, Let’s do this

  • Ben Stark

    There is no reason you can’t be both a good runner and good boxer. Think about it boxing has, I think, (15) three minute rounds. That’s 45 minutes of killer work. Most boxers I see train, do a ton of running, they call it road work.

    I wrestled for over 20 years from before junior high to after NCAA Division I, I swear great wrestlers have great endurance. We have all day tournaments, where you might wrestle 5-8 six minute matches. You need a great aerobic base to recover.

    There is no reason you can’t get stronger and build endurance. Look at this blog post about a doctor who in year before prepped for bodybuilding then the next year ran a triathlon. He actually put muscle on during his triathlon training.

    Good luck

  • Emma Starkman

    Thanks so much. This is really emcouraging.

  • Meghan Evans

    I’m struggling with those pushups too! hang in there, we’ll keep getting better. Even if it’s slowly!

  • Liz

    Today was AMAZING. Instead of going for a walk by myself before the kids woke up, I went to the park with the kids in the afternoon. I hung from the monkey bars (3x 10 seconds each, goal to do a couple pull ups by January) I did squats and chest presses on one side of the see-saw while my son rode on the other side, I played basket ball and ball tag with some of the older kids in the neighborhood until I was all sweaty and out of breath from playing hard and laughing the whole time. Way closer to a cardio circuit with weight training than “a walk” and far more enjoyable because the whole family got into it. We leveled up our strength and endurance and also our social skill which is super important because we just moved to a new place and have tendency to by shy.

  • Liz

    Maybe choose your favorite Superman movie and look up what the actor’s training regimen was for the role.

  • Chris Janes

    1. This is tough. I currently train CrossFit and Ninja Warrior stuff. I would love to be a beefy yet still characteristically agile/dexterous Rogue, or nimble but can still hold their own Ranger/Scout. This person would be…Jackie Chan? Who wouldn’t want to be Jackie Chan!? Hmm, Snake Eyes comes to mind. Aragorn perhaps? The last two sans the fighting, over that.
    2. I feel like they do everything listed and more: running, swimming (both with gear), powerlifting, gymnastics, acrobatics.
    3. “Oh, they’ve been doing it for a while. I could do that if I trained, I’m just not there yet, I have too much ‘life’ stuff to do.”
    4.a With my current training I need to stick to the harder more skilled movements that bring all of the above aspects together into one exercise – like muscle ups, or Overhead Squats, Dragon Flags or Windshield Wipers, etc.
    4.b Eat more fats. I get plenty of lean protein but I still eat too many carbs and not enough fats. Also be aware that chugging coffee and milk still adds a fair amount of calories >.<
    5. With your powers combined…I AM [insert super hero name TBD at a later date]!!!

  • Michelle Sharpe

    Just found this blog, and love it. I’ve been working on increasing strength, Following Stronglifts 5×5, and you’re absolutely right about being performance oriented. Once I got my nutrition under control and took the focus away from calories in / calories out versus “what can I make my body do” I’ve gotten the physique I wanted. I’ve been doing Stronglifts for about 6 months now, and have decided that I need to set and end goal. I want to do 5×5 of 1.5x my body weight in squats. 1×5 of 2x my bodyweight in deadlift, 5z5 of 0.5x my bodyweight on overhead press and row. and 5×5 of 1x my bodyweight in bench.

  • Ben Stark

    You are welcomed.

  • Ryan

    Check out Matt Carpenter of Pikes Peak Marathon fame.

  • Jorge

    Just dropped by to try and promote a blog I recently started. It’s not a spam site. I just want to share my recent fitness journey, and my transition from a kitchen apprentice towards a healthier lifestyle. Thanks, and hopefully it helps someone you hold dear.

  • rhian

    Cat Woman.
    Yoga, I’m trying/just starting gymnastics, rowing machine (love it), meditation.
    There’s always something else that needs done and I don’t have time.
    Just get it started and feel how amazing it is to feel your body work.
    Reallllly trying to cut back on the bread and cheese – got the breaded, fried foods licked (no pun intended, lol) haven’t indulged for months.
    Half a plate of veggies at dinner. And apples, seeds, and nuts for snacks. Switched to almond milk. Use virgin coconut oil.

    THANK YOU, STEVE! for the kick in the rear to keep the motivation going.

  • Jon Stewart

    “Your excess calories get stored as fat”
    So true…cut out added sugar. I believe that’s the single biggest thing you can do to improve your body.

  • Nicole Wilkinson

    First time commenting, so better make it a good one!

    Name/Type of person you want to emulate: Martial artist

    How they train: running, yoga, martial arts, powerlifting, gymnastics: Bodyweight exercises, mild cardio (jumping jacks, some sprints or light jogs, high intensity bodyweight exercises) and mainly of course, martial arts!

    What your OLD self would use an excuse as to why you don’t look like them: Asthma. I have exercise induced asthma, and I’ve used that as an excuse for so long as to why I can’t do things, like exercise primarily. Which is absurd and stupid because I used to be super athletic and fit, while having that same asthma. I KNOW it doesn’t stop me from doing the kinds of things I want, and that a lot of my trouble right now is the asthma mixing with my lack of endurance from being so out of shape. So if I just started training, I’d get back to where I was fit and the asthma would be less of a problem for me!

    TWO signals you can teach your body today to start training like that person:

    One workout adjustment you can make to help your body adapt: Start doing bodyweight exercises. Once I get my muscles used to working again, I’ll hopefully be able to develop some endurance that’ll help keep me progressing!

    One dietary adjustment to fuel your body for your activity: Focus on eating more produce rather than on cutting out crappy food – eating more of the good stuff means it’ll edge out the bad stuff without me feeling like I’m depriving myself!

    I cannot WAIT to get started! Count me in Steve – HELL YEAH!

  • lee

    I’m super into archery right now and it’s definitely been the only motivator for physical activity in my life lately. I suppose an archer would train focusing heavily on arms and abs, but all-around endurance and especially arm strength would be helpful. My old self would give the excuse of “lol, girls aren’t supposed to look buff like that” but I know that’s dumb because women can be awesome buff possums too and there’s nothing wrong and everything respectable about that! Number four, some action steps… I am going to get back into working out (after dropping it for a few months after a massive life level up, meh) and I am going to actually plan my meals for next / nextnext weeks instead of just cooking whatever is in my fridge (and worrying about things being unused and going bad). HELL YEAH STEVE? 😛

  • KCS

    Very inspirational post! Being fit is all about changing lifestyle
    Thanks for the tips!

  • Carey Fisher

    This is awesome!

    Name of person: Steve Prefontaine
    How they train: Running

    OLD self excuses: Wasn’t born with “it”, too much work and pain, fear of failure and inconsistency

    TWO signals:
    Workout adjustment: Running everyday, no matter what. Doesn’t matter time or length.
    Dietary adjustment: Protein-filled, light meals. More frequent, less overeating.

    “Some people create with words, or with music, or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, ‘I’ve never seen someone run like that before.’ It’s more than just a race, it’s style. It’s doing something better then everyone else. It’s being creative.”

    Hells to the yeah and I’m so pumped I found this today. (Been actually thinking of the fitness and exp system for a while, you beat me to it! Kudos!)

  • Wow! what a great motivational article that was!
    We always dream to having a body like someone we admire… an athlete or a celebrity may be… but actually we never believe that we can possibly achieve a body like them. So, we never try. We make excuses…if ever we really think about it..or wanted to believe a possibility.

    The thing is we can really achieve a body like a super hero if we really want…you make this point loud and clear…and showed a way of achieving that….again.
    Thank you… I just love your blog 🙂
    My blog

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  • Very impressive!!! Perfect training is a must for a great body and I believe a good naturalized body energizer can do it the best way. And if it is the <a href="“>best hgh supplement then the way gets much smoother and easier.

  • Noel

    Hey Melissa! Great news! We’ve chosen your comment as a winner for our giveaway! Check your email for a message from us with more details. 🙂

  • Joe

    To add to this great post, I’d like to say that it’s a great idea to model others routes to success. The one thing to keep in mind is that if you want to be on say usain bolts level you must do everything he does. Especially abdominal training and a diet. As a member of a running team I know if you want to increase speed you must have strong abs. I’ve gone even further to develop my own formula for this @ . Check it out and let me know what you think. Thanks for this great post!

  • Sandy

    This is so cool. Right now I just want to be a person that starts somewhere. Now I have a directions to go in. I’ve always enjoyed a body of strength, agility, and muscles. My initial thought was to introduce mini me goals in order to not lose momentum and motivation. Being 52 in a sit down job for 20 plus years has turned me into a lazy person. So when I joined Nerd Fitness, I wanted to work out at least 30 minutes a day and just was able to do that at all. I hate exercise. I told convinced myself to start very small. So now I am doing 4 reps of ten a day counter height push ups with variations of hand positions either in front of my shoulders or spaced further apart. So at 9, 11, 2, and 4 o’clock during my work day I do a set of push ups. Big deal? Yes! I could only do ten a day at first (6 weeks ago) and now I’m ups to 50 a day. You would not think it makes a difference, but it does. On the weekends now I can do thirty regular push-ups without thinking about it. I’ve lost inches somewhere and I’m down four pounds. Now I want to do squats. No more than 40-50 a day by the end of four weeks in tandem with my push-ups which I will keep to at least 50 a day. I think I want to take the next few weeks to research what kind of body I want and get myself ready to do what I need to get there. In the mean time, I want to keep moving. Thanks for the great posts!

  • Really such an adorable article

  • Jack’d the Demon of the Juice

    The post is nice but a I must say it does contain some wishfull thinking… public service announcement: If you want to look like a buff guy on steroids you have to do steroids! Training alone won’t get you there. Biological limits exist. So please don’t choose someone like that for your role model; It’s a recipe for permanent insatisfaction and resentment. Remember, everything is possible, as long as you have the right drugs.

    This is a only a concern for those who are relatively fit but want to take it to “the next level”. People who are extremely out of shape can of course achieve amazing results in relatively little time and don’t need to worry about hard limits!

  • Melissa Mead

    Oh my god….how did I never even see this?!?! I don’t think I ever got an email! Dear god I suck at life, please tell me I’m not too late 😭

  • Robert R.

    1. I dunno, maybe a Mens Fitness or Abercrombie model? I just wanna look in the mirror just one time and say “he’s sexy” instead of “he’s hideous”, just at least one time.
    2. Dunno…weightlifting I assume?
    3. Genetics/biology/metabolism. Also, I probably assume “that dude’s probably on steroids!”
    4. Workout: Not sure, already going to gym 5 days/week. It’s not working. Diet: I guess less carbs, more protein.
    5. Hell, yeah, i’m trying!

  • Alexis D Henry

    1.Chris Cyborg /Trish Stratus
    2.Muay Thai / yoga
    3.I’m too fat to do those things and even if I could I wouldn’t be great at them.
    *more body weight training, yoga,mma style. moves
    *less starches, sugars, and carbonated beverages

    5. I’m in this bitch steve!!!! I’m ready to change my life!!!!

  • Danae

    1- My friend Cheri
    2- Running
    3- I need to lose weight before I can start running, otherwise I will jiggle while I run!
    4- Alternate sprinting and walking
    – Increase protein
    5- Thanks for the motivation Steve! This article was just the kick in the butt I needed! I’m so in!!!! 💪

  • OrangeBlossom

    Goal: I want to be that 80-90 year old grandmother / great-grandmother that plays with her children / grandchildren.

    Training: Not sure how they train; thinking overall active life

    Old self: I am 44. I have 7 children (I know, 7? Sound of Music). My husband and I are both mechanical engineers (met in Fluids class in college). I have at least 40# to lose … but really, my goal is to look like I’m not pregnant when I’m not – flat stomach; and to fit into my clothes.
    My largest struggle is food … cooking for a large family with many children who like the basic bland food. My husband is much more unhealthy than I am and I wish he’d join me.

    Two signals: I have been consistently exercising for the last 8 weeks on my own. Running 2x a week, and then body workouts 3x a week. Lately, though I added weight training … maybe I have EADD (Exercise Attention Deficit Disorder). I’ve noticed that mixing it up has kept me interested and excited for the next day. I want to be able to do chin-ups and pull-ups. I’ve been saying no to sweets.

    Yes, Steve, I’m in and committed to being that grandma! I’d love some guidance, but budget is a hindrance … does the Academy ever go on sale??

  • Anonymous

    Great read. Thank you

  • Fortuosity Cosplay

    1) Spiderwoman/Zendaya

    2)punching bad guys, climbing walls/weights, trapeze (there’s an aerial silks class near me I wanna take).

    3)”I’m too tired to exercise,” pregnancy, postpartum depression/anxiety,

    • So far I’ve stopped eating cereal for breakfast, nursing has me off dairy, and I try to have a vegetable 2-3 times a day. I think I want to cut back on my meat a little. More veg, meat once per day.
    •I want to add a yoga routine to my week, to alternate between my bodyweight workout days.

    HIYA! Time to be my own hero!

  • Meg Campbell

    Shona heckin Vertue y’all. Dang. She does a whole slew of exercise, which not only sounds fun but it’s just plain impressive (yoga, weights, calisthenics). I USED to say “well I just don’t have the self control to not eat so I can’t lose weight so i could never have abs like that so why even try” and then I would proceed to binge eat ALL the plantain chips (true story guys). Today I’m going to focus on body weight strength like arm balances and inversions and I’m going to choose/refuse my snacks with intention. This article honestly pumped me up so much and re-stoked the fire. HELL YEAH, STEVE!!

  • asa opie

    I am 36 when I was in the navy I was 171 now I am 270 plus I am so antisocial Idk where to start

  • S. Fischer

    1- Medium distance runner, say 10K to 1/2 marathon
    2- Running, strength training
    3- At one time, my old, old self did look (and do) like that. But my new, lazier self would say that I am much older now (67) and working 10-12 hours a day, starting at 7 AM. I still run about 15 miles a week, but my eating habits have become terrible, So I still weigh the same as when I graduated college, but for the first time in my life I have developed a bit of a belly Ugh!!
    4- Try to shop for healthy foods and meal prep on weekends. Try to find some time to add strength training into my routine.

  • Pinkyy

    1) Camille Leblanc Bazinet – she isn’t too bulky but she’s fit.
    2) CrossFit – always been interested in CrossFit
    3) I’m fat & self conscious going to a gym to be around people who are fit. I would also make up an excuse like “oh it’s already Wednesday might as well go for it on Monday”
    4) I can start today by changing my eating habits, taking my dog on more walks and begin basic weight lifting in my garage.
    5) Hell Yeah Steve! I wanna look good naked and in the mirror, but not become vain, just proud of myself.

  • Mischell “Meech” Yost

    1. I aspire to be a woman who can hike, bike, and run with above-average strength and endurance. Her speed is such that she might place 1st in her age range in a 5K in her early 40s, but can also complete a half-marathon in the middle of the pack without feeling like shit afterward. I don’t know anyone who aspires to be “above average”, so maybe I’m on my own here. 🙂

    2. She varies her runs 4X per week (early long run on Saturdays before hitting the coffee shop), practices yoga every day to increase/retain mobility and flexibility, and does HIIT bodyweight workouts 2x per week to aid cardiovascular fitness and build endurance. Her meals are balanced and she is not thin but lean.

    3. Old self: I’m depressed (treated but varies) and I often don’t have the inherent energy to accomplish difficult tasks — in that way I can truly feel mentally handicapped. I commute 3 hours per day, and I don’t have enough time in the evening to work out or run. I am NOT a morning person, and there’s no way I’m sacrificing more of my day up front if it’s going to exhaust me by the end of the day. I’m 39 and I only started exercising 5 years ago for the first time in my life, so I’ll never catch up to average. None of my family has ever been healthy. I have no positive influences who are close to me; I have no one to push me when I need it most. I have to rely on myself to get shit done, and I am unreliable in the face of discomfort or pain. I’m not worth the time or effort; no one cares if I succeed or fail. No one is making me do this. There is not enough pressure; I am not unhealthy or at risk of illness if I don’t accomplish my goals.

    WORKOUT: Add yoga for mobility and flexibility every day. EVERY DAY.
    DIETARY: Plan weekday meals better. Try to stop allowing work/commute stress to override your appetite so you eat like a monster at night. Stop working so late.

    I already have run meetups every Tuesday and Thursday and I have very specific goals. I hired an online trainer (Staci) who is helping me keep to an activity schedule. I joined StepBet. I joined RunBet. I have a workout crew at work during lunch breaks. I organized a weekly “healthy habits check-in group” for coworkers and I post results every week.

    5. I’m in, Steve, I’m in. But any sense of accomplishment still feels like so many thousands of miles away…

  • Joy Dotters

    I absolutely love this. I have never thought about focusing on the challenge as opposed to the weight and “progress” I was “seeing”… This will definitely help me, moving forward!