Nerd Fitness https://www.nerdfitness.com Level up your life, every single day. Mon, 06 Jun 2022 23:52:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.4 A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking: Everything You Need For Your First Hike! https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/hiking/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/hiking/#disqus_thread Mon, 06 Jun 2022 05:30:23 +0000 http://nerdfitness.com/blog/?p=10509 Before you step foot in the great outdoors, read this guide! There’s nothing more embarrassing than a city slicker getting lost in the woods, so let’s make sure you know where you’re going, what to wear, and what to bring. That way your first hike will be fun, adventurous, and more importantly safe! Today we […]

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A great place to hike.

Before you step foot in the great outdoors, read this guide!

There’s nothing more embarrassing than a city slicker getting lost in the woods, so let’s make sure you know where you’re going, what to wear, and what to bring.

That way your first hike will be fun, adventurous, and more importantly safe!

Today we will cover:

I’m happy you’re excited about hiking and I can’t wait for you to get started!

I took the above picture while hiking through Killarney National Park in Ireland many years ago, and every time I look at it, I can’t help but think of Tolkien’s Middle-earth masterpiece, so I apologize (not really) for all of the Lord of the Rings nerdery running throughout this post!

Our community members love hiking too. In fact, one of our recent success stories specifically cited hiking as one of the fun activities she loved to do to help her lose 50 pounds:

Christina started rocking pull-ups after Nerd Fitness Coaching

By the end of today’s post, my goal is to have you pick a trail, pick a date, and identify a fella or gal to join your fellowship (galship?).

Before we jump in, are you here because you’re learning to hike to lose weight? Did you hear it’s a fun way to exercise and get your body moving?

If so, you’ve come to the right place!

As I mentioned, some clients in our uber-popular 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program used hiking as part of their weight loss training. These folks would rather head outside than jump on a treadmill, and our coaches designed a program so they could do just that!

Here’s how it works: your NF Coach will build a custom workout plan based on your experience level and goals. Training to climb up a literal mountain? Maybe you need to get rid of an old ring? We’ll create a plan to get you to the top!

Alright, let’s get you hiking!

How Do I Find Hiking Trails Near Me? (How to Start Hiking)

The view of a great place to hike.

When you think of hiking, you might imagine a bunch of road-tested perma-travelers with oversized backpacks, hiking through epic mountains for weeks upon weeks at a time. 

Or maybe, a pair of hobbits setting out on a worldwide adventure to destroy a ring of awe-inspiring power.

If you’re just beginning your journey to a better lifestyle, just thinking about serious hiking can be enough to keep you inside your comfy hobbit hole.

Although hiking can be an epic undertaking, it doesn’t need to be!

A hike also can be super simple and fun:

  1. A quick jaunt (such a great word, right?) around your local park after work.
  2. Exploring the woods behind your house with your kids on a Saturday morning.
  3. A half-day hike with your friends on a fun nature trail.
  4. A full day or overnight hike that also includes camping.

Here’s my definition for hiking: A person (or halfing, or self-aware robot) exploring their surroundings and their feet are on the actual ground. Like, dirt. And grass.

Some might say it needs to be difficult, have a certain elevation change, require a blah blah blah. It literally doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you go outside and do something you wouldn’t have done otherwise.

Here in the Nerd Fitness Rebellion, hikers would fall into the Adventurer class.

If you’re looking for a fun “cardio” activity and want to exercise in a way that’s exciting, hiking is a great way to get your legs, feet, and body used to some strenuous activity.

You get to pick your speed and difficulty, and you can always find the right amount of challenge for you.

HIKING 101: 5 STEPS TO PLAN OUT YOUR ADVENTURE

1) Decide how long you have to hike

This is a beginner’s guide to hiking, we’re not looking to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Instead, we want to start with trails that can be done in less than a day, that won’t require you to pack a tent, or bring an extra change of clothes. Pick a hike based on how much time you have – do you have the entire Sunday? Or do you just have a few hours on a Tuesday afternoon? It took Frodo and Sam 6 months to get to Mordor, but you probably don’t have that much time.

However, if you DID want to “walk to Mordor,” I got you covered there too. You’re welcome!

2) Decide if you’ll be hiking solo or with a friend/group

I love hiking solo – it’s mobile meditation for me.  However, it’s also more dangerous should anything happen while you’re out on the trail! If you’re heading into the wilderness, I’d recommend buddying up with a friend or your significant other for your hike. It’s the perfect bonding opportunity. This is especially true if they have more hiking experience or they know the area that you’re hiking in.

3) Determine your level

If you are a hiking newbie and out of shape, sending yourself out on an eight-hour hike through the unmapped wilderness isn’t a great idea.

Start slow, and pick places around your town that will allow you to stop when necessary and get back to your car or home quickly. No need to be a hero; it’s always better to come back excited and say “wow that was easier than I expected!” than to realize you’re six hours from home and out of steam. Well, being a hero is cool. But not THAT kind of hero.

4) Pick your hiking location

Keep it simple! Go to AllTrails.com, put in your zip code, find your hiking trail!

Or pull up Google Maps and look for big green plots of land. We call those “parks.” Google the park name, learn about it, and decide if that’s where you want to go. Do not overcomplicate this step. Just get started.

Ask your active, adventurous friends or coworkers if they know any good spots.

The world is FULL of hiking trails and awesomeness – you just need to know where to look.

5) Regardless of where you are going, let somebody else know where and when

If you are out hiking alone, take the time to email or call somebody and let him know that you’ll be hiking and when you expect to be back.

We don’t want to hear about any 127 Hours[1] stories on NF…that would make playing video games way more difficult.

You don’t need to tell them the brand of your underwear (please tell me you’re wearing underwear) or how many almonds you’re bringing, but let them know the important details so if they don’t hear back from you by a certain time they know to alert the proper authorities.

So right now, you should have answers to the following questions:

  1. How much time you can dedicate to hiking.
  2. Who you will be hiking with.
  3. Your level of experience
  4. Using AllTrails.com or GoogleMaps to pick your hiking location.
  5. Who you will tell about your hiking experience.
  6. How much XP will I earn by doing this?

That last point is about our fun new habit-building app, which allows you to level up (literally) by going on walks or hikes.

You can try it for free right here:

What Shoes Do I Wear Hiking? (Proper Footwear)

Steve at the Great Wall

This is simple: stilettos, your favorite mini skirt, a fishnet halter top, and a vest made out of raw meat. You’re welcome!

Wait, don’t do that.

I’m a big fan of being comfortable without breaking the bank. Like, you probably already have most of the clothing you need to go hiking.

WHAT SHOES SHOULD I WEAR TO HIKE IN?

We cover footwear extensively in our healthy feet article, but I’ll cover shoes specifically in the case of hiking here.

We at Nerd Fitness are huge fan of Merrell products – Merrell shoes of various types have treated me well for the past decade.

Just don’t let a lack of quality hiking boots keep you from a hike. If you’re concerned, pick an easy-paced hike with your current shoes to be safe and ramp up when you can ramp up your gear!

Some people hike the Appalachian Trail in their bare feet (must be part-Hobbit), so whatever you do: don’t let your footwear options keep you from getting started. Just make sure you break your shoes in and take them on test drives! Don’t take the tags off a new pair of shoes and then go on a multi-day hike – that’s a recipe for blisters and a miserable time.

Okay, let’s look at our feet. 

Now that we’ve done that, let’s look at some shoe options:

LEVEL ONE: Hiking shoes – “hiking shoes” are great if you’re going to be doing simple day hikes or hiking occasionally: they have a good grip on the bottom, give you enough support, but aren’t too heavy that they are a hindrance.

Here are my favorite options if you are in the market for some new basic walking/hiking shoes:

  1. Merrell Vent Hiking Shoe
  2. Merrell Trail Glove 4 (Men) – I have the blue ones. They rock.
  3. Merrell Trail Glove 4 (women)

Oh, what’s that? “Steve, I don’t have hiking shoes! Is this the end of the world?

Well, do you have any sort of athletic shoe? Depending on the grip on the bottom, they could be decently okay for you to get started with when it comes to a basic hike. If sneakers are your only option, lace em up, pick a beginner hike, and see how they do. Just be careful on slippery surfaces – your kicks might not give you the grip you need to get over them.

LEVEL TWO – Hiking boots – I don’t hike enough or do enough multi-day hikes to justify the cost of hiking boots, but again I would point to Merrell boots if you’re in the market.

“Why boots over shoes, Steve?” 

Although many prefer trail shoes (like yours truly), I can absolutely see the value in a great pair of hiking boots if you’re going on a serious hike, traveling for multiple days, or more. They have more ankle support, thicker tread, thicker shoes, and provide your feet with significantly more protection.

REI has a great article helping you pick between Trail shoes and Trail boots. My advice? Start with what you currently have before deciding whether or not to invest in big boots. Once you build up the habit of hiking and decide you want to make it a bigger part of your life, you can make the investment.

My advice? If you are going to buy boots, go to a professional store, get fitted properly, and then break them in over many weeks before going out on a trail.

WEIRD BUT FUN FOR SIMPLE HIKES: Vibram FiveFingers I hiked all around the globe, in various situations, wearing my Vibrams for close to 4 years. They made me feel like a ninja monkey and a hobbit. I got weird looks, but something just felt right about being able to feel the contours of the ground beneath me. I will say, when hiking in Vibrams it can be easier to twist an ankle when stepping on a root or rock, stepping on sharp rocks can hurt, so I found myself watching my feet much more than expected.

These days, I’m much more of a trail shoe kind of guy, but some still swear by Vibrams!

If you’re in the market for buying new boots, this quick video is a good primer:

WHAT SOCKS SHOULD YOU WEAR?

If you’re wearing boots or sneakers, you want to wear socks that aren’t going to give you blisters or make your feet all sweaty and gross.

Depending on how long the hike is, how serious you are about hiking, and your budget, you can look into merino-wool socks.

Like the rest of your outfit, what you wear on your feet will largely be dependent on a few things:

  1. Weather! Are you hiking in the forest and it’s 72 degrees out? Or are you hiking up the side of the mountain in cold conditions?
  2. Shoes! Are you in lightweight hiking shoes, lightweight hiking socks for the win. Hiking in big boots in cold months? Big thick warm socks are almost a requirement.
  3. Budget! Are you shopping for specific socks? Tall or short? Great. If you are brand new to hiking, just wear whatever athletic socks you wear while exercising.
  4. What’s the environment? If you’re hiking through grass, tall plants, etc. I’d go with tall socks (with your pants possibly tucked into them too). You’re not out there to win a fashion show!

Here’s Switchback Travel’s best hiking socks of 2018, and here’s a great article from Art of Manliness on proper feet care after a hike or ruck

What Do I Wear While Hiking? (Clothing)

Steve out hiking in the woods.

SHOULD I WEAR PANTS OR SHORTS?

Pro tip: Don’t go pantless through the wilderness. I cannot stress this enough.

The real advice when it comes to pants/shorts is heavily dependent upon your environment. If it’s going to be cold, shorts might keep you shivering. If it’s going to be hot, pants might get too uncomfortable.

Jeans? Ehhhhh. Sure. ONLY if it’s going to be a comfortable temperature and you have no other option. Being sweaty and hot while wearing jeans isn’t very fun.

I’m a big fan of my nerd pants – the Columbia Silver Ridge pants. Although they look kind of goofy, they’re incredibly lightweight, dry quickly, and can transform from pants to shorts in mere seconds!

Traveling through woods, not sure what you’ll encounter? Wear lightweight pants. I am horribly allergic to poison ivy and who knows what else, so I like to keep as much of my body covered while hiking to make sure I don’t make contact with anything I’m allergic to. [2]

WHAT TYPE OF SHIRT SHOULD I WEAR? 

My favorite options are merino wool long shirts and t-shirts: they’re light, wick away moisture, hide odors, and breathe well – though you will be paying top dollar for them.

If you’re just starting out, pick an old t-shirt and rock that – you can work on optimizing performance once you’ve got a few hikes under your belt.

If you’re on a multi-day hike in various conditions then having lightweight merino wool shirts you can layer and not need to wash would be great. But just going for a hike in the woods in your backyard? Whatever you would wear while running, training, etc. Aka whatever won’t chafe!

SHOULD I BRING A JACKET?

I’ve been wearing this Mountain Hardware jacket on most of my hikes and it has been awesome (10 years and counting) – very lightweight so packing it isn’t a hassle, waterproof so it keeps me dry when it rains, and heavy enough to block the wind to keep me warm when it’s chilly.

Don’t go out of your way to buy a new jacket if you have a decent windbreaker, but if you’re going to be doing a lot of hiking or you’re in the market for a new coat, here’s my advice: go to a local store and try out all of the jackets until you find one you like.

Once you find the perfect jacket, go home and check online (you can sometimes find the same jacket for up to 60% less) – then, ask the local store if they’ll price match or just buy it online.

SHOULD I WEAR A HAT?

You should definitely bring a hat. I’m usually rocking my Nerd Fitness hat or my Red Sox hat (booo Yankees), but while hiking in Australia I wore a hat with a giant floppy brim to keep my ears and face protected from the sun.

The tops of your ears and back of your neck are highly susceptible to getting burned while on the trail, so either get some sunscreen or wear a hat that keeps them covered.

The same is true for keeping pesky things out of your hair, the sun from burning your ears and face, and keep you a bit cooler.

WHAT KIND OF BACKPACK SHOULD I BRING?

Digging into the ins and outs of backpacks is far beyond the scope of this article. I’d recommend you check out my friend Chase’s Bag Review Youtube channel – guaranteed to be the most fun you’ll ever have learning about bags.

So what would I recommend for a beginner on a hike? The bag you currently have! If you’re going on a short hike, you can start with simply whatever bag you have. The lighter and comfier it is, the better.

Multi-day hikes where you’re living out of your bag, packing up, and building a tent each day – this is beyond the scope of this article. I have rocked a Kelty Coyote bag that I’ve lived out of for months at a time, and have also used on multi-day hikes.

If you have the means and the time, and you’re planning to go on certain hikes, go to an outdoor specialty store, speak with a professional, and get fitted for your body type and the type of hike you’re doing!

THE MORAL OF THE STORY: VERSATILITY

If your weather forecast is “75 and sunny,” and you’re hiking for the afternoon through a gradually sloping wooded forest, you can severely limit what you’re bringing with you.

If it’s questionable or looks like things might change during the day, versatility is your best bet – a jacket, pants that can become shorts, a long sleeve shirt that you can take off or roll the sleeves up, etc.

Don’t go out and buy all new stuff until you’re sure hiking is an activity you want to invest in. Borrow from friends, make do with what you have

Just get started.

BY NOW YOU SHOULD HAVE A ROUGH IDEA OF WHAT YOU WILL BE WEARING! 

In your head you should be saying, “Steve how can you read my mind?!

I just decided:

  1. I’d hike in my current gym sneakers.
  2. I have a pair of gardening pants and tall socks I can wear.
  3. I have a floppy hat.

I feel like I’m good to go!

Perfect.

How Much Water Should I Bring On My Hike?

Killarney was a great place to hike.

If there’s ONE thing you should not leave home without, it’s a water container so you can stay hydrated.

“How much water should I be drinking on my hike, Steve?”

Great question. I knew you were smart from the moment you started reading this article.

You should be drinking 1 liter of water every two hours as a rough guideline. Increase this amount if you are hiking in very warm/desert climates.

FAVORITE WATER CONTAINERS:

I’m partial to stainless steel bottles or aluminum bottles over Nalgene or reused plastic bottles, but make do with what you have.  Just make sure you bring enough water with you to keep you hydrated through your adventure.

Going on longer hikes?

Get yourself a hydration backpack (which can double as your hiking pack!) to transplant water more conveniently.

Not only that but make sure you have been consuming water before you go hiking so that you’re not starting at a hydration deficit.

Hangovers + early morning hikes – water = bad news bears.

What Gear Should I Bring on My Hike? (Sunscreen, Knives, and First Aid Kits)

Steve hanging at at Machu Picchu

If you’re just getting started, I’m going to guess you won’t be climbing to the top of a mountain in Alaska, but rather going on an introductory hike that will help build your confidence and get you rolling.

Here’s what I’d recommend you bring with you on your adventure:

  1. SunscreenIf it’s sunny outside and you’re hiking through the woods or up a mountain with a cool breeze in your face, you probably won’t be able to tell that your ears and face are getting absolutely torched. Get yourself some waterproof sweatproof sunscreen (SPF 30 minimum) to cover up those ears, cheeks, and back of your neck.
  2. Bug spray especially if it’s “that time of the year” in your area where bugs are out in full force. Nothing worse than coming home to arms and legs covered in bug bites.
  3. First aid kit – Having some first aid stuff with you is a good idea: band-aids and moleskin for blisters and cuts, Neosporin or some type of disinfectant for cuts/scrapes, and maybe a bandage or two just in case. Outdoor stores sell travel first aid kits (as does Amazon), but I’d advise you to make your own (you should have these things in your medicine cabinet anyway – and then you’ll know exactly where everything is!).
  4. Pocket knife – Not essential if you’re in a park, but a good thing to have with you out in the woods so you’re prepared for anything. Like McGyver.
  5. Sunglasses – No need to go blind while out on the trail. You probably already have sunglasses floating around your house: I’d recommend bringing the $5 ones rather than $250 Ray-Bans.
  6. Cellphone – a phone can help bail you out in case of an emergency, and if you have a smartphone it can multitask as your compass, distance tracker, mapper, and so on. Even if you have a cellphone, bringing a compass or GPS system isn’t a bad idea (unless it’s bright and sunny and you’re good at orienting yourself).

If you’re going on a longer hike, bringing a lightweight phone charger that you can use to charge your phone up quickly is usually pretty easy.

What Food Should I Bring Hiking? What Should I Eat on a Day Hike?

Nuts are great hiking snacks.

FOOD!

You know, the stuff that keeps us alive.

The answer to this will vary greatly depending on how long you plan on hiking for, the time of day, your love of snacking, so the advice here is going to largely mirror the advice we give in our nutritional posts!

Although by no means a complete list of snacks, this is usually what I like to pack in my bag before a hike:

  1. Nuts – Almonds or walnuts. Great for snacking on, loaded w/ healthy fat and protein. Nut butters are a good healthy fat option too – my favorite is Trader Joe’s raw unsalted almond butter. Ingredient: almonds! They are high in calorie content however, so if you are trying to lose weight, don’t do a 10-minute walk and eat 4000 calories worth of nuts. We in the business like to call that “counterproductive.”
  2. Fruit – I throw two or three apples in my bag; apples and nuts mean I’ve pretty much got all of the fat, protein, and carbs I need for my day. Things like bananas, raisins, and other fruit are good options as well – pick based on your personal preference and tastes. Just be careful with dried fruit, because it can have lots of sugar and calories, so don’t kid yourself into eating 5000 calories worth of dried fruit and call it healthy! It’s something we explore in-depth in our guide “Is Fruit Healthy?
  3. Beef jerky! Make your own or go with some high-quality store-bought stuff. Lots of protein, easy to pack, and keeps well. Mmmmmm.

What about trail mix or granola bars? You’d probably think granola bars and trail mix are synonymous with hiking, but I’m actually not a fan of either unless they’re homemade – these products are usually loaded with salt/sugar and processed grains and are pretty damn unhealthy.

If you’re gonna go with trail mix, make your own with dried fruit and raw unsalted nuts. If you DON’T have other options, tossing a few granola bars in the bag isn’t the end of the world.

More food advice here:

Primal Trail Food

A book (optional) – I LOVE READING (more than I love lowercase letters), so I always travel with my Kindle. Although hiking with friends can be fun, I also get a huge thrill out of hiking out to a remote location overlooking a valley or sitting on the edge of a river with a book so that I can spend a few hours getting lost in a story.

If it’s a multi-day hike and you’re avoiding technology, then bringing a dead tree book is worth the extra weight in your bag!

A camera (optional) – Although I have a camera that I travel with, most of the pictures I’ve been taking recently have been done with my iPhone using apps like Camera+ or ProHDR (which I freaking love). Both apps are worth the price.

You don’t need to be a great photographer, just need to capture the moment to look back on fondly as a crotchety old grandpa. Obviously, if you’re a serious photographer, you’ve already planned to pack your DSLR so I won’t get into that.

Seven Hiking Tips for Beginners

Steve hanging out with an ostrich.

  1. KNOW THE LOCAL WILDLIFE! Do a quick search of your hike to know what sorts of critters you’ll encounter on the trail. If you are hiking in bear country or snake country, these are things it’s very important to know. Whether it’s carrying a can of bear mace or knowing what to look for, this can help you prevent serious problems. Also, watch out for wild ostriches.
  2. CLEAN UP, CHECK FOR TICKS – if you’re in a heavily wooded area and carving through the wilderness, check yourself for ticks and make sure you take a shower with hot water and soap immediately when you get home in case you came in contact with any poisonous plants or things like that. I can’t tell you how many times I woke up with a swollen face as a kid because of my hike through poison ivy the day before.
  3. AIM FOR THE HIGH GROUND – I love hiking to tall things: the top of a mountain, the high point in a town, the roof of a building. It gives you a great halfway point to stop, eat some lunch or dinner, and enjoy the view; plus, you already know exactly how far you need to go on your way down. One piece of advice on going DOWN a steep mountain or a lot of steps: Shorten your stride, and take care to land on the balls of your feet with a bent knee if possible – if you’re landing on your heels for thousands of steps, it can wreak havoc on your knees and joints as there’s no shock absorption. I remember how sore my knees were the day after hiking down Colca Canyon in Peru with my buddy Cash because I didn’t make an effort to soften my steps and take care of my body.
  4. URBAN HIKING – “But Steve I live in a city, I can’t go hiking!” Why the hell not? Load up your backpack, map out a route on Google Maps, maybe even find a tall building – avoid the elevator, climb the steps. Or walk until you find a park, sit on a bench, and read a book. Sure, it’s not the same as hiking the Rockies, but it will still get your heart pumping and feet moving! Like The Goonies teaches us, adventure can be found in your own backyard with the right attitude!
  5. KEEP TRACK OF IT – If you have an iPhone or Android, download a hiking or running app to keep track of how far you go and how much hiking you do. Although I haven’t been tracking my hikes abroad (I leave my phone in Airplane mode while traveling), I’ve heard great things about RunKeeper and EasyTrails. If you have more apps or suggestions on how to keep track of your hikes, let me know in the comments and I’ll add them here. I personally use a cheap Fitbit Flex 2, which tracks my steps and elevation. Good enough!
  6. GEOCACHING – Great fun can be had while geocaching. Simply go to the website, track your location, and then decide on which cache you’re going to track down. Think of it as a real-life version of Indiana Jones or Uncharted, minus the Nazis and undead warriors. We geocached around Sydney for a Nerd Fitness meetup, and it was delightful!
  7. GIVE A HOOT, DON’T POLLUTE – Pack it in, pack it out. If you bring anything with you, it better be coming back with you. Don’t leave trash in the woods, and pick up any extra trash you see out there. The wilderness thanks you for your service, citizen!

Not all those who wander are lost (sTART hIKING tODAY)

What shoes should you bring hiking?

This article is just a primer, meant to whet your appetite and make you excited to go hiking and exploring the wonderful world around us. 

Here are a few other resources on hiking if you want more information.  Feel free to let me know more in the comments:

  1. Tips for Primal/Paleo Hiking
  2. Hiking Emergencies on Art of Manliness
  3. American Hiking Society

I challenge you to plan a hike for this upcoming weekend. YES, even if you’re in the opposite hemisphere and it’s really cold out!

Get some great snacks, strap on your shoes, grab a friend, and go explore.

I’d love to hear from you about the place you’re going hiking this weekend.

Leave a comment below and let me know:

  1. Where you’re going.
  2. When you’re going.
  3. And what you’re most excited about!
  4. Promise that you won’t hike pants-less.
  5. Any tips you have for your fellow hikers.

-Steve

PS: Still unsure if you’ll be ready for your big hike? I’ll again remind you of our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program. We have clients who successfully used the program to train for hiking up large mountains, and we’d love to see if we can help you too!

Nerd Fitness Coaching Banner

PPS: If Coaching ain’t your bag, you can always use our new app to jumpstart your new adventures!

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photo credit: 77krc Mixed Nuts

All other photos from my Photostream

 

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40 Fun Ways to Exercise (Without Realizing It) https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/25-ways-to-exercise-without-realizing-it/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/25-ways-to-exercise-without-realizing-it/#disqus_thread Fri, 03 Jun 2022 05:35:00 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=20068 I know plenty of people who hate exercise but WANT to find a way to like it. And that’s what today’s post is all about: Exercising in a way where life doesn’t suck AND helps you reach your goals. Luckily, this is exactly what we do for a living! “Exercise” sucks! Do this instead: 40 […]

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Have fun while exercising!

I know plenty of people who hate exercise but WANT to find a way to like it.

And that’s what today’s post is all about:

Exercising in a way where life doesn’t suck AND helps you reach your goals.

Luckily, this is exactly what we do for a living!

I know what it’s like to hate exercise, and ALSO want to lose weight and see results. Ugh.

We’ve built an entire company and community around helping people overcome these obstacles – our Online Coaching Program helps people find exercises they love, and also how to make the right nutritional choices.

We are all on a unique journey and we’d love to help you with yours!

ExercIse Sucks. Do This Instead.garfield

“But Steve, I don’t like to exercise!”

While some are like Odie and love to run around all day, others are like Garfield and feel like they must be allergic to exercise.

I hear this every day, and I’m not surprised.

After all, I think “exercise” sucks too.

Which is why we’re gonna focus on exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise!

Will Ferrell thinks having fun while exercising is important too!

After all, nutrition is like 90% of the equation

Exercise is merely a supporting actor, which is why we don’t ever NEED to spend time doing exercise we hate.

We’ve already talked extensively on Nerd Fitness on how to eat nutritiously, so I won’t hash that out here.

So let’s talk about exercise.

Sure, it would be great if we all strength trained 5 days a week and got super strong, but the reality is most of us don’t have that time – or the desire – to hit the gym.

And more importantly – the best exercise program is the one you actually do!

And thus today we’re going to focus on TWO key elements of getting more exercise in our lives:

#1) FIDGETING:

Did you know ‘fidgeting’ (aka “small micromovements”) can account for up to 350 additional calories burned per day?

Per the New York Times:

Overweight people have a tendency to sit, while lean ones have trouble holding still and spend two hours more a day on their feet, pacing around and fidgeting, researchers are reporting in findings published today.

The difference translates into about 350 calories a day…

350 extra calories burned per day ain’t no joke!

As we cover in our “How many calories should I eat every day?” guide, burning an extra 350 calories per day can result in sustainable weight loss and maintenance over time for many.

Not only that, but when you factor in inertia (an object at rest tends to stay at rest, and object in motion tends to stay in motion), it paints a pretty interesting picture:

We spend our lives trying to be more “efficient.” What if the key to weight loss is to be LESS efficient?

From standing up more frequently to parking FARTHER away from the grocery store, every additional step or movement counts. Today’s guide shares TONS of ways to get yourself used to moving more frequently.

I’m actually air drumming and shuffling my feet as we speak!

Play the air drums like the Foo Fighters - it counts as fun exercise

#2) FUN EXERCISE:

Who cares what the optimal workout is?

Unless you have a very specific physique you’re trying to build, ANY exercise is good exercise.

From dancing to yoga to climbing to roughhousing with your kids, it all counts.

This brings me to today’s point:

Exercise is a bonus. Exercise helps your heart get stronger, can help build muscle, usually gets you outside the house and absorbing vitamin D, and brings you a litany of other health benefits. Also, any additional calories burned is a bonus!

Exercise can help us make fewer unhealthy food choices. Instead of “I earned this” you can start telling yourself: “If I’m going to exercise regularly, I might as well make it worth it by eating right too.”

Daily exercise is a constant reminder that we are leveling up our lives – that we should continue to make other good choices or we’re practically wasting our time.

This is the type of stuff we focus on – with personalized instruction, with each of our online coaching clients.

Some clients are learning Olympic lifting, while others are simply focusing on taking the stairs more and tracking their food.

We are all on a unique journey and we’d love to help you with yours!

40 Ways to Exercise Without Exercising

A border collie dog playing with a frisbee

#1) Hiking, especially with friends – Strap on a pair of shoes, get out of the comfy confines of your hobbit-hole, and go explore the world around you!

Make sure you follow our Beginner Hiking Guide on how to find a hiking spot near you, what shoes to wear, what to bring with you, and more.

#2) Walking – No time to hike? Go for a simple walk. Even a 15-minute brisk walk is enough time to get close to a mile walked, which gets you one step closer to Mordor.

Sam and Frodo walked to Mordor, why not go for a walk too?

Do you have a 30-minute meeting at work? Have a walking meeting instead. Steve Jobs was known for doing this.

You should know Tim, a member of our Nerd Fitness community who lost 50 pounds – while injured – just by fixing his nutrition and going for long walks every day!

I’m proud that Tim used the philosophies laid out in our online courses under Nerd Fitness Prime to get his results!

Tim lost 50 pounds with the Nerd Fitness Academy

#3) LARP – Live Action Role Playing. Might seem silly to those on the outside, but to those playing, it’s an amazing adventure that reminds us how awesome our imaginations are.

Also, depending on the game, you could be wearing a heavy costume, swinging heavy weaponry, and running for your life!

#4) Rock Climbing – I love rock climbing. It’s one of the best arm/back/forearm workouts in existence, you get to feel like a badass when you reach the top of the wall, and all climbing routes are graded so you can level up the challenge as you get stronger/fitter/better.

It’s a fit nerd’s dream!

#5) Geocaching – If rock climbing is a fit-nerd’s dream, then geocaching is an adventure nerd’s dream brought to life. Become a real-life treasure-hunter (Lara Croft? Nathan Drake? You decide!), and get a great workout in while you’re at it.

Or, if you’re truly nerdy, you can do some Digital Geocaching with Pokemon Go or Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

#6) Dancing – Ever tried serious swing dancing? You’ll be sweating within ten minutes. How about hip hop? Drenched in sweat, and sore as hell the next day.

Zumba? Tango? Flamenco? You’d be surprised at what you can sign up for and what will elevate your heart rate.

#7) Roughhousing with your kids. I don’t have kids, but when I do, you can bet your ass I’ll be the dad out rolling around in the back yard with them. Don’t forget what it’s like to be a kid – it keeps you young.

I really enjoyed this article from Art of Manliness on the importance of roughhousing!

#8) Climbing on stuff – A few years back, I attended a great conference, Midoricon, and I was walking through the woods with NF Rebel Joe (No, not THAT Joe).

It was awesome to see this guy, having lost 100 pounds since finding Nerd Fitness, explore the woods like it was no problem: climbing on stumps, balancing on fallen trees, climbing trees, and more. 

We work with LOTS of Coaching Clients to get them outdoors and help build them “fun climbing programs” that burn tons of calories but don’t really feel like exercise.

#9) Martial arts – Be honest. You watched The Matrix, you heard Neo go “I know Kung Fu” and you wanted to be able to one day say the same thing.

Whether it’s Kung Fu, Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do, Karate or Capoeira (breakdance fighting, seriously), there’s a martial art out there that will make you feel like a badass.

And might help you defeat your archenemy. 

#10 Consider a standing desk – Although we all know that correlation does not prove causation, it’s no surprise that there’s a strong correlation between sitting all day and an unhealthy lifestyle.

Why not fix your posture, strengthen your legs, get more “fidget time” in, and spend the day being more productive with a standing desk? I have THIS desk and it allows me to switch between sitting and standing.

If you don’t want to stand all day, make sure you read up on our guide, “how to survive sitting all day in an office.”

#11) Have an active meeting – Hat tip to Charlie Hoehn on this one. If somebody wants to meet up with you for coffee, suggest something active: throwing a baseball, tossing a frisbee, going for a hike – anything that gets you up and moving.

I say yes to pretty much anybody that invites me to play golf. Wink wink.

Golf is a fun form of exercise, even if you stink at it!

#12) You know… that thing that consenting adults do?

Yeah. Do that.

Self-explanatory.

Moving on…

#13) Clean! – Ugh, nobody likes to clean the house/apartment. It’s not my favorite thing to do. So I instead make a game out of it.

I see how much I can accomplish with a single song blasting at max volume, while probably also dancing. I also CRUSH podcasts while doing the dishes.

Of course, after getting through one song, I figure “welp, I’ve already started, might as well keep going.”

#14) Try handstands – This is a fun activity that builds up some serious arm and core strength and will leave you sweating bullets after even a few minutes.

Rebel Leader Steve showing you how to kick up to a handstand.

So go find a park, go do handstands, cartwheels, somersaults, and whatever else makes you feel young again.

Here’s our guide on How to Do Handstands.

#15) Parkour – Our Beginner’s Guide to Parkour is one of the most popular on Nerd Fitness. I don’t care how old you are, there’s no reason you can’t get started with rolling around in your yard and vaulting over picnic tables and bike racks.

Or, you can do it in your office:

#16) Playout – Is Parkour too serious for you? Try a playout! Spiderman was on to something – climbing walls, swinging from skyscrapers, and popping flips around the bad guys.

You might not be able to swing between buildings, but you can definitely visit a playground in your area and get creative!

#17) Adult gymnastics – In the same vein as parkour, gymnastics will help you build some of the BEST real-world strength you can get with any type of exercise, and it’s all done in a playful way without a single weight being picked up.

Swing from rings, somersault, flip onto pads, and more.

There are gyms all over the country.

#18) Yoga – Build flexibility and strength, plus learn to freaking relax.

There are a million kinds of Yoga, including awesome stuff like Acro-Yoga, baby goat Yoga (not kidding), and Yoga with beer.

Sign up for a few different kinds and see which one lines up the best with what you’re looking for.

#19) Play video games that make you be active – Beat Saber. DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) counts too. Just Move. Anything that gets you off your ass and moving!

Oh, what’s that? You’re playing a normal game like Grand Theft Auto V? Make a rule that you can only play while standing up, or that you have to do 10 push-ups every time you die.

That’s what I do to keep myself from spending twelve hours on the couch in marathon gaming sessions!

#20) Play on a playground – Go down the slide, swing across the monkey bars, climb the rope all, balance on the balance beam.

Create an obstacle course for yourself and see how quickly you can get through it.

You can even work out on a playground too:

#21) Play a musical instrument – Did you know playing musical instruments can burn a boatload of calories too?

I imagine this is doubly true if you’re dancing around like Taylor Davies playing the violin.

#22) Join a Rec League – New in town? Want to be active and meet people? Join a co-ed kickball, softball, or tennis league.

You get to exercise AND it’s a great way to meet new people through exercise!

#23) Bike to work – I know there are a lot of Rebels in our community who dropped a bunch of weight by making one change: they biked to work, or biked to their friend’s house, or started biking generally.

You get from Point A to Point B, you save money on gas, and you get a workout.

Plus, you can do it with friends!

a gif of the biking scene from the Muppet movie

Here’s our Guide to Biking if you want some help getting started. 

#24) Play a childhood game – What games did you play as a child? Capture the flag? Kick the can? Simple tag?

Get a few friends together and give it a try – it will be the most fun you’ve had in a while!

#25) Park at the far end of the parking lot – Every step counts.

Every tiny decision that is slightly different than the “OLD you” counts.

IT ALL COUNTS when it comes to burning more calories than you consume every day.

#26) Take the stairs. It’s only two flights! And we are designed to move. You can do this.

Sure, you’ll get winded the first handful of times. But it eventually becomes routine.

And it all counts! Make a game out of it.

#27) Crush audiobooks while “exercising.” This is called ‘temptation bundling.‘ Pair something you love with an activity you’re trying to do more of.

But I bet if you could only listen to Harry Potter (for the 600th time) while walking on a treadmill, you’d be more likely to get to the gym.

#28) Build stuff. Whether you’re building a fort with your kid in the backyard, or trying to figure out why you have 5 extra screws in that IKEA dresser you’re putting together, building stuff involves lots of moving and bending and picking up and maneuvering.

Warning: you’ll swear no less than 100 times building furniture. Earmuffs! 

#29) Sit in a squat, or pike position on the floor while watching TV. No, not leaning against the couch. Sitting up actively engaging your core!

You can also do some sort of stretch or movement like these bodyweight exercises during commercials (or in the 15 seconds between Netflix episodes!)

#30) Impromptu dance parties. Kids or no kids, I find that great Disney songs are fantastic for bringing out your inner child.

Blast the tunes, dance around the house, and be absurd. WHO CARES! As a wise woman once said…”Let it gooooooo.”

Napoleon spontaneously busts into dance for fun exercise

#31) Go for a walk while on the phone. What if you just decided you had to stand for all of your phone calls?

For starters, I know many people who do phone interviews while standing because it makes them more alert and a better guest.

Next: you’re gonna get so many steps in while on the phone without realizing it!

#32) Having an impromptu picnic. Instead of sitting and gorging yourself at the dining room table, why not eat on the floor?

Grab a blanket or a towel, eat in your living room or head out into the backyard, and make it a picnic!

You’ll need to adjust your posture and seating style constantly.

#33) Sit in a squat. We cover this in our “How to squat” guide, but sitting in a deep squat – often for long timeframes – is built into us as a species! We’ve just become soft from sitting in chairs all day long.

I try to accumulate 15 minutes of “squat time” each day – sitting in a squat while reading a chapter in a book, or journaling, or answering an email with my laptop on the ground.

Here I am sitting in a squat while reading Level Up Your Life (available online and in bookstores nationwide!)

Steve sitting in a squat reading the book, Level Up Your Life

#34) The “Pull-up bar Tax”. Get yourself a door-frame pull-up bar. Put it on a door that you have to cross through regularly.

And every time you go through, you have to do either 1 pull-up, 1 negative pull-up, or 10 seconds of hanging from the bar.

Can’t do a pull-up yet? Learn how to get your first pull-up or chin-up.

#35) Lasers around the house. Set up colored string pulled tightly across your kid’s rooms or in certain hallways, and you have to go over and under the lasers each time you traverse the hallway.

Kids walking through a lazer hallway

Don’t touch the lasers!

#36) Climb a tree. Your level of safety and ability on this will be dependent on your experience here, but I remember climbing trees like a monkey as a kid and loving every minute of it.

Even if it’s just hanging from a tree branch or trying to scramble up to a low branch, it can be a great way to “exercise.”

#37) The floor is lava. This is both great for exercising around your apartment, for a fun date night or night with the kids, and for playing True American. Though one is slightly more healthy than the other.

#38) Casual Parkour. From avoiding cracks on the sidewalk to balancing on curbs, or jumping from tile to tile, or hopping up onto a bench and then back down, it all counts!

Just get yourself to move differently than you would have otherwise! We are currently working with a woman who has lost 100-pounds through our Coaching Program, and her exercise is all “fun parkour in the woods behind the house!”

#39) Literally fidget more! Yes, from tapping your toes to music and twitching your legs to the beat of the music. Getting up and sitting back down. Doing laps around your office.

You don’t need to get a standing desk or treadmill desk, but there’s a definite correlation between those that can’t sit still and body composition.[1]

#40) Your kid is a backpack! From piggyback rides to playing horsey, staying active with your kids is really powerful in instilling a love of fitness in them.

If you’re a badass mom like Brownwyn – a success story from Nerd Fitness Prime, you can even do pull-ups while your kid holds on!

Here are more tips on how to work out as a whole family.

Challenge yourself to Have fun: Next Steps!

Legs walking on steel pipe with balance

If you are looking for more guidance beyond the 40 Fun Exercise Suggestions above, we have three options to continue your journey:

1) Join our epic Online Coaching Program! We create personalized programs for each customer based on their lifestyle, goals, and personality. From parkour in the park to just walking more with your children, or even “becoming a badass powerlifter,” we cater each experience to each person.

2) If you’re looking for a bunch of fun ways to exercise, check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you move more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

We assign fun missions daily to get you to exercise in a way that doesn’t feel like exercise…because it’ll feel like a side quest instead.

Try your free trial (no credit card needed) right here:

3) Enlist in The Rebellion (it’s free)! Sign up for our biweekly newsletter and join the Nerd Fitness Rebellion!

I’ll send you tons of free guides and bonuses to help you get started on your journey today.

Sign up below:

No matter which path you pick above, I want you to commit to trying something new, or doing something different, at some point in the next week:

  • Say yes before you can say no. Stop saying “I don’t have time” and realize you do. Stop saying “I can’t afford it” and find a way to make it a priority. Do all of this before you can talk yourself out of it. The best way to do that?
  • Commit in advance. Put down a deposit and make an investment in yourself. I pre-paid 6 weeks of swing dance lessons. Having already paid for it, I knew I’d be just throwing my money away if I didn’t attend.
  • Go with a friend. I went to my swing classes alone, which forced me to further develop my social skills, but if you happen to be TOO afraid to attend a class, get a friend to drag you there.
  • Expect to suck. If you are learning a new skill, expect to suck at it. You’ll get better as long as you remember to…
  • Have fun. Remember, we could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Every day above ground is a blessing, so enjoy it!
  • When in doubt, move more.

That one thing you always wanted to try but have been putting off?

Today’s a good day to get started. Just take that FIRST step.

Google classes in your city. Find a site that focuses on beginners, and read about it. If there’s a place to pre-pay or make a deposit, do it.

And then go.

Use 20 seconds of courage if you have to.

What’s the one new thing you’re going to try this month?

-Steve

###

photo credit: Reiterlied 02/52 – Confidence, JD Hancock Garfield, treadmill fall, Denes Paragi © 123RF.com, It’s Always Autumn: Lazer Hallway, lzflzf © 123RF.com

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Should I Eat Fruit? The Ultimate Guide for Determining “Is Fruit Good for You?” https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/is-fruit-healthy-for-you/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/is-fruit-healthy-for-you/#disqus_thread Tue, 24 May 2022 05:36:16 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=24701 Want to know how fruit fits into a healthy diet? It’s a valid question! After all, it’s absolutely possible to lose weight eating fruit…and GAIN weight eating fruit!  This is an area of focus for our 1-on-1 Coaching clients, but we’re gonna tell you everything you need to know below too. Today we’ll help you […]

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Should this LEGO eat berries? Daily? Let's find out!

Want to know how fruit fits into a healthy diet?

It’s a valid question! After all, it’s absolutely possible to lose weight eating fruit…and GAIN weight eating fruit! 

This is an area of focus for our 1-on-1 Coaching clients, but we’re gonna tell you everything you need to know below too.

Today we’ll help you determine how much fruit, and what kind of fruit, you should be eating. 

Here’s what we’ll cover to answer the question, “Is eating Fruit healthy?”

If you’re curious about where fruits and other foods such as potatoes fall on the “healthy eating” spectrum, you should check out the Nerd Fitness Diet guide and cheat sheet. It’s a level-up system designed for you to adopt new healthy habits that will stick, by slowly progressing you from a newbie to an expert.

You can check it out for free when you join the Rebellion!

Is Fruit Good for you?

Eat a variety of fruits, like mandarins. We'll explain why shortly.

As we lay out in our “Healthy Eating” guide, fruit is absolutely healthy and can help you reach your goals – in the right quantities.[1] 

Eating fruit is great because:

  • Full of nutrients.[2]
  • Packed with fiber.[3]
  • A great snack option or it can be part of a protein-focused breakfast!

Watermelon can be part of a healthy diet. Just maybe don't eat the kind that dances.

That’s why eating fruit is “universally promoted” as being good for you.[4]

Which makes inquiries of “is fruit healthy?” perplexing. 

What’s with the controversy?

For that, we need to talk about the calorie and sugar content of fruit.

Is the Sugar in Fruit Bad for You?

Are they harvesting sugar here? Is that a good idea?

If anyone tells you not to eat fruit, it’s most likely because they’re afraid of the sugar content of the produce.

With the rise of low-carb diets like Keto, many people are turning away from fruit entirely.

What’s going on here?

A couple of things:

  1. There is A LOT of evidence that the excessive intake of added sugar is indeed harmful to human health. Study[5] after study[6] after study[7] shows the adverse effects of added sugar into the diet. Fruit contains fructose, which is a sugar. 
  2. Sugar is a carbohydrate. If you’re following the Keto Diet, the Paleo Diet, or any other low-carb plan, you need to limit the number of carbs you eat – which includes sugar.

If you’re not doing Keto, you don’t need to worry about that second point, because you aren’t eliminating carbs.

But how about the first one? Is the sugar in fruit harmful to us?

In one word: no.

Yep, the sugar in fruit is fine for humans. Let's explain.

Fruits are loaded with fiber and water, so it’s not strictly composed of fructose. 

It also takes a decent amount of effort to chew an actual piece of fruit. 

All of this slows down the absorption of fructose from the fruit. 

According to Dr. Ludwig of Harvard Medical School, if you eat whole fruit, it’s difficult to consume enough fructose to be harmful.[8]

Notice that caveat “whole fruit.” This is critical and deserves its own section.

But first…

Is Eating Fruit Good for Weight Loss?

This LEGO eats watermelon on the regular. Is that good for weight loss?

We’ve established that fruit is good for you. 

That news shocks exactly no one. 

But is fruit good for weight loss?

To answer that question, let’s consider two points:

#1) Fruit can be generally low in calories

Here is 200 calories worth of an apple (thanks to WiseGEEK): 

This is about 200 calories of apple.

Compare that to 200 calories worth of a bagel:

This picture shows you 200 calories worth of a bagel, which is about 2/3 of one.

#2) Fruit can be satiating

Fruit can help kill hunger or scratch that “I WANT SUGAR” itch. When you eat 200 calories worth of an apple, it can help make you feel fairly full. 

When you eat 200 calories worth of bread, you haven’t even finished a single bagel yet.

Studies done on the satiating power of different foods have shown fruit to be some of the most satisfying food studied. People feel more full from eating an apple or an orange than from eating beef or eggs.[9]

In summary: Fruit can be high in nutrients, low in calories, and can help us feel full.

As we discuss in our Guide to Healthy Eating, this is a great recipe for successful weight loss. 

So yes, fruit can indeed be part of a meal plan to lose weight.

Yep, go ahead and eat fruit as part of your weight loss plan.

We need to stop and make a point here: fruit, like every other food, obeys the laws of thermodynamics. Meaning the calories in fruit will still contribute to your total daily calorie goal

Why does this matter?

Weight loss comes down to eating fewer calories than you burn

Yes, there’s nuance, hormones messing with our hunger signals, and so on. But successful weight loss depends on consuming fewer calories than you expend consistently. 

If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to establish calorie goals. Fruit can factor into those goals and the calories should be accounted for.

This means that even with all the nutrients and fiber, eating all of your meals along with 30 bananas a day will result in you wondering “Why can’t I lose weight?” 

Save that for Donkey Kong:

I wonder if DK burns over 30 calories a day? Probably.

Where fruit can really get you into trouble is if you start to move in the direction of “fruit-like.” We’ll jump to that with our next section.

First, if you are trying to lose weight and wondering where fruit fits into the equation, I want you to know you’re on the right track. 

Lots of our coaching clients come to us with all sorts of different fitness questions, like what to eat and how to exercise, proving we all start from unique situations. The important thing is that you’re beginning to ask questions and looking for answers. 

If you want help on your journey, we’re here for you. Our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program partners busy people just like you with a coach who will get to know you better than you know yourself.

 

Is Fruit Juice Healthy?

Fruit is healthy, but fruit juice like shown here is where you can get into trouble.

While fruit can 100% be part of a healthy diet, “fruit like things” don’t quite get our stamp of approval.

Without the fiber, water, and intact cell walls of the fruit, your body will absorb the fructose very quickly.[10]

Not good.

Let’s chat specifically about “drinkable” fruit first:

#1) Fruit juices (cranberry juice, orange juice, grape juice): these are high-calorie, sugar-filled beverages. 

For example, here are the calories in one 8 oz  serving of: 

  • Apple Juice: 103 calories, 22 g of sugar
  • Orange Juice: 103 calories, 18 g of sugar
  • Grape Juice: 136 calories, 32 g of sugar

For reference, an 8-ounce glass of Coca-Cola would have about 26 grams of sugar.

2) Fruit Smoothies: Just because it’s a fruit smoothie doesn’t mean it won’t make you fat! Have you seen the calorie count and sugar content of smoothies and ‘green drinks’? Yikes.

  • Green Machine Naked Juice (15.2 oz or 450 ml bottle): 270 calories, 53 g of sugar.
  • Smoothie King Banana Boat (20 oz or 591 ml smoothie): 450 calories, 70 g of sugar.

A man realizing how difficult this at-home workout will be.

Yeah…which is why we made this:

The Green Machine is more or less just a bottle of sugar.

We have a full guide “Is Drinking Fruit Juice Healthy?” if you’d like to learn more. 

Should I Eat Dried Fruit?

While fruit is healthy, how about dried fruit? Eh, not really.

Another “fruit-like thing” we need to talk about is dried fruit.

Dried fruits are notoriously easy to overeat because they are so small. Since the water has been taken out, all that’s left is the sugar and fiber. 

Here’s 1 serving of raisins, which is 108 calories and 21 g of sugar:

Since the water is taken out, raisins have a lot of sugar and calories.

If you are saying “oh man, I eat 5x that many raisins when I eat them…” then multiply those calorie and sugar numbers by 5!

Per weight, all dried fruit will be higher in calories and sugar than its “whole fruit” counterpart.

The other thing to consider is that sugar is often ADDED to dried fruit to make it even sweeter. 

Consider these banana chips:

Not only is the water taken out of these bananas, but sugar is ADDED into it.

Second ingredient after dried banana? “Organic sugar.”

An ounce of these banana chips is going to run you about 147 calories and 10 grams of sugar (17g for total carbs).

For comparison, an ounce of a regular banana is about 25 calories.

You really have to be careful with dried fruit because it’s so easy to overeat.

However, this isn’t the only place where sugar is added to fruit.

Is Canned Fruit Healthy?

Is canned fruit healthy? Depends what's added with it!

The big concern with canned fruit is the syrup that is often included with it.

What’s in the syrup? Sugar. Of course it’s sugar. 

Let’s take a look at Del Monte’s canned peaches:

Canned fruit is fine, as long as it's just fruit. Be careful with added sugar here.

The syrup here is composed of “high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and sugar.”

Let’s compare the canned fruit to a normal peach you’d pick from a tree:

Del Monte’s Canned Peaches (in heavy syrup):

  • Serving size: 256g
  • Calories: 200
  • Total Sugar: 42g
  • Total Carbohydrates: 50g

Extra Large Peach

  • Serving size: 224g
  • Calories: 88 
  • Total Sugar: 19g
  • Total Carbohydrates: 21g

When you package peaches this way you DOUBLE the calories and the sugar content.

Our advice would be to purchase canned food that HASN'T been pumped full of sugar.

This is why you should always read the nutrition label when purchasing canned fruit (although it’s a good habit in general).

To summarize the last few sections: fruit is healthy, provided you stick to fresh or frozen and not fruit-like food, dried fruit, or canned fruit packed in syrup. 

If you enjoy a small glass of orange juice occasionally, or you pack a serving of raisins in your lunch and it makes life worth living, by all means! 

Just don’t chug OJ by the gallon, drink a 64 oz “real fruit smoothie,” and eat raisins by the handful and then wonder why you’re not losing weight.

AVERAGE CALORIE AND SUGAR CONTENT of popular FRUIT

Is this a serving of raspberries? Let's see!

The best way to paint a picture of sugar and calorie content of fruit is with some actual serving sizes.

So let’s do that.

We’ll also share carb content and fiber content, in case you are following a ketogenic or low-carb diet.

#1) APPLES

A regular apple contains about 95 calories.

  • Serving size: 1 medium-size apple (182g)
  • Calories: 95
  • Protein: .5g
  • Total Carbohydrates: 25g
    • Dietary Fiber: 4.4g
    • Sugar: 19g
    • Net Carbs 20.6g

#2) BANANAS

A medium-sized banana will contain roughly 105 calories.

  • Serving size: 1 medium-size banana (118g)
  • Calories: 105
  • Protein: 1.3g
  • Total Carbohydrates: 27g
    • Dietary Fiber: 3.1g
    • Sugar: 14g
    • Net Carbs 23.9g

#3) BLUEBERRIES

A cup of blueberries (about a fist) is about 85 calories.

  • Serving size: 1 cup (148g)
  • Calories: 85
  • Protein: 1.1g
  • Total Carbohydrates: 21g
    • Dietary Fiber: 3.6g
    • Sugar: 15g
    • Net Carbs 17.4g

#4) GRAPES

A cup of grapes (again about a fist) is roughly 62 calories.

  • Serving size: 1 cup (92g)
  • Calories: 62
  • Protein: .6g
  • Total Carbohydrates: 16g
    • Dietary Fiber: .8g
    • Sugar: 15g
    • Net Carbs 15.2g

#5) ORANGES

A small orange is about 45 calories, which is fairly low.

  • Serving size: 1 small orange (96g)
  • Calories: 45
  • Protein: .9g
  • Total Carbohydrates: 11g
    • Dietary Fiber: 2.3g
    • Sugar: 9g
    • Net Carbs 8.7g

#6) RASPBERRIES

Raspberries are low in calories in that one cup is only about 65.

  • Serving size: 1 cup (123g)
  • Calories: 65
  • Protein: 1.5g
  • Total Carbohydrates: 15g
    • Dietary Fiber: 8g
    • Sugar: 5g
    • Net Carbs: 7g

#7) WATERMELON

Watermelon is another fruit low in calories because it contains so much water.

  • Serving size: 280g
  • Calories: 85
  • Protein: 1.7g
  • Total Carbohydrates: 21g
    • Dietary Fiber: 1.1g
    • Sugar: 17g
    • Net Carbs: 20.9g

As we mentioned earlier, understanding how many calories you’re consuming is a key component of weight loss.

If you’re targeting 2,500 calories a day, and your meals are bringing you up to about 2,300 calories, you know you can fit in a couple of bananas for a snack.

If you’re following a low-carb diet, and you have about 10 net carbs left in your daily allowance, you know you can eat a handful of raspberries and still meet your goals.

Building a Healthy Plate (Next Steps)

You now know that this plate would actually be a healthy snack!

Like anything else, Nerd Fitness recommends fresh fruit in moderation.

Except for awesomeness.

Like this.

You can have as much of that as you want.

Back to fruit!

We recommend eating a healthy combination of vegetables, protein, and healthy fats.

It ends up looking like this Healthy Plate (taken from our Healthy Eating guide):

If your meal plate looks like this, you're doing a lot of the heavy lifting for weight loss.

Your “healthy carb” could 100% be a serving of fruit.

Of any type of fruit!

The different colors of fruit will correspond to different nutrients, so go wild![11] Try different fruits and experiment with new kinds. Keep rotating to ensure you give lots of different vitamins and minerals. 

If you’re trying to lose weight, just remember to watch your overall calorie intake (fruit included).

You got this!

Wayne is stoked that he made his small change for weight loss.

Still here? Want some more help starting your fitness journey?

Alright, I’ll give you my favorite next steps. But only caused you asked nicely.

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

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

#2) If you want an exact blueprint for leveling up your nutrition, check out Nerd Fitness Journey! Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

If you follow our Nutrition missions, you’ll learn to eat healthier while earning XP! Sah-weeeet.

Try your free trial right here:

#3) Enlist in the Rebellion! We have a free email newsletter that we send out twice per week, full of tips and tricks to help you get healthy, get strong, and have fun doing so. 

I’ll also send you tons of free guides that you can use to start leveling up your life too:

Okay enough about me, let’s talk about you: 

  • Do you LOVE fruit?
  • How do you compose a healthy plate?
  • Any great snack or recipe ideas?

For the Rebellion!

-Steve

PS: Make sure you read our Full Guide on Healthy Eating if you are just starting to level up your nutrition game. 

###

Photo source: Fruit Ninja, Mandarin, Berry Hard Work, Watermelon Dude, Juice Boxes, Raspberry Harvesting Squad, Breakfast Fruit Plate, Watermelon, Raspberries, Oranges, Grapes, Blueberries, Bananas, Apple, Raisins, Dried Mango Spears, Banana Chips, Canned Peaches, Plate of Peaches

GIF Source: Dancing Watermelon, Belle, Thumbs Up, Donkey Kong, Spit, Cat on Carpet, Wayne, Batman.

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Should You Do Couch to 5K? Don’t Make These 5 Mistakes https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/couch-to-5k-crucial-things-to-know-before-you-start-training/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/couch-to-5k-crucial-things-to-know-before-you-start-training/#disqus_thread Fri, 06 May 2022 05:39:00 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=3332297 If you’re looking to run your first 5K, you’ve come to the right place.  In today’s guide, we’ll cover common questions – and 5 mistakes – about the Couch to 5K program: What is Couch to 5K? Why is the Couch to 5K plan so popular? Does Couch to 5K actually work?  “Will I lose […]

The post Should You Do Couch to 5K? Don’t Make These 5 Mistakes first appeared on Nerd Fitness.

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Has is Indy so quick to leave temples? He runs races on the weekends.

If you’re looking to run your first 5K, you’ve come to the right place. 

In today’s guide, we’ll cover common questions – and 5 mistakes – about the Couch to 5K program:

Before we jump in…

If you’re interested in running a 5k (which you are, ’cause you’re here) you may want to try our new app! It contains a fun adventure that will take you from sitting on your couch to running a full 5k – with plenty of benchmarks in between for you to find your groove. No guesswork needed, just tie your shoes and follow along with the app. 

You can sign-up for a free trial right here:

What is Couch to 5K? Why is the Couch to 5K Plan so popular?

young dog sleeping on modern sofa in the living room

“Couch to 5K” is a free program that takes people from their couch to running a 5K race in 9 weeks.

5K is short for 5 kilometers, or 5,000 meters or 3.1 miles.

This running program was invented by Josh Clark of CoolRunning WAY back in the day.

What's older, this clip or Couch to 5K? Hard to tell.

It has since been co-opted and copied by every running blog out there, so we’re going to be referring to a generic “Couch to 5K” program when we talk about it.

(When people ask the question “How long does it take to complete Couch to 5K,” it really depends on which program they pick. 

It might be 6 weeks, or 12 weeks, or 9 weeks. The original Couch to 5K plan created by Cooling Running took 9 weeks).

Here’s the Couch to 5K plan a nutshell:

The program utilizes an uber-popular concept called interval training – moving at different speeds throughout a running session – and lays out exactly what to do every day for 6-12 weeks after starting.

What's cool about Couch to 5K is each day you know exactly how you should be training!

By varying your pacing, your body is forced to adapt to different speeds, and your heart and lungs have to adapt to various levels of strenuous activity (and get stronger/healthier as a consequence).

As a result, you actually burn more calories and get better prepared for a race than compared to just training at a constant speed.

In other words, interval training rocks and should be used by anybody who wants to get better at running.

Over the weeks, Couch to 5K slowly ramps up the amount of time you spend running and cuts back the time you spend walking until you’re at the point where you can actually run a 5K without stopping.

Mr. Gump ran like 1,000 5Ks when he crossed America.

“STEVE, I’M INTRIGUED. WHY IS COUCH TO 5K SO DANG POPULAR?”

#1) It’s simple and clear.

Print out a PDF or download an iPhone app and for the next 9 weeks you simply do what it tells you:

Today, do this.

Tomorrow, do that.

Repeat.

We’re all busy. Most of us lead hectic lives. And programs that tell us EXACTLY what to do allow us to follow instructions without needing to figure it out ourselves.

Not that us nerds overanalyze things to the point of giving ourselves anxiety attacks

#2) Most people think running = weight loss.

If you’re brand new to health and fitness, and you’re trying to lose weight, you’re most likely overwhelmed by what you should start with and how you should train.

Are you gonna go sign up for a gym membership, hire a trainer, and start doing squats and deadlifts?

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

As much as I would WISH that was the answer (it’s probably the fastest path to changing one’s physique), it’s often a bridge too far for many folks.

So a majority of newbies equate running with weight loss (which MIGHT be true, but MIGHT not, I’ll explain here), and decide to start with a jog around the block.

#3) Couch to 5K is not overwhelming.

It’s a free program (or inexpensive app), and it’s very approachable.

Programs like P90X and Insanity are designed to appeal to people that consider themselves hardcore (whatever the hell that means).

Couch to 5K appeals to people who are overwhelmed at the idea of doing P90X or Insanity or mustering up the courage to go to Crossfit.

Couch to 5K makes you think “maybe I can actually do this…” which is the most important part of any fitness journey: starting.

Homer wants to eat donuts so he is doing Couch to 5K. Is he doing it right?

#4) Everybody wants to “have run a 5K.”

If you’re new to health and fitness and working on setting a good obtainable goal, “run a 5K this year” is a great place to start.

  • It’s a short enough distance that with some training you can pull it off, even if you have to walk some or all of it.
  • There are 5Ks practically every weekend, many of which raise money for charity or are themed in a fun way,
  • It’s an amazing activity to do as a group with friends.
  • Humans are wired for achievements, progress, and gratification – 5Ks are perfectly designed for that.

So in completing Couch to 5K, you train and get to see yourself progress weekly, you get to finish a race and feel a  sense of accomplishment, and you go home with a medal you can hang on your wall reminding you of the proud moment.

Humans are wired for achievements like these trophies, which makes running a 5K awesome.

Plus, it might get you in shape!

Maybe…we’ll explore in just a moment.

If you are trying to get in shape, I’ll mention our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program. I know of no better way to transform yourself than through the help of an expert who knows exactly what to do. We’ve helped hundreds of people run their first 5K and helped others train for triathlons!

Does Couch to 5K actually work? Will I lose weight Doing Couch to 5K?

Buddha isn't trying to lose weight. But he's also zen about you trying to.

“Steve that’s all fine and good. But what do you REALLY think about running 5Ks and Couch to 5K?”

Okay, you got me. I got thoughts. I also got jokes (they’re bad).

RANT INCOMING!

Consider this a "warning" on an incoming rant about C25K.

Will the Couch to 5K program help you run a 5k? YES! If you actually stick with it for the entirety of the training program.

Will the Couch to 5K program help you lose weight? MAYBE.

Is Couch to 5K a program that will get you healthy permanently? MAYBE.

Will Couch to 5K make me sexy and look damn good in a bathing suit? MAYBE, but probably not.

Here’s the truth about Couch to 5K: It’s the same truth with popular programs like P90X or Insanity or any other structured workout program:

It totally works and will help you lose weight if you do two things:

  1. You actually complete the program, AND
  2. You fix your diet.

MISTAKE #1: Couch to 5K totally doesn’t work and won’t help you lose weight if you do two things:

  1. You actually complete the program, BUT
  2. You don’t fix your diet.

As sexy as it is to think that just going for a run will help you lose weight, the data doesn’t back it up. In fact, as Time Magazine rightly pointed out years ago and got yelled at for telling the truth, exercise alone won’t make you lose weight.

I believe that to be especially true when exercise is only steady-speed cardio.

Homer is doing Couch to 5K...week 1.

In fact, many people gain weight after starting an exercise routine and get completely demoralized.

What gives?

As we say here at Nerd Fitness, you can’t outrun your fork, and nutrition is 90% of the battle.

If you go for a mile run and then stuff your face with extra calories “because you earned it,” you’re going to gain weight.

It’s not because you have a slow metabolism, I promise. It’s because you’re consuming too many calories.

This is Common Mistake #1: not fixing your nutrition if you’re running for weight loss!

If this were a movie, nutrition would be Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible and exercise is that funny sidekick who helps Tom. Let’s be real here, Tom is doing all of the heavy lifting to make that movie what it is.

Tom Cruise is the heart of Mission Impossible, like nutrition is the heart of weight loss.

Couch to 5K helps people run a 5K.

That’s it.

It’s not designed to help you lose weight or build a body you’re proud of. It’s also a temporary program that lasts a certain number of weeks until you run your 5K.

For Couch to 5K to be successful for you long term, and for it to help you lose weight, it needs to be the catalyst that causes you to build a consistent long term habit of exercise and changes how you think about food.

Remember: you never get to be “done”, so you need to enjoy the journey and look forward to exercising daily.

You also need to train the right way to build the type of body you want! And eat the right way.

That’s priority numero uno.

The Tick knows you can't outrun a bad diet, even with Couch to 5K.

I know nutrition is a really challenging, complex, controversial topic (Keto? Paleo? Ah!), which is why we make it stupidly simple for smart, good looking, modest people like yourself.

In addition to our online coaching program that guides you on making healthier food choices, we also created a free 10-level NF Diet blueprint you can hang on your fridge next to your Couch to 5K PDF.

Print it out, hang it on your fridge, and follow the instructions to level up every 2 weeks! You can get yours free when you sign up in the box below:

Now that we have the “will I lose weight?” stuff out of the way, I have two BIG questions to ask you:

Do you like running?

Are you healthy enough to run?

Do I Even Like Running?

This runner definitely has a strong core!

Bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman said it best:

“Everybody wanna be a bodybuilder, don’t nobody wanna lift no heavy ass weight.”

In other words: “Everybody wants to be in shape, and look great, but nobody wants to put the work in to actually GET in shape and look great.”

And yup, getting in shape is tough; if it were easy we’d all look like Captain America and Wonder Woman.

Instead, 70% of America is overweight and 30+% are obese. Crap.

This brings me back to the most crucial question of this entire 5K process:

Do you even LIKE running?

Batman has to fun whether he likes to or not...part of fighting crime means running 5Ks (ish).

The world is split into three groups:

  • People that like running and want to run.
  • People that don’t like running but eventually learn to love it.
  • People that don’t like running and will never like running.

Here’s that Ronnie Coleman quote, slightly adapted: “Everybody wants to have run a 5K, but many people don’t actually enjoy running.”

Running a 5K is a great achievement and a worthwhile fun goal, but it’s only one way of thousands to “get in shape.”

Many people feel like Andy Dwyer in Parks and Rec when they go running.

An image showing a damaged character from running too much while training with Couch to 5K.

Some people love that feeling of anguish or pushing beyond the limits, and that’s awesome!

But for everybody else, they make Mistake #2: they force themselves to run even though they don’t like it!

So before you start Couch to 5K, think of it as a science experiment:

“I hypothesize that following Couch to 5K will help me run a 5K. I also hypothesize I’ll enjoy the process, enjoy how I feel after a run, enjoy running a 5k, and/or enjoy the achievement of having run a 5k.”

And that’s all this is: an experiment to see if running is the type of exercise you want to continue doing consistently for the next few years.

If 2 weeks into Couch to 5K you’re miserable and hate it: fantastic!

You just discovered that you hate running and are now free to NEVER RUN EVER AGAIN FOREVER. It doesn’t make you a failure.

It means your science experiment produced a result that you can now use to inform future exercise decisions.

Treat your Couch to 5K experience as an experiment to see if you enjoy running.

Again, it doesn’t make you a failure.

It just means you found a type of exercise that doesn’t work for you.

If you discover you LOVE running and how it makes you feel: fantastic! You can now make running part of your regular exercise routine. Combine this with a good nutritional strategy, and you will build yourself a runner’s physique. And you’ve found something you can do for the rest of your life.

If you are running to prove something to yourself, because a friend is doing it, because you’re raising money for charity, or anything else: fantastic! Do Couch to 5K and then decide after if this is the strategy that you enjoy and want to stick with permanently.

Don’t make Mistake #2: If you’re ONLY doing this to lose weight and it’s making you miserable, quit. Don’t run. Ever.

No, you don't have to run if you don't like it. We promise.

Instead, pick an exercise you actually enjoy. But not because the exercise is going to help you lose weight – because doing an exercise you love is a constant reminder of “I’m making healthier choices, and thus I should probably eat healthier!”

If weight loss above all else is your goal, I’d recommend our Beginner Bodyweight routine you can do at home and combine it with our “Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Eating.” I can promise that if you read those strategies and start to implement them in your life, you’ll see results without ever having to set foot on a treadmill.

Phew! Okay, that covers “do you actually LIKE running?”

There’s another massive question you should be asking yourself before you start…

Are You Healthy Enough to Run a 5K?

Being chased by zombies is a good way to get you off the couch and running a 5K.

Just because you WANT to run doesn’t mean you SHOULD necessarily start running just yet.

It could be a fast track to injury, disappointment, and misery!

Those are literally three of my least favorite things. The fourth being brunch.[1]

You won't find Steve chugging mimosas at brunch like this lady.

Back to your health: are you physically ready to run?

If you’re at or close to your goal weight, then starting a running program is a good idea.

Read the section below on “How to not get injured doing Couch to 5K” and get started.

If you are obese or very overweight, I think (power) WALKING a 5K is a great goal for the immediate future.

However, I think Mistake #3 would be running a 5K before properly preparing your body for it! In fact, running prematurely without addressing your weight might cause damage to your joints and ligaments and cause you to backslide a whole bunch.

WHAT I WOULD DO INSTEAD: Focus on healthy eating, building the habit of daily walks, and follow a beginner strength-building routine like the Beginner Bodyweight Circuit.

This will build you a solid foundation of strength, core strength, and endurance.

Download our free Bodyweight Workout Worksheet when you sign up in the box below:

Here’s why you should focus on strength and nutrition before pounding the pavement with hours of running:

  • As you begin to drop weight, a lot of the stress on your joints, organs, bones, etc. will start to decrease.
  • As you strength train, the ligaments that hold your body together will become stronger and more adequately prepared for the rigors of running.
  • As you refine your running form to minimize resistance and jarring shocks throughout your body, your body will learn to become more efficient.
  • When you start to approach your goal weight, you can start to introduce increase your speed from power walking to jogging – with correct running technique (see below) – and staying healthy.

“STEVE, I was all excited to run a 5k, and now you have me demoralized. I’m overweight but I still want to run!”

Okay okay okay, fine! I don’t want to keep you from exercising, I want to help you build momentum and make you antifragile.

Did the hulk get shredded by running 5Ks? Or was it radioactive something or other?

Obviously, you’re going to do what you’re going to do, and if running before you’re physically ready is what you want to do, go for it!

Just do it safely, please! Read the section below on proper running technique!

I would still advise that you focus your efforts on strength training, hiking, long walks on the beach…low impact activities that strengthen rather than deteriorate your body.

But you do you, boo.

If you want any help getting in shape to run your 5K, we got you! We help men and women and self-aware robots with our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program. We offer nutritional guidance, professional accountability, and custom workouts!

How to Start the Couch to 5K Program

If you have to chase a dog, you'll be off the couch and running without even trying.

“Steve I’m in. I read all of that jazz above and I am ready to get started. Whether I’m walking or running, I want to start Couch to 5K!”

If you’re ready to do the Couch to 5K program, you can download the following which I believe is the Original Couch to 5K Program (they’ve made it quite tough to find!).

The reason it’s tough to find is they’re pushing people towards the official Couch to 5K App.

This image shows you the original Couch to 5K plan.

Here’s another which I found on Antrandado.com

This image shows you another Couch to 5K plan.

For us Nerds, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the super fun Zombies Run! app, which uses interval training combined with fun audio cues and video game mechanics throughout your running sessions.

What I would do next after downloading the program? Do the first day of training!

These soldiers are ready to start Couch to 5K. Or fight orcs, whichever happens first.

I would also recommend finding a race that’s 2-3 months from now, and sign up for it even if you’re not ready.

Recruit a friend or two to join you in training and the race!

Doing these things create immediate motivation and accountability.

It’s the strategy that Jaime from Nerd Fitness used to get herself in shape: signing up for races in the future that she wasn’t quite ready for yet.

She also strength trained and dramatically overhauled her nutrition, but she used races as great motivational events to stay on target!

Jamie used an upcoming race as motivation for her weight loss journey.

HOW TO FIND A 5K IN YOUR TOWN: Let me google that for you. Type “5K + [your town]”, and I bet there’s a 5k every weekend for the rest of the year coming up. The Couch to 5K app also lists local races for you.

To recap:

  • Pick a race that looks fun that raises money for a good cause
  • Recruit a friend or two
  • Go for your first day of running!

It’s gonna suck, and you’re going to be fine. You’ll get better!

This is exactly what I did years ago when I dressed up like a Caveman with 20 of my friends and raised thousands of dollars for kids with cancer to go to summer camp!

How to Not Get Injured Training For a 5K

This LEGO runs 5Ks while running from people who want to glue him to stuff.

If you don’t learn how to run correctly, you’re doomed to develop an overuse injury and that’s going to negate the whole reason you started running in the first place!

This is Mistake #4: Crappy running form!

When you run, you’re putting hundreds of pounds of pressure on your joints and ligaments with each bounding step down the road.

This is then repeated thousands of times over the course of training and a race.

No wonder nearly every runner has tons of stories of injuries they’ve had to deal with. It can be a brutal activity that can wreak havoc even with good running mechanics.

With poor running mechanics, the results are compounded.

Pay attention to your running technique or things can go wrong!

And not the GOOD kind of “compounded” like compound interest like you learned in 2nd grade with the story about starting with 1 penny a day and doubling it every day for 30 days.

The BAD kind of “compounded” like plantar fasciitis and stress fractures and sore IT bands and torn ligaments and crazy soreness all the time.

We don’t want that.

I’m going to get super granular into proper running technique in this section, so if you already have perfect running form, you can skip this section. But I’d still read it.

Yeah, you should probably read it.

Here are the “5 Steps to Not Sucking at Running a 5K,” thanks to my friend Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running:

1) Lean From Your Ankles

A gif showing you proper running form for your Couch to 5K (lean forward).

Lean from your ankles, and keep a straight line from your ankle, through your butt, and up to your head.

If you’re standing still with this slight forward lean, you should feel like you’re about to fall forward.

When you start running, gravity will help keep you progressing forward. A proper lean from the ankles keeps your body in alignment and loads your muscles properly and efficiently.

2) Increase Your Cadence

Cadence is your stride rate, or the number of steps you take per minute. It will probably seem weird at first, but you’re putting less stress on your legs with shorter foot strikes.

Your cadence should be at least 170-190 steps per minute when you’re running at an easy, conversational pace. It will probably increase once you start running faster—that’s normal.

“Steve, what the hell do I do with “170-190 steps per minute?”

Great question. Go to Spotify and look for 170-190BPM playlists, like these which I found here:

Not on Spotify? Cool. (But like, why?) To get a cadence, try running to Outkast’s “Hey Ya” and time your strides to match the beat. That’s the cadence you’re looking for:

Research has shown[2] that increasing your cadence and taking more steps (around 180 per minute) provides many of the same benefits of barefoot running: less impact shock that goes up your legs, improved running economy (or your efficiency, which means you’ll run faster with less effort!), and a reduced chance of injury.

You’ll feel like you’re taking way more steps than normal – that means you probably had poor form before and now you’re fixing it!

If your legs get to the point where they’re going this fast, let me know:

3) Foot Strike at the Right Time

When your foot comes down and makes contact with the ground, it should be underneath your body, not in front of it.

This gif shows that your foot should be underneath you while running.

Combined with a quick cadence and a slight forward lean from your ankles, you’ll be distributing impact shock evenly—and efficiently.

This aspect of running form is often skipped over by beginning runners.

Instead of focusing on where the foot is landing in relation to the rest of the body, they focus too much on running on their forefoot. If you don’t first land in the right place, a midfoot or forefoot strike will only do more damage.

As you’re running, a good mental cue is to think that you’re just “putting your foot down” in a straight line underneath your body.

There’s no reaching or stretching your leg out in front of you. Practicing this mental cue will have your leg touching down almost exactly underneath your center of mass, distributing your weight evenly and safely.

4) Land on Your Mid-Foot

While not as important as landing underneath your center of mass, becoming a mid-foot striker has a host of benefits.

This gif shows that your foot should come down mid-foot when you are running.

It can help you avoid a lot of injuries by absorbing impact shock and preventing a severe heel striking running stride.

Heel-striking can’t be entirely blamed for injuries and labeled “bad.”

Even elite athletes heel strike when they run races! It’s not entirely bad— especially if you’re putting weight down on your foot just after you heel strike, instead of directly on the heel.[3]

What you should focus on is having a higher cadence, landing underneath your body, and not aggressively heel striking.

Try to land with your foot flat on the ground, instead of with your toes angled upwards.[4]

5) Symmetrical Arm Swing

Nobody wants to look at you running if you’re flailing your arms wildly all over the place like Elaine dancing from Seinfeld.

Don't do this while running...maybe dancing...maybe. Def not during a 5K.

An ideal arm swing has your arm bent at about 90 degrees and a front-to-back swing (not side-to-side).

Like this gif shows, keep your arms at about 90 degrees while running.

Imagine a pretend line that goes down your mid-line or center of your body. When you run, your hands should not cross over this imaginary line.

Cup your hands loosely together (no clenched fists!) and if you want to use your arms for momentum, pump your elbows, not your hands.

Once you incorporate these changes into your running form, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable and your injury risk is going to plummet.

For extra credit, learn to run softly and quietly. Foot stomping isn’t allowed and gets increasingly more difficult as you approach 180 steps per minute.

A few other things you want to keep in mind:

  • Keep a tall back, chest up. No slouching.
  • Look 30-50 meters in front of you – not head down looking at your toes.

Both are easy cues to keep an athletic posture and good running form.

Go back through and read this section a few more times. We know it’s a LOT to think about while running, but it is incredibly important. If you get a chance, have somebody film you running, and then watch your tape back to see how you’re doing.

I should note that we provide form checks to our coaching clients. Through our awesome app, you can record a video of your running form or exercise technique and send it right to your coach! That way you can know your running and training safely and correctly!

10 Tips and Tricks for Training for Your 5K

After today's guide, you can run like the Flash...kind of.

Although the Couch to 5K Program covers specifically how you should be training, it still leaves out quite a few important things (like technique, which I covered above!).

Once you’ve picked your 5K training program, here’s how to get yourself to ACTUALLY follow through on your training!

#1) Recruit an accountability partner. Have somebody that trains with you (or at least somebody you tell about your training), so that each day you can check in with each other.

A friend can be a great asset in starting Couch to 5K.

Wanna be diabolical?

Give somebody else $100 of your money. And tell them you’ll check in with them after your training every day – if you don’t do your run, they’ll donate $50 of that money to a political cause you HATE.

While you’re building the habit of running, you need to make the pain of skipping your run greater than the pain of doing the run.

Do this enough times until you build up enough momentum and get hooked on that runners high so that you actually look forward to training.

#2) Warm-up before, stretch after. Don’t do static stretches before your runs. It’s not doing what you think it is[5]. Instead, you’re going to warm up your muscles through active movement.

  • Do a dynamic warm-up before you run. Continue this by going for a light jog, high knees, and warming up your muscles through movement.
  • Do the following cool-down stretching routine after you run. Stretching after for the win!

#3) Make it the first thing you do each day. Build the habit of doing your run first thing in the morning when life hasn’t had a chance to get in the way.

Sleep in your running clothes.

Put your alarm clock/phone across the room. Put your running shoes by the door. By hacking your Batcave, you’ll minimize the steps between you and the new habit you’re trying to build.

#4) Strength training makes running easier. Doing 1-2 sessions of strength training per week (on days you’re not running) will help you burn fat, build muscle, and stay injury-free.

Follow our Beginner Bodyweight Routine, no equipment required. We’ll have you training with your furniture instead:

Be careful here, but a table can be great to do inverted rows from.

If you sign-up for our free weekly newsletter, I’ll send you a PDF of the workout so you can track your progress.

#5) Don’t worry about your shoes when you start. Wear whatever shoes you have so that you can just get started building the habit immediately. If you START to love running, read our article on proper footwear and get yourself some better kicks.

Get comfy running a little before you invest in new shoes...because you might not actually like running.

The same is true for “running clothes.” Do not let this be a barrier to entry.

Start running first and make sure you like it before you go spending any hard-earned cash on stuff you’re not gonna use.

Oh, and as Coach Jim mentions in the video below, DON’T RUN IN BRAND NEW SHOES!

Trust us on this one.

#6) Sign up for your race as far in advance as possible. Use 20 seconds of courage if you need to, but commit to the race.

If you don’t sign up, you’re going to be much more likely to back out when life gets busy.

Go sign-up for a 5K right now! Don't be too busy like this cat.

But if you pay for it ahead of time, and get other people to run with you, you’re going to be using positive peer pressure to follow through on your commitments.

#7) Your race time doesn’t matter! Who cares if you’re the last person to finish? Like the Rock taught us, it doesn’t matter.

The Rock doesn't care what your 5K time is!

What’s important is that you finish something that you started. That’s a huge accomplishment in itself.

#8) Start a running club or join one at work – the more people you surround yourself with that are doing the things you want to do, the better. Hang out with runners that are faster than you.

You’re the average of the 5 people you associate most with, so you might as well start associating with faster, healthy runners.

#9) Don’t have an in-person running community? That’s cool! Join the Scouts Guild in the Nerd Fitness Rebellion.

It’s the section of our community that does running, biking, swimming, and other distance-based activities!

#10) Hire a coach. Outside of having a group of friends or co-workers keeping you accountable, a coach who routinely checks in with you and your progress can be a godsend. We’ve helped tons of people build the habit of running!

What Do I do After the Couch to 5k?

What do you do after running your 5K? You eat!!!

You made it through the training, and you ran/walked your first 5K! I’m so proud of you.

Gold star.

A+.

So after successfully completing your first 5K, you may be wondering what you should do next. To run again or not…

Many new runners absolutely love the atmosphere at a race; the number pick- up, pre-race motivational speech, cheering crowds, and crossing that finish line.

Oh, and the post-race beer and meal is the best food and drink you’ve ever tasted.

So after the excitement settles down, you need to ask what you want to do next.

Your three options:

  1. Run Faster: Sign up for another 5K, keep training, and try to beat your previous race time.
  2. Run longer: Maybe you want to run a longer race like a 5 miler, a 10k, or go slay a bigger dragon, like half-marathons or marathons.
  3. Pick a different activity: Going from Couch to 5K to Couch doesn’t help you at all. Temporary changes create temporary results.

Notice there wasn’t a 4th option, the option that usually everybody picks:

“Go back to sitting on the couch”

That’s Mistake #5: not having a plan to CONTINUE exercising after Couch to 5K!

As we say at Nerd Fitness: “Temporary changes create temporary results.”

So you have to do SOMETHING next, otherwise all that hard work and training will have been for naught! 

Want help figuring out exactly where you should go from here? I got you!

Pick the option below that best aligns with your goals and timeline:

#1) We have a bunch of NF Coaching clients that are training for 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons, and tough mudders. If you want step-by-step guidance on how to lose weight, eat better, and train for races, check out our killer 1-on-1 coaching program:

2) If you want a fun way to start running 5ks, check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

Try your free trial right here:

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

Sign up in the box below to enlist and get the Nerd Fitness Starter Kit, including the 15 fitness mistakes you don’t want to make and our guide to the most effective diet and why it works

4) Check out these other sweet running resources:

To recap our guide on the Couch the 5K plan, these are the 5 Mistakes to avoid:

  1. Running a 5K might be a good way to lose weight. It is entirely dependent on your nutrition. The same is true of literally ANY workout program. (Mistake #1: Not changing your nutrition)
  2. Couch to 5K may or may not be a great program for you. It depends on how much you enjoy running, and what you are hoping to get out of the program. (Mistake #2: not actually enjoying running)
  3. Make sure you are fit enough to endure the rigors of running! If you’re severely overweight, let’s get you in shape FIRST before we put stress on your knees and joints for thousands of running steps. (Mistake #3: Running before you’re ready)
  4. Make sure your running technique is solid. It’ll save you years of pain and injury. (Mistake #4: Running with improper form)
  5. Recruit a friend or find a way to stay accountable so you actually do the race!
  6. Who cares about your race time! Just completing the race should be your goal.
  7. Once you finish the race, decide if you want to keep running or if you are going to pick a different activity. (Mistake #5: Not having another goal after completing your 5K)

Okay, it’s your turn. I’d love to hear your experiences when it comes to training for a 5K, and if you enjoyed the process.

Have you DONE Couch to 5K? Did you stick with it?

What challenges did you run into along the way?

Share it in the comments below!

-Steve

PS: I’ll leave you with a final reminder of our 1-on-1 Coaching Program. If you’re blown away by the fact that you don’t have to run to get in shape, but don’t know where else to begin, we got you.

Nerd Fitness Coaching Banner

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photo credit: mripp Fun run, 632imagine © 123RF.com,Four Bricks Tall Morning run with the Fitbit and Laughing Buddha, clement127 Halloween is coming!!, Flash, and Banquet, Andreas Just a Lego Minifig, Reiterlied Wandering in the North,

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The Star Wars Workout: Begin Your Jedi Training! https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/the-star-wars-workout-jedi-training-101/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/the-star-wars-workout-jedi-training-101/#disqus_thread Wed, 04 May 2022 10:00:08 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=21236 It’s time to start training like a Jedi! We love Star Wars around these parts (our site is literally called “Nerd Fitness”), so you’re in the perfect place to begin your training, my young Padawan.  We specialize in creating nerdy themed workouts and today one of our coaches will walk you through an exercise routine […]

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It's Star Wars time!!!

It’s time to start training like a Jedi!

We love Star Wars around these parts (our site is literally called “Nerd Fitness”), so you’re in the perfect place to begin your training, my young Padawan. 

We specialize in creating nerdy themed workouts and today one of our coaches will walk you through an exercise routine that would make even Mace Windu proud. 

Here’s what we’ll cover in today’s guide:

Grab your lightsaber and let’s punch it!

The Star Wars Workout

A photo of some Star Wars LEGOs

Workout Summary: This workout includes a number of explosive movements meant to fire up your nervous system, build explosive-muscles, and get your body to start thinking “power!”.

It also includes some static holds, whole-body movements, and even grip strength moves.

THE STAR WARS WORKOUT:

Time: 30-45 minutes

Equipment needed:

If you’re having trouble finding any of the above items, we walk you through some clever replacements in How to Build a Home Gym (When Everything is Sold Out).

ALWAYS: Start with a warm-up and end with a cool-down stretch.

Here’s another warm-up sequence you can run through:

Here’s another cool-down routine you can try:

Part 1: SkyWalker Handstands

This is an awesome photo

Here’s the first part of your Jedi Workout:

  • Padawan: 3 sets of 30-second knee or feet front plank
  • Knight: 3 sets of 30-second push-up position taps or pike shoulder taps
  • Master: 3 sets of 30-second wall walks

If you’re gonna do Jedi training, someone is going to make you do a handstand:

A classic scene from the Empire Strikes Back

Here are some variations to consider:

For Padawans, your knee planks will look something like this:

If you can't do a normal plank, start with doing them on your knees until you can advance.

Shoulder taps are like so:

Coach Jim performing shoulder taps

A wall-walk, would look something like this:

Coach Staci showing you the wall walk hold

If you can do one-arm handstands like Luke, go ahead and do those here. Then use your Force-telepathy to tell us how it goes.

If you want to become a handstand master, we have a full course found in Nerd Fitness Prime that would make Yoda stoked.

Part 2: Jedi High Jumps

I guess Yoda did jump about in the prequels.

Here’s the second act of your Jedi Workout:

  • Padawan: 3 sets of 10 assisted squats or squats
  • Knight: 3 sets of 10 jump squats
  • Master: 3 sets of 10 box jumps (STEPPING DOWN AFTER JUMP!) or tuck jumps (bringing the knees up)

Young Obi-Wan needed to use his Jedi high jump skills to return to the proper level to meet up with Qui-Gonn Jinn and Darth Maul.

We want you to do the same.

Here are your Jedi jump variations:

You could do squats or assisted squats:

All too easy? Go for jump squats!

Coach Staci showing you how to perform the jumping squat

True Jedi Masters will be doing tuck jumps or box jumps:

Be careful on your box jump! But it is a bodyweight exercise.

Rest: 1-2 minutes in between sets. Keep things safe – rest during the 30 second work period as needed. 

Part 3: Jabba the HutT Chokes

A toy set of Jabba's palace

For the third installment of the Jedi Workout, you’ll be doing:

  • Padawan: 3 sets of 10 doorway rows
  • Knight: 3 sets of 10 towel doorway rows or band-assisted chin-ups
  • Master: 3 sets of 5-10 chin-ups

Is there anything more satisfying than watching Leia take out Jabba the Hutt? I know I let out a cheer when I first saw the scene:

We'll get you strong like this.

Leia is strong, and you need to be strong too.

Work on your pull muscles by completing one of these “end Jabba” variations:

You can do rows from a doorway:

Coach Jim showing you the doorway bodyweight row

You can do towel doorway rows or band-assisted chin-ups: 

Coach Staci showing you how to do an assisted chin-up!

You’re training is complete when you can do normal chin-ups or pull-ups:

The classic pull-up

Rest: 1-2 minutes in between sets. Keep things safe – rest during the 30-second work period, as needed.

Part 4: Chewbacca carries

Chewbacca with a "free hugs" sign

The Jedi Workout for episode IV will be:

  • Padawan: Farmer-carry (Farmer’s Walk) dumbbells – 2 x 60 seconds 
  • Jedi: Rack carry – 2 x 60 seconds 
  • Master: Rack carry with some lunges – 2 x 60 seconds

Chewy is strong. Freakishly strong. He has no problem carrying robots, people, ripping people’s arms off, and more:

A true badass.

We want you to channel your inner Chewbacca by working on carrying heavier weight!  Feel free to try any of the variations:

Farmer’s walks can be done with dumbbells or some impromptu weights:

Coach Staci showing Farmer's Walk

Walk or stand for 60 total seconds with weights at your side.

Rack carry:

Walk or stand for 60 total seconds with weights at shoulder height. 

The Jedi Master Variation: Rack carry with some lunges – 2 x 60 seconds –

Walk or stand for 60 total seconds with weights at shoulder height. Master-level if you’re able to knock out 10 total lunges (5/side) during that time).

The goal with Chewbacca Carries is to pick up the heaviest weight (or luggage) you can manage and then carry it around your house for the set amount of time. This builds up bone density, tendon strength, and muscular strength, and fires up your body’s central nervous system.

Rest: Again, slow down 1-2 minutes in between sets. Keep things safe.

Part 5: Han Solo Shuttle runs

A picture of a Han Solo toy

I love Han.

He shoots first (literally) and asks questions later.

He also runs into situations where he might not have the upper hand.

Han does always find some trouble to escape form

This round of your Jedi Workout looks like:

  • Padawan: March in place for 3 minutes of intervals (6 sets of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off)
  • Knight: High knees in place for 3 minutes of intervals (6 sets of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off)
  • Master: Alternating sets of high knees and burpees for 3 minutes of intervals (6 sets of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off)

A Tabata Timer might be helpful in setting your intervals here.

We’re having you mostly run in place because you’re probably trapped inside your house (or escape pod). If you have a big backyard, feel free to use it.

For our Padawans out there, you’ll march in place:

This exercise will be our Padawan

When you reach Knight status, do some high-knees:

Raising one knee after the other is a great level up to marching in place.

For the Jedi Masters out there? You’ll mix in some burpees with your high-knees:

The infamous burpee bodyweight exercise!

For this last variation, do alternating sets of high knees and burpees for 3 minutes of intervals:

  • 20 seconds of high-knees
  • 10 seconds of rest
  • 20 seconds of burpees
  • 10 seconds of rest
  • Repeat for three minutes

Email me if you make the run under 12 parsecs.[1]

Part 6: Force Push-Ups

A cool shot of Star Wars LEGOs

Part 6 of your Jedi Workout looks like:

  • Padawan: 4 sets of 8 elevated or knee push-ups
  • Knight: 4 sets of 8 push-ups or dive-bomber push-ups
  • Master: 4 sets of 8 pike or handstand push-ups

This is probably my favorite Jedi move. Channel the Force, and use it to violently PUSH things away? Awesome. Where do I sign up?

This would come in handy

Now, although we can’t actually Force Push in real life…yet, it doesn’t mean we can’t build up our explosive Force push muscles.

For our Padawans, you’ll do elevated or knee-push-ups:

Rebel Leader Steve doing knee push-ups

Our Jedi Knights will do normal push-ups or divebomber push-ups:

Rebel Leader Steve showing you the divebomber push-up

Are you now the master? Then you’re doing pike or handstand push-ups:

Coach Jim showing you the handstand push-up

Again, this can get sketchy if you start doing these last push-up variations while tired. Go ahead and rest whenever you need to.

Part 7: hanging Over the Sarlacc

This is a great LEGO pic

The last section of the Jedi Workout looks like:

  • Padawan: Doorway Leans – 2 x 60 seconds
  • Knight: Bar hang – 2 x 60 seconds
  • Master: One arm bar hang – 2 x 30 seconds for each arm

Sometimes, Jedi find themselves dealing with a creature that wants to digest them for 1,000 years.

A classic scene from Return of the Jedi

That’s where your hanging skills will come in use!

Another scene from Return of the Jedi

Our Padawans will start with some simple doorway leans:

Simply grab the edge of your door frame and lean back.

You’ll hold onto the edge of a doorway and lean back for 60 seconds of hang time – should feel harder on the grip than doorway rows

If you’re following our “Knight variations,” you’re going to be doing bar hangs:

Coach Staci showing you the bar hang

Not enough? Then train to hang from one arm:

Coach Staci showing you a one arm bar hang

This skill will become useful if you ever lose an upper appendage in a lightsaber duel (it happens to the best of us).

Note: this can be challenging on your joints if you’re not used to hanging, so progress slowly on this one! Start with just a few seconds and work your way up!

May the force be with you (Next Steps)

A picture of two Star Wars toys

Here’s a recap!

Complete this workout with regularity, and work your way up to the Jedi Master levels for each.

As I discuss in our guide, How to Build Your Own Workout Routine, I generally recommend newbies complete a full-body workout two to three times a week.

Our Star Wars Workout would be considered “full-body” since we hit every major muscle group. You could also alternate it with a more conventional strength training practice.

On your “rest days,” you can look into doing some active recovery, yoga, or fun movement.

If you can only get yourself to work out once a week, that’s okay! Let that become normal, then we can brainstorm ways to squeeze in an extra day. 

Building the habit of working out is our goal today. We can worry about maximizing “gainz” down the road. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about maximizing gainz

Now the only thing left to do is start!

"Punch it," as Han would say.

Here are some options for next steps with Nerd Fitness

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

For example, let’s say you find yourself stuck indoors, and you want somebody to custom-build you a workout program based on the equipment and furniture you have. That’s where an online coach is a game-changer! 

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

Option #2) If you want an exact blueprint for working out at home (while doing nerdy-themed workouts!), check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

Try your free trial right here:

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

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

Alright, I want to hear from you and your experience:

Did you try the Star Wars Workout?

What level are you on?

Any exercises that we missed that would be perfect for a Jedi?

Let me know in the comments!

May the Force be with you.

-Steve

PS: If you’re looking for more nerdy-themed workouts that can be done at anywhere, check out The 8 Best At-Home Workout Routines.

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photo source: Leg0fenris: Dagobah, JD Hancock: Yoda Jump, JD Hancock: Han Solo vs Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett & the Sarlacc Pit, Teymur Madjderey, Darth Vader Force, JD Hancock: Han Solo, Pedro Vezini: Chewbacca, metaphorge: Jabba, Leg0fenris: Darth and Leia, Pedro Vezini: Yoda and Luke

gif source: walk in place,

 

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How Much Water Do I Really Need? (A Guide for Proper Hydration) https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-hydration/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-hydration/#disqus_thread Tue, 03 May 2022 05:11:11 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=21313 So you want to know, “How much water should I drink a day?” The short answer: drink enough to not be thirsty (maybe slightly more). The long answer: read this guide for that! Proper water consumption is a must for health and fitness, which is why we discuss it with every single member of our […]

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I probably wouldn't drink that.

So you want to know, “How much water should I drink a day?”

The short answer: drink enough to not be thirsty (maybe slightly more).

The long answer: read this guide for that!

Proper water consumption is a must for health and fitness, which is why we discuss it with every single member of our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program. We even assign them fun missions to make sure they’re adequately hydrated.

Here’s what we’ll cover to answer the question, “How much water do you really need?

Pour yourself a glass of water (duh), then let’s do this thing!

Should You Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day? (The Controversy)

This is a really cool picture of a glass of water.

First and foremost, yes you need water.

Boom. Article done. I’m going on break.

I kid, I kid.

Water is good for you; a significant portion of your body is composed of water, and when you lose fluids through sweat, exertion, bodily functions, etc, consuming water can help you replenish fluids.

HOWEVER…

The whole “8 glasses of water a day” thing is not law. 

In fact, there’s no real proof of this being a proper amount at all.[1]

As we’ve told you before (the perfect workout, the perfect diet), we are all unique snowflakes, and we all require different amounts of water!  

Chef saying "Everybody's different, but that's okay."

Somebody that exercises with regularity and goes on a lot of long runs will require more water than somebody who exercises less regularly. 

There’s no exact amount of water that works for each person.

So where did this magical “8 glasses of water a day” number initially come from?  

Nobody really knows.  

A gif of Han Solo shrugging, because he doesn't know where that water advice came from either.

According to Snopes[2]:

Back in 1945 the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council stated that adults should take in about 2.5 liters of water per day (which is roughly the equivalent of eight glasses of water), but it also noted most of that intake level was already satisfied through the consumption of food without the need for the additional drinking of water.

That’s right, you get a SIGNIFICANT amount of water from the food you are consuming. A huge percentage of our body is water, a huge percentage of the planet is water…why wouldn’t a huge percentage of our food be water too?

So, yes. Consuming water is important. 

But the 8 glasses a day case doesn’t hold water (ha!), as we get a significant portion of our daily H2O from the food we consume.  Things like fruits and vegetables (and even meat) are composed of a tremendous amount of water, all of which count towards our ‘hydration quotient’ for the day.

Do you know what else counts? 

EVERY OTHER BEVERAGE WE DRINK!

Things like tea, coffee, dreaded sugary beverages, milk, and juices, and even alcoholic beverages. [3] 

How Much Water a Day Do You Really Need? (Follow Your Thirst)

Very cute.

So you now know you don’t need to always drink 8 glasses of water.

It could be less and it could be more. 

So how much exactly do you need?

Honestly? Drink when you are thirsty. 

That’s it. I’m going on vacation!

Kidding again. 

Seriously though, your thirst is a pretty damn good indicator of when you should consume more water. Do you think dogs and cats and elephants worry about hydration levels?  

Nope – they simply consume water when their body tells them that they are thirsty.

A cute elephant drinking from a hose.

Adorbs. 

As nerds, we tend to overthink, overanalyze, and drive ourselves crazy with too much info.

Now, if you happen to be one of those people that needs MORE advice than that, check your urine color.

Weird, I know.

This chart provides a great test for the proper shade of urine: 

This chart of urine color can help you decide if you should drink more water or not.
Things to consider:

  • You want to aim (not literally) for the first three categories from the top, or “lemonade” color.  
  • If your pee is starting to resemble Lemon Lime Gatorade (4th category down), you’re dehydrated. From here, the darker and browner the color, the more dehydrated you are. 
  • If your pee comes out a different color altogether, I would probably seek medical attention immediately. You’re welcome 🙂

What if your pee doesn’t have ANY color to it? You might actually be “overhydrated,” which we talk about in this section.

So what are the telltale signs that something is wrong, that you are dehydrated?

A scene from the Three Amigos, where they clearly need more water.

According to the National Institute of Health,[4] your primary signs of dehydration are:

  • A feeling of thirst (duh)
  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Low or no urine output; urine looks dark yellow
  • Sunken eyes
  • Lethargy

If you are feeling one or some of these symptoms, you may be dehydrated. We want to take this seriously, because SEVERE dehydration can be terrible for your health, even resulting in a coma.

Not good. So drink water whenever you get thirsty.

A scene from the Three Amigos, when someone finally drinks water.

There’s a myth running around that says “if you are feeling thirsty, it’s too late and you’re already dehydrated.”

This is also not true.[5] If you are feeling the signs of dehydration, consuming some water can get you right back on track.

If you are regularly dehydrated, let’s discuss a quick hack to make sure you’re consistently hydrated.

How to Drink More Water

The above video comes from our Daily Win series as part of Nerd Fitness Prime

The series is based on quick actions you can take (5 minutes or less) to help you build healthy habits.

In this video, Coach Lauren walks you through a quick hack if you find yourself constantly dehydrated during the day: drink a glass of water first thing in the morning!

That way you can start off properly hydrated before the chaos of the day takes over:

A gif of a pirate saying he's too busy to drink water.

It can also help you wake up to seize the day!

Here are some more tips for drinking plenty of water:

  • Fill up a water bottle before bed, leave it in plain sight, and drink it first thing in the morning.
  • If you don’t like the taste of water, you can try adding some cucumber slices and mint leaves to your overnight bottle. Your morning water will soak up the flavor!
  • If cucumbers or mint ain’t your thing, you could also try some frozen berries or some cut-up lemon.

We’ve heard from many of our coaching clients that water first thing in the AM helps them feel more energized throughout their day.

Next, I want to address a question we get quite often from our readers. 

Can You Lose Fat by Drinking Lots of Water? (Weight Loss and Water Intake)

A Stormtrooper in water, which is way too much water for him to drink.

It’s common advice to drink lots of water for weight loss. 

Is it legit? 

Is there any evidence that drinking plenty of water can help one lose weight?

Eh, there’s a little!

One study conducted had two groups go on the same diet, the only difference being one group had 500 ml of water (about 17 ounces) 30 minutes before breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The result?[6]

  • The Water Group: lost about 4.4% body fat
  •  The Non-Mandated Water Group: lost about 1.1% body fat

This isn’t a TREMENDOUS difference, but it is interesting!

Batman is curious on how carbs and fat factor into weight loss.

What might be going on? 

Here are two reasons why drinking plenty of water might help with weight loss:

  1. You’re full. Drinking water takes up room in your stomach. There is less room now for food, but also other water like drinks (which may have sugar and hidden calories in it, like fruit juice). 
  2. Water consumption may slightly raise your metabolism. I’m not talking a crazy impact here, but one study found your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate or how many calories you burn at rest) is raised by 24% for 60 minutes after drinking 500 ml (17 oz).[7]

Let’s provide some context here. 

As we address in our guide “Why Can’t I Lose Weight?, our bodies obey the Laws of Conservation of Energy and Thermodynamics: 

To lose weight, we need to burn more calories than we consume regularly. 

The two factors above might lower your “calories in” and raise your “calories out” respectively (a concept we discuss in our Guide to The CICO Diet). This may help someone get in shape

However, I wouldn’t bet the farm (note to self: buy a farm) on solely drinking water for weight loss. When we highlighted the study above on water consumption and weight loss, it’s important to remember that the two groups were both on a calorically restricted diet. It’s not like strategically drinking water alone made people lose weight. 

If you are on a weight loss journey, and wondering what might help, I have two resources for you to check out:

  1. How to Lose Weight Without Dieting (The 5 Rules of Weight Loss): you’ve probably been on a diet before. You might even be on a diet right now. We discuss why they generally don’t work (temporary changes create temporary results) and provide a less conventional but more permanent solution (tiny changes for the win).
  2. Our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program: many of our clients spent years yo-yoing their weight, going from one diet to another. It’s only when working with one of our coaches that they were able to achieve sustainable weight loss. 

Wayne is stoked that he made his small change for weight loss.

I now hear you saying: 

“Okay Steve, I got it. I don’t want to be dehydrated, and drinking water before meals may make me feel full. Why don’t I just start pounding water all day long?”

Great question, my dear friend.   

Can I Be Overhydrated? (Too Much of a Good Thing)

This picture shows a waterfall, which would be too much water to drink.

While being properly hydrated is good, it doesn’t mean chugging a gallon of water during your gym session is a good idea either. 

If not, then why is this so common to see?

From Outdoors[8]:

A single individual working for the U.S. military decided that water was a tactical weapon. 

That if the military could be encouraged to drink more during maneuvers, they’d have less heatstroke and less illness and they’d be more productive and could be better soldiers. It was purely his idea. It had no scientific basis at all. 

Two years later he published a paper supposedly saying that if the US soldiers drank 1.9 liters per hour [64 ounces] when they were exercising in the heat they would perform much better. There was utterly no concrete evidence that that was true. 

The problem was, his advice was embraced by the U.S. Military. They changed their drinking guidelines to say that you should now drink 1.9 liters per hour. The same people who drew up those guidelines were then invited by the American College of Sports Medicine to get involved with drawing up guidelines for runners.

In 1996, that culminated with the new American guidelines,[9] which said that you must drink as much as tolerable during exercise, up to 40 ounces per hour. 

That became the mantra—that you had to drink before you became thirsty, and as much as possible during exercise. It was after that the problems of hyponatremia really become problematic around the world.

Combine this with the sports beverage industry (which I’ll skewer in a minute) and the bottled water industry (one of the best scams going, which I’ll get to as well), and you have a marketing engine that won’t slow down:

“Drink before you’re thirsty or it’s too late.”  

“Running a marathon?  It’s better to over hydrate then not drink enough!” 

“Better safe than sorry!”

Actually, you CAN overhydrate, and it can be dangerous – it’s called hyponatremia, it’s an electrolyte imbalance from too much water consumed, and it’s bad news bears.[10]

Want to know the people who suffer from hyponatremia the most?

Marathon and ultra-runners.

Batman has to fun whether he likes to or not...part of fighting crime means running 5Ks (ish).

Dr. Timothy Noakes, the author of Waterlogged, explains that the overconsumption of water can lead to our body developing a severe imbalance of sodium in our system, which can lead to a litany of side effects, even death.[11]

What Noaks discovered people who have dealt with cases of exercise-induced hyponatremia:

“What I’ve found is that all of these people were probably drinking 1.2 liters per hour [40 ounces]. They continue to drink like that for four or five hours. Now, normally, if you’re drinking at that rate, you simply pass it out as urine. 

A person who is overdrinking will start passing urine so frequently that they’ll realize, this is stupid. I’m going to stop drinking.

But what happens in hyponatremia is that, for some reason, the brain interprets that the person is dehydrated and secretes the antidiuretic hormone. As a consequence, that prevents all urine production. 

Although they are sweating, they may be sweating at a rate of 20 ounces per hour, but they are drinking at a rate of 40 ounces per hour. Every hour they are accumulating 20 ounces. You can do that for a couple of hours, but once you’ve accumulated about 60 to 80 ounces of water in your body, all of your tissues become bloated, and the organ that becomes most affected is the brain.

The brain swells, and because it is in a rigid skull, it cannot swell very much. The more it swells, the more pressure, and that eventually squeezes the arteries supplying blood to the brain. Ultimately, there is less oxygen getting to the brain, and certain parts become damaged.“

Not good. 

One 2002 study found that 13% of Boston Marathon runners experienced hyponatremia. While many experience hyponatremia without being in immediate danger, it certainly isn’t healthy.[12]

So, how do you combat this? 

Drink when you are thirsty!  

A gif of a cat drinking water

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!

Time to answer your next question: “If drinking too much water causes an issue with sodium imbalances, what about sports drinks? They have electrolytes and sodium in them!”

Allow me!

Are Sports Drinks More Hydrating Than Water? (Water, Sugar, Salt, and You)

A picture of Gatorade, which is more or less just sugar water.

Michael Jordan is famously seen drinking Gatorade during his flu game in 96, which tells us that without Gatorade he wouldn’t have been able to play:

Little do they tell you that Michael also had another secret weapon at his disposal that helped him play up to snuff in that game: apple sauce!

So why is that famous commercial all about Gatorade and not about apple sauce? 

One word, and it rhymes with “honey.”

It's a shame even scientific studies can be bought.

There’s wayyyy more money in the sports beverage industry, and they can sell on the term “replenish electrolytes” which is actually way simpler to do than they make it out to be.

We’re promised that without the careful combination of electrolytes and ingredients in Gatorade, we’re going to get dehydrated when exercising and suffer.

Here’s what happens: When you sweat, you lose fluids and electrolytes, especially sodium and chloride (which is why your sweat tastes salty…stop tasting your sweat). Now, when you’re lacking fluids and electrolytes, your muscles and performance can suffer.

So that’s where Gatorade ALLEGEDLY will solve all of your problems.

Here’s the truth: unless you are exercising for hours and hours and hours, your electrolyte imbalance will not cause a drop in performance. If you are exercising for an hour or less, some sips of water to quench your thirst is more than enough. 

If you ARE exercising for hours upon hours, then additional electrolyte products may help.

In these instances, Gatorade could help potentially, but there’s nothing in Gatorade that’s magic. It’s sugar, water, sodium, potassium, and then some artificial and natural flavoring to make it taste and look the way it does.

Want the benefits of Gatorade while on your marathon run without having to buy Gatorade? Make your own!

As Al Kavado talks about here, try mixing water, honey, salt, and/or lemon juice. Try different combos (mixing in some OJ or using coconut water!)

And just like that, you have your sodium, some sugars, and rehydration. No fancy marketing required.

THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO?  

Do some boring cardio for 20 minutes (which burns a minimal number of calories), and then chug a 32 oz Gatorade (200 calories and 50+ grams of sugar!) and think you’re better off. 

Negatory!

Water works just fine for 98% of the activities you will ever do.

Does Coffee Dehydrate You? (Caffeine as a Diuretic)

This pictured cup of coffee will indeed hydrate you, because it has so much water.

Time to put the myth-busting cap back on: You’ve probably been told that drinking caffeinated beverages will dehydrate you.

That by consuming caffeinated beverages, you’re actually expelling more water than you are consuming.

This is another one of those bits of conventional wisdom that gets blown out of proportion.

Yes, caffeine is a mild diuretic. However, our bodies are pretty darn smart, and because all drinks are composed almost entirely of water, it more than makes up for the effects.

As pointed out here in this study:[13]

Ingestion of caffeine in large doses (at least 250-300 mg, equivalent to the amount found in 2-3 cups of coffee or 5-8 cups of tea) results in a short-term stimulation of urine output in individuals who have been deprived of caffeine for a period of days or weeks

A profound tolerance to the diuretic and other effects of caffeine develops, however, and the actions are much diminished in individuals who regularly consume tea or coffee. 

Doses of caffeine equivalent to the amount normally found in standard servings of tea, coffee and carbonated soft drinks appear to have no diuretic action.

So coffee can actually help you stay hydrated.

A gif of Bill Murray drinking coffee, but ah, maybe use a cup though.

What about alcohol? 

Same thing.

Alcohol has diuretic properties, but only causes dehydration when consumed at beyond normal levels. (Here’s our Guide to Drinking, which covers our thoughts on being a fit nerd that can still enjoy an occasional cocktail.)

What ALLLLL OF THIS MEANS: 

  • Drink when you are thirsty. 
  • All liquids you consume count towards hydration, and only in cases of overconsumption can they negatively affect your hydration.

A Note on Bottled Water (Invest in a Water Filter)

A picture of a bottle of water, which you should only buy if you have to.

In 2019, total U.S. bottled water consumption increased to 14.4 billion gallons, up from 9.1 billion gallons in 2011.[14]

  • Every person in America drank an average of 43.7 gallons of bottled water last year.  
  • Bottled water sales increased by 3.6 percent in 2019, and now total $34.6 billion.

Yikes,

It is very likely that your local tap water is fine!

Check your local government for more information, but if you live in the United States, chances are your tap water is equal or better to the bottled stuff! Heck Coca-Cola knows this, as their Dasani Brand is ultimately filtered tap water.[15]

Want that bottle of Fiji water because it’s clean and pure and provides you with magical abilities like a waterbender?

Drinking Fiji water probably isn't going to turn you into this waterbender from Avatar.

There is less arsenic in Cleveland Tap water than Fiji water![16] Much less expensive too 🙂

If you don’t like the taste of, or are concerned about your local tap water, try a Brita filter or something equivalent. Stop going through hundreds of plastic bottles of water every year, and drink the water you already have available to you.

Yes, if the choice is between no beverage, a Coke, or a bottle of water, go with the bottled water!

Just don’t go out of your way to buy water from the polar ice caps, Hoth glaciers, or the Swiss Alps because you think it’s going to be healthier for you, provide you with more of a benefit than regular water.  

That’s all hype, sucka!

So go invest in a nice refillable water bottle. You can even snag a Nerd Fitness one if you want!

Picture of a Nerd Fitness water bottle

Staying Properly Hydrated (Next Steps)

A picture of a glass of water, which you should drink when thirsty.

There you have it, the long answer on how much water you should drink. 

Water keeps your body functioning properly. Consume it when you feel the need and your thirst will be quenched, your body will stay regulated, and you will live to see tomorrow.

On top of that, consuming water before a meal can help you feel fuller and thus prevent you from overeating. 

If this works for you, keep doing what you’re doing!

Water should definitely be consumed when you are thirsty!  

Pikachu drinking water, but maybe you shouldn't drink out of a stream though.

But the importance of water has been overblown, and you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars each year on fancy bottled water from glaciers.

Here’s how often you should drink H2O::

  • Chill out about water, don’t overthink it.
  • Drink when you feel thirsty.
  • If your pee is a darker color than normal, drink more water.
  • Don’t stress about drinking water neurotically throughout the day.
  • Don’t bother with sports drinks unless your exercise is intense, over several hours, or in very hot conditions.

I think that about does it for today’s guide.

If you’d like to join our community, I have three ways for you to continue your journey with Nerd Fitness:

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

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

Your NF Coach can help you lose weight and get healthy!

#2) If you want an exact blueprint leveling up your nutrition, check out Nerd Fitness Journey! Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

If you follow our Nutrition missions, you’ll learn to drink more water while earning XP! Sah-weeeet.

Try your free trial right here:

#3) Join The Rebellion! We have a free email newsletter that we send out twice per week, full of tips and tricks to help you get healthy, get strong, and have fun doing so. 

I’ll also send you tons of free guides that you can use to start leveling up your life too:

Have any more questions for me?  What else do you need to know about water?

Let’s hear it.

-Steve

PS: We walk about how water fits into a proper diet in our Guide to Healthy Eating. Check it out if you’re just embarking on leveling up your nutrition game.

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photo source: Han Shot First: Aquaman, jDevaun: Gatorade, RLhyde: Glass,, philografy: bottled water, 27147: coffee cup,, Adventures With My Dogs: Waterfall, Urine Color, 1upLego: Lego Dawn of Justice Aquaman, Kristina Alexanderson: Maybe the droids we’re looking for are at the bottom of the pool, Jeanne Menjoulet: building in a glass of water, Lisa Zins: The Facuet, az: d-136 I’m not just going too far, I’ve arrived

 

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Warm Up Properly: The 15 Best Dynamic Warm Up Exercises & Routines To Prevent Injury https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/warm-up/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/warm-up/#disqus_thread Mon, 02 May 2022 10:51:00 +0000 http://nerdfitness.com/blog/?p=11482 Today, you’re gonna learn the importance of warming up, and how to warm up with specific video routines…because I’m a nice person. This is so critical for training safely that whenever we design a workout for our coaching clients, it always starts with a proper warm-up. So I’m excited to share these warm-up tips and […]

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Today, you’re gonna learn the importance of warming up, and how to warm up with specific video routines…because I’m a nice person.

This is so critical for training safely that whenever we design a workout for our coaching clients, it always starts with a proper warm-up. So I’m excited to share these warm-up tips and tricks with you too.

In this guide we’ll cover the following (click to go to that section):

This stuff is so important because getting injured sucks.

And every single day I watch people wander into the gym, immediately lie down on a bench, and start cranking out their workout with a heavy weight within seconds.

This makes me weep for humanity.

These people are just WAITING to get injured. They’re essentially playing with dynamite (also not recommended).

Playing with dynamite is not recommended

So you’re reading the right article.

Also, if you’re interested in a program that tells you exactly how to warm up and work out, you may like our new app!

Nerd Fitness Journey will set you on an adventure that will tell you exactly when to workout, when to warm up, and when you should rest. No guesswork needed. 

You can sign-up for a free trial right here:

Should I Stretch Before A Workout? No. Warm Up Instead

Above all else, the most important thing you can do when working out is to warm up properly.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Come on. Surely it’s not the MOST important thing…”

To which I’d reply: “First, don’t call me Shirley. Secondly, if you don’t have enough time to warm up, then you don’t have enough time to work out.”

Boom!

So WHY is it so important? 

Think of your muscles like rubber bands.

Your muscles are kind of like this.

If you spend all day sitting at a desk, hunched over a keyboard, those rubber bands have gone almost completely unused.

Then, if you go to a gym and immediately start lifting heavy weights or sprinting really fast, those cold, unstretched rubber bands get pulled apart very quickly and can get snapped or pulled out of shape.

#Fail.

So, what about just regular, static stretching before working out? 

Nope.

As we point out in “Should you stretch before or after your workout?“:

A consolidation of studies showed there aren’t many benefits to static stretching before workouts. 

For starters, static stretching will not result in the reduction of the chance of injury.

Also, static stretching can actually decrease your potential for strength gains and performance.”

However, dynamic warm-ups – what you’ll learn in this article and what we focus on with our 1-on-1 coaching clients – are AWESOME for prepping you to get ready to strength train:

Think of it like a pregaming for your muscles – except replace “alcohol” with “awesome.” By jumping around and getting your muscles loose, active, warm, and ready for action, you are putting your muscles through their full range of motion and getting them ready to start handling heavier loads (strength training).

As pointed out in this study, “warming up” can also help reduce soreness after a workout.

On top of that, doing a dynamic warm-up can help activate your central nervous system, priming your muscles for a great workout that produces your best effort.

Add “improved blood circulation” to the list of benefits of warming up, which will help you perform well in each exercise.

Need another reason? When your body is properly warmed up, your muscles and joints are ready for maximum flexibility, which means you can perform each exercise with PROPER form (like deep barbell squats, for example) that maximize results and minimize the risk of injury.

So, whether you are running or strength training…a proper warm-up is probably the most important 5-10 minutes of your day. 

Still with me? 

Great. If you have been injured in the past, and you’re learning to warm up so you can stop stalling out on your progress, let us help!

We create custom workout solutions with nutritional guidance for busy people like you.

In other words, we help you get strong and eat better, every step of the way. 

Beginner Dynamic Warm-Up Video And Exercises

The above video comes from Senior Coach Staci Ardison, whose success story is here (and she’s now a lead trainer in our NF Coaching Program)

Don’t overthink this: Your goal is to elevate your heart rate, put your muscles and joints through their range of motion to warm them up and make sure everything is functioning properly, and preparing your body to strength train!

This will get you prepped for a day of getting stronger.

If you read the above paragraph and thought: “Yes I am doing strength training, please tell me more Steve! More!”

Firstly, thanks for saying please – your mom taught you well.

Next: let us help get you strong, safely! We help busy people go from strength-training-newbie to strength training badasses.

Whether you’re doing bodyweight or new to weight training, we create a workout program and provide food guidance that’s specific to YOUR life.

3 Advanced Dynamic Warm-Ups And Videos

#1) Here is an Advanced Warm-up Circuit you can do anywhere:

  • Jump rope: 2-3 minutes (optional)
  • Jumping jacks: 50 reps(pull your shoulder blades back, extend arms and really focus on the movement)
  • Bodyweight Squats: 20 reps
  • Lunges: 5 reps each leg
  • Hip extensions: 10 reps
  • Hip rotations: 10 reps each leg (like you’re stepping over a fence)
  • Forward leg swings: 10 reps each leg.
  • Side leg swings: 10 reps each leg
  • Push-ups: 10-20 reps
  • Spider-man steps: 5 each leg

This particular warm-up might be more difficult than your actual workout, especially if you’re following something like The Beginner Bodyweight Workout.

Yes, there is a lot of work put on your hips, butt, legs, and core. As nerds/desk jockeys, these tend to be the muscles that are the tighest and least active, and thus most susceptible to an injury.

If your arms and chest are particularly tight or sore, you can throw two more movements as well: 

  • Arm swings (holding your arms straight out to the side, and then swing them and cross them in front of your chest)
  • Shoulder rotations (holding your arms straight out to the side, and move your arms in a circular motion, making bigger circles each time)

Are you a runner? 

#2) Check out our warm-up routine specifically designed for runners:

You can also check out our Beginner’s Guide to Running for more tips on how to run safely.

#3) Here’s another advanced dynamic warm-up video from my coach, Anthony, which also covers a lot of Mobility:

When it comes time for your workout, if you are doing heavy strength training (with barbells or dumbbells), make sure you do some warm-up sets before jumping into the weight you’ll be training with for EACH EXERCISE.

Always start with a set using just the bar to work on your form and get your body used to the movement.

Then, do a few sets of just a few reps with increasing weight (but won’t tire you out) and THEN start your workout.

It’s something we bring up before every workout in Nerd Fitness Journey, our new habit-building app! If you want, you can test drive it right now for free!

15 Best Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises To Prevent Injury

This LEGO man warms up so he doesn't get injured during exercise

These are our favorite quick warm-up exercises that can help you prevent an injury during your workout! 

  1. Marching in place while swinging your arms.
  2. Jumping jacks
  3. Walking jacks
  4. Arm circles and shoulder shrugs.
  5. Mountain Climbers
  6. Swinging toe touches.
  7. Leg swings (forward)
  8. Leg swings (side to side).
  9. Hip rotations (like stepping over a fence)
  10. Hip circles (like you’re hula hooping)
  11. Bodyweight squats.
  12. Push-ups.
  13. Lunges.
  14. Hip extensions.

Get into the habit of doing these exercises before doing any workout. They’ll help keep you mobile and limber and injury free. If you’re not sure how to do any of these movements, watch the videos for them below.

1. MARCHING IN PLACE WHILE SWINGING ARMS

Marching in place swinging arms

2. WALKING JACKS (If You Can’t Do Jumping Jacks)

Do walking jacks if you can't do jumping jacks!

3. JUMPING JACKS

Jumping Jacks are a great cardiovascular bodyweight exercise

4. ARM CIRCLES AND SHOULDER SHRUGS

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

5. MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS

Staci doing a mountain climber

6. SWINGING TOE TOUCHES

Coach Staci doing a toe touch warm up , by lifting leg and touching toes with opposite arm.

7. LEG SWINGS (FORWARD)

Steve doing forward leg swings for a warm up

7. LEG SWINGS (SIDE)

Steve doing a warm up by swinging a leg side to side

8. HIP ROTATIONS

Steve doing hip rotations warm ups

9. HIP CIRCLES

Someone rotating their hips like a hula hoop for a warm up

10. BODYWEIGHT SQUATS

Do a proper bodyweight squat to work out your legs

11: KNEE PUSH-UPS

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

12: REGULAR PUSH-UPS

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

13. SUPPORTED LUNGES

Do the assisted lunge until you can do regular lunges

14. REGULAR LUNGES

Do Lunges to strengthen your legs for the beginner bodyweight exercises!

15. HIP RAISES

Raising your hips of the floor, like so, is how you do the bridge bodyweight exercise.
These exercises are the PERFECT movements you should be doing before any strength training program.

Oh, what’s that? You’re new to strength training and not sure what you’re doing? No problem!

We help people exactly like you.

Well, not exactly. You’re a unique snowflake, your mom loves you, etc.

What I mean is we help people like you to start strength training.

We do form checks, create custom workouts based on your equipment and time commitment, and more.

To Answer Your First Few Questions…

“Steve, I can’t do jumping jacks/I live on the second floor.” 

That’s okay – the reason I love jumping jacks is that they work out all four of your limbs at once and get you bouncing around.

Instead, channel your inner Chuck Norris and do punches and kicks with each leg. I don’t care if you can’t kick higher than your shins and your punch wouldn’t kill a fly…just get those limbs flailing and warmed up!

You could also just do “Walking Jacks.”

Do walking jacks if you can't do jumping jacks!

“Um, your warm-up is tougher than my actual workout!” 

The dynamic warm-up above is designed for people who are doing serious training.

If you are doing heavy deadlifts and squats and overhead presses, a proper warm-up could keep you out of a career-ending injury.

However, if you are just getting started with exercise and you’re only doing bodyweight exercises, obviously 20 real push-ups during your workout isn’t possible…

THAT’S OKAY. Think of the above as the warm-up you aspire to complete. In the meantime, do the best you can. Let’s say:

Follow the rest of the routine as planned if possible.

In this routine, your warm-up will act as part of your workout, as you’ll be doing the same functional movements.

Do the BEST you can, keep track of your results for your warm-up too, and improve with each workout.

With enough consistency and persistency (not a word, but rhymed better and sounded way better than persistence), you’ll be busting out the full warm-up routine before kicking ass at your actual workout!

Don’t have a program to follow? Or tired of following a random plan online that’s not getting you results?

Check out our Online Coaching Program – we’ll take care of all the heavy lifting (except the actual “heavy lifting,” that’s your job).

Warm-Up Properly and Avoid Injury!

Hopefully, this is a post you bookmark, as it’s probably one of the more important ones I’ve ever written.

If you want to stay injury-free, put your body through a dynamic warm-up before you start your exercise.

If you are somebody that wants to follow a program that is tailor-made for their life and situation and goals, check out our popular 1-on-1 Coaching program.

You’ll work with our certified NF instructors who will get to know you better than you know yourself, answer any and all fitness questions you have, and program your workouts and nutrition for you.

What other questions can I answer for you about warming up properly?

I’m here to help!

-Steve

PS: Still here, but not sure what to do after your warm-up? Why not let our app tell you exactly what to do!

PPS: The companion post to this guide is “How to Stretch After a Workout.” Give it a read if you’re wondering about what post-workout routines you should try.

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All photo sources can be found right here.[1]

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5 Best Strength Training Workout Routines For Beginners (Home & Gym) https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/strength-training-101-where-do-i-start/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/strength-training-101-where-do-i-start/#disqus_thread Thu, 28 Apr 2022 05:56:00 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=21263 Want to get strong like these LEGO lifters but don’t how to start? In this Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training (part of our Strength 101 series), you’ll have both the confidence to start getting strong with resistance training AND a plan to follow. These are the exact strategies we use with our Online Coaching Clients […]

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These LEGOs are working the bench and doing some deadlifts. Nerd Fitness approves.

Want to get strong like these LEGO lifters but don’t how to start?

In this Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training (part of our Strength 101 series), you’ll have both the confidence to start getting strong with resistance training AND a plan to follow.

These are the exact strategies we use with our Online Coaching Clients to help them start strength training, and I’m excited to cover everything you need.

We’ll be digging into the following:

By the way, we’ve combined this article along with the rest of our strength articles into a “Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know” guide.

Grab it free when you join the Rebellion by putting your email in the box below.

How Do I Start Strength Training?

Barbells in a gym bar bells and rope

Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.

You’ll look back years from now and thank “Past You” for starting strength training today.

And I promise, you WILL strength train today.

After all, strength training or resistance training doesn’t need to be scary or overcomplicated!

Strength training really comes down to two things:

#1) Movement of any weight against “resistance”(including your body weight) – Doing ANY exercise that pushes your muscles outside of their comfort zone, forcing them to rebuild stronger to prepare for the next challenge.

#2) Progressive overload: doing slightly more than last time (lift heavier weight or do 1 more rep) consistently. Your muscles will constantly have to adapt and rebuild themselves. These microscopic tears (that don’t hurt) force your muscles to go through hypertrophy, meaning they grow bigger and stronger so they can meet the demands of the exercise.[1]

Coach Jim explains the ins and outs of progressive overload in this video:

That’s all there is to it: do some resistance training and attempt to make it more and more challenging, and you’ll grow stronger.[2]

  • This means if you drop down and do ONE knee push-up right now, technically you’ve done a strength training workout.
  • It also means if you then do TWO knee push-ups tomorrow, then you are officially following a strength training routine.

In other words…

Like this man says, "You can do it" wants you to start strength training!

Now, there are many different “strength training” and “resistance training” paths.

Like a “skill tree” in a video game (with branching paths and progressions), you can progress up one path, and mix and match movements from others depending on the situation.

These paths depend on your goals and what equipment you have available to you.

What Are Some Examples of Strength Training?

Does the Empire mandate this training?

Let’s chat about a few different types of strength training.

#1) BODYWEIGHT TRAINING

Batman does bodyweight training for his strength training!

Bodyweight training is simply doing an exercise in which your own body is the “weight” you are “lifting.”

Duh.

This is the BEST place for anybody – regardless of weight or age – to start their strength training journey.

Why is this the best place to start? Two big reasons:

A) You always have your body with you (unless you are a ghost, in which case, this is awkward). This means you can work out ANYWHERE with bodyweight training:

B) Using your body for resistance training is the most “human” thing ever! By learning to push and pull and hang and squat and lunge, you are doing what your body is literally designed to do.

By getting strong with bodyweight movements, you’re making yourself antifragile and less injury-prone.

Now, it’s SCIENCE TIME!

While learning the movements with bodyweight exercises, you are allowing for proper communication to develop between your neuromuscular systems.

This gif shows an arm bending from a neuromuscular junciton

More efficient communication between your neuromuscular systems will result in something known as “proper motor unit recruitment.”

You may be asking yourself: what is a motor unit?

That’s okay because I was asking myself this same question.

A motor unit is a single motor neuron and the muscle fibers it innervates.

You can think of two different types of motor units:[3]

  • We all have small motor units, meaning that a single motor neuron innervates relatively few muscle fibers, and these smaller motor units are good for precise and detailed movements (e.g., moving your fingers).
  • We all also have large motor units, meaning that a single motor neuron innervates hundreds of muscle fibers, and these larger motor units are good for generating a lot of force (e.g., getting larger muscle groups like the quads to generate a lot of force to help in sprinting).

When you start strength training, you really are helping your muscles communicate better together.[4] This is why we recommend starting with bodyweight exercises, to help start this process.

However, bodyweight training isn’t as easy to ‘scale’ the difficulty as some of the other strength training methods (“put more weight on barbell”), but you can get REALLY strong with just bodyweight training.

For example, you can start with knee push-ups, then go to regular push-ups, then elevated push-ups, then even up to things like handstands and handstand push-ups.

You just have to know HOW and WHEN to scale up (we can help there too).

#2) DUMBBELL TRAINING

This cartoon uses free weights for his strength training.

Dumbbells are a great first step into the world of weight training and strength training:

  1. Most gyms will have dumbbells, even if it’s a basic gym in your apartment complex.
  2. A set of dumbbells doesn’t take up a lot of room, which means you can have a pair at home without a large footprint.
  3. Dumbbells make it easy to add difficulty to a bodyweight movement: holding dumbbells while doing lunges, for example.
  4. Dumbbell exercises can be less intimidating than barbell training for some, and are a step towards barbell training.
  5. Dumbbells have an added stabilization challenge,[4] and will point out muscle imbalances pretty easily (“oh my right arm is stronger than my left arm.”).
  6. Dumbbells allow for single-arm and single-leg exercises to be performed. This can allow you to strengthen any muscle imbalances and can come in handy especially after an injury.
  7. You can scale easily. Once the 10-pound weights become too easy, pick up the 15-pound ones!

#3) KETTLEBELL TRAINING

This cat loves doing a beginner kettlebell workout for strength

A kettlebell is essentially a cannonball with a handle on it. They come in any weight imaginable, they don’t take up a lot of room, and can be used in dozens of ways for a great compact workout.

Our 20-minute kettlebell workout has 8 simple exercises you can do with just one weight.

Although there are “adjustable kettlebells,” you’ll most likely be working with a single kettlebell, and then adjusting your movements for “progressive overload” (making the workout slightly more difficult each time).

If you are a member at a gym, they’ll probably have multiple kettlebells that you can use to level up.

#4) BARBELL TRAINING

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

Regardless of sex or gender age, if your goal is to get strong quickly, use 20 seconds of courage and get comfortable training with a barbell (I’ll help you, I promise):

  1. Progressive overload” is easy – you simply add weights to either side of the bar, allowing you to progressively lift more and more weight each week.
  2. It’s much easier to go heavy safely – especially for lower body movements like the squat and the deadlift.

The biggest downside to barbell training is that in order to train at home, you need to have purchased a squat rack, a barbell, a bench, and enough weights for your house or garage (which can be an expensive investment, especially when starting out!).

If not, you definitely will need to join a gym.

WHICH RESISTANCE TRAINING PATH IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

Not sure which path to pick? You’re not alone – this stuff can be overwhelming. Check out our 1-on-1 Coaching Program. We get to know you and your goals, will check your form via video, and make adjustments based on your progress!

Which Strength Training Program is Right for Me?

Do you think he supplements with creatine?

So, what’s the best workout program to start as a beginner?

Realistically, it’s the one that you will ACTUALLY do.

Barbell training might be optimal in terms of building pure strength quickly, but if you don’t see yourself getting to the gym regularly – or you’re too self-conscious to enter the free weight section (for now) – no problem!

Start with bodyweight training.[5]

Conversely, bodyweight training might seem convenient and easy to start now, but if you can’t motivate yourself to work out at home, you might be better off joining a gym.[6]

So let’s get you a workout program!

Everyone, including Carlton here, is happy you want to start strength training.

As we cover in our “How to Find the Perfect Workout Plan (for you)”: MOST beginners will be best served by following a “full-body” or “total body” routine, 2 to 3 times per week, with a day of rest in between each workout.[7]

This full-body workout will have 4-5 big compound movements.

A compound movement is an exercise that recruits LOTS of muscles simultaneously and forces your body to work in unison. These compound exercises are considered multi-joint exercises meaning that they involve more than a single muscle group.[8]

An example would be the barbell squat, which recruits every muscle in your core, butt, and legs to work together to lift the weight.

A squat is a life changing exercise

This is WAY more efficient – and effective at building pure strength – than doing 5 different isolated leg exercises.[9]

Why do 5 exercises when 1 exercise will get you better results in 20% of the time?

To answer your next question, let me tell you about how many sets and reps you should do as a beginner!

As we explain in our “How Many Sets and Reps” guide:

  • Reps in the 1-5 range build super dense muscle and strength.
  • Reps in the 6-12 range build equal amounts of muscular power, strength, and size.
  • Reps in the 12+ range primarily build muscular endurance and size and also cardiovascular health.[10]

If you want more, Coach Jim breaks down different set and rep ranges in this video:

Many beginner strength programs will encourage you to keep things simple, doing just 5 sets of 5 reps for each exercise.

Personally, I encourage people to aim for a weight that they can lift for 8-10 reps. This gives you a chance to really work on your form and lift safely!

The max lifts will come later, my friend. You gotta learn to walk before you can run!

Staci, which workout plan is best for me?” 

It depends on your goals!

If your main goal is general fitness and fat loss, doing a circuit training workout will likely help you reach your goals (make sure you see our section below for “strength training for weight loss”).[11]

If your main goal is to get stronger and/or put on muscle, following a more traditional, pure-strength-style gym workout is going to get you there faster.

TRUTH BOMB: ANY strength training workout will help you reach nearly any goal provided you do two things:

  1. Eat correctly for your goals too. How you eat will account for 80-90% of your success or failure when it comes to weight loss or bulking up.[12]
  2. Increase the difficulty of your workouts. This is that “progressive overload” stuff we were talking about earlier. Doing 1 more bodyweight squat, lifting 5 more pounds, or completing your circuit 10 seconds faster than last workout. By forcing your body to constantly adapt, your muscles will never get complacent and have to keep burning extra calories and rebuilding themselves stronger.

Depending on your current situation, and how quickly you’re looking to cut through the “trial and error” and get expert guidance, I might have an interesting solution for you.

We have a pretty killer 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program here at Nerd Fitness. You’ll work with a coach that will build a workout program for your body type and goals, check your form to make sure you’re doing them safety, and even help plan out your nutrition too.

The 5 Best Beginner Strength Training Programs

A gym like this is a great way to strength train, as Darth Vader knows.

“Alright Staci, are there any ‘out of the box’ beginner workout programs I can start following now?”

Yup! Let me share with you some of our suggestions:

Here are 5 resistance training workouts you can follow TODAY. Pick the level that you feel most comfortable with, and then level up when you feel ready:

#1) BEGINNER BODYWEIGHT WORKOUT:

Our Beginner Bodyweight Workout has a variety of rep ranges to promote endurance, strength, and cardiovascular health.

Complete one set of each exercise and then moving directly to the next exercise:

  • 20 bodyweight squats
  • 10 push-ups
  • 20 walking lunges
  • 10 dumbbell rows (using a gallon milk jug)
  • 15-second plank
  • 30 Jumping Jacks
  • Repeat for 3 rounds

Want to stick with bodyweight training? When you’re ready to level up, check out our advanced bodyweight training circuit.[13]

Otherwise, you can move onto weight training when you feel comfortable!

#2A) BEGINNER NERD FITNESS DUMBBELL WORKOUT

If you are just getting started with dumbbells and you’re looking for a beginner workout program to follow, this is our Level 3 Gym Workout, “Dumbbell Division”:

  • 10 goblet squats
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 dumbbell rows per side

I knew you’d ask, so here is Goblet Squat video explanation (from Nerd Fitness Prime):

And here is our video on how to do dumbbell rows:

#2B) BEGINNER NERD FITNESS KETTLEBELL WORKOUT

Our Beginner Kettlebell Routine is a workout you do anywhere you have room to swing a kettlebell.

So, probably not in a phone booth or a closet or a bathroom stall. But other than that, pretty much anywhere else.

Complete 3 Kettlebell Workout Circuits:

  • 8 Halos (each side)
  • 10 Goblet Squats
  • 8 Overhead Presses (each side)
  • 15 Kettlebell Swings
  • 8 Bent Over Rows (each side)
  • 6 Front Rack Reverse Lunge (per side)

#3) BARBELL TRAINING: 2 DAY WORKOUT SPLIT

As we cover in our “How to Train in a Gym” guide (where we take you from “lost sheep” to “barbell badass”), this routine is a much more focused weight training, strength building workout that gets your feet wet with barbell training. Click on ANY exercise to learn how to do it properly.

NF BEGINNER BARBELL STRENGTH WORKOUT: DAY A

Do 3 rounds of:

NF BEGINNER BARBELL STRENGTH WORKOUT: DAY B

Do 3 rounds of:

WHAT ARE SOME OTHER POPULAR STRENGTH TRAINING PROGRAMS?

#1) “Starting Strength” is considered the gold standard beginner barbell weight training program by many. We highly recommend you pick up the actual book if you are serious about barbell training – it’s one of the most important training books you can ever read.

#2) Strong Lifts 5X5: A solid workout program that starts you out very slow, with just the barbell, and helps you master form before you get too heavy. It also keeps things VERY easy with “do 5×5.” Strong Lifts has been around for a long time and is a solid program.

#3) Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1: This program allows you a little more freedom to do exercises that you enjoy, or work on personal weaknesses, because you choose some of the assistance work.

Note: You can modify any of the barbell training programs to be done with dumbbells, if that’s what you have at home!

Lastly, you can always write your own workout planI wrote my own workouts for a decade and it taught me a LOT about training and health.

We do have our own 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program where you’ll work with a coach that will build a strength training workout program for your body type and goals, check your form on each exercise via video, and even help you plan out your nutrition too.

How Much Weight Should I lift?

Is this LEGO lifting too much or too little for his strength training?

We have a FULL resource on how to determine your starting weight for lifting, but I’ll give you the gist here.

The simple to learn but tough to implement answer: lift enough so that you can get through the set, but not too much that you have NO fuel left in the tank at the end.

And then, try to lift sliiiightly more than last time.

Here are two common questions on strength training:

#1) How much weight should I start with?

  • If you are using dumbbells or a kettlebell, always err on the side of “too light” versus “too heavy.” You want to learn the movement correctly and build correct form.
  • If you are training with a barbell, ALWAYS start with JUST the bar, no matter the exercise (By the way, a standard barbell weighs 45 pounds).

#2) How fast should I add weight to the bar?

Here’s what we teach all of our coaching clients: add the minimum amount of weight each week you can, even if you THINK you can lift more. It’s better to finish a workout full of momentum and say “I can do more!” than defeated and saying “that was too much, crapola.”

Think of it this way, even if you are adding just 5 pounds per week to the bar, within a year you would be lifting 300+ pounds!

The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) recommends a similar approach:[14]

  • For less trained people (i.e., beginners), it is recommended that for upper body exercises you increase the load by 2 – 5 pounds and by 5 – 10 pounds for lower body exercises.
  • For more trained people (i.e., advanced), it is recommended that for upper body exercises you increase the load by 5 – 10 pounds or more and by 10 – 15 pounds or more for lower body exercises.

So go SLOW. Even slower than the NSCA recommends if needed.

Team NF’s Steve even bought little half-pound weights and increases many of his lifts by just 1 pound per week. It’s a big part of how he transformed (jokingly) from Steve Rogers to Captain America.

And if you are looking for this content in easily digestible form, make sure you download our free Strength 101 Guide when you join the Rebellion below:

The 9 Best Strength Training Exercises to Learn

If you’re new to all this “strength training” stuff, hopping into a program and going from zero to sixty might be a recipe for failure.

Instead, be patient, and take the time to learn these movements first.

I’m going to share with you the 9 best strength training exercises that every beginner should master (scroll down for full video and explanations!):

  • 1. Push-up: uses every push muscle in your body (chest, shoulders, triceps)
  • 2. Bodyweight squat: uses every muscle in the lower body (quads, hamstrings, glutes, core)
  • 3. Bodyweight row: works every “pull” muscle and helps prepare you for a pull-up!
  • 4. Pull-up or chin-up: the best “pull” exercise in history! Everybody should have a goal to get their first pull-up.
  • 5. Bodyweight dip: advanced “push” movement that targets your push muscles (chest, shoulders, triceps) in a different way than push-ups.
  • 6. Barbell squat: the best bang for your buck on muscle building. recruits nearly every push muscle in your whole body, and great core workout.
  • 7. Barbell deadlift: the favorite exercise of every coach at Nerd Fitness. Uses every “pull,” leg, and core muscle in your body.
  • 8. Barbell benchpress: as basic and powerful as they come. Uses every “push” movement in your upper body and can get you strong as heck!
  • 9. Barbell press: press the bar above your head! Targets shoulders and triceps more than the chest.

All of the exercises listed above are considered functional (closed-chain) exercises. That means they relate to our everyday movements and can be used to predict our success in sports, recreational and occupational activities, and activities of daily living.[15]

When attempting all of these above listed exercises, aim to master the movement and perform the exercise through its entire range of motion (ROM).

Why?

Because it will decrease your risk for injury, activate all of the appropriate muscle groups, and result in greater muscle hypertrophy.[16] 

Let’s go over these now.

Click on any of these exercises to get a FULL explanation of the movement, step-by-step:

1) The Push-Up: The best exercise you could ever do for yourself when it comes to using your bodyweight for push muscles (your chest, shoulders, and triceps):

2) The Bodyweight Squat: This exercise serves a dual purpose: it is the foundation for building strength AND helps build proper mobility. If you are going to ever do barbell squats, you need to work on hitting proper depth with a bodyweight squat first!

3) The Inverted Bodyweight Row: Until you can get your first pull-up or chin-up, these exercises are GREAT to start building your pull-muscle strength: your back, biceps, and forearms.

4) The Pull-Up and Chin-Up: Once you can support your bodyweight above the bar, the world becomes your playground. No strength training routine should be without pull-up or chin-up work! (Click here if you can’t do a pull-up or chin-up yet?)

5) The Bodyweight Dip: As you start to get stronger with push-ups and need to find a way to increase the challenge, consider doing dips – warning: these are very advanced, but incredible strength building exercises.

And now we’re into the best weight training exercises:

6) The Barbell Squat: Probably the best exercise when it comes to building strength and muscle throughout your whole body. It also burns crazy calories and makes life better. This is a MUST:

7) The Barbell DeadliftMaybe the best exercise of all time. Actually no, it IS the best exercise of all time. It’s certainly the most primal: “pick the weight up off the ground. Done.”

This is a very technical lift, so make sure you read our article on how to do it with proper form:

8) The Barbell Press: Press a barbell above your head. This recruits all of the muscles in your chest, shoulders, and arms in order for you to lift the weight over your head.

As a bonus, you need to really flex and brace your core, which gets those muscles working too.

9) The Barbell Bench Press. Lie on a bench, and lower a barbell until it almost touches your chest. Pause, and press it back up towards the sky. Repeat! And get strong.

NOTE: All exercises were explained according to the guidelines that have been established by the NSCA.[17]

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: commit to trying ONE of these movements in the next week. Use 20 seconds of courage, recruit a friend who has lifted or trained before, and try your best.

And if you want somebody to help you put these into a workout program, teach you HOW to do these movements properly, and have the confidence to know you’re training correctly for your goals…

How to Know You’re Doing a Strength Training Movement Properly (Form Checks)

This cameraman knows a form check is valuable when it comes to strength training. And a raincoat in a storm. Both practical.

Always start out with just your body’s weight and make sure your movement is correct!

  • If it’s a barbell movement, use a broomstick (or PVC Pipe).
  • If it’s a dumbbell movement, use two sections of PVC or something else that is light and small to simulate a dumbbell.

When it comes to movements like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, bench press, your form is crucial. Develop good habits with lightweight and you will save yourself months of frustration later and will protect you from injury.[18]

If you’re struggling with certain elements of a movement, don’t get frustrated! Remember, proper communication between your neuromuscular systems needs to develop.

Things will start to improve.[19] 

How do you know if your movement is correct?

Do regular video form checks! Record yourself and watch the video.

Some LEGOs taking a selfie

Alternatively, an expert reviewing your specific movement can be invaluable. 

If you’re looking for someone who can do video form checks, provide feedback, and adjust your workouts based on your progress, you can check out our 1-on-1 Online Personal Training!

I’ve had an online coach for 4 years and it’s changed my life.

You could also get expert guidance in person: Look around at your local strength and conditioning gyms and see if you could hire a coach (here’s how to find a good personal trainer) for one or two sessions just to go over the basic movements.

If you can’t do either of those two options, no big deal! Videotape yourself and compare it to the videos here in the articlesYou can also post your video to the form check section of the Nerd Fitness Forums.

When I started, I really liked practicing all of the movements at home because I could watch a video online at the same time as I was watching myself do it in a mirror. Studies have found this can actually help![20]

Strength Training for Weight Loss

Strength training like with these dumbbells is key for a weight loss program.

So you’re looking to lose weight, and tired of hours of cardio (me too).

And you’re wondering if strength training for weight loss – by following one of the workouts in this guide is a viable solution.

Or, gasp – will strength training make you too bulky? (SPOILER: it won’t)

Yes, Strength training will help you lose weight IF you do two key things for effective weight loss:

  • Calorie restriction: eating fewer calories than you burn every day[21]
  • Strength training with progressive overload (picking up heavier stuff)

As we point out in our “Cardio vs Intervals vs Weight Training” article, strength training is the MOST efficient method for weight loss.

Not only that, but you can find study after study after study that shows you the benefits of strength training for weight management when combined with “calorie restriction.”[22]

As we cover in our “Why Can’t I Lose Weight?” article, here’s why eating a caloric deficit and strength training is SO magical when combined:

When you strength train – by picking up something heavy – your muscles are “broken down” during the exercise itself, and then they rebuild themselves stronger over the next 24-48 hours.

Guess what happens during those 24-48 hours?

Your body will divert as many calories consumed as necessary to “Rebuild Muscle!”[23]

Look at me all big and strong!

It also diverts additional calories to “Burn as Fuel” to handle this increased “muscle rebuilding” activity.

This means two amazing things:

  • Your metabolism is revved up for this time period, burning more calories than normal.
  • Rebuilding muscle is a calorie-taxing activity!

Not only that, but when you eat a caloric deficit, your body doesn’t have enough calories to fuel all the day’s activities. In these instances, your body will pull from your stored fat to make sure all the work still gets done.

This is the trifecta of physical transformation victory:

  • You get stronger and keep the muscle you have.
  • You burn through the fat you’re trying to get rid of.
  • You’re decreasing your body fat percent and keeping your muscle = look good naked.

In other words, strength training + eating right is the BEST path for weight loss out there! And yes, in certain situations, you can actually lose weight AND build muscle at the same time.

Coach Matt explains how to gain muscle WHILE losing fat in this video:

So how do you put this into practice? Pick one of the strength workouts in this article. Calculate your daily caloric needs. Learn about healthy eating. And start.

In other words…

Pick up something heavy, and eat a vegetable.

These are the types of things we work on with our 1-on-1 Coaching Clients: helping them lift weights confidently and eat correctly for their goals! Let us help you:

“Just Tell Me What Strength Training Program to Follow!”

Relax, you'll be fine strength training, just like this little trooper is fine with his bear.

Okay! Unless you are collecting underpants, you should now have a workout program you want to try out!

“Staci, this is a lot, can you just TELL me what to do?”

Okay fine.

Here are the steps again for you:

STEP #1: PICK YOUR WORKOUT PATH:

A) If YOU ARE TRAINING AT HOME. Pick one of these 3 based on what equipment you have:

B) IF YOU ARE TRAINING IN A GYM: Amazing! I love gyms.

Read our “How to train in a gym” guide and go from Level 1 to Level 6 over the next month. Gym closed? Here’s how to build a home gym.

STEP #2: TRY A NEW EXERCISE: In addition to following a workout program, I’m gonna push outside of your comfort zone – that’s where real growth happens.

Learn ONE new movement this week.

Pick one of the exercises below and try it out!

Here are 42 bodyweight exercises you can do too.

STEP #3) HIRE A YODA: If you are somebody that just wants to be told exactly what to, how to train for your goals, and are good at following direction, consider hiring a coach.

I’ve been working with an online coach since 2014 and it has changed my life – and I do this stuff for a living!

Nerd Fitness Coaching Banner

STEP #4) JOIN THE REBELLION! If you like how we do things around here at Nerd Fitness, we’d love to have you in our community of misfits, mutants, and rebels!

Sign up in the box below and I’ll send you our free Strength 101 guide:

No matter what you do today:

Don’t be afraid of doing anything wrong – truth be told, the majority of the people in the gym don’t have any idea what they are doing, and are just as nervous as you are!

Muster up your 20 seconds of courage if you need to, and let me know in the comments how it goes!

What questions do you have about getting started?

So, what’s the biggest thing holding you back from starting strength training?

-Staci

PS – Check out the rest of the articles in our Strength Training 101 series:

photo source: LEGO bench pres, tonobalaguer © 123RF.com, Stormtroopers lifting, Chris Christian:Strongman, W_Minshull: Stormtroopers in Gym, Lego Lifting, RainstormKristina Alexanderson: Teddy Love

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6 Beginner Gym Workouts: How to Work Out in a Gym The Right Way! https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/a-beginners-guide-to-the-gym-everything-you-need-to-know/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/a-beginners-guide-to-the-gym-everything-you-need-to-know/#disqus_thread Wed, 20 Apr 2022 05:54:00 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=1790215 Welcome to the Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to the Gym!  As part of our Strength 101 series, this guide will dive deep into everything you need to know about working out properly in a gym. By the time you finish reading, you’ll never have to wonder “what should I do in the gym?” I bet I […]

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These Troopers get to work out in the Death Star's gym. You might have to buy a membership.

Welcome to the Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to the Gym! 

As part of our Strength 101 series, this guide will dive deep into everything you need to know about working out properly in a gym.

By the time you finish reading, you’ll never have to wonder “what should I do in the gym?”

I bet I also make you laugh once or twice with bad jokes and perfect gifs.

This Muppet knows strength training will help him gain muscle and lose fat.

We’ve helped thousands of Online Coaching Clients build confidence and start strength training in the gym, so I worked with our coaches to create today’s Ultimate Beginner Gym Guide!

Okay, time to start working out. Let’s hit the gym and explore the following:

Scared to Work Out in a Gym? Read This First.

Having a plan, like this LEGO does, will help with your first day at the gym.
Regardless of your physique, if you are 400 pounds or 100 pounds, going to a regular commercial gym for the first time can be intimidating as hell.

And that’s only if you can get yourself to use 20 Seconds of Courage to walk in the door!

I explain exactly what I mean by it in this video:

I know many people who say “gyms are not for me,” or “gyms are dumb” and never even go into one, simply because gyms can be scary/not welcoming/not cool.

By the way, if you don’t have a gym membership, here’s how to find the right gym, and 6 things to know before joining a gym.

Now, if you CAN work up the courage to walk through the door, you’ll be faced with the following:

#1) People with pained looks on their faces dutifully using machines that somewhat resemble medieval torture devices.

#2) Others on cardio machines, treadmills, and ellipticals, and you can already picture yourself wiping out and ending up in a YouTube fail montage.

Make sure you know what you're doing at the gym so you don't accidentally go viral like this poor guy.

#3) Really strong jacked people picking up heavy free weights so effortlessly that you can’t help but instantly compare yourself to them…and get intimidated.

If you struggle with self-confidence, or you don’t love how you look, you might assume that everybody around you will be judging you the whole time and don’t want to subject yourself to this torture.

In fact, you might think that somehow you need to get in shape FIRST, and THEN you can go to the gym…

Wrong!

You go to the gym TO get in shape. And I will get you there.

If you are going to start using a gym, here are some truths you need to know:

  1. Everybody around you is just as self-conscious as you are. Yes, that super jacked dude. Or that thin (or jacked) fit woman on the elliptical. They aren’t focused on you, because they’re too busy living inside their own head wondering if everybody is thinking about them.
  2. Everybody starts somewhere. You don’t look good so that you can then go to the gym. You go to the gym to get stronger, more confident, and then look good.
  3. MOST will applaud you for trying. When I see somebody who is severely overweight at the gym, it makes me happy – they’re trying to better themselves! That’s freaking AWESOME. This is the mentality 90%+ of the people will have.
  4. MANY will be too self-focused to even notice you. These are the dudes lifting up their shirt in the mirror to check their abs, doing bicep curls in the squat rack, and/or making sure they take photos to post on Facebook to prove they did in fact go to the gym. #Fitspo #Instagram #OtherNonsensicalHashtags
  5. A RARE few will judge. Though, they’re not just judging you, I promise. They’re judging EVERYBODY around you, because they can’t help but compare themselves to others and they’re terrible people. This is no different than in real life. Screw these people, haters gonna hate, slaters gonna slate.

Be like Slater and do your own thing at the gym. Bring your weird glasses, who cares?

Sure, you can say “people are mean, the gym is scary, I just won’t show up.” But then, the terrorists win. And so do those people. So f*** that!.

Instead, this is going to be your gym mentality:

  • Accept that some people suck (like anywhere in life), and most people are indifferent or focused on being self-conscious themselves. Everybody else will applaud you for trying and being there.
  • Make an epic Spotify playlist that makes you feel heroic.
  • Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in.
  • Keep your headphones on, zone out everybody, and go about your business. Imagine you’re the only one there.
  • Use 20 seconds of courage when necessary to get you to take action.

These are tips Coach Matt brings up in his video How to Overcome Gym Anxiety:

We work with all of our Online Coaching clients who are worried about looking foolish in the gym. We know this is a huge challenge, so we create small levels and missions for our clients to get them comfortable in the gym.

We’ve helped people just like you go from sheepish beginner to barbell-wielding badass. Let us help you!

NOTE: if you’re questioning whether you should go to the gym during the pandemic, you can follow along with our Beginner Bodyweight Training program at HOME until you feel safe going.

Sign up in the box below and I’ll send you this workout free (along with some other goodies):

How Often Should I go to the Gym?

This soldier should hit the gym enough to make progress while also allowing plenty of time to rest.

Many people think they need to hit the gym 6 days per week, dutifully alternating weight training with cardio and bootcamps to get that jacked/toned body they’re after. 

That sounds exhausting and miserable to me…

Make sure you add in rest days for your gym schedule or you'll end up like this dude.

…and I LOVE the gym!

So here’s what you need to know about gym frequency:

Go as much as you can, or as little as you want. 

All of the workouts in this guide are “full-body workouts” which means they work out all of the muscles in your body. 

And as we lay out in “Strength 101: Beginner Strength Workouts,” your muscles get broken down in the gym and then they rebuild themselves stronger over the next 48 hours.

For that reason, we recommend you hit the gym 2-3 times per week, with a day off or more in between each session. 

This advice comes with a few caveats: 

  • If you’re a single mom or working two jobs or just busy living your life and you can only go to the gym once, great! Once a week is better than zero times a week!
  • If you have specific athletic or cardiovascular goals you’re training for, then hitting the gym more frequently might get you faster results.
  • If you are trying to lose weight, going to the gym more frequently probably WON’T get you faster results. It’s all diet.

“Steve, just tell me how often I should go to the gym!”

Fine! Try to work up to going to the gym 3 times per week.

I like Monday-Wednesday-Friday workout plans.

Start and end the week with good wins! 

Oh, what’s that? You want to exercise on your off days too? Cool. Here’s what you should be doing on your non-training days.

We craft our workout routines for our coaching clients around their schedules – some people hit the gym 5 days per week, while others only go once a week. We’re all unique snowflakes!

Okay! Now that we got THAT out of the way, are we ready!?

Great! Let’s level up in the gym!

Level One Gym Workout: First Day At the Gym

Vader remembers his first day at the gym...he choked out his personal trainer with the force.

The toughest part about going to a gym for the first time is just walking through the door.

If you do that, you’ve already gone farther than 74% of the population (a totally made-up statistic that I’m using to prove my point), so give yourself a pat on the back.*

*Don’t have enough mobility to pat yourself on the back? We’ll help you with that too.

So on your first day in the gym, just GOING to the gym is a big step in the right direction. And I’m proud of you.

Both of us are super proud that you're going to the gym. It's a big first step!

Note: You might need to also change into gym clothes if you’re coming from work. I know walking out onto the floor in gym clothes might be intimidating too (another chance to use 20 Seconds of Courage).

But now you’re wondering, “Steve you half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder, what do I DO on my first day at the gym?”

If you haven’t already done so, ask somebody at the front desk the following:

  • “Hey I’m new here, could I get a tour of the gym?”
  • “Excuse me, today’s my first day, can you point me in the direction of a place I can stretch?”
  • “Can you help me work the treadmill?”
  • Go full YOLO and try to figure these things out on your own.

If you’re able to get a personal tour, great! Ask the treadmill question when you get to them. If they can’t walk you through, just do a lap yourself and see where things are and who is doing what.

Pro tip (also works outside of the gym): pretend you’re confident – even if you’re dying inside – walk with purpose, and nobody will question why you’re doing what you’re doing.

So, when you’re ready, walk over towards the stretching area, and do a few basic mobility/warm-up stretches while continuing to get the lay of the land and see what people are doing (don’t stare excessively, cool? cool).

Not sure what to do for warm-up movements? That’s okay!

Day 1 Beginner Warm-up Routine:

  • Roll your head in half-circles slowly, from shoulder to shoulder. 5 circles in each direction
  • Slowly roll your shoulders forwards and backwards. 10 each way.
  • Keep your legs stationary, and twist your torso, left and right. 10 twists on each side.
  • Quad stretch: Hold each stretch for 5 seconds. Do 3 on each side:

Focus on stretching like above your first day at the gym.

  • Cross one arm in front of your chest, then the other, as demonstrated here by lead coach Jim: Hold each stretch for 5 seconds. Do 3 on each side:

Coach Jim showing you a great stretch for your first day at the gym.

These movements have the awesome side-effect of you being able to look around the gym and get the “flow” of things, while still looking busy. Jim STILL uses this “trick” when checking out new gyms.

dynamic warm-up is the appetizer to ANY main course of strength training.

Really, just get your body moving. We don’t have to make you a gym warrior on Day 1. Some stretches and sightseeing will be good enough.

LEVEL 1 MISSION:

Take a lap around the gym and do your stretches.

If you walked out right now after doing these things, it’s still a win for Day 1 in a gym. Seriously – I don’t care what you do on Day 1 – as long as it leaves you feeling good enough to come back for a Day 2!

GYM LEVEL 1 RECAP:

  • Walking through the door makes you a winner.
  • Ask for a tour if you need to know where things are!
  • Change into workout clothes.
  • Stand in one spot, do a few stretches, get the lay of the land.

If you’re up for MORE or ready to level up consider going to the next level, become a cardio cadet!

Level 2 Gym Workout: Join the Cardio Cadets

Man running in a gym on a treadmill

Get on the treadmill and start it up, based on the staff’s instructions.

If you weren’t able to get instructions, many treadmills have a “quick start” button that will start things up.

Why start with just walking?

It gets you moving and out of your head! I know you’re smart – you’re reading NERD Fitness. But you also probably deal with paralysis by analysis a lot by overanalyzing everything, so we need to get OUT of our heads and get moving!!

Not only that, but walking is an AMAZING form of exercise. Walking is how Tim, the NF Prime member, lost 50 lbs through walking and nutritional changes. Don’t underestimate walking!

How did Tim get in shape? By walking, like you do on a treadmill at the gym.

So, for your first 10-15 minutes, just walk. Set the treadmill at 3mph or 3.5 or whatever speed is comfortable but not too strenuous.

A speed that gets you moving and gives you a chance to decide what you’ll do next while you look around the gym. (Aka, it gives you a chance to get out of your head and stop thinking everyone is looking at you. They’re not)

LEVEL 2 MISSION

Do your Level 1 stretches, then spend 15 minutes walking, and then you are free to go home.

Repeat this as many days in a row that you need to until this starts to feel comfortable and you stop feeling self-conscious.

Scientists, Benedictine monks, and German scholars refer to such a thing as a “routine.”

As you get more comfortable, you can increase your walking speed or length of walking (20 minutes, 60 minutes, whatever)

If I’m gonna walk, I like to crush podcasts while doing so (My favorites: Watch out for Fireballs, Pardon My Take, and Bill Burr). Maybe you listen to Harry Potter on Audible.

Listening to audio books like Harry Potter is a great way to spend time on a treadmill

Whatever floats your boat.

GYM LEVEL 2 RECAP:

  • What you do in the gym doesn’t matter – build the habit of going regularly.
  • Develop confidence at the treadmill with just walking.
  • Start to realize you have just as much of a right to be there as anybody else.
  • Give yourself a high five for being you.

This routine of walking and stretching might only be one day in the gym for you, or it might be two months of this before you finally feel like you don’t want to jump out of your own skin while in the gym.

Going to the gym is the habit I want you to build, so this is a great start. Remember, you should be thinking in terms of “days and years,” not “weeks and months”:

We have many coaching clients who spend MONTHS just walking and working up the courage to move beyond the treadmill. That’s cool. We’re all on our own journey, at our own pace, so go at the pace that fits YOUR schedule.

Level 3 Workout: Join the Bodyweight Brigade!

Bodyweight training is a great place to start training at the gym.

After getting comfortable with the stretching/treadmill routine, you may want to hop on a weight lifting machine at this point like the leg press or chest press machine.

Is this progress? Sure!

Can you do this? Absolutely!

But, but, but… we are going to recommend you try some bodyweight exercises instead as your next step.

Controlling your body through space (not outer space) is going to be more beneficial in the long run than strapping into a machine and moving through a set path.

If you can do bodyweight exercises proficiently, then stepping into a machine is “easy.”

The reverse is not always the case.

So, if we’ve convinced you to try some bodyweight exercises, then next thing is to identify a place in the gym you can do bodyweight exercises where you’re not in the way. This oftentimes might double as the place that some people are doing stretches, where you’ve already been before!

If you don’t know, ask the front desk or find a trainer! That’s what they’re there for!

LEVEL 3 MISSION:

After your 5 minutes of warm-up (Level 1) and 10 minutes on the treadmill (Level 2), your next step is to go to a place you can do the Level 3 Gym Workout:

  • 10 bodyweight squats
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 bodyweight squats
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 bodyweight squats
  • 10 push-ups

Can’t get through it all? No worries, do what you can.

This style of alternating one exercise with another is called a circuit workout, by the way!

Now you know how to do a circuit workout at the gym!

If you don’t know how to do those movements well, watch coaches Jim, Staci, and myself show you how!

HOW TO DO A PROPER PUSH-UP:

HOW TO DO A SQUAT:

These are two key movements in our Beginner Bodyweight Workout Routine, and the foundation of any strength training routine!

If you just did the above mini-workout for a month, you’d be off to a great start! If you’re feeling frisky and starting to find some confidence in the gym, it’s time to branch out more!

GYM LEVEL 3 RECAP:

  • Warm-up on the treadmill with a 10-minute walk
  • Find a place where you can do bodyweight movements out of the way
  • Complete 3 circuits of 10 push-ups and 10 bodyweight squats each at a pace that works for you

Stay at this stage as long as you need, until you can move on!

Note: If you enjoy the bodyweight brigade, or you’re not quite ready to start doing weight training yet, that’s cool too.

We have tons of 1-on-1 coaching clients who have gotten in GREAT shape without ever picking up a weight. It all comes down to constantly increasing the challenge and making progress each week. 

Level 4 Gym Workout: Join the Dumbbell Division

dumbbells in gym

It’s time to wander into the place that strikes fear in the heart of most gym goers:

The free weight section.

Gulp.

DO NOT FORGET THIS: If you are a 400 pound woman, or 85 years-old, or a 100-pound man, you have just as much of a right to be in the free weight section as anybody else.

It might take yet another 20 Seconds of Courage to wander in there, so I’m challenging you to try it.

LEVEL 4 MISSION:

After you do 10 minutes of walking on the treadmill, go to the dumbbell section, grab a single 10 lb (4.5kg) dumbbell, and find a flat bench like this:

Most gyms will have plenty of benches like this for you to try out.

Stand next to that bench, and make sure nobody is using it. If somebody is at a bench nearby, ask them “is anybody using this bench?” If they say no, put your towel on the bench, your 10 lb dumbbell on it, and stand next to it.

We’re going to add a 1-arm dumbbell row to our circuit above:

That’s it! Just one dumbbell exercise! Boom! You are now weight training like a boss.

Here’s your new Level 4 Gym Workout Circuit: Dumbbell Division A

  • 10 bodyweight squats
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 one arm dumbbell rows (10 per arm)

Do this circuit once, and then repeat two more times if you’re feeling good.

To recap, or if you skipped Steps 1-3 (I’m only slightly offended), here’s how to properly do:

A BODYWEIGHT SQUAT:

A PROPER PUSH-UP:

Congrats! You’ve used dumbbells!

Remember, everybody started somewhere, and we’re just working on getting you comfortable being in the free weight section.

Want to continue adding dumbbells movements into your workout? Let’s add them to the squats.

Use the same dumbbell to do “goblet squats.”

The goblet squat is a great way to build muscle for women.

They’re named as such because it looks like you’re holding a goblet that you don’t want to spill.

Here’s a video of Staci and Jim demonstrating the Goblet Squat pulled from Nerd Fitness Prime:

So your Level 4 Gym Workout: Dumbbell Division B is 3 circuits of the following:

  • 10 goblet squats
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 dumbbell rows/side

If you go to the gym 3x a week, work your way up to the following routine:

  • Light stretching and walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes
  • 3 complete circuits of this beginner circuit
  • Go home and eat good food and play video games

This will put you ahead of 95% of the gym going population. You’ll be on a great path to building a healthy, antifragile, resilient body.

Add a little more weight here and there- making the minimal possible jumps each time (going from 10 lb to 12.5 lb dumbbells, for example).

Make your push-up variation a little harder over time.

Decline push-ups like this are a great way to progress your bodyweight exercises.

You can stick with the above for MONTHS.

Ready for another upgrade?

The last dumbbell exercise to learn is the dumbbell Romanian deadlift (RDL). This is like a cousin of the bodyweight squat where we move through the hips more than the knees.

Grab a pair of dumbbells now, push your hips back and bow forward like you’re being polite. Or, you’re like one of those novelty “drinking birds.”

When at the gym doing a Romanian deadlift, move like this drinking bird.

Bring the dumbbells down to about your knees, not to the ground, then stand back up.

You can see the exercise right here:

Every other workout, swap out the goblet squat for the dumbbell Romanian deadlift.

So our circuit is now alternating with each gym workout.

Do 3 circuits of each if you can! If the weight is too light, use heavier dumbbells the next time you train.

Level 4 Gym Workout: Dumbbell Division C:

  • 10 goblet squats OR 10 dumbbell Romanian deadlifts
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 dumbbell rows per arm.

GYM LEVEL 4 RECAP:

  • Remember you have just as much a right as everybody else to use the free weights.
  • Take a deep breath, go into free weights section, and get a 10 lb. dumbbell.
  • Learn to do a bent over row and goblet squats.
  • Learn to do dumbbell Romanian deadlifts.
  • High five yourself for weight training.

Training with dumbbells opens up infinite possibilities.

Okay, probably not INFINITE possibilities, but close enough.

If you are somebody that wants to learn how to train with dumbbells even more seriously, or you’re looking for ways to put that dumbbell set you have in your garage to proper use, let us help!

If you have a great program to follow, you can get in incredible shape with just a set of dumbbells.

Level 5: Enlist in the Barbell Battalion

Barbells in a gym bar bells and rope

The two final pieces of the puzzle are things I want for you so badly, I can taste it. These two exercises have changed my life, our lead coach Jim’s life, Staci’s life, and the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the Nerd Fitness Rebellion:

Picking up a barbell, and learning how to squat and learning how to deadlift.

There’s something powerful about old-school strength training with exercises like the back squat and the deadlift.

Show me somebody that’s strong at both of these movements, and I’ll show you somebody that’s in better shape than most of the human population.

But wait!

Even an empty barbell can be heavy, so before we jump into the deep end, you need to be able to complete our circuit with the following weights:

Level 4 Gym Workout: Dumbbell Division C:

  • 10 goblet squats – 45 lbs (20Kg dumbbell), 10 RDLs with 20 lbs (9-10 Kg dumbbells)
  • 10 push ups (on knees or regular)
  • 10 dumbbell rows with each arm  – at least a 20 lb dumbbell

Can’t do those movements at that weight, or not sure what they are? Go back to the Level 4 Gym Workout.

YOUR LEVEL 5 MISSION:

WHEN YOU ARE READY, please read the following:

Strength Training 101: The Squat

And here is a quick video demonstration of the Squat, but I would REALLY read our full article!

And then I want you to find a squat rack:

THIS IS ONE TYPE OF SQUAT RACK (the barbell is NOT connected to the apparatus). USE THESE:

Use a squat rack like this.

THIS IS A SMITH MACHINE (bar is attached to apparatus). THIS IS DIFFERENT FROM A “SQUAT RACK”:

Don't use the Smith Machine, unless it's for inverted rows at the gym.

Note: if you are training in a hotel gym, an apartment gym, or at some locations like Planet Fitness, they might NOT have a squat rack!

This can be for a variety of issues (liability, lack of space, most people just want to use a Smith Machine, etc.). They might even tell you, “A Smith Machine is the same thing.” It is not, in fact, the same thing. You hopefully can find a gym that has an ACTUAL squat rack with a free barbell.

If your gym doesn’t have a squat rack, and you want to start barbell training, I would consider finding a new gym or just hanging out in the Level 4: Dumbbell Division!

If using a squat rack scares the crap out of you: wait to attempt your FIRST trip to the squat rack when the gym is nearly empty, or recruit a buddy who knows what they’re doing. If there’s a special day you can go VERY early to the gym, or VERY late, or during the workday, do it then.

Watch this video from The Nerd Fitness Prime about how to set the ‘pins’ in the squat rack to put the bar at the proper height!

YOUR NEXT LEVEL 5 MISSION:

Attempt 1 set of a 5 barbell squats with JUST the bar (first ask the staff or a trainer how much the bar weighs: most standard barbells weigh 45 lbs (20Kg) but your gym might not have standard barbells).

You can then complete our tried and true circuit – replacing goblet squats with barbell squats.

So our circuit is now 3 circuits.

Level 5 Gym Workout: Barbell Battalion A:

  • 10 barbell squats or 10 dumbbell Romanian deadlifts
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 dumbbell rows/side

(See Level 4 for explanations on the Dumbbell deadlifts and rows)

Congrats! You’re using barbells! If you haven’t already read NF’s Senior Coach Staci’s transformation story of how she went from barely being able to lift a 10 lb dumbbell to now deadlifting 425 lbs, it’s a really inspiring story! 

Speaking of Staci, let’s move on to her favorite exercise (and mine!)…

I can deadlift 425 pounds now, but I started with just a PVC pipe

YOUR NEXT LEVEL 5 MISSION:

Read: Strength Training 101: The Deadlift

And watch the video demonstration here:

The deadlift movements starts with the weight on the ground, and ends with it back on the ground.

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

If you’ve got regular, large weights (usually 45 lbs/20 kgs) on each side then the bar sits the proper height off the ground.

Some facilities have lighter plates at that same large diameter. Use them.

If you are lifting less weight (or just using the bar to start off) then DON’T do the deadlift from the ground. The bar will be too low to the ground and mess up proper technique.

Instead, do the following to start your deadlifts at proper height:

1) Use blocks to adjust the barbell starting height:

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

2) Use the safety bars in a squat rack to set the height of the bar correctly!

This picture shows a deadlift rack, great for...deadlifting!

3) Do the Romanian deadlift instead! (Whew, glad we learned that!). It’s the exact same movement as the dumbbell Romanian deadlifts, you’re just using a barbell instead.

Coach Staci showing the Romanian deadlift

START WITH A LIGHT WEIGHT – JUST the bar. As we cover in our “How much weight should I lift?”, you should ALWAYS start with just the bar.

And work on technique.

Only then should you start adding more weight, and add it slowly – you’ll be picking up heavy weights in no time, so don’t rush it.

Here’s Staci demonstrating a proper barbell Romanian deadlift from Nerd Fitness Prime:

Once you’ve started doing these two movements in your routine, your two alternating gym days will look like this. Simply alternate every time you go to the gym (with a day off in between sessions).

Level 5 Gym Workout: Barbell Battalion:

Day A Circuit – 3 rounds of:

Day B Circuit – 3 rounds of:

  • 5 barbell Romanian deadlifts
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 dumbbell rows per arm

Not sure what a bodyweight row is? It’s an AMAZING exercise that you’ll need to master if you’re going to get your first pull-up or chin-up one day! 

Read our article on bodyweight rows, and also watch our quick video demonstration here of Staci doing them:

GYM LEVEL 5 RECAP:

  • Barbell training will change your life like it has changed mine.
  • Learn to squat and learn to deadlift properly.
  • Focus on proper form, and slowly start to add weight to the bar.
  • You are now a gym “regular” and I salute you!

Now, I know the barbell squat and barbell deadlift are two complex, potentially scary exercises. It’s important to get your form correctly now when you are just lifting the bar, so that you don’t hurt yourself once you start adding weight!

If you want a professional to check your form, tell you when to add weight to the bar, and teach you other barbell movements, check out our online coaching program!

Level 6 Gym Workout: Gym Class Hero

Steve is a gym warrior you trains with barbells and bodyweight training

Did I tell you that I’m proud of you yet? I really am, I promise. Your mom is proud too. So is your dad, but he just doesn’t know how to express it.

So now you’re thinking: “Steve, I did a barbell squat. It was terrifying but I did it. I tried deadlifts too and those are kind of fun.

What’s next? Give me MOAR!!”

It’s like you’ve finally learned to cook, and now you’re asking for more spices.

So, here in Level 6, we’re going to turn you into a full Gym Class Hero. And it requires you to learn a super standard, incredibly challenging exercise that also happens to be amazing for you…

The pull-up or chin-up!

Here's a gif of a pull-up in perfect form.

If you can’t do a pull-up or chin-up yet, you can read our full guide on how to get your first pull-up or chin-up.

We also have a full article on doing a perfect pull-up or chin-up with proper form, but I would watch this video too for some quick ways to scale the movement to fit your experience level:

YOUR LEVEL 6 GYM WORKOUT MISSION:

Alternate inverted bodyweight rows with pull-ups or an easier pull-up variation every other workout.

So our circuit will be alternating these movements on your A and B Days:

LEVEL 6 DAY A CIRCUIT – 3 rounds of:

  • 10 barbell squats
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 pull-ups or pull-up alternatives!

LEVEL 6 DAY B CIRCUIT – 3 rounds of:

  • 10 barbell Romanian deadlifts/regular deadlifts
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 inverted bodyweight rows

Spice it up further! If you’ve read up to this point, and put the work in, we hope you feel like a Gym Class Hero, and you can start to build your own workout!

Coach Staci explains exactly how to design an exercise routine in this video:

SO what can you do to add some variety? Throw in or replace another exercise!

Want to do some planks? Put them in the circuit after your other movements!

Lunges to replace the squats or deadlifts one day? Sounds good!

Want to start training with gymnastic rings? Go for it!

Want to learn how to do handstands? Try practicing for 5 minutes at the start of each workout!

There are a ton of different options for what to do and where to go.

If we’ve gotten you more comfortable in the gym, we’ve done our job!

WANT MORE HANDS-ON INSTRUCTION? If you’re looking to get out of the generic workout programs and follow along with a routine that fits your goals and lifestyle, consider checking out our 1-on-1 Coaching Program!

Sure, we help beginners get started with strength training. But we also help seasoned gym-goers take their training more seriously, and even help some folks start competing in powerlifting competitions. 

I personally hired an online coach in 2014, and I’ve been with him ever since. It’s the best money I spend every month, and the best investment I make in myself.

We’ve worked with men and women like Leslie here, a single mom that lost 100 + pounds thanks to following Coach Jim’s program.

Leslie used NF Coaching and her local gym to transform herself.

She now works on things like gymnastic training and handstands and deadlifts and squats!

Interested in having expert guidance in your pocket? Click on the image below to book a free call with our team!

Nerd Fitness Coaching Banner

Gym Etiquette: Tips and Tricks

modern gym interior with various equipment

I asked the entire 15-person staff in our Online Coaching Program – most of whom have trained clients in a gym for 5+ years – what information they would share with new gym-goers:

#1) Take your time. The above 6 level workout plan might take you 12+ months to move through, and that’s okay! I would rather you slowly wade into the water instead of terrifying yourself with the thought of cannonballing into the deep end and never even starting a gym routine.

Stick with what you know, and then bit by bit, one movement at a time, branch out and try new things.

Remember: “days and years,” not “weeks and months.”

#2) Do what makes you happy. You might have noticed above I didn’t mention things like bicep curls, bench press, cardio classes, spin class, etc.

If those things make you happy, start adding them to the mix. However, if you are only doing those things because you think you are supposed to, don’t!

The above 6-Stage strategy combined with a healthy nutritional strategy will get you 95% of the way to where you want to go.

I promise. Nerd’s honor.

#3) Write down everything you’re doing and track your progress. Keep a simple note on your phone, write in a notebook, use Evernote, whatever. Write down what you do so that you know what to do next time.

When you get stronger and things feel too easy, you know to move up in weight slowly (and record that too!).

Keeping track of everything is one of the easiest and most important ways to make progress. Staci, Jim, and I ALL still record every workout and never stop trying to get a teeny, tiny bit stronger with each session.

#4) It’s better to lift a TOO LIGHT weight than try one that’s TOO HEAVY. You want to finish the workout saying “hey I could do more, this is encouraging” rather than “that was too much, I hurt myself/failed/and I’m demoralized.”

#5) If you don’t know, ask somebody who works there. If you’re worried that you’re using a machine incorrectly, and you’re sheepish and self-conscious about it, ask somebody who works in the gym.

Usually, there will be trainers that work there walking around the floor – ask them! That’s what they’re there for.

They can help you set the safety bars and pins on the squat rack if you’re not sure how. They can tell you how to adjust the seat on a machine, or how the treadmill works. That is what they are there for!

#6) If you want to hire a trainer for a few sessions, it might be a great investment! Good trainers are hard to come by, but if you happen to like our style of doing things here at Nerd Fitness, we have our own 1-on-1 Coaching Program that will program your workouts and help you fix your diet:

Nerd Fitness Coaching Banner

#7) Work out with what you can work with.

If you are a member at a Planet Fitness or similar gym: Your gym might not allow you to do barbell deadlifts, might not have a squat rack, or ONLY have a Smith Machine. If this is true of your gym, this is okay!

Do the best you can with what you have. Like MacGyver.

You can still get quite strong with the dumbbell workouts and bodyweight movements in Stage 4! And you’ll be that much more prepared when you do start working with barbells if you eventually join a different gym.

#8) Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. Just going to the gym takes courage.

  • Trying a machine for the first time takes courage.
  • Picking up a dumbbell takes courage.
  • Using the squat rack takes a lot of courage.

Don’t worry about perfect, or having perfect form or the perfect routine after you finish this article, just START! It’s how we all learn: like scientists trying new experiments and subtly tweaking the variables.

Act like a scientist until you get your workout routine at the gym just right. Experiment!

These are our favorite tips and tricks with regards to the gym. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention something equally important:

Gym etiquette

We’ve created another article in this gym series called “29 Unwritten Rules to the Gym,” to make sure you don’t be an accidental ass in the gym. 

This list includes some obvious things like wiping down the bench after you use it, or not monopolizing a squat rack, but then some other more subtle things that will keep you in everybody’s good graces!

How to Build the Routine of Going to the Gym.

This LEGO needs to relax, all his training at the gym will pay off.

If you read this far, 6000 words later, I have to imagine it means you’re really interested in getting started with strength training! 

The first time going to a gym can be nerve-wracking and exciting, but it’s the 100th, 500th, 1000th trip to the gym where results get made.

And that means you need to BUILD the habit correctly for going to the gym. 

It comes down to a few key things:

1) Accountability! If you’re new to going to the gym, it’s really easy to fall off the wagon once life gets busy. For that reason, I encourage you to be accountable to somebody other than yourself. 

You see, motivation sucks, and will fail you when you need it most. 

So, instead of using motivation, cultivate discipline and accountability. 

Make it almost impossible for you to skip the gym:

  • Recruit a friend to join you at the gym! You don’t want to let them down, right?
  • Prepay for a bunch of sessions with a good personal trainer.
  • Hire an online coach who checks in on you regularly!

2) Focus on hacking into the Matrix and setting up your system! Put your workout time and place into your Google Calendar so that you always know when your next workout is. Focus on creating an environment where you are more likely than not gonna DO THE THING you want to do (go to the gym). We call this “Building your Batcave.”

3) Cultivate a love of constant improvement. Imagine this: you’re no longer going to the gym just to lose weight or look good. Those things are a happy consequence of what you’re really there for:

Because you ACTUALLY like to work out! 

I cannot tell you how many NF Coaching Clients I’ve seen message me and say “Holy crap Steve, I don’t know how it happened, but I actually LIKE working out now!”

Every week, you’re excited to hit the gym because: 

  • You’re adding more weight to your squats.
  • You are attempting a new personal best for the deadlift.
  • You’re trying to get your first pull-up
  • You get to see your gym friend and hear how his day went.
  • You LOVE how you feel after the gym. 

Getting there takes time and energy, but that’s really when life changes and sh** gets magical with regards to your health and fitness.

These are the tools we’ve created to help you turn the gym into something you look forward to:

1) Our popular 1-on-1 coaching program. No more guesswork, no wondering if you’re doing the right program, no shame or guilt. Just results that don’t suck, and a plan that doesn’t make you miserable. 

We keep you accountable to make sure you actually do your workout, we answer any questions you have, and we cheer you on every step of the way:

2) If you want a daily prompt for doing workouts at the gym (or at home), check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

Try your free trial right here:

3) Join the Rebellion! Our free community numbers in the hundreds of thousands scattered throughout the globe, and we need good people like you!

You can join by signing up in the awesome yellow box below, and I’ll send you a bunch of free guides and printable workouts, including our Strength 101 guide! 

PHEW!

Okay, by now you should have all of the tools you need to get started in the gym, but maybe you have more questions. If you do, I have answers! 

Simply leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer it soon!

I’d love to hear from you too if you found this article helpful. Which gym workout are you following? 

Have you made it all the way to Level 6 yet!?

-Steve

PS: Make sure you read the other 3 articles in our gym series:

PPS: Don’t forget to read our awesome Strength 101 Series either!

###

Photo Sources:Hardcore Stormies Hit The Gym, Iron Lego, stormtrooper out of line, Venting Off, Scenes from an empty lot in Brooklyn, vol 1., siraphol © 123RF.com, tonobalaguer © 123RF.com, Edvard Nalbantjan © 123RF.com, Oops this doesn’t seem to be London 24th March 2017power rack,

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The 8 Best At-Home Workout Routines: The Ultimate Guide for Training Without a Gym https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/the-7-best-at-home-workout-routines-the-ultimate-guide-for-training-without-a-gym/ https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/the-7-best-at-home-workout-routines-the-ultimate-guide-for-training-without-a-gym/#disqus_thread Tue, 19 Apr 2022 10:43:00 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=3627340 So you want to start working out, but you don’t want to leave the house? No problem!  Our online coaches specialize in helping people get fit from home. If you’re in a hurry, sign-up for our free weekly newsletter and we’ll send you PDFs of our “Work Out at Home” guides! Let’s go over the […]

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Wonder Woman vacuuming at home

So you want to start working out, but you don’t want to leave the house?

No problem! 

Our online coaches specialize in helping people get fit from home.

If you’re in a hurry, sign-up for our free weekly newsletter and we’ll send you PDFs of our “Work Out at Home” guides!

Let’s go over the 8 Best At-Home Workouts so you can start training today: no gym or equipment required!

Let’s jump right in!

At Home Warm-ups and stretching routines

A LEGO and his dog

No matter which at-home workout you pick, I want you to start with one important thing:

Warm-up!

I cover why you should always warm up in an article found right here. It doesn’t have to be much though, give it about five minutes to get your muscles active and your heart rate up.

Arm circles are a great way to warm-up for your at-home workout.

This will help you do exercises properly and help prevent injury. You can run in place, do air punches and kicks, or some jumping jacks.

Here is NF Senior Coach Staci (you might know her incredible story) showing you many beginner options you can use to warm up as well:

If you’re curious, here’s my personal (advanced) warm-up:

Advanced Warm-up Routine:

  • Jump rope: 2-3 minutes 
  • Jumping jacks: 25 reps
  • Bodyweight squats: 20 reps
  • Lunges: 5 reps each leg.
  • Hip extensions: 10 reps each side
  • Hip rotations: 5 each leg
  • Forward leg swings: 10 each leg
  • Side leg swings: 10 each leg
  • Push-ups: 10-20 reps
  • Spider-man steps: 10 reps

Our goal isn’t to tire you out, instead we want to warm you up.

That’s step one.

Completing your chosen at-home workout would be step two.

The Count proclaiming the number "2"

Below, you’ll find 8 sequences you can follow along with!

Home Workout #1: Beginner Bodyweight

This at-home routine, as we lay out in our Beginner Bodyweight Workout article, is as follows:

We also turned it into a fun infographic with superheroes, because that’s how we roll:

This infographic will show you the 6 exercises needed to complete our Beginner Bodyweight Workout.

The above is what we call “circuit training,” with the objective being to run through the workout sequence once, then again, then again.

Note: Not a milk drinker?

GOMAD will for sure help you gain weight, as this kid can attest to.

If you don’t have milk in the house for the rows, find something of roughly the same weight with a good handle.

Also, if you want to download this Beginner Bodyweight Workout as a worksheet, you can do so when you sign up in the box below:

It’ll help you track your progress as you begin your training.

Home Workout #2: Advanced Bodyweight 

If the beginner at-home workout above is too easy for you, move on to our Advanced Bodyweight Workout

The Advanced Bodyweight Workout:

  • One-legged squats – 10 each side [warning: super-difficult, only attempt if you’re in good enough shape]
  • Bodyweight squats: 20 reps
  • Walking lunges: 20 reps (10 each leg)
  • Jump step-ups: 20 reps (10 each leg)
  • Pull-ups: 10 reps [or inverted bodyweight rows]
  • Dips (between bar stools): 10 reps
  • Chin-ups: 10 reps [or inverted bodyweight rows with underhand grip]
  • Push-ups: 10 reps
  • Plank: 30 seconds

Not familiar with these moves? Check out the 21 Best Advanced Bodyweight Exercises for a full breakdown.

I warn you, the above sequence will hurt… in a good way. You should be proud if you can get through this three times.

Do you want to get as strong as possible so this workout ain’t no thang? 

Sign up in the box below to grab our guide, Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know. It’ll teach you all of these advanced bodyweight exercises!

Home Workout #3: The 20-Min Hotel Routine

Is there anyway to work out in this hotel room?

Sometimes, you just plain find yourself stuck in a hotel room. Maybe you can find the hotel gym, but I bet it’s terrible! It probably has 2 machines, a broken treadmill, and no free weights. 

Ugh.

Instead, how about a 20-min workout you can do in the room itself! Utilize the furniture to its full potential.

You can work out in your hotel room like these two people are doing!

Hotel Workout Level 1:

Hotel Workout Level 2:

Set the alarm clock to 15 minutes from now and see how many circuits you can do!

Check out our full post on hotel circuits if you want Level 3!

We have a LOT of business travelers throughout the Rebellion! Learn how they stay fit on the road with the Nerd Fitness Starter Kit!

Home Workout #4: High-Intensity Interval Training 

A LEGO Wizard

You don’t have to head to the gym to do High-Intensity Interval Training. You can do a complete routine right in your own home!

HIIT is just following a specific regimen where you vary your speeds and intensity throughout a shorter run, swim, bike, or row.

Unless you have a giant backyard, running at home might be tough.

But you know what doesn’t require a lot of room?

The infamous burpee bodyweight exercise!

Burpees!

To complete a burpee:

  • Start standing up, then squat down and kick your legs out.
  • Do a push-up, bring your legs back in, and explode up into a jump.
  • For a HIIT workout, try to do 20 repetitions, then rest for two minutes.
  • Repeat until you hate yourself.

Check out our full guide on How to Start Interval Training for some more ideas on HIIT workouts.

You can also check out our post “The 20-Min HIIT Workout for Home” for another living-room-friendly interval routine!

Home Workout #5: Attack of the Angry Birds

Little Cute Birds in a row

The Angry Birds Workout is designed to be done when you have 5 or 10 minutes to kill.

Sort of like playing Angry Birds…

If you have time for Angry Birds, you have time for an at home workout.

Here’s how The Angry Birds Workout Plan works: it’s deceptively simple – only four major movements.

If you don’t have time to run through the whole sequence, no problem!

Depending on how much time you have during the day, you can do your whole workout at once, or break up your training into four different sessions throughout the day (with each session being ONE of the exercises).

Here’s a sample day for your No-Equipment Workout:

  • Wake up, do 40 jumping jacks to warm up, and then do bodyweight squats.
  • At lunch, you grab your suitcase (if you’re at work, milk jug if you’re at home) and do inverted rows.
  • After work, you do another 50 jumping jacks and then do your push-ups.
  • After dinner, you do your planks while watching TV.

You could even split it up over two days if needed, but the goal would be to do it the whole sequence at once.

The main Angry Birds Workout article describes in detail Levels 1-6, but here’s Level 3 for you:

Once you’ve done the complete routine, you have my permission to whip out your phone and play the actual game!

Home Workout #6: Train like Batman

Lego minifigures standing in rows. In first row - Batman, The Jo

We love the Caped Crusader here at Nerd Fitness, so naturally we have The Batman Bodyweight Workout for you to try!

Bonus points if you somehow do this no-equipment workout in a cave, as that’s how Bruce Wayne would roll.[1]

This workout is separated into two days for you.

Here’s a video for the first day:

Batman No-Equipment Workout Day 1:

  • Rolling squat tuck-up jumps: 5 reps
  • Side to side push-ups: 5 reps
  • Modified headstand push-ups: 5 reps
  • Jump pull-up with tuck / Pull-up with Tuck-up: 5 reps
  • Handstands against wall: 8 seconds

Here’s a video for the second day:

Batman No-Equipment Workout Day 2:

  • ‘180 Degree’ jump turns: 5 reps
  • Tuck front lever hold: 8 seconds
  • Tuck back lever hold: 8 seconds
  • Low frog hold: 8 seconds

This is a relatively advanced workout already, but if you want to progress to the next level, check out the main Batman Bodyweight Workout for tips on how to do just that.

Batman is stoked you want to do an at-home workout.

Home Workout #7: The PLP Progression

At Nerd Fitness we encourage everyone to get to their first pull-up!

The PLP is a progressive program in which you complete one additional rep of three exercises – Pull-Ups, Lunges, and Push-Ups – every day, for two months.

NOTE: This is NOT a beginner program, and should not be attempted unless you have been training consistently and can do multiple repetitions of pull-ups and push-ups with great form.

Like this perfect push-up:

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

And this perfect pull-up:

The classic pull-up

Here’s how the PLP Progression works:

Day 1:

  • Pull-ups: 10 reps
  • Push-ups: 10 reps
  • Lunges: 10 reps (each leg)

Day 2:

  • Pull-ups: 11 reps
  • Push-ups: 11 reps
  • Lunges: 11 reps (each leg)

Day 3:

  • Pull-ups: 12 reps
  • Push-ups: 12 reps
  • Lunges: 12 reps (each leg)

How long do you keep doing this?

As originally envisioned by Chad Waterbury, the PLP Workout lasts 60 days.[3]

A man realizing how difficult this at-home workout will be.

Yeah…by the end of it you’ll be doing more than 50 pull-ups.

There are two versions:

  • If you can do 10 straight pull-ups: Start day 1 with 10 reps of each.
  • If you cannot do 10 straight pull-ups: Start day 1 with 1 rep of each.

Complete your required reps each day in as many sets as you need, whenever you need to. The goal is to do it in as few sets as possible, but enough so that you can complete each rep with proper form.

Want to learn more? Check out my results on the PLP Workout.

Home Workout #8: The Star Wars Workout!

Ackbar dressed as a rapper

Do you have access to a hallway that you can commandeer for a bit?

Then you can do our Star Wars Workout!

It’s designed to be done in a very small space, like your home’s hallway…or an escape pod.

The “Padawan” Level of this workout is:

  • 30-second knee or feet front plank (3 Sets)
  • 10 assisted squats or squats (3 Sets)
  • 10 doorway rows (3 Sets)
  • A 60-second Farmer-carry (Farmer’s Walk) dumbbells (or milk jugs) (2 sets)
  • March in place for 3 minutes of intervals (6 sets of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off)
  • 8 elevated or knee push-ups (4 sets)
  • 60-second Doorway Leans (2 sets)

If you want to advance to the Jedi Knight or Master Levels, check out The Star Wars Workout, which will also offer you a full description of each move.

Bonus No-Equipment Workout: The Playground Circuit

Do you have a nearby playground? Why not work out there! If you have kids, you can do it together. Or let them ignore you.

I’ll give you a Level One workout, and a Level Two. Check out The 20-Minute Playground Workout for some Level Three exercises.

Playground Workout Level One:

  • Alternating step-ups: 20 reps (10 each leg)
  • Elevated push-ups: 10 reps
  • Swing rows: 10 reps
  • Assisted lunges: 8 reps each leg
  • Bent leg reverse crunches: 10 reps

Playground Workout Level Two:

  • Bench jumps: 10 reps
  • Lower incline push-ups: 10 reps
  • Body rows: 10 reps
  • Lunges: 8 reps each leg
  • Straight leg reverse crunches: 10 reps

After you’ve gone through a complete set three times, go down the slide!

Can Home Workouts Build Muscle or Help With Weight Loss?

A LEGO penguin

Throughout our Online Coaching Program, we get two common questions for those wanting to train at home:

  1. Can working out at home help me build muscle?
  2. Can working out at home help me lose weight?

The answer to both of these: yep!

Let’s tackle them one by one.

#1) Can working out at home help me build muscle?

You can 100% build muscle mass at home.

Just ask out friend Jimmy here:

Jimmy before and after he did bodyweight training

Read more on how Jimmy turned into Spider-Man from home!

The trick is to follow a progressive overload strategy, as Coach Jim outlines in this video:

With progressive overload, we want to make our workouts more and more challenging, thus putting additional strain on our muscles.

So to build muscle with home workouts, focus on:

  • Increasing your repetitions.
  • Decreasing your rest periods between exercises.
  • Performing more difficult variations (knee push-ups to push-ups).
  • Increasing your time under tension (by going slower).

That will help you build strength and muscle from your casa.

Next up:

#2) Can working out at home help me lose weight?

You can totally train at home for a successful weight loss strategy.

Again, we have a great example with one of our Online Coaching Clients, Sarah the Supermom:

This picture shows Sarah's transformation

The trick here is to couple your home workouts with adjustments to your nutrition.

We’re big believers that you can’t outrun your fork, so any successful weight loss plan will include a focus on building a healthy plate.

That will look something like this:

If your meal plate looks like this, you're doing a lot of the heavy lifting for weight loss.

If you want some help on adjusting your nutrition, I’ve got two great resources for you:

  • The Nerd Fitness Guide to Healthy Eating. This massive resource will help you slowly adjust your nutrition, without forcing you to give up the food you love (yes, you can still eat pizza here and there). No more diets, instead we’ll work on building habits together.
  • Nerd Fitness Coaching. If you want to take it to the next level, one of our trained professionals can help you adjust your way of eating to help you reach your goals. No shame. No judgment. Just a like-minded nerd who will show you the way.

How to Build Your Own At-Home Workout

You can workout in a home just like this!

We just went over 8 workouts you can do at home (plus a workout you can do in a park).

You don’t have to stick to these though!

I have two resources to help you design your own no-equipment workout:

  1. The 42 Best Bodyweight Exercises: This guide will teach you how to perform the best bodyweight exercises – no equipment required! Check it out if you are unfamiliar with any of the movements referenced in today’s guide.
  2. How To Build Your Own Workout Routine: Once you’re comfortable with a handful of bodyweight exercises, use this guide to pull them all together into a full-body workout!

That should get you going on building a workout you can do in the comfort of your own home.

Want more? Alright, eager beaver, I got you.

This beaver is ready to start his at home training.

We built THREE options for people just like you:

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

Your NF Coach can help you lose weight and get healthy!

2) If you want a daily prompt for doing workouts at home, check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

Try your free trial right here:

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

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

Alright, your turn: I’d love to hear how your home training is going!

Which workout above did you try? Did you make one of your own?

Leave a comment below with your results or any questions you have on working out at home.

For the Rebellion!

-Steve

PS: If you were going to buy one piece of equipment to utilize in your home, a kettlebell would offer you a lot of versatility:

Coach Matt showing you how to rock the kettlebell swing.

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Photo Sources: Home Sweet Home 2, good dog, The minifigures of this series are really beautiful, it’s a rap, my friend:), Ekaterina Minaeva © 123RF.com, Hotel Room, af8images © 123RF.com, Tithi Luadthong © 123RF.com, Vintage House Bicycle,

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