Nerd Fitness Level up your life, every single day. Sun, 18 Nov 2018 02:49:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Super Simple Batch Cooked Chicken For Lazy People Wed, 14 Nov 2018 17:22:09 +0000 I’m lazy.

Given the choice between doing something and doing nothing, I’d probably choose nothing.

And yet, every day I have to find a way to feed myself. At the end of a busy day, that usually comes down to the simplest, fastest, laziest option.

Unfortunately, more often than not, that simple/fast/lazy option is also SUPER unhealthy and/or expensive: fast food, take-out, or delivery.

How can “home cooked healthy food” even compete with this convenience?

Great question.

If you’re somebody that’s more familiar with fast food than your oven, and like the IDEA of cooking for yourself but have no clue what you’re doing, fear not!

I’ve created this stupidly simple “Batch Cooked Chicken” video and resource for you.

This article and video assumes you know literally nothing about cooking.

Like, “never opened my oven” level of kitchen knowledge.

I considered calling this article “Batch Cooking for Idiots” but that’s not very nice. And I think you’re pretty smart.

So by the end of today’s article, you’re going to know EXACTLY how to prepare your food for an entire week’s worth of lunch and dinner!

Note: this is a simple chicken option with the laziest ingredients possible. If you know your way around the kitchen, consider checking out some of our more advanced recipes!

Why YOU NEED Batch Cooking in Your Life

Preparing dinner for a single meal takes 20 minutes. Preparing dinner for the week takes 30 minutes and provides you with food allllll week long.

Here’s why batch cooking RULES.

Right now, for each lunch and dinner, we have two choices:

  • “Should I prepare a healthy meal? Do I have the ingredients? How much time will this take? Ugh.”
  • “Should I hit a button on my phone or drive up to a window and grab food much faster?”

The unhealthy option is the lazier option, and after a long day of work or with screaming kids, it seems like the ONLY option.

However, if we can make ONE single decision at the start of the week to prepare food in a big batch, it eliminates every food decision we need to make the rest of the week. Not only that, but it makes the fast option the healthy option.

After batch cooking, we instead contemplate our meals like this:

  • “Should I hit a button on my phone and wait for food? Or should I get in my car and drive to a restaurant? Ugh, too much work.”
  • “Should I grab the food in the fridge and put it in the microwave for 90 seconds? Done.”

When you can make the lazier option the healthier one, you’re going to win 9 times out of 10.

So, perfect! Batch cooking is the best.

Of course, it’s much easier said than done.

You’re scared. You’ve never opened your oven. You once managed to set water on fire. And you have no clue what you’re doing.

I got you covered. As a batch-cooking convert, I’m gonna walk you through this step by step. I’m going to tell you exactly what to buy. What to set the oven at.

And give you permission to start.

It doesn’t matter if you screw this up. You can always order food if it doesn’t pan out (zing).

Cool? Cool.

Batch Cooking Basics: What You Need to Buy

Today, we’ll be preparing a week’s worth of chicken, Brussels sprouts (or broccoli) and sweet potatoes.

If you don’t like Brussels sprouts or sweet potatoes, I’ll give you an alternative.


  • 1 bag of frozen chicken tenderloins
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder (unless you’re a vampire)
  • OR “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning (alternative to salt, pepper and garlic)
  • Olive Oil Spray.
  • 2 cookie sheets
  • Tinfoil (to line the cookie sheet)
  • Parchment paper (chicken won’t stick to it, easy clean up)
  • Tupperware containers – or Pyrex
  • Pot holders (I use these

Depending on how much of a cooking noob you are, you might have some of this stuff already.

If you don’t, make the investment – everything listed above you can use for the next 12.37 years (approximately). You will never regret having these things in your kitchen.

Where I bought my stuff: Trader Joe’s.

Where you can buy your stuff: ANY grocery store.

Note that I didn’t even include things like knives and cutting boards, because you don’t need them to prepare the chicken above.

If you want to build out your kitchen arsenal, check out our Cooking 101 resource for exact things to buy!

How to Batch Cook Chicken

Watch the stupidly simple video I decided to film last night as I was batch cooking a few trays of chicken.

Here are the steps to remind you:

#1) Pre-heat your oven to 350.

#2) Line your cookie sheets with tinfoil and parchment paper.

#3) Grab your bag of chicken, put the chicken on the trays. Wash your hands with soap and water before handling your spices.

#4) Take your olive oil spray, and spray the topside of each chicken.

#5) Sprinkle each side with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (OR “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning).

#6) Flip them over (with tongs or your hands).

#7) Repeat with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

#8) Put them in the oven for 25 minutes.

#9) At 13 minutes, check your chicken to make sure things are going well!

#10) At 25 minutes, take your chicken out of the oven. Cut a piece in half, make sure it is uniformly white throughout. No pink gooey chicken!

Put some on a plate to eat, put the rest in a container for the rest of the week!

A serving size is 4 oz (if you have a cheap scale, it can REALLY help with portion sizes). If you want a visual, make a fist. That’s the size of a portion of chicken (it’s probably 2 – 2.5 tenderloin pieces).

What do I eat with the chicken?

Great question. This is just part one of our Batch Cooking series. And having a solid protein source for each meal is the most important part of a healthy nutrition strategy.

So what else goes on the plate?

Let’s chat about some side dish options.


  • Frozen microwavable veggies. I like broccoli or cauliflower (with “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning on them). Each bag will have instructions on it. All you need to do is pour what you want to grub in a bowl. Microwave for like four to five minutes. Add salt and some type of oil (olive or avocado). Enjoy.
  • Fresh bags of microwavable veggies. Same idea as the frozen, but less time in microwave (two minutes). Again, read the instructions on the bag!

LEVEL 2 (OVEN): Check out our in-depth article on how to roast vegetables right here:

  • Brussels sprouts. Chop up your sprouts into quarters. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Throw them on your cookie sheet with foil and parchment paper. Preheat at 400, and let your sprouts cook for 30 minutes. Give it a look halfway through tho.
  • Roasted broccoli or cauliflower. Again, let’s toss these bad boys in olive oil, salt and pepper. Throw them on your cookie sheet with foil into a preheated oven at 400 degrees. They’ll cook faster than the sprouts, so only cook for 15 minutes.
  • Asparagus. Cover your asparagus in olive oil, salt and pepper (I sense a theme). Throw them onto your foiled cookie sheet and place them into your preheated 400 degree oven. Let these cook for slightly more than 15 minutes, 18-20.

Don’t like veggies? We can change that.

What about some healthy carb options? Carbs aren’t evil. Just make sure they meet your goals. And your goal should be to eat under your caloric balance for the day if you’re focused on weight loss.

If you have the room in your calorie budget for the day, here are my favorite carbs to put on the plate next to my chicken and veggies:

  • Trader Joe’s microwave quinoa: Stab holes in the bag, put it in the microwave, and be done.
  • Sweet potato wedges: Cut up your sweet potato into small bits, then put them on a tray. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper. Heat the tray in your oven at 400 degrees for 45 mins.
  • Baby potatoes: Cut potatoes in half. Put them on a tray. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper (there’s that theme again), then stick your halved potatoes in the oven.
  • Spaghetti squash: Mmmmm!

That will cover your protein, a vegetable, and a carb. Simple.

Batch Cooking Tips and Tricks

This is not rocket science. Don’t make this into a bigger deal than it needs to be. You’re cooking some chicken, a potato, and some veggies. It’s easy.

Also, screwing up isn’t the end of the world. You can always order pizza or Chinese food if you totally botch it. Just live life in beta mode: ready, fire, aim. Try it out, and work on getting better.

Portion out your food into separate containers for grab-n-go lunches. This is how Staci, our head female coach, does batch cooking like this each week. Portion your food out into Tupperware to bring with you to work.

When in doubt, more chicken, more veggies, less sweet potato.

Try different spices. We have a whole big resource on how to do spices and flavors to dress up any healthy meal to also taste delicious.

What are your other newbie cooking questions?

I’d love to help more people become NOT afraid of cooking.

If you don’t know your way around your kitchen, has never turned on your oven, and are afraid of screwing up your meals, you’re not alone!

That was me too, for a LONG time.

These days however, I can cook 6-10 different great meals. It allows me to reach my health and fitness goals without making me miserable.

YOUR MISSION: Cook this chicken, and post a picture of it in the comments below. Do it in the next week.

Good luck!


PS: Just in case:



All photo sources can be found right here[1].

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3 HIIT Workouts for Beginners: How to Start Interval Training Wed, 14 Nov 2018 12:38:13 +0000 So you’ve heard amazing things about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

You’re not quite sure what it is, only that people seem to like it and it helps them lose weight. You probably have questions like:

  • Is it running?
  • Sprinting?
  • Why is it so popular?
  • What are the positives and negatives I should consider?
  • What if I hate running?

If you’re a busy person, you don’t need to be spending hours a day on a treadmill or out jogging around your neighborhood to lose weight. In fact, those hours of running could actually cause a litany of healthy issues if you don’t have great form!

I’ll try to keep things concise so you can get to the root of the real reason why you’re here: “will Interval Training help me lose weight and get in shape?”

Let’s dig in to what interval training is, and how you can use it to give your heart a great workout and kickstart your weight loss regiment.

What is interval training? What is HIIT?

High Intensity Interval Training is following a specific regiment where you vary your speeds and intensity throughout a shorter run/swim/bike/row.

Any cardio, as long as you’re able to vary your speed easily, can be a form of HIIT.

Imagine jogging lightly for three minutes, then pushing yourself hard for a minute by sprinting, and then repeating this cycle 4 more times (usually around 20 total minutes). That’s HIIT.

So what’s the deal? Why is HIIT so hot in the streets right now?

In 2018, HIIT was ranked the number one fitness trend by American College of Sports Medicine[1]. This makes sense to me, because everybody is busy and overwhelmed, so they’re looking for fast results in a minimum amount of time

Which brings us to intense, short workouts that hopefully create the results we’re all after.

(Notice the word “hopefully” there – but I’ll get to that shortly.)

You may be asking, “Steve, just how short and intense are we talking about here? Also your new haircut looks spiffy.

Thanks! Let’s explore the pros and cons of intervals!

What are the benefits of HIIT?

The 1996 landmark Tabata study demonstrated the benefits of extreme HIIT[2].

Dr. Izumi Tabata, from Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports, was obsessed with interval training. The doctor sought to see exactly what kind of gains were obtained from short, intense, periods of exercise. So he experimented on some Olympic athletes who were hanging around his institute.

The results were fascinating: compared to regular cardio, HIIT had a greater impact on improving both:

  • Aerobic increases (endurance)
  • Anaerobic increases (power)

Steve, you’re losing me! What’s that mean?”

Let’s imagine you are trying to increase how long you can run. And you also want to increase how hard you can go.

What would you do to improve?

Most people would answer with “try to run more.” You know, like jogging around the block. They’d start doing this a few times a week to improve their overall running capability.

Not a bad response, but there’s a better answer:

As Tabata demonstrated, the best way to increase aerobic and anaerobic capacity would be to focus instead on bouts of intense effort with sprinting followed by short periods of rest. A HIIT exercise, in other words. The intensity required to do such a thing helps build both endurance and power at the same time.

Plus, it takes less time! The average interval training workout is 20 minutes or less. Tabata was able to demonstrate improvements in his athletes in just four minutes. Incredible.

What’s happening here?

Your heart is a muscle. Intense interval training challenges it by forcing it outside of its comfort zone.

This is a good thing.

If you keep your heart beating at a constant rate, never expanding it outside of its comfort zone, it will never grow stronger. This is not good.

That’s why I support Nasim Taleb’s concept of “antifragility” – by introducing chaos and pushing your muscles outside of their comfort zone, they must adapt and grow more resilient in order to survive!

In other words: progressive overload – the same concept behind building strength.

Since Tabata’s 1996 study, many other trials have shown the benefits of interval training. Such as:

  • Weight loss. A study in the Journal of Obesity found participants were able to lose more body fat following a HIIT program compared to regular cardio[3]. This makes sense, because other studies suggest high intensity interval training burns more calories than a “steady state” workout[4]. Revving up your effort requires more out of you, including calories. If you’re interested in HIIT for weight loss, you’re on the right track.
  • Lowering blood sugar. Managing blood sugar is really important for health, and not just for diabetics. Those trying to lose fat should be aware of their blood sugar and corresponding insulin levels. The good news for our current discussion? HIIT has been shown to help lower and manage blood sugar levels[5].
  • Heart health. Touching on the “antifragile” topic again, HIIT has been shown to help with overall cardiovascular health the same way traditional endurance training does, but at a fraction of the time (almost half)[6].

Sold? Me too. Let’s chat about how to actually do some interval training.

What’s an example of a HIIT workout? How to do interval running

The key to HIIT is being able to go from “easy” to “difficult” All sorts of different exercises can get you there. We can group all workouts into aerobic, bodyweight and resistance.

HIIT is generally associated with running (aerobic), so we’ll devote this section to just that.

However, before we get into running (or any kind of HIIT workout), we need to talk about warming up.

To help prevent injury in any HIIT exercise, warm-up first. It can be as simple as doing some jumping jacks and air punches/kicks. These few minutes will loosen up your muscles, priming them for the intensity we are about to bring.

Also, when you’re done doing HIIT, do some stretching or yoga to cool down. Time to warm-up in reverse. This will help your muscles recover after your intense workout.

Okay, back to running.

Probably the easiest way to experiment with HIIT would be to run.

Here’s how to start with a basic HIIT running workout::

  • Go to a park in your neighborhood.
  • Warm yourself up with some light jogging, high knees and mobility – leg swings, arm swings, etc.,  
  • Run at a brisk pace for 30 seconds.
  • Need to slow down on the way? No worries. Jog or walk at a slow pace for 2 minutes.
  • After your rest, rev up the intensity again. Shoot for another 30 second jog if possible.
  • Continue until you get tired or after about ten “push/rest” intervals.

You’ll be surprised how quickly you get better at this, so don’t get disheartened if you find yourself stopping a lot. When beginning, don’t even worry about a timer. Just think about switching intensity.

Also, “running” or “jogging” is subjective. Whatever walking fast means to you is great. Do that for your periods of intensity.

It should be noted, that the entire “Couch to 5K” concept rests on interval training through running. It’s all broken down into “walking,” “jogging” and “running.” If you’re curious, check out our in-depth review of the program here. If want to start interval training, “Couch to 5K” could be a good way to do it.

Are you more of an indoor person?

Consider a treadmill, where it actually sets intervals for you based on your desired difficulty. We’ll be talking about machines a lot more in the next section, but a treadmill is all you need to do a HIIT workout. Experiment with the speed and incline to find a setting that you would consider “intense.” Many machines can be programed to flip between this and an “easy” setting. And you know what that means… boom! It’s built for HIIT

What are other examples of HIIT cardio?

There are a lot of different aerobic exercises for HIIT cardio.

For example, you could jump on a bike.

Biking for HIIT is much like running, but with wheels. Try peddling as hard as you can. Might be difficult to do on an actual street, so a stationary bike would be great for HIIT. Every spin class is based on this idea. Check out SoulCycle, Flywheel, or even your local gym for spin class opportunities. They’re popular for a reason, and you can make a friend or two!

Another important point on bikes: when scientists do research on HIIT, they generally use stationary bikes because of safety and ease of observation and measuring energy output. You probably won’t trip and fall on a stationary bike, no matter how fast you are pedalling. If you’re antsy about doing a HIIT workout because of the potential for injury, the bike might be the way to go.

Don’t have access to a bike?

Let’s chat about some other examples

  • Elliptical. If it has a dial for resistance, it can be used for interval training. That’s the name of the game here with the elliptical. For a couple minutes, go on low resistance (0-2 level). Then crank up the resistance for one minute (up to 8-10). Repeat this process for 12 and a half times, which will give you a 20 minute workout (the “half” allows you to stop after a low resistance interval). Everyone’s different, and this includes ellipticals, so adjust as needed.
  • Stair Climber. The dial again will help us here. Much like the elliptical, alternate between periods of low intensity for two minutes, then one minute for high intensity. The difference with the climber is the dial will control the speed of the stairs. Be careful.
  • Rowing machine. We’ll follow the same strategy here. Start with a two minute warm up. On minute three however, row like you’re being chased by the kraken for a full 60 seconds. Then catch your breath. The rowing machine might be hard to do for a full twenty minutes, since it’s a lot of upper body. Shoot for ten minutes at first.
  • Jumping rope. Jumping rope is a full body exercise. Your leg muscles work to jump, your core engages to keep balance, and your arms work to rotate the rope. Also, it’s fun. There’s no dial here, your own body controls the pace of the jump. Follow the same two minute ease, one minute intense as above. Jump rope can also be done with friends!

So far we’ve just been talking about aerobic exercises. Let’s cover our other categories, of bodyweight and resistance.

What other HIIT workouts are there?

Let’s chat about some alternatives to HIIT cardio, because I can already see the emails coming in:

“Steve, this all sounds great. But I hate running!”

Confession: So do I. So I don’t really run.

Here are some bodyweight examples to get going on HIIT:

  • Burpees. Stand up, then squat down, kick your legs out, do a push up, bring your legs back in, and explode up into a jump. Try to do 20 repetitions, then rest for two minutes. Repeat this a few times, for 15 minutes. Here’s exactly how to do a burpee:

  • Push-ups. For 20 seconds, do as many push ups as possible. Rest. Then do it again. If you’re worried about proper form, check out our full article here. I will mention that I want you to think of your body as a straight line. Focus on tightening this line throughout the whole movement. As demonstrated here:

  • Pull-ups. Same idea as above, do pull ups for 20 seconds, then rest. If you can’t do a pull up, we got you covered in this article right over here. Want a video of some nerds walking you through it?

Okay, that’s some bodyweight exercises. Let’s now chat some resistance examples for HIIT:

  • Kettlebell swing. For ten minutes, do 20 kettlebell swings on every minute. This will be intense, and worthy of a congratulations when you’re done. Check out our article for everything you’ve ever wanted to know about kettlebells here.
  • Battle ropes. If your gym has battle ropes, they’ll be great tool for HIIT. For intensity, the amount of slack in the rope determines the load. The more slack on the rope the tougher, and more intense, the workout. Also, don’t get stuck in just up and down movements. Variation will target different muscles.
  • Weightlifting. This would essentially be lifting heavy with fewer reps. More weight equals more intense. The critical piece will be moving from one exercise to another, for example the bench press to the lat bar: we call this circuit training! Might be tricky if you use a public gym and it’s busy, meaning you’ll have to wait your turn. If you can, go early. Beat the rush.

We’ve now covered aerobic, bodyweight and resistance forms of HIIT workouts. Let’s think outside the box though. We can get cray with interval training.

Basketball, tennis, soccer, and frisbee are AMAZING styles of exercise that use interval training (it’s all start and stop!). Run here, catch this and wait for the next round to start. That’s what we’re looking for in a HIIT workout.

So find a buddy and go play!

You can also do circuit training as a form of HIIT. Circuit training is going through a sequence of exercises, or stations, back to back. Push-ups to pull-ups, back to push-ups, only resting briefly from one exercise to another. This training would be perfect to mix it into a HIIT workout, since you can design your circuit to be very intense.

Check out our post for 15 routines to choose form. Plus, there’s a Batman workout hidden in there. You’re welcome.

Now, I understand at this point if you feel overwhelmed. I just threw a lot at you. And you might have a lot of questions: Is HIIT right for me? What should I be eating to prepare for interval training? What days should be rest days?

All good inquires. And we can help tailor a specific response just for you!

We answer questions like this in our 1-on-1 coaching program.

Here’s how it works: we get to learn your goals, lifestyle, challenges, and situation: Kids? An old injury? A job that requires travel? All the above? We got you covered.

We’ll then pair you with a coach from Team Nerd Fitness that fits your personality and situation. They’ll work with you to build custom workouts and nutrition guidance to meet any goal you might have. Unless that goal is ruthless world domination. Use your powers for good, okay?

Want to see if we are a good fit for each other? Click on the button below to schedule a free call. We’d love to talk to you, no matter what!

HIIT for weight loss

My guess is that you’re reading this article because you’re trying to get the most efficient “bang for your buck” when it comes to getting in shape.

And HIIT is a great form of exercise and COULD help with weight loss. I will, however, lower some of these outlandish claims that exist in the media. For example, Time magazine calls HIIT “miraculous” in one article[7]. That’s a little much, even for me, who writes for a living on why you should work out and likes using hyperbole for effect.

Seriously, I’m better at it than ANYBODY ON THE PLANET.

Ahem. Cardio, strength training, and HIIT all have benefits. HIIT deserves praise, but exercise in general deserves praise. As we discussed in our “Cardio vs HIIT vs Weights” post, all three forms of training have their place, and the best one for you is the one you actually do.

And strength training. Always strength training.

So to answer your question, is HIIT the secret and only weapon for weight loss? Na, it’s just great exercise. And exercise is important.

However, I will mention an important point: If you wanna lose body fat, how you eat will be responsible for 80% of your success or failure.

One of the Rules of the NF Rebellion is that “you can’t outrun your fork.”

This means that I don’t care how many intervals you do, it’s not gonna help you lose weight if you don’t also fix your nutrition. You can read our Beginner’s Guide to Nutrition if you want more information.

If you want to download our free 10-level Nutrition Guide to help you fix your diet starting today, you can do so by signing up in the box below:

Getting started with interval training

When it’s time to advance your high intensity interval training, think about the following:

  • Frequency. This would be the number of intervals in your workout.
  • Intensity. How hard are you going in each interval.
  • Time. How long are your intervals, resting periods, etc.

Maybe you start out doing three intervals of intense running. Once it becomes routine, bring it up to four intervals.

Maybe you crank the resistance on your stationary bike to “8” during your intense interval. When it becomes normal, bring it up to “10.”

Maybe you do pull ups for 20 seconds. When you’ve got a good handle on that, aim for 30 seconds.

This mindset will keep you advancing in interval training.

What to progress in any category? Consistency is the name of the game. Even just doing a HIIT workout once a week will help you progress in all three categories.

Mistakes to avoid when doing high intensity interval training

There’s a lot to consider when embarking on a HIIT practice. No matter which routine you end up starting with, make sure you think about the following:

  • Ease into it. Despite the “intense,” go ahead and start slow. As the saying goes, “you must walk before you can run.” The importance is building a HIIT practice. If you need to go “less intense” before progressing to “intense,” that’s fine. It’ll help build your aerobic capabilities (endurance), which will be important when working on intensity.
  • Keep proper form. Doing your movements correctly will help prevent injury. This is even more important in your later intervals, where you may be exhausted and tired. If you find yourself breaking form, go ahead and slow down. Intense isn’t worth an injury.
  • Get rest. Our bodies actually build muscle while we are resting. So take some “off days” from your HIIT practice. Want to stay active on these days? Go for a walk!

Take it easy, focus on your form, and make sure to prioritize rest.

HIIT Timer Recommendations

HIIT centers on doing intervals. One moment it’s intense, the next you’re onto a short rest break.

A good way to know when it’s time to go from one sequence to the next is a timer. A loud “beep” can tell you when it’s okay to catch your breath or when you have to kick it in gear.

  • J&J Official Seven Minute Workout. This free app from Johnson & Johnson is actually really awesome. It has premade workouts you can choose form based on your fitness level, or tweak them to make it your own.
  • Runtastic. Don’t let the name fool you, this free app is for more than just running. You can customize for many different interval workouts, depending on what exercise you go with. And the interface looks slick.
  • Seconds. It’s free and customizable to any form of HIIT. It can also integrate with your music, which is pretty sweet.
  • Seven. If you’re new to HIIT, Seven would be a good app for you. It’s free, plus it has illustrations for exercises. You also get to customise your own virtual personal trainer, which may be the future of fitness. The bots are coming…
  • Sworkit. First off, it’s a clever name (taken from “Simply Work It.”) Second, it’s free. Third, it can display your workout, goals, and calories burned. I like it.

Also, we need to talk about interval times. Most of the apps referenced are completely customizable. For example, you can change the intense interval from 120 seconds to 90 seconds. This is critical, because it’s up to you to decide how long you can do intense vs. rest.

Generally, folks recommend one minute of intensity and then two for rest when doing HIIT. However, this all depends on the individual, and exercises performed. Burpees are tougher to do than jumping over a rope. So feel free to make changes like 30 seconds of intensity and three minutes of rest. Make it your own.

Whatever way you chose to do HIIT, is fine, as long as you actually do it. The benefits of HIIT kick in when going HARD for you. In other words, you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to get the benefits of HIIT[7]. Your light jog down the street works.

As we discussed, if you’re consistent, you’ll improve. So don’t stress on where you have to start. For now, download an app and get going.

Okay, I think I’ve covered everything. You now know about HIIT, have a bunch of workouts to choose from, and apps to help with timing! Let’s go!

I hate multiple choice! Pick a HIIT workout for me!

Fine. Let’s power walk!

  • Warm-up. For three minutes, walk at a easy pace.
  • Intervals. Let’s do seven intervals, two minutes each. For the first 60 seconds, power walk, like you’re trying to beat someone to the front of the line at Starbucks. For the next 60 seconds, just walk. Repeat six more times.
  • Cool down. You can do some more light walking, or a little bit of stretching here would be great.

Total time: 20 minutes.

I want to stress, that you can do just about any exercise in exchange for this routine. Just minus “power walk” and add “push-ups.” It’ll still be a great HIIT workout.

“But Steve, that’s still multiple choice!”

Right, right… sorry. Stick to power walking for now.

Start now

Let’s shock your heart today!

No jumper cables, let’s do interval training.

If you got through this whole article, you need to actually try it. That’s the point.

Do our power walking routine above. It’s a great place to start. Don’t stress if it seems too simple. Remember, our goal at this stage is comfort. We can work on “whoa, that was intense” later.

Keep it up and your heart rate will be roaring before you know it. If you’d rather sprint, let’s do it! There’s a zillion ways to do HIIT. Just don’t let the options paralyze you. Pick one, anyone, and get to it.

Interval training, in any form, is a solid fitness choice and a great practice to have in the workout arsenal.

Let’s go!


PS: As a reminder, if you want help on your fitness journey, we can help. We have our 1-on-1 Coaching program that will help you transform. If you’re looking to level up your life (and you are if you read this whole article), then an accountability partner would be one of the best tools to utilize. Click here to learn more.


All photo credits can be found in this footnote[8].


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The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet – 2018 Update Thu, 08 Nov 2018 14:00:35 +0000 So you wanna learn about the Paleo Diet, eh?

Here’s the ENTIRE diet in a nutshell:

If a caveperson didn’t eat it, neither should you.

Now, obviously there’s more to it than that, and that’s what I’m going to cover in great detail with this article today.

When you are following the Paleo Diet, you can eat anything we could hunt or gather way back in the day – things like meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, and seeds.

Sorry, the pasta, cereal, and candy will have to go! Anything that didn’t exist in caveman times will not be existing on your plate or in your stomach.

And instead of counting calories and perfectly partitioned portions (say THAT three times fast), you’ll be focusing on eating the right foods instead.

And that makes me happy, because I hate counting calories. Maybe you do too.

I don’t like keeping track of how much I’ve eaten or obsessing over how many grams of a particular nutrient I’ve had. Not only do I hate counting calories, but I know that calories are really only half of the battle, as they’re not all created equal – 400 calories of Doritos do NOT have the same effect on your body as 400 calories of high-quality vegetables and protein.

Fortunately, if you can expand your horizons and remove certain types of food from your diet, you can stop worrying about counting calories FOREVER and instead focus on fixing your relationship with food.

If you are interested in learning more about the diet, and want to learn how to successfully implement it, we got you covered!This diet does have a ton of pitfalls and challenges that you’ll encounter as you start to change your life, and most people give up on the Paleo Diet within a few days!

So let’s dig in.

The Paleo Diet doesn’t require counting a single calorie AND it allows you to eat until you’re full and happy.

Oh, and it can help you lose weight, build muscle, and get in the best shape of your life.

I know, that sounds like an ad for some really shady supplement or diet book that you’d see on TV at 4 AM.

But if you can actually apply the rules of the Paleo lifestyle, you can get some pretty solid results.

It’s helped many people achieve jaw-dropping transformations, including my friend Saint, (whose story you can read here):

Or Staci from Team NF.

(she’s actually our lead Coach in our 1-on-1 Coaching Program):

But you need to do it right. You need to have the right mindset, you need to focus on the right foods, and structure your environment so that you’re not tempted to backslide and abandon the Diet after a few days.


So how does the Paleo Diet work?

Cavemen Hunt Elephant

Oh lord, another “diet.”

I know, it sounds like a fad/marketing ploy, but The Paleo Diet isn’t really a “diet,” and it’s actually quite legit.

It’s also the most time-tested diet ever. So, the opposite of a “fad.”

You see, tens of thousands of years ago, before Nike, Cap’n Crunch, and Healthy Choice meals, our ancient ancestors thrived as hunter-gatherers.

Although it’s been a really long time, our genetics haven’t changed that much since then. And yet…

The average Homo Sapien back then: muscular, agile, athletic, and incredibly versatile.

The average Homo Sapien now: overweight, out of shape, stressed out, unhappy, sleep deprived and dying from far too many preventable diseases due due to lifestyle choices.

So what the hell happened? Agriculture!

A few thousand years ago, humans discovered farming, the agricultural revolution took off, and we advanced from hunter-gatherers to farmers. We settled down, formed societies, and the human race progressed to what we are today. Which is obviously great for a number of reasons (air conditioning! Nintendo! cars! Not getting eaten by wild animals!)

The problem is, our bodies never adjusted properly to eating all the grains  and sugar that we we’re now consuming.

As paleo guru Robb Wolf puts it, think of a 100-yard football field. The first 99.5 yards are how long Homo-Sapiens spent as hunter-gatherers. As they became REALLY good at hunting and gathering our bodies adapted to that lifestyle over thousands of years. That last half-yard represents our species after the agricultural revolution, where our diet has shifted (but our genetics haven’t).

So, instead of loading up on meat, vegetables and seasonal fruits, we’ve become a species “dependent” upon grains – bread, pasta, rice, corn, and so on. The government continues to recommend 6-11 servings of grains a day, and people continue to get fatter and fatter by the day.

66% of us are overweight, 33% are considered obese, and those numbers are only getting worse [1]

Clearly something’s not right, and we need to fix it.

The Paleo Diet is an effort to go back to eating how we’re biologically designed to eat, allowing us to tap into our genetic potential and start living healthier immediately.

WTF is the Paleo Diet?

Cavemen Hunt Paleo Bear

Back in the day, grains weren’t part of our diet.  

When we (over)consume grains regularly, our bodies take those grains, which are composed of carbohydrates, and those carbs get turned into sugar in our system.

That sugar is then either burned as energy or stored as fat. That’s right: the grains you’re consuming are stored as fat in your body and they’re what most Paleo experts believe are the main culprit in why you’re overweight.

So, rather than me explain that part with thousands of words, just watch this three-minute video – “Why You Got Fat

Next, most grains contain gluten and lectins. What are they and what’s wrong with them?  I’m so glad you asked:

  • Gluten is a protein found in things like rye, wheat, and barley. It’s now being said that much of our population may be gluten-intolerant (hence all the new “gluten-free!” items popping up everywhere).  Over time, those who are gluten intolerant can develop a dismal array of medical conditions from consuming gluten: dermatitis, joint pain, reproductive problems, acid reflux, and more.[2]
  • Lectins are natural toxins that exist in grains to defend against consumption! Yup. Grains have evolved to keep themselves from being eaten by us. These lectins are not a fan of our gastrointestinal tract, and they prevent the tract from repairing itself from normal wear and tear. This can cause all kinds of damage.

Long story short: our bodies don’t process grains well, and they are causing a boatload of problems. 

The Paleo Diet also almost completely eradicates sugar. Unless you’re getting your sugar from a fruit, forget it. Sugar causes an energy spike and crash in your system, turns to fat unless it’s used immediately, and wreaks all kind of havoc on our bodies.

So, no grains, no sugar, no processed foods. Whether you’re talking about the paleo diet or not, many studies have shown that an incredible number of diseases and lifestyle issues can be reversed with these three simple changes.[3]

So I can already see the gears turning in your head.

Yes. The reason the Paleo Diet works is primarily due to the fact that you’re eliminating all of the high calorie, low energy, junk foods from your diet. Which means you’re going to, on average, eat fewer calories than you’ve been eating in the past.

Which will lead to weight loss over time!

The reason Paleo works for some people: as I lay out in my “Which diet is best for you?” article, it comes with built in, black-and-white, eat this not that Rules to follow. It removes calorie counting and practically ensures you ONLY eat food that fill you up but aren’t loaded up with calories.

But where’s my energy?

darth vader vendor lego

So, if we’re not eating 300+ grams of carbs every day, where are we supposed to get our energy from?

Our bodies can operate on a lower number of carbohydrates than what we’re used to eating, so fewer carbs isn’t an issue once you re-train your body to process the food you’re eating.

When there is an absence of carbs (which is how we’re USED to operating), our body will take stored fat and burn THAT for energy in a process called ketogenesis. This is the premise behind the much hyped, effective but oh-so-tough-to-stick-with “Keto Diet.”

In addition, because you are NOW consuming fewer calories than you were on average, your body is in a caloric deficit. Which means it needs to get its energy from somewhere – how about the fat stores you already have? This is the goal with weight loss.

What I’m trying to tell you is that our bodies are pretty effin’ efficient.

So, fewer carbs = less glucose in your system, which means your body will have to start burning fat as your fuel source. Which means… decreased fat storage and decreased body fat percentage and increased good-lookingness.


So, all carbs are bad?

Lego cutting bread and carbs


Carbs still serve a purpose in our diets, but they’re not essential [4].

Carbs aren’t evil – they’re just…carbs. But your body does process them differently than other food sources.

The challenge is that carbs tend to be calorically dense (lots of calories) without being satiating (meaning you tend to eat way more than you intended).

I prefer to get my carbs from vegetables, sweet potatoes, and fruit. Why is that? These foods are naturally occurring in the wild and don’t need to be processed in any way (unlike grains) in order to be consumed.

The other great thing about vegetables is that they’re incredibly nutrient dense and calorie light – six full servings of broccoli (and who would eat 6 servings at once?) has 180 calories and 36 grams of carbs. A single serving of pasta (and NOBODY eats just one serving of pasta) has 200 calories and 42 grams of carbs.

Now, eating paleo does not automatically mean that you are doing a ketogenic diet (no carb) or a low-carb diet.

However, even if you have a serving of sweet potato (26g per 1 cup serving) with every meal, it’s likely a lot lower in carbs than you’re used to having.

We do recommend keeping your carb content low – loading up on buckets of fruit is technically Paleo, but can result in a ton of carbs and sugar consumed (and thus, fat gain. Fail).

I’ll cover that more below too, as it’s one of the pitfalls to avoid with successfully going paleo. If you’re worried about adherence to the diet, I understand – it’s the toughest part of Paleo – sticking with it!

Knowing what to eat is part of it, but following this fairly restrictive lifestyle in a modern environment surrounded by cookies and candy and bagels and pasta is really difficult! Factor in the “carb flu” you might go through in the first few weeks (as your body gets weaned off of carbohydrate fuel and habits), and most people give up on the Paleo diet long before it creates lasting change!

Does this sound like you? Worried about how to stick with this diet when you live a busy life and work long hours and also want to lose some weight but you don’t want to hate yourself? You’re not alone!

In fact, people like you are the reason we created our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program!

We work with busy people like you to structure a complete life overhaul: handcrafted workout routines, accountability, mindset changes, and nutritional strategies. If you want guidance from a trained professional, schedule a call by clicking on the image below and see if we’re a good fit for each other!

What about dairy?

milk truck lego

Dairy’s a tough one, as most Paleo folks tend to stay away from it – a portion of the world is lactose intolerant, and those that aren’t usually have at least some type of an aversion to it.

Why is that? Because no other animal in the entire kingdom drinks milk beyond infancy.

Hunter-gatherers didn’t lug cows around with them while traveling – milk was consumed as a baby, and that was it. As with grains, our bodies weren’t designed for massive dairy consumption.

There is evidence that some adaptation to dairy has taken place throughout the years, specifically with people with ancestry in herding cultures, but this is not the majority of the population [5] .

So, this is one that Paleo purists will avoid like the plague, while others have found that consuming dairy in its various forms work for their genetics, goals, and lifestyle.

If you’re not sure, remove dairy from your diet and only introduce it back in when you’re ready to see how your body responds.

So no grains, no dairy: what DO I get to eat on this diet?

caveman cooking over fire lego

Okay, so if we cut out the grains, almost all processed foods, and dairy, you’re left with only things that occur naturally:

  • Meat – GRASS-FED*, not grain-fed. Grain causes the same problem in animals as they do in humans.
  • Fowl – Chicken, duck, hen, turkey…things with wings that (try to) fly.
  • Fish – Wild fish, as mercury and other toxins can be an issue in farmed fish
  • Eggs – Look for omega-3 enriched cage free eggs.
  • Vegetables – As long as they’re not deep-fried, eat as many as you want.
  • Oils – Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil – think natural.
  • Fruits – Have natural sugar, and can be higher in calories, so limit if you’re trying to lose weight.
  • Nuts – High in calories, so they’re good for a snack, but don’t eat bags and bags of them.
  • Tubers – Sweet potatoes and yams. Higher in calories and carbs, so these are good for right after a workout to replenish your glycogen levels.

*If you can only afford grain-fed meat, that’s still better than grains. Do the best you can with your situation!

Steak with asparagus and sweet potato fries, grilled chicken salad, massive omelets that will fill you up for the whole morning, apples dipped in almond butter (my favorite snack ever), and so on. Pick any of the things from that list, and eat as much as you want of them (with the noted exceptions). You’ll feel better and be healthier.

How come I won’t get fat?

Leaning Caveman Grok

Because these foods are so nutritious and filling, you’ll be eating satiating foods that fill you up but are not carb-calorie dense.

To get the equal number of calories from a bag of Doritos or bread (which, as you know, you can eat all day long and never really feel full), you’d have to eat 2-3 Mack trucks full of broccoli and spinach.

Okay, that’s clearly an over-exaggeration, but you get the point.

A GIANT plate of vegetables and a reasonable portion of meat can keep you full for hours, while eating carb-heavy foods can result in being hungry again soon after.

Whenever I need to lose weight for vacation, I go 100% Paleo and I can drop a few body fat percentage points in a few weeks (while combining it with strength training and interval running).

As I said above, you can definitely do The Paleo Diet WRONG.  If you are “full paleo” but just eating nuts and fruit, you could theoretically still be eating thousands of calories, hundreds of grams of carbs/sugar.

But I can’t give up my muffin, pasta, bagel, pizza, and bread!

lego bread

Okay then, don’t try the Paleo Diet! Simple as that.

I hear you. Because bread is amazing. And so is candy. And soda. These things are designed to be as delicious as possible.

But they don’t have a place in the Paleo Diet, so you have to decide what’s important to you right now.

If you’re happy with how you look, your energy levels are good all day, and you don’t see any room for improvement, then keep doing what you’re doing – I won’t force you to eat like this.

Consider the Mediterranean Diet which still includes portions of things like pasta or bread (note: I said PORTIONS, not platefuls)!

However, if you’ve been struggling with weight loss, have no energy throughout the day, need eight cups of coffee, hate counting calories, and want to start turning your life around today, why not give it a shot for 30 days?

TRY IT: If after 30 days you haven’t noticed a marked improvement in your quest for a better life, then go back to the donuts. It’s important to give yourself a full 30 days before passing judgment. Your body has to adjust from fueling itself on carbs and sugar to burning your stored fat for energy, which can take a few weeks.

If you’re not willing to cut out grains from your diet completely, just work on MINIMIZING those foods gradually and see how your body adjusts.

Slow transitions are often much easier to handle over the long-term; the more you can shift your diet closer to Paleo principles, the faster you’ll start to see results.

In fact, we’ve actually built a 10-level diet system as part of Nerd Fitness that slowly transitions somebody into a more Paleo-type lifestyle, because we know the biggest problem with this stuff is

When you sign up in the box below, we’ll send you both the 10-level Nerd Fitness Diet cheat sheet AND the Beginner Paleo Guide so you can cut through the confusion and start fixing your health today.

This is also the approach we champion with our 1-on-1 Online Training Program and Paleo-approved flagship online course, The Nerd Fitness Academy.

The biggest problem with the Paleo Diet is actually STICKING WITH IT, so we built this course with that fatal flaw in mind, and have helped like 40,000+ students slowly transition to a Paleo Diet (if they decide it works for them) and help them stay on target.

How much should I eat of each nutrient?

storm trooper tomato

Keep it simple: Always start with a good protein source with each meal (eggs, steak, chicken, fish, pork) along with some vegetables.

That’s it.

If you’re having trouble getting enough calories daily, or feeling hungry constantly, add some healthy fats to the equation: avocado, a handful of almonds or walnuts, almond butter, olive oil, etc.

If you’re feeling tired all the time, try adding some salt to your food. Going from a processed, high sodium diet to a paleo diet you will very often end up eating too little sodium, which is an essential nutrient.

As stated above, fruit does have quite a bit of sugar in it, and nuts have quite a few calories, so if you are following the Paleo Diet but not losing weight, check your fruit and nut consumption and see if you are loading up on those at the expense of vegetables and healthy protein.

What I’m trying to say is this: fat and protein should make up a big percentage of your diet.

Baaaaack up: I thought fat made you fat?

chef and lego pig

Pooooooor fat. It’s gotten a bad rap over the past number of decades, so companies have been doing everything possible to make everything low fat and “healthy!” (while adding all sorts of preservatives, chemicals, and sugar).

Yup…cut out the fat, increase the carbs….and look where THAT has gotten us.

Why has fat been vilified? Rather than get into the politics of it myself, I’ll let Gary Taubes, author of the incredibly thorough and well-researched Good Calories, Bad Calories take over.

As he discusses in article he wrote for the New York Times a decade ago [6]:

These researchers point out that there are plenty of reasons to suggest that the low-fat-is-good-health hypothesis has now effectively failed the test of time. In particular, that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic that started around the early 1980’s, and that this was coincident with the rise of the low-fat dogma. (Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, also rose significantly through this period.)

They say that low-fat weight-loss diets have proved in clinical trials and real life to be dismal failures, and that on top of it all, the percentage of fat in the American diet has been decreasing for two decades. Our cholesterol levels have been declining, and we have been smoking less, and yet the incidence of heart disease has not declined as would be expected. ”That is very disconcerting,” Willett says. ”It suggests that something else bad is happening.”

Healthy fats are valuable additions to our diet. “Low fat” foods were created to follow conventional wisdom that fat made you fat (which as stated in the above article doesn’t stand up to scrutiny).

Now, when a company makes a low fat food, they remove the fat and have to replace the flavor with something. That “something” is usually sugar. Which gets stored as fat in our bodies. Crap.

So, fat is not the enemy. According to Taubes and Paleo folks, it has been vilified and the real focus should have been on sugar and carbs all along.

And thus in the Paleo Diet, fat makes up a large portion of one’s diet.

Do I need to eat every 3 hours?

Nope. Eat when you’re hungry, don’t eat when you’re not.

Going again back to our evolutionary history, we didn’t always have the luxury of going to a vending machine or drive-through window to pick up food. Sometimes we’d go all day long, or even days at a time, without finding any food. Luckily, we’re designed to use our excess fat stores as energy in these situations.

Don’t worry about eating every three hours. 

In fact, I’d recommend NOT eating all of the time, and instead focus on eating full meals!

Sometimes, it’s even okay to skip a meal or two, as long as you don’t go berserk and eat seven pizzas because you’re so hungry afterward.

Don’t worry about hitting a specific number of calories each day. If you’re not hungry, don’t eat.

This type of eating is generally referred to as Intermittent Fasting.

What are the criticisms of this diet?

Frozen Caveman Grok Lego

The main criticism that I continue to come across is that it’s “fear mongering” and vilifying grains in the same way that fats have been vilified.

If you really want to drive yourself mad, go read a mainstream article that’s either pro or against the Paleo Diet. In the comments, you’ll find a bunch of dietitians yelling back and forth at each other citing different studies and sources and then calling each other wackjobs.

So, disregarding the fear mongering and dogma surrounding the diets, what are the ACTUAL critiques of the Paleo Diet?

#1) If you’re not careful, this type of diet can get expensive. But as we know, with a little research, we can make eating healthy incredibly affordable. Admittedly, while I recommend eating organic fruits and veggies, free range chicken, and grass-fed beef whenever possible, these products can be a bit more expensive in conventional stores due to the processes needed to get them there.

However, farmers’ markets often have well-priced meats, eggs, fruits, and vegetables that are locally grown and incredibly healthy.  Even if you’re spending a little more money than before, when you factor in your overall health, spending a few extra bucks on healthier food now is a wiser investment than thousands later on costly medical expenses.

Also, if you’re really short on cash, eating the non organic or grass fed version of a meat, vegetable, or eggs is still better than eating breads, pasta, fast food, and the like.

Most people simply compare the cost of a paleo meal with ramen noodles or pasta and bread and determine Paleo is prohibitively expensive. Sure, it’s more expensive than those foods, but if you are smart with your money you can eat a much healthier meal and do so pretty inexpensively.

(This doesn’t even factor in the whole “if you eat cheap unhealthy food now, you’ll pay thousands in medical bills and hospital visits and medications later” argument which is valid too).

#2) It’s difficult (though getting easier) to eat Paleo in today’s society! A normal breakfast in the US consists of bagels, muffins, toast, cereal, or donuts. NONE of those things have any nutritional value, they’re loaded with tons of carbs and calories, and are composed of processed grains that can jack up your stomach.

Eating out at restaurants can get tough too, and “paleo-approved” is not something you’ll usually find on a menu.  Eating in this manner requires careful planning and tons of willpower, but it can be done if you’re dedicated.

#3) “But cavemen had short lifespans! Of course they don’t have the diseases we do. We live way longer now” – I agree with you here, but only because you don’t have to deal with the dangers of living back then. Again we don’t really care to live like cavepeople.

This is SIMPLY a construct that can help many make more informed food choices.

#4) “But what about the books and people that say “we’re not designed to eat grains” is garbage” – that plenty of societies around the world consume grains and aren’t fat and unhealthy like us.

The China Study is frequently cited when criticizing the Paleo Diet – focusing on a vegetarian diet and consuming rice is healthier than the Paleo Diet. I respectfully disagree with that nutritional philosophy and strongly disagree with the conclusions drawn from that book [7], and will leave you to make your own conclusions based on your own self-experimentation.

You’re here to learn about the Paleo Diet though, so let’s keep the focus there

#5 “But this is just a meat diet, and eating all meat is bad!” First of all, consider your sources and do your research before jumping to the conclusions.

Next, this is not an all meat diet or uber-low carb diet like Keto or Atkins. The biggest component of the Paleo Diet?

Vegetables! Every meal in a true Paleo diet has a moderate amount of healthy (properly raised chicken, grass-fed beef, hormone free, etc.) meat combined with nutritious veggies or a moderate amount of fruit.

#6 “The Paleo Diet is too restrictive and I can’t live like this.” This is the most valid criticism I personally have of the diet, as the best diet plan is the one you actually stick with and follow through on! The goal shouldn’t be to go “full paleo” for a few weeks only to go back to how you were eating before.

Instead, the goal here should be to rethink your relationship with food and develop a strategy that you can live with permanently.  There’s nothing worse than going on diets and gaining and losing the same 20 pounds over and over. The Paleo Diet, like other diets, WORKS ONLY IF YOU STICK WITH IT PERMANENTLY!

This makes sense after all: make temporary changes, get temporary results, right?

#7 “Steve, I hate vegetables, HALP.” I got you. Heres how to start liking veggies.

We know this all too well, and we have helped thousands of people slowwwwly transition their diet over a long period of time to make change less scary, more permanent, and thus make the weight loss permanent too!

If you’re overwhelmed or scared of changing too much, or maybe you’re just sick of dieting and want to find a solution that works for your busy lifestyle and situation, schedule a call with us to learn more about our 1-on-1 coaching program:

Meh, I’m still not convinced.

lego man and pasta

The human body is so incredibly complex that I doubt we’ll ever have a definitive answer on the best possible diet.  This one might sound like a fad to you, or it’s too restrictive, complicated, etc.

If you’ve read this far, I assume you’re considering giving it a shot.

Take 30 days and give it a shot – cut out the grains and dairy, start eating more vegetables and fruits, eat more humanely raised and non-grain fed meat, cut out the liquid calories and sugar, and see how you feel after the month is up. If you’re analytical and want numbers to use in your final verdict, get your blood work done at the beginning and end of the month.

Take a picture of yourself now, and then another 30 days from now. I bet you’ll be surprised with how your body transforms.

I hope that AFTER those 30 days you’ll have adopted some of the principles, noted how much  better you feel, and continue to live with an improved relationship with food.

What does Steve think about the diet?

lego caveman forging for Paleo food

I’m a fan of the Paleo Diet because it makes logical sense to me.

I know we existed as a species 150,000 years ago, I know the agricultural revolution didn’t happen until 10,000 years ago, which means we had 140,000 years without grains. In that time we learned to thrive as a species without grains (or else we wouldn’t be here).  

The other reason I’m a fan is because it provides simple – though strict rules to follow. I love mental models that help us make sense of the world, and I think for SOME people, the Paleo Diet will really help them cut down on overeating.

I personally do NOT do a Paleo Diet, but I do have rules that I follow.

Do whatever makes you happy and fits in your schedule. I like this kind of stress-free eating.

Regardless of whether or not grains should be vilified, I love this diet because I know it WORKS. I know people that have lost incredible amounts of weight and changed their lives within a matter of months.

People like Staci:

Regardless of how you feel about grains, we can all agree that eating more natural foods and less processed foods is better for you.

 Where can I get even more info?

Lego Explorer

If you’re looking to read more about the Paleo Diet, I got you covered.

For starters, I’ve seen thousands of people succeed with a Paleo Diet, and I’ve seen countless thousands more FAIL with the Paleo Diet?

What’s the difference? The strategy they’ve implemented to follow through on it! Sure, some people can completely overhaul their diet and go “cold turkey” on giving up processed foods, grains, and sugar, and never look back.

Most people however try to completely overhaul their diet instantly, their body hates them, and they quickly abandon Paleo principles and think it’s not for them.

I believe in a different approach, and that’s having a strategic blueprint to follow that allows you to SLOWLY adapt your diet in specific ways so that your body adjusts comfortably to a new lifestyle.

At the same time, I know there are a million questions to ask about the Paleo Diet, how to adapt it to a busy lifestyle, what to do if you’re a paleo parent and have picky eaters in your family, or how to stay on track when everybody around you still wants to eat non-paleo foods.

These are the specific problems we’ve set out to solve, and have helped 30,000+ students transform their diet in The Nerd Fitness Academy – it includes a 10-level diet system with ‘boss battles’ between each level so you know when you can ‘level up’ and adjust your diet.

Small, non-scary, tweaks to your nutritional strategy, specific meal plans to follow, and a supportive community to help you implement these changes in your life, even if you’re busy!

Now, even if you can’t check out the NF Academy yet, we have plenty of other resources here at Nerd Fitness including recipes that are paleo or paleo-ish to get you started!

Here’s our full list of our Paleo/Healthy recipes, and here are my three favorites:

If you’re curious about The Paleo Diet’s recent popularity and thus it’s criticisms, we’ve written two other pieces on Nerd Fitness that might be of interest:

The Paleo Diet Debunked??” where I address a few of the more recent criticisms that have popped up.

In Defense of a Paleo-Ish Diet” where I cover how to live a mostly Paleo lifestyle but still enjoy the modern benefits of society.

Easing Into It

lego man easing into water

Maybe you’re ready to try out this Paleo lifestyle, but you can’t commit fully. There are certain foods you refuse to give up, or you can’t afford to buy grass-fed beef at the moment.

That’s okay!

If you can even make a few small changes here and there (cut out liquid calories, switch out your rice for steamed vegetables, cut back on bread, etc.) you’ll start to see some changes.

Remember, 20% healthier is better than 0% healthier – as you get more comfortable with the changes you can increase that percentage.

You can also follow our favorite strategy. After all, I know how tough it is to stay loyal to a strict diet, especially without a plan to follow. It’s why we created free resources that can help you reach your goals faster without you also going crazy.

Get rid of the temptation – if you’re gonna go at this thing with a full head of steam, remove all the junk food from your house.  It’s going to take a few weeks for your body to adjust to burning fat instead of glucose, and you might want to eat poorly here and there. If there’s no food in your house to tempt you, it will be much easier to stay on target.

Now, it’s your turn.

Have you tried the Paleo Diet yet?

What was your experience like?  Have a criticism of the diet that I didn’t cover before?  Do you have another paleo recipe resource?

Remember, one of the major Rules of the Rebellion is to question everything!

I hope this article gives you some food for thought (terrible pun, I know), and gives you the permission to question conventional wisdom and start addressing the issues in your diet!

In addition to this Beginner Paleo Guide, I hope you consider checking our our 1-on-1 Coaching Program as well. We have designed this program from the ground up to help people like you change their lives and fix their nutrition in a way that doesn’t suck.

Now, go forth. And eat like a caveman.


PS: I’ll leave you with one final mention of the Nerd Fitness Academy it essentially gamifies your experience in transitioning into a Paleo lifestyle and diet, and provides you with specific instruction, meal plans, workouts, and a supportive community.

The Academy has a 60-day money back guarantee and helps remove all of your guess work to stay on track.


photo sources: cavemen elephant hunt, caveman cooking over fire, cavemen hunt paleo bear, milk truck logo, darth vader vendor, storm trooper tomato, lego cook, chef and lego pig, lego explorer, lego muffin, lego bread and carbs, frozen caveman grok lego, lego clock, lego caveman forging for food, caveman with wheel, darth vader and ostrich lego, easing into water lego, lego man with pasta

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Tabata Training: A Four Minute Full Body Workout Tue, 30 Oct 2018 12:00:12 +0000 You hear a lot of outlandish claims in the fitness world.

  • Drink beet juice to lose weight.
  • Electrocute your abs for a six pack.
  • Do this four minute workout to “get shredded.”

Hold the phone, that last one could really be true. It’s known as Tabata training, and the exercise can actually improve one’s physical endurance and increase muscle power[1].

Boom! That’s a 2-for-1 special right there

Of course, a brutal Tabata workout can also result in you passing out in a pile of your own drool and sweat at the end. Gross.

So what’s the dealio?

Should you be implementing this four minute workout strategy into your routines?

Or is it something best left to Olympic athletes and Spartan Race champions?

Grab your headband and let’s explore!  

What is Tabata Training?

“Tabata” comes from Dr. Izumi Tabata, a former researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya. Tabata developed an extreme form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which can already be pretty extreme.

Let’s back up there a minute, because you may be asking, “What is HIIT, Steve-a-rino”?

HIIT is a form of interval training. It’s a sequence of intense exercise followed by a short pause to rest, then back to intense exercise, and then back to rest. Annnnnnd repeat!

In other words, doing sprints, then walking, then back to sprints. Alternating back and forth for roughly ten minutes. This would be an example of High Intensity Interval Training.

Dr. Tabata wanted to see just how short, and how intense, the interval training could be to observe measurable gains.

He got an answer:

Four minutes.

The doctor designed a training where participants gave their maximum effort for 20 seconds, then 10 seconds for rest. They repeated this cycle for four minutes – in other words, eight 30-second cycles. That in a nutshell is a Tabata exercise.

Brutal, but potentially very effective for improving cardiovascular health and endurance.

Let’s dig into the study itself and the results!

Does Tabata Training Work?

Dr. Tabata tested his routine on two groups of athletes[2]. Five days a week, for six weeks, they were prescribed the following routines:

  • For all five days, Group 1 pedaled a stationary bike for an hour at 70% capacity.
  • For the first four days, Group 2 did eight intervals on the bike using the Tabata principle (sprint for 20 seconds, rest for 10, repeat). On the last and fifth day, they did a 30 minute “moderate” ride, followed by an extra two minutes of Tabata sprints.

How’d the results go?

Group 1 strictly increased their maximum aerobic capacity by 9.5% (how long you can run). However, the second group crushed it.

Group 2 not only increased their aerobic capacity by 14%, but they also increased their anaerobic capacity (how long you can run at maximum effort) by 28%!

Said another way: after the experiment, the Tabata training group increased their ability to bike for longer, and harder, compared to the group who trained with regular cardio.

The amazing thing to consider is the time dedicated:

  • Group 1 worked out for 300 minutes a week.
  • Group 2 worked out for only 88 minutes (they did a 10 minute warm up prior to their intervals, which we’ll talk about shortly).

More results in less time? As a lazy nerd who also wants to look good, sign me up!

The experiment left Dr. Tabata with the belief that six to eight very hard 20-second intervals with 10-second rest periods may be one of the best possible training protocols when it comes to efficiency.

“Never train for more than 4 minutes, great! Back to the couch for me. Thanks Steve!”

Hold your horses there, partner.

For starters, what are you even doing with horses while reading this article?

Secondly, I need to mention this: Tabata developed and tested his protocol on Olympic athletes (skaters, specifically) with one specific type of exercise.

These folks are some of the top of the top when it comes to fitness. And the Tabata workout left them physically exhausted.

So, what if you’re not an Olympic athlete? 

Can you still receive a lot of benefits from training in this style?

It’s worth giving it a chance.

The big point I want to make: “intense exercise” is purely subjective.

“Sprint” doesn’t have to mean ALL OUT SPRINT. If you are very out of shape and training for your first 5K, then your “sprint for 20 seconds” might be a VERY light jog.

And that’s perfectly okay.

The goal is to push yourself outside of your comfort zone for 20 seconds at a time, before resting for 10 seconds, and repeating. Everybody’s “comfort zone” is different. Which means everybody can challenge themselves.

We’ll touch on this again later.

For now, let’s chat about some practical ways to start Tabata training.

What are some Tabata Exercises?

You’ve got a lot of options for Tabata exercises, but you can’t do any Tabata training if you get hurt or end up collapsed on the ground, right!?

So no matter which one you pick, please always start with a 5-10 minute warm-up! You want your heart rate up and muscles loose so you don’t hurt yourself. Tabata himself made sure his athletes warmed up before going all out.

And then after you’re done, cool down! Your heart will be racing and your muscles will be twitching. You need to bring them back to down to normal levels. So go for a slow walk. Do some stretches or some yoga. Bust out that foam roller.

Deal? Deal.

Here are my favorite types of Tabata training:

  • Sprints. Simple enough.  Sprint for 20 seconds, rest for 10. Sprint for 20, rest for 10.  This is tough to do without a partner yelling out your times. Personally, I run with a stopwatch with big numbers and glance at it around 20 seconds to make sure I stay on time.
  • Elliptical Machine. Less wear and tear on your joints, but tougher to go “all out” because it can only go so fast. Crank the resistance all the way up if you can handle it.
  • Rowing Machine. This was the exercise of choice to shred pounds for Gerard Butler (King Leonidas in 300) 
  • Stationary Bike. It’s a bike.  Pedal like hell. This is what Tabata used with his athletes.
  • Jump Rope. Grab a jump rope, and go as quickly as possible following the Tabata protocol. Guaranteed to leave you jumping up and down like a little kid in a puddle…of sweat. Nasty. Effective.

Cardio workouts are generally the recommended type of exercise for Tabata. In theory, it’s pretty easy to rev up your effort to max when doing sprints or biking.

That’s why they are popular for Tabata.

However, I want to note that all sorts of other exercises can offer a full body workout when doing Tabata.

Consider these for Advanced Tabata movements, especially if you’re looking to build more than just endurance or cardiovascular health:

  • Squat Thrusters. Start by standing tall. You then want to squat down and explode your legs back into a plank position (top of a push-up). Then bring your legs forward to a squat position and jump up! Like so:

  • Push-Ups. Make sure you do your push-ups correctly! It pains me to see so many people with improper form at the gym. You can scope out my in-depth article right here, but I’ll mention an important point on form: think of your body as one giant straight line. Also, if you need to start on your knees, that’s okely-dokely. A knee push-up is WAY better than no push-up. Want a video to get started? Of course you do:

  • Burpees. A burpee is kind of like a squat thruster, but with a push-up included! Extra credit! Start just like you would with a squat thruster, but when you’re at the top of your push-up, go all the way down and back up. When your back at the top, bring your legs up to a squat and then jump. Like this:

  • Pull Ups. (Can’t do a pull-up yet? Read this). My favorite exercise. Start with your hands shoulder width apart on your chosen bar. As you lift, focus on pinching your shoulder blades down and back. Once at the top, lower yourself slowly. We’ll walk you through it here:

For all the above, try and follow the Tabata protocol the best you can. For 20 seconds, do as many burpees as possible while keeping perfect form. Then give yourself 10 seconds to catch your breath before jumping into more burpees. Follow the same cadence for any of the more advanced moves.

Hang in there.

Four minutes will go quick! Here’s Everclear’s “I Will Buy You a New Life,” which is almost exactly four minutes long, and is the most obscure reason I could work this wonderful band from my youth into this article:

When you’re done with your Tabata routine, record your results (once your hands stop shaking), and next time around – try to beat your score for total reps!

Let’s chat about some resources so you don’t have to count in your head. Or coordinate your workout to pop songs.

Tabata Timer Recommendations

A timer is useful for doing Tabata – especially if you’re running and aren’t able to look at a screen to see the time remaining for each segment.

As previously mentioned, you can rock an old school stopwatch like a boss, or you can get a bit more technologically advanced. 

This is the dawning of the age of aquarius apps, so download one of the following and use it to track your Tabata workouts:

  • Runtastic. Don’t let the name fool you, this free app is for more than just running. You can customize for many different interval workouts, including Tabata. And the interface looks slick.
  • Seconds. It’s free and customizable to Tabata and other forms of HIIT. It can also integrate with your music, which is pretty sweet.
  • Tabata Stopwatch Pro. This app is specifically designed for Tabata. And it shows. The display can be seen from far away, useful for burpees or squat thrusters. Also, it’s free.
  • Tabata Timer for HIIT. This app is one of the best reviewed on the market. Which is awesome, considering it too is free. It can also track your weight, BMI and daily workout history. Plus, the trumpet sound effect found in the app is hilarious.
  • TABATACH. I’ll be honest, I just really like the name of this one. Makes me giggle.

We’ve gone over some tools to help you during a Tabata workout. I want to make an important point about Tabata training before we get too ahead of ourselves.

Mistakes to avoid when doing Tabata Training

You might hear that it’s actually extremely difficult to do true Tabata training. Tabata ran his experiment with Olympic athletes, who were able to reach a crazy amount of oxygen utilization, 170% VO2max.

For a normal person to get anywhere close would probably make them vomit from extreme exertion.

Who cares!?

I don’t care if you’re doing ugly push-ups and you can’t run.

You’re trying, right!? And you’re doing the work.

Worry about getting started first. Deal with getting better next.

Studies have replicated Tabata’s results with subjects who were “recreationally active” and did exercises such as burpees and squat thrusters[3]. So claims of not doing “true Tabata” miss the point.

Tabata himself has stated as such by explaining it’s the effort of going to one’s physical max, that is critical of the benefit of Tabata training[4]. Don’t worry about VO2max. If you try a Tabata program, the importance is going hard for YOU. We’re not going to worry about VO2max – we’re gonna worry about challenging ourselves.

This means if you need to do “Tabata” in a way that is just walking faster vs walking slower, it’s a start!

We all start somewhere, and it begins with taking the first step.

Still overwhelmed and need help on taking your first step?  

Don’t beat yourself up, we can help!

One of the reasons we created our 1-on-1 coaching program is to make exercise less scary for busy people like you. We can help you get started with interval training, strength training, or help you find something else without a stopwatch that might be a better fit for you.

Want to learn more about our private coaching? We’ll be happy to talk with you and learn your story and see where we can help, no matter what! Click on the button below to schedule a free call with Team Nerd Fitness.

Will Tabata Training or HIIT help me lose weight?


Exercise is important for cardiovascular health and overall wellness. However, to ALSO lose weight, you need to focus on what you eat.

As we say in our Rules of the Rebellion, “you can’t outrun your fork.”

That means your nutrition is 80-90% of the battle in the war for weight loss. If you get most of your food via drive-thru, you don’t like veggies, or you’re just not quite sure how to fix your nutrition, I hear ya.

Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Eating for guidance on how to dial in your diet.

The other 10-20% of the battle for weight loss? It’s exercise. So if you’re already eating well, a Tabata or HIIT style workout would be a great tool. It’s not hard to find studies of HIIT helping with fat loss[5]

It’s one of the reasons interval training has become a staple in the fitness community.

Another beauty of Tabata: it only takes 4ish minutes, and ANYBODY can find 4 minutes in the day to get a quick workout in. The REAL benefits come from the fact that training for 4 minutes can:

  • Help you keep momentum. If you’re trying to stay consistent with your workouts during a hectic week, 4 minutes is better than no minutes!
  • Assist with thinking “I am exercising to be healthy, so I need to continue eating well.” I personally eat better on days when I exercise, because I know how important nutrition is for overall health.
  • Be done anytime, anywhere.  It’s snowing out, your kid is sick, and you don’t have any gym equipment? Great – you still have the time (4 minutes), space (anywhere), and the equipment (nothing) to pick an exercise above and go for 4 minutes.

If the idea of Tabata or HIIT freaks you out and you’re afraid you’ll hurt yourself, check out our Beginner Body Weight Workout for a great alternative to begin.

If you are looking to develop more endurance and cardiovascular health, check out our Couch to 5K write-up and start there.

The most important thing: get moving, and course correct along the way. The best workout program is the workout you actually stick with. Tabata said as much himself with “Any exercise is beneficial.” That’s why he encouraged readers on Reddit to train in a way that is sustainable[6]

Starting a Tabata or a HIIT Workout Today

HIIT and Tabata can really shock your body. Which can be good. After all, the only way to grow and get better is to push yourself outside of your normal comfort zone.

Pushing yourself to run faster, or to do one extra push-up, or to lift one more pound…that’s where the real change starts to happen!

YOUR MISSION: Try a simple and safe Tabata protocol during your next workout.

Go to a park (or hop on a bike at the gym) and practice varying your speed by walking, running, jogging, etc, to get warmed up.

Then, after you’ve gotten comfortable, bust out your timer. Start doing a HIIT protocol (alternating periods of fast and slow), or go full Tabata for 4 minutes if you’re feeling adventurous.

Feel free to stop if you feel yourself pushing too far, or scale the intensity way back. Push yourself, but leave some in the tank to make sure you can still walk tomorrow!

Give it a shot, and let me know how it goes.

On my mark…

Get set…



PS: If you are still confused on what exercises to do, or you are training for specific goals that you can’t quite figure out how to accomplish, we’re here for ya! Schedule a free call with us through our Nerd Fitness Coaching page. This is our 1-on-1 online coaching program where we build custom workout programs and offer nutritional guidance to busy people like you!


All photo credits can be read in this footnote[7].

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15 Free Circuit Training Routines: Build Strength and Stamina Thu, 25 Oct 2018 13:00:10 +0000 I hear two common excuses every day from people who don’t work out.

  • “I don’t have time.”
  • “I get bored.”

Well there Rebel, you’re in luck (unless you love excuses).

Today we are going to talk about circuit training! It’s fast, varied, and effective. If you find yourself with no time to get sweaty or getting bored on a treadmill, a circuit training workout could be just what the doctor ordered.

Or not.

But if you have a doctor prescribe you circuit training, that doctor is awesome.

Consider this the ultimate guide for circuit training! I’ll explain the benefits below, but if you’re just looking for routines to follow, click each below to take you to that workout:

Some of the workouts will have multiple circuit choices for you to pick, depending on your fitness level. If I did the math right, there’s 15 total.

Let’s go!

What is circuit training?

The “circuit” in circuit training comes from the fact that you do a sequence of exercises back to back to back, and then you repeat the sequence. And then again. You cycle through the planned sequence of exercises, or circuit, multiple times.

That’s circuit training.

Generally you hit each major muscle group during one full circuit. You may do lower body for one exercise. Then upper body the next.

You’ll find all sorts of difference circuit training sequences. Here’s some things most will have in common:

  • Several different exercises. A normal circuit will have five to ten different movements per circuit. You’ll often hear these referred to as “stations.” Overhead press station, squat station, etc.
  • Little to no rest in between. The goal of circuit training is to keep your heart rate up. Ideally, if you’re physically able, you go from one exercise to another without stopping. Maybe you rest after the whole circuit. Maybe.
  • Rinse and repeat. Generally you’ll run through your circuit a few times. Three rounds is common.

Make sense? The point here is to work different parts of your body with different exercises, and then while those parts are recovering, you’re working on your other movements! This helps build cardiovascular health, while also improving muscular endurance and strength. Plus you’ll burn calories!

As we lay out in our article, Cardio vs Interval Training vs. Weight Training, research supports that doing strength training circuits is great for weight loss and overall health. More importantly, for somebody with limited time, doing a strength training circuit is more effective at building strength and burning fat than an equivalent amount of cardio.

In other words, if you are trying to lose weight, you should be doing circuit training.

Now, I understand this stuff can be confusing, and knowing which workout to follow for your body type and goals is really challenging. Which circuit? How should you be eating? How many days should you rest between workouts? What is the meaning of life!?

If that sounds like you, you’re not alone.

Answering questions like these is what lead us to create our 1-on-1 coaching program.

(Admittedly, we’re still working on the “meaning of life” one).

So here’s how it works: we get to learn each person’s goals, lifestyle, challenges, and situation: kids? night shift? travel frequently? All the above? We got you covered.

Then we pair that person with a coach from Team Nerd Fitness that fits their personality, gets to know them better than they know themselves, and builds a custom workout program and nutrition guidance to help them reach their goals!

Want to see if we are a good fit for each other? Click on the button below to schedule a free call, and we can decide if this is something that can help you reach your goals!

Why Should I do circuit training?

Generally, you’ll hear exercise divided into strength training or aerobic exercise (cardio).

What’s the difference, you wonder?

  • Strength training. Strength training is also referred to as anaerobic exercise, which would be a short burst of energy for movement. Think of a push up or pull up. These exercises help build and tone muscle.
  • Aerobic Exercise. “Aerobic” means “needs oxygen.” Your heart rate increases to get oxygen where your body needs it, thus the word “cardio.” Running, biking, or jumping jacks would be examples of aerobic exercise.

The thing about a circuit is, you actually do both categories. Presses and lunges fall into strength training. Jumping jacks are cardio. And since you aren’t stopping much in between stations, you’ll need more oxygen, and voila. Even more cardio.

With circuit training, you build muscle and burn fat WHILE building stamina.

As Michael Scott would say, “that’s a win, win win.”

There’s some debate on what kind of exercise is better for weight loss: aerobic or anaerobic.

My thoughts? If you’re limited on time and only can pick one, I would pick strength training: when you strength train, you break your muscles down, and your body needs to work extra hard over the next 24-48 hours to rebuild those muscles (with increased calories burned).

Don’t overthink this though, we can cover both with a circuit.

Before and after your circuit training: Warm up and stretch

No matter which circuit you pick, I want you to start with one important thing:

Warm up!

I cover why to 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. 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 incredibly story) showing you many beginner options you can use to warm up as well:

Did I just tell you to prepare for circuit training, with a circuit?!

If you’re curious, here’s my personal warm-up:

  • 2-3 minutes of jump rope
  • 25 jumping jacks
  • 20 body weight squats
  • 5 lunges
  • 10 hip extensions
  • 5 hip rotations each leg
  • 10 forward leg swings
  • 10 side leg swings
  • 10-20 push ups
  • 10 spiderman steps

Our goal isn’t to tire you out, instead we want to warm up you up. That’s step one.

Completing your chosen circuit training routine would be step two. Below, you’ll find 15 workouts you can follow along with!


Beginner Bodyweight Workout Circuit

This workout circuit, as we lay out in our Beginner Bodyweight Workout article, is as follows:

  • 20 bodyweight squats
  • 10 push ups
  • 20 walking lunges – 10 each leg
  • 10 dumbbell rows (using a gallon milk jug or another weight)
  • 15 second plank
  • 30 jumping jacks

Run through this circuit three times. If you don’t have milk in the house for the rows, find something of roughly the same weight with a good handle.

If you want to download this Beginner Bodyweight Workout as a worksheet, you can do so when you sign up in the box below:

Advanced Bodyweight Exercises Circuit

If the beginner circuit above is too easy for you, move on to our Advanced Bodyweight Workout Circuit. Check out the original article where we covered it here. The workout looks like this:

  • 10 one legged squats – each side [warning super-difficult, only attempt if you’re in good enough shape]
  • 20 body weight squats
  • 20 walking lunges (10 each leg)
  • 20 jump step-ups (10 each leg)
  • 10 pull ups [or inverted bodyweight rows using your kitchen table]
  • 10 dips – bar stools
  • 10 chin ups [or inverted bodyweight rows with underhand grip]
  • 10 push ups
  • 30 second plank

I warn you, the above circuit will hurt… in a good way. You should be proud if you can get through this three times.

Playground Workout Circuit

Do you have a nearby playground? Why not workout 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 main playground article for some Level Three exercises.

Level One

  • 20 Alternating Step Ups (10 each leg)
  • 10 Elevated Push Ups
  • 10 Swing Rows
  • 8 Assisted Lunges
  • 10 Bent Leg Reverse Crunches

Level Two

  • 10 Bench Jumps
  • 10 Lower Incline Push Ups
  • 10 Body Rows
  • 8 Lunges
  • 10 Straight Leg Reverse Crunches

After you’ve gone through a complete set three times, go down the slide!

Kettlebell Workout Circuit

Have a kettlebell lying around? Use it for a circuit!

Here’s our kettlebell workout full write-up, but you can also just watch the video and see the workout here:

  • 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)

Once you’ve done the above three times, go ahead and put your kettlebell away for your final step: stretches.

If you want a kettlebell worksheet, grab one by signing up in the box below:

Beginner Gym Circuit Training

If you have access to a gym, you have a lot of circuit options. If you 

If it’s your first time stepping foot in a fitness facility, check out our Beginner’s Guide to the Gym. The gym can be a scary place, but we’ll give you a strategy to get comfy.

We’ll also walk you through each movement above, for both Days A and B below. I would recommend reading that article, going through the leveled progressions, and working your way up to the circuits below:

Day A

Day B

  • 10 barbell romanian deadlifts/regular deadlifts
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 dumbbell rows per arm

Alternate your circuits on different days. Rest in between. “Day A” could be Monday. Rest Tuesday. Wednesday could be “Day B.”

The Hotel Workout Circuit: For Travelers that Train

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. 


Instead, how about a workout circuit you can do in the room itself! Utilize the furniture to its full potential.

Level 1

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!

Nerdy Circuit Training Exercises

If those workouts above don’t tickle your fancy, we have these other nerdy circuits you can do too!

The Batman Workout Circuit


Day 1

  • 5 Rolling Squat Tuck-up Jumps
  • 5 Side to Side Push-ups
  • 5 Modified Headstand Push-ups
  • 5 Jump Pull-Up with tuck / Pull-Up with Tuck-Up
  • 8 Second Handstands against wall

Day 2

  • 5 ‘180 Degree’ Jump Turns
  • 8 Second Tuck Front Lever Hold
  • 8 Second Tuck Back Lever Hold
  • 8 Second Low Frog Hold

The Lord of the Rings Workout Circuit


Superset 1: The Fellowship of the Ring

  • 3 “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” Slams (3 medicine ball slams)
  • 7 Legolas Bow Pulls (7 renegade rows).
  • 9 “One does not simply walking lunge into Mordor” (9 lunges, each leg).
  • 1 Minute: Hip “Bridge of Khazad Dum” (hip raises and hold at the top position for 1 minute)

Superset 2: The Two Towers

  • 3 Riders of ROWhan (3 bodyweight rows)
  • 7 Gimli “Shall I get you a box?” jumps. (7 box jumps – REALLY explode)
  • 9 Helm’s Deep-Squats. (9 bodyweight squats – get your ass to the ground. Way down.)
  • 1 Minute Tower of Orthanc Holds (Kick up against a wall and hold a handstand for as long as you can until 1 minute is complete, in as few as sets as possible. Can’t hold a full handstand? Check out the variations in our Guide to Handstands.)

Superset 3: The Return of the King

  • 3 Eowyn “I am no Man!”makers  (3 manmakers)
  • 7 Light of Galadriel raises (7 arm overhead dumbbell presses)
  • 9 “Army of Dead”lifts (9 light weight reps, barbell or dumbbell)
  • 1 Minute Samwise Gamgee Carries (As demonstrated here by AKLulu carrying me at a NF meetup) A heavy sandbag over the shoulder works too.  No sandbag? Just carry two dumbbells around the gym for a minute.

If you can get through a superset three times, consider yourself an honorary Ranger. Nothing found in Mordor can faze you.

The 300 Workout Circuit


The below circuit is no joke. Then again, neither were the Spartans.

  • 25 Pullups – 25 reps
  • 50 Deadlifts with 135lbs
  • 50 Pushups
  • 50 ‘24-inch’ Box jumps
  • 50 Floor wipers
  • 50 Single-arm Clean-and-Press with 36lbs Kettlebell
  • 25 Pullups

The above sequence is designed to be completed once. If you can go through it twice, you’re ready to defend Greece.

The Wolverine Workout Circuit


  • 10 Barbell Deadlift / Dumbbell RDL / Banded Good Morning / Regular Good Morning
  • 10 Medicine Ball Slam / Quick Downwards Bodyweight Squat
  • 10 Push-up to Renegade Row (push-up, row left, push-up, row right, repeat) [5 Rows per side]
  • 5 Transverse Lunge and Chop (alternate between the two)

How many times do you do this circuit? AMRAP, or, As Many Rounds As Possible. I suggest setting a 12 minute timer and getting to work. Be careful though, because only Wolverine can heal automatically.

You’ll need actual rest.

Boom! There are your nerdy circuits. Feel free to rock the soundtrack of the referenced movies during your workout. If you own a cape, now’s the time.

How to Stretch After Circuit Training

Once you finish your workout, the final step (three) would be stretching and cool down. No matter what circuit you go through, stretch after. It can help a lot with muscle recovery.

Scope this video for an awesome stretching sequence to follow:

You could also do some yoga poses. For stretching, find what feels good and take your time. Let your heart rate come down while you stretch.

You could even do some foam rolling too if you’re a glutton for punishment!

Getting Started With Circuit Training

There are all sorts of different ways to do circuit training. We just showed you fifteen.

YOUR MISSION: Complete one of the above circuit training workouts! If you don’t know which one to pick, start with the Beginner Bodyweight Circuit. It’ll get you used to the idea of hustling from one exercise to the next. And you can do it in your living room!

If you got this far in the article, I really want you to try one of these workouts. Right NOW. I always mention the most important step in a fitness journey is starting it. Today, start circuit training.

Once completed, I’d love for you to share your story with the community in the comments:

  • How’d it go?
  • Did you get through three full circuits?
  • Which routine did you pick?

As a reminder, if you need someone to hold you accountable to follow through on circuit training, we have coaches who can do just that. Our 1-on-1 Coaching program can create an exercise routine just for you, no matter what your situation is.

Find a circuit you’re comfortable with, and do it. Then do it next week. And the following. If you add circuit training to your fitness routine, you’ll be on a solid path for leveling up your life.


PS: I couldn’t quite figure out how to use this gif, but it was too good not to include.

If someone creates the “Short Circuit Workout Circuit” you’ll be my best friend forever.


All Photo credits can be found right here[1].

]]> 57
Most people go about habit change backwards. Here’s how to flip it. Thu, 18 Oct 2018 19:07:02 +0000 “I’m on a diet, I shouldn’t eat that cake.”

“I’m going to try to exercise more this year.”

“I’m trying to lose weight, so I can only have a little.”

If you have ever said anything like the above, you’re in good company. Weight loss is freaking hard. As my friend Adam once said to me: “Steve I hope all of this exercise stuff is worth it for you – do you KNOW how good cake is!?”

The challenge is often never in what we need to do: it’s getting ourselves to ACTUALLY do it.

We all know we should eat less and move more. We know we should eat more veggies. We know we should hit the gym more frequently.

And yet, the scale never seems to budge.

Or worse, we get a few weeks into a workout routine or diet, life gets busy, and we fall apart. We see some progress only to backslide and realize months later we’re no better off.

This is demoralizing as hell, and it seems like nobody can make weight loss stick.

Well, not everybody.

SOME people manage to build new habits they actually sustain. Some people can build a new habit and make it become part of their new routine.

What do they do differently?

They take two very specific steps, and they ask themselves one question every day.

If you struggle with making new habits stick, this article is going to give you a strategy to implement TODAY. Backed by science, written by a nerd, with LEGO photos.

Let’s get weird.

The 3 Layers of Habit Change

My friend James Clear, a behavioral change expert and author of the recently launched Atomic Habits, lives and breathes habit change more than anybody I know.

With his book launching this week, I asked if I could share his 3 layers of behavior change to help the Rebels of Nerd Fitness finally break through the muck and mire and build the habit of hitting the gym, or going for a run, or eating healthier:


The 1st layer is changing your outcomes. This level is concerned with changing your results: losing weight, publishing a book, winning a championship. Most of the goals you set are associated with this level of change.

The 2nd layer is changing your process. This level is concerned with changing your habits and systems: implementing a new routine at the gym, decluttering your desk for better workflow, developing a meditation practice. Most of the habits you build are associated with this level.

The 3rd and deepest layer is changing your identity. This level is concerned with changing your beliefs: your worldview, your self-image, your judgments about yourself and others. Most of the beliefs, assumptions, and biases you hold are associated with this level.

To put it more simply:

  • Outcomes are about what you get (“I lost weight”).
  • Processes are about what you do (“I go to the gym regularly”).
  • Identity is about what you believe (“I am a healthy person that never misses a workout.”

Now, none of the above is rocket science. I think anyway – I have never done rocket science. It’s the same thing we all do every time we try to change a habit.

The reason your habits never stick?

You’re implementing these layers BACKWARDS! Crap.

Where People Get Habit Change Wrong

Most people don’t consider the innermost layer – identity change – when they set out to improve.

We just think, “I want to be skinny (outcome) so if I stick to this diet, then I’ll be skinny (process).”

We set goals and determine the actions we should take to achieve those goals without considering the beliefs that drive our actions:

  • I want to lose weight, so if I go to the gym more, the scale will go down.
  • I want to fit into this bathing suit, so if I follow this crazy restrictive diet, I’ll reach my goal.
  • I want to run a 5k, so I’m gonna start training every day until I run it.

In each scenario, the person never shifts the way they look at themselves, and they don’t realize that their old identity can sabotage their new plans for change.

Let’s talk about identity (the innermost circle) for a second. 

When working for you, identity change can be a powerful force for self-improvement.

When working against you, though, identity change can be a curse:

“Once you have adopted an identity, it can be easy to let your allegiance to it impact your ability to change. Many people walk through life in a cognitive slumber, blindly following the norms attached to their identity.

When you have repeated a story to yourself for years (or decades), it is easy to slide into these mental grooves and accept them as a fact. In time, you begin to resist certain actions because “that’s not who I am.” There is internal pressure to maintain your self-image and behave in a way that is consistent with your beliefs.”

Whatever your identity is right now, you believe it because you have recurring proof:

  • If you identify as somebody with a slow metabolism – the high number on the scale reinforces that every day.
  • If you identify as somebody with no self control – the empty ice cream containers in your trash can reinforce that identity with each additional pint polished off.
  • If you identify as a victim of “too busy,” – then every day you are reminded of how busy you are and how you just don’t have time to take care of yourself.

It’s hard to change your habits if you never change the underlying beliefs that led to your past behavior.

You might have a new goal and a new plan, but you haven’t changed who you are.

This is the crucial step that everybody misses, and it’s something you can implement today.

Identity Based Habit Change: Middle Out For the Win!

True behavior change is identity change.

In other words, start with the inside circle and work your way outward. Here’s that graphic again:

You might start a habit because of motivation, but the only reason you’ll stick with one is that it becomes part of your identity:

“On any given day, you may struggle with your habits because you’re too busy or too tired or too overwhelmed or hundreds of other reasons. Over the long run, however, the real reason you fail to stick with habits is that your self-image gets in the way.

This is why you can’t get too attached to one version of your identity. Progress requires unlearning. Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs, and to upgrade and expand your identity.”

Anyone can convince themselves to visit the gym or eat healthy once or twice, but if you don’t shift the belief behind the behavior, then it is hard to stick with long-term changes.

In other words, improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are:

  • The goal is not to run a marathon, the goal is to be a runner.
  • The goal is not to lose weight, the goal is to be a healthy self-confident person.
  • The goal is not to go to the gym, the goal is to be somebody that never misses a workout.

Can you see how this is VERY different than just “I’m gonna go on a diet to lose weight?” It’s MUCH deeper than that.

The person who incorporates exercise into their identity doesn’t have to convince themselves to train. Doing the right thing is easy. After all, when your behavior and your identity are fully aligned, you are no longer pursuing behavior change.

You are simply acting like the type of person you already believe yourself to be. This is the holy grail of permanent weight loss and health success.

Want to build a habit? Do these 2 Simple Steps.

If you’re going to build a new habit, it’s going to be a gradual evolution.

We change bit by bit, day by day, habit by habit. We are continually undergoing microevolutions of the self.

Each habit is like a suggestion:

“Hey, maybe this is who I am.” If you finish a book, then perhaps you ARE the type of person who likes reading. If you go to the gym, then perhaps you ARE the type of person who likes exercise.

And these are the two steps we’re going to hyper focus in on.

  • Decide the type of person you want to be.
  • Prove it to yourself with small wins.

STEP ONE: Decide who you want to be. This holds at any level— as an individual, as a team, as a community, as a nation. What do you want to stand for? What are your principles and values? Who do you wish to become?

We’ll get real nerdy on this step below.

STEP TWO: Once you have a handle on the type of person you want to be, take small steps to reinforce your desired identity. Each step, no matter how small, helps you start to realize that, maybe you CAN be a morning person. Or that you DON’T have a slow metabolism. Or that you ARE a runner!

Let’s dig deeper.

Rebel, What Is Your Profession?!

Depending on how long you’ve been reading Nerd Fitness, you might already be doing Step One.

For years now, Nerd Fitness has been turning life into a game. Depending on what you want your new identity to be, you pick the Class/Profession that lines up with this new identity.

You can even create a free character, and our uber-supportive Message Board community is segmented by these classes too. They’re also a big part of my book, Level Up Your Life.

Here are the 7 classes of Nerd Fitness. Pick the class that lines up with the way you WANT to train (longer descriptions here):

  • Warrior: strength training, powerlifting, olympic lifting, weights
  • Scout: running, swimming, biking, endurance
  • Adventurer: exploration, hiking, camping, climbing, travel excursions
  • Ranger: cross training, metabolic conditioning, jack of all trades
  • Assassin: parkour, gymnastics, bodyweight training, movement
  • Monk: martial arts
  • Druid: yoga, tai chi, meditation, nature

If you want to be a warrior, you ARE a Warrior. Inside. Right now. Welcome to the Warrior Guild!

If you want to run a marathon, congrats! You are a Scout. Inside. Right now. Welcome to the Scout’s Den!

If you want to lose weight and are considering joining a CrossFit gym, congrats! You’re a Ranger. Inside. Right now. Welcome to the Ranger Guild.

I don’t care if you are 400 pounds or 100 pounds and have never picked up a weight or ran a step in your life. Write out your alter-ego, the superhero version of yourself.

  • How do they train?
  • How do they eat?
  • What time do they go to bed?

The goal is not just weight loss – the goal is to build an identity that is aligned with the type of person you want to be.

Me personally? I am an Assassin in the Nerd Fitness Rebellion.

What is YOUR profession!?

Ask yourself this question all day, every day.

Congrats, you now have a new identity! It’s all unicorns and rainbows and effortless weight loss from here on out.


It’s still going to be hard work. There are no shortcuts. No temporary changes will create permanent results. Which means you need to change your perspective. It means you never get to be “done.” You don’t get to go on temporary diets.

Instead, you slowly shift your daily behavior, decision by decision.

And eventually, your outer evolution (lose weight, build muscle, physique change) is going to catch up to your new internal identity.

So now that you have created your new identity and picked your class, it’s time to start asking yourself the question whenever faced with a decision: “What would a Ranger/Monk/Scout do!?”

And then do that thing.

James had a friend who lost over 100 pounds by asking herself, “What would a healthy person do?”

All day long, she would use this question as a guide:

  • Would a healthy person walk or take a cab?
  • Would a healthy person order a burrito or a salad?

She figured if she acted like a healthy person long enough, eventually she would become that person. 100 pounds later, she was right.

So let’s look at our examples:

You don’t need to run a 5k to be a Scout. You decide you are a Scout today, and running for 5 seconds makes you a Scout. So what would a scout do? Skip their run? Or go for a run even though they only have 15 minutes?

You don’t need to have ever lifted a weight to be a Warrior. You can start acting like one now. Would a warrior sit on his butt and watch TV? Or would he be doing a beginner bodyweight workout?

You don’t need to be a gymnast NOW to be an Assassin. You just start acting like one. Would a healthy badass Assassin skip his handstand training today? Nope.

This stuff works. Ask yourself what a healthy/superhero/badass person would do. Just ASKING the question makes you more likely to change behavior.

As pointed out in the book Mindless Eating:

“We found we could get kids to choose the healthier food much more often if we simply asked what their favorite superhero or their favorite princess would do.

Even if they responded “french fries”, half the time they took the apple slices. It simply causes an interruption in their thinking that causes them to pause, hit the reset button inside their head and think again.”

In other words, asking “What would Batman do?” is a real thing, and it can fundamentally change the path of your journey.

Yup, even for adults. Whenever I think of skipping my workouts to play more videogames I always ask myself “What would Captain America do?”

More often than not, I end up in the gym. Because damnit, I am Captain America.

Make a small win today.

As the saying goes, “Big things have small beginnings.”

Do enough small things aligned with your new identity, and your outward appearance will start to reflect your new superhero identity.

Building better habits isn’t about littering your day with life hacks.

Your habits matter because they help you become the type of person you wish to be.

So I leave you with three questions:

  • What is your Profession!?
  • How would that person act today?
  • Can you get a small win today to reinforce that?

Here’s an example for each class to get you started:

What’s that? You want to build a certain physique? Start doing what those people do!

This is exactly what we preach and teach with our 1-on-1 Coaching Clients we essentially ask them what they want to be when they grow up (lol), and then create specific programs and help guide their food choices to become that new version of themselves!

Here is my answer:

“I am an Assassin in the Nerd Fitness Rebellion. I don’t care that I have thin wrists and crappy genetics. I’m reinforcing this by hitting the gym as soon as I hit publish on this article to work on my rings work. Tonight I will eat grilled chicken, quinoa, and broccoli.”

Your turn: Leave a comment below!


PS: James Clear’s book Atomic Habits served as the inspiration and outline for today’s article – if you’re interested at all in bettering yourself and improving your health, I would highly recommend checking it out!


**All photo credits can be found right here[1]**


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The 20 Minute Beginner Kettlebell Workout: Build Muscle and Burn Fat Wed, 17 Oct 2018 22:49:46 +0000 Everyone, at every fitness level, can use a kettlebell.

Yup, even you. And your mom. She’s cool.

When used properly, this funky piece of equipment can help you build muscle, burn fat, and feel like a badass.

Those are three great things in my book!

So you don’t have to be afraid of this cannonball with a handle. It’s not actually explosive.

However, I can understand if you feel intimidated by a kettlebell. It’s awkward and if you don’t know how to use one, you’re just going to use it as a doorstop.

So fear not!

Team Nerd Fitness has designed a kettlebell workout specifically for beginners that you can do TODAY.

The routine will help build muscle and burn fat, two key components of any exercise program. We’ll also make sure you know how to handle a kettlebell safely and effectively. If you couple this with a solid nutrition plan (don’t worry, I got you covered here too), you’ll have a great strategy for many different fitness goals.

So let’s rap about the following:

  • What kettlebell workout you should start with.
  • Why kettlebells are great.
  • Mistakes with the kettlebell we want to make sure you avoid.
  • If you want to purchase one, what kettlebell you should get.

Let’s go! Once you watch the video below, feel free to download our Beginner Kettlebell Worksheet that you can print out and use when you do your next workout! You can get yours free when you sign up in the box below:

The 20 Minute Beginner Kettlebell Workout

Our Beginner Kettlebell Workout is what’s called a circuit (you can learn all about circuit training here)

That’s just a fancy term for doing a workout like so:

  • 1 set of exercise A, go immediately to
  • 1 set of exercise B, go immediately to
  • 1 set of exercise C
  • Repeat from the top!

Your long term goal should be to do 3 full circuits back to back for a complete workout. Four if you’re in Berserker mode. If you can only go through it once or twice, that’s A-OK.

And if you need to take a break at any time between sets or after a circuit, do it! You do you.

Prior to jumping into the kettlebell circuit, don’t forget to do some mobility warm up (you can see our warm-up routine here).

Nothing too crazy, just something to “grease the groove” and get your body used to movement so you don’t pull any muscles once you start swinging the kettlebell.

In other words, preparing your muscles and joints to move some weight around! Five minutes of running in place, air punches and kicks, some jumping jacks and arm swings, should get your heart rate up and your muscles warmed.

Then you’re ready for the Beginner Kettlebell Workout!

I asked Matt Shortis, one of our awesome coaches – and a kettlebell guru – from our 1-on-1 Coaching Program to film this workout for you, because we like you:

Once you’ve watched the video above, here’s a quick recap with repetitions for the workout here:


  • 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)

You can do all of the above with one single kettlebell, from anywhere. Some things to keep in mind during the routine.

  • With your halos, remember to keep the movement smooth. You don’t want to accidentally slam your head with the bell.
  • For the goblet squat, focus on depth. It’s more important to practice doing a full squat than to pump out reps. If you can’t make 10, don’t stress it. Do what you can.
  • When doing the overhead press, get tight. Tightening your muscles will engage your core, offering a fuller body workout.
  • During the kettlebell swing, focus on hinging your hips. The swing is like a deadlift movement, so you should feel it in your hamstring and glutes.
  • Try to keep your back straight and stomach tight during the row. This will help engage your legs for stabilization as you pull the kettlebell towards your stomach.
  • For the lunges, again keep your back straight. By keeping your shoulders back, you’ll get a fuller body workout when you come in and out of your lunge.

When you’re done, do some light stretching to cool down. A couple yoga poses would suffice. Make sure you drink water too.

Feel free to go through this routine at least once a week, and up to 2-3 times a week, with a day off between. Remember, you don’t build muscle when you’re exercising, you build muscle when you’re resting. Your muscles are broken down when you strength train, and then they rebuild themselves stronger over the following days of recovery! If you just can’t sit still, feel free to do some fun exercises, go for a walk, or do one of the following.

If you read all of the above and you’re intimidated or overwhelmed, I totally get it.

I personally know how scary it can be to embark on a strength training program, especially when you don’t know if you’re doing it correctly. My first time lifting weights was a nightmare.

The results are worth it though, I promise.

Want help on this journey? We got you! We have an online coaching program if you still feel apprehensive about lifting weights, or worried about your proper form on these movements. Matt S from the video above is part of the Nerd Fitness Team that offers private 1-on-1 coaching to help you get in shape. Whatever your goals are, we will build a program that’s specific to your hectic life!

If you want to learn more, click on the big button below to schedule a free call with our team to learn more and see if we’re a good fit for each other!

In case you’re still on the fence about grabbing a kettlebell, let’s dig into them a little bit more [1].

Which Kettlebell Should I Buy? What are the best Kettlebell Brands?

So you want to buy a kettlebell, eh?

They come in all sorts of materials, in all sorts of shapes, and in all sorts of sizes. Which one you pick will come down to personal preference, your budget, and your experience with kettlebells.

Let’s contemplate the following:

  • Standard vs.Competition. A standard traditional kettlebell will be cast iron, and as the weight goes up, the dimensions go up. For example, a 16kg (35 lb.) bell will be larger than a 6kg (15lb) bell. This isn’t true for competitive kettlebells. No matter their weight, competitive kettlebells will have the same dimensions for bell shape, base, and handle width. So the 16kg will look just like the 6kg. This can be helpful to make sure you are consistent with technique.
  • Weight. In general, pick a weight that allows you to complete a workout with good form. When in doubt, start with a lighter weight, as you can always increase the weight/size later. If you’re forcing me to pick one for you, knowing NOTHING about you, I’d say consider purchasing a 16kg if you’re a male or 8kg if you’re a female. Now, this isn’t an exact science, and we are all unique snowflakes. If you think you’re stronger than average, go heavier. Not quite there? Go lighter.
  • Ballistic vs. Grind. You’ll often hear the terms ballistic and grinding in kettlebell workout discussions, for fast and slow movements respectively. Ballistic movements would be quick, like the kettlebell swing. Grinding movements would be slow, like the overhead press. For ballistic movements, you might actually want a heavier kettlebell, to help with momentum. For grinding movements, less weight might be in order to help with control. For now, if you are just starting out, go ahead and stick to one kettlebell. Branch out as you advance in experience.
  • Handle. This is where quality comes into play. You’ll be doing many, many repetitions with your kettlebell. If the handle has rough edges, you’ll feel each and everyone of the movements scrap into your hand. Ouch. Not fun. Quality matters when it comes to handles. So we’ll chat about ideal brands in a moment. I’ll end our discussion on handles by saying they are generally standardized at 35mm for thickness. Use this as your baseline for differences when comparing bell grips.

Okay, let’s talk about brands:

  • Cap Barbell. This would be an ideal first kettlebell. Not too expensive and decent quality, Cap Barbell kettlebells can be found on Amazon or at any Walmart. The Cap Barbell is the most highly reviewed and reasonably priced kettlebell we have encountered. Do you have any experience with one? Let us know in the comments if you like it!
  • Kettlebell Kings. You see Kettlebell Kings ranked as some of the best bells out there. Not a bad price for the quality. Plus, they offer free shipping in the US, which is nice since you’re essentially mailing a cannonball.
  • Dragon Door. Some call Dragon Door the gold standard of anything and everything “kettlebell.” I wouldn’t disagree, but expect to pay for it.
  • Onnit. Onnit rocks, and they offer good quality bells that are quite popular. And… they sell a Darth Vader one. I know, I should have started with that.

OUR ADVICE: Before you go buy an expensive kettlebell, check your gym! I bet it has kettlebells, and you can try out different brands/sizes/weights/styles to see which one you like the best.

Afraid of going to the gym? I got you.

Don’t care about buying your bell new? Check out Craigslist or a used sporting goods store like Play it Again Sports for a previously owned kettlebell from a person who no longer needs it. A used kettlebell is still a kettlebell.

Crafty? Build your own! Here’s a video on how to make a kettlebell:

If you make your own kettlebell (be careful – you don’t want it breaking mid swing!), please email me. I would be so pumped!

How to Lose Weight with A Kettlebell Workout Program

If you’re trying to get fit, a kettlebell and the workout routine above would be a great part of the plan!

The other part of the plan should be your nutrition.

As we lay out in our Coaching Program and our online Nerd Fitness Academy, we believe that proper nutrition is 80-90% of the equation for weight loss.

No joke. It’s by far the biggest factor for success.

So will you lose weight training with kettlebells? Maybe. If you fix your diet AND begin to incorporate our kettlebell routine a few times per week, you’ll will find yourself building muscle, losing fat, and getting stronger!

So how do you fix your diet?

Great question.

Whether you choose to follow a Keto Diet, Paleo Diet, Mediterranean Diet, or something like Intermittent Fasting, the best path will be up to your goals, your situation, and your habits.

Here are some basic tips though (as we cover in our Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Eating):

  • If your goal is weight loss, you have to eat less than you burn each day. This can be through eating less and burning more (from the kettlebell workout above)
  • Processed foods and junk food makes it really tough to lose weight: They have lots of calories and carbs, low nutritional value, don’t fill you up, and cause you to overeat.
  • Vegetables are your friend. If you don’t like veggies, here’s our advice on how to fix that.
  • Liquid calories are making you fat. Soda, juice, sports drinks: they’re all pretty much high calorie sugar water with minimal nutritional value. Get your caffeine from black coffee or tea, fizzy-drink fix from sparkling water.
  • Not losing weight? Track your calories and work on consuming slightly less each day.
  • Eat more protein! Protein helps rebuild muscle, and can help you stay under your calorie limit because it’s satiating and filling.

If you’re not quite sure how to eat correctly, we created a created a free 10-level nutrition blueprint that helps you build better food habits. You can download yours free by clicking in the box below:

Do Your First Kettlebell Workout TODAY

Like most things in life, the important aspect of any exercise regimen is starting it.

No matter what strength training program you choose, start TODAY. You don’t need to get strong before you can play with a kettlebell. You can play with a kettlebell to get stronger!

Here’s that Beginner Kettlebell Workout one more time to recap:

  • 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)

I’d love for you to start with your new strength training today, and let us know how things go with your kettlebell!

If you want help through any part of the fitness spectrum, I’ll remind you of the Nerd Fitness 1-on-1 Online Coaching program. Our coaches can work with you to pick up a kettlebell for the first time or to learn more advance moves.

Whether you are brand new to your fitness journey, or ready to take it to the next level, we have your back!

If you want to go another route, like strictly bodyweight workouts, that’s great too. It’ll help a lot. Just start moving!


PS. Don’t forget to download our Beginner Kettlebell Worksheet – and let us know what you think of it!

*All photo sources can be found in this footnote right here[2]

]]> 10
How Joe Lost 50 Pounds, Ran a Half-Marathon, Passed the Bar, and Got Engaged! Wed, 10 Oct 2018 17:47:46 +0000 Talk about a life level up!

Meet Joe, an attorney from Minnesota who has been reading Nerd Fitness for the past 5-6 years. He attempted to get in shape 6-8 times in that span with various levels of temporary success, only to give back all of his progress each time.

However, over the past 10 months, Joe has become a man possessed – in a good way.

He’s gone from not being able to run for 60 seconds and plowing through fast food to losing 50 pounds, running a half-marathon on trails, passing the bar exam, and even getting engaged!

I LOVE Joe’s new mentality, and the insight he shared with me about all of the things that he surprised himself with since he began his this transformative journey.

I’m proud to say that Joe has been in our 1-on-1 Online Coaching program since January, and I’d love for you to check it out to see if it’s the right fit for you (and beat the January rush – we expect a long waiting list by then).

So why is today’s article is so important?

Because it was some brutal realizations and a specific decision that Joe made around this time last year that made him realize something needed to change!

I want you to be honest with yourself: It’s almost November. Are you 80+% of the way towards the goals you set for yourself back in January? Or are you already saying, “Meh, 2018 is a lost cause. I’ll try again next year.”

No! Wrong! Full stop!

There are still 2.5 months left in the year!

If you fell off the wagon or got stuck or never got started, Joe’s story will resonate with you.

Below, I’ll share Joe’s insights and lessons learned along with the way, along with key steps you can take starting today to break out of a rut and level up!

Go Joe!

How Joe the Lawyer Lost 50 Pounds AND Leveled Up His Life

STEVE: Hey Joe! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me – I’d love to hear from you about your past – how many times had you tried to get in shape before this most recent success?

JOE: I had tried to lose weight at least eight times.

Every single time, I tried it on my own because I think I felt like, “If I can’t do this on my own, then what’s the point?”

Here are the most memorable:

Attempt #1: I wasn’t particularly overweight back in college, but I felt like I should try to be more careful about what I ate. I tried calorie counting by itself, but that led to extreme dieting on my part.

Attempt #2: I tried doing the Paleo Diet and lost weight rapidly, only to put all the weight back on immediately after I stopped because I couldn’t maintain eating so little each day.

Attempt #3:  I tried to force myself into running by waking up one morning and going for a two-mile run; obviously I didn’t make it, and I just felt so damn dejected afterwards that I struggled to do anything.

Attempt #4: I re-tried the running approach (starting smaller), and it actually worked…for about two weeks. I was running a bit each day, and I started feeling the positive effects. In the long run (pun intended?), however, I just got tired and had nothing really pushing me to keep going, so I stopped.

Attempt #5: When I tried picking up weightlifting, I planned out three weeks of workouts, and generally did them. But after those three workouts, I didn’t plan out any more workouts and I just stopped again.

Following that, I started a long build-up of weight gain and unhealthy habits. As a law student, I had long hours of class and many hours of homework in the evenings. When I needed to go get food, I would eat at restaurants like Subway, Leeann Chin, or other fast food.

This eventually resulted in me reaching my heaviest weight ever right around December 2017.

STEVE: Okay so fast forward to this past fall. You had been reading Nerd Fitness for 5 years, why did you finally take action?

JOE: Overall, in the past I think I lacked motivation for a few reasons:

  • I didn’t have any real drive to change myself.
  • I thought that if I couldn’t do things on my own, I was a failure as a person.

Three things pushed me over the edge, and specifically towards Nerd Fitness’s one-on-one coaching.

The first thing was my “wake up” moment:

Over Christmas break in my last year of law school (December 2017 – pictured), I was on vacation participating in one of my hobbies–scuba diving.

While underwater, I went through my air tank almost 40% faster than everyone else I was diving with. In other words, I had to surface WAY BEFORE everyone else and I was just sitting on the surface waiting.


I had let myself get to the point where I could no longer do the things I wanted to do.

I couldn’t ignore my weight gain anymore. I knew something had to change or else I wasn’t going to be happy moving forward.

The second thing was an email from you, Steve.

I had been on the Nerd Fitness email list for years because I had been following the website for awhile. I didn’t really do anything serious due to the issues I listed above.

Right around Christmas, you sent out an email talking about how it was likely that many people reading the email had not made a real change — that they had not followed through on their “New Year Resolutions—and may be in an even worse position than they were at the beginning of the prior year.”

I realized that was me. I hadn’t changed.

I hadn’t really even tried to change, even though I knew I should have. And that email re-oriented me to thinking about HOW I could change.

STEVE: I remember writing that email, because I almost didn’t send it! However, we’re a site dedicated to helping people, and oftentimes that requires tough love. I’m glad that message resonated with you.

So what made you decide to try out NF Coaching? What pushed you over the edge to make the investment?

JOE: I figured that my problem might be motivation and accountability (see above).

I also knew I trusted the Nerd Fitness website because I had been receiving emails from you for years.

Never once did you try to sell me a “quick fix” or a “get in shape fast” program.

You never suggested that losing weight would be unrealistically simple or easy; you were always down to earth about the fact that it takes time and focus. I liked that. It felt like a non-BS approach.

So I decided to schedule a free call to learn about the program and ended up signing up!

STEVE: That’s great man. If I remember correctly I was actually the one who spoke with you on the phone! And I know you’ve been working with Staci as your coach for the past 10 months.

What’s a typical day like for you NOW, after the changes?

JOE: I still sit a lot, but now I’m aware of it. As an attorney, you spend a lot of time in an office doing a lot of reading, researching, and writing. So now I get up a lot more, take a quick spin around the office and say hi to coworkers.

Some days, depending on the weather (and even in the cold!) I will go for a run over the lunch hour to get my workout done earlier in the day.

It’s not necessarily that day-to-day activities have necessarily changed that much; it’s more like I’m aware of what those activities really are, and try to mix up them up whenever I can.

STEVE: Tell me about the workout program Staci built for you. 

JOE: I live in an apartment complex with a small gym; that helped a lot – (though given what Coach Staci has set up, I don’t think a gym is even necessary half the time).

Because I had the gym, most of my workouts were bodyweight and free-weight (dumbbell) exercises. Staci also worked in cardio on days between strength training. Also, I can’t stress this enough: she started with manageable workouts and slowly built up. My first “workout” in the program? A five-minute walk.

Now I can run 30x as long.

On the running, Staci was a huge help. Back in March, I told her about a 5K race in July that I had tried and failed to run in the past. In fact, I hurt myself pretty bad because again I was trying to do too much all at once.

I told her that I wanted to slowly build up to it, so she started changing my then-30 minute walks into “run 1 minute, walk three minute” cycles. Over time, she helped me build up muscle and endurance. I crushed the 5k, completing it faster than I had ever run anything in my life.

That helped me understand what I could be capable of.

Two and half weeks later, I ran a 10K.

Just this past Saturday, I ran a half marathon on trails in a giant park near where I live because after all this time I felt like trying to see how far I could run.

I cannot believe that in ten months, I went from being unable to run for a full minute to running for over two hours on hills and trails. I honestly don’t think I would have ever reached where I am now without Staci’s constant encouragement and guidance.

Here’s a picture of me right after that run, look how happy I am!

STEVE: I love this so much. Congratulations on the success so far, man. Talk to us about your nutrition! We know here in NF that nutrition is 80% of the equation.

JOE: This was the hardest part for me, because I was eating like I was a kid: fast food, sweets, etc.

When I did cook, it was simple things that often had loads of fat (i.e. five grilled cheese sandwiches in one sitting, with dessert).

I was also really hesitant to do the Paleo diet, or try something like the Keto diet, or Mediterranean, or calorie counting again because, as I mentioned before, some of these methods hadn’t really worked for me in the past.

Staci helped me by providing basic advice on eating healthy – diagrams of ideal “plates” of food for dinner (with portion sizing).

To avoid calorie counting, she had me send her pictures of everything I was eating through the Nerd Fitness Coaching App, which really enhanced the accountability aspect of eating healthy because I didn’t hyper-focus on my food.

Over time, my habits slowly adjusted to become healthier.

I also have my now-fiancé to thank for being extremely supportive in helping me eat healthy.

I eventually transitioned to using MyFitnessPal to count calories after I started seeing results because I wanted to understand more about my food choices. That helped a lot.

Training has taught me that eating healthier leaves me feeling better overall. It literally made it easier to say no to bad options, and choose healthier options.

For example, I no longer drink coffee with cream or sugar. When stopping at gas stations on the road, I buy a banana and a string cheese stick if I’m hungry. Small changes.

STEVE: What was the most important change you think you made?

JOE: Doing something, and admitting to myself that I needed help on what to do.

I wanted to change so badly, but I just kept failing.

It got to the point where my family sort of anticipated the fact that I probably wouldn’t maintain my attempts at weight loss.

I knew I had to do something, and this program ended up working out beautifully.

STEVE: Your physical appearance has changed…what else has changed about you? A little birdie (your coach) told me you got engaged this past weekend!

JOE: I did get engaged! That has been an extremely welcome change, as has the physical appearance differences.

More than anything, I feel… light.

When people suggest walking from one place to another, I don’t worry about it.

When someone suggests going hiking, I am up for it.

When my family wants to do a project, I know that physically I won’t have any problems.

Overall, my mental attitude about what I can do has changed immensely. Also, as I told you at the beginning Steve, I wanted to look good in a suit. Now I think I look pretty damn good in a suit.

The speakers line at 4:25­—“Accept where you are, and the responsibility that you are gonna take yourself where you want to go”—has become a bit of a mantra for me.

I had to accept where I was in terms of weight gain, and shoulder the responsibility, with Staci’s help, of getting to a different place.

STEVE: What are your goals moving forward? What kind of awesomeness do you want to do in your new body?

JOE: I want to run a marathon: 26.2 miles.

I have always had that as a long term goal, but I’m realizing that it may be within my grasp a bit sooner than expected.

I would also like a six pack, but hey… that takes time haha.

I’ve noticed a few opportunities online to run some races in national parks, so I’ve looked at those too.

One thing you will notice when you run a lot is that you tend to want to change up the scenery a little bit; running through Grand Teton National Park sounds pretty amazing, and there are some companies that organize relatively inexpensive races in those areas for runners interested in mixing it up.

I would like to explore those options.

STEVE: What makes NF Coaching a worthy investment for you each month? I know it’s a big investment, and many would just be “done,” but you’re here 10 months later – and counting! 

JOE: The 1-on-1 coaching program plans out long-term change for me—the workouts, the habit changes, the healthy eating—so that all I have to focus on is doing it.

And yup, the “doing” part certainly isn’t easy…

But when someone is encouraging you, guiding you, texting you regularly, and helping you understand how to integrate healthy changes into your own unique lifestyle and day-to-day activities, actually DOING the program becomes much easier than you would think.

Every single time I do a workout, I get better.

Every time I eat healthy, I can feel a difference (even if its very slight).

Because of that, I don’t sweat the cost because I know that the money I would have been spending on unhealthy habits like fast food, eating out, and sweets is going towards making me a happier, healthier person.

Plus, the whole Nerd Fitness team is amazing:

I have spoken with several individuals on the team (whether through the phone or over the internet) and I can’t stress enough that they want you to make it. They actually care if you succeed.

Yes, NF is a business. Yes, Team Nerd Fitness has to make money to function.

But I’ve never seen a fitness company so oriented around its clients like this one.

On a simpler note, the results speak for themselves: I have almost hit 50lbs of weight loss. Clearly, the Nerd Fitness approach works.

And you know what the best part is? Every time I eat healthier or do a workout, I feel good about it.

There is no regret, no exasperation, and no sense of boredom or repetitiveness.

The coaches are good about teaching you healthy habits and principles to the point where you want to do them simply because they work for you, and you feel better because of them.

Steve: Damn dude, I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel about the team we’ve built. Thank you.

Do you have any words of advice for people reading this who are at where you were last fall? What can you say to those people to help themselves make changes?

Joe: Accept where you are right now, on Day One. You can’t change it, but it’s a starting point. And then take responsibility for where you want to go.

I was overweight, obese, dejected, upset, and worried about my relationship. But every single day I did something (whether eating healthy, working out, or both), the struggle became a little easier.

As that video I reference above says, “Accept where you are and the responsibility that you are gonna take yourself where you want to go.”

As long as I was working on making myself stronger, faster, and healthier, then I could accept where I am now.

I know it’s cliche, but don’t give up. Know that even if I don’t know who you are, or where you are, I am right there with you. We all are right there with you.

Steve: What would you say to somebody who is interested but unsure about trying Nerd Fitness Coaching?

Joe: What do you have to lose?


Don’t just read that and move on. Stop and think about it.

My guess is you said time, money, or some variation of “lost hope” if it doesn’t work.

  • Regarding time, all this program is going to do is add time to your life. And any time you “lose” working out is probably better spent doing the workouts, at least for long term health.
  • With respect to money, if you are anything like I was at the start of the program, my guess is you probably are already spending the money that it would cost for this program on fast food and other unhealthy habits during the month anyway.

Would you rather change your life, or have one more fast food meal?

If you are worried about losing hope or motivation for a change, do the program and TALK TO YOUR COACH. They are there to keep your drive alive, and to help you understand that the time and energy required to see change is manageable.

You can cancel at anytime, although I don’t want to.

At the end of the day, what do you have to lose?

On the flip side, just imagine how good you will feel if it works? If you can commit and change your life?

Take the time to “accept where you are” and shoulder the responsibility necessary to make that change for the better. Everyone at Nerd Fitness believes you can do it. I believe you can do it. The only person standing in your way is you.

I know my answers to some of these questions may seem long, but if it results in even one person changing their life like I have, I’ll be happy.

Steve: Joe, can I hire you as Nerd Fitness’s hype person? Ha! Seriously though, thank you for sharing these answers with the NF Rebellion

The 5 Keys to Joe’s Weight Loss and Level Up Success!

I’ve been following Joe’s story for the past 10 months, getting regular updates from his coach Staci, and I tried to distill his success down into a few bite-sized words of wisdom you can take with you today:


This is a dude who’s been reading Nerd Fitness emails for 5 years! He tried calorie counting. He tried Paleo. He tried running. He tried weight lifting. Nothing stuck.

Joe finally found a good enough reason to change his life: he was unable to do the activities he wanted to do because of his weight, and something needed to change.

Thank goodness Joe stayed a part of Nerd Fitness for years until the right message hit him at the right time in his life, and he was ready to take action.

You’re here reading this, which means no matter where you’re at and how far off the wagon you’ve fallen, you’re reading this and that’s amazing. Thank you for being here!

Even if you failed 100 times getting in shape in the past, the right message hasn’t hit you at the right time. Keep trying. Keep reading. Maybe today can be the spark that lights the fire for YOUR story – that I can share next year 🙂


I can relate so much to Joe’s previous mentality, and I bet you can too: “I didn’t realize that asking for help was okay.” I too spent a decade training myself because I thought it would make me less of a person if I needed somebody’s help to succeed.

It wasn’t until I realized that the best athletes and top performers on the planet have coaches too – and that’s the same conclusion Joe came to.

Not only is asking for help smart, not only is hiring a coach wise, but for many (myself, Joe, and for most people), having guidance and accountability is the difference between “Holy crap my life is completely different” success, and “oh man, where did the year go? Another year of not succeeding” failure.

Having a coach doesn’t make you weak. It makes you smart.


Although Joe had tried running and strength training in the past, neither stuck.

It wasn’t until this recent attempt that he gave running another chance, and with the proper motivation, accountability, guidance, and a plan built for his life that it actually stuck. You have the find the exercise that works for you – or it won’t stick.

I asked Joe what the old Joe would be surprised to learn about the New Joe:

“Apparently, I like running. The old me would have laughed at that idea. If I told the old me that I ran for two and half hours last Saturday, I’m sure the old me would have called bullcrap and got up and left. But it’s true. You never know what you are capable of until you try.”


This was Joe’s 9th attempt (at least) at getting in shape. He had tried strict dieting and going ALL IN multiple times in the past.

He had tried building his own workout programs and creating his own running routines – he did all of this for free, and I’m not surprised that the results didn’t last.

Why? Because he didn’t have any skin in the game! Simply put: we value what we spend our money on, and we don’t value what we get for free.

On this effort, Joe had tried the “Do it Myself” path for YEARS and failed, so this time he knew he would have to try a different approach.

Joe had invested his hard earned money in his health with coaching, so he actually took this attempt seriously.

How are you investing in yourself? Coaching, a gym membership, investing more in higher quality food, or even just investing your time into research if money is tight!

But you are worth the investment!


This is a lifelong journey.

You can’t expect to go on a diet for a few weeks or months to reach a goal weight and then go “back to normal.” Temporary changes equal temporary results.

If you never get to be “done,” you better enjoy the journey, right?

Notice the wording Joe uses above: “

So if you are gonna get in shape, focus on the process. As we say in NF: focus on days and years, not weeks and months. Just do the thing today that needs to get done:

Where Will You Be 10 Months from Now? Don’t Wait Until January!

If you’re still reading this, I want you to know I’m damn proud of you for even trying. I’m thankful you’re in our little community here on the internet, and I’m quite excited for your future.

Not only that, but I’m proud of you for what you’re going to do today.

MOST people have already given up on 2018. They’re going to dig themselves into a deeper, bigger hole over the next 2.5 months, and they’re going to wake up in January 50 yards farther away from the starting line than they are today.



Because you’re gonna be like Joe:

  • Never give up. Keep reading. Keep trying. But try something DIFFERENT this time. Don’t do the same thing you did the last time. Don’t just “try to lose weight” and “go on a diet.” Be deliberate in your attempt!
  • Give yourself permission to seek help. Whether it’s coaching or asking somebody who has lost weight in the way you want to, ask them for guidance! I’ve been working with a coach myself for 4+ years now!
  • Find the exercise that works for you. It might be running. Or hiking. Or strength training. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it!
  • Have some skin in the game. You don’t value things you get for free nearly as much as things that you spent your hard earned money on! Invest in yourself!
  • Enjoy the journey. You don’t get to be done,

And today, you’re gonna do literally ANYTHING:

Go for a 5 minute walk. That was Joe’s first workout in the NF Coaching program. 10 months later he’s down 50 pounds and running trail half-marathons and EXCITED ABOUT IT.

Try our Beginner Bodyweight Workout.

Eat a vegetable. Yes, even if you hate them.

If you’re interested in being coached and having a program built for your exact situation, we’d love to chat with ya. 

Like we did we Joe, we speak with everybody on the phone that is interested in the coaching program – we want to know people’s stories, learn about their struggles, and then decide together if our program can help!

If you want professional guidance, a custom built workout program tailored to your specific goals, and expert accountability and motivation from Team NF, schedule a call with our team by clicking in the box below:

To wrap it all up:



Don’t wait until January. Don’t “go on hold” during the Holidays – this is when everybody messes up and loses all their gains from the previous 10 months.

Get the habits and start small now, and then you’ll have routine and momentum down pat come January! I want to hear from you:

What’s the ONE thing you’re going to do today?

Me: I’m gonna hit the gym and work on my deadlifts!



]]> 4
How to Use A Foam Roller: Step-by-Step Guide Mon, 08 Oct 2018 14:53:20 +0000 In the last few years, the foam roller has become a staple in commercial gyms. 10% of every piece of equipment in a modern fitness facility is now some type of foam roller.

Not true, but they are indeed everywhere.

And with good reason: you can essentially give yourself a deep tissue massage with one of these bad boys. And if you fork out $20 bucks, you don’t even have to leave your home to do it!

So today we’ll chat about these new toys:

  • The benefits of using a foam roller
  • Some simple exercises you can do from home
  • Common pitfalls we want to make sure you avoid
  • What to buy should you want one
  • Whether or not you should put a cat in one

That last one is definitely a hard “no.”

Let’s get rolling (the puns are only going to get worse from here)

What are the benefits of using a foam roller?

You’ll often hear using a foam roller as “self-myofascial release.”

You may be asking, “myofawhatnow?”

Don’t stress, because “fascia” is just the connective tissue covering muscle. Just know that “self-myofascial release” means giving yourself a tissue massage.

The type of massage you receive has a lot to do with the type of roller you use and the exercises performed. For example, the denser and firmer the roller, the more intense the massage will be. Think the difference between the relaxing touch of a masseur/masseuse and a deep tissue sports massage where you cry out in agony but feel great after.

We’ll start you off with the more relaxing sequence.

Now, it should be noted there is a debate on the actual benefits of “self-myofascial release.” There are some claims that myofascial release will help flexibility and muscle recovery. There are others that say that’s bogus.

What does the science say?

Some of it’s supported:

  • A foam roller has been shown to help the range of hip motion in soccer players[1].
  • Rolling massages can help alleviate muscle soreness[2].

Some of it is not supported:

  • Foam rolling use doesn’t appear to impact the length of muscle[3].
  • A study found no help in relieving “tightness” in the hamstring[4].

So yeah, the science isn’t definitive on this. But there does seem to be a lot of anecdotal evidence praising foam rollers.

My take? I think the foam roller is a great tool for temporary pain relief as long as it’s used correctly, but you can’t ignore what caused the soreness in the first place!

Want help getting started?

Beginner foam roller exercises

All you need is some type of roller and some floor space. A yoga mat would be helpful but not required.

We’ll go over four simple exercises to get you going with a foam roller. Think of the following as a relaxing sequence:

  • Thoracic Spine
  • Glutes (both sides)
  • Quads (one at a time)
  • Abductors

Take each move for about 20-30 seconds. Hold for major sore spots. Breath deeply, calmly.

I asked Matt Myers, one of our online coaches at Nerd Fitness – he’s hilarious but don’t tell him I said that – to guide you through these moves in this quick video.

Yes, that’s a T-Rex on a foam roller. You’re welcome:

That’s it. Keep it simple at first.

You can do this sequence after a workout. Or even before. Or all by itself. Go wild.

Common mistakes when using a foam roller

I want to make an important point on foam rollers:

As mentioned, one of the benefits is their ability to help with painful or tight areas.

However, it’s important to remember that using a foam roller won’t treat the root cause of the pain. It’s only going to help  treat the symptom by easing pain.

As the studies above point out, it’s not quite clear how myofascial release does this.

What I’m trying to say: If you’re working out incorrectly, or in pain because of a sedentary lifestyle, or some other type of issue, using a foam roller won’t fix it. It’ll only help you manage the discomfort. You’ll potentially need outside help to uncover the real issue that’s causing the problem in the first place.

The foam roller is the equivalent of using painkillers to help a broken foot, without first setting any of the bones correctly, or asking the question “Why did you think kicking that brick wall was a good idea in the first place?”


So use the foam roller to manage discomfort, but know that it’s not a panacea (boy do I love that word) for all of your ailments and movement issues!

If you’re not sure if you are training correctly, or you’re struggling to not always be dealing with pulled or sore muscles, we are here to help. Matt from our video above, is part of the experienced, fun, non-judgmental staff that make up the Nerd Fitness 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program. Our team can help with many different types of exercises, with or without a roller. Plus, if you’re struggling with weight loss, they can help there too.

Want to see if we are a good fit for each other? Click on the big image below to schedule a free consultation with our Team (you’ll probably speak with Big Red, he’s good people):

Foam roller recommendations

You now know a foam roller can be a super helpful tool to manage pain and discomfort. And thanks to Matt, you even know how to use one.

Want to buy one? You need to think about the following:

  • Density: the denser the roller, the more intense the massage you’ll receive.
  • Texture: some rollers will have ridges and knots to help dig into your muscle and tissue.
  • Shape and size: big ones, small ones, some as big as your head. You can get a foam roller in just about every size you could want.

There’s a lot to consider, but here’s some solid choices:

Boom. That’ll give you some options to… get rolling.

In appreciation of self care

Our lives are busy. It can be a real challenge to carve out time to take care of ourselves. But it’s important that we do. Outside of anyone else, we are in the best position to help ourselves (duh). Even if it’s only for five minutes and with a piece of foam.

Foam rolling is a great way to manage tightness and pain from the comfort of your own home. If you don’t have one, you can also use household items like a tennis ball to attack the “knots” that develop in our bodies. Or, go the other way and spring for a licensed massage[5].

The importance is self care. Try the foam roller the next time you’re at the gym. Or get one sent to your home. It’s a fun toy to have around.

Breathe in now, breathe out, and as Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit taught us: “just keep rollin’ baby.”

What do you think? Love foam rollers? Or think they are a tripping hazard at the gym? Want more advanced exercises? Let us know!


PS: I tried my hardest to not make a Limp Bizkit reference in this post. Almost made it.

PPS: If you want help playing with all the other toys at the gym, I’ll mention one last time our 1-on-1 Coaching program. We can help make all the equipment at any fitness facility way less scary. Or teach you how to workout from home so you can skip the whole place altogether.


ALL Photos Sources can be found in this footnote here[6].

]]> 2
The Truth About Acai Bowls: Read this first! Tue, 25 Sep 2018 22:06:38 +0000 These days, Acai bowls are the hottest thing on the streets.

It’s been called “the healthiest breakfast on the planet” by some news outlets.

The hype machine is operating at full capacity for this South American berry. It’s a superfood that will help you lose weight, extend your lifespan, and help defend your body against aging!

Are these claims true?

Clearly the people marketing acai berries and bowls don’t care – as long as they can hype the crap out of it, there’s money to be made.

Hell, I walked down the street the other day and saw a place named “Acai Ya Later.”

If you’ve been reading Nerd Fitness for a while, it’s no secret I’m a fan of a well done pun, even if they need to mispronounce “acai” to make it work.

Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of bogus health claims, even if there are puns involved!

So today I’m gonna dig into the facts about acai berries, acai bowls, and eternal life from fruit.

No hype.

No acai supplement to sell you. No “superfood” claims.

Just the truth. And funny gifs. Always gifs.

What is an acai berry?

The acai berry is the small purple fruit found on the acai palm.

They come from Brazil and other northern regions of South America. 80% of the berry is actually the seed, which for the most part people don’t eat.

This leaves only about 20% for the flesh and skin of the berry, the stuff people generally do eat.

Why should you care about acai?

Generally, the answer lies in the word “antioxidants”.

I know, “Why the hell do I care about antioxidants?”

Great question.

Antioxidants are substances that fight a process called oxidation.

When your body interacts with too much sunlight, toxins in smoke, air pollution, alcohol, and other challenges, it can create “free radicals,” AKA molecules with an unpaired electron.

And these molecules? They are single and ready to mingle. So when they collide with an electron that’s already paired, they more or less steal it.


This molecule then has to steal another electron, and the process continues. You can see how this could get out of hand. While some free radicals are normal, too many in our bodies can indeed lead to cancer [1].

Note that “Free Radicals” are different from “the New Radicals,” a one-hit wonder:

Which brings me back to antioxidants.

Depending on the particular molecule, antioxidants either provide the free radical with an extra electron, or break it down altogether.

The point: antioxidants neutralize free radicals, making them harmless.

That’s why antioxidants are important.

In our quest to get to the bottom of the hype on acai, antioxidants will prove critical. But I want to address an even more important point before we get there.

How do you pronounce “acai”?

We need to talk about how you actually pronounce “acai?” I’ve seen it make all sorts of people tongue tied.

And you want to sound important and all-knowing at your next cocktail party, right?

It’s “”ah-sigh-ee.” Like this:

Often times, when exotic fruit is brought to the West, it’s name is changed so it’s easier to pronounce.

Story time: This happened with the fruit “kiwi,” actually called “Yang-tao” in China. But marketers banked on “kiwi” being easier to say than Yang-tao, pronounced “yahng tou” in English. So they named it after the famous kiwi bird from New Zealand.

And boom, that’s why you know kiwi fruit as “kiwis.”

Such a name swap didn’t happen with acai.

Acai has kept its original Brazilian name, which is why us English speakers trip up pronouncing it[2].

Which is a logical segue to our next section.

Why are acai bowls so popular?

The credit of the acai berry being popular outside of Brazil can be attributed to Ryan and Jeremy Black, two brothers from Southern California.

Together with their friend Ed Nichols they realized the acai berry could have a potential gigantic market in the West.

The Black brothers and Nichols came across acai on a trip to Brazil. The locals encouraged them to try it, proclaiming the health benefits of the berry: an energy boost, kickstarted immunity, and detoxification.

They got HOOKED on these things, and from then on, whenever Ryan, Jeremy, and Ed were in Brazil, they would search for an icy acai bowl.

On one such trip, the Black brothers and Nichols discussed how great it would be to enjoy acai back in the States.

Strange fruit from Brazil with antioxidants?

Exotic, healthy, and easy to make grandiose claims about?


And that’s why acai bowls can now be found in every city in America with a punny store name.

What’s in an acai bowl? What are some typical acai bowl recipes?

In Brazil, the acai (in the form of frozen pulp) is generally served in a bowl with granola and bananas. Sometimes a fourth ingredient would be used, the Amazonian fruit guarana, which contains more caffeine than coffee.

Simple enough.

How about here in the states? That’s where acai bowls get cray.

You’ll for sure get acai berries, granola, and banana. And maybe guarana. But how about some of the following:

  • Agave
  • Apple Juice
  • Almond Milk
  • Almond Butter
  • Blueberries
  • Coconut
  • Honey
  • Mango Juice
  • Peanut Butter
  • Pomegranate
  • Soy Milk
  • Strawberries

Pick a handful of the above, mix them in a bowl, and BOOM! Acai bowl.

One thing most ingredients listed or referenced have in common, is they are carbohydrate and/or sugar heavy. Some, like agave and honey, are more or less just sugar.

Which brings me to an important and really fun point:

Fact checking the acai bowl hype

There are a lot of health claims associated to the acai berry. Some of which make my eyebrows raise. Others make me nod approvingly. And one or two that make my soul hurt. 

Which is why I’d like to introduce my new favorite Nerd Fitness game, “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire”:

CLAIM #1: There are good antioxidants in acai berries.”


Acai berries are indeed high in antioxidants[3]. Which is great, for the reasons we talked about earlier. When people talk about the benefits of the acai berry, it more or less comes down to antioxidants.

I support this claim. Now, I will mention just about any berry you pick (blackberry, blueberry, raspberry) is also a great source of antioxidants. But I won’t completely steal the acai berry’s thunder.


CLAIM #2: “Acai berries are nutrient dense.”

REALITY: Also true!

Acai berries contain as much Vitamin C as blueberries. Plus acai is a great source of Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and E. They also contain plenty of minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, and copper.

Good stuff there. As a proponent of eating REAL food that are nutrient dense, I would throw acai into that category. An acai berry is REAL food.


CLAIM #3: “Acai berries aid digestion.”

REALITY: eh, sort of.

Fiber aids digestion. And acai skin and pulp contain fiber. So acai aids digestion?

Sure, that’s true. But it’s not the complete picture. All sort of things contain fiber, like every other berry you’ve ever heard of. Plus, some food like carrots, are more much fibrous than the acai berry.

There is no special acai ingredient to improve digestion. If fiber is what you’re after, an acai berry isn’t a bad decision. But it’s not the single best option.


CLAIM #4: “Acai has anti-aging powers.”

REALITY: Bollocks! Hogwash!

Antioxidants are a good thing, because keeping your cells healthy and clear of free radicals is important. But are your wrinkles going to smooth out with the help of a berry? Or really, anything shy of botox? Don’t buy into this.

Acai have no special anti-aging magic. If the claim is antioxidants reverse aging, sure, in that they keep cells healthy. But not in the “I’m going to reverse time” way.


CLAIM #5: “Acai will improve libido.”

REALITY: Poppycock!

Will eating nutritiously lead to improved health? Which will improve how your body functions? Which could include libido? Sure.

Is there a berry out there that will make you awesome in the bedroom? No.


CLAIM #6: “Acai berries help weight loss.”


“Acai is a nutrient-rich source of antioxidants, much like many other fruits, but there is nothing magical about the fruit to cause weight loss.” Thank you David Grotto, RD[4].

Promises like better health, improved libido, and weight loss sell well. That’s why you’ll come across them. But as the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Naturally, the idea that a berry will make you lose weight is silly. It depends on what else you are consuming, and in what quantities, in addition to the acai berry. I’m going to cover this more extensively below.


Can I lose weight eating acai bowls?


It truly depends on how you used to eat and what else you eat every day.

To help paint this picture, let’s talk about the carbohydrates and sugars in an acai bowl.

Let’s start with the traditional acai bowl: acai puree, granola, and some banana. That will run about 355 calories, including 50 grams of carbohydrates, with 18 grams of those being sugar.

For comparison, the average bagel from a deli will have about 350 calories and 50 grams of carbs.

And that’s just a traditional bowl: what about the Americanized versions?

Acai puree often has sugar added to it, since the acai berry itself isn’t too sweet. Plus, an acai place might also pour things like honey and agave into the bowl. And don’t forget fruit contains quite a bit of sugar.

When you add it all up, it becomes a lot.

Let’s analyze the 12 oz. Acai Berry Bowl from “Juice It Up”: acai puree, a strawberry juice blend, actual strawberries, blueberries, and guarana. This rakes up:

  • 340 calories
  • 66 grams of carbohydrates
  • 60 grams of sugar (more than a can of Coke!)

If you called this meal a “carb bomb” or “sugar bomb,” I wouldn’t disagree with you. And none of this factors in additional toppings like coconut flakes or granola.

You can see how all of this adds up quickly. Acai bowls with over 90 grams of sugar are not unheard of.

That’s why I cringe when I read the Huffington Post’s article that acai bowls are the world’s healthiest breakfast[5]. I have no problem if you eat an acai bowl for breakfast.

But don’t let the good attributes of a South American berry distract you. Carbs, calories, and sugar don’t count less just because there are antioxidants present.

Eating a pile of pureed carbs, topped with carbs, and sprinkled with carbs, might be only a slightly better decision than a bowl of Lucky Charms.

All of this to say: be smart and learn about what you’re eating! Know the caloric, carbohydrate and sugar makeup of the food you eat, even if it’s “super.”

What’s a better plan for breakfast?

If you are going to eat breakfast, shift your focus from a pile of carbs to something loaded with protein and healthy fat. It’ll help fill you up in a more calorically-efficient manner, provide your muscles with rebuilding fuel, and not spike your insulin levels like sugar/carbs can do[6].

Eggs are a breakfast staple that Team Nerd Fitness wholly endorses. You can read our five favorite quick recipes here.

If you need some other examples for meal ideas, check out our post on 10 meals that can be made in 10 minutes.

But that’s only if you actually want to eat breakfast. You can also…

SKIP BREAKFAST. Some people forgo breakfast all together! Like me. It’s called intermittent fasting. It lets you make one less meal decision for the day, you’re less likely to overeat in a day, and it can help manage your insulin levels.

So start with protein in the morning. Or skip breakfast. But personally I wouldn’t start with a bucket of sugar in puree form if I was trying to lose weight.

Bummed out that your superfood breakfast isn’t that super? I hear ya. There’s nothing worse than TRYING to be healthy and discovering the food you thought was helping you lose weight is actually making things worse! Crap. Fun fact: I used to eat tons of granola bars and thought they were healthy (nope, carb and sugar bombs – might as well have been a Snickers!)

So whether it’s making sense of healthy breakfasts, learning how to eat better the rest of the day, or even just having an accountability partner to check in with, Nerd Fitness has helped thousands.

If you are looking for a personal coach that will help you stay accountable without judgement, help guide you to make better food choices, and get you results results that stick, check out our uber popular 1-on-1 online coaching program!

It’s kind of like having Yoda in your pocket (through your phone, not the Force…yet).

If this sounds like something that could help you, schedule a free call! You can talk to our team to see if we’re a good fit for each other! Click the image below to schedule now.

Be wary of anything called a superfood!

If you ever read anything about a “superfood,” let this act as a public service announcement.

Be skeptical. Marketers love this term because it’s not defined, regulated, or provable. Meaning it can be used at whim to sell whatever to desperate folks trying to lose weight with zero repercussions


The acai is a well hyped piece of fruit thanks to a serious marketing engine and lots of money at stake.

Like most berries, it has good antioxidants and nutrients. Good stuff.

And If you like the taste and want to treat yo self? Occasionally, hell yeah.

Should you eat one everyday for breakfast? Especially smothered in granola, drizzled with honey, and topped with more carbs/sugar?

There’s likely a better option if you’re not seeing success and losing weight. Here’s our advice on healthy eating for weight loss.

Don’t let headlines and hype distract you from what’s really going on. Tons of calories and sugar in the AM is a bad strategy if you’re trying to lose weight.

What do you think? Am I being too harsh on acai? Or does this berry deserve to have some of its hype squashed. Let me know in the comments.

Also, do you have any other “superfoods” you want us to take on in future “Liar, Liar Pants on Fire” posts?

-Steve, who is definitely NOT hiding from Brazilian acai marketing companies in my apartment closet, so don’t bother looking there.

PS: If this article has you flipped upside down, and now you don’t know WHAT to eat, in addition to our 1-on-1 Coaching program, we also have a free 10-level Nutrition Blueprint you can download for free! Print it out, hang it on your fridge, and start making better food choices today.

You can get yours fo’ free when you sign up in the box below:

ALL Photos Sources can be found in this footnote here[7]

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