How to Find a Good Personal Trainer or Coach: 5 Mistakes to Avoid!

Two Legos about to workout together.

Before you fork out some cash for a personal trainer, read this guide!

It’ll help you spot the difference between a bad personal trainer and an AMAZING trainer. 

And trust us, having the right trainer can make ALL the difference in the world.

There’s nothing worse than spending 6+ months in a gym (and thousands of dollars) with a trainer, only to step on the scale and realize that you haven’t made any progress.

It’s the worst.

A bad personal trainer is the worst

I’ve worked with good trainers and bad trainers over the past 16 years, have worked with the same online personal trainer since 2014, and we have a team of 15 personal trainers on Team Nerd Fitness.

Long story short, we know our stuff, and we’ll give it to you straight.

Whether or not you want to check out our 1-on-1 Online Training Program, this guide is going to help you with all the details.

Learn how an online personal trainer can change your life :

In this guide we’ll cover the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to personal trainers – both in-person and online:

What do you need from a personal trainer

A Personal Trainer assisting a client.

First and foremost, understand that your diet is 80-90% of the battle.

Even if you worked with a trainer for 60-90 minutes every day, that still leaves you with 22-23 hours per day to screw things up if you don’t eat properly!

Hopefully, your trainer will also help you craft a nutritional strategy in addition to helping you build a workout strategy that aligns with your goals.

Start by picking your goals first and determine if a trainer you’re paired up with is the right fit for you. Like dating, you can meet somebody who’s amazing but not right for you.

A gif of Chandler saying "kill me"

If somebody is a competitive marathon runner, they might not be a great powerlifting coach, and vice versa.

So, start with your goals for finding a personal trainer:

  1. Are you trying to lose 300 pounds? 20 pounds? Get to 10% body fat?
  2. Are you trying to get stronger or hold your first handstand?
  3. Do you want to become a competitive powerlifter?
  4. Are you looking to run your first 5k?
  5. Do you just want to get in shape, feel better, and enjoy exercise?

These goals will largely determine the type of trainer you’re looking for.

MISTAKE #1: Not making sure your trainer has expertise in the area you want to train in.

Expertise in one area does not necessarily make them a good fit in another!

After that, you’ll want to think about what you NEED from your personal trainer:

  1. Are you looking for a powerlifting coach to show you the basics (squat, deadlift, bench) so your form is right? Just a few sessions up front and a few later down the line to confirm you’re on the right path might suffice.
  2. Are you new to working out or looking to kick start your first 2 months of training with 2 sessions per week to keep you disciplined?
  3. What type of person are you? Do you need more hands-on guidance throughout your workouts, or more space to take ownership and thrive on your own? Do you need somebody who will cheer you on or do you need tough love from somebody to call you on your bullshit?

Once you set proper expectations with what you want and how long you need a trainer for, then you can pick out one that hopefully will work for you.

Get matched with a coach that fits your personality!

How to find a good personal trainer

A personal trainer stretching out a client.

Once you find a trainer you are considering working with, the next step should always be an in-depth conversation.

MISTAKE #2: Blindly accepting what your trainer tells you without making sure you fit together! 

They SHOULD be listening to you completely and hear your full story.

They SHOULD ask about any past issues with injuries or experience with exercise. If you’re injured or have any deficiencies, they should know this so they can create a great program for you.

They SHOULD ask you about your nutrition. If they don’t ask about your nutrition, you’re going to be wasting your time.

They SHOULD practice what they preach. They don’t have to be an Olympian, but should have a healthy lifestyle.

They SHOULD tell you about their expertise and how they can help you. They should be able to share past successes of clients with you or point to their credentials and history of success.

They SHOULD set proper expectations. You won’t get ripped in a month, but they can let you know it could take many months to get in shape or build the right kind of habits.

That’s what to look for. These are the things we specifically focus on with our 1-on-1 online coaching program. We love helping people in a way that fits their lifestyle, at a pace that they feel great about, while actually having fun.

Exercise doesn’t need to suck! Click to learn about our Online Coaching program:

What are the Signs of a bad personal trainer?

Our Lego friend is terrified of bad personal trainers.

Beware the “entertainment exercise” trainers with a routine that isn’t catered to your goals.

MISTAKE #3: Thinking a workout is more effective because it’s confusing.

Many trainers just try to confuse you with needlessly complex movements, and put all their clients through roughly the same cookie-cutter plan.

Why? because they know it makes them look knowledgeable without actually needing to do something effectively:

“Now balance on this bosu ball while doing these dumbbell squat lunge curls and standing on one foot with your tongue out! Muscle confusion!

I hope you saved some energy for the row machine.”

Make sure the training from your PT matches your goals!

Tough workouts are great, but remember that while it’s easy to get someone tired (“go do 100 burpees!”), it’s harder to help someone slowly improve and build momentum.

Sure, it might elevate your heart rate and tire you out, but if it’s not building towards your goals in a way that you couldn’t do at home, what are you paying for?

They might also have just obtained a basic certification and stopped their education there, relying on ‘conventional wisdom’ rather than doing the research and building the experience.

If your trainer says any of the following phrases, run for the high hills:

  • Yeah you don’t want to squat too low – it’s bad for your knees.”
  • “Use this machine; it’s safer for you than free weights” (unless you have an injury)
  • “Yes, you should be using mostly your back. That’s why it’s called the back squat”
  • “These (ab) exercise will burn fat from your stomach in no time” (You can’t spot reduce fat.)

I have overheard all of these sound bites from real trainers in real gyms, and it made me weep like the Native American in the 1970s pollution ad:

Your trainer should be results-focused, not focused on scheduling you a new session and keeping you around.

I often see clients working with trainers for months and months and that client never looks any different.

The trainer is just interested in cashing another check.

Remember, your personal trainer works for YOU: Don’t let them build a program that doesn’t actually fit your needs!.

Do they adjust your workout to take care of any pre-existing injuries you may have, or do they just give you a cookie cutter workout?

Are they encouraging or helping you succeed in the way you want to be encouraged, or are they scrolling through Instagram models on their phones while you’re doing your sets?

Are they putting in the time so they can see you get results, or are they putting in the time so they can check the box and collect your money?

You’re paying money for this person’s expertise and attention – it’s not too much to ask to find somebody who takes those things seriously.

Getting in shape requires you to go when you don't feel like going

What certifications should a personal trainer have?

A personal trainer high-fiving a client.

There are a wide variety of personal trainer certifications and other “credibility indicators.”

The more traditional path – a degree in exercise science or kinesiology may mean the trainer in question is knowledgeable about the human body.

However, that doesn’t speak to any experience they may or may not have coaching in real-world circumstances.

6 of the most popular personal trainer certifications are:

  1. NSCA: National Strength and Conditioning Association
  2. ACSM: American College of Sports Medicine
  3. NASM: National Academy of Sports Medicine
  4. ACE: American Council on Exercise
  5. NPTI: National Personal Training Institute
  6. CrossFit

T-Nation provides a rundown of the pros and cons from a trainer’s perspective that we feel is also useful insight from a client’s perspective. Be sure to check them out if you want to learn more about what’s behind your trainer’s certification.

CrossFit certifications are completed in a single weekend. While a CrossFit certification does not make a trainer bad (there are plenty of excellent CrossFit coaches out there!), it does not guarantee excellence either.

Here are our thoughts on CrossFit.

A certification from NPTI – the National Personal Training Institute – is a credential gained from going to a full school on personal training (rather than attending a class or taking a test).

While no certification can fully promise excellence, we believe trainers with NPTI certifications are worth your consideration.

CAVEAT TO ALL OF THIS: Plenty of trainers who have NO certification are incredible, and plenty of other trainers have the most elite certifications and are terrible trainers.

MISTAKE #4: Blindly accepting a trainer’s credentials or discounting a trainer without certain credentials.

Certifications can be a starting point, but it shouldn’t be the determining factor.

One of the most important things to look for in your trainer isn’t a credential or certification at all, but real experience and an enthusiasm for helping you reach your goals.

For example:

Looking to powerlift or get into Olympic lifting? Look for someone who has successfully competed in their fields, or someone who actually coaches athletes who do compete!

Need to lose a lot of weight? Ask a trainer to share with you success stories from people who are like you.

In our view, finding a trainer with proven experience and a track record of performing or coaching (or both) in the area of your goals is the most valuable step you can take to ensure quality.

The credential is only a starting point.

Trainers aren’t cheap, but the benefits can be priceless.

Remember, you aren’t paying simply for their time with you. You’re paying for the years and years they’ve spent learning, training, and coaching.

It’s the years behind the certification that makes their time so valuable, so expect the cost of a trainer to be significantly more than the cost of a basic membership at your gym.

Learn more about our Online Coaching program!

How much does a personal trainer cost? Are Personal Trainers Worth it?

This Lego wants to know how much personal training costs.

The cost of a personal trainer can vary dramatically depending on:

  • Where you live (in an expensive city, small town, etc.).
  • The quantity and duration of your training sessions.
  • What kind of training you are looking for.

But you want specifics.

The average North American trainer charges $55 for an hour session.[1]

That’s an “average” so let’s break it down a little.

Here are the prices for working with a trainer in various capacities at my generic commercial gym in the NYC area (definitely on the more expensive end):

  • 4 sessions per month: $95 per session = $380/month
  • 8 sessions per month: $85 per session = $680/month
  • 12 sessions per month: $79 per session = $948/month

This is what one can expect to pay for personal training near NYC.

Is this pricing more or less than you expected?

Here is how much a personal trainer costs at:

  1. Global Gyms: Most big box gyms offer personal training:
    • LA Fitness: you can expect to pay about $60 per session.
    • 24-Hour Fitness: it’ll be about $80 per session.
    • Anytime Fitness: as little as $35 a session.

  2. Luxury Gyms: If you go to a more upscale gym like Equinox, expect to pay “luxury” prices of $110+ an hour.

  3. In-Home Personal Training. If you don’t want to head to the gym, you can actually have a personal trainer come to your home. The cost on this could be all over the place, but a rough average would be about $65 for an hour session.

Different trainers will have different qualifications and expertise, leading to vastly different training experiences.

This can be really important.

MISTAKE #5: Thinking “more expensive” automatically means “better results.” 

Cost is not the right metric. VALUE is the right metric!

Depending on your goals and the results you’re after:

  • $30 per session might be overpaying for a crap trainer who gives you a generic workout and doesn’t care about you. 
  • $100 per session might be a STEAL if it’s an amazing trainer that gets to know your life and your personality, motivates you in the way you need to be motivated, and helps you get past a plateau when you stall.

That’s why remembering your “get in shape” goals is critical when buying a personal trainer.

If you’re looking to do 5 sessions to improve your powerlifting technique, that’s different than hiring a trainer to be with you in person 3x a week to get you to the gym.

HOW TO THINK ABOUT HIRING A TRAINER

You’re not just paying for an hour of somebody’s time.

You’re paying for their years of experience, schooling, training, and expertise.

You’re paying to outsource ALL of your fitness questions to somebody who knows what they’re doing.

Somebody who gives you the confidence you’re training correctly.

This Muppet knows strength training will help him gain muscle and lose weight.

So instead of “I am paying this trainer for 1 hour, this is too expensive,” what you’re really paying for is confidence, momentum, and (hopefully) results.

As somebody who has worked with an online trainer since 2014, I would pay any amount of money to my coach (just don’t tell him that) because I love getting results after years of struggle.

How does an in-person trainer compare to our online coaching program?

Our pricing comes in at a less-expensive price than 4 sessions per month with a trainer.

In addition to building you a workout program for the month, we also help you with your nutrition, mindset, and goals, and answer all the questions you have.

There are very real pros and cons to hiring an online personal trainer, so make sure you read that next section.

So a trainer can be AMAZING and worth every penny, IF you have the right one who also takes an active role in your nutrition.

After all, workouts only make up 1-3 hours per week.

What about the other 165? That’s where the progress happens! And your coach should be helping you there too!

Learn more how our Online Coaching Program can help you actually hit your goals!

SHOULD I HIRE AN ONLINE PERSONAL TRAINER? WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF AN ONLINE PERSONAL TRAINER?

This Lego athlete is ready for his personal training.

Warning: I’m going to be slightly biased in this area, but I’ll share the honest pros and cons of online training:

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been working with an online trainer since 2014, and it’s allowed me to prove an internet troll wrong and then lose 22 pounds in 6 months while getting super strong!

Here are the Pros to Online Personal Training:

#1) Freedom to fit your schedule. With an online personal coach, you can train when and where you want to fit your schedule – your coach builds the workout program for you ahead of time, so you can fit it in at your convenience.

Compare this to a traditional coach, and you’re at the mercy of their busy schedule. If they only have time Friday morning at 8am, and you’re not a morning person, conflict ensues.

#2) Persistent worldwide accountability. I’m borrowing this phrase from a NF Coaching Client, Jeff (his success story is great). No matter where in the globe you are, your online trainer comes with you.

Which means the accountability never stops. If you travel for work, your coach can plan for that and build you a special travel routine. Getting relocated for work? No problem – your coach will still be there.

#3) Nutritional guidance. With most traditional personal trainers, you engage with them only during your scheduled visits: they help you work out and that’s about it.

With an online personal trainer, you’re connected whenever you have access to the internet. And I would imagine that MOST online coaching programs, work with you on the most important part of the equation: eating healthier!

AKA everything that happens in the 23 hours outside of the gym.

#4) More cost-effective. Most in-person personal trainers are expensive, especially if you work out with them two or three times a week.

That’s because if your trainer is working with you, they can’t work with anybody else at the same time.

When you work with an online coach, because you aren’t training with them 1-on-1 in the gym, they can provide more cost-effective guidance.

When you factor in their availability via chat and their help on habits and your nutrition, you’re looking at a life-changing experience if you find a coach that fits your personality.

#5) It might be the only option. With so many gyms closing because of the pandemic, you might not even have much of a choice here. Here’s our guide to staying in shape (while staying inside) if you need to train from home. 

When comparing online coaches versus regular coaches, I’m going to share the cons as if you have the option between a GREAT online coach and a GREAT in-person coach.

Neither of those is guaranteed.

Here are the cons of an online coach when compared against a real-life equivalent:

#1) Your coach can’t do the work for you. There’s nothing stopping you from skipping your workout and lying to your online coach that you did it. Nobody wins in this scenario, but I can totally see it happening.

So yeah, an online coach can’t pick up the weight for you, and they can’t yell at you to put down the donut. You have to do the work!

#2) No real-time feedback and instant form check. If you’re learning how to powerlift, or you’re going for a particular heavy lift, having a coach right there is HUGE.

They can tell you to move your squat slightly wider. They can guide you through the movement and consistently remind you – even when tired – to keep great form.

Although we do form check videos, where we have coaches and clients send clips back and forth to each other, it’s not the same as having somebody critique you in real-time.

If you’re looking to nail a particularly challenging lift, or learn a dangerous gymnastics move, working with a trained professional in person is invaluable.

#3) The value of sunk cost. If you pay for a month of online coaching, there’s nothing inherently motivating you to go to the gym when it’s cold and you’re tired – your coach can’t yell at you, and you’re not letting anybody down in the moment when you don’t make it.

Compare this to working with a real coach in person.

You paid $100 for a session, and if you don’t show up, that money is *POOF* gone. So you tell yourself, “I already paid for this, and my coach is gonna be mad, I should probably go.”

And then you go. And you’re so glad that you did.

Wayne stoked he made it to the gym today to meet his personal trainer!

Although your online coach can notice that you haven’t signed in on your app, and they can ask what’s going on, this is after the fact compared to an in-person coach getting stood up.

There’s a lot to consider when debating in-person training vs. an online personal trainer.

I wouldn’t say one format is clearly better than or superior to another. It really depends on what you’re after and the circumstances of your situation.

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: I’ve been working with an online trainer since 2014, and it’s truly been life-changing for me.

I had some goals that had evaded me despite a DECADE of effort, and it took a great coach to coax out the right strategy. It’s how I say (jokingly) that I went from Steve Rogers to Captain America.

And it was my coach’s programming that got me a 420-pound deadlift at a bodyweight of 172 pounds:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Steve Kamb (@stevekamb) on

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I’m not gonna set any powerlifting records, but I’m healthier, happier, and stronger each and every month, and I’m damn proud of that.  

For somebody that can’t afford a top-of-the-line professional coach for each session, having an online coach to build your programming and guide your food choices is a verrrrry close second.

Start training and get results today. Learn more about our Coaching Program!

How to hire a personal trainer

It's now time to buy stuff!

HERE’S MY ADVICE: Give your new personal trainer 5 sessions before making a decision that things aren’t working out (sessions are often sold at a discount in a package).

The first session is often exploratory, explanatory, and introductory, and the trainer needs to test your limits and movements to build upon that.

This isn’t a “get fit quick” strategy, but rather one that could take months and months for you to find the right person to aid you on your journey.

Don’t expect miracles in a day!

A few words of wisdom if you do hire a trainer:

DO NOT USE YOUR TRAINER AS AN EXCUSE: Too many people will hire up a trainer and give no effort in the gym or the kitchen.

Then, when they fail to see results they can turn to their friends and say “man, my trainer is terrible, THAT’S why I’m not losing weight/getting stronger/etc.”

This happens so much more often than you’d think. A trainer is a guide, like Morpheus.

Morpheus is kind of like a personal trainer, he'll show you the way but you have to do the work.

You have to take the pill and walk through the door yourself.

MAKE CRITICISM CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM: Often when the trainer asks them to do something (walk every day, throw away junk food, eat a vegetable), the client/trainee comes back with 1,001 reasons why they can’t do that.

No compromise or discussion of possible solutions. This stinks.

Instead of saying “no,” offer an alternative solution and negotiate a plan: “I don’t really like broccoli, do you have a way to make vegetables taste better?”

In other words, don’t look for problems, look for solutions.

IF YOU ENJOY WORKING WITH YOUR TRAINER: Let them know and continue working with them.

The more information you can give them on your progress, the easier it will be for them to alter your program as you go on.

IF YOU DON’T ENJOY WORKING WITH YOUR TRAINER: That’s okay too. Not all relationships end in marriages.

Some first dates suck, and some trainers aren’t what you need.

I think you can be honest with them and let them know that it’s not a good fit and you will not be continuing to work with them.

Good trainers at this point will ask what they could have done better.

Trainers who are simply after your money may guilt trip you or beg you to stick around. Try somebody new and keep the search going.

REMEMBER: this is a lifelong quest, and you’re on the hunt for a great guide to help you on your journey.

They won’t do the work for you, and they can’t work miracles.

Have proper expectations, do what you’re told, and this could be the best investment you’ll make in your entire life!

Trainers in the Rebellion, what did I miss?

Those who have had experience working with Trainers, any wisdom to share from your experience?

One final note: Going to a gym is intimidating, especially if you’re starting out.

If you are in a location where there aren’t any great trainers, you don’t have access to a gym, or you’re just not ready to work with somebody in person, consider checking out our Online Coaching Program!

Schedule a free call to learn more by clicking on the image below:

Nerd Fitness Coaching Ad

If you have questions about what you need to look for when it comes to training with a coach in person, or even questions about working with an online trainer, leave them in the comments below so I can chime in!

-Steve

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photo: Decathlonwikimedia: high five, Wikimedia: Spot, BicycleWikimedia: stretching, Amazing playground: bicycles and football

The post Blog first appeared on Nerd Fitness.

Source: https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/how-to-hire-a-good-personal-trainer/

15 Circuit Training Routines: Try These Fast Workouts Anywhere!

circuit training is awesome, even dinosaurs love it

This circuit training guide is gonna give you EVERYTHING you need to do your first kickass circuit training workout today.

I mean come on, it has dinosaurs in it.

These workouts are similar to the custom programs we build for our Online Coaching Clients who work out at home, on the road, and in outer space.

Okay, FINE we don’t have any clients in space (yet). But we do have clients in Antarctica, and multiple aerospace engineers. Close enough?

We build workout programs that are actually fun! Learn more:

If you’re hoping circuit training will maximize your results in a minimum amount of time, one of the 15 circuits below will do the trick:

What is circuit training?

As Coach Lauren mentions above, 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 a lower body for one exercise. Then the upper body the next.

You’ll find all sorts of different circuit training sequences. Here are 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 are common.

Make sense?

The Tick is stoked you are putting on weight, muscle or fat, it means our strategy is working.

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.

Our Beginner Bodyweight Circuit would be a great place to begin, and you can download a worksheet to help you get started right here:

Why Should I do circuit training?

This runner definitely has a strong core!

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.”

circuit training is 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).

We work with our 1-on-1 Coaching Clients to create programs that combine both strength and cardio in a fun way – it really comes down to a program that you actually WANT to do.

Let us build you a workout program that’s ACTUALLY fun!

Before and after your circuit training: Warm up and stretch

Some stretching a rubber band

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

Warm-up!

I cover why you should always warm up in an article found right here. It doesn’t have to be much though, give it about five minutes to get your muscles active and your heart rate up.

This will help you do exercises properly and help prevent injury. You can run in place, do air punches and kicks, or some jumping jacks.

Here is NF Senior Coach Staci (you might know her incredible story) showing you many beginner options you can use to warm up as well:

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

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

  • Jump rope: 2-3 minutes 
  • Jumping jacks: 25 reps
  • Bodyweight squats: 20 reps
  • Lunges: 5 reps each leg.
  • Hip extensions: 10 reps each side
  • Hip rotations: 5 each leg
  • Forward leg swings: 10 each leg
  • Side leg swings: 10 each leg
  • Push-ups: 10-20 reps
  • Spider-man steps: 10 reps

Our goal isn’t to tire you out. Instead, we want to warm you up.

That’s step one.

Completing your chosen circuit training routine would be step two.

Below, you’ll find 15 workouts you can follow along with! And if you like our style of workouts, you might like our new app, Nerd Fitness Journey!

Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

Right now, you can try it for free for a full week (no credit card required). Jump in below:

Beginner Bodyweight Workout Circuit

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

  • Bodyweight squats: 20 reps
  • Push-ups: 10 reps
  • Walking lunges – 10 each leg
  • Dumbbell rows (using a gallon milk jug or another weight): 10 each arm.
  • Plank: 15 seconds
  • Jumping jacks: 30 reps

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.

We also turned this workout into a fun infographic with superheroes, because that’s how we roll:

An infographic of the Beginner Bodyweight Workout

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

Want a coach to help every step of the way? Learn more:

Advanced Bodyweight Exercises Circuit

If the beginner circuit above is too easy for you, move on to our Advanced Bodyweight Workout Circuit. The workout looks like this:

  • One-legged squats – 10 each side [warning super-difficult, only attempt if you’re in good enough shape]
  • Bodyweight squats: 20 reps
  • Walking lunges: 20 reps (10 each leg)
  • Jump step-ups: 20 reps (10 each leg)
  • Pull-ups: 10 reps [or inverted bodyweight rows]
  • Dips (between bar stools): 10 reps
  • Chin-ups: 10 reps [or inverted bodyweight rows with underhand grip]
  • Push-ups: 10 reps
  • Plank: 30 seconds

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

Get a workout program that grows with you! Check out our Coaching Program:

Playground Workout Circuit

Do you have a nearby playground? Why not work out there! If you have kids, you can do it together. Or let them ignore you.

I’ll give you a Level One workout, and a Level Two. Check out the main playground article for some Level Three exercises.

Level One

  • Alternating step-ups: 20 reps (10 each leg)
  • Elevated push-ups: 10 reps
  • Swing rows: 10 reps
  • Assisted lunges: 8 reps each leg
  • Bent leg reverse crunches: 10 reps

Level Two

  • Bench jumps: 10 reps
  • Lower incline push-ups: 10 reps
  • Body rows: 10 reps
  • Lunges: 8 reps each leg
  • Straight leg reverse crunches: 10 reps

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

Working out doesn’t have to suck. Let our coaches build you a fun program!

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:

  • Halos: 8 reps (each side)
  • Goblet squats: 10 reps
  • Overhead presses: 8 reps (each side)
  • Kettlebell swings: 15 reps
  • Bent Over Rows: 8 reps (each side)
  • Front rack reverse lunge: 6 reps (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 for this workout, grab one by signing up in the box below:

We also have a fun new adventure in our app that will allow you to train with your kettlebell right alongside Hack Morris (this will make sense more sense when start).

Jump in right now for your free trial:

Beginner Gym Circuit Training

use free weights and to do circuit trainingIf you have access to a gym, you have a lot of circuit options.

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.

(Gym closed do to COVID? Here’s how to build a gym in your home.) 

We’ll also walk you through each movement for both Days A and B below. I would recommend picking one of our 5 Beginner Gym Workouts, going through the leveled progressions, and working your way up to the circuits below:

DAY A GYM WORKOUT

Day B GYM WORKOUT

  • Barbell Romanian deadlifts/regular deadlifts: 10 reps
  • Push-ups: 10 reps
  • Dumbbell rows: 10 reps per arm

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

We LOVE helping people get started in the gym, as we’re huge fans of barbell training and helping beginners build confidence with weight training! If that sounds like you…

Let us help you start weight training with our Coaching Program

And you can download our full Strength 101 guide too, which has this routine along with other circuits to help you start building strength today:

The Hotel Workout Circuit: For Travelers that Train

Is there anyway to work out in this hotel room?

Sometimes, you just plain find yourself stuck in a hotel room. Maybe you can find the hotel gym, but I bet it’s terrible! It probably has 2 machines, a broken treadmill, and no free weights. 

Ugh.

Instead, how about a 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!

We have a LOT of business travelers in our 1-on-1 coaching program, which is why we create workouts for both their home gym and while traveling!

If you need worldwide accountability, workouts for home and the road, and want expert guidance…

Travel for work? Let us create a travel program to help you stay healthy!

Nerdy Circuit Training Exercises

Lego minifigures standing in rows. In first row - Batman, The Jo

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

  • Rolling squat tuck-up jumps: 5 reps
  • Side to side push-ups: 5 reps
  • Modified headstand push-ups: 5 reps
  • Jump pull-up with tuck / Pull-up with Tuck-up: 5 reps
  • Handstands against wall: 8 seconds

Day 2

  • ‘180 Degree’ jump turns: 5 reps
  • Tuck front lever hold: 8 seconds
  • Tuck back lever hold: 8 seconds
  • Low frog hold: 8 seconds

Get in shape like Batman with our Online Coaching!

The Lord of the Rings Workout Circuit

try this lord of the rings circuit training workout

Superset 1: The Fellowship of the Ring

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

Superset 2: The Two Towers

  • Riders of ROWhan: 3 bodyweight rows
  • Gimli “Shall I get you a box?” jumps7 box jumps – REALLY explode
  • Helm’s Deep-Squats: 9 bodyweight squats – get your ass to the ground
  • Tower of Orthanc Holds: 1 minute (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. Check out our Guide to Handstands.)

Superset 3: The Return of the King

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

Our Coaching Program changes lives! Let us change yours today:

The 300 Workout Circuit

do the 300 circuit training workout to get strong like King Leonidas

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

  • Pull-ups: 25 reps
  • Deadlifts with 135lbs: 50 reps
  • Push-ups: 50 reps
  • ‘24-inch’ Box jumps: 50 reps
  • Floor wipers: 50 reps
  • Single-arm clean-and-press with 36 lbs. kettlebell: 25 each side
  • Pull-ups: 25 reps

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

Our coaching program is with you every step of the way. Learn how:

The Wolverine Workout Circuit

  • Barbell Deadlift / Dumbbell RDL / Banded Good Morning / Regular Good Morning: 10 reps
  • Medicine Ball Slam / Quick Downwards Bodyweight Squat: 10 reps
  • Push-up to Renegade row (push-up, row left, push-up, row right, repeat): 5 Rows per side
  • Transverse Lunge and Chop: 5 reps each side

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.

wolverine does workout circuits too

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.

Want to look like Wolverine? Let our coaches help you reach your goals!

Complete List of Circuit Training Exercises

A picture of a LEGO Spider-man, who is interested in weight loss.

You can do any of the workouts in this article and get a great workout, but if you want to build your own workout, you can totally do that too!

Here is a list of exercises you can use to create your workout.

Simply pick a few, and do one after the other in as many circuits as you want!

Pick your exercises from this list to build your own circuit training workout, or suggest your own for us to add in the comments below!

CARDIO EXERCISES:

  1. Jump rope
  2. Jumping Jacks
  3. Walking Jacks
  4. Burpees
  5. Mountain climbers
  6. Stairs
  7. Sprints
  8. High knees
  9. Running in place
  10. Rowing machine
  11. Long-distance jumps
  12. Box jumps

UPPER BODY PUSH EXERCISES:

  1. Push-ups (any variation)
  2. Handstands.

UPPER BODY PULL EXERCISES

  1. Dumbbell rows
  2. Bodyweight rows
  3. Negative pull-ups or chin-ups
  4. Pull-ups or Chin-ups

LOWER BODY EXERCISES

  1. Bodyweight squats
  2. Lunges
  3. Kettlebell swings
  4. Farmer carries (carry dumbbells and walk around)

Coach Staci showing Farmer's Walk

CORE EXERCISES:

  1. Planks
  2. Side planks
  3. Reverse crunches

Pick 3-5 exercises, and arrange them as we discuss in our “how to build your own workout routine.” We also have The 42 Best Bodyweight Exercises for movements that you can choose from.

Do 3 circuits with 10 reps of each exercise, one after the other!

Have fun and keep things interesting. And if you don’t want to build your own workout, that’s cool too! We have 15 free workouts in this article, and we can also do all the heavy lifting for you.

Well, not literally DO the heavy lifting, but you know what I mean. We create custom workout solutions for busy people just like you in our 1-on-1 Coaching Program. Let us create a workout and help you make better food choices.

It’s like having a Yoda in your pocket (again, not literally).

Let us create a workout program for you! Learn more about our Coaching Program

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 a workout. 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!

For more ideas on how to make the most of your stretches, check out The Ultimate Guide for Improving Flexibility in 30 Days. It has Spider-Man in it, so you know we aren’t messing around.

Work with our Coaches to improve your flexibility! Learn more:

Getting Started With Circuit Training

want to be a superhero like these legos? do 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’re looking for more hands-on instruction and customized guidance, check out our 1-on-1 Coaching program. You’ll work with our certified NF instructors who get to know you better than you know yourself, and then build a workout program that is specific to your exact goals.

Simply put, we tell you exactly what to do every day, and how to eat. And then, we check in with you regularly to make sure you’re doing it!

We help busy people get in shape, step by step. Learn more about our Coaching Program!

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?

Find a circuit you’re comfortable with, and do it.

Then do it next week. And the following. And track your progress

If you add circuit training to your fitness routine, you’ll be on a solid path for leveling up your life.

-Steve

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

I bet short circuit likes circuit training

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

###

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

The post Blog first appeared on Nerd Fitness.

Source: https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/circuit-training-build-some-muscles-burn-some-fat/

How to Get in Shape Quickly and Safely: 4-Step Beginner Guide

This Stormtrooper is ready to get in shape!

This step-by-step strategy guide will tell you everything you need to do to lose weight and get healthy starting today.

I know you have lots of questions, and I promise I’ll answer every single one of them (yes, even that one).

These are the exact strategies we tailor to each 1-on-1 Online Coaching Clients, and I’m excited to share them with you today.

We create custom workout programs that get results! Learn more:

In this guide we’ll discuss:

Four easy steps to obtain the Nerd Fitness “Triforce of Winning!”

“But Steve, ‘tri’ means three…”

…don’t worry about that, because Triforce!

Nerd Fitness Triforce of Winning

Either way, you got this.

You can read our overall philosophy below (which has helped hundreds of thousands of people), and help you get started today!

Step 1: WHY Do You Want to Get In Shape? (Inspiration)

A LEGO doctor in a cape, who knows how to treat DOMS.

Let’s start here. WHY are you reading this guide? 

Do you want to get in shape to:

  1. Start dating again?
  2. Win a weight loss competition at work?
  3. Eventually play with your newborn son?
  4. Grow old with your significant other?
  5. Prove everybody wrong who said “you can’t do it?”
  6. Because you just want to look good naked?

Have a freaking reason, friend!

Write it down, hang it up in your bedroom, tattoo it on your face, write it down on a piece of paper and staple it to your forehead.

Whatever.

Just keep that reason for wanting a better life at the front of your mind at all times.

With our 1-on-1 Coaching Clients, we call this “Your Big Why.”

This reason is going to help you keep going when it’s raining or you’re tired or you had a crappy day at work and you just want to binge-watch the Office and eat takeout.

In addition to having a good reason, many people get inspired by reading success stories of folks like them.

Luckily for you, we have lots of those stories on Nerd Fitness with many more to come. These are real people who love video games and books and work desk jobs (click on each to hear their full story):

#1) LESLIE THE SINGLE MOM WHO GOT STRONG AS HELL:

Leslie found her perfect workout.

#2) JIMMY THE AEROSPACE ENGINEER WHO TURNED HIMSELF INTO SPIDER-MAN:

A before and after of Jimmy, who turned himself into Spider-Man.

#3) STACI WHO STARTED POWERLIFTING AND FOUND CONFIDENCE:

Staci followed the paleo diet.

#4) JEFF THE DOCTOR WHO TRAVELS 2 WEEKS EVERY MONTH – HE FINALLY GOT HEALTHY:

#5) CHRISTINA WHO GREW STRONG  TO DO PULL-UPS AND BEGAN TO HIKE THE WORLD:

Christina started rocking pull-ups after Nerd Fitness Coaching

Maybe success stories aren’t your thing.

Completely understandable.

Instead, perhaps you like to get your inspiration from slightly nerdier articles from your favorite stories:

Or maybe you’re a video fan! 

Well then, videos like these might make you want to run through brick walls.

#1) Here’s a video that states “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.”

#2) Some tips from the Terminator might get you motivated too:

#3) You might shed some tears of inspiration with this one:

…like to read?

This article will make you want to start strength training today.

Why all this focus on inspiration and motivation?

Because getting in shape will never be “easy”.

The first week – while you’re excited – is fun.

It’s the rainy days and snow days and busy days at work when you DON’T want to work out that will decide whether or not you actually get in shape.

But…

You can start building the habit of exercise

Unless you can find the discipline to push through those tough days, it becomes easier than ever to give up at the first sign of resistance.

And the name of the game is “consistent adherence.”

In other words, not skipping a workout and consistently eating healthy.

Step 2: How to Eat (Nutrition)

If you want to get in shape quickly, start making slightly better food choices!

80% of your success when it comes to getting healthy will depend on your diet – unless you are running marathons on a daily basis, you cannot outrun your fork, and you can’t out-train a bad diet.

If you’re not losing weight, it’s because you’re eating too many calories!

If you aren't losing weight it's because you're eating too much. Crap.

So, if you can work on making SLIGHTLY better food choices, and filling up your plate with plenty of protein and vegetables, you’re less likely to overeat calories!

Whether you want to count calories, cut out certain foods, or attempt a new diet altogether, this is the most important step you can take:

Now, most people can’t stick with nutritional changes because they try to make TOO many changes at once, their stomach freaks out and they run back to their comfort foods.

Sure, you can do things like the Keto Diet or Paleo Diet, but restrictive diets are really tough to stick with for the long term.

And temporary changes create temporary results! 

Getting in shape requires you to go when you don't feel like going

My advice? Pick one food change every few weeks, and stick with it.

To get in shape, you could try:

These small changes can lead to big successes in the long run.

I know how changing your diet can be overwhelming sometimes, and sticking with changes in the long term is really tough.

It’s why we built a 10-level NF Diet that tells you exactly how to transition your diet slowly so you can lose weight the right way and transform your physique permanently!

Step 3: What to do For exercise (Move!)

Let's learn how to get in shape!

Okay, so now you should be all fired up and inspired and thinking,

“Hey Steve, this Nerd Fitness stuff is cool. I’m ready to get in shape.”

Let’s get started.

A) Pick goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely). Be incredibly specific with your goals so that you can actively plan what steps are needed to achieve those goals:

  • “I’m going to lose 25 pounds this year by going to the gym 3 times per week for the next 6 months.”

That’s a good goal.

Alternatively, you could also work on a reoccurring habit that will indirectly help your goal.

EXAMPLE: “I’m going to walk to Mordor by walking a mile every day for a month. If I go for a walk, I win.”

This allows you to review your day/week with a simple question: “Did I do what I set out to do?”

Whichever method you decide, it’s important to be deliberate in your actions:

  1. If you are setting goals – be SUPER SPECIFIC, write them down, and plan them out.
  2. If you are building new habits – add them to your calendar, set phone alarms or alerts, and do them EVERY DAY.
  3. Understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Optimus Prime didn’t transform in one move. This is NOT a diet, or a quick fix, but a LIFESTYLE CHANGE. Don’t expect results overnight, or abs in two weeks. Slow, steady progress.

Next, we need to…

B) Identify your Kryptonite.

Think back to the last time(s) you tried to get in shape and lose weight.

  • How successful were you?
  • How long did you stick with it?
  • What made you fall off the wagon?

If you failed, congratulations!

You already know which “get in shape” method doesn’t work for you.

It’s simply the wrong piece of the puzzle you’re trying to solve.

Getting in shape is like solving a puzzle.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

So unless you enjoy not getting results, don’t try to get in shape the same way you did last time…it AIN’T gonna work!

If you counted calories, ran on a treadmill, and did kickboxing and you’re not happy with the results, it’s time to try something new.

Ask yourself:

  • Did work got busy or you went on vacation?
  • Was it because you actually hated exercising?

Whatever it was, you need to pick a different strategy this time.

C) Find an activity that makes you happy, and do it all of the time.

  • Do you like to run? Awesome, do that (just do it right).
  • Do you like to lift weights? Awesome, make sure your workouts don’t suck.
  • Maybe you like yoga, or dodgeball, or Ultimate Frisbee, or rock climbing, or whatever!

If you tell me that “I don’t like to exercise,” then you just haven’t found the activity that makes you happy yet.

Here are 40 Ways to Exercise Without Realizing It.

We’re genetically designed to be active, so find something you enjoy doing.

The start of a new activity, even a diet, can be very exciting as these apes know!

So if you “don’t like exercise,” it’s time to try new things until you find something that you DO like.

Sign up for a new class, join your company’s running club for a day, try out something in your basement or living room, just keep trying new stuff until you find something that you like.

And then do it as often as you can. As long as you’re consistently under your daily caloric energy expenditure, you will lose weight.

D) Supercharge your results and build a great physique.

This Muppet knows strength training will help him gain muscle and lose weight.

And last but not least, learn how to get strong.

Getting stronger is one of the BEST things you can do to lose weight and get in shape.

Your body processes calories differently when you are strength training compared to other forms of exercise.

Coach Matt explains this in our video for body recomposition:

If you want more here, check out Losing Fat and Gaining Muscle (at the Same Time).

A quick explanation:

Your body needs to burn extra calories to rebuild all the muscles you just worked out during a strength training workout.

Therefore, there will be fewer calories to go around to store as fat!

This leads to lower body fat percentage and tighter muscles.

WIN WIN WIN!

Michael Scott would call strength training and healthy eating a win win win

My Advice: don’t overcomplicate things.

Here is a basic beginner bodyweight workout today that you can do in your own home too:

Here are 7 more Home Workouts for you to wet your whistle with.

Oh, what’s that? You enjoy working out in a gym?

Great! Here are 6 Beginner Gym Workouts you can start today.

This little sheep is stoked you can lose weight and gain muscle with strength training.

And if you need even more examples, here are 15 Circuit Training Workout Routines to follow too! 

To recap, here’s how to start getting in shape today:

  1. Determine your goals or habits you want to establish.
  2. Determine why your previous attempts didn’t work.
  3. Pick a fun exercise that makes you happy, and do it. A lot.
  4. Get stronger than you were yesterday.

If you’re overwhelmed at the very idea of how to get in shape, I hear ya. 

From bootcamps to “What is CrossFit” to Weight Watchers to paleo to vegan to Klingon, how are you supposed to make sense of all this information to find the right path?

The truth is that there is no ONE path that works for everybody.

So, if you want a coach to build a workout program and diet plan that’s specific to YOUR unique situation, check out our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program.

Nerd Fitness Coaching Ad

Step 4: Who is On Your Squad? (Support)

Your squad will be important for getting in shape.

Last but not least, you need support.

Yes, I understand it’s kind of fun to be an army of one: the lone ranger trying to succeed against insurmountable odds….but it’s not necessary.

Once you decide to get in shape, want to know the best way to guarantee success? 

Here are 5 ways to find support while getting in shape:

#1) Consider making it public.

  • Tell your friends, start a blog, and/or inform your co-workers and ask them to keep you accountable!
  • Unless you like being called a quitter, you’ll probably think twice about skipping out on your workouts.
  • Maybe your word isn’t your bond, and you need a different kind of motivation and support to succeed.

#2) Put your money where your mouth is.

My buddy Saint said he would pay his friends $500 if he didn’t get in absolutely incredible shape for his wedding six months down the road.

Saint didn’t have $500 to lose, so he decided instead to just get in great shape…and it worked.

Saint bet a friend he could get a six-pack.

#3) Build your own Jedi Council.

Find people who are:

There could even be a droid out there you’re looking for…

Obi Wan Says You Should Have a Jedi Council

These are people that you can turn to when you need advice or help. If you don’t know anybody in real life, keep reading…

#4) Find a workout buddy, hire a trainer, or hire a coach!

There are going to be days when you want to sleep in and skip your workout. There will be afternoons following a crappy day of work where all you want to do is play Halo.

Find somebody who’s at a similar level of fitness as you, and work out with them!

He/she will push you on days when you’re dragging, and vice versa.

You can inspire and support each other, feed off of each other’s success, and offer up tough love when the complaining gets too much (and yes, there will be complaining).

Now, let’s say you’re the ONE person in your group of friends that wants to get in shape.

Or you’re the only person in your office who doesn’t stuff his face every day. Maybe you don’t have anybody to turn to for support or advice…

Welp, we’ve got you covered: 

The Nerd Fitness community – a persistently amazing, always inspiring, never judgmental group of people who want nothing more than to help you succeed.

I have never been more excited and proud to be part of a community.

Or if you want to take it to the next level…

#5) Join our coaching program: If you like the cut of our jib, consider hiring one of our nerdy trainers to keep you accountable and answer any questions you have.

I’ve been working with an online trainer for 4+ years now and it’s the best money I spend each month.

Work with an online personal trainer and get results that actually last. Learn more:

Real Talk: How Quickly can I get in Shape? How Fast Can I lose Weight?

A LEGO going very fast on their mountain bike.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

Pick a goal that you hope to accomplish in the next 30 days and then start working towards it.

Keep it simple but specific, and get started today.

But I know your next question:

“How fast can I get in shape, Steve?” 

We have a full article right here answering that question, but I’ll give you the short honest answer here:

You can expect to lose around 1-2 pounds per week safely if you start reducing your calorie intake (80% of the equation) and moving more (20% of the equation).

I know there are absurd diets like the Military Diet that says “Lose 10 pounds in 7 days!” But don’t believe it.

Temporary changes create temporary results

And our goal is for you to be slightly healthier today than you were yesterday.

And then healthier and happier next year compared to this year.

It means you should be thinking in terms of Years and Days, not weeks and months:

Instead of asking “How quickly can I lose weight?” instead ask “What do I need to do to build the right habits NOW so they become automatic LATER?”

Join the Rebellion – start fixing your nutrition with small changes today.

If you just finished reading these 2,500 words and you’re still overwhelmed, you’re not alone! 

This stuff overwhelms the best of us. If you are looking for a bit more hands-on instruction, or you really want the peace of mind knowing that you’re doing the correct program, I got ya!

We have three options that have both helped thousands upon thousands of people like you get started:

#1) Most involved: Our 1-on-1 coaching program where a NF coach will get to learn your situation, your lifestyle, and your experience, and then build a workout program and nutritional strategy that fits into your busy life.

We get to know you better than you know yourself, and we’ve got the results to prove it! Consider checking out our coaching program if you’re looking for that next level of expert guidance and accountability.

Our coaching program is like having Yoda in your pocket (not literally). Learn more:

#2) Go-At-Your-Own-Pace, Do It Yourself: Nerd Fitness Journey. This is our app that allows you to get in shape while building your own superhero..

Tons of bodyweight workout plans (no gym required), a nutritional program that won’t make any scary changes, video demonstrations exercises, boss battles, daily wins, and group challenges!

Oh, and you’ll earn XP and receive loot the whole time.

Sign up for your free trial right here:

And don’t forget to…

#3) Join the Rebellion! We need good people like you in our community, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion. You’ll meet individuals who are attempting to get in shape the 1st time or the 50th time, all who want to better themselves alongside of you. 

Sign up in the box below to enlist and get our Rebel Starter Kit, which includes all of our “work out at home” guides, the Nerd Fitness Diet Cheat Sheet, and much more!

Big things come from small beginnings, so pick the tiniest change or action you can take to get started, and then repeat that every day.

As you start to build the habit, you can increase the ‘difficulty’ and try something a bit more challenging, but it all starts with habit building.

Educate yourself, find your inspiration, and create your support group. 

Welcome to the Rebellion.

Any questions?

-Steve

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Day 346, Lunar School Bus, Not All Heroes Wear Capes, Family PortraitMountain Biker

The post Blog first appeared on Nerd Fitness.

Source: https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/get-in-shape/

The Ultimate Guide for Functional Fitness: Exercises and Workout Plans

This is not the only time we'll see Batman in our article on functional fitness.

So you want to learn about functional fitness?

Great!

We create strength, balance, and flexibility workouts as part of our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program, so you’ve come to the right place to learn about functional fitness.

Have a Nerd Fitness Coach build a custom workout for your exact situation! Learn more here.

Here’s what we’ll cover to answer the question: “What is Functional Fitness?

Let’s do this!

What Is Functional Fitness and Why Is It Important?

Hiking would for sure be a part of functional fitness.

Functional fitness means training your body for everyday activities, and to make daily motion easier and safer.

When we practice functional fitness, it’s for activities like:

  • Carrying groceries 
  • Picking up small children
  • Walking in nature
  • Being mobile on the floor 
  • Fighting off sharks

Functional fitness in action

Functional fitness seeks to build strength, flexibility, and balance for navigating the physical world and the objects in it.

We do this by replicating and practicing movements necessary in the real world: squatting, pulling, pushing, bending, climbing, walking, and running.

Personally, I like to think of it as becoming “antifragile,” or being able to physically handle the chaos of life. 

So for functional fitness, we prioritize natural movements (squats, pull-ups) over exercises that are done on a machine (leg presses, lat pulldown).

Here’s the rationale: in your everyday life, you probably won’t find yourself in a situation where you have to push weights along a guided track…while seated:

A typical machine exercise found here.

But you’ll probably find yourself in a situation where you have to lift an object from the floor, then raise it above your head, like loading your luggage into the overhead bin on a plane.

So it makes sense to practice:

And here is the kettlebell row!

And this too:

Coach Matt showing you how to do the kettlebell press.

Here, the kettlebell is substituting for an object you may have to pick up and lift during your everyday life: a book, a pet rabbit, a cursed golden idol, etc.

To continue on this thought, running from a giant boulder would also count as functional fitness.

It’s why we encourage free weights instead of machine use, because free weights force you to balance and control objects just like you have to in day-to-day life. 

Another thing to consider for functional fitness: “compound exercises.” 

Compound exercises require more than one muscle group working together for the exercise (squats, pull-ups), so they replicate the way your body actually moves. This would be different from isolation exercises like biceps curls, which more or less train JUST your biceps muscles to move one particular way.

This would be an example of an isolation exercise.

Since functional fitness seeks to improve your body’s ability to work as one unit, compound exercises are encouraged!

As they say, variety is the spice of life.

Let’s give you one last example of functional fitness.

Compare running on an elliptical vs going on a short hike:

  • Both will get your heart rate up.
  • But a hike will challenge your stability and balance as you move over uneven terrain. The elliptical, on the other hand, provides a repetitive motion over and over.

There is a time and a place for both, but it’s important to introduce variety and instability if your goal is to develop all-around functional fitness.

What’s that? You want exact exercises to try? 

You got it!

The 10 Best Functional Fitness Exercises

Do you think he supplements with creatine?

A functional fitness workout prioritizes natural movements that help us conquer the obstacles and tasks faced in our everyday life.

Here are the best Functional Fitness Exercises:

#1) Squats

Do a proper bodyweight squat to work out your legs

Squats are one of the most fundamental functional movements in our lives.

Getting off the ground, moving in and out of chairs, and shoveling snow will all be easier after a regular squatting practice. 

Simple bodyweight squats are a great way to get started, but if this is too tough at first, start with assisted bodyweight squats:

Coach Staci showing you the an assisted bodyweight squat

Once you get comfortable with a regular bodyweight squat, you can start incorporating weights, like with a goblet squat:

The goblet squat is a great way to build muscle for women.

If you build up to a 30-pound dumbbell, this move can replicate picking up a small child off the ground. Practical and functional if you’re a new parent. 

2) Deadlifts

I promise you, learning how to deadlift will change your life.

Speaking of picking up stuff off the ground, let’s talk about the deadlift as a part of functional fitness.

Moving furniture, grabbing bags of dog food, and taking a sleeping child to bed are all forms of the deadlift. When you start to incorporate the deadlift into your life, you make all these movements easier (and safer). 

If you’ve never deadlifted before, it can be a little intimidating. A good place to start might be the Romanian Deadlift with very light dumbbells:

Coach Staci showing you how to perform dumbbell Romanian deadlift

If you’re looking for other deadlift variations, or you want to make sure you have proper form, read our full guide with step-by-step instructions on how to deadlift safely.

#3) Overhead Press

Staci performing the overhead press.

The overhead press is another exercise that will provide benefits in daily life:

  • Placing a cast iron skillet into a top kitchen cabinet
  • Hoisting luggage into the top bin when flying
  • Showing off the piece of the Triforce you just scored

Link using functional fitness to hold up the Triforce.

Performing the overhead press will not only increase your upper-body strength, but it will also strengthen your core, since you balance and stabilize yourself while standing and lifting. Compare this to the bench press, where the bench itself offers support during the movement.

Again, some lightweight dumbbells are a great starting point if you’re just getting started:

In the neutral grip press, shown here, you have your hands together during the movement.

Make sure you read our full guide on how to perform the overhead press for more variations and tips for progression.

#4) Farmer’s Walk

The farmer's walk is for sure functional fitness.

The farmer’s walk is really simple: pick up a couple of weights and walk.

To up the difficulty, pick up more weight. Or walk further. 

Very basic, yet very functional, because most of us carry objects from one place to another all the time. 

When performing the farmer’s walk:

  • Pick the weight up with a good form
  • Keep a tight posture with your shoulders back
  • Take small, manageable steps

That’s it.

The farmer’s walk will challenge your arms, back, shoulders, core, and grip.

Being able to lift and carry heavy objects is about as functional as you can get.

#5) Bear Crawl

Is it a "bear crawl" because you look like a bear, or because your hands and feet "bear" all your weight?

When we’re young, it’s a given that we’ll be mobile on the floor.

As adults, eh, not so much. The only interaction with the floor comes from us standing on it. We won’t even sit on it without a chair helping us. 

Not very functional. 

Enter the bear crawl…

To perform the bear crawl:

  • Begin in a tabletop position.
  • Bring your knees up, so they hover.
  • Using opposing arms and legs (ex: right arm, left leg), take a small step forward with each limb. You want to use small steps so your torso is stable, instead of rocking side to side.
  • Repeat on the opposite side. 

It’ll look like this:

The bear crawl is a great way to work on floor mobility.

#6) Walking Lunge

This gif shows the walking lunge, a great way to do bodyweight exercises in your own home!

The walking lunge is going to provide lower body strength, as well as balance, for when you come in and out of the movement.

To perform a walking lunge:

  • Stand with a shoulder-width stance.
  • Step out with your right leg.
  • Lower your hips until your back leg’s knee almost touches the ground.
  • If you stepped out far enough, your front knee won’t extend past your toes.
  • Explode forward and up by pushing off with your back leg and up with your front leg.
  • Bring both feet together, and then step forward with your other foot and repeat.

#7) Pull-Ups

The classic pull-up

When discussing the best functional fitness exercises, we can’t neglect your “pull” muscles.

Being able to lift yourself up is very functional, and may save your life if you’re being chased by velociraptors.

Clever girl...using functional fitness.

If you can’t quite get your first pull-up yet, an inverted bodyweight row will help you build strength until you can.

A bodyweight row like this is a great "pull" exercise you can while building up strength for pull-ups.

#8) Kettlebell Swing

Coach Staci showing you the kettlebell swing

The kettlebell swing is an explosive full-body movement that focuses on building strength with your hip hinge.

How to perform the kettlebell swing:

  • Get down into a bent-over, flat-back position and grab the kettlebell with both hands from the handle.
  • Swing the kettlebell behind you, then get ready to jump up.
  • Jump up (without leaving the ground) and swing the kettlebell up. You should be standing tall at the peak of the movement.
  • Reverse the movement and bring the kettlebell back down and behind you.
  • Repeat.

If you want more tips for training with a kettlebell (a great tool for functional fitness), then check out “The 20 Minute Beginner Kettlebell Workout.”

#9) Push-Ups

Here Rebel Leader Steve shows you the classic push-up.

Push-ups, the ole fitness staple. But being able to hold yourself firm in a straight line (don’t sink), while pushing yourself up will create a lot of core strength. And a great functional exercise. 

Plus, you can add some variation to level them up, creating a more dynamic exercise. 

For example, you can do dive bomber push-ups:

Rebel Leader Steve showing you the divebomber push-up

#10) Step Up

This exercise really is as simple as stepping up and down a box or small secure stool.

It doesn’t get much more functional than going up steps. Life doesn’t always provide us with elevators.

If this seems too easy, start mixing weights into the practice:

A couple of weights is an easy way to up the difficulty here.

BONUS: #11) Handstands

When you have both legs off the wall, you are doing a handstand! Woot!

On the one hand, handstands are really tough. On the other hand, the amount of strength and balance required to perform a handstand are central to functional fitness.

And…ah…you need both hands to do it…unless you’re Luke Skywalker:

Luke rocks one arm handstand, but he also has the force. And yoda.

We have a full guide that will walk you through getting your first handstand, from simple wrist stretches:

Start by barely lifting your feet off the ground for crow pose.

All the way to handstand push-ups:

If you can do push-ups like this, you are hardcore.

Are you doing these moves correctly? A good way to check would be to record a video of yourself and match it against the gifs and videos here. If they look close, you’re doing great!

The other option would be to have a trained professional review your form, which we can do in our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program!

Our spiffy mobile app lets you send a video of your training directly to your coach, who will provide feedback so you can perfect your technique.

They’ll also build a workout program that’s custom to your situation, which can improve your functional strength!

Have a Nerd Fitness Coach build you a functional fitness workout and check your form! Click here to learn more!

What Is a Functional Fitness Training Workout?

This LEGO always does his warm up before he trains at home...or on the street.

Now that we’ve gone over specific functional fitness exercises, let’s pull them together to build a workout routine!

For most beginners, I recommend creating a full-body practice at first, which includes:

  • Quads (front of your legs).
  • Butt and hamstrings (back of your legs).
  • Chest, shoulders, and triceps: (“push” muscles).
  • Back, biceps, and grip ( “pull” muscles).
  • Core (abdominals and lower back).

Since we prioritized compound exercises in today’s post (because they are more aligned with functional fitness), our muscle groups will overlap when we build our routine.

That’s a good thing.

Using the exercises covered earlier, our Functional Fitness Workout could be:

That’s it! If you start doing this once a week you’ll be well on your way to building functional fitness.

If you want to do this twice a week, maybe switch out some exercises:

  • Instead of push-ups, try the overhead press
  • Instead of squats, try lunges
  • Instead of pull-ups, try bodyweight rows

One important point: no matter what routine you pick, always warm-up first!

It can be simple arm circles:

Arm circles like so are a great way to get your heart rate up before doing HIIT.

Or some jumping jacks:

Jumping jacks are a great way to warm up for your at-home workout.

Warming up is important because we want your muscles engaged and loose before we jump right into our training. So warm-up for about 5 minutes before jumping into your workout.

As long as you include your warm-up, you now have what you need to start your training.

If you want more help building a functional fitness practice, I have a couple resources for you:

  1. How to Build Your Own Workout Routine: our guide will walk you through building your own training practice. We’ll teach you what exercises you should do, how many sets and reps you should perform, and how often you should work out. It’ll help you start performing functional fitness exercises today.
  2. Our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program: if you want a more customized approach for your exact situation (kids, an old injury, you turn into a werewolf once a month), then check out NF Coaching. We’ll build you an exact plan of attack on how to become a functional fitness master.

Have a Nerd Fitness Coach guide your functional fitness training! Learn more here.

Is CrossFit Functional Fitness?

Today we teach you everything you want to know about CrossFit.

CrossFit claims to support “functional movements” by using “safe, effective and efficient movements similar to those you use every day in life.”

So yeah, that does sound like what we’ve been talking about this whole time.

The difference with CrossFit is the intensity. It’s something we highlight in our Beginner’s Guide to CrossFit.

CrossFit does promote functional fitness. It’s why you’ll see people carrying sandbags, flipping tires, and wielding sledgehammers at CrossFit gyms:

Depending on what you do for work, this could be very functional.

But the intensity is another noteworthy aspect of CrossFit. Workouts are done in a group setting, with people cheering you on.

While this can be great for motivation, it can be less great when trying to move at your own pace and train with proper form.

Now, this is a generalization, and all CrossFit gyms will have their own characteristics and culture.

If you’re curious, it doesn’t hurt to walk through the door of your local CrossFit gym – just make sure you read our Crossfit Beginner Guide first. I’m sure they’d love to see you and show you around.

How to Build Functional Fitness (Next Steps)

Jogger silhouette running on the beach at sunset with the horizon in the background

We’ve covered a lot of different ways to increase and build functional fitness.

But our article barely scratched the surface:

  • Gymnastic rings would be a great way to promote functional fitness.
  • Working your way towards your first handstand is fun strength practice.
  • A yoga routine could also be considered as “functional.”
  • A hike would be a great way to prepare for traveling through natural landscapes.

Also, let’s not get close-minded here. Being strong will help you navigate the world in front of you, so in that sense, any form of strength training could be considered “functional fitness.”

So would parkour, which has you traveling through urban landscapes:

With the Assassin's Creedoutfit, this gif is perfect for our site.

Just find something you like and get started!

The more you do, and the more variation you include (barbell training, yoga, and hiking), the more functional fit you’ll be.

This is how you become “antifragile.”

Now, all that’s left to do is start:

If you wanna win a race, you need to start it!

Want a little help getting going? The perfect next step on how to begin your functional fitness journey?

No problemo!

Here are 3 options on how to continue with Nerd Fitness:

Option #1) If you want step-by-step guidance on how to get strong, lose weight, and level up your life, check out our killer 1-on-1 coaching program:

Our coaching program changes lives. Learn how!

Option #2) If you want a daily prompt for functional fitness workouts, check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

Try your free trial right here:

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

Sign-up below and receive our free guide Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know. It includes step-by-step instructions for the Best Functional Fitness Exercises covered in today’s guide. 

Alright, enough from me. Your turn:

Do you practice functional fitness?

Do you have any specific exercises you cover?

Any tips or tricks for someone just getting started?

Let me know in the comments!

-Steve

PS: Strength training would be a great way to promote functional fitness. If you’re not sure where to start with your strength training journey, start here.

###

GIF Source: Bear Crawl, Batman vs Shark, Triforce, Indiana Jones, CrossFit, Chest Press, Parkour

Photo Source: “I’m Batman,” Wandering, Strongman, Scenes from an empty lot in Brooklyn, vol 1., Antonio Guillem © 123RF.com

The post Blog first appeared on Nerd Fitness.

Source: https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/the-ultimate-guide-for-functional-fitness-exercises-and-workout-plans/

How To Build Your Own Workout Routine: Plans, Schedules, and Exercises

How do you become like this perfect man? Building your own workout will help!

I get multiple emails and messages per day asking:

“Steve, what should I do for a workout?”

Well, partner, today is your lucky day.

I’m gonna help build you a custom workout program, step-by-step! 

After all, a workout should be developed around a person’s age, goals, nutritional strategy, free time, etc.

Not only that, but it’s easy to overcomplicate this process – there are an infinite number of exercises, sets, reps, and programs to choose from.

Now, if you’re somebody that wants to skip all of that, and JUST want to be told what exactly to do: 

We build customized workouts for our Online Coaching Clients and would love to have you. We get to know your story and struggles, your goals, and your lifestyle, and develop a workout plan that fits your schedule.

Your coach can build a workout for you!

Want a customized workout plan you’ll ACTUALLY do? Learn more:

Now, if you’re more of a “figure this stuff out on my own” kind of person – we’re going to dig into how to build your own workout plan today!

We’ve also created a free resource for folks who want to build their own workout but would love some more specific direction and instruction.

You can download our free guide, Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know, which covers all of this stuff in a single guide:

OKAY! Are you ready to start building your own routine and want to know how it’s done?

Great! Let’s do this:

Step #1: Determine Your “Get in Shape” Situation

What should this finger know about building a perfect workout? Maybe he needs to thumb wrestle soon.

As we lay out in our “How to get in Shape” guide, we need to answer a few key questions:

QUESTION 1: What are your goals?

Whatever your goals are, it’s good to write them down and be aware of what you’re trying to accomplish.

These goals will shape HOW you build your workout.

QUESTION 2: How much time can you devote to exercise?

If you can do an hour a day, that’s fantastic.

If you have a wife or husband, three kids, a dog, two jobs, and no robot butler, then maybe you only have thirty minutes, twice a week.

If you're swamped like Sponge Bob here, a 30 minute workout here and there is a great way to start.

That’s fine too!

Whatever your time commitment is, developing the most efficient workout is crucial.

Why spend two hours in a gym when you can get just as much accomplished in 30 minutes, right?

Here’s the good news: weight training is the fat-burning prize fight victor, and efficiency rules all.

So whether you are building muscle or looking to lose weight, a strength training workout will get you the results you’re after (when combined with the right eating strategy!)

While we’re talking about time, let me quickly mention something important:

Proper expectations!

As we cover “how fast can I get the body I want,” make sure you are thinking about your journey with a realistic timeline:

QUESTION 3: WHERE do you want to work out?

Where you work out will largely determine if you are going to train with bodyweight, or if you can start doing gym strength training.

At this point, we should have:

  • Determined your “get in shape” goals.
  • Decided how much time you have to train.
  • Picked WHERE you want to work out.

We can now start to build your workout routine, your daily workout plan, and your monthly workout schedule!

Let’s do it.

Step #2: What Exercises Should I do to lose weight (or build muscle?)

A coach checking your form like so can help when designing and building a workout.

I like to follow the motto of “Keep it simple, stupid.”

(Note: I am not calling you stupid. You’re reading Nerd Fitness, which means you’re intelligent, good looking, really funny, and most of all, modest.)

The best workout is the one that you actually stick with, and people make things FAR too complicated and try to target a bazillion different individual muscles with six types of exercises for each body part.

It’s exhausting, unnecessary, inefficient, and intimidating.

So keep it simple!

We’re going to pick 5 exercises, and get really strong with those movements.

This Muppet knows strength training will help him gain muscle and lose weight.

This is the ENTIRE philosophy behind our Strength 101 series.

Unless you’ve been strength training for years and know what you’re doing, we recommend that you pick a full-body routine that you can do 2-3 times a week.

You want a workout routine that has at least one exercise for your:

  • Quads (front of your legs).
  • Butt and hamstrings (back of your legs).
  • Chest, shoulders, and triceps: (“push” muscles).
  • Back, biceps, and grip ( “pull” muscles).
  • Core (abdominals and lower back).

By targeting compound movements that recruit multiple muscles at the same time, you can build a full-body routine that uses only four or five exercises.

How’s THAT for efficiency!

Here is a quick breakdown on which exercises will work for each of those movements:

Not sure how to do any of these movements?

Want more examples? Check out:

The 42 Best Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do Anywhere!

Pick one exercise from each category above for a workout, and you’ll work almost every single muscle in your body. 

Get stronger with each movement each week, and you have yourself a recipe for a great physique.

Here is an example of a great, effective simple gym workout:

You don’t need to make things more complicated than this!

(Not that we humans have a tendency to overcomplicate things to the point of paralysis and inaction…)

Don't make building your own workout overly complicated like this man is doing.

Ahem.

If you’re not sure how to do any of the movements above, click on their links for thorough write-ups and video demonstrations.

Pick one exercise from EACH category above, specifically ones that scare you the least, and that will be your workout every other day for the next week.

The great news: the above workout routine will work whether you’re looking to bulk up and build muscle OR if you’re trying to lose weight.

You simply adjust your calories consumed – which is 80% of the equation – and that’s how you’ll start to change your physique.

STEVE’S BIG PIECE OF ADVICE: GET STRONG.

Get really good at these basic movements and focus on getting stronger each week (I’ll cover how below).

If you get really strong at squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, and push-ups, you will build an incredible physique to be proud of.

Then, once you get confident in those movements, feel free to add some variety.

Why?

If you do the same exact routine, three days a week, for months and months, you might get bored, and start slacking, or you might hit a workout plateau.

So if you find yourself getting bored, feel free to stick with the above ‘formula,’ but change the ingredients:

If you hit a plateau or find yourself getting bored, pick a different exercise to improve so you’ll stay challenged, and you’ll actually DO the workout!

Then, focus on getting stronger! (You are writing down your workouts, right?).

I know it’s really easy to overcomplicate this process as there’s an infinite number of exercises, sets, reps, and programs to choose from.

And yes, we have a solution for people that JUST want to be told what exactly to do: our uber-popular 1-on-1 coaching program pairs you with your own Nerd Fitness Coach who will get to know you, your goals, and your lifestyle, and develop a workout plan that’s specific to not only your body, but also to your schedule and life:

Our Coaching will change your life. Learn how!

Step #3: How Many Sets And Reps Should I Do?

How did Batman get so ripped? How do you build a workout to get those abs?

SIMPLE ANSWER: Not including a warm-up set or two, I recommend:

  • 3 to 5 sets per exercise.
  • 8 to 10 reps per set when starting out. 

LONGER ANSWER – watch this video:

As we cover in our “How Many Sets and Reps?” guide, a “set” is a series of repetitions that you complete without stopping.

For example, if you drop down and do 10 push-ups right now, you just did 1 SET of 10 REPETITIONS (or REPS) of push-ups.

Got it? Cool.

Some general rule on repetitions you can follow as you’re starting to build your workout plan:

  1. If you’re looking to burn fat while building muscle, keep your number of repetitions per set in the 8-15 range per set.
  2. If you can do more than 15 reps without much of a challenge, consider increasing the weight or the difficulty of the movement. This is true for things like lunges, bodyweight squats, push-ups, pull-ups, etc.

There are some other generally accepted ‘rules’ – as pointed out in Starting Strength – about how to determine how many reps you should target per set, based on your goals:

  • Reps in the 1-5 range build super dense muscle and strength[1]
  • Reps in the 6-12 range build a somewhat equal amount of muscular strength and muscular size[2]
  • Reps in the 12+ range build muscular endurance.

A 2015 study [3] called into question the best rep strategy for building muscle or size:

“It appears that high-intensity resistance (sets of 3-5 reps) training stimulates greater improvements in some measures of strength and hypertrophy in resistance-trained men during a short-term training period [compared to sets of 8-10 reps].”

What this means: Do not freak yourself out by worrying if you should do 4 sets or 5 sets of 8 reps or 10 reps. 

Our advice would be to START with lighter weight and more reps as you learn the movement, and then decide if you want to stay at higher reps and lower weight or vice versa.

You do you, because either one will get you results!

The only thing you need to worry about: get stronger the next time you do that movement: either pick up a heavier weight, or do 1 more repetition than last time.

Even Marshall knows to go for One More each time you try your workout

“JUST GIVE ME THE ANSWER!”

Keep your TOTAL (all exercises combined) workout number of sets for all exercises in the 15-25 set range, with 8-10 reps per set:

5 exercises total, each with 4 “work sets” is a good start.

Remember, the most important part is to get started – you’ll learn how your body responds and you can adapt as you go.

What you DON’T need to do: multiple exercises for each body part with 10 sets.

A BIG CAVEAT: How you eat will determine if you get bigger or strongerNutrition is 80-90% of the equation. So pick a range that feels good, and then focus on nutrition.

And if you don’t want to figure any of this out and just want to be told exactly how what exercises, sets, and reps to do, our online coaches can take care of that for you.

Step #4: How Long Should I Wait Between Sets?

A stopwatch like this can help when timing and building your workout.

Keep it simple, you “smart, good looking, funny, modest person” you.

Below is a basic formula for you to determine how long you should wait between sets, but this can be adjusted based on your level of health.

The goal is to wait the least amount of time you need, but still rest enough that you can perform all reps of the next set safely and properly!

Here are some guidelines for how long to rest based on how heavy you’re lifting (not rules set in stone!):

  • 1-3 Reps (lifting heavy for strength/power): Rest for 3 to 5 minutes between sets.
  • 4-7 Reps (lifting for strength): Rest for 2 to 3 minutes between sets.
  • 8-12 Reps (lifting for size/strength): Rest for 1 to 2 minutes between sets.
  • 13 Reps+ (lifting for endurance): Rest long enough to recover to allow you to do the next long-ass set!

If you need more or less rest than the above recommendations, that’s fine.

Do the best you can, record how long it takes you to rest between sets, and try to rest for shorter periods in the future.

Keanu is stoked he now has his own bodyweight workout routine!

Your body will adjust as you get stronger and healthier!

If you want more information on how much you should lift, how many reps, and when to scale certain movements or adjust your workout, check out our Strength 101: Everything You Need to Know.

It’s free when you join the Rebellion with your email in the box below:

Step #5: How Much Weight Should I Lift?

When Rebels get together like at Camp, we build workouts that include deadlifts.

We have a FULL resource on how to determine your starting weight for lifting, but I’ll give you the gist here.

The simple to learn but tough to implement answer:

“Lift enough so that you can get through the set, but not too much that you have NO fuel left in the tank at the end.”

How do you determine how much that is?

Trial and error.

ALWAYS err on the side of “too light” versus “too heavy” when starting out.

It’s better to say “I bet I could have done more!” instead of “that was too much, and now I need to go to the hospital!”

Don't act like Homer and do a workout that you can't handle.

If you’re doing exercises with just your body weight, you need to make each exercise more difficult as you get in shape – once you get past 20 reps for a particular exercise and you’re not gassed, it’s time to mix things up.

That’s the key to “Progressive Overload,” as Coach Jim explains in this video:

Can you do 20 push-ups no problem? It’s time to start mixing them up to be more challenging. Pick a variation from this article and make yourself work for it!

20 bodyweight squats too easy? Hold some weights high above your head as you do the next set. Eventually, you can scale up to do exercises like the pistol squat:

 

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Looking for more bodyweight exercises? Check out the list of our favorite 42 bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere.

And if you’re not sure how to scale bodyweight movements, or you are interested in mixing things up and want guidance…

Our Online Coaching will change your life! Learn how here:

Step #6: How Long Should I Exercise For? How Long Should My Workout Be?

What workout does this LEGO do? Does he have a coach build him his workout routine?

Easy answer: 45 minutes to an hour.

Longer answer: If you’re doing 15-25 sets of total exercise (3-5 sets for your 5 exercises), you should be able to get everything done within that 45-minute block.

Now, factor in a five or ten-minute warm-up, and then some stretching afterward, and the workout can go a little bit longer.

If you can go for over an hour and you’re not completely worn out, try increasing the intensity.

Less time, more intensity, better results.

What if you don’t have 45 minutes?

Do the best you can!

Maybe you want to build some cardio into your weight training.

That’s where this next section comes in.

Step #7: How to Create Supersets and Circuit Training Workouts

Kettlebells can be used in circuits to help build a perfect workout.

Strength training in a circuit training workout is the most efficient way to burn fat when exercising:

  • You’re getting a cardiovascular workout by consistently moving from exercise to exercise.
  • You’re exercising different muscles back to back, giving each muscle group a chance to recover, but in a condensed amount of time. Efficiency for the win!

If you’re familiar with CrossFit, many of the workouts are built on circuit principles.

This is also the most effective way to make you involuntarily swear at inanimate objects because you’re so tired and beat up.

We’re going to cover TWO things here:

  • Supersets (or alternating sets).
  • Workout circuits.

SUPERSETS:

Do a set of squats, wait one minute, then do a set of dumbbell presses, wait one minute, then do your next set of squats, and so on.

Because you’re exercising two completely different muscle groups, you can exercise one while the other is “resting.”

You’re now getting the same workout done in half the time.

Captain Marvel is pumped she has a plan to build muscle.

Also, because you’re resting less, your body has to work harder so your heart is getting a workout too. Jackpot.

Let’s see how this would play out in a sample workout:

  • Lunges alternating with incline dumbbell presses, four sets each, one minute between sets.
  • Wait a few minutes to catch your breath and get set for your next two exercises.
  • Straight leg deadlifts alternating with wide-grip pull-ups, four sets each, one minute between sets.
  • 3 Sets of planks, stretch, and get the hell out of there!

CIRCUIT TRAINING:

A circuit requires you to do one set for EVERY exercise, one after the other, without stopping.

After you’ve done one set of each exercise in succession, you then repeat the process two, or three, or four more times.

I’ve written about multiple bodyweight circuits here on the site:

You can download our Beginner Bodyweight Worksheet too to help you get started:

We have also 15 FREE circuits you can follow in our big Circuit Training roundup guide!

And lastly, we love building circuit training routines for our Coaching Clients – and we’d love to build them for you too:

Let our coaches build a program for you!

Step #8: How Many Days per Week Should I Train?

Deadlifts make a great addition when you build your own workout.

We get this question quite a bit, usually from overeager beavers who decide they are going to go from “sitting on the couch watching The Office on repeat” to “exercising 7 days per week.”

I would advise something different.

I mean you can still watch The Office…

You can build muscle while watching the office!

…but you don’t need to be training 7 days a week!

We don’t want you burning out quickly and falling back to square one, a concern we mention in our guide “How Often Should I Work Out?

Instead, focus on building proper habits and set a goal of 2-3 full-body workouts per week.

For starters, your muscles don’t get built in the gym.

They actually get broken down in the gym, and then get rebuilt stronger while you’re resting…watching The Office.

By giving your muscles 48 hours to recover between workouts, especially when training heavy, you’ll stay injury-free and get stronger.

A Monday-Wednesday-Friday workout routine works well to ensure enough time to recover, especially when you are just getting started.

If you want to do Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday, or Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday, great.

Personally, I stuck with a Monday-Wednesday-Friday full day routine for nearly 10 years and just focused on getting stronger with each movement.

These days, I train on Monday-Wednesday-Thursday-Saturday (my workouts on Wednesday and Thursday don’t work the same muscles!)

“But Steve, what if I WANT to exercise on my off days?” That’s fine!

Pick “exercise” that’s fun for you, that won’t exhaust your muscles.

Also, here’s a lifehack: Program your workouts INTO your Google calendar (or Outlook).

You’re much more likely to do a workout that has been planned for in your work-week!

Alternatively, you can hire a coach to program your workouts for you, so every day you know exactly what you need to do!

Learn how our NF Coaching Program can help you reach your goals

Step #9: Keep Track Of Everything!

A photo of someone journaling their fitness progress.

Last but not least, keep a workout journal!

As they say, that which gets measured gets improved.

You should be getting stronger, faster, or more fit with each day of exercise.

Around these parts, we say “Level up your life, every single day.

So track and measure your progress!

Maybe you can lift more weight, lift the same amount of weight more times than before, or you can finish the same routine faster than before.

Personally, I track all of my workouts in Evernote.

I note the sets, reps, weight, and date.

I have over 1,000 workouts in my folder, which makes it super simple to see what I did last month, or even last year, and to make sure I’m improving!

Evernote can be great to track the workout you build.

You can use an actual notebook, a bullet journal, an Excel spreadsheet, a workout app, or a Word document.

Don’t overcomplicate it:

  1. Write down the date and your sets, reps, and weight for each exercise.
  2. Compare yourself to your previous workout with those exercises.
  3. Focus on getting stronger (more reps, heavier weight, an additional set, etc.)
  4. Repeat.

Do this with a workout you’ve built, and you WILL get results. I promise.

Here’s how to properly track your progress and set a new personal best every time you train.

Steve, Just Build a Workout For Me!

Inverted rows, like shown here, can make a great addition to a workout. If you build your own workout, make sure to include a pull exercise like this.

If you’re looking for sample workouts to build off of, take one of the 6 Workouts in our “Gym 101” guide.

Or if you want a plan to follow, pick one of our 15 Circuit Training Routines!

If you want to build from scratch, great! Let’s break it down into easy chunks with this recap:

  • ALWAYS warm up – 5-10 minutes on a bike, rowing machine, jumping jacks, run up and down your stairs, etc. Get the blood flowing and your muscles warm.
  • Pick one exercise for each big muscle group – quads, butt and hamstrings, push, pull, and core.
  • Do 3-5 sets for each exercise.
  • Do 5-10 reps per set for each exercise.
  • Determine how many reps and how long you’ll wait between sets for each exercise. Keep it simple. 60 seconds.
  • Increase your efficiency and work your heart by doing supersets or circuits.
  • Keep your workout to under an hour.
  • Stretch AFTER your workout.
  • Write everything down!
  • Give yourself permission to mess up, learn a little, and keep improving as you train more regularly!

More often than not, when I email people back and tell them how to build their own workout, they generally respond with:

“Steve, can’t you just TELL me what to do? I’m afraid of building a crappy workout.”

Why we built THREE options for people like that:

1) If you are somebody that wants to know they are following a program that is tailor-made for their life and situation and goals, check out our Online Coaching Program.

You’ll work with our certified NF instructors who will get to know you better than you know yourself and program your workouts and nutrition for you.Nerd Fitness Coaching Banner

Want a workout program you’ll ACTUALLY do? Great! Learn more here:

2) Exercising at home and need a plan to follow? Check out Nerd Fitness Journey!

Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally). Plus, NF Journey will build a workout for you!

Try your free trial right here:

3) Join the Rebellion (our free community) and I’ll send you free guides, workouts, and worksheets that you can read at your leisure.

We need good people like you!

I certainly encourage you to try and build your own workout routine.

It can really help you develop a sense of excitement and pride when you start to get in shape based on your workout!

If you have more questions, or have a workout program you’re really proud of, share it in the comments below!

-Steve

PS: Check out the rest of our beginner content. I promise, it kicks ass 🙂

###

Photo Sources: mdwombat, joshtasman: Question Finger 6black.zack00: Yeaaaah…. Surprise ladies!!, Sterling College: Sterling Gym, ako_law: Stopwatch, black.zack00: Boxing a gentleman’s sport, Photographing Travis: Kettlebells. ahockley: DDC Stuff Sheath and EEEK Field Notes, Ivan Kruk © 123RF.com

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Source: https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/how-to-build-your-own-workout-routine/

The Ultimate Guide to Losing Fat and Gaining Muscle (At the Exact Same Time)

Is Vader on the right track to lose fat and gain muscle? Let's find out!

There’s an argument in the fitness world that you can either choose to lose fat OR gain muscle.

They just can’t be done at the same time.

To this, I say, “Hogwash!”

We have tons of success stories from our online coaching clients who have been able to do both simultaneously:

Let us help you build muscle and lose fat at the same time! Learn more:

And that’s what we’ll cover in today’s guide!

We’ll do so by discussing:

Plus, I have tons of sweet LEGO photos and silly gifs on their way, which is always a good time. 

What’s Body Recomposition?

As Coach Matt mentions in the video above, gaining muscle and losing fat simultaneously is called “body recomposition.”

So yes, the process is indeed possible, as long as you follow the right plan.

…but you don’t have to take my word for it.

Just ask our friend Aksel here (who achieved an impressive body recomp with the help of a NF Coach):

A side-by-side of Aksel's before and after

Read more about his incredible story!

However, as I mentioned in the intro, you’ll often hear that losing fat while gaining muscle is impossible. The argument goes that you should just focus on one or the other, because doing both at once is destined to fail.

Let’s explore this claim.

LosING Fat and GainING Muscle at the Same Time (The Controversy)

This picture shows two LEGO miners, who don't have much to do with fast weight loss, but look cool.

To understand why losing fat while gaining muscle can be problematic, we need to explore both processes.

Let’s consider the following points:

  • To lose fat, your body needs to be in a caloric deficit. This deficit forces your body to use pre-existing fat stores for fuel.

  • To gain muscle, your body needs to be in a caloric surplus. This surplus provides the energy your body requires to repair and build bigger muscles.

Given this, losing fat (caloric deficit) at the same time one is gaining muscle (caloric surplus) seems impossible.

However, if we go a few steps deeper into the science, it IS possible!

A foe from the Prince Bride not believing you can lose fat while gaining muscle.

To appreciate the nuance here, let’s get into some specifics on losing fat and gaining muscle separately, and then we’ll combine them.

HOW DO YOU LOSE FAT?

a picture of Homer Simpson with Donut

There is a simple answer and a slightly less simple answer when it comes to losing body fat.

The simple answer: “consume fewer calories than you expend or burn.”

Eight words, and one or two of those could probably be thrown out.

When your body needs more calories than the amount you are eating, you are in a “caloric deficit.” Your body doesn’t have enough calories to go around, so it’ll start breaking down parts of itself for energy requirements.

(If you’re curious, you can calculate your daily caloric needs here).

The hope is that your body will mostly pull from fat stores, though depending on how you are training it will also break down muscle too.[1]

Said again: when you are eating a caloric deficit, your body will pull from both its fat stores AND existing muscle for energy.

Yes, if you're not careful you can lose fat AND muscle while losing weight.

From a physique and health standpoint, obviously we’d prefer that your body doesn’t break down muscle when in a caloric deficit, and instead really focuses on using fat stores instead.[2]

I make this point for a reason: your goal in fitness shouldn’t only be “weight loss,” despite the common vernacular used.

Who cares what the scale says, right?

A scale can be misleading when you're trying to lose fat and gain muscle.

The goal instead is to reduce body fat while also keeping the muscle you have (or even building more muscle).

That leads to a better physique and a healthier body.

This is the reason why there is a large industry around “tracking body fat percentage.”

By reducing your total fat on your body, OR increasing muscle mass, you’ll end up with a lower body fat percentage (it’s just a simple ratio of fat to everything else).

And lower body fat percentages are where “toned arms” and “6-pack abs” hang out.

Arnold lost body fat and gained muscle to achieve his physique. And maybe some super glue.

We’ll talk about tips to keep and grow muscle while in a caloric deficit further down. For now, remember you need fewer calories “in” compared to calories “out” for weight loss to occur, from either fat stores or muscle.

You may be asking, “Steve, what’s easier to do? Burn more calories or consume less?”

Good question.

Numbers will help tell the story: though this is a gross oversimplification – let’s use the ‘widely accepted’ starting point of “3,500 calories equals roughly one pound of fat.”[3]

If you want to lose one pound – or half a kilogram – of body fat in a week (a worthy, sustainable goal for some), you would need to create a caloric deficit of 500 calories per day. 

Your options to create this caloric deficit include:

  • Consuming 500 fewer calories
  • Burning 500 more calories
  • A combination of the two

Which half is easier to affect?

Here are both halves of that equation. 500 calories equals:

  • The number of calories found in a Big Gulp of Mountain Dew.
  • An estimate of the calories required to run five miles.

Yes, you will have to run for a long time to burn 500 calories.

Yep.

When it comes to maintaining a caloric deficit, it really comes down to diet.

It’s significantly more effective and time-efficient to consume 500 fewer calories than it is to burn 500 additional calories.

As Time magazine controversially pointed out – with tons of cited studies – “exercise alone won’t make you thin.” It’s too easy to add more calories in, and requires too much work to effectively influence “calories out.”

We dig into this in our guide to The CICO Diet

This brings us to our slightly less simple answer on getting in shape:

To lose body fat, you need to watch what you eat, and do so in a sustainable way.

Here at Nerd Fitness, we are firm believers that 80-90% of the fat-loss equation comes down to diet (check out Rule # 4).

Here’s another idea we focus on: EAT MOSTLY REAL FOOD.

These image shows some real food, critical if you're trying to lose body fat.

Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts are all great examples of REAL food.

These foods are very nutrient-dense and often low in calories compared to their processed counterparts. Which means you get filled up without overeating.

Win-win-win.

Have you ever seen the difference between 200 calories of broccoli and 200 calories of a bagel? WiseGEEK does a great job of displaying this, so we’ll borrow a couple of their photos.

200 calories of broccoli:

A pic of 200 calories of broccoli

200 calories of a bagel:

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

That’s why REAL food is the answer to creating a sustainable caloric deficit.

Most people can eat an entire bagel, no problem. Plates of broccoli, with all of the fiber, are much tougher to overeat.

We lay it all out in our Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Eating. It’ll provide tips on how to gradually create habits that get you to a “REAL food” way of eating, including proper portion sizes, tips on batch cooking, and a cameo from Winnie the Pooh.

Pooh knows that to lose fat and gain muscle, he really needs to cool it with all the honey.

With all of this, we advise you to take it slow, so new habits of healthy eating become permanent.

Something you can do for the rest of your life.

It’s a strategy we work closely with our coaching clients on: small nutritional adjustments they feel comfortable making. It’s how some of them have been able to lose 50-100 pounds!

Your own Nerd Fitness Coach will find you a nutritional strategy that works for you. Learn more:

Let me explain again: what you eat will be 80%-90% of the equation to lose body fat.

The other 10-20%? Exercise.

Of course it’s exercise.

That’s a pretty good segue into…

HOW DO YOU GAIN MUSCLE?

Toy Hulk and the wilds trunks of huge plants

If you want to build muscle, you’re gonna have to lift heavy things and eat in a way that your body has enough calories and protein to build that muscle.

This makes logical sense.  

In our Beginner’s Guide to Building Muscle and Strength, I summarize it as follows:

  • Lift heavy things
  • Eat a diet based on your goals
  • Rest so your body can recover

Let’s chat about each one quickly.

1) Lift heavy things. I will always be on Team Strength Training. If you’re looking to build muscle, you’re gonna need to lift heavy things.

This Muppet knows strength training will help him gain muscle and lose fat.

When you lift an object (or your own bodyweight) enough times, your muscles reach the point of failure. This causes your muscles to tear and breakdown.

When your muscle rebuilds itself following the workout, it’ll be bigger and stronger than before. Then you do it again.

And again.

And again.

As long as you are eating enough to rebuild your muscle, you’ll get stronger!

Not sure where to start on a Strength Training practice? No problem! You can download our free guide Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know when you join the Rebellion (our free community) below:

2) Eat a diet based on your goals. Because your muscle needs to be rebuilt after exercise, the calories are gonna need to come from somewhere. I’ll talk a lot about proper diet in the next section (with a Harry Potter analogy), so I won’t spend too much time on it here.

Just know that eating the right quantity of foods will be a big part of gaining muscle.  

3) Rest. Your body rebuilds itself while you sleep, so make sure you get plenty of rest each night. I’m talking 7-8+ hours. This will help ensure your body has the time it needs to grow stronger.

If you’re strength training and only getting 6 hours of sleep a night or less, you’re really doing yourself a disservice. Go to bed!

Donald knows he has to get plenty of rest to grow muscle. If only that sink would stop dripping.

That’s the short gist of how to build strength: challenge your muscles, eat well, and get some rest.

Let’s narrow in on our second point, “Eat a diet based on your goals.” It’ll become very important when balancing both losing body fat and gaining muscle.

To do that properly, grab your owl, and let’s chat about Hogwarts.

How to Lose Fat WHILE Gaining Muscle (The Science)

Close-up shot of microscope with metal lens at laboratory.

To answer the question of losing body fat and gaining muscle at the same time, I’d like to introduce an analogy from the world of Harry Potter.

Recall the “Sorting Hat:” The Sorting Hat’s job was to determine which of the four houses kids will call their home.

The sorting hat will help us tell the story on calories and losing fat.

It’s almost like a traffic director: “Harry, you will go to Gryffindor! Draco, you will go to Slytherin!”

Your body operates on a VERY similar operation: every day it receives new calories (when you eat), and it needs to decide what to do with them!

For example:

You eat a chicken parm sub with fries and a 20-ounce soda. Your body then has to know where to route all those calories.

To keep things simple, it has three choices. It’ll sort those calories into one of three houses:

A. Burn for Fuel.

B. Rebuild Muscle.

C. Store as Fat.

Right now, when you eat food, your body sorts most of those calories into “Burn for Fuel.”

There’s a number of calories your body needs each day just existing: to keep your liver functioning, your heart pumping, your brain operating, to regulate your body temperature, and so on – it burns a good chunk of calories just keeping the lights on.

A beating heart requires calories, which factors into your calorie needs.

This is your “total daily energy expenditure” which you can calculate for yourself in our TDEE calculator.

There’s also “B. Rebuild as Muscle” and “C. Store as Fat,” which I devoted entire sections to above.

This is where the problems arise: When you overeat calories and your body doesn’t need anymore to fuel itself, it takes those extra calories and stores them as fat.

However, our goal is the OPPOSITE of this.

We want to keep the muscle we have (or grow it) while getting rid of the fat!

So let’s imagine a scenario where we pull all this together by strength training heavy AND reducing our caloric intake:

  1. You strength train regularly, and your muscles break down and need to be rebuilt.
  2. You don’t consume enough calories to both rebuild muscle and fuel itself. There’s not enough to go into the “Burn for Fuel” and “Rebuild Muscle” houses.

Does your body just shut down?

NOPE!

Yep, if you have fat on you your body will pull from it to take care of its needs.
Your body has been preparing for this, by storing any excess calories over the years in the “Store as Fat” house.

This means your body can pull from “Store as Fat” to make sure all the work still gets done, including your daily functions as a human and rebuilding the muscle you tore apart.

Said another way:

If you have fat stores (and we all do), you do not need to be in a “caloric surplus” to rebuild muscle. The calories stored in your fat cells act as this required energy.

There is also evidence that muscle can even be grown while in a caloric deficit.

Meaning bigger muscles with a lower belt size.[4]

This dog just found out it's possible to both lose fat AND gain muscle.

However, if you want to skip all the experimentation and trial and error, you can have a Nerd Fitness Coach do all the heavy lifting for you (not really, you’ll still need to work out).

Your Nerd Fitness Coach will build you a custom plan to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. Learn more here!

TIPS TO LOSE BODY FAT WHILE GAINING MUSCLE

Superhero Couple. Male and female superheroes. Cloudy sky.

Let’s bring this all together and create some actionable steps to losing body fat and building muscle at the same time.

1) Sustain a caloric deficit while eating enough protein. You need your body to burn more calories than you consume, and also provide your body with enough protein to rebuild its muscle.

The only way to shed body fat is during a caloric deficit.

You need to reduce your calories and be in a deficit if your goal is to lose fat.

Remember the Sorting Hat analogy:

If you’re eating too much, your excess calories are being sent to the “Store as Fat” house.

We want to pull from this house instead. So eat less than you burn consistently. 

To help here, I have 3 resources for you:

  1. Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Eating. If you want tips and tricks to create habits based on REAL food, that guide will help get you there.
  2. Determining the Perfect Diet for You.” I talk about the benefits of creating a Mental Model on nutrition like Intermittent Fasting, Paleo or Keto (or Paleolithic Ketogenic) to help navigate all the food choices you need to make.
  3. Count calories: This means learning your total daily energy expenditure, and tracking your other calories through an app (or weighing your food).

You don’t have to follow some predetermined blueprint like “low-carb.” You can create your own diet (which is what I do). Learn all about it right here.

2) Strength train. If you could sell a pill that could be prescribed to every single person on Earth to make them healthier, it would look something like a strength training routine in a bottle.

A one arm push-up can help you lose fat and build muscle, but maybe start with regular push-ups first.

It is one of the best things you can do for your body.[5]   

And really, if you’re after building muscle, you’re gonna need to lift something! Either weights or your own bodyweight.

You need to challenge your muscles in order for them to get stronger. Now, as we discuss in our article on the correct number of reps and sets, there are multiple ways to do so.

To build muscle:

Lift lighter weights for lots of reps.

Lift really heavy with fewer reps.

The important thing: pick a strategy and get started.

Vada is ready to strength train! And torment her Dad's GF.

Here are 3 paths forward:

  1. Start with a beginner bodyweight workout.
  2. Follow one of our 5 Beginner Strength Training Routines.
  3. Go through our 6 Level Gym Workouts.

To recap: if you train heavy and eat a caloric deficit, your body will pull from its fat stores to both fuel itself and potentially also build muscle. This is a double whammy of AWESOME.

3) Prioritize protein. Outside of being in a caloric deficit and lifting weights (or yourself), eating enough protein is one of the key components of both losing body fat and building muscle.

Protein is the number one nutrient for creating new tissue.[6]

Sponge Bob knows how to build muscle and strength.

So when you cut out calories to create a caloric deficit, don’t cut them from protein sources.

Studies have shown that participants can gain muscle, even while in a caloric deficit, as long as they eat enough protein.[7]

It’s important enough that I’ll say it again:

If you don’t want your body cannibalizing its muscles while you are in a caloric deficit, you need to eat plenty of protein.[8]

How much protein?

As we point out in our Guide to Protein, roughly 1 gram for every pound of your weight, with an upper limit of 250 grams.[9] Or two grams for every kilogram if you are on the metric system. This means:

  • If you weigh 300 pounds (136 kg), eat 250g of protein.
  • If you weigh 250 pounds (113 kg), eat 250g of protein.
  • If you weigh 200 pounds (91 kg), eat 200g of protein.
  • If you weigh 180 pounds (82 kg), eat 180g of protein.

The gist: don’t skip out on protein. It should be on your plate for every meal (we’ll show you exactly how much in the next section).

If these generalized recommendations stress you out, and you want to know exactly what to do, we can help!

I’ll remind you of Nerd Fitness Coaching, where we help clients lose body fat, gain muscle, and level up their lives. We provide tailored and specific recommendations based on your body and lifestyle, plus accountability and mindset changes to help ensure your new habits stick.

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WHAT SHOULD I EAT TO LOSE FAT AND GAIN MUSCLE?

Toy Dinosaur holding a fork next to a slice of birthday cake on a blue background.

Remember, your eating strategy needs to include two points to lose fat while gaining muscle:

  1. Sustain a caloric deficit.
  2. Prioritize protein so you can build muscle even while in a deficit.

You may be thinking, “That’s all well and good Steve, but what’s that actually look like?” 

It looks like this!

If your meal plate looks like this, you're doing great!

Taken from our Guide to Start Eating Healthy, which I really want you to read.

The plate is composed of the following: 

  • 1-2 servings of protein (¼ of plate)
  • 2 servings of vegetables (½ of plate)
  • 1 serving potatoes, rice, or pasta. (1/4th of plate)
  • 1 serving of fat (size of your thumb)
  • 1 zero calorie or low calorie beverage (water, diet soda, tea)

By sticking to our Healthy Plate strategy above, you’ll focus on “REAL food,” which will help you maintain a caloric deficit over time.

Let’s hone in on protein for a moment, because it’s the critical piece for “building muscle.”

Protein can come from any number of sources, including:

  • Meat (steak, bison, pork).
  • Fowl (chicken, turkey, duck).
  • Eggs![10]
  • Fish and shellfish (salmon, tuna, shrimp).
  • Legumes (black beans, chickpeas).

Not a meat-eater? Read our massive plant-based guide!

A serving of protein is about the size and thickness of your palm.

A serving of protein should be about the size of your palm, like so.

*The 4 oz serving is for an uncooked piece of meat. Cooking reduces about 25% of the weight, bringing it down to about 3 oz.

If you’re curious, here’s how much protein is in a serving of food:

  • 4 oz (113 g) serving of chicken has around 30 g of protein.
  • 4 oz (113 g) serving of salmon has 23 g of protein
  • 4 oz (113 g) of steak has 28 g of protein. 

While all of the Healthy Plate above is important, I want you to pay extra attention to your protein intake since we are trying to build muscle. 

If you’re having trouble making your protein intake goals, check out our Guide on Protein Supplements for some tips and tricks to up your intake, including some awesome smoothie recipes.

This is the exact strategy I followed to lose 22 pounds and get to single-digit bodyfat percentage WHILE building muscle:

  • Lift super heavy.
  • Eat LOTS of protein.
  • Reduce carb and fat intake.

If you are NOT losing weight, it means you are still eating too many calories. Keep your protein intake high, and reduce your fat and carbohydrate intake. 

I cover this in greater detail in our “why can’t I lose weight?” guide.

Eventually, you’ll reach a status where there just isn’t enough fat on you to help with “Rebuild Muscle.” At this stage, you can no longer stay with a caloric deficit. You’ll need to flip to a slight “caloric surplus” to build more muscle.

Which means you’ll have to eat more.

Like this turtle, you may reach a point where you have to eat more to gain muscle.

It’s debatable when this will actually occur, and we are all different. Reaching 8% body fat for men and 16% body fat for women is a good place to start.

I talk about this extensively in our guide “How to Build Muscle.”

It covers ways to increase your calories for muscle gain, from eating plentiful amounts of Paleo foods to drinking enough milk to make Santa Clause jealous.

Santa is drinking milk to put on some muscle. The cookies are just because he likes them.

I encourage you to read it if you are plateauing in size.

I want to stress that if you are lifting heavy, and not gaining muscle, diet is likely the culprit.

It was my problem for years, and I’ve seen it amongst countless readers of Nerd Fitness who have trouble gaining muscle.

If you want an expert who will tell you exactly when to eat more or less, check out our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program

Let your Nerd Fitness Coach calculate exactly how much to eat to reach your goals. Learn more!

HOW TO TELL IF IT’S ALL WORKING (Continuing to Lose Fat While Gaining Muscle)

Now you're ready to start losing fat and gaining muscle!

If you’re trying to improve something, it’s important to track it. This also holds true of body composition.

Most people do this by jumping on the scale. This can be “Ok,” but it’s only going to tell part of the story.

As I explained muscle weighs more than fat, so if you are losing body fat and gaining muscle at the same time, you might actually weigh the same. Or even more!

Despite weighing more, you could potentially have a better physique.

Don't just look at the scale. You might have lost bodyfat and gained muscle, but the scale won't show it!

That’s why in addition to jumping on the scale, I would also encourage you to take progress photos.

Take front and side photos in your mirror, wearing underwear or a bathing suit. Each week, take new photos, and record the number on the scale under the same scenario. Two forms of tracking here allow us to get the full picture.

The scale sometimes lies!

If you eat for a caloric deficit, strength train, and prioritize protein, see what happens.

You may find yourself losing some fat and gaining muscle.

If not, track each category:

Data can help tell the story.

Data and numbers will help you know if you're losing fat and gaining muscle. Numbers, not the robot.

…I was thinking of detailed notes.

But an android would be helpful too.

Oftentimes if you’re not seeing desired results, notes and record-keeping can help point us in the direction to make adjustments.

Test your assumptions if things don’t appear to be on track. Here’s our Guide on Tracking Fitness Progress for you to learn more.

The tips outlined above will get you started losing fat while building muscle, but if you’re looking to go a bit further…

#1) If you want step-by-step guidance on how to lose weight, eat better, and get stronger, check out our killer 1-on-1 coaching program:

Have a Nerd Fitness Coach design you a plan to build muscle and lose fat!

#2) If you want an exact blueprint for getting in shape, check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

Try your free trial right here:

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

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

Alright, I think that about does it for this guide.

Did I miss anything? Do you have any tips and tricks when it comes to shedding body fat and building muscle?

Share it with us!

-Steve,

PS: Make sure you read the rest of the articles in our “How to Lose Weight 101” Series!

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All photo sources are right here: Venting Off, Ekaterina Minaeva © 123RF.com, czgur © 123RF.com, morethanl8ve © 123RF.com, Константин Колосов © 123RF.com, Maxim Maksutov © 123RF.com, Julianna Funk © 123RF.com, jump

The post Blog first appeared on Nerd Fitness.

Source: https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/lose-weight-and-build-muscle-or-do-one-then-the-other/

Behind the Scenes of Aksel’s “Unreal” Transformation

“HOW COW! He doesn’t even look like the SAME PERSON! ”

Meet Aksel, an economics student from Norway who is on a mission to turn into Wolverine.

I think you’ll agree with me in saying he’s more or less succeeded!

Aksel joined NF Coaching a year ago with the goal of losing some weight and building a lot of muscle.

So our very own Coach Taylor helped him do it.

However, pictures don’t tell the whole story.

Before joining Nerd Fitness, Aksel had hit a “rough patch” and knew something had to change in his life.

Here’s how Aksel’s journey went down.

The 4 Keys to Aksel’s Transformation

Aksel before and after

Aksel used to be an avid swimmer when he was a teenager, even competing in the national swimming championships in Norway.

Then, life happened.

Somewhere along the way, Aksel stopped swimming. Then he more or less stopped exercising. Soon alcohol and pizza began to provide him with most of his “nutrients.”

From all of this, Aksel became depressed.

This continued until one sad day, Aksel’s uncle passed away from cancer. This acted as a “reality check.” Aksel realized his lifestyle wasn’t making him a healthy person.

So he decided something had to change.

After going down a Google rabbit hole, Aksel found Nerd Fitness. He quickly decided that a coach might be exactly what he needed.

So he dived into the Rebellion.

Here are the 4 BIG changes that helped Aksel make progress:

Aksel before and after

#1) ALL CALORIES COUNT.

From Aksel, “I began getting in shape by tracking everything I ate.

I never knew how many calories were in the food I bought. Why are there so many calories in beer!?!

It was really eye-opening to analyze all the food and drinks in my life. Even ‘healthy’ food is often packed with calories.”

Once Aksel got his head around all this, he made a plan with his Coach.

Aksel still wanted to eat a diverse diet, plus he wanted to be able to have the occasional drink with his friends. However, he started to consider the amount that would help him reach his goals.

Takeaway: you don’t have to count calories, but all calories count. For the right clients, we’ll create a mission to have them track their food intake for a week. This helps to give a full picture of how they’re eating.

Many clients start to naturally behave differently after going through this exercise.

#2) STRENGTH TRAINING CHANGES EVERYTHING.

Aksel before and after

When Aksel first attempted to get in shape, he decided to start running.

But Aksel’s knees hurt from jogging. So he stopped.

When he joined NF Coaching, he mentioned to us that he wanted to build some muscle. So his coach had him start strength training immediately…since that’s how you build muscle.

It didn’t take long for Aksel to fall in love.

He started seeing results right away, losing body fat that he’d never been able to shed before.

The energy and confidence he gained from strength training propelled him to keep going.

Takeaway: strength training is one of the best things you can do for your body.

As we say around here, a strong nerd is a healthy nerd. No matter what your goals are, being strong will help them.

#3) DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A GOOD NIGHT’S REST.

Aksel after

If you’re going to strength train, you need to recover.

That means you need to prioritize a good night’s sleep.

“I used to be a zombie before. But developing an actual sleep schedule has probably made the biggest difference in my life. Sleep helps my training. And my training helps me sleep.

I’m not sure I could do one without the other.”

Takeaway: don’t overlook your sleep habits. Proper shuteye really does make everything easier.

#4) HAVING A GUIDE WHO KNOWS THE WAY IS A GAME CHANGER.

Aksel before and after

As Aksel puts it, “Yes, you can just google most things.

But a coach adapts to you and your goals. It becomes SO MUCH easier when you have someone helping you out.

I was clueless when I started, and although I’m more knowledgeable now, I continue with my coach because I just want to be told what to do. This allows me to focus my brain power on my studies.”

Takeaway: you don’t have to figure this out alone. Yep, lots of people are able to search the interwebz for info and make a plan from that.

However, if you don’t want to go through all that trial and error, a coach can be a great way to progress at a quicker pace.

Through Hard Work, Amazing Things Are Possible

Aksel before and after

I’m gonna be real with you: what Aksel and his coach achieved is truly incredible.

If I didn’t know Aksel’s coach – and hadn’t seen the progress pictures – I might be a tad skeptical myself.

A fun gif of characters giving a suspicious eye.

But once you start to understand all the hard work Aksel put in, you begin to see what happened:

  • Aksel’s coach made a plan.
  • Then Aksel went and executed it to a T.

In other words, Aksel put in the work and the results followed.

Here’s the most important thing about Aksel’s journey: he started.

After spending a little bit of time on the internet, Aksel found a program that seemed doable and jumped in.

Yes, he’s been working very hard the last year. But all that hard work resulted from one decision: hiring a coach.

Around the Rebellion, we call this “20 Seconds of Courage.”

One moment – that often only takes seconds to do – that will help you gain momentum to move forward.

For some, it’s opening up a recipe book and turning on the stove.

For others, it’s walking through the front door of a gym.

For Aksel, it was hiring an expert and following their plan.

While it might only take 20 seconds, the first step is often the most important one.

You just have to take it when the moment arrives…like Samwise Gamgee.

A gif of Sam telling Frodo he's the farthest from home he's ever been.

If you want someone to help you start your journey to leave the “Shire,” we’re here to help.

We have a team of wizards who do this stuff all day, every day:

  • We have kick-ass Coaches that create custom programs for our clients. For Rebels willing to put in the effort (like Aksel), we get amazing results (also like Aksel).
  • We offer worldwide accountability and support. If you start traveling again in 2021, your NF Coach will come with you. They’ll assess your new surroundings and build you a custom plan for your new environment.
  • We check-in and adapt. Your coach won’t just establish a program and walk away. They’ll actually talk to you and make sure it’s working. If it’s not, no problem. We’ll record that information like a scientist and work with you to create a new path forward.

Sound good?

IF you are ready to jump into battle with your own Gandalf in your pocket (through the NF Coaching App, not literally)…

Let’s make a plan for you to be the next Nerd Fitness success story:

Learn more about Nerd Fitness Coaching!

For the Rebellion!

-Steve

PS: Seriously, Aksel is awesome. Holy moly.

PPS: Shoutout to Coach Taylor for showing Aksel the way!

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The post Blog first appeared on Nerd Fitness.

Source: https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/behind-the-scenes-of-aksels-unreal-transformation/