We believe in the importance of closing the gender gap in tech. Therefore, we joined a student mentoring program aimed at supporting young females studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) to have a career in the field. Read more to find out why supporting mentoring programs is so crucial and to learn about the participants’ experience firsthand.
The future of tech is female, but only if we make it so
One pillar of our DSI goal for 2022 is to increase the number of females in the company. As a tech company, we face the same challenge as many: finding and hiring talented female engineers and developers.
According to Women in Digital Scoreboard 2021, there has not been significant progress in bringing women to ICT (Information and Communications Technology) in recent years. In 2021, only 19% of ICT specialists and about one-third of STEM graduates were female within the European Union.
Researchers from Microsoft and KRC Research interviewed 6,000 girls and women from ages 10 to 30 in the United States and found that we need to work harder on increasing female interest and employment in STEMand computer science, especially in Technology and Engineering. They also highlight potential reasons why girls lose interest in STEM: peer pressure, lack of role models, and misperception of STEM careers. The results also suggest that girls’ confidence in coding and programming drops as they grow older.
On the bright side, there are a few ways we can improve the situation right now. According to Microsoft’s latest research, these are the most effective interventions to close the gender gap in STEM:
Provide role models: girls and young women need more exposure to STEM jobs, female role models, and career planning.
Generate excitement: girls’ perception of the creativity and positive impact of STEM careers can more than double after learning about real-world STEM jobs.
Provide hands-on experience: girls who participate in STEM activities are 42% more likely to say they understand the career they could pursue in STEM.
Provide encouragement: encouragement from parents and teachers significantly impacts whether or not girls will choose and stay in a STEM field.
Encourage a growth mindset: hard work and exploration, such as asking questions, should be valued in schools over always knowing the right answers.
Providing role models with mentorship
Girls who know a woman working in STEM are substantially more likely to feel empowered to do STEM activities than those who don’t. Microsoft researchers describe this as a snowball effect: the more women are interested and working in STEM, the more they can serve as role models for the younger generation.
We at Runtastic want to contribute to closing the gender gap. That’s why we joined theUpper Austrian HTL Mentoring program, which aims to encourage girls to pursue a career in STEM by providing perspective and support. The mentees receive coaching to build a good CV, learn how to prepare for an interview and what it’s like to work in the STEM field.
The HTL Mentoring program connects girls studying STEM in their final year of high school with female professionals working on real-life challenges in the field. During the three semesters of the program, the mentors and the mentees meet at least five times, and the mentee has the opportunity to do a summer internship at the mentor’s company.
The program is designed to help motivated girls achieve their professional aspirations and encourage them to choose a career path in STEM.
What do participants of the mentoring program say?
We asked Lilli Ölsinger (mentee, Electronics and Technical IT student at HTL Leonding) and Julia Hermann (mentor, Machine Learning Engineer at Runtastic) about their experience with the student mentoring program.
Q: Why did you decide to join the mentoring program?
Lilli (mentee): My drive was my overall ambitious dream to work in a high position one day. Thus, I wanted to learn about more aspects of a career at a tech company.
Julia (mentor): When I heard about the opportunity, I immediately knew I wanted to participate as a mentor. I realized what a big difference it could have made for me to have a mentor at that age. In middle and high school, I was really good at mathematics but was not at all interested in computers or science. No one told me that I could be an Engineer and work for a tech company one day, which is why I ended up studying Finance and Economics first and then shifting to Computer Science and Engineering later. I also have a younger sister whom I supported and encouraged to pursue a career in STEM, so I thought it would be cool to do this again in a different setting.
Q: What was your experience with the summer internship at Runtastic like?
Lilli (mentee): It was definitely different from the internship I had before Runtastic. Everybody I worked or talked with was very friendly and welcoming, always trying to help me out as best as they could whenever I needed it. Besides that, I got a lot of new impressions of the world of app designers, developers, product owners, and so on. One of the things I enjoyed most was socializing with the team: having lunch with my coworkers turned out to be the time to talk about hobbies and learning a lot of new things as well. I don’t know what to say other than “It was amazing.”
“A lot of new impressions of the world of app designers, developers, product owners, and so on.”
Julia (mentor): I felt proud of how much she has learned in only one month: she skilled up in a new programming language and contributed to an API for our Maps Library that can be used in both our Running & Training apps. The internship project was led by Paul Weichhart within the Community Interaction Squad, so a big thanks to him for the technical guidance, support, and warm welcome for Lilli.
Q: In what ways do you think you benefited from mentoring?
Lilli (mentee): Overall, I already noticed an improvement in my stance while talking to people, which results in me not seeming closed up, impatient, or annoyed.
Julia (mentor): The ambitions and curiosity of my mentee inspired me. I learned to be a better listener and to convey my knowledge in simple and understandable terms. I also felt a sense of purpose and gratitude for being able to contribute to closing the gender gap in tech, even if this was just a small step in the right direction.
“I felt a sense of purpose and gratitude for being able to contribute to closing the gender gap in tech.”
Q: What are your plans for the future?
Lilli (mentee): I plan on getting a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Game Development. Furthermore, I’d like to start my own company with a team of good developer friends.
Julia (mentor): I would definitely like to work more for a future where tech is indeed female. In October, I will participate as a mentor in the Women and Girls in STEM Forum, which focuses on Empowering Girls in Science and Technology and is organized by Girls Go Circular.
Q: Why do you think the next generation of girls should join a mentorship program?
Lilli (mentee): In my eyes, every girl will most likely benefit from such a program, learning lots of new things and finding out where they could improve or what to avoid.
Julia (mentor): I think this program would be most useful for girls interested in pursuing a career in Technology but are at the risk of changing majors. In my opinion, it could provide them with hands-on experience, a network of peers, and some motivation to choose to stay in STEM for their higher-level education and, later on, their careers.
Looking for a role at a company where diversity, equity, and inclusion are key priorities? Apply to our Talent Community.
According to Lilli, the mentoring program gives many girls her age the opportunity to improve their professional skills.
This free guide is gonna get you started off on the right foot!
Here are the 4 parts we’ll cover in this ultimate guide:
#3) STRENGTH TRAINING:
#4) RECOVERY, TIPS AND TRICKS, NEXT STEP:
How I Bulked up After Years of Struggling as a Skinny Guy
Growing up, I was always the scrawny, skinny weak kid.
There was a reason I dressed up like superman every other day for the first six years of my life:
Superman was strong, big, and powerful…and I wasn’t.
To this day, it’s still a big challenge for me to gain weight or build muscle.
When people tell me “must be nice to have been skinny growing up,” I explain that a killer flat top, my height (5’2″ until I was 16), four years of braces, and two Acutane treatments made sure I still got the full adolescent experience 🙂
When I was cut from the high school basketball team (which I thought was the end of the world), I signed up for a gym membership to get big and strong.
Within five minutes I had almost killed myself when loading up way too much weight for a set of bench presses.
Fortunately, I survived, and thus began my love affair with strength training.
I spent the next six years training in a gym, reading every muscle and fitness magazine I could find, drinking protein shakes religiously…and had about 3 pounds of muscle gain to show for it.
I just assumed “I’m one of those people who can’t gain weight.”
Although I thought I had known it all (I had been training for 6 years in a gym! I read the muscle mags! I was in good shape already!), I still took the free sessions for the hell of it.
I’m so glad I did!
The trainer drastically simplified my workout and DOUBLED the amount of food I was eating.
I thought he was crazy at first, but I stuck with it.
In 30 days, I had put on 18 pounds (pictured below), increased the strength in ALL of my lifts, and felt more confident than I ever had before in my life.
That’s when the lightbulb when off in my head: there’s a better way.
And thus began a radical redefinition of how I thought the human body worked, how muscle was built, and where I needed to put my priorities.
Since then, I’ve spent seven years learning everything I can about how muscle is built.
A few years back, I took an epic 35,000-mile trip around the world, and despite not having access to a gym for 6 months, I managed to once again pack on even more muscle and get myself in great shape without once picking up a weight (pictured below):
Again, my world was turned upside down.
I learned that gyms are not a requirement to build muscle and get stronger, though a great gym workout can certainly speed up the process.
And after a few more years of up and down challenges, I had finally – jokingly – changed from Steve Rogers to Captain America (there’s a story behind this):
I’m still not the biggest guy in the world, nor will I ever be. I’m okay with that!
I’ve learned that anyone can pack on muscle, even skinny nerds like me.
If you’re skinny and want to get bigger, you’ll be fighting genetics the whole way, but do not let that deter you.
Anything is possible.
Today’s article outlines everything I’ve learned over the past 13 years of mistakes, successes, failures, and adventures.
The Most Important Thing for Putting on Muscle: Eat More Food.
As they say, muscle isn’t made in the gym, but in the kitchen:
If you want to bulk up, you’d be better off working out twice a week for 30 minutes and eating right, than working out 6 days a week and not eating properly.
I learned this the hard way.
I spent four years of college working out five days a week for 90 minutes a day trying to get bigger.
I drank protein shakes like I thought I was supposed to. I got a little stronger, but never bigger.
BECAUSE I DIDN’T EAT ENOUGH CALORIES.
When I get emails from people who lament the fact that they can’t gain weight, I always first ask about the person’s diet.
More often than not, that person thinks they are eating enough, but are definitely not.
Here’s the truth:
If you are not getting bigger, you are not eating enough.
Your body can burn 2000+ calories every day just existing (and then factor in exercise and, gulp, cardio – I’ll get to that in a minute), and you need to overload your system with calories in order for it to have enough fuel for the muscle building process.
Want to know how many calories you burn every day just existing?
Everybody’s results will vary, and thoughts are mixed on how quickly we can build muscle:
Under optimal conditions, some say you can expect to gain 1 pound (.5 kg) of muscle per week,
My results have shown that 2 lbs (1kg) per month is more realistic.
A 2016 studyrevealed that strength training produced a 2.2 lb increase (1kg) increase in lean mass in 8 weeks.
Regardless of how fast you bulk up, it might be helpful for you to gain weight by putting on some fat with your muscle!
Here are things to consider if you overeat WHILE strength training: extra glycogen, some fat, and water stored in your body can be a good thing for your confidence and get you headed down the right path.
So, don’t listen to the sites or programs that say “gain 40 pounds of muscle in two months!”
Unless you’re on the juice (‘roids, not Hawaiian Punch), it’s going to be a slow, long process.
Consume 1-1.5g per pound (2.2-3.3g per kg) of bodyweight in protein every day.
Consume the rest of your calories from foods composed of carbs and fats.
Always eat vegetables so that your body can actually PROCESS all this extra food.
If you are not gaining weight, add more carbs and/or fats to your meal.
It really does come down to the following:
If you are not gaining weight fast enough, you’re not eating enough. Increase your portions of carbs and fats!
Whenever we work with coaching clients who struggle to bulk up, this is the area we target: adding more carbs and fats to each meal.
What are the Best Popular Bulk Up Eating Strategies?
If you read the previous section, you know that we have some pretty specific “best practices” on how to bulk up.
However, there are multiple strategies that can also work, and I’d like to cover each of those here too.
Depending on your budget, your taste in food, and your goals, these strategies will work better for some than others.
#1) The “Healthy” Bulk
I have followed this method to great success multiple times (including right now).
Ultimately, I follow the “real food” principles whenever possible (good sources of quality meat, tons of vegetables, minimal amounts of gluten and processed carbs), but mixing in some specific items that are calorie/carbohydrate dense to reach my calorie goals for the day.
But for me at the time, it worked (and got me interested in diet research).
If you are super skinny and on a tight budget, this might be your only option, and that’s okay!
Foods that are high in calories include:
Peanut butter sandwiches
Meatball subs from Subway
Whatever gets you to your caloric intake goal for the day.
When I put on my 18 lbs, I used to drink 3 CytoGainer shakes a day, because it was the easiest way for me to stay on target.
If you are training properly, a majority of these calories will go towards building muscle instead of putting on a lot of fat.
Steve’s thoughts: I’m not a big fan of this method much, as I’ve come to learn the quality of food is as important (if not more so) than quantity when it comes to your overall health, and we’re aiming for bigger AND healthier.
Drink a gallon of whole milk every day along with your meals.
Sounds crazy, yup, but it works.
A gallon of whole milk is full of enough sugar, carbs, fats, and protein that when all said and done, results in 2400 calories consumed in liquid form.
Mix in vegetables and meat for healthy meals and you got yourself a simple to follow diet.
I’ve attempted this diet back in my younger days, and although my stomach hated me, I certainly had success with it, mostly because it was simple to follow and easy to understand.
Yes, it’s possible to bulk while following either of these diets:
If you are eating Paleo, you’ll want to eat LOTS of carbs and fats from calorie dense foods like fruit, sweet potatoes, and nuts.
If you are going Keto, you’ll want to eat LOTS of fat from cheeses, nuts, oils, and so on.
If you have the budget and want to try it, go for it. You’ll be eating truckloads of nuts, avocados, and meat.
“WHICH STRATEGY IS BEST FOR ME?”
In our opinion, we’ve had the most success with Coaching Clients who adapt a “healthy bulk” strategy, #1 above.
It’s a focus on real food, sustainable increase in calorie intake, and can be adjusted easily by adding or reducing total portions of carbs and fats.
But hey, you do you, boo.
What Supplements Should I take to Bulk up? How to eat more calories.
If you are struggling to consume enough whole foods every day, then here are some tips to help you reach your caloric goals to bulk up:
“WHAT SUPPLEMENTS SHOULD I TAKE TO BULK UP FAST?”
Most supplements are garbage
Plus, you should ALWAYS prioritize consuming real food over shakes and powders.
HOWEVER, if you are interested in bulking quickly, there are two I would recommend:
Protein Powder. A great solution for getting extra protein and calories in your diet and building muscle. As we point out in our article on protein and protein shakes, mix and match your own ingredients and see how many calories you can get into a smoothie without breaking your blender.
Creatine supplement. It helps your muscles retain more water , and has been shown to increase the hormone IGF-1, which is needed for muscle growth. It’s one of the only two supplements (along with protein) that I take regularly.
Outside of these two supplements, you really don’t need to prioritize supplementation, despite what the muscle magazines tell you! Hell, many of these muscle mags are OWNED BY SUPPLEMENT COMPANIES.
I’ll leave you with two more big suggestions on how to bulk up in this section:
#1) Liquid calories are your friend. Liquid calories can give us lots of calories without ‘filling us up,’ which is an easier way to consume enough calories every day without feeling overly full.
I personally get a huge chunk of my calories every day from making my own ‘Powerbomb Shake – from our Protein Guide
I put all of this into a Vitamix Blender – yep, it was expensive, but worth the investment. This blender has been used twice a day for 8 years without a single issue.
If you need even more calories consider adding whole milk, coconut milk, or almond milk instead of water.
You can also add a shot of olive oil to add calories/fats to a shake in the quest for MOAR MUSCLE!
#2) Train your Body to Eat More: If you are cooking rice, each week try adding in an extra quarter cup when you cook it.
And yeah, you have to FORCE your stomach to accept more food, even when you’re not hungry.
This is not enjoyable, as you often feel like you’re going to explode.
However, just like it’s necessary to force your muscles outside of your comfort zone to get bigger, you need to force your stomach outside of its comfort zone until it adapts to accepting more calories.
So, start by adding a little bit more food each day and soon enough your stomach will expand.
How to Grow Bigger Muscles: Get Stronger
When you strength train, your muscles are broken down and then get rebuilt stronger to adapt to the stress you have applied to it.
So every time you pick up a slightly heavier weight, you are increasing the challenge and forcing your muscles to adapt and get more resilient.
Now, don’t worry too much about which path is best.
Nutrition plays the most important role in bulking up, and any strength training plan will help you get bigger.
There are 3 studies I want to point out:
A recent study showed that a higher intensity workout (heavier weight for low reps) created more muscle mass than a higher volume (lower weight for more reps).
Getting more volume (more sets of exercises) per week resulted in more mass compared to less volume (fewer sets of exercises), in this study.
Studies show that weight training creates superior “bulk up” results compared to bodyweight training, but that doesn’t mean bodyweight training isn’t beneficial. Studies show that bodyweight training exercises can build muscle, but require a LARGE number of sets per rep, and pushing oneself to absolute failure.
What this means: Don’t overthunk it.
Pick up heavy stuff for 3-4 sets of 5 reps. Pick up a weight that is heavy enough that you can only complete your specified number of reps.
Challenge yourself on bodyweight exercises, either by making them more difficult, adding weight, or doing high reps to failure.
And then do more next time.
What’s important is that you pick a plan and follow through with it while focusing on eating enough.
After a few months, you can reevaluate and then adjust based on how your body has changed.
On any of these days, feel free mix in bicep curls or tricep extensions or calf-raises at the END of your workouts.
Focus on the big lifts first and get stronger with them.
It’s important to get form right and get your body used to the movement for when you start to lift heavy weight.
How long should you wait between sets? Again, don’t overthink it. Waiting 2-3 minutes allows you lift heavier weight, and thus makes you stronger.
Waiting 60-90 seconds puts more of an emphasis on muscular size and endurance (as you’re resting for a shorter period)…but don’t overthink it. Do the next set when you’re ready.
A piece of advice from 8-time Mr. Olympia, Lee Haney: “stimulate, don’t annihilate.”
Don’t destroy yourself for the sake of destroying yourself; stopping one or two reps short of maximum effort can save you from overtraining and potential injury – remember that muscles are built in the kitchen!
If you’re already overwhelmed and just want somebody to tell you what to do, you’re not alone.
I’ve had a coach since 2014 and it’s the best investment I make in myself every month.
Can Bodyweight Training Help Me Bulk Up?
Yes, you can get bigger and stronger doing exclusively bodyweight exercises.
Take a look at any Olympic gymnast: he is jacked, with giant muscles, all built with bodyweight exercises:
HOWEVER, it requires a very specific type of training regiment to see those results.
Studies show that weight training creates superior “bulk up” results compared to bodyweight training, but that doesn’t mean bodyweight training isn’t beneficial.
Studies show that bodyweight training exercises can build muscle, but require a LARGE number of sets per rep. In other words, you’ll need to push yourself to absolute failure.
So, here’s where the challenges arise:
Like with weight training above, you need to increase the difficulty in order for your muscles to adapt.
Because it’s often more challenging to add a few pounds to a bodyweight exercise to make it tougher – compared to putting a weight on a bar, you need to increase the difficulty of the bodyweight movement itself.
If you are trying to build size, you can also do sets where your rep ranges are in the 25-35 reps per set, and you are pushing your muscles to failure (woof):
If you can do 4 sets of 15 push-ups, consider making them harder to progress. Do 4 sets of 15 push-ups with your feet on a bench.
Body weight squats too easy? Work your way up to pistol squats (one legged squats). 4 sets of 12 pull-ups not a challenge anymore? Great. Make them tougher. Go for a wider grip, an uneven grip, or weighted pull-ups.
I highly recommend beginners start to take a serious look at strength training with free weights; it’s much easier to record one’s progress, easy to add more difficulty (just add more weight!), and very structured.
In fact, I personally believe the best routine mixes both weights and bodyweight training. I have been working with my online coach for 4 years, and I’ve packed on size by following abarbell + bodyweight training routine.
Weight training for my lower body, advanced bodyweight movements for my upper body.
What it really comes down to is this:no matter what you have access to (a gym, barbell, dumbbells, or just a pull-up bar) you can find a way to build strength and muscle if you follow a plan and eat enough calories.
If you’re trying to bulk with just bodyweight, it might be worth enlisting the help of a coach to help you scale your bodyweight exercises correctly and in the proper sequence!
I am Skinny Fat: Should I gain or lose weight first?
If you are skinny fat (you have skinny arms and legs but have a gut), there are three paths available to you:
Get yourself down to roughly 12% body fat (~20% for women), and then start to increase the size.
By slimming down first, while building muscle, you don’t have to worry about buying BIGGER clothes first, only to then need smaller clothes once you start cutting the fat.
Then, once you decide to eat more and get bigger, if you notice your body fat percentage start to creep up, you can simply adjust until your body fat gets back in the acceptable range. Then keep building!
To recap, here’s what to do if you are skinny-fat:
Either plan will get you there. It’s 90% diet anyways.
What’s important is that you pick a plan, you progress, you keep track of your results, and you consistently progressively increase the load that you are moving (be it your body’s weight or an actual weight).
QUESTION #5: “I want to get bigger and faster and have more endurance and flexibility ALL at the same time, can I do that?”
I hate to say it, but building endurance and getting bigger simultaneously is brutally difficult.
As I point out in “How to build any physique,” compare a marathon runner’s body with that of a sprinter or gymnast. Put the running on hold for a while, and focus on getting bigger: you’ll get there faster.
When you decide to mix running back in, keep your calorie consumption high and don’t forget to keep strength training!
You can still go for walks, and still get a good cardio workout by lifting quickly with minimal breaks between sets.
QUESTION #6: “Do I need to eat every three hours?”
Nope, you don’t have to:
The TOTAL number of calories you consume over the course of a day is more important than the timing of the meals.
The same is true with protein intake: studies show it doesn’t matter WHEN you eat your protein. HOW MUCH you consume in a day is more important.
Since powerlifting really taxes the central nervous system, you may be waiting 3-5 minutes between sets when training in this fashion.
TO RECAP, these are the rep ranges you should be considering:
Reps in the 1-5 range build super dense muscle and strength.
Reps in the 6-12 range build equal amounts of muscular power, strength, and size.
Reps in the 12+ range primarily build muscular endurance and size and also cardiovascular health.
I realize this is a lot to figure out, so if you are somebody – like me – who just wants to be told what to do and outsource all the worry of “am I doing the right workout for my goals?” I got you covered!
I’d love to learn your story, and then build a custom program that fits your goals. We’ll help you with your nutrition, your workouts, and even check in regularly to keep you accountable!
How Many Sets Should I Do?
As explained above, a “set” describes a group of repetitions performed for an exercise without stopping.
For example, if you do 10 squats right now, you just did 1 SET of 10 reps of squats.
So let’s talk about the “correct” number of sets per exercise.
The simple answer: “Do 3-5 work sets of a given exercise.”
Just make sure you’re not compromising your form.
At least he’s trying!
The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) will break this down, suggesting the following set ranges:
2-3 will help build muscular endurance (12 to 20+ reps)
3-6 build muscular hypertrophy (6 to 12 reps)
3-5 build muscular power (3 to 5 reps)
2-6 build muscular strength (less than 6 reps)
“STEVE, JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DO.”
FINE! Pick a weight that feels light to you, and then do 3 sets of 10 reps.
If that’s something you’re battling, here’s a way to continue making progress:
Spend a week in a different rep range with different amounts of weight.
This will introduce a little chaos into the system, which could be a good thing…unless you’re Batman.
What we’re talking about is muscle confusion theory, which is a preplanned period of variation. Not, you know, wandering into the gym with no plan and just doing something different every time (whatever you feel like doing at that moment).
That won’t help.
But spend a week deliberating mixing it up. Then go back to your regularly scheduled routine and you’ll be right back on track.
Make sure you know what you want, and then design a plan to get there.
PS: If you want a nice shiny app to tell you EXACTLY how many seps and reps to do, our shiny new app will do just that!
You can sign-up for a free 7-day trial to Nerd Fitness Journey, which will build a workout around your experience level!
A large meal before bed, too much on your mind, or a crying baby that keeps you awake all night: sometimes it is simply impossible to get enough sleep. In the morning, we feel wiped out and sleep-deprived, and the thought of a day full of work, meetings, and errands may make us break into a cold sweat.
But before you break into that cold sweat, let’s learn about what sleep deprivation is and how you can still get through the day when you haven’t gotten enough sleep.
What Is Sleep Deprivation?
Sleep deprivation occurs when your body doesn’t get enough sleep, specifically speaking in time and quality. For adults, it is recommended to get anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep every night to avoid feeling tired the next day.(1,2)
How long you go without getting proper sleep can lead to other forms of sleep deprivation, such as acute sleep deprivation or chronic sleep deprivation.
Acute sleep deprivation refers to a reduction of sleep for a short period of time, usually just a few days. But if you are constantly not making or having time to sleep seven to nine hours every night, this can lead to chronic sleep deprivation.
Chronic sleep deprivation, also known as long-term sleep deprivation, is when a person does not get enough sleep for three months or longer.
How Do You Know if You’re Sleep-Deprived?
Besides counting the number of hours of sleep you get every night, there are other ways your body will let you know it’s not getting enough sleep. The most common symptoms of sleep deprivation are drowsiness, inability to concentrate, and mood changes.
But the less sleep you get, the more symptoms you may encounter. Other common lack of sleep symptoms you may experience are:
Lack of energy
Poor decision making
Worsened reaction times
You should always listen to your body and acknowledge your symptoms, and if you suffer from a constant lack of sleep, it may be time to consult a healthcare professional.
But if you just had one sleepless night and need to get through the day, here are six tips (besides the classic uppers like coffee) to boost your energy when you lack sleep.
What to Do When You Didn’t Get Enough Sleep
1. Keep your body hydrated
If you feel exhausted in the morning, it’s time to hydrate! When our body is dehydrated, we feel even more tired. Always drink a large glass of lukewarm water with a squeeze of lemon juice in the morning. You’ll see how it really boosts your energy.
Do you know how much water you should drink every day? Enter your data now and find out about your liquid requirement:
2. Take a cold shower
Another recommendation to start the day right is totake a cold or contrast shower (alternating between hot and cold water) to stimulate your circulation. Increased circulation requires higher oxygenation levels in the body, which help wake up your brain.
If you don’t have access to a shower, you can also splash some cold water on your face or put a cool, wet cloth on your neck for a similar effect.
After your shower (or throughout the day), rub some peppermint essential oil on your palms, make your hands into a little “tent” and take a few deep breaths. You can massage the rest of the peppermint oil into your neck or wrists for a guaranteed energy boost!
3. Movement and light help wake you up
Even if you feel completely exhausted after a short night’s sleep, it’s important that youmove enough:
Ride your bike to work
Get off the bus or subway one stop earlier and walk the rest
Park your car farther away from your workplace.
Movement will help wake you up.
Being exposed to enough sunlight can also help: light helps block the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. While indoors, you can make sure that your workspace is well-lit with a good desk lamp or open the blinds to let the sunlight in.(3)
4. Eat the right foods
Naturally, it’s tempting to drink tons of coffee when you haven’t had enough sleep;just be careful not to have too much. After all, caffeine has a “crash” effect once the energy boost has worn off, and too much of it can also make you restless and edgy.
On days when you don’t get enough sleep, grab a refreshing piece of fruit, drink plenty of water, or opt for foods rich in protein. Foods like almonds or cashews, yogurt, chicken, or fish are just a few of the things that can give your body some of that much needed energy.
It’s important to avoid large meals that force your body to use a lot of energy for digestion. Fast food like burgers and fries or meals high in carbs should be a no-go for you on days like this.
Did you know…
…that chewing gum helps relieve sleepiness? This was the conclusion of a US study on the effect of chewing gum on alertness.(4)
5. Recharge with a power nap
Perhaps you couldtake a power nap during your lunch break. Studies have shown that ashort nap during the day helps to recharge your batteries. Make sure you don’t rest longer than 20 minutes; otherwise, you will be even more tired than before.(5)
6. Add variety to your day
When you haven’t had enough sleep, you may not be able to concentrate or feel very productive the next day. So if you can, do things that are easy to manage and don’t require too much thought.
If you still have important tasks to handle that require your attention, it’s a good idea to try and break one big task into smaller, more manageable tasks. Concentrating for a shorter amount of time is easier and could still help you finish the tasks you need to get done.
In A Nutshell: Try to Get Enough Sleep
Although missing a few hours of sleep now and then can be normal, don’t forget to check in with yourself and listen to your body if you experience lack of sleep symptoms. With our six natural ways to stay awake, you can find short-term relief to make you feel more energized, but the best way to treat sleep deprivation is by getting enough sleep every night.
Here are some resources to help you with weight loss:
#2) MAKE YOUR “PULL” EXERCISES A PRIORITY. A lot of people do every other exercise before doing any back-related exercises, if they do any at all.
After warming up properly, your first exercise should always be the stuff that you want to work on the most – in this case, it’ll be your back muscles.
Until you get your first pull-up done, focus on the back exercises detailed in the levels and workouts in this guide.
#3) The progression we outline is a path that works for most people, but does NOT need to be followed to a T.
We give sample sets and reps and when to move up, but if you feel like you can progress sooner or want to try doing full pull-ups sooner than we recommend, that’s OKAY.
This is the slower progression method, where some people will want to do fewer reps and progress to the next levels sooner – that’s okay.
We recommend moving up to the next level when you can do 3 sets of 8 reps of a particular exercise. If you want the accelerated path, move on up as faster as you can do 3 sets of 5 reps. You do you boo.
Want someone to build you a custom-made progression plan for doing your first pull-up? Our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program will do just that, plus your coach can review your movements through our app so you’ll know your training correctly and safely.
Level 1 Pull-up Workout: Bent Over Dumbbell Rows
We’re going to start with bent-over dumbbell rows, the most basic of back exercises, in case you’re starting from ABSOLUTELY square one.
Level 1 Pull-up Workout:
Bent-over dumbbell rows: 8 reps for each arm (or as many as you can do)
4) Move up to Level 3 and progress with caution there.
If you are struggling with rows, you’re not sure you’re doing them correctly, or you’re not sure how to progress to the next level, check out our 1-on-1 coaching program.
It’s the type of program that helped single mom Leslie lose 100+ pounds and start training with gymnastic rings and handstands!
Level 3 Pull-Up Workout: Assisted Pull-Ups
Okay! It’s time to get to ACTUAL pull-ups here! Personally, I don’t like using the assisted pull-up machine in a gym as it doesn’t give you the full feeling of a pull-up, but it’s certainly better than nothing.
Instead, I recommend doing one of these alternatives:
#1) Assisted Pull-ups with a chair
Either one foot or two on the chair, depending on your needs. Your feet are ONLY there for support, use your upper body as much as possible.
You can also use a box or similar-sized object for the same result:
#2)Assisted Pull-ups with exercise band:
You can get different types of exercise bands with different levels of strength, or a variety pack for easy progression.
Put your foot in the exercise band and pull yourself up.
#3) Assisted pull-ups with a partner:
Have a friend hold your feet behind you and help you complete each rep. Have them use the least amount of help possible to get you through your workouts.
Here’s how to do an assisted pull-up:
Clench your butt and keep your abs tight throughout the exercise – try not to swing like crazy.
Keep your shoulder blades pinched behind you throughout the movement and focus on PULLING the bar down with your arms.
Use the least amount of assistance that you can handle – as soon as you can do multiple pull-ups with both feet on the chair, switch to just one foot.
If you’re using an exercise band, try to get a few bands of varying tension so you can decrease the resistance as you get stronger.
As soon as you can do 3 sets of 8 with assistance, it’s time to move on to Level 4.
For another reference, Coach Jim and Staci show you how to do a variation of assisted chin-up right here:
This is probably the TOUGHEST level before getting your pull-ups. If you get stuck on “assisted pull-ups” and “assisted chin-ups”, you’re not alone. This is where most people get stuck.
We work hand-in-hand with people like you to get them their first pull-up in our Online Coaching Program. If you don’t know how to fit these movements into your workouts, or you just want somebody to give you the exact workout to follow every day, we got you!
Finally, a workout that includes Level 3 pull-up exercises
Alright, so we’ve started off great! We’re working those pulling muscles and assisted variations – but an actual chin-up might feel miles (or kilometers) away. Heck, just even holding onto the bar may be a challenge without some assistance.
What should we do now?
How about we work on holding onto the bar!?!
Before we work on doing full range, unassisted chin-ups or pull-ups, it’s really helpful to be strong and confident in holding unassisted parts of the movement. This is where Top Holds and Bar Hangs come in! #1) A Top Hold is exactly what it sounds like – we hold the top position of the chin-up or pull-up for several seconds (5 to 10). You’ll likely find holding the top of the chin-up (palms facing you) easier than the pull-up.
This is definitely something that you want to first do assisted. We’ll then work to transfer more weight – bit by bit over several workouts – off our feet and onto our arms until we’re holding ourselves unassisted at the top.
Using a band is a good option for assisted chin-ups, but using a box, bench, or another sturdy object will be a better option here.
It will allow you to shift that weight onto your arms a little easier.
That said, if all you have is a band for this exercise then that’s ok! Look to use thinner and thinner bands, while lifting the feet and knees up a bit to further reduce assistance (as the band won’t be stretched as far).
#2) On the other side of the movement, we have the Bar Hang…which is pretty much what it sounds like too!
To perform a bar hang:
Grab the bar with palms facing towards you or away from you. You’ll likely find hanging with palms facing away from you to be a bit more comfortable. Either direction will help strengthen up your grip.
Just like with the top hold, you’ll want to start assisted then work to shift your weight from your feet onto your arms until you’re hanging unassisted.
To further supercharge this exercise: once you are hanging unassisted, work on retracting your shoulders down away from your ears.
This small movement is TOUGH (and you can even practice it assisted) but getting strong here will set your shoulders in an even better position for your first chin-up/pull-up.
We’ll look to hang from the bar (assisted or unassisted) for a total time of 30 seconds to 1 minute. At first this time may be broken up into several sets (e.g., 10 seconds, 10 seconds, 10 seconds), but you should eventually work up to one full set.
So how should we integrate either of these into our training?
#1) For the Top Holds, do this at the start of your workout (after your warm-up) for 3 sets of 5 seconds. Make sure you give it your all! Really squeeze the muscles tight and put as much weight on the arms as possible!
With all that effort, you’ll want to give yourself 30 seconds to a minute rest in-between. I know that sounds like a lot for just 5 seconds of work – but if you were working hard enough, you’ll need it!
#2) For the Bar Hang, do this at the end of your workout for 30 seconds to a minute. Again, look to complete this in as few sets as possible, while making the exercise as challenging as possible. Move from assisted to unassisted, with the shoulders retracted downwards.
If you have to take a break during the bar hang time, then take enough rest so that the next hold is productive.
Here Are the Exercises You Can Include for Your Level 4 Workout Routine:
Top Hold (Assisted or Unassisted) – 4 sets of 5 seconds
Assisted Pull-ups – 3 sets of 8 repetitions
Bar Hang (Assisted or Unassisted) – 30 seconds total time
Top hold (Assisted or Unassisted) – 4 sets of 5-10 seconds
Bodyweight Rows – 3 sets of 8 reps
Bar Hang (Assisted or Unassisted) – 30 to 60 seconds total time
Top Hold (Assisted or Unassisted) – 4 sets of 5 seconds
Assisted Chin-ups – 3 sets of 8 reps
Bar Hang (Assisted or Unassisted) – 30 seconds total time
When you’re able to perform the Top Holds and Bar Hangs unassisted, then it’s time to move to the next level!!!
LEVEL 4.5 PULL-UP WORKOUT: (THE HIDDEN LEVEL)
What’s this??? Secret hidden exercises?
I just wanted to bring your attention to a great addition to any of these workouts – especially as things really ramp up.
Ready for it?
It’s . . . the front plank!
The front plank (or any of your favorite midsection stabilization exercises) is a great exercise to do, should holding a Top Hold or a Bar Hang prove tough.
If you haven’t already felt it during the previous pull-up workouts – your middle needs to be involved too!
During a pull-up or chin-up, if we squeeze through the midsection and glutes, the nearby muscles are able to contract stronger through a phenomenon known as muscle irradiation.
Besides sounding like something the Fantastic Four encountered in space, this cool “trick” can help engaged nearby muscles in the midsection, including those big back muscles that pull us up!
You can see muscle irradiation for yourself if you’ve ever been asked to flex your biceps for someone. You’ll instinctually squeeze your hand tight, because it helps the biceps engage stronger!
If needed, throw in some front planks work near the end of your workout.
You can even start on your knees:
Look to hold 30 seconds to one minute of total time.
Alright, back to our regular scheduled programming!
Level 5 Pull-Up Workout: Negative Pull-Ups
Okay! We are now DANGEROUSLY close to getting our first pull-up!
The big step at this level is doing a negative pull-up:
Grab onto the bar with an overhand grip
Jump so your chest is touching
Slowly lower yourself under control until you’re at the bottom of the movement.
WARNING: This can be very dangerous if you’re very overweight, which is why I’d recommend moving slowly through steps 1-3 first.
However, once you have a decent amount of back strength (which you got from Levels 1, 2, and 3), doing negatives is a great way to build arm and back strength.
You have two options for negative pull-ups:
Hop up on a chair to get above the bar and then lower yourself back down. The name of the game is “in control.”
Jump above the pull-up bar, and then begin to lower yourself back down IN CONTROL.
You don’t need to lower yourself so slowly that one repetition destroys you…lower yourself at a controlled speed – Counting to “three Mississippi” during the movement is a good tempo.
Here are the exercises you can include for your Level 5 Workout Routine:
Alternatively, we can do all of the heavy lifting for you (well, not ALL the heavy lifting) – we’ll create a specific workout so all you have to do is log into your NF Coaching App each morning and do the workout your coach prescribed!
Level 6 – Doing Your First Pull-up or Chin-up
OH BOY! My dear Rebel, it’s time for a…
At this point you have two options:
A chin-up is when you grab the bar with an underhand grip with your palms facing towards you.
Many find chin-ups slightly easier than…
A pull-up is when you grab the bar with your palms facing away from you. Seeing as this is a pull-up guide…
HOW TO DO A PULL-UP, STEP-BY-STEP:
Grab the bar with a grip slightly wider than shoulder-width, with your hands facing away from you.
Start from a dead hang.
Engage your shoulders, pull them down and back towards each other (like you are pinching a pencil between your shoulder blades!)
Flex your stomach, pull your body until your chest touches the bar.
Slight pause, yell out “I’m a champion!”
Lower yourself all the way back down to a dead hang.
Depending on your weight, your level of fitness and strength, and how far along you are in these progressions, you might be able to start with even more than one pull-up.
At this point, you can be a full Gym Class Hero by following a Gym Workout with these movements in there for your “pull” exercises:
Level 6 routine weekly schedule:
Pull-ups – 4 sets of 1-2 reps (move onto the next exercise if you can’t perform a rep)
Assisted Pull-ups – 3 sets of 8 reps
Bar Hang (Unassisted) – 60 seconds total time
Negative Chin-ups – 4 sets of 1 rep
Bodyweight Rows – 3 sets of 8 reps
Bar Hang (Unassisted) – 60 seconds total time
Chin-ups – 4 sets of 1-2 reps (move onto the next exercise if you can’t perform a rep)
Assisted Chin-ups – 3 sets of 8 reps
Bar Hang (Unassisted) – 60 seconds total time
Congratulations! You’re now doing pull-ups. Make sure you watch that video above to make sure you’re doing pull-ups with proper form. Nearly everybody does them incorrectly, with bad form.
Want to make sure you have proper form with your pull-ups? Check out our 1-on-1 Coaching program! Our spiffy mobile app lets you send video of your pull-ups 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 will have you doing sets of 10 pull-ups in NO time!
Level 7 – Advanced Pull-up Moves
Once you’re able to do 3 sets of 10 pull-ups or chin-ups, you have a few options:
OPTION #A: Continue to get better at doing more reps – 3 sets of 12, 3 sets of 15, 4 sets of 20, etc.
OPTION #B: Start doing other types of pull-ups.
Here are some advanced pull-ups you can try:
#1) WIDE GRIP PULL-UPS (grab the bar WAY out with both hands):
OPTION #C) Add weight with a weight belt and do weighted pull-ups or weighted chin-ups:
Personally, my favorite thing to do in a gym is weighted pull-ups; if you’re at this level and interested in doing so, here’s what you need to do:
Get a weight belt. I bought this one on Amazon and it’s worked out incredibly well for me. I’ve tried doing the whole “put weights in a backpack” and it certainly works, but the angle of the weights hanging off your back is weird. With a weight belt, the weight hangs down between your legs (not a euphemism) so it feels more natural.
Add small amounts at a time. Most gyms will have 2.5 lb (roughly 1kg) weights; you might feel stupid putting on a big weight belt and only hanging a tiny weight off it, but you need to start somewhere.
Consistently add more weight. I’ll warm up with two sets of 5 pull-ups with no extra weight, and then do 3 sets of 5 weighted pull-ups. If I can complete all 3 sets of 5 reps (with my chin over the bar for every rep), I’ll make a note to add 2.5 or 5lbs (1 or 2kg) to my weight belt for the next time.
Friday – Wide Grip Pull-ups – 3 sets of maximum repetition
(The following week, I’d alternate by doing the chin-ups without weight, and then doing weighted pull-ups
Where do you go from here? How about working towards one of the most impressive exercises of all time? The MUSCLE UP (warning: uber advanced)!
Our new app, Nerd Fitness Journey, not only has an adventure to get you your first pull-up, but we’ll also show you exactly how to do cool bodyweight tricks like the muscle-up too. No guesswork needed here, just jump into the app and follow the missions and workouts for the day.
You can try your free trial TODAY, right here:
Lift Yourself Up (A Life With Pull-Ups)
No matter your starting point, you CAN do pull-ups.
And you WILL do pull-ups with this guide.
You don’t need to follow the progression above exactly – it’s merely one path that you can take in order to reach the promised land…where the pull-ups flow like wine and the women instinctively flock like the Salmon of Capistrano.