How to Get In Shape Fast (in 4 Steps)

How to Get In Shape Fast (in 4 Steps)


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.



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 the 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.

Here are some resources to level up your nutrition:

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.

Here are some examples of nutrition adjustments you can make to get in shape:

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.”

Perf. 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 get 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, after resistance trainng, 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 8 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.



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.



#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

###

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



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Workout Routine for a 12-Hour or Night Shift

Workout Routine for a 12-Hour or Night Shift


How does this owl stay in shape while working nights?

If you work a 12-hour or night shift, this guide is going to be a game-changer.

Working weird hours provides a challenge for those looking to get in shape, so I’ll provide a step-by-plan to help you reach your fitness goals.

Because I’m nice like that. And I like you.

This is 100% doable.

After all, Batman is super ripped and he works nights too.

Today we’ll cover:

Weird hours be damned, I’m gonna help you build up momentum.

These are the exact strategies we work with our night-shift clients in our 1-on-1 Coaching Program! Although each situation is unique, we have certain principles that are universal and can help you start living healthier even when your work life is crazy.

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



How to Lose Weight Working a 12-Hour or Night Shift?

Two LEGOs with torch

Now, whether you work weird hours or normal hours, diet is still responsible for 80-90% of your success or failure when it comes to getting in shape.

80-90 PERCENT.

This is both a blessing and a curse. It means you don’t need to freak out if you miss a workout after a long night shift, but it also means you gotta take care of yourself while you are working.

Simply put, if you’re not losing weight, it’s because you’re eating too many calories. So if you’re trying to lose weight while working a night shift or working 12-hour shifts, you need to find ways to eat fewer calories without driving yourself crazy.

I’m a fan of any diet that gets you to accomplish this goal, but you know yourself better than others. So any “diet” may help you, as long as you have access to food for that particular way of eating. 

This isn’t a problem, as we have a plan for that!

This just means you need to become the master of meal preparation.

“But Steve I don’t have time to prepare food!” you say.

Yeah, I heard you.

What you’re REALLY saying is, “But Steve, preparing food ahead of time isn’t a priority for me.”

If you are working overnight shifts, you’re gonna need to bring in your own food. Want to know how easy it is?

Here are 3 easy steps to feed yourself on a graveyard shift:

  1. Purchase a bunch of chicken breast on Sunday Night (or whatever night you actually have off). Cook them on a tray in the oven, ALL of them. Put them in separate containers or bags in your fridge.
  2. Purchase a bunch of $1 steam fresh bags of frozen veggies. Stick them in the fridge at your workplace.
  3. Need more calories/carbs in your diet? Buy some sweet potatoes. Microwave one and put it on your plate.

This is my personal strategy for meal prep.

You can watch me make this recipe of Super Simple Chicken for Lazy People right here:

In about 3 minutes and minimal effort, you know have a well-balanced meal.

“But that’s boring!” Sheesh, I have to do EVERYTHING, huh? Welp, get creative, sucka!

  1. Chop up the chicken and put it in a big salad with whatever you prefer (and keep it in your fridge).
  2. Make stir fry, put some in containers in your fridge, and then heat it up on your break.
  3. Google “chicken paleo marinade” and mix up how you prepare chicken. Or steak. Or pork. Or salmon.

YES, this does require effort. YES, this does require preparation. YES, it does work. YES, you will find your rhythm with it.

Again, it comes down to two things: priorities and excuses:

Do you REALLY not have time? Or are you using “I don’t have time” as an excuse to feel sorry for yourself?

Is your job REALLY stopping you from getting in shape? Or is it a convenient excuse to use when you go to Taco Bell or the vending machine?

Remember: nobody believes your excuses except for you. It may seem harsh, but overcoming the “this won’t work for me” mindset will be the first battle we need to win.

You can do this. Just don’t let “perfect’ be the enemy of the “good.”

How to not gain weight while working 12-hour and night shifts: Avoid these things!

The sugar in RedBull may not be doing you any favors for staying in shape.

Let’s talk about things to eat and avoid while on shift work: the good, the bad, the ugly.

Whether you’re at a desk or up stocking shelves or making your rounds, you probably deal with one of four points:

  1. Exhaustion: Let’s be honest, when you work a night shift or early shift, you never get as much sleep as if you were sleeping during the night with normal hours.
  2. Lack of “time.” If you’re working long days/nights and trying to raise a family/have a social life, food preparation probably doesn’t figure into your schedule. You need convenience, even if you have to pay a bit more for it.
  3. Hunger: If you forgot to pack your “meal” or “meals,” your only option is to eat what you can find, which is unlikely to be nutritious at that time of day.
  4. Boredom: If you are making rounds or stuck at a desk during the middle of the night, there may be more periods of downtime than if you were working during the day.

A bored security guard

So you’re tired, hungry, bored, and struggle with time management.

Where do you turn? Caffeine!

Now, I have no problem with Caffeine. I wake up every morning and drink a few cups of green tea while sitting at my desk to write. We’ve even covered caffeine extensively on this site already. The short version? Don’t get caught in bad liquid calorie trap:

  • Empty liquid calories are the devil. If you are drinking soda, energy drinks, or lattes for the caffeine, understand that you are also probably consuming hundreds of calories and 50+ grams of sugar. And these extra calories are contributing to your waistline. So read the labels or do the research before you drink six Monster drinks, a case of coke, or a Coffee Coolata. 
  • If you’re going to get caffeine, get it from a healthy source: Black coffee, green tea, and a no-calorie or low-calorie energy drink (Monster Zero Carb, for example). Try to wean yourself off the gallons of caffeine and work your way over to black coffee/green tea as time goes on (they have some helpful nutrients). Hopefully, once you start exercising, you’ll have more energy and need less caffeine to survive your shifts.

Avoid the drinks that don’t give you any nutritional value and are full of sugar and calories. See if you can get your caffeine from better sources. Speaking of better sources of calories…

What Liquid Calories Will Help Your 12 Hour or Night Shift

A smoothie can be a quick meal for your night shift.

Low on time? Need a meal? Make yourself a smoothie!  

Depending on what you put into it or where it comes from, a smoothie can be an incredibly healthy option for meals during the night or as you’re running out the door to your shift.

A few tips on making smoothies: Buy yourself a cheap blender (or, a ridiculously nice one). Have one at home, or in the break room at work.

Give this recipe a shot for a smoothie that will get you through your shift:

  1. Frozen fruit (I usually go with the strawberries or berry medley from Trader Joe’s).  
  2. A cup of unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened coconut milk, or cold water.
  3. A scoop of protein (I use Optimum Nutrition Vanilla, but I hear the Chocolate is delicious).
  4. A few ice cubes if you want to ‘thicken it up’ a bit
  5. (Optional) Organic frozen spinach. Doesn’t change the taste, but gets you a serving of veggies.

I drink a smoothie similar to the one above for a meal almost on a daily basis (though I add in extra carbs and calories because I’m attempting to pack on extra weight). It looks like so:

The Powerbomb Protein Shake Recipe

Can’t bring a blender to work? Stick a scoop of protein in a shaker bottle, and BAM – there’s 25 g of protein prepared in 60 seconds. Add a bag of mixed veggies from the microwave and you’ve got yourself a really weird meal that is pretty damn easy to prepare and pretty damn good for you.

A word of caution: Smoothies from Smoothie King don’t count, as they have more sugar than two cans of Coke and HUNDREDS of calories. Naked Juices are also full of sugar, as we point out here:

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

They might look healthy, but they’re not. LOOK AT THE LABEL AND PAY ATTENTION TO THE CALORIE SUGAR CONTENT!  

Foods to Avoid on a 12-Hour or Night Shift

Choose your food carefully on your 12 hour or night shift.

Now, along with empty liquid calories, let’s talk about empty food calories.

When you are at your desk, are you eating snacks while answering the phone or while on your rounds through the hospital?  

Personally, I’m a big fan of No Snacking, as I find I tend to eat more calories than I need during the day, simply because I’m not paying attention (check out the research in that snacking article for more).

Bring some healthy snacks with you if you’re going to be snacking. My personal favorite would be apple slices with almond butter, but don’t forget almond butter can be very high in calories and easily over-consumed too

If you struggle with overeating, look at your snacking at your night job. Are you eating because you are bored? Are you eating because you’re not paying attention? Are you eating because you’ve trained your body to expect food every 5 seconds?

If it’s any of these things, try the “No eating AND _________” strategy:

  • No eating and surfing the internet.
  • No eating and watching TV shows.
  • No eating AND _____.

If you’re going to eat, that’s the only thing you’re going to do. This can help you not accidentally, absentmindedly over calories.

It’s something we bring up in our Guide for Portion Control

Workout Routines for a 12-Hour or Night Shift

Joe got in shape by prioritizing diet and exercise.

Let’s move on to the other 10-20% of the equation: exercise!

It’s no surprise around these parts that I’m a HUGE proponent of strength training. Guys like Joe (above) travel two weeks a month and yet still manage to have tremendous transformation because they are smart with their time.

From an efficiency standpoint, no other type of exercise gives you as much bang for your buck (aka: the most results with the least amount of time spent exercising).

You can get an incredible workout that exhausts all of your muscles and burns a crazy number of calories (not just during the workout, but in the hours afterward as your body tries to rebuild all of the muscle). Just reference any Nerd Fitness success story, all built with strength training and healthy eating.

So, if your time is limited, and your focus is staying healthy/losing weight, you need to be strength training and walking.

When’s the best time to work out? When you will actually do it! If you find yourself too exhausted after your 12-hour shift (and I don’t blame you), then get your workout done before you go to work, even if you only have twenty minutes! Heck, even if you only have 10 minutes!

As far as the workout itself...

You don’t need to be going to a gym (though if you do, big lifts like squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and pull-ups are going to get you the best results – ask Staci), you can work out at home before your shift starts with a simple workout like the Beginner Bodyweight Circuit.  

I know you don’t need a gym to grow strong because we see it daily here in the Rebellion. We work with coaching clients and design custom programs that take into account each person’s work environment, home environment, and equipment they have available. It works.

We also have the Nerd Fitness Journey which gives you more bodyweight routines and gym routines if you’re looking for specific instruction and exercise demonstrations.

You can try it out right here: 

If you are somebody that works a few days on (for long shifts) and a few days off, try this: a really intense strength building routine on your first day off from work and again on your last day. Two strength training days combined with walks and proper eating (on your work days) is more than enough to get you quality results.

Spreading out the Workout Throughout Your Long Shift

Want to stay in shape? Do pull-ups wherever you can.

Don’t be afraid of simply exercising here and there, when you can.

Check out the Angry Birds Workout and split up your workout throughout your shift:

  • Do squats in the supply closet. Weirdo? YUP. Who cares?
  • Push-ups and planks in your cubicle.
  • Pull-ups on the bus stop overhang waiting to go to work? I’ve been there.
  • Dumbbell rows with your desk and briefcase/backpack.
  • Walking up the stairs on your break. Why not?

It all adds up, and every little bit is better than nothing. The strength training benefits are key, but there’s one other key benefit to exercising throughout the day.

Coach Matt provides more tips on how to sneak in your training throughout the day right here: 

And trust me, as a father of five who works from home, Matt knows how to sneak in his training.

Staying Active During Your 12-Hour or Night Shift

To stay in shape working weird hours, workout whenever you can.

Along with strength training, just staying active will help.  

I actually have a timer (FocusBooster) on my laptop that goes off every 15 minutes to remind me to get up, walk around, stretch, do some push-ups, etc. Your phone can do the same thing! Technology, amazing.

Stand up at your desk if you can – mix up standing and sitting.

Go for a walk around the office. If you are a nurse or doctor you are probably already doing a considerable amount of walking to make your rounds, so keep it up.

The reason for staying active is so important is three-fold:

  1. Every little bit counts. That push-up, those squats, that extra mile walked…they all add up!
  2. Your brain keeps thinking “I am active.” Because it has to work more when you move! Remember, diet is 80% of your success or failure. When you exercise and constantly stay active, you are consistently reminding yourself that you are making healthier decisions, and these should carry over to your eating decisions too. Exercising and eating poorly is kind of like paddling a row-boat with one oar – you’re just spinning in circles. Work both together and dominate!
  3. Exercising can make you smarter and more alert at work. Detailed incredibly well in the book Spark, studies have shown that exercising can increase brain activity and performance. Healthier on the outside, smarter on the inside = NERD FITNESS WIN.

Here are 40 ways to help you stay active during the day (without actually working out).

Prioritizing FITNESS 24/7

Move anyway you can during your night shift.

Remember, it comes down to one thing: taking an active role in your health.

1) Don’t use the job as an excuse, and instead remind yourself that you are in control. You don’t need anybody’s permission to get healthy.

2) It adds up. Every little change. Every meal you switch up. Every minute of exercise.

3) Plan out your day. Spending 5 minutes identifying what you’ll eat and when you’ll work out makes you WAY more likely to actually follow through with it.

Leave a comment and share your story and struggles with the Rebellion. I’d love to hear from you:

Do you work a night shift or have funny hours?

Have you had success and want to share your tips and tricks?

Have a REALLY funky job and need more help (Deathstar operator, daytime student/nighttime superhero)? Post below and I’ll see what I can do.

Let’s get weird with it.

-Steve

PS: Still reading? Want more help?

I’ll again remind you of our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program.

Here’s how it works: we get to learn your goals, lifestyle, challenges, and situation: Kids? An old injury? Graveyard shift?

No problem!

We’ll then pair you with a coach from Team Nerd Fitness that fits your personality and situation. Click below to find out if we are a good fit for each other.

Nerd Fitness Coaching Banner

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Photo source: cross-eyed owl, Torch lighting experiment, red bull, smoothies, chips, catdog



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4 Steps to Talk to Anybody (People Skills)

4 Steps to Talk to Anybody (People Skills)


These legos feel awkward talking.

If you find yourself struggling to talk with people, or you want to try and meet NEW people, you’ve come to the right place!

Today we’re gonna teach you how to master a conversation, instead of staring at your feet hoping somebody else will come talk to you.

These are the 4 steps you can master to talk to ANYBODY about ANYTHING:

By the end of today’s article, your friends will need a muzzle to shut you up.

Believe it or not, we actually often work on “social skills” with our 1-on-1 NF Coaching clients.

Many clients are bettering themselves to start dating again, so we work hard to help them level up all areas of their lives.



Okie dokie, without further ado, let’s jump in.

Step 1: How to Make Small Talk – and Not Suck at It

Small talk can make you happy.

The main reason we human folk seek to connect with one another is that it scratches a social itch.

Our social needs are just like hunger and thirst—we eat, drink, and talk to people because there’s a gap between our actual state (hungry/thirsty/lonely) and our ideal state (satiated/quenched/connected).

Your brain is saying, “Dude, mind helping me out a little? I’m not where I want to be.”

The whole idea here is to feel better after than we did before.

You ever talk to people who are in a super sour mood?

Hank from Breaking Bad frowning at table.

It’s kind of contagious, isn’t it?

Unless you happen to be friends with people who can make crankiness charming (such as professional comedians), it’s usually a bit of a bummer.

Let’s not be bummers!

Let’s be those other kinds of people, the ones who leave our conversational partners in good moods after they talk to us.

Engaging in happy small talk isn’t just good for the people we talk to, by the way—it helps us as well. “Fake it ‘til you make it” is more than just a catchy rhyme.

The idea that acting a certain way encourages us to be that way has been around since Aristotle’s time. Take a look at his quote (from over 2,300 years ago!):

“Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way.

We become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions.”

Turns out the man knew what he was talking about.

A team led by Fritz Strack showed in 1988 showed[1] that simply holding a pen in your mouth in a way that simulates the muscle movements of smiling makes cartoons seem funnier than when you hold it between your lips like a straw; other studies have shown[2] that merely crossing your arms can make you more persistent!

So the next time you’re feeling surly and looking for a change, challenge yourself to talk to someone in a more upbeat way and see if that helps shake it off.

I’m not suggesting you bop around like sunshine and fairy dust, but isn’t it powerful to realize that by simply chatting with another person in a positive way, you can walk away from the conversation with both you and them feeling better off?

(Feel free to give a little mental fist bump to Aristotle when you see how well this works.)

Step 2: Talking to Random People

Be thoughtful in your conversations.

Good small talk adapts in real-time, thoughtfully and attentively applying to whatever is happening in the moment.

This may sound overwhelming at first, especially if you like to plan things to say out in advance. The trick is to take a step back and pick one thing, anything, on which to focus your attention.

There’s a finite list of what this thing will be:

  1. Whether it’s sunny, rainy, or snowy, that’s weather.
  2. Whether it’s a street parade, an art exhibit, or a hot tub limousine driving by, that’s scenery.
  3. Whether it’s someone with crazy shoes, a guy doing back handsprings, or a woman swinging from a chandelier, that’s people.
  4. Whether it’s a cute baby, a fluffy puppy, or a cool book, that’s belongings.

See how all of a sudden you can imagine having one or two prepared responses that can still perfectly apply to even the most novel of situations?

Now, this may only get you as far as your first or second line within a conversation, after which you may need to start coming up with stuff in the moment.

But the same logic of “step back/pick one thing” applies here too, and will help you keep from getting overwhelmed or panicking about what to say.

Here’s an example of small talk:

You: “I think I literally saw a cat and a dog raining down from the sky today.”

Them: “Ha! I know, right? I thought it was supposed to be spring.”

You: “It must be really tough to be a weatherman. You’re either stating the obvious or you’re a liar.”

Them: “My cousin is a weatherman.”

Curveball! You haven’t prepared anything about weatherman cousins! But this is interesting and novel enough to justify a conversational tangent all its own (and could fall under the category of jobs, if you wanted to add it to your earlier list). Try a simple question.

You: “Oh, interesting. How’d he or she get into that?”

Before you know it, you’re having a unique conversation, not banal “small talk”.

You’re also learning things about your conversational partner (and they about you), which will help you build from one-off conversations with strangers to consistent friendships and relationships with people.

Challenge yourself to identify these “one things” (weather, books, back handsprings) as you’re out interacting with people.

Use the comfort of a prepared line to open with if you like, but with the goal of finding something interesting that’s happening in that moment to comment on. Your conversations will instantly be more thoughtful, and the people you’re talking to will feel it, too.

Step 3: When to Be Quirky

Hairless cat with mask on white

My cousin Kim met my fiancé for the first time a few months ago.

As soon as we all sat down, she said to him, “Tell me every single thing about yourself, starting from birth, and ending with right now.”

I thought it was just about the greatest thing I’ve ever heard.

If my friend Jess is at someone’s house for the first time, she’ll say, “If I were the bathroom, where would I be?”

She gets the answer– and a chuckle.

My friend David struck up a conversation with a cute girl in Jiffy Lube by asking her if she thought the guy in the waiting room looked like a beagle.

He called me to thank me for introducing him to his girlfriend.

These examples all have in common the theme of turning awkwardness into awesomeness. They’re about being confident, not being smooth.

Sometimes dialing up the awkward dial can be just what everyone needs to loosen up a little, like when my friend Mike starts his presentations at work by saying, “If I seem incredibly nervous, it’s because I am indeed incredibly nervous.” It’s a bold strategy, to be sure, but it can be incredibly refreshing.

There’s something undeniably fun about someone who says, “I’m hugely overcaffeinated right now, so I may pass out at some point. How was your weekend?”

In short, don’t feel pressure to rigidly adhere to some abstract notion of what small talk should be, losing all of your own delightful personality in the process. You’re a member of the Rebellion, after all!

You challenge conventional wisdom and embrace the weird every day– let small talk be no exception.

Step 4: How Can I Be Fun to Talk To?

Board with nails

Remembering the little things? Sweet. Remembering every little thing? Creepy.

I happen to be in possession of a frighteningly good memory; I remember specific conversations (as well as where they took place, and what we were wearing) with people who couldn’t pick me out of a lineup.

I’m absolutely the person who goes up to people and says, “You’re a chiropractor? We sat next to each other on a plane from L.A. to San Francisco about a year ago, right?” Yes, right… but it didn’t matter. The dude was thoroughly creeped out, and I couldn’t blame him!

I’ve had to learn to hold back a little (okay, a lot) and not spew forth with every single thing I remember about my last conversation with someone the next time I see them.

Instead of: “how was that conference you went to in Phoenix?” go with, “You were going out of town when I saw you last, right?

Instead of: “Is your upper left molar feeling any better?” go with, “Hey, how’s it going?”

Like a good hairdo or pocket square, it sometimes takes a bit of effort in conversation to make it seem effortless, but it’s far preferable to freaking people out.

Take your time.

With each conversation, you’re watering a healthy plant, not dousing a fire. 

In fact, leaving a bit unsaid is probably the best way to ensure future conversations, and give you something to talk about next time!

Besides, when you’re imprecise, you allow the other person to narrow in on a topic that they are comfortable with, rather than forcing them to talk about their upper left molar!

How Do You Interact with Others? (Start Talkin’)

These Troopers are stoked they know how to have a conversation.

With these four keys in mind, you’re ready to start small talkin’.

Challenge yourself to approach one person a day and strike up a conversation, even if it’s brief.

Like everything else we do in life, good social skills can be learned, developed, honed, and improved. 

Though, it’s really tough to practice unless you commit to TRYING it out.

And who cares if the conversation goes poorly?

Failure is awesome.

Odds are you will NEVER see that person again in your life, and your life is no different now than it was 5 minutes before the conversation.

Of course, the opposite could be true: you could meet somebody awesome.

Panda's hugging with "you're my best friend" subtitled at bottom.

And there’s only one way to find out which outcome you’re gonna get.

If you’re feeling really rusty, give it a shot with a friend or family member and ask for a little feedback afterward.

If you’re feeling bold, approach someone you wouldn’t normally talk to. If you draw a blank, ask a question.

Breathe, smile, listen.

Most of all, remember why you’re doing this, and remind yourself that you’re not imposing on someone by having a pleasant conversation with them—you’re making their day a bit brighter, and you should never be made to feel bad about that.

As always, I’m very interested to hear what you think, and how these lessons feel when you take them out for a spin.

We all crave regular social interaction; you might be surprised by how easy being good at small talk really is!

What are your major hangups with small talk?

Where do you plan to give these tricks a try?

-Lindsay Miller (good friend of Steve, and the Relationship & Social Skills expert of Nerd Fitness!)

PS: Like developing your social skills, getting healthy can be really intimidating, which is why we’ve built services and products to help you overcome the chaos and feel confident in the actions you’re taking every day:

#1) 1-on-1 Online Coaching: A coach from Team NF gets to know you better than you know yourself and builds a workout program and nutritional strategy that fits your busy life, your body type, and your goals.

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

You can even join our private community of nerds, many of whom are also trying to improve their social skills!

Try your free trial right here:

#3) Just want to learn more about what we do? That’s great too! Grab your free Nerd Fitness Starter Kit by clicking in the box below and I’ll send it right over!

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photo source:  lego small talkhappy, thoughtful, mw3016chi © 123RF.com, catchyimages © 123RF.com, storm trooper



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7 Reasons For Workout or Weight Loss Plateau (& 5 Fixes)

7 Reasons For Workout or Weight Loss Plateau (& 5 Fixes)


orth Cape with a steep cliff and a large flat plateau is in the Barents Sea.

So you’ve hit a workout or weight loss plateau the size of a…well, an actual plateau, eh?

Have no fear, our step-by-step guide will get you back on track! (Plus, the most badass Bruce Lee quote you’ll ever read).

Whether you’ve stalled in your weight loss journey, strength training, or some other fitness benchmark, today we’ll tell you exactly how to keep progressing by sharing with you the exact tools we use with our coaching clients.



Don’t lose morale. Together we got this!

We’ll cover:

Alright, let’s do this thing.

What is a Plateau?

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

A plateau occurs when you stall out on progress despite continuing to do “all of the right things,” usually including:

And so on.

Our bodies go from losing weight consistently to getting stuck at a certain number.

Or we go from building muscle and getting stronger, to having a week or two where we can’t seem to lift anything heavier.

We call this point in our training “The Plateau,” and we don’t like being stuck on them.

A man hitting his head over and over.

As we learned in a previous article on happiness, humans (nerds especially) are happier when we make progress.

When we work hard for something and don’t see progress, we get unhappy.

How Do I Know If I’ve Hit a Plateau?

How do you bust through a plateau?

I get a lot of emails from people who tell me they’re stuck on a plateau.

They talk about how they’ve been eating right, exercising, and getting enough rest and they can’t seem to make progress!

They throw their hands in the air, freak out, get discouraged, and give up or quickly move on to the next plan that they hope will work.

When somebody comes to me saying they’ve plateaued, my first response is always:

Are you really on a plateau?

“Have you REALLLLLLLLY plateaued? REALLY?”

In a strong majority of the cases, plateaus are really just issues with concentration, tracking, and discipline in disguise. Before you think you have plateaued, consider the following:

1) HOW IS YOUR NUTRITION…REALLY? Oftentimes we think we are being diligent, until we realize that after a few weeks of eating great we’ve started slacking. “Oh I’ve been good, just this one time…” and “Hmmm, sure why not” become more commonplace as we start to fall back into old habits. Track your calories for the next week and check your numbers.

And even if you are eating the right amounts of food, there’s this: as you lose weight, your metabolism slows down. This isn’t sabotaging black magic, it’s science.

There’s simply LESS of you that your body needs to maintain.

A gif of Beaker shrinking, who will for sure need fewer calories now.

Here is the estimated daily resting calorie burn (“sit on your ass all day”) of a 35-year old male nerd at 3 very different weights:

  • 300 lbs: 2,600 calories.
  • 250 lbs: 2,300 calories.
  • 200 lbs: 2,000 calories.

You might have hit a plateau simply because you’ve reached an equilibrium of calories consumed to calories burned! This means you need to adjust your calorie intake to continue losing weight.

If you are trying to bulk up, are you eating ENOUGH calories to promote muscle growth? Rededicate yourself for two weeks, track your meals, and see if progress picks back up!

2) HOW ARE YOUR WORKOUTS…REALLY? If you are weeks or months into a workout plan, I bet the initial luster of “NEW! PROGRESS! WINNING!” has worn off.

Have you been skipping that last rep, cutting out an exercise here or there, or getting bored and wanting to go home?

I know when I hit a plateau at the gym, it’s generally because I haven’t been pushing myself as hard as I had been previously. Track your workouts diligently for two weeks and see if these changes kick you back on track.

If you need a tool to track your workouts, check out Nerd Fitness Journey. It’s designed so when you wake up in the morning, you know the exact next step to help you reach your goals.

You can try it for free right here:

3) HOW iS YOUR SLEEP?…REALLY? This is one that most people skip out on. They are exercising, eating right, but for whatever reason, they’ve been slacking on their sleep.

It’s might be too much television…

Netflix can turn you into this.

We all know sleep is important – lack of sleep leads to increased levels of stress, less time for our bodies to rebuild muscle, to recover from strenuous activity, and more.

I know that if I didn’t get a good night’s sleep, then my performance in the gym the next day will suffer.

Can you honestly say you’ve spent two weeks with quality sleep, nutrition, and exercise?

In many cases, we think we’re stuck, and in need of some sort of drastic change or adjustment to kickstart progress again. Now, there are definitely instances where we ARE stuck or stalled, and that’s when things need to change.

However, before we cover the dreaded plateau, let’s get a few things clear.

Why Am I Plateauing?

This lego wants to know how to overcome a plateau.

To start, linear progress cannot continue indefinitely: 

  1. If you are learning to squat and you start with just the bar, adding 5 lbs a week (which is how you should learn to squat!), you will eventually reach a point where your body cannot build the strength/muscle fast enough to continually add 5 lbs a week. If it DID work that way, in three years everybody would be squatting 1,000 pounds.
  2. You will run into the same issues with weight loss. For example, it’s easier for you to lose 3 pounds a week when you are at 300 lbs than it is to lose 3 pounds a week when you are 150 pounds….there’s more of you to “lose” when you’re bigger and thus progress will be easier. If you could lose 2-3 pounds a week every week forever, at some point you’d disappear, and we don’t want that. Weight loss might slow to 1 pound every other week.
  3. Your margin for error gets smaller. When you are at a higher body fat percentage, or just getting starting with training, you can make a lot of progress quickly due to there being MORE of you to lose, or MORE gains to make quickly. As you start to make progress, you can’t keep making big progress without making more and more effort.
  4. Adaptive thermogensis. Our bodies WANT to maintain the extra body fat we have (“I don’t know when I’ll need this, better save”), and are actively working in unison to preserve it – so even after a few pounds, it’s going to be a persistent challenge to keep progressing. It’s a subject a dive in deep in the article “Why can’t I lose weight?” If you’ve stalled on your weight loss journey, this might be the problem, as your body is adapting to the body fat being lost.

Your progress at a consistent pace will definitely slow down, which can FEEL like a plateau. 

If you’ve been training for more than a few months, you might need to slightly adjust your expectations. Maybe this week you can only add 2.5 lbs to the bar. Or 1lb. Maybe your muscle-building will crawl to 1 lb gained a month.

It happens to all of us. Even Batman.

Batman giving you the thumbs up.

Now, if your progress stalls out COMPLETELY or you actually regress, AND you are doing all of the right things, then congrats!

You MAY have plateaued.

Like in games like World of Warcraft, at some point you will stop gaining experience from killing rats – you could spend all day doing so but because you’ve hit a certain level they no longer provide you with value.

It’s time to move on to attacking spiders, then orcs, then dragons.

It’s something Coach Jim brings up in this video on progressive overload:

When you started out, just doing 5 push-ups might have felt like a full workout. Now you can do 50 push-ups for a warm-up and not break a sweat.

Our bodies are constantly adapting and learning to manage the stresses we put on it, seeking the path of least resistance.

Back to our gaming analogy:

If it’s something worth doing, there will most likely be grinding involved, and that’s why I need to talk to you about The Dip.

No not a strength training type of ‘dip’, though those are good to help bust through a plateau too!

You can learn more about how we help build plateau-less workouts at Nerd Fitness by downloading our free Strength Training 101 eBook when you sign up in the box below:

Is a Plateau Normal? (The Dip)

A LEGO going very fast on their mountain bike.

I want to introduce you to Seth Godin, author of The Dip.

We all hit plateaus in our lives and quests for health and happiness. In order to be successful at the task at hand, we need to grind our way through that low point (or flat point) until we can climb out and continue progress.

Here’s a visualization of the dip:

A picture of "The Dip"

When you first start something new, you can make quick progress, and everything rocks because you see big changes.

However, after a few months, the reward you get from your effort decreases and it seems like you’re rapidly slowing down:

  1. In the first few weeks of weight loss, everything is GREAT! The scale is moving, your clothes are getting looser, progress is exciting because it’s coming so quickly. Then, you might have a few weeks where you’re really trying hard and yet…the scale stalls or increases.
  2. When building a new running habit, each new run is exhilarating – you rapidly progress from wheezing and coughing after two blocks to now being able to run a whole mile! A few months later, that progress slows, and you find yourself struggling with the same distances and speeds even though you’re doing all of the right things.
  3. When lifting weights, the first few months can be life-changing. Squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, push-ups. Every session in the gym is an opportunity to see massive progress compared to the time before, except for that week or two when you walk in and you have to lift less than before! What gives!?

When we hit that dip/plateau where our hard work seems like it goes unrewarded, it’s easy to give up and say, “I’m a failure.”

Not true.

We will all experience a dip when it comes to progress on things that are important to us.

If we want to TRULY be successful, we need to anticipate the dip’s arrival and plan for it so that it doesn’t completely derail us.

Much like grinding out experience points in an RPG, sometimes we need to grind out practice in life, workouts, nutrition, and more…until we can hit that sweet spot for progress again.

So, how do we stay dedicated, focused, and motivated through the dip?

How do we progress during the plateau when we feel like our hard work is a waste of time?

We focus on small wins, and find a way to get a teeny tiny bit better.

What Should I Do When I Hit a Plateau? (Setting Personal Records)

Success is setting a personal record.

In order for us to crawl out of a dip or off a plateau, we need to find a way to make a small win every day.

Think of these small wins like “a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”

The longer we’ve been training, the older we get, and/or the more advanced we get in our training, the more likely we’ll be to hit plateaus and the more necessary it will be to grind out small victories, prepare for dips, and power through them.

Here’s how you can grind out your own small wins and prove to yourself that you are still progressing when you are in the dip:

1) TRACK EVERY SET, REP, AND WORKOUT. Find a way to be better today in SOME WAY than you were yesterday, and prove to yourself that you are still making progress – even if it’s progress in a different way than you were progressing before.

If you are stuck at 3 sets of 5 reps of 150 pounds on the bench press and haven’t been able to go up to 155 lbs for a few weeks, try 3 sets of 6 reps of 150 pounds.

Or 4 sets of 5 reps of 150 pounds.

Then come back to 3 sets of 5 reps of 155 a few weeks from now, and see if you can do that.

If you wait 60 seconds between sets, try waiting 90 seconds instead and lift a different amount

As long as SOMETHING has progressed in some way – your total amount of weight lifted, decreased time between sets, one extra rep, or one more pound lifted – it proves to yourself that you made progress. Remember, progress makes us happy.

RECORD EVERYTHING.

2) COLLECT TINY WINS. Optimus Prime doesn’t transform with one single movement; it’s a combination of hundreds of thousands of tiny movements that happen rapidly.

We are transformers (Joe especially), and our small changes add up too.

It’s these tiny, small victories that can push us over the edge. Enough small victories and we can reach that tipping point, that end of the dip where progress continues again.

Find a way to set a tiny win in SOME WAY each day that shows you that you are getting better/faster/stronger.

Here’s an example: I have been working on handstand balancing. For the past few months, my progress has stagnated and even gone in reverse on some days (helloooo Dip!).

I continued to work on building the habit of handstands for five minutes a day (Hard Hat challenge for the win!). Progress felt nonexistent, but I knew that my continued dedicated practice was adding up in ways that didn’t make themselves readily apparent.

I had “stalled,” so I focused on getting tiny wins: increasing flexibility in my wrists, staying against the wall as long as I could, practicing my kick-ups, tightening my core, etc.

Despite not being able to balance for longer than 10 seconds at any point in the past, I kicked up into a handstand, without even touching the wall (something else that had never happened before), and I held my handstand for 24 seconds!

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

I still have a ways to go before I’m holding perfectly vertical handstands for 60+ seconds, but months spent grinding out practice in the dip have paid off.

I made it through the plateau, and my progress has continued rapidly after struggling for months. Those months of struggle were teeny tiny wins in different ways that added up until I hit that tipping point where progress exploded.

3) TRACK OTHER METRICS OTHER THAN THE SCALE. The scale can lie. The scale will DEFINITELY slow down even if you are making progress in healthier ways, simply due to the fact that you have less weight to lose than you did before! You might also be dealing with extra water weight, or bloat, or menstruation, or anything in between.

So, track other things! Here’s what you can track to help keep you motivated while plateauing:

  1. Take biweekly photos. Who cares if the scale isn’t moving. Are you looking better? Are you FEELING better? Do your clothes fit better? That is progress.
  2. Take measurements. Spend 5 bucks on a cloth tape measure (or one of these), and measure the important parts of your body. Maybe the scale isn’t moving, but you took half an inch off of your waist. Or maybe you added a quarter of an inch to your arms.
  3. Track your body fat percentage. A simple caliper is enough to show trends. Remember Saint? His weight went UP but his body fat percentage dropped. Had he only been tracking the scale, he might have panicked during his ‘dip.’ Fortunately, he was tracking more metrics and used that momentum to catapult himself to victory.

The goal is to consistently prove to ourselves that we are moving one step closer to our goal. 

This is exactly the system we used when we built Nerd Fitness Journey.

When you’re working through the app, not only are you doing fun missions, but you’ll see how tasks build up to your larger goal. There’s no getting stuck or frustrated, just log in and work on the next adventure.

If you want, you can sign-up for a free trial right here:

5 Tips and Tricks for Overcoming a Plateau

These heroes don't worry about plateaus.

The above is just the beginning. This will also help you make progress and get out of that dip:

1) Shock your workout. Our bodies crave efficiency, and love to be as lazy as possible, but we truly thrive on chaos. So introduce some chaos into your system!

Note: This is NOT the same as “muscle confusion” (which is a made-up marketing term to sell DVDs). We’re still progressing, lifting more, and doing the same exercises – we’re just throwing in some variation occasionally to help stimulate progress. 

If you do the exact same thing over and over and over, your body becomes more efficient at that activity.

In fact, your body can learn and adapt after doing the same thing enough times so that it burns fewer calories to carry out the process. So mix it up!

  • If you are trying to run a faster 5K? Mix in a day of sprints rather than just basic runs.
  • Trying to increase your deadlift? Rather than just doing a 1-rep max, do a day of higher volume, or train the deadlift twice a week.
  • Want to squat better? Squat with higher frequency. NF Senior Coach Staci followed an advanced Smolov Squat program for 13 weeks (Warning: not for beginners). Your body can adapt and overcompensate by getting stronger.
  • Want to improve your upper body strength/size? Try doing a PLP program along with your regular workouts. Starting with 10 total reps of Pull-ups, Lunges, and Push-ups, and every day add a rep, for 50 days.

2) Adjust your diet. Your body can also become quite efficient with calories (not to mention the oft-mentioned but controversial “starvation mode” theory), and can sometimes struggle to progress.

As we lay out in “Why can’t I lose weight?,” if you’ve lost a decent amount of weight, your body now burns significantly fewer calories each day (there’s less of you to manage!) This means you need to adjust your calorie intake!

So, I would start by tracking your intake and determining how many calories you should be eating.

ONLY after that doesn’t work would I recommend the following:

Consider throwing in one day a week of OVER eating, along with days where you are intermittent fasting. Keep your body guessing and see if that shocks your system back into weight loss mode.

Consider adjusting your macronutrient breakdown. Keep your protein intake high, and adjust your carbs and fats. Some people feel better or worse with high fat or low fat, high carb or low carb.

And remember, thermodynamics still rule all: weight loss requires caloric deficits.

3) REST! I’ve heard it said “there’s no such thing as “overtraining, just under-recovering.” Are you getting enough sleep?

Maybe Cartmen here is jetlagged.

Maybe you’re a new parent and trying to maintain your old workout routine on 2 hours of sleep a night.

Or work has you stressed like crazy and it’s causing you to eat like crap.

Rest is such an important part of a healthy lifestyle that it needs to be prioritized too. In the book Essentialism, this is referred to as “Protecting the Asset.”

You are the asset.

If you are trying to do too much, or you’re caught in a plateau, consider a week off, refocusing on sleep and recovery, and come back refreshed.

4) Adjust your goals. Maybe your body needs a new dragon to slay.

Again, nature loves chaos. If you are focused solely on weight loss, you might feel like you have stalled out. So shift your focus. Work on handstands. Or running faster.

Or doing your first pull-up.

Here's a gif of a pull-up in perfect form.

Pick a new skill!

Try something different. Give your body a chance to recover and then come back to it.

If you’re solely focused on the scale and it stalls out, it can be depressing. So put the scale away for a month, and instead focus on the process of getting stronger and eating better. Stop stressing and remember to enjoy the game you’re playing.

5) Accept that we have bad weeks. We are complex pieces of machinery.

Sometimes shit happens.

We just have bad weeks and can’t lift enough or we GAIN weight when we expected to lose weight. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you human.

So on days when you feel great, PUSH yourself harder. On days when you feel like crap, scale back the heavy lifting and focus on more reps or better technique.

The greatest predictor of success in our lives is grit (which can be developed). Grit is what you need to slog through these slow weeks. These dips are where we find out who’s truly dedicated. I know you are, and you know you are.

Remember, look for any sign of progress in any way to reveal that “light” at the end of the tunnel.

If you are stuck on a plateau when it comes to strength training, consider working with one of our Yodas in the 1-on-1 Online Training Program at Nerd Fitness! No guilt, no shame. Just somebody to keep you accountable, expert guidance from somebody that knows you, and peace of mind knowing you’re doing the right thing!

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How did you break through your plateau?

A picture of Bruce Lee

Here’s that dope Bruce Less quote I mentioned earlier:

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there. You must go beyond them.”

-Bruce Lee

Hopefully, I’ve covered everything you need to know about plateaus. What’s that? You were expecting some lame joke about plateaus somewhere?

You know me too well. Okay, how bout this one:

Did you know that a plateau is the highest form of flattery?

Get it?

Thank you, I’ll be here all week.

I want to hear your story:

  • Have you successfully busted through a plateau? Leave a comment with how you got out of it.
  • Are you currently stuck? If so, what’s ONE SPECIFIC piece of advice you’re taking from today’s article to apply to what you’re going to do this afternoon?

Let’s hear it! I’m excited to hear how I can help.

-Steve

PS: We know starting with this stuff can be intimidating. If you’re looking  to take it to the next level:

  • 1-on-1 Online Coaching: A coach from Team NF gets to know you better than you know yourself and builds a workout program and nutritional strategy that fits your busy life, your body type, and your goals.
  • Nerd Fitness Journey: a fun app that will show you the path for overcoming any plateau. Sign up for a free trial below:

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Photo Sources: olegmit1 © 123RF.com, Nattapol Sritongcom © 123RF.com, seeveeaar: success, Stefan Baudy: question, clement127: Eurobasket 2015, Four Bricks Tall: Mountain Biker, JD Hancock: Heroes, Anton Ivanov © 123RF.com



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