So you want to get in shape and start getting fit, but youâre not sure what the perfect workout is?
Not only that, but you want a workout program that youâll ACTUALLY do?
Great. This is what we do, and weâre pretty dang good at it.
We create personalized workout programs for our Online Coaching Clients, and this guide walks you through the exact 9 steps we follow to create each program:
This may seem like a lot, but ALL of the steps are important!
Letâs jump right into #1!
Youâre reading this guide, which means you likely have SOME goals around getting fit.
Those goals will likely fall into one of three categories:
I like to refer to these three goals as the Triforce of Awesome.
Because Iâm a dork, and because youâll remember it.
Happy, healthy, look good naked.
(Thereâs nothing wrong with wanting to look good naked, by the way. Itâs why I started training all those years ago!)
MY goal for you is to have you satisfy all three conditions to become healthy, happy, and look damn good.
It starts by identifying why youâre here in the first place.
Because letâs be honest:
This journey is gonna be tough.
You donât just want to âlose weightâ and âget fit.â
You want to âlose weightâ and âget fitâ so that you can âstart dating again after a messy breakup.â
Or because âyour dad passed away from health issues at a young age and you want to be around for many more decades to raise your children.â
The more specific and DEEP you can get with your reasoning, the more likely youâll be to push through when youâre struggling to stay consistent!
I also want you to be realistic about how much time you think you can dedicate to this journey:
Thatâs cool â just be up-front with yourself.
Hereâs how to put it all together:
PART A â IDENTIFY A GOAL THAT YOUâRE FOCUSED ON:
PART B â WRITE DOWN WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN YOU ACCOMPLISH THESE GOALS:
PART C â BE REALISTIC WITH HOW OFTEN YOU CAN TRAIN:
Be specific with your answers above.
STEP #1 TAKEAWAY: Pick your goals, pick your âBig Whyâ
Weâre going to pick goals that work for us, and then build on top of that foundation.
Have you written down your goals yet?:
We make EVERY coaching client in our online coaching program pick their Big Why too.
Itâs what keeps us on target when life gets too busy and we want to quit!
Now that we have a foundation, we can start to build on top of that. Like Fornite. #UnnecessaryButTopicalNerdReference
You can lose all the weight you need to lose without doing a single minute of âexercise.â
I shit you not.
(What a funny expression by the way, it makes me happy every time I use it.)
If your ONLY goal is weight loss in any way, then exercise is not necessary.
No treadmills. No gym memberships. No bootcamps.
No feeling bad about yourself training in public.
âSteve, you sorcerer, what madness is this?â You exclaim!
When it comes to weight loss, how you eat will be responsible for 90+% of your success or failure.
If you are only trying to lose weight, ALL of your effort can go into fixing your nutrition.
As we say here in the Nerd Fitness Rebellion, âYou canât outrun your fork.â
Itâs because you eat too much food.
Iâve covered nutrition and weight loss EXTENSIVELY here on Nerd Fitness, so read these to help determine the best eating strategies for you:
As we have laid out in our Start Eating Healthy Guide, if you are trying to lose weight it comes down to making slightly better choices, slightly more frequently:
Story time! Nerd Fitness Rebel Tim was told he couldnât exercise due to an injury. He joined our NF Academy (now a part of Nerd Fitness Prime), and focused on the 3 things he could control:
6 months and 50+ pounds of weight loss later, Tim is a changed man! You can read his whole story by clicking on the image below:
So yes, exercise burns calories and will help you get fit.Â
(If youâre curious: strength training is the calorie-burning victor when it comes to efficient weight loss.)Â
Exercise of any kind will also make your heart stronger and you will FEEL better.
But maybe most importantly, exercise reminds us that weâre trying to be healthier.
Which means exercise can also remind us to make better food choices.
Just instead of doing this: âWell I exercised today so I can eat 5000 calories!â
Instead, do this: âWell I exercised today, so Iâm going to stick with my eating strategy so I donât backslide!â
STEP #2 TAKEAWAY: Pick a food strategy you can stick with!
Pick a strategy that speaks your language, and that results in you consuming fewer calories.
Nutrition is the most important thing, so your time is best spent understanding this stuff!
If you are trying to lose more weight or build more muscle FASTER, your nutrition needs to be even MORE dialed in.
Hereâs how to start eating healthy:
If you are a noob on nutrition, check out our free 10-level Nutritional System that simplifies the entire process! Itâs free when you sign up in the box below:
- Follow our 10-level nutrition system at your own pace
- What you need to know about weight loss and healthy eating
- 3 Simple rules we follow every day to stay on target
If your goal is to look good enough and feel good about yourself, thereâs only ONE solution when it comes to the perfect workout program:
Any exercise you actually enjoy and will do regularly.
Exercise is only a 10% piece of the âhow to get in shapeâ formula, which means if your goal is âlook pretty good, feel pretty good,â ANY exercise is a bonus.
And that means you might as well ENJOY what you are spending your time on!
Here are some suggestions for fun exercise you can do:
Running, cycling, powerlifting, yoga, parkour, gymnastics, weight training, LARPing, capoeira, jazzercise, swing dancing, Beat Saber, walking, hiking, geocache, PokÃ©mon GO, hashing, ballet, CrossFit, bootcamps, martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Ninja Warrior, Dance Dance Revolution, aerial silks, acro yoga, and anything else you can think of.
This is me giving you permission to attend Jazzercise classes regularly, if you enjoy them.
This is me also giving you permission to never run on a treadmill ever again, unless you actually enjoy running on a treadmill.
Donât suffer through a particular type of exercise if you hate it.
There are plenty of ways to get your heart racing and your body moving.
Think of it this way: Youâre always a work in progress.
You never get to âbe done.â
So suffering unnecessarily to reach a goal just so you can lose some weight, and then stopping wonât work.
Hereâs another phrase to internalize:
âTemporary changes create temporary results.â
Stop trying to get to the finish line as quickly as possible â thatâs why you failed in the past.
STEP #3 TAKEAWAY: Do an activity that you enjoy. Do it frequently.
Write down a list of âexerciseâ activities you love. Write down a list of âexerciseâ you hate.Â And then do things on the first list frequently, and donât ever do things on the second list!
You donât need to suffer.
Nutrition is 90% of the battle, so if you want to lose weight, get healthier, and be happier, pick a form of exercise that you actually enjoy.
Donât worry about how many calories it burns.
Instead, keep the focus on your nutrition and THEN do fun exercise.
To answer your next questions:
âI have always wanted to try (activity) but Iâm afraid to try it.âÂ Use 20 Seconds of CourageÂ â it works. I promise 🙂
âSteve I have very specific physique goals and Iâm willing to suffer a bit to hit those goals.â Sounds good. Youâre going to want to focus on calorie restriction, strength training, and moving more. Keep reading.
Okay, now weâre getting down to the good stuff:Â
Yup, eating better can help you lose weight.
Yup, any exercise is better than no exercise.
HOWEVER, if you want to keep yourself injury-free, build a physique youâre proud of (aka that âfit tonedâ look that everybody is after), AND get better at whatever fun activities you picked in Step #3,â¦
Thereâs a component that needs to be incorporated into your life:
There are so many benefits to strength training, itâs ridiculous.
100% of people, no matter their age, gender, or size should be doing SOME kind of strength training in some capacity.
And please donât worry â you will NOT get too bulky â unless thatâs what you want.
Here are 4 reasons why strength training makes every part of life better and will help you get in shape:
So hopefully at this point, youâre all:
âSteve you sly devil, I am INTRIGUED. But strength training doesnât seem fun, and gyms intimidate me.â
We cover this extensively in our âBeginnerâs guide to strength training,â but Iâll cover it here too:
When I say âstrength training,â I simply mean âmoving your body in a way that your muscles must respond by getting stronger:â
Your muscles are introduced to outside stimuli (you pick up your kid, you do push-ups, you carry groceries, you do a squat, etc.), and they get âbroken downâ through use.
Over the next few days, they rebuild themselves stronger to prepare for more stimulus (a greater challenge).
By building up strength over time, it allows you to become more functionally strong and avoid situations like Mr. Potato Head here:
âStrength trainingâ can take place in a gym or at your home, with your bodyâs weight or with free weights, in a box or with a fox. The ways to strength train are endless.
HATE gyms? You never have to go into one. Ever. Christina lost 50 lbs without a gym.
AFRAID of weight training?Â You can train with just your body weight!
WANT to learn how to train in a gym? Check out our 6-level gym workout guide.
NOT SURE how to strength train and want guidance? Check out our online coaching program!
This does not need to be overcomplicated!
Start with two basic movements that you can do literally right now, even in your cubicle:
Boom, look at that! You just did strength training.
I promise you: get stronger with push-ups, squats, and learn how to do a pull-up, and you will be in better shape, and look better, than ever before.
This might sound complicated, but it just means increasing the challenge by a tiny amount with each workout so your body has to work harder and adapt more each time.
And then one day, youâll look in the mirror and say: âWHOA I HAVE MUSCLES WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN!?â
Coach Jim breaks down 8 different strategies for progressive overload in this video:
I have one final person I want to address: âBut Steve, you nincompoop, I hate strength training.â
Thatâs not a nice name to call me, but fair enough!
Consider getting bit by a radioactive spider or finding a super-serum.
Otherwise, these five alternatives might pique your interest:
STEP #4 TAKEAWAY: Start strength training today.
Pick a workout that doesnât intimidate you and give it a shot! You can start TODAY.
You donât HAVE to strength train, you GET to strength train.
Every time you work out, do ONE more repetition, one more push-up, or lift ONE pound heavier than last time.
Whatâs the best way to do more than last time?
Write down what you do! Keep it simple. Write down your sets, reps, and weights. And then do one better next time.
If youâre wondering how many reps and sets you should start with, Coach Jim answers that right here:
Alright alright, you read the previous section, and youâre thinking:
My thoughts: I donât care HOW you strength train when you get started, or which beginning strength training program you pick:
If you want to follow a bodybuilder routine that uses lots of machines and isolation exercises, great!
If you want to train your left bicep and right butt muscle on Tuesdays and right tricep and left shoulder on Wednesdays and so on, go for it!
If you want to follow a workout DVD or follow bootcamp style stuff on YouTube, great.
Whatever gets you manipulating your body and learning the fundamentals of strength training, Iâm for it.
As long as youâre enjoying it and getting results, keep doing what youâre doing.
And if you want a Beginner Strength Routine to follow, thatâs cool too.
Here are the foundational philosophies we teach our online coaching clients:
#1 Youâll be healthier and see more well-rounded resultsÂ training with free weights and bodyweight exercises compared to machines.
Machines can be used when youâre rehabbing an injury or thereâs no other options (youâre at a hotel gym, for example).
If you only want to train with machines? You do you. Hereâs how to switch from machines to weights.
#2 Full compound movements will help you get strong and healthy in the most efficient manner:
Your body is a complex machine that uses all of your muscles in unison when you do physical activity.
Thus, itâs safer and more efficient to train with compound movements instead of isolated movements.
Here are 15 Circuit Training Routines that use these exercises.
But like, into a better version of you, not a robot:
#5 If you have more fun with a bodybuilder-style workout, or you like boot camp classes instead of weight training, thatâs great!
If youâre healthy and happy and getting results, stick with it.
#6Â Muscle confusion is totally not a thing.
STEP #5 TAKEAWAY: Pick A Strength Training Program!Â
Hereâs how to level up your strength training:
Whatâs that? You want to BUILD your own workout program?
If you want us to do the heavy lifting for you (HEYO), we have a killer online coaching program where we build the exact workout for you, including nutritional guidance, support, and accountability.
Okay, now weâre getting down to the secret sauce that has transformed thousands upon thousands of lives at Nerd Fitness.
Donât worry our secret sauce is low calorie, low carb, and keto-friendly.Â
Hereâs the scenario: you have a goal of losing 50 pounds, and after eating better and moving moreâ¦you actually start to lose some weight!
Iâm so proud of you.
In fact, I just called your mom to tell her what a swell person you are. Nice lady.
Anyways, things are going well until you start to approach your goal weight (woo!) and encounter a divergent path:
People who pick Path A always backslide and usually put the weight back on over the next few months and years. This is why most people are doomed to fail at losing weight permanently:
Temporary action = temporary results.
Now letâs talk about Path B? Itâs the reason our coaching clients keep the weight off and continue to transform.
Consistent effort + progressive challenge = permanent improvement.
People on Path B ask themselves, âNow that Iâve lost this weight, what am I capable of?Â Letâs train for that!â
This is a distinct mental shift.
Exercise is no longer a means to an end.
There is no end.
We encourage our Rebels to shift from weight loss goals to physical challenges (Like Double Dare, but with less Gak):
WHY THIS WORKS:Â By training to get better at a particular activity, you are triggering the same processes in your brain that makes us hooked on progressing in video games:
Itâs why we say, âjust one more level!â or âI bet I can do one more rep!â or âI can climb this new path thatâs tougher than any path Iâve attempted before!â
STEP #6 TAKEAWAY: Shift from weight loss goals to physical challenges.
As you start to get in shape, updating your mindset can be a HUGE game-changer.
You spent all this work building a new body â take it out for a test drive and find out what youâre capable of!
Counterintuitively, the less you worry about your weight and the more you worry about your performance, the more likely youâll be to build a body youâre proud of, thatâs functional, and that you can keep, permanently.
As they say, âAppearance is a consequence of fitness.âÂ
If you want to dig more into skills and advanced physique stuff, read our post here: âThe ultimate guide to building any physique.â
Pick a skill, pick somebody farther along (more fit) than you to model yourself after, and adjust your training and nutrition to get better at that skill.
When you get better and better at these physical skills, your physique will start to improve as a side effect.
As weâre talking about physique and physical goals, I want to address something that is a major challenge for many people:
âSteve, I want to lose some weight, build some muscle, and also build up more endurance. I want to get strong and run a marathon but also look like a model.
Oh and get a six-pack. But I donât want to be too bulky.
Can I do this in 6 weeks please?â
Hereâs the truth: your body can only do so many things at once, and the three goals above will pull your body in three completely separate directions.Â
If youâre not sure what are realistic goals, I have answers for you on BOTH questions (click each to learn more):
Are those numbers in line with your expectations?Â Do you wish you could get in shape faster?
Of course you do. So do I!
Surprisingly, by changing our timeline to be more realistic, we can make better progress than at any point in the past:
KEY TAKEAWAY #7:Â Have realistic expectations!
Have the right expectations, and put your focus on the process.
Youâll get there when you get there â so just focus on what you can do today.
If youâre not sure if you should build muscle first or lose weight first, hereâs my humble advice:
I love sharing stories on Nerd Fitness of REAL people, with real struggles, that found the perfect program that fit THEIR lifestyle, like Christina above.Â
These are not people with superior genetics. Theyâre not on steroids, nor are they choking down supplements (Most supplements are a waste of money).
The success stories in our community work full-time jobs, have kids, friends, and nerdy hobbies.
Some are single moms.
But they found a workout program that works for their life situation:
Some of them are powerlifters.
Some of them train at home with no equipment.
Some of them run 5ks.
As you are starting to get yourself into better shape, who you associate with is almost as important as how you train.
Sounds ludicrous (did I just make you yell, âLuda!â?), but it can be the difference between long term success and long term floundering. And not the cute kind.
They say you are an average of the 5 people you associate most with.
Think about your roommates, significant other, friends, and coworkers:
Are they people who have succeeded in the way you want to succeed, support you on your journey, can answer questions you might have, and make you want to continue being better?
Or are they people who ask you to skip your workouts, make fun of you for waking up early to train on a Saturday morning, and enable you rather than support you?
The more time you can spend with Group A people, the more likely youâll be to stay on target and make progress.
As you are getting better at a skill, do whatever you can to hang out with people who are good at that skill!
If you donât have people in your life that are making you better, consider hiring a coach or instructor or joining a class to help you push yourself even farther and stay accountable!
And Iâm not telling you to fire your friends, but you might need to make sacrifices like Katniss until youâre better equipped to stand up for your new healthy lifestyle when they want you to come back to the dark side!
Nerd Fitness helps people with workouts and eating better, sure.
But I believe we get permanent results for people because we do our best to foster the most supportive community on the internet.
And others? They read the free articles on Nerd Fitness and helped themselves stay on target!
It comes down to learning from and interacting people who are just like you, or who are people that you want to be like when you âgrow upâ (get in shape)!
Click on each image to learn their full story:
STACI THE POWERLIFTER:
ANTHONY THE IT PROFESSIONAL:
JOE THE IT DEVELOPER WHO TRAVELS 2 WEEKS PER MONTH:
SAINT THE APP DEVELOPER WHO LOST 60 POUNDS AND GAINED 6 PACK ABS:
And me?Â I started with karate as a kid. Then cross country running in high school. Then bodybuilder style training in college. Then it was bodyweight training.
STEP #8 TAKEAWAY: Surround yourself with people that push you to be better.
You need people in your life that are pushing you to be better.
If you donât have those people already, consider joining a club or class in your community. You might just make new lifelong friends!
Weâd love to have you be part of OUR online community!
âThanks Steve, but that was a lot. What do I do now?â
Let me recap Steps #1-#8:
Depending on where youâre at in life, and how much weight you need to lose, you might be satisfied with just Steps 1, 2, and 3 for the next few years.
And if youâre ready to do more than that, weâre here for ya too.
If youâre looking for me to actually tell you what to do, I would suggest the following:
Hereâs a strategy optimized for effortless awesomeness, happiness, and look-good nakedness:
I would start there, and then do two things after 30 days:
#1) Track your compliance to see if you actually did the workouts!
Did you go for walks, strength train twice per week, and do a fun activity? You can track this on your calendar or in a notebook.
#2) Measure if you got closer to your goal weight/skills/physique?
Are you healthier, happier, and more confident?
âSteve thatâs still not specific enough. I want you to tell me, for my exact situation, what to do every single day to reach my goals. Oh and hold me accountable. K thanks.â
Iâm not clairvoyant or omniscientÂ (â¦yet), so in the meantime, you can check out our really funÂ 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program.
Your Coach (a member of Team NF weâll match you with based on your needs) will get to know you, your goals, and your challenges, and develop a workout plan thatâs specific to not only your body type, but also to your schedule and life.
Click the image below to schedule a free call to see if weâre a good fit for each other!
I donât care whatever path you pick, be it our coaching, NF Prime, or if you just read the free stuff on Nerd Fitness and never buy anything!
I just want to help you get results, feel better about yourself, and stop struggling to make exercise consistent.
So letâs hear it. Where are you on your path to finding your perfect workout program!?
Tell me what your goals are. Iâd love to hear about what youâre working on.
Which step are you on? Stuck on Level 3? What are the activities you LOVE/HATE?
What program are you following? Do you have a question on what to pick?
What have you found works for you, and what DIDNâT work for you?
Leave a comment and share your story with your fellow rebels!
PS:Â If you want a blueprint for your own âperfect workoutâ â one that customizes to your own experience level â check out NF Journey.
Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).
Try your free trial right here:
This content was originally published here.