A Nerd’s Guide to Fitness

Nerds are our most precious natural resource. If you’re a nerd, let’s talk about how to keep you healthy and writing code/researching/crunching data/doing stuff normal people don’t understand for as long as possible.

Don’t let this guy stand in your way

Understand the Strengths and Weaknesses of Research

The continuum ranges from bro science to meta-analysis, and the truth lies somewhere in between.

There has been a trend in fitness over the past few years to focus on being “research-based.” While this has been helpful in many ways, it’s also limited. If your critical thinking is just as strong as your wireless signal, you know that research has its strengths and weaknesses.

Anecdotes cannot stack up high enough to create science. But what if something has been in rotation among dedicated strength athletes for decades? There may just be something to it. The level of geekery within this slice of the population is not to be underestimated.

Our advice is to be aware of the research but not to write-off something simply because it hasn’t been validated yet. Especially since you’re perfectly capable of engaging in your own brand of citizen-science. To do this, you simply need to…

Embrace the OODA Loop

Observe
Orient
Decide
Act

This little sequence was formulated by John Boyd, a math nerd who redefined aerial combat before moving on to a flat-out revolution in aeronautical design. He developed (in secret) the design for the A-16 and strongly influenced the design of the F-15 and A-10 Warthog. That last one, if you’re not familiar, is essentially a gun with a plane attached to it.

The OODA loop was part of what made him a flying legend. It also speaks to something we can learn from elite military operators today. See what’s going on. Understand the context. Make a decision. AND THEN GO. Don’t muddy action with thought. Instead, think things completely through and then execute with full commitment.

Start with small forays and tweak your strategy as experiential knowledge floods in. These experiments should start small but don’t need extensive planning (yet) because…

What You Do May Not be that Important

This may sound like sacrilege coming from a training facility but if you’re new, almost any activity will create positive results. Jump into a class. Pick up a sport. Start walking more. Are you truly a noob? Any or all of these things will improve hormonal function and neurological efficiency. These changes will lead to improved performance and body composition, even in the early days.

During this magical period of gains, you will have time to continue researching and perfecting your long-term strategy. This part is important because…

Something that Gets You Early Results May Not Continue to Work Sustainably

There are diminishing returns from every area of training. That’s just human physiology for you. That trend towards adaptive efficiency is why exercise works in the first place.

So does it matter at all? Naturally, we do have stance on that. Long-term progress needs to go deeper than changes to body composition. It should be strongly founded in improved strength and motor skills. While body composition can fluctuate, procedural memory (including strength from enhanced intra- and inter-muscular coordination) is lifelong. That means a movement-focused system will continue to impact how you exercise for the rest of your life.

Image by Russel Frost

The only real limitation is…

Don’t Break Nuthin’

For the reasons above, you don’t need to begin things on the cutting edge of performance or human effort. Learn your limits before looking to expand them. And remember that context is key. Mimicking someone with 10 years of hard training experience is unnecessary, especially when you should be asking what their first year looked like.

Context means everything

You’ll Need More Rest and Nutrients, Not Less.

There’s a common misconception that exercise will make you a hardened warrior able to live on less sleep and fewer nutrients. Quite the opposite. By exposing your body to focused, productive stresses, you will need to ensure fuller recovery. Of course, you may reap some of these rewards via improved nutrient partitioning (where your body sends its resources) and quality of sleep.

Calories are a bit of a different story. Especially if energy drinks and Mountain Dew are one of your food groups. However, dense clusters of nutrients can often come in the form of exotic foods like salads and other whole foods. There’s ample room for experimentation here. And for unconventional methods to work as long as essential needs are met.

http://thedeepdish.org/the-pizza-diet-getting-bigger-stronger-and-leaner-eating-222-large-pizzas-in-a-row/ 

The important thing here is to honestly address your own needs. Some people require incremental evolution and others need full and radical change to stick to a plan. Do what works for you.

Understand your Pain Points

If you’re like most nerds, focus or work ethic are not the limiting factors. Your issues may have more to do with feeling welcome or knowledgable enough. It can be especially tough for experts in other domains to show up to a new environment as a white belt. Sometimes that means training at home, at least for a little while. And sometimes that means finding the right kind of environment or culture.

We have three rules for conduct at Bang Fitness:

Show up
Work hard
Be nice

We believe that these guidelines should make any environment accessible and enjoyable. And if they’re not enough, we highly recommend looking elsewhere.

Be Realistic About what Kind of Support You Need

You don’t have to go this alone. Accountability and social support are worth all the theory and research in the world. Whether nutritional guidance, counseling, or simply finding the right training partner, find out what you need. That might be in-person or via an app. Find a combination that works for you.

Be Aware of Everyone’s Agenda

Our agenda is pretty straightforward: if you’re a nerd in Toronto AND are interested in training, we’d like to meet you. Simple. Parse that stuff out and you’ll see the real value of the article. Most of the advice still holds up. Take the same approach with other information you come across. Strip away the sales pitch and see what’s left.

Good luck, nerds. We’re rooting for you.