If you can believe this, many Geeks are in bad shape. Many of you geeks might have this little voice in the backs of your heads saying you should be working out, but it is promptly silenced by the din of a good game of Half-Life or your blasting MP3's. However, should you decide to listen to that voice, as I did, here's a listing of the things I have found to be most important to my ongoing endeavor. I've been working out consistently now for over 6 months, so something's going right.

  1. Find someone to work out with.
    I can't stress this enough. Well, maybe I can make it bold. Find someone to work out with! The point of this is to have somebody who you feel bad about letting down when you miss your workout, thereby causing you to miss fewer workouts. The ideal person is someone who has worked out in the past as much as you have. I now work out with my girlfriend, who doesn't have much exercise experience, and it's sometimes difficult to reconcile our different fitness goals. I'm going for strength while she's going for weight loss and tone, so we try to do a combination cardio/strength workout. I don't think this is really an ideal situation, and we should probably separate the two aspects as much as possible. However, I hate cardio, and she hates both. Hmm.

  2. Make it a scheduled thing.
    Consistency also helps you to stick to your workouts. If you set aside a couple hours every other day, you're a lot more likely to keep it up than if you just say "I'll work out a few times this week." This somewhat complicates the "finding a partner" guideline.

  3. Do something fun and strenuous before you lift weights.
    I play racquetball. Some people may not have the facilities for this, but I figure if you're a geek you're generally in college or making lots of money, so either way you should have access to some kind of athletics facility. If you like to run, run. Tennis is fun, too. Do something that you and your partner can start off on equal levels at, and get better together. Not only does this make you look forward to your workout, but it also loosens up your muscles before you lift. Strength training is a very good way to get in shape fast and to increase energy, as well as burn fat. However, if you lift (or stretch) too much when your muscles are cold, you run a much higher risk of injury.

  4. When running or jogging, go all out.
    If you prefer jogging, you have to push yourself all the time. It's difficult, but you should try to run at a consistant, moderate pace for at least 45 minutes. Anything less and you won't be burning much fat, which is mostly what jogging is good for. I personally hate jogging, so I usually spend a good hour playing racquetball as a substitute. It's not near as strenuous, but it gets close once you get skilled at it. The same goes for tennis and other such activites.

  5. Stay hydrated. All day.
    "They" say you should drink about a gallon of water a day. Damn, that's a lot of water, and it's also a lot of trips to the bathroom. Check out Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day for discussion on this topic. I don't know anybody who drinks this much water; everybody at the office is more inclined to drink coffee. But, if you can keep a sports bottle full of ice water at your desk (or wherever your work) during the day, and drink from it every time the thought hits you, you can finish off a suprising amount in 8 hours. If you don't want to do this, just drink a big glass of water before you work out, and make sure to drink during your workout, too.

  6. Don't work out too often.
    Most specialists recommend that you work out, at most, every other day. This gives your muscles time to rest and rebuild. If you work out more often, you run the risk of causing muscular damage. Some people just go crazy when they start working out, going for hours every day. Then they hurt themselves and never go back.

  7. Look in to dietary supplements.
    If you've got the money, supplements can be a big help. You can get a nice $15 discount at vitamins.com for your first purchase. I take creatine, which is a chemical used by your muscles whenever they do work. It has recently been proven to build lean muscle mass in healthy young adults. You can get it in pill or powder form. I personally take the powder, which you add to any cold liquid. It has no taste whatsoever, and it brings about a noticable difference in the quality of your workout. There are lots of other supplements out there, and it pays to do the research needed to find the one that's right for you. By the way... don't do steroids. They'll mess you a up a lot more than they'll help you.

  8. Go for the good hurting
    If your muscles get sore, that's a good hurt. Okay, maybe it's a little masochistic, but that achy soreness means that your muscles are rebuilding themselves to be stronger for the next time you put them through that punishment. About a week and a half after you first start working out, they won't be sore anymore after your session. That's when you start increasing your reps or the weight on the machines or free-weights.

  9. Select the weight that's right for your goals.
    There are basically two different goals you can shoot for. If you want to build strength, do so much weight that you can only do about 8-10 reps at a time. The rule of thumb that I use is if I can do 15-20 reps on the weight I've chosen, it's time to move up. Generally, it's good to move up in 10-15lb increments. Most Nautalus machines won't give you much choice.
    If you want to tone your muscles, i.e. remove the fat from within and around the muscle tissue, set the weight so you can do 30-40 reps. Remember, you should be really stuggling around #40. Once you can do 50, it's time to move up.

  10. My Favorite Situp.
    If you're like me, you're impatient with how long it takes to work out your stomach muscles. Those little crunches you did in grade school for the Presidential Fitness Award (which I could never get) take forever, like 60 or 70 reps, to tire me out. If you want to get your belly really moving, try this: Start out lying flat on your back with your legs out straight and heels together. Pick your heels and your shoulder blades a few inches off the ground. Now bring your knees up towards your chin and push with your hands out around the outside of your legs, as if you were trying to do a toe-touch. Whether or not you touch your toes is unimportant. I don't. Now go back to the heels-and-shoulders off the ground position and repeat the process. 50 of these still exhausts me.

I'll continue to add more stuff to this writeup as I think of things. I welcome any additions/changes/comments so feel free to msg me or add your own material.

Have a good workout!

Update: 5/20/2002
I wrote this node while in college, and now that I've been out and working as a software developer for a year, I feel I should point out that there's no way I'm going to find time to do weight training AND at least 45 minutes of cardio. I don't have convenient access to raquetball anymore, so I'm pretty much stuck to jogging for cardio, and there's no WAY I'm going to jog for 45 minutes. Even if I was physically capable, it still boring as hell.

So: I feel obliged to point out that you can still get great results without a giant time investment in the cardio part of your workout. I saw a study recently at www.fitnessonline.com where women did just 2 minutes of warmup and 8 minutes of cardio (at 70% or better of their target heart rate) along with a light weight training routine for three days a week. On average, they lost 3 pounds of fat, and gained two pounds of muscle in just 2 months. Mind you, that's not just 3 pounds, but 3 pounds of fat. They noticed a definite decrease in their cellulite, as well. Not that I have much cellulite; I'm just saying. It doesn't take much to make a big difference.

gkAndy: Regarding your request for a weight control/excersize program designed for coders, try the "Hacker's Diet" which can be found at http://www.fourmilab.to/hackdiet/www/hackdietf.html. It's got a simple, no-nonsense approach to dieting, a detailed excersize plan that only demands 15 minutes a day and is designed to start you off slowly with simple excersizes and increases in difficulty as your abilities increase. Also, it details a formula for how to monitor your progress on Excel.
Make sure to read the helpful corrections to my somewhat uninformed ramblings above as posted by fnordian!
Saige advises geeks who want to get in shape should look into Dance Dance Revolution, which forces you to jump around a lot. I personally think that going to the arcade for your daily workout is a bit expensive, not to mention yucky. People don't come to the arcade so they can be around people who smell like they've been working out, even though that's what tends to happen anyway. However, I think a few free DDR machines in workout facilities (instead of treadmills, which are probably just as expensive) would be awesome!. In fact, if they could make all fitness equipment into video game machines, you'd probably see a sharp decline in teenage obesity. I'll make millions!