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How to Transition From Nerd to Muscle Man

Michael is an online fitness writer who's an expert in strength training exercises.

Me lifting a heavy dumbbell.

Me lifting a heavy dumbbell.

Nerds and Muscle Men

When referring to nerds and muscle men I am generalizing. The obvious difference between a nerd and a muscle man is the amount of muscle the person has. Muscle men are muscular. They are strong and confident. Nerds have very little muscle and don't take very good care of their bodies. They are weak and shy. It is easy to see the difference. I was a nerd. Now I am a muscle man.

Nerds typically like science, science fiction, fantasy and computers. They like thinking and interacting with the world virtually using technology. They also like to be inside in a small place they are comfortable with and prefer theory over practice. Muscle men like exercising and working out to build muscle. They also like to get out and use their muscles to accomplish things in the real world. Most muscle men like sports, hanging out with a lot of people and games that are not virtual. They spend less time thinking and more time doing things.

Muscle men find reasons to use their muscles. An exercise made my muscles hurt. I did it again and again so my body could adapt. I was terrible at an exercise so I did it again and again so I could improve. An exercise started to become easy so I found ways to make it more difficult. Nerds make up excuses not to use their muscles.

Nerds and muscle men do different things so they have very different bodies.

My Transition

My transition began when I decided I wanted to bike to the beach. I biked to the beach and later that day I biked back. After a while, I started biking more often in the summer and increased the distance. To keep my legs in shape I started exercising while I was watching TV. My legs were in great shape but my upper body was still weak. So I started working out my upper body more. Exercising became a habit and so did competing against myself. I found that I enjoyed exercising and improving myself.

Transforming yourself is simple. You do the work and then you get the body. Just keep it in the realm of possibility. If I want broad shoulders I give myself broad shoulders; if I want great looking abs, I give myself great looking abs. I don't fantasize about it.

Me doing a side plank.

Me doing a side plank.


Muscle does not just happen. People that are strong and muscular are strong and muscular because they exercised a lot. To exercise enough to change your body, it needs to become a habit. Something that you do so often that it just becomes a normal everyday activity like watching TV. It needs to be part of your lifestyle. Nerds spend a lot of time typing, pressing buttons and sitting in front of the TV. Muscle men spend a lot of time doing things that require strength, endurance, speed and balance. If a nerd wants to build muscle they need to spend less time doing nerd activities and more time doing muscle man activities.


When playing video games try to spend at least half the time playing motion games. Not the ones that are mostly button pressing. I am referring to the ones that require you to be active like the sports games. The Wii sports games provide me with entertainment and exercise. Move as much as possible instead of as little as possible. Playing video games takes time away from other things. So you should set time limits.

Muscle men and nerds watch a lot of TV. However, muscle men don't just sit there doing next to nothing for hours. They use the TV as a tool. You can work out and watch your favorite shows at the same time. Another option is to work out before turning the TV on. Stay off the couch or chair unless you resting your body. If you spent most of the day sitting in front of a computer then you should exercise during your relaxation time.

A lot of people think reading books as a form of entertainment is good. I am not one of them. It is good in moderation but while you are reading you are not exercising and you are not doing things in the real world.

Card games don't provide you with exercise either. If you want to become muscular you need to be physically active. Make the entertainment more active or replace it with something else. I play video games but I limit myself to eight hours a week. At least half of that time is spent playing motion games on the Wii. During the week I only play sports games. Most days I exercise before I turn on the TV. I do exercises I can't do while watching TV like push-ups and planks. While I watch TV I do exercises like running, jumping rope, lifting weights and shadow boxing. Sometimes I play cards and I read but I mostly stick with active entertainment.


Muscle men tend to spend a lot more time outside than nerds do. Get outside and use your body. One of the best ways to build muscle is to go somewhere under your own power. Walk, run, bike, row, paddle or climb. I started going for bike rides and it transformed my body. It made me look more like an athlete. Now I have huge rock-hard calf muscles. I look like someone that does a lot of biking and people have commented on my legs. Looking at pictures, videos and webcams do not give you the same experience as being in the places you are looking at and it does not provide you with exercise.

I biked 37 miles to get to a beach. There is no way I would bike that far inside on an exercise bike but I want to bike to that beach again.

One of three beaches at Sandbanks Provincial Park.

One of three beaches at Sandbanks Provincial Park.


When people think of muscular men they often think of a gym. Men go to a gym to build muscles. Gyms have lots of good equipment. However, there are a lot of muscular men that work out at home or outside. There is no need to go to the gym to work out. Go to a gym, exercise outside or work out at home. It does not matter where you do it. You just need to do it. I exercise almost every day but I exercise at home or outside.

You can have a home gym by buying some equipment like a jump rope, boxing gloves, weights and an exercise mat. A lot of the exercises I do are body weight exercises. You can build muscle just by using your body weight. When people want muscle they usually focus on lifting weights but intense cardio exercises work just as well. My best workouts were outside while I was riding my bike to a beach.

Lifting Your Body Weight

A true indication of your strength is your ability to lift your own body weight. While sitting in a chair push up and try to lift your body and hold the position for 60 seconds. If you can do that then try it with your legs out in front of you. Ideally, your feet should be as high as your hands. If you can't do it then just keep trying. The attempt will make you stronger. It is a good exercise to do three times a day. It works better for building muscle if you can't do it.

Attempt exercises that involve lifting most of your body weight. If you fail your muscle will still become stronger. Push-ups are one of the best body weight exercises if you increase the amount of body weight you are lifting by raising your feet. Handstand push-ups are good because you are lifting almost all your body weight while maintaining your balance.

Losing or Failing Is Good

People that play video games like to win. They don't want to lose or fail. I know from experience that some of them like to cheat. They do not want to be a loser. You need a different mindset to build muscle. Failure is good because it gives you a reason to change. You learn and your body adapts.

To transform your body you need to find things you are bad at. Give your body a reason to adapt. For instance, when I started jumping rope it hurt my calf muscles. Two weeks later I could tell that my calf muscle had become much stronger. The best way to get my body to change is to try to do exercises or workouts that I can't do or that I can't do very well. I have been working on handstand push-ups for a long time. The reason I want to try to do them is because I can't.

Programming Yourself

It is easier to program yourself than a computer. People often program themselves without even realizing it. The problem with programming yourself is that you need to overcome conflicting statements using repetition and most people repeatedly think about things they don't want to do. If I watch TV, I exercise. I programmed that into me. The previous statement was something like "If I watch TV I sit on the couch." I overcame it by repeatedly thinking about exercising while I watched TV and actually exercising while I watched TV. Now sitting on the couch conflicts with my programming. Exercising as soon as I turn on the TV feels natural.

You can use self-talk and program yourself using words or you can use mental pictures or videos. Visualization and self-talk work best when used together. You can also form associations. An association is a mental link. One thing makes you think of the other. For example, you probably associate your bed with sleep. I associate my TV with exercise. Programming yourself can be fun. I did some visualization experiments and created associations to see what I could do.

I don't really consider it a bad thing but if I am not working I have a hard time sitting still. It is part of my programming. So while relaxing at the beach I keep getting up to go for a swim or a walk. If I sit on a couch I feel like getting up and doing something.

Pain And Fatigue

People sometimes ask me why I put my body through things that cause me pain and fatigue. The truth is I began to like it. Pain and fatigue are the result of vigorous exercise. It is an indication that I am accomplished something. If there is no pain or fatigue I feel like it is a waste of time. I enjoy difficult long-distance bike rides more than short easy ones. The sense of accomplishment is one reason I like to experience pain and fatigue. Another is the endorphins—the body will reduce the pain using natural pain killers called endorphins. They make me feel good.

It is important to know your pain. You want to hurt your muscles so they heal and become stronger but you don't want them to take a long time to heal. Sometimes you can ignore the pain and sometimes ignoring the pain results in an injury. The best way to know your pain and the amount of time you need to recover is to gain experience. Ease into new exercise routines while paying attention to the pain and recovery time.

I like pain as a sign that I am making progress but I don't like being in pain for a long time or experiencing intense pain. With experience, I learned how to experience pain and make progress without experiencing the pain for a long time or experiencing intense pain.

The Journey

Difficult journeys make for good entertainment. In movies, TV and games people struggle. My favorite video games are not easy. They are difficult and they take a long time to finish. Transforming yourself should be difficult and it should take time. You need to challenge yourself but that is not a bad thing. It can be enjoyable. The problem a lot of nerds have is that they don't like things that are difficult when it comes to using their own bodies. They notice it is difficult so they stop trying before they have a chance to improve. Muscle men notice something is difficult and use it as a reason to improve themselves.

To transform from a nerd to a muscle man you need to strike a balance between being physically passive and being physically active. Spend more time working on yourself. It can be as simple as exercising while you watch TV and going for bike rides to the beach during the summer.

I said simple, not easy. Going for 20-mile bike rides was not easy but I enjoyed it. I am not big and bulky and I still do nerd things but I also use my muscles a lot. So I consider myself a muscle man.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


BlissfulWriter on February 01, 2013:

I agree with the idea of doing stuff outside. You also get the benefit of the sun. I like body weight exercises and do push ups off a chair (easier than off the floor). I can not do hand-stand push ups. Those are tough.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on February 01, 2013:

I love it! Nerds are awesome, but when they have muscles they are even more attractive.

Great hub, different than any I have seen so far.

I am lucky to have a gym in my building (with a strider and a stationary bike, my two favorites), and a beach across the street (with about 3 miles of a harborwalk), so exercising is relatively easy here.

Hui (蕙) on February 01, 2013:

Great summary on nerds and muscle men! I guess it is the best to have both in one. A muscle man can also be interested in science and do a lot thinking. :P This is a very helpful hub, which inspires and reminds people of how important and easy to keep body in health and thus keep thinking in sharpness.

Slaven Cvijetic from Switzerland, Zurich on February 01, 2013:

great hub! I am also on my way to become a muscle man! SHARING

PageC on February 01, 2013:

Great hub.

Working out with friends, or finding a workout community and making friends, is a great way to keep motivated.

Beth37 on February 01, 2013:

I like thinkers.

Travel Blogs from The world on February 01, 2013:

I have to start doing it.. I need to get into SHAPE!!!!

Kari on February 01, 2013:

I wish I lived by the beach. To be honest, that would be a huge motivation for me to get out and exercise (outside). Any time we have gone on vacation to an island, I am huge motivated. For now, we are doing a knock off of p90x, and soon we will be starting the some real beach body workout.

Kas from Bartlett, Tennessee on February 01, 2013:

Awesome hub brother, im missing working out right now. I pulled a muscle working out while living I knew Zealand about 7 months ago. Im about to start back up.

Thanks for the motivation brother, great hub, voting up!

Michael H (author) from Canada on February 01, 2013:

If your fat then it is good to do cardio and weightlifting. Lifting weights or your body weight is a good way to get rid of fat. Just don't eat like you are trying to bulk up. When in doubt do it yourself and check your own results. My main motivation is the beach. I like to go to beaches but I only bike to the beaches and my favorite beach is 37 miles away. Find your own reasons to workout.

Klavdija Frahm on February 01, 2013:

Great hub! I'm doing on my "from nerd to fit nerd" transformation too :D

Weekend Hobbyist on February 01, 2013:

Great hub bro.

Thinking of hitting the gym soon. Any pointers on what kept you motivated? I think that's the problem I am facing - motivation. There are also people who are saying that if you're fat like me that I should do just cardio, because if I lift weights areas would harden and become bulky. Do you know if there's any truth to that?


Eric Dockett from USA on February 01, 2013:

This is an interesting Hub, and not what I was expecting. I like your perspective and your attitude of getting out and doing it. However, even back in the days when I could bench press 350 lbs I think I was still a nerd. Some things you just can't out-lift. :-)

Great Hub!

Boefie from Germany on February 01, 2013:



Rawlo94 from Cheshire on February 01, 2013:

This is a really good guide to simple muscle gaining especially with the ideas for home exercise. Although I think you put too much detail on constant exercise, you can do more damage than good if you continuosly work out and end up with back and joint problems. Also if people want to read they should! Intelligence and becoming cultured is as if not more important than being buff!

KenWu from Malaysia on February 01, 2013:

This is inspiring. I used to love exercising very much... Rarely missed a day in a week... but now I am totally opposite of my prior self. Ashamed of myself and got to get started now. Six packs have now turn a big belly... Your hub inspire me to turn it over.

kingkos on February 01, 2013:

I want to gain weight, maybe i change my eating habit and less playing computer games.

chucky1291 on February 01, 2013:

this is really amazing. i'm currently doing insanity and weight lifting. but this is also helpful. thanks.