Saturday, November 6, 2010

Hulking Out: Why Nerds Should Lift Weights

I wholeheartedly embrace all things nerd and geek. I think that the art, institutions, technology, and culture that we have managed to eke out in our corner of society are pretty amazing. Obviously, I like them so much that my fiance and I put together a blog dedicated to them.

What I'm not crazy about is negative stereotypes about nerds. Despite the social progress we've made over time, "nerd" is still generally used as an insult.

There are some nasty stereotypes out there, and one of the worst is that we're all fat. I bet when you think of the word nerd, this is one of the first things that pops into your head:

Comic Book Guy from the "Simpsons." See the fat nerd! Look how ridiculous he is! His gut is hanging out from under his shirt! Isn't he a gross nerd?

Are there nerds out there who look like this? Sure. I do think that as a culture, nerds tend to focus on matters of the mind, and in some cases, probably neglect to take care of our bodies. We don't all look like this, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do something about the fact that people think of us like this.

So what do we do to combat this stereotype? Well we can obviously chastise folks when they make a fat nerd joke, but why not take things to the next level?

Let's all Hulk out.

Nerds (and really everyone) should work out. What's more, we should all work out with weights. Why? Well first off, it's good for you. The health benefits of weightlifting are many. Here are a few:

1. Weight training will make you less fat- Many people, when they start a diet/workout regimen, don't lift weights, but stick with cardiovascular exercise. This is a mistake. The more muscle you have on your body, the more fat you can burn. Plus, having more muscle on you will allow you to burn more fat throughout the course of the day.

2. Weight training will make you stronger- Obviously. And I don't think anyone thinks to themselves "You know what I love? Being physically weak".

3. Weight training will make your bones stronger too- Bones respond to weight training by getting stronger, and lifting weight while you're young will help you stave off bone related issues later in life.

4. Weight training will make you more attractive- Shallow and vain, I know. But the side effect of working out (the primary effect is to get healthier) is that your body will become more attractive.

Of course, you want to work out. You've been meaning to forever, but you just don't for a whole bunch of reasons.

1. You don't have the time- Okay how much time did you spend watching TV, surfing the internet, playing video games, or reading comics last night? If the answer is more than 20 minutes, you have time to lift weights

2. The gym is intimidating- I used to think this same thing. The gym is full of muscle-bound jocks who will judge me harshly when I try to work out. I would rather not work out then face embarrassment akin to what I felt for 4 straight years everyday in high school. Here's the thing: in my experience, most people at the gym are awesome. Sure there are a few jerks, but for the most part, people are polite and extremely supportive of everyone else's health goals. Also, there are all types of people at the gym. There are crazy huge powerlifter types, and hardcore triathletes and whatnot, but there are also 36 year old moms who are trying to lose a few pounds, and old college professors who like to do some circuit training after classes, and every other type of person you can possibly imagine. I know it's tough to get over that hump of fear, but it's awesome once you do.

3. I am too weak to lift weights- Start out small. Start out with lightest weight you can. Over time, your body will adapt and get stronger. And you know what? Nerds are often better at lifting weights than jocks because, while jocks focus on putting up as much weight as possible, nerds focus on form, and form is- overall- more important then lifting huge amounts of weight.

4. I don't have access to a gym/ can't afford a membership- buy some dumbbells and workout at home. If you look around on the internet, there are a ton of great home workouts floating around the web.

5. I have no idea how to workout- Again, Google weightlifting. There are tons of great resources which include video tutorials, workout plans, and all kinds of other great stuff.

6. I am a woman- Oh geez. Weightlifting is just as good for women as it is for men. It may actually be better for women. I know, I know. You don't want to get too huge. You won't. Unless you take a ton of steroids, and train like a crazy person, you aren't going to get gigantic. What you will get is healthier.

Look, here's my thing:

My whole life, I wanted to be a superhero. Most superheroes are nerds who come upon power through magic, or technological means. In real life though, you don't get superstrong by exposing yourself to gamma radiation- you get dead. If you want to be a real life Hulk, or She-Hulk, you train. You run, stretch, and yes, lift weights.

So come on nerds! Let's show the world what we're made of! Let's hit the gym.

Here are some resources for nerds looking to get healthier through weight training:

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