All Good Devs Make Things Happen

February 11, 2012

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After publishing last Friday night’s post, I woke up to rain leaking in through the window.

Instant motivation killer!

I dodged the drizzle to get to the gym where I did squats, pull ups, push ups and finished with a interval training workout on the treadmill.

Then I called in to see my grandpa. You haven’t met him but I wish more people could.

He’s exactly the kind of 86-year-old I want to be.

He’s always made things happen whether it’s brewing his own wine or making walking sticks. He’s currently recovering from an operation caused by his decision to relay his patio but here he is modelling my Vibram FiveFingers last Saturday.

He made the walking stick he’s holding out of the branch of a tree and a reindeer’s antler. He’s my hero and always good fun to spend time with, just talking and putting the world to rights.

I wanted to get a workout in on Sunday but didn’t – I worked on the site until late and then watched Superbowl instead. The missed session got me thinking:

How do you find the balance between making stuff happen and talking about making stuff happen?

Us digital folk are a strange bunch. Whether we’re devs or sys admins we generally prefer to be left to our own devices, hero coding ourselves to oblivion rather than ‘waste time’ discussing it with others. In our own way, we’re making stuff happen.

On one hand it takes incredible reserves of determination. We find solutions after many others have quit.

On the other, our narrow-minded individualism cuts us off from reaping the benefits that come with talking things over with others. As Jeff Atwood points out, in programming, one is the loneliest number.

It boils down to finding a balance to suit your goals. Do you write code or read about code? Do you workout or read about working out? In my opinion, discussion has value and should be practised often but our day job is to ship code.

Likewise with fitness, I’m concious of spending more time talking about getting fast and strong than actually getting fast and strong.

Ultimately, it’s a balance between:

Surrounding yourself with good people is useful. Listen to anyone who’s been there and done it. Read blogs and study other people’s code. Attend conference and watch workout videos.

But eventually you have to get out there and make things happen.

How to Get Started…

…running a marathon

Get your shoes on and get out of the door. Concentrate on running a single mile. Save the Ultra-Marathon research for another day.

…developing the next Facebook

Start writing code. Concentrate on the most important task at hand, then work on the next most important. Allow your project to grow organically. Worry about the details later.

…eating smarter

Eat lean proteins like chicken breasts or fish. Eat high-quality carbs, veggies by the bucket load, more fruit and choose whole-wheat pastas and breads. Avoid drinking your calories. They’re full of sugar and won’t fill you up. Leave the science of calorie counting and the specifics of crash diets to others. We’ve got better things to do.

…getting stronger

Firstly, Keep It Simple, Stupid! .

Complete a full body workout in 20 minutes in your own home. Focus on the classic exercises listed below and remember quality beats quantity.

These are Compound Exercises which work on multiple muscle groups at once. This adds to the efficiency of our workouts. Videos of each exercise are provided.

Suggested routine:

  • Warm up. Get your body prepared for exercise. Try jumping jacks and push ups.
  • Pick a comfortable weight (you’ll need dumbbells) and do 6-8 repetitions of each.
  • Rest for 60 seconds.
  • Do 6-8 more repetitions.
  • Do this three days a week on non-consecutive days.
  • The key is to increase intensity over time.
  • Focus on quality not quantity.

The Military Press
This exercise works the muscles in your shoulders (deltoids) as well as the muscles at the back of your arms (triceps). It also strengthens your core muscles too.


Chin Ups
This exercise will work out the muscles in your back as well as your abs and biceps. This is a tough exercise for a beginner so this video contains some great advice for getting started.


Bodyweight Squat
This is a perfect exercise for anybody who spends much of their day slumped over a desk (like me!). It’ll work the big muscles in your legs like your quads (the big muscles at the front of your thigh) and your glutes (your backside!).


Pull ups
Pull ups hit your back muscles hard, especially your lats. This is another tough exercise for the beginner so build up to the full exercise. This is a useful progression video to follow:


Push up
The push up works your upper body, mainly your chest muscles (pectorals) and your triceps. If full push ups are too much, start on your knees and work up. Remember to keep your back straight throughout the exercise.

The Wrap-Up

I’m still in the early stages of finding the right balance. I’m working out consistently, varying my routines every month and tidying up my form, too. Six months ago I was basically clueless when it came to how to lose weight, get stronger and run faster and anything I’ve learnt since comes from my own experiences and the advice of others.

I’m thankful for anybody who takes the time to read Fitness Hack but if you ever have a choice to make between reading this site or getting out and making things happen, then choose the latter. Great things will follow if you do!

Thanks for reading!

This site is intended to provide strength & fitness advice for developers, designers, programmers and other regular computer users. You can subscribe to Fitness Hack updates using RSS or email. You can also follow my own mission to lose fat, get strong and run fast on Twitter.

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Photo by Louis Abate

  • Simon

    Can I recommend you look at Deadlifts and Bench Press as well, two other key Compound Lifts

    • Anonymous

      Hi Simon,

      You’re quite right. I’ll include both exercises shortly.

      Thanks for your feedback!

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