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How Working Out Makes Us Better Entrepreneurs (derekflanzraich.com)
62 points by jasonshen 2318 days ago | hide | past | web | 43 comments | favorite

I do Crossfit every day. It's quick (a "long" workout might be 20 minutes) and it works. You're always working out with others, who are there to push you and support you. It's incredibly gratifying to accomplish something you've been working towards. And like the article says, you get a nice energy boost.

Amen. I did crossfit for ~1.5 years, stopping last summer when I got out of the Marine Corps. Though I can no longer afford a CF gym membership, I've started getting back into "CrossFit-style" workouts.

Does wonders for my motivation levels and productivity.

I've always been a big supporter of a fit body = a fit mind either entrepreneurial or otherwise. I've solved many software issues running around a lake in the evenings.

Meditation is also well known to increase mental acuity.

I dono. I believed this in high school when I practiced meditation regularly. I think I even compared it's effects to exercise, but I believed a lot of things in high school that I now consider silly and/or obviously untrue. Do you have credible citations?

I am not quite sure why these links keep getting posted - it is pretty well known by now that exercise is good for you in a number of ways, what those ways are, etc.

And no, you are not going to convince me to exercise before some routine is invented that:

Takes no time at all (literally: 0 Seconds, not "really quick if you are already in great shape") Doesn't make me sweat

Personally I am holding out for the pill that will give the same effects to my body as exercise does (it is all just chemicals, anyway).

"It is all just chemicals."

No, it's not. Your body has evolved with a set of chemical requirements managed by physical processes. Until the day comes when we can be just brains floating in jars, we must attend to the entire set of physical processes that manage our chemical requirements. The uptake, management and production of chemicals depends on an efficient and healthy physical body. No pill will change that.

Even if such a pill is invented one day, that day is not today. You're dragging your body around behind your brain all day long, it may as well be healthy (which means more than not sick) and not a burden.

Besides, there's joy to be found in fitness. I was a slug my whole life, did almost nothing. I started CrossFit a couple years ago, and it was really hard, but it got easier and my health and capability grew. I knew my enjoyment of the world had changed for the better the day I outlasted my thirteen year old son playing frisbee.

That pill you're holding out for probably won't be invented before you die. It may never be invented, because it's more profitable for Big Pharma to treat problems than cure or prevent them. Do you want to be the 70 year old that's rolling through the super market in a motorized wheel chair, or the one that you see in your neighborhood every day taking a brisk walk?

Just out of curiosity, what have you done in your life to make you so against exercise?

I tried it, (ten kilometer commute on a bicycle) and a month after I stopped it I was back to what I had been previously. Nothing gained.

Whereas if I learn a new technique, read an interesting article or write some code it is still there half a year later.

No wonder. You're doing it wrong.

That's analogous to unsuccessfully learning French by reading French McDonald's menus, then telling everyone that French is stupid.

>I tried it, (ten kilometer commute on a bicycle) and a month after I stopped it I was back to what I had been previously. Nothing gained.

You might've pushed too hard then, or perhaps you hate biking, which is fine. Did you commute to work and back as part of it? If so, I'd hazard a guess that that's why you might've hated it.. if I had to run to work I wouldn't feel rewarded. My opinion is that you should find something that you like. Try running, swimming, yoga, anything.

With respect to your second point... your whole body is not your mind, and it is prone to atrophy; it's biology and that's how it is. If you stop coding for a long period of time(or stop learning, for that matter), your abilities there will diminish too.

You ate yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that.

Your eating technique is likely not improving, so why keep it up? Same with sleep. Are you getting any better at breathing (actually, you would if you exercised).

I'm not suggesting that you should get back on your bike, maybe biking isn't for you. But I strongly believe that you should find a physical activity that you do enjoy. Too many people slog out in a gym as punishment for no reason, don't be one of those. There is enjoyment in physical activity.

The worst part of working out is when you feel like you have to do it.

A bicycle commute isn't fun, it isn't a game (well, I used to be a bike courier, and I'd play with traffic, so I do enjoy it at times).

Hopefully one day you'll find a sport that you enjoy and can't wait to get out and do. Your body and mind will thank you.

I'd recommend group activities. I run only occasionally, but joined a group run last week and really enjoyed it, so today I'm looking forward to running with the group.

Run, bike, soccer, ultimate frisbee, tai chi, yoga, rock climbing, tennis, squash, handball, etc.etc. keep trying until you find the one that's for you. I suspect if you do, you'll get introduced to many sports that you like.

I tried it, (ten kilometer commute on a bicycle) and a month after I stopped it I was back to what I had been previously. Nothing gained.

Now, this is just a personal anecdote, but I've noticed lot of exercises (lifting weights, cardio) have a learning curve and an "acquired taste" quality to them. I used to hate running on the treadmill when I was terribly unfit and could barely top out at 8-10 mins @6 mph, but once I slowly improved and could go for about 30 mins or so at a stretch, running suddenly became a joy (I believe it is to do with the endorphin rush) and now I look forward to running. The most difficult part about an exercise regimen is sticking at it long enough till it no longer becomes a chore.

You can think of it as analogous to spending 2 weeks fumbling around with vim and its "weird keybindings" but once you get the muscle memory going you'll wonder how you ever managed without it. And remembering new key-combos will also no longer be a chore.

Edit: You should visit reddit's /r/fitness. They have a lot of advice both physical and psychological and give enormous feedback in terms of your exercise routine.

Agreed. Reddit's /r/fitness has consistently great stuff.

Also (disclaimer: blatant, but hopefully worthwhile self-promotion), http://www.greatist.com is a source we're building for high-quality tips, news, & general info on health & fitness.

Like others have said, perhaps biking isn't your thing. For me, I like to keep my workouts short and intense (<20min) and make sure I get the most out of them.

Here are some things that I do:

* High Intensity Interval Training. Basically I sprint for 10-20secs, walk for 30sec-1min, 8 times.

* Density Training. Set a timer for 15min, do 3 pushups, rest 10secs, repeat until time runs out (once you cant do 3 pushups extend rest period to 20secs)

Best part of each of these is they require no equipment, can do them anywhere, anytime and you really only have to do them once or twice a week.

Ten kilometers on a bike are just warm up. With exercise it is never about distance traveled. It is about effort and time. If you're after fitness that is.

But there is another aspect you should consider. You can sit on a bike, pick a destination and have fun getting there. Have a look around, treat yourself to some of this wonderful world. Combine the geek and the mammal in you.

How can you possibly know that you were back to exactly what you were before, i.e. in terms of your cardiovascular system condition, etc.

Also, I'm not sure about the bicycle, but if I stop now after a few years of training with weights, I will still be stronger than when I started for a really long time, like years.

Have you tried martial arts? I practice brazilian jiu jitsu. For me it's fun and really challenging.

It's helpful for some people to see the same message multiple times in different ways. This particular message (exercise for brain and stamina improvements) is relevant to a crowd of sedentary brain workers.

Not everyone's HN history is as long as yours or others', so it's helpful to newcomers to see relevant posts and ideas that may have appeared before.

Not everyone has analyzed the world as completely as you or others, and could use a little nudge forward in many areas.

Personally, I work out while watching movies, so if you plan on spending some time watching movies outside of a theater, this ends up taking almost zero additional seconds. I mean, I still need to take a shower, but the majority of the time can come out of the entertainment budget.

I personally enjoy embarrassingly stupid action movies, and I think that running (or elipticaling or pedaling or stair climbing or rowing) while watching both improves the enjoyment of the steroid-fueled cheesefest and the enjoyment of the exercise.

On the other hand, I'm still fat, so maybe I'm doing it wrong. Most likely, though, it's just that I've only been at it a few months and I'm still not eating right.

same here. That's the only way I can stay on the treadmill for 45+ minutes.

Love watching movies/TV shows when doing cardio, but I've found running for 45+ isn't necessarily the best way to lose weight (if that's your goal). The entrepreneurial benefits we've seen from working out are usually more about weight lifting circuits & interval training, stuff like that where there's variety to spice things up. Harder to watch movies/TV with those, though!

Not running, treadmill on cardio with high elevation and at 4.5mph. When I feel like it I manually chnage the settings for 5-10 minutes so the body is not used to it. I read that the body,, being a perfect machine tries to do the work with the least amount of energy wasted so you have to trick it. We can go to McDs now, no need to hunt in Africa for a week hoping to catch something :)

Running for 45 minutes might not be good for your knees (I think)

The body's incredible-- adapts suuuper fast. Among the best things to do to keep it on its toes, much like you're doing (knowingly or not!) is interval training. A helpful guide to how to do that: http://www.greatist.com/fitness/interval-training-complete-g...

Why stay on the treadmill for 45+ minutes? I like exercising, but that sounds like torture. I'd much rather do a short, intensive set of weight-lifting, an hour of yoga, or other things I actually find enjoyable in and of themselves. By all means do what's best for you, but if it's that monotonous, you may want to look at other options.

Cardio has numerous mental benefits for executive mental functions, working memory, etc. that has a large body of supporting scientific evidence. Weight-lifting doesn't have a significantly comparable effect (not saying it's meaningless or has no mental/psychological benefits), just different. For maintaining ideal bodyweight and metabolism I agree that weights are de rigueur.

people say that, but while 10 minutes of weightlifting makes you a little stronger, as far as I can tell, it doesn't really carry the same endurance or health benefits of an hour of cardio.

Who said anything about 10 minutes?

The health benefits of weightlifting are numerous, and it's arguably more effective for weight loss than cardio. (No, I don't save PDFs on this stuff--browse T-Nation for 10 minutes and check their sources).

I thought the conventional wisdom about weightlifting was short, intense workouts, and if you could do 30 minutes or more of it, it's not as intense as it should be. I mean, 3 sets of eight is pretty quick, and there are only so many muscle groups you can work that don't overlap.

I mean, nobody is arguing that you shouldn't also lift; more muscle mass means more calories burned no matter what your activity level. But I think lifting and cardio is going to be more effective than just lifting alone.

Doing the fundamental 'compound lifts' at around 80% of your 1RM(1 rep max) for <=5 reps is great for whole body conditioning and gaining functional strength. I'm talking Squats, Deadlifts, and BenchPress with an olympic bar. Freeweights are great at simulating life on a farm and the resulting conditioning. :)

Mark Rippetoe's 'Starting strength" is the bible for beginners to barbell training. Guy called Mehdi has made a 'SS for dummies' -style course, that I currently follow. Its called 'Stronglifts-5x5' and is loved and hated in equal measure by elite lifters.

Saved old PDF manual from his site: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5137/stronglifts-5x5.pdf

I've gained 15kg on my 110kg frame, lost 3 inches from my 50inch gut, and turned my legs to rock in 2 months of sticking to it. I believe the gained muscle weight will be offset once i lose another 10 inches of flab off the torso. Fingers crossed. :)

My 5x5-Squat went from 100lbs to 250lbs in the same period. My ancestors were farmers, i think.

Healthy eating comes naturally, once the the pain in the rear becomes a constant companion; and an effective reminder of why you shouldn't eat crap. I was a fat person who could never understand how to start eating right.

Like everything startupy, just get started doing stuff and push your limits more and more.

hah. I know my ancestors were farmers not just 'cause I am kinda built that way, but also 'cause both of my parents grew up on farms, and I still occasionally visit those farms. But yeah; I also lift, though not as part of a disciplined regimen. I also prefer free weights to machines, in part 'cause I do have do move heavy things as part of my job, and I know that being able to handle things at odd angles and being able to stabilize things is probably more important (when trying to avoid injury) than raw strength of an isolated muscle.

I'm just saying, 5 sets of 5 reps, repeated for 3-4 different muscle groups doesn't take all that long. I mean, maybe more than 10 minutes, but not all that much more. I mean, strength is an important component of health, but I think cardio is also important.

That said, I have never really stuck to a disciplined routine; usually I work out regularly for a few weeks, see huge gains in terms of strength (not much by way of fat loss) and then kinda get bored around the time when I am no longer able to add more weight every time I lift, so it's likely that if I stuck with it longer, I'd have a different opinion.

I mean, I'm 6' and 200# right now, and I've been around this weight since about 22-23 or so. I mean, it's been as high as 220 and as low as 190 but in that range. The fat is relatively distributed; I do enough lifting that my man-boobs can usually pass for pecs as long as you don't touch them and I don't bounce too much. It's pretty obvious if I let it go for a few months though. I've got a little bit of a belly. A spare bicycle tire, I joke. It's definitely there, but it's not really big enough to qualify as a full spare tire.

Thanks for the link though, it looks like an interesting program; I'm going to try adapting it to just the adjustable barbells that I have (I don't have an olympic bar right now due to space constraints) I've been taught 3 sets of 8 reps, but this program looks pretty good. I will try it. I've also been meaning to add squats with weights to my routine (I added body-weight squats some time ago. I believe that I have good form at this point, but I think I'll get a professional to check out my form before I move to weight. I think my form is good, but squats with bad form are probably the easiest way to injure yourself with weights.)

I mean, I am convinced that lifting burns calories far beyond lifting the bar; I mean, that's obvious from the heat you generate for the next day or two. but nearly everyone I know who has gone from being fat to being not-fat has done a significant amount of cardio (and dieting) along the way. What studies I have seen also suggest that cardio is important.

I'm genuinely curious to hear why you're so obstinate in your refusal to exercise.

I don't mind seeing these articles. We know exercise is good for us but it's not easy maintaining motivation and consistency. I'd like to see a follow-up on the psychology to accomplish that, how to hack your motivation to exercise.

One inspiration is Marc Jacob. He transformed his body, self-image, and business dramatically with fitness.

I agree, that would have been an interesting article to read.

>Personally I am holding out for the pill that will give the same effects to my body as exercise does (it is all just chemicals, anyway).

Some of those chemical reactions likely depend on the fluid dynamics of heavy exercise -- lots of blood flow (I'd almost call this a given) and tension in muscle tissue.

What scythe is saying, take Viagra for increased blood flow in conjunction with some adderall for the muscle tension. (I kid.)

Let me make you a guarantee: if you take Viagra and Adderall, you will exercise. I will bet money. Lots.

I think the benefits of exercising a few times a week on your productivity, health and happiness massively outweigh the time loss of several hours + the discomfort of being sweaty.

What's with all the entrepreneur and startup articles? I thought this was Hacker News, not Yuppie News.

This site used to be known as Startup News, a long time ago. It's also hosted on a sub-domain of a company that funds startups.

Paul Graham

14 August 2007

As of today we've expanded the focus of news.ycombinator.com from news about startups to news interesting to hackers generally. To reflect that we've changed the name to Hacker News.

Expanded, not redefined.

And my criticism was about the recent imbalance of such topics.

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