Game Production and the Art of Making Sit-ups

I just finished my morning exercise and I thought that making sit-ups can teach something about game development. If somebody wants to get fit and is making sit-ups, it’s natural to know that making 20 sit-ups is not going to do much – if you stop there. In fact, you can get fit by doing just one sit-up.

And then you need to repeat that pattern. Over and over. Rest, do more sit-ups, rest, do sit-ups until you are fit. Think about it. If you would spend excercising 5 minutes for 5 days a week for the next 5 years. Would that make a difference? Of course it would. Problem in the beginning is of course that doing 20 or 30 sit-ups feels awful. But you don’t have to start doing 100 sit-ups. You can start doing 3×3 sit-ups or 3 times one sit-up. Or one sit-up. Or if one sit-up is too much, then do half sit-up. The point is not to give up in the beginning, but to do what’s possible for you. After you have done 1 sit-up (or half sit-up) every day for one month, you begin to notice that you can double the amount. Next month you can double the amount again. 1 turns to 2… then 4. 4 becomes 8, 8 becomes 16… then 32 and soon you’ll notice you are doing 3 x 50 sit-ups or 3×100 sit-ups. And when you do 150 sit-ups per day, 5 days a week means 750 sit-ups. That’s about 39 000 sit-ups in one year and almost 200 000 sit-ups in 5 years. What would happen to your stomach muscles in this process? Good things, of course.

And it all starts by doing just one sit-up. That’s all you need to do. Just one sit-up, and then repeat. Reach your limits… and then go beyond them.

I don’t recommend thinking about how many sit-ups you can do in one day, I recommend doing the sit-ups. I found great motivation from thinking “what will happen if I keep doing this for 5 years”. Think what difference it makes to train your body for the 5 next years compared to doing nothing. This lesson goes with other parts of game development and business. When you participate in something, take time to think about the 5-year rule. If you program your games 1 hour every day, you have 1750 hours to spend in 5 years. If you cut your email reading time for 5 minutes per day, you just earned 150 hours in 5 years. If you read one book every month, that’s 60 new books in 5 years. If you make one new game feature every week, you’ll have 52 new features in one year.

P.S. If you decide to do sit-ups, then you should also do something to strengthen your back. Check out some professional training articles or books on how to do the moves properly. Rule of thumb is that it’s much better to do one movement properly than 10 moves badly. Also have small breaks after each series of sit-ups. Like, do 10 sit-ups, then 1 minute break, 10 more sit-ups, 1 minute break, 10 final sit-ups. I’m no professional trainer, consult someone who is. Final tip: Read also the comments from Aikido instructor.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Good point Juuso. Actions that produce long term benefits can often take a while to show any results. This can be quite disheartening at first, but when you view it with the long term question of “If I did this every day for five years, would it make a big difference?” you’ll often see the benefits are far greater than you could imagine.

    I’ve found skipping to be quite effective in getting me fit, and although the change hasn’t been particularly quick I’ve noticed a large improvement in my overall fitness. I’ll also second Jake’s advice on press-ups. They’re tough at first, but they make a real difference to the upper body after a while.

  2. Blimey, Ive only just started running, I dont want to get too fit too quick!

  3. It’s tough sometimes to think long-term when you are facing urgent, short-term problems. It can be demotivating to think that you can’t do something huge, but when you think about long term plans, everything is possible.

    You can’t make anything more complex than a guess the numbers game right now, but what if you spend the next five years learning what you need to learn to make a great game? Do you think you can make a great game five years from now if today you start learning how? Of course you can!

    But, like I said, sometimes it can be easy to forget such a simple way to motivate ourselves. Thanks for the reminder, Juuso!

  4. I’m an Aikido instructor and I recommend held crunches instead of sit ups as sit ups can strain the back. Also press ups are an old-fasioned but brilliant all round body exercise. They’ll hurt for about a week then it becomes easy and you’ll notice new arm/chest muscle in a couple of weeks. I also recommend doing deep breathing for 5 minutes a day (completely filling and emptying your lungs – if you smoke, try giving up). Also imagining yourself looking and feeling healthier combined with doing excercise will have a positive effect. Plus don’t forget to eat healthily, you don’t need all that muscle powder rubblish, just (organic) veg, fruit, nuts, protein and carbs and avoid cakes, sweets, crisps, fatty foods etc and you’ll be “rock” in no time. Don’t forget “fun” exercise like walking, cycling, dancing, sex, ball games, martial arts etc. Hope you find this info useful.

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