This post was first published in my monthly newsletter, the Kinsei-Do Fitness Nuggets, in May 2023. If you like this and find it useful, please sign up for the Fitness Nuggets here.
"Gee, you're such an idiot, how could you let XYZ happen?"
"Ungh, look at that guy, he must be so lazy / stupid / shortsighted / ...!"
Ever found yourself saying things like this about yourself or other people, be it out loud or just in your head? Beating yourself up about a mistake you made, or (silently) judging yourself or another person for the way they look, dress, speak, move, etc...
For the past couple of weeks, as I already mentioned in last month's Fitness Nuggets, I've been studying the work of Shirzad Chamin and Positive Intelligence (PQ), and while a high IQ and EQ are certainly valuable and very important to be successful in life, it appears that the secret ingredient for being happy in life is your PQ. And surely, as a reader of this newsletter, you're someone who is looking for both, right?
According to the theory of Positive Intelligence - and using their terminology - all of us have a wise and kind "person", a Sage, inside us, but we also have one or more less savoury characters, the so called Saboteurs, in our heads. The Saboteurs, characters such as the Judge, the Avoider, the Restless, the Hyper Achiever, etc, have developed in us when we were children, and they helped us to understand the world and how it works. You can go to the Positive Intelligence website if you're interested to find out the why and how.
Now, I know that all of this may sound a bit wishy washy, and not very scientific or rational at all, but here's where all of it falls into place: you can train your mind (to make the Sage stronger and the Saboteurs weaker)!
That's right, just like you do sets and reps in the gym to train your physical strength, you can also train and improve your mental fitness through - no surprise - PQ reps.
Your Saboteurs - there are ten in total, but the degree and strength of their appearance is very individualized - typically show up in situations that are associated with negative emotions: stress, anger, disappointment, etc.
Let's say you're in a work meeting and someone says something that doesn't make much sense, or goes against what you want and believe. Your typical reaction will probably be to judge this person for what they said, either out loud or just to yourself. "That guy is so stupid!" or "Why on earth would she say that?"
Often, this happens almost automatically and within milliseconds, and - the research has shown this - will set you on a spiralling path of more negative thoughts and emotions.
So what can you do instead? PQ Reps!
Let this sink in, and I hope you'll give it a shot. Depending on how strong your Saboteurs are, and for how many years you have (unwillingly) trained them, it will take more than a couple of days or even weeks to take hold, but trust me, once it does, its impact is truly astonishing!
Have you ever
💊 watched an ad for a health supplement and thought that this little pill was it, the magic bullet to cure you of all your ailments?
🤸 been to the gym and seen some ridiculous well built guy or gal do a fancy looking exercise you’d never seen before, and thought you need to that that exact exercise to your training routine to get their amazing physique?
😴 felt the need to get the latest sleep gadget to finally cure your insomnia and improve your sleep quality?
The bad news, if you’ve answered yes to any of these, is that you’ve fallen into the “sand before rocks” trap. The good news is you’re hardly the only one!
Question: How do you fill a glass jar with as many big rocks, medium sized pebbles and tiny grains of sand as possible?
Answer: You put the big rocks in first, then you add as many pebbles as will still fit in the gaps between the rocks, and then - and only then - do you pour in the sand so it can fill up all remaining gaps and cracks.
Try it the other way around - filling the jar up to say half with sand - and you’ll find not as many pebbles and hardly any rocks will fit in.
The answer seems obvious, right? And yet, when it comes to health and wellbeing, we often go try to go about it in exactly this wrong sequence!
Those things are the grains of sand, friends!
So, the next time you are looking for that magic bullet, that secret little extra, take a look at your jar first, and ask yourself if you've put all the big rocks in place already.
Not sure what those rocks should be? Or feel like you're doing it all already but are not progressing? Well, that's when you reach out to people like me!
Ever wondered why your performance in the gym decreases as your session goes on?
Well d'uh, you'll say, it's because the muscles are getting fatigued from the previous work, and you won't be wrong...but there's more to it, and with today's nugget of fitness wisdom, you may be able to do something about it!
As you move and exercise, and your muscles repeatedly contract to perform work and overcome resistance, they get hot. And it turns out, they don't like that very much. Or to put it a little more succinctly, excessively hot muscles have an impaired ability to produce force.
So, if you can manage to cool your (working) muscles' temperature down (e.g. between your lifting sets), you'll be able to produce more force (i.e. do more work) again in the next set, and in the next, and so on.
Of course you could take a cold shower or hop into a tub of cold water between sets, but that wouldn't be very practical, but actually there's an easier way.
You see, the way your body "gets rid" of excess heat is through blood circulation. The blood in your working muscles takes up some of the heat, and then disperses it to other parts of the body to cool off. Thus, if you can get your blood to cool down, you'll be able to get rid of more heat from the muscles more quickly, thereby recovering faster and working harder again in the next set!
As it turns out, the skin of the palms of your hands has certain vascular structures that make them effective at regulating the body temperature. So if you can cool down your palms (or rather, the blood that is running through the vessels in your palms), that (cooler) blood will quickly help to bring your working muscles' temperature down.
It's important to mention that it's not a case of the colder, the better. Why? Because you don't want your blood vessels to constrict, as then the nice, cool blood won't get to your working muscles.
Rather, it seems that 15-16 degrees would be the temperature at which you get the optimal performance enhancing effect.
How can you achieve this? Perhaps holding on to a bottle of cold water, or running your hands under the tap of cold water for a couple of seconds is probably the simplest and most cost effective way.
Give it a try the next time you're going for a heavy lifting session, or an interval based workout, and let me know if you feel the difference!
This post was originally written for and shared through my Kinsei-Do Fitness Nuggets newsletter in February 2022.
Not everybody may have the desire to live well into their 80s or 90s - I sure do! - but I can't imagine anybody would not want to be healthy and well until kicking the bucket. And thus we keep looking for the secret weapon, the magic pill or whatever, that will keep us healthy into old age.
Well, guess what, this secret weapon already exists, and it's so simple that it's dismissed or ignored by many, especially in the "modern" world:
It's called walking.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the researchers observed a representative sample of American adults over 40, and found that those who took an average of 8000 steps a day had a 51% lower risk of all cause mortality compared to those who only got 4000 steps a day!
Hiking that number up even further to 12000 steps further decreased the mortality risk, but not in a proportionate amount. And as someone who usually gets 7000 to 8000 steps a day quite easily, and 10000 steps with a bit more deliberate effort, I can tell you that getting those additional 4000 steps a day regularly and consistently will - if you work a typical desk job - be quite challenging!
The good news however is that the pace of these steps doesn't seem to matter very much, so you don't need to be jogging or going on strenuous hikes if that's not your cup of tea. What counts is that you move it, move it!
And if that's not enough reason for you, or you're wondering when you should squeeze a 20-30 minute walk per day into your busy schedule, how about right after lunch?
Not only will doing so help you to get to your 8000 steps, but there's also a host of other benefits:
Happy walking, my friends!
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Let's take a lead from good old Cristiano Ronaldo today, and let's talk about hydration, specifically water.
Most of the time when people (and coaches) discuss nutrition and the importance of a healthy, balanced diet, we are thinking about calories and macronutrients (carbs, proteins and fats). And that, of course, makes sense, because your brain and your muscles need energy (typically derived from the carbs and fats you consume) to do what they do.
However, there is another important factor in our body's ability to perform - water. Although water has no energy, it is essential for our body to function properly.
What's the big deal?
Our bodies' cells consist mostly of water, and thus having too little of it will have an immediate and significant impact on your performance and health. If you are even mildly dehydrated, problems arise such as:
Tell me what to do, Coach!
To avoid these impacts and hydrate optimally, aim to drink about 2 to 2.5 liters of water during the first 10 hours of your day, which comes out to about one glass per hour.
Personally, I like (and feel as if I need) to get two or even three big glasses of water in my system immediately after waking up, as I always feel very thirsty after not drinking anything for the 8+ hours of time in bed, but you may have different preferences, so as long as you aim for getting in 2 or more liters by mid to late afternoon, you should be fine.
Why the first 10 hours? Why not anytime in the day?
During the first 10 hours after waking, the kidneys filter fluids efficiently, whereas later in the day the output is reduced, so you might find yourself waking up in the middle of the night to…you know.
If this is a frequent occurrence, try to hydrate during the day, limit fluid intake 2-3 hours before sleep, and if drinking at night, sip slowly. The rate and amount of fluid can influence the need to urinate.
Do you need to drink more when exercising and/or in hot weather?
The obvious answer is: yes. But how much more exactly?
In addition to the 2+ liters mentioned earlier, as a guideline while exercising, use the Galpin Equation:
Consume your body weight (in kg) × 2 in mL every 15-20 mins. In hot temperatures or while sweating, increase the amount by 50-100%.
So a 75kg man (e.g. me) should consume about 150ml for every 15-20 minutes of exercising, or about 500ml per hour.
Are there any other factors that impact hydration needs?
There certainly are plenty, but one that is probably relevant to a lot of people out there is caffeine intake.
Caffeine is a diuretic, so rather than aid in your hydration, it dehydrates your body. Thus, aim to drink 2x the amount of water (if possible with electrolytes like sodium, potassium and magnesium) as caffeine you consume to prevent dehydration. For example, for every cup of coffee, drink two glasses of water with low/no-sugar electrolytes, or add a pinch of salt.
And so, while the debate over whether Ronaldo or Messi is the greatest football player in the world may rage on, there really should be no debate about throwing out the Coca Cola and reaching for the Agua!
Source: Huberman Labs
This post was originally written for and shared through my monthly newsletter, the Kinsei-Do Fitness Nuggets, in January 2022.
I'm sure you're familiar with the phenomenon of jetlag, and have sure experienced its annoying effects before. But did you know you don't have to leave your time zone or travel anywhere to be hit by jetlag? In fact, more likely than not, you are experiencing jetlag symptoms far more often than you think, and not only that, you're voluntarily causing your body to have them!
"Social jetlag" occurs when you sleep and wake up on a (very) different schedule on weekends compared to regular weekdays - or when you engage in shift-work - and it can really mess your body and brain up!
Let's say you typically go to bed around 10pm and wake around 6am to go to work or school, but on Friday and Saturday nights, you "live it up" and instead go to bed at 1am or 2am, and then sleep in until 10am the next morning... well, you're essentially putting your body through a four hour time zone shift (as much as if you were to travel from Indonesia to the Middle East, or from the West Coast of the US to the East Coast!).
Needless to say, this can be detrimental to your health, with sleep disorders and digestive issues some of the first problems to show up. So what can you do about that?
Ideally, you try to avoid putting your body through this shift as much as possible, by sleeping and waking on a relatively consistent schedule, regardless of whether it's a working day or a weekend.
But if that sounds utterly uncool and "what's the point of having a weekend"-ish to you, there are still things you can do to help your body deal with the adjustment better:
1) See and avoid light at the right times: expose yourself to (natural, if possible) light in the morning as soon as you can after waking up (on a Saturday and Sunday). But also avoid looking at bright lights (including screens) late in the evening, thus trying to keep your body clock to remain in its "weekday time zone".
2) Eat and exercise at the same times as you would on weekdays, so that means taking your breakfast soon after waking up on Saturday and Sunday, and not having your dinner (much) later than you would on a regular weekday.
Give it a try and you should find that Monday mornings will perhaps get a little bit easier!
We've probably all been there before: you start a well structured, progressive training plan (either given to you by a coach, or an app, magazine, etc), you stick to it for a couple of sessions, but then...
So you abandon your well structured plan (and ignore your coach), and go back to "program hopping".
Sounds familiar? Don't feel too bad or guilty about it, because - in spite of knowing better - I too am guilty of such "chase the new shiny thing" behavior.
Which is why I'm tell you that, for the past six weeks, I've been able to beat this urge and stick to my "boring" and repetitive (read: well structured) training plan, and it's paying off nicely!
I've been focusing primarily on getting stronger in a very small number of movements, namely squats, deadlifts, pullups and overhead presses, and am starting to move loads that would have made me pretty nervous a few months ago with confidence!
I've set myself the goal of hitting a 100kg back squat by mid of next year - I have never achieved more than 90kg before - and I feel I'm on a good way.
My Training Plan
I chose an 8 week training block duration as an appropriate mesocycle length, something that would allow me to incorporate progressive overloading, while at the same time not being too long so as not to lose sight of the end.
With the goal being to increase my absolute strength, I broke that down into 4 blocks of 2 weeks each, with 2 training days per movement as follows:
Next I planned out the approximate loads I would use for all the movements except pullups in each of the 4 blocks:
And finally, using my best guess current 1 Rep Max (1RM) numbers, I converted the percentages to actual kilogram values, so I wouldn't need to think or break out the calculator once I hit the gym.
Week 1-2: Foundation
Week 3-4: Building Strength
Week 5-6: Strength Development
Week 7-8: Peak Strength
And voila, I've stuck to this plan pretty closely - of course I have missed a session here and there occasionally, life happens after all! - and as of the time of writing this, I am in Week 6 and hitting all of the numbers with confidence and consistency!
Can't wait for a "test week" at the end of Week 8 to see how my strength has developed, but I'm quite confident there will be new PRs (personal records) in at least 2, if not 3 or even all 4, of these lifts!
It's almost been three years since our last post on this blog, how crazy is that!
In this time, the general philosophy of Kinsei-Do Functional Fitness, the principles of balance and holistic training methods that we believe in, has not changed, but our training methods have adapted.
Firstly, as coach and founder Johannes has increased his knowledge and experience with functional training, including getting certified as a Level 1 Trainer in the functional fitness method out there, we have come to realize that it may be possible to keep progressing and build exceptional allround fitness with bodyweight exercises alone, however it is in many ways safer, more effective and more fun to include loaded functional movements as well.
Secondly, circumstances outside of our control and specific to our location, namely the appallingly poor air quality in Jakarta, have moved us to the conclusion that we cannot in good conscience advocate frequent strenuous exercise outdoors. We want to make you healthier, stronger, fitter and extend your life, not contribute to the opposite!
(If you are fortunate enough to live in a country with excellent air quality and good weather, there is nothing wrong with training outdoors, in fact it is strongly recommended!).
How have our methods changed?
As alluded to above, we now incorporate many of the principles of CrossFit, and base our class workouts and overarching programming on many of these principles. We still of course regard all of our Five Pillars of Fitness as equally important, which is why you will find a section of every class dedicated to mobility and flexibility work. Strength, Power, Endurance and to a degree even Speed, Agility, Balance and Coordination are trained under (relative) intensity, as doing so has proven itself to be the most promising path to success.
Secondly, our classes are now more focused and specialised, meaning we no longer try to train every aspect of fitness in a single session. Instead, you will find a class that is dedicated to helping you move better and get stronger (Fundamentals), a class that lets you unleash all the awesomeness of your body's abilities (Gymnastics/Calisthenics) as well as classes that allow you to just get after it, sweat it out and have a smashing time (All Levels and Conditioning).
In upcoming posts, we will elaborate further on what makes each class special, why you should - if optimal health and performance is your objective - attend all of them wherever possible, and how we program each class as well as overarching phases and cycles to help YOU be the most awesome version of yourself!
The following post contains several questions from an interview with Kinsei-Do's founder, JC, run by www.bookmyfit.com.
Kinsei-Do abides by the philosophy of balanced functional fitness. What is balanced functional fitness? What exactly makes an exercise or training program holistic
Functional Fitness is definitely a trend or buzzword in the last couple of years, when all it really means is to have the ability to move as intended by nature. This sounds so simplistic and generic, but the inactive lifestyle, constant sitting (at the desk or in the car) and working on computers of the modern age has rendered most of us completely dysfunctional. We have bad posture, severely limited mobility (usually in the hips and shoulders), extremely weakened core muscles, and most of us will pay the price for this somewhere down the line.
Having Balanced Functional Fitness or being functionally fit refers to a state of physical capability that allows you to do the things you want to do, like running around with your children, playing football or tennis with some friends, or just moving around in your house or garden without feeling tired or in pain.
To be able to do all this takes more than just lifting weights in the gym, or doing long steady state cardio (e.g. jogging). It takes a combination of different training methods to improve strength and endurance, but also maintaining or increasing flexibility and coordination. Kinsei-Do considers all of these physical aspects and molds them into a combined program, and that's what makes it holistic.
Can you give us an overview of the program? What can first-timers expect?
We typically start (after properly warming up, of course) with drills and games for Power and Speed/Agility, such as jumps and shuttle runs. It's important to train these two pillars when the body and mind is still fresh, because the intensity is high and requires the practitioner to be very focused.
After these drills, we move on to the Strength and Flexibility/Mobility part. Here we alternate classic strength building exercises like pushups and sit-ups with yoga-like static flexibility movements. At this point the body is fully warmed up and the muscles are receptive to being stretched, and at the same time the static stretches serve as active rest periods between the strength exercise sets.
Last but not least, we end each session with a short but high intensity Endurance workout. These are usually between 7 to 15 minutes and come in three different difficulty levels, so there is something for everyone!
As beginners or first timers, you are encouraged to just join in and follow along. Where applicable, the coach will adjust the difficulty of certain exercises according to the individual needs, e.g. substituting pushups with knee pushups or modifying certain Power exercises. That said, the sessions are very beginner friendly and no one should be afraid or embarrassed to try it out!
How important is it to incorporate variations in your workout routine?
Variety is definitely extremely important. First, as already explained earlier, training all aspects of fitness is critically important for actually being fit. If you only do weight lifting, you are definitely going to be strong, but your muscles may be tight and shortened, and your mobility is limited. Similarly, if you only go running, the muscles of your upper body will not be as well trained as your lower body, and again you will be limited by imbalances. That's why a holistic training approach is so important, and whether you cover all your bases by practicing Kinsei-Do, or instead prefer to go for HIIT bootcamps for endurance training, then yoga classes for the flexibility training, is a matter of personal preference.
Secondly, why do we work out at all? Most of us don't do it because we enjoy strenuous or high intensity cardio and weight-lifting. Most of us do it to a) look good or b) be able to perform better at activities we enjoy, like being faster on the football field, to jump higher on the basketball court, etc. There is no better way to increase that overall performance than through a varied training!
Last but not least, for many people the thought of going to the gym 3x per week or running 5km every other day for many months is just mind-numbingly boring, so variety is also key to keeping things interesting and staying motivated in one's training! I am generally open and interested in almost all sports, and love to try out new things!
What are your top 3 tips for optimizing a workout?
Focus - that means put your phone away. Concentrate on what your goal for the workout is, and then put all your physical and mental energy to it. You will be done much faster and feel more accomplished after a 30 minute workout like this, than after a 2 hour session in the gym where you have spent half the time on Facebook...
Always warm up - this ensures your body is ready while at the same time prepares your mind for the workout ahead.
Set ambitious, difficult long term goals, but realistic and achievable short term goals - goals keep you focused on your fitness journey and motivated when you hit bumps and setbacks. Know where you want to go, but also know that anything worth achieving takes dedication and time, and will not happen overnight.
People say that working out before going to the office makes it hard to power through the day, but after work, they feel too tired to train. To get the best results possible, what is the best time to exercise? What advice would you give to keep your clients motivated to exercise regularly?
Actually, I personally find that the opposite is true: a good workout in the morning is the best way to start the day, and often leaves me more energized than before, and also more motivated to get on with work. Of course I do not have the time or the energy to go through 90 minute high intensity sessions in the morning, but a combination of stretching, strengthening and balance work is ideal to wake up the mind and body.
As it is a matter of personal preference however, I believe there is no "best" time. Or rather, the best time is the time that works for you, the time you can commit to regularly. Regularity is so important because humans are creatures of habit, and it takes time to establish a new habit and get into the rhythm of training at a certain time. I also believe it is better to do some kind of activity or training for 20-30 minutes every day, rather than trying to do a 1-2 hour training once or twice a week, to establish this habit, and to get results.
Due to my job in consulting, there isn't a typical daily routine that I have been able to follow for months or years, however ideally my day starts with a workout. Not only do I need that to energize me for the day, it also makes me feel like no matter what else the day will bring, one good thing has already happened, so it sets me in a positive mood.
Are you excited about the Olympic Summer Games starting soon? I definitely am!
Elite athletes are remarkable human beings. There's something magical and exhilarating about watching them do their "thing". Each one is a highly trained specialist, capable of great physical feats. Close your eyes and picture Usain Bolt explode out of the blocks, Lydia Ko wind up her body and release all of its energy in a complex chain of coordinated movements into a tiny ball or Michael Phelps glide through the water with precision and power.
Sights like these make you marvel at what is physically possible.
We - you, me, the lady next to you in the elevator or the man in the corner cubicle - are most likely not capable of any of these things, but luckily, neither do we have to be. These are not our sports, we are (perhaps sadly) not Olympic athletes, and our livelihoods do not depend on us outrunning 99.99% of all people out there.
Life, however, is our sport. We all need to get out of bed in the morning, get dressed, bend down to tie our shoes, carry our bags, perhaps run for the bus, walk a few flights of stairs...you get the drift. Movement is life, and movement is powered by physical fitness.
Do you need five minutes to catch your breath after walking up a single flight of stairs?
Are you strong as an ox, but your hamstrings are so tight you can't even pick up those coins you just dropped?
Can you run all day, but just can't seem to do anything remotely coordinated with your hands, like throwing a ball around with your kid?
This is where a holistic training system like Kinsei-Do comes into play. From High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) based short and efficient workouts for Endurance to routines focused on Strength development to yoga-like movement flows for Flexibility and Mobility, our goal is to enable you to retake control of your physical capacities and allow you to perform at your greatest potential.
We deliberately say 'retake control' because we were all functionally fit once. Do you remember being a kid, running around for hours without end? What did you say to your parents in the evening if they asked you what you done that day..."I went for cardio training"? Or when you climbed trees and jumped into the field, did you worry about pulling a muscle? A resounding NO to all of the above, I'm sure!
Piqued your interest? Leave a comment and we will get back to you!
Good morning, good afternoon and good evening, practitioners around the world!
In today’s blog post – our very first one, as you can obviously see – I want to go a bit into the questions that likely were on your mind when you heard about Kinsei-Do for the first time (or perhaps still are):
What is it and why should I be interested in it?
You might be thinking – and I know I’m digressing a little already! – why does there need to be a blog post for that, isn’t all of that already said here? The answer to that, I think, is yes and no.
Yes, a brief definition, derivation of the name, explanation of the pillars of fitness, etc are all already on the site, but – and that’s the No – what I want to do with this post (and future ones, if you’ll humor me!) is to go beyond presenting definitions, statements and “facts” in the (one directional) way it is typically done on websites, and instead let you in to our thinking that led to the creation of Kinsei-Do, zoom in on specific topics and discuss them in more detail, and simply also encourage open two way communication and feedback.
So, with that said – and if you’re still with me! – let’s get straight to it: what is Kinsei-Do?
I know the definition, which I don’t want to repeat here, suffers a bit from “big buzzword syndrome” – the years working in consulting have obviously left a mark ;) – so I’ll focus a bit on what it is not.
The answer of course – sorry to burst anyone’s bubble here – is no.
Kinsei-Do utilizes body weight exercises (that means pushups, pullups, and so on, which I reckon were already very popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans), sequences of static and dynamic poses for flexibility, balance and coordination (if that sounds a lot like yoga, that’s because it is!) and interval training based methods.
And while we do believe that the Kinsei-Do curriculum progresses in a linear fashion – workouts gradually increase in intensity and duration, and individual exercises increase in difficulty, as practitioners advance through the ranks – there is nothing magical about it, and there certainly are no shortcuts to awesome fitness. A quote I recently saw on Instagram describes it best:
“You have to put in the effort to [one day] make it look effortless!”
So, now you might be thinking, Kinsei-Do is not a revolutionary way of training or a set of fancy new exercises never done before, nor will it magically allow you to shortcut months (or even years, depending on your goals) of hard work, why should you do it then? There are already tons of other fitness apps and programs out there, many of which (misleadingly, I might add) promise quick success and incredible body composition changes and fitness gains over unbelievably short times, why should I choose Kinsei-Do over any of them?
The answer to that is twofold (and each point probably deserves a post of its own):
Thus, ultimately the question can really only be: why on earth would you not start Kinsei-Do? :)
Comments, feedback and questions welcome and appreciated!
Til the next time, Lead the Way!