Recommended Fitness Books


Simple & Sinister – Pavel Tsatsouline

Convict Conditioning: How to Bust Free of All Weakness Using the Lost Secrets of Supreme Survival Strength – Paul Wade

Convict Conditioning 2: Advanced Prison Training Tactics for Muscle Gain, Fat Loss, and Bulletproof Joints – Paul Wade

Explosive Calisthenics: Superhuman Power, Maximum Speed and Agility, Plus Combat-Ready Reflexes Using Bodyweight-Only Methods – Paul Wade

Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain – Pete Egoscue

The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman – Tim Ferriss

The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram Your Genes for Effortless Weight Loss, Vibrant Health, and Boundless Energy – Mark Sisson



Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness – Scott Jurek

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen – Christopher McDougall



The Way of the Superior Man – David Deida

The 48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene

The Art of War – Sun Tzu


Life Habits / Goal-Setting

The 4-Hour Workweek – Tim Ferriss

Mastery – George Leonard

Meditations – Marcus Aurelius


Knowing Platform (TG) AMA


Hello! I’m delighted to announce @banerjee_rubal has graciously given me an opportunity to do an AMA on Fitness & Health here on KP.


Who I am:
I have been a mod of the Indian Fitness TG group for the past 2 years & training for many more. I have at some point held a brown belt in Karate (World Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association) & been assistant instructor, & have experience with both traditional gym training as well as functional training.


My personal interests are in intermittent fasting, fat loss, ‘gender differences in metabolism, fitness aims & recovery’, cold exposure, bodyweight training, GPP, casual athletic training, animal movement, kettlebells & posture, but I’m generally familiar with the lay of the online fitness landscape.


I’ll be available to answer any questions or share any information that might help folks meet their fitness goals with a little more ease & shorten the learning curve a little, because I remember what it felt like to start off, and disinformation is rife in the online fitness community (a lot of it by design, I suspect).


Date of AMA: 1st April 2019
(an unfortunate coincidence)
Time: 5 pm (IST)


Feel free to grab a glass of wine or a beer, and I’ll be available to chat, answer questions or shoot the shit till 10 pm (IST).



Flexibility & Mobility 101


What are the different types of flexibility? What is mobility?

For simplicity’s sake, we usually stick to the two pairs of passive/active flexibility, and cold/warm flexibility.


  • Passive Flexibility or passive range of motion (P-ROM), “refers to the maximum ROM that can be produced by imposition of an external force without causing joint injury.” (Supertraining, p. 173) Think of it as your safety buffer or protective reserve of how far your body can be pushed into any given joint angle.
  • Active Flexibility or active range of motion (A-ROM), lately often referred to as mobility too, “refers to the maximum ROM that can be produced under active muscular control for a particular degree of freedom of any joint”. (Supertraining, p. 173) Developing active flexibility entails working on muscular control and strength in end-range.
  • Cold Flexibility simply refers to the flexibility we have at our disposal at any given moment without having done any prior warm up. Usually this will be worst right after waking and get noticeably better during the day.
  • Warm Flexibility then refers to the increased flexibility we have right after physical activity, especially after a stretching-specific warm up.
Your passive flexibility will always be greater than your active flexibility, but with proper active stretching techniques you can close the gap considerably.


Similarly your warm flexibility will always be greater than your cold flexibility due to soft tissue’s viscoelastic properties, but developing great active flexibility will enhance your cold flexibility as well.
Source: Verkhoshansky, Yuri; Siff, Mel C.: Supertraining, 6th Edition, 2003


The Dark Side of Flexibility Training

Can you be too flexible?

Stretching for Runners

There seems to be an endless debate in the running world of whether stretching before and after a run is necessary or not. One camp suggests stretching avoids injury and protects the body from the harshness of the road, while the other camp believes stretching offers little benefits and in fact can actually cause injury.


So who’s right?


Well both camps are right to a point. Stretching, when done properly, can decrease the chances of an injury but if not performed properly, can actually increase your chances of an injury.


I’d suggest working on active & dynamic flexibility first, & make passive flexibility secondary.


I’m not knocking passive stretching (I do yoga everyday myself), but understand that it rides on the back of active flexibility & strength training.


The stronger your muscles are over their full range of motion, the better results you’ll get with your yoga or stretching.



 Stretching 101


Why Stretch?

While many programs out there now recognize the need for a
specific warmup before a vigorous training session, there
are still quite a few that either neglect a cool-down or
just toss in a few arbitrary stretches for a couple of min-
utes here and there.


This neglect can lead to increased resting muscular
tension, often felt as the sensation of being “tight” after
a hard workout. This increased tension can accumulate and
cause chronic muscle shortening and postural changes.


What are the different types of stretching?

  • Isometric/static
  • Dynamic/ballistic
In general, it’s nice to limber up with dynamic motions and if you’re warmed up, end it with isometric/static stretches.


Now that you’ve become oriented with the general framework around which we design our training routine, go on over to the Daily Flexibility & Mobility Routine.


Is there something you’re dying to ask but I haven’t addressed here? Leave a comment or reach out to me.

Daily Flexibility & Mobility Routine


You need incredible mobility in the spine, hips, scapula & thoracic cavity to be able to pull this off



When it comes to becoming more flexible, don’t try to micromanage everything. Follow these guides religiously, & you’ll easily be more flexible than 90% of people.


One of the most counter-intuitive aspects of the internet is the ease of accessing information. While information indeed wants to be free, there’s a new set of challenges that crop up: viz. sorting through the maze of information & trying to make sense of what’s accurate/helpful & what isn’t. These mobility & flexibility resources are among the best you’ll find on the internet.


Before starting any of these stretches & exercises, I *highly* recommend you go through the basic  stretching theory & guidelines at Flexibility & Mobility 101.


Once you have a good base of general flexibility, you can start with more specific training for more ambitious goals such as achieving the front & side splits.



Daily Mobility Routine

Joint rotations not just articulate each of your joints through their entire range of motion (ROM), but are a great way to identify potential trouble spots before they get out of hand.

Do these two things EVERYDAY immediately on getting out of bed.


1. Joint Rotations

2. Foot massage with a Tennis Ball



















Add these next three moves into your routine after a few days. The next 30 days you’ll do both the joint rotations & tennis ball massage on waking up & these over the course of the day.


1. The 30/30 Squat challenge


2. 7 Minutes of hanging everyday for one month


3. The Convict Conditioning 2 Trifecta Stretch



After a month of doing the above exercises, or once you feel you’re ready to move on to the next level, add in the next 4 exercises 2-3 times a week.

If doing the following exercises in a single session, I recommend doing the Squat Clinic first, then the Shoulder Stabilisation routine, Squat Clininc 2.0 & then the Scapula Mobilisation Routine



Fixing Squat Mobility Issues

Ido Portal’s Squat Clinic















Ido Portal’s Squat Clinic 2.0











Fixing Shoulder/Scapula Mobility Issues

These next two routines will require you to use a resistance band.

Basic Shoulder ROM and Stabilization Routine












Scapula Mobilization routine
















Fixing Trouble Spots


Do these if even after doing the above hip & squat mobility work for a couple of months you feel like your hips still need more work.


GMB Hip Mobility Routine









For those who prefer a yoga-based routine they can follow along to, Sarah Beth has an amazing video on going DEEP into hip stretches










Gold Medal Bodies (GMB) has an amazing detailed post on the spine, along with video demonstrations you can stretch along to.

GMB Spinal Flexibility Routine




Hands, Wrists & Forearms

Whenever doing handstands or floor work, always warmup your fingers & wrists using the GMB Wrist Prep routine.













For some deeper stretching, follow along to this amazing video by Kit Laughlin

























Neck & Jaw










See Ido Portal’s Shoulder & Scapula Mobilisation Routine above


Swinging Indian Clubs for the Shoulders

Club swinging is incredible for the shoulders, strengthening the rotator cuffs & for thoracic mobility.

Paul Taras Wolkowinski has some of the best & most thorough Indian Club tutorials online.

Indian Club Basics



Is there something you’re dying to ask but I haven’t addressed here? Leave a comment or reach out to me.


Effortless Weight Loss


There’s nothing that can be done training-wise to undo a poor diet. You have to create a caloric deficit and get enough protein and essential fats

Carbs, fat & protein

Contrary to popular belief, this is how the body DOES NOT work: 6 meals a day, high carb, low-fat , & long sessions of dead-end cardio. In fact, this is the perfect recipe for how NOT to get a six-pack.


How fat burning in the body actually works


Hybrid petrol-natural gas engine analogy of the human body

In India we have CNG cars, which run on either petrol or CNG with the flick of a switch…CNG is the better option as it is cheaper, burns cleaner and gives you more work output for the same amount of fuel.


Our body is like a two fuel vehicle: it can either burn sugar for fuel, or it can burn fat.


Our body cannot utilize carbohydrates for energy directly. Carbohydrates are broken down into sugar (more specifically glucose) which is then used by our body & the excess is stored in our muscles & liver as glycogen.


Fat is the better of the two, as it burns cleaner (less metabolic byproducts), gives better mileage (our body can store a lot so you don’t need to eat every few hours), gives sustained energy for longer so you don’t have an energy crash after a carb rush,
 In fact, an average athlete with <10% bf still has enough fat on their body to fuel an ultramarathon completely fasted.


On the other hand, we can store shockingly little glycogen in our muscles & liver, with enough only for about an hour of high intensity exercise before your blood sugar tanks.


Ideally, our body should be able to switch between the two as needed, and that’s is the perfect scenario…however we don’t live in a perfect world anymore.


If you’re completely fat-adapted, that will be the body’s preferred fuel choice for basic energy needs, resting metabolism & low intensity cardio, while it will switch to using muscle & liver glycogen for high intensity anaerobic efforts like HIIT & strength-training.


Why cardio doesn’t actually burn fat

Now, if our body is stuck in sugar burning mode, then what will happen during cardio? Our body will burn stored glycogen for energy, not the fat. So while you will indeed burn off calories, it’ll all be sugar, and you will feel more hungry during the day because your body will want to replenish the diminished glycogen reserves. So while you will increase your stamina, that’s where the benefits of cardio end. There will be practically zero fat-burning.


What you need to do instead is to help your body to be able to switch between fat burning and sugar burning, and stay in fat burning mode for longer periods of time.


Cardio vs HIIT vs Strength Training



In terms of getting in shape, cardio is definitely not the most efficient form of exercise ( though it’s not completely irrelevant). Why? There’s very little Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) with cardio, which means you only burn calories when running; not much happens afterwards.

Don’t get me wrong, I hike almost everyday, run a couple of times a week & bike every now & then, but I do it because I enjoy the physical activity. But killing yourself on the treadmill or elliptical trying to burn off last night’s binge is not the best way to go about things, simply because there are better & more importantly, easier ways to get the same results.
On the other hand, cardio is amazing for your heart health & lungs, so by all means don’t cut out all cardio out of your life.



That stuff I was talking about before. Essentially, when you do high-intensity interval training (HIIT), your body and metabolism function at a higher rate of burned calories for hours and hours afterwards.

A study (PDF) from the University of New South Wales followed the fitness and body composition changes in 45 overweight women in a 15-week period.

The women were divided into two groups and assigned interval or continuous cycling routines. The interval “sprint” cycling group performed twenty minutes of exercise, which repeated eight seconds of “all out” cycling and then twelve seconds of light exercise.

The continuous group exercised for 40 minutes at a consistent rate. At the end of the study, the women in the interval group had lost three times the body fat as the women in the continuous exercise group.

Role of strength training in burning fat

Alwyn Cosgrove wrote a great article discussing the Hierarchy of Weight Loss loaded with numerous studies highlighting the benefits of weight training in comparison to cardio.  This is the best part:

Overweight subjects were assigned to three groups: diet-only, diet plus aerobics, diet plus aerobics plus weights. The diet group lost 14.6 pounds of fat in 12 weeks. The aerobic group lost only one more pound (15.6 pounds) than the diet group (training was three times a week starting at 30 minutes and progressing to 50 minutes over the 12 weeks).

The weight training group lost 21.1 pounds of fat (44% and 35% more than diet and aerobic only groups respectively).

Basically, the addition of aerobic training didn’t result in any real world significant fat loss over dieting alone.

Thirty-six sessions of up to 50 minutes is a lot of work for one additional pound of fat loss.

However, the addition of resistance training greatly accelerated fat loss results.

It’s fairly obvious that the bulk of calories burned are determined by our resting metabolic rate or RMR. The amount of calories burned outside of our resting metabolism (through exercise and the thermic effect of feeding) is a smaller contributor to overall calories burned per day.

Starting between the ages of 25 and 30, most people lose roughly 5 to 10 pounds of muscle during each decade of life. Muscle is metabolically active, which means is needs a lot of calories just to maintain itself. Fat (except a specialised form of fat the body carries called brown fat, which I’ll talk about in a future post), on the other hand, is metabolically inactive.

So the more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest. At the same time, strength training while trying to lose fat by eating at a caloric deficit will help preserve your muscle mass.

So why not do all three to cover all fat loss bases?

  1. Limited time
  2. Limited recovery
  3. Limited cognitive bandwidth & willpower

Rather than trying to do everything at once, you should focus on the 20% of work which will give you 80% of the results. This will get you most of the way there, but while also saving precious mental, cognitive & willpower resources, not to mention faster recovery.

Dietary approaches for Effective & Effortless Weight Loss

Low Carb

Low-carbohydrate diets or low-carb diets are dietary programs that restrict carbohydrate consumption. Foods high in easily digestible carbohydrates (e.g., sugar, bread, pasta) are limited or replaced with foods containing a higher percentage of fats and moderate protein (e.g., meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, cheese, nuts, and seeds) and other foods low in carbohydrates (e.g., most salad vegetables such as spinach, kale, chard and collards), although other vegetables and fruits (especially berries) are often allowed. The amount of carbohydrate allowed varies with different low-carbohydrate diets.
Low carbohydrate diets typically stipulate getting less than 40% of calorie intake from carbohydrates. Some diets restrict carbohydrate intake sufficiently to cause ketosis.

The reasoning is that with a low enough carb intake, over time your body will adapt more & more towards fat-burning as the default mode. The Paleo & Atkins diets are popular examples of the low carb diet

With low carb, some highly active people report hormonal down-regulation if also eating at a high calorie-deficit for faster fat-loss. This effect is even more pronounced for women.

There are strategies like high carb cheat days (sometimes called as refeed days) which will help both with this issue as well as with maintaining mental sanity while dieting.


Ah, keto, the trending diet of the moment. Keto is now where the paleo diet was 4-5 years back in terms of popularity.

First thing first, you *cannot* do keto as a vegetarian. There is no “vegetarian keto” diet which will magically melt off all your fat. The reason for this is there are no high protein vegetarian foods (except eggs & unsweetened whey isolate) which also don’t come with a boatload of carbohydrates.

So, if you’re vegetarian & ever come across a dietician or nutritionist who refers to the program she’s giving you as keto, RUN, don’t walk to the nearest exit: they don’t know what they’re talking about, as you’ll see in the next paragraph.

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, medium-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that nudges the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fueling brain-function. However, if there is little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood leads to a state known as ketosis.

The most common adverse effect is constipation, affecting about 30% of trainees.

A cyclic ketogenic diet (or carb-cycling) is a low-carbohydrate diet with intermittent periods of high or moderate carbohydrate consumption. This is a form of the general ketogenic diet that is used as a way to maximize fat loss while maintaining the ability to perform high-intensity exercise. A ketogenic diet limits the number of grams of carbohydrate the dieter may eat, which may be anywhere between 0 and 50g per day. The remainder of the caloric intake must come primarily from fat sources and protein sources in order to maintain ketosis (the condition in which the body burns fats and uses ketones instead of glucose for fuel).

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) is an umbrella term for various diets that cycle between a period of fasting and non-fasting during a defined period.

Intermittent fasting protocols can be grouped into 2 categories: whole-day fasting and time-restricted feeding.
Whole-day fasting involves regular one-day fasts. The strictest form would be Alternate day fasting (ADF). This involves a 24-hour fast followed by a 24-hour non-fasting period. The 5:2 diet allows the consumption of 500–600 calories on fasting days.
Time-restricted feeding (TRF) involves eating only during a certain number of hours each day. A common form of TRF involves fasting for 16 hours each day and only eating during the remaining 8 hours, typically on the same schedule each day.[6] A more liberal practice would be twelve hours of fasting and a twelve-hour eating window, or a stricter form would be to eat one meal per day, which would involve around 23 hours of fasting per day.
Recommendations vary on what can be consumed during the fasting periods. Some would say only water, others would allow tea or coffee (without milk or sugar) or zero-calories drinks with artificial sweeteners. Also many people take coconut oil during the fasting window.

Who shouldn’t do IF

High stress. Overtraining. Chronic lack of sleep. SAD dieting. Also those who are underweight or adolescents who’re still growing should not push the Fasting window too much. They should also make sure that they’re meeting their daily caloric requirements.

May not be suitable for people with high calorie demands (activity) and still not eating enough overall.

The Snowflake Principle

While the range of diets & training approaches might seem overwhelming, it helps not to get caught up in hype & micro-management. Just focus on the 20% which is important, & ignore the rest.

Remember, fad diets & workouts are just that: fads! The human body has evolved over millions of years, & humans have had that much time to try out a variety of dietary & training approaches. All humans (with certain differences between males & females) have similar bodies & nervous system, & how they respond to training stimulus is also the same. You are NOT a special snowflake. There’s a high probability that whatever challenge you’re facing right now has already been faced & solved by someone before.

My advice will seem repetitive, because THE BASICS ALWAYS STAY THE SAME.

Don’t beat yourself up, because ultimately the best workout routine and diet plan is the one you STICK WITH!

Is there something you wanted to ask but I haven’t addressed here? Leave a comment or reach out to me.

Thanks for listening!

The 80/20 Principle – Read This First


The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes

SImply speaking, the 80/20 principle states that 80 percent of your results will come from focusing on 20 percent of the work. This principle holds true to fitness as well.

From Wikipedia
The Pareto principle (also known as thee 80/20 principle) has been applied to training, where roughly 20% of the exercises and habits have 80% of the impact and the trainee should not focus so much on a varied training. This does not necessarily mean eating healthy or going to the gym are not important, just that they are not as significant as the key activities.

You should understand this, it’s not just a theory, the 80/20 principle has been tested in varied disciplines & industries.

In fact, in some environments & fields, the skew can be as much as 95/5

If you can figure out the 20% of your diet & training which gives you 80% of the results, your workouts will become shorter & more productive than ever, while at the same time giving you better results.


Even looking at this list is overwhelming. You don’t need 40 different ab exercises to get a 6-pack. You need just 1 or possibly 2

Weight loss

When it comes to weight loss , if you can eliminate 20% of the foods which are causing 80% of your fat gain, you will make huge changes in body composition simply from focusing on the few key habits that matter while safely ignoring the rest.
20% of the habit changes will give you 80% of your results. You just have to (and that’s the challenge) figure out that 20% .


Muscle gain

When it comes to troubleshooting muscle gain, you just have to figure out 20% of the causes killing 80% of your muscle gain & recovery & fix them. And that 20% usually does not include taking more whey protein.

Focusing on 20% of the exercises (heavy compound lifting) will net you 80% of your muscle gains.

This advice also applies to figuring out set & rep schemes & training volume.

The Minimum Effective Dose (MED) & Parkinson’s law

Parkinson’s Law dictates that a task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion. It is the magic of the immediate deadline … The end product of a shorter deadline is almost inevitably of equal or higher quality due to greater focus.”

The minimum effective dose (MED) is defined simply: the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome. Anything beyond the MED is wasteful.

For example, to boil water, the MED is 100°C at sea level. Higher temperatures will not make it more boiled.

If you need 15 minutes in the sun to trigger a response to generate Vitamin D, 15 minutes is your MED for getting some sun. More than 15 minutes will be redundant and will just result in excessive tanning or burning.

Two fundamental MEDs to keep in mind:
1. To remove stored fat, do the least necessary to trigger a fat-loss cascade of specific hormones.


2. To add muscle, do the least necessary to trigger local (specific muscles) and systemic (hormonal) growth mechanisms.


So what do you get when you put together the Pareto Principle & Parkinson’s Law?


A hyper-abbreviated routine that you can easily integrate into your daily life & still get amazing results.


‘How much volume is too much?’ is the wrong question to ask. What you should be asking is, ‘How little volume can I get away with?’


Pavel Tsatsouline’s Simple & Sinister kettlebell program is one of the best examples of these principles applied to training.



The Master of Pain himself


If you have any questions, or want me to cover a particular topic, please feel free to leave a comment or to reach out.

Muscle Gain for Skinny Folk

Yash before after

Systematic diet, training & tracking changes in response to stimulus were the key, not a magic diet or supplement

Before we start: About getting enough protein

Rule No 1: Focus on diet first
Rule no 2: You don’t need to even think about supplementing with whey for the first year, even if you’re vegetarian.
Rule No 3: If you’re not making progress in the gym, it’s almost certainly not because of a lack of protein in your diet. That’s offering a very simplistic solution to a complex issue. It sounds good to say to clients, but it doesn’t do much for the vast majority of them.
Supplement companies have made people think it’s very important to take protein supplements to put on muscle, which is completely false & I’m trying to stop that spread of misinformation.

Progressive training

To get bigger, you have to get stronger. That means all your numbers should be going up every single workout. If they’re not, there’s something that’s affecting your recovery which needs to be looked into.
Muscles grow in reponse to training stimulus ie. how much weight you lift. If you keep training with the same weights for months on end, your body will find no reason to build extra muscle.


Men: The yang physique


The V-taper

The V-taper is the classic masculine physique: broad shoulders, chest & back, muscular arms plus a strong lean core will give you that coveted V-taper.
Men should focus on the upper body & core in the beginning, because they’ll develop high relative strength in their squats & deadlifts pretty quickly, & will find their upper body straggling.

A word on excessive upper body focus

While I do recommend guys focus on the upper  body, it’s possible to take that too far. You might have seen guys who look like this:
So you don’t want either skinny chicken legs, or thighs so huge that they chafe when you walk. The answer, as is usual, is somewhere in the middle. You want strong athletic legs which aren’t too bulky either.
A routine of deadlifts, squats & some kettlebell swings will be all you need to keep your legs in great shape.

Women: The Yin Physique


Kettlebell swings are one of the best ways for women to develop a strong, athletic core, butt, legs & back

First things first, you will not become too muscular or “blocky” if you strength train. The muscular female fitness models you see achieved that over years & years of progressive training, and in some cases low doses of exogenous testosterone.
Without the ability to produce as much testosterone as men (peak testosterone for healthy women is about one-tenth that of men of the same age), it is impossible to get too muscular accidentally. Heck, even healthy 20 year old men find it hard enough to gain muscle, even with all that testosterone running through their pipes.
The yin to the men’s yang: Women should focus on the lower body. Generally, there is usually quite a disparity between men & women in upper body strength. These differences tend to diminish when it comes to the lower body. It’s fairly common to see women athletes lift hundreds of pounds on the barbell squat & deadlift.
Ladies, squats & deadlifts should form the core (pun intended) of your workout if you want the coveted hourglass figure, strong athletic legs & butt, & a toned powerful back & spine.
Avoid training obliques too hard, & you never have to worry about getting a blocky midsection, ever.

What about arms?

As you’ll see, your forearms & grip get quite a workout from heavy deadlifts alone. Add in a bit of hanging, pushups & horizontal pulls/rows & you have a complete upper body routine.

In addition, if you do kettlebell swings your arms get quite a workout from that alone.

If you have any questions, or want me to cover a particular topic, please feel free to leave a comment or to reach out.