Lifelong Fitness

Note: I created the original post on a different group in the middle of 2019 to help a bunch of young black belts with their fitness and nutrition. Thought I’d repost it here for everyone. Hope you enjoy.

We had a brief discussion amongst some of the black belts at Taekwondo Kidokwan Perth after training yesterday about fitness, strength training, and supplementation. I thought to put some thoughts down on the subject so we can ask questions and do research, and share our findings.

Aged 11 (Left) and Aged 41 (Right). - look at that belt and let that sink in.
This is a picture pre-martial artsand pre-healthy lifestyle. And an 'after'
picture after LifelongFitness. Now at age 50 yo ... I have elevated my own
wellbeing to a level that has surpassed myself from a decade ago.

I have been in Taekwondo and the martial arts for 37 years. Been a former club coach and National Representative in Archery, and have maintained fitness through my university overseas, marriage, children, Masters degree, injury, and sickness. More importantly I was formerly an unfit and obese child - that’s before martial arts, and have had to wade through misconceptions, myths, and pseudoscience to finally having a fairly decent understanding of fitness and wellness.

It is from this perspective that I’d like to ensure you all have the best chance of avoiding some of the mistakes and frankly time wasters that I have gone through in order to establish a lifestyle which will help you achieve lifelong fitness.

Body Metrics taken through my weighing
scales and electro impedance technology

And by lifelong fitness, I am not talking about growing some muscle in the gym only to burn out in 18 months, lose your gains, then wait to gather enough strength to attempt it several times before you give up totally when your career takes off. By lifelong I would suggest it all includes cardiovascular fitness, strength, joint mobility, emotional wellness, good eating habits to achieve nutritional health, sleep patterns, and life choices and make sure you pace this out so that you are taking care of yourself for the next 5-6 decades.

For me, my passion in martial arts fuels everything that is ancillary to it - which means the benefits of exercise - fitness, vanity, mobility, cardio, sleep, etc., ... all those exist so that I can support my passion for fighting/training/instructing. In this way I am not creating some random goal as an arbitrary target. My goal is always geared towards martial arts.

In the last six months, my schedule is that I would go to the Genesis Health and Fitness Belmont 24/7 gym about 2-3 times a week. I would hit the home gym maybe 2 times a week. I might walk the dog about 2-3 times a week, and when I do, I’d do some sprinting or fartlek training for cardio. I have my Wed night’s training with JDK, and Saturday mornings. However, the JDK sessions are not exactly exercise per se - I would consider those just light calisthenics with some bodyweight/joint mobility/flexibility work.

I would not be subscribing to the gym in Belmont except my daughter has her acro gymnastics training on Monday, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Last year I binged on Netflix whilst waiting for her, and I eventually thought that was a waste of time. Also I found out that I had been losing weight from end of last year to beginning 2019. At first I thought it was just me getting old, but it’s probably because I had inadvertently started on an Intermittent Fasting IF eating protocol from last year.

IF - the intermittent fasting protocol is called 16:8. What this means is that usually I’d fast 16 hours per day, and eat all my meals within an 8 hour window.   I would eat an early dinner and finish by 7:30pm.  The next morning, I would have some water or black coffee without milk or sugar for breakfast, but I wouldn’t really eat again until between 11:30am or 12:30pm. I would break my fast with a small serving of low sugar granola plus a handful of nuts and Greek Yoghurt - devoid of sugar. After about half an hour or so, I’d then hit lunch which would be a normal meal, though I’d choose to try and reduce the carbohydrate portion of my macronutrients and attempt to substitute that with more vegetables if possible.

IF is not really a diet - while I continue to eat healthy I don’t put restrictions on what I eat - all I do is I eat my food within that 8 hour window. From before and after photos, you will see a huge decrease in bodyfat percentage over the course of a year ... without a lot of effort.

From my research, IF helps regulate insulin sensitivity, helps cell regeneration, and boosts energy levels. It seems to work to reduce bodyfat percentage, but more importantly it is a system that helps you return to a healthful state. Now, IF is not for everyone. So I would strongly encourage you to do research before embarking on this or any diet.

I used to run myself on the IF protocol all the time. I didn't entirely enjoy the fuzziness during martial arts class, so I'd break it on weekends, especially whenever I have a special dinner that runs late on Friday evening. It would have been more difficult for me on Saturday to achieve the 16:8. So on those Saturdays I would break my fast early before martial arts training ... and this makes that particular training session less stressful for me. :-) Cycling IF like this helps reduce the potential for the body to get used to any reduced caloric intake. This means your metabolism is prompted to keep operating at optimal levels.

Nowadays, I would break out of IF whenever I intended to do a huge weights or resistance session during the week. This would typically be on Thursday. So this would mean I would be hitting the gym at around 5:30pm ready to rip into it. I'd start IF again for Friday, then cut it out on Saturday. My thoughts on IF nowadays are trying to balance the benefits IF delivers in terms of insulin sensitivity and lipolysis, with the need to have enough of a caloric injection to effect muscle growth.

Anyway, the backstory in early 2019 ... I thought my reduction in weight was muscle wastage due to aging, so that was the impetus to challenge myself and lift heavier weights in a formal gym setting. The home gym had  been great so far but I didn’t have heavy enough weights, and the body weight exercises were starting to plateau out. It eventually transpired that I had inadvertently started IF as I lost interest in eating breakfast!

For bodyweight type exercises - I still continue to do ‘Animal Flow’ for a few minutes every morning to promote joint mobility and just loosen up the body. Then I have a few favourite joint mobility stretches I do at the end of the day whilst showering - to help reverse the postural problems created whilst sitting too long in front of the computer.  I’ve included some links at the bottom of this article if you’re interested to understand more about this.

I have two ‘days’ in my schedule when I go to the gym. Both are organised by opposing muscle groups. This was the way training schedules used to work about a decade and more ago. Day One for me is Chest and Back. Day Two is Shoulders and Lats.

Both days would see me use various exercises to isolate the main muscle groups and work them in various angles. I would also work biceps, abdominals, and legs. And then I would have some compound exercises (nowadays called ‘functional’ training) to bring the program together. Lately in the last 2-3 months I’ve also been finishing off with HIIT - either pushing the sled and/or working 3 rounds on the bag.

Since my primary goal is balanced cardiovascular fitness and strength, but not a lot of hypertrophy/growth, I mostly use 6-8 reps by 3 sets. Sometimes if I feel strong I got for an additional set. I have also chosen to max out by the last rep in the second or 3 set. And I am increasing weight by the set. If you want to get loads of muscle growth, you should embark on this kind of training first before dropping the number of reps to 4-6, and maxing out on the last on each set.

I would caution you against going for massive hypertrophy without supervision and without support. It is hard to sustain that type of training by yourself. I did some serious HIIT training in 2013, threw in supersets, and compressed a 1.5 hour workout into 45 minutes ... did this for 9 months. I was really strong, super fit, and massive. But was ALWAYS hungry. ALWAYS sore. The idea was to get fit to go back to my HQ in the US. After that I took about 3 months off to regroup before starting to work out again. It was just not sustainable. And I will not return to this unless I have to do some crazy competition.

The IF approach is far more sustainable. I've been 71.5kg all of my adult life. I could wear the same pants as I wore in college, and I've always been able to fit into my wedding tux. But look at the Body Metrics from my Renpho scales - that shows a drop of 6kg just through IF! That's a loss of close to 10% of my body weight. My bodyfat has dropped from around 20% to 12.5%! The most interesting is according to Healthline, a man between the ages of 36-55yo should have between 36-40% muscle mass. I've got 56.5% Skeletal Muscle. That explains the abs that are showing on this 50yo frame!

For supplementation - I’d take creatine before hitting the gym/home gym. If I’m doing a tough training session like lots of sprints or lots of kicking at Taekwondo KDK Perth situation in Riverton, I’ll bring along some dilute isotonic fluid. The best is to mix yourself from powder so you can reduce concentration and get more liquid in. Isotonics are great for IF - because keeping those cells well hydrated helps lipolysis and autophagy. Lastly I have found extreme benefit with magnesium supplementation. Lots of physiotherapists have been recommending this supplementation to me over the last 6-7 years. I credit magnesium supplementation as the panacea that sorted out my problems with muscle knots and injuries about five years ago.

Because of my recent awareness of IF ... I also make sure that any major workout needs to be synchronised with a meal. Much more protein and veggies - and eaten within half an hour of the workout. Pace yourself with the carbs. I say this only because I know most of you who’re reading this are on a regular Asian diet. Managing your carb and sugar intake is the most important element to increasing the energy output you have. I’ll also say this - all those sweets/candy you’re eating or gassy drinks  ... that’s going to kill you in the long run. Just stick with water. Or maybe black coffee. I have almost totally cut out sugar in my diet and with everything else I’m doing, can’t believe the new amazing levels of fitness that I currently have.

Sorry this is a bit long. Any questions? Add below in the comment section, and I’ll try to answer.

Online Links

Take the Act Belong Commit Self Assessment Tool

Physio Exercises: My go to for stretches and rehabilitation work is Joe Therapy

Hitting the Weights: what Hugh Jackman had to undergo to transform into Wolverine

Animal Flow: This is not a bad little video. Just ignore the ultra happy squeek of the presenter.

The Weighted Sled


0.1 21 July 2019 First pass and publishing into TKD Kidokwan group
0.2 22 July 2019 Added in Animal Flow in Resources
0.3 03 Nov 2019 Added more content on diet and nutrition, and republished on JDK Library
0.4 11 Nov 2019 Added the Act Belong Commit Self Assessment tool.
0.5 13 April 2020 Updated with my latest IF schedule and photos

External Online Resources for Warmup, Fitness, and Recovery

  1. Basic Warm-up Routine Taekwon-Do TKD by Hardip Singh Sidhu
  2. Home TKD Warm Up (1) by Adrian Taylor
  3. Warm Up by Stuart Anslow
  4. Jr & Adults Warm & Stretch by Randy Edwards
  5. Stretching Routine 2 by Shane Fitzgibbon
  6. 5 min of Abs and Side Obliques by Master Natasa Manavaki
  7. Leg Workout Combination by Master Natasa Manavaki
  8. Cushion Fitness Explosive Leg Workout by Stuart Anslow
  9. Basic Footwork & high rising kick drills TKD by Hardip Singh Sidhu
  10. Quarantine 2020 Taekwon-Do bagwork by Manual E. Adrogue
  11. High Intensity Training Mix with Karate Drills by Rei Academy
  12. Department of Health Food and Nutrition Resources check out the Australian Dietary Guidelines
  13. JDK's YouTube Fitness Playlist 
  14. Train with Van Damme - Full Lesson full body stretching - great for recovery
  15. Top 5 Fun Pushups with Master Colin Wee
  16. Top 10 Fitness Tips by Master Colin Wee

External Online Resources for Nutrition

External Online Resources for Wellness 

  1. MindAmend Brainwave Entrainment Audio YouTube Channel
  2. What is Reparenting in Therapy? by Kati Morton
  3. Ted Talk: On Healing and Forgiveness by Dolph Lundgren 

Internal Resources for Self Improvement

  1. Look Ma, I'm on the Warrior's Path - Self Improvement

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