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painting “red room” by Arny Schmit

Recently, I started lifting weights with Daniel. I told him I didn’t want to anything that would add mass to my shoulders. He said “well what do you want?”

Really I just wanted an excuse to admire him while he was working out.
(And meanwhile not get bulky, which caused me to stop lifting weights in college, although I really enjoyed it.)

After two month of this, I’ve increased my total workout hours from 4.5 to 9.5 without noticing it because working out together is such a nice experience.

I ‘ve also accelerated my metabolism and lost weight – while temporarily abandoning keto for a 5 week tour of US junk food followed by an ongoing winter holiday full of home-made stöllen and crêpes. Wonderfully, my burn rate has increased to handle this.

It’s also super nice to feel stronger. I don’t wake up stiff in the morning any more. And although I have always had strong legs, I notice a distinct increase in stability in all my yoga balance work.

In truth there were a couple of areas of my body that I wanted to change the shape of, and we’ve been working on those. He’s not surprised that it’s possible to sculpt your own body, but I am. While it’s a good idea to try to love your body as it is, it’s very empowering to realize you can also change the parts you don’t like.  I always thought “well I just don’t have a beautiful back.” I didn’t know that in 2 months of training I could have a back like this!

I guess that’s why it’s called bodybuilding.



What I’ve learned about effective weight-lifting

Daniel is a professional fitness coach (as well as a gorgeous stuntman) and he spends lots of time researching to get beyond myths and pseudoscience. Here are some key points and if you have more questions feel free to use the messagerie below, and he can give you private coaching.

Designing your Workout

Weight lifting is an efficient exercise because you take your muscles all the way to the edge of your capacities. This forces the muscles to build and accelerates your metabolism.

But it only works if you actually go to that point! Just spending twenty minutes lifting something up and down doesn’t achieve this. You have to going right up to the edge of your capacities, where you actually cannot do more. To create an effective workout you need be constantly aware of that edge for each exercise so you need to have a plan that you update each day (we use our phones to take notes during the workout).

The standard structure for weightlifting is designed for a density of this experience. In a one hour SESSION, you might do 4 or 5 different exercises (these are called SERIES). So in 4 weekly sessions you’ll do 16-20 different exercises. For each exercise you do three or four SETS of 8-20 REPETITIONS. You use a timer for  a 2-3 minute pause between each set. The last 2 or 3 reps of each set should be at maximum exertion. So in a one hour workout with 4 exercises of 4 sets, you will have 48 repetitions that really strain your muscles to the edge of their ability, and these are spaced evenly throughout the hour.

So how to construct a SET? Choose an exercise (SERIES) and an amount of weight that is a little bit heavier than comfortable and do the exercise until you fail. You want to fail between 8 and 20 reps. (If you fail before 8, decrease the weight. If you don’t fail at 20, increase the weight.) Let’s say you fail on 12, then 11 reps will be your starting point for this exercise. So your SERIES is 4 SETS of 11 REPETITIONS. Note this in your plan. The next time you do this SERIES, go for 12 REPETITIONS and note this in your plan. When you reach 20 reps, it’s time to increase the weight for this exercise and then you start again at 8 REPETITIONS.

You’ll have some days of weakness due to fatigue, etc. where you can’t increase the reps according to plan. But generally you’ll be on a steady path of increase, so you need to keep notes.

Daniel explained to me that there’s a debate in the weight-lifting world about “going for success” versus “going for failure”. There are some bodybuilders who believe in continuing the repetitions of each set until the one on which they fail. But there are others who say it’s better to program the body for success and have the experience of success, while systematically ratcheting that up. When I did bodybuilding in college I did the failure system, but now that I’ve tried the success system I agree with Daniel that it works better and is more positive psychologically.

If you want to lose weight, it doesn’t matter which muscles you work, it matters only that you achieve this level of intense strain, so that you demand more of your body, increasing your metabolism and sending your calories to work building muscle instead of fat.


You can use the workout plan above with gym machines or with free weights. If you prefer to workout at home to have more control over your environment and to save transport time, you can buy a used workout bench and a set of free weights for less than €200 (lots of people are always selling them) and you can find exercises to do on youtube, or ask Daniel to write you a plan customized for your goals and needs.


Specifically related to exercise, the main supplement you need is protein. I don’t like fake sugar and it’s really hard to find protein with real sugar or no flavor. My favorite is Pro Vista, it’s organic with real sugar. Daniel’s favorite company is Nutrimuscle. You can get a discount with a referral from him, just send us a message below. From Nutrimuscle I order a bio/organic protein powder with no flavor and no sweetener. To make it more palatable, I add Raw Cocoa Powder which you can get from any natural foods store. It’s got no sugar at all, but it tastes really good! It’s not bitter like the baking cocoa at the supermarket. Or I just add a little bit of fruit syrup.

Take protein powder within 30 minutes of finishing your workout.

If you are doing keto or reducing carbs, you need to help your you must take extra salt (a punch under your tongue 2x/day, preferably non-iodized) and magnesium for your heart!

If your muscles are too sore, take magnesium. My favorite way is magnesium citrate powder which dissolves fine in water. In Germany I buy a brand named Raab that’s easy to find, but you’ll find it in any online supplement store.

If you feel you don’t have enough energy during your workout, empty a capsule of BCAA in your water bottle to drink during your workout.

Daniel’s favorite supplement is Glycine (wisteria). He says it’s good for skin, sleep, and energy. It’s not expensive, so go for it!

I also take MCT (medium-chain-triglyceride) powder, which is a favorite of the keto crowd. Whether or not you are doing keto, it helps the body’s process of burning fat and increases energy especially when you are restricting calories and working out.

Health Notes

For lifetime health, it’s important to maintain muscle to protect your joints. If you try to lose weight using intermittent fasting, you can really easily lose your muscle and this makes you less healthy, so be sure to maintain muscle training alongside your diet.

It’s important to do weight-based exercise to maintain or increase bone density.

Weight-lifting can also give you cardio workout, but only if you have organized your workout to actually strain your body. If you have organized your weights correctly, you’ll be getting a cardio workout for about half of each set.

At first I was doing bits of my yoga routine during the two minute pause intervals between sets. But Daniel pointed out that it can be dangerous to stretch a muscle that you have just strained with weight-lifting. So now I’m careful to do leg stretches while we’re doing weights for chest/arms/back, and do upper-body stretches while we’re doing weight exercises for legs. I also do my full yoga routine on the days we don’t do weights.

Before doing weight-based exercises always warm up all the joints in your body by doing gentle rotational movements.

During weight-based exercise be sure to isolate movement to the exercise itself. If you notice that other parts of body are moving to complete the lift, the weight is too heavy. Decrease the weight so you can do the exercise with perfect technique. When doing weight-based exercise or moving free weights around, always protect your back by contracting your transverse abdominus muscles.

Another point of disagreement in the weight-lifting community is whether it’s necessary to do dedicated abdominal work (those “sit-ups” we’ve been hating since school)… Some believe that correct weight-lifting technique requires use of the abs, and so they get trained in every movement. Others do dedicated abdominal exercises to be sure. (Note that no matter how much abdominal workout you do, the visibility of your ab muscles depends on a massive reduction of fat and for some people even losing the “water” in their skin. This is called getting “dry” and it’s what people do before bodybuilding competitions or muscle movies, but it’s not particularly healthy.)  On a positive note, the full “sit-ups” we were taught as children are not useful, as they put too much strain on the back. It’s only necessary to contract as much as possible, which will only lift your upper back from the floor. Do these straight up and also to right and left to work your obliques.

Our one and only crucial abs exercise is for the spine stabilizer transverse abdominus. Just get your timer and hold a “plank” or pushup position either on the hands or elbows for minimum one minute and do two or three sets of this. Work your way from one-minute to two-minute sets and then you know you are at an excellent level of strength to protect your precious back all day and during your workouts!

Doing it

I just read Atomic Habits, by James Clear. In his comprehensive book about how to make good habits and break bad ones, he confirms my favorite advice about how to get yourself to workout. Create a launch pattern. For example, Daniel takes an energy booster exactly 30 minutes before starting to work out. When the energy booster kicks in, he has to start.




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