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Razib Khan
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Screenshot from 2015-12-31 13:56:34 One of the major takeaways from earlier fitness related threads was how useful body weight exercises are. In fact, at this point I’d put a rank order as so: body weight > free weight > machines. So I ordered myself a tower that I could do pull ups and chin ups on at home in case I don’t make to the gym. Yes, yes, I know I could just do push ups, but I really like the rapid strain of pull ups, and putting the equipment somewhere salient will probably motivate me more in the morning. And honestly one thing that I worry about in winter is how sick so many of the people in a university gym seem to be, so working out at home seems more advised.

The above video also illustrates one reason I’m wary of the gym: early January is always packed. Not looking forward to that.

• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Fitness 
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Michelangelo-David_JB01About a year and a half ago I decided to get serious about my health. The primary reason had to do with the fact that I have children, and I wanted to reduce my risk of mortality as well as morbidity (yes, I have life insurance). A more specific reason to me is that for years my blood sugar has been on the high end of normal. Not pre-diabetic, but too close for my comfort. This is not abnormal for South Asians. And, my father developed type 2 diabetes around my current age (some context, he’s 4 inches shorter than me, and was a bit heavier and much paunchier than I’ve ever been). Within a combination of lifting and running, and mild changes to how I eat (more “Paleo”, though I’m not strict about it), I’ve gone from 155-160 lbs to 145-150 lbs (I’m 5’8). My body fat has gone from ~20% to ~15% from April 2014, to right now.

But I still have a distance to go. I want to push my body fat percentage closer to ~10%. Part of it is health, but at this point much of it is aesthetic. A friend of mine finds this all quizzical, since I haven’t been single in more than 10 years. But then again, he’s single, so what does he know about motivations? The reality is that everyone is not beautiful, and that almost everyone can get more beautiful. And that’s a good thing, and not just because it’s a social construct. Eating junk food and being lazy feels good too. But it doesn’t make you feel good about yourself.

The low hanging fruit is gone. At this point I’m running about 3.5 to 4.0 miles 4-5 days a week, and hitting the weights a similar number of days. Though I think I’m making slow but steady progress, I’m worried that I’m trying to do too much. E.g., am I running so much that I’m losing muscle mass? (I’m starting to suspect this) Do I need to eat more? Do I suffer from low T? There are lots of questions I have.

Of course you can go to and “get all the answers.” But you then know how that goes. Next there are informative websites like Skinny-Fat Transformation. What’s one to believe? I believe in personal experimentation, so I think I can get there by iterating. But it’s a tough haul, and I’d like to cut a few corners. (though one thing that’s consensus is that pull-ups are good)

So I’m putting this post up mostly to get reader feedback. My ultimate goal is to get down to the body fat percentage above, and gain definition. I’m not aiming for a lot of bulk. I’m only 5’8, and I don’t want to turn into what I like to term the “brick-guys” (the guys build like bricks). What’s worked for you? What’s not? People of South Asian ancestry especially would be useful.

Note: I have a very young looking face and my skin hasn’t aged much at all, so one issue that I suspect I have is a lot of subcutaneous fat. My suspicion is that this means that it’s not easy for me not to look smooth and fatty.

• Category: Science • Tags: Fitness 
Razib Khan
About Razib Khan

"I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. If you want to know more, see the links at"