18 June 2019

Kayaking in Möjareservatet

After moving out of Sweden in 2015, I've missed the Stockholm archipelago a lot. There’s nothing quite like it in Europe outside of Scandinavia and British Isles.

Me and Chillu went to my favorite part around the island of Möja. In the beginning of June there were very few people out there, so it was very quiet. As usual, Stockholm archipelago offered the best accommodation for the lowest price of 0 SEK.

The best accommodation is often free

Sunset seen from my sleeping bag

After sunset, as seen from Chillu's sleeping bag
This was our route on the first day (the time and elevation shown by Strava are wrong though).

Slalom around the small islands avoids the open sea, which makes it less windy and more pleasant. Also, the small islands and channels between them are more beautiful than the open sea.

Calm waters in Bockösundet, a channel between two islands

Enough with the words, for more photos you can go to Flickr or Google Photos (a bigger album from two cameras).

11 April 2019

Review of The Bridge from Barbell Medicine

The Bridge v1.0 is an 8-week barbell program to be run once your novice linear progression program stops working. Most of my lifts started stagnating after about 2 months of Phrak’s Greyskull LP (see also my previous post), so The Bridge looked like a good next step.

I chose a program from Barbell Medicine for the following reasons.
The program is organized into lowmoderate and high stress weeks. The first half of the program has higher volume with lower weights, while the second half uses heavy weights and shorter sets, including very heavy singles.

Total weight lifted (in kg) by week for the 4 main lifts

There are 3 strength training days each week complemented by 1 or 2 conditioning days with 30-minute low intensity cardio, 12-minute high intensity interval training, etc.

My results

It took me about 8 and half weeks to finish the 8-week program due to a ski touring trip and an orienteering race. I didn’t have the equipment to do pin squat or pin bench, so I just changed those to the paused versions. Even Austin approves, so I think I followed the program very well.

Before The Bridge, most of my lifts stagnated because of a very weak lower back. I tried to specifically address it, but didn’t see much improvement. On The Bridge, my back got stronger and all the lifts started moving up again. I attribute it to the deadlift variations (rack pulls and paused deadlifts) as well as the tempo squat. Not to mention the magic stress dosage of the program.

e1RM is estimated 1 repetition maximum. The weight is estimated from the number of repetitions and my own RPE rating. Weights are in kilograms.

My weight also went up by about 2 kilograms, which rounds nicely to 10 kilograms gained in 6 months. I can't wear any pants that I wore last year anymore.

I’m really happy with my squat and the increased strength showed on my last ski touring trip. It seems that squat 1RM over 100 kilograms is needed for optimal freeride experience. However, my back is still fairly weak, so my next goal is to improve the deadlift and keep it in the 130 – 150 kilogram range until I’m 89 years old.

My tips

The Bridge is the only program given out for free by Barbell Medicine, which means it’s much less polished than the paid programs, so I recommend you do the following.
  • In case something is not clear, search the forums or r/BarbellMedicine.
  • Use a spreadsheet for tracking your progress and getting weight suggestions for each session.
  • Don’t sweat too much about misjudging RPE. Mike Tuchscherer, who introduced the concept of RPE for lifting (there already was Borg RPE), says not to stress too much about it and even for him it’s hard to distinguish RPE 6 and 7.
  • You can always adjust the weight during the workout, e.g. one day I was supposed to do 3x4@8 and started with 4x85@7.5 (slightly easier than 8) and then continued with 2x4x87.5@8.5 (slightly harder than RPE 8).
  • People complain about spending 2 hours in the gym on the program, but I never took more than 65 minutes when I was alone. I tried finishing one set in 2 and a half minutes. It might have caused lower weight on the bar but it’s a good strategy in the long run.


The Bridge is overall a great program. I might run it again in the future, but probably the upgraded non-free Bridge v3.0.

28 February 2019

A big update to my investing tutorial

I’ve updated my investing tutorial. A few things have changed since I wrote it in 2016.
  • Cheap global currency hedged bond ETFs were introduced by iShares, SPDR and others. TER is only 0.1%, making them some of the cheapest bond ETFs on the market.
  • Cheaper stock ETFs were introduced, mostly by iShares.
  • Buying US-domiciled ETFs is no longer easy for European investors.

27 January 2019

Review of The 4-Hour Body and Starting Strength

The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferris

The 4-Hour Body is a book covering many topics around diet and exercise. Tim himself doesn’t recommend reading it from cover to cover, so I read about 2 thirds that were interesting to me.

The diet part is the longest. His recommendation to start the day with a high-protein meal is sound, I often do that myself (5 or 6 eggs). However, his obsession with insulin levels seems unnecessary (see Guyenet and Masterjohn). There’s plenty of people who lost a lot of weight on the diet, but I haven’t tried it, since I have the exact opposite problem.

I’ve tried the Occam’s protocol, which is a training program for maximal muscle gain. I ran it for 2 months and gained about 6 kilos of weight, some of which was fat but most was muscle. My rate of weight gain was lower than what Tim promised, which was most likely caused by the following two factors.
  • I ran a few orienteering races while doing the program, but Tim doesn’t recommend any cardio. This was intentional on my side.
  • I started eating as much protein as Tim suggested, but felt horrible. 7 days into the program, a blood test revealed that my kidneys couldn’t keep up with the protein intake. I immediately started eating less and then slowly increased protein intake, but I’ve started feeling strange “in the kidneys” again. This must have been the first time I was aware of my kidneys.
Part of the weight gain might have been regression to the mean, since people’s weight is typically the lowest at the end of the summer which is when I started the program. Regression to the mean could only explain half of the weight gain, though.

I’m convinced the program works, probably much better if you’re able to tolerate more protein. However, my biggest gripe is how Tim sells it. Tim likes to mention the 80/20 rule: you can get 80% of the results by only doing the important 20% of the effort. The title of the book comes from the 4 hours Tim spent in the gym during the month he gained an enormous amount of muscle mass.

The hard part of Occam’s protocol is eating enough protein and calories, which Tim mentions himself many times. I had to think constantly about food and when I managed to hit the protein target, I felt full, lethargic and overall terrible. It felt like 80% of effort for 80% of results.

When the 2 months ended, I switched to Starting Strength which in my opinion achieves what The 4-Hour Body tries to be. For example, Tim has a separate section on how to fix tight muscles by time-consuming exercises or expensive methods for which he flew to another city, but I managed to fix my tight hamstrings just by doing the exercises in Starting Strength. I got much more bang for the buck by following Starting Strength, but more on that in a separate review.

Over the years, I’ve listened to a couple of Tim’s podcasts and some of his interviews, but I have never become a big fan. After reading his book I think I know why. He's a great salesman, but the things he's selling aren't that good.

Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe

Starting Strength is a beginner barbell program with only 5 exercises (squat, deadlift, over-head press, bench press and power clean). All exercises are explained in great detail—just the squat chapter has about 60 pages.

I didn’t run the Starting Strength linear progression exactly, but rather went with Phrak’s Greyskull LP Variant recommended on Reddit. The two programs are close enough: 4 out of the 5 exercises are the same and you also do 3 sets of 5 repetitions. Weight increases and deloading are the same too.

Starting Strength focuses on strength gain. However, the best part about doing the program were bonus improvements that I didn’t expect.
  • Improved hamstrings flexibility: I suffered from tight hamstrings whenever I played hockey or rode a bike. I’ve tried massages, foam rolling, hot baths and stretching, always achieving only a short-term effect. Just before starting the program I couldn’t touch my toes and now I can press all my fingers against the ground (no palms yet). And no, stretching is not part of the program, so such a huge progress was very surprising to me.
  • Much less muscle soreness: I used to have too much muscle soreness from my semi-regular sport training, but now that is not an issue anymore. I also don’t remember this being promised anywhere, so that’s another surprise.
  • Muscle/weight gain: Even though it’s primary a strength program, I’ve gained about 1 kilogram per month on the program.
  • More strength everywhere: I used to subconsciously search for things to lean against while standing. These days, standing is just easy. Also, free-ride skiing used to be very hard on my legs, but now it feels at least 3 times easier. This is not that surprising, as the exercises hit almost all the muscles.
In the end Starting Strength fulfills the goals of The 4-Hour Body much better, at least for me. Only 5 exercises packaged in a simple-to-follow program feel like the 20% of effort that bring me 80% of results. Yes, my hamstrings could get more flexible by doing more specific work, but as it is now it’s all good.

Note that Mark Rippetoe can be dogmatic, e.g. he repeatedly says in the book that the squat works your hamstrings a lot, but there’s now good scientific evidence that that’s not true. Starting Strength is a great start but it’s definitely not the end.


I’m now well in my 30s and I think now is the right time to get serious about health. Thanks to a lot of trial and error in the last 5 years, I’ve conquered regular insomnia and migraines. Barbell training is another great addition, especially the squat and deadlift feel like cheat codes to life.

The conventional thinking is that your health deteriorates with age but I’d like to keep improving as long as possible. What if there are more cheat codes to be discovered?