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March 2023

No Pain, No Gain

Gym ratThe adage "No pain, no gain" has been around forever, but is it true?

Well, yes and no!

It’s true that making any change in your lifestyle, be it exercise, diet, sleep, etc., is going to come with a certain amount of discomfort. Getting people to modify their lifestyle, even slightly, is met with resistance. Once they commit to making a change, there is a tendency to go overboard and make massive changes. This usually results in massive failures as well.

The human animal is adverse to pain. As a matter of fact, people will go to extreme lengths to avoid even the slightest amount of pain. It’s both fascinating and pitiful to watch...

In the case of working out, if you introduce a beginner, or even a seasoned athlete, to extreme workouts, they are not going to react well. I know that this concept does appeal to some people; all you have to do is look at the success of your mainstream CrossFit gyms for an example of that. But the majority of other people who are looking to workout are going to be put off by the intensity and aftereffects of that sort of program.

So, what is the answer to the "no pain, no gain" conundrum?

The answer lies in finding an exercise program that will constantly challenge you to do a little more than your last workout and that you will stick with. The missing element in most people’s approach to working out is consistency!

Consistency is the most important element, and it makes any program effective. If you can do something, regardless of the discipline, consistently, you will get amazing results.

It’s the all-or-nothing, no pain, no gain mentality that will lead most people to abandon even a good program. Look, you don’t have to have the perfect program to get results, and this encompasses exercise, diet, sleep, etc.; you just need to do something that you can challenge yourself with and do it consistently. That means you can do it week after week, month after month, year after year, and decade after decade.

I know from personal experience and working with clients for over twenty years that the intensity, volume, and density of your workouts will change over the decades. But if you choose wisely, what you are doing won’t.

Remember, your body will not let you keep it in constant pain. It will rebel, and the results are not going to be fun. But if you can nudge it along, get it to work a little bit harder, do a little bit more, maybe just do one more rep, your body won’t fight back. Instead, it will adapt to the new demands and allow you to move forward at a reasonable pace that will keep you motivated and ready to meet the demands of any new challenge.

Are heavy Kettlebells useful?

Coach Dan John is one of the main people I look to for training information and inspiration for our workout programming. He answered an interesting question on his podcast, about heavy Kettlebells and if they are useful. You would think that there would be a pretty forthright answer to the question, but there isn't one. Take a few minutes to watch the video if you are interested in what he has to say about the subject. Then I'll give you my take on the subject as well.

Take a moment to digest what he said before you move forward to my thoughts on the subject.

We currently have over 160 kettlebells at the gym. They start at 08 kg (18 lbs) and go all the way up to 60 kg (132 lbs). The majority of the kettlebells fall between the 16 kg (35 lbs) and the 32 kg (70 lbs).  This distribution pretty much reflects the utilization for both single and double Kettlebell use as well.

I'm not saying that the 60 kg Kettlebell doesn't get used, because it does. It's just that it's used by only one or two people, out of 40 or so. If we didn't have it, it would be missed, but it wouldn't be a devastating loss.

My experience working with Kettlebells over the last two-plus decades, is that people who get really heavy Kettlebells, meaning over 32 kg, aren't using them for more than one or two techniques. And, they are more than likely not being used in an efficient manner. I'm sure that this statement is going to upset a small subset of Kettlebell users out there, but I'm okay with that.

What do I mean by an "efficient manner"? It means that people are using heavy Kettlebells mostly for heavy Swings, which are Ballistic, and they end up being a Grind. It's impressive to see people "Swing" heavy Kettlebells, but they would actually get a lot more benefit from Swinging a lighter Kettlebell ballistically. Even if they are using them for Goblet Squats, which is an even fewer people who have the strength to hold it with two hands, they would be much better off using two Kettlebells.

Do you understand the distinction between a Ballistic and a Grind? If you do, then you'll understand that they both require a certain load criterion to make them effective.

The long and short of the story is: use Kettlebells for what they are designed for and you will get miraculous results. If you don't use it in the manner it was designed, you're going to spend a lot of money on something that is just going to gather dust in a corner somewhere.

Does it matter what time I go to bed?

Deep sleep 03Come on! Does it really matter what time I go to bed at night? I mean seriously: can it make that much of a difference in the quality and duration of the sleep I’m going to get? The short answer: YES!

There are some people who, for whatever reason, get up at the same time every morning and go to bed at the same time every night.

There are others, who go to bed when they get tired and get up whenever they need to, then make up the difference on the weekends… or not.

Both strategies get you sleep, but which one gets you the best quality and duration you’re going to need to thrive as opposed to survive?

Before I give you the answer, let me first give you some background.

There really is a “sweet-spot” when it comes to sleep. It’s somewhere between seven to eight hours for the majority of people. Getting significantly more or less sleep can lead to a host of issues: higher risk of infections, depression, dementia, weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, higher risk of accidents (car and domestic).

Regulation of your sleep is based around your “Circadian Clock”, which is the body’s internal timekeeper. It helps control many processes throughout the day, from hunger to fatigue, that will impact your ability to function in an unpredictable environment. The majority of your behavioral, physiological, and metabolic functions rely on the Circadian Clock to control sequencing and occurrence of these interrelated functions. It is not something you want to tamper with…

We are biologically “wired” to be diurnal, which means that we are active during the day and sleep during the night. This makes sense on a lot of levels, especially if you go back and think about how we lived, for tens of thousands of years, relying upon the rising and setting of the sun to regulate our days and nights.

Even something as simple as staying up late, and getting up later on the weekends can have serious short term and long term effects on your health. Of course, this is nothing compared to the impact that doing shift work has on you physically and mentally. Even the effects of Daylight Saving Time has an adverse effect on large parts of the population and has been shown to increase the number of heart attacks, accidents, and visits to the emergency room; and we’re talking about just the difference of one hour.

Note that shift work has been identified by the CDC, and other organizations, as a factor in decreasing your lifespan and increasing your chances of cancer, heart disease, and mental health issues.

There is another aspect of your biological makeup that can influence how and when you sleep: your Chronotype. Chronotype is really a spectrum to cover people who go to bed early and get up early, to people who go to bed late and get up late. Most people fit land right in the middle of the spectrum, but there can be some outliers that are at the extremes. Also, your Chronotype will change as you age. Children tend to go to bed early and get up early, Teens tend to go to bed late and get up late. Adults, over the age of 20 and seniors, have a tendency to slide back into going to bed early and getting up early.

So… what does all of this mean?

First, you are “hardwired” to get up with the sun and go to bed as it goes down. We’ve kind of mucked with that whole process with the invention of fluorescent light bulbs, televisions, cell phones, and other blue light emitting items. Don’t get me wrong, blue light is not a bad thing, if it’s delivered at the right time; and that time is not late in the day or before you go to bed. NOTE: do some searches on “blue light” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Second, your circadian clock is how your body regulates itself. The more stable the process is, the more stable all of your biological functions become. The more erratic it is… well you get the idea.

Third, while your Chronotype will change as you age, you will be hard pressed to get away from the whole sleeping at night thing. Seasonal and personal differences might impact this, but for the most part, going to bed when it's dark and getting up when it’s light outside is going to rule this process.

Finally, given the most recent scientific information regarding sleep and recovery, here are five things you can do to get the highest quality sleep possible

  1. Get in the habit of getting up and going to sleep at the same time every day. This includes weekends…
  2. Get exposure to the sun in the early morning and in the afternoon. Avoid bright lights, limit cell phone and computer exposure, and television screens 90 minutes before you go to bed.
  3. Keep your bedroom dark and as cool as you can stand it. If you can’t get your room dark enough, you might want to consider getting a sleep mask. Optimal bedroom temperature is going to be in the low to mid-sixties. Not too cold and definitely not too hot.
  4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol eight hours before bedtime. Caffeine has a half-life of eight hours, so even that gap may not be enough depending on your sensitivity to it. Alcohol, well you  might think that it helps you get to sleep, and it sort of does, but it is going to wreak absolute havoc on your sleep quality and duration. 
  5. Creating a bedtime routine will let your body know that you are shifting gears from time to be awake, to time to be asleep. Keep it simple, but dimming the lights well before bedtime, changing into loose, comfortable clothing, and reading are all a good start.

That should give some idea about what is involved in the whole process of being awake and going to sleep, as well as give you some reason to really put some thought into what time you go to bed at night!

Eat Better to Sleep Better

Jak sleeping IEveryone knows that ingesting caffeine late in the day can adversely affect your ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and the quality of your sleep. Even the timing of your meals can affect your sleep. Eating late in the evening and going to sleep with a full stomach can divert blood flow to your stomach and inhibit recovery, not to mention it can also exacerbate acid reflux.

But, can the balance of nutrients, i.e., Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats, actually help you sleep better?

Scientists recently discovered that a high protein diet may contribute to deeper sleep, and less interruptions in sleep due to movement, than a regular diet. It seems that a high protein diet suppresses sensory arousal and allows you to sleep deeper with less disturbances. 

This information was uncovered by scientists working with flies and mice, manipulating genes at first, then moving on to modifying their diets. Other stimulants, like heat or sound, were not affected.

So, this seems like just another reason to make sure that you are getting adequate protein each meal, especially those later in the day. Also, as we age, we have a tendency to decrease our protein intake and decrease the amount and quality of sleep we experience. Increasing or maintaining protein consumption in later years may contribute to better sleep and additional cognitive benefits.

For more details please go to the NewScientist website.

How to look and feel a decade younger

Mak_kbOn TV and social media you are being constantly bombarded by products that can make you look and feel younger. Most of them are just a modern version of "snake oil", while others are potentially toxic and dangerous.

So how do you navigate the BS and actually do something to roll back the clock? It's simple, or at least it's not too complicated, if you are willing to make some lifestyle changes that will impact you today and in the future.

You are what you eat!

Common sense should tell you that if you stuff yourself with highly processed foods and drinks, that they are not going to support healthy physical and mental health. Instead, focus on getting as much of your nutrients from the periphery of the grocery store. In particular, from the butcher, the dairy case, and the vegetable aisle. By restricting your calories to this part of the grocery store, you are well on the way.

Intermittent Fasting

There is a significant amount of research that touts the benefits of intermittent fasting or restrictive time eating. All this means is that you restrict your eating to a very limited time frame, usually around six to eight hours. The rest of the day is spent in a fasting state, meaning that you are not consuming any calories that will break the fasting state. Drinking water, tea, or coffee, during this period is usually condoned. In it's simplest form, establishing an eating pattern that puts your first meal later in the day, and your last meal early in the evening, no later than 0700 pm, would be optimal.

Say "No" to stress

You've heard this before, but the more you can do to eliminate or reduce stress, the better off you will be short and long term. While stress would seem to only prey on the mind, it has deep responses both physically and chemically. Reducing stress can be as simple as walking outdoors in the sunshine, practicing meditation, playing with or petting your dog or cat, and reducing contact with people who stress you out.

Sleep like a baby

Often overlooked in our fast paced and hectic lifestyles, sleep is one of the foundational principles beyond living longer and healthier. If you are exercising, eating right, and reducing stress, but not getting enough sleep... well, let's just say that you need to get your house in order - NOW! Sleep, or a lack thereof, has an impact on every aspect of your life. There is no one single thing that you can do that will make a greater impact than establishing a good sleep routine and sticking to it. If you need help in finding what you can do to improve your sleep, just scroll through this website for a ton of information on how to improve that quality and quantity of your sleep.

Get Up and get moving

Like sleep, exercise has an impact on you at every level. Getting up and moving, even a little bit, will have an impact on your overall well being. Getting in several sessions a week, lasting sixty minutes or more, balanced between strength training and aerobic training, will have the most impact. But, if you can't fit in the amount of time per session, think about breaking up the longer sessions into shorter "movement snacks". Getting up every hour or so and going for a brisk walk will get you moving in the right direction. Adding on a short, intense weight living session, even one that's only ten minutes long, can make a big difference.

Look, nobody is going to live forever. No matter what you do, the grim reaper is going to catch up to all of us. But it doesn't make sense to live our "golden years" overweight,weak, sick, and sedentary. No matter what your age, young or old, if you adopt the principles outlined above, you will more than likely add quality days, months, and years to your life.

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is not all that it's cut out to be!

Daylight savings 2023Tomorrow, most people in the United States will advance their clocks one hour for Daylight Savings Time (DST). Here are seven things you should know about DST:

Making the shift can increase health risks. Evidence points to acute increases in health risks, especially heart attacks and stroke. It also contributes to a heightened risk of mood disturbances, hospital admissions, an elevated production of inflammatory markers in response to stress, and an increase in car crashes.

DST was originally enacted to conserve energy. Benjamin Franklin invented the concept in 1784. Pushing clocks forward to make greater use of daylight hours during the warmer months was formally adopted during World War I as a global attempt to conserve energy

More after-work sunshine doesn’t necessarily mean a happier you. Sunlight is the most powerful synchronizer of our circadian rhythms. Exposure to sunlight closer to bedtime increases the release of cortisol, which makes it harder to fall asleep at our usual bedtime, and reduces the amount of sleep we’re able to get each night.

Less sleep means more health risks. Moving the clocks forward in the Spring results in going to sleep and waking up before our internal clocks are ready to do so. This misalignment of waking and sleeping times last the duration of DST. 

For certain groups, DST has a greater negative impact. Shift workers and adolescents take a bigger hit than most. Adolescents exhibit behavioral, learning, and attention issues, as well as an increased risk of accidents, injuries, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and mental health risks. 

DST could become permanent. There has been a recent trend to enact the Sunshine Protection Act, which would result in the permanent misalignment of our internal clocks with the time on our social clocks. The evidence surrounding the health and accident risks surrounding DST is so great, that many are in favor of abolishing it altogether.

There are ways to manage the change. Most people will acclimate to the change in a week or so, while others will take longer or not acclimate at all. To facilitate the change you should gradually adjust your waking and sleeping times, setting your clocks ahead one hour on Saturday evening and going to bed on time, and getting outside on Sunday morning to get some direct sun exposure to help regulate your cortisol/melatonin production. 

Beyond the Snatch Workshop - 03/19/2023

Beyond the Snatch WorkshopBEYOND THE SNATCH WORKSHOP

Sunday March 19, 2023
at CrossFit Koncepts
10:30 am to 05:00 pm


The Beyond the Snatch (BTSn) workshop is the entry point into getting a comprehensive understanding of the mechanics and techniques behind the Kettlebell. We will cover the foundational 01-hand Grinds and Ballistics that are essential to using the Kettlebell safely and effectively. All the techniques that will be taught during the workshop are applicable to a wide range of athletes of any age, strength, or experience level. We will also delve deeply into the concept of the “Hinge”, and how it applies to Kettlebells, the importance of the often overlooked “Backswing”, as well as providing coaching and performance guidelines for all techniques.

NOTE: this workshop is applicable to both the beginning athlete and the experienced coach, especially those who have been through a kettlebell certification in the past. The workshop will be taught so that beginning athletes will have sufficient depth in the techniques that they can self-assess their performance and make appropriate modifications. Coaches, trainers, and experienced Kettlebell users, will gain a deeper understanding of how to manipulate, teach, demonstrate, and troubleshoot Kettlebell technique in a manner that is safe, effective, and scalable to any athlete.



  • Deadlift
  • Front Squat
  • Farmer Carry; 01-hand
  • Press
  • Renegade Row
  • Thruster
  • Overhead Squat


  • Backswing
  • Swing
  • Hand Change Swing
  • Clean
  • High Pull
  • Snatch
  • Half-Snatch
  • Push Press
  • Viking Press
  • Jerk


Michael Krivka is a Master RKC with over two decades of experience training with and teaching kettlebells. He has taught a wide range of people, Tier One Spec Op personnel to Soccer Moms, how to safely and effectively use kettlebells to meet their strength and body composition goals. He is the highest reviewed kettlebell instructor on the Dragon Door website, and his gym, CrossFit Koncepts, consistently receives five-star reviews on Google.


  • Date: Sunday March 19th, 2023
  • Time: 1030 am to 0500 pm; 01 hour lunch break
  • Location: CrossFit Koncepts 16720 Oakmont Avenue Gaithersburg, MD 20877
  • Cost: $200/person if pre-registered by 03/12/23; $299/person after 03/12/23 (no exceptions)
  • Registration: Contact Mike Krivka at 301/404-2571 or [email protected]
  • NOTE: workshop size will be limited to 15 people

How to Dramatically Improve Your Sleep Quality

Screenshot_20230306_102153_GoogleChasing sleep is a nightly occurrence with some people. If you are someone who has a hard time falling asleep, or staying asleep, you know how frustrating it can be.

Sleep is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle and sleep issues need to be dealt with first. Before you run off and join a gym, modify your diet, and start slamming back protein shakes and supplements, you need to get your sleep in order.

Oftentimes people will resort to prescription or over the counter sleep medications to help them manage their sleep issues. While this might be a good short term solution, it doesn't address the real problem.

In previous posts we outlined a number of steps you can take to improve your sleep hygiene. In other words, ways that you can prepare the body for sleep and transitioning into sleep mode.

I have been taking ZMA (Zinc, Magnesium, and Asperate) for as long as I can remember before bedtime every night. ZMA helps you relax and transition you into sleep, as well as providing some essential nutrients that are lacking in our Western diet.

I recently became aware of a more potent combination of supplements that are even more beneficial than ZMA. The combination of Magensium Threonate, Apigenin, and Theanine, has been shown to be highly effective at transitioning you to sleep and keeping you there.

The following video, from the Joe Rogan podcast, has Dr. Andrew Huberman discussing this combination of supplements and their effect on the body and mind. I have been using this combination of supplements, a have several of my clients, for several months with positive results.

Take a listen to the video, do some research, and give it a try if you think that it's for you.

DISCLAIMER - I am not a Doctor or a nutritionist. I am just sharing my experiences with these supplements. As always, you should consult with your physician before taking any medications or supplements.

Five Important Things You Should Be Doing Every Day

What if there were five (05) things you could do, that would cost you nothing, that would radically change your life. Five things, that on the surface, seem simple and easy to implement. Would you do them? Would you take the time every day to take care of yourself? Let's go through them and find out.


The foundation for physical and mental health has to be sleep. You need to work towards getting at least 06-08 hours per night. If you are having difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep, there are a number of proven supplements and apps that can help. Having a consistent time that you go to sleep and get up is also tremendously helpful


Movement is the number one least prescribed drug for overall health. It doesn't matter if you are doing Zumba or BJJ, you need to slowly and surely get yourself up to about an hour a day of movement. It could be a combination of walking and weightlifting, or running and yoga, just find something you enjoy doing and stick with it.


There are a number of mental and physiological benefits from sun exposure first thing in the morning and later in the afternoon. Try to sun exposure multiple times a day, but focus on getting a good period of time first thing in the morning and in the afternoon. This habit will help your body adjust from sleeping to waking and facilitate transitioning from being awake to sleeping.


In a perfect world you would get 100% percent of your food from non-processed sources. Unfortunately we don't live in a perfect world, Instead, try to get 75-80% of your food from non-processed sources. In addition to food, you need to pay attention to your hydration, especially in the morning. Once again, 75-80% of your hydration choices should be from non-processed sources, which takes alcohol and soft drinks off the table immediately.


Simply, spend time with family and friends that make you feel loved and appreciated. Your "tribe" is an important part of your physical and mental health, and you should make a concerted effort to spend time with them every day. My favorite time to spend time with my family is over dinner. Learning about each others day is a great way to get some quality time in with family members. Also, if there are "toxic" people in your life, make sure you do your best to minimize exposure to them. There are going to be some people that you can't completely remover from your life, but spend as little time around them as necessary. 

This list comes from the following YouTube clip with Dr. Andrew Huberman. Take a few minutes to listen to what he has to say and then think about how you are going to implement this list into your lifestyle.