Fitness programs

InsideTracker - Quantified Self for your blood

InsideTracker is a personalized blood test panel for up to 30 biomarkers, aimed at optimizing health and performance (mood, energy, sleep, metabolism). I reviewed the service in April 2014.

P90X (2008-Oct — 2009-Jan)

P90X is a 90-day exercise/training/workout/weight loss/get ripped/bodybuilding/fitness programs for both men and women. It seems to be one of the few program advertised in magazines and via infomercials that actually works, according to a large following of users who have gone through the program and blogged or video-blogged their results.

I have completed P90X on 2009-Jan-16 and wrote an extensive P90X FAQ.

Occam's Protocol by Tim Ferriss (2011-Jan)

The Occam Protocol is a precursor to the Geek to Freak protocol for massive muscle gains. I followed the Occam Protocol for 19 days and for the first time in my life, gained significant amounts of muscle.

Slow Carb Diet (2013-Sep/Oct)

Tim Ferriss claimed that he lost 20lbs of fat in 30 days without doing any exercise. Let's see how that works for an individual without Tim's genes.

Fasting for a better immune system

Can a three-day fast reboot your immune system? That is the title of a Forbes article reviewing the research on the health benefits of fasting for two or more days. My article shares how I did it with minimal suffering.

Fitness gear/equipment

Sleep monitors

Basically, all consumer-grade sleep monitors suck. I've compared the best, medical-grades ones (according to their own literature) and they failed rather spectacularly. See The lesser of two sleep monitors - QS Emfit vs. Oura Ring.

DXA/DEXA body composition reliability

Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA, formerly DEXA) is regarded as a gold standard for determining body fat percentage and lean mass. Its cost has gone down to only ~$45 in California as of 2016. But how precise and reliable is DXA really?

Heart Rate Monitors

See my recommendations on Heart rate monitors.


Padding can be used on dumbbell handles, pull-up or chin-up bars, or curl bars, to protect the hands from calluses and to thicken the bar for a better grip.

  • NewGrips - I bought these and they offer an acceptable grip (I only tested against a plastic pull-up bar, but they probably grip metal very well too). However, if you palms sweat, you will easily slip off the grips. Talcum/baby powder improves adherence but its application ended up being annoying.
  • Dumbbell handle padding ideas: sponge, self-adhesive joint wraps
  • Grip pads: The Lynx (made from a type of neoprene, which provides good grip), Gorilla Grips (made out of leather, which they claim to offer better grip and last longer than neoprene)

Pulse oximeters

A research assistant at the University of Alabama at Birmingham recommended the Contec CMS50FW as "a seemingly great unit in terms of features, cost, and availability".

See my old buyer's guide on Amazon and the ~2011-2014 pulse oximeters discussion on the Quantified Self Forum.

Free Weights

If you're trying to save money, your best bets are Craigslist and garage sales.

Abs belts

Abs belts are based on electrical muscle stimulation, which is approved by the FDA as a muscle toning method (but not as a way to lose weight).


I don't run ( Tabata intervals are more efficient for cardio), but for martial arts training and general use, the original Salomon Techamphibian shoes are unbeatable thanks to their extremely breathable design and convertibility to sandals.


Injinji Tetrasok Performance Series

  • excellent in personal test:
    • with new socks, after one hour of conditioning training (in Salomon Techamphibian shoes), the inside sole of the tetrasocks was barely damp, thanks to the 70% Coolmax construction. Also, there was surprisingly little smell.
    • Note: after a few months of wear, the socks may smell even if you wear them in leather shoes while not performing any strenuous activity
    • toe separation doesn't allow blisters to form
  • rave reviews from marathoners, runners, hikers etc.
  • available in micro, mini and crew lengths, and black, white, gray, sand and pink; there is also a travel variety ($24) with 60% Coolmax
  • for giggles, you can creep out some people by wiggling your socked toes
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