Podcast Episode 17: Kris Gethin - Meet the Man of Iron
You may know Kris Gethin the bodybuilder, but Kris Gethin the ultra-endurance athlete? That's a new one. But not only is the master of pain training to do an Ironman triathlon, he's doing it in a fraction of the time that athletes usually take. In this episode, Kris talks with us about what will surely be a wild ride.
Listen To Podcast Episode #17
Episode 17: Kris Gethin - Meet the Man of Iron. You may know Kris Gethin the bodybuilder, but Kris Gethin the ultra-endurance athlete? That's a new one. But not only is the master of pain training to do an Ironman triathlon, he's doing it in a fraction of the time that athletes usually take. In this episode, Kris talks with us about what will surely be a wild ride.
Publish Date: Monday, May 1, 2017
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Behind The Scenes Video:
Ep.isode 17 Highlights & Transcript ▼
- What a typical training day looks like right now.
- The ultimate question: Why an Ironman?
- How the typical triathlon training approach is a bad fit for Kris
- How he met his trainer, Alex Viada
- Kris on a Bosu ball? Get ready for it.
- How his traditional twice-daily cardio sessions helped him in the early going
- The difference, or lack thereof, in time commitment between his training styles
- The subtle art of distinguishing "OK pain" and "injury"
- His history with running, cycling, and swimming (there is none)
- How his nutrition has changed, both in general and during endurance work
- The ways in which he has strategically loosened his traditionally strict diet
- How he feels during his hybrid training
- Why he runs with a 70-pound weight vest on
- His unique method of using weights as a pre-exhaust for endurance training
- Training legs before a run and a bike? Yup.
- How to follow Kris' journey
Nick Collias: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the hybrid addition of The Bodybuilding.com Podcast. I'm Nick Collias, an editor for Bodybuilding.com, and here's science chick Krissy Kendall over here, as well, and we're Kaged in here with a wild animal, master of pain himself, Kris Gethin. If you are on our site on a regular basis, you may know that he recently released an 8-Week Hardcore Training program, the latest of many. But that's far from all this guy is doing these days, you're also training for an Ironman. Some of the people who are fans of yours might say, "Training for an Ironman? There's nothing hardcore about that. What about the gains, Kris?"
Kris Gethin: It's hardcore. It's hardcore. It's taken me by surprise actually, I have got a lot of respect for that process, it is tough. It's a wake-up call, it's like every injury that you sealed and put away over the last 20 years are all starting to come back and letting themselves be known.
Nick: What's on the menu for today, for example?
Kris: I've already eaten my activity this morning. So I woke up and hit about an hour and fifteen in the gym. We did shoulders, triceps, abs and then got into the pool, which wasn't that long today, thank God. It was 1100 meters, but a lot of technical drills.
Nick: I've been watching the videos, it seems like there's a lot of drills that go on, in particular, for mastering that freestyle stroke.
Kris: Extremely frustrating, because you think, "I really want to work on my fitness," but apparently the swimming's like 60% technique, so I've really, really gotta get that down. As soon as I turn on my sides I have to do a lot of hand lead side kicks today, I just sink like a rock. So I need to somehow figure that one out.
Nick: Let's back it up a little bit though, do you remember the moment that this goal came to you? The goal of well, what is the goal?
Kris: The goal is to, at the very least not lose any muscle, I want to try to gain muscle during this process. So I am filming something along the lines of like a hybrid of the muscle-building trainer, various exercises that are definitely reserved specifically for Ironman training, however will put on muscle at the same time, and within six months complete an Ironman. Two years is the general consensus that you need to prepare for an Ironman for the average person. I'm far from average, I'm probably in more of a deficit with the amount of muscle, the amount of oxygen I need, the amount of calories I need, trying to keep my body core temperature down, and so that's a process. I figured, yeah I'll suck at this, let's go, let's do it.
Nick: It was just time to suck at something?
Kris: Yeah. I just want the challenge, I want to side step and I believe that bodybuilders should be able to perform, they should be healthy, they should be able to function, so someone's gotta do it I guess, let's go for this.
Dr. Krissy Kendall: But why an Ironman? Why not just an ultra marathon? Because a lot of people don't even know what an Ironman is.
Kris: Yeah, Ironman, it's something that, when I heard about the distances, because I didn't really know much about it. I thought, isn't that reserved for an automobile or something like that? A human does that in a day?
Krissy: In a day.
Kris: You have a 17-hour cut off to get a 2.4 mile swim done, and then you have a 112-mile bike ride, and then you have a full marathon at the end of that. And I'm the kind of person that needs some sort of distraction. If I think too much it makes me think too much, and if I do one sort of sport I get a little bit bored, so I don't read one book, I have to read five or six books at the same time. And for that reason I couldn't do a marathon by itself, or prepare for a bike race by itself. This combination mixed with bodybuilding is perfect, because I'm always thinking about something else and trying to improve at that discipline without getting injured. Because I'm sure if I just kept running every day for a huge amount of time at that length, then I'd probably get injured, or the likelihood is increased. So I can improve my strengths in all of these disciplines.
Nick: Your supplement company, Kaged Muscle, has sponsored an Ironman athlete right? Matt Pritchard?
Kris: Mathew Pritchard, yeah.
Nick: Is that how this came on your radar? This particular goal? Or was this ...
Kris: Well, Mathew, he's a different kind of cat. He was the star of a TV show called Dirty Sanchez, which is much like Jackass, but worse, in Wales. He decided to do something for charity once, where he was dressed in a full fireman's uniform and he was on a treadmill in a supermarket and he just kept doing until he pretty much collapsed. He had the mental tenacity to do it, so he just started doing Ironman and he then continued to do other challenges like 30 half-Ironmen in 30 days, then he did a triple brutal, which is three Ironmen, pretty much continuous over three days.
Nick: I think that's the video I watched, it was brutal.
Kris: He's unbelievable. He uses my … the Kaged Muscle supplements, and when I was there last time he was showing me on his Strava, since I've taken In-Kaged and I'm increasing my fluid, these are the times on the sprints on the hills and they had dramatically increased. I'd thought about it at that time, I've been pondering on this for about a year. Just having friends, it's strange, there's friends that I used to just party with when I was younger in Wales. Two of them are now doing Ironmen as well, and there was like three of us in this group. It's like, now I'm joining that group. Maybe it's something that ...
Krissy: Something in the water.
Kris: Yeah exactly. That seed has just grown from various areas, but I did have it in my head when I was pondering this a year ago, okay, I don't mind losing all my muscle. I'll just go on a vegetarian diet, I've done it before, and it will come back. That's fine, it'll help because I don't have to worry about carrying this weight, I don't have to worry about my knees …
Nick: It’s like a weight vest.
Kris: Yeah, exactly. But then I thought, but that's what other people do. I need to do something that's a little bit different. I want to try to do this and I don't want to lose my following, and then the majority of my following are bodybuilders. And I thought, well let's see if I can open an opportunity to other bodybuilders. Because it's something that no one really thinks about, and I know some people that have done triathlon before and they've come over to bodybuilding and they go, "Well, I can't go back to the that now because this muscle is gonna be a hindrance." So, I want to show that, if done correctly, and not doing the amount of hours that a triathlete typically does to get ready for a triathlon, through various forms of intensity that us bodybuilders have learned to adapt, transferring that into an endurance realm so I can kind of cross that bridge. I think I'm gonna prove that it can be done.
Krissy: So, how much of your coaching is your coaching, or that you're creating. Obviously I would think that your hypertrophy workouts or your bodybuilding workouts are based on what you know in your experience, versus when you have to have a coach for swimming and cycling. How do you mesh those together? And how did you find a coach that was willing to be okay with ... Okay, you can do this on your own ...
Nick: In six months.
Krissy: Right, and you know that the coach is okay with you doing some things on your own or having your own idea of what you what to accomplish out of this.
Kris: Yeah. I get what you're saying. So, I'd done a lot of research beforehand because I thought, well I am going into the unknown here. And I'd spoken to a few people like Dave Scott, six-times Ironman world champion, had some great conversations with him. But then I realized, after reading a lot of the magazines and going on websites and listening to these people I thought, I can't really do what those guys are telling me, it just wouldn't make sense for my body. My body couldn't do that, it wouldn't do that, and the amount of food that I have to carry with my when I'm on a bike, for instance, is unbelievable.
Kris: Yeah. Because I get light-headed now. If I go out on a bike ride for about an hour, I have a massive feed and think, "That'll do me." But 45 minutes later, I'm getting hungry and I think, no that can't be right. 15 minutes after that I'm getting light-headed. There's various things that I know that I have to do very much differently. I have to strengthen my core a lot, running in that position for somebody with a heavier upper body that's just not used to this, your core collapses, your diaphragm collapses and you're not gonna finish or you're gonna struggle, you're not getting any oxygen in, so there's different ways. I'd done a lot of research, and I happened to stumble across a guy called Ross Edgley, who's quite a muscular gentleman who had done something called a Tree-athlon, which he, for charity, he had the weight of a 70-pound branch or something on his back and did like a half Ironman. He's a built guy from the UK and I'd been having some conversations with him and through a couple of conversations, Alex Viada came up in conversation.
Nick: We both read his book, as well.
Krissy: The hybrid athlete, yeah.
Kris: Right, yeah that's right. And I took one look at this guy and I thought, "This guy's a freak. He does ultramarathons, he does Ironman, he does powerlifting, he does strongman. This guy's 230 pounds and he's pretty lean and he's proven that he can do this. So, I contacted him, had some real great, in-depth conversations, realizing that health is definitely the priority for both of us and we really connected on that and how we try to live within our environments a little bit differently to the general bodybuilder who looks at themselves as a vanity project over something that's health-driven. And then I told him what I wanted to do and asked him if he would come on and help and he was delighted to. So that made it a little bit easier. I put my entire trust in him because here's somebody I can relate to now, maybe not so much from the injury front because I've had a lot of injuries over the years, before I even got into bodybuilding, and like I said, they kind of surface themselves now. So I have to train accordingly based on what my brain and my body is telling me, but I have an outline from him, specifically in these three disciplines that I'll generally follow. This week was a low-volume week, that was mentally very difficult for me to pull back. It was good to have Alex there to say, "You've gotta trust this process and not push it too far." Now it's gonna be easy for a week, and my wiring wasn't really, hadn't figured anything like that out before, so in that respect it really helps. But with the weight training, he's absolutely fine with me taking that over, he did have his team put together some suggestions, I was like, "No that doesn't work for me, I don't do five reps."
Nick: Was there any bosu ball involved? That's the question.
Kris: I'm putting all that in. I'm putting a lot of different types of training in that I know my followers are really gonna beat me up about, but I know I have to work on my knee tracking, my ankle stability, I've torn my tendons in my ankles I don't know how many times, broken my ankles, I have very skinny ankles. I'm doing a lot of heavy back work on a bosu ball. I'm doing a lot of AeroMat work and there's a lot of things that I have to think about now in order to allow bodybuilding to compliment this process instead of take away from it.
Nick: It's just in hearing you talk about finding that sweet spot of intensity versus being able to pull back too, because I've only watched the first couple of weeks of this so far. I think it's in week one, I was looking at the program and it says things like 'take your bike out for a stroll', this is an easy run. And then I watch the video and you're saying, "This was supposed to be an easy day, it's not. This was supposed to be an easy day, it's not." So, yeah, that's gotta be a learning process for you just bringing it back. You are a twice-a-day or a once-a-day cardio guy, right?
Nick: So, did that prepare you at all?
Kris: Definitely, because I love doing cardio a couple times a day just for health purposes. I want to make sure that I am still mobile, and I know if I have a better blood flow around my body I tend to recover a lot easier and I can train a lot more often. And for me weight training is therapy more than anything, whenever I have to take a day off I think, "Okay, I'll probably become a hermit today because I'm not gonna be a good person to be around." It's definitely therapeutic. So I don't have to find the motivation to do it, it's a necessity to me. This is just a different type of intensity, now my asthma that I haven't had for several years now has come back because I'm pushing it. So I do enjoy that challenge, but the main priority for me whilst I’m getting ready for this is just staying injury free. Because mentally I've already crossed the line, I'm absolutely fine. I just need this carcass of mine to keep up.
Nick: Do you find that the total time expenditure in your training is dramatically up from what it was when you were just focused more on lifting and that?
Kris: No, during the week it's pretty much the same, it's very similar. The only difference during the week is that I tap both of my cardio sessions together, the majority of the time, because the way I think about it, I'm doing an Ironman and it's not as if you take a day off in between, it has to be back-to-back. Even though the viewer does have the option to say 'do bike in the morning and run in the evening,' the majority of the time I'll just get up very early, do my weight training, do my bike, do my run all in one session. That's the only difference, and on the weekend, that's when the high volume comes in. So, like last weekend, I went for a 50-mile bike ride, I'm up to 50 miles now. That took me like three hours, 14 minutes and then I'd follow that up with a 30-minute run, so like three miles. The weekends is where it's changing, because you have to become comfortable being uncomfortable. As much as the intensity will help with the fitness it's like, how much fuel is my body gonna use so I can calculate exactly how many calories I'll need on race day so I don't start bonking, as they call it. And the same goes for being on the saddle or getting chafed. When I'm running, I have to get used to that uncomfortability.
Krissy: When you speak of that, how do you know ... Because you also talk about staying injury-free. You're doing some new things, and how do you know, and is it just because you know your body so well, what's uncomfortable versus what's potentially leading to an injury on some of these newer things that I'm doing. I'm a cyclist and I do long-distance cycling.
Kris: We should go. I’m up for that.
Krissy: I would love to. There's a few spin classes I've subbed, I've seen you in there a few months ago at Axiom. I would love to be out there on the road with you. But there are some things like upper back gets a little sore, lower back gets a little sore, butt gets sore, yada yada yada. It's uncomfortable, you ride for a little bit and it goes away. Versus you could have a nagging knee injury, and you keep doing that? You could have some serious arthritis in your knee or something that's more severe when you compound that by doing 50 miles, week after week after week. How do you know ... And I get that asked all the time. When is it an injury? When is it just uncomfortable?
Kris: I guess if … This is how I play it, because sometimes after I've done my run and like I'm over 220 pounds or around 220 pounds, you know, my knees hurt. Especially if I'm running on the cement, they hurt. But the thing is, the pain will generally go away after an hour or so, so I think okay, it's just a normal ache and pain, it's not there 24, two days, three days, later. That's how I distinguish it. I've had a real problem like I'm taped up here with some RockTape, I had a very bad problem with my groin injury that I had in November of last year in CrossFit going very, very light. I just squatted down way too fast in a very wide stance and I pulled something in my groin. It didn't really bother me at all, I was able to continue to train, no problem. But since I've been doing this, as of five weeks ago it's reoccurred and I don't have the opportunity to give it a rest. I went really hard, with … aggressive with my rehab this week because it was low volume, but that's an injury that I know is tough because I was in Toronto last weekend and I did my cardio indoors the entire time last weekend even though it was like three hours on the bike, I did three hours indoors on a bike because I had a very busy filming schedule then and I couldn't really go biking around the middle of Toronto. On the flight back I was just in pain the entire flight back. That's when I realized, I really have to get extremely aggressive with this recovery, because the only thing that's gonna help, I think, is low volume and some rest and be a little bit more mindful with the speed I'm running at, no drills or anything like that. Just keep my fitness so ... One of the things that I'm gonna start doing now is aqua running. I'll get one of those aqua belts, a flotation belt. Even though that's gonna be boring, it'll at least allow me to keep that action, get that neuromuscular function and keep that run fitness up. I've read some studies and a lot of runners who have had problems, they do aqua running and they don't really lose that much run fitness. That's something that I'm probably gonna have to begin.
Nick: That's interesting. The running is a bit of a sticking point for a lot of people I feel like. There are plenty of people who lift and ride a bike, lift and do some swimming. But it seems like runners and lifters can sometimes be these opposing camps these days. What's your running history like?
Kris: None, I don't have any history in any of these things, none whatsoever. I'm learning to do all three. It's funny because there's a gentleman in town here who wrote a book called 'The Heart of Running'. That book was fascinating. We all assumed we know how to walk, we all assume that we know how to run. But nobody's taught us how to do it correctly and we're all doing it wrong. That's a reason why lot of people get injured. When people think about triathlons everyone says, oh the swim. The swim's gonna be the struggle for me. I don't think about that, even though it will be a struggle, I'm not gonna get injured swimming, touch wood. I'm probably not gonna get injured on the bike. Unless somebody hits me it's gonna be the run. That's because a lot of the time we don't know how to run correctly, so I'm being very mindful of, I don't go out with headphones because I don't want to be distracted on how I'm running, making sure that I have a very fast cadence of about 188, 190. It's almost comical with my short legs.
Nick: That's pretty fast cadence, yeah.
Kris: Just to take away as much stress from here, I'm just trying to think of being a wheel at the moment, keeping my upper body as still as possible and making sure that I get that four-foot strike. So when I'm doing any treadmill work now, I've got a curved treadmill in my garage there, so that's forcing me to four-foot strike as well. So if I do any work in there, generally I'll have weights vest on, I put my ankle weights on my wrists and I'll use that as a higher intensity and fast cadence to get my heart rate up quick so I don't have to go out for hours on end. Because I think it's that repetitive strain that will get me, personally, for hours, as opposed to short intervals.
Nick: What's the location? What's the race here that you're preparing for specifically?
Kris: It's in Coeur d'Alene [Idaho, USA], I'm doing a half Ironman with my girlfriend, she is doing this process with me. She's gonna do the half Ironman with me in, I think it's June 25th, 26th. And then I will continue and go on for the full Ironman which is in August in Coeur d'Alene, as well.
Nick: Oh, okay. Is it a hilly course up there?
Kris: Yeah, if you look at which are the hardest ones in the US, they have the red area, they have the green area, and they have the yellow. Coeur d'Alene's in the red.
Krissy: Nice, starting off easy.
Nick: That's some cold water generally up there, too.
Kris: In June it probably will be, but some August it's supposed to be an extremely hot Ironman and that's obviously a concern for me because my core temperature is much higher than the average person, so for me to try and stay hydrated and not cramp is gonna be difficult and it's a hilly course. I'm okay when I'm running on the flat, second that I hit a hill it really tires me out because I'm pushing more weight and more oxygen requirement.
Krissy: So, how has your nutrition changed during workouts? Because for resistance training or hypertrophy training, it's … weight training I should just say. It's pretty easy, if you want to eat something, want to drink something it's pretty easy to do. Swimming, not so much. You could drink something at the end of the wall. Cycling, pretty easy to do. Running, I can't do anything, my stomach turns upside down. You have to be so smart about that and I don't think people give it much consideration. I'm interested to hear.
Kris: I'm thinking about it right now for those dates exactly what I'm gonna eat. The last thing I want to do is run out of fuel. So what I'll use is like an attitude test, and Kenny taught me about this and it's worked well. So, your attitude will change, probably about 20 minutes before you'll get any physical depletion, so your brain depletion of glycogen. So for instance, if I'm out riding a bike and someone gets close to me and I'm getting pissed off and throw them the finger, I'm wondering, is it that person or am I just getting a bit low on glycogen now? And chances are it's me, so I'll pull over then and I'll make sure that I eat and fuel up. Within 20, 30 minutes I'm good again, I feel a lot better. So I use that as my soundboard, so to speak, and definitely I'm learning the hard way, like I said. I rode out to Rembrandt's, had a big feed there. And then like 45 minutes later after I thought that I had a big feed I'm hungry again. So my calories aren't that much different and my ratio isn't that much different from when I filmed the muscle-building trainer. You're pretty much using that calculator, however a lot of the nutrition will be focused around a workout such as like, on the weekends. I'm particular on the type of foods and nutrition that I'm taking in at particular times. So if I'm running, I don't want a lot of fluid sloshing around in my stomach, it becomes uncomfortable and I get a stitch, so I make sure that my nutrition is a thicker consistency. I may even eat if it doesn't require much chewing, because if I'm trying to breathe at the same time, I'm lacking in oxygen now. But generally when I'm on the bike I will eat more solid food and I chews and chop in between like that. Sorry, on the bike I'll have more fluid, fluid nutrition. I'll mix a thick shake with oats, blended, with a couple of bananas, blended, I'll have a protein, couple of scoops of Re-Kaged in there, blended, and I'll fill that up, and that's pretty thick, and I'll just sip on that. What I found, especially with hydration, instead of at these aid stations they'll have on the Ironman people gulp down. Well I found, since I've been running, especially on a hot day, if I take a couple of little bottles with me and just sip very 8 to 10 minutes, just a little sip, I stay a lot more hydrated, I perform better and I don't feel like I've got anything sloshing around in my stomach. So I'm gonna start practicing and training to take sips every 6 to 8 minutes now.
Nick: That's a rock solid in-race strategy. Now what about like … In your life you've been a very structured eating guy for a long time, I've heard you say on articles on our site I haven't missed a meal in years. Is it hard for you to deal with a craving, a huge craving all of a sudden when you've been to structured about your eating? Is that new to you?
Kris: Well, I'm not really as strict on this diet now. I'm putting honey on everything, I'm putting loads of almond butter. I'm not that strict now, I had a couple of bunny eggs yesterday because it was Easter.
Nick: How'd those taste?
Kris: It was pretty darn good post ride, yeah—really good. I'm not as strict, normally in my programs I'm very strict. That doesn't mean I'm that strict year round, I always make sure that I get my meals in. But now, I love fruits. In video series like the 8-week trainer, there's no fruit in there, there's no sugar.
Nick: Not much fat either in that one. Almond butter is not something I associate with you.
Kris: No, never. That goes back to a lot of the top bodybuilders I learned from, whether it be Dorian Yates, Jay Cutler, Ronnie Coleman or just any top bodybuilder. You don't have fats in your diet. It's definitely more of a new-school way of thinking as a justification to get the hormonal production and feel good about yourself. But I don't like to diet over a long duration, I like to get it over and done with. I don't like dieting. So if I pull my fats out, I find I can get in shape a lot quicker and I don't have the repercussions of a slow metabolism or low testosterone levels, or my hormones going way off track because I diet over a very short period. A lot of people think, "Oh well you should have fats, your strength will go down." If you do that for five or six months, possibly, but not over a short duration. But now I'm getting plenty of fats in. I had a pancake this morning with lots of seeds and nuts and fruits and yolks, it was great.
Nick: So how has this changed the way that you feel otherwise? Sleep, energy level, stuff like that?
Kris: Mentally, I’m knackered. Mentally, I'm shattered. It's funny because with weight training we come out of the gym normally physically exhausted. I will go out on a run or a bike and think, well this ain't bad, this is easy. I want to go on a century ride, I want to do one of those just to say I've done it. And then I'll get back after like 35 miles and feel like sleeping for hours, it just creeps up on you. It's a completely different exhaustion, so I have to think about that now. I can't be as productive mentally during the day if, on a weekend, if I go and do one of those things because it just creeps up on me. It's definitely a physical exhaustion, where I don't get that from bodybuilding at all.
Nick: Do you feel like your body has changed at all at this point? You're only a month in, though.
Kris: No, not yet in regards to fat loss. But muscle gain, I felt that when I was sinking in the water today swimming, and I'll justify it as muscle gain, that's how it is. But I honestly think that I'm putting on a bit of muscle now. I did take my weight training a little bit easy after the Olympia last year. I injured my shoulder training with Branch, of all people. I thought it was something that I could fix, because I've separated both my C-joints, I've torn my infraspinatus before, I thought, "This will be just another injury that I can fix." Wasn't able to fix this one, so I had to get a cortisol injection in it, I've never had one of them before but it helped. So then I had that about two weeks before starting this Ironman training. So now I feel that I'm starting to go full bore, like today was a real, good intense workout. So I can feel my muscle memory coming back now, I'm definitely putting on more muscle, but I'll say I'm going to purposely hold as much weight as possible during this process and then probably about four weeks before the Ironman, then I will drop some weight, I'll drop fat then. I'll just pull my calories back slightly, I'm guessing my volume's probably gonna go up by then. So by default I'll get lean, and I'm hoping my dropping that six or eight pounds in the last few weeks will make it so much easier on me when I actually go into the race. So I want to have that little bit of leverage towards the end to play with, I don't want to lose that weight now because then I've got nowhere to go, I've got no more tricks up my sleeve. Whereas that five to six or eight pounds could make a big difference.
Nick: No, you gotta build your engine now, right?
Kris: Yeah exactly, so that's why I'm putting my weights vests on and because if I put my 70 pounds on waist vest and I'll put 10 pounds on my arms and I'll go for a run for maybe eight miles, no six miles, then I take that off for the last two miles and it feels like I'm a normal person now running, I feel like a teenager.
Nick: Oh, a drop-set, okay.
Kris: A drop set, I like that, yeah, that's my drop set.
Krissy: Besides muscle mass are you tracking any other things? Anything like VO2Max? Lactate?
Kris: Yeah, I had all that done in the first week in the lab and then I'll check that again at the half-way point, probably at just before the half Ironman, and I'll check it at the end. I'm putting everything through my Garmin as well, so obviously checking my stroke rates, my pace, my cadence and I'm using obviously on Strava now, just came across that thing about four weeks ago. So that's good because I'm following some other people that I know as well, such as Pritchard. And I think, yeah I did well, I did 1800 meter swim today. And then I look at Pritchard, a 4300 lunch-time swim. So then it's good because surrounding myself with that and reading the magazines and submerging myself in that, it becomes more normal to me because like I said, I thought those distances were only reserved for an automobile before. So the more that I read about it and be surrounded by it and hear it, the more normal I think it becomes so I can wrap my head around it. Because I was still struggling for the last couple of weeks even, just to think, it's a long time, it's a long way. When I finish a five, six-mile run I think, that was tough. Now I've got to do that times five, you know?
Krissy: After a swim and 112 mile bike ride.
Nick: Bringing it back to the weights workouts for a second, there is a video series that's going to be on Bodybuilding.com, the [Man Of Iron] program itself will be also published on Bodybuilding.com, somebody could do the whole thing, they could do the whole enchilada right alongside you. They could also, in theory, just do these workouts because they enjoy your workouts. How different are these workouts than what somebody would expect from you in the past?
Kris: It's very different because like I'm using my weight training to improve my efficiency for the swim, for the bike, for the run. Like today, I went and totally annihilated my delts and my triceps before swimming, so … and then I'd use the paddles when I'm swimming so it's really tough then on my delts and my triceps. So I am using a muscle-building process, but the exercises may be a little bit different because they are created specifically for the discipline that's about to follow that I want to use as my pre-exhaust.
Nick: Yeah, I was gonna say, it's pre-exhaust and I noticed that in the videos, too. It seems like a really unique way to approach this style of training, use weight training as a pre-exhaust for the sport.
Kris: Yeah exactly, because I don't have time to go and do a two-hour run, I don't have time to do two hours bike ride during the week, it just can't be done. So the thought process is to improve the efficiency with the pre-workout to the swim being my weights and using that as a pre-fatigue set. And then when I get into the run or the swim or whatever I use a lot of intensity and drills to further improve that efficiency.
Nick: I think that's interesting also, because the thing that kills runners and triathletes is just the sheer volume of their training. It kills their lifestyles, but also injuries, everything. It gets so big. This is a way of dialing it back that's very interesting. Have you found some precedent for that, where people have said, "All right yeah, use the weight to pre-exhaust this and bring your total training volume down."
Kris: No, not really. But I think, in theory, it should work. I'm definitely feeling it.
Nick: Guess you'll find out.
Kris: Yeah, exactly. My triceps were absolutely killing me when I was doing my freestyle in the pool this morning, so I have to be better when I go in fresh. There's just no way it, and tomorrow I've got legs. It's gonna be a very high-volume leg session and then I'm gonna go and run straight after that, and bike. So then I know that's gonna be tough, but it's only gonna make it so much easier on the day when I have to finish this thing.
Nick: It's gotta make for some good watching too, right?
Kris: Yeah, for sure. But the workouts on this one, it's like four days a week weight training as opposed to my usual five. But they're intense and they're hard, and if somebody wants to just follow the bodybuilding workouts they can do that, they don't have to do the triathlon or Ironman part of it, however it's there for the taking should they want, I encourage people to do so.
Nick: But they could also just watch and do neither of the programs.
Krissy: That’s what I always do.
Nick: What do you want somebody take away from this experience as they watch it?
Kris: I want people to take the ceilings off. A lot of people have low ceilings and they look at things as impossibilities as opposed to opportunities. Maybe they don't want to do a triathlon, but like say they want to do the Boston Marathon. Well it's a possibility, you're a bodybuilder, you can do that. And I'm gonna kind of show you how to do it, it's gonna be a lot of strategic moves in regards to your nutrition and your supplementation, specifically the timing. When I've looked at a lot of triathletes' programs, their supplementation and their timing is atrocious, it's terrible. Not once will you actually even see something about the supplements or fluid intake that you should have when you're swimming. We sweat a lot when we swim, we lose a lot, but you never read anything about that. That's something that I've definitely put into my arsenal because I feel so much better for it. And immediately after my weights workout, I'm chugging my protein before I get into my cardio session, because I don’t want any muscle wastage. Making sure that I’ve got my BCAAs, my glutamine in, and a lot of people neglect that. So I think just through that being purposely focusing on your supplementation then with the intensity of your cardio sessions as if it's a weight training work out, but obviously you're gonna be tapping into a different type of muscle fiber and energy system. You can recover from both.
Nick: Hmm. So, first video's going to come out on the 28th on Bodybuilding.com, promo on the 24th, first video on the 28th. They're gonna come out weekly for months moving forward.
Kris: Six months, six months, six-month video training. Yeah, you guys are gonna be sick of me.
Nick: How else can they follow you throughout this? I guess they could friend you on Strava or something like that, right?
Kris: Yeah, Strava or follow me on my socials, on Instagram or whatnot. I'm there, I'm a social whore—you can find me anywhere.
Nick: And you can find him right here too, so thanks for coming and talking to us about this, it should be a fascinating little adventure.
Kris: Thank you very much for having me, the pleasure's all mine.
Nick: We'll have you back in at some point, we gotta see how this wraps up.
Krissy Kendall, Ph.D.: At least after the first half.
Nick: After the half, I think that'd be a good point to check in.
Kris: Yeah, then I'll tell you if I'm definitely going for the full.
Nick: We'll wheel you in here on a gurney at that point.
Kris: Maybe give me a couple of weeks.
Nick Collias: All right, Kris Gethin, thank you very much.
Kris Gethin: Thank you, appreciate it.
Over the last decade, you've watched as Kris Gethin built muscle, burned fat, and transformed his body along with yours. Now he's embracing a challenge like nothing you've ever seen. While continuing to train like a bodybuilder, he will also prepare himself for a full-distance triathlon: a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride, and a full marathon of 26.22 miles. His goals: put his mind and body through hell, defy the odds, and become a hybrid athlete.
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