Kung Fu Practitioners vs. Bodybuilders from Biohacking Point of View

Which style of training is better for a biohacker? Kung Fu style workout or bodybuilding style workout?

It depends on your purpose of biohacking, doesn’t it?

Whether you are biohacking yourself to live longer or optimize your physical performance. Even if you are trying to optimize your physical performance, it depends on whether you want to improve your performance in certain athletic fields, want to just look good, or want to have a body that is useful in your everyday life.

It depends on your age, too. If you are in your 20s or 30s, you are looking at different kinds of outcomes from people in their 50s or 60s.

In the book Ikigai Bio-Hacking, I recommended bodyweight training combined with stretching over weight training at a gym. This is because I thought it was more beneficial for people in their 50s and over who are in it for longevity, as well as younger people who want to have a body that is useful in their everyday life.

Dr. Andrew Huberman just released a podcast video on stretching.


In his video, he talks about how stretching is as crucial as cardio and resistant training, yet it isn’t stressed so much.

I feel the same way. Especially in the West, strength workouts or hypertrophy exercises are a lot more emphasized and many people are doing them.

In Chapter 8 How to Bio-Harmonize Gaia, the Mother Earth, in Ikigai Bio-Hacking, I discussed the reason for it being the muscle overrated culture created by Hollywood.

Bodybuilders do look fit and it is appealing to have huge biceps like them on your Instagram or Facebook photos, yet, is having that kind of body really useful in real life?

Talking about strength alone, bodybuilders are not as strong as linebackers or wrestlers, they are mostly doing hypertrophy training, not powerlifting.

What about their flexibility? They are not as flexible as Kung Fu practitioners.

One great thing about Kung Fu practitioners is that they are fit in all levels. They are strong, maybe not as strong as linebackers or wrestlers, but they are strong enough and definitely more powerful than average people. They are fast, they can punch, kick, jump, and move forward and back with lightning speed. They have endurance. They can continue fighting for such a long time. No wonder how Bruce Lee included 10 kilometers of running in the daily training of Jeet Kune Do.  And most of all, they are flexible.

Their muscles aren’t big. They have rather lean muscles but are flexible enough to be able to move fast. In real life, this flexibility matters a lot. It prevents you from falling and other accidents to injure yourself. Dr. David Sinclar says it is good to train your muscles precisely for that. In that case, you want this flexibility as much as muscle strength.

Therefore, exercises conducted among Kung Fu practitioners are probable more in accordance with real-life situations.  Some of the Kung Fu movements come from how wild animals move. Many of the movements are used in regular life.

Exercises like Bench press with heavy weights, on the other hand, are not realistic in the sense that you never encounter a situation in real life to lift a heavy object using only the chest muscle. In real life, you’ll be lifting lighter objects using several muscles all at the same time.

Now, in real life, you don’t even need to have a body like a Kung Fu practitioner, you don’t need to be able to move that fast and you don’t need to engage in any kind of fight. If you want to live long, you had better avoid any kind of fight even if you are tough. Averting fights and conflicts is one of the skills of martial art masters.

What you need more is the skills of living, such as gardening and carpentering.  Carpenters are great role models, by the way,  of how to move their bodies. They have a good balance. They are light enough to go up the roof and stay with a posture in which they can do their work most efficiently.

Yoshinori Kouno, a master of ancient Japanese martial art says that we should observe how skilled craftsmen like carpenters move and hold their posture.

Therefore, you don’t need to practice Kung Fu, but you can gain benefits from some of their exercises. Oriental martial arts in general or other forms of holistic exercises are also good. In other words, things like yoga, Tai chi, qi gong, and Aikido are all useful.

You don’t have to do one particular form, but incorporate some of their exercises into your workout routine.

I don’t do any of them myself, but I do bodyweight HIIT, stretching, and loosening, and I incorporate oriental concepts when I do them. I think of the balance and the effects on the whole body, upper body lower body, muscles, joints, and cardio health.

My goal in biohacking is to stay young and healthy into old age, not to perform well in certain sports. I don’t need a superpower or miraculous flexibility,  I just need all-around general fitness, mediocre but balanced physical condition.