Mobility exercises for office dwellers

Topic: mobility exercises (re-posted article from my earlier blog)

Summary: Don’t do conspicuous stretching like the side split, but do spend a few minutes a week or month on mobilizing first and foremost your hips, shoulders and upper back.

hip squat mobility

Squatting July 6, 2016

Message: You should do mobility exercises if you want to postpone the point in your life when you start walking like an old man. The old-man walk and posture comes from immobile hips, short psoases, and an inflexible spine and upper torso. And all of those issues come from sitting in chairs.

The positive thing is that it mobilizing at the office can constitute a nice break from just sitting inefficiently at your desk – and it is easy and quick.

My recommendation is that you spend (at least) 5 minutes a month, focusing on your hips and shoulders. Remember to start slowly and aim low, just try to be a little better than yesterday or last month:

1. Squat. Sit as low as you can in a normal squat position for 1-2 minutes, straight back with no “butt dipping”, feet about shoulder width, slightly pointed outward. For extra credit, vary the feet position from very narrow to very wide.

2. Shoulders. Lie on your back, put your feet to tha floor and push the hip and back up in the air. Position your forearms under your back. Make sure your shoulders are firmly in contact with the floor, then lower your hip, thus pressing your forearms toward the floor. Move your hip up and down in very slow movements straining your shoulders more respectively less. Constantly strive to keep your shoulders in contact with the floor throughout the exercise.

3. Hips. Do the “couch stretch” at least one minute on each side. Se picture of me (hungover in Visby this summer) to the right, as well as at the office:

Couch stretch in Visby

Saed is showing what a butt wink looks like. Avoid that.

Couch stretch at the office

And if you have a foam or tube roller, you should think about mobilizing your torso by lying on it and trying to bend your back over it (without letting your lower part of the back do the bending)

That’s it.


When you think you are ready for more, gradually add the following exercises for a couple of minutes each. Sooner or later you’ll be mobilizing 5 minutes per week (!) if you feel like it:

Calves, achilles tendon. Either with the foot blade up against a wall, or by sitting in a narrow squat, balance as far forward as possible and shift your weight to one foot at a time

Hamstrings. Lie on your back, grab one foot at a time with the leg bent. Straighten the leg and pull it closer to your head. Try straining against your pull for five seconds and then relax and take the opportunity to go deeper inte the stretch (straighter leg and closer to the head) during the relaxation

Also try these:

Pigeon pose (which alternatively can be done lying on the TV-couch)

Bully grip (with head turn, and lowering of body for increased tension and leverage). TBG needs a minimum of equipment; something to grab a hold on with your arm behind your back

Glutes (do them in your office chair or in the TV sofa)

Shoulders. Just hang out for a while like this. Grab something overhead, turn your palm facing from you. It improves your overhead press position.

If you are still looking for more, try some self massage techniques:

1. Shoulders. Place a tennis ball, lacrosse ball or similar object under your scapula while lying on your back. Move around and explore the edge of the entire scapula with the ball, including your traps (trapezius). Try doing air bench presses in that position, or air overhead presses, and back strokes

2. Shoulders. Lie face down with a ball under your shoulder or pecs (pectorals). Explore.

3. Glutes/Hamstrings. Sit on a ball. Do leg extensions while sitting on the ball

4. Psoas. Lie face down with the ball a few inches to the side of the navel (umbilicus). Attack your psoas from the side, with the ball, utilizing your body weight. Do the same with the ball right below your hip bone instead

5. Legs and forearms. Press and roll the ball on your calves, your forearems and thighs. Put extra pressure on the tear drop part of the quads by using your body weight (face down, bent leg)

6. Feet. Place the ball under your foot arch, put weight on it and roll back and forward with focus on the inside of the foot; the arch

7. Lats. Don’t forget your lats (latissimus). Lie on your side on a ball or a foam/tube roller and more or less aim for wherever it hurts the most.

If you are really serious about extreme stretching and mobilizing you should check out Kelly Starret’s MWODs etc., starting here.

But remember, the first 3-4 exercises at the top of this post make the biggest change to anybody who sits a lot and haven’t thought about doing mobility exercises. Aim for 5 minutes a month to begin with. That should make a world of difference for you.

The following stuff is only for competitive athletes or show-offs and is hardly beneficial to your health:

Side split

A “few” years back

When I still practiced martial arts

This one is border-line. It’s probably good but this just might be over the top:

I often end up in that position when relaxing between other stretches


You might want to check out this recent post about back pain and mobility exercises. In addition, don’t forget to share this article or subscribe yourself

Quick fix for back pain, hernias, restless legs and more

Summary: a few easy and quick fixes for your back, to prevent injuries, appearing old, as well as make you healthier and more attractive at the same time.

-Arching your back, and rotating your hips.

Length: 1187 words; pretty short (just as your psoases)


Sitters are people too

-LOL, as if

Let me guess; you’re a “sitter”.

-meaning you sit down in a chair or couch/sofa for several hours a day, sometimes even stretching single sitting-sessions to over an hour (sic).

If you are one of those lowly, ignorant and generally useless excuses for a human being, here’s a quick fix for you:

(I’m sure you’re looking for quick fixes; I mean, being a sitter and all, it’s pretty obvious you like short-cuts)

  1. Cobra-ups
  2. Hip-3D

“Fix for what?”, you ask.

“Whaddyamean ‘fix for sitting’? Sitting is normal, and not just for ‘hours’ but for double-digit hours per day”

  1. The fixes prevent injuries like disc bulges, hernias and stiff necks – even restless legs
  2. You’ll become a better bench presser through more practice arching
  3. Your posture will naturally straighten from your current slouch
  4. With better posture comes improved hormone levels and immune system

Let’s describe these slippery suckers now. First up: the cobras.


During a particularly slouchy period of my life, I developed a disc bulge in my vertebrae. To get rid of it I was prescribed sets of 15 cobra-ups every waking hour, later every second hour, and yet later twice a day.

It took me about 8-9 months to get rid of the pains, sudden powerlosses and tingling in my back, glutes and hamstrings, not to mention restless legs syndrome (link to my article on how to get rid of RLS=WED).

I wish I had sat straighter, sat less or at least done a short set of cobras a couple of times a day, to prevent that disc from bulging in the first place.

-Yeah, yeah, yeah, get to the point already. How do you do the snake-y thingies?

A cobra-up is basically a push-up from the floor without raising the hip from the ground. You simply push off from the ground and arch your back as evenly distributed over the vertebrae’s all discs as possible. Then lower yourself back to lying flat on your stomach. Spend a few seconds on your way up as well as down, but there is no need to stay in either position.

Like this:




If you’ve ever had a hernia or a stiff neck, I’m sure you’re already familiar with this technique. It’s recommended for loosening cramping muscles after throwing your back out.

However, it’s even better as a preventive tool, in effect “teaching” the body beforehand what range of motion is okay without risk of injury (and consequent painful cramping that can last for weeks). I perform the movements pretty quickly standing up before squatting or deadlifting at the gym.

All you have to do is wiggle your hip in three dimensions:

  1. move your hips closer to your ribs on first the left side, then the right, then the left, then the right… Try to increase the range of motion for every repetition. Do 10 on each side. This one can be tricky for men that never dance.
  2. alternate arching and rounding the back, strive for a stretching feeling in the lower back when rounding. Go slowly and deliberately, spend several seconds on the rounding, e.g. Do ten reps of arch+round
  3. turn your hip to the left and to the right without moving your upper body. This can be done pretty quickly. 10 reps to each side.

Sounds weird and difficult? You couldn’t be more wrong (Chandler Bing), but here’s a video to explain it all (in Swedish, but that doesn’t matter): 


More stuff

Neck-3D: Just as with the hips and lower back, you can prevent (or remedy) a stiff neck by doing the 3D exercise for the neck as well. Wiggle the head side to side, rotate it left to right, and up and down. There!

You can do them to loosen up a stiff neck, or as a prevention technique when sitting still too much in an air conditioned office (or before exercising – in particular after a day of sitting).

Foam roller: As a complement to the cobras you can lie down on your back on a foam roller. Just make sure to focus on arching and bending the thoracic spine, and not overarching the lumbar region.

foam roller


Old stuff – squatting and couching

Cobras and Hipsters are the new lessons for sitters in this article. They are easy enough, can be performed anywhere and in just about any outfit.

Finding a foam roller takes a little more dedication – a level I don’t expect of a sitter. The neck thing, however, I’m sure even you can fit into your hectic day of 5 coffee breaks, 5 toilet breaks and reading the sport news online. 

If you, against all odds, are interested in (almost) fully compensating for your sins (sitting), you want to add the two big ones to your daily routine. Actually “weekly” is enough if done properly, but daily is better.

  1. squat
  2. couch-stretch

Squatting is exactly what it sounds like. Sit down as low as you can go with your back straight (no rounding of the lumbar) and your feet flat on the floor. Vary your stance from broad to narrow. Try to stay in the bottom position for two minutes.

mobility squat The Retarded Hedge Fund Manager

The couch-stretch is tougher. The good thing is that you can do it in front of the TV, in the couch. Spend, e.g., the 2-minute Game Of Thrones intro in the following position

couch psoas

The original couch version


If you’re not a TV or couch person, you can always stretch your psoases as a pro:

psoas couch stretch

The real deal psoas stretch


Full retard way:

couch stretch b

Severely hungover psoas stretch on stone surface

Never mind Mr S to the left, who’s apparently shitting himself


Summary: cobras and hipsters

If you sit down several hours a day, you should try to compensate at least a little bit. One way is to add cobra-ups and some hip wiggle-jiggle in three dimensions to your daily habits. It will make you look better, be healthier and prevent injury. You’ll also familiarize yourself with a great remedy should you or someone close to you get injured anyway.

If you’re looking for something slightly more advanced; add neck-wiggling, foam rolling, squatting and couch stretching as well. However, if you’re that ambitious, my guess is you don’t sit that much to begin with.


Share this post with somebody you care about. Sign up for my newsletter if you want more health, wealth, happiness and productivity tips. And don’t miss my free e-book about my time as a celebrated portfolio manager (including plenty of investment tips).

If you want more advanced mobility tips for more than just sitting and back issues, check out this post on an earlier blog I had.

P.S. Remember that short psoases are the reason old people walk, shuffle and stumble like old people

6 easy steps that add 25 years to your life span

This post takes 10 minutes to read, and tells you how to, and why, you should try intermittent fasting. And beans + saunas (not simultaneously though, please).

Do you want to live forever?

Who is John Galt?

What kind of question is that? Retarded.

However, most people actually answer that question with a ‘No’

I don’t.

Yes, that’s right. I truly want to live forever, explore other star systems and find other life forms (or double back after a million years, and meet people who stayed back or went in another direction).


When do you want to die then?

One way to think about it is imagining a day where you are perfectly healthy and can decide whether to die right away or live another day. My guess is you’ll find a reason to check out tomorrow too, just in case…

Most people instinctively associate ‘forever’ with being ill and frail, with no friends and nothing to do, perhaps lying in a bed in a nursing home day in and day out.

I, however, extrapolate from

  • the steam engine
  • automobile
  • punch cards
  • semiconductors
  • internet
  • and the iPhone

with a little help of

  • fission
  • fusion
  • quantum mechanics
  • super conductivity
  • gene therapy
  • artificial biology
  • longevity research
  • carbon nanotubes
  • nanotechnology etc.

to a quite different future of strong artificial general intelligence and nano medicine keeping our bodies young and cancer free at the cell or even molecular level.

That should be enough to make us live long enough, for whatever it will take in terms of technological progress to ensure indefinite lifespans.


The future is not the present

I mean, going to Mars is really just the first, very small, step on a marathon of marathons, when it comes to man’s exploration of technological possibilities and the universe.

Do you think the progress during the less than 150 years it took from the era of Carnegie, Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Ford and Edison to the age of planetary exploration will just grind to a halt here and now?

Judging from the constantly accelerating technological advancements, I think the coming 150 years will show many orders of progress more than the last 150 years.

Peter Diamandis, Craig Venter, Elon Musk and Ray Kurzweil are but a few poster children of technological progress. In our connected, open source society, millions will interact and strengthen each other’s contributions to an ever quicker advancement of the necessary longevity components.


One snag: you have to live long enough first

You won’t live forever, if you don’t live long enough. And that, you’ll have to take care of yourself for the time being.

I know I can sound like Ray Kurzweil’s mouthpiece at times, but I’m not suggesting you chomp down hundreds of untested pills each day, or live on lettuce and apple peels. I’m only telling you to nudge your behavior ever so slightly, for maximum effect with minimum effort.

That’s how I always do it, in all areas of life; invest 1% to gain 50% of what’s available. Here are a selection my longevity tips as they stand right now:


Tips and tricks for improved health and longevity


Eat beans (Gastropod, Nature, TED, WebMD)  more or less every day. Why not fried eggs and mixed beans for your first meal of the day (i.e., breakfast, unless you’re fasting during mornings like I do)?

Super humans will serve with spinach and kale, as well as season their food with turmeric (“gurkmeja” in Swedish) and chili. Full retards will have their coffee with some cinnamon, and finish off breakfast with a bowl of berries (blueberries and blackberries, e.g.)

Add a couple of teaspoons of natural fish oil to your food intake every day (I prefer it straight from the bottle), unless you have fatty fish like mackerel or salmon for lunch or dinner.

During the dark half of the year, you should consider taking a vitamin-D supplement as well, but otherwise that’s more or less it, in terms of nutritional magical tricks.

Sure, you should have a lot of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts) and avoid industrially processed food (like juice) too, but let’s not get completely out of hand here.

Just beans, fatty fish (oil) and vitamin-D will get you far.



Take walks and avoid sitting.

Ideally, you should never remain seated for more than an hour at a stretch. I know! Crazy, right?

Sitting slowly kills (Death of a thousand butts), by destroying your mobility and balance (increasing the risk of injury and even less mobility with every step), by shutting down circulation, by dulling the brain. Sitting for hours every day cuts years and years off your life span.

Walking, in contrast, stimulates the brain (thinking, reasoning and planning evolved from processing moving objects including the body itself; originally moving was thinking: the brain science podcast). Walking increases BDNF, brain plasticity and prevents degenerative brain diseases (like Alzheimers) and dementia.

Walking 30 minutes a day, where you at least start panting a bit, makes a world of difference. But feel free to walk as much as you can. It’s even better with a friend (scientifically proven), barefoot, or listening to an educational podcast.

Hot saunas might not qualify as exercise, but they are highly beneficial for your health in several ways, including heart attack prevention, lowered oxidative stress, increased plasma volume and endurance and increased growth hormone.  Frequent sauna baths really are the fountain of youth.



Do a few easy mobility exercises every week.

Aim for 7 minutes a week. Yes, that’s right; on average just one minute a day of more or less effortless movements is all it takes to stay physically young in your most important joints.  Mobilize in the couch when watching the news.

mobility squat The Retarded Hedge Fund Manager

Hip focus


Focus on the hips, shoulders and (upper) back. The rest is mostly show-off. I’ve written more extensively about mobility here, but these are the most important movements:

  • Hips: squat and couch stretch
  • Shoulders: forearms horizontally behind the lower back; expand chest with deep breaths, or lie down on your back with the arms still behind your back
  • Upper back, thoracic spine: lie on a foam roller, or rolled up big towel or two, and arch your upper (thoracic) back over the roller, thus neutralizing your computer crouch
  • Fancy moves include the pigeon stretch for your glutes, and various hamstring stretches, but they are nowhere near as important as the other three movements. Alrighty then, the quasi couch pigeon actually is mandatory every now and then.

mobility fancy The Retarded Hedge Fund Manager

Super pigeon: fancy move by me


FYI: I plan to write a comprehensive guide to useful and easy mobility exercises. In a while. Until then, you’ll have to make do with the Always Be Bruce Wayne one :)

new crowdfunding company

Don’t be this guy stuck crouching over his computer for hours on end. Take at least a 5-minute walk outside every second hour.


Last but not least, nowhere near least, is the recently re-popularized intermittent fasting regime.:

Intermittent fasting

There is too much to say about fasting for the scope of this blog in general, and this post in particular. There is, however, tons of research (check out this meta research if you want), and more or less all (if not all, period) of it points to strong short and long term health benefits from various fasting regimes*.

Intermittent fasting means regularly restricting one’s food intake for at least half a day (12 hours). Among the most popular schemes, you’ll find the following:

  • 5:2 Eat very little during two days a week, and whatever you like during the other five
  • 24h Every now and then (1-2 times a week) don’t eat any calories at all during 24 consecutive hours
  • 48h Not quite twice as popular as 24h fasting. Actually not even half as popular. Come to think of it, not popular at all, I’d say. Don’t eat for 48h straight around every second week.
  • 4d Eat extremely limited amounts during four days straight once a month. Probably the least popular diet there is (except for the live worms only diet)
  • 16:8 This is the one I’ve followed for the last three years. It means eating what you need during an 8 hour feeding window, and then fasting for 16 hours, day in and day out. The regime can be tweaked between 12:12 and 20:4, e.g., depending on social situation, workouts, will power etc. In addition, since little is better than nothing, the 24-x:x method can be applied as many or few days a week as you like. Since fasting and partying is impossible, I aim for fasting 90-95% of the time, leaving a few days a month for indulging in food and drinks all day (and night) long.

* however, the AJCN had this to say in a recent meta survey: “Clinical research studies of fasting with robust designs and high levels of clinical evidence are sparse in the literature. Whereas the few randomized controlled trials and observational clinical outcomes studies support the existence of a health benefit from fasting, substantial further research in humans is needed before the use of fasting as a health intervention can be recommended.”


The benefits of fasting

The short version

All your cells will go into maintenance and cleaning mode during the fasts, with far-reaching effects not unlike those you get from daily intake of fish oil. Do both!

Fasting prevents and postpones the onset of cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, the common cold, aging in general and many other annoyances and diseases. You’ll look better, healthier and younger too.

In addition, intermittent fasting can be a comfortable method for losing fat while building muscle. I seem to be a natural faster and lost many pounds of fat just lying on my ass, while resting after knee surgery in 2013. Most of my muscle mass stayed on as well, but I’ll spare you from more semi-nude pictures of me.

As if that wasn’t enough, you’ll save time from not eating so often.


The Fountain Of Youth version

16:8-fasting is easy:

Eat during 8 hours, fast during 16 hours. I prefer eating between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m., or 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. I actually more or less just skip the common breakfast, and thus avoid the temptation to eat cereal, bread and other inflammatory products. The same goes regarding the now superfluous late evening meal.

During the first few weeks, the new habit of not eating may feel odd. You’ll probably feel hungry a lot as well. Don’t despair, your body will soon adjust and become much more efficient at burning fat for energy, and you’ll stop feeling hungry and restless.

The Holy Grail effect. You enter growth mode when feeding after your workouts, and then shredding mode some 8-12 hours into your fast.

The Fountain Of Youth effect. During fast, your cells change focus from growth to maintenance, repair and clean-up of damaged cells. The clean-up reduces the risk of cancerous mutations during DNA replication and protein synthesis. Consequently the risk of cancer, inflammation, stroke, diabetes, high cholesterol etc. is reduced. 

Your blood sugar level becomes lower and less volatile, the brain activity increases (a hungry troglodyte had better get out hunting or thinking hard about how to find food), new brain cells form more easily (increased BDNF), the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson falls.

The production of HGH (human growth hormone – a.k.a. the fountain of youth) rises.

Fasting makes you younger and healthier and increases your longevity

Certain studies in rats (albeit speculative) indicate more than 20 years increased life span in humans.

You’ll save time and can sleep more – an activity in itself a sort of fountain of youth in several respects.

There’s no reason to fear burning muscle during fast. It takes at least 4 full days of total fasting for a healthy body to turn to its muscles as a source for energy.

Serially failed 2-week dieters starve themselves for two weeks, of which the second week can burn a lot of muscle. They then overeat, thus building fat on top of their recently weakened bodies. Intermittent fasters actually do quite the opposite. During the first day of fasting (every day with 16:8), the metabolism rises (burning fat, not muscle, since fasting is not starving unless you go on for 4+ days) together with increased brain activity and and brain cell formation. An evolutionary interpretation is that the underlying cause is the drive for a hungry cave dweller to get up and out and hunt down a woolly mammoth before it’s too late.

A final positive is that it’s nice to be able to relax, knowing that the fear mongering from supplement producers about the risk of being catabolic is just that; retarded scare tactics.


What about binge drinking and intermittent fasting?

If you insist on thinking about your diet while partying, Martin Berkhan is pleased to spill the following advice:


Martin Berkhan

For this day, restrict your intake of dietary fat to 0.3 g/kg body weight (or as close to this figure as possible).

* Limit carbs to 1.5 g/kg body weight. Get all carbs from veggies and the tag-along carbs in some protein sources. You’ll also want to limit carbohydrate-rich alcohol sources such as drinks made with fruit juices and beer. A 33 cl/12 fl oz of beer contains about 12 g carbs, while a regular Cosmopolitan is about 13 g.

* Good choices of alcohol include dry wines which are very low carb, clocking in at about 0.5-1 g per glass (4 fl oz/115ml). Sweet wines are much higher at 4-6 g per glass. Cognac, gin, rum, scotch, tequila, vodka and whiskey are all basically zero carbs. Dry wines and spirits is what you should be drinking, ideally. Take them straight or mixed with diet soda. (No need to be super-neurotic about this stuff. Drinks should be enjoyed after all. Just be aware that there are better and worse choices out there).

* Eat as much protein as you want. Yes, that’s right. Ad libitum. Due to the limit on dietary fat, you need to get your protein from lean sources. Protein sources such as low fat cottage cheese, protein powder, chicken, turkey, tuna, pork and egg whites are good sources of protein this day.

* For effective fat loss, this should be limited to one evening per week. Apply the protocol and you will lose fat on a weekly basis as long as your diet is on point for the rest of the week.

Basically, the nutritional strategy I have outlined here is all about focusing on substrates that are least likely to cause net synthesis of fat during hypercaloric conditions. Alcohol and protein, your main macronutrients this day, are extremely poor precursors for de novo lipogenesis. Alcohol suppresses fat oxidation, but by depriving yourself of dietary fat during alcohol consumption, you won’t be storing anything. Nor will protein cause any measurable de novo lipogenesis. High protein intake will also compensate for the weak effect of alcohol on satiety and make you less likely to blow your diet when you’re drinking.

By the way, a nice bonus after a night of drinking is that it effectively rids you of water retention. You may experience the “whoosh”-effect, which I’ve talked about in my two-part series about water retention. That in itself can be motivating for folks who’ve been experiencing a plateau in their weight loss.

Apply this with good judgement and don’t go out and do something stupid now. Remember, this a short-term strategy for those that want to be able to drink freely* without significantly impacting fat loss progress or causing unwanted fat gain. It’s not something I encourage people to do on a daily basis, but it’s one of the strategies that I apply for maintaining low body fat for myself and my clients.

* Now of course…you can always drink in moderation and make sure to not go over your calorie budget for the day. But what fun is there in that? I’d rather cheat the system with the kind metabolic mischief I’ve laid out above.

Summary – how to get to 200 years

To live long enough to live forever, or at least live healthier and happier for longer with the least effort:

  • Eat beans and fatty fish (or fish oil) every day (add certain leafy greens and spices for even better effect). Stock up with beans and frozen salmon or fish oil today, and replace your lunch/dinner potatoes, french fries or pasta with beans.
  • Don’t sit; in particular not consecutive hours of sitting down
  • Go for brisk walks
  • Take saunas frequently. Take one today or tomorrow.
  • Mobilize your hips, shoulders and upper back (thoracic spine). Get down in a squat now for two minutes.
  • Fast! Don’t eat or drink anything with energy (calories) for 12-24 hours every now and then. I fast for 16 hours every day, year in, year out. Stop eating at 9 p.m. tomorrow and don’t have anything before lunch at 12 noon or 1 p.m.

Now, let’s see who gets to 200 years first…

But first make sure you have subscribed to my newsletter and downloaded my 100% free eBook.