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Michael A Koontz
Author & Photography. Health & fitness, science and sustainability advocate | a Norse View.
Author & Photography. Health & fitness, science and sustainability advocate | a Norse View.

Michael's posts

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found inside
this one tree, that had
in part, bursted
open, on
its side
the birch tree
had come to lay,

like a sinking
it now
progressed and lived

slowly, becoming
of a different
of way

asleep, it would one day
that is soon
had slipped

tumbled, torn
and down it fell
fast forward
the lapse of time
across a flow of
seasons changing
it rattled

with each breath

sounds of green
ebb, the wake
of larvae's, and
that flowed

like blood
back to
the outside world

was it dead you asked out loud
I swore the truth
that trees
in fact

never wither
like the dead forgotten when they fall
with leaves and critters

their veil becomes
soon, that is quite
like another meadow

music of the day
A million tears by Trees of Eternity

Depicted is a slowly transforming Scandinavian birch tree that will remain passed out flat, laying down on the ground. Destined to give birth to a new kind of life that is just as important as the many world improving things that each tree does as they grow and sway in the current of the wind.

But in today's world, it is sadly all too rare to leave trees to live long enough to become and lay claim to the autumn of their natural cycle of life, despite the fact that trees that fall or grow old and collapse for one reason, or another. They are actually an essential part of a keeping a strong and healthy planet Earth.

Some species of wildlife and plants and the very soil itself need those after life meadows that fallen and dying trees provide, and in turn, planet Earth needs that bed of fallen trees to seed new soil and fertile pastures in a health providing way that just does not happen without a sufficient amount of worn down trees to complete the naturally sustainable cycle of life.

So that is what this tree will be allowed to do, spend it´s sleepy autumn days laying down on the ground while it is providing needed life and nutrition for all the things that could not live otherwise, transforming itself into a new kind of life.


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Power up II, The metal version. Bench press 1500kg per set ( 3307 lbs ) for your next chest workout
See the previous power up article for the details and simple thought behind this concept. This is the same thing, just the more metal version of that workout idea for those that have graduated and pummeled the 1000kg obstacle because that is how life and fitness and health works, it is progressive and there is an unlimited amount of obstacles to overcome in life.

Warm up any way you prefer to do so.
And in the following first 3 real work sets for your next chest workout, make sure to hit 1500kg ( 3307 lbs ) per bench press set, and try to do it in as few repetitions as possible.

Make sure to get anything from 2 to 4 minutes of rest between each set for this trial by fire.

Once done, there is no rest for the wicked to lay all lazy and proud, and as such, once you are done with doing bench press like this, resume the rest of your normal chest workout. And, remember, in this world of Vikings, we do not listen to anything but metal :).

200kg ( 441 lbs ) x 8 = 1600 ( Viking applauds for you ).
150kg ( 331 lbs ) x 10 = 1500 ( a silent victory )
120kg ( 265 lbs ) x 12 = 1440 ( close enough, be mighty proud )
100kg ( 220 lbs ) x 15 = 1500
80 kg ( 176 lbs ) x 19 = 1520
60 kg ( 132 lbs ) x 25 = 1500

For those of you that are proudly and impressively powering through this exercise challenge by reaching failure at 20+ reps.

You are killing it!.
No other way to put it, but I know 100% that you can reach 1500kg with just a little bit more weight on the barbell and as such, using fewer reps, so aim for that going forward. Torture ( and improve ) your willpower and body by aiming to hit that failure a tad bit quicker.

Bring down the reps over time by slowly increasing the weight on your barbell, there is no need to rush it, but doing so will tune up your fitness and health levels.

Gym Diaries. Day 8 846
Chest and abs is what was in store for this gorgeous Tuesday.
a good morning sprint interval outside in the muted morning grey is how I started out.
And a few hours later it was time to crush it in the gym, chest and abs style. + Low impact evening cardio.

music of the day
Gallows bird by Trees of eternity


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Power up, bench press 1000kg per set ( 2205 lbs ) for your next chest workout
Take a walk with me, right now. We are all different, in build, and looks, mental strength, and the way we have at this point in time primed our body to push up against its own limits. Our body composition is slightly different, our amount of lean muscle mass and body fat will differ, genders, age.

We are all different. But when we run 100m we all run 100m. We just do it in different ways. But unless you quit mentally, you will run those 100m as fast and technically good as you can, and no matter body composition, gender, weight, and fitness level you will exhaust your own body and mind to do it as good as is possible right in that moment.

Some, like Usain Bolt, do it in a way that beats most others.

But we all run the same distance, just in a different amount of time. And as such, unless you did quit it mentally speaking and decided not to exhaust your body, the relative challenge is the same.

So for your next chest workout. Let us take a walk through something different. Forget about deciding the weight on the barbell just so you can do your usual 8 reps or whatever it is that you might do.

Instead, once you have finished your warm up, put on a suitable weight and start repping away, but do not quit until you have lifted a total of 1000kg in that set, and aim to do it with as few reps as possible.

Rest for 4 minutes and repeat until you have done that 1000kg per set for 3 whole set.

This will play out like something like this, a petite and fit 50kg girl will perhaps have to do 20+ reps in one set to reach 1000kg, while a fit 90kg guy might hit 1000kg in 10 reps, and a hulk like guy that competes in the world's strongest man might reach it in 5 reps.

Either way, you have all pushed your body the same comparatively challenging way. And does it not feel pretty good mentally and physically to have crushed 1000kg ( 2205 lbs ) times three :).

Once done you can resume with your normal chest workout.

200kg ( 441lbs ) x 5 = 1000kg
140kg ( 309 lbs ) x 7 = 980kg ( close enough )
120kg ( 264lbs ) x 8 = 960kg ( close enough )
100kg ( 220lbs ) x 10 = 1000kg
75kg ( 165lbs ) x 14 = 1050kg
60kg ( 132lbs ) x 17 = 1020kg
50kg ( 110lbs ) x 20 = 1000kg

Gym Diaries. Day 8 844
Sunday becomes a day of cardio & sprint intervals
a good morning sprint interval outside in the rising sun is how I followed up my morning coffee.
Followed up with a bunch of cardio and MMA throughout the day and evening.

music of the day
Gallows bird by Trees of Eternity

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This is the way that life slowly carves the mountain into a sculpture

It slowly happens over time, you know, by the hands of natural evolution and life itself, it happens through every second of every day that ticks us by. From the way the earth turns, and the soil grows, the way that water and wind erode things over the course of eternity.

It happens through the tunnels that ants and termites build and the way that sand polish stone.

The way we walk and swim, build and leave behind things, the water that carves it´s own, changing path through the rocky cold mountains, the roots of the trees that refuse to die after 10 000 years and slowly crack the ground open.

It is found in the way that trees evolve and change to adapt to ants and the way that those ants respond in kind.

It is found in the way that the receding water pulls back from the mountain it used to cover, and it is found in the way the ocean rise up to cover land that used to be dry as hell. And it is seen in the way that wolves and beavers alter the path that was carved by entire rivers, and together with the elk, they shape the surrounding forest into something stronger and more resilient to undo the negative changes that more blind people create unknowingly in their reckless way.

It is found in the way that dust from far away stars land on planet Earth, the radiation that spreads across the universe and takes hold and life in our plants and trees.

The way that birds create new meadows.

That living planet and ever changing natural life that connects all of the unknown universe that´s what created this, and it is what led to the changing moment that one day got captured by a mutant human. And tomorrow, this natural, living thing that is our planet will continue to evolve and adapt, making this tree covered mountainous sculpture that looks like half a ball floating on top a tranquil body of water a living, breathing thing of our past, our present, and our evolving future.

music of the day
Fvneral moon by Lorna Shore

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Workout lab: Back 101, v01

2 set x 10 reps: Standing barbell row.

Like with our previous workout lab for triceps we are warming up via a kick ass compound exercise, and as always that takes care of warming up all involved joints and surrounding muscles. Getting your body & mind ready to go for the task ahead. Do each rep in a controlled and proper movement, stretch your back and biceps in between sets and rest for 30 to 60 seconds.

Once done, increase the weight and get to work.

Standing Barbell row.
2 set x 10 - 14 reps ( you are at your strongest in your first exercise so absolutely make sure to reach failure in each set ) + 2 to 5 shrugs at the end of each set.

Increase the weight once more and do 3 more sets at the new weight for a total of 5 proper work sets.

3 set x 8 - 14 reps to failure + 2 to 5 repetitions of shrugs at the end of each set.

Sitting cable row:
3-4 set x 8 - 14 reps per set.

Go to failure, but keep the form throughout the entire set and forget about forcing it, this bad boy is good enough as it is so no need to go over the board with this one, so use good form and challenging weights and hit that failure every set while keeping your back and spine strong and healthy.

If you have a workout partner you can do a handful of extra reps once you reach failure by allowing your partner to use one hand to gently raise the weight ever so slightly, allowing you to completely trash your muscles.

Another alternative if you feel like switching it up on occasion is to drop 5kg once you reach failure and do 2-4 more reps.

3 set x as many as you can do. Do it full motion, from stretched out arms all the way up to the bar with your chest. You do not have to worry too much about how much you move your body in this one, some like to keep it perfectly still, while some do the CrossFit version where your entire body swing like a pendulum.

Either way, this compound exercise will work your entire upper body including shoulders and arms. So be proud over whatever amount of reps you do and aim to slowly make a few more reps over time.


3set x as many reps as you can do.

Some believe that shrugs belong to shoulders, some like me feel that it is more of a back exercise. Neither are wrong, this exercise works Traps more than anything else and as such one can make the argument that you are training and benefiting both your back and shoulders.

If you need some context for some of the mentioned exercises, take a look at this article which covers some thoughts on developing a strong and healthy back ( and albeit other things spends some time talking about the standing barbell row we started our back workout with ).

You can also take a look at my in-depth "standing barbell bent over row" article from a couple of years back if you are interested in my thoughts on what I consider the best pure back exercise out there.

Gym Diaries. Day 8 840
Leg day

a good morning cardio workout, in the shape of a perky morning walk outside in the rising sun on top of a frosty landscape.

Followed up midday with a crunchy good and bone breaking leg workout. I ended the day with a low impact evening walk.

music of the day
The//Watcher by Lorna Shore

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Workout lab: Triceps 101, v01
Workout lab 101 is a short and focused series of articles that concentrates on nothing but one muscle group workout each. The first one is all about triceps, and as such, I am basing this article on my current triceps workout, in the future, there will be a second and third triceps version, and other workouts too.

2 set x 10 reps : close grip bench press. Start with a weight that gets you moving without killing you during those 10 reps. And the reason why you are warming up with close grip bench press is because it is a compound exercise, and as such, it takes care of warming up all involved joints and surrounding muscles.

And that is also why this is our nr.1 starter exercise for Triceps, it allows you to kill your entire triceps and it´s many helpers with challenging weights.

Once done, increase the weight and get to work.

Close grip bench press
3 set x 8 - 14 reps ( failure in each set ) + 2 to 4 half reps at the end of each set.

3 set x as many as you can do, rep away with no limitations. If you can do 20 that will still promote growth and strength, size and durability, so rep away without worry. And if you can only do 4 or 8, no worries, it is not about the amount of reps you manage to do, but the victory and your long term results are instead about the challenge you are choosing to provide your body and mind with.

That and the fact that you are overcoming that challenge by reaching failure in every single set. That is what creates progress, fitness and health, and that is why you are kick ass, so kill it no matter how many reps you do, reaching that failure is what matters.

Skull crusher
3 set x 8 - 14 reps + 4 chest/throat crushers/half-rep ( just to punish and torture your triceps a little bit extra ).

If you need some context for the mentioned exercises, take a look at this article which covers every exercise I mentioned here.

And my own in-depth close grip bench press article.

Bonus star

Stretch your upper body and mainly triceps, chest, biceps and shoulder in between every set throughout your entire workout.

Another workout lab golden star is yours if you, at times, also varies the amount you rest between each set.

Why should you ever switch it up and change the amount of rest between your sets? I´ll talk about why that might be beneficial for you in a future post :).

Gym Diaries. Day 8 839
chest + abs + 3 set of lunges

a good morning cardio workout, in the shape of a glorious morning walk outside in the rising sun on top of a frosty landscape.

Followed up with a midday chest and abs workout, and three bonus set of lunges for my lower body. My gym workout for the day ended with a low impact walk outside, and some evening cardio.

music of the day
Denounce the light by Lorna Shore

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Warfare by Megaponera analis.
They came marching in at dawn, shoulder to shoulder they formed long winding columns of wordless but well-armed soldiers in gleaming dark armor that stretched as long as the eye could see. 500 men passed us by with the rising sun painting the light of this new day behind their backs. But this would not be a day of peaceful tranquility under the light of the rising sun, instead, the sun rose up from beneath the horizon as the herald of war and death in what we all knew would turn out be just another day in their relentless campaign.

4 times per day their armies marched like the well-oiled clockwork they were, through the gates they lay claim to the outside of their walled-in home and fortified trenches, they did so in what looked like endless and orderly dark lines stretching across the abandoned path that continued down the lake and the daisies meadow, 4 times per day they came for us with horns and drums playing out loud as they kept a beautiful but terrifying order, marching wordless to the beat of the drum.

And 4 times per day once the carnage had subdued, once the soundless dead had stopped moving, they would leave their own dead behind them as if they meant nothing to their former friends, now that the force of life had been snuffed out.

In their world of logical thinking and nature's relentless progress and never ending adapting evolution there was no point in spending time on mourning those who had died, you did so by continuing to live in the best way possible, that was how you best honored the dead.

And really, when you think about it, they were of course, absolutely right.

While they always left their own dead behind, they always took the utmost care to bring each and every one of their own wounded soldiers back home with them, abandoning no one, bringing them home together with the many dead and captured enemies that their supply lines managed to ferry back home to their city like capital.

Once back home they would nurse and rest up their wounded soldiers, providing them the very best healthcare and nutrition, rest and sleep that would allow them to recover and heal to the point where they would once again be able to march with their comrades against us. As for our own unfortunate dead and captured, they would feast upon them, of that, I had never had any grand illusions, and so, we tell our children of how they scavenge their flesh off of their tortured and twisted bodies, strengthening their own in the pain, and death of our losses. Transforming our lost and dead into nutritious biogenetic energy.

It was for all intent and purposes a campaign of relentless resolve. Efficient and endless in its sustainable and ingenious construction.

Kill, hunt and recover, this was the rhythm that was stuck on endless repeat and it would never, ever cease to be, in some ways that certainty and the absolute way they went about executing it day in and day out was as beautiful as it was utmost terrifying. An entire society, advanced and ever evolving, primed with a focus that made each individual as strong as their collected entity, all for one, and one for all in a way that a tiny few advanced species and societies had ever come close to mastering to the same kind of level.

This cycle was the daily life and struggle in the year 4.5 billion, and this was just the way life was for us termites on planet Earth, the planet of the ants.

Endless warfare caught inside a hailstorm of nature's beauty and every day it started brand new.

A recently published study in Science Advances 12 Apr 2017 gives us a fact based glimpse into the daily cycle of warfare and healthcare as the Ant species Megaponera analis carries it out, in what might be a first in the kingdom of ants.

music of the day
Flesh Coffin by Lorna Shore

At least this is the first time homo sapiens have managed to see this nursing behavior amongst ants were they intentionally set out to rescue and bring home every injured ant soldier with the intent of safely bringing injured ants back home in order to get them healed up and back out on the theater of war as soon as possible.

The reason why I call it a theater of war is because Termites and Ants truly are engaged in a campaign of war made up of equal measures of attrition and adaptation. Providing the human race with a pretty fascinating window into the evolutionary arms race of two species.

Both of these species provide the other with a cunning predatory foe that is quick to adapt and evolve on their cross-species battlefield and equally capable at dishing out violence and building defenses. And as such, it is perhaps not a surprise at all to see that M. Analis have decided that dividing attention and troops that make sure that the raiding party bring home every single one of their injured soldiers so society can heal them up is a pretty cost
and time efficient way for the entire ant society to sustaining your army instead of having to endure unnecessarily heavy losses that would otherwise need to be sustained by starting over from scratch with the resource intensive task of first giving birth to a new soldier every time an ant get wounded and crippled and eventually die, not to mention divide precarious resources from society to feed and "train" him into a proper and experienced soldier.

In studies, it has been shown that when M. Analis is allowed to carry through their task of helping to carry back home their injured friends they managed to bring down the mortality rate for injured soldiers down from 30+ percent to zero.

Which in turn also seem to translate into what comes out as a roughly 30% bigger ant colony compared to nests that did not make use of this search and rescue operation in their own army.

And so, in my own peculiar way, I think that this is a pretty fascinating piece of the pie that is life that showcases us why science matters and why knowledge and ever-evolving fact-based education matters.

All aspects of a healthy life on planet Earth matters to us all, even the small stuff such as the life and war of ants and termites, and education and science are the tools that provide us all with the proper building blocks to understand and protect, enjoy and preserve that beautiful and ever changing treasure that is life on planet Earth.

And that is why Earth Day and Science, and sustainability matters, now more than ever before.

And perhaps, this time, ants and termites can even teach us the lesson of how proper care for every person matters.

You can find the complete study behind my fictional day in the life of ants and termites here.

website version of this article


Earth Day 2017 takes place on April 22.

We are a group of members of Google+ Create, a Google program for recognizing creative users of Google+. This year we are celebrating Earth Day with this small, symbolic project with the theme: Earth Day 2017 - My planet. My part.

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A queen of snails
this world holds a slice of pasture for all of us

No big thoughts or words for this one. Just a joyful breeze through the recently arrived spring and soon to be summer wind and all of life's daily pent up beauty.

From the forest snails and their little queen to the elephants and mammoths that walked the soil of this planet in what is now yesteryears long forgotten past. You and me, the alpha male and all the tiny wolf cubs. The mountain gorillas and European Bison, the short-haired bumblebee that mounts its much-needed return from extinction back to European soil from the depth of Swedens mythical and forestry Viking land.

To the tigers, the countless city dwellers, the stubborn meat eaters, the oppressive god believers and pagan science sapiens.

We are all the caretakers of this world, and truth be told, homo sapiens have not done nearly as good as we can, and need to do.

Case in point the tiny but highly cute and essential bumblebee. They are only returning back from the brink of global extinction thanks to people changing our own way of life into a kinder and more sustainable and healthy life, creating the sustainable and thriving habitat that the bumblebee needs to survive.

But we are not only saving the bumblebee we are also the only reason it was put there in that end of life, extinction zone to begin with due to the damaging and unsustainable life we forced upon this entire planet for far too long.

Harming each other, this planet, it´s plants and wildlife.

music of the day
Roseblood - She Must Burn

Life is beautiful all by itself, from the core of the black hole to the spiraling unknown, sometimes that endless beauty will undoubtedly be clouded by others doing, but life itself is beautiful. Immensely so even, so walk forward and leave the clouds of yesteryears in the past where they belong.

And when we make the conscious choice of making it so, this planet will provide a healthy, sustainable and beautiful room for us all to walk and do our own fulfilling life path that we enjoy and thrive, live and love in by our own choice without needing to destroy life and this planet for everybody else.

Spring is here!. Hurrah.
Have a great one everybody, and make the short journey that is life the very best it could ever be for you and everybody else.

As for the photo, most of the time in life every passing moment is a brand new, and utterly unique once in a lifetime moment, no matter how big or small it might be. But at rare times, we intentionally find our way back through the maze of history to revisit something especially rare and beautiful, and this is one such moment, seen here in the brand new way I experienced this old moment.


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Body fat burn, the simple truth
Picking solid exercises in the gym and doing your cardio helps you by activating and toning up the lean muscle mass ( and performance ) in the targeted muscle(s) and surrounding helpers and antagonists.

And that is great for health and fitness and body fat burn alike.

But there will never ever be a single exercise or workout routine out there, that will ever manage to burn fat from a singular muscle or group.

What happens when we are speaking about people burning body fat is the simple fact that when you eat & train good enough to burn fat, you do so from top to toe.

Just felt like mentioning that since I stumbled into a discussion earlier today about this very fact, and no one should ever be told that they can do crunches or some other exercise and only lose fat in the targeted muscle.

That will never, ever be the case. Once you eat and train good enough you will burn fat from top to toe, simple as that :).

Gym Diaries. Day 8 831
Back and abs day
a good morning cardio workout, courtesy of a walk outdoors in a rainy but pleasant Monday morning.
Later today it will be followed up with a heavy back and abs workout.

music of the day
Hallowed grounds by She Must Burn

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Yoga combo of the day - Thread the Needle and Bridge/hip thrust
and a call to arms for all the healthy and tasty food junkies, give me your best healthy & tasty recipes

But let us start with todays yoga combo, it´s Friday after all and for me that includes a day ( gym diaries 8 828 ) of shoulder and abs workout, but first of all, a gorgeous 20 minutes long HIIT based MMA workout out on the porch out in the sun :), and man, what a wonderful way that is to start the day :).

Todays Yoga Combo

For me, yoga is a low-impact martial arts style thing I do pretty much every day of the week, as much for the low impact health and body benefit, as I do it as a short in time way to stretch and keep my body healthy agile.

After all, when you hit the gym 5 days per week with no pause and breaks to lift heavy'ish weights, it will quickly become crucial for your overall well-being to maintain a healthy amount of stretching and agility.

So you won't ever find me at a yoga class, instead, I pepper short sessions of low-impact yoga poses and martial arts stuff, throughout my day whenever I feel like activating my body. Truthfully, I kind of think of yoga and martial art as one and the same, it really is a slim difference and they simply work hand in hand with each other and weight lifting and a good and proper sprint interval run.

So one of my fav combo´s for getting a good stretch is this simple combo that starts with the Bridge/Hip thrust and flows over into the "stretch the needle".

Allowing your entire lower body and back/abs to both engage and tone up/maintain, as well as properly stretch, and while I know perfectly well that we young ones rarely see the big need for a properly maintained flexibility, trust me when I say that over time, keeping legs and hip flexors and your spine agile and healthy will allow you to maintain a much bigger quality of life feeling.

Your daily life quality will simply quickly deteriorate once your hamstrings, hip flexors and quadriceps, other joints and lower back start complaining loudly, and worse, over the years the negative impact will get even more noticeable.

This combo will activate, tone and stretch everything from hip flexors to quadriceps, hamstrings, and ass, all while it is doing the same health improving maintenance for your lower back and abs, which also makes it interesting for those of you that might suffer from sedentary induced lower back pain ( or if you are not too sedentary, perhaps you are just working out the wrong way, either way, this combo will help you with that lower back pain ).

Start in the bridge/hip thrust position, feet planted firmly on the ground, bent knees, arms and back to the ground.

Push up and hold, and rep away.

Once done, adjust and transform directly to the "thread the needle" pose.

Keep one leg planted on the ground, exactly the same position as before, just place one foot horizontally over the thigh of your other leg ( this is now the leg that is closer to your upper body ).

Wrap both hands around your other leg, and slowly pull both legs closer towards your face and chest. And yeah, your spine might start to play funny sounds right about now :).. And that is great.

So just hold and stretch your spine and hips and legs.

Once done, switch legs and repeat, and once done, transform over to the bridge/Hip thrust and keep going, do a few rep and back to the "thread the needle" and keep it up for a total of 5 - 10 minutes.

And this is something you can do several times throughout the day, no need to do it just once, but once per day is good enough.

Now, the foodie call to arms

What I would like is for all the amazing and health interested foodies out there to come up with their fav health recipes, send the recipe to me, as a comment to this post or as a private message here on g+.

Include a photo of your finished dish and I will publish it here with your full contact information for my followers to learn from you and get in touch with you. Chances are you´ll find a new audience not following your work and food magic right now. And of course, you will help me make the world a lil bit healthier too.

Food is after all as important as lifting weights, running, doing yoga and mma and stretching. It´s the other half of keeping healthy.

Here are my simple but firm demands for your healthy dish.

- No red meat, and no endangered/unsustainable animal meat.
- Quality carbs and Healthy amounts of quality protein.
- No added sugar and no added salt beyond what naturally exist in whatever ingredients you use.
- No lactose.
- Max 350 kcal in one serving.

Your healthy fav dish can be in the shape of whatever.

A proper dinner, or pre or post workout. It can look and taste like cookies and cakes, or a smoothie or be an amazing veggie like burger or whatever.

It can be based on fresh berries or something you cook and stir for hours in the kitchen. It can be frozen, or fresh, it can be cold or warm, solid stuff or smoothie cream like pudding stuff :).

Enjoy your day people and keep it healthy and fit.

music of the day
The wicked by She must burn

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