Kris Gethin: How to Thrive As a Multi-Sport Bodybuilder

Here’s a popular one from the archives perfect for a time of year when people are getting active in the cold. Kris Gethin is a bodybuilder, fitness model, and supplement entrepreneur who has been the face of some of fitness’ biggest physique campaigns. He’s also a passionate endurance athlete who has a ton of knowledge on balancing muscle growth and strength gain with long-duration training for triathlons and distance events. We talk to Kris, the founder of Kaged Muscle, about these strategies and more.

[Related: Read our review of Kaged Muscle’s Pre-Kaged Preworkout.]

In this episode of The BarBend Podcast, guest Kris Gethin and host David Thomas Tao discuss:

  • What surprises most people about the supplement industry (2:01)
  • Getting his businesses off the ground (3:00)
  • When supplement companies go overboard on artificial sweeteners (5:05)
  • The health industry separated from the fitness industry and the impact on our wellness culture (7:00)
  • “Walking the walk” and being your own brand ambassador when all eyes are on your physique (11:11)
  • Not being “in shape” all year (14:13)
  • Setting realistic expectations and standards for fans (16:31)
  • Kris’ approach to training and nutrition now vs. during his bodybuilding prime (19:00)
  • Maintaining muscle mass and strength when training for endurance (21:35)
  • Meditation and breathing to control cortisol levels (23:20)
  • The unconventional training method that shocked Kris (24:07)
  • Improving fat metabolism (26:10)
  • Kris’ most memorable guest on his Knowledge and Mileage Podcast (27:34)
  • What we over complicate in fitness (28:50)

Relevant links and further reading:


Kris GethinKris Gethin

When I used to compete, I’d compete once a year, and I’ll stay above body fat level for a couple of weeks, maybe for some photo shoots. That was it. That’s where the balance comes in.

You have to find what is manageable for you, and me being about 15, 14 percent body fat is manageable for me. However, if it’s required for me, I’ll get down for a very short time period and then bring it back where it’s comfortable.

Some people are comfortable at five or six body fat, five or six percent body fat, maybe it’s because they’re an ectomorph, they have a faster metabolism, and they can sustain it.

David TaoDavid Tao

Welcome to the “BarBend Podcast,” where we talk to the smartest athletes, coaches, and minds from around the world of strength. I am your host, David Thomas Tao. This podcast is presented by

Today, I am talking to bodybuilder, entrepreneur, and endurance athlete, Kris Gethin. Kris has competed as a lifetime natural pro bodybuilder, placing as high as second place in the Natural World Championships. As a personal trainer, his clients have included Bollywood celebrities, billionaires, and champion athletes.

He’s also the founder of Kris Gethin Gyms and the supplement brand Kaged Muscle. Yeah, this guy stays pretty busy.

Our chat covered a range of topics. Some of my favorite takeaways are Kris’ strategies for maintaining muscle mass and strength, or training for long duration endurance events. This is something Kris has a ton of first-hand experience with. He gives some really great actionable tips.

Also I just want say we’re incredibly thankful that you listen to this podcast. If you haven’t already, be sure to leave a rating interview of the “BarBend Podcast” in your app of choice. Now let’s get to it.

Kris, thanks so much for joining us today. The first question I have for you is something that’s been on my mind since we’ve been planning your appearance on this podcast. What would surprise most people about starting and running a supplement company, something where you have a lot of experience?

Kris GethinKris Gethin

I’ve had many surprises along the way. One thing that comes to mind is that just because you’re projecting forward and increasing year-after-year doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to stay that way.

The tides change constantly. If you’re on a diet, some days you’re going to be lethargic, you’re going to be tight, and you have to be disciplined to work through that.

We see that in real estates. We have the ups and downs, but if you stay there consistently for the long run, then you’ll always come out on top.

There’s times you doubt yourself. You question. You ask all these questions, but you follow through with that persistence and consistency and the discipline of doing things that you don’t always want to do and you’ll come out on top.


David TaoDavid Tao

When it comes to Kaged Muscle, your company, how did you start that? A lot of people, when they hear about supplement companies, and there are so many supplement companies.

At BarBend we have seen hundreds of supplement companies come up on the market in the past few years. What steps did you take to get that off the ground?

Kris GethinKris Gethin

Everybody who had been following me for a while will notice that I put out a lot of video series and, at that time, I was creating my own formulas.

There was nothing out there that had an efficacious dose of the ingredients that I wanted. Neither were they sourced from natural sources or patented sources or fermented or organic. I do them myself, but I knew that wasn’t efficient or logical for the consumer that was watching my video series at home.

That’s when I decided I should put out a product out there, or a line of products, that doesn’t exist because I’ve always tried to merge the health sector with the fitness sector. Unfortunately, it’s quite an unusual disconnect between health and fitness.

By merging them both, that’s when I decided, “Well, I know people within the industry. I know a great formulator. I know an awesome CFO who have been working within the industry with myself for many years.” That’s when we decided it’d be rude not to come up with something. That’s when KM was born.


David TaoDavid Tao

Talk about that disconnect between health and fitness. You talk about the health industry and the fitness industry as two separate entities. Say more about that.

Kris GethinKris Gethin

Sure. A lot of the decisions that we make, either heals our future or harms our future, whatever we put in our mouth, even thoughts, stress.

Unfortunately, supplements are within the health industry, but a lot of the supplements out there do not have efficacious dosages. They have generic ingredients. They have a lot of artificial colors, flavors, and it’s not something that you’d want to put a lot in your body every day.

I’m not going to name any names, but there’s a top company out there that has the equivalent of 25 packets of Splenda in its pre-workouts, and 30 packets in its post-workout. Just in one day, you are over the ADI limit of that sucrose.

I want to keep that in mind. If I’m going to create something, I feel good about giving it to my family. I try to look after my gut health as much as I possibly can and that of my clients.

I wanted products that aren’t going to cause an inflammatory response, a cortisol response. I decided to travel to various countries. I have my organic caffeine sourced from India, have fermented ingredients. I’m ensuring that a lot of the ingredients are patented, which are based on studies and research, based on purity and performance, but a standard of health as well.

When we have Instagram available to us now and all these social networks, everybody wants results now, that instant gratification. If a supplement comes online and says this is the best and this is the price point and it’s very cheap, the chances are they put a lot of money into marketing but not so much into the product.

You can’t have both. There are some brands out there that are doing it very, very well. However, not enough people know about them because they invest, as I said, into the ingredients.

David TaoDavid Tao

That’s a pretty good overview of some of the important dynamics in the supplement industry that drive the supplement industry. My question was more focused on, you talked about the health industry, your health complex as separate from the fitness industry or fitness complex.

What are some other examples having nothing to do with supplement, for example, where we could maybe see that distinction. I’m curious really what you mean by that distinction.

Kris GethinKris Gethin

If you look at the statistics of what we’re dealing with today, the increase of Alzheimer’s and cancer. When I say Alzheimer’s, we think of people that are elderly. People in their 40s now are being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

However, these people look phenomenal. I’m generalizing. You’ll see someone on a front of a magazine cover. A good friend of mine passed away last year but he looked fantastic. He had six-pack abs, lean, and you would say that was fit. He was fit. Extremely fit. Was he healthy? No, he wasn’t.

A lot of people now try to diet down to have that look of that person, whether it be on Instagram or magazine due to the social pressure. They may be dieting down in the wrong way, and then having complications with their thyroid because they will diet hard and then binge hard.

We have to look at the sources of the food that’s available to us today. Unless you’re eating organic, humane-raised, grass-fed, wild-caught, then you’re exposing yourself to genetically modified foods covered with glyphosate or antibiotics.

Majority of the antibiotics in the world are not consumed by prescription, they are consumed by animals. Then we go ahead and eat those animals. Just because somebody may have the perfect delts and pecs, it doesn’t mean they’re healthy. They could be fit but there’s a huge disconnect with the health, unfortunately.

David TaoDavid Tao

You talk about GMOs. I’m someone who’s a bit skeptical about the controversies surrounding GMO. At least around some of the, what I may consider overblown reactions to genetically modified foods. Are you someone who purposely tries to eliminate GMOs from your diet? If so, on what basis are you doing that?

Kris GethinKris Gethin

I’ve not eliminated them from my diet. However, if I do have the choice not to have them and I have an organic or locally grown produce, I’ve got of my own garden patch here at home, then that’s what I’m going to go for.

I think there have been studies proven back in 2003 or 2006, don’t quote me there, that, for instance, in an orange, you would have three times the amounts of vitamin C in that organically-grown orange than you would a genetically modified one.

If produce is growing that much quicker, it doesn’t always absorb all the nutrients available in the soil. Obviously, with over-harvestation, we don’t get a lot of those minerals that’s available to us.

If I want somebody that has an efficacious or higher dose of vitamins and minerals, then I’ll obviously steer them towards the organic produce for that reason.

David TaoDavid Tao

Yeah, I might ask you after this recording to send me that research, because there’s so many mitigating factors, there’s so many variables when it comes to growing food. It could be soil-type region whether the existing genetic makeup of that particular strain of orange.

Every piece of produce we eat today, even if it’s labeled non-GMO, it’s genetically modified in some way. Humans, over time, have created cultivars of more delicious and more nutritious foods. Everything they have is genetically modified. It’s just what is the timeline, and what’s the method of that genetic modification.

Kris GethinKris Gethin

There are plenty of variables. I totally agree.

David TaoDavid Tao

That’s why I’m always a little bit skeptical. You have to forgive me. Whenever anyone says non-GMO, I’m like, “OK, what’s your reasoning there?” GMO, genetically modified doesn’t necessarily mean it’s something that’s on its own, less healthy for you or are more dangerous. There’s so many other variables that go into food production, what we eat.

To transition a little bit, you’re someone who has to value your appearance professionally. You’re a long-time spokesperson for some very major fitness brands. If anyone follows you on social media, they can say you are very much keeping fit, posting your workouts and really walking the walk when it comes to the exercise and nutrition content you put out there.

You talked about societal pressure to look a certain way, to look fit, to look like you have the stereotypically fit body. How do you balance that societal and professional pressure, because how you look is a part of your livelihood, with staying, as you would say, healthy internally and having it be a sustainable lifestyle as opposed to a crash diet and binge cycle?

Kris GethinKris Gethin

Good question. Well, I guess to some degree, I’m very lucky that exercise is very therapeutic for me. I don’t have to find motivation anywhere to get up in the morning and go in exercise. It’s my AA batteries in the morning.

When it comes to the nutritional side of things, that can be a double-edged sword. As we know, with more frequency and the amount of protein that we’re having and insulin spiking, that we do signal our end to a pathway, which is great for anabolism and building muscle, but it isn’t always the best for anti-aging.

I want to ensure that I don’t age any quicker than I need to. I do have a combination. I do like to intermittent fast. I’ll fast from 8 o’clock in evening until 12 o’clock or 2 o’clock in the afternoon the following day. I will do that four or five times a week. It’s usually instinctive.

I’ll take certain supplements such as Berberine or anything that can help with [inaudible 13:04] . I’ll do the daily saunas and the ice baths. The ice baths are usually three times a week, but I’ve got a sauna around the back here as well.

I perform some form of cardio every single day. Again, that’s just very therapeutic. I try to get outdoors as much as I can, get that vitamin D and the restorative red light in the morning and in the evening, at sunset. All of those things take away a lot of stressful factors.

Usually, you’ll find people in populations, when they’re stressed out, eat bad foods. When their blood sugars drops, they’ll eat bad foods. I’ll do whatever I can to regulate that. I’ll follow at the moment a cyclical keto approach to my diet as well.

I like to have my carbohydrates, but I usually have them in the evening because I want my grains, my fiber. I’ll have some fruit to have my antioxidants as well. I just find a combination of all these things allow me to enjoy the process.

When it comes to the pressure of getting in shape, I’m not one of these people that’s in shape all year round in my standards. I’ll keep my abs. There’s no doubt about it, but I don’t let myself get soft, go fluffy, or anything that because it makes me feel good.

It’s not so much of a social pressure. If I look good, I just feel good. I battled depression in the past. I know that having more confidence about me based on my appearance does help.

The only time I get in shape is for photo shoots, or for video series, or something like that. That’s when I’ll put the pressure upon myself. It’s not so much an external factor, but I know in doing so, that I’m helping a lot of other people. I’m inspiring other people. The social network does help in that instance. It’s not a hindrance. I’ll try to balance the both.

David TaoDavid Tao

The shape you’re in, say not in prep for a photo shoot, or a video shoot or something like that, versus the shape you are in for that, what is the difference there? How can we visualize that? Is that a percentage of body fat that you’ve measured? How do we get a better idea of that?


Kris GethinKris Gethin

Yeah, it’d be a percentage body fat and weight. I’m about 220 pounds now. I’d probably down to about 205 if I was to get ready for a photo shoot. My body fat had, I guess…I don’t measure my body fat unless it’s for video series, but I’m assuming it would be about 15 at the moment.

I’d probably get down to about six, something like that for photo shoots. I’m not competing in bodybuilding shows or anything like that anymore, so I don’t have to jeopardize my health too much.

David TaoDavid Tao

You talked about how these photo shoots, in the shape you’re in, you’re inspiring people. You’re helping people. You just mentioned…This is not to trap you, because I do think there are a lot of nuances here in this question, in this answer.

That shape, especially for competition, bodybuilding shape, when folks are getting down to three, even under three percent body fat, by no metric, is that easily sustainable or good for long-term health.

At least no one I’ve met would agree with those statements. How do you balance that? Do you think that that is inspiring people, or is it promoting an unattainable standard?

Kris GethinKris Gethin

Well, everybody is different in that regards. Like I said, I don’t get down to those body fat digits now anymore. I gave up competing in natural bodybuilding back in 2009.

No, it definitely isn’t sustainable. Sometimes if you look at imagery like that, whether it be myself on a bodybuilding stage or Mr. Olympia champion, it’s not something that you aspire to look like, but there’s something that you can get from it that inspires you to get up in the morning, to get to the gym.

I noticed when I was working at, we’d have Dorian Yates, a six-time Mr. Olympia, or Jay Cutler, another Mr. Olympia, providing video content on the platform. The vast majority had no motivation to compete on stage. However, they would follow the video series because they wanted to learn something from them.

Much like if we’re going to pick up a golf club, we’re probably never going to play like Tiger Woods. There’s a huge disconnect, but would we want to learn from him? I’m sure there is something.

We’ll generally use that as our motivation and our accountability, especially if that person’s got a personality, which now with the platforms of your podcast, and Instagram, and YouTube, we can actually get to know the person who we’re following now.

If we relate to that person, regardless of what they look like, and what their single digit body fat may come down too, we’ll follow that.

As we know, a lot of competitive bodybuilders will only diet down several times a year for that particular day, for that particular body fat level that is required. When I used to compete, I’d compete once a year. I’d stay at that body fat level for a couple of weeks, maybe for some photo shoots, but that was it.

That’s where the balance comes in. You have to find what is manageable for you, and me being about 15, 14 percent body fat is manageable for me. However, if it’s required from me, I’ll get down for a very short time period and then bring it back where it’s comfortable.

Some people are comfortable at five or six percent body fat. Maybe it’s because they’re an ectomorph. They have a faster metabolism, and they can sustain it.

David TaoDavid Tao

How does your knowledge base and approach toward training and nutrition now compared to your knowledge base and approach toward training and nutrition toward the end of your bodybuilding career you mentioned the last time you competed was in 2009?

Kris GethinKris Gethin

Yeah, it’s completely changed. [laughs] It’s a 360. Back then…

David TaoDavid Tao

That might be too big of a question. If we need to slice that down to smaller chunks we can. [laughs]

Kris GethinKris Gethin

Yeah, that’s absolutely fine. The typical mindset that I had was that of a lot of bodybuilders, we would just think about the macronutrients. Protein, carbs and fat, the ratio and that is it to build muscle or to be in a deficit then to lose body fat, and that’s pretty much where it stopped. Now, today, I’m a lot more versatile in my approach. It’s not just that one standard protocol.

I do compete in other events, even though I’m heavier and look like a bodybuilder. I like to do ultra marathons and Iron Man triathlon and Spartan and stuff like that. I’ve become a lot more versatile physically, but also when it comes to the nutritional concepts as well.

As I mentioned before, I follow more now a cyclical approach to keto and not all the time. I’ll change it up. I’m thinking now probably at my age about my micronutrients, my fiber. I know a lot of the people around the world don’t have as much fiber as they shouldn’t do, and everything that I’m doing now, my decisions are based about increasing my health span, as well as kicking butt whilst I’m on this earth as well.

It changed a lot. I try to eat the rainbow on my plate. It’s a lot of vegetables and plant matter. For about two months every year, I’ll go either vegetarian or vegan.

I like a state of hormesis. I like to change things up quite a bit. I’m a little bit more or much more experimental now than I was, but experimental in a way that it’s going to improve my health.


David TaoDavid Tao

I’m curious. You’re someone who does enjoy the longer distance competitions, the triathlons, the obstacle course racing these days. Doing that at a fairly…I don’t want to say heavy bodyweight because there are certainly bigger athletes out there but with a lot of muscle mass on your frame.

What are some strategies you’ve learned to maintain muscle mass and strength when training for more endurance-based activities?

That’s a question that we get a lot at BarBend. People expect there to be this easy one-sentence answer for how to maintain muscle mass and strength when you are, say training for a triathlon.

Assuming there is no one quick tip that works for everyone. What are some strategies that you found effective for yourself?

Kris GethinKris Gethin

The one thing, because I’m a very high volume trainer, I like to train with a lot of reps, a lot of sets with very high intensity. I thought that was going to help me with my endurance fields, but it didn’t. It hindered. It quickly led to over-training.

What I found was by drastically lowering the volume of my training and the frequency — I generally train five to six times a week — I brought it down to four times a week. That’s resistance training now.

Then the strategies I included to improve my endurance at the same time was a lot of short interval work. Even though if I’m competing in an ultra-marathon or an Ironman, there’s a lot of distance there.

However, I would use my non-training days on the weekends to go all on. If I was to go for a hundred-mile bike ride, it was on my non-training day, but I would eat and supplement like a bodybuilder, not like an endurance athlete or triathletes.

For instance, if I’m going out on a bike ride with a lot of other guys that are professional or top Ironman athletes who are just eating a couple of gels and maybe a couple of bars, I have a backpack with me.

A small backpack where I have food in there. I’ll have protein shakes with me. I’ll have my glutamine and my essential amino acids in my shakes and stuff like that just to prevent that catabolism.

What I did find as well, that meditation and breathwork really helped because, obviously, my cortisol levels are getting spikes from every direction. I started measuring my heart rate variability. That would quickly tell me if my training was going overboard, if I was over-training.

Tracking my HRV definitely helped in that regards as well. Definitely lowering the training days, the volume, the intensity, but utilizing a lot of hit-work, hit-training to improve my cardio during the week and then going long and slow on the weekends.

David TaoDavid Tao

You’ve been in the fitness space for a long time. You’ve experimented with a lot of different types of fitness competition from bodybuilding to endurance athletics.

What are some maybe nonconventional training methodologies that you’ve experimented with since you retired from competitive bodybuilding, and which stuck out to you as, as ones that you’re like, “Oh, OK. You know what? I’m getting something out of this. This one’s surprising me in a good way”?

Kris GethinKris Gethin

I haven’t experimented too much like that except as of recent. As about a month ago, I purchased a bike that has artificial intelligence built into it. It’s called a CAR.O.L, CAR.O.L AI. I was very skeptical when I first heard about it.

However, a friend of mine who is very, very highly regarded in the biohacking community, strongly suggested it. I said, “OK, I’ll go for it.”

It only requires two 10-second sprints within a seven-minute period. First of all, you’re warming up. Then you’re going absolutely all out, and you sprint before it calibrates itself too.

Then you have a time in between that sprint where you’re trying to go now from your sympathetic nervous system to your parasympathetic nervous system. It guides you.

The bike guides you to get you back into this parasympathetic nervous system before going in for your second sprint. The concept is that it completely depletes your legs of glycogen during these sprints to help you become a little bit more fat-adaptive for the rest of the day.

I actually measure my blood glucose with a 24-hour blood glucose monitor. I’m not a diabetic, just I like to quantify things. I was very, very surprised that it did deplete my glycogen substantially more than I was to do my traditional hit-training. Plus, my cortisol levels weren’t spiking as much.

I’d say that’s probably the most surprising concept that I’ve adapted just recently.

David TaoDavid Tao

Are you seeing an improvement in your fat metabolism from that?

Kris GethinKris Gethin

Yes, I probably would if I was on a stricter diet because my family were here visiting. I’m from Wales, originally, but I’m here in Boise, Idaho. I really didn’t stick to a diet. I didn’t train during that time.

However, I stuck to the CAR.O.L bike because it was very easy. I didn’t have to go to the gym. I had it in my garage here. Usually, I would definitely put on several pounds of body weight during that time when I didn’t.

Now, the qualification that I want to reach to next is to follow it on my particular diet that I’m following right now, which is a lot cleaner, to see what fat loss is created from it.

David TaoDavid Tao

That’s interesting. That’s exactly the kind of thing I was…I knew there was something. You don’t retire from bodybuilding and stay active in fitness for a decade and not try out some things that you’re skeptical about at first.

Kris GethinKris Gethin

Yeah, I was very skeptical on this one. It seems to be going in the right direction.

David TaoDavid Tao

I do want to change direction a little bit and talk about your career in podcasting. Everyone who’s listening to this podcast listens to fitness podcasts.

I’d be remiss not to mention “The Knowledge and Mileage Podcast,” which you host. You’ve had a range of guests. You’ve been producing that podcast for quite some time now. Who is your most memorable guest on The Knowledge and Mileage Podcast thus far?


Kris GethinKris Gethin

I’d say it was Dorian Yates. I’ve had a vast array of people from the health, fitness, and biohacking, and various types of community members on there. Six-times Mr. Olympia, Dorian Yates, is that person. I’ve known Dorian for some years. He has definitely changed a lot since his bodybuilding days.

One thing that I’ve always been aspired to about Dorian is not the look of him in particular at all. It’s just his mindset. Very dedicated, persistent, and disciplined to whatever he puts his hand at.

I’m sure whatever he put his hand at, he would be success at because he would definitely control his environment and not get controlled by it. As we know, we all get controlled by our environment to a certain degree but nothing swayed him whatsoever. That conversation is fascinating.


David TaoDavid Tao

Changing direction once more. We’ve talked about a lot of concepts on this recording. We’ve talked about everything from the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting to HRV and depleting glycogen levels and increasing fat metabolism. What is the concept or concepts in fitness that you think we overcomplicate and put too much emphasis on overthinking them?

Kris GethinKris Gethin

Wow, there’s so many different things. Obviously, we’ve got the keto craze now, that isn’t for everybody. We’ve got the carnival, we got different training protocols. I’ve noticed a lot of beginners, they get confused. A lot of conflicting information. With this, I just find more people discussing concepts as opposed to applying.

There’s so many ways of climbing Everest. You don’t have to follow one in particular. You don’t have to overcomplicate it.

It just comes down with whether you follow one of my programs or someone else’s, they will work. It’s just the one that you feel that you can relate to, that you’ll be consistent with, that you’ll be motivated to stick to.

I just think a lot of people overcomplicate things. They try to focus on their nutrition and more than their training. However, you got to create the stimuli in the gym in order for the nutrition to really work.

It’s a combination of not focusing on one leg of that stool. You’ve got to have all three legs of the stool, have the persistence, the sleep, the recovery, the nutrition in order to progress.

David TaoDavid Tao

What are some concepts on the other end that you think we maybe oversimplify and should spend a little bit more time thinking about or at least approach with a little bit more intent?

Kris GethinKris Gethin

Yes, as I mentioned, the sources of the food. I think a lot of people will just look at macros. They just look at macros, for instance, and if it fits their macros, it’s great. That’s a little bit complicated.

If they simplified it and went to the supermarket or the farmers market and just got the simple food that our ancestors were brought up upon, then it’d be a lot easier for them.

People go out and purchase a line of supplements before they’ve even got to the gym or been training for several months to see what they’re actually made of. If they can actually recover, OK, with nutrition before looking at creatine or glutamine or anything like that.

I think if people just focused on nutrition a little bit more than say, supplementation, they’d be going the right direction.


David TaoDavid Tao

Kris, what’s the best way for folks to follow the work you’re doing and to learn about the content that you’re pushing out?

Kris GethinKris Gethin

Sure. A lot of the content that I’ve pushed out, they can find on the That spelled You can find me on Instagram and that’s Kris Gethin. That’s K-R-I-S G-E-T-H-I-N.

David TaoDavid Tao

Awesome, Kris Gethin. Thank you so much for joining us today. Look forward to see what you’re up to next.

Kris GethinKris Gethin

Awesome, thank you very much. I really appreciate that.