Qi Gong For Athletes: How To Develop Unstoppable Speed, Conditioning & Mental Resilience With Qi Gong.

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Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

What separates us from the rest is something that happens every morning around 11:00am. I walk over to the stereo, change the music to either Enya or Lama Gyurme, and the room stops. Those athletes who have been involved with this process all gather around, we walk over to a central space in the room, and we begin a practice that has been performed for thousands of years.

Chris Holder is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Cal Poly in beautiful San Luis Obispo, California. Along with working with 22 Division I athletic teams and over 500 student-athletes, Chris is a Doctor of Medical Qigong (DMQ-China). Under the tutelage of world famous Qigong Grand Master Dr. Jerry Alan Johnson, Dr. Holder conducted groundbreaking research on the effects of Medical Qigong Therapy with athletes in competition, the first of its kind.

With the blending of western strength training practices and eastern medical and spiritual practices, Chris co-authored a study investigating the effects of a daily Qigong practice on strength gains in collegiate aged athletes. These two pieces have spawned additional studies that are currently in progress. The first is investigating the effects of Qigong on flow induction. The second could be one of the most important studies in concussion research. Both are showing tremendous benefits to each area of study.

Chris is one of only 13 Master RKC’s in the world and is known in many strength training circles as one of the first to introduce kettlebell training to collegiate athletics. Chris has worked with athletes at all levels, including professionals in the NFL, NBA and MLB. Chris is a regular contributor to several of the major strength training websites on the web, including, Breaking Muscle, TrainHeroic and Dragon Door.

During our discussion, you'll discover: 

-How Chris blends Eastern Medicine and bad-ass strength concepts to get breakthrough performance in his student-athletes…[7:40]

-The five yin organs that Chris targets with his work…[11:20]

-How Chris has substantiated the power of consistent Qigong work and its enormous benefits to strength-trained athletes…[17:15]

-Why Chris thinks Qi Gong rivals performance enhancing drugs when it comes to performance breakthroughs…[23:10]

-How Chris went from being a college football player to becoming a Medical Qi Gong doctor…[24:20]

-Why more athletes and exercise enthusiasts, and the fitness community in general, aren't utilizing Qi Gong…[33:00]

-The link between emotions, inflammation and cancer, and how you can use Qi Gong to release negative emotions…[36:56]

-Why the lower dantian is so important for everyone to build…[44:55]

-How to increase drive and sexual performance with specific Qi Gong exercises…[50:55]

-How you can use your mind to make the kettlebell swing more effective…[52:45]

-Why it's important to put your tongue on the roof of your mouth when doing these practices…[68:35]

-Why you need to read “Bob Frissell – Nothing In This Book Is True”…[70:36]

-And much more…

Resources from this episode:

Dragon Door Publications, where you can search for “Chris Holder” to find his work

Chris's article on the Lower Dantian

Robert Peng's Qi Gong books, videos and audios

Jerry Alan Johnson's Qi Gong resources on Amazon

TianChi adaptogenic herb complex

Bob Frissell's books on Amazon

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-Organifi – Go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/organifi Discount code BEN for 20% off your order!

-Four Sigmatic – Go to FourSigmatic.com/Greenfield and use code code BENGREENFIELD for 15% off.

Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Chris or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

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23 thoughts on “Qi Gong For Athletes: How To Develop Unstoppable Speed, Conditioning & Mental Resilience With Qi Gong.

  1. Theo says:

    This was a fantastic podcast. In my late teens and 20’s ( 1990’s) I did hard style martial arts combined with weightlifting and chigung. You’ve rekindled my interest in the combination and will definitely be researching and practicing further areas of this fascinating work. Many thanks to Dr Holder for sharing his expertise.

  2. Tony Franklin says:

    Thanks for this very informational podcast!

    I’m studying PFT at the Lexington Healing Arts Academy. I’ve been listening to your podcast for a few months now and this one stood out to me in particular because of how it connects to our take on thoracic breathing. One of our main learning objectives is 90/90 breathing achieved through posterior pelvis tilt(keeping your qi contained, anus winking) and engagement of the abdomen through full exhalation. This leaves me feeling energized in my abdominal region(lower dan t’ian).

    Another topic that was discussed was Yin and Yang. Would practicing techniques that stimulate the Yin be the same as directly activating the parasympathethic part of the autonomic nervous system? And Yang to stimulate the sympathetic part? Your thoughts are highly appreciated.

  3. Lance says:

    Great interview! I’ve been wondering about just this topic a lot recently I’ve been involved in similar practices off and on for much of my life, always to great benefit. I’ve been wondering about how qigong could be combined with other forms of physical training for some time. Yoga has become a mainstream commodity, so its benefits for athletes are well understood, but qigong hasn’t gotten the attention. Qigong’ use by martial artists is clear, but everything I’ve seen is more combat specific, what about our western sports?

    Like other commenters, I’d like some more detail about practical details. With zillions of qigong sets possible, where should athletes start? How should qigong training be integrated with other workouts? Before, after, or totally separate? How much time in between? Different practices for strength or endurance training?

    1. I think the best place to start would be by visiting Chris's articles which have links to initial notes above and starting into the type of simple routines that he talks about in those articles…

  4. Jason says:

    I would also like to see the 20 minute practice that was used with the athletes in the study. I purchased the video but it is on the longer side. Even just a list of the movements and how many of each would help. Thanks for the great info.

  5. Matt colby says:

    So I’ve done the Qi Gong healing workout for 3 days now. It’s been a positive experience but it isn’t the campy backgrounds that make it hard to focus.

    It’s the fact that it looks like the doctor has a giant boner during the whole video. Ben, you must have introduced him to Gaines wave !

  6. Drew says:

    Hi Ben & Chris,

    Can you please list the name of that resource? The amazon link doesn’t seem to work.

    Thank you!

    1. Amazon link are working now!

  7. As an acupuncturist I have been contemplating taking some advanced training in medical qi gong. Chris mentioned a new program that was available. Could you tell me what the program is as I’d like to look into it more? Thanks in advance and I really love the show!

  8. Piotr says:

    Qi and the energies are probably some gases and stuff produced in some big lymph nodes and other places. That’s how I feel it. Much related to vascular nitric oxide tone…

  9. Matt Colby says:

    Chris, do you have your routine available anywhere? I’m interested in trying it out.

    I see the videos for the drumming and the swaying, but what about the purging of the five organs?

    Good podcast. The internal arts aren’t discussed enough amongst the common people.

  10. Matt Colby says:

    Chris, do you have your routine available anywhere? I’m interested in trying it out.

    I see the videos for the drumming and the swaying, but what about the purging of the five organs?

    Good podcast. The internal arts aren’t discussed enough amongst the common people.

    1. Ben Greenfield says:


      As of right now, we have not recorded the set we used… the closest thing you can find that will give you the primary foundational pieces to what we used can be found on this DVD.

  11. Peggy lytle says:


    I am one of your female listeners and this is one of my favorite podcasts. I am a fitness coach and I teach Chen Style Tai Chi. I am also working on my certification for teaching Qi Gong self practice – not medical – but hope to continue on with that as well.

    I loved your explanation of the many aspects of Qi Gong that you covered – you made it easy to understand. I have personally found that the balance mentioned is so important but a really hard sell to the average person who is working out or training for an event. I often get, “isn’t Tai Chi what old people in the park do?” I think we have a ways to go to get it more mainstream but podcasts like this get me very hopeful that it won’t be long until it becomes an accepted part of the fitness/health industry.

    On a personal note, the story about your father hit close to home. My husband was diagnosed with PMR soon after we started dating. He too was in terrible pain and was prescribed prednisone, which did relieve his pain some but caused a host of other issues. We married a bit over a year later, and 7 months into our marriage he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He is exactly like your father, stuffs everything down, as it is the way taught to him by his family and chosen religion. I have no doubt this was part of the cause.

    I am beginning to work with him and other cancer patients and survivors and your story has affirmed what I have long suspected. Thank you for that. I am a humble student, need to eat much bitter, but believe this is a very important part of health, fitness and longevity.

    With gratitude,


    1. Ben Greenfield says:

      Thank you for sharing Peggy. I am glad your husband was able to find some relief.

  12. Thomas Franz says:

    Hey guys,

    thanks for the podcast, always great to hear when some of the tough guys or warrior kinda guys pick up on Qigong, Tai Chi and alike. I think it’s a necessary shift from the extreme Yang kinda lifestyle, thinking, moving etc to a more balanced one. I’ve heard Paul Chek once suggesting the book “Harvard Medical School Guide To Tai Chi” by Peter M. Wayne, PhD. I guess you Ben would probably enjoy that as it comes with some studies and science. For me it’s quite a long warmup but after doing the routine in the book for a few weeks I actually found my next big goal in life which was quite an amazing experience.

    Much love,


  13. Brian says:

    I want the 5 pack for Gratitude journal and 2 boxes of nutribites–

    I also want upgrade to premium podcasts–

    need help–can I do it over the phone with credit card?

    Brian Billdt

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