Huberman Lab - Dr. Andy Galpin: How to Build Strength, Muscle Size & Endurance

Welcome to the Huberman Lab Podcast,

where we discuss science

and science-based tools for everyday life.

I’m Andrew Huberman,

and I’m a professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology

at Stanford School of Medicine.

Today, my guest is Dr. Andy Galpin.

Dr. Galpin is a full and tenured professor

in the Department of Kinesiology

at California State University in Fullerton.

He is also a world expert

in all things exercise science and kinesiology.

Today, you are going to hear

what is essentially a masterclass in how to build fitness,

no matter what level of fitness you happen to have.

He talks about how to build endurance

and the multiple types of endurance.

He talks about how to build strength and hypertrophy,

which is the growth of muscle fibers.

So if you’re seeking to get stronger

or build bigger muscles or build endurance,

or all of those things, today, you’re going to learn how.

You’re also going to learn how to build flexibility,

how to hydrate properly for exercise,

and we’ll also talk about nutrition and supplementation.

What makes Dr. Galpin so unique

is his ability to span all levels of exercise science.

He has the ability to clearly communicate

the sets and repetition schemes

that one would want to follow,

for instance, to build more strength

or to build larger muscles.

He also clearly describes exactly how to train

if you want to build more endurance

or enhance cardiovascular function.

What’s highly unique about Dr. Galpin

and the information he teaches

and the way he communicates that information

is that he can take specific recommendations

of how recreational exercisers

or even professional athletes

ought to train for their specific goals

and link that to specific mechanisms,

that is, the specific changes that need to occur

in the nervous system and in muscle fibers,

and indeed, right down to the genetics of individual cells

in your brain and body

in order for those exercise adaptations to occur.

It’s truly rare to find somebody

that can span so many different levels of analyses

and who is able to communicate

all those levels of understanding

in such a clear and actionable way.

Indeed, Dr. Galpin is one of just a handful of people

to which I and many others look

when they want to make sure that the information

that they’re getting about exercise

is gleaned from quality peer-reviewed studies,

hands-on experience with a wide variety of research subjects,

meaning everyday people,

all the way up to professional athletes

in a wide variety of sports.

So it’s no surprise that he’s not only

one of the most knowledgeable,

but also the most trusted voices in exercise science.

Dr. Galpin is also an avid communicator

of zero-cost-to-consumer information about exercise science.

You can find him on Instagram at Dr. Andy Galpin

and also on Twitter at Dr. Andy Galpin.

Both places, he provides terrific information

about recent studies, both from his laboratory

and from other laboratories,

more in-depth protocols of the sort

that you’ll hear about today.

So if you’re not already following him,

be sure to do so.

He provides only the best information.

He’s extremely nuanced and precise

and clear in delivering that information.

I’m certain that by the end of today’s conversation,

you’ll come away with a tremendous amount of new knowledge

that you can devote to your exercise pursuits.

Before we begin, I’d like to emphasize

that this podcast is separate

from my teaching and research roles at Stanford.

It is, however, part of my desire and effort

to bring zero-cost-to-consumer information

about science and science-related tools

to the general public.

In keeping with that theme,

I’d like to thank the sponsors of today’s podcast.

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And now for my discussion with Dr. Andy Galpin.

Welcome, Dr. Professor Andy Galpin.

It’s been a long time coming.

We have friends in common,

but this is actually the first time

we’ve sat down face-to-face.

Yeah, I’m very excited.

Yeah, there are only a handful,

meaning about three or four people

who I trust enough in the exercise physiology space

that when they speak, I not only listen,

but I modify my protocols,

and you are among those three or four people.

So first of all, a debt of gratitude.

Thank you.

You’ve greatly shaped the protocols that I use,

and I know there’s far more for me and for others to learn.

So you’re a professor, you teach in university,

and you have a tremendous range of levels of exploration,

muscle biopsy, literally images down the microscope,

all the way to training professional athletes

and everything in between.

So you are truly an N of one.

And just to start us off,

I would love to have you share with us

what you think most everybody,

or even everybody should know

about principles of strength training,

principles of endurance training,

and principles of, let’s call it hypertrophy power

and the other sort of categories of training.

And this could be very top contour,

but what do you think everybody on planet Earth

should know about these categories

of personal and athletic development?

Well, that’s a great first question.

Holy cow, I think I’ll start it this way.

I tend to think about,

there’s about nine different adaptations

you can get from exercise.

Fat loss is not one of those.

It is a by-product,

but that’s not really what I’m getting at.

And so we can kind of categorize everything like that.

And what we can talk about

are what are the concepts that you need to hit

within each one.

And then you could have infinite discussion

of the different methodologies, right?

And so that first thing to hit is

the concepts are actually fairly few,

but the methods are many, right?

People have said that in iterations throughout time.

So if you walk from the very beginning,

the first one to think about is what we’ll just call skill.

So this is improving anything from say a golf swing

to a squatting technique to running.

And this is just simply moving mechanically

how you want your body to move.

I’m just gonna globally call that skill.

From there, we’re gonna get into speed.

So this is moving as fast as possible.

The next one is power.

And power is a function of speed,

but it’s also a function of the next one, which is strength.

So if you actually multiply strength by speed,

you get power.

And the reason I’m making this distinction, by the way,

is some of these are very close

and I’m going in a specific order on purpose here.

For example, power is, like I just said,

it’s a function of speed and strength.

So if you improve speed, you’ve also likely improved power,

but not necessarily, right?

Because it could have come from the force direction either.

So there’s carryover.

So like a lot of things that you would do

for the development of strength and power,

they are somewhat similar, but then there’s differences,


So things that you would do correctly for power

would really not develop much strength and vice versa.

So I’m gonna get into all these details later.

Once you get past strength,

and the next one kind of down the list is hypertrophy.

This is muscle size, right?

Growing muscle mass is one way to think about it.

After hypertrophy, you get into these categories of,

the next one is,

these are all globally endurance-based issues.

And the very first one is called muscular endurance.

So this is your ability to do,

how many pushups can you do in one minute?

You know, things like that.

Past muscular endurance,

you’re now into more of an energetic

or even cardiovascular fatigue.

So you’ve left the local muscle

and you’re now into the entire physiological system

and its ability to produce and sustain work.

And we can get into a bunch of differentiations

within endurance,

but just to keep it really simple right now,

the very first one, think about this as,

I call this anaerobic power, right?

So this is your ability to produce a lot of work

for say 30 seconds to maybe one minute,

kind of two minutes like that.

The next one down then is more closely aligned

to what we’ll call your VO2 max.

So this is your ability to kind of do the same thing,

but more of a time domain of say three to 12 minutes.

So this is gonna be a maximum heart rate,

but it’s gonna be well past just max heart rate.

Then after that, we have what I call

long duration endurance.

So this is your ability to sustain work.

The time domain doesn’t matter

in terms of how fast you’re going.

It’s how long can you sustain work?

This is 30 plus minutes of no break like that.

So as just a high level overview,

those are the different things you can target.

And again, some of those crossover

and some are actually a little bit

contrarian to the other ones.

So pushing towards one is maybe gonna sacrifice

something else.

So as an overall start,

that’s really what we’re looking at.

Within all of those though,

they do have similar concepts

in terms of there’s a handful of things

you have got to do to make all of those things work.

And we could talk about as many of those as you want,

but one of them is functionally called

progressive overload.

So whichever one you’re trying to improve at,

if you want to continue to improve,

you have to have some method of overload.

And as you well know, you’ve talked about a lot,

adaptation physiologically happens

as a byproduct of stress.

So you have to push a system.

So if you continue to do say the exact same workout

over time, you better not expect much improvement.

You can keep maintenance,

but you’re not going to be adding additional stress.

So in general, you have to have some sort

of progressive overload.

And we can talk in detail about what that means

for each category,

but this could come from adding more weights.

This could come from adding more repetitions.

It could come from doing it more often in the week.

It could come from adding complexity to the movement.

So going from say a partial range of motion

to a full range of motion or adding other variables.

So there’s a lot of different ways to progress,

but you have to have some sort of movement forward.

So if you have this kind of routine where you’ve built

Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday or something,

and you just do that infinitely,

you’re not going to get very far.

So that’s, I guess, the most high level overview

of all the things people can go after.

And then we can go from whatever direction you want

from there.

I’d love to do the deep dive on each one of these

for several hours.

But, and I imagine that over time, we probably will.

I’d love to chat about a couple of these

in a bit more depth.

So in terms of defining what the progressive overload

variables are for these different categories,

maybe we could hit the two most common combinations

of these nine things.

The first one being strength and hypertrophy,

and maybe we could lump power in there.

Maybe not, you’re the exercise physiologist,

but strength and hypertrophy,

which at least bear some relationship.

And then maybe separately, we could explore

sustained work endurance, this 30 minutes

or longer continuously, because I think many people

train in that regime.

And probably something like VO2 max anaerobic as well,

because I know that a number of people now incorporate

so-called HIT or high intensity interval training,

I think with the hopes of either shortening their workouts

and or gaining some additional cardiovascular benefit.

So if we could start with strength and hypertrophy,

I know many people want to be stronger.

They want to grow larger muscles

or at least maintain what they have.

So what are the progressive overload principles

that are most effective over time

for strength and hypertrophy?

Yeah, okay, so I’ll actually go a little step back.

With every one of those categories I talked about,

you have what we call your modifiable variables.

So this is a very short list of all the things

you can modify, the different variables within your workout

that can be modified that will change the outcome.

Fancy way of saying, if you do this differently,

then you’re going to get a different result.

So modifiable variables,

the very first one of those is called choice.

So this is the exercise choice that you select.

Now, one of, I’m going to go double back here.

So I’m kind of doing a little bit of inception.

So follow me here as I’m going up a layer

to come down a couple layers.

I have these fundamental laws of strength and conditioning

that are kind of like a little bit of a joke,

but progressive overload is one of those laws.

Another one of those laws is your exercises themselves

do not determine adaptations.

So here’s what I mean.

If you’re like, I want to get stronger,

you can’t select an exercise.

That doesn’t determine you getting strong.

If you don’t do the exercise correctly,

and I’m not even referring to the technique,

that of course matters,

but if you don’t execute it in the right fashion,

then you’re not going to get that adaptation.

So if you choose, I want to get stronger,

I’m going to do a bench press.

Well, if you do the wrong set range,

the wrong repetition range, the wrong speed,

you won’t get strength.

You maybe get muscular endurance

and very little strength adaptation.

So the exercise selection itself is important,

but it does not determine the outcome adaptation.

So the very first thing that you need to think about

if you’re like, I want to get stronger or add muscle,

is not the exercise choice, right?

It is the application of the exercise.

What are the sets?

What are the reps?

What are the rest ranges that you’re using?

That’s going to be your primary determinant.

Now, some exercises are certainly better

for some adaptations.

For example, a deadlift is probably not a great exercise

to do for long duration endurance.

You could theoretically do 30 straight minutes

of deadlifting, but it’s probably not our best choice.

It’s probably a pretty good choice for strength development

because you’re going to do a low repetition, high set range.

You could theoretically do bicep curls for power,

but probably not your best choice.

Single joint isolation movement

is not the best for developing power.

You’ve ever done a bicep curl as fast as you possibly can?

That’s not going to go well.

So in theory, any exercise can produce any adaptation

given the execution is performed properly.

So now that we’ve understood that a little bit,

the exercise itself does not determine the adaptation.

Coming within each one of these categories,

exercise choice is an important variable

because it does lend you to things

like what movement pattern you’re in.

So in other words, if you want to get stronger

and you’re thinking, okay, what exercise do I do?

You need to think a little bit about

what muscle groups do I want to use?

And that’s going to be leading you

towards the exercise choice.

For example, I want to use my quads more.

Okay, fine.

Maybe you’re going to choose more of a front squat

type of variation, a goblet squat,

so the bar, the load is in front of you.

If you want to emphasize maybe more

of your hamstrings and glutes,

you’re going to maybe put a barbell on your back

or do a different one.

So the exercise choice is important to the prescription

because it’s going to determine a lot of your success.

Okay, another kind of simpler way to think about this.

If you’re a beginner or moderate to intermediate

or maybe you don’t have a coach,

you probably want to hedge towards an exercise selection

that is a little bit easier technically.

So you maybe don’t want to do a barbell back squat.

It’s actually a pretty complicated movement.

Maybe you want to do a little bit more of,

again, a goblet squat or even use some machines

or a split squat, something that’s a little bit simpler

because you don’t have a coach,

you’re not a professional athlete.

The likelihood of success is higher

and the risk has now gone lower.

So the very first variable within all of these

is the exercise choice.

The second one is the intensity.

And that refers to, in this context, not perceived effort.

Like, wow, that was a really intense workout.

It is quite literally either a percentage

of your one rep at max

or a percentage of your maximum heart rate or VO2 max.

So for the strength-based things,

you want to think about what’s the percentage

of the maximum weight I could lift one time.

And that’s what we’re going to call one rep max.

Or it’s a percentage of my heart rate, right?

So if I tell you to get on a bike

and I want you to do intervals and I want you at 75%,

I’m typically referring to 75% of your max heart rate

or VO2 max or something like that.

If I tell you to do squats at 75%,

that means 75% of the maximum amount of weight

you could lift one time or close.

In terms of determining one rep max,

I confess I’ve never actually taken the one rep max

for any exercise,

but I have some internal sense of what that might be

or what range it might be.

Is it necessary for people to assess

their one repetition maximum

before going into these sorts of programs?

No, not at all.

I think a more intuitive way is to take a repetition range.

Well, you can do this a couple of different ways.

So there are equations you can run

and you can just Google these anywhere

and these are called conversion charts.

And so it says, okay,

if I did 75 pounds on my bench press

and I did it eight times,

you can just run an estimate and say,

okay, you’re probably going to be able to bench

about 95 pounds for one rep max or something.

So that’s a very easy conversion chart.

So just pick a load that you feel comfortable with,

it’s kind of heavy, but not like crazy heavy

and do as many repetitions as you can

with a really good technique.

And then look what that number would be.

So conversion-

Probably safer than doing one repetition maximum.

For the general public who has, again, no coaching,

it’s safer.

For a professional athlete, it’s not any safer,

or not even a professional athlete,

but a trained person with a coach.

But for most people, yeah,

that’s a good way to go about it.

You can also just kind of do it with feel

in the sense that,

say you want to do a set of five repetitions

and you do the load and you think,

I could have done one or two more.

And then you kind of have an idea

of what that number is going to be.

If you think, man, that last one,

I had to kind of really, really, really get after it,

then maybe just call that that number, right?

So you don’t have to get overly concerned.

In fact, when we start getting into these number ranges,

you’re going to see that they’re all ranges.

We’re not going to give a specific 95%

for one of these exact reasons.

It’s not that precise for most of them.

In fact, some of them like hypertrophy have enormous ranges

that you like almost can’t miss.

So the intensity in that case doesn’t even matter

for the most part,

because that’s not the primary determinant.

Some of these you’re going to see intensity as a determinant

and some of these you’re going to see volume

is the true determinant.

So intensity though is a second one.

Choice was the very first manipulatable variable.

Intensity was the second one.

The third one is what we call volume.

And so this is just how many reps

and how many sets are you doing, right?

So if you’re going to do three sets of 10,

that volume would be 30, right?

Five sets of five, that volume is 25.

It’s just a simple equation.

How much work are you totally doing?

The next one past that is called rest intervals.

So this is the amount of time you’re taking

in between typically a set.

Then from there you have progression,

which is what we started to talk about,

this progressive overload.

Are you increasing by weight or reps

or rest intervals or complexity or whatever?

So all of those things can be changed

as a method of progression.

And so maybe you want to go progressing

from a single joint exercise,

like a leg extension on a machine,

and you want to progress by moving

to a whole body movement like a squat.

That in and of itself,

you don’t have to change the load

or the reps or the rest.

That is a representation of progressive overload.

And it’s probably a pretty good place to start

because number one, especially for beginners,

is to make sure that the movement pattern is correct.

Don’t worry about intensity.

Don’t worry about rep ranges or any of these things.

You need to learn to move correctly,

and you need to give your body some time

to develop some tissue tolerance

so that you’re not getting overtly sore.

In general, soreness is a terrible proxy

for exercise quality.

It’s a really bad way to estimate

whether it was a good or a bad workout,

especially for people in that beginner to middle

to moderate.

In fact, even for our professional athletes,

we do not use soreness as a metric of a good workout.

It’s a really bad idea for a bunch of reasons.

On the same token,

because stress is required for adaptation,

you don’t want to leave at the gym

and feel like, I don’t really do much.

There has to be there.

So if you think about soreness on a scale of one to 10,

you probably want to spend most of your time

in like the three.

You mean post-exercise?


In between workouts?


And I know we’ll talk about recovery extensively later,

but if one body part or set of body parts is sore,

is that an indication that one should stay out of training?

I would imagine the answer is no in most cases.

And secondarily to that,

if a particular muscle is sore,

does that mean that muscle is not ready to be trained again?


The answer to both of those is the same,

which is no, right?

You can certainly train a sore muscle.

You need to, I guess,

have a little bit of feel on that, right?

So if you’re sore of like,

okay, and you’re moving around a little bit

and you’re like, man, this is a little bit sore,

you can train.

If you’re like, I can’t sit on the couch without crying

because my glutes are so sore,

like we probably don’t need to train again, right?

Does whimpering count as crying?


In that particular case, I’d say,

you’ve actually gone to a place of detriment

because now you’re gonna have to skip a training session

and now you’re behind.

So your actual total volume, say across the month,

is actually gonna be lower

because you went way too hard in those workouts,

had to take too many days off in between.

You’re gonna see that you’re gonna cover less distance

over the course of a month or six months or even a year.

So you wanna walk a pretty fine line.

And for most people, I would say hedge a little bit

on the side of less sore than more sore

because frequency is very, very important

for almost all these adaptations.

The training frequency.

Which is the last modifiable variable, right?

Frequency, which is how many times per week

are you doing that thing?

So those are kind of our global things

that we can play with.

So when I’m trying to manipulate

and you can get strength versus hypertrophy,

or you know what, I want like a little bit of both,

all those variables are the things

that are going through my mind.

Which one do I need to move in which direction

so that I can get this outcome

and not this outcome over here?

For example, some folks might wanna get stronger,

but not put muscle mass on.

Some folks are just kind of want both.

And that’s a lot of the general public.

I wanna get a little stronger

and a little bit more muscle, great.

But there are instances where people

for performance reasons

or for purely personal preference,

like I don’t wanna get any more muscle, great,

but I wanna get stronger.

Awesome, if you manipulate those variables correctly,

you can get exactly that.

Very little development of muscle size

and a lot of development and strength.

And this is why we continue to break world records

in sports like powerlifting and weightlifting

that have weight classes.

So there’s a top number that we can hit

in terms of body size,

but yet we continue to get stronger and faster.

So this is very possible if you understand

how to manipulate all those variables.

So that being said, we can start off with,

you wanted to go strength and-

Yeah, strength.

And I love that you mentioned the fact

that it is possible to increase strength

without increasing muscle size,

at least not dramatically,

because I think it’s not just weight class athletes.

I know a lot of people who for aesthetic reasons,

they’d like to be stronger.

They’re hearing that having strong bones

and strong muscles and tendons,

it’s great for longevity and for avoiding injury

and so many other features of life.

And yet they don’t want to fill out

progressively larger and larger sizes of clothing.

And we can go harder to the mechanisms

on that piece if you want.

And we can save that and come back to it.


What I’d love to, both,

what I’d love to know,

in other words, if we could define

some of these modifiable variables

in the context of strength.

So let’s say I were somebody who,

I come to you and I say,

and let’s just say for sake of balance here,

because she actually does do some weight training,

I bring my sister in and I say,

me and my sister both want to get stronger.


What modifiable variable should,

how should we modify the variables?

Love it.

All right, great.

I’m going to do inception on you one more time.

So one of my other laws,

this won’t be fast, I promise,

of strength and conditioning is in general,

the default is all joints through all range of motion.

So this is important because it’s going to answer

your very first question on this strength category.

So in general,

the ankle should go through the full range of motion

and the knee should go through the full range of motion,

the knee, the hip, the elbow, et cetera, et cetera, right?

Across the workout, not in a single movement.

Well, right.

I would hope.

Unless there’s an amazing exercise I haven’t heard about.

Well, there are some exercises

that we’re going to call more full body.

Think about a full snatch.

Like you’re going to take a lot of your muscles,

a lot of your joints through a lot of the range of motions.

Other ones like in isolation,

we call these single joint exercises.

So imagine a bicep curl.

You have one joint in that particular case,

the elbow moving, the shoulder and everything else

is pretty much stable.

And this is how we’ll differentiate multi-joint

from single joint movements.

But yeah, so across,

I would even say it doesn’t even have to be the day,

but maybe throughout the week.

Try to get every joint through full range of motion.

Now, a couple of quick caveats to that.

I am not advocating using full range of motion

and allowing really bad exercise technique.

So when I say full range of motion, that’s the default.

That doesn’t mean every single person

can do that for every single exercise.

It means that’s where we should be striving to.

And that’s our starting point.

You’re going to see a lot less injury

and a lot more productivity out of your training sessions.

In fact, the science is fairly clear on this one.

Strength development as well as hypertrophy

is generally enhanced

with a larger range of motion of training.

And the mechanisms are like somewhat understood on that.

So that being said,

if you have to get into say a bad position

with your say low back, the spine is a very good one.

In general, the spine should say it’s very neutral

is what we call it.

So no flexion, no extension, especially in the lumbar region.

So if you’re doing say a deadlift

and in order to take your knee

through a full range of motion, a deadlift,

you have to compromise your back position.

That’s no bueno.

So caveats there aside, don’t kill me.

Like in good positions always.

And don’t kill yourselves more importantly.

So why that matters is if we walk through strength,

the very first thing I’m going to go through

is the exercise selection.

So let’s choose an exercise

which ideally has a full range of motion or close to it

that doesn’t induce injury for you,

that you can still maintain good neck

and low back and in position and everything else,

you feel comfortable with.

So you can feel strong, but you don’t feel like,

oh my gosh, if you’ve never snatched before,

having you do a snatch for a maximum, even 75%,

like it’s a terrible idea.

You’re not going to feel confident

it’s going to be a train wreck.

I would rather put you on a machine bench press.

So you can go, I feel stable, I feel safe here.

I can just express my strength.

So exercise choice in generally,

in general, full range of motion.

And you want to kind of balance between the movement areas.

So this is an upper body press.

So this is pushing away from you,

bench press, things like that.

Upper body pull, pulling an implement towards you,

bent row, pull up.

The pressing should be horizontal.

So perpendicular to your body as well as vertical.

So this is lifting a weight over top of your head,

lifting away from you.

So the pull version is pulling horizontally to you

and pulling vertically down, pull up, things like that.

From the lower body, we typically call these hinges.

It’s sort of a funny muscle thing

that no one’s going to laugh at,

but like maybe me and you here,

is we’ll categorize muscles as,

or movements, exercises as pushes and pulls, right?

So like a squat tends to be a push

because you’re pushing away the ground.

A deadlift is a pull

because you’re pulling the implement up to you.

But in reality, every single exercise is only ever a pull

because muscle doesn’t push things away.

Muscle can only contract and pull on itself.

And so again, super nerdy thing that like,

most people are like, yeah,

and everyone’s like, that’s so dumb.

No, but I think it’s a really important point

because it also speaks to something

I think we’ll get into later,

which is that posterior chain, anterior chain,

and if that’s mysterious to people,

it’ll become clear before long.

Posterior chain, anterior chain makes a lot of sense to me

because of the way it’s grounded

in the firing of motor neurons,

which is ultimately what controls muscle.

So it’s also-

Feeling your nerves all the time.


So it also depends on the lens

through which one looks at life and exercise.

Of course, my lens is primarily neuroscience.

But I realized that the importance,

I like this idea of pushing perpendicular to the body,

overhead, pulling both toward the body and from overhead.

That just makes really good intuitive sense,

especially since a lot of people

were just listening to this and not watching it.

So in your minds, folks,

you can think about pushing away like a punch or overhead,

like lifting something overhead

and then pulling toward your midline

or toward your body rather,

and then pulling yourself up like a pull-up in PE class

for those of you that-

So the lower body is the same thing, right?

It’s some sort of pushing away like a squat

or a split squat or a lunge or something like that.

And then some sort of, again, we’ll call pull or hinge.

So a deadlift or a Romanian deadlift or a hamstring curl

or something where you’re contracting

and pulling the thing.

And you could split these

into like a thousand different categories

if you’re really in that field,

you’re gonna wanna add a bunch of other ones,

but that’s just like a rough conception.

So if you were going to do a single workout,

you could choose four exercises

and you could choose one of each.

One press, upper body press, one upper body pull,

one lower body hinge, one lower body press.

And that would be like a decently well-rounded exercise.

That’s your exercise selection.

And if you’re taking those through a full range of motion,

you’re at a pretty good spot, as close as you can.

The next one is intensity.

So if you wanna develop strength,

this comes back to one of my favorite scientists

of all time, who happens to be a nerve guy, actually.

And generally I like to shit on nerves

as much as I possibly can,

because I’m a muscle guy,

but I have to give Henneman some credit here, right?

And I know you know who that is.

Henneman’s size principle.

Yeah, of course, right?

So this is a series of papers,

I think it was in nature.

At least some of them, yeah.

Yeah, in 1954, 56 or like something,

you can fact check me, I’m sure you will.

But he basically outlined this idea that,

there is a certain recruitment threshold needed

for neurons to fire.

And we have muscle fibers in what we call fast twitch

muscle fibers and slow twitch muscle fibers.

And in general, you’re going to activate

the slow twitch ones first,

because they tend to be associated

with low threshold motor neurons.

It’s not exactly that way, but it’s close enough, right?

Well, the only way that you activate

some of these higher threshold neurons

is to demand the muscle to produce more force.

And it’s fairly specific to force, right?

It’s not something you can do over an endurance thing,

right, unless it gets really extreme and it happens.

So in general, the only way to use these big chunks

of your muscle, which are incredibly important

for aging, by the way, one of the major problems

we have with aging developing,

or development of aging related issues with muscle

is the fact that we lose fast twitch fibers preferentially.

And then we have major problems as we go down the line,

because we’ve lost a big chunk of our strength and size.

So you want to make sure these fibers stay alive and intact.

Okay, so with that being said,

the only way to develop strength

is then to challenge the muscle to produce more total force.

If you are fairly untrained or new,

I guess I should have stated this all

at the beginning as well.

One more inception, then I’ll stop.

When it comes to this level of detail

of exercise prescription, a fairly untrained person

is gonna respond basically the same

to every single thing you do.

In fact, we’ve done this in the lab many times.

We’ve done training studies,

doing things like 30 minutes of cycling

and seeing huge increases in muscle strength and size,

which is not a prescription for most people to increase size

but people that are really untrained,

if you did plyometrics or strength training

or endurance running,

they all just get better at everything.

So that caveat kind of aside,

if you want to be more intentional and more specific

to the goal of strength, you need to produce more force.

Specificity matters, right?

So we have size principle to help understand this

and we have our laws of specificity,

which say said principle, right?

Specific adaptation to imposed demand.

So the adaptation you get or the result of your training

is going to be a reflection of the demand that you imposed.

So if you want to get stronger,

you need to impose a demand of strength, not repetitions.

So this has to be, the load has to be very high.

In general, you’re probably looking at above 85%

of your one rep max.

If you’re moderately trained, maybe 75% will work.

Lowly trained, again, everything works.

But in general, we want to be pressing a load

that’s very high.

So because the intensity demand is so high,

that is going to enforce you to do a low repetition range.

You can’t do 12 reps at 95%.

Then it wouldn’t be 95% of your one rep max.

So by definition, true strength training

is really going to be in like five repetitions per set

or less range.

That’s where most of it’s going to occur, the specificity.

So we’ve covered choice, intensity, and repetitions, right?

The total amount of sets that you do

is really kind of up to your personal fitness level, right?

If you did as little as like three sets per exercise,

that’s probably enough.

Work sets.

Totally, yeah, totally work sets, right.

So get fully warmed up and build up to that 85%.

Don’t just walk into the gym and throw 85% on and go,

thank you, that’s an important distinction.

So work your way up.

Do some, like a very classic warmup thing

would be like a set of 10 at 50%,

a set of eight at 60%,

a set of maybe eight again at 70%,

and then maybe like a set of five at 75%.

So two or three or four sets kind of building intensity

and lowering the rep range.

And then you would go after your two or three working sets.

Also, in terms of rest intervals,

now, because we’re trying to,

the primary driver of strength is intensity.

It’s not the volume, right?

It’s the intensity.

So in order to maintain that,

we have to do a low repetition range,

but in addition, we also have to have a high rest interval.

Because if we start to,

if we have any amount of fatigue occur,

and we have to then either reduce the reps

or reduce the intensity,

we’ve lost the primary driver.

We’ve lost that main signal.

So the number we’re gonna throw out typically

is like two to four minutes.

So imagine you did,

you know, your set of bench press,

and you did five repetitions at 85%.

You probably wanna rest two to four minutes

before coming back to the bench.

That doesn’t mean you have to sit there on your phone.

Like, in fact, please don’t.

Everyone will thank you for not doing that, I promise.

You can engage other muscle groups.

This is what we call super setting.

So you’re doing your bench press,

and while that two minute clock

is running for your chest to rest,

you can go over and do your deadlifts.

And so, you know, you can kind of move back and forth,

and this is how you can make strength training

not a seven hour workout.

If you’re a professional athlete,

you’re gonna take that time

because you wanna maximize the outcome.

We’ve done this actually in our lab too.

Super sets will reduce the strength gains,

but by a tiny amount.

And most of us don’t care enough

relative to it’s going to triple

the length of your training session.

It’s not worth it.

So for the average person, I will tell them,

yeah, super set.

For someone who’s trying to break a world record

in weightlifting or powerlifting, I don’t super set.


Yeah, I think I’ve found that

I don’t recover particularly well

from strength and hypertrophy training.


Like in the workout or the next day?

From workout to workout,

unless I keep the total duration of those workouts,

I like to say no more than 60 minutes of work, of real work.

Yep, yep.

Maybe 75, past 75, I find that I just start to-

I have to introduce additional rest days

or I just get weaker over time.

So I set a kind of a limit at 50 minutes

and then I usually violate that limit

and end up doing 60 minutes.

So I’m excited to hear that one can super set exercises

as long as they work different muscle groups, of course.

So I wouldn’t want to do like bench press

and overhead press super set it

because we can eat.

I think that goes without saying for most people,

but just to point that out.

But that I could do some push, pull, push, pull

without compromising total intensity that much.

And I certainly would be willing to give up a rep here

or there or a few pounds here or there.

And may I ask whether or not in doing that

one gets any even tiny bit or more of additional benefit

in terms of cardiovascular work?

Because I imagine after even a one rep max,

which I’ve never done, as I mentioned,

let’s say I get three reps on the overhead press

and then I get four reps on a weighted pull up

and I’m going back and forth.

I’m no doubt gonna be breathing harder

than if I was sitting there texting away on my phone

in between sets.

Yep, of course.

Yeah, and so in fact, in general,

one of the things that I’ll present in my class

is a giant list of, in fact, on the top

is all these different exercise adaptations

I started the conversation with.

And on the vertical column are

as many of the physiological potential adaptations

one would get.

So changes in endogenous pH, blood pressure,

lymphatic changes, bone density, all these things, right?

And just have this giant list.

And then you can run a matrix

and you can start to look at, okay, if I do speed training,

am I gonna see changes in the nervous system?

Well, like very much so, right?

That’s the primary actual reason those things work.

Very little change in the muscle system.

It’s almost exclusively explained by the central

or peripheral nervous system, right?

On that same token, are you gonna expect

many cardiovascular adaptations from speed?

And the answer is no, because although we didn’t cover it,

speed is very low intensity,

very low rep range, very high rest.

Well, as you go to like strength

and then you go to hypertrophy,

you start seeing more and more increases

in cardiovascular adaptations

because you’re doing exactly that, right?

You’re starting to reduce rest

and you’re starting to increase volume.

But you’re gonna lose things like bone mineral adaptations

because the load starts to go down.

So you can look at this matrix and kind of understand

if I’m a person who wants to kind of maximize

the adaptations I get across my entire physiology

for the least amount of work,

you can choose these different adaptations to go after

that are gonna kind of land on these things, right?

And exactly as you mentioned,

if you’re going to take five minutes rest between each rep,

so let’s say the extreme,

you’re going to do three sets of one repetition

for strength at 95%.

You’re gonna take probably five, maybe seven minutes

between each attempt.

Like you better not expect many like changes

in your resting blood pressure

that there’s no cardiovascular strain there.

You’re gonna put it together in a circuit

where you’re gonna lose some potential strength adaptation,

but you’re gonna gain something there.

So all these things are,

it’s not about good or bad or right or wrong.

It’s always about what advantage do you want

and what disadvantage do you want?

And I can cut like really end to the chase here

on one of these things,

because we’ll get to this eventually.

If you wanna know the ones that are going to generally

give you the most physiological adaptations

across the most categories,

you’re almost always looking

for hypertrophy type of training.

And then there’s this anaerobic conditioning piece

that we’ll get into.

That’s gonna hit the most systems at once.

That’s great to know.

And we should definitely go a little bit deeper

on those types of what the modifiable variables are

for those categories.

Because I think that,

I’m guessing the vast majority of people

want to be a bit stronger,

maybe add a little bit of muscle or more,

get, make sure their heart is healthy and et cetera.

This is wonderful.

And I think it’s clarifying certainly a lot for me.

So for strength, let’s, I guess, training frequency.

Frequency, cool.

So what should determine training frequency?

And I had the great benefit of a long time ago

when I was in high school, actually,

I paid for a session over the phone with Mike Menser.

Oh, lovely.

You know, the Mike Menser.


And we got to be friends over time.

High intensity training.

At the time I was pretty young

and my mother kept saying like,

why is this like grown man calling the house?

I mean, we would talk all the time about training,

but he tried to convince me to train once

every five to seven days, very few sets,

very high intensity.

And I must say it worked incredibly well.


It was, I think with my recovery quotient,

which was not very good,

I think has improved over time, but it was not very good.

It was remarkable.

But of course, this was a time when I was, you know.

Full of the most animalism you’ve ever had in your life.

I was on my own version of anabolics, right?

I was really heady.

I had a long arc of puberty.

And you were untrained.

And I was mostly untrained.

I’ve been running cross country

and skateboarding and playing soccer, so.

And doing all the things that are like

the antithesis of growing muscle.

It was literally, and people will probably say impossible,

it was something like 40 pounds of muscle

inside of 12 months.

It was crazy.

I would believe that.

You know, but, and so then of course

that stopped working over time.

And then you start going down the odyssey

of trying to find the thing that’s gonna work that well.

And you eventually realized that

it was because you were untrained, right?

So training frequency is crucial.

Let’s say that people are doing these whole body workouts

as you’ve described them.

Not alternating upper body, lower body.

Because there’s so many different splits

that we probably doesn’t make sense

to go into splits right now.

But how often can and should one train a muscle?

And how do you know if a muscle is recovered locally?

And how do you know if your nervous system

is recovered systemically?

Okay, this is a bunch of really interesting questions.

I’m not sure exactly what route you wanna go.

So I’ll start here.

As I mentioned earlier,

soreness is not a good barometer of exercise quality.

Because some types of training

are going to induce more soreness

and some are going to induce less.

That’s important to this conversation

because when you ask about

how do you know if a muscle is ready to train again?

One of the questions is, what are you training for?

If you’re training for hypertrophy, right?

Muscle size, muscle growth,

we need to hedge towards recovery.

Because what you’re trying to do

is cause a massive insult there,

allow then protein synthesis to occur,

building of new tissue which takes time,

48 to 72 hours, like kind of at a minimum,

that process needs to occur.

If you’re doing actually more strength,

and this is a differentiation

between hypertrophy and strength,

then you didn’t induce actually much damage.

In fact, you’re generally not going to get very sore

from true strength training, very little,

unless you get really heavy, you did a lot.

The primary driver of hypertrophy

is not the same primary driver of strength.

We talked about that already, that’s intensity driven.

For hypertrophy, it’s not intensity.

So because we have different mechanisms,

we have different outcomes,

even though they’re closely aligned,

strength is not going to cause a lot of soreness.

Therefore, intensity is the driver.

Therefore, frequency can be as high as you want.

So you can train every single day the same exact muscle

if speed or power or strength

are the primary training tools,

because you need stimulus there, skill as well, right?

Practice, you know that as much as anybody.

Developing a new motor pattern

requires a lot of repetitions, right?

You don’t need a tremendous amount of rest.

That’s not a damage thing, right?

It’s a repatterning issue.

So strength training, in fact, if you look at,

again, true strength professional athletes,

they’re going to train the same muscles basically every day.


They’re going to squat every day.

And is that because the primary mode of adaptation

is recruitment of these high threshold motor units?

So it’s mainly neural?


So everyone’s going to say that,

and this is where I get all feisty?

Well, I’m not saying that.

That was actually, there was a question mark there.

Okay, okay.

If we were online putting comments,

there’d be a question mark.

We would have fought.

I would have blocked you.

I’m just kidding.

I think you already blocked me.

Probably twice.


The early adaptations to exercise,

especially strength training,

are hedged towards the nervous system.

No question about it.

People always say central nervous system,

but it’s probably more peripheral, right?

Whatever, semantics probably, but pedantic.

It’s nervous.

If you train today, tomorrow morning,

you’re not going to wake up

with a actually increase in contractile proteins in muscle.

Your muscle might be a little bit bigger

due to some acute swelling,

but you could have a pretty acute

that persists change in the nervous system, we’ll call it,

that allows you to be stronger within a couple of days.

Sustained hypertrophy is probably more

along the lines of four weeks,

where we can see that, right?

We can actually see changes like in the ultrasound.

Now, you’re making changes immediately.

That protein synthesis process is happening very fast,

and it’s going to last.

It just takes us time to measure it

in terms of a noticeable change in your whole muscle size.

So, that being said, the first four weeks

we typically will say are primarily nervous system.

After that, now we’re starting to see

most of the changes coming from

the muscle side of the equation.

So, with strength development,

it’s a combination of three areas.

In fact, all muscle contraction has these same three things.

It starts off with some signal, right,

from somewhere in the body,

whether that’s all the way up the top

or at the level of the spine,

depending on if this is a reaction

or an actual conscious control.

From there, that some signal

has to tell the muscle to contract, okay?

So, signal is one.

Two, it’s muscular contraction.

And there’s a lot of variables

inside the muscle tissue itself

that determine its functionality.

And so, if we took an individual biopsy

and took a muscle fiber from you and took one from me,

and we took those muscles out and put them in a Petri dish,

and I tied one end to a four-strand seducer,

the other end to a thing that pulls it,

and we soaked it in a bath of calcium

and a bunch of other stuff,

even if they were the same size,

your fibers might contract a lot faster than mine,

even relative to size,

or not, or slower, or there’s various properties.

So, the intrinsic fibers themselves

determine a lot of functionality.

From there, muscle fibers don’t cause movements.

Muscle fibers simply contract.

They’re all surrounded with connective tissue,

and that’s all surrounded

with a bunch of more connective tissue,

and that all surrounds into a muscle.

That muscle is then surrounded with more connective tissue.

That all comes together into a giant tendon,

that tendon attached to the bone.

It’s pulling on those tendon

that actually move the bone that cause human movement.

So, that’s area three.

Area one, the nervous system,

area two, the muscle contraction,

area three, some sort of connective tissue thing.

Changes happen at all three of those levels,

and we’re not even now talking,

we haven’t even entered the discussion of biomechanics,

and you changed, say, the penation angle of the muscle,

which is the angle at which the muscle fibers lay

relative to the bone, right?

So, this is basic mechanics.

Is it pulling perpendicular to the bone?

Is it pulling horizontal to the bone,

or some sort of angle?

All of these things determine human performance.

So, when you’re talking about, again,

that strength development,

you can see tremendous improvements

in total force production

by manipulating all of those areas,

and you have not touched changes in muscle size.

If you change muscle size in a true sustained fashion,

whether this is sarcoplasmic or contractile proteins,

you have given yourself more opportunity

to produce more force.

It doesn’t guarantee you produce more force.

Bodybuilders are not stronger than power lifters,

even though they have more muscle,

but bodybuilders are probably stronger than most people.

So, there is a relationship

between muscle size and strength.

It’s just not a one-to-one guaranteed ratio,

and that’s generally because the,

although the muscle has been aided,

they may have not changed the biomechanical considerations,

they may have not changed the connective tissue,

nor the nervous system stuff.

And so, that’s why we see this giant relationship

that our value is pretty high

between strength and hypertrophy,

but if you really wanna get to the ends of it, it’s not.

And that matters to your actual question 10 minutes ago,

because again, you can train strength daily

on the same muscle,

but if you want to allow for that process

of contractile proteins to add and grow,

then you’re gonna have to allow some recovery,

because if you go back into that muscle too soon,

you’re gonna blunt the response,

you’re gonna stop it, you’re gonna cut it off.

You have all kinds of problems going on in the cell

that are gonna just attenuate that growth response.

So, I gave you the answer for strength training.

The answer for hypertrophy is probably less than 3 out of 10

on level of soreness, you can go again.

In general, you’re probably looking at 72 hours

is the optimal window.

So, if you trained your shoulders on Monday,

you probably wouldn’t wanna train them again on Tuesday.

If hypertrophy’s the goal, maybe Wednesday,

maybe Thursday’s best.

So, something like an every two to three day window

is probably, and we know a little bit more now

about why that is.

The gene cascade, the signaling response happens,

well, the signaling happens instantaneously, right?

Within seconds.

The gene cascade is probably peaked in the four hour window,

like depending on which gene you wanna look at,

but it’s just kind of a snapshot.

But the protein synthesis process is 24 to 48 hour thing.

And so, it tends to kind of look like,

let that thing finish and let that signal go back

to the baseline, and then hit it again,

and then hit it again.

And now, as long as you’re providing the nutrients,

the recovery should happen, and you should be able

to sustain the same work output in the training session,

so the stimulus stays high, and the recovery’s there,

and you can now continue to grow muscle.

You mentioned 48 to 72 hours for hypertrophy.

What if, for whatever reasons,

the training split, lifestyle factors, et cetera,

somebody, say, let’s use your example,

trains shoulders on Monday.

Ideally, they would train them again on Thursday,

in their particular instance,

somewhere Wednesday or Thursday, but they don’t.

They wait until Saturday or Sunday for whatever reason.

Maybe it’s more compatible with their work,

work and other exercise schedule, whatever the reason.

Are they actually losing hypertrophy that they gained,

or they’ve missed a window to induce further hypertrophy?

It’s probably better to think about it the latter.

It’s not that you’ve lost,

it’s just you’ve just kind of lost an opportunity

to make more progress.

I will save you a little bit,

and kind of going back to your HIIT program.

This is the original high-intensity training,

the Mensor thing, right?

Which is not-

The HIIT with one I,

not the high-intensity interval training,

but high-intensity training,

like one set to absolute failure,

maybe two for each muscle group.

20-minute workouts.

Dividing your body into a three-way split,

and then literally training like six times a month,

which most people would think that is absolutely crazy.

There’s no way that’s gonna work.

And I can tell you, if you are untrained,

you grow like a weed.

Just if you train hard enough.

Even if you’re trained,

look at the people Mike trained.

He put a lot of bodybuilders on really high levels.

Now, they had the same similar help you had

at that timeframe.

Wait, to be very clear,

I was not taking exogenous out of the box.

In fact, I was-

But your endogenous was just as good.

I probably was.

I wasn’t measuring my levels there,

but I probably would.

I grew easy.

And in general,

I tend to grow pretty easily from weight training.

But the,

and I should say that to Mike’s credit,

and I think this is an important message,

that he was the one who really said,

look, unless you’re gonna make

a professional career out of it,

do not run the health hazards of exogenous hormones.

It’s certainly not at your age.

So he deterred me from that,

which was great because it never entered my mind.

It just was one of those things where

Mike Mencer said, don’t do it,

and he had clearly done it, right?

And so he’s speaking from an informed place.

It never entered my mind.

But also, what was really wild

is I was continuing to run cross-country.

And so there was a trade-off there at some point.

A little bit of an interference.

But when you’re young,

you can get,

many people can get away with what at this age

would surely place me into a state of overtraining,

even at low volume.

Well, I mean,

the whole field on interference effects

has changed quite a bit recently,

which we can come back to if you want.

But just to finish out the idea here

with that last question,

if you wanna take five days or six days

in between each muscle group,

you can do that.

In fact, if you look at the research,

it’s gonna show that frequency is not that important.

It will,

it’s not that it’s unimportant,

but it can handle changes

as long as you get to the same total volume.

So you can do that.

You just have to do a lot more work in that one workout.

If you care about the six week,

eight week thing,

if you’re like,

I’m in this for the next 60 years,

like it’s probably okay, right?

But it can be there.

The challenge with splitting up your training sessions

for hypertrophy into smaller numbers,

like once or twice a week,

it’s just difficult to get that number.

It’s typical to get that volume done.

Volume wise,

the more recent meta-analyses are gonna say

that you’re probably looking at around 10 working sets

per muscle group per week.

Seems to be kind of the minimum threshold

that you’re gonna wanna hit.

So if you did three sets of 10 at your shoulders on Monday,

three sets of 10 shoulders Wednesday

and three on Friday,

that’s nine working sets.

If you wanted to do three different shoulder exercises

on Monday and hit your nine sets,

it’s not really actually gonna be that much different.

The problem is 10 is kind of the minimum.

You probably wanna look for more like 15 to 20

and in fact, well-trained folks, 20, 25.

That becomes very challenging in one workout.

In fact, defunct, you’re not gonna be able to do it, right?

And so that is where it’s not the frequency

that looks like it kills you,

it’s just the fact you have got to get

because the total driver of strength is intensity,

but the total driver of hypertrophy is volume.

Assume you’re taking it to fatigue, right?

Or muscular failure.

So it’s just tough to get enough done.

If you can and if you wanna set your schedule up that way,

like you probably remember,

if you do those types of training sessions

where you’re just gonna completely exhaust a muscle,

it’s gonna be sore for a while.

You’re probably not going to come back

and that’s sort of the logic behind that

was let’s take this thing to tremendous failure

and give it six days to recover.

It can work, it’s just not the best,

I think is one way to think about it for most people.

It’s also hard to do those workouts

without a training partner

if you really wanna do them correctly.

And stimulants and headphones

and all kinds of other things, right?

Well, anyway, yeah, stimulants or not,

I certainly don’t recommend those.

It may be a cup of coffee or two if that’s your thing,

and maybe some of the safer supplements,

but certainly not the sorts of stimulants

that the guys in the 70s and 80s were famous for taking.

Or still use.

You talked about repetition ranges

broadly for strength training, so five or less.

You said frequency could be as often as every day.

Rest two to four minutes, maybe even longer

if you’re going for one repetition maximum.

For hypertrophy, what are the repetition ranges

that are effective and what are the ones

that are most effective if one is trying

to maximize some of the other variables?

Like people don’t wanna spend more than an hour

to 75 minutes in the gym.

Because I think that while the rep ranges

might be quite broad, as you alluded to earlier,

there are the practical constraints.

So what repetition ranges or percent

of one repetition maximum should people consider

when thinking about hypertrophy?

Right, the quick answer there is anywhere

between like five to 30 reps per set.

That’s gonna show across the literature

pretty much equal hypertrophy gains.

And we could have a really interesting discussion

about why that is, but I’m just remembering

one thing from a second ago.

I wanna give a better answer for the frequency.

You can do every single week for strength

or every single day for strength.

If you want though like what’s probably minimally viable,

two, twice per week per muscle.

So hamstrings, strength twice per week.

That’s a good number to get most people really strong.

You can do every single day.

You don’t need to though.

So I wanna make sure that like I wasn’t saying

you have to train a muscle 85% every single day

to get it strong.

Two is a good number.

Three is great, but probably even two is really effective.

Got it.

And this explains that the high frequency

of training for strength athletes

that’s always mystified me.

And the very long workouts make sense

because very long.

They’re gonna even train twice a day.

Like even though the squat in the morning,

squat in the afternoon, every day.

With their eating and their sleeping,

they probably don’t have time for anything else.

That’s why they’re pros.

So that’s a job, right?

That’s what they do.

So yeah, your hypertrophy.

Strength training programming is somewhat complicated

because of that’s not the danger,

but you’re gonna have to pay one way or the other, right?

The risk is a little bit higher

because the load’s higher

and you have to be a little bit more technically proficient.

When it comes to hypertrophy training,

the way I like to explain it is it’s kind of idiot proof.

The programming is idiot proof.

The work is hard though.

So here’s your range.

Anywhere between five reps and 30.

Can you hit somewhere in there?


It’s all equally effective.

You can’t screw that up.

The only caveat for hypertrophy

is you have to take it to muscular failure.

And you need enough rest for the adaptation

and protein synthesis to occur.

And if you recover faster,

you can maybe do it more frequently.

And if you don’t, maybe less frequently.

By that logic, should people perhaps experiment

and figure out what repetition range

allows them to recover in concert

with the training frequency that they can do consistently?

My recommendation is I think you should actually

use the repetition range as a way to have some variation

because most people don’t wanna go in the gym

and do three sets of 10.

They’re gonna get very bored very quickly.

And so I think you should actually

intentionally change the rep schemes

for simple sake of having more fun.

It is a very different challenge.

The mechanisms that are inducing hypertrophy are different,

but there’s only a maximum amount of growth

that one can get, right?

And so you have, as best we think it now,

and some people actually will espouse

that we know really clearly

about the mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy.

We don’t.

It’s still very much a guessing game,

but the three most likely drivers

are one, metabolic stress,

two, mechanical tension,

and then three, muscular damage.

You don’t have to have all three.

One is sufficient.

You can have a little bit of one or two,

and you can kind of, so you get it to play here.

We’ve already talked about the muscular damage.

Again, it’s very clear.

More damage is not better,

but it is somewhat a decent proxy, right?

Like again, a little bit of soreness is good.

Just don’t get so sore it’s compromising your total volume.

All right?

Mechanical tension is kind of like strength,

and this is why if you do even sets of five or eight,

and you’re kind of close to that strength range,

you will gain a little bit of muscle.

It’s not optimal muscle gain,

but you’re gonna gain some

because everything in these,

like physiology isn’t cut off at four reps,

and then five reps is a different thing, right?

It’s always a blend,

so think of it as like a fading curve.

As you get closer to the end, it fades less effective.

As you get closer to the middle, it’s more effective.

Anywhere between eight reps per set to 30,

it’s equally effective.

Past 30, it’s gonna blend out.

Past eight to five to four to three,

it’s gonna blend, you know, lesser there.

So metabolic stress is one, the damage is the other,

or sorry, mechanical tension is the one that’s heavy.

Muscle damage is the other one.

The third one is metabolic stress,

and this is a bit of an area of scientific contention,

but something’s there.

I know something’s there.

We’re just kind of fumbling

to figure out what exactly it is,

and this is, metabolic stress is the burn, right?

It’s there.

It’s why blood flow restriction training probably works.

That’s done very light, so there’s no mechanical tension.

There’s very little damage,

but somehow it induces a good amount of hypertrophy.

Very painful.

Oh, boy.

I tried this.

I have a friend, former special operator,

who was out on the East Coast

and took me through a blood flow restriction

training protocol in a park,

and I don’t think I actually cried.

You probably did.

But I might have cried out once or twice.

It was unbelievable,

especially the lower body movements.

Now, it was a humid day.

I’ll claim a little bit of jet lag,

but it was brutal.

It was really brutal, and I also-

Do it on the best day of your life,

and it’s still brutal.

Okay, well, that makes me feel a little bit better.

It was intense, and people should know

that it is important to use the proper cuffs

for these things.

I don’t have any relationship

to any of the companies that sell these cuffs,

but the reason is that you actually need

to block particular avenues of blood flow.

You can’t simply cinch off a muscle.

You can’t tourniquet a muscle and train.

You can actually kill yourself that way.

Yeah, you can get a blood clot.

Yeah, and so if you’re interested

in blood flow restriction training,

I imagine you have some content about this

or will at some point,

but also there are resources online

that people can look up.

A question about hypertrophy training

that I think many people are wondering about.

Train to failure or don’t train to failure?

Assuming good form.

Yeah, okay, assuming good form, great.

The answer is both.

So you want to train to failure,

but you don’t need to go to extreme failure.

So you don’t need to necessarily go to that,

like a partner has to lift the barbell off my chest,

but you have to get close.

You have to drive either heavy stress,

damage, right, or pump.

And so a really easy practical way to think about this,

I heard Mike Isretel,

who runs a company called Renaissance Periodization,

years ago outlined this at a NSCA talk.

And it was beautiful.

And I thought this is the most eloquent way

to explain the context about training for hypertrophy.

So only to look for three things in your workout.

And let’s say that you have a particular muscle to grow.

Let’s say you want your glutes to get larger.

Okay, when you’re doing your glute exercises,

number one, are you feeling the glute contract?

Okay, it doesn’t have to be there,

but that’s a good sign if it is.

Okay, let’s say I didn’t really feel my glute contract.

I felt it more in my quads or my back.

Okay, did you feel a big pump afterwards?

No, I didn’t really feel a pump there either words,

or during.

Okay, great.

Number three, next day,

did you feel a little bit of soreness there at all?

No, I didn’t.

Well, that’s a very good indication.

You didn’t feel it during the workout.

You felt no sort of pump and it didn’t get sore.

Don’t expect much growth.

Didn’t happen.

You distributed the work across a bunch of muscle groups.

Most likely other muscle groups were too involved, right?

Especially if you’re like,

no, but man, my back got really sore.

Well, that’s a really good indication

of telling you what the hell was moving.

And so in terms of targets,

if you were to put, again, a one to 10 scale,

how much should I feel it burning during?

Anything less than a three,

okay, it’s probably not doing much, right?

But it doesn’t, like seven is not,

a 10 is not better than seven.

You need to feel it, but it doesn’t have to be like,

oh my gosh, I’m dying here.

Soreness, same barometer, right?

So if you can get like three, three, and three,

you’re probably in a pretty good spot.

Five, five, and five is maybe better,

but you don’t need to go much past that.

So I want you to feel the muscle group either working,

or if you’re like, oh, I didn’t feel it much,

I didn’t really get a pump,

but the next day it got really sore,

well then you’re still on a good path.

Again, really sore isn’t like,

whoo, a little tender, but next day it’s okay.

The day after that, I could train, no problem.

That’s really what you wanna go after.

And in terms of understanding,

is this likely to produce some growth or not?

Excellent, excellent, very clear parameters

and recommendations I know are benefiting me

and will benefit a lot of people.

If you’d be willing to throw out a few

sort of sets and rep parameters

that could act as broad guidelines

for people who want to explore further.

I realized that with all these modifiable variables,

that there’s no one size fits all for strength.

I love this five to 30 for hypertrophy,

that’s a pretty vital thing.

I don’t think I’ve ever done a 30 rep set of anything,

but now that you’ve thrown that out there,

I see it as a bit of a challenge.

You wanna know what’s awesome about 30?

You’re gonna get an insane pump.

You’re gonna burn like crazy, but you won’t get super sore

because the mechanical tension is so low, it’s so light.

So you can get away with those things

and it’s hard because your mind is gonna wander.

You’re gonna get it like rep 20 and you’re like, I’m done.

And you’re like, no, there’s a lot left here to get to 30,

where like a set of 10 is much easier.

Like you’re just like, okay, two more, two more.

Set of 30 is like, I got 16 more, it’s awful.

Just the counting is work.

It’s terrible, right?

And people tend to just kind of like check out.

So 30 is possible, but a little bit extreme.

But I would recommend all of them.

Like it’s a really fun play.

You can do different in the same workout too, by the way.

Like you could do one set of 10 pushups

and then take a little break and then do a set of 25.

You can mix and match these things.

There’s no magic recipe that has to happen for all those,

or do it different.

So Mondays are my sets of 10 days.

Wednesdays are my set of 20 days

and Fridays are my set of 30 days.

And you can have all kinds of fun there

and it’s hard to screw up.

Great, I love that phrase is always reassuring.

So for strength, is there a sets and reps protocol

that is pretty surefire?

So a way to just think about a really fast answer for power,

well, speed, power and strength

is what I just call the three to five concept, right?

So pick three to five exercises.

If you’re feeling better that day,

choose on the higher end.

If you’re feeling less that day

or you have a shorter timeframe to train, go less.

So this would be three sets or three exercises rather

or five exercises the most.

So three to five exercises,

do three to five reps, three to five sets,

take three to five minutes rest in between

and do it three to five times a week.

So that can be as little as three sets of three

for three exercises, three times a week.

That’s a 20 minute workout three times a week.

It can be as high as five sets of five

for five exercises, five days a week.

So it’s very broad and allows people to still stay

within the domains of strength and power

while still being able to move

and contour tour their lifestyle

and soreness and time and all those things.

The only differentiator to pay attention to

between power and strength is intensity.

So if you want strength,

this is now 85% plus of your max, right?

If you want power, it needs to be a lot lighter

because you need to move more towards the velocity

end of the spectrum

because power is strength multiplied by speed.

So while getting stronger by definition can help power,

you probably wanna spend more of your time

in the 40% to 70% range, like plus or minus.

So that’s it.

Both of them conceptually they’ll work everything else.

The exercise, the reps, the frequency,

all that can be still in the three to five range.

Just change the intensity

depending on which outcome you want.

The nervous system obviously plays an important role

at the level of nerves

controlling the contraction of muscle fibers.

But of course we have these upper motor neurons,

which are the ones that reside in our brain

that control the lower motor neurons that control muscle.

And this takes us into the realm

of where the mind is at during a particular movement.

And to me, this is not an abstract thing.

I can imagine doing workouts

that are mainly focused on strength

or mainly focused on hypertrophy.

And in the case of strength,

am I trying to move weights?

And when I’m trying to generate hypertrophy,

am I trying to quote unquote challenge muscles?

In other words, if I am just trying to move a weight

away from my body, pushing a bench press

or an overhead press, I don’t know that I want my mind

thinking about the contraction of my medial delts.

I think I want my mind in getting the weight overhead

with the best proper form, best, excuse me, and proper form.

And certainly with hypertrophy training,

best and proper form is going to be the target as well.

But that simple, or I should say,

subtle mental shift changes the patterns

of nerve fiber recruitment.

So can we say to get stronger,

focus on moving weights still with proper form and safely,

and to get hypertrophy, focus on challenging muscles

still with proper form and safely?

It’s very fair.

Yeah, as a snapshot answer,

it is a very fair thing to think about.

Intentionality matters for both.

In other words, if you look at some interesting science

that’s been done on power development and speed development,

the intent to move is actually more important

than the actual movement velocity.

So if you’re doing, say, something for power or strength,

and you’re doing just enough to get the bar up,

that will result in less improvements in strength

than even if you’re moving at the exact same speed,

but you’re intending to move faster.

And this is one of the reasons why good coaching matters.

So if you’re coaching an athlete

through a power workout especially,

and they’re doing enough to just lift 50%

of their one rep max,

it’s not going to generate as much speed development

as them trying to move that bar as fast as they can,

even if the net result is the same barbell velocity.

Turns out nerves matter.

That’s it.

I mean, I was about to say amazing,

but as a neuroscientist,

if I say amazing that nerves matter,

what’s amazing to me is if I understand correctly,

what you’re saying is that even if the bar is moving

at the same speed, same weight,

if my internal representation, my thoughts are,

I’m trying to move this as fast as possible

versus I’m just trying to get the bar away from me

and get the weight up, I’m going to get different outcomes.

Yep, this is quality of work, right?

Did you do enough to just check off the box

or did you actually strive for adaptation, right?

Similar concept actually works for hypertrophy

in terms of there is a handful of very recent studies

that have looked at what we’ll call

the mind muscle connection.

And this is doing things like imagine a bicep curl

and you’re simply looking at and watching your biceps

and you’re thinking about contracting it harder,

even though you execute the same repetitions

at the same exact intensity,

initial indications are the mind body connection

are going to result in more growth than not.

You just gave authorization for people

to look at their muscles contracting in the gym.

Please do, yeah, of course, right?

But the selfie is still ruled out.

I’d rather you look at your muscles than your phone.

So I’m fine with it.

Those are initial, we don’t have a large depth of research

to support that and maybe some stuff will come

and counter it, but it does, it matches what folks

in that community have been saying

for a very long time, right?

There’s actually some stuff on simply flexing in between.

So if you’ve ever seen a bodybuilder,

they’ll do their set of bicep curls

and then they’ll get out and they’ll flex and they’ll check

and they’re literally, this is what Arnold did, right?

This is if you go back to pumping an iron.

Or college weight rooms, I should say.

For some reason, there’s something about that age group.

There’s a lot of checking of biceps in college weight rooms

for reasons that escape me.

If you ever interact with my wife,

like she will be the first to tell you

I cannot walk past a mirror without like,

I’m checking something out.

That you can’t or that she can’t?

I can’t.

Not her, me.

Like I’m the one that cannot walk past.

All right, well then I’ll be careful not to disparage that.

It has nothing to do with the hypertrophy,

but I’m just like, I’m a muscle guy.

So I’m always like thinking and tinkering or whatever.

But yeah, it is, I think it’s very much worth your time

to do a higher quality training session,

be more intentional, be present,

than just executing the same exact workout.

I think that’s globally very clear to be to your advantage.

So if you’re thinking, look, I’m gonna,

like I don’t wanna work out today.

I got all this going on or I’m tired or whatever.

I’m just gonna do the workout anyways and get through it.

Okay, if you can go, you know what though?

Like I’m gonna cut 15 minutes out of this thing.

I’m gonna get my head right.

I’m gonna go get 20 minutes of quality work done.

That’s your best option by far.

You alluded to the fact that

even just looking at a particular muscle

might benefit in terms of the number of fibers

you can recruit or its potential for hypertrophy.

I’ve heard before and I certainly have experienced

that muscles that for whatever reason,

genetics or sports that one played, et cetera,

muscles that we find that we can contract

to the point of almost a slightly painful contraction

seem to grow more readily

than muscles that we can’t recruit very easily.

And the reason I mentioned sports that we played earlier

is you just have to watch the Olympics

to see that swimmers obviously

are very good at engaging their lats.

You look at the gymnasts,

they seem to be very good at engaging everything.

And they go through a huge number

of different dynamic movements.

So that explains that.

So I find that, you know, if people say,

oh, you know, I can’t get stronger in this

or my whatever body part is weak

in terms of its inability to engage hypertrophy,

that oftentimes that can be because of an inability

to engage those upper motor neurons

to deliberately isolate those muscles.

Are there ways that people can learn

to engage particular muscle groups

more effectively over time

for sake of hypertrophy or strength,

or for cases of trying to overcome injury potential

or injury because imbalances are bad across the board?

Yeah, this is actually very common.

And I think everyone has probably gone through this.

There’s some part that you just can’t get going.

For me, that was the lats.

That was the rhomboids, so my back muscles.

For years, I couldn’t activate my lats or my rhomboids.

These are the muscle groups

that connect your shoulder blades.

So if you try to squeeze your shoulder blades together,

that set of muscles there are called your rhomboids.

Your lats, of course, are more vertical

and pull you kind of up and down.

And no matter how many lat pull-downs I did,

bent rows, pull-ups,

I could never see any development there,

no increase in strength.

And it took me probably a decade

to figure out how the hell to actually get these things on.

In fact, if you would have asked me,

even in my college years as a college football player,

hey, flex your lats, like show me your lats,

you would have seen no movement there.

When I was doing a pull-up, in that particular case,

the only way I could get the bar to move

was by using my biceps, right?

So it’s a synergistic muscle.

It’s supposed to be a secondary or tertiary muscle

in that movement, but for me, it was primer

because of my over-strength in my biceps

coupled with my lack of activation in the lats.

So you’re compensating the same movement.

Actually, kind of an easy way to think about this

is imagine doing a bent row.

So imagine you’re bent over kind of at a 45 degree

or a horizontal angle, and you’re gonna pull a barbell

to your belly button, all right?

Now, you can actually do that exact same movement

with very little back muscle activation

by simply flexing your elbows more.

And so you think the barbell’s going all the way down,

it’s coming all the way up to touching my belly,

and you think you’re doing a great

back development exercise, when in fact,

because of the way that you’re executing the movement,

you’re getting very little back development.

And this is a really good example

of why someone has done a specific exercise

many, many, many times, but yet failed to see development

in a muscle group, which goes back

to earlier part of our conversation,

which is why exercises themselves

do not determine the adaptation.

It’s the execution that matters, right?

It’s the technique, it’s the rep range,

all of those are gonna determine your actual result.

So if anytime you’re banging your head against the wall

and thinking like, why am I not getting movement here,

growth or strength or whatever,

it’s almost one of those,

it’s guaranteed to be one of those areas, right?

You’re probably not getting the muscle groups to activate.

In that particular example, just because we’re here,

try, imagine doing that bent row.

Instead of pulling the barbell to your belly,

squeeze your shoulder blades together first,

as far as they can possibly go,

and then bring your elbows up

without changing the angle of your elbow.

So in other words, without bringing your hand

closer to your shoulder.

So keep that same angle and come up

as high as you possibly can,

and then finish out the movement.

That’s going to guarantee a utilization first

of the back muscles and a finishing with the biceps

at the end, which is how that movement is supposed to go.

So how do you coach into that?

Well, it can be a number of things.

Whenever I’m diagnosing movement quality,

I look for a handful of things,

but very first one is awareness.

You’d be surprised how many folks,

when you just simply tell them that muscle group right there

and maybe you give them a tactical prompt,

so you touch it or you put something against it.

This is actually why, sorry, I’m jumping over the place,

but this is why things like a belt work very well

for actually increasing abdominal strength.

So a misconception out there is if you wear like a belt

when you’re lifting, then the belt kind of does

all the work for you and your abs get weaker.

That can happen, but the exact opposite can happen as well.

So if you take a belt, for example,

and you cinch it down really tight,

and then you just completely disregard your midsection,

you will see a loss of strength in your midsection

because now the belt is doing the work.

But if you put the belt on just a little bit,

kind of tight to where you get some sensory feedback,

and you think about using that belt

as a way to activate the core musculature,

you will actually see a higher,

if we look at like EMG activation,

the core muscles would be activated higher

to a greater extent than when the belt is off.

Because of proprioceptive feedback.


And for those that are wondering

what proprioceptive feedback is,

proprioceptive feedback is that there are nerves

that extend out to the muscles

that control muscle contractions,

but then there are sensory inputs from the skin and muscle

that go back into the nervous system

and those work in concert,

and that feedback is proprioceptive.

I think it literally translates to a knowledge

of where one’s limbs are and what’s happening on those.

In space, yep.

I’ve seen, I don’t have a training partner,

but I’ve seen in gyms where someone will be training

and someone will tap the muscle

of the person who’s doing the work in order to,

this is consensual tapping of other people’s muscles,

not walking around touching people’s muscles, please,

that to provide that proprioceptive feedback

so that the person doing the exercises

becomes more aware of the muscle

that they’re supposed to be training.

And it seems that that’s probably an effective practice.


I’ll give you two examples.

I’ll go to the back with that pulling movement,

but then I’ll stay on the belt really quickly.

So a very easy example that you can do right now,

listening, and I learned this from Brian McKenzie,

our mutual friend, right?

So if you take your hands and open them up,

like you make an L with both your hands,

and I’ll take those and put them around your waist,

just above your hip bones.

Now, what I want you to do is press out as hard as you can

on your hands with your core.

And you can feel a lot of core activation.

And most people think core activation

is the front of your stomach, right?

Your six pack.

What you need to do is create a cylinder around your back.

So it’s the front, it’s the side, and it’s the back.

So if you take your two fingers, point them.

Now put them just outside your belly button.

Can you move your fingers by just moving your ab muscles?

90% of people can do yes.

Same exact thing.

Now go to that same position just above

what’s called your ASIS,

so your anterior superior iliac spine,

right up that front of your hip bone, right in the front.

Can you now move?

Great, 50% of people are not gonna get any movement there.


Take your thumb and go right above your PSIS.

My what?

PSIS, posterior superior iliac spine, right?

Now, can you move?

Most likely no.

Sort of if I do a mini low back extension.

Don’t, just with your core musculature.



Maybe it makes it.

90% of people can’t.

If you can’t perform that contraction,

you can’t stabilize your spine.

So only way to get stabilization in your spine

is then to go through hyperextension.

And now that’s a compression strategy

you’re putting on your spine,

it’s better than rounding your back,

like going forward,

but overextension is not great either.

So you wanna be able to flex the musculature

in a cylindric fashion so you have control.

So if you go back to our very first things

and with your hands open,

and you put them right here,

and if you’re like, I can’t get activation,

if you pay attention to your thumb, right?

Now just move your thumb.

And now you see activation back there, right?


So just imagine turning that on just a little bit.

And now notice how I can do this, by the way,

at the same time I’m talking.

If you have to go,

huh, huh, huh,

we don’t have control, right?

So you have to be able to separate breath from brace.

So now if I can put myself in a position,

and Kelly Starrett has always said 20%,

give me 20% activation here.

And now I can squat, I can hinge, I can jump.

I don’t need to be locked down to 100% scream

to be able to brace my spine.

It’s gonna be ineffective and wasteful.

I wanna be here.

Well, the belt provides that proprioceptive feedback

where I can put it on 20%.

And it just is a reminder.

If I don’t press against the belt,

the belt slides and falls down a little bit

because it’s not on super tight.

If it’s on so dang tight, it’s doing the work and I forget.

So we just want a little bit of feedback there.

Same thing with your upper back.

If you’re having a difficult time activating

those rhomboids or those lats,

someone can do a simple thing where they take their finger,

put it right between your shoulder blades,

and you just tell them things like,

hey, squeeze my finger, squeeze my finger.

As you’re doing your bent row or your pull down,

you can touch the lat, you can do just visualization stuff.

So just imagine like a 3D rendering of that muscle group

and you’re watching that muscle group contract.

It’s very powerful and very effective to do it.

So a touch, a visual, all this stuff can help

get people to activate.

Outside of simple awareness,

typically eccentric overload is a very effective way

for activation of a difficult to target muscle.

So the lowering of the bar or the lowering of the weight.

The movement of the weight away from the body

is not necessarily what’s lowering

because that kind of depends on what muscle group

you’re doing, right?

I misspoke, yeah.

Things like a pull-up.

Okay, so if I’m going to do a pull-up

and I have poor lat activation,

I can still get the pull-up muscle movement

executed by contraction of the biceps and things like that.

However, to make the movement simpler,

I’m going to go all the way to the top.

So imagine stepping on a box or something

going all the way to that top of that pull-up position

and starting from there,

and I want you to simply lower it under control.

And so you’re just simply breaking the movement down

into smaller pieces that allow you to focus

on the execution more.

It’s going to be great.

Eccentrics are great for strength development,

very good for hypertrophy

and allow you to focus on control.

I’m willing to bet a huge percentage of you out there

who’ve like, I’ve never had a sore lat.

You know, I’ve done a lot of pull-ups and things like that.

If you do that eccentric only,

you’ll probably wake up the next day going,

oh gosh, I feel it there.

And that’s a sign,

even if you didn’t feel it in the workout,

but it got a little sore the next day,

keep down that path.

And then eventually you’ll be able to do a concentric,

maybe take a break,

maybe do an isometric where you just hold that position

and eventually work that into a progression

where you can do the concentric, eccentric

and isometric portions and get activation.

So that may take you six weeks,

might take you six months,

but that’s generally a pretty good strategy

for learning how to activate a muscle group.

Terrific suggestions.

Is it true that eccentric-emphasized movements

might require a little bit longer recovery

or they lead to more soreness than concentric movements?

Yeah, they typically can,

but they’re also higher force output.

So very good for strength development,

but they’re going to lead on average to more soreness.

So more potential for intracellular disruption

that is going to be associated with pain.

There’s not as much,

people will like to explain muscle soreness

as a result of microtrauma and micro tears in the muscle.

That can happen, but that’s not the norm.

Most of the time it is things like disruption of calcium

that’s going to lead to excessive swelling,

excessive pressure,

and that’s going to be then translated as extreme pain.

So that’s probably explaining more muscle soreness

than actually microtrauma.


I was going to get to breathing later,

but maybe just for now,

if we can do a brief little foray into breathing

as it relates to weight training.

Is there a prescriptive for how to breathe

during resistance training?

Here I’m thinking with weights,

not necessarily body weight only movements,

although I suppose it could be,

that applies 75% of the time to 75% of the people.

What I was taught,

and I’m hoping you’re going to tell me this was wrong,

because then there might be more benefits awaiting me,

is that I should exhale on the effort

and inhale on the lesser effort portion of an exercise.

Is that true?

Is there a better way to breathe?

There is a better way to think about it.

So number one, if you can breathe and brace,

then this conversation goes away.

So if you can maintain intramuscular,

intra-abdominal pressure while breathing,

then I don’t really care when you breathe.

Very challenging to do at very heavy weights.

If we flag this on two areas of a paradigm,

paradigm one over here, you’re going to do a set of 30,

and you’re going to do front squats

where a barbell is sitting on your throat.

If you don’t take a breath,

this is going to end one way and one way only,

you passing out.

Clearly has to be some breathing strategy.

The other end of the spectrum is,

let’s say you’re going to do a vertical jump.

You don’t need any amount of breath there.

It’s never going to happen, right?

The question is, what about in the middle, right?

So I’m doing some sort of strength training there.

Well, number one, make sure you’re braced,

and then you can get away with less need to worry about it.

In general, a decent strategy is to maintain a breath hold

during the lowering or eccentric

or most dangerous part of the movement,

and then you can exhale on the concentric portion.

So if the bench press is our example,

if you held in, braced, lowered it under control,

and now started the concentric pushing away for it,

and then you wanted to take an expiration

during the last half of the concentric portion,

that’s an okay strategy.

If you’re going to do a single rep,

you don’t need to worry about it.

You can just avoid or omit breathing entirely.

You’re going to be just fine.

If you’re doing more than that,

especially three to four to five to seven, eight,

you’re going to have to have some breathing strategy.

A very common one is probably every third breath.

I’m going to do like,

exhale on the third, reset, re-breathe, something like that.

If you feel like you need to breathe after every one,

that’s okay, but it’s going to get wasteful

because you have to take time in between reps

of sitting there.

If it’s a squat, that’s different versus a deadlift

if you’re resting at the bottom.

So there is a little bit of game here.

So in general though, is that 75, 75,

kind of really thrown out, you threw out.

Breathe in, do the lowering, and exhale on the out

if you have to.

Less reps, don’t worry about it.

More reps, then you need to come up

with some sort of breathing strategy.

How about breathing in between sets

and maybe even after the workout?


This is something I think a lot of people overlook.

And because it is the case that recovery has to do

both with the specific activation to muscles

and the nervous system,

but also the attacks on the nervous system

can also take place between sets.

I mean, if you’re really getting into it,

I mean, if you’re really geared up between sets

and you’ve got adrenaline as high in between sets

or close to it as you are during your sets,

you can imagine that the recovery would take longer

or at least that you’re not spending adrenaline

in the most efficient way if there is such a thing.

Yeah, fair.

You’re not going to see any athlete that I work with

just breathe in between.

Whether it’s in between innings or in between rounds,

every single one of them is going to go back,

sit in the stool, and they’re going to immediately

be into a breathing routine.

A very intentional one.

They’re a little bit different for every athlete,

depending on the sport.

Even a PGA golfer, there’s going to be a,

we just hit our ball, we’re moving to the next one,

we’re going to go into a breathing strategy.

Every one of them.

It’s a huge area of potential benefit and consequence

if you’re just ignoring it.

In general, we want to do any sort of calming breath.

We want to restore.

It depends on if the, it depends on what we’re combating.

Are we combating low oxygen or high CO2?

That strategy is going to be a little bit different.

But in general, that is a huge time opportunity

to get better.

In fact, people can go back and listen to some

of your earlier episodes where you talked about,

or you have spoken about, I think, on this show,

when neuroplasticity works.

And if you’re losing that opportunity post-exercise,

you’re leaving gains on the table, if you will.

So not only are you going to see everything

the athletes that I work with mostly

have a breathing strategy in competition,

we’re not going to just finish a workout,

high five, drink water, and walk out of the gym.

There will be a down regulation strategy

that is heavily involved with some sort of light control

as well as breath control.

The individual prescription on that,

there’s a ton of variation with what you can do.

The easiest thing is do something that calms you down.

Most likely, that’s going to be moved towards

as much nasal breathing as you can possibly do.

And a really easy rule of thumb is a double exhale length

relative to inhale.

So if you need to take a four-second inhale,

double that time and breathe out for eight seconds.

A box breathing is fine, so equal inhale,

equal hold, equal exhale, equal hold.

So four-second inhale for second hold, et cetera, et cetera.

A triangle is fine too.

There’s a lot of ways you can get really complicated,

like what Brian McKenzie will do and Rob,

and those guys have, you can get all kinds of systems

for inhale, exhale control, and it can be optimized,

but some strategy of calm.

We’re going to almost always put you on your back or close,

and then we’re going to cover light.

We can do some, like we’ve done actually

a number of musical interventions as well,

but you can as simple as sit down in a locker room

if you have to and just breathe for five minutes.

That alone is going to be productive.

That’s great.

If you’re breathing in the locker room for five minutes,

I suggest closing your eyes or you get some funny looks.

You’ll still get funny looks,

but you won’t see people looking at you.

Yeah, exactly.

I love this, and I started doing this

because you and Brian McKenzie informed me about this,

and it completely changed the rate of recovery for me.

I realized that I was leaving workouts,

both endurance workouts

and strength hypertrophy workouts, feeling great,

but looking at my phone,

getting right into email and meetings,

not concentrating on my breathing,

and all I did was to introduce, on your recommendation,

a five-minute down regulation.

Exhale-emphasized breathing, a bunch of different varieties,

physiological size, box breathing,

exhale-emphasized twice as long as the inhale component

for five minutes, and I noticed two things.

One, I recovered more quickly, workout to workout,

no question about it.

The numbers told me that,

and the other is that I used to have this dip in energy

that would occur three or four hours after a hard workout,

and I always thought that had to do with the fact

that I had generally eaten a meal

at some point post-workout.

Turns out it wasn’t the meal at all.

It’s that adrenaline ramp up during the workouts.

I wasn’t clamping that at the end,

and so I think eventually it just crashed,

and then three or four hours later,

I’m having a hard time even reading

what’s on the screen of my computer,

thinking maybe it’s the screen,

maybe it was what I ate for lunch.

Turns out the down regulations allowed me

to work through the afternoon with no issues whatsoever.

It’s really been quite powerful,

and so I’m grateful to you for that,

and I think this is something that I think 98% of people

are not doing, and it’s only five minutes.

You didn’t even have to do five.

Give me three.

If you really have to push it, give me three,

and you can even do this, you can save time.

You can do this in the shower if you have to.

So you’re done, you’re finished,

drink of water, whatever it has to be,

and you’re getting in a shower, getting ready.

Just give me three minutes in the shower.

It’s not ideal, but as little as that,

it can pay huge dividends.

You need some sort of internal signal

that we’re safe.

Throttle down here, we’re gonna move on.

That has to happen.

I could go on and on here,

but I think we’re making the same point

kind of over and over again.

It’s a big deal, and do it.

Yeah, and you’re saving energy.

I mean, the energy here is neural energy.

I think fighters do this,

good fighters learn to do this between rounds.

Sprinters learn to do this between events.

I think humans should learn how to do this

between any sort of interval-type activity,

including work, social engagement.

I mean, this is such a powerful tool.

Do this for one minute after every important,

whether it’s an individual high volatile interaction,

or if you just did a nice 45-minute sprint to work

and you’re deep into it or whatever, fine.

Just give me one minute.

Set your alarm, just one minute,

and that also will pay dividends.

I love it, and as I said,

it’s made a outsized positive difference on my training,

but also activities outside my training,

which is, for me, I’m not a professional athlete.

I train for health because I enjoy it,

but when a really hard workout starts to interfere

with the ability to do the other things in life,

that’s not a good situation.

So this is really terrific.

There’s a lot more in each of those categories

of strength and hypertrophy,

but you’ve given us a tremendous amount

of valuable information there.

Maybe now would be a good time to shift to endurance,

and of the four types of endurance,

and maybe you could remind us what those are,

what do you think are the two

that most people are seeking or pursuing

in terms of health and aesthetics, right?

I realize that we probably have athletes out there as well,

but when I think health and aesthetics,

I think, okay, the ability to do sustained endurance,

30-plus minutes of some ongoing activity,

how does one maximize that work?

What are the modifiable variables?

And then maybe you could tell us

what the other major category is

that people ought to have in their kit.

Okay, so starting off with exercise choice.

One thing, as soon as we cross into the endurance world,

and this is true for all four of those categories,

exercise choice needs to be very concerned

with eccentric landing.

So you don’t need to avoid it,

but you need to recognize it relative

or compare it against those other strength and speed ones.

The volume is low on those ones,

so if you have some eccentric absorption, it’s okay.

But as we sort of talked about five minutes ago,

more eccentric means greater chance

of muscle damage, soreness.

So if you take something and magnify it across 30 minutes

or even five minutes, but a maximal exertion,

you have a recipe for blowing up.

You can imagine, I haven’t run in forever,

and I’ve listened to this Huberman Lab podcast,

and I’m, okay, I’m gonna get into my zone two training,

whatever it is, whatever, and I start jogging,

I’m gonna do, you know, I remember when I was,

I used to be able to do 25,

and you just do a 25-minute jog.

The amount of eccentric landing that just occurred

on every single step, because you’re never,

with running, even slow running,

you never have two feet on the ground at the same time.

So it is a one-foot land, one-foot land,

your entire body mass plus gravity

onto one leg at a time, repeated now hundreds of times.

That eccentric landing is gonna cause tremendous soreness.

Your quads are gonna go,

you’re probably gonna get shin splints,

which is what this is,

those are entirely caused by eccentric landing,

and when the tissue is not ready to tolerate that.

If you’re not landing correctly,

this is when knee pain happens,

back pain, shoulder, neck pain,

because of movement compensation.

So anytime we start pressing to fatigue,

let’s be very concerned with there.

So my initial recommendation is,

start with activities, exercise choice-wise,

that are mostly concentric-based.

So think about a cycle.

So when you’re riding on a bike, you’re pushing the pedal,

but you’re never landing and absorbing it.

So you could go out and do a 45-minute bike ride,

and you’re not gonna get that sore

because there’s not a lot of eccentric load.

Swimming, similar thing here, right?

There’s some eccentrics when your hand hits the water,

but fairly minimal.

It’s mostly a push, push, push, push, push, no load.

Rowing, similar thing, mostly concentric.

Pushing a sled is fantastic.

Going uphill, running, or even walking hard uphill,

all good, because they’re very minimal landing

relative to like running downhill,

which would be a very, very bad idea to start.

So if you’re first jumping into these things,

progress your volume for endurance very slowly

if it involves eccentric landing.

A really bad strategy would be to jump in

and do, say, a circuit training class

that involves a bunch of box jumps, right?

This is not a good way

to do your first foray into conditioning.

You’re going to get incredibly sore

because you’re jumping in the landing,

and you’re now looking at three to 10X body weight

in terms of absorption with a single land,

even if you’re just jumping.

So be careful of that

in any of those endurance areas of exercise choice.

So what to pick?

Pick the one that you are most technically proficient in,

because you’re going to do it a lot.

It’s going to be a lot of repetitions.

Whatever one you feel the most joy in.

If that’s rowing, great.

If that’s pushing a sled, it doesn’t really matter.

You can do this actually with weights.

This is our preferred way, by the way, with our athletes.

So we might do a 30-minute circuit

where we do a five-minute farmer’s carry

with a pretty light weight.

So you’re just going to carry some weights in your hand,

and you’re just going to walk up

and down the street for five minutes.

You’re going to set that down,

and then you’re going to do, say, a three-minute plank.

And then you’re going to pick that up,

and you’re going to do body weight squats,

like slowly and just tempoed.

And you’re going to do a handful of different exercises

so the athletes don’t get super bored.

Or a very simple one, if a 30-minute workout,

10 minutes on a treadmill, 10 minutes on a bike,

10 minutes on a rower.

For those of you that are like,

oh my God, I can’t do 30 straight minutes of running.

Cool, break it up into three or four different exercises

that are all fairly safe.

So that’s how I would do that long-duration piece

for exercise choice.

And then in terms of heart rate during that period,

I mean, how much attention should we pay to this?

The kind of very broad prescriptive

I’ve thrown out on this podcast a few times

based on my read of the literature

is for most people that are oriented toward health,

including people that are working on size

and strength gains, hypertrophy and strength, of course,

that getting 150 to 180 minutes

of so-called zone two cardio can just barely

have a conversation.

But if one were to push any harder,

you wouldn’t be able to, that kind of thing.

It’s just as a generic recommendation

that almost everybody should follow

in order to just keep their cardiovascular system healthy.

But I know there’s a lot of nuance there.

And some people would like to be able to run continuously

for an hour at speed, right?

Obviously not sprinting.

But what are some of the finer points

on long-distance endurance?

So how often should one do it?

Okay, frequency, you could do it as daily, right?

Even when doing strength and hypertrophy training?

No question.

Well, that I think is an important point

for people to hear

because a lot of people think

that they are going to greatly diminish

their strength and hypertrophy gains,

as it’s often called, by doing zone two cardio.

Zone two, you have almost no ability

to block your hypertrophy.

Zone two, within that category,

if you’re talking about conversational pace,

there is very, in fact, there is strong reason

to think that is not going to influence hypertrophy

for the overwhelming majority of people.

It might even help it

by increasing blood flow to the various muscles.


Does it matter, let’s say someone’s doing primarily

strength and hypertrophy,

their primary goals are strength and hypertrophy,

and then they’re going to do,

they’re going to hit that 150 to 180 minutes

of zone two cardio per week,

assuming they’re breaking that up

into three or four sessions.

Does it matter if they do it

in the same workout before or after?

Does that matter?

I tend to do, just by way of example for people,

certainly I’m just one example,

I tend to do resistance training one day,

then I’ll do zone two cardio the next day.

I jog because that’s the thing I prefer.

Then I’ll do strength hypertrophy training the next day

and then jog for my zone two cardio,

and then I take one full day off a week.

I’ve never actually done the zone two cardio

on the same day,

but were I to do it on the same day,

would it matter if I did it before

or after my strength and hypertrophy training?

Not really.


You’re going to be just fine.

Interference effects,

the interference effect is what this is called.

So this is all the way back to 1980,

Bob Hickman’s stuff, right?

And he was actually working in a lab with John Halazi,

who’s one of the fathers of exercise biochemistry.

And sort of the story goes that Hickman came in,

he was a strength training guy,

and Halazi and almost all those initial exercise

physiologists were conditioning folks, right?

So it’s almost always swimmers and runners.

And that’s why a bulk of the exercise physiology

historically is shaped in that direction.

It’s what those scientists were interested in.

So Hickman was there in the lab

and how much of this is myth or not,

who really knows,

but so the story goes.

That this is sort of chipping back and forth

and you know how from a PI to a postdoc

and kind of that razzing works a little bit.

And eventually he was like,

you got to start running with us.

And he was like, you got to start lifting with me

and kind of goes back and forth.

Well, you know who wins in that equation.

It’s not the postdoc, right?

So it’s the PI gets in and says,

Hickman says, okay, fine.

So he starts running with Halazi

and then eventually starts to realize I’m getting weak.

I’m losing strength and like, I just can’t.

I think it was his bench press specifically

was going down or maybe his squat.

I can’t remember.

Who knows if it’s even real, but point is.

So he’s going along.

And so eventually that starts to create

a little bit of animosity.

And it’s like, actually, I don’t think this is good for me.

And then blah, blah, blah.

And so they did what any good scientists would do

and said, well, let’s find out, right?

And so they run a really famous experiment

where he took a group, three groups.

One group did an endurance piece, right?

The steady state cardio.

One group did a strength training piece.

And then the third group did both of those workouts combined

not like a reduction.

So both volumes stacked on top of each other.

And the results are fairly predictable

in terms of the endurance group only

had the greatest increases in VO2 max and endurance markers.

The strength training group had the greatest increases

in muscle hypertrophy.

But where the interesting part was

and where this whole field started was the combined group.

So this is concurrent training is what it’s generally called.

So you’re doing concurrent things.

And typically that means hypertrophy and strength

stacked on top of some in steady state endurance.

In the same time frame.

Same workout.

Same two hour block.

Or same like week.

It doesn’t really, it can be kind of all these.

Well, the concurrent group saw the same improvements

in VO2 max as the endurance group.

And he’s like, well, okay.

So the strength training did not compromise

the endurance adaptations.

However, they saw much lower increases in strength

and hypertrophy.

And so it was, the conclusion was the addition

of endurance work compromised muscle growth

and strength development.

However, the addition of strength training

to your endurance work will not compromise

your endurance gains.

Now that second piece has been shown countless more times.

So if you’re an endurance athlete,

adding strength training is almost always

going to be massively beneficial.

Very little chance of detriment.

Or it is why every endurance athlete

is gonna have some sort of strength and power component

to their training.

The controversy though came in the interference effects.

So how much endurance training really blocks

muscular development.

And for years, myself included, was we preached hard.

You know, don’t do these two things at the same time.

My friend, my colleague, Kevin Muir

has a really nice review article, Jimmy Bagley.

Those two guys put this thing out.

You can go read that.

Where they cover all these things

and they’ve got some nice figures in there.

But the general answer here is,

interference effect is sort of real,

but it’s probably greatly overblown.

It matters.

So are you talking about a 20 minute jog

at conversation pace?

That’s probably doing very little.

With the assumption that,

are you doing an eccentric based exercise like running?

Well, then you’re gonna have more of interference effect

than cycling.

That makes a ton of sense if you think about it, right?

What’s your total energy intake?

If you’re eating sufficient calories,

you can still be in an anabolic state.

If the addition of extra energy expenditure,

it’s all it really is, mark the cardio,

put you in a negative energy state,

it’s gonna become very difficult to go through anabolism.

So those things matter.

If you’re talking about doing like,

running a few laps around the track as a warmup,

like that’s not interference effect.

What we’re really talking about is a big volume

performed consistently.

Now, after Hickman came out with this paper in 1980,

people followed it up in the 90s and 2000s with mechanism.

And we started to look and see,

we started to see,

hey, there’s this cell signaling pathway

that goes down called mTOR

and that’s what leads to muscle growth.

And then on the other side of that equation,

there’s a thing called AMPK,

which is more associated with mitochondrial biogenesis

and endurance.

And there’s this little molecule in between,

at the time, most people would point to TSC2.

Well, it turns out AMPK activation is fine.

If you activate mTOR, there’s no bearing on AMPK,

but if you activate AMPK,

it’s gonna activate TSC2, which inhibited mTOR.

And so it was like, we had practical outcome,

i.e., Hickman, you’re gonna get weaker.

Now we had mechanism.

So that story became very, very strong

that this interference effect,

and this is how science should work, right?

When you see mechanism match up

with practical human outcome,

it’s a strong thing.

That’s what you want, yep.

It was still wrong though.

It just took more science, right?

And this is why we always have to give science a bit of time

and you have to be willing to follow, right?

And again, even me in the field

who has a practitioner background in science,

I felt very strongly, this is a big problem.

It just didn’t turn out to be the case.

Enough studies came out where I’m like,

okay, it’s probably not that big a deal

unless the movement is heavily eccentric-based,

the volume is very high,

you’re trying to maximize muscle growth,

and energy is not controlled.

If that’s not all the case,

interference effect is probably

not something most people should worry about.

When you, especially when you compare that

against the well-roundedness that you need

for total physiological health, probably not a big deal.

Very reassuring for me to hear

because I do enjoy lifting weights

and I really enjoy running and I love running outside.

I believe I used to experience the interference effect

when I used to do a very long run on Sundays.

I would just go out for two hours or something like that.

I don’t know that I ate enough or who knows.

I always feel like I eat enough or more.

I love to eat.

But that long Sunday run always made it hard

for me to make progressive gains in strength

and hypertrophy in the gym.

Whereas when I cut that to 30 minutes,

three or four times a week,

I don’t see any interference effect at all.

Probably very real.

And I haven’t trained specifically for endurance

in a very long time,

so I haven’t experienced the non-interference effect,

which as you said before,

most if not all endurance athletes probably are

or at least should be doing some sort of strength work

just to keep the undercarriage strong as I think.

Yeah, there’s a bunch of reasons.

So what are some protocols that people could explore

for continuous endurance training?

I mean, I’ve thrown out this 150 to 180 minute

zone two cardio,

but that’s really the kind of kindergarten of endurance.

And there I’m probably being generous.

It’s probably the nursery school of endurance

that everyone should do.

What sorts of other protocols?

I realize that can be very goal-directed,

but is it unreasonable, for instance,

for somebody to do four hours of continuous endurance

training with intervals in there as well

to get it kind of all around heart health

and the ability to go long distances?

Yeah, I’ll answer this two ways.

The very first one,

to tackle the long duration endurance

is how I refer to it.

You asked really about heart rate zones.

To me, that’s almost totally irrelevant.

It doesn’t matter, right?

If you’re moving, you’re moving.

That’s the functional piece here.

If you want to push it and go at a non-conversational pace,

that has tremendous health benefits.

If you want to do it a little bit slower, fine.

If you’re at the pace where you can have a conversation,

to me, I don’t even count that as exercise.

It’s not a pejorative, by the way.

That is just general physical movement.

It is extraordinarily clear.

You need a lot of that.

You need a lot more of that than we get.

You can do this in a couple of efficient ways.

Just taking your phone calls moving.

If you’ve got a 30-minute call every day,

or most days of the week,

and you can do that while moving,

you’ve checked not that whole box,

but a pretty good chunk of it.

And that could even be done inside.


Pacing back and forth.

I’m a big pacer.

Yeah, me too.

You probably saw me.

I’m going to walk up and down all over the place.

Most of the time when I’m in my office working,

I’m shadowboxing, I’m doing air squats.

Not even intentionally, I’m just like.

Do you have one of those treadmills under the desk?

I don’t, but every lab I ever came through, somebody did.

We did an episode on workspace optimization,

and the data on those treadmills are pretty interesting.

They definitely increase alertness,

which for obvious reasons,

even a little bit of movement is going to generate

a little bit of adrenaline.

So pacing around, moving, taking calls, moving,

getting walks when you can.

And then in terms of building endurance,

let’s say somebody wants to quote unquote

get into better shape.

They already may or may not already have some size

and strength that they’re happy with,

and they just want to get in,

they want to improve their health.

So when does that 150, 180,

this thing tick over into a different protocol?

Yeah, okay.

So I think the way that I can outline a weekly schedule,

just as a conceptual model here,

that long duration stuff is not even counting,

as I mentioned, right?

It’s just a, this is what you need to do as a human,

moving forward.

We haven’t improved.

If you’re extremely unfit,

you may see some changes in cardiovascular health there,

but for the most part,

this is just knocking out the general physical practice

you need to be higher functioning.

So whatever that time domain is, I don’t really care.

It’s not a huge concern of mine.

What I think you need to hit are these nodes.

You need to do something once a week

that gets you to a maximum heart rate.

Now, I don’t have to literally mean max, but close.

So this means really sucking for air?

Really, like as high as you can possibly get.

You can wear a heart rate monitor if you want,

but maximum heart rate,

the rough equation we say is 220 minus your age.

So if you’re 40 years old,

your maximum heart rate

is probably about 180 beats per minute.

Now I can tell you flat out right now,

my max heart rate is close to 210,

which means I’m 10 years old.

So take that number with a grain of salt.

I have had a bunch of professional athletes

who are in their 20s and their max heart rate’s 175,

and they are in way better shape than I am.

So maximum heart rate is not a good proxy

for physical fitness.

It’s a rough number.

An easy way to do it is if you have a heart rate monitor,

anything like that,

do the hardest workout you can possibly do,

see what the highest number you get as,

and assume that’s close.

If you want to just start at 220 minus your age,

that’s fine too.

Do something though where you’re like,

yep, this is death.

This is really, really challenging.

For how long?

However long that takes you.

That can be a 30 second go on an aerodyne or aerosol bike.

That could be a,

do one of those things where you kind of like sprint,

run as hard as you can during the straightaway on a track

and then walk the corners.

Kind of an old classic back when you and I were kids,

interval training.

They don’t do that anymore?

I guess, I don’t know.

I don’t ever talk about it.

In PE class we had to change,

and if you didn’t bring running shoes,

you had to do it barefoot.

Oh, I love it.

I love your teacher.

Yeah, it wasn’t a,

our football, basketball, baseball teams weren’t that good,

but anything like running cross country,

just because of where I grew up,

they’re brutal, brutal coaches.

So yeah, they’d make all kids do these runs.

Yeah, so it can be in the 30 probably seconds at a minimum.

It’s hard to get you to a true heart rate max

in shorter than 30 seconds.

You can get to total suck in under 20 seconds,

but getting to a true heart rate max

is probably going to take more than 30 seconds.

So it doesn’t really matter what you want to do.

It can be, again, a sprint uphill.

It could be, well, you’re talking,

it could be burpees to death.

You know, like whatever you want to do.

Although those have an eccentric component, right?

Yeah, they do.

No question about it.

But if you did-

Not to actual death, by the way.


If you just did,

I’m going to do as many burpees as I can for 90 seconds.

It probably won’t take you much longer than that

to get to close to-

And is that the whole workout?

Could be.

So once a week, get to max heart rate.

Touch it.

Touch it.

It’s not the best, but it’ll work.

And what are the specific benefits that that provides?

Okay, so earlier in our chat,

we outlined the rule of specificity,

specific adaptation to imposed demand.

If you’re never getting to that high of a pace,

you’re never, it would be like trying to get stronger,

but only going to 60%.

So every cardiovascular adaptation that occurs

with cardiovascular training

is just simply going to get to the top or end by doing this.

So if you just start at the heart itself,

stroke volume increase.

So this is the amount of blood

that’s kicked out per contraction.

Cardiac output, resting heart rate.

If you go to the endothelial function,

you’re talking about nitric oxide release,

endothelial health in general,

capillary, mitochondria, all the way down.

Like you just walk through the whole system,

pulmonary exchange to the lungs.

All of those are going to benefit

by being challenged to their maximum.

They also teach you where your vomit reflex is.

Yeah, there you go, right?

Stress is what causes adaptation, right?

So if you push your, okay, here’s the difference.

If you did 25 minutes of steady state,

you’re not challenging the same thing

as what we just talked about.

The way that I explain this is

if you understand the point of physiological failure,

then you understand the place of adaptation.

That’s it.

So if you and I both go run on a,

we did a VO2 max test.

So classic VO2 max test is going to take eight to 12 minutes

and it’s going to look something like this.

We’re going to get in a treadmill and we’re going to run.

And every minute,

I’m going to just slightly increase that treadmill,

either the speed or the grade.

Most of the time it’s the speed, right?

So we get to a high grade, say 10% grade or something.

And then we go five miles per hour, 5.2, 5.4,

and we just go until you can’t go any longer.

Now let’s say you and I did that

and we had the same exact timeframe.

And so we both went eight minutes.

The time that you last is not the thing

that we care about, right?

It’s the volume of oxygen that you breathe out

is what determines it.

So let’s say we went with the same time domain

and we had the same VO2 max.

Let’s say they were both 50 milliliters

per kilogram per minute,

which is like a okay number,

but that’s nothing to be extremely proud about.

Just because we have the same number

does not mean we have the same point

of physiological failure.

And this matters because it’s going to answer

the what do I do about it then question, right?

So if you got off

and I started asking you a series of questions

and you’re like,

and I basically said, why’d you quit?

You know, why did you jump off the treadmill?

Why’d you stop?

And you were like, my chest,

like I couldn’t catch my breath.

I thought my heart was gonna explode.

Okay, great.

If you ask me and I said, my legs were on fire.

Like I was breathing hard,

but I couldn’t take another step.

This is a very rough indicator

of different places of physiological disruption.

Now what I’ve seen a lot with my professional athletes,

especially like fighters,

they’re going to generally fail on their legs

because they don’t often do a lot of strength training

in their legs.

They don’t do a lot of leg work.

They’re fighting on their back, literally a lot,

or on top or on their knees.

So their legs tend to give out before there.

Someone who feels in the cardiovascular system,

like say you did a lot of leg training,

typically like an endurance athlete who’s,

that’s not gonna be their issue.

It’s just gonna be,

they’re gonna reach a heart rate and ventilation threshold

that’s they can no longer handle.

If I put you on the exact same training protocols,

it’s not gonna be as effective

because you’re going to always fail at your legs

and they’re gonna always fail at their cardiovascular system.

I need to flip that.

I need to put you in a position

to where you can reach a true heart rate

or ventilation challenge

while your legs are still hanging in there or the opposite.

So the training protocol is based on that point of failure.

The adaptation is in the same thing.

So if you are failing because of your legs,

then you might see a greater increase

in the capitalization in your legs.

Relative to somebody else who’s failing

in their cardiovascular system,

they may see a greater change

in something on that side of the equation.

So it matters how you’re failing at all times.

What I love about this is that it’s,

sounds like it’s like a thermometer

for where one is weak and needs work,

but also provides a stimulus to improve

the very thing that you need.

That’s the trick, right?

So to just get real brass tacks about it,

it would be once a week.

Okay, yeah.

90 seconds near maximum heart rate.

Could I do more?

Could I do five or six of those 90 second bouts?

No question.

You can do, as long as you touch

that max heart rate, I’m good, right?

Ideal world, probably four to eight.

In that single session?

Ideal, right?

If that takes you 20 seconds or 90 seconds, it’s fine.

If you want to do 30 on, 30 off.

You want to do 20 on, 40 off, 40 on, 20 off.

Those numbers don’t matter.

And is there an interference effect of this

on the other sorts of training that we’ve talked about?

It actually tends to be complementary.

There is, the evidence available suggests

that this high interval stuff is more likely

to be complementary to hypertrophy training,

probably because of lactate and some other cool things,

which are very beneficial molecules

that people don’t understand.

They think it’s bad.

It’s actually a hugely beneficial thing.

It can be interference.

It can provide an interference

if calories are not accounted for,

if rest is not accounted for, and other things.

But in general, it’s probably okay.

I wouldn’t add it to your equation

if you don’t need it for maximizing hypertrophy.

But for the person who wants

to just get well-rounded physiology,

yeah, I wouldn’t hesitate to do these

even in the same session or different sessions.


And if that’s done once a week

and the 150 to 180 minutes or so of zone two cardio

is done in the rest of the week,

the person’s doing their strength

and hypertrophy training, we would hope,

what other sorts of endurance practices

could one incorporate?

You mentioned muscular endurance,

like the ability, like a wall sit

or the ability to do a plank.

Is that something, is that useful for anything?


Except doing planks and wall sitting?

No, no, it’s extraordinarily useful.

Let’s hold on muscular endurance.

I want to finish one more thing on this side.

So if we’re building this week of endurance,

once a week, hit that number.

If you can do repeated bouts,

you know, we talked four to eight, that’s fantastic.

If you can’t muscle the,

if you can’t manage the mental energy every week,

do it every other week.

It’s still very good, right?

Because I get it, like I’m a working person too

and sometimes you’re just like, I cannot.

Like those workouts feel incredible afterwards,

but man, they are daunting.

If you love this stuff, you could do it four times a week.

If you hate it though, it’s not realistic to think

you’re going to be able to knock this out.

You’re going to end up doing 70, 80%,

which is not going to get you the benefit.

So just don’t do it.

You really have to hit that ceiling.

You’ve got to get up there, close.

Have someone chase, I always say, you know,

when doing this kind of work, in my mind,

I’m thinking that I’m basically being chased by somebody

with a syringe full of poison.

And while there are other ways out of the situation,

and for the benefit of what we’re talking about,

the one I’m referring to is to just run.


My motivation is typically, if you just get this done,

we’re done in a couple of minutes.

Just get it done.

Like don’t go here if you’re not going to do it.

When you show up, check in, and it’s over really quickly.

Breathing down regulation afterwards.

100%, you have to, right?

It’s a huge key.

So if you absolutely can’t do it, do it every other week.

That’s twice a month.

Give me twice a month.

It can be done on the road.

It can be done in 20 minutes.

Like do a really good thorough warmup.

Don’t just jump into those, by the way, right away.

It’s not going to be as beneficial.

Really nice, good sweat broke, a really good warmup.

And then give me four minutes of hard work and we’re done.

Right, get out of there.

If you want to use like a bath or hot thermal stress

to kind of like aid in that warmup process, fine.

Get in the sauna, get in a hot bath, get really hot,

get up there, warm up, knock it out.

Whole thing is 20 minutes plus five minutes breathing.

You got it.

I’m going to start doing this.

It’s so, you got a bike right there.

Yeah, I’ve got all sorts, every room in the studio

that has a different piece of equipment, it seems.

So I want that once a week, realistically every week

if I have to.

I want that physical activity piece,

call it whatever you want, long duration thing.

Ideally, you’ll do as much of that through your nose only.

You’re not going to be able to do the interval stuff

at nose only, don’t even try.

But if you can go that whole 30 minute time

or 20 or 40 minutes, whatever it’s going to be,

that’s actually a good way to regulate intensity.

So go as hard as you can while still being able

to breathe through your nose only.

If you have to open up your mouth a little bit,

fine, but try to stay there.

What you’ll see is very quickly,

you’ll be able to increase your work output

while just breathing through your nose,

which has a bunch of other benefits.

The other piece I want is this middle ground,

which is can you sustain hard work for eight to 12,

maybe as little as four minutes?

I’ll give you four to 12 minutes.

This doesn’t have to be quite as high as the first one.

You don’t have to get to heart and max,

but can you get somewhere in the 80% range

and can you hold that for four minutes?

Maybe give me two minutes, two minutes of rest

and do that twice, something like that.

Ideal situation is what a runner would do

is what we’ll call mile repeats

because they’re running four or five minute miles.

Whatever time it takes them to finish,

they’re gonna rest that.

So it’s a one to one work to rest ratio.

So a five minute mile, rest five minutes and go again.

That’s probably pretty unrealistic for a lot of folks.

Well, the five minute part is unrealistic for most folks.

For me, it would be eight minutes, eight minutes.


Probably something like that.

Well, in your particular case, just do the 800 meter.

So do 800 meters,

do something that takes two to six minutes of work.

It is a lower intensity than the max stuff,

but it’s a much higher workload.

That is probably gonna give you,

you might even argue the most cardiovascular benefit

because it is sustained work output.

And that’s very critical.

The downside of kind of like that conversational pace,

it’s physical activity, it’s movement,

it’s blood flow, it’s lymphatic drainage.

It’s not very cardiovascularly challenging.

You’re just not gonna get an optimal health

from just walking actively.

So two to six minutes of hard work

with then an equivalent amount of rest in between

and then repeat how many times?

Once, if you have to.

If it needs to be one rep,

if it needs to be a six minute thing

and then down regulate, breathe.

Twice, if you can do that.

Six times, eight times, like whatever you can really do.

And you can just take that

as long of a training session as you want or short.

Exercise choice can be whatever you want.

So again, you can do sled pushes

or it could be a kettlebell circuit

or any combination of things where you’re just,

you’re working and you’re not giving yourself a break.

You have got to be able to hold on

at a very high waste product production level

as well as a high demand for energy.

And then bring it down.

And breathing during this two to six minutes

of hard output is mainly through the nose

or combination nose and mouth?

Or is that getting too technical?

Well, it’s probably like I like it,

but you tell me if it’s too technical.

You’re gonna try to maintain nasal only

as much as you can,

but you’re gonna lose it at some point.

You can go through their Brian and Rob’s gear system

and learn more.

And then you can kind of see what gear to be in.

If you have to go nose in, mouth out,

or something like that.

But I don’t really care too much, honestly, in that range.

I’m getting most of my nasal only stuff at night

and training and everything.

So if you have to open up the throttle there

to get the work done, that’s okay.

Oh, then we’ll actually answer your question,

which was muscular endurance.

Let’s go back to that piece.

Muscular endurance is incredibly important

for general maintenance of joint health.

In other words, you have got form follows function, right?

It’s a very classic science-y physiology saying.

Meaning you’ve got a couple of different,

there’s a bunch, but to make it easy,

two different types of muscle fibers,

fast twitch and slow twitch.

Fast twitch fibers tend to be,

but they’re not always bigger.

They contract with a higher velocity.

That’s why they are called fast twitch,

but they tend to be more glycolytic and thus fatigable.

Slow twitch tend to be smaller, well, not always.

They are more packed with mitochondria.

They were generally better at burning fat as a fuel,

but contract with lower velocity.

Well, we have these two types

so that we can regulate function more.

You have some muscle groups that we’re going to,

sorry, let me go back up a quick second.

Each individual muscle in a human body

has a combination of some amount of fast

and some amount of slow.

That percentage of fast versus slow

differs from muscle to muscle.

So it also differs from person to person.

Easy example is your calf muscle.

There’s three, but there’s two primary muscles in your calf.

One’s called the soleus and one’s the gastroc.

The gastroc is the one where if you take your toe

and point it towards your face and then flex,

that’s the one that pops out on the medial side,

and that’s the one that pops out on the inside.

The soleus is what we call an anti-gravity muscle,

and it is generally about 80% to even 90% slow twitch.

And that’s because it’s supposed to be contracted lightly

all the time.

It’s supposed to be on permanently.

It’s meant to keep, we call it anti-gravity

because it’s meant to keep you erect, up and moving.

Your spinal erector is supposed to do this.

Various muscles for postural

are generally slow twitch muscles.

So we’re supposed to be on all times,

not produce fast, not produce force,

but don’t get tired.

The gastroc is the opposite.

It’s not activated very often,

but when it’s activated, it’s meant for extreme propulsion.

So this gives us the ability to reach up

and scratch our eyeball and also punch somebody, right?

We have to be able to regulate force output,

which is going back to Henneman, right?

Controlling what we use and what we don’t use

while also not wasting energy,

which is the downside of activating

a big threshold motor neuron

is it requires a ton of energy.

It’s a more efficient mode of energy,

but the total amount is really, really high.

So muscular endurance is going to

help those slow twitch muscle fibers

and slow twitch predominant muscles

maintain their working job.

So if you lose your muscular endurance ability

in your spinal erectors or your calf,

you’re gonna start slumping into bad positions.

You’re gonna be putting joints in a movement pattern

that they’re not going to be the most happy with.

So it’s more about than being able

to just maintain a two minute wall squat.

It’s about maintaining joint integrity

and allowing that musculature to not fatigue

when you ask it to do heavy and fast.

So what I mean by that is you’ve got a whole combination

of muscles in your shoulder.

And we will generally call these

like the rotator cuff muscles.

Well, let’s imagine those slow twitch postural

muscles get fatigued

and they start to lose contractile tension.

And then you go to do something heavy or fast

or an emergency situation.

Those are already pre-fatigued.

You’re gonna rely more upon the fast twitch muscle fibers

which are there less for postural integrity.

You’re likely to get out of position.

And this is a whole recipe of like,

God, why is my shoulder just hurting?

God, my back.

That’s very often a case of the slow twitch fibers

and the slow twitch muscle groups

losing muscular endurance.

So you need to build that back up

so that they can control and hold the joint in the position

so the fast twitch fibers can then contract with force.

I’m hoping that what I’m gonna say next

meets what you said accurately.

My experience is that getting injured,

lifting weights or even doing housework or yard work

almost always happens when I’m not paying attention,

fatigued, that’s kind of obvious,

but also getting in position to initiate a movement,

setting down a weight or lifting weights off the rack

or picking up dumbbells.

That’s almost always when I seem to activate

this lower back thing that happens every six or eight months

and what you’re saying, if I understand correctly,

is that this muscular endurance from wall sits or planks

or things of that sort,

maybe you could give us a few other examples of these,

can help us because they actually prepare the system

to do what we normally think of as the more intense work.

So it sounds like it’s really the architecture of the body

that includes nerves and muscles and everything else,

of course, that lets the limbs

and other kind of action end of the body do its best work.

Is that a good way to-

Yeah, let it express its own power and force.

Yep, we’ve actually landed on one of my final laws

of strength and conditioning,

which is similar to what I said earlier, right?

So I said, exercises do not determine adaptations.

Application determines adaptation.

So it sounds similar, but it’s quite different.

There are no good or bad exercises.

There’s only good or bad application.

Here’s a great example of that, right?

So you do not get hurt deadlifting

because deadlifts are dangerous.

You only get hurt deadlifting

because you either got in bad position,

you got in bad position

because you either started in bad position,

which is one of the things you just said,

or you ended up in bad position.

You did too much volume, you did too much intensity,

or you did too much complexity.

Those last three things all hurt you

because they result in the first one,

which is out of position.

Or another way to think about this

is if it’s not a visible change in position

is stress got put into a part of the system

that should not absorb that much stress.

So you did too much of it, you did it too heavy,

you got fatigued, and so you broke position.

You got too heavy, so you broke position.

You made the exercise too complex,

you put too many moving parts in it,

you put too many joints in it, and you got out of position.

You did that too many times over time.

Now we’ve led to either an acute injury,

bam, back pops and you fall on the floor,

or just like, man, this thing is hurting over time.

All these are the results of the same thing.

So you cannot ever blame the exercise

for causing the problem.

It’s always either the user or the coach.

You programmed way too much here

and I can’t handle that position,

or you yourself went into it too much.

So if you’re getting these little tweaks

and problems going on,

you’ve made an error in one of those things.

So simply back off.

Reduce the complexity, right?

Give yourself more stability, less moving parts.

Do less volume, do less intensity.

In fact, if you look at the people

from the physical therapy world

in terms of the pain literature,

it’s very clear that just stopping a movement

is very rarely going to work.

What you wanna do is back off all the way down

to just below that threshold of that’s what aggravates it,

and you wanna train right there.

That’s gonna allow you to do two things.

Number one, tissue tolerance,

and then number two, desensitization.

A lot of pain stuff,

and you could probably speak a lot about this,

is, especially with things like low back pain,

is there’s not necessarily often much damage there.

It’s a lot of hypersensitization

of just pain signal, pain signal.

Omitting the movement entirely

does not get that signal to go away.

You need to train just below that signal

and desensitize it.

So you wanna make sure that the muscular endurance

allows you, you’re just putting volume

right below where you start to get a tweak.

And it is beautifully effective for that.

I’ve experienced this right side lower back pain for years,

sometimes shooting down the hip.

The two things that really helped

were doing anterior tib work.

So hats off to Knees Over Toes guy, Ben Patrick,

who has created a lot of popularity around tib work.

But I-

Turns out, joints, full range of motion,

you’re in a better spot.

Yeah, something about stabilizing

the stuff from the knee down helped my back,

and then also some neck work.

And friends of mine are always teasing me

that my gym is filled with the most bizarre equipment.

It doesn’t look like any other gym.

A lot of it is just designed to keep me healthy

and still training.

But I love this idea of getting right below

the threshold of pain activation

and not simply going into complete non-action

or just taking complete rest

because that actually can be detrimental.

I’d love to talk about a few items

that support training of all kinds

and where there’s a lot of confusion

and indeed misconception and mystery.

And just get your take on these.

And I just want to acknowledge at the outset

that for some of these, there’s a lot of science.

For some of them, there’s less science,

but there certainly is a lot of experience in your camp.

And those categories are cold, heat, and hydration.

Because obviously, whether or not you’re a runner,

whether or not you’re strength training,

if you’re a human being, you need to hydrate.

But in terms of work output and physical work output,

maybe even cognitive work output,

maybe we’d tackle hydration first.

There is what I call and what I think has now

come to be known as the Galpin equation,

which you really do deserve credit for

because I think that people realize

that there are a range of solutions out there,

but there is a desperate need for straightforward solutions

that work for 75% of people 75% of the time.

So hydration is key.

Maybe you could underscore just how key it is for us.

And then what is the Galpin equation as I call it,

and I think others are now referring to it.

Yeah, okay.

Benefits of hydration slash consequences of mishydration.

So whether it’s dehydration or overload,

physiology has hormetic curves, right?

Now, typically we think about this in terms of toxicology.

So what this means is at some point,

giving you a dose of something,

testosterone is a very easy example.

If you’re clinically deficient

or low in testosterone and I give you a little bit

and it brings you back into a normal range,

you generally see an improvement

in health and functionality.

Taking you though from normal to super high

doesn’t always necessarily provide additional benefit.

In fact, if you continue to go,

it’s gonna provide detriment, right?

So everything has this curve.

And then some things are hormetic stressors,

which means like a small, short, fast insult

is actually beneficial because then you come back

bigger, faster, stronger.

That’s how adaptation works.

Basic hormesis, okay.

Hydration is the same way.

So at the end of the curve here,

if you are under hydrated,

we all know you could die, right?

You have to have things.

In fact, water is the only thing

that is ubiquitous across biologies

in terms of every living thing has to have it.

There’s no other vitamin, mineral, nutrient

that is required among all living things

with the exception of water.

So that should give you a pretty good indication

of it’s importante, right?

Like you gotta have this thing.

Down here at the bottom, if you’re dehydrated

it’s gonna give you more, it’s beneficial effects.

However, if you’re up the top already

and I continue to give you more water past that,

now we run into actual problems

and we can get what’s called hyponatremia,

which is more common than people realize.

Natremia being actually not referring to the water,

but the sodium concentration being too low.

And you’ve probably talked about that

at length of why that’s an issue.

If sodium potassium balances outside a cell come off,

heart stops, right?

Muscle contraction ends and all these things.

So you don’t wanna be over or under hydrated.

So understanding this rough equation

I sort of loosely calculated one day is helpful for that.

I think the most context is talking about

how much water to drink throughout the day

and then how much water to drink during exercise.

So the very easy answer is half your body weight

in ounces per day is a very loose guideline

for total amount of fluid consumption.

So if you weigh 200 pounds, aim for 100 ounces of water.

It’s like a very easy number.

If you hit that, you’re probably I’d say 90%

of you are good 90% of the time alone.

If you then go to exercise,

you need to then account for that fluid loss with exercise.

And in general, you wanna consume 125% to 150%

of the amount of weight you lost in fluid.

In other words, if you worked out

and you were 200 pounds naked,

and you went and did your workout

and then you dried off and you weighed yourself again,

and now you’re 198 pounds,

you lost two pounds of water, that’s 32 ounces.

You wanna drink back about 125% of that.

So instead of drinking 32 ounces,

I want you to drink 40, 42, 45, like something like this.

Because one of the reasons why is,

unless you’re drinking something that is isotonic,

meaning the same exact concentration in your blood

that you’re in your fluid,

you’re just gonna go closer to that hyponatremia.

You’re gonna get a bunch of baroreflector responses

and you’re going to actually think you have too much fluid

and you’re gonna urinate it out.

So what if I’m not weighing myself before and after workouts

and is there a shorthand version of this

that after training for an hour,

I should drink at least X number of ounces?

Assuming it’s at kind of taller,

I’m not sweating super heavily.

Yeah, in that particular case,

you could probably go something like

if everyone in the world did, I don’t know,

12 to 20 ounces, that’s probably pretty decent.

And they’re probably doing that, right?


And what about electrolytes,

consuming salt, potassium, and magnesium?

But that thing only works, though,

if you’re coming in at optimal hydration.

And this is the problem.

This is why you have to flag this

starting with a good total daily amount of water.

Because if you’re coming in and you’re like,

oh, I drank two or three glasses of water a day,

then you might need to drink 50 or 60 ounces post-workout

because you’re way behind.

So that like, oh, 12 ounces or so works

if you’re already generally very well hydrated.

And if people are drinking, you know,

four to six glasses of water a day,

but they’re also drinking a lot of caffeine in any form,

then they’re going to be excreting more water

in most cases, right?


Because caffeine’s a diuretic.

Okay, it kind of is, but it kind of isn’t either.

It’s not the diuretic that we used to think about it as.

It is still fluid consumption.

So it’s only a diuretic if it causes you

to excrete more fluid than it actually was being intake.

So if caffeine intake is in a normal range,

I don’t have to worry about the diuretic effects.

If someone is drinking 12 cups of coffee a day,

or they’re taking caffeine pills or something,

now the excretion is going to outkick the coverage.

So now we’re going to have problems, right?

Because there’s no fluid consumption with a caffeine pill.

So in general, things like tea consumption,

like I’m not super worried about those things.

You can count those towards your total fluid intake

if you want.

So if you’re like, I drink 60 ounces of water

plus 20 ounces of coffee, and then this,

you’re going to add that all up

and you’re going to be totally okay.

So natural, you also have problems

with synthetic forms of caffeine

versus natural forms of caffeine.

Natural forms are pretty okay.

You’re going to be just fine.

So coffee, tea, et cetera.

Yeah, all that stuff.

Pill form is where it gets tricky.

Always, like always, right?

So general, just eat real food and things.

You’re going to be just fine.

The last piece to consider is your diet quality matters

because the fluid content in your food can vary wildly.

So something like a bagel might be five to 10% water

or something like a watermelon is 98%, 95%,

something in a huge range.

Even meat is very high percentage of fluid intake.

Like it’s really high.

Even after you cook it,

there’s still a lot of fluid in there.

So if you’re eating a whole food,

mostly whole food-based diet,

your endogenous hydration is actually pretty high already

just from your fluid.

If you’re eating a very highly processed,

dehydrated, over-salted diet,

you’re way low on hydration just in your food.

So you have to factor all these things in.

In fact, one of the things that happens to us constantly

with folks that go from a highly processed,

low-quality diet to a high-quality one

is they’re just peeing nonstop.

I’m like, what the hell is going on?

I’m like, well, you’re actually have brought in

60 additional ounces of water in your diet

relative to what you used to have.

And you’ve gone from 10 grams of sodium there to four,

to two, sometimes one.

Sometimes it gets very low

because you’re not like salt.

Are you salting your food?


Okay, well, we don’t have sodium intake then.

Like we’re way down.

So everything that we’re considering is based on that.

So let’s assume someone’s eating

a pretty well-balanced diet.

They’re drinking 60 ounces of water

and maybe some caffeine, coffee and tea, things like that.

We don’t exactly know the optimal amount

of sodium one should intake.

It is very clear.

High sodium concentrations are still associated

with a lot of negative health outcomes,

especially in combination with poor physical activity,

in combination with low food quality

and other comorbidities.

That’s a very bad thing.

You need to be very careful about those things.

If everything else is okay,

we’re okay playing with a little bit higher salt.

In fact, you’re probably gonna feel better.

You’re gonna feel generally pretty good.

You just, it needs to be very clear.

If you are overweight, highly stressed

and you don’t have a lot of these things ticked off

and you have known comorbidities,

you really need to pay attention to salt intake.

It can be very nasty.

So that being said,

what we’re generally going to look at, folks,

is are you at least,

can we categorize you as a low-sodium or high-sodium sweater?

If so, there’s a whole list of electrolytes you can look on

that are gonna have something like

200 to 400 milligrams per serving.

There’s a whole list of these things.

If you’re a low-sodium sweater,

I’m probably gonna send you after one of those.

If you’re a high-sodium sweater,

there’s a lot of electrolyte supplements

that are closer to six or 800,

even a whole gram per single serving size.

So you wanna play with that.

A very-

How do you know if you’re a low-sodium

or high-sodium sweater?

We actually have an episode on salt

we put out that, or is coming out soon,

if hasn’t come out already,

which is, you know,

when you look at the hazard ratios for salt intake,

basically, your probability

of really bad things happen to you

goes way up as you get towards a lot of sodium intake,

you know, 10, 12 grams per day.

And this is translated to teaspoons of salt, et cetera.

But also, very low-sodium intake is a problem.

No question about it.

It’s not a perfectly U-shape.

It’s kind of a J-shaped curve,

or a kind of hockey stick shape, more or less.

But how would I know if I’m a low-sodium

or a high-sodium sweater?

Yeah, so you can get-

Would I just kind of lick my sweat

or have someone else do it?

Well, you can.


Find a super friend who’ll lick your sweat for you.

Same with how-

No willing volunteers that I’m aware of,

but would I be able to tell?


You can get sweat testing done.

Actually, you have a number of options.

The kind of the original one

that most of us use in the background for many years

was called Lebelin.

They’ll send you out a little patch.

You can wear that, send it in the lab,

and they’ll measure it directly in the lab

and send it back.

It’s about 150 bucks or-

Do they bin you into low, medium, and high sodium?

They’re gonna do that,

but they’re gonna tell you exactly the milligrams.

And then they’re gonna actually tell you

what products and stuff that are exactly matched.

Do you do this with professional athletes?

We have many times.

Yeah. Interesting.

You can do a more consumer-grade version.

Gatorade has a patch.

For 25 bucks, you can get two of them.

You can put that patch on your left forearm

and download the Gatorade app,

and you can do a workout,

and they’ll measure it right there and click it over,

and they’ll tell you exactly,

not only high or low, but again,

they’ll tell you the milligrams of sodium

that are in your sweat,

and then you can figure out, again,

kind of high, medium, or low.


I do much better on a slightly higher sodium intake.

Most do.

But in my carbohydrate, I do eat carbohydrates.

I’m one of those that is pretty moderate,

but I try and eat clean food.

So I’d notice, and I tend to be slightly low blood pressure.

So again, to reiterate the warning there,

that if somebody is prehypertension

or has hypertension or obese,

you really do need to be careful with your sodium intake.

But many people seem to find that they feel better

when they increase their sodium intake,

and they’re still in that healthy portion

of the hazard ratio curve.

Most of the athletes, I would say, in general,

we’re gonna go higher in salt.

When they come, we’re gonna run their stuff,

and we’re gonna add salt.

Almost always.

Very few times have I gone, ah, we need to cut this back.

I’m one of the exception of the ones that come in

that eat like 14-year-olds.

And I’m like, okay, you’re at 15 milligrams,

or you’re 15 grams a day,

because you’re eating nothing but-


So we’re like, we’re gonna come down,

you’re gonna feel way better.

All this bloating and everything else

that’s gonna happen, go down.

You can do that.

There are biosensors that are coming out

that are not available yet,

but they’re coming very soon in this space

that are gonna give you real-time metrics on salt.

So you can pay attention to those.

I haven’t seen one and used one personally,

so I don’t wanna espouse about how good or bad it is,

but I know that those are coming

from a handful of companies.

An easy way to do is just look at, wear a hat,

or wear some sort of headband or something

and do your workout.

Take it off.

If you see a just huge white band,

or if it’s completely clear,

and that’s gonna tell you, big white band,

you’re probably a high-salt sweater.

Completely clear, very little coming out.

That’s great.

And I can see the posts on Instagram now,

people showing their salt band from sweating.

I mean, obviously salt is so essential

for so many physiological functions.

You don’t want too high or too low,

but if you’re losing more,

it makes sense that you would need to take in more.

So half of my body weight in ounces

as a just foundation of a fluid intake.

Coffee and tea could be included in that,

but that should probably be mostly water

or things similar to it.

And then during exercise,

how do I wanna think about this again?

Let’s say I’m a high-salt output,

then I’d wanna drink maybe 40 ounces of water or more.

I’ll do this easier.

Let’s talk about pre and mid and post.

So what to drink pre.

If you come in having hit these rules, you’re okay.

And pre workout can be as little

as like five or six ounces.

Basically a couple sips of water, fine.

If you come in poorly hydrated,

then you maybe need to go more like 12,

but here’s the deal.

If you start off a session in a bad spot,

you’re not gonna catch back up.

Like you’re in trouble.

Let’s say you come in, you follow directions.

500 milligrams salt before, 500 milligrams after.

Very easy rule.

Pick whatever source you want.

That’s a couple of sprinkles of table salt.

If you want Himalayan, that’s fine.

You don’t have to.

Himalayan is actually a fairly low sodium salt.

So it’s not the best for this purposes.

If you’re higher, saltier sweater, a little bit more.

If you wanna go choose an electrolyte

of which there are infinite,

you can look on the packet

and it’ll tell you 250 milligrams per serving

or 400 or 600 or whatever happens to be.

But around 500, pre 500 post is a very general rule.

And then during is thanks to you,

my famous Galpin equation now that is all over the world.

All I did is I took the literature and I said,

okay, in general, the research shows pretty clearly

two milligrams per kilogram body weight over 15 minutes

seems to put you in a pretty good spot.

Most people don’t think about kilograms or milliliters.

So can I just run that over?

And it turns out it’s about your body weight

divided by 30 in ounces.

Like that’s all you have to do.

Body weight in pounds divided by 30.

Yeah, exactly right.

So you weigh 200 pounds divided by 30

and that’s the number of ounces.

You’re gonna wanna go every 15 or 20 minutes.

So I’m getting that amount every 15 to 20 minutes

throughout the training.

And now in the weight room, that’s pretty easy to do

because there are rest intervals,

but people will need to do this while running or cycling.

And that can cause a little bit of gastric distress

if you’re not used to it.

Is that right?

So you can learn to run with some water in your belly.


The gut is very trainable in a lot of directions,

but in terms of fluid, as well as carbohydrate,

which is another thing that is gonna get people.

But that’s, yeah, very trainable.

It’ll be uncomfortable initially,

but you’ll quickly get into it.

The better solution for those folks, just come in hydrated.

And you might not even need any water.

You could probably perform just fine.

So the ones that don’t have as much of an opportunity,

you really have to emphasize walking in.

We have this problem with professional golfers.

They have plenty of time to drink water,

but they’re so focused on the shot.

And there’s a lot of variables coming up.

Once they hit their shot

and they’re moving on to the next one,

they’re thinking about,

I mean, they’re going over a scorecard of 185 yards away.

Can I go 184 and a half yards?

Can I go 186 yards?

What’s the slope of that?

What’s the wind up here?

What’s the wind up there?

There’s just a thinking and they just forget,

even though they have four and a half hours.

So we have to make sure

that they immediately get off the course.

We go right into recovery as hard as we possibly can.

They wake up the next morning, they’re in a good spot.

We crush recovery.

And now it’s like, hey,

if you can remember to drink this, great.

If not, we’re still fine.

If it’s not a big deal and you have time,

like in a lifter,

because I deal with that problem with fighters too.

Like we can only drink so much in the middle of a fight.

A couple of sips over there,

but we can’t go mixing.

Two milliliters, it’s like,

can you get a couple of sips in?

Yeah, oh shit, forgot.

It’s not gonna happen.

So we have to take more of an emphasis before and after.

So start your recovery process immediately

and then come in the next day.

That’s your window.

And then whatever you can get in during the workout,

that’s fine too.

If you’re a higher salt sweater,

instead of doing 500, 500,

maybe go 750, 750.

If you have a longer bout of exercise,

especially if it’s hot or humid,

then you might wanna consider some salt

in the workout as well.

And 300 milligrams during the workout, totally fine.

It’s enough.

If it is a really long workout and it’s really hot

and you’re gonna lose pounds during it,

you need a specific strategy.

If you’re gonna lose less than a pound,

you don’t need to worry about it.

It’s not gonna be enough of a detriment

for you to really care.

So that’s kind of a rough rule.

Now, if you’re 200 plus pounds,

maybe that number moves from one pound to two pounds.

But really the number we’re looking at

is what 1% of your body weight.

If you’re losing more than 1% of your body weight,

we need to start caring.

If it’s less than 1%,

it’s not gonna really pay that much of a difference.

Okay, so for myself,

because I don’t get super technical,

I don’t wear any devices besides a wristwatch.

It’s a nice watch.

Thanks, yeah, very attached to this watch

or it’s attached to me, I suppose.

My body weight in pounds divided by two,

that’s what I’m gonna try and get across the entire day

as a kind of baseline.

And then my body weight in pounds

divided by 30 during the workout,

every 15 or 20 minutes,

that I’m going to try and consume that amount.

And then I definitely do better

when I increase the amount of salt that I’m taking in,

anywhere from 500 milligrams to a gram of salt

several times a day, actually.

But I’m not eating that often,

which leads me to my other question,

which is I prefer to train fasted or semi-fasted,

meaning first thing in the morning

or within an hour or two of waking.

Obviously, I’ve been fasting while I’m asleep

or having not eaten anything for three or four hours before,

I just feel lighter and more energetic.

If that works for me, is that okay?

Or should I try,

is it better to eat something before one trains?

Personal preference, easy answer there.

It depends on, of course, how hard you trained,

what the training was like,

what sport you’re involved with,

how many telekinesis, et cetera.

But in general, personal preference

for the average person.

That probably handles 90% of the questions about that.

Cold, cold showers, ice baths,

and cold immersion up to the neck.

I always preface this by saying

there are not a lot of studies.

There are some, but not a lot of controlled studies

looking at cold showers

because it’s harder to control the variables

of where people stand.

So I would say if you have access to cold immersion

of some sort, ice bath or cold immersion, great.

But if you don’t, cold showers

would be the next best thing.

The lore goes that if you do an ice bath

or cold water immersion after strength

or hypertrophy training,

that you are short-circuiting some of that.

The lore also goes that cold showers might be okay.

And my interpretation of those data and that discussion

is that all that is probably true,

but I have a hard time imagining

that the effects are so robust

that it can completely prevent strength gains

and hypertrophy,

such that my stance for myself

is try and do the cold exposure training

away from the strength and hypertrophy training.

But if you can’t do it any other time,

right afterward probably isn’t gonna throw

my whole system out of whack and prevent the improvements.

Am I diluting myself?

A couple of caveats here.

Number one, I would say I have a personal vested interest

in cold.

I’ve been around this stuff for a long time.

Being involved and being an advisor for XPT

and being in this space a long time,

I’m a big believer in cold, especially cold water.

Deliberate cold exposure.

100%, right?

So that being said,

I do think getting into an ice bath

immediately after a hypertrophy session

is getting pretty close to

you just shouldn’t have done the session.

It is detrimental.

Good to know.

I wouldn’t do it.

I guess is the most blunt way to put it.

If you’re like, hey,

I’m not super concerned with growing muscle

and I want these other things

that come with cold water immersion, fine.

It’s not a zero.

It’s not zero.

It’s not taking you backwards.

How much does it cut you down?

I don’t know.

We don’t know.

That’d be a difficult number to come up with.

Is it 1% reduction?

No, it’s more than that.

Is it 100?

Not even close.

I don’t know where it lands though.

It’s enough though for me to go,

in general, best practices,

don’t get in the ice immediately after a workout.

How long should I wait?

Well, in theory,

the best answer we could give you would be four hours

because of what we talked about earlier today

of going, okay,

immediately you’ve got the signaling cascade

that takes seconds.

You’ve got gene expression that’s happening

in this rough four hour window.

After the genes have gone off

and now you’re just going through

the protein synthesis process,

the signal’s already there

and it’s gone back down to baseline.

So then reintroducing or introducing cold here

is not gonna disrupt that signal.

That’s a very non-scientifically founded,

because we don’t know at this point at all.

What is very clear though

is if you get off your workout,

go right into the ice,

it’s probably 10% attenuation of growth.

I don’t know, maybe more.

Depends on the person.

Some people, if you look at the individual data,

it’s pretty bad.

It’s enough to where it’s like,

that’s a really big deal.

The benefits of the ice,

I don’t think now outweigh

the benefits of the hypertrophy training.

What about cold showers?

I don’t think cold showers are gonna do much.

If you’ve been in both,

you know that this is like,

we’re not playing the same game here.


An ice bath or cold water,

true cold water immersion up to the neck

with limbs in for one to five minutes

is a completely different stimulus

than in the cold shower.

Especially also compared to a similar, like cryo.

Right, it’s not even the same thing here.

So in general, I would say don’t do those.

Cold shower, I don’t really care.

Can you work it out

so you don’t do them at the same time?

That would be my hope, right?

I would actually prefer you do the cold before,

if you really had to do it.

Certainly will wake you up,

get that adrenaline burst.

No, we’ve played with that actually years ago,

doing that.

There’s actually some fun stuff you can do

with the endurance piece with cold stuff,

but it’s totally not feasible for most people

because you’re getting water everywhere.

They’re gonna jump on your bike and just get shit.

And it’s just a giant mess.

It’s fun, but yeah, I would say walk away from it.

If you can, that’s actually,

it’s where I stand based on the data.

Based on my intuition and experience,

I don’t think it’s a good thing to do.

Now, having said that,

that’s mostly concerned with maximizing hypertrophy.

Strength is not as clear.

There are some data to show it actual block

strength adaptations,

but because of what we talked about earlier,

the mechanisms and the drivers are different.

And so I don’t think it’s as big a concern

for strength development,

though I would still generally say,

if you can get away with staying out of the ice

immediately after the workout,

and you can at least wait a few hours,

that’s the better approach.

Less concerned with strength,

more concerned with hypertrophy

in terms of interference effect.

If you can do it on off days or before or any other time,

that’s the place to land.

That’s generally when I tried to do it.

I was just kind of throwing out an extreme case

because I get asked that question a lot.

What about the use of ice bath or cold water immersion

or cold shower after endurance training?

Okay, so a couple of interesting things here.

You mentioned we don’t have a tremendous amount of data

on cold water immersion overall.

So a lot of this is moving.

There have been some papers to show

that cold water immersion

can actually enhance mitochondrial biogenesis.

And actually even for endurance stuff,

it’s been shown to cause improvement

in endurance adaptations relative to not.

It’s not enough for me to be truly confident

in that statement yet.

I would like to see that repeated.

Not that I have a problem with the paper,

the methodology that they use in that particular study,

but this is a weird thing.

So I wanna see this repeated more often.

So I have less concern

with doing it immediately post endurance

because you could even argue that there may be some benefit.

I don’t think you need to go out of your way

to try to make sure you get an ice immediately afterwards

and thinking you’re gonna get some massive adaptation.

We use ice a decent amount when I can get athletes to do it,

but this context is different.

Number one, when we’re in camp

and we’ve got a world title fight coming up

or something else,

we’ve just pitched in a major baseball game.

I am not concerned about hypertrophy.

I’m not even concerned with strength development.

I am now pushing towards recovery.

There’s a paradigm that I think is important

with all of these things to understand,

which is, are you pushing for optimization or adaptation?

When you’re pushing for adaptation,

you don’t wanna block the signal for adaptation.

This means less recovery.

You’re not going to feel as good

and you probably should be hedging towards stress.

When you’re pushing for optimization, it’s the opposite.

So if I’m in season and I had a pitcher

just throw 125 pitches,

I’m not trying to cause adaptation.

I’m trying to recover as quickly as possible

because four days from now, we gotta do this again.

And I gotta do this across 162 games.

You’re gonna play five days in a PGA golf tournament

and you’re gonna have to do it again every week

for a bunch of weeks in a row.

I need recovery as fast as I possibly can.

So if I’m blunting adaptation, fine.

I’m not actually trying to do that.

I’m trying to optimize.

If you spend all of your time in one of those two areas,

you’re gonna have problems.

So you need to be judicious about thinking,

is this a point in my life or training cycle

that I want to cause adaptations

or am I trying to optimize?

You spend too much time in one of the other ones,

again, you’re gonna have problems.

So that’s in generally how I will treat

the ice for all those adaptations.

What about heat?


When, and I’ll frame this question differently

because I’m sure there are a number of ways

in which heat can short circuit all sorts of things.

I mean, heat in excess can kill you.


It can shut down fertility.

In excess, right?

It can do all sorts of things,

but it can also increase growth hormone,

increase vasodilation, improve one’s ability to sweat,

which can be very beneficial in a number of contexts.

For the typical, for 75% of people, 75% of the time,

when do you think heat is most useful?

And here I’m referring to dry sauna or wet sauna.

I’m not specifically talking about infrared sauna

because the data there are a little unclear to me.

And I don’t even know that,

my sense with infrared saunas is they don’t go hot enough

for my particular taste.

You and I have a similar taste there.

Okay, yeah.

We’re not crushing 200 past, I’m not interested.

Right, and my sense about infrared sauna

is that maybe I haven’t seen the data is that,

but that a lot of people like it

because they like the way they look in the infrared sauna.

It feels cool.

It feels like you’re doing something unusual.

Now, infrared lights are beneficial for other reasons,

actually for mitochondrial health and the retinas,

they’re good data.

But infrared sauna, to me, it never goes hot enough.

So I’m talking about 200 or hotter, maybe 180 to 220,

obviously do what’s safe, folks,

and heed all the warnings about pregnant people

not going in saunas, et cetera.

I assume you’re lumping in hot water immersion.

Hot water immersion, so hot baths, hot sauna.

When would you like,

when do you think most people could leverage sauna

or hot baths to benefit their training

and fitness and health?

Yeah, okay, I have a handful of things

to say about this topic.

One of them is you never have a hard time

convincing people to get hot.

Everyone feels good, like, yeah, getting a hot bath,

like, can you take more hot showers?

Sure, like, no problem there, right?

There are a handful of studies

that have looked at this immediately post,

and it seems to even augment hypertrophy.

So after hypertrophy training,

getting in the sauna for 20 minutes?

Yeah, whatever, whatever it needs to be.

We don’t have a good titration.

What’s the number minutes-wise?

We don’t have a temperature titration.

Hot shower would be a second,

that would be a weak second best.

I would say it’s a very weak second.

Take a hot bath.

I think a hot bath is probably a lot closer

to what you’re looking for.

It actually kind of goes back

to our initial conversations.

Theoretically, you’re just going to aid in blood flow.

So you’re gonna put more nutrients in,

more waste product out, metabolic stress,

all that stuff is going through.

So that’s the thought anyways, far from it.

Makes sense.

Plausible, right?

Absolutely plausible.

Something people will do, feels good.

Let’s say with cold and hot,

I want to caution you against a couple of things.

This is true across all physiology,

but you need to be really careful

about moving percentages from molecular to outcome.

Very careful.

So for example, it’s easy to see a paper that says,

okay, we put you in a hot bath or something

and we saw growth hormone increased 300%.

That is not going to result in 300% increase

in muscle size, right?

In fact, 300% might result in absolutely no change

in physical size, right?

So the reason I’m saying this is

because there’s a lot of people in this space

that will misapply the mechanisms.

And they’ll grossly overestimate what these things can do

and what they do do,

because they’ll find something like that.

I mean, you know this, you’ve done enough cellular work too.

In the lab, if I see mTOR doubled,

I think, shit, it didn’t work.

I need to see a 10X increase before I know it.

It’s even physiologically relevant.

So reading that paper,

reading some of the social media posts,

you’re like, wow, it increased mTOR 38%.

I’m like, well, it didn’t work.

And you’re like, wow, that’s huge.

I’m like, that’s not 38% increase in muscle size.

So that’s a very important point I wanna make

because I’m gonna talk about the benefits here in a second.

But I don’t want people to be fooled

into thinking that this is some crazy miracle.

The same thing with the sauna.

In terms of general health outcomes,

it is clearly a beneficial thing.

This is a really good idea to get hot a lot.

It is not a substitute for exercise though.

It’s a very important distinction.

If the options are nothing or sauna, get in the sauna.

Really, really good idea.

If the exchange is though,

I don’t need to work out because I did the sauna, bad.

This is not a winning solution.

You and I know some maniacs

that actually work out in the sauna.

Oh, we do, yeah, kind of not far away.

I don’t necessarily recommend that.

That actually would probably kill a large number of people,

but it can be worked up to, certainly.

Yeah, so every time I talk about that, I flag that

because it’s just too easy to hear that and go,

oh, well, I think Dr. Huberman said,

if I just get in the sauna, I don’t have to work out.

Like, no, no, those words have never come out of his mouth.

And I’m definitely not working out in the sauna.

If I’m in the sauna, I’m either sitting or I’m lying down

and I’m trying to make it through.

I tend to do three 20-minute bouts across the entire week.

So I aim for 60 minutes per week of heat exposure,

which is not a ton.

If I said I’ve never worked out in the sauna.

Oh, so you’re one of those.

Yeah, people will do air squats.

They’ll bring the Airdyne bike in there.

I look at the sauna as kind of a time to get lazy and sweat.

Totally fine.

Going back to your original question.

So potential to aid, plausible aid,

we need to see more research on that

to really get a deny to put this in practice.

I think if you try it, very little harm.

I struggle to see a downside

if you make sure your hydration’s on point, right?

Because now you’ve got to factor in the fact

you just kicked out two or three pounds.

If you’re you at 200 plus pounds, I assume, or roughly,

if you’re in the sauna for 20 minutes,

I would imagine you can do two, three pounds.

Yeah, usually I’m hovering somewhere around like 225.

And I drink a 32-ounce beverage,

water with an electrolyte solution

that’s pretty high salt afterwards and sometimes during.

And sometimes after that, if I do it late in the evening,

I’ll go to sleep and I’ll wake up in the middle of the night

just feeling so parched.

It’s amazing how much water one loses in the sauna.

Like a normal sweat rate for someone 225, especially,

and 20 minutes in a sauna,

I would absolutely expect you to do three pounds.

Easy, without like-

So I should be drinking more, even more water.

Yeah, you’re probably half the water that you need to get.

And you mentioned the possible benefits

of doing it after strength hypertrophy training,

which makes sense for plausible mechanistic reasons.

No official data there yet.

What about after endurance training?

Assuming somebody hydrates well enough

and they’re not overheated from their endurance work,

could also be a benefit.

Wow, so more and more what I’m thinking the framework here

is in an ideal world, one would train and then do sauna

or heat exposure of some kind,

endurance training or strength hypertrophy training,

and then do sauna and then do cold exposure

on off days or at least four hours away

from any kind of training.

Or if you had to do it close to train,

doing it before training.

Yeah, I love the cold in the morning.

We’ve actually run this experiment on professional athletes

where we do enough tracking with things like HRV,

which is a global metric of like overall fatigue.

Okay, and you’ve probably talked about that before,

but problems with it, but roughly ideal overall fatigue.

HRV in general, higher the score, the better, right?

So low HRV is fatigue, right?

Well, if you wake up and take your HRV in the morning

and then you get into ice, what’s gonna happen

is you’re gonna see that number plummet.

The second you get out, that’s gonna fall off the earth,

which means roughly you’ve moved into a sympathetic place.

Surprising, you get in 30 degree water,

you’re gonna go very sympathetic very quickly.

However, if you continue to watch your HRV for 30,

60, 90, and up to two to three hours post,

you will generally see an improved HRV score

relative to where you started.

So it’s back to this hormetic stressor, right?

A really cold, shocking exposure will be a net result

of you being more relaxed throughout the day in general.

And we’ve seen that now like very consistently

across years with athletes.

So I think it’s a great way to start your day.

You won’t need nearly as much coffee

after spending three minutes in 30 degree water.

30 degrees is pretty darn cold.

I was in the ocean this morning for about three minutes.

It felt, I didn’t bring a thermometer,

but it felt like somewhere in the low 50s.

But 50 and moving is really cold.


Water’s moving, right?

That’s really cold.

That’s right.

The thermal layer that surrounds you

when you sit still in a cold water immersion,

I’m encouraging people now if they really,

I was the joke that, you know,

people like to look real stoic and tough

when they’re in there,

like they’re just grinding through it with no pain at all.

But the stillness is actually reducing the stimulus.

If they sift around a little bit,

you break up that thermal layer.

That’s where the real action is.

We’ve joked about this for years,

like do 50 degrees with a Whirlpool jet on.

Now I’m impressed.

Because that is hard.

You sit in 35 degree for three minutes.

I guess.

But with XPT, I’ve seen,

I can’t even tell you how many hundreds of people

from all walks of life, on all age,

that we’ve been able to get in 30 some degree water

for three minutes.

50 degrees with a Whirlpool going,

that number gets very small.

Yeah, and if you don’t have access to a Whirlpool,

this should be reassuring to you.

Some people say, oh, you know,

I don’t have access to ice.

And ice can actually get pretty expensive

if you’re doing a $50 ice bath every day.

So you can fill your bathtub with cool to cold water,

get in, but just make sure

that you keep sifting your limbs and it’s chilly.

And the studies on the very well,

now well-established increases in dopamine and epinephrine

that occur in cold water exposure

were actually done at an hour in 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

And so you don’t necessarily need an ice cold

or an ice bath,

but immersion is really better than the cold shower.

The cold shower is kind of a,

it’s the, it’s kind of the espresso shot version.

No, that’s, it’s sort of funny.

Because if you look at most of those initial studies

and you think, man,

how did they get people to sign up

to spend 45 minutes in 55 degree water?

55 degrees is cold, even if it’s not moving.

And then they’re going to not spend five minutes in them,

they’re going to go an hour.

If you’ve ever done ice baths at that temperature,

you know, like, all right, after a few minutes,

it’s not that bad, but man, that’s a protocol.

Yeah, it’s kind of a cold endurance protocol.

Because it’s one thing to get in

for one minute to three minutes

and you know you’re getting out.

You could sing a song,

you could do anything to distract yourself,

but 45 minutes to an hour is intense.

Maybe they, I don’t know,

I don’t think they paid the subjects,

but anyway, that study was done in Europe.

I forget where it was done,

but anyway, they were hardy subjects.

I want to talk a bit about over-training

and gauging recovery.

So there are a couple methods that I’ve heard about

and that I use based on some data that I’ve seen,

but mainly discussions with really informed people

like yourself, Brian McKenzie, Kelly Starrett, and others.

The two that I’m aware of for gauging recovery

of the nervous system and kind of systemic recovery

are grip strength,

especially grip strength on waking in the morning,

and the so-called carbon dioxide tolerance test,

the ability to do a long controlled exhale

after a few rhythmic deep breaths,

just which I’m assuming taps into both

one’s ability to mechanically control the diaphragm,

but also how well one is regulating carbon dioxide.

First question is, is this stuff fiction, fact,

or a combination of kind of anecdata, as I call it?

Are there any peer-reviewed published data?

Is your lab working on these things,

and am I diluting myself using these tools,

or are they useful?

It’s not fiction at all.

There are, with CO2 tolerance, there’s less published data.

We’ve run a study in our lab

looking at the associations between the CO2 tolerance

and what we call trait and state anxiety,

and those are in the publication process, is what I’ll say.

So you can’t really talk about that stuff, as you know,

until it’s out, but in general, I’d say,

there’s a reason I’m still doing it.

I’ll just leave it at that.

Yeah, well, assuming it’s not a clinical trial,

I mean, I think sharing preliminary findings is fine,

as long as we highlight them as preliminary.

I’m not a reviewer,

but I look forward to reading the paper.

Yeah, but as you know, scientific ethically,

you need to be careful about telling people results

before you’ve gone through that process.

Right, which is why I’m flagging this

as these results are not yet passed

through the peer-review process,

so you’re hearing about it prior to peer review.

Yep, having said that, there’s enough in that field.

I’m not the first one into that field,

and so I’m very confident that that’s a real thing.

In terms of actual tracking recovery,

the big picture is this.

When we run through a full analysis,

when we have an athlete go through

our Biomolecular Athlete Program,

we’re gonna run and we’re gonna look at

three major categories.

Okay, category one are what we call visible stressors,

and then we have hidden stressors,

and then we have recovery capacity.

Anytime the total stress load outpaces recovery capacity,

you’re either going backwards in your physical ability,

or you’re reducing adaptability.

Now, you have levers to pull here.

You can reduce stress intake,

or you can increase recovery capacity, right?

What we want in an ideal situation

is to be able to implement the most stress possible,

because that’s the driver of adaptation.

Recover from that.

Now we get the most adaptation,

and adaptation being simply a change,

whatever change you want it to be.

That’s our gold standard, right?

It’s pie in the eye.

Some people have endogenous differences.

They just recover better.

They don’t.

There are genetic factors,

but let’s talk about the ones that are manipulatable.

If we go to the stress side of it,

you want the throttle to be pushed

as far down on the ones you want stress from,

and as far off of the ones you don’t want stress,

so that the adaptation comes in the exact area you want,

and you’re not burning gas

in something you don’t care about,

because you’re taking that total stress bucket too high.

Recovery capacity over there.

So here’s how you can do that.

You can run some analytics

and measure what we do with everyone

through these very comprehensive breakdowns

to figure out what’s that physiology look like

hidden and visible,

and then what’s the recovery capacity.

Once we have that blueprint,

we can now figure out

what are the two or three things we need to track

that are these indicators

of what we call performance anchors.

So an anchor is something

that kind of drags behind you or below you

that slows you down.

The analogy being,

let’s say we’re going down

one of these amazing canyon roads,

and I won’t say which canyon we’re in,

so you can stay hidden here.

And your car is going down at a certain velocity,

and you want to go faster.

Most people’s first impulse is to hit the gas,

the accelerator.

We want to push.

Well, that’s fine,

but if your foot is on the brake

and you push the accelerator,

you might go a little bit faster,

but number one,

you’re wasting a lot of literal gas

to go a little bit faster,

and two, you’re burning your engine.

You’re going to blow.

The easier solution is just take your foot off the brake.

You’re going to go faster by just stopping yourself.

Then if that’s not fast enough,

we can hit the accelerator.

Everyone wants to just push down, right?

More stimulus, more optimization,

bing, bing, bing, bing here.

Our first analytics are,

where are these performance anchors?

What’s dragging you back?

What’s putting down the brake?

I want to move those two or three things out of the way,

and now let’s see how far you get.

Oh, look at that.

Your recovery capacity has gone way up.

Your adaptations are happening faster now,

or we can do more work because you’re recovering quicker.

So we’re trying to figure out in those buckets,

and we have a whole host of things

that we measure, biomarkers and surveys

and everything else that we go through

to find out what’s there.

So after we’ve done that,

now we’re just going to track a few

of those recovery markers along the way

to figure out what’s globally happening.

So that could mean grip strength.

I have some folks who are going to test grip strength daily.

Others, we’re going to look at HRV or combinations.

We may look at performance metrics like a force plate.

So you’re going to do a vertical jump every single day,

and we’re going to see where that’s at.

We’ve used the tap test before,

which is how many times you can tap your finger

as fast as possible.

It’s a rough indicator of central nervous system.

In a, say, one-minute interval.


And there’s just apps you can do on this.

Like, you tap his finger as fast as you can.

It’s going to say, hey, you did 60 taps today,

and your average is 75.

I like that because it taps into,

ha, no pun intended, into upper motor neuron capacity.

Because a lot of things, like grip strength,

obviously I have to send the deliberate signal

to my hand to grip,

but at some point, the lower motor neurons

are going to be taking over the majority of the work.

Like, the signal is probably one and done,

whereas tapping is going to be repetitive

sending of signals from upper motor neurons.

Yep, so some of the athletes I work with,

we track blood every day.

We track urine every day.

We track, ideally, a combination

of subjective and objective measures.

Everything from how did you feel last night

to environmental sensors of their bedroom,

full PSGs going on, running actual sleep diagnostics,

not an aura ring, nothing against aura,

but full analytics.

And some of them, it’s as simple as,

how’d you feel today, and what was your vertical jump?

So we’re going to put people in a position to succeed.

We’re going to figure out what’s the lever

that they need to pull,

as well as what’s their aptitude,

what sport are they in,

what can we realistically get away with?

And some of them will take machines with them,

and we’ll do blood every day,

and urine, and all kinds of stuff.

And some of them, it’s a lot lower.

For myself, I’m not, as I mentioned before,

I’m not a big fan of devices.

I’m trying to wear the wristwatch.

I tend to go off feel,

which is not, it’s not the ideal,

objective way to gauge things.

But part of my reasoning for this is my colleague

from the psychology department, Dr. Aaliyah Crum,

has done some studies where they’ve given,

deliberately given people false feedback about their sleep.

So told people you didn’t sleep very well,

or they’ve told people you slept really well.

And performance can be driven in the expected direction

based on feedback,

independent of how well people slept or didn’t sleep.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can take someone

that only slept two hours or was up every 30 seconds

because of apnea and tell them they slept great,

and they’re going to perform great cognitive tasks.

But you can take someone who slept very well,

tell them that their recovery quotient wasn’t very good,

and their output is going to be worse.

And that’s my concern about a lot of devices out there,

not to name specific devices,

but it’s still unclear to the general public

what the specific algorithms are

to generate these recovery scores, right?

And so many of the things that reportedly track sleep

aren’t tracking sleep,

they’re tracking heart rate and breathing,

which are correlates of sleep depth, but that’s different.

And again, I’m not knocking those.

I think the sleep trackers, if nothing else,

have provided a forum

whereby people are very conscious of getting good sleep.

It’s sort of like knowing the total caloric intake

of your food, people go,

wow, I’m actually eating a lot more than I thought.

It’s calibration.

Or less in some cases, but often the case is that it’s more.

So I think for the typical person,

I’m wondering whether or not, like myself,

because I’m not a competitive athlete

or certainly not a professional athlete,

competitive with myself, I suppose, but no one else.

Morning pulse rate, I tend to take when I’m waking.

If I wake out of a really stressful dream,

I might relax a little bit

and then just take my pulse rate, kind of get a range

and see if it’s spiking for whatever reason.

I don’t tend to measure grip strength,

although I’ve heard you can just use a classic scale,

old-fashioned scale with the NeoNow, old-fashioned,

or some other more technical device is probably good.

There’s a low-cost one.

Yeah, they’re all low-cost.

And then the carbon dioxide tolerance test.

So we haven’t really talked about that in specific ways.

My understanding of it is it’s four deep, slow breaths,

in through the nose, out through the nose,

and then a big inhale as max exhale,

and then time duration of exhale through the nose,

and then stopping the stopwatch

at the point where lungs are empty,

not necessarily as long as one could hold their breath.

Did I get that right?

Pretty much.

I guess we should credit you and Brian McKenzie.

Yeah, those guys.

Yeah, and the folks under Brian’s umbrella

for really establishing this as a really good metric.

When and how can I use the carbon dioxide tolerance test

to gauge recovery?

Upon waking, post-training session?

Yeah. Would that be a good time?

Number one answer is whatever you do, be consistent.

So do it under any good science experiment.

Do it under the exact same conditions as you can.

That generally means somewhere in the morning,

because that’s when you’re probably going to have

the most control, most stability going.

So yeah, like you would take any HRV or other metric,

wake up, get under control, get stabilized,

take your metric.

Got it.

It’s gonna be pretty good.

Got it.

Sodium bicarb, leaking soda.

Rumor has it, and data has it,

that it can actually be a pretty effective training tool.

Very effective.

Could you explain a little bit about how it works

and how one might explore using sodium bicarb

to enhance training output in a couple of different contexts?

Yeah, so there’s a handful of these

ubiquitously effective supplements for performance.

Sodium bicarbonate’s one of them.

It’s a very ingenious idea, because it’s so simple.

Effectively, muscle contraction happens

because enzymatic function occurs

within a fairly specific pH range, right?

So if it gets extremely acidic, it doesn’t like it.

And so whether you’re running through aerobic glycolysis

or anaerobic or anything else,

all of these things require,

even ATP hydrolysis requires ATPase.

An enzyme has to,

the enzymes don’t function well

outside of this fairly special range.

So what happens is generally fatigue,

the sensations of fatigue are actually caused

by some signal that, hey, we’re starting to run out of pH,

or we’re getting in the wrong range.

You’re not out of gas usually.

You’re not too low on oxygen.

You’re not running low on muscle glycogen yet.

You’re typically gonna see signs

or feel signals of fatigue way prior to that,

mostly being pH issues.

That being said, what if we could regulate pH better?

Enter bicarbonate, right?

So without going too far into metabolism,

effectively what happens is you take an inhale

and you’re mostly breathing in oxygen, O2.

When you exhale, you’re breathing out CO2.

So the difference is you’ve gained a carbon somehow.

Well, all of your carbohydrates in your body

come in the form of long carbon chains.

In fact, that’s what a carbohydrate means.

It is a one carbon molecule

that has one water molecule attached.

It’s a carbon that has been hydrated.

In the case of like glucose, blood sugar,

it’s a six carbon molecule, right?

In terms of fat, which are the only two places

you’re gonna get most of your cellular energy,

carbohydrates and fat,

that is also a big long block and chain of carbons.

So whether you’re getting your energy

from fat or carbohydrate,

you’re going to split those atoms.

So in other words, you’ve got six carbons

attached to each other.

And in this part of chemistry, it’s exergonic.

So when you break that carbon bond,

so break one of those carbons off from the other,

that’s going to release energy.

Just like if you had a pencil in here and I snapped it,

it’d go bang and pop.

I broke the bonds that were connecting that graphite

to the next piece of graphite and that released energy

because I put energy in the system, et cetera.


As a result though, we’ve now had, you know,

say five or six carbons chained together.

We broke one off the end, which is not how it works,

but making the point.

And now you have one free floating carbon.

You use that energy release to then go make ATP,

to then go make your muscles contract.

But now you’ve got carbon floating around.

You can associate free floating carbon

with being at a higher acidic level.

It’s not going to happen.

The only way that you’re going to go through this process

is if your body says,

do we have an oxygen molecule available

that we can bind this to immediately?

Yes, we do.

That carbon attaches to that oxygen molecule.

You can’t just put CO2 in the blood

because of what we just talked about.

So you’re going to bind it through this bicarbonate process.

It’s going to go through your blood.

It’s going to go into the lungs.

It’s going to go back into its carbon dioxide molecule.

It’s going to go through the alveoli into the lungs

and you’re going to exhale.

So you went from carbon to this bicarbonate system,

back into carbon, exhale.

So inhaled O2 plants go the opposite, by the way.

So they’re going to breathe in the CO2.

They’re going to cleave off that carbon,

stack those carbons together,

and that’s how they get larger in your blood.

Those six carbon chains are called glucose.

If we store that in your muscle, we call it glycogen.

So we take a bunch of glucose and stack it together

in a plant.

We call that starch.

That’s effectively what it is, right?

So you take a bunch of carbon from the atmosphere,

stack it all together, and that’s a starch.

If you want to do it in the form of fruit,

we take that starch like from the ground,

you put it up through the tree,

go all the way up to the top, put it into the flower,

break it up into these big, huge chunks of starch

into little forms called fructose or glucose.

That’s why fruit has fructose in it

and that’s why tubers and stuff have starch in them.

Basically starch in an animal is glycogen in us.

Okay, all that to say, if that’s happening,

and we know that a byproduct specifically

of anaerobic glycolysis,

meaning the breakdown of carbohydrates for fuel,

typically in a very fast pace

with low oxygen availability,

the downside of that equation is acid production.

We know that that’s a problem

because I started the conversation off there intentionally.

So what if we could reduce the acid buildup?

Now, you know how pH kind of works.

I went and kind of double negatives there, right?

You don’t want too much acid buildup.

Then could we prolong and sustain energy

in a more effective pace,

especially in this anaerobic interval kind of environment?

And again, that’s important because in those things,

failure is not a result of running out of fuel or oxygen.

It’s a result of fatigue building up way too quickly.

Is that also true for resistance training?

There’s maybe more of the creatine phosphate system.

That can be an issue.

It could simply be an issue of force production.

You just don’t have enough force.

At least you’re not out of energy.

You just can’t muster enough force.

You do enough reps, then it’s gonna be an issue there.

Creatine phosphate would be the big winner, depending.

So to come back a little bit to the beginning,

then I’m circling this all together intentionally.

All right, well, the way that we produce energy

is gonna be in two primary categories,

anaerobic, anaerobic aerobic,

meaning with oxygen, anaerobic, meaning without.

In terms of muscle contraction,

we’re pretty much talking about carbohydrates or fat.

Now, fat is going to be exclusively aerobic,

meaning I’m gonna use fat from the entire body,

roughly equally.

So you’re doing a sprint up a hill,

and your hamstrings or your glutes or your quads are on fire.

You’re not just going to use the fat

that’s directly in those hamstrings.

You’re gonna lose it from the entire body.

It has to go through lipolysis,

so it’s in a stored form in adipose tissue.

It’s gotta get broken down and put into blood.

Blood’s gonna have to go through your body,

get taken up into muscle,

taken up through muscle into the mitochondria.

Then we’re gonna have to go through this process

called beta-oxidation.

So remember, carbohydrates and glucose especially

is a six-carbon molecule.

Fat, if it’s in the form of a triglyceride,

it is a three-carbon glycerol backbone

and three, you know, tri, one, two, three, fatty acids.

Three-carbon backbone and those fatty acids

are just big, long chains of carbon.

That’s all it is, right?

So we’re gonna break that thing down, put it in the blood,

move it up, move it into our mitochondria.

You can’t walk those things across the mitochondria

while they’re too big.

So what you have to do is cleave them off

into little chunks, and it turns out we break them off

into two carbon chunks, so we call it beta, as in two.

Move those into mitochondria.

That can go through this little thing called Krebs cycle

or triaxylic acid cycle,

and you kick out a bunch of energy out of that.

You had two carbons, so as a result of that process,

you’re gonna generate two carbon dioxides.

But remember, you can only go through that process

if oxygen is available because you have to be able

to place those carbons onto something

or acid gets up way too high too fast.

This is one of the reasons why fat is a nice fuel source,

but it’s very slow.

It takes physical time to move

from the back of your shoulder into your blood,

down your hamstring, uptake, uptake, uptake.

In addition, it’s required oxygen availability.

If you need energy faster,

you simply don’t have the time to bring in the oxygen,

transport it through, go through capillaries,

exchange through tissue, et cetera.

Carbohydrate, on the other hand,

is gonna be stored locally in the exercising muscle cell

and specifically in the cytoplasm.

As glycogen.

As glycogen in the store there.

So what’s gonna happen initially,

your initial demands for fuel are gonna come

from the glycogen stored within the muscle fiber itself.

It’s just gonna break right there

and you’re gonna be off the races.

So you have the six carbon molecule,

you’re gonna break it into two separate

three carbon molecules.

Okay, boom, that breaking provides you

a tiny bit of energy.

Very small but some.

Now you’re gonna take those two three carbon molecules

and you wanna be able to oxidize them

because that’s your only next step.

But in order to do that,

you gotta go those into mitochondria.

So you gotta break one of those molecules off

so then you’ll be back to your two carbon molecule

just like you did with fat.

That’s gonna go into mitochondria

and then it’s gonna go through the exact same Krebs cycle,

two carbons, et cetera.

But hold on.

If you don’t have sufficient oxygen

or sufficient mitochondrial availability

and you’re stuck at that two three carbon place,

what do you do?

You have problems, right?

Now we have to say, okay, wait a minute.

We have a three carbon molecule

and we have a bunch of this acid buildup.

Now acid functionally is hydrogen.

That’s what pH, potential hydrogen

is what pH stands for, right?

So if hydrogen is building up

as a byproduct of muscular contraction

and then you’re having this three carbon molecule,

what it can actually do is grab one of those hydrogens.

And those three carbon molecules, by the way,

are called pyruvate or pyruvic acid, right?

If you take a pyruvic acid and you grab hydrogen,

put it on top of it, we now have a different name for it.

It’s called?

Hydrogen peroxide.


Bingo, right?

That’s what lactate or lactic acid is, right?

So we’ve now built that up.

So number one reason why lactate’s not causing you fatigue,

it’s actually preventing it

and then it does a bunch of other really cool stuff.

But the point is that system can only last so long.

That gets overwhelmed very quickly.

What are you going to do with the rest of this hydrogen?

Well, if you started off in a normal pH range,

you don’t have very far to go

before you’ve now gone into that level of too much acidity.

If you start off in a more basic,

and basic I don’t mean simple,

I mean chemistry, right?

And more alkaline,

then that same amount of increase in pH is no longer,

now just puts you back in your physiological range.

So sodium bicarbonate,

whether taken as a cream, or a powder,

or baking soda, or anything else,

can simply put you in a more alkaline state even acutely.

So this is something you can take

right now before your workout.

You’re going to delay,

what we call delay the progression of fatigue.

And how would people start to approach this practice?

My understanding is you can do this

with common store-bought baking soda.

No question.

There’s always a concern about gastric distress,

that it’s a very effective laxative.

Sometimes an unwanted laxative effect.

But how would one approach this before?

Let’s say I’m going to,

I’m doing the mile repeats exercise.

Mile repeats protocol that we talked about earlier.

I’m doing that for a few months,

and now I want to try the sodium bicarb.

Approach I’m well hydrated,

hopefully I’m well rested.

I’m ready to go.

When am I going to drink this sodium bicarb solution?

How would I make the solution?

Let’s say I take 10 ounces of water.

How much bicarb do I want to,

sodium bicarb should I put in there?

Can we come up with it?

Is it half a teaspoon?

Is it a teaspoon?

Here’s what I’m going to tell you.

You will thank me by starting lower.

You can always go more later.

So a little pinch.

You cannot go backwards.

How about I start with a quarter teaspoon?


Honestly, half is fine.

Half a teaspoon.

Totally fine.

Dissolve that.

Slug that down.

I read a study recently that showed

that people will hit the peak benefits of this

at different times,

but it’s somewhere, if memory serves me correctly,

somewhere between 60 and 90 minutes later.

So I might want to drink it on the way to the track.

It can.

It can be as low as 20.


So maybe as I get to the track,

since I’m going to do some warmup

with some walking, jogging.

I say 45 minutes.


That’s just a very rough standard.

But yeah, you’re right.

It is individualized.

And you probably want to play with that a little bit.

If not, just somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 to an hour.


And then the perceived and real fatigue,

if done correctly,

the perceived and real fatigue ought to be reduced.


I can do more work without feeling exhausted.

Will I feel less of a lactate burn?


Done in air quotes for those listening.

I realize that’s a very crude way

to describe a complex physiological process.



Can sodium bicarb be used repeatedly

for longer duration training?


So you’re going to use it with weight training

for whatever reason.

Maybe I’m doing circuit type training

or I’m doing the super set type strength training

that you talked about before.

Push, pull, push, pull,

where it’s a little bit more cardiovascularly demanding.


Then maybe I’d sip that throughout the workout.

Make sure there’s a bathroom nearby.

It sounds like,

because I do,

I am aware that many people

get pretty serious gastric distress.

It can happen very quickly.



Well, it sounds like an amazing training tool.

I really appreciate you sharing it.

Because I think it’s,

it’s one that doesn’t get a lot of airtime these days,

because it’s been around,

but sounds like it has some pretty impressive effects.


You know what’s sort of funny about that is,

I mean, I get it.

Pop culture is what it is,

but still to this day,

if you want to talk about sort of your most effective

general health slash performance supplementation,

it’s the same three to four to five.

It’s because they work really well.

Without going into the chemistry of each one

and the practice of each one,

because I definitely want to get you back

to talk about diet, nutrition, and supplementation.

Oh yeah.

At some point.

I think we need a full couple of hours to get that right,

at least.

If you, as a teaser,

would you mind just listing off the other supplements

that you have found are very effective for many people?

So sodium bicarb or baking soda is one.

What are some of the other ones?


And we’ll go kind of a reverse order.

Beta alanine is another very classically effective one.

Similar idea of sodium bicarbonate.

So it’s going to,

beta alanine is going to come in

and it’s going to be converted and stored

as what’s called carnosine in the muscle.

And carnosine is an intracellular buffer.

So in other words,

it’s just going to delay the buildup of acid.

So fatigue blocker, if you will.

So very effective, very cheap, very safe, well-studied.

The top one though, of all of them by far,

that has an incredibly strong safety profile.

It has, it is a cheap, it is a simple form to get,

has a important magnitude of effect

and is effective across multiple domains

of physical health and performance.

And it is, because of that, it is my crown jewel.

It is, in my opinion, without question,

the Michael Jordan of all supplementation.

And that’s creatine monohydrate.

It affects so many things.

We typically think about it as it’s muscle stuff, right?

You’ve talked kind of,

you quickly were talking about

the creatine phosphate system.

But we have to realize the mass majority of research

on creatine phosphate is not in sport performance

and has not been for 20 years.

It’s in clinical.

And it has everything from effects

on the neurological system

to there have been associations

to mental health and depression.

And to be very clear, I am certainly not saying

you can take creatine and cure anything.

And I’m not saying it’s gonna stop you

from depression or anything,

but I’m saying there’s a lot of research in these areas

and there’s a reason people are doing it.

Yeah, I completely agree.

And if you’re willing, I’d love to have you back

for us to do a discussion on creatine and the brain

or creatine and the nervous system.

That would be a lot of fun

and maybe we can do a kind of a journal club

in advance of that.

For those that don’t know,

a journal club is where scientists read a bunch of papers

and then argue about them, discuss them,

and try and extract the kind of agreed upon center of mass,

if you will.

I think I’ve long been taking five grams

of creatine monohydrate per day

for mainly for the cognitive effects.

I sense an effect.

That’s obviously anecdata,

but I think there are a lot of data out there

as you alluded to.

There’s enough, you’re not crazy.

There’s enough there.

And in fact, there’s enough mechanism now

to understand the metabolic needs.

People think I’m a muscle guy, right?

So I’m gonna think about the metabolism needed

to fuel muscle.

But we forget cells, immune cells, red blood cells,

nerve cells, astrocytes, brain,

all this stuff requires energy

and it’s all going through metabolism.

Super interesting.

We will do the deep dive on that soon.

I have a final question for you.

You’re involved in a really interesting,

I think really cutting edge project

that I first learned about from you.

I don’t know of anyone else doing anything

as forward thinking and frankly,

as relevant to the general population

because of my interest in people getting better sleep

and learning how to do that,

avoiding stress and learning how to do that.

Tell us a little bit about what I believe

is called absolute rest.


So this is something that we’ve been playing

with behind the scenes for a long time.

And this is typically how high performance stuff works,


People want exclusivity and so this has been built.

Effectively, what happened is a friend of mine,

Cody Burkhart, I don’t know if you know Cody,

but a famous-

Down in Texas.


Yeah, NASA.

NASA guy.

Yeah, I do know Cody.

Wonderful, just down the road thinker.

Everyone’s interested in sleep, right?

And for forever, I would cover using with athletes,

but everything available tells you how you’re sleeping.

Nothing can tell you why you’re sleeping that way.

And so we got together in Boulder

and then I met some of his former colleagues,

computer science folks, Harvard MD,

and some really impressive tech folks.

And we were just thinking about an idea

and we came up with,

we started to realize the problems, right?

We use first principle thinking.

It’s one of my favorite approaches.

If you’re not familiar with that, go Google that.

It’s just a recipe to solve problems,

this first principle thinking.

And we just started to think about like,

man, all the sleep tech is there, it’s real.

I don’t need to convince people that they need sleep.

Everyone’s done that.

You need high quality sleep,

but how can I provide solutions?

And with the people I work with,

I can’t just tell them your testosterone’s down

or your sleep’s down or recover.

I need to be able to be like, this is down and here’s why,

and here’s our solution.

That’s how our high-performance world works.

So enter absolute rest.

This is saying, okay, what are the actual nodes

that go into high-effective, high-quality sleep?

Number one is psychology.

So there has to be some sort of screening diagnostic

for are you not sleeping because of simply

you can’t control yourself?

And you’ve done a wonderful job of giving people tools.

If you can’t quiet your mind before sleep, do this.

If you wake up and you can’t go back to sleep,

here are a bunch of things, right?

So we have some screens that we can do

and there’s some other stuff we can do to analyze.

This is a psychological issue.

Let’s say it’s not.

You’re under control and we have different tricks we use

and stuff on Gym Hack we talk about, but it’s not that.

Okay, is it physiology?

Which is node number two.

Do we know what your dopamine levels are like?

Do we know what your serotonin levels are like?

What’s melatonin look like?

What’s adrenaline?

What’s cortisol?

Cortisol being the primary driver.

What is this relationship, DHEA?

Where are these things at?

So we’re gonna measure all that and track that.

We’re gonna measure that during the day, prior to sleep.

We’re gonna measure that next morning

and even sometimes throughout sleep.

And we’re gonna figure out is this a physiology problem?

If it is, then we have clear corrections.

If not, we’re gonna go on to the next step,

which is, is this possibly a pathology?

So you have some sort of sleep disorder.

We’re gonna run full, what’s called PSG,

so polysomnography, a full,

the exact same stuff you would get in a sleep clinic.

It’s a sensor that’s gonna go on measuring EEG and EOG

and we’re gonna have a muscle activation sensor

to see if your legs are moving

and everything else is going on.

And we’re gonna get a full diagnostic.

And if anyone’s ever done this,

the amount of sleep issues that are happening in people

that they don’t even realize is extraordinarily high.

So we’re gonna figure this out.

One very quick example,

we just did this with a professional athlete

and he was having like 280,

roughly, of these episodes per night.

And to be categorized as an episode,

you have to meet these four specific criteria,

oxygen saturation, ventilation changes,

brain changes, et cetera.

And he hit that over 280 times a night.

And what this technology allowed us to do

is figure out what position did all these things occur in?

Well, in his particular case,

what most of them were happening was on his back.

And so we bought a very simple like pillow, basically,

that went on his back,

that kept him from sleeping on his back.

And we saw an 85% reduction in sleep awakeness issues

the very first night.

Now we did that,

testosterone eventually tripled after three months

by just improving sleep.

And all we did is move him onto his left or right side.

So huge improvements just by understanding

where the problem occurred and why it occurred there.

We didn’t have to change hardly anything else.

He had the basic hygiene stuff down

and temperature and all that stuff.

And he had his chili pad and all that to keep the thing cool.

We couldn’t fix it.

Years, by the way, this took us two years

of just trying everything.

We’re like, man.

And it was just like, I wish,

wish we could get you to sleep better.

And I pulled out every trick I knew.

And it’s just, as soon as we built this down,

I’m like, oh my God, it’s all.

He’s not overweight, by the way.

He doesn’t have any, he’s not iron deficient.

He doesn’t have any of these other classical symptoms

that are associated with bad sleep.

Supplementation, everything.

We’ve done a thousand protocols.

That fixed it overnight.

So if it’s not psychology and it’s not physiology

and it’s not pathology,

then the last one that people don’t have any idea about

is environment.

And so what you don’t realize is we have a box.

We can sit right next to your bed.

You just plug it in.

You don’t have to do anything.

And it’s gonna run full environmental scans.

So it’s gonna look at the temperature in your room.

It’s gonna look at the humidity in your room.

It’s gonna look at the volatile organic acids.

These are things that are seeping out from your mattress.

It’s gonna look at particulates in the air

and possible allergens and things that are floating around

that are closing your nose off so you can’t sleep at night.

And now you’re mouth breathing and you’ve talked a lot.

I’m sure on the previous episodes about why that’s bad.

It’s gonna look at your CO2 cloud.

So we’ve talked, we’ve already set this point up, right?

You’re inhaling O2, but then you’re exhaling CO2.

Well, during the day and when we’re conversing,

you have quite a bit of force with that exhalation, right?

But at night,

it’s just barely seeping out of your mouth.

So what happens is CO2 sends to cloud up

and build around your face.

And then you end up re-breathing that CO2.

And this can cause a large number of sleep problems

because you’re simply re-breathing in the panic.

Whether you fully awake or just kick out of a sleep stage,

the CO2 around your face is a big issue.

This stuff has all been known, by the way,

with the astronauts for a very long time.

It just hasn’t translated into the commercial spaces.

Of course, gone to our high performer space.

So we can measure that as well.

And then we can figure out like for the most extreme,

we can actually come into a bedroom

and build an entire sleep optimization setup

and control the entire thing.

But for most folks, the minimum we can do

is run full diagnostics and check off,

is this environmental related?

Is it pathology?

Is there something else?

So is this a commercial device

that people can eventually access?

It is now.

So where can people learn more about Absolute Rest?

Very cool.

And just for our full disclosure,

I wasn’t aware that you had done this prior to today,

what you’d mentioned.

I always like to ask people, scientists or otherwise,

I always love to ask,

you know, what are you most excited about lately?

And this sounds like an amazing technology.

And just to be really clear,

that’s not like something we’re working on.

That’s landed.

That’s landed.

We’re ready to go.


Well, and that’s one of the things I appreciate about you

is that you’re willing to sometimes speculate,

but you always say it’s speculation.

But in general, you seem like the kind of guy

where if you’re going to be public facing about something,

if you’re going to make a statement,

there’s got to be quite a bit behind it.

You’re not going to allude to the in 10 years,

we might be able to do this or in five years.

You’re very data-driven kind of guy.


Well, the people I work with, we need answers, right?

We don’t have that timeframe.

And we typically have like,

hey, we start the season in four weeks.

So that’s just where I’m at.

Well, as I said, I appreciate that about you,

but it is, but one of the many things I appreciate,

I think the listeners and I can well appreciate

on the basis of today’s discussion,

what a enormous wealth of information you are,

how clear and potently you communicate that information.

And also how you can take a huge cloud of information

and still distill it into protocols

that ought to work for 75% of people, 75% of the time,

which is an immensely valuable thing to do.

So for me and from the listeners,

I just want to say thank you so much

for taking the several now hours.

I lose track of time, which reflects all good things.

Several hours to take a break from teaching,

take a break from research,

take a break from the other important commitments

of your life and really share with us

all this incredible information.

I’m so, so grateful.

My pleasure, man.

I’m glad we finally got to connect.

This has been a long time in the making.

It has.

I’m going to bring the breathing protocols to my training.

I’m going to start doing more of the endurance type

and interval type training.

I’m going to start moving when I do heat.

I’m going to start moving when I do cold.

I might even start throwing some sodium bicarb

into a very small amount of sodium bicarb

into some water before I train.

And listen, Andy, Professor Andy Galpin,

thank you ever so much.

My pleasure.

Thank you for joining me today

for my discussion with Dr. Andy Galpin.

If you’d like to learn more about his work

and learn further information about exercise science

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