Blood Oxygenation Tips, Negative Calorie Foods, Self-Testing Your Adrenals & More: Yuri Elkaim’s 7 Commandments Of Energy


Your blood is a river.

Food shouldn’t drain your energy, period.

Your adrenal glands need to be stressed strategically.

Eating less can give you more energy if you do it the right way.

Anything that clutters your head strips you of energy and productivity.

Movement is life, excess healing and repair inhibits that movement, and stagnation (AKA rigor mortis) is death.

Increasing energy is synonymous with increasing fertility, health and longevity, so if you decode an energy increase, the effects are exponential.

These are just bits and pieces of Yuri Elkaim’s “7 Commandments of Energy” found in his All-Day Energy Book, and in today’s podcast we take a deep dive into the commandments that Yuri claims can double your energy in seven days.

Yuri is a nutrition, fitness, and fat loss expert and the NYT bestselling author of The All Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet. He is a former pro soccer player turned health crusader, and he’s most famous for helping people who’ve tried everything to lose weight and get in great shape, with little success, finally achieve breakthrough results. He is on a mission to empower 10 million people to greater health by 2018 by making fit and healthy simple again.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why all Yuri’s hair and eyebrows fell out…[9:00]

-The little-known foods and lifestyle practices most notorious for limiting oxygen carrying capacity of blood…[17:50]

-Why chlorella and Vitamin B12 match the structure of your blood’s hemoglobin…[12:12]

-Why it’s a myth that your diet can’t change your blood pH, and the specific foods that will make your body more acidic…[26:55]

-The simple protocol that allows you to determine exactly how much hydrochloric acid you need to take prior to a meal to assist with digestion…[52:30]

-How you can easily test your adrenals at home with two dollar flashlight…[66:40]

-The surprising billions of probiotics you should really be including in your diet…[69:45]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

The All Day Energy Diet

The All Day Energy Cookbook (free + S&H) –

Betaine HCl digestive enzyme

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

360: What Your Poop Can Tell You About Your Health, How To Heal Tendons & Ligaments Faster, Natural Ways To Decrease Cortisol & More!


September 28, 2016 Podcast: 360: What Your Poop Can Tell You About Your Health, How To Heal Tendons & Ligaments Faster, Natural Ways To Decrease Cortisol & More!

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Nov 17-18, 2016: Ben is speaking at the Biohacker’s Summit in Helsinki, Finland. Discover the latest in wearables, internet of things, digital health, and mobile apps to increase performance, be healthier, stay fit, and get more done. Learn about taking food, preparation, cooking, and eating to the next level with the latest science and kitchen chemistry. Even delve into implanted chips, gene therapy, bionic arms, biometric shirts, robotic assistants, and virtual reality. Two days with an amazing crowd and a closing party with upgraded DJs to talk about. Click here to get in now at a 40% discount.

Nov 11-14, 2016: Ben is speaking at this year’s Weston A. Price Wise Traditions on real food to enhance physical and mental performance. If you’re an athlete, this is the talk for you! Click here to sign up.

Did you miss the weekend podcast episode with Peter Shankman? It was a must-listen – “Why ADD and ADHD Are Good For You, (And Supplements, Foods, And Lifestyles to Help With ADD and ADHD) ”. Click here to listen now or download for later!

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Listener Q&A:

As compiled, deciphered, edited and sometimes read by Rachel Browne, the Podcast Sidekick.

What Your Poop Can Tell You About Your Health

Annie says: Annie has a question about poop. She’s noticed that some foods come out the same way they look going in. Corn, quinoa, nuts, raw carrots and beans are some of the perpetrators. She recently made a big batch of KIN-I-OA, which is similar to Quinoa, and she lost her appetite just looking at it.  So she was wondering what it means when she can see pieces of food in her poop? Are they being digested, is she absorbing their nutrients? If not, is it worth even eating them? And is there anything she can do to make them more bioavailable? Like eating nut butters over whole nuts?

In my response, I recommend:
3 Day Gut Panel
Soak Time Chart
Digestive Enzymes

How To Heal Tendons & Ligaments Faster

Yoddy says: He’s undergoing major ligament and tissue surgery his wrist at the end of the month for a congenital hand problem. His recovery time is 2-3 weeks for skin, 4-6 weeks for ligament and tissue, 6 weeks in a splint, and 10 weeks of physio. A couple of weeks ago you sent him an article on Twitter that was skewed toward healing bones and joints. What would you do in order to maximize recovery and healing of tissue and ligaments?

Float Tanks vs. Epsom Salt Baths

Miguel says: Miguel is from Texas and he’s wondering what your opinion is on float tanks and float therapy. He loves taking magnesium baths an he’s curious if there’s much difference between magnesium baths and float therapy. And finally, what are pros and cons in regards of increased brain chemicals, stress relief and recovery. Where does float therapy stack up compared to other relaxation modalities?

In my response, I recommend:
Magnetic Clay Magnesium Salts/Topical Magnesium

How To Get Your Cycle Back After Being On The Pill

Becka says: She’s a 25 year old endurance runner and long time fan of the show. She has a question about preparing for pregnancy as her husband and her are looking to start a family soon. After 10 years of being on birth control, she’s finally ready to get off the pill. Do you have any recommendations for how to get her cycle to restart naturally? She’s also wondering what prenatal vitamins you recommend that won’t break the bank? Also, should she scale back on exercise while she’s trying to conceive? She listened to the last podcast with tips on how to increase fertility in men, but can you do the same for women? Do you have any other suggestions on how she can best increase her chances of getting pregnant?

In my response, I recommend:
Thorne Prenatal
Topical Magnesium
Code Red


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Why ADD And ADHD Are Good For You (And Supplements, Foods & Lifestyle Strategies To Help With ADD & ADHD).


Peter Shankman, my guest in this podcast, truly believes that ADD and ADHD are good for you. He believes they’re not just good for you, but that they can be keys to success.

He hosts the website Faster Than Normal, a blog that focuses on the benefits of having ADD/HD and a podcast that interviews CEOs, celebrities, and other successful people who have ADD/HD, and have turned it to their advantage.

For several years, Peter has been public about the fact that he’s ADD/HD, and that he blames ADHD for most of his success. He’s best known for founding Help A Reporter Out (HARO) and as the founder and CEO of The Geek Factory, Inc. a boutique social media, marketing and customer service strategy firm located in New York City.

Peter spends the majority of his time on the road, keynoting corporate events for clients including AmericanExpress, Sheraton, Saudi Aramco, Cisco, SAP, Sprint, The US Department of Defense, Walt Disney World and many more. In his little spare time he is a NASA Advisory Board member, angel investor in multiple start-ups, sub-4 marathon runner, Ironman and B-licensed skydiver. A tweet of his was voted one of the top 10 Tweets of 2011 by ABC News and Twitter. He also recently authored the bestselling book Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans. He lives in New York City with his beautiful wife and daughter, and two psychotic cats.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why Peter thinks that ADD and ADHD are good for you…[7:30]

-How do you know if you have ADD or ADHD or if you’re just a “busy” person…[16:20]

-The best book to read if you have ADD or ADHD…[16:46]

-Famous people who have ADD and ADHD (you’ll be surprised), including Ben Franklin, Seth Godin and more…[18:17]

-Whether ADD and ADHD is an actual condition, or just an overdiagnosis for people who are busy and get stuff done…[21:35]

-Peter’s top three easy and simple ways to “fast reboot” an ADHD brain…[30:14]

-Specific supplements that can help with ADD or ADHD…[38:27]

-How to eliminate decision-making fatigue and keep too many choices from “paralyzing” you…[41:40]

-What are the most important things you can do if you live with someone who has ADHD…[45:50]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Dopamine Brain Food by NaturalStacks

-Book: Delivered From Distraction

-My original interview with Peter: Top Fitness Productivity Tips From Peter Shankman AND A Massive Fitness & Nutrition Q&A Bonus!

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

Pulling 8,800 Pound Fire Trucks By The Hair, Juggling Flaming Kettlebells, Discovering Underground Herbs & More: Logan Christopher & The Lost Empire Herbs Podcast.


Born without genetic gifts, my podcast guest today was once a weak and scrawny young man, who set out on a quest for the best body and brain secrets in his pursuit of super strength, mind power and radiant health. Nowadays, he’s known for his famous feats of pulling an 8,800 lb. firetruck by his hair, juggling flaming kettlebells, supporting half a ton in the wrestler’s bridge and more. He is the author of many books, a coach and a public speaker, and you can access all the goodness he how produces on his website “Lost Empire Herbs“.

His name is Logan Christopher.

And yes, I am serious – as a performing strongman, Logan has pulled an antique fire truck by his hair, juggled kettlebells that have been lit on fire, done weighted back flips, supported half a ton in a wrestler’s bridge position, and many of the more typical old-time strongmen feats like phonebook tearing and nail bending.

In today’s podcast, we delve into neurolinguistic programming, hypnotism, energy medicine, psychology, herbalism and beyond, and during our discussion, you’ll discover:

-What Logan discovered when he traveled to the Amazon jungle to spend time with indigenous people for two weeks…[4:50]

The tea that Logan drank every morning while in the jungle to induce vomiting each morning…[6:23]

-How you can recall and interpret dreams more effectively…[8:35]

-How Logan went from being a weak and scrawny kid to pulling 8,800 lb. firetruck by his hair…[14:00]

-The little-known strength training techniques Logan learned from old-timey strongmen training routines…[15:38]

-How Logan trained to juggle flaming kettlebells, and a simple trick to light a kettlebell on fire…[22:15 & 26:30]

-A trick called “sub-modalities” to get instant breakthroughs in strength and power, and to do exercises you haven’t been able to do before…[32:50]

-The three different forms of energy in Chinese medicine, and how to tap into each…[50:28]

-Why Ben puts black ant extract into his smoothies and shakes…[49:20]

-How to increase your prowess in the bedroom by not ejaculating and by using “jing” based herbs…[52:05]

-Why you may want to think twice about using the new “magical mushroom” formula purported to block bitter tastes…[60:10]

-An herbal root that most people don’t know about, but that has been used by Russian scientists and athletes for hundreds of years…[62:25]

-The Chinese root that keeps women “juicy”…[65:35]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Dream Language: The Prophetic Power of Dreams, Revelations, and the Spirit of Wisdom

Achuar tribe of the Amazon

Guayusa herbal tea

Lost Empire Herbs (where you can get any of the herbal formulation that we discussed)

Food, Genes & Culture: Eating Right For Your Origins

The Mighty Atom: The Life and Times of Joseph L. Greenstein; Biography of a Superhuman

The Multi-Orgasmic Man

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

How (& Why) To Eat More Vegetables, Why A Plant Is Like An Upside-Down Human, Little-Known Superfood Plants & More!


It’s not often I read a book that is less than 100 pages long and I fold over and highlight nearly every page.

But that was indeed the case when I read the book “How (& Why) To Eat More Vegetables“, a book with a very simple title but a very wide range of practical plant-eating information I’ve never seen published elsewhere, including little-known superfood plants, why humans are like an upside down plant, how to make extremely nutritionally dense vegetable powders and much more.

The book was written by the guest of this podcast: Dr. Tom Cowan.

Dr. Cowan discovered the work of the two men who would have the most influence on his career while teaching gardening as a Peace Corps volunteer in Swaziland, South Africa. He read “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” by Weston A. Price, as well as Rudolf Steiner’s work on biodynamic agriculture. These events inspired him to pursue a medical degree and he graduated from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in 1984. After his residency in Family Practice at Johnson City Hospital in Johnson City, New York, he set up an anthroposophical medical practice in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Dr. Cowan relocated to San Francisco in 2003.

Dr. Cowan has served as vice president of the Physicians Association for Anthroposophical Medicine and is a founding board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation™. During his career he has studied and written about many subjects in medicine. These include nutrition, homeoathy, anthroposophical medicine and herbal medicine.

He is the principal author of the book The Fourfold Path to Healing and is the co-author of The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care. He writes the “Ask the Doctor” column in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the foundation’s quarterly magazine, and has lectured throughout the United States and Canada. He has three children and three grandchildren and practices medicine in San Francisco, where he resides with his wife, Lynda Smith.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why a plant is like an upside-down human, carrots and roots are good for your sinus and head, leaves are good for your lungs, and flowers are good for your metabolic and reproductive systems…[15:30 & 19:12]

-Why Dr. Cowan believes that vegetables are vastly misunderstood and misused by modern “healthy” diets, such as the Paleo diet…[27:45, 32:50 & 45:00]

How commonly vilified foods such as beans and grains are actually good for you and a crucial part of an ancestrally appropriate diet…[29:35]

-Why you should seek out and learn to eat a special superfood vegetable called “Ashitaba”…[37:30]

-The little-known plant that can lower blood sugar more powerfully than the diabetic drug Metformin…[41:50]

-The fascinating tale of how the vegetable variety of “ancient Californians” compares to the vegetable variety of modern Californians today…[44:45 & 47:50]

-How the container that you store a vegetable or other food in can drastically affect the energy and nutrient bioavailability of that food…[51:30 & 52:50]

-Whether you should eat vegetables in their raw vs. cooked form…[56:35]

How to make vegetable powders from tomatoes that taste just like bacon…[60:35]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

The 2016 Weston A. Price Foundation conference

The Fourfold Path to Healing

The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

Biodynamic wine

Anthroposophic medicine

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

32 Ways to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve, Fine-Tune Your Nervous System & Self-Hack Your Hormones.


This is a special Premium audio episode. Click here to activate a Premium subscription to the BenGreenfieldFitness show and access this and over 300 additional hidden audios, videos, pdf’s and more!

When it comes to your hormone balance, your sleep, your mood, your gut function, your physical performance, your cognitive power and nearly every other body and brain variable you want to optimize, nothing beats addressing the health of your vagus nerve.

In Podcast #341, I talk a bit about how to enhance your vagus nerve tone and “hack” your nervous system, but I really only scratched the surface of everything you can do to care for and enhance this incredibly important nerve.

So in today’s podcast, you’re going to learn everything you need to know about your vagus nerve and how to properly care for it. If you implement the tips in this episode, I guarantee you will be shocked at the results and effects on stress and heart rate variability, mental horsepower, physical performance, recovery, digestion, hormone balance, libido and much more.

My guest on this episode is Joseph Cohen.

Joe is the owner and main writer at Since upgrading or ‘biohacking’ himself, Joe has become an investor and entrepreneur, founding SelfDecode, a biotech company that helps people understand their genetics in order to optimize their health. SelfDecode will use genetics, blood tests, symptoms and other health data to predict beneficial outcomes for drugs, supplements, lifestyle and dietary changes in order to optimize health. Joe also consults with high profile executives, self-hackers and companies and is writing a book about optimizing health. Joe likes to spend his free time learning how to code.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why Joe was, at one point, unemployable…[5:45]

-What the vagus nerve is and how it drastically affects health or disease various organs…[11:50 & 16:45]

-The nitty gritty science…how does the vagus nerve *work* exactly…[14:30]

-The best way to check your vagus nerve function…[43:15]

-Free and easy things you can do increase the health of our vagus nerve…[31:30]

-The best sleeping position for the vagus nerve…[44:15]

-Top foods and eating strategies hat help your vagus nerve…[35:30]

-Joe’s top piece of biohacking gear for the vagus nerve…[37:20]

-The three supplements for the vagus nerve…[41:20]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

32 Ways To Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve article

Podcast #341 on “How To Hack Your Nervous System”

Alan Aragon’s Research Review

Perry Marshal book – Evolution 2.0 Breaking Deadlock Between Darwin & Design

Huperzine (club moss)

Galantamine nootropic herbs

Fish oil

Quick coherence technique video

ICES PEMF device

RS6330 genetic snip for vagus nerve health

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

[Transcript] – 7 Cutting-Edge Physical Therapy & Recovery Techniques You Can Use To Heal Your Body Fast.

Podcast from

[0:00] Introduction/Some Things Ben Has To Say

[1:48] Camel Milk

[3:41] Quip Toothbrushes

[5:26] Casper Mattresses

[7:07] Introduction to This Episode

[8:40] Dr. John Rusin

[11:02] What Makes John So Unique

[13:13] What John Would Do That’s Different From A Regular Physical Therapist

[15:20] What is Functional Dry Needling

[22:48] Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization

[26:13] EDGE Tool Dr. Rusin is Using

[29:57] Pelvic Floor Postural Reeducation

[38:55] Opinion of Dr. Rusin About Cupping

[44:44] Using Blood Flow Restriction Therapy

[51:24] Functional Hypertrophy Training Program

[53:16] Rhythmic and Reactionary Dynamic Stability Strength and Stabilization

[58:14] Unconventional or Other Lesser Known Healing or Training Methods

[1:03:04] End Of Podcast

Ben:  Hey, what’s up?  It’s Ben Greenfield.  I feel like crap.  I feel a complete crap right now because I lied to you.  I didn’t lie to you.  I just made an error last week when I was talking about electrical muscle stimulation, and an astute listener wrote in and informed me that I was in error.  And it turns out I was.  I was talking about an electrical stimulation device called a Marc Pro, and I said it had a square waveform that was really good for healing tissue.  But it’s actually not the square waveform, the square waveform is the one that all the other electrical muscle stimulation units have.  The Marc Pro has what’s called a dynamic decaying waveform, not a square waveform.  There.  I can sleep at night now.  And so can you.  I know you are lying awake at night wondering about that.

So, what else?  I just got back from the Ultra Beast in Lake Tahoe.  The Spartan Ultra Beast.  Thirty plus miles of obstacles, and barbed wire crawls, and cold weather, water dunks.  It was a fun time, and I just wrote a report on that over at, and also recorded a podcast about that over at  That’s where I have my fun/explicit/controversial obstacle racing podcast.  So you can go to if you wanna listen to that.

Today we’re going to be interviewing.  We?  It’s actually me.  You just have to listen, I have to get to interview Dr. John Rusin.  We talk about these really fringe physical therapy techniques and regeneration tactics for your body that a lot of people don’t know about, but that he does.  And he’s a very, very well-informed, well-educated man.  He’s educated.

Speaking of education, let me educate you on something.  Have you ever heard of something called lactoferrin?  So lactoferrin is this protein that helps to protect your body against infections and you actually find it in it what’s called the colostrum.  Sorry to gross you out, but the colostrum is like the first milk produced by mammals.  And it does things like bind iron and remove it from the gut, athletes will a lot of times use iron supplements to like boost oxygenation and help improve performance, and lactoferrin prevents that from causing damage.  It also prevents bacterial growth, and it has some really good anti-viral and antifungal properties.  It helps with the healing process of wounds.  But the cool thing is that you don’t have to take a supplement to use it.  You can get it from milk.  And in this case, camel milk.

Camel milk has extremely high levels of not just lactoferrin, but a whole bunch of what are called immunoglobulins, growth hormone precursors, electrolytes, amino acids.  It’s the most nutrient dense milk on the face of the planet.  And the stuff that I use now, my fridge is full of it, it’s raw, it’s non-homogenized, they make it in a gluten-free facility.  The camels don’t get soy, or corn, or hormones, or additives.  They’re just raised out in the pasture, making their little camel noises and dropping their little camel doo-doos as camels do.  I obviously don’t farm camels, I’m just making all this up.  This is my camel fantasy.  But you can get camel milk, and here’s how: go to and use code Ben20, Ben20.  Gets you 20% off camel milk.  It actually is extremely delicious.  I highly recommend you get it.  It’s kinda like the milk kingdom’s equivalent of bone broth.  And you can quote me on that.  Okay.  So code is Ben20 at

Once you’ve finished your camel milk, you can brush your teeth with this.  I’m not big into like gimmicky toothbrushes, but this company called Quip, they sent me this toothbrush and it’s actually kinda cool.  So what it has on it is this little timer.  So it’s a 2-minute timer on the selector tooth brush, and it gives this little vibration that tells when to start brushing the next area of your mouth in these like 30-second pulses.  So you can like split your mouth into quarters, if you’re a total Type A like me, and you can do 30 seconds one side, 30 seconds the upper right, 30 seconds the, what would it be, the front, 30 seconds the back.

Anyways, it’s really cool.  It’s got a press wall mount that lets you unstick and re-stick it like a suction cup anywhere, but the tooth brush itself is like a piece of art.  It’s got this really cool design, they use premium materials and color options.  You get to choose, like you can customize your colors.  It’s a very, very intense and unique oral experience brushing with this thing.  It comes with a bunch of like tooth brushing tips, a really, really healthy toothpaste.

So, here’s how you get it.  First of all, you get a $5 refill free.  You go to, that’s getquip.  How do you spell quip? it’s Q, if I can spit this out, Q-U-I-P.  quip, Q-U-I-P., then use promo code Ben.  And they ship worldwide.  You get a $5 refill of all of your toothpaste accessories and toothbrush accessories for free when you go to and use promo code Ben.  Go to the website.  Check out the toothbrush.  You’ll see what I mean.  It actually is a cool toothbrush.  I never thought I’d say a toothbrush was cool, but it is cool.

And then finally, speaking of cool, aw, man.  I just gotta pat myself on the back for that segue.  Speaking of cool, your body sleeps better at cold temperatures.  You may have known this.  You should keep the temperature in your room, my rule is like if it’s a little bit uncomfortable to take my clothes off, and I’m like I wanna sleep with my clothes on, that means it’s a pretty good temperature to take your clothes off and crawl into bed.  So for me it’s like 65-ish degrees.

But anyways, a lot of mattresses heat up.  They heat up.  They don’t have a breathable design, and the breathable design allows your body to stay cool, which allows for things like neural repair during the night.  Your body heals itself while you sleep.  But if your body’s not allowed to get cold, that doesn’t happen quite as well.  Think about like Han Solo in Star Wars, how they froze him.  That helped his body to preserve.  Same thing happens to you when you sleep, and you go Han Solo on yourself.  Star Wars.

So this mattress company, Casper, not only do they have a sleep surface that has really, really good sink and good bounce, meaning you can jump on your bed, or you can sleep on your bed, or do anything else you wanna do on your bed, but it stays cool during the night, which I think is awesome.  So they have what’s called an adaptive pillow, they’ve got soft breathable sheets, and the mattress itself is breathable, and you can try it a hundred nights risk-free in your own home.  They drop it off in this cute little box.  Not a giant mattress, but this cute little box that unfolds easy-peasy.  Free shipping and returns to USA and Canada, and you get 50 bucks off.  You get 50 bucks off any Casper that you would like by going to, that’s Casper with a C, and use promo code Ben at

Alright.  Let’s go learn how to heal our bodies up, shall we?

In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

“You know, the occlusion effect of musculature, in training under the occlusion effect is pretty powerful, and it’s getting some more good press in the physical therapy realm right now.”  “The thing about scraping, like you said, I hate the term scraping because you think as a patient, that you’re gonna go in there and you’re gonna get skinned with this metal tool.  And the more and more that I’ve used this tool, the less the less pressure I think you have to actually use through it to get through some good results for alleviating pain and increasing some functional range of motion.”

He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness.  His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance.  He is Ben Greenfield.  “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…”  All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.

Ben:  Hey.  What’s up, folks?  It’s Ben Greenfield, and my podcast guest today has a lot of alphabet letters after his name.  His name is Dr. John Rusin, PT, DPT, CSCS, ART, FMS1-2, not kidding, YBT, SFMA, FDN.  You almost sound like a robot, dude.

John:  (laughs)  I appreciate that, man.

Ben:  That’s a lot of letters.  And I know that you as a physical therapist, which I am guessing is the PT part of those alphabet letters, you delve into a lot of therapy and recovery techniques.  I’ve actually been to your website and seen some of your writings, and you talk about a lot of stuff, like functional dry kneeling, and soft tissue mobilization, and blood flow restriction training, and even that cupping thing that we see that the swim team recently did in the Olympics.  So I know that you’re kind of on the cutting edge of all sorts of different modalities one could use to heal their bodies that potentially go above and beyond the foam roller.  So I’m excited to get into that stuff with you today. And for those of you who are listening in, John works with some of the world’s best power athletes, the NFL, Major League Baseball, the Olympians, competitive powerlifters, bodybuilders.  He’s got a sports performance and physical therapy practice in Madison, Wisconsin.  He owns John Rusin Fitness Systems, which is like an online fitness platform in which he helps people around the world.  And so he’s definitely got a lot out there.  And his website is

And for those of you who are listening in, John works with some of the world’s best power athletes, the NFL, Major League Baseball, the Olympians, competitive powerlifters, bodybuilders.  He’s got a sports performance and physical therapy practice in Madison, Wisconsin.  He owns John Rusin Fitness Systems, which is like an online fitness platform in which he helps people around the world.  And so he’s definitely got a lot out there.  And his website is, and I’ll link to that as well because he has a lotta cool programs, including what’s called a functional hypertrophy program which I wanna actually ask you about some point during our discussion, John.  But first of all, welcome to the show.

John:  Ben, it is great to be on.  Long overdue, like we were talking off air.

Ben:  Yeah.  Had to reschedule a billion times, but…

John:  That’s what happens with busy people.

Ben:  Glad we made it happen.  We’re actually recording, for those of you who want the kimono open, we’re recording on Labor Day, which is what we do.  Instead of going hiking, and barbecuing, and getting drunk on boats, I podcast.  So John, I notice on your website you say you’re not the run-of-the-mill physical therapist.  So considering that came from your mouth, why do you say that?

John:  It’s funny because people view physical therapy, or really any profession, and they try to stereotype it.  So when I get introduced as a physical therapist, I almost cringe now because a lot of what I do, I’d say like 90% of what I do professionally, is more along the lines of human performance, but I happen to have a couple of those letters at the end of my name, like you mentioned.  So people automatically think like, “Oh, a physical therapist.  I know what that is.  I know the systems that you run.  I know what you’re able to do for me.”  But I don’t run those systems, and I try to provide something a little bit different than the status quo right now in our industry.

Ben:  So what do you mean when you say something that’s beyond the status quo?  And I guess like what I’m guessing you mean is when I go to a physical therapist, which I’ve been into a handful of times over the past decade, there’s always just like a series of like elastic band exercises that you go through, usually you spend a little bit of time in the recumbent bike, sometimes you stand on one of those balance pillows, and then you fill out copious amounts of paperwork.

John:  Dude, that’s exactly what I’m talking about, and that is the traditional physical therapy model.  That’s the model that insurance pays for right now.  Nothing wrong with that model.  It will work for a couple, a vast majority of people.  But for those people that have goals and aspirations in athletic endeavors, physical endeavors, I truly believe that you almost have to be a hybrid practitioner.  You have to know a little bit about everything so you can offer your client, or patient, what exactly they need.  And for many people coming through my doors, they need more foundational movement, they need more muscle, they need to lose body fat, and then they have to get out of pain like everybody else as well.  But it’s all layered into some of the programs that we run.

Ben:  Okay. Let’s jump in to brass tacks here.  Let’s say I’m doing a body scan right now to identify a body part that I would potentially be in physical therapy for.  I’m not too bad right now, but like two weeks ago, for example, I sprained my left ankle.  If I were to walk into your clinic with a sprained left ankle, what would you be doing that’s different than what like a normal physical therapist would be doing?

John:  See, that’s a good question because one thing that we do is try to separate traumatic injuries, like a sprained ankle.  You did it running, whatever.  You twisted your ankle, and there is a mechanism of an injury there.  But a lot of people come in with chronic-natured pain and dysfunction, and that’s really where I specialize in is trying to get the origins of why you’re having these problems, what’s holding back your performances, or what’s keeping you in pain.

So we do the coolest things in the industry.  Like you mentioned in the intro, we’re dry needling people, we’re putting people through functional movement capacity screens, we’re doing soft tissue work, advanced things that most other practitioners aren’t quite doing in your manual therapies.  But it really depends.  I think that putting, trying to force squares into a round peg hole is not the system for athletes.  We need to have more diagnostic tools, more movement screening tools.  We have to appreciate people’s goals above and beyond what they’re coming in for and what they think they’re gonna get from us.  So trying to over deliver on some of that.

I get it all the time because people come in and see me, and after a two hour evaluation, they’ll be like, “Whoa.  This isn’t physical therapy. What is this?”  And that’s like I love when I hear that because everyone who usually comes in to me, they’ve been through the system before, they’ve been in a traditional chiropractic, they’ve been in traditional PT, they’ve worked with personal trainers and all of that, and those systems that failed them.  So many times, we’re people’s last hope to try to either enhance their performance or get out of pain.

Ben:  Got it.  Okay.  So you mentioned functional dry needling.  So why don’t we jump in right there?  What is functional dry needling?  Why is that something you would do?

John:  Well, it’s a technique that’s (censored word) a lot of people off in America and North America, specifically the last couple of years, but functional dry needling, the dry needle is a tool itself.  So don’t get it confused with the technique of acupuncture.  It’s essentially the same tool, but dry needling itself is like the big umbrella.  So functional dry needling is just a type of method that you use this tool, the dry needle with.  Acupuncture is another method.  There’s actually seven or eight different methods under the acupuncture umbrella as well.  So you can see that there’s a bunch of different theory behind it, but basically what I use it for in my practice is not only treating myofascial trigger points and soft tissues, so mostly muscle tendon and even some joint space, but also for regenerative purposes as well.

So there’s some spotty research on it right now which kind of holds it back from being more mainstreamed, but right now a majority of states in America, it’s in the practice act for physical therapists.  And many of the states that it’s not, it’s kind of a gray area right now but it’s one of the most exciting emerging practices for manual therapy in the rehabilitation setting.

Ben:  So how does it work?

John:  Man, you get a needle, you glove up, you alcohol swab whatever region that you’re gonna go through, and these little monofilament needles, these things are about a tenth of the size diameter of like pencil lead.  So these things are tiny.  They have a little cone-shaped edge on ’em, a beveled edge.  You tap ’em into the tissue, and it should be said that the people that are practicing functional dry needling, they’re already movement specialists.  They’re people that know anatomy, biomechanics, neuroanatomy like the back of their hand.

So there’s a palpatory process, there’s a movement screening process that goes in.  But like any other modality that you use, whether it’s your hands, whether it’s a foam roller, whether it’s a dry needle, we’re trying to just clean up some weak links in that kinetic chain.  So pretty much, we target a couple key players in that kinetic chain, and we treat them with the dry needles, and then we look for test-retest to make sure that we’re actually either relaxing some of the tissue, getting some more functional length, transferring back into some foundational movement patterns like the squats or the hinge, just to see what that novel stimulus that we just added to the system can cause.  And from there, it looks very traditional. You have to follow it up by something.  This isn’t just guru science where you throw needles and everything’s okay.  Really, we’re just using those to open up our capacity to move a little bit better, remediate movement, and then go and use it, and train.

Ben:  So when I have a massage therapist working on me and they’re finding like trigger points in tissue, areas there that are like tight-knotted areas, you’re doing something similar, but you’re doing it with needles rather than, say, like knuckles, or fingers, or elbows, or knees, or something like that?

John:  Well, think about this for a second.  If you have like manual therapy, so like massage is one of those, I also practice a technique called ART, active release techniques, which is a really notable technique, but you have to push through so much (censored) to get down to some of these deeper layer musculature.  I mean, you look at just like the dense fascia that encapsulates the muscles and then you go above that more superficially to the skin, you have these dermal layers that are pretty frickin’ thick.  You’re just kinda of playing with yourself if you think that you can get deep on to something like a periformis that’s under these gluteal muscles that are the thickest muscles in the body like, “Oh, yeah.  I got my lacrosse ball in my periformis.  I’m doing well here.”  Or somebody’s elbowing and your periformis that you can’t drop that deep.  And the transference is pretty tough too because you’re not actually making physical contact, you’re just kinda putting pressure points through the dermal layers, through the adjacent musculature, and just kinda hoping, poking, and guessing, and trying to get some sort of novel stimulus into those deeper tissues.

But with dry needling, man, you can essentially throw the needle right into contact with some of those deeper layer musculature.  I mean, we’re doing it on some of the deep layers, the multifidus, the rotatories of the spinal column, we’re going deep into the deep six rotational group at the hip.  I’ve gone through my career having difficulty treating certain spots ’cause we can’t access them very well.  In the process, you end up beating up your patient.  If you’ve had some deep soft tissue, man, that (censored) hurts, and it bruises, and you just feel like you just got beat up on the table instead of having a regenerative effect.  So, it’s just another tool in the toolbox for some practitioners that are licensed in their state to use, but it’s something that’s opened up some of my results for not only getting people out of pain, but actually the recovery process as well.

Ben:  Cool.  I like it.  Is there much research behind it?

John:  So, there’s new research.  Majority of the research has been done through acupuncture, and this is where people get (censored) off because, right now, we’re butting heads, physical therapists versus acupuncturists, in kind of this rehabilitation setting in America because everyone wants to use this tool, but they wanna have exclusive access only to use this tool and not have their competition using it.  But essentially, we have kinda spotty research.  There’s research saying that, yeah, it works in some cases, it doesn’t work in other cases. It’s old.  But there’s more emerging research coming out now because our practice act has been opened up.

So with more people practicing functional dry needling and dry needling in America, we have more studies that are looking at this.  And if you go in just like type it into Google Scholar right now, you can look at the last couple months.  There’s been like 300, 400 plus new studies on this modality.  And you look at the years before, it’s probably like 300 total.  So there’s emerging evidence coming out, but again, I’m not gonna sit here and say that it is definitively gonna help you no matter what.  But you also have to take into account that it doesn’t matter what the research says, sometimes it matters if you personally, as an athlete, as a patient, get a positive response from it.  And, hey, if you do?  Then that’s a technique that you can utilize when you need to.

Ben:  Yeah.  Interesting.  It’s like me and structured water.  People ask me why I drink structured water, and there’s not a lot of research behind it aside from in test tubes, but I just feel better when I drink it.  So I drink it.  But I did notice that there’s actually a few good systematic reviews and meta-analyses, I just checked it out, on the effectiveness of dry needling for, at least, myofascial pain.  It looks like one study here looked at several dozen different studies on dry needling and found it to be pretty efficacious for pain and range of motion as well.  So interesting, and it’s a little bit different than acupuncture.

John:  Yeah.  The tool’s not different, just to be clear on that.  The application is, the reason why you would be doing it.

Ben:  Okay.  Gotcha.

John:  For functional transference into movement.

Ben:  Gotcha.  Okay.  Let’s jump into another one.  Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, or IASTM. I notice this is something else that you’ve talked about.  What is that and how does that work?

John:  So basically this is a tool to assist soft tissue work.  So if you’ve ever seen somebody kind of like scraping away at the skin and you can see it’s kinda like a beveled edge…

Ben:  Like Graston?

John:  Exactly.  So that would be one of the most popular IASTMs.  But there’s a bunch of different tools out there, and they all stem from something in Eastern medicine called the Gua Sha rock, and I actually had some experience when I was working for the Chinese Olympic committee a couple of years ago prepping for the Olympics.  I had all of these Eastern techniques done on me because they wanted to show the Western consultant what they were all about in the Eastern medicine.  So this was my first experience with like the Gua Sha rock, which is all of this stuff, that’s where it stemmed from.

So basically you get down, in ancient Chinese remedy, and they scrape until they bruise the tissues.  So they get over and they just want an inflammatory process through the tissues.  I mean, you turn purple after just a couple of minutes on this thing.  Excruciating pain.  Feels like you’re being skinned.  So obviously, that technique is not going over well in America.  So I think people wanted to use, it was getting decent results for thousands of years over in China.  So when it came to America, we just marketed it a little bit differently.  We changed the application, and all of a sudden, we have like these stainless steel, and these titanium tools with beveled edges on them, and they’re smooth on the skin.

Ben:  And they’re expensive too, like hundreds of Dollars for these devices that are designed to like hit specific body parts.  They look like butter knives.

John:  Man, I mean hundreds.  If you look at Graston, thousands of dollars.  Like there are practitioners that take out loans to buy these things.  But in the last couple of years, there’s like a tool specifically that I use is the EDGE tool.  It’s only a couple hundred bucks in comparison, but it’s all getting at the same thing.  So we’re all targeting the same kind of effects that you’d be targeting with dry needling.  It’s just a different modality that you’re trying to get at.  So we’re all trying to decrease pain, increase range of motion, increase functionality and transference into whatever your sport or your physical activity is.  It’s just a less invasive way to get at some of these tissues.

Ben:  I’ve done some of this scraping before.  One of my buddies had these things made by a company called Hawk Tools, which I guess the way that I understand it is like Graston in the US, or in at least Westernized countries, was like the original scraping tool and they lost their patent or something like that.  So now other companies are popping up, creating these type of tools for like scraping across certain areas.  So these were ones called Hawk Tools that he used, and I had some elbow pain, and scraped both elbows, and the pain was gone within messing around with that thing for about like 10 to 15 minutes.  But it left exactly what you were talking about, like these big, like scraping, almost like burns on skin.  And actually pretty painful after a while, almost like a carpet burn kind of.  When you’re doing your type of scraping, what you say the tools they use?  The EDGE tool?

John:  I use the EDGE tool.  It’s something, I just like the feel of it.  I know some practitioners that originated with some of their techniques, but the thing about scraping, like you said, I hate the term scraping because you think as a patient, that you’re gonna go in there and you’re gonna to get skinned with this metal tool.  And the more and more that I’ve used this tool, the less and less pressure I think you have to actually use through it to get through some good results for alleviating pain and increasing some functional range of motion.  I mean, again talking about the dermal layer, essentially we’re just using this as a like a neural kinetic enhancement tool.

So we’re just trying to stimulate some of those nociceptors on the skin’s surface and we’re trying to relax the underlying musculature that are linked to that skin surface.  So the dermatomal and myotomal linkages, that’s all we’re doing.  So we’re just adding a novel stimulus to whatever area that you’re trying to treat, and the transference back into the central nervous system is really what we’re getting at.  And a big misconception is that when you get scraped, you could kind of visualize, like yeah, there’s some scar tissue getting broken up there.  There’s no scar tissue getting broken up.  Like 100%.

Ben:  Interesting.

John:  Ninety nine point nine percent of the benefits that come from any of these techniques, they’re all neurological-based.  There might be a tiny bit of mechanical breakdown.  I mean, if you absolutely went after it, but there’s very minimal.

Ben:  And when you say they’re neurological-based, you’re not saying they’re placebo, you’re saying they’re not working on the musculoskeletal system, they’re more working on actual nerve endings?

John:  Well, I would say they’re working on the neuro-musculoskeletal system.  And hey, man, placebo is out there.  Placebo is pretty powerful.

Ben:  That’s true.

John:  And it’s very hard to differentiate on some of these very subjective techniques, but as long as people are seeing benefit from them and not being scraped raw, I’m all for that.

Ben:  Yeah.  Interesting.  And I’ll link to the Gua Sha traditional Chinese medical practice in the show notes for this episode ’cause there’s some pretty disturbing pictures there of what they call skin blemishing.  If you wanna see what it actually looks like, go to  That’s just, the letter P and the letter T, and I’ll have that in the show notes.  But then this edge tool that you use, John, could I go buy that and just use it on myself?

John:  Yeah.  Definitely.  It’s over on in the shop there.  Couple of cool rehab tools over in that shop.

Ben:  Okay.  Cool.  There’s a whole bunch on Amazon.  There’s a whole bunch of different like Gua Sha scraping massage tools, and tools in different shapes.  It’s kind of interesting because I even had a massage therapist who had me buy a bunch of these rocks, like rocks that you would use for, what do they call the type of massage therapy where you get rocks placed on different parts your body?  Some are cold, some are hot.  It’s like, I dunno.  Hot rock massage, something like that.

John:  You could tell I don’t get any massages.

Ben:  Anyways, they’re a bunch of like river rocks and you can use them for scraping ’cause they’re in all sorts of different sizes.  So I’ve been taking those to some muscles, now and again as well.  And that’s all they are, they’re just like smooth river rocks, but they seem to work pretty well.  At least better than a butter knife.  But I may have to get this EDGE tool that you’re talking about ’cause it looks pretty cool.  So we’ve got functional dry needling as one method that you use.  Sounds like you are also a fan of this instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization.

John:  Definitely.

Ben:  Much sexier title than scraping, by the way.  How about another one I’ve seen you talk about, that’s pelvic floor postural reeducation.  Pelvic floor postural reeducation.  What is that?

John:  Man, it’s just what it sounds like. The pelvic floor for many people, especially females, it goes through dysfunction and definitely trauma through many different things, but most mainly the birthing process.  So, I think that it’s an under-served area of physical therapy that really doesn’t get much love from the general public, and it affects high-end athletes more than you’d know.

Ben:  You mean like, basically peeing while you’re running?  What do they call that?  The…

John:  The workout piece?

Ben:  No, not the workout piece.  Well, incontinence.

John:  Urinary incontinence.

Ben:  Yeah.  Urinary incontinence.  Is that what you use this for?

John:  That’s a symptom of pelvic floor dysfunction for sure.

Ben:  Okay.  So what exactly does this pelvic floor reeducation involve?

John:  It’s putting back everything, getting functionally strong in the intrinsic muscles of the pelvic floor, but also incorporating just functional movement capacity back into your physical practices after you had something like a pretty tough trauma in the birthing process, or really any type of injury.  It affects a ton of women.  I originally got pretty interested in it because when my wife had our most recent child, our youngest child, Cam, she went through something where she was doing interval sprints on the treadmill about six months, she at about six months and she ended up severing her pubic symphysis.  So we had to alter her training, we had to alter everything.  She’s a high-end athlete as well.  And after she gave birth, man, she’s tiny, she’s 5 feet tall, 100 pounds, and she gave birth to this like 9 plus pound behemoth man, and stuff was just like not where it should have been.

So after doing a ton of research, this is definitely a specialty in the profession of physical therapy, I took what I knew, which is sports performance, regenerative rehab, and training, and I started to look at how we could kinda integrate this stuff together.  You know, things like making sure you put an emphasis on the posterior chain of the lower body, especially at the glute-hamstring group, to realign the pelvis so it integrates well with the lumbar spine, so we can actually get some activation through the pelvic floor.  Simple stuff.  Planking progressions, contraindications for people coming off of pregnancy.

It was an eye-opener for me because coming from the strength and conditioning world, getting into women’s health, that’s like polar opposite type stuff.  But really, the more I delved into it, it’s kinda all the same.  Everything is kinda looking at foundational movement, trying to build strength capacity, and trying to transfer it back into whatever your goal is with a tiny bit, if niche therapy and niche training.

Ben:  What about, and this is something that we talk about always on the show when we have a chance is poop.  We’ve talked about things like herbs that you can take, and we’ve talked about everything from like doing a colonic massage, where you massage across your large intestine from left to right and across, in the mornings, or even using, in some situations, like a vibrating foam roller, like deep tissue massage in the abdomen.

In terms of pelvic floor reeducation for things like constipation or improvements in bowel movement, would that include some of things I’ve seen folks doing, like on YouTube videos I know Kelly Starrett and Jill Miller who does like the Yoga Tune Up balls, like they have one full episode devoted to just doing like lower glute work on the underside of your butt to help you poop better.  Is that included in pelvic floor reeducation?  Or is that a totally different beast?

John:  No.  They’re on point there because it’s, like I said, it’s kinda all the same.  Getting your posture alignment in check, making sure that like some of the strength curves of some of those major muscles, but also the intrinsic muscles, and getting them not only, dare I say like supple, like Kelly would say, and functional again, especially after they’ve gone through a bout of dysfunction, I think that’s big because it can play a huge role in everything.  If you look at the pelvic floor, just the physical location, the anatomical location, and you look at the lower aspect of the GI system, I mean those things are almost adjacent to one another.  And neurologically, they have a lot of overlying neurovasculature.  So there’s definitely a linkage there.

Ben:  Yeah.  That’s really interesting.  And I think a lot of people neglect deep tissue work in that area because if you’re getting a massage, it can be an awkward place for a massage therapist to work.  And I think if you’re doing your own, whatever, foam rolling, some of us just forget about taking like a tennis ball or a golf ball-sized object and just like working it into our butt and hip area just because it’s kind of a difficult, awkward area to get at, but it’s really interesting.  So you call that pelvic floor postural reeducation.

John:  On the point of doing some of the ball work and some of the soft tissue work on yourself, especially through some of those like really deep muscles, like the iliopsoas group, and even like the deep periformis and the deep six rotators on the back side of your butt, we have to say that you have to kinda know what you’re doing when you’re going through some of the stuff.  So I think like Jill Miller’s ball is great because it’s a soft ball.  You lay on top of the ball, so you can actually like figure out how much weight you wanna put into that surface area of the ball coming in contact with your abdomen, whereas like I’ve seen some bad (censored) in my day, like people smashing 150 pound kettlebell into their stomach.

Like we do have to remember we have vital organs in there.  If you’re putting like hard, sharp objects into that surface that could be said for the butt too, you’re kinda playing a Russian roulette game because you could flare up, obviously, the neuromusculature.  But also, you have things that you rely on to survive in there.  You kinda gotta be careful.

So grading it with a softer ball like Jill’s doing, or even using a different size or shaped ball, the backside of that periformis group can be advantageous because, I just wrote an article about this, it was on T-Nation a couple weeks ago, about people sticking the lacrosse ball in their butt as soon as they have any symptoms of lower back pain.  And I’ve seen it time and time again, that people end up flaring themselves up chronically from just flaring up the sciatic nerve by putting that ball essentially right next to the sciatic nerve.  Because most people with lower back pain, their glutes aren’t strong, they’re not thick, they’re not big.

So essentially, you have like this paper-thin glute, and you’re thrown a lacrosse ball, and it’s not protected by any means, and you’re hitting some of these big bundle of nerves, and it’s just a flaring up the entire system.  I mean people go for months thinking that they’re doing well trying to treat some of the stuff, and they’re just shooting themselves in the foot.  So education’s a thing on that.

Ben:  Those bundles of nerves are important.  I think that some people who do a lot of like teeth-gritting deep tissue work a lot, like Kelly Starrett’s “Becoming a Supple Leopard” book, which is great, do need to realize that you can’t just mash a bundle of nerves, like say the brachial plexus of the shoulder or something like that without  potentially doing damage.

John:  Yeah.  I mean there’s always a cost-benefit of everything that you’re gonna do, whether it be training, whether it be rehab, but people don’t necessarily think that like soft tissue work can harm you.  Sometimes, it can.  If you have no idea what your doing, target certain structures, and you’re overly aggressive to the point of like excruciating pain in the wrong spots, and when I say pain, I mean, like kinda like that nerve pain.  That’s not what we’re going at, so differentiating those two things is big.

Ben:  Yeah.  Buy yourself a good copy of like Grey’s Anatomy or go dissect a cat, so you start to figure out where things are before you shove sharp objects, or pointy objects, or hard objects into said anatomical areas, especially the area we were talking about, your crotch and the region where there are important sphincters and nerve bundles.  Be careful kids.  Okay.  So let’s turn to a sexy topic of late in light of the recent Rio Olympics: cupping.  What’s your opinion on cupping?

John:  Cupping’s a technique that’s been around forever again.  It’s an Eastern Chinese medical technique thousands of years in the practice, but I’ll preface all of this by saying that I do not practice cupping.  I usually don’t recommend cupping for any of my clients that are remote.  But, that being said, I know that they’ve had their bout of publicity after Michael Phelps climbed out of the pool with these red dots all over him.

So it’s an interesting technique, and again, I had the opportunity to be over in China working with these guys, working with their best medical practitioners over there.  They don’t use cupping for neuromusculoskeletal issues.  They don’t.  What they use it for is systemic health benefit, and that’s something totally polar opposite of what everyone was talking about after the Rio Olympics.

Ben:  So what is cupping exactly?  Can you explain like how it’s actually theorized to work?

John:  (chuckles) That’s a good question.  If somebody had the answer that question, man, all this conversation would stop.  But basically, there’s different forms of cupping.  There’s heat-based cupping and there’s also decompression-based, so it uses air.  So the heat-based cupping, so essentially you have a cup and they put heat on the skin, targeting a certain area, and the heat is put on the top of the cup.  And because the heat is put on the cup itself, it takes some of the air out of the cup, and it actually decompresses the tissues.  It draws the tissues up into the cup itself.  So that’s the old school technique.  In America, you’re probably not gonna be seeing fire on people’s backs in the rehab clinic, but again, Americana.  We changed it just a little bit to make it more mainstream.  I mean decades ago now, they came up with myofascial decompression, which is essentially like, you ever see Austin Powers where he has that the Swedish-made penis and larger machine?

Ben:  You mean the pump?

John:  Yeah.  The pump.

Ben:  I think I do remember that.  Yeah.

John:  I mean these things essentially look like the pump.  So you put it on a tissue, and you literally pump it up, and you take the air out of that cup, and it draws the skin and the dermal layers up into the cup itself.  And because, it’s almost like a bruising.  If you were to like bite yourself, it’s like of that kind of, or suck on your arm and really like draw the skin up into your mouth, it’s that similar feeling because the skin itself goes into like an inflammatory process, drives blood into the most superficial areas of the dermal tissue, and essentially bruises on the spot.  So it’s a technique again that’s used to theoretically reduce pain, functional trigger points, it’s supposed to enhance movement.  But again, if I said that there wasn’t really good research on functional dry needling, there’s really no good research on cupping.

Ben:  Aside from some of the research that’s been done on actual pain management, right?

John:  Yeah.  But with a grain of salt.  I mean, Michael Phelps wasn’t dealing with pain management.  What they were dealing with…

Ben:  Well, yeah.  That’s the thing is like a lot of people think because the Olympians are using, it must be good for just pure sports performance.  But again, all I’ve ever seen is that it can assist with chronic pain in a specific area.

John:  It can, and that’s chronic pain.  There is some efficacy to it, but everyone got hyped up about the performance enhancement stuff.  And if you look deeply at the Olympians this year, who were the ones with the cupping marks on them?  They weren’t the Chinese.  They weren’t anyone from any other country but America, which begs the question why are the Americans the only one using this technique?  It’s interesting because back in the day when I was first out of DPT school, I went through a training course at the Olympic Center’s in Southern California on myofascial decompression.  So they were actually doing the education on this technique.  So I think they were a little bit more vested in some of these techniques.  It might be a placebo effect, it might’ve had a positive response, it might have no response, might have a negative response, but I think that’s the reason why it was so polarized in the American athletes.

Ben:  Yeah.  And then there’s also, I mean, I think everything you we’re just talking about is considered to be what’s called dry cupping, right?

John:  Exactly.

Ben:  But then they’ve got wet cupping too, which is where you’re actually, and there are some nasty photos of it, I’ve never had this done.  I’ve had friends who’ve had it done and sent me text messages, like, “Check out this amazing procedure I’m having done,” and that’s where you do the cupping.  But then I believe, when you have the suction there, you’re actually like making a scalpel incision and drawing out blood.  Have you seen this?

John:  Yes.  (laughs) It’s not a very mainstream practice in America.  I think for good reason.  It’s almost like old school blood-letting.

Ben:  It’s very similar to blood-letting.  It looks a lot like it.  Apparently, it’s supposed to like move chi, or energy, in and out of areas, or be good for like, I guess, they would use something like that for infections or something along those lines to like draw out of, I’ve heard talk about like drawing out parasites and all sorts of weird things.  But, yeah.  If you wanna see some nasty photos, and scraping wasn’t enough for you, go do a Google image search for wet cupping ’cause that’s some nasty stuff.

John:  We actually featured a picture of that on a review that I did on my website, and people are just bitching and moaning about how gruesome that picture was.

Ben:  Oh, yeah.

John:  We kept it up, but I was actually contemplating taking it down.

Ben:  Yeah, it’s nasty.  So speaking of blood though, I want to talk about something else regarding blood, and something that I’ve done actually.  Me and Aubrey Marcus, who owns this company called Onnit down in Texas, did a few months ago this workout called a Kaatsu workout where he has this device, it’s like a little hand-held monitor that will put specific millimeters of mercury of pressure around specific limbs, like your leg limbs or your arm limbs.  Like you would put it around your biceps, for example, and do curls, and it restricts blood flow to an area.  It’s also known as Kaatsu training, K-A-A-T-S-U, Kaatsu blood flow restriction training using almost like tourniquets around the muscle, and in this case, using a fancy device that adjusts the actual pressure in those little rubber tourniquets that you’re wrapping around the muscle.  What’s your opinion on blood flow restriction therapy for either rehab, or performance, or any or all of the above?

John:  It’s funny because all these topics, they all come from the Eastern countries, and they’re all very, very hot topics in physical therapy right now.  But blood flow restriction training, people laughed at it in America 20 years ago when the body builders were using it.  They were getting their knee wraps, they were wrapping their upper arms, and they were going to town on high volume training for the biceps and triceps.

Ben:  Yeah.  And by the way, I should mention that in addition using that more advanced device I mentioned, I was a bodybuilder 10 years ago.  I used to weigh forty five pounds more than I do now at 3% body fat and would just train my butt off for three to four hours a day in the gym, and I remember wrapping these tourniquets around my muscles to get that pump, to get that lactic acid, to get the vascularity.  Supposedly there’s like an increase in growth hormone release from the buildup of lactic acid, et cetera.  But, yes, I remember when this was something that people would laugh at you for doing in the gym ’cause you would just like, literally old school, be wrapping rags around muscle parts.

John:  (chuckles) It sounds ridiculous.  And even now, like 20 years later if you do that in a commercial setting, at least two people come up to you and go, “Bro, what are you doing,” because it’s just so bizarre.  But the occlusion effect of musculature and training under the occlusion effect is pretty powerful.  And it’s getting some more good press in the physical therapy realm right now because they’re looking at the Kaatsu training, they’re looking at old school bodybuilding, occlusion-style training, and they’re like, “Well, what does this do to us?”  So at a 70 to 80% occlusion of a limb and then training under that, we’re able to actually stimulate a training far less extra load, so like less weight in your hands if you’re doing a bicep curl.  And you’re able to execute more reps to really get into this metabolic pump effect to the tissues and just drive, increase blood flow in there, and then keep the blood flowing there to get the metabolites, rush nutrition to the tissues.

And it’s one of these things that has been moving into physical therapy because if you look at people with gross atrophy of some of their musculature after surgery or an injury, we wanna keep the loads like somewhat low for most traditional-based physical therapy clinics because the people are inherently weak at that point.  So, this is a safe and effective way to get a training effect, by minimizing the load, minimizing the joint stress, and like getting the pump of your life, and actually building some tissue.

Ben:  Do you utilize this in your physical therapy office or in your sports performance practice?

John:  In training, I do.  Many of my training programs, sports performance, hypertrophy-based programs utilize blood flow restriction.  I do mostly for the arms.  I try to be very, very efficient with direct arm training.  So I kind of gets you a huge train effect very quickly.  So that’s where I utilize it for my athletes that everyone likes to do a couple bicep curls and tricep pushdowns.  This is a way to get a quicker pump from that.  But I’ve been layering it into my physical therapy.  But then again, I don’t see a whole lot of traditional-based physical therapy clients that are coming in with a leg half the size of the other.  More sports performance, high-end people that are dealing with usually movement capacity-based issues.

Ben:  Yeah.  I mean if you were gonna do a training session anyways, especially, I would say like a single-joint training session where you’re working on a bunch of machines, like I recently did the Don Wildman workout which is this, he’s like an 83 year old guy, lives down in Malibu, used to own Bally’s Fitness, and he’s just got a bunch of machines in his basement now, all lined up in a row, and you just go from machine, to machine, to machine.  He’s got this three days a week, like for the past 20 years or whatever.  This is all he’s done to stay fit, aside from riding his mountain bike.  And you do 30 reps, 20 reps, and then 10 reps, like descending in reps and increasing in weight on each machine as you go through.  And I was mentioning to the guys I was doing that workout with last week, it’d be interesting to do it with an elevation training mask on to increase diaphragmatic strain, and inspiratory and expiratory muscle work.  But this would also be something you’d probably use like one of these occlusion training bands or Kaatsu training equipment on to perhaps increase the amount of lactic acid walking there like Robocop with your bands and your mask.

John:  Yeah.  For sure.  It works very well for increase, like almost muscular endurance or metabolic stress-based set and rep schemes.  So this isn’t something that you’re gonna throw a couple cuffs on and then like hit like a 3-RM like bicep curl.  That’s not the style of training here.  Using about 35 to 40% of your max load, and doing like 15 to 20 reps, and keeping the rest period short, keeping the cumulative stress in the tissues high, it’s something that is very, very effective, especially on tail ends of workouts, regenerative purposes if you wanna keep the external stress low on your system and your joints.  It’s been a cool tool to see, not only for like my bodybuilders, but some of my sports performance guys that, they’re already pretty banged up, looking at some of the triathletes that I’m working with.  They’re banged up from the road work, man.  So when they get in the gym, we need to keep joint stress on the minimum.  And this is a technique that we layer in pretty nicely.

Ben:  Nice.  I like it.  Now you mentioned hypertrophy.  You have like, what do you call it?  A functional hypertrophy training program?

John:  Exactly. FHT.

Ben:  What is that?

John:  My last 10 years or so, and all the methods that I’ve used from being a strength coach, being a physio, working with amazing people, working with average Joes, and we kind of put one system together, a 12-week training program that utilizes the best of methods that I’ve written about over the last three or four years and that I’ve been using for a decade.

Ben:  Nice.  Cool.  So it’s like a program that you would follow primarily for muscle gain?

John:  You know what?  There’s multi-facets to it.  It is functional hypertrophy training.  It sounds kind of cool.  But essentially, what we’re trying to do is maintain and maximize musculature, cut fat, but also like still be an athlete.  This isn’t a bodybuilding program.  It’s a mesh between [0:52:22] ______ training.  So it has different techniques from a bunch of different trains of thought in the fitness and sports performance industries.

Ben:  Gotcha.  Okay.  Interesting.  And I’ll put a link to that one in the show notes too, for those of you want to check out this Functional Hypertrophy Training Program.  You’re giving us a discount on that one, right?

John:  Absolutely.

Ben:  Okay.  Cool.  So we’ll put a discount.  I’ll keep it secret, but you gotta go to the show notes over at  And you can check out Dr. Rusin’s program if you wanna try some of his muscle building stuff.  I want to ask you about a few other things though.  Rhythmic and reactionary dynamic stability, strength, and stabilization.  That’s a mouthful.  I’ve seen you write about that a little bit.  Is that more than just like standing on a balance disk like I do when I go into physical therapy?

John:  Oh, yeah.  It’s way more than that.  There’s a difference between open and closed-chain rhythmic stability.  Everyone’s seen the BOSU ball.  Everyone’s hated on the BOSU ball.  I’ll use it here and there for certain clients and patients, but it has like this polarizing effect that people think that like because the ground is now dynamic and you have to balance, that you’re getting this increased training effect from it.  And that’s pretty much been debunked.  But on the contrary, if you have rhythmic stabilization, something that we do as a manual therapy, say, for the rotator cuff complex, the rotator cuff is a region, it’s a complex of four little tendons coming off the musculature in the shoulder to try to centrate the shoulder joint, the ball and socket joint, to keep it in a good position.

So are we gonna strengthen the rotator cuff?  Probably not.  These things are like the size of your pinkie finger, even at the muscle bellies.  So like what’re you gonna hypertrophy?  Your supraspinatus?  Probably not.  But what we want to do is have the four tendons of that cuff working synergistically together.  And the best way to do that is by putting it into a position that you’re currently lagging in, broken link in the kinetic chain so to say, and trying to challenge it from multi-directional instability training.  So something along the lines of, everyone’s seen the shoulder blade, right?  That’s kind of what they we’re getting at with the shoulder blade where you go back and forth, and you kinda like, you get some vibration coming through the arm.  You know, we do it manually.  But another cool technique that we’re doing, especially with the upper body, is a hanging band technique.  It’s kind of the same mechanism of neuromuscular retraining, of having instability on a barbell, on a kettlebell, something up over your head in a bench press position, whatever it may be, just so your neuromuscular system becomes more involved in stabilizing in an open kinetic chain.

Ben:  So this would be, for example, if you’re using a barbell, attaching elastic bands to either end of the barbell to introduce more dynamic movement of the barbell, both up and down, but also maybe a little bit of like side to side shaky motion?

John:  Exactly.  So you hang, say, two kettlebells off of bands from each side of a barbell, and you go to bench press.  You’re gonna be far more like holy (censored), like what direction is this thing going because the bands are bouncing, the kettlebells are swinging, and you really have to work hard to stabilize through ranges of motion at that point.

I think like two years ago or so, there was like this video that went viral on YouTube after James Harrison, the linebacker for the Steelers, he was training with this thing called the tsunami bar.  So the tsunami bar is like bamboo, and it literally has bend to it.  So he was bench pressing like three plates on the side with the tsunami bar.  There’s things like bouncing all over the place, and you just go into town, people were like holy (censored).  And ever since then, I think people have opened up their minds to like high performance athletes, strength athletes that are truly outliers on the functional curve, and seeing how this may be applicable to some of this style of training.

Ben:  I’m looking at this online right now.  The tsunami, it’s like the shake weight on steroids.  That’s really cool.

John:  The bar is unbelievable.  It’s not something that I’ve used a whole lot of…

Ben:  Do you have one at your facility?

John:  I do.  But again, we use it if the goal is like a deload, or something like that, where we wanna take the external load down again, decrease the joint stress, it’s a common thing in many of our training programs, and we wanna like increase the neuromuscular capacity to a movement, this is a great way to do it.

Ben:  It looks like Rogue fitness has them too.  They call them bandbell bars.  Interesting.  It’s like a shake weight on steroids.  That’s crazy.  That’s really cool.  I’ll have to link to this in the show notes.  If you guys are listening, I’ll definitely put a link to these things.  They got a bamboo bar, an earthquake bar, and a tsunami bar.  But you could also just like take a regular barbell and attach elastic bands to it, huh?

John:  Yeah.  With most of this stuff, the blood flow restriction training, get a knee wrap and do it.  You don’t need the $200 pneumatic pump that’s gonna grade your blood pressure.  That’s not feasible for most people.  Tie bands, do a cuff.  With this, just get two bands and hang some weights.  You can hang a dumbbell, you can hang a plate, you can hang a kettlebell.  You’re gonna get a very similar training effect.

Ben:  That’s true.  You could hang a dumbbell using an elastic band from either end of a barbell and create a similar effect.

John:  Yeah.  Plate would probably be recommended.  Dumbbells are really tough.

Ben:  I like it.  That’s really cool.  I hadn’t thought about doing that before, but it’s really interesting.  Rhythmic and reactionary dynamic stability strength and stabilization.  Cool.  I like it.  I’ll put some links in the show notes to you guys, and those are at

John, are there like unconventional, or little known healing methods, or training methods that you think are efficacious, or that you use, but they get underplayed, not talked about enough.  You know, things that people might not know about.  Anything else that you wanna kinda bring up or point out that you think folks would find interesting?

John:  It’s funny because I spend a lot of time trying to increase the recovery of my athletes.  Because many times, the guys and gals that we’re working with, their big limiting factor is how much can they train without like digging themselves into a hole.  So usually, the stuff that people think is too simple to work works really, really well.  So things along the lines of walking, low intensity, steady-state cardio like a zone one heart rate, that’s amazing not only for systemic regeneration, but just for orthopedic health and wellness.  I mean that’s something that we use with even our high-end athletes, like we have them walking.  Like go walk your dog for 30 to 45 minutes, and then do the secondary recovery session off that.  So things along those lines that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Another thing that gets no credit, just like walking, is controlling your breath and really just working on a diaphragmatic breathing skills, especially after workouts and on secondary days, like before you go to bed.  Taking down your central nervous system after a heavy bout of training or competition, it’s one of the quickest most effective ways that we could possibly do to start sparking the recovery process instantly.  Everyone thinks that they gotta down like this $30 protein shake with all this (censored) in it after a second after they get off of their last rep of the bench press.  But take 15 minutes, go do some systemic foam rolling, hit the big tissues, go and do some dynamic, or biphasic stretching.  And then lay on your back, elevate your hands, your arms, your legs, and deep breathe, and that’s gonna do more for you to spark recovery than a lot of fancy stuff out there.

So, I mean even some of the high-end athletes I’m working with that make millions of Dollars a year, they’re not doing some of the stuff.  And when they implement it in, it’s a game changer because then all of a sudden, the fancy stuff works even better when you have a better base to go from on that recovery side of things.

Ben:  I don’t know, man.  Breathing and walking.  That sounds pretty boring to me.

John:  It is boring.  That’s why it gets no credit.  Just laying down the foundations and just doing the easy stuff, it makes the fancy stuff, things like post-workout systemic dry needling, so much better.  It’s all about encompassing every single thing that you can do to get better.  But if you’re trying to major in the minors, it’s never going to work, especially when you’re trying to expedite the recovery process.

Ben:  Yeah.  Well, this is all really interesting stuff.  From the Chinese method of Gua Sha rock scraping, to the EDGE tool that we talked about, to the Kaatsu band, the special bars that shake, some of John’s articles, like his T-Nation article on the best and worst physical therapy methods, and John’s functional hypertrophy training program with the special coupon code he’s gonna give to us.  I’ll link to all of this if you go to the show notes, which you can find over at  So, John, thanks for coming on the show today, man.

John:  Nah.  I appreciate it.  Great time.

Ben:  Alright, folks.  Well, this is Ben Greenfield and Dr. John Rusin, the man with many alphabet letters after his name, signing out from  Have a healthy week.

You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.  Go to for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.



Dr. John Rusin has a lot of alphabet letters after his name.

He is, after all, Dr. John Rusin, PT, DPT, CSCS, ART, FMS1-2, YBT, SFMA, FDN.

So when it comes to the best and the worst of physical therapy modalities, and the most cutting-edge physical therapy and recovery techniques you can use to heal your body fast, John is a wealth of knowledge.

This guy has more than a decade of elite-level training experience and advanced degrees in both exercise science and physical therapy, and his job is to develop performance, regeneration, and aesthetics programs for some of the world’s best power athletes, NFL and MLB athletes, gold-medal Olympians, competitive powerlifters, and bodybuilders. In addition to his sports-performance physical-therapy practice in Madison, Wisconsin, he’s also the owner of John Rusin Fitness Systems, an online fitness platform geared toward synergizing the best of high-performance training and intelligently designed physiotherapy/regeneration programming to athletes and clients across the world.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why John says he’s not a “run-of-the-mill” physical therapist…[11:10]

-The important difference between acupuncture and functional dry needling for healing an injury fast…[15:20]

-Whether Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) – also known as “scraping” – works…[22:45]

-How you can retrain your pelvis and bowel function using something called Pelvic Floor Postural Reeducation…[29:55]

-If “cupping” really works, and why Dr. Rusin thinks it is much like the infamous pump from the Austin Power’s movie…[38:50]

-Dr. Rusin’s opinions on blood flow restriction training, also known as Kaatsu…[44:55]

-How Dr. Rusin created the 12-week training program called “FHTP”…[51:20]

-How you can use elastic bands to get what is called “Rhythmic and Reactionary Dynamic Stability, Strength and Stabilization”…[53:00]

-And much more!

Resources from this show:

Dr. Rusin’s Functional Hypertrophy Training Program (coupon code: “BG25” gets you $25 off of his FHT program)

This T-Nation article: The Absolute Best and Worst Therapy Methods

Chinese method of Gua sha rock scraping

The Edge tool that Dr. Rusin uses

Kaatsu occlusion training bands

Rogue Fitness bandbell bars


7 Cutting-Edge Physical Therapy & Recovery Techniques You Can Use To Heal Your Body Fast.


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

Dr. John Rusin has a lot of alphabet letters after his name.

He is, after all, Dr. John Rusin, PT, DPT, CSCS, ART, FMS1-2, YBT, SFMA, FDN.

So when it comes to the best and the worst of physical therapy modalities, and the most cutting-edge physical therapy and recovery techniques you can use to heal your body fast, John is a wealth of knowledge.

This guy has more than a decade of elite-level training experience and advanced degrees in both exercise science and physical therapy, and his job is to develop performance, regeneration, and aesthetics programs for some of the world’s best power athletes, NFL and MLB athletes, gold-medal Olympians, competitive powerlifters, and bodybuilders. In addition to his sports-performance physical-therapy practice in Madison, Wisconsin, he’s also the owner of John Rusin Fitness Systems, an online fitness platform geared toward synergizing the best of high-performance training and intelligently designed physiotherapy/regeneration programming to athletes and clients across the world.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why John says he’s not a “run-of-the-mill” physical therapist…[11:10]

-The important difference between acupuncture and functional dry needling for healing an injury fast…[15:20]

-Whether Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) – also known as “scraping” – works…[22:45]

-How you can retrain your pelvis and bowel function using something called Pelvic Floor Postural Reeducation…[29:55]

-If “cupping” really works, and why Dr. Rusin thinks it is much like the infamous pump from the Austin Power’s movie…[38:50]

-Dr. Rusin’s opinions on blood flow restriction training, also known as Kaatsu…[44:55]

-How Dr. Rusin created the 12-week training program called “FHTP”…[51:20]

-How you can use elastic bands to get what is called “Rhythmic and Reactionary Dynamic Stability, Strength and Stabilization”…[53:00]

-And much more!

Resources from this show:

Dr. Rusin’s Functional Hypertrophy Training Program (coupon code: “BG25” gets you $25 off of his FHT program)

This T-Nation article: The Absolute Best and Worst Therapy Methods

Chinese method of Gua sha rock scraping

The Edge tool that Dr. Rusin uses

Kaatsu occlusion training bands

Rogue Fitness bandbell bars

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

[Transcript] – The Art Of Hacking Your Brain Without Smart Drugs: A Podcast With Immersive Journalist, Adventurer & Author Neil Strauss.

Podcast from

[0:00] Introduction/Four Sigmatic

[2:08] Blue Apron

[3:54] Organifi Green Juice

[5:05] Introduction to This Episode

[6:56] All About Neil Strauss

[7:13] What Ben and Neil Did This Morning

[12:50] The Ingredients of the “Billion Dollar Smoothie”

[15:26] Using the Oculus Rift to Improve Your Body

[18:20] Why Neil Is So Interested In Advanced Virtual Reality Gaming

[20:56] When Neil Started Getting Into Health

[22:39] What Neil Did When He Wrote “The Truth”

[35:03] What Neil Found Out Towards The End Of “The Truth”

[36:11] What Neil Was Curious About When He First Met Ben

[45:30] Neil’s Three Steps for “Rewiring” Your Brain

[1:07:03] Neil’s “Books to Read” List

[1:18:34] Neil’s Most Interesting Story From “The Dirt”

[1:22:29] End of Podcast

Ben:  Hey.  What’s up?  It’s Ben Greenfield.  I was actually hunting last week in British Columbia, and I came across a ton of different mushrooms, mushrooms of all shapes, and sizes, and smells growing out of everything from tree trunks to cow pies.  I posted a lot of photos of them to Facebook asking people if I could eat them.  That’s actually a really safe way to identify mushrooms, by the way.  Just post them to Facebook.  Trust me.  You can’t go wrong if somebody on Facebook says you can eat a mushroom.  No.  I jest.  You should probably use an ethnobotanist.  But there is one source of mushrooms, and one particular mushroom I have been eating quite a bit of lately.  It’s called cordyceps.  Cordyceps.  You may have heard of it before, but this particular company, Four Sigmatic, they take cordyceps and they blend it with coffee.

So why would you want to blend cordyceps with coffee?  Well cordyceps is, basically, it’s a mushroom extract that supports the adrenal glands.  But the other very cool thing that I like it for is it promotes cellular energy.  Basically it’s got what’s called cordycepic acid in it.  Cordycepic acid.  And that causes things like adrenal activation of lung tissue, it helps to support the immune system, it helps to increase performance particularly at altitude, you gotta lot of sherpas using this stuff.  But when you blend it with coffee, it is a big, big boost to the coffee.  So if you haven’t tried mushroom coffee with cordyceps before, you need to.  It also contains chaga, this mushroom coffee that I use.  It’s wild-crafted Siberian chaga and cordyceps.  It’s all made from wild harvested chaga, the cordyceps come from vegan sources.  There’s no acidity, so you don’t get any stomach burn from the coffee.

It’s really cool stuff.  So you can check this out at  That’s, and when you go there, use coupon code Ben Greenfield and you get 15% off.  And what you need to buy is this mushroom coffee mix.  Add anything else to your cart, but that’s the stuff you actually wanna get that I recommend is this mushroom coffee.

This podcast is also brought to you by baked eggs and potato hash with sweet peppers and kale.  No.  Seriously.  There’s this company and they send meal ingredients to your house and recipe cards.  Check this out.  This is what I got this week: baked eggs and potato hash with sweet peppers and kale.  It has colorful fingerling potatoes, sweet tinker bell peppers — you heard right, they do make a pepper called a tinker bell pepper — and lacinato kale, which is like a Tuscan style kale that they use in a lot of Italian cooking.  And you bake the eggs, and they send you aged cheddar cheese, liven it up with a little splash of Tabasco hot sauce that they send you.  They even make a wine recommendation.  I recommend a Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 to stand up to the sharper cheese cheddar-like flavor of this meal and the eggy richness.

So this company is called Blue Apron, and you can check ’em out at They send this to your house, and you can just make it.  So if you go to, you get your first three meals free.  They send you the recipe cards, they send you all the food, it arrives in a box at your door, you open it, you follow the recipe card.  You can be a horrid cook and make an amazing meal that knocks the socks off of your friends, your family, or just your own taste buds.  So check it out,  And, yes, everything is sourced from free range, humane, natural sources, sustainable sources, regenerative farming practices.  This is food that is collected the right way.  So check it out, It’s less than 10 bucks a meal, first three meals are free with free shipping at

And then finally, I want to tell you about this stuff called coconut powder.  So coconut powder is basically the power of a coconut, but you get rid of the sugar.  So you get all of the sodium, the magnesium, the potassium, and the phosphorus that you get from a coconut water, but none of the sugars and the blood sugar spiking effect.  And there’s this company called Organifi that has made this green powder that has all the coconut water powder added to it.  They also add things like wheat grass, and spirulina, and chlorella, and matcha green tea, all sorts of stuff blended into this green juice.  It’s called Organifi Green Juice.  And there’s no shopping, no juicing, no blending, no clean-up.  It just arrives as this powder straight to your door.  So you get 20% off this green juice, FitLife Organifi Green Juice, by going to and use discount code Ben to get 20% off this green juice with the coconut powder in it.  So check it out, and sit back, unless you’re with children, in which case, put them away, and sit back, and check out this episode with the crazy journalist, Neil Strauss.

In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

“I often find that heartbreak is sometimes the best motivator for change because you’re really in like a primal emotional pain.  So when someone’s sort of heartbreak is greater than the situation that happened, it’s really not about them.  It’s about mom or dad.  It’s about that primal attachment wound.”  “Your relationship has nothing to do with the other person.  It’s all about you and the way you relate to the other person.  And basically, we have templates that are created by the way we’re raised and the way our brain is wired that cause us to gain functional or dysfunctional relationships.”

He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness.  His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance.  He is Ben Greenfield.  “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…”  All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast.

Ben:  My lips, I have just been informed, are still blue from either this morning’s crazy pool workout up at Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reese’s house in Malibu, or possibly from the surfing we just did outside my guest’s house.  He’s sitting right here with me.  His name, as you’ve just learned, is Neil Strauss, and he’s a lot more than just a book writer, or an author, I guess we should say.  That’s probably a little bit more smooth than book writer.  Neil, how you doing?

Neil:  Good, man.  It’s a seven hour journey to doing this podcast.  We started seven hours ago, I think.

Ben:  It’s hard to get (censored) done in Malibu.  We woke up this morning, we did the pool workout.

Neil:  Right.  Which was intense.

Ben:  So for those of you who don’t know what we’re talking about, Neil, describe the pool workout to me.

Neil:  So Laird Hamilton, the incredible big wave surfer…

Ben:  Big wave surfer.  Like he does 100-foot waves around the world.

Neil:  And so much more, kind of develop this pool workout where you’re lifting and swim with weights in the water.  So you might grab to 40 pound weights, sink to the bottom of the pool, you’ll walk, and a lot of it’s about sort of seeing how long you can hold your breath, and really playing with breathing oxygenation.

Ben:  Right.  Don’t try this alone at home.

Neil:  Don’t try it alone at home.  We got people literally black out at the pool and hit their forehead on the side.

Ben:  Really?

Neil:  Yeah.

Ben:  I didn’t know this.

Neil:  Yeah.

Ben:  I’m glad you didn’t tell me this before we started this morning.

Neil:  And we did something pretty hardcore today.

Ben:  So just to give you an example, and I just uploaded a video of Neil to the Snapchat page over at where you can watch him going back and forth across the pool, you probably hold your breath for almost two minutes, I’d say.

Neil:  And it’s not really just how long can hold your breath, it’s because the workout itself and the energy you put in, use a lotta oxygen.  The harder you’re working, the harder it is to hold your breath.

Ben:  Right.  So for example, you grab the two 40 pound umbrellas, you’ll walk them across the bottom of the pool all the way to one end, and then you grab the other one, you held it to your chest…

Neil:  And then you swim back up to the surface on the other side.

Ben:  To the surface, but you don’t come up for a breath ’cause then you go back across with that same dumbbell.  As you go back across, grab the lone dumbbell that you left at the other edge, and then run that back.

Neil:  Right.  And the crazy thing is, when I was first told about this, I literally did not think it was possible.  And it’s mental more than physical.  It’s mental.  And it’s knowing that when you feel like you’re out of air and it’s just your body’s warning signal.  You still have a lotta oxygen left.

Ben:  Yeah.  I learned this when I took a free diving course.  When your diaphragm, so you know that feeling, if you’re listening in, you’ve probably kinda heard this before, if you do any mount of underwater work, it’s kinda like (makes a breathing noise), like your diaphragm starts to contract.  And you feel that, and you just keep going.

Neil:  Yeah.  And you can learn to do the little things, little like tricks, such as I’ll just exhale a little bit when I really feel like I’m running out of air, and that always allowed me to go a little bit further.

Ben:  Right.  And then another example that Neil showed me is you basically do, what are they called?  Sea horses?

Neil:  Yeah.

Ben:  So you have a dumbbell, basically up by your crotch.

Neil:  You’re holding it between your legs.

Ben:  You’re holding an 8, or a 10, or a 15 between your legs, and you’re treading water.  Your feet are up in a V-shape, and you tell folks about that workout that we did this morning, after what you just described.

Neil:  So what you want is you’re sort of facing forward.  You want your entire feet out of the water and you’re propelling yourself forwards here.  Your body’s in a V-shape, you’re just propelling yourself across the water…

Ben:  With your hands.

Neil:  With your hands, feet out of water, and your head can be out of the water or underwater, doesn’t matter.  You go to the other side, 10 push-ups, hop back in, go across again, 10 push-ups.  And after maybe six of these, your arms are so gone just pulling yourself out of the water.  It’s brutal.

Ben:  Yeah! I mean, dude, I played water polo where we would have people like standing on the edge of the pool, dropping a medicine ball.  You’re treading water, you’re throwing your medicine ball back up, without using your hands.  So it’s all eggbeater kick with the legs.  We did those type of sprints where you’d sprint across the pool, and get out, and do push-ups, but we never did this kinda stuff where you’re actually going back and forth under the water with the dumbbells.

Neil:  What’s so amazing is that Laird is literally inventing a new workout, and you and I are getting to sort of experience this new workout being invented in front of our eyes.  Because every time you come back into town, there’s a new exercise we’re doing, it’s got a new name, and it’s amazing to sort of be on the ground floor of this.  And it intuitively just feels good in your body.  You’re in the water, you’re outside in the sun, you’re not working just with strength; you’re working with oxygen, with movement.  It’s incredible.

Ben:  It’s a full body and full mind routine.  And then the other thing is there’s a barrel sauna and an ice tub.  Tell me about what you do with the barrel sauna and the ice tub that are right next to the pool.

Neil:  So when you’re done, it’s the sauna, which is about 220 degrees.  You do the sauna for about 15 minutes and then you do the ice for 3 minutes.  And it’s funny because people at that workout have the personality that as soon as, you can’t really say, “Hey, look at what I did,” ’cause as soon as you say “look at what I did,” someone will say, “Oh, do it this way.”  So maybe you’re in the ice bath and you say, “Hey, I just did five minutes,” and then Laird or someone will say, “Oh, do it with your hands underwater.”

Ben:  Right.

Neil:  Someone will also say, “Well, I did it fully submerged for a minute underwater in the ice tub.”  So every time you think you’re getting good, they’re getting better.

Ben:  So you’ve got heat, cold, breath, strength, in the water, out of the water.  So many components that you work.  And you do this how many days a week, Neil?

Neil:  Three days a week.

Ben: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday?

Neil:  Yeah.

Ben:  You go in there, and we were there, we showed up at like 8:30 and we were there ’til almost 11.

Neil:  Yeah.  Really.

Ben:  Yeah.  Just basically going back and forth.  So we delved down this rabbit hole when you were saying it took seven hours for us to podcast, but bear with us.  ‘Cause then we went to SunLife Organics in Malibu and had the smoothie…

Neil:  Right.  Almost the most expensive smoothie in America.

Ben:  Okay.  So I’ve got the ingredients pulled up here in front of me, this is called The Billion Dollar Smoothie, for those of you who want to replicate this at home.  Okay, here we go.  ‘Cause this was your first time drinking this as well.

Neil:  Yeah.  It’s similar to what you normally drink in the morning, right?

Ben:  Yeah.  It’s kinda similar to what I make at home in the morning.  I haven’t had explosive diarrhea yet, but it’s young Thai coconut meat, spinach, raw cashew butter, goat colostrum, chlorophyll, aloe, vitamin C crystals, collagen, silica, greens powder, grass-fed whey protein, E3-Live — which I think is like a brain nootropic type of thing, it’s called Brain-On, MCT oil, a ten mushroom blend from our friends over at Four Sigmatic, which is like reishi, and chaga, and cordyceps, hemp milk, the list goes on and on, and it’s $28.  You nursed yours for like two hours.  I punished mine in 5 minutes.

Neil:  Yeah.  You had dinner with the owner last night, and he’s a friend, so they gave it to us for free.  But I was really thinking like every sip is like a quarter.  It’s like that sip…

Ben:  You can do the math.  “Cha-ching!  Cha-ching!  Cha-ching!” per sip.

Neil:  It’s really hard to justify.

Ben:  And then we surfed.  Very active day leading up to today’s podcast.  And played a little Oculus Rift.  If you hear voices and shouting in the background, there are still people in Neil’s gaming room/library playing.  Is it HTC?

Neil:  It’s the HTC Vive.  So what it is, the Oculus Rift is the one that’s kind of been really famous.  Right now, it’s just the goggles.  They don’t have hand controllers publicly available, but they’re making them pretty soon.  But the HTC Vive is what they call room-scale virtual reality.  And they’re freaking out right now.  You can hear yelling in the background.

Ben:  And you can just like run around the room?  What’s the game he’s playing right now?

Neil:  He was doing Brookhaven Experiment, which is a zombie one, and it’s terrifying.  When my wife did it, she literally ripped off the goggles and had tears in her eyes.  It was so scary.  It’s so real.  And they’re playing maybe now Raw Data, which is kind of a robot one.  But what’s cool about room scale is you can literally move around the room, and it really feels real, and you have hand controllers, you can pick up and touch.  It feels incredibly real.

Ben:  Yeah.  I just took the Oculus Rift off my head, and I haven’t done much virtual reality at all.  It is crazy how realistic it was.

Neil:  When you do it, you start to realize that what’s happened with augmented virtual reality will be a revolution, maybe bigger than the internet, because people are going to just walk around the world and decide what level of reality they want to be in at any time.

Ben:  Is their utility for giving, because all of the listeners love to biohack their bodies or improve our brains, like how could you use something like that to actually get a better body or get a better brain?

Neil:  Yeah.  It’s funny that people aren’t doing that with it yet.  I would love them to do it.

Ben:  Yeah.

Neil:   What I’m thinking would be amazing for people who sort of, being able to follow, I think would be able to follow the journey of the food once it’s in your body and see, “Okay.  When I’m eating this, look at where it’s landing, and look at what’s happening.”

Ben:  What do you mean?  You would eat something and you would be able to…

Neil:  Imagine if you just showed somebody who’s drinking sugary beverages, like soda or something.  Imagine if you could show them the journey that that Coke takes in their body and they could follow it.

Ben:  Oh!  See what I was thinking was some kind of like a mentally challenging game or some kind of like a physically rigorous game that you could do with virtual reality.

Neil:  It’s funny because you definitely have to be in the right space because someone just dented my wall trying to kill a zombie.

Ben:  Yeah.  Actually, I was in there eating a salad as this guy was playing a virtual reality game, and he literally stuck the little wand controller right in my salad.  Who’s in there playing right now?  Cameron?

Neil:  Yeah.  Cameron Dallas.

Ben:  Cameron Dallas, some famous internet personality, I’ve just learned, is a famous internet personality.  Guess you could probably Google him.  Internet, I dunno, heartthrob kinda guy?  Something like that.

Neil:  Yeah.  Instagram is his art, or Vine and Instagram.  That’s his art form.

Ben:  Yeah.

Neil:  But as far as mental things also, I also think it would be good for sort of trauma healing, getting over phobias, because you realize how fragile the mind is ‘cause once you go into that virtual reality and you know it’s not real, it feels and looks real.

Ben:  Yeah.  That’s interesting.

Neil:  So I think we haven’t sort of…

Ben:  What’s the most physically rigorous thing that you’ve done using virtual reality?

Neil:  I would… (laughs)

Ben:  You’re not allowed to say virtual sex.  This is, well, I guess we can mark this podcast as explicit if need be.  I know you’ve written some pretty explicit books.

Neil:  You brought the topic, but the truth is my wife and I try to experiment with that.  It didn’t really, we tested it out.  It wasn’t as, maybe we tried the wrong thing, but it wasn’t there yet.  It felt like they were gigantic.

Ben:  Virtual reality sex is like gigantic, pixelated.

Neil:  Yeah.  Their perspective wasn’t right.  And also like when your goggles are on, you really don’t know what’s around you.  So all your friends could be surrounding you, laughing.

Ben:  Or you could be humping your bookshelf.

Neil:  Yeah.  Exactly.  There’ll probably some foolish videos coming out, but I would say similar to that kind of, again, right now it’s not really a substitute for actually doing what we did today, but some of the shooter games, you’re really out of breath ’cause they’re coming around from all sides.

Ben:  You mean, not a substitute for like an underwater pool workout?

Neil:  For example.

Ben:  That’s my concern is, even for my kids, when I was wearing the Oculus Rift in there just now with you, I thought, “Wow.  This would be really cool for my kids.”  But not as cool as them actually going outside and hunting a rabbit with their bow and arrow.  And I’m sorry if you love rabbits, for everybody who loves rabbits.  Go ahead.

Neil:  Cute little bunny rabbits.

Ben:  Cute little bunny rabbits.

Neil:  So what it is is educational though.  You can really have empathy.  I think there are a lot of great videos being made in displaced person’s camps in Syria, and you can really see what it’s like.  So what I think people are doing now is allowing you to have the experiences you want ’cause it really feels like you’re there.

Ben:  Interesting.

Neil:  And once they have haptics…

Ben:  What are haptics?

Neil:  Haptics is, this is the next level.  Next level with haptics is we actually get the touch and feeling of stuff.  So kind of where a lot of the kind of tech science is right now, is around working with haptics.  So when that dinosaur was breathing on you, you would feel the breath and the wetness.

Ben:  That’s crazy.  So you wouldn’t just see it?  You’d actually feel it.  You would wear sensors on your fingers, on your toes, anything where you wanted sensory perception?

Neil:  Yeah.  Or a bodysuit.  This isn’t even what we’re talking about in this podcast, but it’s fascinating.  I was just at a place called Two Bit Circus where it’s sort of a group of people who are working a lot with virtual reality, and they have things where you’re in a race, it’s kind of like the junkyard version of it in a sense, and they’re doing great stuff, by the way.  Very advanced, but where you’re maybe in a race car, and you’re in a seat that’s shaking, there’s a fan blowing on you, so it feels like you’re really there.  So that’s sort of the homemade tinker version, even though they’re doing advance stuff of haptics.

So people are doing really cool stuff with VR right now.  And I’m really thinking with my baby, who you might’ve heard in the background earlier, who’s 18 months old, I really think when he grows up, he’s not gonna wanna see flatscreen photos of himself.  So I wanna get a 360 degree camera for him.

Ben:  So boring.  No flatscreen photos.

Neil:  Yeah.  Eventually, movies you’re gonna be in them, looking around.

Ben:  Yeah.

Neil:  You’re the center of the action.  For sporting events too.

Ben:  I’m so torn on this because it’s like I really want my kids to grow up in the woods, surviving, and living with the dirt, and the elements, and all the negative ions that we get from the world, and not spend all their time indoors on virtual reality, plugged in and getting all the blue light exposure.  But at the same time, it’s freaking fun, and you could see a ton of utility for learning, and for gaming, and I mean the sky’s the limit with this stuff.

Neil:  Yeah.  I mean even as a writer, I would love to create the perfect writing environment to write in on that sort of…

Ben:  Yeah.  I see what you did there.  We’re talking about some of these books that you’ve written.

Neil:  We don’t have to…

Ben:  But what I’m curious about actually, ’cause I know that you’re best known, for those of you who are familiar with Neil, you’re best known for this book “The Game,” but you have some books that have quite a bent towards optimal brain performance, and even some pretty physically rigorous activities.  Like “Emergency,” for example, which I wanna ask you a little bit about, but have you always been into getting more out of your body and your brain?  Or were you just like a geeky journalist that eventually discovered underwater pool workouts along the way?  Where did fitness, and health, or nutrition start to become an interest for you?

Neil:  Yeah.  There’s several questions in there, so I think the first thing is I know that life exists outside your comfort zone.  So number one is, I always want to be outside my comfort zone.   If I’m scared of something, that makes me want to do it.  So a lot of my books are about, there’s maybe, if I say I can’t or there’s a challenge in my life where I’m really stuck, I don’t write about what I know.  I write about what I don’t know, and maybe become an expert of it by the end of the book.

So it’s the perfect job because you can just say, “Oh, I’m a horrible at this.”  This is really a big area of my life where I feel like I’m missing out.  For example, last book, “The Truth,” was about relationships.  All my relationships went wrong.  It was, of course, always the other person’s fault, ’til I started to realize, well, I’m the common denominator right?  And so I really explored like, “Well, what is that about relationships?”  And you really go deep, and you don’t just talk to the experts, but you actually go through the experience.  You can come out the other side with the knowledge…

Ben:  And you can go to specifics.  I can mark this podcast episode as explicit if need be, but I think that would be a fascinating way to illustrate how you do go deep.  What’d you do when you wrote this book “The Truth”?

Neil:  I started off in sex addiction rehab.  And I wouldn’t say that I’m a sex addict, but I think, so I was in love, or so I thought, and I cheated on the person and got caught.  And I just thought…

Ben:  You cheated on?

Neil:  On Ingrid.

Ben:  On your wife?

Neil:  On my wife.

Ben:  Yeah.  You were married at the time.  Your wife who’s in the room next to us?

Neil:  Right.  We have no secrets.

Ben:  Right.  Right.  It’s quite obvious.  You wrote a whole book about it.

Neil:  Yeah.  I know exactly no secrets.

Ben:  Actually, I own this book and I read it, and I think the first page, it says, “Ingrid, don’t read this.”

Neil:  Yeah.  Exactly.

Ben:  Yeah.

Neil:  And the last page says, “Ingrid, I hope you did read it. ”  And that’s the journey from “I have a secret life that I don’t wanna share with you” to “I wanna share all of me with you.”  And I just thought…

Ben:  So cheated on your wife, you went a sex addiction therapy?

Neil:  Right.  And so I just thought, I thought I was a good person, but how would a good person lie to someone they love, deceive someone they love, hurt someone they love?  Like, really, what’s wrong with me?  And our friend, you were doing a podcast with Rick Rubin, he’s also in the book, really said, “Hey.  If sex was so important to you that you’re willing to hurt yourself and other people to get, and lie, and violate your ethics system, maybe you’re a sex addict?  And I said, “I don’t know, but what if I just,” and at this point, it wasn’t in a book.  It was just me trying to like figure out what was wrong with me.  So I actually checked myself into sex addiction rehab, and what I found there was not a bunch of the sort of perverted people you’d expect, but other people who’d cheated on their wives…

Ben:  A bunch of creepy guys with dark-colored glasses.

Neil:  Yeah.  In my sort of group, except for one guy, everybody was there because they had cheated on their girlfriend or wife.  It’s interesting that…

Ben:  [0:24:35] ______ , I read the book…

Neil:  That was just the beginning.  That was just the first step.

Ben:  You were doing like three ways in Paris and drugged out orgies like in Europe…

Neil:  So I decided, and I think this is the conversation a lot of people have that, “Are we meant to be monogamous?”  In my head I was like, “Okay,” and again, in sex addiction rehab, they had a very, very Puritan take.  They really said like, “you should go on something like 20 dates with someone before you have physical intimacy, and make an emotional connection first,” which, the truth is it actually makes sense ’cause a lot of that, it’s funny that I would say that now ’cause I’m really angry about them saying that.  I thought they were trying to sort of impose Victorian morality on us.  But the truth is, if you really want a relationship, start with an emotional connection first, and then have the physical.  ‘Cause a lot of people have a great physical connection and then a disastrous relationship for years.

Ben:  Yeah.  I’ve been married for almost 14 years now, and my entire relationship with my wife started off as us being really, really good friends for a year and a half before we had any romantic relationship before we fell in love.  We just adventured together, and there was there was a huge emotional component, which means as we get old, and really ugly, and have horrible bodies, and everything else that people might associate with bad sex or whatever, it’s really not gonna matter because there’s so many things in the relationship that go beyond that.

Neil:  Yeah.  You really gotta look at the person, and say, “I’m gonna love you whatever we become, whatever happens to us, and whatever we look like.”

Ben:  You take a deep dive when you write these books.  You’re definitely the quintessential immersive journalist.

Neil:  Yeah.  So the question I ask myself, I just cut you off, I realize, but the question I ask myself was, “If you look at science, there’s nothing in science that says monogamy is natural.”  Even the species that one thought were monogamous before, they discovered that not all their litter, or their offspring, have the same, DNA test doesn’t match to the father.  So they’re sneaking around behind their back.  They might be so…

Ben:  Even like the, is the swan a monogamous…?

Neil:  I think the swan was one that thought to be monogamous.  I don’t remember though.

Ben:  But then they found out that daddy swans were actually out messing around.

Neil:  And that was true with the fox, and again, I know you like to get scientific, so we’ll do this.  So the animal they love to study is the vole.  Do you know about this?  It’s the…

Ben:  It’s funny because the voles have come up on the show before.  The voles, when I interviewed Dr. David Minkoff about cancer, he got into how the voles near Chernobyl in Russia live for an inordinate amount of time.  Somehow radiation has allowed them to have some kind of like an anti-aging longevity effect in their mitochondria.  But you found something else about the voles and sex?

Neil:  Yeah.  So there are two kinds of voles, and I’m just going off my memory, so I’m gonna get this slightly wrong about which kind it is, like prairie vole and the other vole, I dunno, we’ll call it the city vole…

Ben:  You make it up, and I would not be able to call you out.

Neil:  We’ll call it the city vole, but it’s not the prairie vole.  It’s another type of vole.  And one vole, it lives like monogamous and mates for life.  And the other one is a player.  It just plays the field, literally. And they sort of discovered that those who are naturally monogamous have a gene coding for a longer vasopressin receptor.  So when I found this out, I thought, “Okay.”  I went to this guy, [0:28:01] ______, who’d done a lot of the studies.  He was in Sweden, and he also worked in Emory when they did this study, and he’s one of the biggest guys studying the science of monogamy.  I said, “Listen, if I don’t have a gene code for long vasopressin receptor,” and I also maybe wasn’t, there is a certain kind of psychological profile, the way you were raised that’ll make you more sort of akin to monogamy.  I’m like, “If I have neither of those, should I even bother trying to be monogamous?”  First of all, I said, “Maybe I can get like a transplant.”  But there’s no, for example, they played with oxytocin, vasopressin on humans, and it might make you sort of feel a connection after sex or something, but I won’t make you kind of mate for life…

Ben:  Well, there are actually, not to rabbit hole too much, but there’s actually a lot of people using intranasal and topical oxytocin to enhance your feeling of connectivity or romanticism towards your partner.

Neil:  Yes.  Yep, and that’s exactly what he was talking about.

Ben:  Which I think you need a doctor’s prescription for, I believe.

Neil:  And that works in the short term, but not the long term.

Ben:  Okay.  So it’s like a short-term…

Neil:  And really, man, maybe with the wrong person if you have to do that.  Let’s just face it.

Ben:  My concern, because when I experimented before, I haven’t used oxytocin.  When I went to Thailand last time, I bought a whole bunch of their Thai version of viagra because there’s so much research on that for everything from sports performance enhancement, to of course, sex, well, those are the biggest two.  And one thing I noticed was the couple of times that I used it for sex, I started to get nervous when I didn’t use it, about what would happen.  Like if I’d still have it or if I needed that.  I would be concerned about oxytocin too, if you’d always need that little bottle of oxytocin in your pocket.

Neil:  And I think the fear of the worry is the same way sort of like heroin addicts.  It’s sort of, their body stops producing opiates to kill the normal to pains.  They’re like, “Oh, I’m already getting opiates. I don’t need it.”  In the same way, your body lessens it’s own, sort of build-up…

Ben:  Yeah.  So many negative feedback loops, even for topical, or testosterone creams, or progesterone in women.  It shuts down endogenous production, which you may need to do in short-term.

Neil:  Let me ask, ’cause I think the thing that I’ve really sort of learned since sort of, we’re in a world now, and your podcast is a good example, that where you’d have to be your own expert, you have to be your own doctor, you have to be your own nutritionist, and what I found is it isn’t like most things are not good or bad.  It depends on what you want them for.  For example, we were in the sauna having a discussion with Darin, who is an incredible writer, and doing some great studies on stem cells…

Ben:  Oh, that guy who does supplement research who was in the sauna at Laird and Gabby’s?

Neil:  Yeah.

Ben:  That was amazing.

Neil:  He has a great book called “Super Life.”

Ben:  Oh, he does have a book.  I didn’t know this.  We were picking his brain, and we’ll get back to what you were saying…

Neil:  There were all those recent studies about how coffee is good for you.  And he was saying that coffee hurts your stem cells, so the thing is it’s not like something’s good for you…

Ben:  It can actually kill what he called totipotent stem cells.

Neil:  Yeah.

Ben:  So what this guy was saying was that we all have these totipotent stem cells that can be converted to any other cell, that they get released from connective tissue, but that if they are in the bloodstream and presented with oxidative damage from things that are even like mild hormetic stressors, like alcohol, or coffee, or things like this, it can actually shut down longevity.  And he’s doing a bunch of research on how, I believe what I understood from what he was saying was that one-two combo of injury, or inflammation, or excess stress, combined with coffee, or alcohol, or anything else that we might consider to be these hormetic stressors, that in small amounts are actually good for us, are bad for us and can kill stem cells if we’re already stressed out, or injured, or inflamed.

Neil:  Yeah.  I think the main thing that I’ve kinda learned as well, everything has good and bad effects.  It depends on what you want it for, and you really have to know.  So when you read something, decide this is good, well, what’s it good for and what’s it bad for, and you make those choices.

Ben:  Right.

Neil:  But I thought it was interesting what he was saying about stem cells too, that a lot of the stem cell stuff they’re doing is useless.

Ben:  Yeah.  Those stem cells that you get injected from bone marrow, or amniotic fluid, or, I guess, embryonic stem cells, they don’t have the capability to differentiate into the same type of tissue that these totipotent stem cells we have in our own body can differentiate.

Neil:  Was that the first time you heard the word totipotent?

Ben:  I’ve heard the word pluripotent before in reference to stem cells, but never totipotent.

Neil:  Yeah.  Same.  Your memory is so good that you…

Ben:  You could possibly have made it up.  I wouldn’t know, ’cause I was in a sauna with no Google.

Neil:  Yeah.  I think he’s very well connected.

Ben:  Yeah.  He was a very fascinating guy and I asked him when we finished that discussion, what his top two supplements that he would take for anything from like cognitive performance to anti-aging would be.  And his response was not coffee, but coffee fruit, which is the combination of the coffee and the seed, and then, not turmeric, but turmerones, which apparently are an extract of turmeric that are way different than like curcumin, or curcuminoids, or anything else, but they make anything that you take them along with extremely bioavailable.  He said none of this stuff is available on the market right now, but coffee fruit extract and turmerones.  Learned something new this morning.

Neil:  Yeah.  His main job is that he’s a superfood hunter.

Ben:  Yeah.  “Super Life.”  I didn’t know he had a book.  By the way, if you guys want in the show notes, to access any of this stuff, you can find the show notes at, as in N-E-I-L.

Neil:  And just so people know his last name too, it’s Darin Olien, O-L-I-E-N is his last name.

Ben:  Okay.  I’ll hunt him down.  He’s kind of a beast too.  He was killing the pool workout.  Okay.  So you immersed yourself into this book, you wrote “The Truth,” and to come full circle to what we were talking about regarding vasopressin in the voles…

Neil:  So I just thought, “Maybe this is not the way we’re actually meant to live.”  And so I started thinking, “Maybe I should find the type of relationship that’s natural to me.”  So I experimented with polyamory, with open relationships, with swinging, with maybe not having your sexual partner the same as your romantic bonding partner, and I kind of tried everything.  Things that I tried living, I just thought wouldn’t it be cool to live in sort of a commune situation, where everybody’s sort of connected, and relationship fluid, and just living with a bunch of friends in this freewheeling paradise.  On the third day, somebody tried to kill me over jealousy with an axe.

Ben:  Yeah.

Neil:  So…

Ben:  Yeah.  The full story of that is in the book.  It actually is a quite interesting book.

Neil:  And what I learned was that when every one of these things went wrong, or turned into some sort of disaster, that I had to kind of face up to the fact that it was my own emotional unhealthiness, and I brought it with me to whatever kind of relationship I was having.

Ben:  So ultimately, what’d you find out in the end there?

Neil:  So, you know what I found out was if you’re unhealthy, all your relationships will be unhealthy.  That’s the first thing.  But the second thing, like the big lesson, and I really would love to dive deeper into this if it is into the kind of the more hardcore psychology of it, but that your relationship has nothing to do with the other person.  It’s all about you and the way you relate to the other person.

Basically, we have templates that are created by the way we’re raised and the wiring, the way our brain is wired, that cause us to be in functional or dysfunctional relationships.  And so, for example, if someone hasn’t done the psychological work on themselves and if they’d tell me the way they were raised, I can guess how their relationships are.  If they tell me how their relationships are, I can tell the way they were raised.  There’s a 1:1 correspondence.

Ben:  I remember when you and I first met, the very first thing you asked me was how my relationship with, I think you asked me what about my relationship with my mom, if I remember correctly.  I thought it was such an odd first question to ask someone who you’ve never met before.

Neil:  What I was curious about with you, and let’s sort of discuss it here, is obviously there is a control issues with you around the way you live your lifestyle.  Right?  So you really control what comes in, what comes out, measure it…

Ben:  Strict, regimented measurer, type A.  Yeah.

Neil:  Right.  And your extremeness in it is your talent, in a sense, and why your podcast is so great, and why I trust you with that kind of information.  But I also think that it comes as a response to something.  So my question was what was the environment you were raised in that led to that.  And what’s the answer?

Ben:  Yeah.  So my environment was actually a relatively strict, controlled environment.  I was homeschooled K through 12.  I had a really good relationship with my parents, but it was also a very, very kind of a strict upbringing.  Some would say like a sheltered, stereotypical prairie muffin, homeschooled type of upbringing.

Neil:  And to figure this out, you almost have to go one level deeper.  That’s the sort of postcard version.  But in a sense, and maybe one way to say it, like we can start here, which is, first of all, strict in what way?

Ben:  It’s okay.  Anything goes in this podcast.  You can delve deep and ask me embarrassing questions.

Neil:  Let’s go with that.  Your 11 or 12 year old, were you Ben?  Benny?  Were you just little Ben?  Benjamin?

Ben:  Benjamin.  If I was in trouble.

Neil:  Right.  If you were in trouble, you were Benjamin.  So give me three words as little Ben that describe, say, dad as you saw him through your eyes then.

Ben:  At 12 years old?  Quiet, in almost like a standoffish kinda way.  He was not very physical, right.  Like not a lot of like hugs, or piggyback rides, stuff like that.  That’s something that also stood out to me.  I know this sounds like I’m saying a bunch of bad things about my dad.  I’m not.  I’m just saying it how it is.  And, I guess one of the other things that comes to mind is that I didn’t feel like I learned a lot from him.  Like what I’m very careful with my kids is to teach them how to shave, how to fish, how to hunt, how to do what we might consider in our culture to be like manly things.

Neil:  And by the way, when we do this, I think the hardest barrier to people with their own personal psychological growth is the desire to protect one’s parents from saying anything so-called bad about ’em…

Ben:  Yeah.  Especially knowing that this is a podcast, right?  It’s gonna be in public and my dad might listen to it.

Neil:  Listen.  It’s not a relationship with anybody if you can’t be honest with them.  Right?

Ben:  Right.

Neil:  And imagine…

Ben:  There’s actually a really good book about this I just read called “Radical Honesty.”

Neil:  Yeah.  Brad Blanton.

Ben:  Yeah.

Neil:  Yeah.  It’s great.  He’s fascinating.  I did some great many documentaries on him on YouTube.  They’re worth watching.  And just to kind of press that point where you want to think about these, they are the variables that make you you.  And we’re looking at them as variables non-judgmentally.  In other words, all human beings are imperfect.  Thus all parents are imperfect, and some of those imperfections get passed on to you.  But if you wanna know the operating system you’re running on, you have to do sort of this virus scan on yourself.  And you do it by figuring out, “Well, what is the way I was raised?”  And if you look at it again, sort of scientifically is you’re born, you’ve got your brain, and the architecture of your brain is built in those first years, and they’re being built at an astonishing rate.

A three year old has twice as many neural connections as you and I.  And then after three while you’re still learning, a process called, there’s that saying “cells that fire together, wire together.”  Right?  So as you’re having these experiences that, whatever, “dad is distant, and so I gotta learn stuff for myself.”  So that the first lesson is, “Okay.  I’m not being taught from my dad.  I have to learn it for myself.”  Guess what?  We’re talking about my books, I had the same kinda dad.  Exact the same, almost.

Ben:  Really?  Interesting.

Neil:  And so all of my books, if you think about ’em, are looking for these father figures.  It was Mystery in “The Game.” In “The Truth,” a lot of it was Rick, in a sense.  In “Emergency,” it was the survivalists.  And looking to get those skills that I never got from my parents, right?

Ben:  Interesting.

Neil:  And same with you.  That’s why you’re such a…

Ben:  I’m on a constant quest to find those mentors, find those people who will teach me things, go on adventures, and discover and learn, usually from experts in their respected fields.  It’s a big part of what this podcast is about, right?  Then bring that knowledge to the masses.

Neil:  And that’s the gift of the trauma and the gift of that upbringing.  There are some people probably listening right now that maybe, the hardest person to see themselves in this way is, and this is the toughest, is when mom or dad, and often it was dad, when you live in a family where dad was always right, or mom was always right, they were never wrong, and there is no arguing with them because what happens is your parent takes almost that’s sort of god.  They call it spiritual abuse ’cause the parent is god and they’re never wrong and they’re always right, and of course, even when they are wrong.  And so as you get older, to question your family system is almost like blaspheming god, and those the hardest people to get to sort of see themselves.  And so to go full circle, when I talk to [0:42:08] ______ about monogamy, he said, he always…

Ben:  To who?

Neil:  To the geneticist who did the study with the…

Ben:  Oh, yeah.  Yeah.  The vole guy.

Neil:  Yeah.  By the way, it’s prairie voles and meadow voles are the other kinds.  He said, “You get to change things.”  At any point, you can change things.  The older you get, the harder it is because all those repetitions of that behavior have really wired in those beliefs.  But what I found was if you can shift your beliefs on a belief level, everything changes.  For example, in a small tangent, but a lot of people wanna change their behavior.  So if you think, “Oh, I wanna quit this habit,” or start this habit, it should be easy enough to just do it, right?  You make that choice.  But if you can’t do it, if your willpower is not enough, then you have to start looking at your beliefs ’cause your beliefs are what drive that.  And they’re harder to change than behaviors, but their reward is they shift everything.

Ben:  Interesting.

Neil:  There’s a model of NLP which I love, and I always think about this for change and transformation…

Ben:  Neuro-linguistic programming?

Neil:  Neuro-linguistic programming.  And this is the model for change.  So on the outside, there’s your environment.  I know so many people who think, “I’m going to move to this place and have a new life,” or “I’m gonna go to this place, and I’ll quit drugs.”

Ben:  Well, I personally believe that to make, I believe the phrase goes “to radically change your habits, you must radically change your environment.”  Isn’t that a saying?

Neil:  Yes.  And I don’t think that’s true.  It’s the shallowest, simplest way to change your habits.  So the outside is environment, the second level is your behaviors.  So, “Hey, maybe I’ll start doing this and change the behaviors.”  So one deeper than behaviors is your capabilities, what you’re capable of doing.  The deeper you go, the more change radiates outward to the outer layers.  I wish I could draw this.  Beneath capability is your beliefs.

So the belief is if you believe deep down, let’s just say, sometimes someone whose father wasn’t around and, let’s say, their mom was very critical, they might have the belief that “I’m worthless.  I’m not good enough.”  Right?  “If I was good enough, dad would’ve cared for me and mom would’ve not been so negative.”  And so, they’ll take that belief that I’m not good enough to everything they do, and it can a) the positive side is it can drive ’em to greatness, but the downside is they’ll always be miserable because they just feel like “I’m not good enough,” no matter what they do and what they perform with.  So beneath belief is identity.  Identity might be your way of being.  Who are you?  Are you joyful?  Are you negative?  Are you stressed?  So your identity is just really who you are.  Any guesses what the deepest level is that shifts everything?

Ben:  Below belief?  Below identity?

Neil: Yeah.

Ben:  I don’t.  What would it be?

Neil:  The deepest is spirituality.  So your belief about the entire world, of the universe, and what’s the shift in structure of the world, your kind of world view is the deepest.  That’s why if somebody’s going through AA, NA, or Alcoholics Anonymous, or something, it’s all spiritual stuff because it’ll make a spiritual shift in your spiritual beliefs.  Everything changes.

Ben:  Interesting.  So what you’re saying is that, to kinda get to one of the things that you and I talked about before we even started recording this podcast, we were talking about like smart drugs and nootropics, and how to hack your brain without smart drugs.  So, in essence, if you want to change your brain or your mental function, are you saying that you start with looking at where you’re at spiritually?

Neil:  Here’s where I would start.  I would start with, there are a few signs when you’re out of touch with reality, and I’ll give you those signs.  So one is when do you overreact to things.  So, for example, an overreaction could be getting angry.  Right?  You might get really angry at someone or something, but the truth is, like, “Really?”  They did whatever they did or happened justify you being in a rage, or anger out of control.  Another form of overreaction is shutting down.  Some people shut down.  Another form of that interaction is anxiety.  You’re entrapping a ton of anxiety, but does it really matter?  Is it worth the stress you’re putting out your own system and your health because you’re gonna be a couple minutes late to that thing.

So whenever, there’s a saying, “where there’s over reactivity, there’s a wound,” and that’s usually attached to a false belief.  And so the first thing is I think you have to, I’d say, like to be a scientist of your own lows.  So where you overly stress.  Let’s say you break up with somebody, and you’re just devastated.  The truth is it was probably the right thing.  And let’s just say someone comes to you and the worst thing that could happen, they say, “You know what?  I cheated on you.  I’m in love with someone else.”  Right?  Like do you really want that person back?  They made a choice, and you can respect that choice, and move on, and find someone that works for you.  That’s not how it feels because it triggers a deeper wound.

I often find that heartbreak is sometimes the best motivator for change because you’re really in like a primal emotional pain.  So when someone’s sort of heartbreak is greater than the situation that happened, it’s really not about them.  It’s about mom or dad.  It’s about that primal attachment wound.

Ben:  Have you written about this in any of your books?  Or is this all like neuro-linguistic programming?

Neil:  No.  Everything I’m saying, by the way, neuro-linguistic programming was just those levels of change.  That was all.  And this stuff is the stuff that’s in “The Truth.”

Ben:  Okay.

Neil:  So the stuff we’re talking about is in there, in between the lines in there.

Ben:  Okay.  Gotcha.

Neil:  So one is overreaction.  Another one is this.  Let me ask you, are all people equal?  Are all people, have equal worth and value as human beings?  Do we all have equal worth and value as human beings?

Ben:  My gut response is yes.

Neil:  Yes!  Of course we do!

Ben:  Yeah.

Neil:  Yeah.  No matter who it is, whether the president or somebody…

Ben:  I was wondering if you were asking me trick questions.

Neil:  No.  It wasn’t a trick question.  The truth is, we all have equal worth and value as human beings.  So any time you feel less than others, or better than others, that’s a sign that you’re out of alignment with reality and that also comes from a core kinda wound.

Ben:  Interesting.

Neil:  And again, I’m kind of like going heavy without all of the context, but understanding these caught concepts allowed me to sort of break in, and then I can say, “Okay, what’s going on here?”  And the way I would sort of map it out for myself is if I can figure out the core wound, the false belief.  So, “I’m worthless,” “I’m not enough,” “Nobody understands me…”

Ben:  So that stuff will figure out the false belief?

Neil:  Right.  The false belief.  Next, step two is figure out where it came from.  ‘Cause if you can figure out where it came from, you can let go of the lie.  Are we going to like heavy without the context for it?  Or no?  Are we going too, getting too psychological without the context?

Ben:  I think we’re okay.  I think now that you’re kinda like summarizing the steps, this is helpful for people who are out bicycling, or running, and listening in with smoke coming out their ears.

Neil:  Here’s a good example.  When I was in rehab, there were people in rehab for exercise addiction.  There are people who are, you’re doing it to be healthier person, but some will do it to such an extreme that they’re hurting themselves.

Ben:  Right.

Neil:  Right?  That they’re like poisoning their system with the wrong kinds, or too much…

Ben:  Anorexics, overtrained, inflamed exercisers, bodybuilders, people with like body dysmorphic disorder, or an obsession with the way their body looks.  That type of thing.

Neil:  And the thing is it’s not what you’re doing.  This is my philosophy.  It’s not what you’re doing that makes you healthy, or not healthy.  It’s why you’re doing it.  So are you doing it just because it feels good and it seems right?  Like the pool workout, the truth is, I don’t really know all the science of it.  I know that I feel good.  The Forge, I mean, during and after, I feel good.

Ben:  I usually feel hungry.

Neil:  Yeah.  I just enjoy it.  That’s it.  But if you’re doing it to sort of compensate for inadequacy, and also you look at, your results reveal to you your intentions.  So if you’re doing something and it’s making you less healthy, or your weight is getting worse, or you’re depressed, you’re less happy…

Ben:  Chronically fatigued, overtrained.  Yeah.

Neil:  Right.  Then maybe you have to look at why you’re doing it.

Ben:  Right.  That makes sense.

Neil:  Oh.  So it’s doing that chart.

Ben:  You delved away from the chart a little bit, but you identify.

Neil:  So you identify the beliefs…

Ben:  The beliefs, okay.

Neil: And it’s crazy.  Like if you really start to think about your beliefs really, really will just, I see so many people, and again, my other job is for Rolling Stone.  For 20 years, I’ve interviewed the most famous people in the world for Rolling Stone.  That’s kind of been my job.  And I see that, and I know I’m going off a small tangent, but I see that fame and money don’t make people happier or fix anything.  They just amplify what’s wrong with them.

So a lot of people quest for a certain goal, whether it’s fame, maybe it’s money, maybe it’s health, maybe it’s a certain weight.  And then they get there, they achieve that goal.  If you’re lucky, you achieve that goal.  You get to that goal, and this goes without exception, you get there and you realize, “Oh.  Now what do I do because I’m still living with myself and I still have the same emotions that these things would fix.”

Ben:  And then you look at a guy like, Robin Williams might be a perfect example of that.  Amazing guy who achieved a ton in life, and I think checked off most of anything that you want to check off in life.  And by external measures, he was rich, and successful, and funny, and happy, and then he committed suicide.

Neil:  And a lot of people, and this goes, I would say almost with very few exceptions, they get there and they hit a depression as soon as they reach their goals because before, you could say, “Oh, I’m not happy ’cause I’m not there yet.”  And then you’re there…

Ben:  You see this in the world of like obstacle racing, and marathoning, and Ironman triathlons, and these type of things, people will, they’ll cross the finish line, and then what you see is folks get really sad for a couple of weeks, unless they have another race to sign up for.  Or unless they have another event on the horizon.

Neil:  And it’s that any different than a heroin addict.  You need the next fix.

Ben:  Not much.  Some would argue a healthy version, some an unhealthy version, but it’s actually, it’s a brilliant marketing on the part of, say, like Ironman triathlon ’cause they open up registration the next morning.  You gotta go stand in line, and register, and write your 600, or 800, or 1,000 Dollar check, or whatever it is now, to get into the next race.  So all of a sudden, you have that meaning thrust back into your life ASAP.

Neil:  Exactly.

Ben:  Like the emptiness is filled before you’ve had a chance to dive back into depression.

Neil:  And that’s the goal about the “why”.  If you exist with your own meaning, then everything else is just great to do.  And if you’re looking for meaning outside yourself, you’re just giving all your power away.  So what it is, you identify the core issue, then you identify where it comes from.  So in other words, if I think I need to compete and win because at home, I only got attention from my parents when I got good grades, or excelled in this or that, while my brother got it ’cause he excelled in this and that, and so I’m still competing for love.  I’m competing for attention, I’m competing for my own validation.

Once you identify where it comes from, you can let go of the lie.  You can realize it comes from that experience.  It’s not really a truth.  Then the third thing is to replace it with the actual belief, the actual truth.  So if the truth is, if you realize the false belief is like, “I only feel worth and value when I have an accomplishment,” the truth is “I am, have worth and value. Period.  As a person.”  And you can start sort of re-parenting yourself, and sort of being the parent, and give…

Ben:  That’s really interesting.  I don’t know if you run into this, if people give you this response a lot, but like for me, this strikes home, what you’re saying.  ‘Cause I’m a hard-charging, high achieving guy who’s always looking for the next big thing that I want to accomplish, the next way to make myself better, the next run of the ladder that I can climb.  And what you’re saying is one of the things that you’d recommend that I do is go back and look at what beliefs I might have about myself, and then where those beliefs came from, and then generate a new belief that I actually am worthy and don’t need to like do all these things to prove to the world that I can accomplish X, or Y, or Z.

Neil:  Right.  And a great example is Michael Phelps, the swimmer.  Michael Phelps?  Is that it?  Yeah.  So he just went through a lot of some of the same stuff that I went through, and I went through a lot of rehab and stuff like that.

Ben:  You mean sex addiction?

Neil:  I don’t know.  I think it was sex, I think it was alcohol, I think it’s all tied up together…

Ben:  I was gonna say I think it was weed.

Neil:  I dunno, but kinda came out healthier and still kill it and take away anything.  So the thing is you can keep the benefit of it and you can still strive toward excellence, but not keep the compulsiveness.

Ben:  I dunno.  There’s still a lot of Michael Phelps memes out there that I think he [0:55:03] ______ .

Neil:  Yeah.  And again, it’s dealing with this, healing this stuff is like the half-life of radiation.  You keep cutting in half, and cutting in half, but there’s a little bit that’s always there.  But it’s getting to decide where it’s not compulsive anymore, where you’re actually making the choices, and you’re in the driver seat, and these things aren’t driving you.

Ben:  This is really, truly, I didn’t know we were going to talk about this, but it’s very close to home.

Neil:  Let’s go to you, and let’s sort of discuss it a little bit, and give me the three words for mom, and then I’m gonna ask some other questions.  I got a feeling it comes from the…

Ben:  Okay.  So three words as 11 or 12 years old?

Neil:  Yeah.  Just around that age.

Ben:  Okay.  I would say that she was very protective, very protective of like everything.  How late we were out at night, what movies we were seeing.  We had like, even things like squawk boxes on the TV to keep us from hearing curse words, and just like, which was really funny because my brothers and I would study carefully the TV screen to figure what they were saying and then go rush away to find out what that word meant.  It was like obsessed with cursing.

Neil:  You could probably read lips well now.

Ben:  Right.  Like having the squawk box, yeah.  Made us into really good cursers.  What else?  I guess when you ask this question, I personally start to think about flaws more than I start to think about…

Neil:  Go with what you think about.  I think it’s hard.  I think us having this conversation in private might be slightly different.

Ben:  Right.  Sitting at your diner room table in front of microphones, it makes it all the more difficult.

Neil:  But again, I think maybe the truth comes out, you guys can have cool dialogue.

Ben:  Oh, yeah.  I know that stuff like this gets back to my mom and dad.  That’s of no concern to me.  They know I’m a pretty honest guy.  Sometimes too honest.  So the…

Neil:  I’ll argue that there’s no such thing as too honest.

Ben:  “Radical Honesty,” right?  Overprotected, or overprotective.  I would say, what else?  She was very busy all the time.  Like always, people had to be over always.  Something had to be going on always.  There had to be a conversation.  There wasn’t a lot of silence.  There wasn’t a lot of like stillness, meditation.  And I’ve had to overcome, I think, at times, my own propensity to go stir crazy when there is silence.  I’ve actually gotten very good, I’ve used things like hunting, and meditation, and all sorts of methods to get better at just being alone in my own thoughts.

Neil:  Yet you’re still doing, you’re still busy meditating or busy hunting.

Ben:  But you’re still doing something.  Yeah.  You’re still hunting.

Neil:  ‘Cause that’s that message from there is like it’s a doing philosophy versus shifting with being philosophy.

Ben:  And then, I’d have to say, gosh what would be the last thing?  Tough to say, man.  So a little bit overprotected, very busy, and I would say she was extremely involved in our lives.  Like driving us here and…

Neil:  It’s funny.  Say the one you really wanna say.  ‘Cause you feel like, “Oh, I gotta end with a positive one.”  But say the one you really wanna say ’cause I feel like, I can see you, I’m sitting here watching you.  I’m watching you think, “Oh, I really should end with something positive.”

Ben:  Right.  Exactly.

Neil:  But I’ll take it.  We’ll stick to those.

Ben:  Okay.  So almost there to almost like an annoying extent.

Neil:  Very present.

Ben:  Like we had to have pagers when we drive around so she could page us and communicate with us.  And now, even still, it’s just like boatloads of text messages and things like that.  Yeah.  So extremely, extremely communicative, perhaps to a flaw.

Neil:  Right.  So the pattern for you, which is funny ’cause it’s the same for me, is abandonment on the dad side and again what people think abandonment is dad is not there.  Abandonment is sometimes when someone’s not sort of just emotionally, physically present with you.  They can be present, like a friend of mine, her dad’s a famous executive, let’s say, in Hollywood, and was always really working hard.  It’s a great loving dad, but ’cause he’s never around, she always chooses guys who are not available.  No matter what.  And if a guy’s available, she just doesn’t feel any chemistry or connection because she needs that unavailability to feel that connection, which is why she’s, and she’s amazing, it’s just so hard for her to find a relationship that works.

Ben:  You mean unavailable guy like a married man or something like that?

Neil:  Usually it’s emotionally unavailable.  It’ll be just a guy who like might not return phone calls, disappears after a couple times of hanging out, and just is like, “Okay, let’s make plans,” but doesn’t really commit to a plan, and she gets hung, stuck on that.  Where she meets a loving, present guy, and she’s like, “You know, I don’t feel any chemistry with him.”  Well, of course you don’t.  Because that’s not your template.  So you have sort of abandonment on dad’s side, and then enmeshment on mom’s side.

Ben:  Abandonment on dad’s side, enmeshment on mom’s side.

Neil:  And a lot of people don’t know this concept, but it’s opposite abandonment.  Abandonment is some sort of neglect, of parents not physically or emotionally there.  And you kinda know, an enmeshment is that the parent, in your case, is they were too much.  But the idea is this: the job of a functional parent is to be there for the needs of the child.  Those needs include, it’s not taking what your mother wants, to be there, then child needs comes first.

In the case of your mom, some of her strictness was not for your needs to make you sort of the best person, possibly for her needs about a) what she thought you should be and about her not feeling anxiety ’cause she doesn’t know where you are.  And so enmeshment is you’re in a sense, serving the parents’ needs.  This can come if you, for some people, they become mom or dad’s therapist, or daddy’s little girl, or mom’s kinda surrogate boyfriend where she’s sort of having all the emotional conversations with you that she should be having with her husband.  Or sometimes someone has a depressed mom who they’re always trying to cheer up, and you’re there for their needs.  So a lot of your mom’s strictness was really about her needs, not about yours.  So that’s, the word for that is enmeshment.

Ben:  Interesting.

Neil:  Engulfment is another word that’s used for it.  And so it’s a pattern a lot of people don’t know.  And it tends to the result, and this isn’t sure, I mean you’ve been married for a long time, but it tends to make people avoidant sometimes in relationships is because if someone’s too needy, I assume your wife’s not a needy person.

Ben:  No.  My wife’s like freaking independent.

Neil:  And that’s what…

Ben:  And it’s crazy.  Like I just called my wife from your patio.  First time I’ve talked to her in a week.  Like she doesn’t text me, or call me, or anything when I’m out traveling.  She’s super independent.  She’s just nose to the grindstone and does her thing.

Neil:  And that is why it works.  Because if she needed to check in all the time, you would go nuts.  You would go nuts.  Right?  And someone who was sort of raised with that enmeshment, they might get in a relationship and someone’s really needy, and they’ll just feel their skin crawling.

Ben:  What’s really interesting, my wife is like one of the least communicative people when it comes to constantly being in touch.  Like very few texts, like she could lose your phone for a week and not care, whereas I would be searching up and down and using “Locate My Phone” on iCloud.

Neil:  Right.  What was her relationship with her dad?

Ben:  Her dad and her were really close.

Neil:  Of course they are.  Because she is probably enmeshed in some way with her dad, and that’s why she’s a little avoidant too.  So you’re like kinda two avoidants together, and it works really nicely in a way.

Ben:  Interesting.

Neil:  It’s interesting, right?

Ben:  This is really interesting stuff.

Neil:  Like it really is like the map of your psyche.  And once you start to understand that, then you can realize, “Okay.  What’s working for me?  What isn’t working for me?”  You can start to do the work to change it.  It’s fascinating. We’re really running on these operating systems that were programmed in the first 17 years.

Ben:  To hammer this home for folks, the three steps again are…

Neil:  I think the steps are identify the beliefs that don’t serve you, figure out their origin.  So those are your core beliefs.  Then figure out what this origin story of them is.  And then kind of replace them with the new beliefs that are true.  Right?  Because most of our beliefs are total lies, and you’ll see, if you start to think about it, you’ll start to see it happen all the time in your life.  You’re out and you’re like, “Oh, I feel like people don’t feel like I fit in,” or “I don’t feel like I did good enough.”  And you’ll start to realize the other thing it’s related to is your family message.  With you, and it’s fun, what we’re doing is giving this as an example so other people can think about themselves.

Ben:  Right.

Neil:  So every family has a message that’s spoken or implicit.  And for example, in my family, I used to think the message was “do great and be successful.”  But the actual message was “don’t fail, don’t screw it up.”  Everything I did, they were always scared that something was going wrong or something was gonna happen, and that’s maybe what led me maybe to “The Game” in a sense, I was trying to find out the science so I won’t to get rejected in meeting women.  I figured there’s a right way to do everything.  I don’t wanna fail.  I would have this group called “The Society,” which is this sort of hundred person mastermind group, and the motto is…

Ben:  Yeah.  That’s how you and I met.  I think you had like a society meeting at an anti-aging conference, or an anti-aging institute, where the whole focus was on longevity.

Neil:  Yep.  That was it.

Ben:  Yeah.

Neil:  And the motto is “you only live once, don’t blow it.”  In a way, that’s my family message…

Ben:  That’s motto of your entire society?  “You only live once, don’t blow it.”

Neil:  And I only realized afterwards that, “Shoot.  I just took my family message into that.”  So what’s your family message?

Ben:  9laughs) I don’t know if I could put it into, my family now?  Like Jessa, and me, and River, and Terran?  Or me growing up?

Neil:  All that matters for the stuff we’re talking about is the first 17 years.

Ben:  You know what?  To me, it would be centered around something like, have you ever seen that cartoon online called “The Greenfields”?

Neil:  I might have.

Ben:  Okay.  I forget.

Neil:  Is it like an old newspaper cartoon with like a family?

Ben:  No.  It was one of the very first like online animated cartoons.  My brother and I used to watch it…

Neil:  Really?  And it’s called The Greenfields?  Is it after you?

Ben:  I remember my brothers and I used to just like howl at it ’cause there was like Nanna Hooter, this big, huge like woman in with these giant hooters, they were like, she’d injure people with their hooters.  And like that the theme for that show was, “We are the Greenfields, the mighty, mighty Greenfields.”  And it goes on, I don’t remember the rest of it.  But it was very much like that where we were supposed to be the Greenfields, like the proud, mighty, high achieving, like leader…

Neil:  So the message is “we are the Greenfields,” and I haven’t seen that, but the message is “we are the Greenfields and we are the best”?

Ben:  Very, very unique snowflakes.  And the best.  Yes.  That was the message.

Neil:  Which is exactly how you live your life, right?  You know the most, you exceed in the Spartan races and everything, and that’s how you live your life.  You’re living out that message.  It’s fascinating, right?

Ben:  Yeah.

Neil:  It’s like we’re programmed.

Ben:  Yeah.  It’s really interesting.

Neil:  And one of my main, I mean the things I do the most is interview.  Right?  I’ve done that for Rolling Stone, The New York Times, that’s really been my job.  And what it is is because my mom would kinda come into my room when I was really young and tell me about all the problems in her life, and with my dad, and stuff.  And so I learned to have sort of an empathy for problems in lives that I couldn’t really understand.  And that sort of set that up, that sort of model to be stepping in other people’s worlds, and understanding them, and explaining them.  It’s fascinating, right?

Ben:  It’s super fascinating.  You have written other books.  We were just in your library.  You’ve got lots and lots of books that you’ve written.  One turned my head, and it’s actually way up there on my list of books to read, your list of books to read is longer than my list of books to read, by the way.  You have a section on your shelf that’s what?  Maybe there’s thirty on there that you wanna read?  I think mine might be seven or eight right now, and growing.  Do you have the same problem?  Or people just send you books out of the blue?

Neil:  They do, but it doesn’t mean I’m gonna read those.

Ben:  No, it doesn’t mean I’m gonna read…

Neil:  They get in the way of what I wanna read.

Ben:  The way I’m wired is if it shows up, and it’s there, I kinda wanna read it.  I’ll start to thumb through it.  It’s why I don’t watch many movies is I can’t start them and not finish them.  I have to finish the story.

Neil:  Oh, I’m the same way.  My wife hates that about me, but it’s true.  If I start a movie, even if it’s bad, I need to make the end…

Ben: Yep.  Exactly.  Totally sucks.

Neil:  If I start, like I just finished this article for Rolling Stone about fear, about the psychology and biology of fear, because it’s obviously a big thing in our nation right now with the election, and you see politicians, advertisers, other people exploiting fear.  A lot of it’s about how we make bad decisions around fear, but with such a big article to write about fear for Rolling Stone.  And also to step into the political kind of war happening in our culture right now, that I wanted to give up a thousand times, I really wanted to write my editor and say, “This isn’t for me.  I’m not doing this.”  And I just pushed through, and pushed through, and push through, and then you get to a point where you do it, and you’re so happy you did it, and it’s great.  But I’m not, I’m like you, I’m not a quitter.  I don’t give up on stuff.  I’m a finisher, but even of the really bad movies.

Ben:  Yeah.  You have a lot of books in there to finish.  I do wanna ask you though, because you’re such a prolific author, and again like I mentioned, if you go to, N-E-I-L, I’ll link to all of Neil’s books.  I would like to ask you, and I didn’t forewarn you that I would ask you this question, I wanna hear a few stories from your books.  You have a book called “The Dirt,” is that correct?

Neil:  Right.

Ben:  That you wrote when you were following Motley Crue, the band, just following them around the world on tour.

Neil:  Right.

Ben:  Well, what was one of the craziest things that happened in writing that book?  Or one of the most memorable aspects of that book’s creation that perhaps you haven’t shared or that you’d like to share?

Neil:  First, let’s consider the subject matter.  It’s Motley Crue.  So we’re not gonna be going very deep here.

Ben:  We’re not gonna be talking about health.

Neil:  Right.  I mean, my interest in Motley Crue was, this was before “The Game,” and these guys just seemed to be living the most decadent lifestyle ever.  So I kinda wanted to tour and see what that was like.  And I remember I was doing an article for them for a magazine and that’s how I met them, we’re gonna get adult here.  I mean, not in the language, but in visuals.  Adult themes.

Ben:  iTunes likes to call it explicit.

Neil:  Mature themes.  So I remember they were sitting around, and this isn’t the best story, maybe it’s a sign I wanna write the book.  I was a different person back then.  And I think Tommy said, “Remember that time that we were offered like twenty dollars for any mother and daughter to the band?”  Then Nikki Sixx was like, “Yeah, but then we start going broke ’cause we’re spending so much money.”  And then Vince goes, “Yeah.  And then we decided to do it any mother, daughter, grandmother does the band, and Tommy did it.”  And they would sit around telling these insane stories.

Ben:  Does the band like screw the band member…

Neil:  Right.

Ben:  Mother?

Neil:  First, it was for mother, daughter.  And then it was happening so much, they did mother, daughter, grandmother.  So they were sitting around, just telling these stories, and just nonstop.  “Remember, like we used to just kinda rent Ferrari’s and then crash ’em on the wall, and rent another Ferrari?”  It’s almost like, here’s the thing if you’re, this is the opposite of the philosophy that you just shared about radical personal responsibility in a sense, and the way we’re responsible for ourselves.  What happens if you’re sort of a rock star, specifically more music than film, in film, you gotta get jobs and people have to like you to get jobs.  In rock star, your job is to be a rock star, and all these people around you just babysit you to get you drugs, to put you on stage.  I mean, remember I was backstage and someone on the microphone, we’re gonna get too crude.  I’m not gonna say what they said, but they were basically on a walkie-talkie and they said, “We need this specific sexual act for the boss,” and that was sort of brought in for them.  And so basically it’s an eternal hall pass to be an adolescent.  And so there’s no responsibility.  You get away with anything.

Ben:  When you’re a rockstar?

Neil:  And as long as you show up on stage, you’re okay.

Ben:  Would you say that rock stars are getting healthier though?  I’m just curious.  For you being a journalist for the Rolling Stone, run into a lot of these guys, like…

Neil:  I’ll tell you what.  Aging rock stars start to realize the toll they put on their bodies and get healthier, but not all rock bands, by the way.  I’ve toured, say, with Beck or somebody, and he lives a very healthy lifestyle, and they watch, I wouldn’t say very healthy, but they watch movies.  It’s hard to stay healthy in the rock world.  I was touring with a really healthy band, and they still couldn’t do the healthy stuff because there’s just soda, chips everywhere.

Ben:  Right.  Backstage.

Neil:  Everywhere you go.  It’s so hard to stay healthy on the road.  But some people do it, but they’ll travel with their own cook.  Eliminate everything.

Ben:  I was gonna say you need to prepare in advance and take a lot of these meal replacement blend…

Neil:  It’s really hard.  I mean, roadies, like the average life span of a roadie is like 50.  55 at the most.  You die soon.  It’s sad.  But I remember once, my first book was Marilyn Manson, and I remember I was at his house one night.

Ben:  And what was that book?

Neil:  “The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell.”

Ben:  “Long Hard Road Out Of Hell.”

Neil:  And he called up his manager, he says, “Oh, I want to set the mannequin on fire and push it in the pool.  Is that okay?”  And the manager’s just like, “Sure.  Do whatever you want.”  But, literally, it’s just stupid human tricks all day.  They’re just bored.  And a lot of ’em get into drugs often because people on the road wanna connect with them, or they’re just bored and they start doing drugs.  I guess I’ve been in a lot of worlds.

Ben:  Yeah.  You have been in a lot of worlds.  You wrote, “Don’t Try This At Home” with Dave Navarro, “How To Make Love Like A Porn Star,” where you followed around porn star Jenna Jameson, you wrote “The Game,” probably one of your more famous books, “Penetrating The Secret Society of Pickup Artists,” “How To Make Money Like A Porn Star,” “Rules of The Game,” and then one that I think our audience might find pretty interesting, and one that I’d like to hear your take on, “Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life.”  The picture on the front is like the fire, the thing that you pull down to break the fire hydrant open, or to break the case for the fire hydrant open.

Neil:  Yeah.  The fire alarm.

Ben:  “Emergency.”  What’s that about?  It’s like urban escape and…

Neil:  What it’s about is this.  So the world we’re living, or so I kinda thought, it seemed to be like we’re living in a scary world.  First of all, since 9/11, we live in a world where there are terror alerts every day.  “What’s the terror alert today?”  “What color is it?”  All of a sudden, 9/11 changed the psyche of our nation, and myself because all of a sudden, you realize people on our soil could be here and try to hurt us.

I remember I saw Hurricane Katrina and I thought, realized, “Oh, our government really can’t protect it.”  When there were bodies floating in the streets in New Orleans, you realize our government can’t protect us from a natural disaster and they’re not gonna be able to rescue you.  And so I started studying disasters, and survival, and preparedness, and literally, if you talk to the fire department, the police department, they say if there is a disaster, you’re on your own.  Like they’re gonna be putting out the big fire, the big problem.  They aren’t gonna be able to deal with, 911’s going to be…

Ben:  The random person walking through the street, looking for water, is not gonna be as important as…

Neil:  Yeah.  Exactly.  Or a broken leg, or a concussion, or shot.  Their system’s being overloaded, they’re trying to deal with the bigger stuff.

Ben:  They’re gonna be off fighting the zombies, or the attacking helicopters.

Neil:  And maybe if the whole system’s not broken down, maybe three days later they’ll get to you.  I mean, the first most basic thing that I learned is really, if you don’t have a stockpile for at least two weeks, like you’re stupid.  I’m sorry.  I just called a lot of people stupid.  Just really have enough food, water.

Ben:  No!  It makes sense!  I’m shocked when I walk in to some peoples’, and I’m a total prepper, right?  I have guns, gold, silver, and people are gonna be Googling to find out my address to know.  But, yeah, if crap hits the fan, I could survive for quite some time.

Neil:  I’ll show you my garage afterwards.

Ben:  Most people have two weeks.

Neil:  Yeah.  Just have at least two weeks for the system to get back online at the minimum.  You can go as far as Ben and I, if you wanna kind of next level it.  So what I did was, and it goes back to the father thing, is I didn’t have a father who took me, say, hunting, or taught me how to make a fire, or do anything, change a tire, anything practical.  And so, I sort of just started learning how to be self-sufficient, how to survive, kinda like you do with your place, how to survive off the grid.

Ben:  Even in an urban scenario.

Neil:  Even in an urban scenario.  It ranged from, one thing was I think when you can survive for three days to a week in the wilderness with nothing but your clothes and the knife on your back, sorry.  Your clothes on your back and a knife, not in your back, a knife in your back…

Ben:  A knife in your back and your clothes at your side!

Neil:  Exactly.  You have no fear anymore.  If you lose all your money, you’re gonna be okay.  You can survive.  You know you can live off the land.  It’s an amazing feeling to have.  It’s really some emotional security.  And then on the urban survival, and you’ve hung out with Kevin Reeve on Point Tactical.

 Ben:  Yeah.  On Point Tactical.  I’m actually planning on doing one of the three day urban escape and evasion courses up in Seattle.

Neil:  Great.  The advanced one?  Or the kinda first level?

Ben:  I think I’m signing up for the advance one, just ’cause I wanna go straight into fire pan.  The frying pan, so to speak.

Neil:  They’re both great. I would do them both.  So what they do, what they teach is, because the truth is, a lot of the wilderness survival is, we’re not really living most of us, in the wilderness anymore.  We’re living in an urban, or suburban, or rural environment.  It’s not all nature.  We have corrugated metal, and we have all these other things around us.

Ben:  Finding mushrooms in the forest might not be as important to you as figuring out a way to scale barbed wire.

Neil:  Yeah.  Exactly.  Or how do you break into that place that has food.

Ben:  Right.

Neil:  Right?  So really, if everyone’s abandoned the area, so they teach you lock picking.  They teach you how to escape from handcuffs, how to get over barbed wire.  For one of the tests, you’re handcuffed, put in the trunk, they drive over a bumpy road, or whatever, and have to bop out of the handcuffs and escape from the trunk.

Ben:  You did this?  They threw you in the trunk, handcuffed?

Neil:  Yeah.  You run with leg irons.  You learn it all.  Yeah.  There a lot of people there who actually, military, who are maybe going over to Iraq, or Syria, or back to Afghanistan, and they might be caught behind enemy lines…

Ben:  And is this also the course where they will attempt to chase you through the streets, and kidnap you, and you have to evade them?

Neil:  So the final exam, you are handcuffed and zip tied to some of your classmates, you’re driven off to the middle of nowhere, and then you’re let out.  So you have to escape, you have to run a mission, but there are bounty hunters looking for you throughout the city.  And you have to sort of evade them.  I did like a very psychological trick which was they, so you go out in pairs.  And I realized they were gonna be looking for pairs of people.  So I got on the social media, and I said, “Hey, I need five people hang out with me.”  So we’re out in a group ’cause I knew, like visually, they’re looking for pairs.  So they see five people, they think they’re not their students.  So that’s how it kind of made…

Ben:  And you’re allowed to use social media?

Neil:  Well, you’re allowed to prepare in advance.  And what they’re preparing was it’s creating a cache.  I have caches, by the way.  Like three of them in LA.  Caches where you bury your supplies, right.

Ben:  Wow.  So you can go prep anything you want before you do this course?

Neil:  Yeah.  You can go prep.  So like bury some caches, supplies…

Ben:  Do you still have caches in LA where you buried supplies?

Neil:  Yeah, I still have caches.  Yeah.

Ben:  Just like random parts and stuff?

Neil:  Yeah.  Different locations.  I got one in Catalina Island.

Ben:  It’s a good idea.

Neil:  I actually hid a cache in there.  No one’s found it yet.  There are clues in the illustrations in the book to find a cache.  And I hid one and I gave people clues to find it, and no one’s found it yet.

Ben:  When I called you on the phone the other day, I think on your voicemail, you said…

Neil:  Yes.  There’s a hint.

Ben:  That had to do with that.

Neil:  There’s a hint.  Yeah.  My number’s hidden in the book as well.

Ben:  It was crazy.  And by the way, this book that we’re talking about, just so you know, is probably gonna be the one that I would say might appeal the most, to folks listening in, because we’ve got a lot of adventurers and people who wanna take on a challenge.  But at the same time, we delved into some kinda deep stuff too.  And I think that’s important.  We went some places I didn’t expect that we were gonna go, but this other book, “The Truth,” is also really interesting.

Neil:  And maybe it’s only ’cause I just wrote it and it feels like part of my soul in a book, I would really, it’s the stuff we’re talking about, by the way, take this course, read that book, but like doing a deep work on yourself will change everything.  It can give you that winning edge.  A lot of people don’t succeed in life because they have an inward fear of failure, or fear of success.  Some people are actually afraid of success ’cause they feel like they’re not worthy, or they won’t know what to do, or just is something they haven’t experienced.  We have these limiting beliefs that really screw up our lives, and our relationships, and cause self-sabotage.

Ben:  So if you’ve learned anything from the show and you’re listening in, it is to go bury stuff in the woods near your house.

Neil:  That’s exactly the message.

Ben:  It is to…

Neil:  Make sure you mark it though on a GPS or something.

Ben:  Right.  Exactly.  Get yourself an Oculus Rift, and also carry dumbbells back and forth across the bottom of the pool.

Neil:  That’s my family message.

Ben:  Also, identify your limiting beliefs.  Identify your limiting beliefs and identify your new belief.

Neil:  Be a scientist of your own lows.

Ben:  Yeah. Be a scientist of your own what?

Neil:  Lows.  Your low points.

Ben:  A scientist of your own lows.  Interesting.  And that is how to hack your brain without smart drugs.

Neil:  And so much more.

Ben:  I like it.  Alright.  Cool.  Neil, thanks for coming on the show.

Neil:  Yeah.  Went to some interesting places.

Ben:  It did.  And if you’re listening, again, you can grab the show notes at, N-E-I-L.  And until next time, I’m Ben Greenfield here with Neil Strauss signing out from  Have a healthy week.

You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.  Go to for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.



Neil Strauss is an American author, journalist and ghostwriter, perhaps best known for his controversial best-selling book The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, in which he describes his experiences in the seduction community in an effort to become a “pick-up artist.” He is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and also writes regularly for The New York Times.

But Neil’s interests go far beyond “seduction”.

For example, in his book Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life, he spent three years surviving amongst survivalists, tax-dodgers, billionaire businessmen, and the government itself, and the book was hailed by Rolling Stone as an “escape plan” for the current world crisis.

When I visited Neil’s home in Malibu to record this interview, I found myself immersed with Neil in everything from advanced virtual reality game playing, crazy underwater pool workouts, surfing with internet celebrities and drinking “billion-dollar smoothies”, all of which you’ll hear about in this podcast recorded from Neil’s kitchen.

During our discussion, which gets slightly explicit at times, you’ll discover:

-Exactly how to do an underwater pool workout like Laird Hamilton…[7:25]

-The ingredients of the “billion dollar smoothie”…[12:50]

-Why Neil and I were surfing with internet celebrity Cameron Dallas prior to recording the episode…[16:20]

-Why Neil is so interested in advanced virtual reality gaming…[18:20]

-Why Neil checked himself into sex addiction therapy…[22:30]

-Neil’s uncomfortable volley of questions to me in which I potentially throw my Mom and Dad “under the bus”…[36:40 & 55:00]

-Neil’s three steps for “rewiring” your brain without the use of smart drugs or biohacks…[45:30 & 63:00]

-Why Neil paid to get thrown in the back of a trunk with his hands ziptied together…[77:30]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-My podcast with Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reece about underwater workouts

-The book “Rules of the Game

The book “The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships

The book “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists

The book “Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead: Journeys Into Fame and Madness

-The book “Radical Honesty” 

-The book “Superlife” 

Intranasal oxytocin 

Read more


The Art Of Hacking Your Brain Without Smart Drugs: A Podcast With Immersive Journalist, Adventurer & Author Neil Strauss.


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

Neil Strauss is an American author, journalist and ghostwriter, perhaps best known for his controversial best-selling book The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, in which he describes his experiences in the seduction community in an effort to become a “pick-up artist.” He is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and also writes regularly for The New York Times.

But Neil’s interests go far beyond “seduction”.

For example, in his book Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life, he spent three years surviving amongst survivalists, tax-dodgers, billionaire businessmen, and the government itself, and the book was hailed by Rolling Stone as an “escape plan” for the current world crisis.

When I visited Neil’s home in Malibu to record this interview, I found myself immersed with Neil in everything from advanced virtual reality game playing, crazy underwater pool workouts, surfing with internet celebrities and drinking “billion-dollar smoothies”, all of which you’ll hear about in this podcast recorded from Neil’s kitchen.

During our discussion, which gets slightly explicit at times, you’ll discover:

-Exactly how to do an underwater pool workout like Laird Hamilton…[7:25]

-The ingredients of the “billion dollar smoothie”…[12:50]

-Why Neil and I were surfing with internet celebrity Cameron Dallas prior to recording the episode…[16:20]

-Why Neil is so interested in advanced virtual reality gaming…[18:20]

-Why Neil checked himself into sex addiction therapy…[22:30]

-Neil’s uncomfortable volley of questions to me in which I potentially throw my Mom and Dad “under the bus”…[36:40 & 55:00]

-Neil’s three steps for “rewiring” your brain without the use of smart drugs or biohacks…[45:30 & 63:00]

-Why Neil paid to get thrown in the back of a trunk with his hands ziptied together…[77:30]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-My podcast with Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reece about underwater workouts

-The book “Rules of the Game

The book “The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships

The book “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists

The book “Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead: Journeys Into Fame and Madness

-The book “Radical Honesty” 

-The book “Superlife” 

Intranasal oxytocin 

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

A New Way To Get Unstoppable Conditioning, Maximum Strength, Speed, Power & Muscle…In 3 Hours Per Week (Or Less).


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

On several recent podcasts, I’ve mentioned that (especially when I’ve been traveling and have limited equipment), one of my key, go-to workouts is a program known as “Neuro-Mass“, which I now consider to be one of fastest methods for developing power and strength with little more than your own bodyweight and, optionally, a kettlebell or two, adding slabs of functional muscle to a lean frame quickly, and building muscle recruitment and explosiveness in a smart, systematic way. 

Neuro-Mass gives you the exact protocols you need to create an impressive, functional, athletic physique, combining the best kettlebell resistance and bodyweight exercises with a new cutting edge training method called “Neuro-Sets“.

These Neuro-Sets, comprised of grinds, isometrics and explosive movements, create rapid physique transformation. While most training programs only focus on one approach to create growth or lean muscle or power or strength, Neuro-Mass uses multiple stressors in a single workout to create a better and smarter body, developing pure power combined with amazing capacity for sustained and continual strength output.

The entire program was designed by this episode’s podcast guest: Jon Bruney.

Jon’s exploits as Guinness World Record-holding strongman have been immortalized in Ripley’s Believe it or Not and seen on NBC’s: America’s Got Talent, The Today Show and TruTv’s Guinness World Records Unleashed.

A true renaissance man in the realm of strength-development, Jon is a best-selling author, world-class trainer, coach, motivational speaker, strongman, and pastor. Jon’s work with competitive athletes includes Olympians and NFL players. He is the author of the best-seller “Neuro-Mass – The Ultimate System for Spectacular Strength”. He also writes a training series called “Foundations” which is featured in MILO, widely considered the world’s most prestigious strength training journal. As co-owner of Submit Strength Equipment, Jon has been responsible for the design of numerous pieces of cutting-edge training equipment now in use around the world. Jon is also a veteran of numerous trainer certification courses.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why one of Jon’s favorite tricks is to attach two Harley-Davidson motorcycles to his body…[11:15]

-How to start each set that you do with something called a “grind” to stimulate maximum muscle recruitment…[17:40]

-The best way to breathe if you are lifting a weight to maximize muscle tension…[21:45]

-Why Jon is such a fan of the Powerlung, and also putting a paper bag over his face…[24:10]

-A surprising training trick you can do with a yoga block while you are sprinting…[33:45]

-Why you should create “controlled trauma” in a muscle during an exercise…[36:40]

-The reason most people do isometric exercises like a wall squat the wrong way, and how you should actually do it…[43:00]

-How to exhaust a muscle completely with nothing more than a bath towel…[44:25]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-Book: Neuro-Mass – The Ultimate System for Spectacular Strength

-Magazine: MILO

The Powerlung



Captain Of Crush hand grip strengthener

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

[Transcript] – A New Way To Get Unstoppable Conditioning, Maximum Strength, Speed, Power & Muscle…In 3 Hours Per Week (Or Less).

Podcast from

[0:00] Introduction/Ben’s Spartan Delta

[1:44] Safe Catch Tuna

[3:12] Camel Milk

[5:19] Marc Pro

[6:54] Introduction To this Episode

[8:27] Neuro-Mass and Jon Bruney

[11:02] Jon’s Feat of Being Tied To Two Harley Davidson Motorcycles

[13:26] How Jon Developed Neuro-Mass Program

[17:30] What Is A Grind

[26:13] Few Examples of Grind-based Exercises

[27:36] What Are Neuro-Grips

[32:51] How Does Dynamic Power Go

[36:17] Why Do The Power Set After The Grind

[39:58] Isometric Holds

[48:26] Power Breathing

[50:46] Using Kettlebells in Neuro-Sets

[55:48] Programming Cycle of Neuro-Mass for Fitness

[1:03:52] End of Podcast

Ben:  Hey.  What’s up?  It’s Ben Greenfield, and today I have a great interview for you with a guy named Jon Bruney.  He created this training style called Neuro-Mass, and lest you run away because you don’t want to get swole, listen because you do not need to want to put on mass to get a lot outta this particular interview.  It’s really good.  I’ve been using this program in my hotel rooms when I travel, bodyweight, kettlebell.  It’s very, very interesting.  So we delve into a lot of neuromuscular chatter.

I, myself, am about to head down to Lake Tahoe to put the finishing touches on what is called the Spartan Delta.  I’m competing in the Spartan World Championships.  So I will be running, and diving, and barbwire crawling over about 30 plus miles of obstacles to finish off what I’ve been doing all year.

Pretty tough event where you race a trifecta, which is a sprint, a super, and a beast Spartan.  You complete a Spartan X Coaching Certification, and a Spartan SGX Coaching Certification, and you get your Agoge where I suffered at 38 degrees below zero back in Vermont for about 48 hours of racing.  And then you do a 4-hour, what’s called a hurricane heat, and a 12-hour hurricane heat, which is just overnight, hauling sandbags and completing all matter of masochism.  And then finally, an Ultra Beast, which will culminate this weekend.  So if you wanna follow all the action on that, look for #obstacledominator or check out my website if you wanna follow the action over there.

Now this podcast is brought to you by Safe Catch Tuna.  Yes, tuna.  Not camels, but tuna.  Safe Catch Tuna is the brand of tuna, the only brand actually, that tests for mercury.  They test every single fish, every single lone tuna, individually for mercury levels, and they actually invented the technology to test each of these fish.  And they found that this Safe Catch Tuna has the lowest mercury of any brand because they test every fish.  They actually test to a limit that’s 10 times stricter than the FDA.

And if you listen to any of my previous podcasts about mercury, and metals, and accumulation of metals in the body, even if you don’t have nasty little dental amalgams and mercury fillings, you know that fish is a huge source of metals.  Well, these are raw tuna steaks that get packed in a can.  They get cooked in the can to retain all the nutrients and all the minerals.  They’re BPA-free cans.  It’s non-GMO, there’s no additives, there’s no fillers, it’s just wild pure tuna steaks, and they taste amazing.

I’ve been sauteing them up with some avocado oil, I throw a little fennel seed on there, and then I serve them over anything from rice, to nori wraps, to salads.  Really, really good stuff.  So here is how you get 10% off Safe Catch Tuna.  Go to, that’s, and code Ben gets you 10% off of Safe Catch Tuna.

Now, a couple other things.  I wanna tell you about something that my refrigerator is chock full of right now, and that is camel milk.  No, I did not adopt a pet camel.  I instead get this stuff shipped to my house.  It comes in these little bottles, or you can get it in powder.  Why do I drink camel milk?  Well I have goats, and I drink goat milk, and that does pretty well with my body, whereas cow’s milk does not, but camel milk is one of the most biocompatible milk on the face of the planet when it comes to supplying amino acids for things like muscle protein synthesis.  And camel’s milk, you may not know this about cow’s milk, but camel’s milk does not contain the allergenic, what’s called the A1 protein that cow’s milk contains.  And believe it or not, goat’s milk also contains this A1 allergenic protein.

Many people can’t even do goats milk, but almost nobody is allergic to cow’s milk, or rather camel milk, because it has this A2 beta-casein.  So camel milk has this non-allergenic beta-casein protein, which means that people don’t get an allergic reaction to it.  You get all of the benefits of it.  It’s raw, it’s non-homogenized, it’s produced in a gluten-free facility, all the camels get non-GMO feed, soy and corn free feed, there’s no hormones, no additives, just camels chopping on grass, pasture-raised camels made in the USA.  Yes.  These are USA camels.

And the other very cool thing, the reason I like this is it reduces inflammation and helps to heal a leaky gut.  Camel milk literally acts like a gut shot reducing inflammation.  And the way that it does that is it actually stimulates the immune cells that reside in your gastrointestinal system and keeps partially digested food from leaking out of your intestines.  Nasty thought, but camel’s milk turns all that around.  So you get a 20% discount on camel’s milk.  You go to, and you use code Ben20 over there.  Go to, and use code Ben20 to get 20% off your camel milk.

And then finally, you may have heard me talk about electrical muscle stimulation before, and there are different ways to use it.  I mean, you can use e-stim devices to simulate the 600 pound squat.  We actually talk about that a little bit in today’s episode.  But you can also use a special wave form of electrical muscle stimulation called a square wave form, and the way the square wave forms work is they grab your slow-twitch muscle fibers, and then gradually work their way up to fast-twitch muscle fibers so they don’t hit an injured muscle with what could technically cause it to get injured even more.

So, not all electrical muscle stimulation is created equal.  So this EMS unit that you can use to heal injuries and reduce pain, and soreness, this one’s called a Marc Pro.  It’s the only one that has this square wave form, the only one on the face of the planet.  So it’s called a Marc Pro, M-A-R-C Pro, and you get a 5% discount on a Marc Pro if you use promo code Ben at  It’s super easy to use.

You do not need to have a knowledge of anatomy, maybe you gotta know where a bone or a muscle is that you wanna put it over.  You need to at least know your knee from your elbow.  That’s about it.  Slap these electrodes on, put it on, and go to town, and this thing will heal injuries very quickly.  I use it almost every week.  So you use promo code Ben for a 5% discount at  That’s a  So you’ve got your camel milk and your tuna, your electrical muscle stimulation.  You’re off to the races.  Let’s go check out Neuro-Mass with Jon Bruney

In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

“And that was my idea with the book.  It’s up to your creativity how far you can take this.  It can be adapted to whatever you want to do.  You want more bodybuilding?  You could do the chest set for five sets.  If you want overall, just health and fitness.  I love what you’re doing.  I mean that’s gonna make you an elite athlete.”  “So this power breathing is something that you can practice all throughout the day even.  If you wanna just work and have a crazy core workout, just do these little hisses throughout the day or along 5 to 10 second long hisses.”

He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness.  His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance.  He is Ben Greenfield.  “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…”  All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.

Ben:  Hey, folks.  It’s Ben Greenfield.  On a few recent podcasts, I mentioned that, especially when I’ve been traveling and have had limited access to a gym or workout equipment, one of my key go-to workouts has been this program that I’ve been using called Neuro-Mass. Neuro-Mass.  And I actually consider it to be one of the quickest ways I found for developing things like power and strength with not much more than my own body weight, and sometimes like a kettlebell or two.  And it can actually add functional muscle to lean frame pretty quickly, and can build muscle recruitment, and explosiveness in what I found to be a pretty smart and systematic way.  So it’s a blend of optional kettlebell exercises and body weight exercises, and they’re all split into these things called Neuro-Sets, which I’ll let my guest describe here in just a second because he created this program, and I’m a little bit obsessed with it right now in terms of it being one of my go-to workouts.

So this program, Neuro-Mass, and if you want to check it out, the show notes for today’s episode are at  If you don’t know how to spell “Neuro”, then you need to take out Dr. Google and figure that out.  Learn how to spell.  But Jon, Jon is actually a Guinness World Record-holding strong man, and he’s been on Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and NBC’s America’s Got Talent, and the Today Show, and Guinness World Records Unleashed.

He is what I would consider to be a true renaissance man when it comes to the realm of strength development ’cause he’s a bestselling author, he’s a trainer, he’s a coach, he’s a motivational speaker, he’s a strong man, and he’s a pastor.  So he’s done a lotta stuff.  And Jon’s work with competitive athletes includes pretty high-level folks like Olympians and NFL players.  So he’s got this book “Neuro-Mass.”  He also writes for one of my favorite magazines that I get, a magazine that makes me feel like a weakling every time it arrives in the mail.  Milo, M-I-L-O, which is basically a magazine about how to like lift ungodly amounts of weight, develop grip strength, all sorts of cool stuff.  And then he also is the co-owner of Submit Strength Equipment.  So he designs a cutting-edge training equipment.  So, I’ll link to all that stuff in the show notes, again at  But in the meantime, Jon, welcome to the show, man.

Jon:  Hey, thanks for having me.  Looking forward to an awesome show.

Ben:  Yeah, dude.  And speaking of being a renaissance man, let’s start here.  One of the pictures that I found of you on the internet, I’ll put a photo of this on the show notes, is you basically being ripped apart by two Harley Davidson motorcycles to test your arms.  And I’m curious, I think you call it “The Human Link,” can you describe what that is and why you attached motorcycles to yourself?

Jon:  Yeah.  Actually, it’s an old-time strongman feat, but it’s one of the biggest rushes I’ve ever had in my life.  If you want an adrenaline rush, this is what you go after, and I kinda chase that a little bit.  But what it is, it was actually on television this summer on ABC’s “To Tell The Truth.”

They had two, I believe, 800 pound plus Harley Davidson motorcycles, and then we put a strap on each one of my biceps, and so they’re hanging opposite directions, and we basically tell ’em just to hit it and try and tear me apart.  And I’m getting pelted with pieces of tire and smoke, I mean it’s crazy.  After a while, I just kinda disappear into the smoke.  It’s just an incredible feat and it’s something that has its history way back in the old time strongman where they used to hook themselves up to horses or different things.

Ben:  I was going to say this is like also what medieval people would have done to kill folks or torture folks. Like don’t you call this quartering?  To kill people with horses attached your limbs?

Jon:  Yeah.  Absolutely.  The rack, I guess.  But it just has this great history.  We used to do it in schools when I’d travel around.  They would hook this up to my hands, and just let all kinds of kids grab a rope, big ropes on each side, and pull back.  But there’s something about motorcycles that everybody can relate to.  The noise…

Ben:  Oh, yeah.

Jon:  The force of the cycles and like, “Is this guy gonna die?”  “What’s gonna happen?”  But it comes down to, one of the main aspects of it is what we’ve talked about Neuro-Mass.  It’s a huge isometric contraction that keeps you from being torn apart.

Ben:  Oh, yeah.  Because you’re basically not moving.  You’re just like holding against the resistance of the motorcycles.

Jon:  Absolutely.

Ben:  I wanna ask you more about isometrics in our discussion as we talk about this whole Neuro-Mass program, but kinda like stepping back, big picture, how’d you develop this program in the first place, like this concept of stringing together three sets in the way that you do in the Neuro-Mass program?

Jon:  Well, it’s an awesome question because this is kinda where I like to be sort of a mad scientist individual.  My strength training mentor was John Brookfield, and we kind of together learned this whole concept of strength endurance.  For instance, John and I originally set a world record by pulling a semi-truck for a mile.  It was huge.  We had a semi-truck and trailer, and basically you’re setting this grinding pace for long-time endurance.  I mean to pull something for a mile, every step is just excruciating.  You’re having your whole body tense up with lactic acid.  So John kinda pioneered this whole aspect of strength endurance.  And then all of my friends were into the maximum amount of strength you could lift.  So it’s basically this whole one-rep max system.

Well then, I’m also a big proponent, because in my shows, I do a lot of breaking bricks, and boards, and all that stuff that requires speed.  So I said, “You know, you’ve got to really combine all three of these to really become a total athlete.  You can’t just be one or the other.  You can’t just be strength endurance.  You can’t just be power.  And you can’t just be isometric.”  So what I wanna do is to get something that would actually teach the nervous system to recruit more muscle fiber.  What it basically is I wanted to build this smart muscle where you could kind of have multiple angles of resistance and that would kinda bypass your genetics a little bit, because I’m not the most genetically gifted guy.  I’m just an average Joe who kinda has clubbed away at this stuff, and tried to develop my mind and body, and that’s kinda how it came out.

Ben:  So your idea is that instead of just like building up like slabs and slabs of muscle, or just developing like isometric strength and the ability to resist, or just developing explosive power, or even the ability to just like move objects for a long period of time, you’re trying to combine all of those things into one workout?

Jon:  Absolutely.  And compress it in a timeframe that is doable during my strength training season, show season, ’cause you’re cramping all these events, the actual training sessions were going about two hours plus, which is just not good for your cortisol levels, it’s not good for your hormones.  Trying to get in all these different aspects of strength training, and so I thought, “How can we combine all this into a doable, workable, time period, and also that will still give you the same results, but it’s not gonna burn your body out.”  And I also wanna develop something where you didn’t have to go extremely heavy all the time, that you could use kettlebells and body weight, especially during the de-loads and travelling.  But this’ll apply to any kind of weight resistance you want.  But I wanted to make it, how can everyday Joe have smart muscle without having to go through all that rigamaroo of two and three hour workouts.

Ben:  Yeah.  It makes sense.  And you certainly do compress a great deal of work into the body in a short period of time.  I think I’ve almost passed out in a hotel room before doing like an isometric deadlift using the bath towel in the hotel.  I mean, you do have this in the book, like some of the isometrics, you literally are just using like a giant bath towel.  Maybe we’ll get into that later.  I’ve yet to actually rip apart or destroy any towels, but I’ve been amazed at how much I can exhaust a muscle with a bath towel.

So anyways, your Neuro-Sets.  Let’s jump into brass tacks ’cause the Neuro-Mass program, there’s three different types of sets that you do, and you kind of string them all together.  And the first type of set is called a Grind.  Can you describe a grind, and why you start off with that as kinda like that the first set that you do in a workout?

Jon:  Well, grind is kind of the bread and butter of most workouts.  Again, I’m not talking about your cardiovascular training or specific training, but as far as your overall, you’re gonna have overall fitness, the grind is a big exercise that places resistance on the huge muscle groups.  And you have to require total body tension.  So these are your squats and your heavy presses, okay?  If your body weight, your body weight squats, your push-ups, handstand push-ups, all these type of things, and they’re done in a really slow manner.  I had a guy tweet me just [0:18:27] ______ “What is the tempo on a grind?  How slow do you go?”  And I said, “Slow enough to make it miserable,” because that’s what you wanna do.  You wanna exhaust that muscle fiber and work in such a fashion that you can feel it deep, deep, deep into the tissue.

Ben:  Yeah.  When I first started doing the grinds, it reminded me, are you familiar with this guy named Doug McGuff?  He’s a cardiologist, I believe, but he’s also written a book called “Body By Science.”

Jon:  I’m not familiar with it, but that book name sounds familiar.  I’m not familiar with his name.

Ben:  Okay.  So he works with a lot of seniors and he developed a program that develops huge amounts of what’s called peripheral blood pressure without a lot of central blood pressure, and allows you to work out with little to no impact in his program, even though I’m not a big fan of like Kaiser, and Nautilus, and all these exercise machines versus functional things like a kettlebell, for example, or a bath towel.  He has this program where you’ll do like super, super slow sets.  So it’s all about time-under-tension where you’ll spend 30 to 60 seconds per rep, and you’ll do just one single set of like five to eight reps or so of like a chest press, a leg press, a pulldown, and a seated row. And it’s only a 12 to 15 minute workout, but I tried out that workout a few times because I interviewed him on the show, and it’s incredibly hard to actually move in that slow grinding way that you describe.  What’s going on though from like a muscular level when you’re doing?

Jon:  Well, you’re engaging these deep muscle fibers.  And what I like about that is, again you mentioned time under tension, this is really what creates hypertrophy, and especially the older you get, the more you need to engage in these hypertrophic, probably bad language there, but the more you need to engage in those activities that are stimulating muscle growth because you’re going through so much muscle wasting.  And if you’re doing it right, I mean you’ll pour buckets of sweat.  I mean, literally, because you’re engaging, and this is why I try and tell people. And this comes back to maybe some of the martial arts that I practice.

Like I said, in the introduction, you talk about being a renaissance man.  I kinda do a little bit of everything. Learning to go through a movement as if you had a thousand pounds on your shoulders, and opening the book, I show some of the chain lifting that I do, where you put 1,000 pounds plus and you’re doing these chain lift squats.  Even if you’re just using your body weight, you wanna engage those quads and make them tight enough, create that whole body tension tight enough just as if you had a thousand pounds on your back.  So you’re kind of imagining mentally, and this is where, one of things I love about Neuro-Mass, you’ve got to engage your mind and your body to go slowly through these movements and engage the muscle fiber, which is counter-intuitive for a lot of people ’cause most people just wanna get through it as fast as they can.  And that’s not what you want.

Ben:  Yeah.  That incredible amount of focus when you’re going extremely slow, do you need to breathe a certain way when you’re doing grind?

Jon:  Yeah.  I teach power breathing and this always came out of my background of being a musician, having voice lessons as a young student, so I kinda learned this before I got in to the weightlifting game.  But basically you’re breathing into the diaphragm and then creating a hiss.  Now, you can actually hold your breath, but for most people that are just wanting regular gains, you’re not into the hyper level of powerlifting, you shouldn’t hold your breath.

So what you’re gonna do is, we call power breathing where you’re inhaling through the diaphragm, and then you’re actually hissing out and creating this huge tension, and I’ll describe it while we’re talking here.  If you just would put your tongue against your teeth and just all of a sudden (makes hissing noises), make that hissing noise, you’ll notice how hard your abdominals contract and how hard your entire midsection contracts.  Well, that’s what you want because that’s creating that tension all the way through the movement.  And as you hiss out on the way up, you’re still having that tension.

What a lot of people teach is just inhale and breathe out on the way up.  Well you’re losing tension, you’re losing power.  And if you’re using weights in that system, you’re actually gonna put yourself in a dangerous position.  So this power breathing is something that you can practice all throughout the day even.  If you wanna just work and have a crazy core workout, just do these little hisses all throughout the day, or 5 to 10 seconds long hisses where you’re doing it.  It’s just like a compressed hose where the air can barely come out, and you’re gonna find your abs, your whole core sore for days.

Ben:  Yeah.  Like that type of breathing, like what you mentioned, that (makes hissing noise), you can you can create your own resistance with your tongue.  But like in my car, in my glove box, I keep one of these PowerLung devices that resists the air going in and the air coming out.  One that you mentioned, in MMA, Bas Rutten, I know he has like some kind of like a lung training device as well, but it’s all based around inspiratory and expiratory muscle training.  And I think there probably is a lot of crossover behind like using a device like that, and then using that same type of feeling of resisting the breath when you’re doing one of these grind sets.

But, you’re right.  I mean, like if I go for a two hour drive, if I gotta like drive down to, let’s say like Moscow, Idaho is a place I’ll drive to sometimes, it takes me about an hour and a half to get to, and like every time I pass a mile marker, I’ll do like three sets of 10 seconds in, 10 seconds out on that powerlung, and your abs are just, they’re exhausted by the time you get to where you’re going.
Jon:  Man.  Dude. PowerLung, just a little props to that, I’m not getting any kickback for this statement.  I use the PowerLung every day.  It’s one of the…

Ben:  Oh, you do?

Jon:  My favorite thing is.  I mean, I have a Bas Rutten trainer, I have an elevation mask, but they’re limited in their scope of use.  The PowerLung, what I love is I can dial up and do resistance breathing in both directions anytime I want.

Ben:  Yeah.

Jon:  In my new book that’s coming out, “Commando Cardio,” that’s one of the things we actually talk about is this whole idea of rare air.  When you’re using something like the PowerLung, or you’re using resistance, what you call elevation mask, you’re not really doing elevation training because the same amount of oxygen is still in the air.  You’re just taking in less air.  So what I like to do is combine that PowerLung with breathing into a paper bag, breathing in some carbon dioxide right after those sets.  And, man, the training effect is crazy.  I realize we’re going down the rabbit hole here, but that’s a fantastic combo is to keep a paper bag with you along with your PowerLung.  So you get the power breathing, resistance breathing, so you’re training those diaphragm muscles, but then you’re also getting the elevation training by just doing a set right after that for 30 seconds with the paper bag.

Ben:  There’s gonna be Ben Greenfield fitness listeners all over the globe dying of paper bags over their head now.  You might have to put a medical disclaimer on this podcast.  Well, that’s interesting.  So you use the PowerLung and the paper bag, or you could, to a limited extent, use something like the elevation mask.  But as far as the actual grinds themselves, what would be an example of a few exercises that would be like a good grind-based exercise?  Like a super slow grind?

Jon:  Well, I love all manner of squats.  I just think the exercise cannot be improved on if you’re doing it right, doing it low enough.  Of course, you’ve gotta make sure your hip flexors are stretched out enough to get deep into it, but any kind of grind, or the deadlift is another fantastic exercise, whether you’re using a sandbag, whether you’re using kettlebells, whether you’re using a barbell, whether you’re using your own body weight.

What we try to teach though is make the exercise harder on the grind by changing the leverage.  So if you’re using bodyweight, do one-legged squats.  If you’re in a hotel room, put one of those legs up on to the bed.  Change the leverage to make it difficult, but it ought to be a really challenging grind.  So I think you can’t be any kind of squat [0:27:24] ______, deadlift, any kind of press, whether it’s just simple push-ups or whether you use the Neuro-Grips, which are an amazing tool.

Ben:  What are the Neuro-Grips?

Jon:  Okay.  In the book, you’ll see they’re handles, and they actually have been selling like crazy.  It’s a play on what we used to call spike handle push-ups, or T-handle push-ups.  I did not come up with the concept, but what I did was try to develop it to where it’s very user-friendly.  Basically, I had made my own by taking 2 a half inch piece of pipe and having a welder weld it on to a spike.  And what that causes if you have to balance, and here’s one of the things we talk about, and again these are available from lots of different companies, but I feel like the way that we have developed it and improved it is the best out there.

Basically, you’ll find that your mind, a huge portion of your brain, is dedicated to the use of the hands and the fingers.  So when we bring the hands or increase the grip strength of an exercise, you’re bringing the mind and the neuromuscular efficiency even harder.  So in the book, you’ll see there’s just a couple exercises, ’cause I’ve written a whole book that’s gonna be coming out hopefully this year about how to use those.  A lot of people say, “Well, I love doing push-ups, but they’re just not intense enough for me.  I need that increase that leverage.”  And so, by trying to balance on these two spikes with these thick handles, it increases the difficulty of the grind by a 1,000%.

Ben:  Okay.  I know what you’re talking about now.  They are basically like two T-shaped objects that when you’re doing a push-up, you’re holding on to these handles, but they’re different than those ones at the gym that are more of like a platform that you do a push-up on under each hand.  They’re instead almost like something that’ll force you to balance and grip really intensively as you’re doing a push-up.

Jon:  Yeah.  You have to engage your entire core and upper body.  It’s funny because I’m a pretty heavy bench presser, but I’ll put guys on here who can bench quite a bit of weight, and they’ll struggle at 5 to 10 reps on these things because of the balance factor.  It’s kinda like a bamboo…

Ben:  Yeah.  It’s really cool.  Those are interesting.  I saw those in the book, I forgot what they were called, but, yeah, I haven’t pulled the trigger and gotten any yet, but they actually look like they’d be pretty tough to use.  So I’m gonna have to add those to my regimen.  So we’ve got to grind as the first exercise that you do, the first type of exercise that you do.  You have like this slow grind.  And how many reps are you doing of the grind typically?

Jon:  Well for me, and this is where it’s very personal, I should have delved more into the book into this issue.  For me, it’s a very personal thing, but for me it could be anywhere from 6 to 8, and some people can even go to 12, but it’s all based on how much you can push your body.  Some people may be able to do 3 or 4 reps of a grind and they have taxed everything.  Some people, ’cause it’s all on how you learn to engage those things.  It’s like the first time, when I talk about muscle engagement, it’s like the first time somebody uses a muscle stimulator on their legs and they think, “Whoa!  That’s the amount of tension I should have.”  So some people can recruit a lot more with 3 or 4 reps.  Some people, it takes 8 to 12 reps to get that.  The magic number for me personally is right around 6, but again, the lower the number the better if you can keep that much tension.

Ben:  Gotcha.  You mean like an electrical muscle stimulator when you’re talking about like people actually realizing how hard to contract a muscle?

Jon:  Yeah.  I mean the first time my family watched me use the Compex unit, and me and my muscles are just tapping out everywhere.  That’s the feeling though.  You wanna go after that deep stimulation.  That’s one of the things that love about muscle stims is it takes all the fiber.  If you can see ’em just pop out, that’s the goal mentally what you wanna do when you do a grind.

Ben:  Yeah.  Have you ever heard of this guy named Jay Schroeder?

Jon:  Not sure.  Is he an endurance guy?

Ben:  No.  He uses a different machine.  The Compex is the one that I own for electrical muscle stimulation to like get a whole bunch of muscle fibers recruited all at once.  And like you said, like you don’t realize how many muscle fibers that you can actually recruit until you slap the electrodes on like your quads and just jack that thing all the way up.  But he uses one that’s even more powerful.  It’s called the ARPwave.  It’s like based on some kinda like Russian e-stim technology.  It’s the same one that Dave Asprey, the Bulletproof exec uses this one.  And I’ve seen it at a lot of conferences, it’s getting more popular.  But it’s like a high, high-level electrical stimulation device that can simulate close to I guess like a 1,000-pound squat when you put on your quads and hamstrings.  So it’s called the ARPwave.  I think that one’s like a $10,000 unit.

Jon:  (laughs) Well, that’s awesome!  That’s out of my price range right now, but…

Ben:  Yeah.  The Compex is enough for most mere mortals.  Alright.  So we’ve got the grind.  And then after the grind, you move into this isometric hold, right?

Jon:  We’re gonna go into dynamic power drill.

Ben:  Oh.  So the power comes after the grind.  That’s right.  I should know this.  So the dynamic power comes after the grind, and how’s a dynamic power go?

Jon:  Well, it’s some kind of speed movement, power movement.  So it’s going to look different based on the exercise or the muscle group that you’re choosing to work.  But the goal is to have maximum speed, and maximum velocity, and be able to keep that up for 15 all the way to 60 seconds depending on how hard you can work.  And we have things like the Neuro-Burner, any of those type of things, those explosive movements.  My MMA guys love these movements.  They include any kinds of jumps, anything that where you just have to explode sprinting.

One of my favorite exercises is the anchor sprints, and that’s where you’re going to take a yoga block and put it out front of you, extend your arms, and try to push the yoga block in as hard as you can while you’re sprinting.  I use this exercise on so many people, and the first reaction is they almost wanna fall over because you’re teaching your body to do an isometric contraction with the top while the bottom is doing this dynamic power drill.  But any kind of speed movement, when you do these things, so you’ve gone from the grind, now you’re immediately going into explosive movement, and this is what I love about this workout is most athletes are in one or the other camps.  They’re here in “I’m all power.”  Like a sprinter, I’m all into the grinding mess.  And by combining these, again you’re forcing the nervous system to recruit more fibers.

Ben:  So you are working the same muscle with the power movement as you work with the grind, right?  So if I do like a super slow grind for like, let’s just say I’m doing bodyweight, and I do a really, really slow squat.  Let’s say like, whatever, 15 seconds down, 15 seconds maintaining as much tension as possible for 6 reps.  I would then move into a series of explosive, say, like jump squats for 15 to 60 seconds?

Jon:  Jump squats, box jumps, long jumps, any kinda jump for 15 to 60 seconds.  And the reason I put this 60 seconds in there is some movements you can maintain for a lot longer.  Generally, when, and how I gauge it is after that 15 to 30 seconds, if you’re starting to slow down and you’re not able to produce that velocity, it’s immediately time for that part of the set to be done and then move into isometrics.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  Now that actually surprised me that you said 60 seconds ’cause don’t you kind of exhaust like your creatine-phosphate stores after a maximum of about 30 seconds?  So wouldn’t like true power training be 30 seconds or less?

Jon:  Yes.  But when you do something like the Neuro-Burner, which is just upper body, it’s a lot less, it’s fatiguing like crazy.  It’ll get you breathing hard, but it’s different than a sprint.  A sprint, if you’re doing longer than a 30 second sprint, you’re probably not sprinting anymore.  But some of the upper body drills, you could actually go 60 seconds because they’re just far less taxing.  You’re not engaging as much power as you do with the legs.

Ben:  So why do you choose to do the power set right after the grind?

Jon:  Well again, we’re trying to recruit more neuromuscular efficient workouts.  And so as you do that, you’ve exhausted the muscle through time-under-tension, and now you wanna exhaust it even further, almost creating a little bit of trauma to the muscle, what I call “controlled trauma”, by pushing it through the power exercises, and these would be any kind of sprints, any kind of jumping.  For instance, if you go from bodyweight squats, you might wanna go into box jumps, long jumps, as we talked about earlier, anchor sprints.  And then when you’re talking about the time factor, so you want to do this from 15 to 60 seconds, and again, the 15 seconds to 30 seconds, you’re usually starting to slow down, and once the velocity starts to come down that’s when you want to end the set.

Now there are some dynamic power drill that are not very metabolically cost as far as they’re not very demanding. For instance, if you’re doing a lateral shuffle, that’s one of the exercises to work the lateral muscles, you could work that up to 60 seconds without taxing your levels.  So it really depends on the exercise.  Like I said earlier, if you’re trying to do jumps for more than 30 seconds, I guarantee you you’re not put a lot of power into it any more.  The goal is to keep that power going, sustained power and velocity.

Ben:  That’s generally the rule with most plyometrics and power-based exercises anyways, as once you’ve lost the ability to create maximum velocity, it’s a good idea to just stop ’cause at that point, I guess like there’s kind of that idea, and I don’t know what you think about this, Jon, where if I were gonna do, let’s say, lunge jumps, I can create maximum velocity.  I could tell you right now.

I could maybe get maximum velocity for like 15 seconds worth of lunch jumps.  But if I kept going to 60 seconds, you used that term “controlled trauma”, there’s obviously a great deal of lactic acid that begins to build up, I think you still get more of like a metabolic conditioning effect once you get to a certain point.  But it sounds to me like for the purpose of getting what you’re going after with a Neuro-Set, once folks get to the point where they’re not able to move as quickly during that set as they were at the beginning of that set, that’s when you say, “Okay.  That’s the number of reps that I’m doing for the power set.”

Jon:  Yeah.  Because the goal is we’re trying to create smart muscle, and the goal is to stimulate those power fiber, those type 2A.  And so once you drop that off, you go into some kind of endurance training or almost cardio.  And that’s how you can adapt this program, we could talk about that later, you could adapt this program for endurance too if you wanted to.  It’s all what your training goals are.

Ben:  Yeah.  That’s a good point.  So you could do a grind, and maybe do more reps of a grind, and just like a longer period of time with the power training, and get a little bit more metabolic conditioning or endurance effect.

Jon:  Absolutely.  That is cool.

Ben:  I like it.  And by the way, I’m gonna be running up and down my driveway holding a yoga block now.  I’ve jotted that down as something to guinea pig.  So I’ll let you know how that goes.  A new use for the yoga block that sits, gathering dust in my closet.  Okay, cool.  So we’ve got the grind as the first Neuro-Set, and then you move on to do the power, working the same muscle group for that next part of the Neuro-Set.  And then you finish with this isometric hold.  Why do you finish with the isometrics and what are some examples of how somebody does that?

Jon:  Well, you’re basically moving against a force that cannot be moved.  So the idea is, it goes back to, I dunno who said the quote, but “What’s the heaviest weight that you can lift?  It’s the one that you can’t.”  And so you are moving against an irresistible resistance.  Basically, what you might want to do here, the easiest form of this, or idea, is to do a wall squat after you’ve done regular squats and if you’ve done your dynamic power drills.  So you’re putting that back into there and you’re stimulating the quads by pushing with your heels as hard as you can into the floor, pushing your back into the wall.  You’re gonna find this huge stimulation and you wanna hold that, and you wanna keep it for 7 to 12 seconds.  And as you do that, your muscles should start to shake a little bit.  That’s how you know.  So your body’s not moving, but the muscles are still contracting in that state.

Now there is a way to do, and take us to another level.  I’ve done isometrics, but the goal is different, to where you basically almost kill yourself.  I’ve got in a power rack and set the pins to a certain height, so it’s like mid-level of a squat, then put the bar underneath it so you can’t move.  You’re locked in that position, but you’re still pushing against that locked position.  And I’ve done that for time just as long as you can possibly hold it and your legs are jell-o.

Ben:  Yeah.

Jon:  But for the regular isometric, I say 7 to 12 seconds, and if you’re doing all three of these types of exercises back-to-back-to-back, your muscles should be stimulated to the core.  I mean it should be, those fibers should be traumatized.

Ben:  Yeah.  I agree.  ‘Cause I kinda laughed when I was reading a book and I saw he said like 7 to 12 seconds for holding the isometric, but then I actually did the set.  Like I did the grind first, and then I did the power set, and then I finished with this isometric hold, and you’re not just sitting there when you do isometric hold.  Like I think a lot of people used to wall squat being just like put your back and your ass against the wall for as long as you can sit there, but you actually, like you just talked about, to stimulate the quadriceps, for example, you are pressing your heels as freaking hard as you can into the ground for those 7 to 12 seconds and it becomes extremely difficult.  Like when you’re talking about the minimum effective dose of exercise, for me, going for those really, really short isometric holds where I’m just recruiting as many muscle fibers as possible and squeezing the muscle hard as I can, I had learned how to do that a little bit from, you probably know who Pavel Tsatsouline is, right?

Jon:  Oh, absolutely.

Ben:  Yeah.  Like his plank hold, you’re doing a plank, but rather than holding a front plank for five minutes, you’re just like doing a full-on hard core isometric plank contraction for like 10 seconds.  And it’s kind of like that same concept.  There’s like a passive isometric hold versus, I don’t even know what you would call, but like kinda more an active, aware, concentrated isometric hold where you’re contracting all the muscles.

Jon:  You gotta engage.  And that’s why people when ask questions about all these things, it’s like if you’re doing it right, you can’t go longer than 15 seconds.  If you’ve done the whole set together correct, that’s the key.  It’s not a passive movement.  You are pushing, and isometrics is the great secret behind all great strong men, whether it’s bending, no matter what it is.  And so for instance, if you wanna change the leverage, so if people say, “Well, how do I get that same effect on my hamstrings?”  Well, instead of pushing the wall away with your heels, now you take the heels and try and pull them against the wall, and you are engaging, you’re grinding your heels into the ground, pull them towards you, now you’re getting your hamstrings toasted.

So it’s all a matter of leverage.  But if you’re not engaging, if you can’t, what I call, and it sounds kinda different for a lot of people that aren’t used to engaging this way, but you ought to be able to feel the muscle.  You have to think, use your mind, think into those muscles that you’re trying to work to engage them.  And you’re gonna have a powerful thing.  There’s the mind-body connection.  It’s such a powerful thing.

Ben:  Yeah.  And you even mentioned in the book, I talked about this earlier, for example, for an isometric hold for the hamstrings, you can literally just plant like a giant bath towel under your feet and grasp either end of the towel as though you were gonna do a deadlift, and just do a deadlift where you’re pulling as hard as you can against the towel without allowing your body to move, and you get an extremely intense, almost like full-body isometric contraction.

Jon:  Yeah.  It’s so intense.  We went on a cruise one time, and the weight facilities were not that great, and we did some running, and different things.  But it was like how can you do a whole workout with just a towel?  And so, some of those exercises came out of that.  We did a whole video on that.  Somewhere, it’s buried on YouTube, how you get a whole workout with just a beach towel.  But when you do that, I mean your grip is toasted, you’ve engaged your biceps, your triceps, your shoulders, your traps, your core, everything down to your calves.  And again, you can’t always gauge the work level on sweat, but if you are doing a great towel isometric, you will be pouring buckets of sweat because of the tension.

Ben:  Yeah.  That’s crazy.  And you said this was something the strong men used to do as like one of their secret training methods was they use isometrics?

Jon:  Yes.  All great strong men have always used this.  And one of the famous of all the Alexanders, he became strong in prison holding back these bars, and just pulling against them all the time, using what you have, pulling against the chains that were on his body and create this isometric strength.  When I was learning to bend nails, one of the things that I do is get a nail three or four sizes bigger than what I could bend, and just try and bend it.  Of course, it wasn’t going to move, but I was generating so much tension in that that the lighter nails just became easy and cake, and you could just pull them over like nothing.

Ben:  Yeah.  That’s awesome.  You’re probably familiar with like the Captains of Crush hand grip strengthening device, right?

Jon:  Absolutely.  Love Captains of Crush.

Ben:  In addition to all sorts of goodies and toys in my glove box, but in addition to the PowerLung, and I keep these in my bags too.  So when I’m on an airplane or I’m at a conference, standing in the back and not able to exercise, I do isometric contractions with these Captains of Crush devices.  I mean you can just squeeze it as hard as you can 10 times in a row or whatever, but I’ll hold it just as hard as I can for as long as I can, and it’s just this intense hand grip strengthening device.  But isometrics, when you, it’s really interesting.

I dunno if you feel this way, Jon, but even something like as simple as a hand grip sitting in the car, you start to feel your entire body working.  I mean, like your little kegel muscles are working, and your deep pelvis, and your core, and you’ll feel the other hand kinda working a little bit as you’re squeezing with the, say, like the right hand, you feel the left hand working a little bit ’cause you get a bit of a contralateral effect.  It’s pretty powerful.  Like a lot of people don’t realize how much of a workout you can get literally by just squeezing a muscle.

Jon:  Yeah.  Because if you’re doing it well, that hyper irradiation factor takes over.  And like you’re talking about everything, even your guts get engaged.  I love doing negatives like with the number four and isometrically resisting it as it’s forcing itself to open.  And you’re not just engaging your hands there.  I mean it’s the entire body.

Ben:  So a number four, that’s the term that you give to one of these Captains of Crush Hand Grip Strength Devices.  That’s what?  Like several hundred pounds?

Jon:  I believe that one is 365 pounds of resistance, or more.  The number four is the biggest one.

Ben:  Okay.  You’re closing that with like two hands and then using one hand to resist it from opening.

Jon:  Yeah.  Or forcing it shut on your leg, which takes a lot tension in itself, and pushing down with your body, and then letting go.  Pulling it away from your leg and just holding it with your hand, and letting it force your hand open.

Ben:  That makes sense and that also sounds like a really good way to get bruises up
and down your leg.

Jon:  Yes.

Ben:  But it does make sense.  So during the isometric, one thing that I’ve found, Jon, is you describe the breathing, like that hissing breathing that you’re doing (makes hissing noise) doing the isometric, I’ve found that, for me, rather than like watching the clock, I’ll just do like two or three of those long hiss, like power breathing type of breaths, rather than, say like, looking at the clock counting 7 seconds, 8 seconds, 12 seconds, whatever.  Do you count time?  Do you count breaths?  Is there something that you really focus on during the isometric hold to engage the muscle as much as possible for the period of time?

Jon:  Well, I do two things.  I count the time as well as how much fatigue I’m feeling.  I wanna feel that muscle.  I wanna force that muscle to really feel that inner trauma.  But with my clients, one of the things we do is exactly what you’ve said.  When I’m training them with Neuro-Mass, especially on any kind of leg, isometric, any lower body, they’ll do the power breathing just like that.  They’ll do, three to four power breaths will take at least 12 seconds.  And that’s how they do it.  We’ll have inhale, ’cause they keep that tension, exhale through the teeth as hard as you can, again, and again, and again, and that usually has reached their threshold by doing that.  And it’s an excellent technique.

Ben:  Nice.  I like it.  So we talked about body weight a little bit.  So like an example, a Neuro-Set for, for example, let’s say like the chest, because I know that you can work like, you could choose a few different Neuro-Sets, like work the chest, back, the quads, and hamstrings in one workout, and just do one of these three different sets for each of those muscle groups to kinda like string them together into a full workout.  So like for the Neuro-Set for, let’s say, like your chest or upper body, you could do a super slow grind of push-ups, or even like use these Neuro-Set grips that you talked about and do a super super slow set of push-ups with these handles.  And then you do, let’s say, like clap push-ups or plyometric pushups for 15 to 60 seconds.  And then you’d finished up with just like, I think one of the examples you give in the book is the crossover chest contraction, where almost like a bodybuilder on stage, like contracting the chest as hard as possible for 7 to 12 seconds.  And that’s your upper body, bodyweight set.  But then you also have kettlebell sets in there.  Can you give an example of how you could, let’s use the same example, like how could we do like a chest or an upper body Neuro-Set, but use a kettlebell instead of body weight?

Jon:  The kettlebell, you wanna roll down.  You can either do the floor press or you could do it on a bench, just sticking with the chest, for example.  So you’re gonna do that, and you’re gonna grind it out, and it’s gonna give you a different feel than you would have by doing that with dumbbells, or a barbell because you’re actually gonna be pulling backwards a little bit.  So leverage is a little trickier.  So you can do that for your acquired number of reps on the grind.

And then one of my favorite dynamic drills, it’s kinda like this hidden gym of the kettlebell world, is the rolling speed press.  And that’s where you’re on your back, and you roll on one side, and punch up, roll the other side, and punch up. So you’re punching and rolling your body side to side, and it’s a tremendous engager of awareness, kinesthetic static awareness, by doing that because your body is making contact, and rolling, and punching.  And you want to do that for 15 to 30 seconds.  And then I would grab that kettleball and then put the horn down, or handle down on the ground, and then grasp the kettlebell on the sides.  So you’re having to crush with your chest and balance on the handle for the isometric.

Ben:  Gotcha.  So the power exercise is the rolling speed press?

Jon:  Yes.

Ben:  I mean, you’re proceeding that with like your basic grind, which is almost like a bench press or a floor press with a kettlebell, and then you finish that up with just like flipping the kettlebell over, and holding it in like that crush grip for 7 to 12 seconds.

Jon:  Well, from a push-up position.

Ben:  From a push-up position.  Yeah.  Or the other one I’ve noticed is you can like hold the kettlebell up to your chest and just like try and crush the kettlebell like you would like a soda can for 7 to 12 seconds.

Jon:  Yeah.  That would be the easiest. That would be the beginner, like where you can do it.  Start right there, crush it.  And as you get stronger, you can keep that same crushing position, but you’re holding your whole body weight on top of it, and putting that on the floor.  And that really torches the chest.

Ben:  Yeah.  I like it.  I mean, I’ve done this before.  I’ve taken a yoga mat and a kettlebell out in my driveway, and done Neuro-Mass workouts.  What I do generally is, I bought your book on Kindle, so I just flip open to, I choose a quad set, usually a hamstring set, a chest set, and a back set.  So I’m doing like a push-pull-push-pull, and that’s the way I kinda string ’em together.  I don’t know if I’m totally blaspheming your program by arranging them in that way, but I try to do a full body Neuro-Mass workout.

And for stuff like that, I’ve gone three days a week where I’ll just do the same thing, push-pull-push-pull-push-pull, and just have each of those four different Neuro-Mass sets that I’ll go through.  And it takes like 30, 40 minutes. Usually I’ll finish up by going out and hammering on my mountain bike for another 15, 20 minutes to round it out to have a good hour-long workout.  And it’s a cool way to train.  It’s also really good for hotel rooms where you’ve always got bath towels and your own body weight.

Jon:  Yeah.  And I love that.  And that was my idea with the book.  It’s all up to your creativity how far you can take this.  It can be adapted to whatever you wanna do.  And if you want more bodybuilding, you could do the chest set for five sets.  If you want overall, just health and fitness, I love what you’re doing.  I mean, that’s gonna make you an elite athlete doing that.  For guys that want size, like I said, they stick with one body part and do it for as many sets as they can possibly do it, and then call it a day.

Ben:  Yeah.  That actually makes sense.  So if I wanted hypertrophy, instead of what I’m doing, which is more athleticism, I could just take like three different Neuro-Sets.  I guess it would be so a total of nine different exercises for, say, like the chest, and just blast the chest in a day, and then let that recover for a week?

Jon:  Yeah.  Absolutely.  And that’s why this program’s just so adaptable for what you wanna do.  And that’s my goal is to say, “Hey.  There are very few people who wanna be a professional strong man, but what is your goal?  And then take these principles, and apply it.”  Because the principles are principles.  Truth is truth.  But you can use it for how you wanna use it.  And that’s one of the things as a coach, I’ve always tried to say is that take what you can from me, and use it, and adapt it.  It’s like eating fish.  You eat the meat and you leave the bones.  Take what you can take out of it, and I certainly don’t think I’m the only person who knows anything.  I try and take from everybody I can out there and gain some kind of knowledge.  And that’s the idea.  Take this stuff and make it your own.  That’s what I love.

Ben:  Yeah.  I like it.  And one other question that I had about like the actual programming would be the number of weeks.  Do you generally do this as like a cycle and then move on to something else?  Like a 12-week cycle of Neuro-Mass for three or four days a week?  Or do you do it as like a four week cycle?  What would you say is the best way to put these together into like a programming cycle for fitness?

Jon:  Well, I would try it for no less than six weeks.  I mean you’ve gotta give something about six weeks to really allow the body to adapt.  You can even probably go as little as four weeks, but you’re not gonna get the results that you will with six weeks.  But it really depends again on what your goals are.  You can take this, and I use a lot of times for [0:56:35] ______ , I do body weight.  But even when I’m working with the extreme strength weights, I still try and apply these principles.  I may not do it as a Neuro-Set itself, but I will make sure all three of these things are involved in my workout, if that makes sense.  That I’m doing something.  And that’s the big thing.

So try it for six weeks as a stand-alone program.  But then as you adapt, and you say, “Hey, I wanna make this more specific for what I’m involved in,” still take those principles, still make sure every workout, you’re doing a grind, you’re doing dynamic power, and you’re doing isometric.  And so, you may choose not to do that all in one set, but if you’re getting all three of those things in the workout, you’re still creating yourself into a superior athlete.  It’s like John Brookfield and I used to joke around with if somebody comes up to you and says, “Well, what’s the best exercise for kicking field goals?”  Well, the best exercise for kicking field goals is kicking field goals.

Ben:  It’s not attaching electrical muscle stimulation to your quad and imagining a football?

Jon:  Absolutely!

Ben:  As most biohackers would think.

Jon:  Yeah.  Because it’s like if you’re a triathlete, use this as an assistance to what you’re doing.  If you’re an endurance athlete, do practice your sport and plug some of these things in, even at the end of practice or what you’re doing on your off days.  I will say that this, one of the benefits for those that are into endurance, if you do this and you just raise the numbers a little bit, it actually improves your recovery rate.  For guys that are doing big time endurance work, you’re able to recover quicker because the body is learning to take resistance from different levels.  It’s a powerful thing.

Ben:  Yeah.  We’re gonna find out if it’s powerful, man, because I’ve been traveling a ton lately.  I’ve been on the road, speaking, going to conferences, living on airplanes that I’ve been, is basically I’ve got my Kindle and my bag, and I pull it out, and I open up your book, and just flip to a few Neuro-Sets, circle ’em, and go to town.  When I get to my hotel room, or even just like in the crappy hotel gym, I’ll even sometimes substitute a dumbbell instead of a kettlebell and do the same exercises.  But I’ve got the Spartan Ultra Beast, the Spartan World Championships in a couple of weeks, and basically my workouts have been very brief forays into heavy sprinting, some long hikes, and then this Neuro-Mass program with a little bit of powerlifting thrown in.  So, we’ll find out if it really does work, man.  If I find myself stranded on the slopes of Tahoe, being pulled off the course after the time cut off, I’ll blame.

Jon:  Yes!  Please do!  Dude, I love that!  That’s a great combo, man.  You put sprints with anything, it’s just gonna be killer.

Ben:  Oh, dude.  You do like a Neuro-Mass set like in a hotel room that’s got a treadmill and just put the put the treadmill on max incline, like 15%, and as fast as you can get it going, like 10 miles an hour, and I’ll finish up a Neuro-Mass set with like, there’s another guy named Martyn Rooney who wrote a book called “Cardio Workouts for Warriors,” and I lifted this from that book.  But you do 10 sets of 30 seconds on the treadmill.  Just max speed, max incline, every time you get to 30 seconds, you hop off and just walk around the room until you don’t wanna vomit anymore, and then you jump back on the treadmill.  And that’s kinda like the finisher.  He calls that a hurricane. So you finish up like a Neuro-Set with a hurricane, and man, I mean, when it comes to getting the minimum effective dose of exercise, or building endurance with a minimum amount of time, you do have to go into the pain cave.  But you can save yourself a ton of time using strategies like that.

Jon:  You’d sprint intervals, whether you’re doing ’em on a treadmill, whether you’re doing it with the battling ropes, they cannot be beat for your conditioning factor.  I absolutely love ’em.  Finishers are a whole great [1:00:29] ______ to talk about sometimes.  I have friends that use Neuro-Mass as a finisher sometimes with a light weight.

Ben:  Yeah.  I could see that.  Like just go through a Neuro-Set as a finisher after you’ve done a full workout.

Jon:  Yup.  With a light barbell and go through it ‘cause that’s the thing.  You can plug in barbells, dumbbells, body weight, whatever you wanna plug in, that’s the beauty of the system.  But I love those sprint intervals.  I’m a big guy, and so that’s one of my favorite workouts just for fat loss is to get on and do sprint intervals on the treadmill because it forces you to go a certain speed that you set it as, it’s forcing me to stretch out.  If I put the treadmill on, I’ve got one at home that goes up to 12, and I don’t do too well at 12, but about 11 miles per hour for short sprints, my body’s moving.  My legs are pumping.

Ben:  Yeah.  Especially once you toss the incline on there, man.  Makes it tough.

Jon:  And I love it.  I love it.

Ben:  Yeah.  Well, cool.  I’m gonna link to everything that we talked about from, of course, your book “Neuro-Mass,” to the magazine that you write for, MILO, which I like and subscribe to, the Compex electro-stim, these Neuro-Grips that you talked about, I gotta remember to pick some of those up later on today, the PowerLung, everything.  Just go to, that’s  There.  Thank you.  I spelled it for you. And you’ll be able to grab Jon’s book, thrown it in your Kindle, or I think, is there like a hard book or paper book version available, Jon?

Jon:  Yes.  You can get a paperback on my website on Submit Strength, or on Amazon, or at Dragon Door.

Ben:  Cool.  Sweet.  I’ll link to that too.  Oh, and by the way, if any of you are listening and you’re into strength and you don’t subscribe to the Dragon Door catalog, you gotta get on that bandwagon too.  It’s got like all those guys I mentioned, like Martyn Rooney, and Pavel Tsatsouline, and other guys who’ve been on the show before like Dan John.  And Jon, of course, is on there.  So check that out too.  Jon, thanks for coming on the show, man, and for writing this book.

Jon:  Dude, it was killer, man!  You’re awesome!

Ben:  Yeah!  Well, thank you.  I’ll take that.  You just made my Monday.  Well, folks, if you’re listening in, check out  And ’til next time, I’m Ben Greenfield and Jon Bruney signing out from  Have a healthy week.

You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.  Go to for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.



On several recent podcasts, I’ve mentioned that (especially when I’ve been traveling and have limited equipment), one of my key, go-to workouts is a program known as “Neuro-Mass“, which I now consider to be one of fastest methods for developing power and strength with little more than your own bodyweight and, optionally, a kettlebell or two, adding slabs of functional muscle to a lean frame quickly, and building muscle recruitment and explosiveness in a smart, systematic way. 

Neuro-Mass gives you the exact protocols you need to create an impressive, functional, athletic physique, combining the best kettlebell resistance and bodyweight exercises with a new cutting edge training method called “Neuro-Sets“.

These Neuro-Sets, comprised of grinds, isometrics and explosive movements, create rapid physique transformation. While most training programs only focus on one approach to create growth or lean muscle or power or strength, Neuro-Mass uses multiple stressors in a single workout to create a better and smarter body, developing pure power combined with amazing capacity for sustained and continual strength output.

The entire program was designed by this episode’s podcast guest: Jon Bruney.

Jon’s exploits as Guinness World Record-holding strongman have been immortalized in Ripley’s Believe it or Not and seen on NBC’s: America’s Got Talent, The Today Show and TruTv’s Guinness World Records Unleashed.

A true renaissance man in the realm of strength-development, Jon is a best-selling author, world-class trainer, coach, motivational speaker, strongman, and pastor. Jon’s work with competitive athletes includes Olympians and NFL players. He is the author of the best-seller “Neuro-Mass – The Ultimate System for Spectacular Strength”. He also writes a training series called “Foundations” which is featured in MILO, widely considered the world’s most prestigious strength training journal. As co-owner of Submit Strength Equipment, Jon has been responsible for the design of numerous pieces of cutting-edge training equipment now in use around the world. Jon is also a veteran of numerous trainer certification courses.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why one of Jon’s favorite tricks is to attach two Harley-Davidson motorcycles to his body…[11:15]

-How to start each set that you do with something called a “grind” to stimulate maximum muscle recruitment…[17:40]

-The best way to breathe if you are lifting a weight to maximize muscle tension…[21:45]

-Why Jon is such a fan of the Powerlung, and also putting a paper bag over his face…[24:10]

-A surprising training trick you can do with a yoga block while you are sprinting…[33:45]

-Why you should create “controlled trauma” in a muscle during an exercise…[36:40]

-The reason most people do isometric exercises like a wall squat the wrong way, and how you should actually do it…[43:00]

-How to exhaust a muscle completely with nothing more than a bath towel…[44:25]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-Book: Neuro-Mass – The Ultimate System for Spectacular Strength

-Magazine: MILO

The Powerlung



Captain Of Crush hand grip strengthener



[Transcript] – How Your Computer Monitor Is Slowly Killing Your Eyes, And What You Can Do About It.

Podcast from:

[0:00] Introduction/ Kimera Koffee


[4:49] National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

[6:25] Introduction To This Episode

[10:12] About Daniel Georgiev

[11:23] Daniel’s Sport Experiences

[15:04] Typical Training Session for Daniel in Rowing

[16:47] How Daniel Got Into Programming

[21:00] The Computer Program Daniel Made

[21:45] Why Daniel Doesn’t Like the Computer Program “Flux”

[23:26] Computer Monitor Flicker and How It Works

[27:06] What is Pulse Width Modulation (PWD)

[29:52] The Link Between Color “temperature” and Color “Brightness”

[33:50] Glossy Computer Monitor Screen Vs. Matte Computer Monitor Screen

[39:00] Using Font Rendering Technologies

[46:25] How Color Affect The Eyes

[50:00 & 54:50] Blinking and Yawning

[56:46] Recommended Exercises Option of Ben for Iris

[58:43] Compatibility of Iris on Computer Operating Systems

[1:02:22] End Of Podcast

Ben:  Hey, it’s Ben Greenfield. And if you use a computer, maybe you’re using a computer right now, maybe you’re using a monitor right now. If you look at a monitor ever, you should listen in to this podcast episode.  Now, I’m gonna warn you, my guest is a foreigner, he’s from I think Bulgaria or Hungary, or one of these other G, one of these other countries in Europe with a G in their title.  So there’s a little bit of kind of like an accent barrier but consider that to be extreme brain training for your brain to have to be able to get through this dudes accent ‘coz it actually is really good information, and this stuff that he’s talking about, I’m now implementing on my computer.

We talk about ways that you can literally make a monitor very healthy for your eyes and your body, and we get into a whole bunch of other things that I’ve always wanted to talk about when it comes to all the geekery that goes into, like choosing a monitor that’s not gonna destroy your eyes over time, or give you myopia which is the fancy term for nearsightedness.

So this is gonna be a cool episode, but speaking of brain training, I don’t know if you’ve tried it yet but there is this Kimera Koffee stuff.  K-i-m-e-r-a K-o-f-f-e-e dot com is where you get it.  And I didn’t realize this but they spend many, many months, I believe close to a year and 54 different prototypes to actually get the ideal blend of nootropics and flavor in their coffee.  So nootropics are different than smart drugs.  They’re natural, they’re not processed by your liver, they actually allow you turn up the dial in your brain but in a more natural, herbal way.

So they have alpha GPC which does a whole bunch of things that increases nerve growth factor receptors in the brain, release of dopamine, recall, attention, reaction time, a whole bunch of stuff.  They’ve got taurine in there which has some really cool antioxidant properties but then I just recently realized that’s it lowers cortisol.  So even though coffee can raise cortisol a little bit, taurine actually works in the opposite direction lowers cortisol which is cool especially when you can get it without having to slam a Red Bull.  You’ve got L-Theanine in there which helps to improve your sleep quality even if you have it with coffee.  And then a DMAE which they call a vigilance enhancer.  Would be a great name for a band, the vigilance enhancers.

But anyways, it can reduce like distractibility, improve sleep and it’s a good stuff also when it comes to nootropic.  It even improves red blood cell function.  So it’s like you’re getting illegal performance enhancing drugs shot up your right butt cheek but instead you’re just sipping a cup of coffee.  So check it out, K-i-m-e-r-a K-o-f-f-e-e dot com, and if you go over there you use discount code Ben, you will save a boatload of money. Get 10% off anything from  K-i-m-e-r-a K-o-f-f-e-e dot com.  I think I spelled it like ten times now, so you should probably have that.

Okay, coconut oil.  I do coconut oil pulling now in the morning while I’m making my smoothie I take about a teaspoon of coconut oil, and I put it in my mouth and then I swish it around and this is an ancient ayurvedic practice for removing bacteria from the teeth, whitening the teeth, etcetera.  Keeping your Kimera Koffee from staining your teeth.  But I use like a raw extra virgin coconut oil because I want the good stuff.  I spit it out after about 5 minutes.  A lot of people think you needed the coconut oil its pull for twenty minutes, but its only 5 minutes then you rinse with water and that’s it.

And there is this company that makes sustainable coconut oil that get raw organic coconut oil from Sri Lanka that utilizes every part of the coconut.  The coconut milk, the water, the chips, the husks, the shells.  Anyway, so it’s a sustainable process for making coconut oil but not only can you get the oil of the coconut from this nut company but you can get any nut from the face of the planet.  Tiger nuts, cashews, cacao, Brazil nuts, almonds, you name it.

The name of this company is, I don’t even need to tell you how to spell that.  And when you go to and you get anything including that coconut oil that I talked about for your coconut oil practice, you get to choose from over 50 different options and just throw 4 free samples of anything you want into your cart.  That’s a $15 dollar value.  When you go to what you do is you click on the mic over there and you just enter the code fitness and you get all of those free samples.  Sugar-free items, paleo-friendly, certified organic, certified gluten-free and of course coconuts.  So check it out, and click on the mic over there and use the code fitness.  You gotta jump through all the hoops to get those free samples.

And then finally, I hear people say all of the time that they want to be in the fitness industry, they wanna have a career in fitness and health, and our final sponsor for today gives you a way to do that.  So they allow you to become a certified personal trainer, give you all the tools and training to do it but they’re actually really good like I’m not just saying this because they’re a podcast sponsor.  Even before they were a sponsor, I said if you’re gonna get certified as a personal trainer, I listed a bunch of different folks, and just to be nice I won’t list all these folks as competitors but the National Academy of Sports Medicine or NASM was indeed or has been for a very long time one of the folks who I recommend that you go to to get a personal training certification, and they’re one of the best in the industry.

It’s not like the easiest test on the face of the planet but when you do it you’ll actually be a legit personal trainer so you can get a 14 day free trial of their certification program if you go to  That’s and they guarantee you’ll land a job within 90 days of earning your certification or your money back.  That’s a pretty cool guarantee if you ask me.  So, some restrictions apply and see for details.  But check ém out NASM, The National Academy of Sports Medicine and become a personal trainer.  There you go.  You can do it.  I have faith in you, in your personal training abilities.

So let’s go ahead and jump into how you can keep your monitor from slowly killing your eyes.                                                       

In this episode of the Ben Greenfield fitness show:

“We blink less because we focus on something.  You blink less also when you read a book.  So it’s not something special from the monitors.”  “The simple fonts use whole pixel to render the font.  This makes the fonts look edgy and crispy but doesn’t make the screen blurry which is bad for the eyes.”  “In order to sleep properly, you don’t need to look at blue light at night.  That’s basically it and do not look at blue light, you can decrease your monitor cold temperature.”

He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness.  His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance.  He is Ben Greenfield.  “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…”  All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.

Ben:  Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield and I’ve got a quick question for you.  Do you ever get headaches after you’ve been working on your computer for a long time specifically your computer monitor, or eye strain, or maybe a little bit of actual irritation/grumpiness, or even brain fog, and these are all things that I think a lot of people get including myself when they are staring at a laptop, or a computer monitor.  And one thing that you gotta bear in my mind and this is something that you’ll notice if you ever take out like a video camera and record a computer monitor, is that monitors flicker and that’s one of the many things that you’ll learn about in today’s podcast that is responsible for these issues with computer monitors.  And there’s even a term for this, and the growing epidemic of nearsightedness and myopia caused by computers.  It’s known as computer vision syndrome, and it can actually destroy your eyes and create nasty headaches and strain, and tired eyes long term.

But my guest in today’s podcast has spent a long time kind of figuring out how to tackle these issues, and he’s even invented a special piece of software that you can install in your computer that does everything from controlling the brightness of the monitor with the help of your computer’s video card to allow you to have adequate clarity on your monitor without the actual flicker.  It’ll adjust your computer monitor settings based on the sun’s position wherever you happen to be in the world.  It’ll decrease the amount of blue light from the computer monitor, and this guy also has a lot of really, really cool ideas in terms of setting up the software to be able to detect the number of blinks that you have.

He’s got some great blog posts about everything from different LED lit backscreens to older style screens that were built a little bit differently, and so we’re gonna navigate the whole world of computer monitors today, and what the healthy ones are and how you could make your computer monitor healthy.

My guest’s name is Daniel and I’m probably gonna butcher your last name Daniel, but I believe it’s Georgiev?  Did I pronounce that correctly?                    

Daniel:  Georgiev.  Georgiev.

Ben:  Georgiev.

Daniel:  It is Bulgarian.  This is why.

Ben:  That was a tough part.  And I’ll admit I’m not that fluent in Bulgarian, but Daniel is the guy who actually invented this piece of software and he’s actually himself also an athlete, he’s a rower.  He rowed for Bulgarian’s national team for…   

Daniel:  I was.  I was. 

Ben:  Oh go ahead.

Daniel:  My name is Daniel.  I’m 20 years old programmer from Bulgaria, and I’m also the founder and creator of Iris.  This is one popular software for eye protection health and productivity.

Ben:  Yeah.  It’s called Iris, right?  I-r-i-s.

Daniel:  Yes, Iris.

Ben:  Cool.  By the way, as you guys listen to Daniel and I, you’ll be able to access all the show notes at  That’s  Or if you just wanna go check out Daniel’s software go to

So you’re a rower, Daniel?

Daniel:  Yes I was a rower until seventeen years old, and I’ll tell you the story about my sport experience because I spent like 10 years training all kinds of things.  Basically, when I was young, I was living in the country side in my country Bulgaria, and until second grade I was spending my time not training anything basically drinking and smoking with friends, I’m not kidding.  This was popular back then, and so I wanted to be cool maybe that I don’t know.  I just want you to know that today I drink only water and I don’t smoke.

Ben: Really, you guys don’t have any crazy fermented beverages that you drink over there in Bulgaria like kombucha, or anything like that?   

Daniel:  Well, I try to drink only water.

Ben:  No coffee, no tea?

Daniel:  Only on hackathons when I need to stay awake like 48 hours. 

Ben:  Oh you do those hackathons huh?

Daniel:  I was doing them from time to time.

Ben:  Interesting.

Daniel:  Then Third grade I started playing football.  Not the American football but soccer.  This is really popular sport in Europe and really high paid.  I thought I can become really good player, and I trained a lot and by a lot I mean, that I trained every day, and when I was not in the field I was running and building my aerobic capacity.  And this endurance actually showed me to be good at rowing several years later.  So my goal was to become footballer but I kind of got sick of football (laughs).

And at thirteen after 5 years of training, I got kicked out of the team for not being good enough.  Then I tried 1 more team but got kicked from there also, and this was really a sad period for me since I put everything I had in this sport and still failed.  I remember that I cried a week or two and then decided to try some other sport you know, it’s not the end of the world.  I have no idea how but I chose rowing.  It seemed good to me since I have a lot of endurance and I could run a couple of hours without getting tired.  Initially…       

Ben:  That’s a painful sport, rowing. 

Daniel:  Yes, initially I sucked at rowing [0:13:46.0] _____ but the good thing about rowing is that it’s up to you if you have the drive and you put hours, you can become the best.  So I persisted training 5 hours per day everyday more than anyone else.  And after 2 years I qualified for our national team and this was my first success in life, and I think that I’ve become addicted to achievement after this.  After this moment, I realized that hard work beats anything since in a while I don’t have athletic body by default.  When I started rowing I was 180 centimeters and 50 kilograms which was eager to watch.  And the next…  

Ben:  Uhm yeah.  That’s the size of a computer programmer/hacker, not a rower.  

Daniel:  Yes.  But in the next years I put 15 kilograms of muscles but I was really skinny.  Even then, I just trained more than anyone else.  After the national team I started to win some medals to understand more about training, VO2 max endurance, nutrition, you know about these things?  

Ben:  Yeah, absolutely.  So for your rowing training what would like a typical training session look like for you? 

Daniel:  Well, it was all kinds of things like running, swimming, skiing, it was crazy.  Just crazy.  A lot of, I’d hit the gym.  After I’d train more and more professionally about 2 years when I go to the national team, we get the trainers and my agent to go to world championship but I haven’t become world championship or I think like that.  I think I hit the plateau after this year and I was close to my genetic limit without using steroids.  You know, I tried really hard but there was not much improvement in my time and progress and since I didn’t want to use enhancers and I realize that I can become Olympic champion.  I started programming and after some months I stopped at withdrawing.  I think there was also another thing.  I got a girlfriend back then and started to become more and more comfortable you know, when you get the girl?

Ben:  Yep, I hear you.  You got soft.  You discovered love and you lost your drive or something. 

Daniel:  You lost.  Now you lost your drive, you lost your draft of becoming Olympic athlete and you need this thing for this.  Basically, I know that being the best in something requires a lot of time, and I don’t want to put 10 years to it.  You need to put 10 years to become Olympic athlete, I think, at least.  

Ben:  Yeah, yeah.  So I’m curious to turn to the topic at hand, did you run into an issue at some point along the way being a rower/computer programmer which is an interesting mix of activities.  Did you run into problem with your eyes?  At a certain point where you actually got inspired by issues that you were having to begin to delve in to monitors and how they affect the eyes?

Daniel:  So about programming, well I started reading some books about the same time that I started withdrawing.  Out cold and at night and I was reading books between training in the afternoon.  This was for 4 years and I became programmer.  The process it’s not like a rocket science like everything in life you should just put the effort into it, and at 17 I started working as a programmer, and this is the point when my eye problems started.

My eye problems started but this time before this I don’t know but maybe my monitor at home was good, it was some matte and glossy which is nice for the eyes.  Basically when I started to work as a programmer I spent also my nights working on side projects so as you know if I don’t do something all the time I would just kill myself.  I don’t like doing nothing and with all these combined, I was spending more than 14 hours per day in front of the computer.

Ben:  Wait, there’s not 40 hours in a day.  Did you say 14 hours? 

Daniel:  Fourteen.  Fourteen hours per day.  

Ben:  Oh fourteen.  Got it.  Got it. 

Daniel:  Fourteen hours per day in front of the computer.  Sorry my English is not so good.    

Ben:  That’s okay.  

Daniel:  And after 6 months, my eyes started burning like hell, you know.  My first try was to start buying and using eye drops.  But after several more months and 1 dozen empty eye drop bottles, I realize that this doesn’t work and I made an appointment with the eye doctor, ophthalmologist and he prescribed me glasses with 1.5 [0:19:08.2] _____.  And I was like stunned!  My vision was perfect my entire life and I managed it (curse word) by sitting in front of the computers a lot.       

Ben:  Yeah, so you were basically becoming a myopic from having to strain your eyes, you were developing like near sightedness. 

Daniel:  Yes. 

Ben:  Okay, so at that point you got prescribed glasses and what did you do?   

Daniel:  Well, I know it was time for a change and I started to read everything about eye health and eye protection.  I stopped using eye drops.  I started to take breaks every thirty minutes for 5 minutes.  Initially, I used a timer on my phone, but I was postponing it when I was in the zone and this is actually the reason I started working on Iris.  This was February last year.  I wanted to make a program which locks my screen every 30 minutes so I forced myself to get up.    

Ben:  So that was initially all the program you did was to just would lock your screen and force you to get up.     

Daniel:  Yes, it’s strange how something stupid like this can turn in one of the best field softwares a year later.   

Ben:  Yeah, I mean obviously you’ve probably heard of the Pomodoro technique right, where you’ll stop every, it kinda depends right, like every 55 minutes for 5 minutes or every 25 minutes for 3 minutes.  There’s a variety of different Pomodoro timing techniques, and I personally do that, right, like my rule is I stop for every hour and I do a hundred jumping jacks.  That means like by the end of the day I’ve done literally like thousands of jumping jacks.  And that’s just my little trick to keep limp fluid and blood fluid flowing, but you were going every 30 minutes and you actually made a computer program that would shut down your ability to be able to work for a certain period of time every 30 minutes?

Daniel:  Yes, but I worked on this in the beginning and I was reading all the medical studies I can find in the internet.  I tried to use this and to plot point.  One point I found one software called Flux which is for blue light reduction, maybe you heard of.   

Ben:  Oh yeah, Flux, like yeah I’ve recommended that multiple times on the show where it’ll decrease the amount of blue light produced by your computer monitor based on when the sun is setting or certain time of night in whatever part of the world you happen to be in, right?

Daniel:  Yes, but I wanted to have my own settings for it and talk to the developers like 10, 20 times via email, tweeter and every contact I can find them.  But I never get a response.  And after a couple of weeks I said to myself, “okay, I don’t care, (curse word) them I will do it myself and I’ll care about every user, and at this point I started to get serious to develop Iris.  I didn’t have any users back then, it was only me but I had the problem which I needed to solve and glasses which I needed to remove.  And this is the point I started to do crazy things.  I quit my job plus I broke up with my girlfriend, and dedicated myself 100% to Iris.

Ben:  I bet your girlfriend is pretty happy about that.  You actually dumping her just to figure out how to decrease the blue light on your monitor.

Daniel:  Yes. (laughs) 

Ben:  (chuckles) True hacker/ programmer. 

Daniel:  (chuckles) Yeah.  I would say it was super hard to build something [0:22:47.9] _____ from scratch but today Iris is awesome, and it has more than 100 thousand downloads.  It’s used in more than 140 countries, and many people love it.     

Ben:  I like it.  I use it now myself instead of Flux because it has, and we’ll jump into some of the things that you’ve programmed into it that go kind of above and beyond just decreasing the amount of blue light that the monitor actually creates.  But before we jump into that and some of the things that Iris does.  Can you talk about flicker, like computer monitor flicker, and how that actually works?  Why do monitors flicker?

Daniel:  Let’s start by saying that there are no flicker-free monitors and screens.  If you don’t want flicker in your life, go live in a cave or buy a [0:23:39.9] ______ monitor and use it for everything. 

Ben:  What about Kindles, like the Kindle Paperwhite, and stuff like that.  Do they flicker? 

Daniel:  Yes, they’re ink and they’re good for the eyes.

Ben:  Ok, so when you’re talking about screens that flicker you’re talking about like computer monitors, laptops but there are some notepads that don’t flicker, right?   

Daniel:  Yes, let me explain what they mean by flicker.  The monitor is turning on and off all the time but with high frequency, which most of the time we don’t perceive.  The different backlights use different frequency for on and off.  For example, CCFL uses 175 hertz and for LED it starts from 90 hertz to over 400.

Ben:  So CCFL are those old school monitors.  The cold cathode fluorescent lamps, right?  That’s what you call those? 

Daniel:  Yes, but there is actually more, first those with the lowest frequency are the worst for the eyes obviously.  And let me explain why, actually CCFL was not so bad.  The core thing of our eyes is called iris just like my software.  It opens and closes to control the amount of light entering the eye through the pupil.  The pupil is the black thing of the eye. 

Ben:  Right.    

Daniel: And the dark iris opens and when there is a lot of light it closes.  Now imagine what happens when your monitor turns on and off all the time.  The iris starts to contract just like a muscle. The lower the frequency, the bigger will be the amplitude to this contraction, since the eye has more time for the movement.  In order for our brain to not detect this on and off thing, we need the frequency of over 2,000 hertz which is not present in today’s monitors, and it’s actually not possible since the [0:26:04.2 ­­­] ­______ in the backlight will worn after sometime.

Basically, this is the reason why we feel eye pain when we sit in front of computers and what I do with Iris is to set this frequency to the biggest possible amount or at least to not decrease it when you change brightness.  When a monitor is set to maximum brightness the LED are typically glowing at full strength.

Ben:  Right. 

Daniel:  One hundred percent.  If you reduce your brightness settings in the menu for example 50%, the LED need to emit less light.

Ben:  When you say the LED, you’re referring to the LEDs? 

Daniel:  Yes. 

Ben:  Okay got it.

Daniel:  LEDs.  This is done by inserting small breaks or pauses in which the LEDs turn off for a very short time.  When reducing the brightness settings in the menu for sure the breaks become longer basically. 

Ben:  Ok so if I turn the brightness setting on my monitor down, like if I have a regular LED based monitor or even one of those old school CCFL monitors that have the backlighting on them, what happens is you actually create this catch 22 because your brightness is turned down so you have maybe less glare on your eyes, but then the flickering increases when you decrease the brightness, right? 

Daniel:  Yes, and this method of introducing breaks to reduce the brightness is called PWM pulse width modulation.  And it sucks (laughs). 

Ben:  Pulse width modulation? 

Daniel:  Yes. 

Ben:  Ok.  So when I reduce the brightness level on a monitor, and the monitor automatically starts to introduce this little breaks in terms of what it is I’m looking at this flicker that’s called PWM? 

Daniel:  Yes.

Ben:  Ok got it.  

Daniel: This PWM thing is used by almost all monitors since it’s the cheaper one.  In simple terms if you reduce your brightness, you reduce your monitor frequency also which is bad for the eyes.  And Iris is innovative, brightness which reduces the emitted light without changing the frequency of the backlight.    

Ben:  So how do you actually remove the brightness without removing the frequency of the backlight?  Like why wouldn’t monitors just do this in the first place?   

Daniel:  Because it changes colors a little bit, and for some people color is important.

Ben:  Okay, so for like a graphic designer, maybe like a gamer, they would want like a monitor with really bright vibrant colors and maybe they’re willing to get that at the risk of their eyes, right at the risk of more flicker or more brightness, but what you’re saying is that most people wouldn’t really notice the difference between a regular monitor producing a bunch of flickering, or a monitor with the Iris software installed that’s allowing you to both reduce the brightness and reduce the flickering.     

Daniel:  That’s right.  And I’m actually trying to help the designers [0:29:23.2] ______ science the new versions of Iris can make these kind of adjustments only on part of the screen, and for example your central part.  Yes, and it would be really cool but I’m not finished with this at the moment.   

Ben:  Got it.  So where does color temperature fit in here?  ‘Coz I’ve seen that monitors and I have one of these, I’ll get into the monitor that I just bought recently ‘coz I think it’s interesting.  I’ll talk about that in a second but color temperature, does that have to do with color brightness as well?   

Daniel:  Let’s say that color temperature is about blue light.  It’s measured in kelvins and basically the bigger the value of the color temperature, the more blue light is emitted from the screen.  The default color temperature of normal monitor is 6,500 kelvins.  The important thing is that blue light is important to be less at night.  Let me explain why.  The hormone responsible for our sleep is called melatonin, and in order to sleep you need to produce X amount of melatonin.  The interesting thing about melatonin is that it produces when there is no light, and more importantly when there is no blue light.

Ben:  Right.  

Daniel:  So in order to sleep properly, you don’t need to look at blue light at night.  That’s basically it and to not look at blue light you can decrease your monitor color temperature.   

Ben:  Ok, so the color temperature setting is, if I go into like monitor settings and I just decrease temperature that’s going to literally decrease the amount of blue light.  So we can say that temperature is synonymous with blue light, and then brightness would be synonymous with flickering.  Meaning that if I were to decrease the temperature, I would decrease the amount of blue light that I’m looking at, and if I were to decrease the brightness, unfortunately I would increase the flicker.  So those are a few settings that we would want to bear in mind when we’re talking about eye glare or about the shutdown of melatonin production, correct?   

Daniel:  Yes, that’s right.  And when you reduce the color temperature, the monitor starts to look yellowish then red.     

Ben:  Yeah, and I’ve noticed that like when I’ll use Flux or now when I use Iris, the color will start to change a little bit and somebody who hasn’t been accustomed to seeing these devices or these software programs and you still like look over my shoulder at my phone or my computer and they’ll be like why is the color of the color of the monitor yellow or why is it orange, and I don’t even notice it anymore it just automatically happens at night. What about glossy versus matte displays and glare, does the actual glossiness of the screen matter?

Daniel:  I just wanted to finish the last one.  It takes a day or two to get used to the colors but after some days, you can’t live without this thing.  I’m sure it’s the same thing for you? 

Ben:  Yeah, it was absolutely and I’ll take that one step further, I mean for me now not only can I barely bare to at night look at a monitor that doesn’t have Iris or Flux installed on it or the new IOS iPhone devices, the new sleep, I think it’s called sleep mode?  

Daniel:  Night shift. 

Ben:  I know on the Kindle it’s called sleep mode, on the iPhone it’s called… 

Daniel:  Night shift. 

Ben:  Yeah, night shift mode.  So I can’t bear to look at a device when it doesn’t have that enabled in the evening because I feel like it just automatically jolts me awake, but I actually now and especially more so after speaking recently with Dr. Mercola on my podcast who wears this all day long now, I just can’t operate on the screen without wearing my glare-blocking glasses in the evenings.

Yeah, I completely agree.  It’s really changed the way that I think about how my eyes and are actually the monitor, and perhaps I’m a little bit spoiled now.  But what about this like ‘coz I know that some monitors are like a glossy display, some will have a matte display.  How about that?  Is that important?  Is that something you play around with as well?

Daniel:  Let’s start with the matte, is better for the eyes than glossy, but glossy is better to get exact colors on the screen.  This thing is important for designers, artists and people who work with color.  You can turn glossy screen to matte with buying anti-glare protector, and putting it on the screen but there is no way to turn matte screen into glossy.

I will try to explain why glossy is bad for the eyes.  When you use glossy screen it’s like mirror.  You will see your reflection from the screen but you also see the image of the screen.  Your eye gets confused and tries to switch the focus between the 2 images all the time, and your eyes start quirk.  This is the reason why matte is better.  Matte screens do not create these mirror reflections, but as I said you can always buy anti-glare protector for glossy screen.    

Ben:  Ok, so matte screen would be like the Kindle Paperwhite for example?   

Daniel:  It’s not like that.  Matte screen is not aid in display. 

Ben:  Ok, so do they actually make computer monitors that have matte screen instead of glossy? 

Daniel:  Yes.  It’s like 50/50.  There are many matte screens, they just don’t reflect light. For example, all Apple monitors are glossy, they are like a reflective, you know.    

Ben:  Uhm.  

Daniel:  But there are screens, my screen is like this.  There are screens which are matte and there are something like [0:36:00.4] _____ coated.  I’m not sure how it was done.

Ben:  Yeah, I think, sorry to interrupt, have you heard of these EIZO monitors E-i-z-o?     

Daniel:  Yes.  

Ben:  Ok I’m pretty sure ‘coz I have the flex scan, the E-i-z-o flex scan and I just got this while researching monitors so I was trying to find something that would allow me to use your software, this Iris software but also would allow me to have like a non-glossy display, and it’s a little bit more like looking, I guess it seems like I’m looking at a Kindle Paperwhite kinda like matte anti-glare screen.  But then what I do is I plug it into my laptop so I’ve got an external computer monitor plugged into my laptop, and then I’ve got the Iris software running on my laptop which I believe when it makes the adjustments on my laptop it affects this flex scan monitor that I’m using.

So I’m kinda getting the best of both worlds, but that’s the set up that I currently have because this flex scan monitor has settings on it that will allow you to do things, like decrease the temperature and to using your software decrease the brightness without increasing the flicker, but it is I think a matte display for those of you listening in that’s m-a-t-t-e, matte display versus glossy.  So that’s your recommendation, to go with something that’s matte when you can versus glossy, right?

Daniel:  Or buy anti-reflective, anti-glare protector.  

Ben:  Anti-glare protector, okay I’ll find that.  Is there like a brand that you like?  

Daniel:  I don’t use.  I use Iris.

Ben:  Okay, so if you have Iris installed in your computer it’ll automatically make it so you don’t necessarily have to buy like a screen anti-glare protector?  

Daniel:  No it’s not like this, I mean if you have a light on both your head, it will show a reflection and Iris can fix this.  Actually, I think about how to fix this but it’s not fixable?   

Ben: Ok got it.  But have you used this flex scan monitors before by Eizo?

Daniel:  No, I know that BenQ monitors have some technology for eye protection. 

Ben:  What’s that other brand that you just talked about?

Daniel:  BenQ.

Ben:  BenQ.  How do you spell that?

Daniel:  Ben capital Q.

Ben:  Ben capital Q.  Ok cool.  I’ll put a link to that one in the show notes as well.  BenQ, ok, got it.

Alright, so we’ve got glossy versus matte, we’ve got the color temperature, we’ve got the brightness that we need to take into account.  I’ve seen you talk also ‘coz you have some great blog posts over on the Iris website about the actual font.  What is the type of font that you look at on the screen matter, and can you adjust the actual font settings to be able to increase the eye-friendliness of what it is that you’re looking at?

Daniel:  Yes, this was something I researched at the beginning of this year.  Let’s start that you always prefer looking at bigger fonts and if possible read san serif fonts.  What I mean by san serif is that you look at Arial and Verdana.  Times New Roman is almost good for your eyes but only on screen.  In print it actually helps you to read faster and it’s more pleasurable, but onscreen it’s not good.  Aside from the bigger font and with Arial, there is also font rendering technologies.

Ben:  So, okay.  Before you jump into font rendering technologies, what you’re saying is like the Times New Roman where it’s got like, when you look at it closely it’s got like almost little designs at the end of each letter.  What you’re saying is like more of a plain Jane type of Arial font would be the ideal type of font to look at if you wanted to reduce eye strain?

Daniel:  On the screen.

Ben:  Ok got it.  So what is it about these font rendering technologies that you’re gonna get into?   

Daniel:  Well, every pixel on the screen contains 3 dials: red, green, and blue.  They’re close to one another on the backlight and when the 3 of them glow at full strength, we see white pixel, if none glows we see black pixel.  The easiest way to render fonts is to use the whole pixel, but this makes the letters edgy and crispy and they’re only like ten fonts which can be visualized in good this way.

Even back when the first computers came out and when Apple 2 was created, they made new type of font rendering called anti-aliasing.  After sometime Microsoft created subpixel rendering technology that we today know as clear type and they procreated also subpixel rendering called font smoothing.  I can try to explain how they work and which is best for the eyes if you want.

Ben:  Yeah, sure ‘coz I’m actually curious about what kind of font I should be looking out because I spend a lot of time writing, I spend a lot of time reading on the computer, so yeah, I definitely wanna make sure that I’m using the correct type of font.     

Daniel:  So the simple fonts use whole pixel to render the font.  This makes the fonts look edgy and crispy but doesn’t make the screen blurry which is bad for the eyes.  Anti-aliasing works by using shades of grey on neighbor pixels.  This makes the font look better but they’re actually blurry and it’s difficult for the eyes to focus on the letters.

The next generation of rendering technology uses not the whole neighbor pixel but only one part of it.  As I told you, 1 pixel has 3 sub-pixels: red, green, and blue.  So pixel rendering technology uses shades of this subpixel to render the font like blue for example.         

Ben:  Okay.

Daniel:  This also makes the fonts blurry, but not as much as anti-aliasing and it’s better for the eyes.  So pixel is better than anti-aliasing.  Apple also uses this kind of subpixel rendering technologies but they smooth the fonts more, and the Microsoft way is better for the eyes since the fonts are not so blurry.   

Ben:  Okay.  So the fonts are not blurry even though you might not be able to detect the type of font rendering technology that’s used on your monitor, what you’re saying is that if you’re looking at a pixel font that’s sharp and crispy with no blurring, you’re gonna strain less even if it’s subconscious, but some forms of rendering of fonts that are used in current rendering technology introduces more blurriness based off of the way that font is presented on the monitor screen.

Daniel:  Yes, that’s right.  Simple font rendering. 

Ben:  And what’s the name of the type of font rendering that would be considered more blurry or bad for the eyes?

Daniel:  Can you tell me again the question? 

Ben:  What’s the actual name of the type of font rendering that makes something look more blurry, or that you would consider to be the type of font rendering that would be bad for the eyes?  Is that the clear type rendering?

Daniel:  Well, all renderings like anti-aliasing, all modern renderings anti-aliasing, subpixel rendering, these two make the fonts blurry, but this is to make the font look better.  So simple font rendering, whole pixel is best for the eyes but it’s hard to read.   

Ben:  That doesn’t seem to make sense.  You mean it’s hard to read like in terms of not looking quite as good?

Daniel:  It’s crispy.  Yes, not looking quite as good.

Ben:  Okay, but it’s not hard on the eyes? 

Daniel:  Yes, because you can focus on the edges.  Your eyes feel smooth on the screen and so color cascades.  You need to focus on something, and when the font is blurry it’s hard for the eye to focus on something.

Ben: Gotcha.  So you want the type of font rendering called simple font rendering?

Daniel:  Well, I have upped all them to Iris.  I don’t know why but some users actually prefer the Apple type font rendering which is the most blurry, and they tell me that their eyes hurt less with this font.  So I have added all them to Iris and so I just choose them.  For myself I use clear type, but if you’re really hardcore about your eyes, use simple fonts.

Ben:  Okay, so I can go into the settings on my Iris software and I can basically select, I’ve actually got it open right now.  Is that under the advance settings that I can go on and change the font?

Daniel:  Yes, it’s in the fonts’ page.

Ben:  So if I go here and I go to the fonts’ page…

Daniel:  Open notepad with big font and you will see the difference.  If you open notepad and you write some letters, then you’ll see the difference immediately, you know.

Ben:  Yeah, interesting.  Ok, so I see here I can actually change the font where I would want to choose like a simple font rendering.

Daniel:  You can also see the difference on the icons on the desktop.

Ben:  Ok got it, cool.  I love it.  Alright, so in addition to font rendering, you also talked about color.  In terms like the color used on a website or the color used on a webpage.  Does that also affect the eyes like the type of color that you’re looking at?

Daniel:  Actually, I researched the biological effects on color now.  Basically, blue light is not good at night for the reasons I told you before about monotonous secretion.  It is the only scientifically proven color which when removed at night helps your eyes hurt less and helps you to sleep better.

The branch of science about this is called color physiology.  But I think I still don’t know a lot about the subject basically colors are not the problem.  It’s the light.  Actually, colors are not but we see colors when there is absence of light.  So our colors are good, but some of them make us respond in different psychological way for example green is for nature, black is for status and style, red is for aggression, and blue is for trust.

Ben:  Got it.

Daniel:  Something like this.

Ben:  Got it.  Yeah, I know there’s a really fascinating book about this called “Drunk Tank Pink” in which they talk about how like websites will make a website a certain color to increase trust, to increase your propensity to purchase or increase your propensity to click.  Like apparently the best color for example, for like a buy button on a website is the color orange because it makes you want to buy something, or the best color for a donation page would be like pink because it makes you feel like apparently more laid back or more willing to make a donation.

But I noticed on the Iris software you’ve got all these different settings where I can do wash out, I can do grayscale, I can do inverted colors in terms of the type of thing that would be best for my eyes as far as like all the different color settings that you have available as far as color effects with Iris.  Is there something that you would recommend as far as like the best color setting to use if I’m just like working, it’s at night, or I wanna decrease eye strain.  Do you pretty much just switch to grayscale at that point, is that the best way to go?     

Daniel:  First, send me the link after this because this is super interesting, and then I actually made color effects for screen version.  I want it when I look at really white page to invert it to be not black and white but white black.  To invert the colors, to make the whole page black and only the font white.  This is why I made color effect and some users wanted more settings and I just added them.  I have personally only used grayscale from time to time as inversion, color inversion.

Ben:  Yeah, I’ve been using grayscale ‘coz it’s pretty simple.  I just scale it in and click on the software to change it to grayscale, and it’s actually when I’m writing and especially when I’m blogging I don’t care that much about the colors.  If I’m shopping on Amazon, I kinda like the colors ‘coz it’s fun to see the colors of the things that you’re buying et cetera but for just typing, working on blog posts, et cetera, I’m a huge fan of this grayscale setting that you have.  So that’s interesting how color plays such an important role as well, and I didn’t realize I could actually change up all the coloring on my monitor until I started playing around with the software.

What about blinking?  I noticed you have a blog post about blinking, and blink detection.  Does your software actually detects the number of blinks or how does that work?

Daniel:  Yes it’s true, but I still haven’t found a way how to make a good feature from this and I actually disabled it by default in the newer version.  Basically, as the time passed I realized that it’s a little bit creepy when you install some software and it turns on your camera.  This scares some users and there is no benefit in knowing that you don’t blink enough.

You will never blink enough when you use your PC, and now I think you don’t need an app for that.  Maybe you need to place some pictures somewhere to remind you to blink and this will be enough.  However, I created something useful from this artificial intelligence quote and I risk and detect your room lighting by using your camera and can adjust your displayed brightness accordingly which is useful and a nice feature.     

Ben:  Okay.  So if I’m in a dim room, it will automatically detect that and increase brightness?

Daniel:  In dim room it will decrease.

Ben:  Because you wouldn’t want that contrast as much between a whole bunch of brightness on the screen and less light in like a dim room?

Daniel:  Yes, you want your screen brightness to match your room lighting.  Like this.

Ben:  Ok. Got it.  Got it.  Now in this blog post, I’ll link to this blog post that you wrote that’s really interesting on your website, on the Iris website, you talked about how we actually, we don’t blink as much when we’re working on the computer.  Why is that?

Daniel:  It means just that I want to make something about yawning.  Since yawning is a better way to produce tears and moisturizing the eyes than blinking which points me to why blinks are important.  They’re important for moisturizing the eyes.  When you blink, you moisturize your eyes with tears which helps to protect your eyes.  However, as I said I think that yawning is better for moisturizing your eyes.  The reason is that it’s the natural way to produce tears.  And the second is I also think yawning is contagious on a subconscious level which means that if I yawn, you yawn too.

Ben:   Yeah, and that’s actually, all this talk about yawning is actually making me want to yawn right now.  But I never actually thought about yawning when I’m working in my computer.  What you’re saying is like if I yawn, it actually helps to moisturize my eyes?    

Daniel:  Yes, at first I think that blinking more is better, but now I think that yawning more is better.

Ben:  Interesting. 

Daniel:  Try to yawn, and you immediately notice how your eyes get moisture.

Ben:  Yeah.

Daniel:  Which is really good, and you need only to blink 1 or 2 times to moisturize the entire eye after yawning.

Ben:  So maybe you need like, simply hearing someone talking about yawning because this is making me wanna yawn right now, or seeing someone yawn causes one to yawn. Couldn’t she just have something pop up on the Iris software, or maybe you do already, I don’t know about this that would be like a picture of somebody yawning, like every twenty minutes or something like this you know, have that actually appear or have just the word yawn appear to induce that yawning sensation in people?      

Daniel:  Well, I’m thinking about playing yawning sounds or showing yawning people from time to time, but maybe it’s better just to play some picture of you yawning from the desk and to remind yourself.  I mean, I want to make it really great and I need really a big problem because you can fix this problem only by showing a picture of someone yawning. Well you know, you don’t need an application for this.

Ben:  Yeah, interesting.  So if I activate the use of camera setting, I’m looking at it right now on the Iris software.  Is that the setting that will allow my actual computer video camera to detect the dimness in the room, and adjust the brightness accordingly?    

Daniel:  Yes, when you activate this there is a show blink screen somewhere in the settings.

Ben:  Ok. Got it. Cool.  I love playing around with this stuff.  Go ahead. 

Daniel:  Because you asked me about why do we blink less?  We blink less because we focus on something.  You blink less also when you read a book, so it’s not something special for the monitors.

Ben:  Okay, got you.

Daniel:  We blink like one time per minute when we look at the computer which is bad.  Try to blink always more.  Good blink rate for optimal eye health is about fifteen times per minute.  Fifteen.  Fifteen.

Ben:  Got it.  So you’ve got a few other features kinda worked into Iris.  You’ve got your break which will automatically bring up a reminder to break at certain intervals that you have set throughout the day.  You’ve got the adjustments in the color, the adjustments in the color temperature, the adjustments in the brightness, and this can all be based off on using for example, automatic detection of where you happen to be in the world.  So it’ll automatically detect I’m assuming when the sun goes down where I happen to be at in the world?

 Daniel:  Yes.

Ben:  Ok gotcha.  So very similar to Flux for something like that, right?

Daniel:  Well, after they didn’t respond to me I made basically [0:56:02.5] ______ to Iris.

Ben:  Yeah.  It’s like Flux steroids.  Now you’ve also got in here exercises.  So, eye exercises, neck exercises and back exercises.  Can I set this also to automatically pop up at certain intervals or these ones I need to manually start?

Daniel:  I actually don’t use them.  This is why if I use something a lot, this means that is important.  I don’t use my exercise a lot and I actually think to remove them in the future because I want everybody to use Iris, and not everybody exercise basically.

Ben:  Yeah, I don’t know, I like it personally.  I’m looking at your eye exercises for example, you’ve got the cue to do side to side eye movement, you’ve got the cue to do up and down eye movement, moving eyes diagonally, massaging the eyes, different concentration exercises.  I like that, but you know my recommendation would be is if I set this to interrupt my work flow let’s say, every 30 minutes or every 45 minutes, then what I’d like ideally is for it to actually automatically bring up.

Let’s say, I set it so that every 30 minutes I want a reminder to do the series of eye exercises that you have in here or the series of neck exercises for the next 30 minute break, and then the series of back exercises for the next 30 minute break.  I think that would be a cool feature, so that for each of your Pomodoro techniques right, you have a different body part that tends to suffer when you’re working on a computer automatically getting worked throughout the day, so it’s almost like done for you.  So you know, all automated and your computer monitor is just telling you what to do when it’s setting you on to that break that you’re taking throughout the day.  Does that make sense?

Daniel:  Just to write this and I’ll make it for you.  I’ll make an option but [0:57:58.7] _______ by default.  Because I don’t think everyone will use…

Ben:  Call it the Ben Greenfield Iris Exercise Option.

Daniel:  (laughs) Yes.  It will only be an exercise option, sorry.

Ben:  Then I want a royalty on all sales of the software.  Cool.  Yeah.

Daniel:  (laughs)

Ben:  So you got your eye, neck and back exercises added in there as well which I love, but I would love to see this also like automated as part of the Pomodoro technique which you can also set a séance setting I think, I guess on the main screen of Iris I can have the Pomodoro technique to break every X number of minutes.  Right now it’s set on break every 30 minutes for 5 minutes, but you can set it for whatever you want.

This is really cool stuff.  So I guess my last question for you is in terms of compatibility et cetera, you know, we have some people who’re listening who are Windows people, some people who are Mac people, does this work with any software or are there any limitations on it right now?  I mean, can I use or I guess any operating system.  Can I use it with like Windows operating system, Mac operating system, like will it work on any computer?

Daniel:  Yes, it works on any computer, but for example, because I need time to synchronize all the setting, the Windows version is the most developed.  For example, on your phone and also on Android application if you write Iristech into Play Store, you’ll find the application.  It’s a game for blue light reduction and brightness reduction.

It’s free, absolutely free, but I don’t want to monetize it because I don’t think the phones are the problem.  Well I tried to make it to everything.  Actually, there is also home extensions which can change some website’s themes to make it black for example, YouTube, Facebook and the other sites.  I just work really hard to be on everything.

Ben:  Cool.  I like it.  I’ll link to this in the show notes so it’s  If you wanna go to the show notes and see the BenQ monitors that Daniel recommended, the Eizo monitor, the flexscan monitors, the one that I use, the anti-glare screen protectors, and some of the other stuff that we talked about, and then if you just wanna go get this software, go to, and you can grab this and download it to your laptop or to your PC, or wherever else you wanna install this software, and I’m using it every day now.

So I have it installed on all my computers and it’s what I’m using now to ensure that I’m not getting the eye strain, the irritation, the brain fog and all these things that tend to happen when you’re a blogger like I am who’s at a computer for long periods of time.

Daniel, this is really cool stuff and I wanna thank you for not only coming on the podcast, but also for creating this excellent piece of software.

Daniel:  Thank you, Ben.  Thank you.

Ben:  Alright well, cool.  This is Ben Greenfield and Daniel, I’ll try your last name one more time, Daniel, Georgiev?

Daniel:  (laughs) try with Georgiev, Georgiev is fine.

Ben:  Georgiev that was close. Signing out from  Check out, and have a great day.

You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.  Go to for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.



Do you ever get headaches after working on a computer for a long time?

Eye strain?

Mild irritation?

Brain fog?

It’s not all in your head.

See, just like most televisions, computer monitors “flicker”.  Monitors have been flickering for many years, but most people don’t realize this because the flicker is invisible. However, the flicker is still very hard on your eyes and is just one of the computer monitor issues responsible for the growing epidemic of near-sightedness and myopia – also known as “computer vision syndrome“.

Even fancy, modern PC LCD monitors are not flicker-free, even though many people think they are. These LCD monitors originally started out by using something called CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamps) as a backlight source for the monitor, but in recent years manufacturers have shifted to using LEDs (light emitting diodes). If you have one of those thin monitors, then you probably have a LCD monitor with LED, and if you are unsure, you can check the model number on the backside of the monitor and Google it.

The use of LED has numerous benefits, including lower power consumption, far fewer toxic substances due to the absence of the cathode and some fantastic picture quality advantages, but along with all these benefits come potential eyestrain issues that can damage and destroy your eyes over the long term.

See, when your monitor is set to maximum brightness, the LEDs are glowing at full 100% strength. If you reduce the brightness setting in the menu, the LEDs need to omit less light, and this is accomplished by inserting small breaks, or pauses (flickers!) in which the LEDs turn off for a very short, nearly invisible time. When you reduce the brightness setting of your monitor even more, the breaks become longer.

This creates a frustrating catch-22: a bright screen can strain your eyes, and the flicker created by a less bright screen can also strain your eyes. Compared to old-school CCFL monitors, the newer LED-based monitors carry the greatest risk of giving you eyestrain, tired eyes or nasty headaches. You can read more about this issue in the article “LED Monitors can cause headaches due to flicker“.

My guest on today’s podcast has figured out how to tackle this issue, and has invented a special piece of software called “Iris” that controls the brightness of the monitor with the help of your computer’s video card, allows you to have adequate brightness without the flicker, and even automatically adjusts your computer monitor’s settings based on the sun’s position wherever you happen to be in the world.

His name is Daniel Georgiev, and he is a 20 year old computer programmer from Bulgaria. Before he learned to code, Daniel was a rower in his country’s national team for more than 5 years, and participated in the 2012 World Rowing Junior Championship. During our discussion, you’ll discover:

How Daniel got kicked off his soccer team, and within two years qualified for the Bulgarian National Team in rowing…[11:20]

-Why Daniel programmed his computer monitor to freeze and stop his work every 30 minutes…[19:45]

-Why Daniel doesn’t like the computer program “Flux” for decreasing blue light on your monitor…[21:45]

-The link between color “temperature” and the amount of blue light a computer monitor creates…[29:52]

-How to convert a glossy computer monitor screen into a matte computer monitor screen…[33:50]

-Why you should use font rendering technologies to change the type of font you are looking at when you read on a computer monitor…[39:00]

-How to automatically invert colors on a screen or change the screen to grayscale when you are working to reduce eye strain and improve your ability to sleep…[46:25]

-Why you blink 66% less when you are working on a computer (and why yawning when you work on your computer is actually quite important)…[50:00 & 54:50]

-How to set up your computer monitor to force you to take automatic “Pomodoro” breaks, and get instant reminders for eye exercises, neck exercises and back exercises…[56:10]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Iris software

Anti-glare screen protectors

The Eizo Flexscan 2436 Monitor Ben uses

The BenQ Monitors that Daniel talks about



How Your Computer Monitor Is Slowly Killing Your Eyes, And What You Can Do About It.


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

Do you ever get headaches after working on a computer for a long time?

Eye strain?

Mild irritation?

Brain fog?

It’s not all in your head.

See, just like most televisions, computer monitors “flicker”.  Monitors have been flickering for many years, but most people don’t realize this because the flicker is invisible. However, the flicker is still very hard on your eyes and is just one of the computer monitor issues responsible for the growing epidemic of near-sightedness and myopia – also known as “computer vision syndrome“.

Even fancy, modern PC LCD monitors are not flicker-free, even though many people think they are. These LCD monitors originally started out by using something called CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamps) as a backlight source for the monitor, but in recent years manufacturers have shifted to using LEDs (light emitting diodes). If you have one of those thin monitors, then you probably have a LCD monitor with LED, and if you are unsure, you can check the model number on the backside of the monitor and Google it.

The use of LED has numerous benefits, including lower power consumption, far fewer toxic substances due to the absence of the cathode and some fantastic picture quality advantages, but along with all these benefits come potential eyestrain issues that can damage and destroy your eyes over the long term.

See, when your monitor is set to maximum brightness, the LEDs are glowing at full 100% strength. If you reduce the brightness setting in the menu, the LEDs need to omit less light, and this is accomplished by inserting small breaks, or pauses (flickers!) in which the LEDs turn off for a very short, nearly invisible time. When you reduce the brightness setting of your monitor even more, the breaks become longer.

This creates a frustrating catch-22: a bright screen can strain your eyes, and the flicker created by a less bright screen can also strain your eyes. Compared to old-school CCFL monitors, the newer LED-based monitors carry the greatest risk of giving you eyestrain, tired eyes or nasty headaches. You can read more about this issue in the article “LED Monitors can cause headaches due to flicker“.

My guest on today’s podcast has figured out how to tackle this issue, and has invented a special piece of software called “Iris” that controls the brightness of the monitor with the help of your computer’s video card, allows you to have adequate brightness without the flicker, and even automatically adjusts your computer monitor’s settings based on the sun’s position wherever you happen to be in the world.

His name is Daniel Georgiev, and he is a 20 year old computer programmer from Bulgaria. Before he learned to code, Daniel was a rower in his country’s national team for more than 5 years, and participated in the 2012 World Rowing Junior Championship. During our discussion, you’ll discover:

How Daniel got kicked off his soccer team, and within two years qualified for the Bulgarian National Team in rowing…[11:20]

-Why Daniel programmed his computer monitor to freeze and stop his work every 30 minutes…[19:45]

-Why Daniel doesn’t like the computer program “Flux” for decreasing blue light on your monitor…[21:45]

-The link between color “temperature” and the amount of blue light a computer monitor creates…[29:52]

-How to convert a glossy computer monitor screen into a matte computer monitor screen…[33:50]

-Why you should use font rendering technologies to change the type of font you are looking at when you read on a computer monitor…[39:00]

-How to automatically invert colors on a screen or change the screen to grayscale when you are working to reduce eye strain and improve your ability to sleep…[46:25]

-Why you blink 66% less when you are working on a computer (and why yawning when you work on your computer is actually quite important)…[50:00 & 54:50]

-How to set up your computer monitor to force you to take automatic “Pomodoro” breaks, and get instant reminders for eye exercises, neck exercises and back exercises…[56:10]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Iris software

Anti-glare screen protectors

The Eizo Flexscan 2436 Monitor Ben uses

The BenQ Monitors that Daniel talks about

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

[Transcript] – The Mysterious Kuwait Muscle-Building Phenomenon, The Too-Much-Protein Myth, Anabolic Triggering Sessions & More With The MindPump Podcast Crew.

Podcast from

[0:00] Introduction/Audible

[1:42] Harry’s Razor

[3:26] Four Sigmatic Chaga Elixir

[5:14] Introduction to this Episode

[6:47] Podcast Backround

[8:47] What Happened With The Mind Pump Guys Before They First Got To Ben’s

[16:19] The Kuwait Phenomenon

[23:31] Lesser Known Things People Can Use To Add Muscle

[25:40] SARMs

[28:03] “Safer” Directions to Take

[30:26] Clomid

[34:43] Old School Bodybuilding Program Design

[0:41:05] A Typical Full Body Routine

[45:36] Heat and Recovery

[48:05] Hypoxic Breathing

[51:44] “Triggering”

[55:19] How They Adjust To Travelling

[58:50] On Protein Intake

[1:15:30] End Of Podcast

Ben:  Hey, it’s Ben Greenfield.  I recently had a bunch of ripped meathead freaks over to my recording studio in my basement, and I’m about to reveal to you via audio the chaos that ensued.  But should you actually want to listen to something slightly longer via audio, or perhaps even more engaging than what you’re about to hear, not that what you’re about to hear is bad.  I’m making it sound bad.  It’s not.  You should check out Audible.  I don’t know if you knew, this but I’ve got 19 hours and 48 minutes of my complete “Beyond Training” book on Audible.  I think that would allow you to drive at least halfway across the United States of America listening to me and my annoying voice in your car, talking about everything, performance plateaus, and brain fog, and gas and bloating, and libido, and anti-aging, and biohacking.  It’s about 500 pages jam-packed with content that I read to you.

Well, you can get that over at Audible, because Audible, for everybody listening in to the show, has a 30 day trial that lets you get that book, or any other book that you want, your first audio book for free.  You go to to get a free 30 day trial and audio book, and they have a huge selection.  I mean literally like hundreds of thousands of books.  Literally.  See what I did there?  ‘Cause it’s lit?  Anyways, you just download the books or your shows to your mobile device, and you listen while the car flies by, or wherever else you happen to be, on a gridlocked freeway.  Audible audio books.  You can get lost in them.  So check it out,

This podcast is also brought to you by Harry’s, and Harry’s has this cool new free kit that they’ll send to your house.  What is Harry’s?  Harry’s creates these amazing razors.  Like their five-blade razor has a soft flex hinge for a comfortable glide.  Do you like how my voice gets soft when I start describing their features?  A trimmer blade for hard to reach places, a lubricating strip, and a textured handle for more control when your razor handle is wet, if you’re one of those people that shaves in the shower, like my wife who steals my Harry’s razor and shaves her legs in the shower.  Not that I care baby.  I still love you.  I’m just saying.

Anyways though, so here’s the deal with Harry’s.  They have made it so you can get this stuff for free.  It’s a free trial is what they call it.  You get the razor, you get what’s called their five-blade cartridge, and their shaving gel, which is actually this really good foaming shave gel that is good for your skin.  It’s got aloe in it and cucumber.  So rather than like chopping up cucumber and smearing it on your face like you were just about to do, you can instead use the Harry’s foaming shave gel and save yourself a cucumber.  So you get this free shaving trial when you sign up for any shaving plan on their website.  You do pay shipping, but that’s it.  Nada.  Zippo.  Zilch.  Aside from shipping.  So you enter code Ben at and enter code Ben at checkout to get your free trial set and your post-shave balm which you’re going to throw into.  That’s a new one.  They’re actually going to include, I guess, two things, and not only your cream that you could shave with your, or your gel rather, along with the razor and the five-blade cartridge, but then your post-shave balm.  Everything you need for a sexy smooth face.

Finally, this podcast is brought to you by, well let me tell you this.  My wife, I’ve mentioned her twice already.  It’s crazy.  She’s getting a lot of cameos in this podcast episode.  She’s gonna have to cut me a check.  She got sick.  I was gone and she got sick.  And I got home and she had the stomach flu.  And I’m about to go hunting up in Canada for a week, and I did not want to go hunting while I’m throwing up my insides.  So not only did I not go in to my bedroom, I slipped into the guest room and I slept there.  I dunno.  It’s bad.  I should’ve gone in there and snuggled up to my wife, but I didn’t ’cause I knew she was she was pukey.  But I also slammed two of these chaga elixirs this morning.

So these chaga elixirs, I don’t know if you know about chaga, but it’s able to fight infections, and bacteria, and colds, and viruses, and things that might make you poo or throw up a little funny, and you just take these packets and you put them in coffee, or tea, or anything else that you want.  And it’s a dual-extract, meaning that they get the water soluble components and then also the fat soluble components squeezed into this tiny little green packet, and they throw like some eleuthero and rosehips in there for vitamin C, little field mint for some flavor.  And it’s really good stuff.  So C-h-a-g-a.  It’s this big black mushroom that grows on birch trees.  You get 15% off of that or any of the other mushrooms from Four Sigmatic Foods when you go to, that’s, and use 15% code Greenfield.  That’ll get you everything you need to not be a sad-faced, pukey person.  So, check it all out.  The audible book, the razors, the chaga mushroom extracts, and also check this out.  An amazing interview with the dudes from Mind Pump.

In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

“One group of people, I had them do squats very heavily.  And in the following days, I had them walk, and stretch, and do light bodyweight lunges.  And the other group of people, they hammered their legs and they just bed rest for the rest of the week.  Just lay in bed don’t move.  The people in bed rest would lose muscle.  They’d lose muscle and strength within a five day, seven day period, even shorter.”  “It just changed my relationship with carbohydrates and with fats who I’ve, for so many years as trainers that when we’ve demonized fat.  I mean I remember telling clients ago, ‘Don’t even try and get fat in your diet,’ when I first started fifteen years ago.”

He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness.  His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance.  He is Ben Greenfield.  “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…”  All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast.

Ben:  Hey.  What’s up?  It’s Ben Greenfield, and last night in the wee hours of the evening, four guys from San Jose descended upon my home for a homemade meal full of chicken, and organic wine, and tomatillos, and buckwheat pancakes, and a general good time all around.  And then they came back this morning and we threw down a relatively epic podcast and a podcast that you’re about to listen to.  These are the guys from what is called the “Mind Pump Media Podcast” and the Mind Pump website, which we’ll talk a little bit more about during the episode.  It’s not often that I have four people on the podcast simultaneously, so I may leave it up slightly to you to be able to differentiate between all the voices that you’re gonna hear.

But either way, we’re gonna talk about what they specialize in, which is pulling back the curtain on mythology, and snake oil, and pseudo-science that pervades the fitness industry.  And instead, we delve into science-backed solutions that specifically focus on what these guys specialize in, which is muscle building and fat loss combined with health.  So if you go to, I’ve got these guys’ full bios, what they look like, they are pretty impressive physical specimens, as well as more about how you can tap into the goodness that is Mind Pump.  We talk about everything on the show from how to do anabolic triggering sessions, to why bodybuilders are disappearing to Kuwait and somehow coming back just a couple months later with 20 pounds of extra muscle, to underground muscle building and anabolic supplements like SARMs, and Clomid, and injectable testosterone, why you probably need far less protein than you think, the biggest myths in the fitness industry, and a lot more.  So I think you’re gonna dig this one.

Ben:  Hey, folks.  What’s up?  It’s Ben from back once again in a very unique situation.  My house has actually been taken over by a bunch of swole guys from San Jose, the dudes from the Mind Pump Podcast.  We had dinner last night.  First of all, you guys showed up and I put you right to work.  Did you enjoy that?

Adam:  Yeah.  I noticed that.

Sal:  I gotta tell your audience how this all went down.  So we show up, and I’m sure you know this about you, but barefoot, outside, it’s night time, and who has his bale hay with him.

Justin:  The first time he’s…

Doug:  What’s that all about?

Sal:  “Hey, guys.  Carry some hay with me.”  I’m like, “He’s testing us.”

Ben:  Well, you guys were tardy.

Doug:  Felt like it was a test.

Ben:  You guys were tardy for dinner.  So I started taking care of this.  I had to finish off my honey-do-list and take care of the hay.

Sal:  Oh, I see.

Ben:  And if you’re listening in and you haven’t moved around hay before, I was actually telling you guys this story last night.  So I got my (censored) kicked in the recent Train To Hunt Competition, which is basically like obstacle racing with weapons, and there’s a lot of sandbag carries, and a lot of unwieldy 100, 150 pound backpacks that you’re hoisting around.  And I asked the guy who won it, who I’m actually trying to get on the podcast, like what his go-to work out was.  And he’s like, “I drive around to farmer’s fields and bale hay.”

Justin:  That’s all he did?

Ben:  Basically get paid to work out, doing clean and jerks for two hours, baling hay.

Adam:  So you’re just doing us a favor?  That’s what that was?

Ben:  Just doing you guys a favor.

Sal:  I appreciate the workout.

Justin:  Yeah.

Ben:  Getting you ready for dinner.

Doug:  It was nice.

Adam:  I feel like it was a test.  I think he was like, “You know, I gotta see if these guys who are gonna come to my house, who are gonna have dinner with my family my wife, we’re gonna do a podcast together, we’re going to see if they have real world strength.”

Ben:  That’s right.  Functional strength.

Sal:  We’re not just like balloons.

Ben:  We could have done concentration curls.

Justin:  I was just gonna say I was fatigued because I had done those earlier.  I’ve done some donkey kickbacks too.

Adam:  I was actually impressed with Sal’s ability to carry the bale of hay there.  I knew Justin would be fine.  I did that for a good portion of my life.

Sal:  Well, I mean considering I’m stronger than you guys…

Doug:  Considering you don’t do any manual labor.  That’s what we were considering.

Ben: I think functionally, one of the strongest times I’ve ever had my life in terms of my own strength was in college when I was painting, and baling hay, and playing water polo.

Justin:  Of course.

Ben:  Those three things all put together…

Adam:  Oh, god.  Imagine that.

Ben:  Someone should create a DVD, “The Water Polo, Hay Baling, Painting DVD.”

Adam:  We might have our next program.

Sal:  That’s how we’ll get people to fix up our new studio and paint stuff.  We’ll just tell ’em it’s part of the workout.  It’s because of the long-term frequent use of your body.  I mean when you’re working, you are working for hours during the day.  When we workout, it’s an hour.  That’s the difference.  It’s kind of this moderate intensity activity that people just don’t consider a workout, but they don’t realize how effective it can be.

Adam:  Well this is some strong something that we talk a lot about is frequency over intensity and how important that is.  When you do something like that day in day out, I mean Sal talks about like, “Look at a mailman’s calves,” things like that.  It’s not like the guys are there doing calf reasons every day.  He’s in there stimulating his calves all day long, walking around.  The same thing goes for someone who’s doing water polo, talk about a sport where you gotta have some serious strength to keep yourself above water…

Justin:  Constant resistance.

Ben:  That’s one of the things that I tell people with water polo is it keeps you fit because if you don’t stop moving, you die.  It’s one of the sports where if you don’t stop that eggbeater kick, I still do that like if I’m at a hotel with a crappy pool, I’ll use my old school tricks from water polo where I’ll do the eggbeater kick hardcore for like a minute, then you get out and do push-ups, jump back in, do a sprint.  There’s all sorts of cool things you can do without necessarily having to, like Laird Hamilton, throw dumbbells into a pool and walk back and forth underwater.

Sal:  That’s gotta be some incredible hip mobility.  I didn’t even think of that.  Eggbeater movements in the pool is a fantastic hip mobility movement.

Ben:  Yeah.  Well if your lateral or medial meniscus are f-ed up, it’s also a great way to destroy your knees.  But it is good fitness.  Now one of the things that you guys brought up as we were punishing chicken and buckwheat wraps last night, my wife provided us with.

Doug:  I was hungry.  Sorry about that.

Ben:  It was a good meal.  We had some wine.

Adam:  Phenomenal meal.

Sal:  I had a cheeseburger afterwards.

Ben:  Yeah.  Exactly.  I’m like, “I hope these guys don’t leave and have to go to McDonald’s.”  And tomatillos.

Doug:  Delicious! 

Justin:  Oh, yeah.  It was excellent.

Adam:  That was a treat.

Sal:  The next superfood.

Ben:  If you guys are listening in, yes.  We are going to create a gently dried green superfood powder made of tomatillos, but we sprinkled tomatillos with like an Aztec salt.  And if you haven’t had tomatillos before, this is a new addition to my wife’s garden that she’s growing.  Just hunt ’em down ,find one, and eat it.  It’s like, I mean what you guys think?  It’s like a sweet tomato.

Adam:  Yeah.  It doesn’t even taste good tomato to me.  It actually had, it almost taste like an apple.

Doug:  It’s got a crisp taste of an apple.

Adam:  I thought it tasted like a green apple.  Like a really sweet tasting…

Sal:  Tell me about this Aztec salt.

Ben:  One of those hybrid, genetically modified foods that’s gonna get us cancer.

Sal:  Yes.  Tell me about the Aztec salt.  I’ve never had Aztec salt before.

Ben:  Aztec salt is harvested sustainably on the Mexican coast, and by sustainably, I’m guessing that means it’s not 8 year old Mexican children harvesting it, but actual full-grown Mexican adults getting paid some kind of a wage.  That’s just the picture I create in my own head.

Justin:  It makes you feel better when you sprinkle it on your…

Ben:  As you guy know, sodium chloride, and I don’t have to tell most of our listeners this, it’s not doing your body the most favors.  It’s usually aluminum cake, the extraction methods are harsh, the solvent methods are harsh, and all you get usually is sodium unopposed with many of the other 72 plus minerals that you typically get from a good salt, like a Himalayan salt, or one of my other favorites, the black salt that you get from the Kona coast.  That’s another really good one.

Sal:  I just bought some of that.  My favorite salt is the salt harvested from the tears of Tibetan monks who’ve meditated for years.  It’s very pure…

Justin:  You let it dry out for two days.

Sal:  It’s very anabolic.

Ben:  Preferably alternative lifestyle, one-armed Tibetan monks, so that you just fire on [0:14:54] ______ .  And the Aztec salt is, it’s very clumpy.  You guys probably noticed this.  Some people even put it in like a salt grinder to grind it.  But I like it clumpy.  I like to be able to chew my salt.

Sal:  I’m the same way.

Ben:  And what I do is I travel with this everywhere.  I get strange looks at restaurants, but I’ll pull it out and just sprinkle it on anything.  And it enhances the flavor profile of just about anything that you put it on, but it also provides you with minerals, and for a guy like me who’s working out a lot with the adrenal glands being a storehouse of minerals, and needing to retain water well, and eating all the other things that minerals do for me, that’s one of my go-to sources and it’s a heck of a lot more tasty than like one of these trace liquid mineral dropper bottles.

Justin:  Where do find it?

Ben:  I order it.

Adam:  It’s not something you can pick up at Safeway?

Ben:  I don’t think you can find it at Safeway.  No.

Sal:  It’s not as harsh as regular salt.  It was very tasty.  It didn’t have that bite that regular salt does, probably because it’s lower in sodium.

Ben:  Yeah.  Exactly.  But it’s a really great flavor profile.  Plus it’s Aztec.  You can’t go wrong with something that has the bad-ass (cash register sound effect) title.  Anything.  We could do Aztec tomatillos, you could have Aztec milk, Aztec ketchup.  Anything that’s Aztec automatically sounds bad-ass.

Doug:  This is brilliant.

Sal:  I think we should collaborate and make an Aztec warrior workout.

Ben:  Yup.  Exactly.

Sal:  If you don’t do the work out, then you get sacrificed.

Adam:  Run some pyramids or die.

Ben:  I would like to ask you guys about something that came up during dinner last night.  And honestly, I know for those you listening in when there’s four people talking, it’s hard to tell who’s who, but Adam here is the house bodybuilder.

Doug:  He’s the husky voice.

Ben:  Knows a lot about getting swole.  Yes, the husky voice.  And Adam, we were talking a little bit about things, like underground things that are coming up now that I get a lot of questions about, like HGH frags, and peptides, and SARMs, and a lot of these newer muscle gains/fat loss/growth hormone increasing type of compounds that people are now turning to as an alternative to amino acids, and creatine, and fish oil, and all the old boring proven stuff.  And you mentioned that guys are now going to Kuwait and coming back swole.  Tell me about this.

Adam:  And this is completely speculation on our part because I have no proof but it’s pretty crazy when you see, and there’s been a handful, I’d say about five or seven professional bodybuilders that I know that have gone over there, and these are guys that have been competing for 10, 15 years their life at that point, and you know that every one pound of muscle you add’s a victory at that point.  There taking already tons of gear and they’re…

Ben:  ‘Cause you’ve put on so much muscle by that point that even just getting tiny, tiny increases in muscle is considered a win?

Adam:  Yeah.  Exactly.  Not only have you reached your genetic potential, but you’ve also done everything that you can, almost chemically, to enhance that when you see guys at even the smallest amount of muscle at that level, you’re extremely impressed.  And we’re seeing these guys right now that are going over there and they’re coming back, and they’re not spending more than a couple months there.  I mean, I’m talking 60 to 90 days and they’re back, and they look like they’ve added 20, 30 pounds of the lean mass to their bodies.

Ben:  Something crazy’s going on in Kuwait.

Sal:  I don’t think, I mean, again it’s pure speculation, but I highly doubt that it’s having anything to do with hormones ’cause they maxed out.  These guys at this level are using testosterone…

Adam:  Grams!

Sal:  Grams a week of growth hormone.  They’re using insulin, they’re using IGF1 and all these different compounds that they’ve been using now since the 90’s at high doses.  And these guys are already walking around 280 pounds, I mean shredded massive guys.  They haven’t added muscle in the last five years ’cause they’ve hit that limit right, then they go over there and two three months later, they come back and like, “What just happened?”  I don’t think it’s…

Ben:  What do you guys think?

Sal:  My money is on, ’cause we know the science on myostatin inhibition is developing.  You start to…

Adam:  He thinks that.  I don’t know if we’re there yet.  I’m not sure if we’re there to…

Justin:  I’ve seen pictures of the cows that surfaced…

Ben:  Yeah.  So, myostatin, backing this up a little bit, myostatin would be a specific gene.  Is it a gene or an enzyme?

Sal:  Myostatin is a protein that, when it’s elevated, it inhibits muscle growth.  It’s a muscle growth controller.  And when they do studies on animals where they’ll genetically modify the animal so that it has…

Adam:  It works like a safety mechanism for us as humans.  Stops us from continuing to build, and build, and build, and build.

Sal:  There’s actually an animal that naturally has very low, or defunct myostatin.  It’s the Belgian Blue bull, and it’s been bred this way.  They bred it this way and have this extremely muscular bulls.  And if you look them up online, they look freaky.  They look crazy.

Ben:  And it’s a myostatin knock-out bull.

Sal:  Yes.

Adam:  People can literally Google “myostatin dog,” “myostatin bull,” and you’ll just see…

Ben:  I’ll find a picture.  By the way, if you guys are listening in, I’ll put that the show notes at  That’s, and I’ll be sure to put a swole bull in there for you to look at.

Sal:  When they do these studies on animals, they’ll take mice and they’ll take one and switch off their myostatin gene and leave the other one normal or whatever.  Here’s the crazy thing.  They don’t exercise anymore, they don’t feed them any differently, and they just build muscle.  Like ridiculous amounts of muscle.  The kind of muscle that you would expect on an animal that was given high doses of androgens, and put through exercise, and fed differently.  Very crazy stuff.  That’s like the next generation.

Ben:  There has to be a biological trade off to that though.

Sal:  I would imagine…

Ben:  Like do these animals get cancer?

Sal:  I haven’t read anything about that yet.  I don’t think they quite understand the other functions of myostatin besides, like you’re saying, I mean turn that off.  What could it possibly…

Adam:  I think anything I’ve read is it’s more like their heart giving out to be able to handle all that, to be able to move that.  You weren’t made to have…

Ben:  Does the heart give out or does it get hypertrophy?

Adam:  I don’t know.

Sal:  That’s a great question.

Adam:  It is a great question.  There’s not a lot of studies on it, and that’s why I don’t know.  Sal says that was his theory on that’s what they’re doing over there.  I don’t know for sure if that’s it.

Sal:  Pure speculation.

Ben:  You mean in Kuwait?

Adam:  Yes.  I’ll tell you what, and you know this, you were in bodybuilding, that if there is anybody that’s doing the crazy shit and that’s really going after the way-out-there, I mean, bodybuilders, they’ve been doing it forever.  They pioneered a lot of stuff that we have now.  A lot of people are afraid to take that next step and that’s one of the things that we do appreciate about them.  A lot of people talk trash, “Oh, they’re a bunch of steroids freaks,” and this and that, but a lot of these guys are, kinda like bro-scientists a little bit.  They go in and they’re playing with these things…

Ben:  Some of the most intelligent writings on the entire internet are on bodybuilding forums.  Proceed with caution.

Sal:  I would say, for knowledge on using hormones, they’re right up there with the Soviet coaches that coached athletes.  I mean, the timing, and the doses, and what to use when, and how to use this to prevent your estrogen levels from going too high, and all this other stuff.

Ben:  I wanted to ask you a little bit about some of these lesser known techniques for muscle gain.  By the way, that the photograph behind me that you guys can see here in my office, that’s me body building, and I was completely natural.

Justin:  Extremely impressive.

Ben:  By natural, I mean, and I was telling you guys this last night, literally tuna fish cans and with ketchup and relish.

Doug:  That actually doesn’t count ’cause tuna fish is extremely anabolic, they found.

Ben:  It’s the mercury.

Adam:  Cheating.

Ben:  The mercury just pumps you up.

Doug:  Yeah.

Ben:  But, yeah.  I mean, I eventually got a sponsorship with ABB.  I don’t even know if they’re around anymore…

Doug:  They are.

Ben:  They made these protein cans.  Like their protein would come to you in like a soda can.  You just pop it open and drink it.

Adam:  I remember.

Sal:  Super high quality, it’s thermostat.

Adam:  Tasted awful too.

Ben:  Full of BPA and other you’re-going-to-(censored)-out-straw components that Lord knows what.  The ingredient label takes up half the can, which is always a warning sign.

Adam:  Yeah.  Right?

Ben:  But that was my go-to was ABB bodybuilding shakes and tuna with ketchup.

Adam:  I was right with you, man.

Ben:  It was horrible.

Sal:  You guys remember Blue Thunder?

Adam:  I do.

Sal:  It was literally a bottle of everything.  If you looked at the ingredients, “Oh, it’s got smilax!”  “Oh, it’s got saw palmetto!”

Adam:  ABB had one too, and I forgot the name of it, but it had, it was the everything…

Sal:  Did they make the Speed Stack?  Was that ABB?

Justin:  Yeah.  That was ABB.

Sal:  ‘Cause that’s my favorite thing of all time.

Ben:  I just remember the chocolate protein shakes.  That, and then my other go-to was Redline.

Adam:  Yeah.

Sal:  Yeah.

Ben:  Which was like the pre-workout.

Sal:  You ever inject that?

Doug:  The one that makes you sweat.

Ben:  Uh, no.  No.  But actually, the only thing that I have much experience injecting that I’m using now, like I have a bum ankle right now from my last Spartan Race…

Doug:  I saw.  You had a little bit of swelling there.

Ben:  Yeah.  And I was actually running it when you guys showed up this morning, I was running the Marc Pro electro stim on it just to pump out some of the inflammation, but I’ve been injecting a fragment called, or a peptide, called BPC-157 into it, which is just basically like a healing peptide that initiates that inflammatory cascade.  They isolate it from gastric juices because that’s where you’ll find it in humans where it can be used to heal gastric mucosa, for example.  You can take an insulin syringe, and you can draw BPC-157 back into it, and spray into your mouth to help with healing gastric mucosa.

But there are a lot of these things now that I’m seeing pop up on the internets that might be old news in the bodybuilding world, but that I’d like to get kinda your guys’ opinion on as far as like, obviously there are things, like I mentioned, creatine, and fish oil, and a good high quality protein that can help people with something like putting on muscle.  But as far as these more underground things, like SARMs, for example, is something I recently touched on on a blog post, and peptides, or growth hormone fragments, are there things that you think folks could be using, should be using, don’t know about, or that would be extremely efficacious for the people listening in that may wanna put on muscle and add things into the creatine?

Adam:  We talk down a lot about SARMs just because there’s just not a lot of good studies yet.  It’s kind of like buyer beware.  If you’re gonna go, and when you’ve seen stuff, I mean, people are, what is the latest one?  We just talked about one recently.

Sal:  Well, here’s the thing with a lot of these.  So, yes.  Bodybuilders have been messing with SARMs now for at least maybe five years, and they’re all available as research chemicals, by the way.  They’re not legal to human consumption.

Ben:  Right.  You have to buy them from like Peptide Warehouse, or Blue Sky Peptides, or one of these other Web sites.

Sal:  Exactly.

Ben:  So SARMs, for example, explain what it is, and what it would do for someone, and why you do or you do not like it?

Sal:  Well, SARM stands for selective androgen receptor modulator.  So it attaches to the androgen receptor, and the goal of a SARM is to elicit the positive effects from those receptors and not so many of the negative effects.  So some of the problems with taking testosterone, for example, as you get anabolic effects, but you also get androgenic effects, which are the masculinizing effects.  So acne, or the hair loss, and those kinds of things, the undesirable effects of anabolic steroids.

SARMs are supposed to kind of mitigate that a little bit.  You’re not gonna get some of the negative effects.  It supposedly, at the right doses, won’t affect your own hormone levels, although they’re finding at high doses, or at least a doses that people are using on the gray market, that they are getting some shut down of testosterone.

But the drugs themselves are being studied for osteoporosis, for male andropause, just as an alternative to testosterone and testosterone derivatives.  The problem that we have, and we’ve talked about SARMs a few times now in the show, the problem that we have is with testosterone, we have a really good idea…

Adam:  We know so much more about that.

Sal:  We know what it does and what it doesn’t do, we know what your side effects are going to be, we know what the doses you can take, we know where you can get it from, especially if you get a prescription.  With SARMs, we don’t quite know all of the effects it has and if there’s any long term effects, and it’s still undergoing testing at the moment. But if you go on the forums, you can read about some weird side effects like, I think it’s called S4.  People are complaining about like vision changes.  There’ll be a yellow tint to everything that they look at, or it’ll change their ability to see at night, which is a little weird.  It’s a little, I mean it’s like take some steroids.

Ben:  That sounds kinda cool.

Adam:  It turns you into a cat.

Ben:  Save money on blue light blocking glasses.

Adam:  I just feel like if you’re somebody who’s considering going that direction, and I’m not one to advocate taking steroids, but if you’re going to go mess with some of that, I feel like you’re safer going in a direction where we know more.  It’s kinda that gray area right now, we’re still learning so much about it.

Ben:  What would be a direction where we know more?  What do you mean?

Adam:  Well like Sal was saying like testosterone, we know more about testosterone, how that affects you.  I mean, there’s hormones that you can go see a doctor now and actually get it prescribed to you if your levels are lower than normal.  They can monitor your blood and see that.  SARMs, I’ve always been afraid to mess with something like that.  I’m afraid to mess with something that just hasn’t been studied for a very long time.  I’m not quite with that risk, I don’t care that much about getting the extra edge or performance from that when I still feel like there are so many other things that we can be getting better at.

You’re a perfect example of somebody who I think is neat to see mess with all the different little tiny things to just get better performance, better sleep, but that’s because you’re doing all the big pieces first.  You’ve got people that are taking SARMs, or taking steroids, or taking…

Ben:  You mean the goat milk and tomatillos.

Adam:  Yeah.  Even the way you treat your sleep and the lights in your house.  And there’s so many other things that are natural, that are safe, that are gonna help you first, and I feel like that’s the order of operation that we should all strive for first before we add this next bit of performance…

Ben:  Yeah.  But that’s not sexy.

Adam:  You’re right!

Sal:  But you’re also you’re also, a biohacker, right?  This is something you really enjoy.  I think experimenting on yourself is excellent.  Look.  I believe everybody should be able to do what they want to their body.  They own it. You’re also very educated, and so this is something you do for yourself to see what the effects are so you can report on them which, I think is actually quite responsible.

You have an audience that’s gonna listen to you more than they’re gonna listen to some other person.  But to the average person, average listener that, like on our show and stuff, I mean we’re always like, “Look, if you’re gonna do anything that’s out, that’s fringe, that’s different, that has nothing to do with food, or exercise, or water, or sleep, and you wanna inject yourself with something, go to the doctor, get prescription testosterone, we know what it does.  It’ll definitely build muscle.  You’ll eventually have increased libido.  You’ll get maybe some negatives too, but we know what they are.”  But some of these like research chemicals, it’s crazy.  You can go on these sites, these research chemical sites, and you can get your hands on all kinds of stuff.  You can get your hands on Nolvadex, and Clomid, and all these estrogen blockers, and you can get Arimidex, and all these drugs that are normally scheduled substances.

Ben:  Clomid is another one that you hear a lot about.  Can you explain what Clomid is?  Because wasn’t there a UFC fighter that recently got banned for using this Clomid?

Sal: Jon Jones.

Doug:  Jon Jones, yeah.

Ben:  Why would he have been using that and what is it about Clomid that would allow you to have some kind of a performance enhancing effect?

Sal:  So Clomid and Nolvadex are both SERMs.  So we just talked about SARMs, right?  Selective androgen receptor modulators.  A SERM is an estrogen receptor modulator.  So very similar, it attaches to the estrogen receptor, and the goal of SERMs is to block the estrogen receptor.  Just block it and try not to activate it.

Adam:  So more than likely, he wasn’t taking…

Ben:  To keep me from getting man boobs and weepy during chick flicks?

Adam:  Yes.

Sal:  Exactly.  To prevent the negative effects of all this excess testosterone that might be building up.  However, the way that I would speculate that he used it, because they’re tested for steroids in the UFC.  However, if you take testosterone and you get off in time, by the time the test you, you’ll show up okay.  Your testosterone levels were back to normal.

However, to get your testosterone levels back to normal can take some time after going off large doses of testosterone.  And so one of the ways you can speed up the process is by using a SERM like Clomid, which tricks the body into producing more testosterone quicker.  Now a healthy man taking Clomid won’t get a boost in testosterone.  But if it’s low, it does, it can accelerate that revamp of testosterone…

Adam:  Typically, that’s actually the direction that most doctors, like a hormone therapist.  If you were, like let’s say your free test is like 200 range or whatever, they typically will…

Ben:  Which would be low.

Adam:  Yes.  It would be low.  Like your free range is 300 to 1200 range is kind of what they would say is…

Sal:  Normal.

Adam:  Normal, yeah.  Which is obviously, there’s a large range there, but typically people fall in there.  And if you’re down below that, that’s actually the first place they’ll go.  A hormone therapist will first go…

Sal:  And then number two…

Ben:  They’ll first go to something like Clomid before giving you testosterone?

Adam:  Yeah.

Ben:  Okay.

Adam:  They’ll try to do it that way.

Sal:  Jumpstart your body’s system.

Adam:  They’ll try and do it that way first.  And then if it’s not bumping you into the normal range, and it depends. Like I’ve had different hormone therapists that I’ve met and talked with and because it’s kind of a newer industry, really, it hasn’t been around that long, so different doctors are more stringent than others as far as how they’ll dose, or what they will offer, or what they’ll tell you you should take.

But it really doesn’t take that much synthetic testosterone to get you into that normal, I mean most bodybuilders, were taking cycles that are much larger than that.  But that’s a lot of, when I got into it and started competing, that’s kind of like most of the bodybuilders.  That’s what they typically just focus on.  That’s one other thing, I talked about what I enjoy…

Ben:  They typically just focus on…

Adam:  The hormones and how much more of this can I take.

Justin:  Chemically enhancing themselves.

Adam:  Yeah.  And so we talk a lot about program design, and nutrition, and the importance of all that where a lot of the locker room talk is “what do you want,” and “how many grams of this are you taking,” and “what do you take after this,” is cycles…

Ben:  What do they call it?  Gear?

Adam:  Yeah.  Gear.

Ben:  How much gear, what gear are you on?

Adam:  Yeah.  “What gear are you on,” “what are you taking,” and…

Sal:  This is why you look at their routines and they look the same.  I mean you look at bodybuilding routines and their workouts are almost identical.  It’s the same body part split.  You start with the compound movement, move to your finishers, get a pump.  Nothing really ground breaking with program design.

If you wanna see good program design, you gotta go strength athletes, Olympic lifters, powerlifters, or old time bodybuilders.  If you go back before the introduction of steroids, bodybuilders work out very different.

Ben:  The guys at the back of MAD Magazine.  Those guys?

Sal:  Yeah.  I mean, you look at like the old routine…

Ben:  What are those kinda dumbbells where they’re round?  They look like balloons on either end of the…

Sal:  Oh! Yeah, yeah, yeah.  The old school…

Ben:  Hoisting those behind the head.

Sal:  Oh, man.  They had some incredible feats of strength.  [0:34:30] ______ .  Twist your mustache on the side and you’re good to go.

Ben:  Exactly.  They come up on to the circus and stage right at the girl who rides with one foot on a horse, two horses.

Sal:  Exactly.

Ben:  Yeah.  So program design, these old school guys, what were they doing?

Sal:  So this is interesting.

Ben:  The old timey.

Sal:  Old timey bodybuilders.  So a while back, so I developed a program and then we worked on some subsequent ones called MAPS, and MAPS stands for muscular adaptation programming system, and some of the basis of that was studying the old time strongman and bodybuilder routines ’cause I found, that I saw that they were very different.  The old time strongmen and bodybuilders trained full-body, three days a week.  They trained movement much more than muscles.

So it wasn’t like they were like, “I’m hammering my bicep,” or “my tricep.”  It was like, “I’m pulling in this direction,” or “I’m pushing in that direction.”  And these guys, this was before creatine and protein powders, were incredible. They looked incredible, but their feats of strength were mind blowing.  I mean you’re talking about like Eugen Sandow bent pressing.  I don’t know if you know what a bent press is.  It’s a one-arm, kinda side, almost looks like a windmill.

Ben:  Not a bench press, a bent press?

Justin:  Right.

Sal:  Bent press.  This is a one-arm technical press.  It’s almost like a windmill movement with 300 pounds on one arm.  And this is a barbell!  It’s a long barbell.  So these feats…

Ben:  So you’re like pressing the weight overhead and kinda bending your body to get under the…

Sal:  Yeah.

Doug:  With rotation.

Ben:  Yeah.  I think I’ve seen this picture.

Sal:  The feat of strength are incredible.  The muscle that they built, especially for the time, was incredible.  And the workouts were very different.  They did full body workouts…

Ben:  How do you know?

Sal:  Because they had them all written down.  Some of them even sold workout plans.  So you could buy them and see these old time barbell, dumbbell workout, or whatever.  And there were some muscle magazines back then that would publish some of the workouts, and now I’m talking a little later, the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s.  But they didn’t train to failure.  They did train intensely, but they did a lot of frequency.

So whereas a bodybuilder today may hit chest once a week really hard and hammer the hell out of it, they would do have some kind of a chest movement three or four days a week.  They wouldn’t go completely to failure and they got great results.  And so I played with this type of programming on myself and on clients, and I was blown away, blown away by the results.

Ben:  Did you wear the leopard skin?

Sal:  I did.  That was part of the…

Adam:  The Tarzan?

Sal:  Absolutely.  Yeah.  But I was blown away by it.

Adam:  The is also the evolution of the trigger sessions too, which is a concept that Sal came up with with the original MAPS, which is instead of just hammering the body every single time, is getting these low doses of frequency of just sending that anabolic signal to the muscles.

Ben:  How were they getting a good anabolic muscle growth signal without training to failure?

Sal:  So this is an interesting, and this is a very good question.  It’s interesting because the muscle building community has hammered home the fact that you need to go to failure in order to send a muscle building signal, but there’s lots of factors that you wanna consider when you’re trying to build muscle.

One of them is “are you sending the signal,” and then number two, “are you teaching your body to adapt or are you simply wanting your body to recover each time,” because recovery and adaptation can be two different things.  Your body can simply want to heal from damage, and you see a lot of people like this.  They go to the gym and they get really sore, they beat themselves up, but there’s no progress.  They’re not adapting.  All their body’s doing is healing.  Heal, beat down, heal, beat down.

What you want is you want adaptation, and for anybody who wants evidence of muscle building without failure, go look at a plumber’s forearms, or a mechanics forearms, or go look at somebody who does hard labor.  They don’t train extremely intense at all.  They’ve been doing it for years, and yet their muscles start to develop from the low levels of frequent stimulation.

Ben:  Yeah.  But I mean like when I’m working on a, I’ll admit I work on a bicycle more than I work on a car, or when I’m screwing something to a wall here in my house, I’ll screw, and screw, and screw the screw driver, for example, and my forearms get to the point where they just can’t go anymore.

Sal:  Sure.

Ben:  And then I have to stop and then start up again, or yell at my wife about where the automatic screwdriver is, the drill, but that’s not considered to be failure?

Sal:  That’s different.  That’s fatigue.  I don’t know if it necessary, you would call that failure.

Ben:  Okay.

Sal:  But I think, and what I found with training, ’cause between the three of us, we’ve probably trained on thousands of clients, going to failure for most people is more intensity than is necessary.  And the thing with getting the body to adapt is you wanna send the signal, but you don’t want to go beyond what is necessary because now you’re tapping into the body’s ability to recover.  And studies will show that muscle building signal lasts for about 40 to 72 hours.

So if I hit my legs super hard to failure, hammer the crap out of ’em on Monday, by Wednesday even though I’m still sore and I’m still recovering that protein synthesis signal, that muscle building signal fades quite a bit, and so it makes sense to hit it again to send that signal again.  And rather than sending one super loud muscle building signal and then let it dampen until the next time you work out, send one that’s intense.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a hard workout, but not quite to that point, but you hit these peaks more often throughout the week and you build more muscle.  And it’s pretty crazy at how effective that simple philosophy is.

Ben:  So you go full body.  Let’s say, for example, if you were gonna do like kinda like old timey, I-wanna-build-strength routine without spending copious amounts of time in the gym doing eight different types of exercises for my biceps, I’m gonna do a full body three days a week, but I’m not gonna to fail.  I’m gonna push hard but not go to complete failure?

Sal:  We always say stop about two rep short of failure.

Ben:  Would that be like what if you just decide, “Okay, I’m gonna do,” and I wanna ask you like an example of what a full body workout would be here in a second, but would that mean maybe you’re going to do your workout without a spotter or somebody to help you out and just basically decide, “Okay, once my own body isn’t able to do it anymore, that’s when I stop.”

Sal:  No.  So it takes, when someone starts training this way, it usually takes a few weeks for them to get in tune with what that means for their body but…

Adam:  It’s really the breaking down of the form.  At that moment when you…

Sal:  Once you start to know…

Ben:  Once biomechanics starts to suffer.

Sal:  Yeah.  Once it starts to really suffer and you think to yourself like, “I could squeeze out maybe two more reps, and then collapse,” you should stop before.  So you stop one or two reps short of that.  And then you’re able to hit the body more frequently as a result.

Ben:  Okay. So walk me through what a typical routine would look like.  If I were gonna go into the gym and use one of these old timey routines, or like you, what’d you say MAPS stands for?

Sal:  Muscular adaptation programming system.

Ben:  And that’s kinda like your adaptation of some of these things that you found when studying…

Sal:  Yes!  And there’s a lot to the program.  But if you were to do a very basic rundown of a full body routine, very, very simple, first off, you’d wanna, if you were looking for maximum muscle gain and strength, you’d wanna focus on the big compound movements.  Your squats, your rows, your pull-ups, your dead-lifts, your overhead press, that kinda stuff.  You wanna do maybe one or two exercises per body part, maybe three sets each, and start with the big body parts and go to the small ones.

A typical workout would be like barbell squat, and then a bench press, and then either a pull up or a row, an overhead press, maybe a bicep or tricep exercise, something for your core, and something for your calves if you want to.  And that’s it.  And then you’re done.  And then you rest on Tuesday or whatever, and you go Wednesday, and you do something very similar, maybe change it up.  So rather than doing a back squat, you might do a front squat, or you may do a deadlift or some other hip movements.

Ben:  You forgot the part about the old timey putting in the vinyl record.  (makes an old parlophone sound effect)

Sal:  That’s true.

Ben:  So on the in-between days, were these guys really just sitting around?  ‘Cause we were talking last night about like Dan John.

Sal:  Great question.

Ben:  I interviewed Dan John, and he’s like, “Dude, watch college football games and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in between three days a week, full body workout, and you’re gonna get swole.”  But in my opinion, for cardiovascular health, and perhaps even boosting recovery, and lymph flow, and blood flow, and everything else, I’m a bigger fan of like sauna, yoga, and walks in the sunshine, and stuff like that on the off days.

Adam:  Active recovery.

Ben:  What do you do on the off days?

Sal:  So couple of things to consider too.  When you look at guys that are just, guys and girls that are just big muscular people, many times the information they’re gonna give you is probably not going to work for you or for most people because these people tend to be genetically gifted.  Their bodies respond very, very, very well to resistance training.  So they can hammer their bodies, relax, hammer their bodies, relax, eat peanut butter jelly sandwiches like you said, and they’ll build muscle, whereas a lot of us may not build as much muscle or we may gain body fat as a result of resting and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  So that’s one thing to consider.

But active recovery is superior to just resting.  Now just resting is important too, but if you’re just run of the mill sore, if I worked out my legs yesterday and they’re little bit sore today, one of the best things I could do is move them again with some low level intensity the following day.  It facilitates recovery.  It actually sends a very small muscle-building signal, or at least it keeps the one that you sent the day before elevated, and so this active recovery is extremely important when it comes to…

Ben:  What do you mean it sends a muscle-building signal?

Sal:  Like again, like you worked out yesterday very, very hard, you sent this loud signal to your body to build muscle…

Ben:  I did one of these like full body routines you described.

Sal:  Yes.  The following day, that signal will start to drop a little bit.  And they find, they show, again like I said, 72 hours usually, it’s down to almost baseline.  If the next day, I do some low level activity, and this is the concept of trigger sessions that we put in the MAPS program, if I do some low level activity the next day, target those muscles, hit them with low intensity, get a little bit of a pump, a little bit of a burn, it facilitates recovery, but it also keep that muscle-building signal loud and clear versus resting and letting that signal start to dampen.

And again, here’s a great example, if I took two people, or two groups of people, and one group of people I had them do squats very heavily, and then the following days I had them walk, and stretch and do light body weight lunges, and the other group of people they hammered their legs, and then they just bed rest for the rest the week, just lay in bed and don’t move, the people on bed rest would lose muscle.  They’d lose muscle and strength within a five day, seven day period, even shorter.  I mean all of us have experienced that where we had to lay down and not move, or had a cast on for a short period of time.  You lose muscle very, very quickly.  So that activity the following days, even though it’s not the same high intensity, tear-up-your-muscles type activity, definitely contributes to adaptation.  It’s important.

Adam:  What did they say?  I think the studies say that it’s after 3 days or so of recovery from training atrophy already begins.

Sal:  Yeah.  I mean the body wants to recover, but it doesn’t always wanna build.  It’s not hard to damage muscle. That’s easy.  Any idiot can do that.

Ben:  Yeah.  What about the use of, this is something I’ve heard, for example, Dr. Rhonda Patrick talk about, the muscle maintenance effect of something like heat.   Like the heat shocked protein response and some of the other, I guess like muscle maintenance effects of doing something like sauna and heat on the off days.

Sal:  Excellent question.  So with heat shocked proteins, to elevate those, you actually need a lot.  You need a lot of heat, you need a lot of exposure, but there are some theories out there saying that it could help with building muscle, with recovery.  My theory on it is this: when it comes to things like extreme temperatures, cold, and heat, and hot, it’s a stress on the body.  And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the years, it’s that stress applied to the body appropriately will elicit an adaptation response, and the body is basically trying to get stronger or tougher, if you will.

Ben:  Hormesis, right?

Sal:  Exactly.  So if I go out and if I go in a sauna too long, I’ll exhaust my body’s ability to adapt and to recover, and I can damage myself.

Ben:  You run out of magazines too.

Sal:  Exactly.  But if I use heat appropriately and elicit that adaptation response, and over time work my way up, just like you do with exercise, you’ll get some adaptations that are favorable to making you stronger and healthier.  And there’s cultures that have used heat and cold for thousands of years.

I know for myself, I’ve recently been using sauna and steam room regularly, and I never have before, and evidence of the adaptation is my heat tolerance is dramatically better.  Like I can go out in the sun, we live in California.  It’s pretty hot there.  I can handle the sun way better than I could before.  I mean, that’s a form of adaptation.  Something happened.

Ben:  Yeah.  I do it almost every day now.

Sal:  Do you?

Ben:  Well, I sweat more, I’m able to handle the heat more, and vascularity goes up too.  So you get an increase in nitric oxide.

Sal:  You get that vasodilation.

Ben:  Yup.  There’s a few crossover benefits…

Sal:  Do you ever alternate with cold.

Ben:  What I do with my sauna practice is I’ll do the infrared sauna, because the infrared sauna takes a really long time to kinda like heat the sauna up, and then I’ll finish up 30 to 40 minutes of that with, I dunno if you guys were running around outside earlier and you saw, but did you guys see the pool house?

Sal:  Yeah, we did.

Adam:  Yeah.

Ben:  Yeah.  So that pool was at 55 degrees.

Sal:  Oh, nice.

Ben:  So I’ll go out there and jump in that, and do like hypoxic underwater swimming responsibly.  No shallow water blackout.

Sal:  Can you explain hypoxic breathing for to us?

Ben:  So normally, like really good hypoxic training to allow for that big increase in nitric oxide sythase and also an activation of what’s called your mammalian dive reflex.  So you get a little bit a vagal nerve tone.  Normally, you’d be looking at holding your breath until it’s pretty uncomfortable.  You getting some diaphragmatic contractions like the (makes a breathing sound effect) .

Sal:  And you wanna swallow water.

Ben:  Right.  Exactly.  And then you come up for breath, and you recover, and you do it again, and you’d preferably want to do that with a partner just in case you did have shallow water blackout.  What I do is kinda like the baby version of that.

So I actually swim back and forth under the water until I feel like I probably should come up for a breath, but before those diaphragmatic contractions begin.  And I just go back and forth about 5 to 10 minutes, coming out for a breath when I need to.  It’s very therapeutic.

Adam:  You do this post-sauna?  You do the sauna and then head over there?

Ben:  Yeah.  You feel like you’re in mommy’s womb, like a little baby.  And there’s something very therapeutic about water.  It’s really interesting.  And then I get out and I don’t get back in the heat, I just allow myself to air dry so my body has to generate some heat.  Get some of that brown fat conversion, the adipose tissue to brown fat conversion to activate the metabolically active fat and heat up.  But when I am doing a normal dry sauna protocol, because the dry sauna heats you up faster than the infrared sauna does, I’ll go dry sauna, the cold shower or cold plunge, back to dry sauna, to cold.

And that’s one of the best ways, in my opinion, to get over jet lag.  Like when you’re travelling a lot, is I’ll Google name of the city that I’m in or name of the hotel that I’m staying at, plus the word sauna, or use like the Google Maps “find near here,” and I’ll find a sauna and just go do sauna to cold plunge, sauna to cold plunge.  Japanese saunas, Turkish saunas, and Russian saunas all typically tend to have a cold pool or one of those little cold showers where, like the old school cold showers where you pull the handle and the water comes out, which is like this big…

Sal:  That’s ball-shrinkingly cold.

Ben:  Yeah.  But that’s the way that I do the hot-cold.

Justin:  Have you messed with cryo at all?  Have you done cryotherapy at all?

Ben:  Yeah.  There’s one down the street from my house, and I like it, but I like water.  I mean cryotherapy is nice ’cause you don’t have to get wet.

Adam:  And it’s quick.

Ben:  You can just put your clothes back on.  Always back to back, right.  So you do the 3 minutes that they’ll let you do, and then you have them measure your skin temperature, and you want the skin temp to get back up to, I think it’s 170, and then they’ll let you back in.  If you do back to back 3 minute sessions, you get a way better cold thermal response.

Adam:  That’s good to know.

Ben:  Like 10 minutes later, I’ll be driving down the street just shivering.  But I still like water because water, like I mentioned that dive reflex, it activates that.  You get the actual compression of the water, the cold against the skin, and from what I understand, that actually deactivates some of the lymph fluid backflow that can occur when you are doing cold without compression.  So cold for recovery should be accompanied by compression in an ideal scenario.

Sal:  So like massage?  What’d you say?

Ben:  What do you mean?

Sal:  For compression?

Ben:  No.  What you would do, for example, is you would get compression gear and put ice packs underneath the compression gear.  Or you would use water, and you would get in the water and the pressure from the actual water, the hydrostatic pressure from the water, forces the cold up against the muscle.

Sal:  Now I would imagine the cold water would probably stimulate that wanting to breathe effect even more.  ‘Cause I get that from a cold shower.

Ben:  Yeah.  That’s what you’re looking for for vagal nerve tone, which you can increase through freaking like chanting, signing, gargling.  There’s all sorts of weird things.

Sal:  Justin gargles.

Justin:  I do that.  It’s my favorite thing.

Ben:  So I wanted to ask you guys, since you are into the whole muscle building thing and we kinda went down that avenue a little bit, you mentioned the word “triggering,” and I wanted to actually ask you what you meant by that.  What do you mean when you say “triggering”?

Sal:  So triggering, the term triggering in the context that we use it is basically you’re triggering a signal to tell the body to adapt in some way.  So in this particular case, we’re talking about building muscle.  So lifting heavy weights intensely triggers a muscle building adaptation, or strength building adaptation.  Running long distances would trigger adaptation, improve endurance.  So that’s the term triggering.  But trigger sessions are something that is very unique to some of the programs that we’ve created, and the concept behind trigger sessions is on the off days, and I’m doing the air quotes here.  On the days that you’re not in the gym, lifting heavy weight, you are doing short 5 to 10 minute trigger sessions throughout the day, up to three a day, of targeted exercises.

So if you have a particular area that you wanna work on, let’s say you want to work on your mid-back or your shoulders, you could target those a little more specifically.  What I like to do and what I tend to advocate is a whole body trigger session ’cause I’m trying to, again, facilitate recovery and maintain that muscle-building signal or keep it elevated from the workout that I did the day before.  It’s very low intensity.  All you’re aiming for is a little bit of a burn, a little bit of a pump in the muscles.

I recommend using bands ’cause bands cause less damage typically than free weights would.  Body weight is okay, but you have to be careful.  Some people don’t have the ability to recover from body weight trigger sessions.  You definitely would.  I use them all the time, but beginners I always recommend bands.  And so you do this several times a day.  So what you’re doing essentially is you’re getting a little pump in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening.

Adam:  Real short too.

Ben:  So I can keep like a band next to my desk for the days that I’m not doing this full body, three-day-a-week routine, and I could do like some presses, some twists, squats?

Sal:  Exactly.

Ben:  Just basic full body movements, but not to failure.  Just like light stuff…

Sal:  Just get a little bit of a burn, a little bit of pump.  Exactly.  And what you notice is you recover faster, you build muscle faster, you burn fat faster…

Adam:  Your energy too.  You made a comment about the way you feel when you’d come out of the sauna.  That’s how I feel after a trigger session.  Right after you get a little 5, 10 minute, just that light pump…

Justin:  Charges you up.

Adam:  It is.  It’s a nice little charge and surge of energy.

Sal:  Think of also, obviously you’re at a very advanced level.  Think about how you can train recruitment patterns. Think about how you can train, like if you’re trying to get a very efficient recruitment pattern for a particular movement like a press, like you have an issue packing your shoulder or elevating your press to lockout, what a great way to use a trigger session.

Justin:  This is typically how I use ’em because I’m working more on skills, like say I’m working on my overhead press, or I’m working like specifically just on improving my squat depth, or something like that, I could actually focus on that more in those days with light weight, but really work on enhancing that technique.

Ben:  Got it.  Cool.  By the way, I think that’s one of the first times that you’ve talked so far.

Justin:  You guys ran the show.

Ben:  That’s hard when we’ve got four guys podcasting, so Sal and Adam have talking a lot.  Justin, not so much.

Justin:  You guys are talking about like hormones and all that.  You can have that.  I’m not into that.

Ben:  You guys are visiting from San Jose.  You came up here to Spokane, you’ll be here a few days, we’ll hopefully go and see the proving ground fights tonight maybe and go have a good time, but when you are on the road like this, how do things change for you?  Like as far as your workouts go, are you all bodyweight, hotel room style workouts? Or do you guys have any unique little twist that you do when travel that you think folks should know about?

Adam:  Sal’s probably the most anal, wouldn’t you say, Justin?

Justin:  For sure.  Yeah.

Ben:  Was Sal the only guy who actually worked out?

Justin:  He is.  He is the only guy.

Adam:  I worked out right before I got on the plane.  So that was like, I had to make sure I established that, but yeah.  If it’s only a couple of days, typically I don’t sweat it too hard.

Justin:  I feel like when we get a chance to do this, this is just fun for me.  We’re up somewhere where I’ve never been before, you get a chance to hang out with you, and even though my workouts and fitness is a priority, that’s why we have a program that’s called “MAPS Anywhere” where I could do it with my bands inside a hotel room, and I have them with me.  I brought ’em.  But it becomes less of a priority for me when it’s a short trip like this.  If we were here for four or five days, I’m not gonna take…

Adam:  I definitely have a plan…

Sal:  So I drove up, right?  So I’ve made this kinda part of a little vacation.  This is kind of the end of it.

Ben:  Oh, you drove here?

Sal:  I drove, yeah.  So I did some kayaking in Lake Tahoe, went to Crater Lake, stopped in Portland, Seattle, now here, and I brought kettlebells with me and about a 5 foot long stick.  So I can do tension movements with the stick, do kettlebell movements, and then at the hotels that I’m at, if they have a gym, I’ll do workouts.

Ben:  What do you mean a stick?

Sal:  Literally [0:56:50] ______ .  So are familiar with like stick mobility and tension…

Ben:  Oh.  You mean like a broom stick?

Sal:  Yes.  Yes.

Ben:  Not like a Johnny Appleseed walking stick…

Sal:  No, no.  Not that.

Doug:  You should use it.

Sal:  You could use that.

Adam:  The old timey training.

Sal:  But I’ll do like tension movements on it, kettlebell exercises.  And I try and do 30 to 45 minutes every single day.  And when I go back to my regular workouts, many times, not only have I not lost any performance, many times I’ve gained performance just ’cause it’s different.

Ben:  Yeah.  And you’re probably a little bit rested and recovered.

Sal:  Yeah.  I mean, I think that’s part of it.  Maybe even more on the road.

Justin:  Well, I find, and I’m curious if you’re like this, typically when I find guys like us that are so passionate about what we do, that if I ever do anything, it’s normally overtraining.  It’s normally not letting my body rest, not letting myself recover.  So I kind of use these type of trips is that excuse to like, “Hey.  You know what?  Let’s focus on business.  Let’s enjoy company.  Let’s kinda rest a little bit.” ‘Cause when I’m home, not to your extent and level, but I’m constantly experimenting with my body, and hammering it on this, and trying that all the time that…

Ben:  Yeah.  You make me sound like a freak, dude.  There’s nothing shoved up my ass or in my, I was showing you guy my little nose dildo earlier, my little laser light for my nose.  Yeah.  What I’d tend to find myself doing when I’m travelling, especially when I know I’m gonna be at like a conference where you wake up in the morning, you wanna to work out, but it doesn’t happen ’cause somebody invited you to breakfast, and then the conference goes all day, and then you’re planning on working on the evening, but it turns out there’s a cocktail hour so you don’t make it to that.

My strategy is I just smash it before I go.  So then you use that for your recovery.  So I’ll take one day before I’ll go to like a conference, and that’ll be a double day where I’ll do like a two-a-day, hard morning, hard evening workout.  You show up, you recover, and then when you come back, you’re fitter a lot of times ’cause you’re super compensated.

Justin:  And that’s exactly how I think I, I mean had a heavy deadlifting and squatting day right before I get up here and I’m still sore from it.  So that’s the way I look at it.

Ben:  Four big muscular guys in my house last night, and my wife had a tiny bowl of chicken.  I think I told her either two or three of you, but either way, the chicken actually didn’t disappear that quickly.  You guys were pretty responsible.  You did manage to polish off a couple bottles of organic wine.

Doug:  We try to be respectful.

Ben:  But, dude, usually I’ll see guys like you just like, honestly, last time I was in Dubai, for example, I went out with a couple of Crossfitters over there, and literally I think they ordered all the beef tartar, and everybody had a whole chicken.  Like the whole freaking chicken.  You know what I’m talking about.

Sal:  I do.

Adam:  ‘Cause protein’s the holy grail, right?

Ben:  Yeah.  What is it with you guys and protein?  ‘Cause I didn’t get the impression that you were  protein-a-holics like a lot of the bigger guys I’ve seen.

Sal:  Now like anything in bodybuilding, they’ll take something that’s got some merit and then they apply the whole, “if this much is good, more is that much better,” which is not true with anything.  I don’t care what it is, and it’s not true with protein either.  Protein intake, the best studies that we have will show an upper limit of benefit from about 0.7, 0.8 grams per pound of body weight.  The guys now…

Ben:  0.7, 0.8 grams per pound?

Sal:  Per pound of body weight.

Adam:  So less than a 1:1 ratio.

Sal:  Less than a 1:1 ratio.

Adam:  So if you’re a 150 pound female, you don’t need a 150 grams of protein.

Sal:  And what happens, I mean any more, of course, you can eat 1 gram per pound of body weight.  You can eat a little bit more.  Is it good for you?  Maybe not in the long term as it can give you lots of negative side effects, maybe not.  Probably not.  Is it gonna give any benefit?  No.  I think you’re missing out on a lot of the benefits of fats, healthy fats, and maybe even carbohydrates for carbohydrate consuming?

Ben:  What about like the aging effect of protein, like ammonia build-up, that kinda stuff?  Do you guys focus on that at all or?

Sal:  When looking at protein, the thing that worries me is this: very, very high protein diets have been losely connected to increased risks of cancer.  It does stimulate the mTOR gene at a very high level, which as we know, helps build muscle but also can cause cancer growth.  So that’s the big one for me.  Eating tons and tons of protein all the time consistently, you’re probably not doing yourself any benefit.  On top of that, these bodybuilders would advocate 2 grams per pound of body weight.  Or 2 and a half!

Adam:  Some of my peers are doing 3.

Ben:  That’s like almost three times as much as what you guys would recommend?

Adam: Yes.

Sal:  Let’s say you’re a 200 pound male, that would be eating 400 to 500 grams of protein every single day.

Adam:  Many of them eat like this, and you have to, it’s hard to get that with whole foods.  So then you end up going over to the processed, right?  You’re eating bars, and you’re getting shakes, and this artificial stuff…

Sal:  Well, that’s why it’s been pushed.  It’s been pushed as truth because the business and companies that run the fitness industry are supplement companies.  And they know if they tell you to eat, if you’re 150 pound female and they’re telling you to eat 300 grams of protein a day, there’s no way in hell that you’re gonna eat 300 grams of food.

Adam:  Yeah.  It’s like 8 to 10 chicken breasts for a girl.

Sal:  Yeah.  You’re gonna be taking four shakes a day.  It just benefits them to promote this myth.  A relatively high protein diet, probably safe for the kidneys which filter protein.  A super high protein diet?  There’s no science. There’s no studies showing 2 and a half, 3 grams of protein per pound of body weight over the course of 5 to 10 years is safe.  And it’s probably not.  It’s probably not good for you.

Ben:  There’s the idea about aging too, right.  Like a protein-restricted modified fasting diet appears to, from what I understand, decrease the…

Sal:  Increase longevity.

Ben:  Yeah.  Decrease the telomere shortening.

Sal:  I know intermittent fasting, protein restriction, definitely.  Calorie restriction in general.  Intermittent fasting gives you a lot of those benefits as well.  So if you’re an athlete that likes to consume the amount of protein to maximize performance, which again is probably around 0.7, 0.8 grams per pound, still high protein but nowhere near what we’ve just talked about, you can get a lot of the longevity benefits from some of these studies by simply incorporating fasting, even when you’re trying to bulk.

And I even say especially when you’re trying to bulk or eating excess calories.  It’s a good idea to throw that fasting day in there.  A matter of fact, we sell a fasting guide.  I think we’re the only three bodybuilder-type dudes…

Adam:  We’d had guys that talk about, “Don’t eat.”

Sal:  Yeah.  That will promote that…

Ben:  Fasting.  That must’ve been easy to write.  “Don’t eat that.”

Adam:  I had a commercial for it.  It’s like all you gotta do is not eat.

Justin:  It’s crazy.

Sal:  But you would be surprised.  People I think think that fasting means “don’t eat, and then he garbage,” or “don’t eat for,” there’s different methods of using fasting.

Ben:  Wear a toga.  Go to the desert.  Meditate.

Sal:  That’s the real way to do it.

Ben:  Chase a scorpion.

Sal:  That’s the legit way to do it.  But, yeah.  If you fast properly, it’ll also improve your sensitivity to protein.  So you may not need as much protein as you think.  Your body just maybe become inefficient at using ’cause you eat so much of it all the time.  Reducing it sometimes might be good.

Adam:  Well I really notice this a lot when I switched over.  So I went ketogenic about six months for the first time ever, and the biggest takeaway that I had from it, ’cause I still enjoy my carbs, I don’t eat a full-blown ketogenic diet now, was it just changed my relationship with carbohydrates and with fats.  For so many years as trainers, I mean we’ve demonized fat.  I mean I remember telling clients, “Oh, don’t even try and get fat in your diet,” when I first started 15 years again.

Justin:  Especially saturated fat.  Watch out.

Ben:  Broccoli, chicken, and rice.

Adam:  Right?

Ben:  Not very much of the rice.

Justin:  6 times a day, by the way.

Adam:  Yeah.  That was the prescription, and I remember when we first talked about it and I was like, “Why would I ever wanna do that?  I eat 4 to 600 grams of carbs and I can still stay lean.  I love that,” which allows me all this flexibility and freedom.  But when I started to replace all the carbohydrates with fat and reduce, I could feel my skin, my hair, my sleep, I didn’t lose strength, I didn’t lose energy like I thought.  I noticed too that now when I would reintroduce carbohydrates, the responsiveness of my body, now when I would have 50 grams of carbs, I would feel those surges.  Where before, I was eating 75 to 100 in almost every meal, and that was just the norm.  I really started to notice a difference.  I could feel it when I went.

So even though I’m not a full-blown ketogenic person right now and I still incorporate carbohydrates in my diet, I see the huge benefits behind that.  This is the type of stuff that we talk about and it’s just, we knew that we would be outside the norm being these meathead guys.  Normally when guys look at us right away, they just…

Justin:  How dare you label us like that.

Adam:  But most people do.  When they see us, they…

Ben:  You’re pretty meathead-y.  Like half facial hair, little bit of facial hair, little bit of a neckbeard going on over there, we got the traps, sleeve tattoos.

Justin:  It’s my best quality.

Sal:  So you’re a relatively muscular guy, especially for being an endurance, “endurance athlete”.  How was your protein intake?  If anybody needs to eat higher protein, believe or not, it’s probably endurance athletes, I would say.

Ben:  Yeah.  That’s interesting you should ask.  I’m actually at about 0.7 grams per pound.  Around that range.

Sal:  Now do you keep it consistent?

Ben:  Around 20 to 30%.  But here’s the deal.  Like I don’t freaking count, and everybody thinks that about me, being like the self-quantification biohacking guy that I’m using like or some special app to count everything.  Like aside from taking my heart rate variability every morning, I don’t quantify that much at all.   You guys were at dinner last night, my wife puts out the chicken and the buckwheat wraps, and the vegetables from the garden, and I eat that.

Lord knows I’m not fessed this morning ’cause I just went out to the garden and threw a crap ton of vegetables in the smoothie, and some coconut oil, and made myself a smoothie, and I have no clue how many carbs were in that, or not or how much fat in the coconut oil.  Literally, don’t tell my wife I told you this, but I just stick my fingers in there, and grab a gob of it, and throw it in the blender.  I don’t count.

Adam:  It’s amazing though when you eat like that though, intuitively, when you’re just making good, healthy choices.  You don’t really have to.  People are blown away with me ’cause I don’t pay attention.  When I’m getting ready for a show, totally different.  When I have to take myself to an unhealthy place and get to 2, 3% body fat, and it takes, which I’m sure you did the same thing too when you competed.  You probably did track and count.  But the rest of the year, like who wants to live like that.  I wanna be able to have a dinner with you and not be like, “Hold on.  Let me pull out my app real quickly.”

Ben:  “What are the macros?”  Don’t be that guy.  So I wanna ask you guys, I wanna do the whole cheesy, round table, ask-a-cool-question-towards-the-end-of-the-podcast thing.  So make it good, guys.

Adam:  No pressure.

Ben:  I know this might be tough to be relatively Spartan-esque on, but what’s the biggest lie, the biggest myth, or the biggest mystery in the fitness industry that you want to debunk right here, right now that maybe you think flies under the radar.

So, not something like not eating for four weeks is gonna put you into starvation mode, but I dunno.  Something maybe folks haven’t heard of or something that’s really near and dear to your heart.

Adam:  Well I think going kinda in that direction of that, there’s this big fear of if we don’t get food for a certain amount of time that our body…

Justin:  You’re gonna lose gains.

Adam:  Our body’s just gonna start metabolizing muscle.  And I don’t think a lot of people realize that the body does not wanna do that.

Ben:  Start peeing out your biceps.

Adam:  Yes.  People really feel this fear of “as soon as I get done with my workout, I gotta get within 20 minute anabolic window…”

Justin:  You gotta get your shake in.

Adam:  You gotta get the shake in.

Ben:  That’s why God made Jamba Juice in health clubs.

Adam:  Right?  So I think that’s probably the biggest one, because maybe this is where I deal a lot with this with bodybuilding, competing, and the 6-Pack bags everyone’s carrying around their food in, it’s so crucial to get it in when they don’t realize how…

Ben:  6-Pack bags tried to sponsor my show, and I told them that they…

Sal:  6-Pack, have you listened to my show?

Ben:  I told them I’m like, “I don’t carry food barely ever.”  Because I eat when it comes in handy, and otherwise I’m just going a long period of time between meals, including my workout.

Adam:  Well, I think you, and I dunno if it was dinner you mentioned this, or maybe it was one of the interviews I was listening to you do, but you did.  You mentioned.  Like an example, like when we travel, a lot of times, I’ll just not eat.  I just won’t eat for a while.

Ben:  And we’re like okay with that.

Adam:  And I don’t come back home with 10 pounds less muscle on me.  And in fact, I feel great.  And I think that’s the big thing that we like to really debunk is that you can be very muscular, you can be strong, and you don’t have to be stuffing your face with food all the time.

Doug:  And everybody wants flexibility.  Talk about the ultimate flexibility when you can just say, “Well, I don’t have to eat right now.”  It’s not like I have to venture out and find this very specific restaurant right now to fit my needs.  Like I can actually go without.

Ben:  Honestly, dude, like going ketogenic on international flights.  That’s one of the…

Sal:  Good luck.

Ben:  ‘Cause you just don’t eat.  You just sit there, you watch your movie, you drink some water.  It simplifies life too.

Justin:  It does!  There’s so much less stress when you, if I ever hear anybody complain like in the competing world, or there are people that are so focused on their aesthetics is, “Oh my God.  We have go pull over and go get this.”  Like why?  You know how much more benefit you get actually for just not doing that?  You’ll get more benefits if you actually probably skip this meal.

Ben:  The gas station stop for the beef jerky and macadamia nuts so you can stay swole?

Justin:  Right!

Adam:  You’re sedentary anyways.  Your body is not needing very much fuel right now.  There’s no need to go fuel it. And so I think that’s something that we try to press, and I try to talk a lot about that you can be buff and you don’t gotta eat all the time.  In fact, I think that’s gotten us, as a population in general, in a lot of trouble.  I think that’s, we’re just a bunch of carb addicts, man.  We’re just addicted to the sugar and that instant rush of carbohydrates.  It’s not essential.  Carbs aren’t.  We don’t necessarily need them.

Ben:  That wasn’t very Spartan-esque.  Okay, Sal.  Biggest myth?

Sal:  Biggest myth?  We covered protein intake, we covered frequent eating being a myth.  I think in the muscle building world, one of the biggest myths is that in order to build particular body parts, especially the arms and the legs, that single joint exercises do them great, when in fact you probably never need to do a curl again if you do you really good pull-ups and rows.

Ben:  I just sold my preacher curl bench on Craig’s List now.

Sal:  Waste your time.  Yeah.  That would be the biggest one.  Focus on movement and skill, and then focus on muscle.  Not the other way around.  Learn how to get good at movements, and you’ll build all the muscle you want.

Ben:  It’s like my underground go to exercise for bigger biceps.  I dunno if you guys saw the keg in my garage.  One of go-to workouts, I carry that around my house 10 times.

Adam:  Do you really?

Ben:  You just set it down in between, do some mobility exercises, pick it back up, carry it around.

Sal:  Well, here’s something I’ve noticed, not to go off topic, but you have a very muscular forearms and hands.  And this, aside from being very attractive [1:11:53] ______ .  I’m not saying you switch hands.

Justin:  Wow.  Double pumper, huh?

Sal:  But when you look at people who have what I like to call real world strength, that’s what you always notice is their hands and their forearms ’cause that’s what connects you to the world.  There’s a lot of guys and girls who are very muscular, weak hands, weak forearms, not very good carry over to the real world.  They can’t grab anything.

Justin:  You’re not using wrist wraps, right?

Ben:  Can’t milk a goat for longer than a minute.  Seriously.

Sal:  Is that what you call it?

Ben:  Yeah.  Exactly.

Adam:  That’s what you call it?

Ben:  No.  I actually have goats and I do milk, but I mean that too.  Justin?

Justin:  Yeah.  So I think for me it’s really just the over intensity factor.  Being an athlete and the coming from that background, just always wanting to exceed and get to that max exertion, that was always just my focus, whereas maybe doing that in spurts and planning it out better where I do that, maybe three times a week.  But I’m doing a low to moderate day in between.  That was like earth shattering for me.

Ben:  You don’t have to crawl out of the gym out…

Justin:  You don’t have to beat yourself up so hard to get what you want.  Like there’s a way to adapt and train your body to get better results without having to hammer yourself.

Ben:  You’re destroying everybody’s Pukey The Clown murals.

Justin:  I will take a dump on Pukey The Clown.

Ben:  And that will be the title of today’s podcast.

Adam:  I love it.

Ben:  How to take a dump on Pukey The Clown.  Hey, thanks guys!  Thanks for coming up.

Sal:  Appreciate having us.

Ben:  I’m looking forward to getting to know you more, to give in a few listens to the Mind Pump Podcast.

Justin:  Awesome.

Ben:  Is it


Ben:  What’ll happen if you go to

Adam:  If you literally Google Mind Pump…

Justin:  The internet’ll explode, probably.

Ben:  ‘Cause if you, used to be, literally some guy, I’m totally not kidding, bent over, wearing a pair of shortie shorts, and up right above him it said, “Enter” Like it was that bad.  I think it’s changed since then, but it was my bane for a while.  That’s why I have bengreenfieldfitness.

Justin:  That’s amazing.

Sal:  Mindpumpmedia is similar.  You just go, it’s got all of our programs on there, and it breaks down the show, talks a little bit about us.  Our show, very informative.  It’s also comedy, we’re also in the comedy category.  It’s very raw.  It’s a very…

Ben:  Old timey!

Justin:  Yeah!

Sal:  Don’t listen to what gets around ’cause it’s a little explicit.

Adam:  Yeah. We’ve been coined as the Howard Stern of fitness.  But don’t worry.  We’re gonna get you on there real soon here.

Justin:  I think so.

Doug:  Grill you a little bit there, buddy.

Ben:  Okay.  I’m game.  I’ll bring my Howard Stern wig.  [1:14:25] ______ with you guys.  Hey, thanks for coming on, you guys.

Sal:  Thanks, Ben.

Adam:  It was fun, man.

Sal:  Appreciate it.

You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.  Go to for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.



Meet the guys from MindPump podcast

The hosts – who traveled all the way up from San Jose to descend upon my my house in Spokane, Washington to record this podcast – claim to “pull back the curtain on the mythology, snake oil and pseudo-science that pervades the fitness industry and present science-backed solutions that result in increased muscular development and performance while simultaneously emphasizing health.”

Take a gander at these fellas…as they seem to have the body composition and transformation equation pretty well figured out. They include…

Sal DiStefano…

Sal was 14 years old when he touched his first weight and from that moment he was hooked. Growing up asthmatic, frequently sick and painfully skinny, Sal saw weightlifting as a way to change his body and his self-image. In the beginning, Sal’s body responded quickly to his training but then his gains slowed and then stopped altogether. Not one to give up easily, he began reading every muscle building publication he could get his hands on to find ways to bust through his plateau. He read Arnold’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding, Mentzer’s Heavy Duty, Kubrick’s Dinosaur Training, and every muscle magazine he could find; Weider’s Muscle and Fitness, Flex, Iron Man and even Muscle Media 2000. Each time he read about a new technique or methodology he would test it out in the gym. At age 18 his passion for the art and science of resistance training was so consuming that he decided to make it his profession and become a personal trainer. By 19 he was managing health clubs and by 22 he owned his own gym. After 17 years as a personal trainer he has dedicated himself to bringing science and TRUTH to the fitness industry.

Adam Schafer

Adam Schafer is a IFBB men’s physique Pro and fitness expert. Adam made his entrance into the fitness world 14 years ago and has continued to send shock waves throughout the community ever since. He is a man of many talents who wears many hats. He is first and foremost a certified fitness expert who has an insatiable desire to help people in need of major lifestyle changes and daily accountable motivation. He is also incredibly driven entrepreneur and business minded individual with a vision that continually challenges his colleagues and peers to think bigger and achieve more.

Justin Andrews…

Justin has an incredible passion to disrupt the personal training industry and create ground breaking programs and tools that fitness professionals and clients alike can benefit from. The fitness industry in general needs a massive face lift to speak more to the generation growing up with a more advanced technology tool kit. Justin’s approach is to create programs that utilize technology as it advances and cut through the millions of options people face everyday when seeking specific information relating to their fitness needs. The great thing about where we are today is how easy it is to access information, the bad part about accessing all this information is how much misinformation is out there to weed through. As a health and fitness professional with a proven track record here in the heart of the Silicon Valley, Justin Andrews will keep working tirelessly to keep people educated and connected to quality personal trainers long into the future.

Doug Egge…

Doug received his first gym membership as a gift from his dad when he was 16 years old. Rocky III had just come out and he was determined to build a body like Stallone. It never happened. Despite following the advice of muscle magazines and busting his butt in the gym, Doug saw minimal gains over the next 30 years. Then he was introduced to Sal Di Stefano by his chiropractor who recommended he work with Sal to eliminate muscle imbalances that were causing lower back issues. Sal’s unique approach, often 180 degrees different from what Doug had read in books and magazines, produced more results in a matter of months than he had experienced in the 30 years prior. Doug with an extensive marketing and media production background, recognized Sal’s unique gift and perspective was missing from the fitness world and suggested that they should join forces. Doug and Sal have since produced life-altering programs such as the No BS 6-Pack Formula and MAPS Anabolic. Doug is very pleased to have the opportunity to work with Adam and Justin as Producer of MindPump.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why bodybuilders are traveling to Kuwait and mysteriously coming back with 20+ pounds of extra muscle…[17:00]

-The truth about underground muscle building supplements like SARMS, Clomid, injectable testosterone and more…[23:20 & 30:10]

-Why old-timey strength training protocols could be the best way to build strength compared to new-school bodybuilding protocols…[34:00 & 41:00]

-How to do an “anabolic triggering session”…[52:00]

-Why you need far less protein than you think…[59:30]

-The biggest myths in the fitness industry…[67:40]

-And much more…







The Mysterious Kuwait Muscle-Building Phenomenon, The Too-Much-Protein Myth, Anabolic Triggering Sessions & More With The MindPump Podcast Crew.


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

Meet the guys from MindPump podcast

The hosts – who traveled all the way up from San Jose to descend upon my my house in Spokane, Washington to record this podcast – claim to “pull back the curtain on the mythology, snake oil and pseudo-science that pervades the fitness industry and present science-backed solutions that result in increased muscular development and performance while simultaneously emphasizing health.”

Take a gander at these fellas…as they seem to have the body composition and transformation equation pretty well figured out. They include…

Sal DiStefano…

Sal was 14 years old when he touched his first weight and from that moment he was hooked. Growing up asthmatic, frequently sick and painfully skinny, Sal saw weightlifting as a way to change his body and his self-image. In the beginning, Sal’s body responded quickly to his training but then his gains slowed and then stopped altogether. Not one to give up easily, he began reading every muscle building publication he could get his hands on to find ways to bust through his plateau. He read Arnold’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding, Mentzer’s Heavy Duty, Kubrick’s Dinosaur Training, and every muscle magazine he could find; Weider’s Muscle and Fitness, Flex, Iron Man and even Muscle Media 2000. Each time he read about a new technique or methodology he would test it out in the gym. At age 18 his passion for the art and science of resistance training was so consuming that he decided to make it his profession and become a personal trainer. By 19 he was managing health clubs and by 22 he owned his own gym. After 17 years as a personal trainer he has dedicated himself to bringing science and TRUTH to the fitness industry.

Adam Schafer…

Adam Schafer is a IFBB men’s physique Pro and fitness expert. Adam made his entrance into the fitness world 14 years ago and has continued to send shock waves throughout the community ever since. He is a man of many talents who wears many hats. He is first and foremost a certified fitness expert who has an insatiable desire to help people in need of major lifestyle changes and daily accountable motivation. He is also incredibly driven entrepreneur and business minded individual with a vision that continually challenges his colleagues and peers to think bigger and achieve more.

Justin Andrews…

Justin has an incredible passion to disrupt the personal training industry and create ground breaking programs and tools that fitness professionals and clients alike can benefit from. The fitness industry in general needs a massive face lift to speak more to the generation growing up with a more advanced technology tool kit. Justin’s approach is to create programs that utilize technology as it advances and cut through the millions of options people face everyday when seeking specific information relating to their fitness needs. The great thing about where we are today is how easy it is to access information, the bad part about accessing all this information is how much misinformation is out there to weed through. As a health and fitness professional with a proven track record here in the heart of the Silicon Valley, Justin Andrews will keep working tirelessly to keep people educated and connected to quality personal trainers long into the future.

Doug Egge…

Doug received his first gym membership as a gift from his dad when he was 16 years old. Rocky III had just come out and he was determined to build a body like Stallone. It never happened. Despite following the advice of muscle magazines and busting his butt in the gym, Doug saw minimal gains over the next 30 years. Then he was introduced to Sal Di Stefano by his chiropractor who recommended he work with Sal to eliminate muscle imbalances that were causing lower back issues. Sal’s unique approach, often 180 degrees different from what Doug had read in books and magazines, produced more results in a matter of months than he had experienced in the 30 years prior. Doug with an extensive marketing and media production background, recognized Sal’s unique gift and perspective was missing from the fitness world and suggested that they should join forces. Doug and Sal have since produced life-altering programs such as the No BS 6-Pack Formula and MAPS Anabolic. Doug is very pleased to have the opportunity to work with Adam and Justin as Producer of MindPump.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why bodybuilders are traveling to Kuwait and mysteriously coming back with 20+ pounds of extra muscle…[17:00]

-The truth about underground muscle building supplements like SARMS, Clomid, injectable testosterone and more…[23:20 & 30:10]

-Why old-timey strength training protocols could be the best way to build strength compared to new-school bodybuilding protocols…[34:00 & 41:00]

-How to do an “anabolic triggering session”…[52:00]

-Why you need far less protein than you think…[59:30]

-The biggest myths in the fitness industry…[67:40]

-And much more…

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

[Transcript] – The Best Time Of Day To Exercise, Have Sex, Take Supplements, Read A Book, Take A Nap & More!

Podcast from

[0:00] Introduction/

[2:03] Camel Milk


[5:15] Introduction to this Episode

[10:35] Why Ben is Now Having Sex in the Morning and Coffee in the Afternoon

[11:39] Researched History on Chronobiology

[16:10] Chronotypes: Lions, Bears, Dolphins, Wolves/ Chronotype Quiz

[22:01] How Your Chronobiology Can Affect When You Should Take Supplements or Medications

[25:23] When Is The Best Time of The Day To Drink Alcohol and Coffee Based On Your Chronotype

[32:10] Why Thomas Edison Created The Most Disruptive Event in the History of Bio-time

[35:35] When is The Best Time to Have Sex and How to “Sync Up” With Your Partner Based on Chronobiology

[39:25] When is The Best Time of The Day For Cardiovascular Exercise, Yoga, and Weight Training

[51:00] Dr. Breus’s Most Potent and Effective Jet Lag Tips

[59:47] What’s The Deal with Daylight Saving Time

[1:04:11.6] End Of Podcast

Ben:  (Ben is singing) Unique New York, unique New York.  The Human Torch was denied a bank loan.  The Human Torch was denied a bank loan.  How now brown cow.  The arsonist has oddly shaped feet.  Oddly shaped… I guess any of you who have not seen Anchor Man with round burgundy are missing.  Joke.  It’s my warm up.  So I warm up my voice.  This is Ben Greenfield.  Back at ‘yah with another podcast.  Perhaps I’m a little too bored this morning.  But not bored enough to not be shopping for nuts.  That was a double negative.

Now seriously, I actually went to this website this morning.,  The sponsor of today’s show, and I realized that not only can you get more than just nuts there like I’ve talked about before, right, seeds which are technically not a nut, herbs and spices, salts, this one is quite interesting.  You can get a very wide assortment of salts there.  Dried fruits and I’ve talked about some of their really good dried pears and dried figs, but check this out, they’ve even got mushrooms and truffles.  Seriously, you can buy dried porcini mushrooms, or dried wood ear mushrooms, or I like this one, hen of the woods, hen of the woods.  I could’ve used that from my voice warm up this morning.  Maitakae, that’s also known as Maitakae.

So, you can actually get all these mushrooms ordered straight to your house along with nut, fruits, salts of wide variety.  It’s a fun website.  And here’s the cool thing.  When you order from, you actually can get a special package of 4 free samples.  That’s a $15 value if you go to  That’s if I can spit it out., you get 4 free samples with your order.  You can get anything you want.  Stay away from the chocolate covered ones because they’re too addictive.  You don’t need that, you know.  Okay.

This podcast is also brought to you by… don’t laugh because I’ve drank it.  Camel milk.  I’m serious.  I’ve talked about before on the show how I like colostrum.  This stuff called colostrum, it helps to heal the body and enhance muscle protein synthesis and wound healing, and cartilage formation.  Well, camel milk operates very, very similarly.  It actually tastes really good.  They send me a bunch and I’ve put them in our refrigerator, and it disappeared fast.  My kids loved it, I drink it, and camel milk is actually extremely biocompatible with the human body.

It has higher levels of amino acids than cow’s milk.  It has naturally huge levels of electrolytes, it’s got high levels of immunoglobulins.  It’s just antibodies that protect your immune system.  It is extremely anti-inflammatory unlike the milk that you buy at the grocery store which is actually inflammatory, it’s got huge levels of lactoferrin which can prevent bacterial growth, and has some really cool antiviral and antifungal properties, and plays a very important role even in the healing of wounds.  It stimulates cytokine production which helps to mediate and regulate immunity and inflammation.

The list goes on and on, and on, and the cool things is people who have allergies to whey in cow’s milk, or whey protein isolate, or cow’s milk in general, or dairy in general, they’re not allergic to camel milk because it only carries what’s called the A2 protein in dairy.  It was called the beta casein protein in dairy.  That’s the non-allergenic form.

So, this podcast is brought to you by… brace yourself, I’ll make this quick.  One hundred percent raw, non-homogenized, Paleo-certified, gluten-free certified, facility of non-GMO feed, soy and corporate feed, no hormones or additives, pasture raised, product of the USA, farm bottled in Missouri, wooh hoooh!  Camel’s milk.  And you can get it at  Use code ‘Ben20’ for 20% off.  That’s  Use code ‘Ben20’ for 20% off.

And finally, this podcast is brought to you by something that was smeared all over inside my mouth last night.  Go where you want with that.  Actually, MCT oil toothpaste.  Not kidding.  I’ve been using cacao mint.  Delicious, cacao mint flavored MCT oil toothpaste with things like bentonite clay, and reinvigorating theobromine in it, and it’s got this really fresh taste, no fluoride, no xylitol, corn-free, soy-free, GMO-free, gluten-free, and it comes in this really cool metal, that’s right, the old school metal toothpaste tube.  It even has like this reusable metal key that comes along with it that let’s you wind up the toothpaste from the tube.  Seriously, this is like the Cadillac of toothpaste.  It is made by Onnit, O-n-n-i-t dot com/ben10.  Get you 10% off this toothpaste or anything else,  Ten percent off supplements, foods, and MCT oil toothpaste.

Now, you are about to hear an interview that I found quite fascinating that made me start having sex in the morning, and drinking coffee at night.  I leave you with that.  Enjoy!

In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

“If you time them and you stick to that time, your whole body is much more consistent.  And it’s just like any machine, the more consistently you use it, the more it will produce for you.”  “The biggest thing that I get from people is ‘I’m a lion, I’m up at 5:30.  Why can’t I go for a run, Michael, and why shouldn’t I be working out and up.  Nobody else is awake.’ That actually is a great time for you to be creative.  That’s a good time for you to plan out your day.  When you’re starting to get tired around 3:30, 4 o’clock in the afternoon, if you can, then go workout then.  You’ll actually get an extra boost of energy that’ll help carry you through.”

He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness.  His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance.  He is Ben Greenfield.  “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…”  All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.

Ben:  Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield, and I have a question for you.  It’s not a trick question, it’s not a cocktail party question, or maybe it is, but it is this: do you know your chronotype?  Your chronotype?  Until 2 weeks ago, not only did I not know my chronotype but I actually wasn’t quite sure what a chronotype was.  And it turns out, I am what is called, based on the opinion of my guest today, and the research that he’s done, a lion chronotype.  With actually a tendency to delve quite heavily into bear category.  I’m right on the edge of being a lion.

And if you’re listening in, you might be a wolf, in which case Michael Breus is my podcast guest, as you should try working out at 6pm and not 6am or maybe you’re a lion like me in which case having a wine, or a beer, or a cocktail, pretty close to one of recording this episode between about 5:30 and 7:30pm, will minimize your chances of sleep disruption from alcohol, or you might be a dolphin which means you should actually schedule any big presentations or work tasks for around 4pm, or you could be a bear in which case if you shift dinner from like 6-7:30pm, could accelerate fat loss or stave off late night snacking.  All sorts of interesting tips that I picked up when reading Michael’s new book called “The Power of When”, and actually it’s got quite a subtitle, “The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype and The Best Type to Eat Lunch, Ask for Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More”.  You’ve worn out anybody by the way that’s supposed to do all those things at the same time?

Michael:  I really hope not.

Ben:  It could be awkward.

Michael:  I mean, you’d have to be having sex with your boss while eating lunch, typing and taking some form of medication.  I guess it’s possible, but…

Ben:  You could pull it off.

Michael:  You might be able to, I…

Ben:  You have to be equipped with one of those old school machines where there’s like the guy in the parade playing an instrument at the same time.  That type of thing.  Well Michael, I know you’re a sleep expert.  You have a private practice where you worked with a lot of athletes and celebrities, and I know you trained sleep doctors.  I think it’s kinda cool that you work with airlines, and hotel chains, and mattress manufacturers, and you developed CDs for hotels that help people fall asleep, and I know I think you’re on Dr. Oz Show this morning?

Michael:  Yup.  Actually yesterday I was on the Dr. Oz Show. Yeah.

Ben:  So you get around when it comes to sleep and this book is kind of a cool, little, you know, I like this book that fall into the life hacking category.  And this one definitely does.  So, first of all of course, the most important question, are we – you and I, based on our chronotype, are we actually recording this interview at the correct time of the day?

Michael:  Well, I’m a wolf.  So this is a perfect time of day for me, and you’re a lion, so you’re moving more into the kinda groggy greatness.  So like, this would be a great time, you won’t necessarily be super analytical right now, but you’ll be a lot of fun.  You’ll be relaxed and you’ll be ready to take on new ideas, your brainstorming is great for you about this time of the day, but for me, this is my more ‘analytical kinda get to it.’  So actually, this is a perfect time between the two of us.

Ben:  And I just finished carrying a sandbag around because I’ve got the page pull it over in your book where towards the end of the book, you have this cool, and if you’re gonna just skip the whole book, not that I recommend that and put to the very end of the book, there’s a master clock for each graphic, and you say that one of my best time as I train for strength is at 1600 hours which based on my non-military training calculations is 4pm.  I actually just finished a sandbag-based workout, and you’re gonna be proud of me.  Not for a TMI but I had sex this morning…

Michael:  Perfect.

Ben:  I’ve been having sex in the morning instead of in the evening.  My wife loves it.  She’s getting used to it.  We actually matched up our chronotypes, and this is not super non-romantic based off of not reading the book, but we figured out that we actually have pretty enjoyable sex like between about 8 and 10am.  She’s more of a wolf, I’m a little bit more of a lion, and then I also, because I learned in your book that lion releases so much cortisol in the morning that for me to be drinking coffee in the morning, I’m almost wasting the cortisol that coffee is giving me, so I switched 3 days ago, I ordered a bunch of bags of decaf.  I switched to decaf, so now I’m doing a big cup of decaf coffee in the morning, and I’m having a little bit of coffee in the afternoon, after my nap when my energy kinda naturally slumps a little bit.

Michael:  Right.  See?  You’re really taking this thing full bore.  I love it!

Ben:  Yeah.  I like to implement.  I’m a man of action.  Where this stuff come from in the first place? ‘Cause I hadn’t heard of chronobiology that much.  I know it’s not like a woo concept but what’s the research history on this stuff?

Michael:  Sure!  So, approximately 15 years ago was when we started to see research in this particular come out.  And chronotypes are nothing new in a certain sense.  Everybody out there has heard of chronotypes.  So, everybody out there has probably heard of early bird or a night owl, right?  And that’s a popular vernacular for what I call a lion or a wolf.  So here is kinda how the whole thing started out, is I’ve been practicing for 16 years.  I’ve been actively practicing as a sleep specialist, I’ve a PhD in Clinical Psychology, and I’m board certified in clinical sleep disorders, and my specialty is insomnia.  And I enjoy working with my insomnia patients.  It’s hard, but it’s good work.

In about 2 and a half, 3 years ago, I had a couple of patients and quite frankly my techniques won’t working.  And I’m not a big drug guy, supplements I think can be used sparingly but it can be quite effective, but I’m not a big pharmaceutical fan.  And so, I try to do everything without that, and whatever I tried on this one woman in particular, didn’t work very well.

And so, I’m kinda like a dog with a bone.  I wanted to dig in and check it out.  And so, I said, “Why, explain more to me,” and she said, “It’s not that I have a hard time falling asleep, and it’s not that I have a hard time staying asleep,” she said, “I sleep at the wrong times,” and I was like, “Alright, hold on.  I got a 12 year old, and I got a 14 year old, and both of them do the same thing.  If it was up to them, they’d go to bed at 1 and they’d sleep until 11, right?”  And so, I started talking with her about it, and I said, “Well, if you could have your ultimately work schedule, what would it be?”  And she said, “I wouldn’t get into work until like 9 and I would stay until 7.”  And I said, “Well, what’s going on at work?” and she said, “I’m about to get fired.”  And she was serious.

I called her boss and he said he’s feed up with that she came in late all the time.  She would fall asleep in the morning meetings.  She wasn’t being productive.  He didn’t know what was wrong with her, but he liked her as a person.  And he thought that she was a great employee and he wanted to keep her, but he just wasn’t sure if he’s gonna be able to.

So I said, “Let’s do an experiment,” I said, “Let’s have her come in 2 hours later and leave 2 hours later, and let’s do this for 7-10 days and see what happens.”  And at the end of the 10 days, we spoke and he said, “She is alert.  She is responsive, she is productive, she gets involved in meetings now.  I don’t have to worry about her at all.”  He said, “It’s fantastic.”

And I was really surprised ‘cause I talked to some of her family members and they’re all like, “Oh, mom’s so much nicer person to be around now.”  She got along better with her family, with her partner, with her kids, like it was unbelievable.

And so I said, “Okay, so there must be a little bit more to this and that’s why I really started to dig in to the literature because we know that the ‘early bird types’ and the ‘late night types’ only make up about 15% of the population in each one of those categories.  So there’s 70% of the population that were still out there.

Ben:  Really?  So there’s no people that are ‘early birds’ or ‘night owls’ but I guess I’ve always thought everybody was either an ‘early bird’ or a ‘night owl’, and what you’re saying is not the case.

Michael:  Nope.  That is not the case actually.  So it turns out that this is based on genetics.  The PER3 and the PER2 genes, the length of those genes determines your sleep drive and also determines the timing of your sleep.  And that’s all what a chronotype is.  It’s a classification of the timing of your sleep patterns.

Ben:  Would that influence sleep length as well? Like is that the gene responsible for guys like Bill Clinton, saying that he can sleep 4 hours and he’s just fine?

Michael:  Right, exactly.

Ben:  Okay.

Michael:  And you could actually if you really wanted to, you could go and test it.  I mean, it wouldn’t probably cost a gazillion bucks, but you could definitely go in and do some of that kind of genetic work.

Ben:  You can’t just do a 23andMe or something like that?

Michael:  I actually did a 23andMe and I didn’t see it on there, but I wanna get in touch with them, and see if we could ‘cause that would be really cool. Be able to tell your sleep genes… that’ll be a lot of fun.  I know that they do one thing for restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movements genetically, but I don’t know if they’ve…

Ben:  Ahh!  Why can’t they do the useful stuff?

Michael:  I know, right.  (chuckles)

Ben:  I mean, not that I’m [15:45.7] ______that they’re insensitive by a restless leg syndrome, but seriously this sleep thing would be super interesting.

Michael:  Yeah, for sure.  For sure.  So, I started digging into the literature trying to figure this stuff out.  And so what I discovered was that historically that was the only two things that ever got measured, was early morning and a late evening.  And it was called the morningness or an eveningness sort of productivity, and I just didn’t buy it.  I didn’t think it was the only thing that was out there, and so digging more, and digging more, and what I discovered was there was actually 4 types.

So, there’s early morning people that I call a lion, and that’s what you are.  And so my lion’s actually, and I developed an assessment tool so that people could figure this out.  So anybody that’s listening if they wanna go to, you can figure out what – it’s free, you can get the report, you get the whole thing.  But my lions are very interesting people.  So, they’re my early risers, they’re my go-getters.  These are the COOs.  Often times they’re my entrepreneurs.  These are the people that like to go from A to B to C and like to get it done and accomplish tasks.  They love to work and what’s interesting is on the social side of things, sometimes they feel a little alienated because they can’t stay up that late.  A lot of my lions get to bed at 9:30 at night and they’re like dinner to movie? Are you kidding me?  Like they can barely make it through dinner.

Ben:  Yeah.  Yup.

Michael:  And so, that in of itself is kinda interesting aspect to lions.  And a lot of people have what we call lion envy.  They wish that they could get up that early and be that productive, and not miss on sleep.

Ben:  I have whatever opposite line envy would be is when my wife is able to sleep in and what I mean with sleeping in means like 8am, my wife is able to sleep until 8am and I’m up at 5:30am wishing I hadn’t gone to bed at midnight.

Michael:  Yeah, you’re the classis lion by every strange imagination.

Ben:  Right, right.

Michael:  So lions are my early folks, then in between are my bears.  And so bears are more extroverted, they’re this affable, lovable character type of person.  These are the people that you sit down with on lunch and they’ve always got a funny story to tell, or they know all the gossip at work.  Bears like to get things done but they like to play as well.  So bears have a really decent work/life balance if you will.  They like to play hard, they like to work hard.  These are the people who are standing at the keg passing out the beer or buying drinks at the bar but they’re really the glue that kinda keeps society together.

Then we have the late night people which I call wolves.  And I chose wolf as a representation ‘cause wolves are actually the very nocturnal creatures.  And they hunt at night, they’ll loners.  And my wolves are my loners.  These are the people that are highly creative.  These are my artists, and my writers, and my actors, and my musicians.  They’re very introverted people generally speaking because you know what?  Society really doesn’t know what to do with these people, right?

Ben:  Yeah.  Well, I actually have two friends who had fallen into that category.

Michael:  Okay.

Ben:  Both of which have been on this podcast.  Tai Lopez, who when I go and visit him in LA, it’s so annoying because I found it hard to hang out with him ‘cause he has breakfast at like 2pm, and then he will be getting ready for dinner at about 10:30pm, right, to head out for dinner.

Michael:  Yup.

Ben:  And while I’m wearing my blue light blocking glasses, taking melatonin and you know, (laughs) curling up to go to bed.  And then, Tim Ferriss is another guy who will begin writing book at midnight, and write from midnight until 4am or 5am when he says he has the most productivity, and again, I’ve always and I’ve even been guilty of telling these guys that perhaps they’re breaking their circadian rhythms, but it sounds like what you’re saying is that that is their chronobiology.

Michael:  It is actually.  They’re actually believe it or not, they’re following their circadian rhythms.  Now, some people are super, super wolves.  Tim Ferriss sounds like he would kind of be a super wolf because he does all that stuff super late at night, but it’s pretty interesting, there’s a fourth category also by the way, and I call them dolphins.

And I use dolphins as a representation because many people don’t know but dolphins sleep unihemispherically.  So half of their brain is asleep while the other half is awake and looking for predators and swimming.  And I thought that was a great representation of my insomnia patients, and so these are my highly intelligent people, type A personalities for sure, but sometimes they’ve got a little bit of obsessive compulsiveness to them, and they can’t get out of their own way.  They’re obsessed with the details, a lot of times they’re not as productive as they want to be because they’re getting frazzled by the morning.  And they’re not great sleepers by the way, and so their sleep deprivation can really take a toll on them.

So anyway, got to the point of creating this assessment tool which is again the quiz and once I had the quiz, and I could kinda figure out what people were, I had remembered that this woman, her family said that they liked her better that she was in a better mood and she was nicer, and she was more productive, and all these things.  So I said, if I know your chronotype, then I actually know your hormone balance going on a 24 hour cycle because we know that hormones actually work on a fairly fixed circadian rhythm depending upon what the hormone is: testosterone, estrogen, progesterone.  Neurotransmitters is the same way, serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine.

So then I decide to match those substances with activities for your chronotype.  And I thought just this will be kind of a fun interesting exercises, and it turned out to be, I literally found over 350 studies out there that have started to look at different aspects of this.  So this is a super, well documented thing, and the research is really been only going on for about the past 15 years which is when I started to practice.  So it’s kinda been something that I’ve been keeping my eye on the outside of it, and the really interesting research that’s going with this that I think really kinda spike everybody’s interest was the research with cancer patients.  And so, what they discovered was that if they supply people with chemotherapy at very particular times in their circadian cycle, it was actually more effective.

Ben:  Interesting.  Yeah, I remember that part in the book where you talked about, you have a section in the book that is the best time to take medications, and also the best time to be vaccinated.  And I know that there are a few people probably who are trying to scream and leave through the podcast right now saying, “There’s no good time to get vaccinated.”  Mercury.  But in terms of this idea behind how people respond best to medications, or to supplements, how does that work exactly?

Michael:  And so, I’m glad you actually brought that point up.  So number 1, I’m not a vaccination person, but there are a lot of people out there who do get vaccinated, and so the reason that I have that in the book is for those people who wanna walk down that path, at least I wanna show them the research that’s been there.  My feelings about that are not proposed based on the fact that I have it as a category here in the book.  But you’re very astute to realize that what I’m trying to accomplish here is get people to understand that there actually is a right time to actually take medications, and to do these types of things, so it’s kinda fascinating.  I’m gonna turn to that section in the book right now because it’s so chock full of stuff.  Honestly, if I try to keep 250 studies in my head…

Ben:  It’s an extremely intense book.  Page 160 for example, so my method when I take a book, and if you guys follow me on Snapchat, you know this because as I read, I read 5-10 books a week, and I’m constantly underlining, and then I take photos on Snapchat for anybody who follows me on Snapchat, you always see what I encircle first.  And is my unashamed promo that I’m gonna throw in right there.  But anyways, you have on page 160 for example, the best time to take a pill.

Michael:  Yes.  Absolutely.  So when you take a look at those types of things, different medications are… let me back up for a second.  So when you look at doctors historically and they say, “Take this twice a day,” what do people generally do?  They take it in the morning when they wake up, and they take it in the evening when they go to sleep.  And if they say, “Take it three times a day,” what do they do? They take it with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  You know, the number one, when you look at the half-life of the medications and you start to understand what’s going on.  Number one, disease doesn’t work on that schedule, right?

Disease has a circadian rhythm of its own.  All disease has different circadian rhythms of their own in which they are growing and then they subside, and then they grow, and they subside.  And so, being able to look at the situation that’s going on and placing the appropriate pharmaceutical supplement, what have you in conjunction with the situation can actually help the situation in terms of healing.  So it gets really interesting really quickly, when you look at things like I’ve got in here something on arthritis.  We know the joints are stiff between 8 and 11am ‘cause your immune system goes into overdrive at night increasing inflammation, right?  So, we understand more about why we’ve got stiff joints in the morning.  Things like asthma attacks are actually on a very circadian cycle.  They happen between 4 and 6am, so if you have children who have asthma, be sure that you’ve got a puffer on their night stand because you may wake up in the middle of the night and hear them gasping and it’s 4 o’clock in the morning.

Ben:  Sorry to interrupt but if you look at something like the realm of natural remedy.  And so like arthritis or asthma from what I understand both can respond relatively well to something like fish oil.  Does this mean for example, if you’re more susceptible to arthritic attacks or the effects of asthma in the wee hours of the morning, but you’re taking say, fish oil with breakfast, you might shoot it to…

Michael:  Actually, dude, you’re right there!  You get it!  Exactly.  You should be taking a fish oil at night.

Ben:  I could have written the book.  I’m tellin’ you right now.

Michael:  (laughs)

Ben:  What about the one about… I believe you talked about like mice and their response to ethanol.  Like a poisonous ethanol solution and how they responded depending on the time of the day that they were injected with this solution in a different way based on their circadian biology.

Michael:  Yeah.  So alcohol is really interesting in general.  So, there’s a reason that they call it happy hour (laughs) because your circadian rhythms are such that you will actually be happier when you have ethanol in your system at a particular time.  So, there was a really interesting study where they took I think it was mice actually, and they gave them alcohol in early morning, and then they look at them across a period of time.  Actually I think these were humans, and what they found was is that, if you wanna  be buzzed all day, drink  2 bloody marys and 2 mimosas in the morning, and you will stay buzzed much longer than if you drank 2 mimosas in the afternoon or evening.  And some of that has to do with your metabolic process and some of that has to do with your circadian rhythmicity, and how are you processing the alcohol, where is it going in your head, what’s going on in your head, that kinda stuff.

So, it’s pretty amazing actually (chuckles).  There’s almost nothing, my favorite one is coffee because so many people drink coffee.  And you already said, you’ve switch to decaf in the mornings because you’re starting to realized that you can actually, ‘cause all you’re doing is double dipping your cortisol so much more powerful than caffeine, and that what’s wake you up in the morning.  So, if you wait to have your cup of coffee about maybe 2, 2 and a half hours after you wake up, you’ll be surprised ‘cause that’s when the cortisol is coming down, and then it can give you that lift again and then you’re so much better off.

Ben:  But that’s because I am a lion.  What about like a wolf? Would that mean that a wolf would want to have their caffeine when they wake up even if that’s noon?

Michael:  No, and it wouldn’t.  They would really wanna wait this 2 and a half hours ‘cause it’s here where it gets interesting.  So the cortisol rhythm is the same in terms of when it starts when you wake up, but you’d wake up at different times is based on your chronotype, right?  So a lion can wake up at 5:30, whereas a wolf might wanna wake up at 8 or 8:30, right? And they, you take 2 hours…

Ben:  Okay, got it.  So, no matter what chronotype you are, you wait a couple of hours at least for the cortisol to subside.  So like mid-morning or if you wanted to like early afternoon for example, which is actually what I’ve been doing, would be your coffee time.

Michael:  It’s kind of like when you’re running a race, okay?  So if you even watched like the Olympics were just done, and you watched them and you notice how on some of them, they’re staggered and they’re starched, as they go around the corner, there’s one person and then 10 yards there’s another one, and then 10 yards another one before the gun goes off, that’s kind of like chronotypes.  And so the lion is all the way at the front and wolf is all the way at the back, and once the thing yells start, then you kind of follow your chrono-rhythm like with cortisol and again we start to see a dip about 2 hours after anybody wakes up depending upon the time you wake up.

Ben:  Interesting.  And then back to wolves, even though every circadian type, every chronotype should wait to have the coffee, you mentioned how alcohol in particular is quite detrimental to the wolf.  Why is that?

Michael:  So when you take a look at wolves in general, number one is, so okay.  So, let me back out for a second.  And so when you look at a wolf in general, these are the people, just to remind everybody, like to get up late, their like the Tim Ferriss’s of the world, they’re up late, late, late at night.  And so, one of the things that happens with wolves in particular is that their ability to metabolize alcohol is less because there’s enough time in the day, right? And so they’re drinking late and they’re staying up late and then they have to wake up the next day at their normal time.

And so, a lot of times they have to metabolize all the alcohol out of their system which is part of the reason that they have a hangover.  Also, we know that alcohol keeps you out of the stages 3 and 4 sleep which is the physically restorative sleep.  Also alcohol is a diuretic and especially for wolves who are not big water drinkers to begin with, they’re already a little bit dehydrated.  They drink alcohol, you know, once you break the seal, you start peeing, you’re gonna be peeing all night long, you become dehydrated, you fall asleep where in some cases pass out, and then you’re kind of on this wheel because your brain isn’t getting through all the alcohol quick enough because you have to get up at a particular time.  So wolves kinda have the worst of all of the categories as far as drinking is concern.

Ben:  Got you.  And it’s part of that based off of this enzyme that you talked about.  This alcohol dehydrogenase?

Michael:  Yes.  Absolutely.

Ben:  Okay.  So basically you would make more alcohol dehydrogenase in the evenings versus the mornings, so you break down alcohol more quickly in the evenings no matter what chronotype you are, but if you are a wolf, just because of your lifestyle that alcohol is gonna be hanging around in your bloodstream more at night.  And so, of all the chronotypes, a wolf would wanna be the most careful with their alcohol consumption?

Michael:  That’s exactly right.  And that explains why when people drink earlier in the day, it actually last longer.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  Now, I wanna back out for a second because there were couple other questions that I wanted to ask you when you were talking about just a whole lion, bear, dolphin, wolf thing in the first place.  First is that, this quiz.  You of course have the quiz and I’ll link to it by the way.  Everything you guys are listening to, just go to, and I’ll link to everything that Michael and I talked about.  But in addition to the quiz you talked about, I guess a more scientific way of potentially determining your chronobiology based on temperature.  Can you go on to how one would do that?

Michael:  Sure.  So if you wanna get really into it, you can start taking your regular temperature, and what we see is we know that the core body temperature rise and falls at very particular times.  And that’s what actually runs your sleep cycle.  So many people out there may not realized that your sleep cycle is completely based on your core body temperature cycle.  So if you wanted to, you could actually get your temperature every hour that you’re awake, and throughout the night right before you’re about ready to go to sleep.  And what you start to see is you start to see the fall in core body temperature and then you can actually match up to your chronotype.

Ben:  Okay.  And you have instructions for that in the book?

Michael:  I do.

Ben:  By using a basic oral thermometer.

Michael:  Yeah, you can use that or an ear thermometer’s probably a little bit more accurate.  The most accurate would be a rectal thermometer but I don’t think anybody’s out there gonna do that.

Ben:  Well, I mean honestly, if you’re not drinking a cup of coffee anyways, a rectal thermometer might be a good pick-me-up in the morning.

Michael:  (laughs)

Ben:  When you wake up it’s like the coffee enema we’ve talked about before on the show.

Michael:  Oh dear.  Not going there…

Ben:  Okay.  Yeah, we don’t go there for now.  I won’t ask you about whether it’s better for a wolf or a dolphin to stick coffee up their butt.

Michael:  I will not answer that question.

Ben:  But, I do want to ask you, and this has nothing to do with sticking coffee up your butt, about Thomas Edison.

Michael:  Oh yeah.

Ben:  Because you talk about when you discuss the history of bio-time and kinda like how we went to all this in the first place, you say that the most disruptive event in the history of bio-time occurred in 1879 with Thomas Edison.  What exactly was that and why?

Michael:  Yeah.  It was the event of the light bulb.  So, what he did was he made it so that everybody could change their bio-time socially, right?  And so as soon as we have the light bulb, you could stay up late.  You could work, you could party, you could hang out with your friends, you could do all these different things.  And so everything became very, very different at once when the light bulb was invented.

The second big thing that affected bio-time quite a bit was the event of mass transportation across long distances.  The ability to fly, trains, steam engines, things like that where your brain started in one time zone, your body ends up in another one and your brain hasn’t have the chance to catch up yet.  Naturally, your body will catch up approximately one time zone per day, but having being able to go from LA to New York, and cross three time zones, your brain doesn’t necessarily have a chance to catch up.

So the light bulb was certainly the most disruptive.  And what’s really interesting is if you look back at Thomas Edison’s quotes about sleep, you find that he said, You know that “As the future comes forward men will need less and less sleep,” he thought sleep was a complete waste of time which I find fascinating because now when you look at the research, sleep is arguably the most critical thing other than eating that you can do, and obviously breathing.  But you can’t do anything without a good night sleep.  It affects every organ system, every disease state.  If you’re thinking about wellness, if you’re thinking about health, if you’re thinking about any of those things, you can’t do it without sleep.

Ben:  That would be interesting to see if he had that gene you’re talking about that PER gene.

Michael:  I know.

Ben:  So maybe he didn’t give a crap about sleep ‘cause he can’t get away with 4 hours of sleep a night.  By the way…

Michael:  Maybe he was like a lion that had a very low sleep drive and he was like a Donald Trump.  He only sleep in 3, 4 hours a night.

Ben:  Have you heard about how people who have that gene that makes it so, they’re able to I guess go through their normal 90 minutes sleep cycle.  I guess from what I understand they achieved that sleep cycle more quickly and go through more sleep cycles during the night.  Have you heard that they also tend to have more lucid dreaming and night terrors or is that just urban legends?

Michael:  You know, I actually don’t know the answer to that question.  It’s definitely something that we can think through.  Lucid dreaming is a skill set that you can and almost anybody can develop.  I’ve had lucid dreams before, and it’s funny I oftentimes have people asked me, is there a way to train yourself to become a lucid dreamer?  And there are a couple of people on the internet who claimed to be able to do that.  I’ve never try any of their course or anything like that.  I would argue that the people that would probably be the most likely to be lucid dreamers through the chronotypes would probably be wolves, and that would be because wolves have a tendency to sleep more than all of the other chronotypes.  They just sleep at their own times.

Ben:  Okay, got it.  That make sense.  Okay.  So I wanna ask you some more questions about chronobiology.

Michael:  Sure

Ben:  Obviously, you talked about a lot of stuff in the book when it comes to everything from like you mentioned, like vaccinations and you get in to things that honestly, we probably won’t talk about on this show like asking for a raise or negotiating at work.  Not that that stuff is not important, but I wanted to kinda focus on more on the health related stuff.

Michael:  Sure!

Ben:  So, let’s start with this.  Let’s start with the good stuff.  If you have a whole sex chart in the book.

Michael:  I do.

Ben:  Like I mentioned and the best time to have sex.  So, get into this.

Michael:  Absolutely.

Ben:  Why is it that different people have a different best time to have sex?

Michael:  So first of all, we need to look at when are people actually are having sex on a regular basis and what’s really interesting is roughly 72% of the time actually is not because people are feeling desirous, it’s that they’re already in bed, their work schedule is consistent with their bed partner or their bed partner just happens to be available.  So literally only…

Ben:  Guilty as charged.

Michael:  Right!  You know, you get in bed, you got less clothing on, your partner’s right there and you’ll like, “Hey, you’re interested? Hey, sure! You’re interested? Alright let’s go.”

Ben:  Right.  I’ll just slide my hand over here.  It’s so easy, and you’re not wearing anything and yeah, I hear ‘yah.

Michael:  (laughs) Right and it works.  Here’s what’s fascinating.  So, what are the hormones that you need for sex?  You need testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, vasopressin, oxytocin, and cortisol, right?  You want all of those fairly in order to have good amount of sexual activity.  And what do you want to have low? Melotonin.  So what do you think is the profile of an individual at 11 o’clock at night? The exact opposite.

Ben:  Yeah.

Michael:  The exact opposite.  Your melatonin is high and all of those other things are low.  So you know, I’m thrilled that you’re having sex at early in the morning, right?  Because that actually makes more sense to do it that way.

Ben:  Now, what about for like a wolf? Like that wouldn’t be true for wolf, right?

Michael:  I know, that’s the cool part.  That’s why I made the chart.  Because a lot of people aren’t necessarily married to a person or having sex with the person that is of their same chronotype.  So that’s why I actually created the matrix.  Now, I will tell you one thing that the research share that was very interesting is quite frankly, men really don’t care to have sex whenever they’re offered.  As opposed to women, women have much greater variable in terms of that.

Lions which is what you are, have their strongest sexual desire in the morning.  Which by the way shouldn’t be a big surprise because what happens to most men early in the morning, right? They wake up with morning erections.  So their testosterone is high, we’re starting to see already signs of that happening.  So, if you’re a wolf, what do you do, right?  Well, if you’re a wolf, you might be somebody that can have sex at night but if you’re married to a lion, then maybe what you do is you have it later on Saturday mornings.  So, 10 o’clock, 11 o’clock in the morning.  If you don’t have kids running around, it makes it a lot easier to be able to do stuff like that.

The other thing that you can do is you can have sex at night, just have it a little bit earlier in the evening depending upon your bed partner.  So, you’re a lion and you said that your wife is a wolf? Is that correct?

Ben:  Uhmm, yup.

Michael:  So you’re gonna be getting tired.  What time do you normally naturally get tired? 8:30?

Ben:  Hold on.  I have to shift to the wrong part of your book ‘cause I’m looking at the fight with your partner, compatibility chart.  I need to find… which I’m not joking.  There’s actually has one in there.  I need to go to the sex with your partner.  Okay, so you’ve got a heterosexual couple, male lion and female… I think my wife tested as like a bear with a high, high tendency towards a wolf status, right, like almost a wolf but not quite type of thing.  So, it looks like in this book, I have to remind myself to…

Michael:  It would be 9pm or 7:30am.

Ben:  Yup, 9pm or 7:30am would be the ideal time for sex, and I’ve tried both of those and I mean, gosh, you’re actually pretty accurate with that.

Michael: (laughs)

Ben:  So, it’s where your book gave me permission to talk to my wife a little bit more about morning sex.  So super interesting.

Michael:  So in and of itself the book is worth it just for that, right?

Ben:  Uhmm.  Yeah, and you of course have the masturbation rhythm in there as well.  So let folks get the book if you wanna delve into that.

Michael: (laughs)

Ben:  Okay.  So, the next one that I wanted to ask you about that I catch on briefly here was weight training.  Weight training.  Like the best time for different types to weight train and why.

Michael:  Yeah.  When you look at training, well, first of all there’s training for strength, right? And then there’s more cardio, there’s yoga, I actually go into yoga in this one as well, so it just kinda depends upon what your flavor is.

Ben:  So let’s say like hypertrophy muscle growth strength training.  That type of thing.

Michael:  Okay.  So for looking at hypertrophy like sort of what is the muscle growth rhythm if you will.  There was a study out of Finland that showed us that muscles grow actually at almost any time, but the strength of the muscles actually change with circadian rhythm.  So muscle volume increased in morning training and in afternoon training, but there’s something called the muscles strength rhythm.  And this is actually very, very interesting, so I’m actually gonna read you, I’m gonna take up a piece from the book and it actually looks at your testosterone versus cortisol ratio.

So what you wanna have is a ratio that’s actually working, so right here it says, “It’s not the concentration of testosterone matters but the ratio of cortisol to testosterone.  So the ratio of C to T that is most favorable for strength is afternoon for lions, early evening for bears, late evening for dolphins and wolves in terms of working out.

Ben:  Okay, got it.

Michael:  So what you want is lower testosterone, higher cortisol, and where does that happen during the day?  Also what’s interesting for wolves out there is your pain tolerance actually gets worse and worse the later you go.  This is part of the reason why a lot of my wolves are not people who like to workout because it hurts them more.  Their pain tolerance is less and less, and when you’re strength training, you’re ripping muscle and so there is a decent amount of injury that can go on if you’re not careful obviously.

Ben:  So you want a low C over T.  You want a low cortisol to testosterone ratio to optimize your time of day for strength training.

Michael:  That’s correct.

Ben:  Okay.  So a dolphin is 8pm, a lion is like a morning person.  It’s not contrary to what you might think the morning, but actually 2:30-5pm, a bear is 4-7pm, and then a wolf is 6-7pm.

Michael:  And so here’s the couple of things to think through on this.  The biggest thing that I get from people is, I’m a lion, I’m up at 5:30 while can’t I go for a run, Michael?  And why should I not be working out then? Nobody else is awake.  That’s actually a great time for you to be creative, that’s a good time for you to plan out your day.  When you’re starting to get tired around 3:30 to 4 o’clock in the afternoon if you can and go workout then, you’ll actually get an extra boost of energy that help you carry through ‘till 9:30, 10 o’clock at night.

So what I do is I use exercises to the leverage to be able to keep lions awake a little bit longer.  So that’s one of the reasons that I don’t want them working out in the morning.  I want them working out in the afternoons or evenings.  Also, to be honest with you, nobody should be working out at 6am and I’ll tell you why.

Your muscles aren’t warm, your joints aren’t stretched out, you have a highest proclivity for injury, hurting yourself early in the morning.  Unless you’re a super stretcher and you can really get your joints rolling. and stuff like that, and you’re doing like a 35, 40 minutes stretch before you run, or lift, or whatever else that you do, you have a far greater likelihood to hurting yourself by working out in the morning.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  What do you do in the morning?

Michael:  What I do in the morning is I have actually a whole morning routine, so I’m kind of interesting.  I’m a wolf with a very short sleep cycles.  So I only need 6 and a half hours of sleep.  So I go to bed at midnight, and I’m up at 6:30.  And there’s pros and cons to that but both my kids have to wake up about that time for school, and my wife likes to sleep in, and so I actually getting the kids ready.  So I’m laying up their clothes, getting breakfast ready, and so I get them off to school, and then when I come back, it’s around 7:30, then I start to do email because that’s my time to try to do more creative-ish types of stuff.  Not necessarily analytical stuff, and then I would go and workout around 9:30, 10 o’clock, and a lot of times it works out really well for me, but when…

Ben:  But that’s not… by working around 9:30, 10 o’clock isn’t in the book.

Michael:  I understand.  When I perform my task…

Ben:  Okay.  I’m just calling you out man.

Michael:  You’re welcome to do so.

Ben:  (laughs)

Michael:  When I perform my best in terms of get my best strength when I run my fastest times, it’s always, always in the evenings.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah.  I’ve noticed the same thing, and you know what the sad thing is that a lot of athletic competitions that involves strength training actually take place in the morning.

Michael:  (laughs) I know!

Ben:  It’s super annoying because they’ve done other research that have shown that… I don’t know if you’ve seen this, athletes who trained at the same time of the day as when their competition’s is going to take place are generally going to do better in that competition compared to athletes that trained at a different time of day.

So my method ‘cause I’ve been competing in varying events and events that do indeed involves strength for over a decade, what I’ll do is I train when my body temperature peaks, and testosterone peaks, and grip strength peaks, and reaction time peaks, and I do my hard training in the afternoon to the early evening, but when the race is rolling around generally about one to two weeks out, I start to throw in some hard morning sessions just to get my body used to getting its ass out of bed and going hard in the morning despite at that being, you know, based off of what you’ve written in your book, and what I’ve kinda noticed in the literature unfavorable for a chrono-biology.

Michael:  Yeah, and you’re right to do so.  Like it actually makes a lot of sense to do it that way.

Ben:  Is it different with cardio though?

Michael:  It can be a little bit different with cardio.  It depends upon what you’re trying to do with the cardio, so there’s a couple of different rhythms like have a whole section on go for a run which is kinda I think it all equate to cardio.  If you’re trying to burn fat, then actually you might wanna workout in the morning because if you workout on a fasting stomach, there’s no place for your body to get the energy from other than your fat stores.

And so, being able to eat up some fat, then you might wanna be working out earlier in the morning.  Again, if you gonna do that then you gonna wanna stretch really well, you gonna warm yourself really well, you really have to be careful because my biggest concern is people getting injured in the morning, right?  But you know, if you’re trying to get your best time, then what you’re gonna be looking at again is for a lion, you know at 5:30, dolphins actually do great exercising in the morning but it’s…

Ben:  Five thirty, five thirty PM…

Michael:  Sorry, 5:30pm, yes.  I apologize, 5:30pm.

Ben:  Okay, got it.

Michael:  But my dolphins workout great in the mornings around 7:30 in the morning because with dolphins who are a little on the neurotic side, they’re not great sleepers in general.  This is a great way to start your day.

There’s a lot of people out there when they exercise, when the endorphins, [46:10.1] ______ kick out, that runners high, if you will, that actually can set them up for a really good day.  And dolphins can use that because it calms them down.  Whereas, my wolves, I’m still telling them, you know what? I really think it makes more sense for them to work out at night.  And again, it’s hard to get them to do anything in the mornings.

Ben:  Yeah.  My go-to has always been easy aerobic cardio, and for me it’s actually usually these days, the sauna.  So I do like hot/cold contrast.  I do about a half hour of sauna, and then I do like an icy cold plunge after the sauna to kinda clear the head, but also to increase the one thing I do that cardiovascular aerobic exercise in the morning has been shown to increase and that’s a brain derived nootropic factor…

Michael:  Absolutely.

Ben:  … for enhanced neuro firing the rest of the morning, and I get what you’re saying in the book about the potential for more joint impact, less warm joints injury, et cetera from chronic repetitive motion in the morning from most chronotype except that dolphin chronotype that you talked about, but I think it depends.  Like for me, there’s a difference between pounding the pavements for 30 minutes and getting my heart rate up with say like yoga and deep breathing, and the sauna for 30 minutes.

Michael:  Absolutely, absolutely.  I totally agree with you and actually I have a whole section on yoga as well.  So like when you’re gonna be the most flexible, when you’re gonna be the most relaxed, when you’re gonna have kind of the most mind, what I called the mind/body connection.  First of all, a lot of people don’t even understand how important yoga can be in a conditioning regimen and it’s actually very hard physically to be able to do.  And so understanding that, is really good.  I know a lot of people like to do yoga at sunrise but again especially if you’re doing more advanced yoga, or you’re getting into really deep poses, you have to be very, very careful because it’s super easy to get hurt just because your body is not warm.

Ben:  Uhm, you just destroyed everybody’s sun salutation, Ben.

Michael:  I’m not saying don’t do them, I’m just saying, do yourself a favor, Ben.  Stretch out!

Ben:  (chuckles) You have to rename them.  Rename them.  Afternoon moon salutations.

So, another thing I wanted to ask you speaking of the moon, is sleeping in.  You are not a fan of sleeping in and I actually, I don’t really have this problem anymore ‘cause I just wake up at the same time whether it’s a Saturday or a Sunday, or Monday, days ending in ‘Y’, I’m pretty much up at the same time each morning, but you are not a fan of this whole weekend sleep in thing.  Why is that?

Michael:  I’m not.  So the data now shows that if you sleep in more than 30 minutes, you can actually shift your circadian rhythms and so, you stay up late Friday night, sleep in Saturday, stay up late Saturday, and sleep in Sunday, you end up with Sunday night insomnia and what we call social jetlag, right?  And so, you now doesn’t want to go to sleep when it’s Sunday night, and it certainly doesn’t wanna wake up no matter what your chronotype is.

So the consistency with your sleep system and your circadian rhythms in particular love consistency.  And the anchor is your sleep and your food times, right? And so when you wake up what I would have people do when they wake up in the morning is pull their feet over the side of the bed and take 5-10 really good solid deep breaths.  Get the respiration going, increase your heart rate.  Reach for a glass of water because again you’re dehydrated and do it while getting direct sunlight exposure, so it cuts off that melatonin process.  So maybe in front of a window, walk outside, preferably wear a robe.  I would have to tell people that ‘cause you’ll never know, and then kinda start your day, right.

And so, understanding how you kind of move yourself through your day then when you’re having your meals, is what continues to guide your circadian rhythm.  So by doing that process in the morning, we stop the melatonin faucet and get you going depending upon whatever time you wanna wake up.  Lions might be 5:30, in wolves that can be 8:30, same process can apply, but then when you have your meals, if you time them and you stick to that time, your whole body gets much more consistent.  And it’s just like any machine, the more consistently you use it, the more it will produce for you.

Ben:  And I guess that’s where napping comes in handy.  Like I’m taking my kids to a fight tonight and it’ll last like 11:30.  They’ll sleep on the way home and frankly because they’re 8 years old, they’ll sleep until 11 if I don’t get them out of bed.  But me, I’ll wake up at 6.  I guarantee tomorrow morning, so that’s where something like for me to settle down for a nap at like 1 or 2pm, or something like that will help rather, so what you’re saying that’ll be better strategy than me just say, like waking up at 6 and then falling back to sleep until 8.

Michael:  Oh yeah, you’ll be miserable if you wake up at 6 and fall back to sleep ‘till 8.  I mean, I don’t know if you do that anymore, but every time I try to do that I feel like crap all day.

Ben:  Rarely, rarely.  I have occasionally done it when like on vacation in some remote island where you just don’t care, and you can go out on the beach at noon and have a cocktail.

Michael:  Right.

Ben:  So, another thing that you talked about is jetlag, and I know you’ve worked like I mentioned with hotels, with airlines, et cetera, and whenever I get a sleep researcher on, so many people listen to the show travel or deal with a lot of the effects of jetlag, what are some of your jetlag tips?  Your jetlag systems?

Michael:  Okay.  So there’s a couple of things that if you’re…

Ben:  And feel free to dive into the nitty-gritty detail by the way.

Michael:  Sure!  So a couple of things that straight out of the gate is you know, some people are gonna be more effective by jetlag than others.  And remember the direction of travel tells you a lot.  East is least and West is best, okay?  And so if you’re traveling East, you’re basically telling your body to go to bed earlier, which is fine for a lion, but doesn’t work very well for a wolf.  If you’re traveling West, all you’re doing is asking your body to stay up later which is relatively easy for most people.  Lions might have a little bit of a hard time with it but all the other chronotypes can do it.

So direction of travel has something to do about it.  Length of travel also has something to do with it.  Hydration turns out to be one of the biggest factors in terms of the amount of jetlag that you’re gonna have on the backend as well as light exposure.  Now, I actually work with a guy who created a jetlag app.  It’s gonna be coming out soon.  Plug in your times of travel, plug in your current sleep regimen and it’ll ask you a few questions about your chronotype, and he will actually tell you when you should use caffeine, melatonin, and light therapy in order to reduce your jetlag.

And me personally, I’ve gotten my jetlag down to roughly a day depending upon that length of travel.  So I do a lot of work in Denmark and so that’s a 14-hour flight from LA, and so it’s quite a difference in terms of time zones.  I think it’s 8 or 9 times on differences and I can get there and be rolling in a day, and I can get home and be rolling in a day just by strategically putting my light therapy, right?  So it cuts off the melatonin then place the melatonin like a melatonin supplement and using caffeine sparingly.

Ben:  What’s the name of this app? Or it’s just not…

Michael:  It’s not out yet, but when we get it, I’ll definitely make sure that I let you know about it and we can do a whole podcast on jetlag if you want.

Ben:  That’d be sweet.  It sounds like a pretty killer.  So you’re just basically saying hydration and light are the two biggies.

Michael:  Hydration and light are the two biggies for me.  I try not to drink alcohol in the air.  There’s so many reasons why it’s not such a great idea but one thing…

Ben:  Oh man, a glass of wine and a Valium for a flight to Hong Kong, you know, I would do that.

Michael:  It’s funny that you say that.  So I had a patient who came in, and he had gotten Ambien from his medical doctor and he ask me, you know, can I use it?  I was like, yeah of course, you can use it, but I said be careful.  I said, the biggest thing you have to make sure of is wait ‘till the plane takes off.

Ben:  Oh yeah.

Michael:  And he was like, why?  And I’m like, just trust on this anyway.  So, they’re on the taxi way and he’s sitting in first, and he gets a glass of wine and he pops his Ambien, right? ‘Cause he thinks he’s ready to go, and they get delayed.  And they keep refilling his glass of wine ‘cause you know, when first it’s all they do.  And they send 3 glasses of wine, later he realized he hasn’t fallen asleep, so he pops the second Ambien, right?  So now they ends up with mechanical difficulties.  They roll it back and they literally had to put this guy in a wheelchair to get him off the plane.

Ben:  Yeah.

Michael:  An Ambien and alcohol just… (laughs)

Ben:  I get what you’re saying.  I can kinda sort one of that because… put earmuffs on your kids, parents.  Occasionally when I will go on long flights, I’ll do slightly higher doses edibles like 15-20 mgs of a good CBD-rich THC indica blend, and I had one in which I took it about 40 minutes before.  So you go through security, right, it’s in your system, got on the plane and then they had one of those mechanical issues where they actually de-board the plane.

And so I’m just like wandering around the gate high, out of my mind.  I did make it back on to the plane but I was wandering around the airport mostly standing in the little news aisles where they have crunchy snacks, and just deliberating which crunchy snack to buy next.  You know, the sugar snap piece versus the dark chocolate covered-almonds versus the crunchy bananas versus anything that looked good.

Michael:  here’s what’s interesting when you look at things like CBD and THC, and air travel and things like that, right, is number one, you wanna actually if you’re looking at this and you’re trying to figure this out.  Let’s see you’re in a state where medical marijuana is legal or you have the prescription, or let’s say it’s even recreational and you wanna utilize this in a particular way for you.  So number one, know your strains.  You need to understand if you’re an indica-based or are you sativa-based.  Sativas gonna give you more energy, indicas make you more sleepy.

So, when you’re taking it and you’re going into a long flight, do you wanna fall asleep in the beginning of the flight or do you wanna fall asleep in the end of the flight?  So again, thinking about this and being strategic with it can actually be very beneficial.  You really wanna avoid THC when you’re up in the air, and the biggest reason is because the oxygen isn’t that great ‘cause all that’s happening is the air continuous to get re-circulated a lot of carbon dioxide up there.  So you are ready not getting great air, and so when you’ve got THC onboard with that, it can make you very disoriented very quickly.

Ben:  Yeah.  I actually disagree with you because the only time that I will watch a movie ever is when I’m on an airplane, and so if I have a Trans-Atlantic flight and I have some THC in my system, any of those like new super hero movies are amazing.  Amazing to watch.

Michael:  (laughs)

Ben:  We digress though.  I’m making myself sound like a pothead.  I’m really not, but I have used that to help long flights go by before.  You also mentioned before we turn away from jetlag about how you can cure jetlag through the stomach.  What do you mean by that?

Michael:  So I worked with the NASA sleep specialist.  His name is Smith Johnston.  He’s an amazing, amazing researcher.   And they looked at fatigue counter-measures because on the space station which is where most of his people are, and he has to keep tabs on them, the date changes every 45 minutes, right? Like they’re moving around every 45 minutes is a sunrise and sunset for them.  And so, it’s very, very different and if you become disoriented up there, that’s how people die.

You can’t make mistakes in space.  It’s not like being terrestrial, and so a lot of the things that he was talking about was in this.  And so what he is talking about here was, here it is, “I recently took a dream vacation in Hawaii, a 5 hour time difference from Boston going West.  I followed the NASA Bruce Plan to the letter and I felt a lot better after 2 days which fully functional on day 3 of the week long trip.”  And so what some people will do is they’ll actually start eating on the schedule of the place that they’re going, and that actually helps…

Ben:  Eating on a schedule of the place that you’re going before you get there or when you get there?

Michael:  Before you get there.  So, as an example, if you’re going to China, then you start eating on a schedule that would be consistent with the times that you would eat in China.

Ben:  Okay.  Got you.  Which is pretty simple Math.  So you just go to Google and you say what time is it here, and it is one day before or two days before, or how do you do it?

Michael:  Usually I tell people to start doing it 3-4 days before, and it actually works out very well, and it’s one of the easier ways to help with really like Trans-Atlantic like big flights that kinda jetlag, that can actually be very helpful as well.  I agree.

Ben:  Yeah.  I’d recommend to you guys, if you get the book read pages and you travel.  Read pages 315 and 316 ‘cause you have all sorts of stuff in here like wearing sunglasses all day until the flight when you’re traveling West.  But then, when you’re traveling East, when you get off the plane, wearing sunglasses so that light is not disrupting your circadian rhythm.

And I mean like for me, I don’t know about you Dr. Breus, but I’ve found light, food, and exercise to be the biggest triggers.  What do you call them? [58:54] ______?  Yeah, [58:56] ______.  That’s my fancy word of the day like things that trigger your circadian biology, like if you exercise at your regular time of the day, when you get to your destination, eat at a regular time when everybody else is eating at the destination and if you must fast until that occurs, fast until it’s time and then exposure to a whole bunch of light when it’s light where you’re traveling, and extreme limitation of light up until that point.

Michael:  Yeah, yeah.  You got it.

Ben:  Sweet.  I could go work for NASA now, right?

Michael:  Yeah.  You want me to find you a job? I mean, I could tell Smith all about you.

Ben:  Yeah, I’m happy unless I get to go to space.  I’ll take you on.  So, the last thing that I wanted to ask you because it’s something we have not touch upon that much before on the show, but something that I’ve kinda always wondered but you as a sleep researcher I’m sure would be very well informed on this, daylight savings time.

Michael:  (laughs)

Ben:  I’ve always wondered what that does to the body ‘cause technically it is kinda like flying out of a time zone.  Is it just not a big deal at all ‘cause it’s only an hour or what’s the deal with daylight savings time?

Michael:  The number one day for traffic accidents is the day after we lose an hour of sleep every year in America.  The number one day for morning traffic accidents.

Ben:  Wow.

Michael:  So, I would argue with you that it’s not the best idea.  First of all, there’s several States that don’t even participate in daylight savings.  I lived in Arizona for 10 years and there’s enough sun there.  We don’t have to have any more daylight, so we don’t even participate in daylight savings.  But you know, it was an agrarian concept I believe set forth by Ben Franklin.  If I’m not mistaken to be able to have more sunlight to be able to work more, to be more productive.  And you know, now we don’t necessarily need it.

I personally, I think daylight savings is a waste of time.  I’m not sure why people do it, and it’s great because what you know, one time of the year, you get an hour more sleep and one time of the year, you lose an hour of sleep.  And so, that’s the bad part.  And so for me, I don’t like daylight savings time, I’m always very cautious that next Monday, because that is the number one time for traffic accidents.  So I would say, it’s pretty detrimental.

Ben:  Interesting.  Have you done research on daylight saving times and like what it is, your biology or anything like that?

Michael:  They really haven’t.  It’s just like going one time zone basically.  And so, we know that the body will self-adjust within a day.  So there really hasn’t been a ton of research in that area in particular other than the driving statistics.

Ben:  Okay.  So just basically stick to your usual schedule, have your meals at a regular time, exercise at a regular time, get lots of light in the morning, limit light at night, and you’ll generally adapted to daylight saving times more quickly.

Michael:  Yes.  Stay off the road.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  Cool.  I mean, the book is jam-packed.  I mean, you have over 50 different activities in here about falling in love, calling your friend, like I mentioned fighting with a partner, seeing a therapist, pigging out, having a snack, learning something new, memorizing, playing games, bench watching TV shows, buying stuff.  I mean, you go on and on, so it’s really interesting.

Like I mentioned, the little things I’m implementing now that I’ve read the book, some of the stuff that I was already doing, right? I was already training for strength in the evening for example, but shifting to decaf coffee in the morning and then regular coffee later on in the day, having sex in the morning instead of sex in the evening or at least sex in the early evening if I am gonna have sex in the evening and once my blood pressure goes to the roof, I guess I know when I need to take my blood pressure medication too.

Michael:  (laughs)

Ben:  Goes even that and when you get vaccinated.  Dr. Breus, thank you so much for writing this book and for coming on the show and sharing all these stuff with us.

Michael:  No!  Thanks for having me.  I was excited to talk with you because I enjoy your depth and the way you like to get into things, I think it’s fun, and I think it’s interesting.  I think it’s great for your listeners.  So thanks for having me on the show.  It’s been a blast.

Ben:  Awesome!  If you guys wanna get the book or get access to the quiz, or anything like that, go to, that’s, and until next time.  I’m Ben Greenfield, porky in the afternoon because I’m a lion, along with Dr. Breus, signing out from  Have a healthy week!

You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.  Go to for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.



Do you know your chronotype?

Until two weeks ago, I didn’t.

Turns out, I’m a “lion” chronotype (with a strong tendency to delve into “bear” chrono-typedness).

You might be a wolf, in which case you should try working out at 6:00pm and not 6:00am. An early morning run for you might feel like punishment, while an early evening run will provide an enjoyable pick-me-up.

Or maybe you’re a lion, in which case having a wine, beer or cocktail between 5:30pm and 7:30pm will minimize the chances of sleep disruption from alcohol.

Or perhaps you’re a dolphin, which means you should schedule any big presentations or work tasks for around 4:00pm, when you’re most awake, most alert, and even most confident.

You could also be a bear, in which case shifting dinner from 6:00pm to 7:30pm can actually accelerate fat loss and stave off late-night snacking.

Interesting, eh?

You’ll find all the science, the studies, and the facts behind this type of new chronotyping research in the new book “The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype-and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More“.

A growing body of research actually proves there is a right time to do just about everything, specifically based on your biology and hormones. As Dr. Michael Breus – the author and today’s podcast guest – presents in his groundbreaking new book The Power of When, working with your body’s inner clock for maximum health, happiness, and productivity can be easy, exciting, fun and pay off big dividends.

For example, since reading this book, I’ve even cut out caffeinated morning coffee and replaced it with decaf, started prioritizing morning and afternoon sex instead of evening sex, and shifted my fiction-based creative writing from 8:00pm to 8:00am. The Power of When presents a unique program for getting back in sync with your natural rhythm by making minor changes to your daily routine based on your unique “chronotype”.

In the book, after you’ve taken Dr. Breus’s “Bio-Time Quiz” to figure out your chronotype (e.g. are you a Bear, Lion, Dolphin or Wolf?), you then find out the best time to do over 50 different activities, from when to exercise to have sex to take supplements to ask for a raise to eat breakfast to take a nap and much more.

So you can consider this book the ultimate “lifehack”.

Dr. Breus, Ph.D., is a Clinical Psychologist, a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. With a specialty in Sleep Disorders, Dr. Breus he is one of only 163 psychologists in the world with his credentials and distinction.

In addition to his private practice, where he treats athletes and celebrities alike, Dr. Breus also trains other sleep doctors and consults with major airlines, hotel chains, mattress manufacturers and retailers to provide the optimum sleep experience for their customers. For example, an audio relaxation CD he designed for the Crowne Plaza Hotels helps millions of people fall asleep each year, and for over 14 years Dr. Breus has served as the Sleep Expert for WebMD and frequently pens “Sleep Matters” a column in WebMD magazine. He also writes The Insomnia Blog, which appears regularly on WebMD, The Huffington Post, The Dr. Oz Blog, Psychology Today, MedPedia, Organized Wisdom, Travora Travel, and Furniture Today, and has been interviewed on CNN, Oprah, The View, Anderson, and The Doctors and The Dr. OZ Show.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

Why I’m now having sex in the morning and coffee in the afternoon…[10:35]

-The fascinating history of chronotyping and chronobiology…[11:50]

-Why it is that guys like Tim Ferriss and Tai Lopez operate extremely well in the wee hours of the night…[18:30]

-Why Thomas Edison created the most disruptive event in the history of bio-time…[32:10]

-Whether chronotyping is based on scientific research or simply cute, easy-to-remember animals…[30:25]

-When the best time of day is to drink alcohol and to drink coffee based on your chronotype…[25:40 & 27:20]

-A simple, scientific, biological way to determine chronotype based on a seven dollar piece of home health equipment…[31:35]

-When the best time to have sex is, why and how to “sync up” sex times with your partner based on their chronobiology…[35:35]

-When the best time of day is for cardiovascular exercise vs. yoga vs. weight training…[39:25 & 47:20]

-How your chronobiology can affect when you should take supplements or medications…[22:00]

-Dr. Breus’s most potent and effective jet lag tips…[51:00]

-Why Daylight Savings Time day is the #1 day that traffic accidents occur…[59:50]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Dr. Breus’s hybrid pillow

The Power of When book

The Power of When quiz