[00:01:42] Podcast Sponsors
[00:04:20] Guest Introduction
[00:07:15] Tom's Involvement in Fitness and Creating Ladder App
[00:11:12] Nuts and Bolts of How the App Works
[00:19:23] Ben's Advice on How to Feel Good, Look Good, And Live Forever
[00:32:42] Podcast Sponsors
[00:34:41] cont. Ben's Advice on How to Feel Good, Look Good, And Live Forever
[00:42:45] Common Mistakes People Make with Training And/or Recovery
[00:58:40] Best Ways to Test Your Biomarkers
[01:00:34] How to Program Your Own Workout
[01:06:23] The Most Enduring Change Ben Has Made to His Program Over Time
[01:09:54] Boundless Program on The Ladder App
[01:14:38] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast:
I feel like I'm getting a chance to talk now during my own podcast about stuff I never get to because I'm always interviewing somebody. I encourage people to just reframe the idea of needing to go to a gym to work out. You don't have to go to a gym to work out. Period. We can track a lot more than just body fat and muscle gain or BMI. So, understand that that's just one thing to look out. Biggest mistakes would be…
Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Alright, this is an interesting podcast. It's part one of a two-part series with a guy named Tom Digan, a new friend of mine from Austin, Texas. We got deep into the weeds on everything, from minimalist exercise programs to nutrition, to fitness technology. It was a fascinating discussion. It was like him interviewing me, really, more than me interviewing him. But, I think you'll really enjoy this episode. It got so long and so fun and so detailed that I split it into two parts. So, the part that you're listening to right now, you can get the shownotes for if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast. And then, part two is basically going to come out, well, at the time that you're listening to this, in just a few days. So, you won't have to wait around too long for part two.
Also, mark your calendars because, starting tomorrow, September 3rd, the Kion Labor Day Sale kicks off. What is that? Well, Kion is my company where I formulate all these crazy cool nutrition supplements and coffees and bars. And, anyways, it pays to listen to my podcast because this is the first place this is getting announced. You get to be first in line tomorrow for a blowout of a sale, all the latest fitness, biohacking, longevity news, wonderful articles over there, but also, wonderful products. September 3rd through the 6th, you save up to 35%. Not 10, not 20, not 30, but 35% at GetKion.com/LaborDay. That's Get-K-I-O-N.com/LaborDay. No code necessary. You save a boatload of money.
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Alright, folks. So, I just got back a couple of weeks ago from Austin. And, I was super sore. And, I'm going to blame my podcast guest today for making me hell of sore because he had me film 700 exercises over the course of, I guess, gosh, 48 hours. And, it was fun. And, we did a bunch of photos and shots and videos and me demonstrating, pretty much, every exercise I've ever learned or taught or made up in my entire life. And, this was because he had this crazy idea based on an app that he helped to develop, a fitness technology app. His name is Tom, Tom Digan. Tom, am I even pronouncing your last name right? D-I-G-A-N, Tom Digan?
Tom: You gave it a little sound like made it sound French, like Di-jan.
Ben: Di-jan. Tom Digan, like mustard. Anyways, Tom is a new friend of mine. And, the reason we connected was because he had, a few months ago, filled me in on this new fitness app that he had developed, called Ladder. And, I went and checked it out. Super slick. The best way I could describe it is, if you were to go be on that old–what's the old NBC TV show, “Strong,” or even “The Biggest Loser,” where you could have your own trainer and join their team, like that. Am I thinking of the right show, Tom? Was it “Strong?”
Tom: Yeah. And, “The Biggest Loser,” I know the show.
Ben: Well, everybody knows “The Biggest Loser.” But, anyways. So, the general premise here was I could actually be a trainer on the platform and have all my exercises, all my workouts, all my knowledge, all my videos, pretty much all the programming that I do for my one-on-one clients, who, honestly, they pay me a lot of money every month to do this. But, what if we could scale a lot of these programs and bring them to the general fitness audience using an app that doesn't look like it got thrown together in 48 hours and cause neckache stand or something like that?
So, anyways, I flew down to Austin, met with Tom. I found all these exercises and, actually, put together this entire program. It's called “Boundless.” With this goal of, basically, training how I train: minimal effective dose of exercise, trying to trigger both lifespan and healthspan, not necessarily training like a pro triathlete or an exercise addict or a crazy, crazy HIIT CrossFitter. CrossFitters always hate me when I say that. But, basically what would a real good program that just keeps you fit for life and living a really good life look like. And, could that be delivered on a really slick app?
And, by connecting with Tom and his whole technology team, I'm pretty sure we figured it all out, based on how sore I was after filming all of those exercises. I hope we figured it out. Tom, I know you were up in your office.
Are you at your gym, by the way, down in Austin?
Tom: I am. We got some athletes banging some weights around downstairs, if there's anything in the background.
Ben: I was going to say I thought I heard some athletes banging around some weights. But, that's what I was doing. And so, Tom's up in his office, I'm down there working hard, sweating my butt off. I don't know. You're probably in the Keyboard Warrior or something, Tom. But, anyways. So, I filmed all these exercises. And then, Tom and his team have been working behind the scenes with this whole new app, which I'm super excited about. But, we thought it would be cool to do a podcast where we just talk about fitness technology and the future of fitness and workout programming. And, also, I want to fill all of you in. And, Tom, I know, might put me in the hot seat a little bit about why I do what I do, why approach exercise the way I approach it, why my workouts are structured the way that they're structured. And, my goal is for you to leave this podcast just knowing a ton more. And, whether or not you use the Ladder app or the Ladder Teams, or join my Ladder team or whatever, or whether you go off and do your own thing, I really, really want you to wrap your head around how I program and what my workouts actually feel like and look like.
And, I actually want to pick Tom's brain, too, about fitness technology and, especially, in the era of post-COVID or, I guess, amidst COVID, what it's looking like in terms of ways that people can workout at home. So, Tom, I would love to introduce you with a comprehensive, comprehensive bio, but my knowledge of you is you're a badass dude who works at a gym that makes me sore. I know you spent 10 years working in the hedge fund industry for a long time before you got into fitness technology. And, now, you are–Are you the actual founder of Ladder?
Tom: No, I'm a co-founder of the business. I was originally the money behind it at the beginning, because I was, obviously, came from investing background and then moved the business here to Austin, Texas in 2019. And, that's when I became full-time on it. So, I'm our president and co-founder.
Ben: Alright, got you. Basically, in terms of how you got interested and put together an actual fitness app, was this one of those deals where you're scrolling through the app store and not seeing what you wanted? Or, how did you actually get connected with Ladder?
Tom: It was more of an evolution than that. Originally, we started out in what was more one-to-one online training, online coaching. So, it worked with thousands of coaches all over the country. And, the thought was really making personal training more accessible. We built software that allowed trainers to work with their clients remotely, build programs, communicate with them, run a payment solution. There was a whole bunch of insights and learning that came out of that, which ultimately led to Ladder Teams. Much longer story for another podcast. But, at the beginning of 2020, we brought in a new team, new leadership, some really talented folks who now had all of these insights and learnings. And, we got really excited about building a product that was more social. So, this was right on the eve of COVID.
And, what we had seen was that we felt that personalization, if you will, was a bit overhyped, at least, by way of our experience watching thousands of trainers giving most of their clients virtually the same program. And we also were excited about working with star trainers, but in a way where we could give people access in a way that really scales. So, that was, really, the couple of the insights that led to the Ladder Teams, which we launched in the middle of the pandemic. So, we launched this new product called Ladder Teams in July of 2020.
Ben: So, the name of the app is not Ladder. It's Ladder Teams.
Tom: Yes. The name of the company is Ladder. Ladder Teams is the product. And, for those wondering, with Ladder Teams, you're getting fresh workouts that are delivered each week. So, it's strength training-focused or that's definitely what our programming skews to.
These programs are designed by experts like yourself, like Ben Greenfield, which we'll get to that later. The workouts are delivered in a–It's a beautiful press-and-play experience where you have audio coaching that makes you feel like your coach is right there, whether it's in your home or back at your local gym, your music is all synced up. And then, you have motivation coming from your coach. But, perhaps, more so, from the new friends that you're meeting, who is just as passionate about fitness as you. So, the social piece is huge. That's definitely, not only our biggest differentiator, but it's core to our strategy. And, it's what's leading to fitness outcomes for our members.
Ben: That's why I think it's cool. You call it Team Ladder and my team. It's like if you download the app and you join my team, my team is called Team Boundless. And, that's how you have me as your coach and you got all the videos from me, the check-ins with me, being able to talk with me, send one-on-one messages to me, get nutrition tips, keep me updated on your progress. That's what it means to be part of my team on the store.
And, by the way, I'll link to the app. I'll link to everything Tom and I talk about if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast. Or, if you get the app, you could just go on there and find me under Team Boundless.
So, Tom, when it comes to the actual app itself, is this one of those apps that people pay for? Is it with in-app payments? Is it all ad-driven? What does it actually look like in terms of the cost for somebody who joins? And, it could. This is actually something I was wondering about. If somebody download the app and join one person's team and pay to join another person's team, or how does it actually work?
Tom: So, it's a premium fitness subscription that costs as low as $39 a month. We have a few different pricing plans. You can pay monthly or you can term it out and get a discount. So, average price is around $50 a month. So, it's a premium experience. You are locking in with one coach, with one program, to the extent that you plateau or looking for something different or life changes and you have new goals, which often happens. Then, we most likely have another program that's a good fit for you.
But, most people don't switch programs. They lock in with their coach. They find their people. And, that's how they're having the most success.
Ben: Alright. Got it. So, you get in, you pay a monthly, what would you say it was, 59 bucks, something like that?
Tom: 50 bucks is the average.
Ben: So, 50 bucks to basically join my team and get all my workouts and everything.
Ben: And so, in terms of other trainers on the platform, not that I wouldn't love for everybody to just go and join my team, but who are some other trainers on the platform who have some interesting programs?
Tom: So, we have a pretty good mix. And, that was the vision, was really putting together the Avengers of Fitness, if you will, meaning, people from different backgrounds, different fitness.
Ben: What do you call it, the Avengers of Fitness?
Tom: It was an internal concept that we had. We were looking at the flight board and drafting coaches, if you will, and try to really find these different coaches with different superpowers.
Ben: I like that. But, that begs the question, which Avenger am I, man?
Tom: You're Doctor–What's the Doctor?
Ben: Doctor Strange?
Tom: Is that his name?
Ben: I don't know.
Tom: Yeah, you got to be the doctor or the professor.
Ben: Alright, I'll go for Doctor Strange. Since we worked in–Well, with my program, we worked in a lot of the science, a lot of the biohacks, a lot of stuff you have to do when you're trying to cut out exercise time because we did it for the busy person who's got life, not necessarily pro athlete. I'll take Doctor Strange. So, anyway, sorry to interrupt. Do continue.
Tom: Of course. So, I'll give you a taste of a few. So, Training Day is one of my favorite programs. There's two coaches in this program. So, it's called Training Day. The two coaches are a guy named Reign Nel. He goes by Reign Train on Instagram. He's an African Viking. And, his former client is a guy named Neen Williams, who's one of the top professional street skateboarders. Very interesting pair. That program, it's a lot of bands, a lot of kettlebells. It's prioritizing explosive power and speed.
Body and Bell is another amazing program. The coach is Lauren Kanski. This is going to be functional high-intensity kettlebell workouts. There's insanely strong sense of community among this group of mostly women in that group. Maximus, this is led by former Gym Jones trainer and UFC fighter, Bobby Maximus. So, this is going to be what you'd expect a no-nonsense.
Ben: I've talked with Bobby before. He's nuts.
Tom: Bobby is awesome. So, that's your garage style, just doing a ton of burpees and pull-ups. Really cool program. The last one I'll mention right now, Project Alpha. So, this is a guy named Coach Sam Tooley. He comes from more the endurance background, like yourself. He's done some Ironmans. And he's a big-time runner. So, this is going to be a combination of endurance and strength, and definitely gets you looking a certain way. If you're willing to put up with the pain, the pounds will come off quick.
Some of my favorite workouts in his are actually track workouts, which is we didn't know what that experience was going to be like on the app, in that we built this beautiful UI/UX interface. And, when you go to the track, you're just pressing play and putting your phone in your pocket. It's right there, whatever type of athletic shorts you wear. And then, everything–Your music's playing. Coach is in your ear. The warmup, the rest, everything is timed out. Those are some of my favorite workouts, though.
Ben: Alright. You don't have to be hovered over your phone.
Tom: Exactly. And, all the experiences are like that. You press play, and we're trying to simulate this great coach being right there beside you. So, everything is taken care of. But, that gives you a little flavor. So, quite a bit of variety, but it skews to strength training. Today, Ladder is not for everyone. It's for people who are–they're serious about fitness. We felt like that was the gap in the market. From a digital offering standpoint, there were a ton of good solutions for cardio. But, really, less so for strength. And so, our customers today who are seeing the most value in our product, they value quality workout programming. They're working out three-plus days a week, whether our product exists or not. But, many of them were also unsure if they were going to return to the gym post-COVID. About a third of them have now gone back to the gym, and they've just brought Ladder with them. We think it's an arguably better experience the more equipment you have. So, this certainly isn't just an at-home experience. This flexes with you, which we think is important in this post-COVID fitness.
Ben: That's always been the tricky part with apps for strength training, is it's really hard to see what's going on with the app. And, it's a classic you go to the gym and you see the person with their phone on the mat, and they're hovered over their phone, sometimes, in a pushup position or a plank, because half the workouts are just in a pushup position or plank because that allows you to stare at your phone. And, they can't go off and do deadlifts and kettlebell work and squats and things like that with their phone in their pocket, with the trainer actually walking them through in the right set and rep schemes and rest periods.
So, I was blown away when I played around with your app, I have to admit. Obviously, I'm biased because I have a program on there now. But, anyways, I think that it actually is something that there is a huge need for, is a huge need for. So, kudos for building it. And, again for those of you listening in, it's called Ladder. But, I don't want this to be something like big, huge commercial for Ladder. I want to get into some fitness BS, too.
And, I know you want to turn the tables on me. So, one more time, I'll give everybody the shownotes. And then, I'm just going to sit back because I know you put together a list of questions you want to ask me, Tom. And, I'm prepared/slightly nervous. But, the shownotes, for all you listening in, are at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast. Alright, I'm ready, Tom. Fire away. You get to put me in the hot seat now.
Tom: Excited to turn the tables. I like interviewing better, perhaps. So, I guess, to start right, there's clearly a dizzying array of fitness programs out there. And, anyone listening knows that you've tinkered with them. Also, maybe help us cut through the BS. What should people do if they want to feel good, look good naked, and live for a long time?
Ben: Sun their perineums. It's the [BLEEP]-sunning, right? I think that's the key. That's what was popular last year. And, it appears to still be working. But, if you've been sunning your perineum, so to speak, and you're still not getting results, I have a background in biomechanics and exercise physiology. That's what I did my master's degree in at University of Idaho. And so, I like to chunk the programs that I create. And so, if you're listening in, this is what you need to step back and ask yourself about your fitness program. I like to include certain components that specifically focus on core buckets of fitness.
So, the first would be strength. Every fitness program needs a lifting heavy [BLEEP] type of component. Now, that can include lighter weights to failure. That can include blood flow restriction training, which we actually included in the Ladder's program as an option to simulate or to trick the muscle into thinking that it's under heavy load. That can include super-slow strength training with a slightly lighter load, like a 10 to 30 second up, 10 to 30 second down, which is fantastic for bringing a muscle to failure at a low risk of injury with a minimal effective dose of exercise, like a super slow full-body strength training workouts. It's like a 15 to 20-minute workout.
And, it can also include traditional strength: squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, preferably, for all of those I'd like to use, unless someone is going through rehab or physical therapy or they're really aesthetically going after a certain body part, like bicep curls or calf raises or whatever, I like everything to be multi-joint as much as possible. On my programs, you don't have leg day. You don't have stomach day. You don't have triceps and biceps day. That works for a bodybuilder who's got two to four hours a day to spend in the gym and completely crush each of those individual body parts. And, I used to be a bodybuilder. I used to experiment with that stuff.
And, I've realized that, if you want the minimal effective dose of exercise, every workout is full body. When was the last time that you used your body and it was just lower body or just upper body, or you were trying to play a game of tennis and it was just triceps? So, there's a functional component and, also, a time-saving component when you're not doing body part splits and you're doing full-body set. And, people are like, what about walking? What about cycling? But, as a cyclist, I use my core. I use my triceps. I use my biceps. As a walker, you're using your core. You're rotating. You're using your neck muscles, your shoulder muscles. So, all my workouts are full-body. They are also inclusive of some type of strength training component as a part of the entire fitness program.
So, strength is one. And, typically, that's anywhere from two to five times a week that you're doing some element of strength training. The next bucket to think about, and you checklist off each of these and any exercise program that you're doing. But, the next one would be some element of moving a muscle more quickly, the power and speed component. And, they've done research and shown that, with big massive bodybuilders, you actually see a shorter lifespan or less metabolically healthy muscle because it's just big old muscle that you have to carry, that you have to cool, that you have to produce a bunch of extra endogenous antioxidants to quell inflammation in. The type of muscle that's associated with longevity and in studies from rodent models all the way up to humans, shorter telomere, or I'm sorry, a shorter rate of telomere lengthening. So, increased cellular lifespan, arguably, it is the wiry, quick, explosive, fast-twitch muscles that you develop during power and speed. And so, if you don't have some component of your exercise program that's light bodyweight exercises where you're moving super-fast or some type of power training or plyometric training component or some type of quick sport, like soccer or tennis, versus say just marathoning or hiking or something like that, you're missing out on what would arguably be like the muscle that's best associated with longevity.
So, you have strength where you're getting the muscles stronger and, sometimes, thicker with more mass. But then, you balance that out with power and speed, which is typically moving faster weights or bodyweight under lighter load. And, that could also include some type of sporting component, like a sport. Again, like soccer or tennis or basketball or what have you.
Tom: To stop there for a second on the hardwired muscle, is that in contrast to what Tom Brady and the TB12 method is putting out there? Why am I thinking with them long, lean, pliable muscles? Is that a different school of thought?
Ben: That would probably fall more into the strength component, but it'd fall more into the weak strength [00:24:42]_____. It's almost like nothing as Tom Brady. But, that's no man's land training, to a certain extent, especially, when you work in some of the other stuff I'm going to get into regarding mobility.
So, the power and speed, typically, you want to train that similar to the strength anywhere from two to five times a week, some element of moving a muscle quickly. And, sometimes, it's very simple. I have a kettlebell–
Tom: That can be sprints or resistance.
Ben: Yeah, it could be sprints. It could be kettlebell swings. It could be clap pushups. It could be a game of tennis. You name it. But, you don't want to neglect the fast powerful explosive muscle fibers which will basically keep your body young as you age, especially.
The next would be your mitochondria. So, the powerhouse of the cells, what's actually going to be able to produce ATP, and allow for better cellular health. The best way to train that, based on research, is very short efforts of 20 to 30 seconds in duration with very long recovery periods. And, that only needs to be done once or twice a week. So, what I mean by that, and this is similar to a workout that we've woven into the Ladder app, four 30-second efforts at all-out capacity, each one separated by about four minutes of recovery. So, that's classic mitochondrial workout. Think long work-to-rest ratio. So, you got–I'm sorry. It would be a low work-to-rest ratio. Very short work periods, preferably, not longer than 30 seconds; but, preferably, up around 20 seconds. So, 20, 30 seconds long recovery periods. And, you want to do something like that once a week.
Tom: On a SkiErg or a treadmill or a bike or something.
Ben: Yeah, SkiErg, treadmill, bike. If you got to, just go for a walk. And, during the course of that walk, do four 30-second sprints during the course of the half-hour walk. It could be that simple. But, basically, that's the idea behind mitochondrial density training: short intensity, long recovery periods.
Tom: And then, the density, what is that doing for you? It's just helping with metabolization of fat and glucose? Or, what is that?
Ben: I don't know if metabolization is a word, dude. Did you just make that up?
Tom: I'm making up words?
Ben: Alright. [00:26:39]_____, though. Yeah, it helps with metabolization. It helps with cellular energy. We know that mitochondrial density and mitochondrial health overall is actually beneficial for longevity and a host of other beneficial physiological functions. Interestingly, we know that HIIT, high-intensity interval training, when overdone, or going for too long during your HIIT sessions without enough rest periods in between each spurt of effort during an interval, that's actually associated with decreased mitochondrial density and mitochondrial damage. So, there's a sweet spot.
And, a lot of people, they don't go hard enough during the intervals and they don't go easy enough during the rest periods and they do too much HIIT training. But, you can do this mitochondrial-triggering session once a week. You're good to go.
Tom: You call it the powerplants of your cells. Is that what you said?
Ben: Yeah. Is that what I said, powerplants? We'll call them powerplants of the cells because that'll make all my vegan and vegetarian listeners happy, the plant-power.
And then, you have the fourth component, which I used to train a ton for because I did a lot of endurance sports where you're going at a mid-level speed for a long period of time and having to burn a lot of lactic acid. But, it turns out the ability to be able to burn lactic acid is actually also associated with longevity. I have one friend, Dr. Peter Attia, who's putting together a program that he calls Centenarian Olympics. And, one part of that is making sure your body can buffer lactic acid efficiently. And, some people will even take supplements, like arginine or citrulline, or any of these lactate-buffering enzymes to increase their lactic acid buffering capacity.
But, really, with lactic acid tolerance, the best way to train it is, once or twice a week, just pump your muscles full of lactic acid and then don't give him a chance to get rid of that lactic acid much until the workout is over. So, a perfect example of this would be, either, blood flow restriction training, which traps a whole bunch of lactic acid in the muscle until you're done with the workout and you take those damn straps off, which are burning the whole time straps in your arms or straps in your legs. And, I don't know if you were downstairs when we were demoing those, when we were filming in Austin.
Tom: I wasn't. But, I have a shoulder injury right now and was with my physical therapist. I've been using the B Strong band.
Ben: Those are fine, the B Strong bands, or the fancy ones, or the Japanese Kaatsu bands that automatically inflate. You guys had to buy some when I came down there to film because there wasn't any in the facility. So, you've got some doubts there somewhere, dude, if you'd dig around in your bins. I travel everywhere with them.
So, BFR training. And, the other thing that I'll do for lactate tolerance–And, again, this is one or two times a week. And, I like to use this as a starter or finisher to strength training workout, is something a lot of people may have heard of called Tabata set, T-A-B-A-T-A. And, that's where you just go for four minutes, 20 seconds hard, 10 seconds easy on a bike or an Erg or a rower or burpees, you name it. Twenty seconds hard, 10 seconds easy for four minutes. And, a Tabata set, because, again, you're pumping the muscles full lactic acid, and unlike the mitochondrial training, not giving them a long time to recover, but four minutes is a pretty short lactic acid workout. It's doable. It sucks, but it's doable. But, you do that one or two times a week and you're hitting that fourth bucket, which would be lactate tolerance.
And then, you get to another element that's heavily associated with longevity that tends to decrease with age that's associated with really good sporting capacity and health. And, that's your V02 Max or your maximum oxygen utilization. Of all the different forms of cardio training, like the mitochondrial training I described, or the lactate tolerance training I described, or even the fat-burning machine type of training I'll describe in just a second, V02 Max training is probably one people like the least because what it involves is anywhere from four to six minutes at your maximum sustainable pace. This would be hopping on the Airdyne or the Air Assault bike or the bike from hell, and just jam it as hard as you can after a quick warm-up for four minutes, and then using a one-to-one work-to-rest ratio.
So, the V02 Max workout, and you only have to do this once every one to two weeks, research has shown to keep your V02 Max elevated. But, it be four minutes maximum sustainable pace. Not so hard that you're pooped out after a minute, but hard enough to where it's as hard as you can go and sustain for four minutes. Let's say your RPM on the bike is 60 RPM, you'd want to maintain 60 RPM for the full four minutes. But, you basically maintain that intensity throughout. We're talking 85, 90%-ish. And then, you give yourself four minutes of recovery. So, it's 1:1 work to rest ratio. And, you typically do four to six rounds of that. So, if you want to think about it in really simplistic terms, four to six maximal sustainable pace efforts with four to six minutes of recovery between each, four to six times through. But, if you do that once every one to two weeks, even though it's really mentally demanding, you're going to have massive V02 Max, which is amazing for oxygen utilization. So, that's the fifth bucket.
And, some people will biohack this. There's this concept of exercise with oxygen training. I have this machine called Live02. It's got a little trigger on it, where I can flip the switch from hypoxia, where it sucks all the oxygen out of the bag, to hyperoxia, where I'm breathing pure oxygen. So, what I'll do is I'll do a V02 Max workout and I'll give myself hypoxia during my formative efforts and then just blast myself with oxygen during my recoveries. Or, sometimes, I'll do the opposite. I'll blast my muscles with oxygen, so I can go really hard during the four minutes, and then try to recover under hypoxia. And, that has this vasodilation, vasoconstriction action on the vessels. And, it amplifies the effects of V02 Max training.
They're not inexpensive, and it's not like you got to buy a bunch of biohacking equipment, for example, for my program in Ladder. But, that's what V02 Max training is like, and that's a perfect example of marrying a biohack, like what mine's called Live02 machine with V02 Max training.
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Tom: The African Viking over here, called Coach Reign and Training Day, I trained with him a lot because he's based here in Austin. And, he has us finish a lot of workouts, both in the app and when I trained with him in person. If it's a group, we'll do, maybe, a 3,000-meter ski relay. So, it'll be three on three and you're just going all out and similar work-to-rest ratio than you were talking about. But, it's amazing, over the course of six, eight weeks, certainly longer, how much you can improve your aerobic capacity. I love that style of training.
Ben: Exactly. So, that's the V02 Max, Tom. Those five buckets are the hardest buckets. If you were to pull up in my Ladder app and jump in, you'll see strength, you'll see power/speed, you'll see mitochondrial training, you'll see lactate tolerance training, and you'll see V02 Max training.
Tom: Will you program some stamina or endurance in there as well once a week?
Ben: Yeah, exactly. Because those are five buckets, but then there's two other buckets that I like. One is endurance or like your fat-burning machine capacity. For this, people also overdo this. This is the classic type of training that's low-intensity aerobic, often slightly conversational, like your hikes, your bike ride, your walks, your long swims, your paddleboard session, stuff like that. But, some people, honestly, they just get chronic repetitive motion hamster-on-a-wheel type of mindset with their training. And, they're just going out and doing a poopy face run for lunch every single day or just going on a hike every.
Hiking is great. My wife's main style of training, my wife, Jessa, is hot yoga and hiking. But, she's also playing tennis with the family a couple times a week. She's lifting heavy rocks around the garden, like hoeing and hauling alfalfa out to the goats. So, she's getting the strength training and the speed training and stuff naturally just through life. But a lot of people, they just do too much of the chronic repetitive motion cardio training, when, in fact, if you're just programming low-level physical activity into your life, every call I take, if I could take it while walking, I walk. Talking to you right now, if I could be walking, I'd be walking. But, my treadmill makes too much noise for a really good podcast. And, I want to do this one outside. But, I take 10,000 to 20,000 steps a day, just walking while I'm on calls, parking as far away as I can from a grocery store or restaurant, just moving all throughout the day. That's how I like to tackle the fat-burning endurance cardio component.
But, I also, in my programs, once-a-week program, anywhere from one to three hours, typically on the weekend, the long hike, the long paddleboard session, the long swim, the long bike ride, maybe, to a different nearby city 10 miles away to go hit a coffee shop and ride back or whatever. But, the idea behind that is that I encourage people to do it in a fasted state. Wake up Saturday morning and do a two-hour hike fasted. It's not hard. You're not pushing yourself. You're not going to beat yourself up with no fuel onboard just hiking at low-level capacity for a couple hours. Train your body how to tap into its own fat as a fuel.
And, you can always, if you're super-duper lean, like I am, sometimes, I'll take a shot of ketones or a couple of scoops of amino acids or something like that beforehand just for a little bit of energy, especially, cognitive energy, because I don't like to be hungry when I'm hiking. And, that would be a great name for your next stuff, by the way, Tom, hungry hiker. But, anyways, the endurance component is just basically low-level cardio, preferably fasted, one, maybe, two times a week. And, again, this program that we're doing on Ladder is not for the Ironman triathlete. If you're an Ironman triathlete, you're probably doing that type of endurance every day. I did when I was Ironman. But, in terms of just wanting to have good fat-burning capacity for life, one or two times a week you're, just going out and doing something long. And, preferably, your fasted, or relatively fasted while you're doing it. And, that's the sixth bucket.
And then, the final bucket, the seventh, is mobility. So, for example, and this is very similar to what I programmed in Ladder, 10 to 15 minutes every morning. One of the first things I do when I get up is I foam-roll and I stretch. And so, by the end of the week, I've done 75 to 90 minutes of mobility, whether through fascia work or whether through stretching. If you count the massage I get every one to two weeks, that also can fall into the mobility bucket. Any type of physical therapy exercises that you do, the warm-up and cool-down for your workouts, for me, the way that I treat my mobility, Tom, is I get up in the morning and I'll do 10 to 15 minutes of foam-rolling any tight body parts, stretching anything that feels tight, etc.
But, I think of it this way. I'm like, if I'm following my own rules of physical activity just being woven into my entire day, I'd like to get to the end of my day and feel pretty good, whether or not I've worked out, because I've just been moving all day, taking little breaks, swing some kettlebells or do a few pull-ups, taking calls while I'm walking, etc., when I wake up in the morning, my mindset is, “Alright, this whole day is a workout.” So, one of the first things I'm going to do in the morning is just warm-up for my workout.
And so, that's the way that I do it. And so, when I actually do, let's say after we podcast, I want to squeeze in because most of my workouts are 30 to 40 minutes. And, let's say we finish our podcasts and I want to go workout, I might warm up for two minutes, dude, because I've already done 15 minutes of foam rolling and mobility work. I'm standing up while I'm talking to you at my standing desk. I got one of these little Topo mats that I'm standing on. So, I'm rolling my feet with the ball right now while I'm talking to you. I've got different positions I can be in. But, basically, the idea is you try to weave mobility in through your day more than spending 15, 20 minutes before or after your workout, focused on mobility because I'd rather you just be working out during your workout time.
So, those are the seven buckets: strength, power/speed, mitochondrial density and health, lactate tolerance, V02 Max, endurance or fat-burning capacity, and then mobility. Now, of course–And, my listeners would be familiar with this, Tom. That doesn't mean that there aren't other important things that you should be doing. Eating whole, real, recognizable food, preferably, as close to your own biochemical and genetic individuality as possible. Getting tons of sunlight or even using red light panels or so-called photobiomodulation panels, or infrared light saunas, things like that, during the day or on a recovery day. And, we have one big recovery in biohacking day worked into the Boundless program. It would be grounding, going outside barefoot or sleeping on one of these grounding mats, or just making sure you're connected to the planet Earth at some point every day for anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes. Throwing in a few sauna sessions during the week. Throwing in a cold bath or a cold shower one or two times a day. Making sure you'd drink lots of fresh, clean, pure water with minerals added to it. Having a good gratitude and meditation practice. Having positive relationships. I'm one of those guys who wishes “Men's Health” or “Women's Health” magazine would talk more about light and grounding and heat and cold and water and minerals and relationships as much as they talk about bicep curls and high-intensity interval training.
But, ultimately, let's say that you're eating well, you're getting sunlight or some form of red light therapy on the regular, you're grounding or earthing on the regular, you're getting some kind of heat practice, like sauna, cold practice, like cold showers, good water with minerals, positive relationships and a good spiritual life, if you've got all that going for you and then you throw in strength, power/speed, mitochondrial, lactate tolerance, V02 Max endurance, and mobility, then long-answer your question you asked, what should people do if they want to feel good and look good naked and live for a long time, that would basically be everything all at once. And, that's what I tried to do with the Boundless program in the Ladder app, which is weave all that stuff in.
Tom: I want to talk nutrition. But, before we get there, you mentioned that, sometimes, people overdo it with the endurance training. Just curious other mistakes people make, whether it's recovery-related or–Just curious, any other obvious mistakes that you see people make.
Ben: Mistakes? Geez. So, I would say biggest mistakes would be, there's a lot of pressure to–And, this might fly in the face of all the different cool programs in the Ladder app and beyond, of course, I keep making this sound like a big commercial for the Ladder app. It's not–Well, I fill people in on what that is, and I'm excited about it. But, whether you're reading a fitness magazine or whatever, there's pressure to constantly change the new programs. That's the way fitness magazines stay in businesses, is, besides the supplement advertisements, they got to have new program. What's the focus today? What's the butt workout that the latest celebrity is doing that people need to drop everything and switch to from the arm workout that the movie star was doing in the last issue? Or, a personal trainer who knows that the best way to keep a client signing up for month after month is to tell them, “We got to change up the workout next month. If you do what you're doing this month, it's not going to work.”
So, there's this pressure to constantly change. But, people do it too much. They don't stick with the same program long enough. And, in the Boundless program in the Ladder app, I'm changing up the workouts every six weeks or so. And, that's about as frequently as I would want to change stuff up. I personally have about 20 workouts or so that I cycle through nearly throughout the entire year. And, that's important because you eliminate a lot of decision-making fatigue. You allow the body to become better and stronger and more proficient at the exercises that it is doing.
And so, I think people beat themselves up too much that they're doing the same workout that they were doing two years ago, when, in fact, you can give yourself permission to do that. I don't plan on not walking until I'm dead. I walk every day. I'll swing kettlebells a few times every week. I'll do pushups every day. There are certain things that you just don't have to change up. But, you have to strike a balance between that and what, in sports training or athletic training, we call periodization, having certain periods of the year where you're focused on strength or certain periods of year where you're focused on fat loss or certain periods of the year where you're focused on recovery.
There's also, when it comes to changing up workouts, the entertainment factor, like you being excited to go to the gym because you're trying something new or you have a new workout in your app from your trainer. There's something to metabolic guesswork. Like in exercise physiology, there's a principle called SAID, specific adaptation to imposed demands. And, what that dictates is that the body is eventually going to become so efficient at the exercises that you do have it doing that you don't burn as many calories, or your muscles don't stay quite as active if they're just used to doing pushups, for example, are super easy for me. I started doing cranking out, literally, hundreds of pushups a day back when I was training for this event called SEALFIT. And, not a day goes by, Tom, where I don't do 300 pushups. I'll just drop at different points during the day and do 30 pushups. I'll go to the bathroom at a restaurant and drop and do 30 pushups and then wash my hands really, really, really, really, really well, and then go back to dinner. I do so many pushups every day. It's nuts. And so, my body is really good at pushups, compared to somebody who doesn't do that. Pushups don't do as much for me as they would for someone who's not doing that many pushups. But, it also allows me to weave strengthen in throughout my entire day and physical activity in throughout my entire day, like we were talking about earlier.
So, what I'm getting at here is that one big mistake is that people beat themselves up just by sticking to an exercise program for a long period of time. And, it's okay to the same exercises and the same workouts for four, five, six weeks, sometimes eight weeks in a row and just not change anything up. And, sometimes, you find that you can dig yourself into a [00:46:53]_____. Well, that's probably bad analogy. You can put a lot of money in the fitness bank and remove a lot of decision-making fatigue from your workouts by doing that, as long as you recognize that you do have to change up things like the weight that you're lifting, the speed with which you're doing exercises, and be a variation of a certain exercise, like a dive bomb or pushup instead of a regular pushup, things like that. But, understand the balance between constantly changing and having a shiny penny “Hey, look, a squirrel” approach to your fitness programming. And, also, properly making mild fluctuations throughout the entire year.
So, the way that I'm doing my Boundless program in the Ladder app is I'm making little tweaks every six weeks, but it's not as though you're doing this full-blown complete overhaul every six weeks. It's still the same flavor of exercise. And, it still allows for the body to continue to progress and get better. So, that would be one.
Another mistake would be a lot of people, I think, sacrifice sleep, which is, in my opinion, as important as nutrition and exercise and relationships and everything else to workout. They either get up too early, like at 4:00 a.m., and short themselves on sleep, so they can squeeze their workout in, usually, because they're not working out smart and they're going to the gym and doing bicep curls and triceps pushdowns and long slow jogs on the treadmill, when you should be able to get in and get out of the gym in 30 to 45 minutes easily. But, a lot of people are not working out properly, or they are trying to squeeze in their workouts too early or too late because they're not being physically active during their workday and, often, they're working out too close to bedtime, which disrupts sleep.
So, if I have to choose between getting in my workout or getting an extra sleep, I will always figure out, how can I make this work out very efficient, minimal effective dose of exercise so I can sleep until 5:00, instead of having to get at 4:00 to go to the gym? Or, how can I get this workout done by 6:00 p.m. instead of being in the gym an extra 45 minutes to an hour till 7:00 p.m., dictating that I'm working out too close to bedtime, my core temperature is going to be too high, my cortisol is going to be too high.
So, I think a lot of people need to think about sleep and prioritize sleep as much as they do their workouts and their diet. And, a big part of that is exercising efficiently and exercising intelligently. You're not the Navy SEAL who's going to sleep when they die, and they're going to die earlier, so they aren't going to get a lot of sleep, because they're dying earlier. But, you want to balance out sleep with exercise. And, I think too many people short themselves on sleep in order to exercise. And, you just wind up having that cortisolly tired eyes, wrinkly skin, collagen degradation, sick all the time type of scenario because you're just not prioritizing sleep enough. So, that's another big one. You do need to sleep enough.
Tom: Our whole team was impressed that you were able to take a nap in the middle of the day that we had you on just to set it up. And, he's obviously doing movement after movement. We tell him he's got–We launched. And then, he's still got 30 minutes to spare. And, he says he's going to take a nap. Then, lights are on. And, Ben just gets out, all of his gear. And, he just goes through a full sleep cycle in 30 minutes, and then comes out and kills the rest of the movements. But, I've never seen anything like that.
Ben: I do efficient sleep and efficient exercise. So, if you would watch me get ready for my nap in there, I'm putting on a Hapbee around my neck to simulate CBD but not have CBD in my system. So, I could get up and still be exercising afterwards. I was using a little Apollo wristband full-on sleep. I have this little sleep kit that's always in my bag. Whip that thing out, and I can crush a 90-minute sleep cycle in 20 minutes using a setup like that.
Ben: I wear an Oura ring, yeah.
Tom: And so, can you see within a 30-minute nap, I'm always curious what percentage of that–Are you able to get into the SWS sleep into that deep sleep?
Ben: None of these wearables. They all suck at measuring naps. They do a pretty good job with sleep architecture for a full night of sleep, but I'm going off of research that is done, sleep spindle research, on people who are napping from 20 to 45 minutes. And, it's shown that you simulate, you go through a full sleep cycle, but it's accelerated, the sleep cycle is.
And so, probably, one of the companies that have done the most research on that is an app that I use called NuCalm, that just knocks me out for 20 or 30 minutes. And, they've done some pretty cool sleep studies, showing that that or another thing called Yoga Nidra, which is basically almost like a body scan where you're relaxing yourself with a certain type of breathwork, that can do a really good job simulating sleep. So, I sleep anywhere from six-and-a-half to seven-and-a-half hours a night. And then, I'm always doing a 20 to 40-minute nap. So, yeah, I would say that would be another mistake people make, is just not getting the sleep component figured out and then shorting themselves on sleep for exercise.
Relying on a gym or health club to workout, that's a biggie. Me being in your gym, that's probably the fifth time I've been in a gym in the past two years since COVID started because I've got kettlebells and sandbags in my garage. I got some bikes and barbells and dumbbells in my other little home gym out in the forest that I walk out to. And, too many people feel like they have to go to a gym or a health club to workout. They've set up this scenario where they tell themselves, “It's got to be the right set and setting to radically change your habits. You must radically change your environment.” I get all of that, but you don't want to spend 10 to 20 minutes or more driving to the gym, maybe, sitting around for a few more minutes waiting for that class to start that you signed up for, waiting for your workout buddies to show up, driving the 10 to 20 minutes back, waiting in line for the bathroom, taking the shower in a different shower that's not your own.
So, there's all these things that pile up when you're relying on a gym or a health club, in addition to the modern overhead LED fluorescent lighting. And, I've written articles about all the mold problems in gyms and the Wi-Fi pouring off the treadmills. And so, a gym is actually an unhealthy place. And, I get it if that's what it takes to motivate you to exercise, is you have to visit a gym or a health club. But, that was one of the things that we worked on with the Boundless program in Ladder was we want people to do this in their basement, in their backyard, at a park, wherever, with minimal equipment.
And, I think that if you are reliant mentally or physically upon a gym or a health club in order to motivate you to work out, that's a mistake. And, there's no reason that you have to have a fabricated room or box or facility in order to move your body. You can go out to the great outdoors. You can go into your basement where you have some weights. You can hit that kettlebell that's right behind you in your office cubicle. So, relying on a gym or a health club is another big mistake, I think. And so, I encourage people to just reframe the idea of needing to go to a gym to workout. You don't have to go to a gym to workout. Period.
Feeling like your workout needs to last a certain amount of time. Saying, “I got to go to the gym for 30 minutes,” or, “I got to work out for 45 minutes,” or, “I got to get 60 minutes, and then the world's going to end,” versus giving yourself permission to do what I call micro workouts. And, I do this often on busy days. I'll do, sometimes, on some days, four to five, 5 to 10-minute workouts that I'll just squeeze in between phone calls and podcasts and writing. And so, I'll take that workout that was supposed to be, let's say, five rounds of pushups, squats, burpees, kettlebell swings, and 50 calories on the Airdyne. And, I'll instead do that exact workout but do one round at 7:00 a.m., one round at 9:00 a.m., one round just before lunch, one round after my afternoon nap, one round right before dinner, and just squeeze it all in throughout the day.
And, a lot of research has shown that these micro workouts are really effective because, really, what it comes down to at the end of the day is how much time under tension that your muscles have been under. And, there's no reason–Actually, I've seen a lot of people adopting this and it is becoming more popular, this concept of micro workouts. It's like that same idea of me sleeping a little bit shorter but then throwing a nap in in the middle of the day. But, basically, don't think that your workout has to be that one dedicated time that you work out. You can actually split it up or even stop at halfway through and come back and finish it later. A lot of people think it's going to get super messed up if they don't do all four sets of bench press or squat in the same workout.
And, yeah, there is a certain amount of fatigue that builds up by compressing a workout into a period of time, like 30 or 40 or 60 minutes, that allows you for some benefits, but you still get a ton of benefits from splitting it up into five minutes here, 10 minutes there, etc. So, I would say, give yourself permission to split up your workouts. If you don't get done what you plan on getting done, then just do some micro workout. Split it up throughout the day. Finish the 30 minutes out of a 45-minute workout that you had plan on, and then just get the 15 minutes done right before dinner or crank out some extra burpees after lunch or whatever. So, micro workouts would be another.
And then, one more I'll throw at you, Tom, and this would be a lot of people, when they're working out, they're just tracking muscle gain and fat loss. Even a lot of studies, if you'll look at them and you tear them apart, that say, whatever, resistance training is better than cardio or cycling is better than running or X amount of cold-water minutes is better than this amount of time spent in a cold bath, a lot of these studies, all they look at is body fat loss or bodyweight loss or BMI or muscle gain or lean muscle maintenance. But, they don't actually look at a ton of other health metrics that I think have to be paid attention to if you really are focused on lifespan and health span, like your cortisol levels, your testosterone levels, your inflammation levels, your thyroid values, your red blood cell density or red blood cell width or red blood cell volume, your white blood cell count. All these things that we can now test in the comfort of our own homes that would have cost tens of thousands of dollars a decade ago at the Princeton Longevity Institute or whatever, we can track a lot more than just body fat and muscle gain or BMI. So, understand that that's just one thing to look at.
Whether you're analyzing the results of and reading a study on exercise, or whether you are just tracking your own body, there's so much more to health that goes beyond just what's the percentage of body fat loss and what's the amount of muscle gain. Because, I can tell you, if I stumble across the perfect program for, let's say, muscle gain and fat loss, but it's a program that also, say, lowers thyroid hormone, lowers testosterone, amplifies cortisol, and results in long-term soft tissue muscle damage, that doesn't mean it's a great workout. It means it's going to get me short-term aesthetic gains for long-term metabolic damage. And, so many people will jump into a program and feel great for three months or four months or six months. And, they'll beat them up and spit them out because all they're paying attention to is body fat and muscle and not all these other metrics that I think are just as important in the same way I think light and grounding and heat and cold and minerals and water and all this stuff is as important as the exercise piece. So, I know it's a mouthful, but those are some mistakes.
Tom: Do you have a good at-home kit for testing some of those biomarkers? Or, how would one do that at home?
Ben: There's a lot of ways to do it. I've got one company I'm testing right now called Core. And, it's literally like one of those Star Trek-esque–What was the thing in Star Trek where they're wave it in front of you and you could tell everything that was wrong with your body? Are you a Trekkie?
Ben: That one is called the Core. And, I just put a little drop of blood and it analyzes thousands of different biomarkers. And, it's all under trial right now. I'm trying it right now. I can't say I like it or don't like it. But then, there's other companies like Thorne that sends you a home test kit. They'll test sleep. They'll test hormones. One drop of blood, and then you send it back to them. There are companies like Onegevity or Viome that will do the same thing for your gut. There's companies like Strategene that will do the same thing for your genetics. There are companies like Dutch that will do the same thing for your hormones.
When I have a client who signs up for me, and if anybody leaves a comment or, perhaps, in the shownotes, because I actually have a whole team that works on the shownotes and they listen to these podcasts before they come out. And, I'll tell them right now, “Hey, you guys, put all my gold standard tests in the shownotes, so people can see,” when I'm on the phone with one of my clients, what I tell them to go order. And then, they send me the results, and I sit down with those results. If I'm working with somebody one-on-one, I tell him, “Here's what you need to be eating. Here's the supplements you should be taking. Here's the things to talk to your doctor about. Here are the times of day you should be eating. Here's what agrees with your genetics.”
And so, it's not like there's one single test that rules them all. But, there's about six different tests you can order to your house that pretty much cover the bases on everything you'd ever need to know to advise you on your recovery time, on your nutrition, on your supplementations, etc. And, I'll put them in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast.
Tom: Alright. So, obviously, still a bunch that we want to talk about, including nutrition, but I think let's stick with exercise for now. And so, what I'd love to better understand is how you go about programming your own workouts. And then, maybe, in addition to that, what is the most enduring change you've made to your own programming over time?
Ben: I love that question. And, I agree, we do need to talk about nutrition. There's so much that I want to talk about, Tom, [01:01:04]_____ it. So, if you're listening right now, Tom and I are going to do a part two, just so you guys know. We will do a part two because this is fun [BLEEP] and I feel like I'm getting a chance to talk now during my own podcast about stuff I never get to because I'm always interviewing somebody.
Alright. So, how do I go about programming my workouts? When I sit down and I'm working with somebody one-on-one or I have somebody like you come to me and say, “Ben, we want you to be our guy for the minimal effective dose of exercise and health span and lifespan for a workout,” when I've got somebody's goals in front of me, the things that I like take into account would be equipment, like dumbbells, kettlebells, treadmill. What do you actually have? I just had a client text me this morning because he's in Thailand right now, filming for a movie. And so, he's constantly on the go. And, he'll just shoot a video for me when he gets to where he's going and what the gym looks or what his home setup looks like. And then, I sit down with that and say, “We don't have any kettlebell, so we're going to have to basically work with this shitty dumbbell set that you have in the corner of the hotel gym or that big park that we found on Google Maps near your hotel, or whatever you happen to have available.” With the Boundless program on Ladder, we stuck with a lot of the stuff that people would typically find in a gym or health club or stuff they could pretty easily get at home, like kettlebell, BFR bands, things like that. So, equipment is one.
Time limitations, I always ask people, well, how much time do you want this to take? And, if they don't know, I tell them, we can get done. Shoving aside light therapy and sauna and cold, we can get done from an exercise standpoint with just about anybody on the face of the planet who just wants to look good naked and live a long time, needs to get done in about 30 to 60 minutes a day. But, I always ask about time limitations, just in case, because I have some CEOs who I work with who are three days a week, an hour and a half. That's all I got, bro. What can you give me? And, I'll work with that. I have other people who I'm jealous of, who are I do all my work via my phone from a golf course. And, I've got about, maybe, five hours per day every morning to take care of my body before I head out on the golf course. And, I'm like, A, great. B, I want your job. But, the time limitations is another one I look at.
Goals, of course. Do you want to look good? Are you getting ready for an Ironman triathlon or a marathon or a Spartan race, which would dictate I'd train you a lot differently than somebody who wants to live a long time because those type of workouts aren't going to increase longevity. But, if that's the personal Mount Everest that you want to climb, fine, I'll program that way for you. But, if somebody wants to lose weight and lose body fat, there's a lot more fasted workouts. There's a lot more cold thermogenesis worked in. There's a lot more, even, sleep worked in, and a lot more that fasted cardio worked in. If someone is training for longevity, it's a lot more of exactly what I described earlier in this podcast, that combination of strength, power, speed, mitochondria, lactate tolerance, V02 Max, endurance, mobility, light, grounding, heat, cold, minerals, water, relationships, and everything, that's actually what the Boundless program is. It's like that Ladder one, really. Longevity, I would say, is the best way to describe what we're doing with the Boundless program in Ladder.
I look at injuries, injury history, and also, existing injuries. What do we have to work around? And, that's one reason I had to film 700 different exercises down at your place because we got to have options for people who might not be able to do, let's say, a lunge jump but can do a split lunge with the back leg on a bench, or somebody who can't do a barbell squat due to back pain but do just fine with the goblet squat. And so, injuries are another thing I look at.
And then, I also look at, and this is one that gets thrown into a mix a lot, desire for social sports. A lot of people are like, “I like to play tennis three times a week. I love my Pilates class or my hot yoga class. I want to go paddleboarding every weekend.” And so, I don't pile extra workouts on top of the social sports because sports are working out. At the end of the day, training stresses is training stress. So, I always look at what a person actually has going on from a social sports standpoint as well that they want to include.
And so, once I've looked at equipment, at time limitations, at goals, whether it be aesthetics or performance or longevity, etc., at injuries, at desire for any social sports, that usually gives me what I need to know to work on someone's program. For me, myself, I do the same thing. Every Sunday night, I sit down, I look at my week ahead, I go to those workouts that I tend to rely on a regular basis. I look at where I'll be in the world. And then, I say–And, I literally do. It's like, every Sunday night, I know there's that saying that anyone who is their own coach has the worst coach they could ever get or something like that. But, I like the versatility of being able to program my workouts. And, I'm pretty self-motivated. So, every Sunday, I do this for my sons. I sit down and program all my sons' workouts. I sit down and program my workouts. And then, I just have everything written out all the way up until the following Sunday. And, that's how I actually figure out what it is that I'm going to do.
And, that's the same thing I'm doing for the Boundless program in Ladder. I'm sitting down every six weeks. Here's what I want to change. Here's what I want to weave in. Here's what they've been doing. Here's what they're going to start doing, etc. And so, that's how I program.
And, as far as how it's changed over time, I do–Well, let me look at it this way, man. I used to do Ironman Triathlon and Spartans and all this crazy shit. I do way less exercise now. Even though I still, back when I was training for Ironman, I was still training 14 to 16 hours a week, lot of weeks, eight to 10 hours, versus the 20 to 40 hours that's common amongst Ironman triathletes, especially, Ironman triathletes who are trying to qualify for world championships or whatever. So, I've always been a minimal effective dose of exercise. I'll use smarter science such as a lot of those concepts I was talking about earlier to get as much results as possible in a short period of time as possible.
But, now, I do even less exercise. I workout for 30 to 40 minutes a day, if we're talking about what most people would consider an actual workout. Alright. And, that's when I'm at home. When I travel, I'm often very, very busy. When I travel, I'm often in Ubers and airplanes and sitting in conference rooms and outside of my environment where I do low-level physical activity all day long that lets me get away with a 30 to 40-minute workout. So, lot of times, when I travel, I'll hit the gym for an hour, like the hotel gym for an hour in the morning, or go for a longer walk, or put on blood flow restriction bands and go for a swim. So, when I travel, it's a little bit more. But, for me, if I'm working out for more than 60 minutes a day, it means that I'm way beyond what is typical for me. So, way less exercise would be one thing. I do a lot more micro workouts, a lot more of those give myself permission to just weave in 5 to 10-minute workouts throughout the day.
I get by on working out less, however, by doing way more sauna, way more cold showers and cold soaks, a ton of breathwork, including breathwork while I'm working out, deep nasal breathing, breathwork before, breathwork after, Wim Hof protocols before I hit the cold bath. I do a lot more meditation every single morning with my family, 5 to 10 minutes every single evening with my family, 5 to 10 minutes. I do a lot more fasting. I used to get up and punish huge meals. Now, I do a 12 to 16-hour intermittent fast every day, dinnertime to dinnertime, fast a couple of times a month, every quarter, like a spring cleanup, where I'm doing a three to five-day bone broth fast or vegetable fast or a Kayakalpa or a Panchakarma type of fast that's more of an Ayurvedic approach. But, I'm doing some type of fast on a regular basis. And then, a lot more focus on walking. I walk a ton, like I mentioned, 10 to 20,000 steps a day.
So, ultimately, I do less exercise, 30, 60 minutes a day max. I do a lot more of the micro workouts, more heat, more cold, more breathwork, more meditation, more fasting, and a ton of walking. Whereas, back in the day, dude, it would have been get up, crush a swim, sit, sit, sit, sit, sit. Lunchtime, crush a run, sit, sit, sit, sit, sit. Evening before dinner, do a bike or do a four-hour ride on the weekends or whatever, go to bed. Now, it's, in my opinion, a lot more holistic, a lot more natural, a lot more conducive to longevity. I'm happier. I'm injured less. I feel great. I'm in good shape. And so, everything that I've changed in my own exercise program is exactly what I wove into the Boundless program on Ladder. So, that's what's changed.
Tom: That's awesome. And, I am just looking at the–I was just looking at a sneak peek of your week one program. And, it's exactly what you described. I think it's workouts anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. You even have a nature breath walk in there. It's truly your finished protocol. That's awesome, man. Well, I know that we're going to do a part two, which I'll look forward to. Tell people where to find what they need about your program as well, if you want to wrap up now.
Ben: Well, definitely, you had told me about some of the things you want to talk about. And so, just for you and for the listeners, Tom and I wanted to talk about misinformation in the fitness era and all the nonsense and so-called witchcraft out there. We want to talk to you about nutrition and some of my approaches to nutrition and how important that is or is not compared to fitness. I wanted to talk a little bit about some of the failures of a lot of the popular diets out there and clear up the confusion about that. And then, we also wanted to fill you in even more on what the Boundless program is in Ladder. And, Tom had some specific biohacks he wanted to talk about.
And so, we'll do a part two. But, in the meantime, from what I understand, Tom, and correct me if I'm wrong, basically, September 19th is when this program is going to be available, my Boundless program on the Ladder app. I know that we'll link to it if people go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast. That's the best place to go if you want to get the app and my program and everything. A, because that's where all the shownotes reside. And, B, because they're able to track that link as coming from this podcast. And so, it just helps me out if Tom and his team can see how many of you are coming over based on hearing this podcast. And so, if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast, you can get there or you can, of course, just find it in the app store as well. Tom, was I correct? It's September 19th that my program launches?
Tom: Yeah. So, it sounds like when this podcast drops, the program will be live. And so, I encourage people to check it out. I definitely want to highlight that there's a seven-day free trial. It doesn't require a credit card. So, we give everyone plenty of time to check out your full program and really get the full experience before they're asked to consider payment and then to the extent they lock-in, which I think many of you will. It's as little as $39 a month, which, based on what I know about your offerings, this is definitely the most accessible price point that you've ever offered for an experience with you.
Ben: Well, open the kimono, my private clients pay me $5,000 a month for me to manage everything for them, for me to be the CEO of their health and track their HRV and their sleep and go through all their labs and talk to them every day. Compared to that for 50 bucks a month and the ability to be able to check it out for free and kick the tires, so to speak, this is a bargain. And, of course, I wouldn't want to see people into thinking they're going to be on the phone with me every day on the Ladder app. But, basically, my goal was to make a lot of what I do scalable and not feel like I got to charge people tons of money to be able to access some of my knowledge and how I put programs together every month. So, that's why I wanted to partner up with Tom. And, I'm super excited about it.
I'm going to be fully authentic and transparent with everybody listening. I didn't want to do an app. I thought it was gimmicky. I have not been impressed with any of that I've seen. I talked to Tom and went through the Ladder app. I went down there and filmed. And, now, I'm the polar opposite. I'm super stoked about this thing. And, I'm excited for you all to be able to try it.
So, yeah, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast. And then, if you guys have questions or technical difficulties or comments or feedback, leave them there. And, Tom and I will help you out. And then, Tom, I think part two is going to be fun, dude, because I've already seen some of the stuff you want to talk about. And, we're going to have a lot of fun in part two, too. But, I guess we're getting long in the tooth, so we should pull on this one. And, for folks listening in, Tom and I will record part two, I would say within the next–What do you think, Tom, sometime in the next one to three weeks or so?
Tom: Sounds great. Let's do it.
Ben: Alright, cool. Till then. Thanks, Tom. You're great at putting me in the hot seat. I appreciate it.
Tom: I absolutely look forward to doing it again.
Ben: Alright, folks. Go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast. Grab my program on the Ladder app. It's called Boundless. And, I'll see it in there, along with the entire rabid community who you're going to get to join in following this thing. So, till next time. I'm Tom. Or, he's Tom, I'm Ben, and I can't talk, signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful, “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormones, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more.
Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes that I mentioned during this and every episode helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. So, when you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, to use the promo codes that I generate because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
In this podcast episode, I get put in the hot seat just a bit by my guest Tom Digan, as he picks my brain about how to assemble the very best workouts and exercises to achieve the ideal combination of fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle tactics for both lifespan and healthspan…
…but I also get a chance to delve into his unique body of knowledge regarding the surge in home fitness trends and fitness apps.
After all, there are plenty of workout and fitness apps out there, but there's a reason that I recently partnered with Tom's company “Ladder” for the launch of my new training program Boundless, which is unlike any training experience I’ve ever created. Boundless on the Ladder app is a fully structured training program delivered to you fresh each and every week, utilizing my Minimum Dose Methodology, which maximizes cardiovascular endurance, strength, and stamina in the minimum amount of time, to help you burn fat, gain muscle, and get in the best shape of your life. Each week you’ll have 5 workout days, one active recovery and mobility day, and on Sundays, you’ll even get a special biohacking tip from me, all inside of the Ladder app. Every workout has guided movement videos and coaching queues as well, so you can master each movement and stay motivated.
You can download Ladder now in the iOS App Store. When you get it, you are not only getting an amazing workout program delivered conveniently to your phone, you’re also getting the benefit of real accountability and community. The Ladder app makes it super easy to not only chat with the other members of Team Boundless, but also send me one-on-one messages to ask me training questions, get nutrition tips, and keep me updated on your progress. This type of personalized fitness consultation and coaching with me usually costs thousands of dollars, but you can get full access to me and my training programs for only $60 a month by subscribing to Ladder.
So if you’re tired of planning your workouts, want to finally achieve an incredible physique, or you need the accountability of a community to get in shape, Team Boundless on the Ladder app is for you. Download Ladder in the iOS App Store now, join Team Boundless, and try your first week of workouts for free by clicking here.
So who is Tom?
Tom Digan is the Co-Founder & President of Ladder, a fitness technology company based in Austin, TX. Prior to joining Ladder full-time, Tom spent over a decade working in the hedge fund industry as a Partner at a $1B+ AUM (assets under management) investment firm located in New York City. Tom holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and was a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree.
About Ladder Teams
Ladder Teams is a social fitness experience for people who are passionate about fitness and need help planning and maintaining a progressive training program. With Ladder Teams, avid fitness-seekers can access a complete strength training program on their phone, learn from an expert coach, and engage with a community that shares a passion for fitness.
During my discussion with Tom, you'll discover:
-How Tom got involved with fitness and helped create the Ladder app…07:15
- Began with 1:1 coaching online
- Personalization was overhyped
- Work with “star” trainers in a scalable fashion
- Launched in the middle of the Covid pandemic
-The nuts and bolts of how the Ladder app works…11:12
- Average price is $50/month
- You lock in with one specific coach
- Trainers include:
- Ben Greenfield (Dr. Strange)
- Reign Nel
- Lauren Kanski
- Bobby Maximus
- Sam Tooley
- Skews to strength training (conspicuously absent from the market when the app was launched)
-Ben's advice on how to feel good, look good, and live forever…18:05
- Strength (lifting stuff)
- Minimum effective dose
- All workouts full body
- 2-5x per week
- Power and speed
- 2-5x per week
- Tennis, basketball, etc.
- 20-30 seconds strenuous exercise with long recovery periods
- HIIT when overdone is associated with mitochondrial damage
- Lactate tolerance
- 1-2x per week
- BFR training:
- B Strong bands
- Kaatsu bands (use code BEN to save 5%)
- Tabata sets (20 seconds hard, 10 seconds easy for 4 minutes)
- VO2 Max
- 4-6 minutes at max. sustainable pace
- 1:1 work to rest ratio
- Do once every 1-2 weeks
- LiveO2 machine
- Program low-level training into your life
- Do a 2-hour session in a fasted state
- Foam rolling in the morning
- Weave it in throughout the day
- Eat real foods
- Get lots of sunlight or red light
- Mat PEMF
- Clean water
- Gratitude and positive relationships
-Common mistakes people make with training and/or recovery…41:45
- Constantly changing new programs
- SAID: Specific adaptation to imposed demands
- Sticking with the same program for too long
- Sacrificing sleep in order to work out
- Being overly reliant on the gym
- Feeling like your workout needs to last a certain amount of time or else you're an utter failure as a human being
- Micro workouts throughout the day
- Tracking only muscle gain and fat loss
-The best ways to test your biomarkers…57:35
- Thorne home test kits:
- Biological Age Test (lab blood panel)
- Gut Health Test (stool)
- Sleep Test (urine)
- Stress Test (saliva)
- Weight Management Test (saliva and blood)
- Onegevity for gut
- Viome for gut
- Strategene for genetics
- Dutch panel for hormones
- Ben's recommended lab tests
-How to program your own workout…59:30
- Time limitations
- What are your goals
- Injuries: previous and existing
- Desire for social sports
-The most enduring change Ben has made to his program over time…1:05:15
- Far less exercise: 30-40 minutes a day working out
- More micro workouts throughout the day
- More sauna
- Deep nasal breathing
- Ice baths (Morozko Forge)
- Gratitude in the morning and evening
- Fasting: intermittent, weekly 24-hour fast
- More focus on walking
-The Boundless program on the Ladder app…1:10:02
- Boundless program will be available on the Ladder app on September 19th
- 7-day free trial
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
– Tom Digan:
- Ladder app
– Podcasts And Articles:
- 1 Cheap & Easy Underground Training Method For Growth Hormone Release, 5 Biohacks to Increase Strength in 60 Seconds, 7 Exercises for the Eyes to Radically Enhance Stamina & Speed, with Kusha Karvandi
- How To Increase Your VO2 Max Anytime, Anywhere – Without Actually Exercising, with Greg Wells.
- The One Powerful Emotion That Can Release Oxytocin, Amp Up Serotonin & Dopamine, Give You Better Sleep, Lower Blood Pressure, Decrease Inflammation & More, with Owen Griffith.
- Biohack Your Breath With Nose “Boners,” Carbon Dioxide Inhalation, Tibetan Longevity Stretches & Much More: How To Unlock The New Science Of A Lost Art, with James Nestor.
- A Day In The Life Of Ben Greenfield: Ben’s Exact Morning, Afternoon & Evening Routines, with Will Ahmed.
- The Complete Guide To Interval Training
- 6 Steps To Achieving The Ideal Combination Of Fitness, Longevity, And Looking Good Naked (A Hybrid Training Approach For Anti-Aging & Performance)
- Sunlight Makes You Skinny & Blue Light Makes You Fat: 11 Ways To Biohack Light To Optimize Your Body & Brain.
- 14 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight (& How To Burn Fat Fast Without Destroying Your Body).
- The Latest Research On Fasting: What 9 New Studies Say About Fasting’s Effects On Fat Loss, Satiety, Insulin Resistance, & More.
– Other Resources:
- Spiritual Disciplines Journal
- BFR bands (use code BEN to save 10%)
- B Strong Bands
- Kaatsu Bands (use code BEN to save 5%)
- Foam Roller
- PEMF Mat
- Clearlight Sauna
- AquaTru Water Filter
- Apollo Wearable
- Oura Ring
- Yoga Nidra
- Thorne Home Test Kits:
- Biological Age Test (lab blood panel)
- Gut Health Test (stool)
- Sleep Test (urine)
- Stress Test (saliva)
- Weight Management Test (saliva and blood)
- Onegevity for gut ($20 off with code BEN20)
- Viome Microbiome Test
- Strategene (10% off with code BEN10)
- Dutch Test
- Ben's Recommended Lab Tests
- Morozko Forge
- Join me and my wife Jessa at Runga for The Gathering. Click here to grab one of the very limited spots we have open to the public for The Gathering at Runga (October 7-9, 2021).
- Las Vegas Keto Expo (October 15-16, 2021). Ben will be speaking at the Las Vegas Keto Expo along with 13 other keto experts. The first 300 guests to register here will get a free drink chip for the poolside party and a free t-shirt.
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following bengreenfieldfitness.com/calendar
–Kion Aminos: Building blocks for muscle recovery, reduced cravings, better cognition, immunity, and more.
–Paleo Valley Organ Complex: Contains not one but three organs from healthy, grass fed, pasture-raised cows so you are getting a more diverse array of nutrients. Receive a 15% discount off your order when you use discount code BENGREENFIELD15.
–FUM: Fum is an all natural, no smoke, no vape, and no nicotine inhaler made in Canada. All natural, sustainable, and it works! Use code BEN to save 10%.
–Butcher Box: Delivers healthy 100% grass-fed and finished beef, free-range organic chicken, and heritage breed pork directly to your door on a monthly basis. All their products are humanely raised and NEVER given antibiotics or hormones.