[04:08] On Justin’s Invention
[08:07] On Tensions & Breathing In Isometric Contractions
[12:07] On Development of Axon
[15:41] Axon’s Intended Use
[20:43] AxonFit App
[27:26] On Muscle Control
[30:00] A Program Using Unconventional Tools
[40:59] Justin’s Diet & Nutrition
[44:19] Where to Find the Axon in the Future
[46:43] On Prototypes & Final Products
[49:21] On the AxonFit
[54:47] End of the Podcast
Ben: Welcome to something very out of the ordinary. It’s quite rare that I release a podcast episode on a Monday, but I’m doing that. Yes, I’m going there. Isn’t that crazy? Aren’t I living life on the edge? The reason I’m releasing this podcast episode to you is because one of my friends just left my house, and when said friend showed up to my house, he had this stick with him full of these crazy computer chips and flashing lights and extremely interesting self-quantification technology. He showed it to me, took me through this really incredible isometric style workout that involved breathing and body control and these intense muscular contractions, and he had invented this new stick. I thought it was so cool that I whipped out my microphones. We sat down, we talked about it. He’s got a kickstarter campaign going for it right now, and we talk all about that in today’s show.
You might recognize this guy’s voice because he is also part of the MindPump Podcast. I have been on the MindPump Podcast before, and they have been on my show before, and this is the notorious Justin Andrews from the MindPump Podcast who you are about to hear speak. Justin is a personal trainer from the Silicon Valley area. He is a health and fitness professional who has a ton of background working with people on all levels like soccer moms all the way up to pro athletes, and this new stick thingy that he made is really cool, and I really wanted to help get the word out about it particularly regarding his kickstarter campaign, some of the other stuff that we talk about in the show.
If you want to try an incredibly unique and cutting edge fitness tool, I’m going to check this out. I’m going to buy one because it’s a combination, work of art, isometric training tool and self-quantification device. So there you have it, have fun listening to this one recorded from my back porch with the birds singing in the sunshine, and this was also something that we recorded live via video on Facebook, and I’ll put a link to the video version of it as well in the show notes which I will announce during today’s show. Alright, enjoy!
In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“It’s so intuitive that if I can just show people push hard when the lights tell you to and back off, control yourself and then show them the movement via some video in the app, I feel like I’m making a bigger impact.” “I feel like I’ve done enough coaching with the fitness minded people already that are already in a good path. My focus individually is to broaden that and to get people that are a little more de-conditioned.”
Ben: Alright, we, my friends, are live.
Justin: Are we live?
Ben: We are live, and this is one of the times on the show when I get somebody on who just loves to sing his little heart out. His name is Justin, he’s from MindPump. You may have heard the folks from MindPump on the show before. If you’ve not yet heard the guys from MindPump and you’re not familiar with Justin. Then go to the show notes. Show notes are over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/axonpodcast. That’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/axonpodcast, and I will link to all the other episodes that we’ve done with Justin and actually his pal Sal and Adam from down in San Jose. We are perched out here on my back porch where Justin has just finished showing me. Justin, how would you describe this stick that’s beside us here, the stick that’s lit up like a Christmas tree with a bunch of different chips inside of it? It looks like something outside of the zombie apocalypse. Dude, what is this?
Justin: Yeah, so this stick, it’s basically capturing your force output. So as you were using it, you notice that you’re radiating your whole body in, and you’re connecting to your body mere muscularly. What we’re doing with this is we’re enhancing the experience to recruit muscle and I’m guiding you through this experience with the LED lights, so basically it’s capturing data, and you’re going through semi-isometric type movements with this.
Ben: Alright, I’m going to slow you down, and open up a lot of that there. So we have a stick, it’s more or less like a stick, a pole. When I go for a walk sometimes in the morning, just beer behind you? I’ll sometimes grab that or grab a wooden dowel or an ashtray candle, and I’ll go for a walk. And I’ve talked about this on a podcast before, I’ll hold on to both ends of that stick, and anybody listening in is probably done a PVC pipe warm-up where you’ll bring a stick in front of your body down to your hips and then back behind your body, back to your butt and back in front of your body, and you’re tensioning that to the stick a little bit.
Yeah, it’s called a shoulder dislocator. Even an overhead squat where you might be doing a squat, but you’re actually tensioning that pipe or that dowel overhead as you squat. Or I’ll even do a walk where as I’m walking with the pole on these farmer’s roads up there, I will hold on to the pole and lunge to one side and rotate, and then lunge to the other side and rotate. And the last time that you and I were hanging out down in San Jose, you described to me the fact that when one is tensioning an object like that, a pole, then you can actually quantify that, and so what you’ve done is you’ve actually taken more or less a stick like this, and you’ve built in the ability for that stick to be able to, and correct me if I’m wrong, detect the amount of tension that one places on the rod, on the stick?
Justin: Yeah, it’s going to be able to, like you said, detect this muscle tension that you’re able to produce, so right now we have it with specific moves where it’s compression forces. So you’re actually driving the stick either into the wall overhead position or you’re pulling it into the ground.
Ben: So the stick can detect compressive forces placed upon it?
Ben: Can it detect when I pull it apart.
Justin: Not yet, that’s a feature down the road that we’re pursuing. There’s a lot of features that I’ll probably get in trouble if I had mentioned.
Ben: No one’s going to come up and kill you dude, you’re safe in the forest out here in Spokane.
Justin: I have a lawyer as a partner, so you got to be careful. So basically right now as it stands, it’s primarily pushing and pulling that we’re capturing from various type of movements.
Ben: Okay, so for example, and I know that this can be difficult which is why I really want to make sure I explain it to you guy who are listening in, and I will put some links to videos as well if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/axonpodcast. That’s AXON podcast, but Justin had me out here in my back patio just now, and an example move was I placed one end of the stick against the wall, and I was basically in a half squat position, and then I tensioned to the stick and pushed it into the wall using my torso. There’s a series of lights that travel up and down the stick, and you had it set at a specific tension?
Justin: Yeah, I had it set at about 75 pounds of pressure, so what’s really cool about not just capturing this, but it’s also guiding the workout experience, so each LED is going to basically account for about 10 pounds of pressure. So there’s a guided light that shoots out that you try and chase, so if you thing of a carnival ride or not even a cardinal ride, but the sledgehammer where you hammer down onto that stand that they have for it, basically the LEDs on that shoot up to the top, and it shows you visibly how much force you produce within that swing. So I basically took that concept and then applied it to the stick, so you could actually visibly see where that in range is and where I’m going to try to squeeze and add more tension into the movement, so I’m able to get to 75 pounds of pressure.
Ben: Now do you classify this as an isometric contraction because you’re applying tension, but it’s not actually moving, your muscles aren’t moving?
Justin: Yeah, so basically that specific exercise that you mentioned is isometric because you’re not moving, and you’re just increasing that tension internally, so it’s this intrinsic force you’re producing, so it’s a different concept than if I was to overcome load which all these other external force factors that typically we workout with. Well this is where you’re actually concentrating on producing the force.
Ben: Now tell me about when I am releasing the tension because when I release the tension, I’m almost chasing this light. So I apply the tension for five seconds, and as I see the light come back towards the other end of the stick, I’m supposed to gradually release the tension. Why is it? What’s happening that would be beneficial in any way for my body when I do that?
Justin: So what I try to do is emulate a strength curve, so as you’re ramping up, we’re going through our concentric phase of contraction, and then what I can do, what’s unique about this is I can have this all preset. Say I want to ramp you up for five seconds, hold you in an isometric position for about ten seconds and then on the way back in the eccentric portion of contraction. This is able to now, I can control this force, I can own this force, so it’s not just me being able to summon this force. I have to do it under control and composure.
Ben: What about the breathing component when you’re holding an isometric contraction like that?
Justin: Right. So you want to breathe, that is something that is important. You’re going to get light headed and it’s not going to work out very well for you. Also just to be able to concentrate and keep that deep core activated along the process of this, so some breathing techniques with Cacao and all these kinds of things will help to get your timing with that, but you definitely want to make sure that you get your breaths in and out while you’re still squeezing hard.
Ben: Talk to me about the actual development of this thing. You conceived of the idea that you wanted the ability for someone to be able to use something like a stick to quantify tension so that they could do torso training, core training, isometric training, breath training. What’s the first step to get this series of chips and lights and everything you’ve done and make a device like this? Where do you even start?
Justin: Where do I start to create this? It was quite the process, man. This was about three and a half years in the making, so for me, I was inspired first and foremost by some different techniques that I was introduced to with stick yoga and then also stick mobility and just moving with something that I could orient my body around, and that really helped because now I actually have something tangible to work my body to focus on a position with, so I have an anchor point. So I did a lot of these moves, and the difference between flexibility and mobility is the fact that what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to increase this tension and strength and support around the joints, so it’s strength and flexibility together as mobility. So that’s actually been a game changer for me instead of going through passive stretching. I started to get work on mobility and noticed that not only could I increase my range of motion, but I was strong in those ranges of motion, and I could own that movement. That really inspired with the stick being an easy, easy way.
With yoga for me, it’s tough because they show you movements and so a lot of times, clients will attempt to do a movement, and they get lost because they don’t have that perception of where they are in space. So this proprioception, they’re lacking, and so this helps to actually show them okay, my arms should be up here, it should be pulling back, I should have the stick down here and I should now hip hinge back to slide into this position. So the stick’s really helpful, and then I was just doing a couple of isometric moves in, was producing force, and it’s a hard workout. I was pressing hard and going through these movements and man, wouldn’t be cool if I could actually figure out how much force I was? What I was doing tangibly because otherwise, it’s like this strange concept that you’re trying to teach somebody. Squeeze harder, what does that mean?
So now I actually can define it. I actually had a client that worked with me on this and she’s a patent attorney, and she introduced me to one of her students from Stanford who is an engineer, mechanical, electrical engineer, and he’s just this master of creating things from nothing, so he did this all in his backyard in his shop, and we just tinkered on it for a year and came out with a prototype, and then just have slowly improved over the next year. Now we’re at a point where we teamed up with one of the top firms that designed the Nike fuel band to take our product to the next level.
Ben: So is this something you would use for a full workout? Is it more of a warm up tool, is it more of a rehab tool? What do you anticipate people using this for?
Justin: Well that’s the thing, there’s so many different ways you can go. I, as a trainer, see it being insanely helpful for assessing clients and just what kind of response they can get from their muscles like so. This mind muscle connection which a lot of bodybuilders coined, but just really seeing if they have a lot of strength in that particular joint angle and assessing my way through all those different positions. So an assessment tool, I think it’s going to be invaluable between trainers and physical therapists, but I want people to just use it as a workout.
Ben: So you mean an assessment tool? For example if I have this stick, and I know that I can tension a certain amount of tension on the stick and quantify that whether it’s a rotational movement or whether it’s a squat, anything where I would actually be able to apply force against this stick, what you’re saying is a physical therapist, for example, would be able to track someone’s progress as far as their strength curve goes by actually applying more and more tension as time goes on with the stick like this or quantifying the amount of tension so can produce as they use it?
Justin: Absolutely, which is going to be awesomely helpful for somebody who’s rehabbing an injury, and they’re just now reconnecting to that muscle.
Ben: Now you say that’s going to be helpful, but what experience are you saying that from as far as what tools are similar to this that exist right now that people are using successfully?
Justin: I mean they’ve had load sensors and they’ve had grip sensors that you can grip.
Ben: Like a Dynamometer?
Justin: Like a Dynamometer, and there’s also a product called ActiveFive, I think, which I just gave them a plug, whatever. Competition, I don’t care, but it’s basically like a little hockey puck that you use compressive forces.
Ben: That was a fool, Hardy. You just put yourself out of business. So it’s very similar, you tension it like that, and what people find is they’re actually able to develop strength without injury because it’s an isometric movement?
Justin: Yeah, you think of it as being like it’s a really safe technique, so you’re only going to apply as much force as you produce, so it’s not like you’re battling external forces which somebody overcoming an injury, you have to really gradually increase that, and that takes quite the long process. So with this, it’s more central nervous system based, so I’m really just trying to get the muscle to respond and increase strength and connectivity and communication which is then going to translate into strength overall.
Ben: When you say its central nervous system based, what do you mean?
Justin: I just mean that I can get that kind of response neurologically, so it’s neuromuscular recruitment process, so for me to tap into that, utilizing the stick and channel that in the right direction, so creating optimal recruitment patterns, I guess I should say. This stick is going to be helpful for that.
Ben: Okay, so give me an example of how you would actually use a stick like this with the lights and the ability to quantify the poundage to say identify improper muscle recruitment pattern or to build a better one?
Justin: So to identify a better recruitment pattern, what I could do with the shoulder for instance, so if I were to bring you into your in-range position overhead and let’s say I’m limited to just about in front of my face right here. And now I’m using the stick to passively put myself into a position, I can actually start to quantify how much force I can produce from a position that I’m not as familiar with. So what I’m doing is I’m training my body to now account for this position and teach my body to be able to produce and stabilize my shoulder from this new in-range position. So I can do that from any different joint angle, and let’s say I’m adducting my knee, and I’ve no strength from that position, but now I’m adducting, and I’m slowly showing some progress by applying those forces into the stick. We’re going to be able to capture that data, evaluate it and then see progress going forward.
Ben: When you say you can capture that data, is this where something like the app you’re developing would come in?
Ben: Okay, tell me about how the app plays with the stick.
Justin: So what’s cool about the app is just more visuals, more feedback, so what I love about technology is the fact that now we can see all this effort that you’re producing. You can see it in all kinds of new visual ways, so I have a lot of visuals already established on the stick, but now with the app, I’m actually going to be able to dive in a bit further. You can actually see where you’re at in the strength curve, so how closely you matched that strength curve, so a visual representation of this peak in leveling off and decelerating. You’ll actually visually see that and all the little points of force that you hit along that pathway, and then also you can go back in and you can edit and you can add more force based off of which type of movement you’re doing. So say it was that position where I had you driving it really hard from a split stance, you could produce a lot of force from that position, so I’m going to want to challenge that a little bit more. So now I go back in, and I add, set my goal a little bit further out.
Ben: Either a higher amount of poundage or a higher number of seconds of time under tension.
Justin: Yeah, all those variables, so all those acute variables within an exercise with the apps going to make it, so you’re able to adjust and really from just your general person that’s going to use this as a workout. There’s going to be a lot of preset workouts that myself and some of my partners hopefully over at the MindPump guys too as well, we’re all going to collectively add a bunch of cool workouts that will go onto the stick.
Ben: Okay, these would be full workouts or these would be warm ups that you use prior to a workout?
Justin: Yeah, both. We call them Primers, but basically there’s techniques with that, too, to stimulate, train your body ahead of time with the movement by using isometrics or using these muscle tension techniques. That’s going to get everything charged up and ready for that specific movement, and now I go apply load. It’s a great combo, but yeah. You can use it for an entire workout of doing these muscle tension movements.
Ben: Why is it that isometrics are even something that you want to do, unless you’re in prison and all you can do is pushups for a while for a workout? What is it about ISOS that you like so much?
Justin: I feel like we just overlook them because we didn’t really have anything that could tangibly tell you if you’re improving or not, and I guess I’m just curious. I’m more curious than anything as to what coaches are going to do with it, what therapists are going to do with it, what your everyday person is going to use it for. I’m not dogmatic about, this is how you’re going to use it. I definitely have an idea of how I would use it right away just for my own past experience, but I’m more excited about the potential for rehab, the potential for performance enhancement. Just experiencing different modalities I think is important, so this is a totally different modality and something to focus on than weightlifting. And it’s already shown in studies and they’ve done tests and stuff, and a lot in eastern regions, they’ve done a lot of cool studies with isometrics that I’ve been reading about.
Ben: There’s darn eastern bloc regions, what kind of studies have they done?
Justin: Well just back in the weightlifting days in Olympic lifting days, I read a couple of them that were just going over strength and performance increases and rehabilitative type benefits from it, so we can maybe add some of those studies in the show notes to refer people to.
Ben: Have you ever heard of this guy named John Bruney? I had him on the podcast, and his program is called Neuro-Mass, and the way that works is you do a very slow, what he calls a grinding movement. Extremely super slow fifteen second up, fifteen second down for a certain number of repetitions, and then you do an isometric hold for a certain period of time and he uses the isometric hold as almost like a primer and also as a way to introduce copious amounts of lactic acid in the muscle tissue, and then you finish up with a power-based exercise. So you go from a super slow squat to an isometric squat to a squat jump.
Ben: It’s a little bit like a post-activation potentiation type of deal, exactly, and it’s incredibly difficult. However what I’m curious about when it comes to these isometrics, so we know we can generate a high amount of force development without putting the muscle at an increased risk of injury because it’s not moving the joint through a range of motion. We know we can generate, for example, a certain amount of lactic acid if you hold the time under attention for a long period of time. What about things like hypertrophy for example? With something like this, would somebody actually be able to change themselves aesthetically?
Justin: Well that’s interesting that you bring that up. We were just down in Florida, and we’re at Ben Pakulski. Are you familiar with Ben Pakulski, the bodybuilder?
Ben: No, now I feel like I’m not one of the cool kids.
Justin: Wow, you got to have him on your show, he’s a great guy. I think he’s coming to the Spartan race actually, so we got him to check it out.
Ben: I love it when bodybuilders come to Spartan races, so I can destroy them. Like to muscle down Kyle Kingsbury.
Justin: He’s already talking [censored], see I know better. I know my place.
Ben: So he’s a bodybuilder guy?
Justin: Yeah, so he’s hooked up, I think it’s called Mat is the muscle activation technique. I may be butchering that.
Ben: I’m familiar with that as a form of therapy.
Justin: Right, so he connected with those guys. He does a lot of this mind muscle connection when he goes into his hypertrophy lifts, and so it’s very muscle specific in isolating the muscles, and he’s all into that squeeze, that pump and the hypertrophy style repetition range and all that, but he does it really slow and controlled. In the whole time he is doing that, he is increasing his muscle tension, so if you were to add the stick and you were doing those same types of movements where you’re doing these squeezing even as a primer or even going through that and holding these positions, doing the same type of reps, it’s going to have a very similar effect.
Ben: Now one thing I noticed that you were coaching me to do as we were just doing a workout with this stick was I would apply a large amount of tension. For example, when you had me hold up the stick up against the door frame here and doing a squat up into the door frame while I tension the stick against the top of the door frame, when I release that tension, you’ve basically got this built in lighting system on the stick while I’m supposed to slowly release the tension and follow the light. Am I getting any amount of eccentric, muscle tearing-ish type of contraction when that occurs, or is that just all muscle control?
Justin: Yeah, more muscle control because you’re not overcoming any load in those external forces. You’re the one that’s producing the force, and so you really just teaching your channeling this process. I mean it’s heavier on the concentric portion to produce and then also sustain trough the isometrics. The point of the eccentric part is really to just control your body and control that process, so you’re safe and you can go into these more compound lifts with that kind of control and composure.
One thing about the squat, what I’m trying to coach with that a lot is just to be able to build this support system. So if I have heavier weights and I’m accommodating for those heavier weights, first and foremost, I want to be able to recruit properly. My central nervous system’s telling my body that all these things are accounted for, and my joints are nice and stable, The stick helps to increase that process, and now as I’m getting down, I actually have found that with clients, they’re able to get even more depth in their squat because they’re irradiating this muscular tension which tells their body they’re fully safe and supported. Now I can actually go a little bit lower, a little bit lower, and now the cue going back up, I’m trying to now take your mind from irradiating your upper body primarily now to driving those forces up from the ground. So now I’m getting more connectivity and utilizing my legs more, so I want to get them more engaged especially driving it down a hole.
Ben: I could tell I was more aware of my body when I was actually using it because you have to tension multiple areas to be able to recruit enough to hold the light on that stick for however long you want to hold it. Now in your opinion, and I realize this is kind of a broad question ’cause you’ve got freaking experience. Now I’ve seen you work out down in San Jose with the Indian Clubs and the maces and you’re a big kettlebell guy, and I have this stick. Talk to me about, with your level of knowledge of all of these, what I consider to be a little bit more fringe or unconventional workout tools even though they’re not unconventional ’cause you talk about the eastern bloc countries have been freaking using them forever. The mace, what is that? Not Bulgarian.
Justin: Yeah, Indians use it a lot.
Ben: Yeah, like an Indian type of ancient weapon. What would, if you were to put together the ultimate training routine using some of these unconventional tools including things, like isometrics and tensioning, walk me through what an ideal routine would be for somebody who just wanted to utilize this kind of stuff rather than say a squat rack or a pair of dumbbells?
Justin: Right. I do a lot of these things in phases, so I love these tools primarily just to maintain shoulder health and strength and support, so I incorporate them a lot even when I’m going through barbell lifts and I’m going through dumbbell training and whatever it may be. I tend to go in phases of three to four weeks, so I may go through predominantly a mace bell training style workout where I go through a lot of as many different multi-planner movements as possible and rotational movements ’cause obviously they’re great for rotational type movements. So my primary goal with that is a functional strength training type of a protocol, so that’s how I would utilize them best for just focusing on functional type movements, lunges, squats, swings and shoulder movements.
Ben: What would a program look like? Lay out for me just a sample scenario or somebody listening in, like a Monday through Friday type of program? On this day, you would do the clubs. On this day, you would use the stick. What would it look like? And we got time bro.
Justin: We’re going to sell this afterwards, I guess huh. I would actually start, so I’ve done this before with the mace bells. I would start with a couple of the mace bell swings, so I would go through maybe three to four sets.
Ben: With the mace bell being the long stick with the big weight at the end of it.
Justin: Long stick with the big weight.
Ben: So you’re not calling it a mace, you’re calling it a mace bell?
Justin: Yeah, I call it mace bell. Some people might call it a mace, but it’s actually limited, the amount of movements that I feel are even that necessary. I mean it provides best as rotational movements, so I’m going to be heavy on that. So I’ll do three to four sets of fifteen to twenty reps, and work on the skill and technique of it. A lot of these things are skills type exercises, so most of it, I would just consider practice, so I would pick probably three to four movements, and I would just try and master that movement. It’ll take me about thirty minutes or so, and I would go through even just lateral lunges with it, and I would do twenty reps or so. Really the volume, I’m going to increase on these types of exercises because I’m trying to teach the movement and get down to the technique. So the load really isn’t that heavy, I’m going to ramp my way up with the load and start out pretty light because it’s such a skill movement that I want to get that mastery of it. And so I would probably do five to six exercises total in the entire workout, and it’ll take me about thirty minutes to forty minutes.
Ben: With an exercise being an overhead squat or a shovel type of motion or swinging or figure eight or something like that?
Justin: You can get super creative with these things. Do a Matrix lunge, yeah?
Ben: And so you’re going to your mace just one day of the week or you do that every day?
Justin: I would do that probably three times a week.
Ben: So you do your mace work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday?
Justin: Yeah, to be honest, my personal preference would be to do a foundational heavy intensive days with barbell training just because I can bring the load up quite a bit, and then in between those days is active recovery or what we call trigger sessions in our maps concepts. That’s really where I utilize them best to maintain functional multi-planner movement.
Ben: You would use these unconventional training tools on the in-between days from doing heavier barbell complexes or barbell work?
Justin: Absolutely, so honestly that is specifically the way I use it, and that’s primarily how I use it to maintain, especially these rotational movements in the shoulder. You just don’t get it from other options that are as effective. Maybe kettle bells, but…
Ben: And would you also, on those same days that are in between your heavier days where you’re using these unconventional training tools to increase mobility or restore range of motion or help your body to heal faster or bounce back faster with these things you call trigger sessions. Would you then be doing, in addition to the mace, club bells, kettlebells, your stick over here, that type of thing?
Justin: Yeah, and all the load, I would keep pretty light, and just go through the movement of it, and go through maybe a ten-minute type of workout with a couple of different movements. Repeat that throughout the day, so maybe I’ll do two to three times a day.
Ben: All throughout the day? So you’re stopping at certain points throughout the day to throw in a few of these movements?
Ben: Interesting. Now Kyle, he disappeared. He must have fallen asleep. He’s nursing his boo boos inside. This is similar to what I’ll do tomorrow morning. Back behind you on the table there, there are some kettlebells, and there are these things called Neurogrips which are actually developed by that guy named John Bruney who I mentioned earlier.
Justin: Oh these right here?
Ben: Yeah, and there’s an ab rollout-wheel and a spear of course. You always got to have a spear.
Justin: I finally got that technique down, by the way. I was in there practicing.
Ben: Yeah, nailed the spear throw.
Justin: Yeah, man.
Ben: What I’ll do on my off days in between my hard workouts, we crushed the obstacle course this morning for over an hour, right? So I’ll be sore tomorrow morning, but tomorrow morning, I’ll use those implements behind you and I’ll do roll-outs, I’ll do get-ups, I’ll do swings, I’ll do some lighter goblet squats, more for range of motion. I’ll go inside to the sauna there, and I’ll hit the sauna, but I’ll use all of these unconventional training tools that you eluded to, rely more upon technique and more upon neuromuscular recruitment, and it sounds to me that’s for something like this guy. The stick would come in where it’s not a hard day for you to recover to date or using it as a warm up to recruit muscle prior to your workout.
Justin: Yeah, absolutely. I one hundred percent agree, and that’s really as a trainer. If I’m working with a client, that’s probably how I would use it primarily. But when I’m talking about the general public and people that are super deconditioned and have terrible movement to start with, this is a tool that they can do an entire workout and repeat without too much damage, right? And this is going to be massively beneficial for something like that.
Ben: Now will the app allow someone to say hey, I want to work shoulder range of motion, or I want to work on my squat form? To choose a certain exercise, choose a certain body part, that type of thing, and then it just tells you what to do with a stick?
Justin: Yep, they’ll be assessments in there that are really basic, so you can go through a squat, you can go through some positions from 1990s, so we can check out mobility in your hips, mobility in your ankles, mobility in your shoulders, and basically like you said, we can add body part specific type exercises in there too, so yeah. It’s easy, intuitive for somebody to use. That’s really the goal of this, is to make everything a intuitive as possible, so they just hop right in and go.
Ben: Is your background in engineering, or are you more of a background in exercise and fitness programming? Or none of the above?
Justin: I definitely have exercise as predominantly my background in kinesiology. Went to school for that and didn’t know what I was going to do. I was actually planning on being a physical therapist and going to go to school for that and got into personal training. So did about ten, eleven years of personal training, and I connected with Adam and Sal.
Ben: The guys from MindPump.
Justin: The guys from MindPump, and we created programs together that we wanted to specifically address issues we saw in the industry as far as the over-intensity that was applied in workouts or different issues that we found nutritionally that were being spoken about. So anyway, we just all had a likeminded experience together, and just decided, hey, let’s do this. Let’s talk about it. For about a year, we were just building. And now we have a pretty solid following of an army of people that have gone through our programs, and it’s great, man. This is just another addition that I feel will compliment a lot of our maps programs specifically, and we’re just actually coming out with a new maps program we did with Dr. Brink who’s a movement specialist, and he gets into a lot greater detail with the science and the neurology behind movement and specifically all the way down to your fingers, your wrists, your elbow, your ankles, your toes, your feet, all these different things to increase connectivity.
Ben: He’s like a chiropractic doc, right?
Justin: He is, and he’s taken a lot of concepts from a lot of brilliant people, and we worked together to put the protocol together in this program. Our first program that was similar, Prime, and so that was to address how people were using pre-workouts primarily to get primed for their workout when in fact they can benefit a lot more from just doing a very specific type of a warm up that’s not really a warm up. It’s just getting your body fired up and teaching you the movements before the workout.
Ben: Right, how much do you guys focus on nutrition? When you’re talking about neural recruitment and the central nervous system, there’s obviously everything from mild issues to oleic acid to speed of neuron firing to electrochemical membranes on the cells, are you guys focused much on food, water, nutrients, supplements, things along those lines?
Justin: Yeah, we tend to talk a little bit more to the general audience from a nutritional standpoint. This is more my background, the movement side in assessments and trying to look how to improve performance overall. That’s really what I’m passionate about in my background. Sal, he’s more from a holistic type of a background where he’s looking at nutrition to optimize wellness and to heal the body. He looks into the microbiome, and he’s really got us focused on that type of a science and the quality of food and just the decisions that we can make to optimize our wellness, and Adam has his experience, he brings in this primarily from…
Justin: Yeah, he’s pretty on point with the way that he has everybody track. Yeah, you’re just giving a jab at him.
Ben: What’s your diet look like? Are you a Paleo guy?
Justin: So yeah, I tend to focus a little heavier towards the Paleo side, a little bit more on food quality, so I’m not necessarily paying attention to calorie intake and macronutrient balance, and I’m just trying to make better decisions when it comes to the quality of my food and also apply intermittent fasting for health purposes. So that’s something that I do include quite a bit.
Ben: What about supplements? Do you have top supplements from a physical therapist? I know you’re not a physical therapist, but from either rehab or neuromuscular training standpoint or anything related to nervous system recruitment? Like fish oil or anything like that?
Justin: Yeah, I mean I’m sure you would have a lot of cool additions to that. My background, I don’t tend to focus on supplements quite as much.
Ben: Well top two I would say would be fish oil and anything like EGCG from any green tree extract. Both of those, they’re steroids for the nervous system basically. Amazing, olive oil too because your membrane sheets that transmit the information, a huge part of them are oleic acid which you’re going to get from a good olive oil. So good olive oil, good fish oil, and then green tea. Actually I write about this in my book about how important green tea is for nervous system transmission. Any kind of based food like blueberries, dark chocolate, green tea, green tea extract and any of those type of things.
Justin: Well most of those things, I’ve already been consuming already.
Ben: So you’d have a green tea dispenser on the end of this stick right here where you just press the little button and green tea comes?
Justin: Now I know how to look for potential partners, so I appreciate that.
Ben: Exactly. So once you develop this stick, do you anticipate people being able to actually purchase it at a sporting goods store to use there? Are you looking into it being more something a physical therapist or a chiropractic doc or a physician would prescribe to a client? Where are you seeing this thing?
Justin: Dude, I’m opening this up to the world. Honestly I want to get out of the fitness industry with this.
Justin: It’s so intuitive that if I can just show people, push hard when the lights tell you to and back off, control yourself and then show them the movement via some video on the app, I feel like I’m making a bigger impact. I feel like I’ve done enough coaching with the fitness minded people already that are already in a good path. My focus individually is to broaden that and to get people that are a little more deconditioned, are little more hopeless, they haven’t had quality information with how to train their body and just start at a real basic fundamental level and help.
Ben: By using this stick? Interesting.
Justin: Right, so that specifically is my motivation behind marketing, going for, but there’s definitely, definitely application for these physical therapists and therapists and performance driven coaches to see potential and utilize this with their athletes and their patients. For me, that’s just low hanging fruit. Somebody who’s smart will be able to see what it does and how they can apply that in use the data.
Ben: Yeah, I felt it. Honestly when I first heard about it, I was trying to figure out, wrap my head around how it even worked. You tension a stick and I can kind of get it based off what I was talking about earlier, how to take that spear, an ashtray candle or whatever. A wooden bowel and go on a walk and tension it. You can feel when a shoulder dislocates. We were talking about other how you pass it over onto the head and you can feel that tension that there’s some benefit there, but the ability to quantify and work into this lighting basis to might and get it until you just walked me through. We spent fifteen minutes before, and you were showing my how to do the squat and the torso twist and the lunge, and I get it now. It’s a cool concept.
A couple of other quick questions, as far as the final prototype we’re looking at here, and by the way, for those of you listening in, we’re doing a Facebook Live, so I have a little video going. If you go to facebook.com/bgfitness, you can do a search for Axon, and you’d be able to find it. I’ll put a link to it to if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/axonpodcast. That’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/axonpodcast, but back here behind me is this super slick.
Justin: There’s a sexy beast right there.
Ben: Well Kyle’s lounging naked behind us.
Justin: No don’t do that.
Ben: No, we don’t want to see your ball sack, but we’ve got this full wooden, slick-looking device with a stand. It’s almost like a beautiful piece of art, this finished stick. Is that a working prototype? Where is it at in terms of the development?
Justin: Yeah, so that actually is the aesthetic model that we were able to create with Whipsaw that I mentioned earlier, and it is functioning just to show a sequence. Right now the battery is not working, but what you would see is a nice LED display. One button where you can scroll through. It’s going to look very similar to…
Ben: That LED display being what you’re actually trying to chase when you’re trying to apply as much tension as you’ve chosen with the app or with the buttons on the stick that you want to apply. The LED display’s lighting up like a Christmas tree. I think Kyle back here described it as a carnival ’cause it’s like what’s that thing where you hit the thing with the hammer at the carnival and it goes up. Yeah, very similar to that, so yeah. You’re following these lights with the amount of tension that you produce, but what you’re saying is that this beautiful piece of art behind me is like a prototype, and this would be the final thing that you’d sell.
Justin: That’s what it’s going to look like, right? When you support our campaign, it’s going to look like that when you receive it, and what I like about that is you can set it up in your office. It has a cool charging stand that has a nice design with also two little bands.
Ben: So that stand is a charger? Okay, gotcha.
Justin: So you just put your stick like that, it goes in the corner of your house, your office, your gym, and it looks nice. It’s got a great feel to it. We wanted to keep it familiar, right? So wood has that sort of appeal where it’s something familiar, but now we’ve added cool features to the tech.
Ben: And you’re doing this on a Kickstarter campaign.
Justin: We are, we’re trying to raise funds that way.
Ben: Can I wrap my head around the cost of this thing?
Justin: Yeah, so the early adopters, it’s going to be 1.99 I think is what we have as a nice option there. If you get there, the first people to go check it out, and then it’ll slowly ramp up in price, and then they’ll be ways to save two if you go for two of them at a time or a couple of them. So yeah, they’ll be some options.
Ben: Just like a normal Kickstarter campaign.
Justin: Yeah, nothing different.
Ben: So if you’re listening to this podcast when it comes out, you would go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/axonpodcast. What I’m going to do over there because I know again this is some stuff that you probably want to see visually. Justin’s going to send me some links not only to some of the research he was talking about. If you want to look at the research behind, for example, isometrics and your nervous system, but then also he’s going to send me some videos and photos of this thing, so you can see it in action. I’ll upload the Facebook video that we’re actually shooting as we record this podcast, and in addition to that, we’re going to give you guys some special incentives over on that page. So it’s all going to live there, if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/axonpodcast, I will give you everything that you need to know to get your hands on one of these bad boys. I plan on getting one to add into, like I mentioned, the days.
Justin: Well I’m going to hook you up. Absolutely, yeah.
Ben: I mean it’s like a piece of art, I’d buy one. It’d be one of those see that little roll-out fit wood like that roller, right? I found that in Finland, and it’s pretty. It’s like the spear, it’s not like a freaking old spear.
Justin: It’s not an eyesore that’s just sitting there.
Ben: Yeah, I know we all have our reservations about the kettlebells with the faces on and back behind you, but regardless of their functionality and the fact that they swing a little bit differently than the competition kettlebell, they are a piece of art that my wife doesn’t mind me leaving, lying around on the back porch. So it is a cool tool. Justin, anything else that you want to share with people about the Axon or its development timeline, anything along those lines?
Justin: I’ve been anxy to get this thing out, so within the next, I want to say July tenth, maybe hopefully sooner, but July 10 is the latest. This campaign is going to get rolling, and I want to really get people to go check it out that day, the first day. I want as many people to go check that out as possible. See what it’s all about, you can go to axonfit.com and basically get all the notifications when it goes live, all that kind of stuff, and then we’ll put some pictures and stuff up there as well, but yeah. I’m just excited that a project like this that’s been three years in the making, and I didn’t even tell you, but we went through two other inventions before we even got to this one, so this has been quite the journey.
Ben: Like a sock puppet and a toy car or something related to the Axon?
Justin: Nothing that sophisticated, but yeah. No we actually had a machine that we ran into patent issues with that was pretty cool, kind of similar to are you familiar with the Airex machine? Kind of similar to that. It was mechanical based and basically the idea with that was you have to account for this mechanical force pulling against you. So we came up with a little prototype for that with a garage door opener and set it up and had it on this cable thing. I went into great labor intensive days trying to work that one out to no avail, so this is all part of being an entrepreneur. You go through these hurdles, and it’s the strong that can survive.
Ben: Well maybe it’ll be on Shark Tank someday, baby, and you’re like a modern day Tesla or Edison or one of those cats.
Justin: I can’t live up to that dude.
Ben: Somebody on the Facebook Live, by the way also, perhaps we can end on this. They say you sure have muscular hands, things you don’t see on podcasts. Your hands are muscular. I think, Holly, you were saying my hands.
Justin: Yours is beat up dude, you got some monster hands.
Ben: Well cool, those of you on Facebook Live watching this, thank you. Those of you not watching on Facebook Live, I’ll put the link to the Facebook Live download if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/axonpodcast. That’s AXON podcast. I will also put links there to the other podcasts that I’ve done with Justin and his friends over at MindPump and of course the link to the Kickstarter page, videos, photos of this thing, so you can check it out. Thank you for listening in, and Justin, thanks coming out to my backyard.
Justin: Thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate this, Ben.
Ben: Now we can jump in the cold pool or something.
Justin: Hell yeah, let’s do this.
Ben: Alright, thanks for listening in folks. Until next time, I’m Ben Greenfield along with Justin Andrews.
Justin: The one and only.
Ben: From the MindPump podcast, do you want to exit us with one of your world famous songs, Justin?
Justin: Yeah, let’s do this. How about the Benny and the Jets? [Singing] Thank you.
Ben: Thanks for watching.
Justin: And good night.
Ben: And listening.
My guest on today’s podcast, Justin Andrews – from the notorious Mindpump podcast– has an incredible passion for disrupting the personal training industry and creating groundbreaking programs and training tools that fitness professionals and their clients alike can benefit from. He believes that the fitness industry needs a massive facelift and a more advanced technology tool kit…
…and in today’s show, recorded from my backyard patio studio in Spokane, Washington, Justin unveils an extremely unique training tool that he thinks is going to disrupt the realm of isometric training, central nervous system training and beyond.
Justin’s approach is to create programs that utilize technology and cut through the millions of options people face everyday when seeking specific information relating to their fitness needs. As a health and fitness professional with a proven track record training clients in the heart of the Silicon Valley, Justin works tirelessly to keep people educated and connected to quality personal trainers, and has a passion for developing the type of unconventional training tools we talk about in today’s show.
During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-How Justin developed the idea for a simple “stick” called the Axon that could allow for targeted isometric training, rehabilitation, muscle tensioning, nervous system preparation…[5:00 & 12:00]
-The variety of ways in which the Axon can be used for isometric training, breathwork, “trigger” sessions and beyond…[11:30 & 16:00]
-How Justin uses unconventional training tools like maces, clubbells, kettlebells, the Axon and much more in a typical weekly training session…[23:15]
-Two foods and supplements you can eat to maximize activation of your nervous system…[43:25]
-How you can get your hands on the brand new Axon device that is now ready on Kickstarter…[49:15]
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
-Video 1 of me using Axon
-Video 2 of me using Axon
-Video 3 of me using Axon
-Video 4 of me using Axon