What a pleasure it is to welcome health and endurance coach Andre Obradovic back to the podcast!
In this show, we will be taking you through a step-by-step process on how to become a healthy, fit endurance athlete, as well as how to become a healthier person just in general—if you want to feel better and also drop some excess body fat, then this is the episode for you! We’ll be touching on how to preserve your health as you pursue fitness goals, the best ways to emphasize aerobic development, and how to excel in endurance sports. We also spend a big chunk of this show focusing on the exciting and emerging topic of nasal breathing, from how this applies to workouts and improving peak performance, to how it can help manage stress and even improve all aspects of health in everyday life. Finally, click here to watch Andre conduct a BOLT test (click here to read my blog post, Breaking Down Breathing, if you don’t know what that is) and hit the exceptional 0:45 duration with ease!
It is important to really examine your body composition no matter if you are an athlete or just someone who wants to be healthier. [01:22]
If a person is overweight, they first need to understand why they got to be overweight. [05:40]
Many trainers are giving the wrong advice. One is calories in and calories out! [09:04]
Getting enough sleep is better than overworking at the gym. Learning to train in the MAF method should be the goal. [10:10]
Learn to breathe through your nose rather than your mouth. [12:01]
The calmer we can be, the better we can burn fat. [17:48]
Andre encourages athletes to forget about how many kilometers and what pace they’ve run but rather focus more on how you feel after training. [20:33]
Slow down in pursuit of improvement. [23:19]
Only eat when you are hungry, not because the clock tells you it’s lunch time. [27:32]
Most people breathe too much and this alters the gases in your blood and reduces oxygen delivery to our organs. [32:01]
Tape your mouth closed when you sleep. [41:06]
Take a Bolt Test to understand your breathing and how to improve your breathing. [44:04]
Think of your breathing as being in five gears. Learn to breathe properly, and your performance will improve. [50:32]
Where does the strength element, explosive element fit into the big picture for total and balanced fitness? [57:24]
It is important for you to schedule and plan your training goals. There are areas of exercise that are important for you to do even though you might not like to do them. [01:03:05]
- Brad Kearns. com
- Brad’s Shopping Page
- The Oxygen Advantage
- The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing
- Body, Mind and Sport
- Buteyko Breathing Exercises
- Bohr Effect
- Bolt Test
- Breaking Down Breathing: blog post on nasal breathing techniques
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Brad [00:01:22] Hey listeners, it’s a pleasure to welcome back to the show health coach endurance coach endurance athlete extrordinaire from down under it’s Andre Obradovic And we have a great show where we’re walking through kind of a step-by-step process to become a healthy fit endurance athlete and healthy fit person in general. So we hit the favorite starting point that Andre does with his clients, which is to examine one’s body composition. Usually that’s the most prominent goal, especially for athletes, but for almost everyone around, uh, can always, uh, want to look and feel a little better dropping some excess body fat. And of course, until we address adverse dietary practices, the inclusion of processed food in the diet, the sports supplements that so many endurance athletes rely upon. We kind of have to take a few steps back before we even talk about approach to training and clean up the diet to give a fighting chance at becoming a fat burner, which of course is the gateway to preserving your health as you pursue fitness goals and also to excelling in endurance sports that are Andre’s specialty.
So once we deal with the body composition issue in the diet issue, and Andre has a nice description of, uh, the, you know, the breakthrough, the recent science that’s contending that this is a hormonal obesogenic model of body composition rather than the flawed and dated over simplified calories in calories out model. So it’s a matter of optimizing one’s lifestyle in order to optimize one’s appetite and food choices. And if you’re a high stress training, high stress living, hectic pace person, uh, that’s essentially a sugar burning lifestyle. That’s gonna prompt you to, uh, crave quick energy foods in the form of processed carbohydrate, uh, strongly associated with adverse training habits that are, uh, revealed by many folks in the extreme endeavors, such as CrossFit, such as endurance sports. So sleep is mentioned. And then we go into the, the centerpiece of a correct approach to endurance training, which is the, uh, MAF heart rate approach, maximum aerobic function.
So emphasizing aerobic development by, uh, doing the vast majority of your workouts at a pace correlating with maximum fat oxidation and not too stressful, too difficult, where you get into the glucose burning heart rates. And then we spend a good chunk in the show on the exciting emerging topic of nasal breathing and how that applies not only to your workouts and improving your peak performance with improved oxygen delivery to the working muscles and tissues, but also how it can help you manage stress and improve health in all areas of everyday life. So we talk about the popular books of the day Breath by James Nestor, The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown. Uh, we talk about Brian McKenzie’s work. My former two-time podcast, guests at shiftadapt.com. So you’re going to get a great basic overview on the rationale and benefits for nasal breathing explained very well by Andre.
And then we finally end with the introduction of strength training and how to successfully balance that, especially if you have a tendency to emphasize endurance exercise. So it’s a really nice, I called it a, a client consultation for everyone listening. Fun stuff from Andre Obradovic. Here we go. Andre, our main man from Australia. Welcome back to the show. Thank you for, uh, you know, coming in on this time zone thing and getting bright and shiny and ready to throw down on some very compelling topics of this guy out here, people on the cutting edge of endurance performance, coaching, wrapping it all up into that, that life and health coaching that you, you blend so nicely. So I thought we’d come back on the show. I know we’ve talked a lot emailed offline about, you know, the, the latest hot topics. Jeez, where to begin. How about one of your favorite, um, subjects of, uh, body composition and helping these athletes deal with this incredibly frustrating problem even for the athletic population.
Yeah. Thanks Brad. Great to chat and see you again. Yeah, I think, um, you know, first thing I do at anyone and I think people need to think about is body composition, of course, before exercise. And as we’ve spoken before, you know, a lot of coaches or the conventional fitness or what I call sickness industry, you know, won’t tell people what they need to hear. They’ll tell them what they want to hear. And most people, maybe not some of your listeners, because most of them are pretty smart because they’re listening to you and not what I call mainstream, the mainstream sickness industry. Um, you know, they understand that if you’re overweight, that you need to actually tackle that problem by firstly understanding why you’ve got an overweight and generally it’s because people have been following the wrong advice and that is bad food, you know, the standard American standard Australian or standard Western diet.
And the problem is the fitness industry doesn’t tell people that because people, the general population don’t want to hear that. And you know, if you people off by saying, Hey, Hey dude, don’t come to my fitness class at 5:30 in the morning to be with all your bros and do high fives and get all that adrenaline happening because you’re a FB and you know what that means a fat boy. If you need to just sleep a bit more in the morning, go for an easy walk with the dog and not eat till 11 o’clock instead of killing yourself in a class and then going, having pancakes and counting the calories. Well, no fitness training is going to tell people that because the people won’t want to pay the money. So I’ll, you know, like you and I, and people that we follow, we like to challenge people and tell people what they need to know, not what they want to know. So body composition always has to come first, in my opinion. Um, and, and that’s the key to fitness, the first key to fitness and longevity,
Right? It would seem if you, uh, had an athlete questionnaire prepared, what would their top priority be? And even very serious people who’ve been in the game for a long time are still looking to drop that, that last, if it’s five or 10, that’s great, maybe they’re performers and they’re just looking to optimize, but a lot of people are looking to drop 20 or 30 extra pounds of fat despite training for 20, 10, 15, 20 hours a week. And it occurs to me when you mentioned the, the corporate influences and the, and the culture, um, the sports nutrition industry, which, you know, we can sit here and slam all day long and talk about how there’s stuffing sugar down the throats of people, but you kind of need those products if you insist on immersing into, uh, you know, an ill-advised program, that’s overly stressful. So I’m not going to criticize the energy sugar gel that I stick in my mouth at mile 60 of an 80 mile bike ride, uh, at the culmination of a very, uh, stressful and challenging week, both on and off the, the athletic training arena. Uh, but that’s the, that’s the part that we might need to unwind. And that’s why I like where you start with, um, you know, the body composition could be considered a symptom of a suboptimal training program as well as in primarily suboptimal diet.
Yeah. And that’s all based on the wrong advice.
So what’s the, what are the main wrong advices that are still floating out there?
Well, I think number one is calories in calories out and Herman Dr. Herman Pontzer would sort of say opposite, but you know, you, and I’ve talked about this that I think as people get older and you know, we’re both 56. So as we get older, the whole calorie in calorie out model becomes even more flawed because people become insulin resistant. They can’t tolerate their carbohydrates. So number one is if you’re getting older and you’re saying to yourself, my God, when I was 30, I used to be able to exercise my way out of a bad, shitty diet. And I was lean now I’m trying to do the same thing and it’s not working well. That’s a message. Maybe your body can’t cope with the years of abuse. So you need to change the way you think, and it’s not about calories. It’s more about how does your body, it’s the hormonal obesity model, not the Thermo thermogenic obesity model.
So that’s sort of number one. Um, I think number two would be, um, that sleep if, and these are all things based on if you don’t have optimal body composition. So that’s the sort of underlying thing we’re trying to fix. Number, number two then would be you probably better off getting a bit more sleep and waking up at six or 6:30, rather than 5:30 to go and kill yourself at the pool or the gym, or go out, running with a group because that’s just going to give you more cortisol. Give you more stress, make you more hungry and get you more inflamed, which is going to drive injury and drive your fat. So that’s another very hard pill for people to swallow. I’ve had a few clients that were people that came to me that ended up not working with me because I said, I wouldn’t work with them unless they were prepared to change that.
So I would throw money away because I’d have some clients of certain backgrounds who just didn’t want to cope with that. They’re like, well, no, I can’t do that. Well, you’re not going to get body composition right. If you’re still, if you go to bed at 11 o’clock at night, because you’ve got this big corporate job and you’re waking up at 5:30 or five o’clock to go to the gym and kill yourself. So that’s, that’s number two. Um, which once again, people don’t want to hear. And then I think number three would be, um, would be the whole thing around, uh, MAF training. So similar to, you know, things we’ve talked about before is that, you know, working at a comfortable effort and working comfortably to build our aerobic engine and our fat burning machine is the way to achieve long-term health, long-term speed and longevity.
And, and, you know, then when you, and I know we are going to talk about that when you combine that MAF training in all of your athletic pursuits with, um, nasal breath work, and we can, I know we’re going to talk more about that. You, you really then can build a massive aerobic engine. And, and, you know, as an example, you know, just from my, in one sort of experience, you know, I can run 04:30 per kilometer, pace, breathing through my nose for quite a while, without even opening my mouth. And I can run for an hour and a half at five minute K pace, comfortably breathing through my nose, even though there’s snot everywhere without even opening their mouth. And, and that means when we get into a race where you can actually breathe through our mouth, if we need to, and we’re not putting our body under as much stress. In fact, if people look at the Olympic games, um, from Tokyo, there was a Jamaican woman that came third in the final. She’s 35 years old, a mother she’s a lot older than all of the other girls. And in her final avert heats, as she comes across the line, you the camera’s at the front and you can see she, her mouth is closed. Everyone.else’s breathing’s
Really what event are you talking about?
the a hundred meter
I think Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
Yes. Yeah. Mouth closed, nasal breathing.
Yeah. Maybe one of the top three sprinters of all time in history with two Olympic gold medals, a silver and a bronze, whatever her, her, um, her longevity or world titles, a stunning performance. And I noticed the same thing on the Olympic coverage, um, with some of the men’s races too, when you had that head on camera, these guys in the hundred are, you know, maybe breathing and maybe not. It was, it was incredible.
Yeah, absolutely. So, so I know we’re going to talk more about nasal breath work. So we, you know, that’s sort of in line with that addition to MAF training. And then I think, um, the last one is appropriate strength training in the gym to build muscle because as we get older, we want to look after our bone density. We want to make sure we don’t lose muscle. So they’re sort of the top line things that I sort of focus on and suggest to people. But most of them are all counterintuitive because as you know, Brad, the last thing, the last thing any triathlete wants to hear is, Hey dude, you know, if you’re busy this week, drop a run or drop a swim and make sure you don’t miss the gym session. In fact, if, if they have a gym session in the program, you know, most don’t because, you know, my experience is a lot of coaches give people what they want, which is swim, run, swim, run, and ride, and people don’t want to work in the gym. So don’t give it to them. It’s like a bad tasting medicine. They don’t want to give people Cod liver oil cause people don’t like it, you know?
Yeah. In my experience, I contend that I was too tired to step into the gym and do anything of significance because my total devotion to, uh, the endurance workouts and I, it was probably, um, not a good idea for me to step in the gym during all those years when I was a triathlete, but it would’ve been a great idea to, you know, uh, reconsider some of the, uh, devotion to, uh, to endurance and split up my, my energy pie in the other available, uh, slices. And speaking to those slices, uh, my sleep, which I say as much as I possibly can. Um, you know, during that career, that span for nine years when I was traveling the circuit, I slept routinely for 10 hours a night and a two hour nap just about every afternoon. So I was literally asleep for half of my life when I was a triathlete.
And so if we are on this pie, uh, analogy for a moment and you know, my, my time available to train let’s say was unlimited because that was my career. And most people don’t have that luxury. But, um, if, if you’re counseling someone with limited time and other responsibilities, I would, I would contend that you make a bigger pie slice for sleep as a complete and direct application to, uh, performing better on the race course. And that’s, I think goes in your category of stuff people don’t want to hear. Uh, but before we move on, I want to go back to that, uh, quick, um, string you told about the cortisol, uh, as related to, um, cutting back on sleep, uh, doing overly stressful workouts and generally being out of stress, rest, balance. How does that directly, uh, affect your body composition?
Well, you know, it leads to more insulin resistance and leads to our body turning off fat burning because it being stressed puts us in a sympathetic nervous state. So, you know, we have our autonomic nervous system, which has two sides, a parasympathetic, and the sympathetic when we’re stressed, our body closes down functions that are critical for health, and it focused on critical functions for survival. And those survival functions mean I need to be ready to fight. So it closes down our ability to make babies. So that’s why a lot of women that are stressed and underweight find it hard to get pregnant. That’s maybe why guys have problems with getting things going downstairs when they’re stressed. Um, it stops our ability to digest food. It brings more sugar or more, allows more glucose to come into our muscles and gets our liver working harder to, uh, create more glucose available for the body to run and fight.
And, and all of those things go totally against fat-burning and fat burning is our relaxed state, which helps us optimize our aerobics capacity. So, you know, we have enough stress in our body from these fight or flight hormones that are circulating through our body and they changed the way our body and our hormones function. So the more calm we can be, the better we can be at burning fat because we don’t burn fat to run away from the saber tooth tiger. We burn glucose to run around from the saber tooth tiger. And that then leads into all of those cascade of inflammation and auto immune dysfunction in our body and weight gain, insidious weight, gain, and tiredness.
So if we are inhibiting fat-burning from those several, uh, ways that you mentioned, this is what’s going to happen, we’re going to have an increased appetite for quick energy calories, maybe purchase some of these sports, nutrition products and support the billion trillion dollar industry predicated on people needing sugar. And I think you mentioned Dr. Pontzer really briefly. And that quip was, you know, talking about his firm assertion that, um, it’s the number of calories that we eat and the number of calories burn and that’s whether we gain or lose fat. I think we con reconcile some of these, maybe you call it disparate point of view, where you are doing things that trigger increased appetite. So you’re consuming more calories because you’re not good at burning fat. And if you’re not going to bring fat, you’re going to walk around and you’re going to run out of energy. And so in your stressful, hectic, busy day of too much exercise, not enough sleep, you’re going to be putting in more calories than you might need if you were on a yoga retreat and breathing through your nose all day.
And I also think that there’s maybe some other dimensions here. It’s kind of as an aside where, um, you know, the, the inflammation and the other things that you mentioned, uh, could affect our, you know, how much fat we’re burning versus, you know, what we’re, what we’re doing with it. We’re storing it because of the hormone imbalances. So, you know, transcending that direct model of counting your calories and that being the end all, uh, we kind of have to hit this from a multi-pronged approach. And I think that’s where this, this thread is going is you’re talking about the prongs of an athlete where most of the time they’re looking at a single dimension of training, like what’s my mileage or whatever their narrow focus is. And we gotta, we got to unwind that a little bit and look at what’s causing those dietary habits of those 11:00 PM cereal bowl binges. And it dates back to your 5:00 AM swim workout.
Yeah. I’d be encouraging athletes to like, I’ve done 16 half are nowhere near, like what you’ve done. Cause you’re, you know, you’re an amazing athlete or you what you are and you were on the world stage, but I’d done 16 half iron mans and probably 20 marathons. Right. And, and I just encourage people to, like, when I run, I don’t even have kilometers or pace on my watch. It’s just about time. I’m going for an hour and a half run or a two hour run. It’s never about how far it’s just about running. And sometimes I’ve set workouts and they’re based on time and different things. But, you know, I’d encourage athletes to forget about how many kilometers and what pace they’ve run and focus more on. How do they feel after their training? How are they sleeping? What’s their resting heart rate. Cause those things, if your resting heart rate is lower and consistent and within your baseline for the week, you will be able to train better.
But I don’t think a lot of people pay a lot of attention to that. Um, the same as you know, with swimming, you’re not that we’ve been able to swim because, you know, I live in the most lockdown city in the world and we had two people die yesterday in the world. This is Melbourne, Melbourne, and two people die. So six and a half million people in Melbourne are locked down because two people died like, anyway, I know that’s a tangent. So, you know, with swimming instead of always thinking, oh, am I doing 120 pace or 130 pace for a hundred or whatever, maybe thinking about the quality of our swimming and how we feel. And are we relaxed when we get out, instead of saying, oh, that was a great set. I was really smashed because I was in the fast lane. Well, what about the quality? And then how do you feel later in the day, are you starving after you swim? Or can you go for four hours without eating there? Things that we should be thinking about?
Right. It sounds like, and I feel like this is a revolution. That’s a foot in the fitness industry. Overall is this quest to get in shape, pursue peak performance goals in a manner that doesn’t break you and therefore leaving a lot in the tank at workouts, rather than using them as a torture fest. And I think that’s what the MAF training is all about. So maybe we can, um, now progress, we know that we got to take care of the body composition issue by modifying the diet, sleeping more, uh, reducing workout stress, and the centerpiece there would be this MAF training. So maybe we can step into that as the next, the next doorway.
Yeah. Well, once again, this is another one of those things that people don’t want to hear. You know, you say to people, um, well, I want you to run at this heart rate where it’s comfortable and they’re like, oh, okay, well, I normally run at 170 beats and you’re telling me I should be running at 135. That’d be walking. And I’m like, yep. Yep. And then you show them results of people you’ve been working with for a month or, you know, a year or so. Cause I keep a Google sheet with all their MAF tests. Cause I don’t have MAF tests every month. Then you say, well, this person started 12 months ago and they’re running, you know, 06:30 or seven minute pace and MAF tests. And now they’re running, you know, five 30 in 12 months. So people, people find it very hard to understand, but I make them watch all the videos from Phil Maffetone that he’s made a series of videos. They read his book, I get them to read The Big Yellow Book by Mark Allen or that Mark Allen wrote the foreword for, you know, the big MAF um, big MAF,
What they call Training and Racing,
Big Book of Training and Racing. It’s massive. And, and people, once they do it and sit with it for a couple of months, they actually see the difference. And then I start bringing in the nasal breath work at the same time, which once again, that’s another, it’s not math training, but it’s another similar thing. What do you mean I have to breathe through my nose and at the start they’re like, oh, this is horrible. But the in very, very short time they find it’s much easier and they can achieve a better pace even while it breathing through their noses.
Yeah. We haven’t wanted to hear this for decades when heart rate training first became available in the eighties. And I, uh, arrived there, uh, you know, a third of the way through my career when I realized that I had no more physical energy to contribute to my training. I was, you know, at my peak, in my age and in my athletic prime and, and pushing myself to the end of the earth and willing to do anything in order to go faster. And when you finish a race and there’s still guys up in front of the road, up in front of you on the road, then you have to go back and, and really reckon. And that’s when I, you know, kind of had this realization helped by Maffetone, Mark Allen, Mike Pigg, Andrew McNaughton the leaders in the sport at that time that if I slowed down and took better care of my body, it was a portal to going faster, which didn’t exist in my current framework because there was no way I could train any harder.
And I was still going pretty fast, but I was frustrated because there was guys ahead of me on the race course. And I think until we can kind of embrace or even have the trust and listen to someone who’s been through it and slow down in pursuit of improvement, that’s going to be the major sticking point. Uh, but I think it’s really important to reflect how, uh, intensity is relative to the fitness level of the individual. So if you happen to, uh, go to Eldoret, Kenya and watch Kipchoge in his daily training, the greatest marathon runner, one of the greatest endurance athletes of all time, his easy run is a six minute pace at high altitude for 18 miles. That’s his easy day. His training log is available on the internet. You can scrutinize it. The exercise physiologists have had a field day nitpicking, every single workout that he does.
Um, but for any mortal human you’d think, wow, that’s crazy that guy’s amazing. He even is flying through a high altitude mountain runs on his easy day. But if you compare his heart rate and his relative pace per his marathon pace where he can run a 04:33 for a marathon. So a six minute pace is one and a half minutes, slower per mile, sorry, kilometer listeners. I’m going with the pace per mile here, you know, it’s way slower than his marathon pace. Uh, and so now we’re going to get our notepads and our calculators and think, what would it be like for me to, you know, to go that slow? And it’s most, most likely a jog walk for even very fit people that might have some medals in their, on their wall for age group placings. But that’s the portal to continued improvement and protection against breakdown, burnout, illness, injury, not being able to have babies or have fun off the race course.
Yeah. He, he essentially does MAF training. I mean, he did a great, there was a great interview that Phil Maffetone did talking just like you did, he went into a lot more detail about Kipchoge’s, he’s running and talked about how, how his runs are that long. And they’re just a comfortable pace. And that’s one of his secrets and, you know, um, you know, he, if that’s what he’s doing, it’s obviously giving him some benefits along with his amazing genetics and his non, non Western diet. And you know, not sitting on the couch all day, doing nothing, but that’s what people need to think about is this, this we were made to raw run long and comfortably and sprint once in a while, you know, like I did, I did my fastest marathon ever in January this year, 03:26. And my average heart rate was 125. I did that fasted. I didn’t eat for four hours after. I had one gel during the run, which is like a fruit gel. Um, but I did it fast and I was not sore the next day. It was like, I’d never even sort of run a marathon. And that was, that was all because of MAF training,
You know, why did you fast for four hours after?
I just wasn’t hungry? I didn’t deliberately, like I went into it fasted. So I didn’t, I had dinner the night before and that morning I didn’t have anything. I just had a mouth full of water. Um, but I just wasn’t hungry. And that that’s often a lot of my athletes say. I’m never hungry after training and what that’s good, that’s good. But then, you know, when you’re hungry, you have a proper nutrient dense meal, you know, not a protein shake, have avocado, have eggs, have meat, have some, you know, really good vegetables because you know, you, you should eat when you’re hungry, not just eat because you need, you feel like you need to eat because the clock says it’s lunchtime. So it wasn’t, it’s not deliberate, but you’d find the same thing. You’d often not be hungry after training,
Uh, depends on the context, but I think that’s another nice checkpoint to indicate that your training is under control and stress, rest, balance. And boy, uh, comparing the difference to coming in, uh, famished after a workout and generally overeating, which is a very common pattern, especially, uh, if you’re looking at like the, uh, the CrossFit community with the 6:00 AM slamming workout or the, uh, endurance people and the ultra endurance people, uh, they kind of take the workout as a license to go and jam a bunch of food down their throat of indiscriminate food quality as well, by the way. So, um, you know, another thing to unwind and, um, right there alongside monitoring your heart rate and keeping it under the, the maximum aerobic limit might be, Hey, monitor your appetite and see if it’s being disturbed, uh, by your training, uh, patterns. And that could be a red flag.
Yeah. Well, you know, I think there’s another saying you could bring up like Tim Noakes has a great saying. If you need to, uh, if you, uh, if you need to exercise to maintain your body compensate or to improve your body composition, then your approach to nutrition is wrong. Well, maybe, uh, you know, an approach, another quote we could come up with is if you’re starving after your workout, your approach to exercise is wrong, you know, cause you shouldn’t be.
Yeah, I think once in a while, if you want to push your body to the limit, such as a race, or such as an extremely challenging workout, um, those could be personal growth experiences and, and stimulate a fitness breakthrough, but never to the point of collapsing and puking on the side of the track. Like we see in the movies, but just something that is really above and beyond your normal pattern. And if you get home and you want to, uh, you know, immediately refuel, I think that could be a worthwhile recovery strategy. Same with high intensity, a high glycolytic workout is probably gonna have a different protocol than a pure endurance session. But if we want to just discuss, you know, your marathon and your fasting four hours after the marathon, um, that was a pure endurance fat-burning session. And that’s kind of where the, you know, the baseline should be for most endurance athletes.
Yeah. Yeah. So do you want to, do you want to spend some time talking a bit more about breath work because, um, I know you’ve been doing a fair bit of that yourself,
Right? So we have this concept of slowing down and monitoring our aerobic heart rate. And interestingly, and I’ve, I’ve known this for over 20 years now that, um, I read Body, Mind and Sport in 1998 by John Douillard. And he was talking about how, if you breathe through your nose only while you’re doing an endurance workout, uh, it will strongly correlate with an appropriate, uh, fat burning emphasis aerobic session. So I tried it way back then, uh, the, the, um, the, the emissions from the nose were very annoying and it was just kind of a struggle to keep to it. Then I’d forget about it for awhile, and then I’d try it again. Uh, but beyond just the limiting the air to limit your pace. Now we have this great awakening. The two best-selling books are killing it in the marketplace, Breathe by James Nestor and The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown. We know that Wim Hoff is gaining all kinds of attention for his athletic feats, as well as his promoting the breathing method. So yeah, let’s go there. And of course it’s strongly connected to, um, emphasizing aerobic training, but let’s take it all the way into everyday life as well. And monitoring that sympathetic to parasympathetic balance.
Yeah, well, so my experience with breath first started and you know, where I want it to really advance my athletic performance. And initially I started looking at [inaudible]. I started doing his online course, but what I found was that, you know, his approach was, and tell me if you think I’m wrong, but his approach I found was more about stress management and how to influence his immune system and improving his mental health. Cause if some of the things that happened in his life, but, you know, I want it to breathe less and improve my capacity to run, um, and race at a lower heart rate with a faster pace. So by then, and because when POS breath work is a lot more through the mouth and using all these other techniques, um, I wanted to look for something different. So then I started to follow Patrick McKeown.
So I read the breath book by James Nestor, and I started following Patrick McKeown. And he, he was trained in this method called the be take-home ethic, which consists of a series of breathing exercises and guidelines specifically designed to reduce over breathing, uh, which is why he calls chronic hyper ventilation, because the fact is most people breathe way too much. And this alters the natural levels of gases in the blood. It reduces oxygen delivery, um, to our tissues organs. And in some times sometimes it can cause constriction of blood vessels, um, and airways. And this can have lots of health problems. You know, mouth, when we, when we, you know, breathing, breathing volume becomes normal and we can switch from mouth breathing to nasal breathing, which helps alleviate all these health problems. And there’s a lot of science and evidence around that. Um, he, he, this Patrick McKeown started to look at this guy called Dr. Buteyko
I think he was Russian and he was looking at sick people and found that all these sick people, you know, breathe really hard. And he sort of thought about, well, is the sickness causing the hard breathing or is this hard breathing through the mouth causing the sickness? Um, the other thing is, you know, so Patrick, McKeown sort of followed this and researched all of this and really had a big interest in it because he himself had a breathing problem where he was always breathing through the mouth. And one interesting thing is we’re told, we’re told, we tell people when they’re, you know, not feeling well or they’re are overstressed to take a big breath through the mouth. And the belief is that this will increase oxygen delivery into their tissues as well. It actually is totally the opposite. Um, and this is all around this thing called the Bohr effect, um, which I’m sure you, you know, you could talk about a lot as well, but this method called Buteyko breathing technique talks about soft breathing light breathing, and breathing through the diaphragm where we use the nose to breathe and that using these techniques, we increase oxygen delivery to the cells, and this is where we’re really gonna transform our health.
Um, so there’s a whole reasons why it’s important. I can go through those and then maybe we can talk a bit more about what we actually do, but yeah, as you say, James Nestor and Patrick McKeown, and in my opinion are probably two of the biggest and most successful and educated people that talk about this. But a couple of the benefits and why it’s important to breathe through the nose is that, um, there’s more resistance when we breathe through the nose. Um, and there’s more oxygen uptake when we breathe through our nose that warms the air and removes the germs. Cause we have hairs in our nose. During exercise you can breathe through your nose and work at an aerobic level to increase the oxygen that comes into our muscles, improves blood flow. And that increases our ability of our mitochondria to function.
And, and I guess the last two are that the nose acts as a reservoir for nitric oxide. Now there’s an important bit to come about where nitric oxide is as well. And, and therefore, you know, with breathing slowly through the nose, takes the nitric oxide down into the diaphragm and the deep part of the lungs and that improves oxygenation of the body. It also improves vasoregulation, which is the opening and closing of blood vessels, which gets oxygen into our body better. And the important thing for men is that helps with erections because in Viagra, nitric oxide is in Viagra. So it’s a very important part for all of us to, uh, think about. Um, so they’re just some of the things that I didn’t know about that I now know about. And I even take a nitric oxide supplement as well in liquid form before I exercise to help. So really what we’re doing by breathing through our nose in everyday life. And when we’re exercising, whether it’s in the gym or on the bike or running is we’re building our tolerance to handle carbon dioxide buildup, and we’re able to work at lower oxygen saturations. So it’s giving us this like EPO effect, um, like high altitude training, but it’s legal,
Very well explained there, mate, we’re, we’re talking to Andre, the breathing expert here, fantastic stuff. And I think for listeners, if you’re just tuning in, or you haven’t been exposed to some of these concepts, there’s a lot of content out there. Um, I do like that start to finish overview and some of these insights are so astounding for the non-scientific, uh, you know, entry point here. Uh, but this Bohr effect B O H R you can go look it up. We’ll have links in the show notes. Um, that one kind of, uh, you know, was a real eye opener for me because this is basic biochemistry. This is not Andre’s training theory from Australia, but this is a known fact of science that the more carbon dioxide buildup you can tolerate, the more oxygen will be dumped into the working muscles and tissues throughout the body.
And so when you improve your carbon dioxide tolerance, this means breathing less frequently than being an oxygen machine, taking these big, high stress breaths. We now recognize that when you said over breathe at the very start, it’s really, um, it’s hard to grasp, but this is how we’re going through life. But indeed this is the baseline pattern of the modern human with that mouth wide open, uh, taking crappy breaths, right? Because we’re using, uh, the shallow, shallow breathing methods through the mouth. We’re only using the top part of the lungs, but if we can kind of focus on that insight, that if you learn to, if you train your body to breathe in less, you will dump more oxygen to your working muscles and tissues and thereby getting the performance effect. So I think, um, that was the only thing I wanted to, um, uh, highlight as you continue the, um, continue down the road of how an athlete can use it and also how we can use it in everyday life.
Yeah. Well, I, that’s a great way to explain it brighter. Um, you know, I think you’ve put it really well and, and it’s free and it’s not, it’s not illegal. And that’s why the, the lady that, you know, won a heat and came third in the Olympics, she was using an EPO advantage, but it was totally illegal just because she trains by breathing through her nose. Um, so, so we talked a bit about, you know, the benefits, you know, what it can give us, um, you know, but in everyday life, the other thing is it can really improve our sleep. Um, our energy levels, you know, anyone that breathes through their mouth when they’re asleep, generally wakes up with a dry mouth in the morning. They’re more tired. There is science that shows that that can lead to diabetes and weight gain as well. So, you know, even if you’re not an athlete, but you wake up with a dry mouth, you should get some tape and surgical tape and try and keep your mouth closed.
I had a client within three days of doing it. He stopped snoring and it totally changed his energy level. So guy, uh, Jonathan from Perth, who was a music conductor for an orchestra, and, you know, so you don’t have to be a bit an athlete to benefit from nasal breathing. It can really change your life, but I would encourage people to really include nasal breathwork in all of their exercise routine. And that can be as simple as you know, when you’re doing your warmup, try and breathe through your nose as much as possible, then maybe you do your run and you can’t breathe through your nose. So some people can breathe through their nose while they’re at MAF heart rate. Some can’t. It’s very individual, but you know, maybe in your warmup and your cool down your breathing through your nose and on your main run. You’re done. Then as you progress, maybe in your main run, if it’s an hour or half an hour, you do little segments of nice breathworks.
And maybe every once in awhile, you breathe through your nose with your mouth closed, you know, five minutes or, you know, four or five breaths. And then you breathe back through your mouth. And what eventually you will build over a period of time is the ability to like you and I do breath when we’re doing our running drills or our strides, the ability to even hold our breath while we’re running it 30 minute 30 kilometer pace for, you know, 30 seconds. And even at the end of that, keeping the mouth shut and just breathing through the nose, which is really hard. Cause you’re like, but that really had built a big tolerance to handle that debt of oxygen. And, you know, you’ll snot up everywhere, but there’s a whole range of things we can do. You know, whether we’re on the bike on swift or riding outside?
I guess I ran this morning with a friend who I was coaching. Who’s now a friend and, and he was trying to do nasal breathing the whole time, but I was talking to her a long time. So I think he got a bit off and, but we were both nodding. And at the end we had a hill to run up and we both said, right, let’s just run up the hill without talking. And we were both breathing through the nose. And when we got to the top, we both did a breath hold until we had that desire to breathe. And then we just breathe through the nose. So there’s a whole range of different things. And in The Oxygen Advantage, Patrick McKeown outlines, um, a whole step-by-step process to build from the basic person to an athlete. And it’s all based on your Bolt score. So depending on how, what your Bolt score is determines where you should start on this progression of nasal breath work.
So describe the Bolt Test and how someone can use that. Uh, very first thing we should do if we’re interested is take your first Bolt test because it’s going to be so terrible and then you can aspire to improve and you will improve very quickly. Trust, trust me, folks. It’s no fun to start out and realize that your breath hold time is pathetic, but it is an indication that we’ve spent a lifetime breathing shallowly and inefficiently through the mouth.
Yeah, well, um, and there are videos explaining this, but essentially what you do is you’d sit down and you would take a couple of breaths in through the nose, out through the mouth, into the nose, out through the mouth. And, and once you’ve expelled all the air, you would have a timer and you would hold, hold your nose. And you basically just hold, you’re not holding your breath because the breath is gone. So you expel all the air
Held exhalation people, I suppose you call it
Correct, held exhalation. So you then hold your nose so that you’re not, no air can sneak back in. And when you get the first sign of a urge to breathe and you sort of got to work out what that is for you, whether you find some contraction in your throat or your chest, or your like some like tension in your neck or your lungs, then you stop the timer and you start breathing. And, you know, as Brad said, I think my first one was 15 seconds. I think how long can I do breath is at 90 seconds.
Uh, your Bolt score. And we have video proof people that this guy went up to the superior level of 40 seconds. And if you can get up to 40, uh, the minimum, uh, threshold Nestor and others contend for declaring yourself, a healthy breather would be 20 seconds. And don’t be surprised if you can’t make it to 20 seconds people on your first attempt, but working from 20 to 40, uh, is really outstanding. And it does take a lot of practice. Um, and I like, I like to emphasize that idea that this is not, um, you know, the macho contest to, to kill yourself and pass out. But it’s when you have that slight sensation of discomfort where you wouldn’t really wouldn’t mind taking a breath right now. And so it’s not something you want to gain by pushing yourself harder today than you did yesterday, but it’s just looking at that timer and going, okay, it’s time to breathe and then noting your progress. So
When you do it, when you do it, you should, if, if people, if this is on video, you should be able to finish it like, like this, you should be, oh, I’ve done the test.
That’s my point is I need to get back into regular, calm, relaxed breathing after one or two, uh, nasal breaths that are bigger than normal. So it’s not as gentle as you showed on the video where I did only reason I knew you stopped as you took your fingers off your nose. But, um, I want to have kind of this, uh, this baseline where I repeat the test carefully each time and not try to, uh, you know, jump to a new PR like most athlete mindsets are looking for, you know, just an immediate breakthrough. Uh, but when you can monitor your Bolt score and even practice the test frequently, because it is a challenge, uh, then you’re, you’re building up your ability. Um, one thing before we continue forward is you, you mentioned that, um, quick, uh, example about sleeping. And sleeping is when we really need to bring parasympathetic function into central focus and get a maximum and most efficient, possible exchange of oxygen throughout the night.
We know how dangerous sleep apnea is where you stop breathing during the night, and it can lead to all kinds of health problems. Uh, and so the problem when you have symptoms of mouth breathing is that this indicates that you’re stimulating sympathetic function, uh, inefficient exchange of oxygen with narrow panting breaths through the top of the lungs, rather than using the diaphragm as it’s intended. And so I think it’s probably qualified as an advanced strategy to tape your mouth shut, but it has become a legit thing that’s highly recommended. And something to think about if you’re having trouble breathing at night is to notice your habit and try to correct it while you’re asleep. But I think, uh, heading in that direction, one thing you can also do is get the nasal strips and apply those at night, to open up the nostrils a little wider and make it easier for you to breathe and maintain that nasal breathing throughout the night. Cause you toss and turn and maybe one nostril gets blocked or something, but it is, uh, another goal to write down is nasal breathing throughout the night, especially.
Yeah, absolutely. That that’s sort of like the baseline. That’s like the body body composition basedline. I think, um, the, the other, I think Brad, um, the important thing with the Bolt score to remind people is that I do two or three tests because if we were doing it now, my first one might be 35 seconds. My second one might be 40 and my third one will probably be 45. So you sort of, you will get better as you’re doing them in one hit and I’m getting my athletes to start doing, like, they do a MAF test, I’m getting them to do a Bolt score test as well. And I include breathwork running in all my athletes training as well. But Brad, you, you explained to me about, I think is that Andrew McNaughton, CO2 tolerance test is that who does that?
Brian MacKenzie, this test. I mean, these are tests that have been, you know, in science and exercise physiology for a long time. Now they’re coming to the forefront. Um, Brian’s a real leader in this field. At shift adapt.com. He’s been on the show and I like his gear system. So when you go through his training, they actually described five gears of breathing, uh, the lowest being calm, gentle, nasal breathing, which should be our baseline. And then all the way up to full on sucking air through the mouth breathing, which would be the final lap of the 1500 meters in the Olympics, right? When you, you need maximum oxygen because your muscles are working so hard. Uh, and then you try to return down to, uh, uh, you know, you try to downshift to a lower gear as quickly as possible. So just as you mentioned, you know, when I do my sprints, um, I’m, my mouth is closed throughout all sprints and drills and things that are difficult and challenging.
And then when I finish, uh, I will occasionally be in a state where I’m gasping for air with a wide open mouth, but after three of those, I’m going back to a really strong nasal breath, maybe a mouth exhalation. After two of those, my mouth is closed again, I’m doing some really strong, you demonstrated well for the viewers on YouTube, really strong nasal breaths. And it does become a little frustrating at times. You wonder why you’re doing it. It would be so much easier to just suck air, like you’ve done your whole life. Uh, but when you get this realization that you’re serving up nitric oxide to all the cells in your body, and you’re also, uh, filtering warming, uh, and moisturizing the air so that it can be better used by the lungs. And you start to become a believer really quickly that this crazy stuff that my wife gets scared when I do this loud breathing.
Cause maybe I’m, you know, I’m behind her and she can’t hear me. And all of a sudden I’m wheezing like an animal. Uh, but you, you got to buy into this stuff. And if you’re kind of on the fence, which I was for a long time, I’m like, what does breathing have to do with anything? I have plenty of air, whether I’m sprinting or running for a long distance a time, but when we’re talking about altering your physiology, especially, um, toning down that fight or flight response, wow, it’s a pretty exciting breakthrough in athletic training.
I loved your podcast with Brian. In fact, I’ve listened to it a few times and I love his analogy of the gears. And I’m thinking of using that with some of my athletes as well. That said, it’s very easy to understand. And, and that approach and how you explained it is if people just took that on board and said, I’m doing a gear one run today, and I’m doing a gear two bike ride today. You know, that, that I think this is probably one of the most, uh, well kept secrets that isn’t out there yet for athletic performance. So, you know, back in the day, Mark Allen, that he wasn’t telling people he was doing MAF training, right? He wouldn’t tell people there were people starting on low carb that probably weren’t telling people, I truly believe this nasal breath work is that next thing that if athletes get over themselves, get over yourself, right? You’re all podcast names. They get over themselves and have the courage to take this on board. It’s that next layer of, um, performance enhancement that people could really benefit from, but it takes courage okay.
To step outside the norm. Right? Uh, I want to share you my favorite one liner take away from the books and the breath studies, um, that, uh, that Patrick McKeown offered up. And so if your, it maybe got lost during our discussion with some of the science, whatever, or wondering what the general application is, he declares that your goal should be to breathe through your nose as minimally as possible at all times all day for the rest of your life. And that includes workouts. So when I’m doing my sprints, I’m starting through my nose and then I have to suck air through my mouth and that’s okay. But I try to immediately get back down to this minimal breathing. And when you take in less oxygen, you aren’t giving you, I know I’m repeating myself, but you’re giving your, your organs and tissues more oxygen. So if you can just keep that in your mind for the rest of your life. Now that you’re listening to the show, people there’s no turning back is these notions of taking a deep breath to relax are doing the exact opposite. They’re stimulating, sympathetic fight or flight when you, when you take a big giant breath. Um, so breathing minimally through my nose only, I’m carrying that with me everywhere I go all day long, sleeping awake during exercise, great stuff.
Yeah. And, and I think we’re the only stupid animal in the world that breathes through the mouth.
Dog does that that’s just to cool itself down, you know, and it just reminded people, our body wasn’t made to breathe through our mouth. Just like our body wasn’t made to be a vegetarian where we’ve got teeth. You know, we, sorry, I’m on a tangent here, but we, we were meant to breathe through our nose. And if we’re not, our body thinks we’re under stress. Because if you look at a clock of a 24 hour circle, we’ve only had this lifestyle and these habits for like two minutes of our evolution and our body hasn’t adapted enough to breathe through our mouth. And it brings that cortisol response that stress our body doesn’t know that we’re not in danger when we’re painting through our mouth. That thinks we’re in danger. So we’re just on a highway to inflammation, um, bad mouth formation, you know, dental problems.
That’s why all these young kids have orthodontics in their mouth because eating soft food and not having enough calcium, not having enough bone structure, the sinuses don’t fill out enough from breathing through the mouth. It’s a terrible health problem that the native people didn’t have. So, you know, people get over yourself and really listen to what Brad’s saying and what I’m saying. And if you want that secret performance edge, you really need to get across this nasal breathwork and do it when you’re walking. Do it.when you’re making love. Do it when you’re running, do it. When you’re sprinting. Do it when you’re on the bike. Do it all day and your life could change. And I, I would say at the same time, be monitoring how your low, your resting heart rate gets lower. The more you do it because your body will become more efficient, uh, in everything we do
Well said. Thank you. Uh, we’re, we’re proceeding nicely through this, uh, procession of important objectives to, to tackle if we want to be a healthy fit athlete. And I think the last one you mentioned, um, was the strength training component, the explosive activity, uh, to pair up with that nice, the emphasis on, uh, maximum aerobic function, exercise in general, everyday movement. And I know you work in the, in the realm of endurance athletes mostly, and you have your own personal goals, which are extreme endurance in nature. You can call a half iron man triathlon. That’s an extreme endurance event, anything over 15 minutes would, would qualify as an endurance event rather than anything else, even though people use the terms poorly, when the triathletes say they’re doing speed work today, um, it’s not, you know, speed work is Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. So everything else, what you’re doing is, is endurance oriented. But where does that, uh, strength element, explosive element fit in to the big picture, uh, for both, uh, an endurance athlete and then someone who’s just looking for total and balanced fitness. Okay.
Well, for someone that’s, doesn’t have a background in weight training. I would always caution them to have a proper assessment done by as a physio therapist or proper qualified trainer to work out. Can their body tolerate, plyometrics or power based lifting or heavy compound movement lifting, or are they better off using machines or doing body weight work? Because everyone has a different experience that leads into what they can do in the gym, but for someone that is competent and has a good endurance base and has confidence in using the gym. Are, you know, it, especially if they’re a runner and a cyclist, I believe they should be doing some power-based work doing some plyometric work, you know, jumps, box jumps, heavy weights, low reps, um, as part of their gym work. I do two workouts a week and at the moment it’s all heavy weights, low reps.
I use the MSP maximum sustained power approach with some of my work, but I do it all breathing through the nose. So, you know, yesterday I was doing my, I have a bit of routine where after I’ve warmed up, I do Hex bar, deadlifts and chin ups, or pull ups over grass pull-ups. So I do four sets, 10 pull-ups Apex bars. Then I sit and I take one big breath through the nose, and then I try and hold my breath and I sit for a minute between sets, but I try and keep my nose breathing happening the whole time during that whole workout, even though it’s quite hard. Um, but you know, to increase our power when we’re running and cycling, we need to put our glutes, our hamstrings, you know, our quads under appropriate stress. And a lot of that comes from working in the gym, doing the right type of exercise, but it all does depend on our, our physical background and our ability to do those movements correctly. So I think, you know, strength training is quite important and, and, and regardless of your sport, doing some power-based training, whether that be, you know, pliers or jumps or, or heavy weights is quite important,
Uh, I’ve personally found difficult juggling the disparate goals. Like I mentioned, when I was a full on triathlete, I was not in the gym. I didn’t have enough energy. And even today, you know, I have the ambition to achieve total fitness, my main goal being informed by longevity in the background, rather than trying to make the next Olympics, although I’m not ruling out the possibility of the Olympics after that, uh, in my hometown of Los Angeles in 2028. I’m giving myself a chance I’m going for the high jump. We’ll just see which country wants to take me at a lower height. 10. Yeah, for sure, man, I’m going to get thrown down at the Masters games. Uh, but it’s, it’s, it’s a battle because you know, everything’s great and has wonderful health and fitness benefits, but then when you stack it up, you’re like, oh, heck, you know, I’m dealing with post-exercise muscle soreness from my deadlift session. This is going to affect my sprint workout two days later, or my energy level for the long ride on the weekend, if one happens to be an endurance athlete. So how do you manage that, that juggling act?
Um, in terms of time, I think it’s a matter of, you know, yeah. I think in a matter of like, I calendar everything. Um, so I schedule my training in my calendar because I work for myself. I work around that. Yeah. This all comes back to, I think getting enough sleep, getting off Netflix, building a schedule of what you want to do, and then maybe prioritizing what are the things you’ve prepared to drop off around your physical pursuits and what are your priorities for the month? So, you know, maybe for this month, my priority because of the weather is the gym and, and cause there’s no pools. Riding. So I might have swimming in there to swim to the beach, but that might drop off, but I’ll always put an emphasis on the gym and riding. Um, so I think, you know, planning, scheduling and looking at what your priorities are, not, not just doing the things you like because often people do the things they like.
Instead of like we talked about before, people don’t want to be told what to do. They want, they don’t want to get told what’s good for them. They just want to do what they want to do. You know, if we’re not good at something, that’s the thing we probably need to focus on. This Netflix, cause that’s going to drag us down. So as an example, you know, my running’s my number one, my, my bike is number two and my swimming’s number three pools are closed. So I should be swimming in the ocean, but it’s bloody freezing. And when you’ve got 7% body fat and 62 kilos, you’re always freezing. So I’ve been a wimp I’ve been soft and I haven’t swung. I know that right. But you know, no races are happening here either. So I’m focusing on my riding. So last week I did 300 kilometers, but it was all in MAF. And my power, my bike, and my ability to ride at a faster pace, the lower heart rates coming up. So it’s about what do you need to improve on what’s your schedule planning and having a bit of a, you know, focus on that. I think
Andre Obradovic. wrapping up the whole thing. We started out looking at our lousy diet and our energy gel habits got to clean that stuff up, get the body composition, right. Go into the MAF heart rate training. We had a great discussion about breathing. Uh, we, uh, we talked about sleep and then sprinkling in some high intensity training that’s well-informed and well-balanced and well scheduled. So thanks for walking us through, uh, it was, uh, it was a client consult to the masses and I appreciate the great work you’re doing. I’d love to have you on the show. Again, we always come up with topics to talk about when we’re chatting offline. So we’ll, we’ll stack those up. Listeners can participate too. That’s Andre Obradovic, everybody.
Thanks Brad. But
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