Hi listeners! Here comes a great show about fitness suggestions for anti-aging—the critical objective to age gracefully rather than follow in line into the accelerate-decline-suffering-and demise pattern that we see all around us, thinking it’s a part of chronological aging or that it’s normal.
In fact, it’s absolutely not normal—I love the quote from ageless wonder/Paleo forefather Dr. Art DeVany, who says “aging is essentially damage caused by adverse lifestyle practices.” Of course we’re going to have a lifespan somewhat characterized by decline as the decades pass, but we can recalibrate our notions of what that looks like, and one way to do so is to look at the outliers who are making magnificent athletic feats, even at older ages. A lot of the time we discount or dismiss those examples as being genetic freaks, failing to recognize how important those lifestyle behaviors are to 1) make the most of your genetics and 2) minimize genetic misfortunes—you can go a long way towards negating or even nullifying these things completely through healthy lifestyle practices—including a bunch of fitness stuff we’re going to talk about today.
Who knows, maybe one day we can dream of following in the footsteps of 100-year-old Lester Wright, who recently ran the 100m in 26 seconds at the age of 100! Just try running 100m in 26 seconds the next time you’re at your local running track—it’s not super fast, but it’s not slow either—what an amazing accomplishment! You’ll hear about the protective benefits of having muscle mass throughout your life and honing and maintaining skills like balance, Dr. Peter Attia’s goal of training for the centenarian Olympics, how to kick butt in your 80s, how I plan on celebrating my 95th birthday, and the reasoning behind Mark Sisson’s goal to “live long and drop dead.” I also talk about the correlation between physical fitness and cognitive fitness (including facts from a great UCLA study I often reference), our human genetic obligation to move and how walking leads to having a larger hippocampus, and how prolonged sitting generates chronic inflammation in the body and sitting for as little as 20 minutes generates a noticeable decline in glucose tolerance and an increase in insulin resistance—meaning you get worse at burning fat, while you’re starting to crave sugar and lose cognitive function—all from sitting around for a seemingly brief period of time. We’ll be hitting some more advanced fitness objectives during this show, such as exercises to perform to maintain muscle mass throughout life, and touch on Robb Wolf’s advice that if you want to live longer, lifting more weights and eating more protein is the way to go. I also talk about how as we age, we become less efficient with protein synthesis (hence the importance for increasing protein intake), how simply going to the gym once a week to do five compound movements is enough to generate increases in muscle strength, and why you don’t want to mix skill development with aspirations to build strength, as this can lead to workouts that overly stressful and will promote breakdown and regressions in your progress. Finally, we discuss the importance of minimizing stress while pursuing maximum fitness benefits and the importance of being careful not to stack assorted stressors (fasting, low-carb, restrictive diets) with intense exercise, and the difference between environmental and plant hormesis.
It is not normal to fall apart as you age! Aging is essentially damage caused by adverse lifestyle practices. [01:24]
Brad plans to go for the high jump record when he is 95 years old! [04:33]
Walking is so important. A UCLA study showed those who walked over 4,000 steps a day had larger brains. They were sharper, more cognitive, and better functioning. [07:10]
We have an increasing need for protein as we age. [08:58]
Just going to the gym once a week is enough to generate increases in muscle strength. [11:47]
Maintaining muscle mass is most important for anti-aging goals. [15:01]
Aerobic conditioning is essential but it will come in all manner of fitness activities. [20:34]
Resistance exercises focus on full body movements. [26:40]
Micro workouts are always doable and help in preventing falls. [33:33]
Muscles help us control our glucose levels. They use glucose as fuel and have a role in insulin resistance. [39:46]
It’s never too late. Sarcopenia is the decline of skeletal muscle tissue which can be rebuilt. [43:36]
You get the most profound adaptations for body composition and anti-aging hormones when you participate in high intensity, sprinting, and jumping. [46:15]
It is difficult to combine endurance training with the other disparate skills, like sprinting. Learn to sprint properly. [53:57]
- Brad Kearns.com
- Brad’s Shopping page
- Lester Wright 100m
- Dr. Howard Luks Podcast
- Dr. Peter Attia
- Dr. Herman Pontzer Podcast (Energy Expenditure)
- Jay Feldman Podcast
- Body by Science
- Podcast with Dr. Craig Marker
- Podcast with Dr. Casey Means
- Podcast with Dr. Paul Saladino
- Jogging 2.0 YouTube
- Dr. Howard Luks
- Podcast with Chris Hinshaw
- “If you want to live longer, lift more weights and eat more protein.” (Wolf)
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3, 2, 1. And you’re on the air, Brad, by yourself in a closet recording studio. Welcome. Hi listeners. Here comes a great show about fitness suggestions for anti-aging. Ah, the critical objective to age gracefully rather than follow in line into the accelerated decline into pain suffering and demise that we see all around us thinking that it’s part of chronological aging or that it’s normal. And in fact it is absolutely not normal. I love the quote from the ageless wonder one of the paleo forefathers named Dr. Art DeVany. And he says aging is essentially damage caused by adverse lifestyle practices. Of course, we’re going to have a lifespan characterized by somewhat of a decline as the decades pass. But we can kind of recalibrate our notions of what that looks like. One way to do so is to look at the outliers, the people that are doing magnificent athletic feats, even at the older ages, a lot of times we discount that or dismiss these examples as wow, what a genetic freak.
Yes, that really is amazing. But we fail to recognize how, uh, important the lifestyle behaviors are, of course, to make the most of your genetics or to minimize your, uh, genetic misfortunes, this bad hand that you’ve been dealt, you can go a long way toward negating that nullifying that completely with healthy lifestyle practices, including a bunch of fitness stuff we’re gonna talk about today. Who knows maybe one day we can dream of following in the footsteps of Lester Wright, who in early 2022 at the Penn relays, big track meet ran the a hundred meters in 26 seconds at the age of 100. We have the YouTube video in the show notes and boy, what an amazing accomplishment. He’s had some good luck, good fortune along the way, but also a healthy lifestyle. And, next time you go out to your local running track run a straightaway in 26 seconds.
It’s not super fast, but it’s not slow either to not bad at all for age 100. So what a great goal to aspire to. And we’ve had so many great shows on this topic of fitness strategies anti-aging. And so we’re gonna put some suggestions together and give you some marching orders, some objectives, but I’m particularly thinking of the recent show that I did with Dr. Howard Luks, where he talked about the metabolic protective benefits of having muscle mass throughout your life, and also honing and maintaining skills like balance and overall cardiovascular and muscular strength. Dr. Peter Attia the very first show on this podcast, still one of the most downloaded shows ever, and he’s had some great content on his own podcast called the drive. And one concept that’s particularly interesting and appealing is how he says he’s training for the centenarian Olympics.
So these are fitness goals that he wants to accomplish when he turns a hundred and he has a whole list of them. He promises to share ’em all in his upcoming book. But he mentioned a few, one of ’em was to be able to climb out of a swimming pool on his own power. So a great lifelong, uh, fitness endeavor of swimming laps, right? It’s great for everybody non impact. You can definitely aspire to still swimming back and forth when you’re a hundred, but then hoisting yourself out of the pool. No small feat. He also mentioned squatting with a kettlebell of a similar weight to a grandchild. So being able to play and frolic with the young ones, even when he hits a hundred personally. I’m gonna throw down right now and announce that I am going after the record in the 95 and up division in the high jump, which the American record, maybe the world record, but the, the record right now stands at 0.97 meters.
So that’s about three feet. So on my 95th birthday, if I am capable of jumping into bed without knocking over the bar, I will bag that record unless someone improves it before then, which they probably will. So whatever it is, I’m going after it. And that’s, what’s so cool about, uh, the master’s track community is they celebrate getting older and aging up into the next five year age group increment. So instead of frowning and gene and saying, gee, uh, now I’m 80 now. I’m really old. They’re like, all right, now I’m in the 80 to 84. I’m gonna kick butt. Look how much, slower the, the times are that we have to go to. Mark Sisson has talked about this so much. And, actually his, one of his favorite phrases live long drop dead, represents his life goal.
And that is to, of course live a long lifespan, but be strong and functional and capable the whole time. And then have a very quick demise instead of this dragged out pain and suffering in the wheelchair, in the nursing home. Or of course, the increasing incidences of cognitive decline where the physical body is still out and about. Uh, but the mind is gone. And so this all goes hand in hand. There’s so much research tying in the correlation between physical fitness and cognitive fitness, including a great study from UCLA that I reference often where they had two groups of seniors, those who walked a minimum of 4,000 steps a day, and those who didn’t, and those who walked that modest total much more modest than the widely bantered, about 10,000 steps a day, which is being criticized as being arbitrary and also kind of extreme.
I think that represents around five miles and it could be a turnoff for people just trying to bump up their activity from insufficient to, uh, modest and adequate. So instead of worrying about whether you hit 10,000 steps or whether you’re a failure at 9,300, why not aspire to just bump up your daily step count? And if that does work for you to count, it’s so nice how the smartphones and the smart watches now can, can give you that total. The apple watch has those circles that they want you to close every day. So quantifying your goals really helpful. And with the UCLA study, those who walked over 4,000 steps a day had larger brains, they had larger hippocampi, they had more brain derived, neurotropic factor known as miracle grow for the brain, the nickname by the Harvard scientist. And so they were sharper, more cognitive, better functioning brains as a consequence of simply walking.
And of course, we’re gonna talk about, uh, that’s, that’s the bare minimum threshold to be a healthy human is to increase your walking, forget about your age that’s for everybody. We have this, uh, human genetic obligation to move, reference my show with Dr. Herman Pontzer where he cited research that, you know, they’re talking about sitting as the new smoking, it’s the big buzzword in health and fitness for the past several years. And one of the reasons is because prolonged sitting generates chronic inflammation in the body. Um, I believe Dr. Pontzer was saying, go figure. In other words, we don’t have the direct scientific mechanisms for that, except for throughout two and a half million years of human evolution, the human, the homo sapiens was out and about doing hunting and gathering until very, very recently. And it just stands to fact that sitting around is very bad for the human body.
We also have research showing that sitting, I mean, sitting still for as little as I believe, 20 minutes represents or generates a noticeable decline in glucose tolerance and an increase in insulin resistance. So you get worse at burning fat and start to crave sugar, start to lose cognitive function just from sitting around for brief period. So the obligation to move more, to take breaks, to walk around that’s number one. But I think we’re gonna focus more on this show of actually hitting some more advanced fitness objectives where you perform the necessary exercise to maintain muscle mass throughout life. That reminds me of my show with Robb Wolf, one of the epic quotes of all time, where he said, if you want to live longer, lift more weights and eat more protein end quote. And I think that quote came in the context of all this talk and this fascination with fasting and low carb and keto and calorie restriction and time restricted feeding to prompt longevity.
And as we’ve learned from my recent show with Jay Feldman Energy Balance Podcast, and my four part series of reflections on the energy balance concepts that were presented by Jay in our interview, we can easily spin this out of context and into the inappropriate application of these insights that fasting’s gonna help you live longer. And skipping meals is 100% awesome all the time. Robb weighs in with that counterpoint that you wanna fuel yourself appropriately with nutritious foods, and then you wanna work hard, be active, increase your baseline level of activity. And then if you do wanna live longer and live longer in a graceful functional manner, lift more weights. And of course eating more protein is a nod to the validated research that, as we age, we become less efficient with protein synthesis, such that those in the senior category need more dietary protein.
We have an increasing need for protein as we age. And we might also speculate that seniors might have a tendency to consume less protein. I don’t see them buying a lot of jugs of whey protein supplement, like the young bodybuilders and fitness freaks, but, it’s something to think about. And as I develop this protein product and bring it to market, it’s not gonna be targeted directly at the muscle heads, but more at a broad audience, especially those of us in the older age groups who still wanna be functional and perform and recover. So needing more protein, needing more basic movement and needing more weightlifting. And it doesn’t have to be a turn your life upside down and turn into a gym rat.
My great show with Dr. Doug McGuff author of Body by Science, contends with great scientific reference that simply going to the gym, a single workout consisting of five exercises on machines. Once a week is enough to generate increases in muscle strength. It’s not enough to make the NBA or make the Olympics or pursue advanced athletic goals in the various sports. But in terms of isolating this single objective of getting stronger muscles, you can do these five compound movements and progress really nicely. The same concept is applied with the Osteostrong program, which is a chain of specialized fitness facilities, catering to seniors, those interested in preventing bone loss and the protocols to go just once a week and perform four compound exercises where you’re working the major muscle groups of the upper and lower body. And it’s a single rep. It’s a single effort to maximum at the Osteostrong and in the Body by Science protocol. You’re going into the gym on the machines, cuz they’re safe and that’s makes it open to everyone.
You don’t have to hoist around the plates, but you go to do the chest, press the overhead, press the lap, pull down the seated row and the leg press. And you do one set of each one until total muscular failure. And you go at a very slow cadence up and down. So you put the time under tension, as they say, you increase the time under tension for the muscle. And believe me, it is a very difficult workout, even though it only takes 12 minutes, but you are performing the set you’re resting a little bit. Then you’re heading to the next machine, performing that single set where the reps are really slow. And that last rep is probably gonna be a half rep because you’re going until complete muscular exhaustion. And that is sufficient to trigger strength gains. And I’ve been fooling around with this for oh perhaps six months or so since I interviewed Dr McGuff and, and read the book and really became convinced that this was a, a great strategy and a winning strategy for an athlete like myself, who’s doing specialized workouts in the sports.
But Dr. McGuff makes that wonderful argument that you don’t really wanna mix skill development with the aspiration to build strength because that can lead to workouts that are overly stressful and will promote breakdown. So when I’m going out to high jump, I should be best focused on improving my technique and being really explosive and doing not an excessive number of reps, such that my technique falters or my power falters. And then if I want to get more powerful particularly with the leg press and the example of high jump, I go in there and do that workout once a week and really push my legs to the maximum, to exhaustion with a single set. And that will improve my leg strength that I can then transfer over to the athletic goals that I have. Does it, does it make sense? Instead of doing these exhausting workouts, you are going and getting stronger in a very focused manner and you are resting sufficiently and even in the book and in the podcast,
Dr. McGuff says people that come back and think more is better and do a second of those very short workouts, a second workout per week, have a regression in their progress. So once a week, 12 minutes, and the reason I’m, highlighting this here is that this obligation to maintain muscle mass throughout life, which is arguably the number one factor for longevity, because if you are maintaining muscle mass, it correlates very strongly with healthy metabolic function, as opposed to being in metabolic syndrome where you have shitty metabolic function, uh, increase in body fat, increase in lipid markers and all the things that suggest high risk of heart disease. So if you’re lean and mean you are by default, probably pretty good at burning energy. You’re probably not carrying a lot of excess body fat unless you lift a lot of weights and eat a lot of crappy food.
And so it’s sort of a proxy for being a healthy person to have this muscle mass throughout life. Dr. Craig Marker on a recent show was talking about this concept of Fishing and Fisher, the scientific concepts more easily understood as fester famine. And we’re gonna talk about that more in upcoming shows. And then I’m just listing some of the great shows that were inspiring, uh, this breather show. And then finally Jay Feldman with those very compelling insights, talking about how we want to minimize the stress that we inflict upon the organism, because stress is cumulative while pursuing maximum fitness and health benefits. And that’s where we have to be very careful stacking assorted stressors, especially fasting low carb restrictive diets with intense exercise. Reference my interview with Dr. Casey Means and discussions with Dr. Paul Saladino on the show.
Dr. Casey uses the term redundant pathways that is ways that we can stress the body or challenge the body and, deliver an adaptive benefit such as starving the cells of energy to help them work more efficiently and repair more efficiently. Uh, and that would be, um, fasting and intense workouts doing the same thing, starving the cells of energy and prompting an adaptive response like mitochondrial biogenesis, Dr. Paul talks about plant hormesis versus in environmental hormesis. And so many of the touted benefits of eating the high antioxidant plant foods for example, are that, uh, it, the, the plant toxins actually cause the body to mount an internal antioxidant defense response. So the liver starts pumping out glutathione the master internal antioxidant in response to you consuming the raw kale and celery and beets in your smoothie. And so we consider this to be inherently healthy.
However, it’s really the body’s response to a poison that makes the the raw vegetable smoothie healthy. And in Paul’s argument, he’s showing on Instagram jumping into a tub of ice water saying that this environmental hormesis, this stressor of jumping into cold water will also prompt a similar internal antioxidant defense response, but without the adverse side effects that happen when you consume plant toxins. Very compelling premise and difficult to dispute from a scientific perspective. So, uh, we want to watch out for the redundant stressors, honor. This insight from Jay Feldman, that stress is cumulative. Reminds me of a quip I’ve mentioned a couple times I read or heard with somewhat validity that for example, consuming a, uh, an order of French fries once a month is a way to fine tune your antioxidant defense mechanisms because you’re consuming these industrial seed oils, these poisons and your body has to fight it off aggressively.
This offense to the organism, same with smoking a cigarette hypothetically once a month, and you have this, uh, violent internal, uh, defense reaction because your body doesn’t like to be poisoned. And so, uh, by doing so you’re getting these hormetic benefits. So these notions sound ridiculous, but they are of the same logic of people who are doing four CrossFit sessions a week, and trying to adhere to a ketogenic diet you’re prompting what is supposed to be hormetic benefits by applying these hormetic stressors, but when you overdo it, it has the adverse effects that we’ve talked about so much: breakdown, burnout, illness, and injury. And in the case of lighting up for your monthly cigarette or ordering up your monthly serving of French fries with glee, thinking that you’re doing yourself a solid, we also have to reflect on how stress is cumulative, such that, um, we’re talking about having 12 servings of French fries each year, year after year or 12 cigarettes a year, times, 10 years.
And certainly that’s an extreme example, but I think you get the point where the cumulative effects of stress are sometimes disregarded when we keep pushing ourselves with difficult, challenging workouts, feeling like crap afterwards, but thinking that this will help us when it’s time to run the marathon in six months time. Okay.
So when we’re talking about anti-aging fitness cornerstones, or attributes, you often hear the various pillars of fitness broken down into categories. So you’ll hear about aerobic conditioning, cardiovascular conditioning. You’ll hear about strength, power. You’ll hear about a balance. You’ll hear about flexibility, and these are the four pillars of fitness. So we can start our discussion covering topics into categories, but I don’t think it’s necessary or a good idea to isolate them because there’s so much crossover.
But we’ll start out by talking about aerobic conditioning, cardiovascular conditioning. We’ll talk about resistance, exercise, building strength and power loading the muscles. We’ll talk about high intensity exercise like sprinting. And then we’ll also talk about this catchall outside category that we might describe as balance slash flexibility slash mobility, that kind of stuff. But, uh, the aerobic conditioning, which has been, uh, banter about is such an important cornerstone, a pillar, uh, you hear this term zone two all the time. Everybody’s using the terminology zone two exercise, which is conveying a, a mild, comfortable pace for sustained cardiovascular workouts. Why not just call it comfortably paced aerobic exercise instead of a zone? What zone? I don’t know, no zones, Maybe I predate all this fancy talk, but the aerobic conditioning is clearly an important fitness attribute.
However, it is now clear and undisputed that you will get an aerobic conditioning effect, a cardiovascular training effect from all manner of exercise, even stop and start activities like being a tennis player, or even going into the gym and doing some high intensity strength training with a lot of rest between efforts. Your cardiovascular system is working well beyond resting rate. And so this idea that we have to go out there and plug along at a steady pace for long duration in order to check this box, should be strongly second guess. Now, if you want to go and complete an event, a competitive event, you must approximate the challenge of that event in training. So you are not going to excel in a marathon run by hitting CrossFit four times a week, and doing a lot of box jumps and rope climbs it’ll help contribute to your success if you integrate various, workouts properly.
And I think that was the message behind Brian MacKenzie’s CrossFit endurance movement, where he was looking at these endurance athletes that were just shuffling along in a forward direction and wanted them to become more broadly competent athletes. However, back to my argument here that aerobic conditioning is of course essential, but it will come in all manner of fitness activities and you can look on my YouTube. Uh, we’ll put the link in the show notes. Uh, the title of the video is jogging 2.0, and this was an epiphany I experienced in recent years where after decades of starting my day, most days, going out for a slow, comfortably paced jog with the dogs, I started to get bored. And second guessed the necessity of doing this. It’s not a tremendous fitness feat to go out there and plot along for 30 minutes in a straight ahead direction.
Uh, we know about all the drawbacks of doing excessive cardio. But of course I was very careful to keep my heart rate in a very comfortable zone. And it’s certainly better than sitting at home. But with my more sophisticated athletic goals, like wanting to be a sprinter, a high jumper, a speed golfer. I started to integrate some different challenges into this steady state cardiovascular workout, such that I would do jogging of course, and then chunks of, uh, drills and skills and balance moves and lung walks and jumping up and down off the bench and all the things I show on the video, and that would be followed by a recovery period of just walking. So instead of just jog, jog, jog every single day in a straight line, I would have a workout that looked more like jogging, some drills, some challenges, some walking to recover, some more jogging, some more drills, some more walking and mixing it up a little bit, and certainly not compromising my aerobic conditioning in any way, but in fact, broadening my fitness competency and so big plug for kind of looking further to a bigger perspective than just needing to get on that stair climber at the gym and watch CNN for 45 minutes and go back and check the box.
It might be more fun. It might be more beneficial overall to mix up your workouts and integrate some other stuff. However, in this category of cardiovascular exercise also goes general everyday movement and that compelling obligation that we have to increase all manner of general everyday movement. So go ahead and do your morning jog if you enjoy it. And you’re training for a competitive event. Of course we gotta put in the miles in that case. But otherwise think about those five minute walking breaks from prolonged periods of stillness as essential, and perhaps more essential than single till then a single 30 minute or hour walk every day, trying to get your 10,000 steps or your jogging session every day, trying to keep your mileage high instead it might be more beneficial just to move more and do little bursts of activity here and there, including micro workouts, which we’ll talk about shortly. And so this cardio objective should be seen in a broader perspective than just counting your zone two hours up.
Okay, now we will move into resistance exercise. The best form, especially if you’re tiptoeing in this direction, thinking like, yeah, I should get my, my game going in this area, this category. We wanna focus on full body functional compound movements. These are things that, uh, recruit a lot of muscle groups and joints, and the opposite would be an isolation movement such as picking up a dumbbell and doing some bicep curls while you’re just standing there. So a full body functional compound movement. The bread and butter the best are the deadlift and the squat. Because when you do both of those, you’re also recruiting a whole bunch of upper body activity and putting the joints into challenging functional positions to enhance their, uh, mobility, strength, flexibility, all that great stuff.
So you’re hitting a whole bunch of fitness objectives with a single move, such as picking up the weight off the ground in the case of the deadlift. And so, uh, that’s what Dr. McGuff’s big five workout is all about is like if you draw in red, you know, color in red, which muscle groups are being used, uh, for those five workouts, you’re looking at all the major muscle groups of the body. Same with Osteostrong. There’s four machines, two upper body, and two lower body. And to get through the gauntlet of the machines, you are again stimulating every major muscle group in the body. So, I love also the idea of using resistance, cords, resistance straps, to engage in a safe manner a lot of different muscle groups. The X three bar is very popular. John Jaquish, inventor of that former podcast guest.
He’s also the inventor of Osteostrong and it allows for variable resistance. That means that the resistance changes in concert with the ability of the muscles and joints to produce force. So for a very quick and simple example, I talked about it more on the shows, but if you’re doing a chest press with the X three bar, you are essentially stretching this very thick, rubber strap further and further. The further away you get from the body, the more difficult it is to continue stretching the tube. And it’s also when you’re more and more powerful. So for bench press example, the most difficult six inches of the move is getting the dang bar off your chest. So you are constrained when lifting an ordinary weight. You’re constrained with the amount of weight that you can lift off your chest, even though you’re multiples more powerful when your arms are nearly straight at the end of the move.
So with resistance cords, or the stretch cords that hang from a doorknob, or hang from a chinup bar, they have two handles on them. And so you grab the handles and you stretch the cords away from the anchor point, and you can work all kinds of muscle groups with some great activities. So you are putting your muscles under resistance load, and this is the essence of how to maintain functional muscle mass throughout life. So we have this critical objective to not very often, it can happen in short bursts, like with the micro workouts or with, uh, one or two formal workouts a week, even just one, if you wanna focus on the big five protocol or the Osteostrong protocol, but go and put your muscles under load and work them until failure is also a good general example. Although the sophisticated strength trainers will have all these different strategies where they don’t go to failure and they do super sets.
And all this stuff you hear about when you’re over eavesdropping from people at the gym. But the basic notion here is that you want to challenge those muscles. You wanna put them under load under duress for short duration, explosive movements with excellent technique. And that’s an important point for all manner of strength training resistance workouts is you want these workouts to be relatively short in duration so that you get an optimal spike in fight or fight hormones, and the adapt the flood of the adaptive hormones into the bloodstream like testosterone and human growth hormone, but you minimize, or you minimize the duration of the stress hormone spike. So that it’s an optimally brief stressor rather than an exhausting workout. Unfortunately, the majority of mainstream fitness programming, it seems is not honoring the subjective. So they are taking well meaning fitness enthusiasts of whatever level.
And this extends from the raw novice who overdoes it to the highly sophisticated competitive athlete who overdoes it and get injured. But we are continuing to pound the body for too long, such that these workouts have potential, a strong potential for a counterproductive effect. And so if you feel crappy after doing a vigorous workout at the gym, and this could be immediately after, or it could be 1224 or 36 hours after. Cause a lot of times you feel awesome after you go and push yourself at that awesome boot camp workout. And you’re sort of on that endorphin high and it lasts for a few hours. And then later in the afternoon, you feel like crap, or a day later, you wake up, you’re stiff, you’re sore. Muscle soreness is the worst about 48 hours after a workout that was overly stressful and prompted muscle damage.
So we wanna have these checkpoints going along where you’re the workouts that you perform, the resistance exercise or the explosive sprints and, and so forth are well within your capabilities, such that you’re not having these symptoms of over stress in the hours and days afterward. So as we’ve conveyed for years with the Primal Blueprint message, the recommended template was two strength training sessions per week lasting between 10 and 30 minutes. Those are two formal sessions where perhaps you’re doing it at the gym. Perhaps you have some implements at home. You don’t need hardly anything to get it done. Of course you can do the primal essential movements, pushups, pull ups, squats and planks. So you don’t need any implements. But I mentioned stretch cords. A lot of people are fond of grabbing a kettlebell and doing some basic things that are also full body and highly functional.
Or if you have access to a fitness facility, you do these very safe machine exercises that are doable for a complete novice. And I know this cuz I saw my mom go into Osteostrong for her first appointment, 84 years old, probably hasn’t hit a machine ever, at least not in decades. Um, you can correct me in the show notes, Mom, if you, uh, if you have experience doing fitness machines, but she went in there on her very first session and learned how to bench, press and overhead press and do a modified deadlift and all the things that these machines, uh, put the, uh, body in, in a very safe manner where you’re not even hoisting plates or moving anything. You’re just doing sort of an isolation move. And the machine is measuring, measuring your power output to stimulate improvements in bone density.
Okay, so you gotta do something here. And it doesn’t have to be sophisticated. Micro work out also a great idea. So if you can drop for a set of 20 squats while you’re at work at your desk. Just a simple objective. A simple ask that would take less than a minute, but bending down and perhaps, sitting into the seat of a chair, if you’re a novice and then standing back up. So you’re sitting down, standing up, sitting down, standing up, and if it seems like a silly fitness objective. Let’s recognize that this is one of the more difficult and more dangerous moves of the senior citizen, which is often succumbing and to eventual demise due to the instigating event of a fall. So falling is this huge risk it’s been identified as the number one cause of injury and death in Americans over age 65, and it’s really falling and related consequences of demise.
So people aren’t falling and dying on the spot, they’re falling, breaking their hip, being hospitalized, being immobile. And then their metabolic function starts to decline precipitously because they’re stuck in bed. And then they’re so weak and their organ function declines so much that they will succumb to pneumonia eventually or something that could be traced back to when everything started to fall apart on the day that they fell. And then they were no longer walking around the neighborhood every day or doing their other daily movement activities. And I should also, uh, as we’re talking about the benefits of maintaining functional muscle mass throughout life, perhaps the main one and the reason that we’re, we can, uh, get away with calling muscle mass. The number one longevity objective is that it’s strongly correlated with organ reserve and organ reserve is a concept that describes the functional capacity of your organs to operate beyond their baseline function.
And so building up a reserve so that your organs are stronger to handle, for example, some sort of ch trauma or challenge like a surgery or an illness, getting COVID, we’ve seen a lot of misfortune in those who were metabolically unhealthy and succumbed to COVID. Um, I don’t like to talk about it on my show cuz it’s so controversial and exhausting. However, I believe there are accurate stats that, um, 80%, 86% of COVID deaths, were among a population who came into the condition with obesity as a comorbidity, a confounding factor. And so that’s a pretty heavy stat. Hopefully I’m somewhere near accurate on that, but if you are healthy, then you can manage all kinds of affront to acute problems because you have good organ reserve. And of course, organ reserve is built because when you go and do a workout and you, even if you’re doing bicep curls or doing the big five workout or jogging around the block or sprinting around the block, you are asking your heart, your lungs, your kidneys, your liver, all of those to step up their game and work way beyond baseline capacity because the liver has to dump nutrients into the bloodstream.
The kidneys have to filter,, help you hydrate and filter water. The lungs are working, the heart’s beating, and then you go back and sit on the couch over the next 20 years and your heart and lungs and kidneys, everything works better. Okay. So that’s the, uh, the concept of organ reserve promoting longevity in association with maintaining muscle mass. Some interesting points by Dr. Luks in some of his articles on his website, and I’ll direct you to those they’re, they’re really informative, but he argues, especially for longevity and to reduce your risk of falling. You wanna work on those important muscles in the lower body: the thighs, the calf, the glutes, these are the largest muscles and will have the most significant impact on our metabolism as well because they burn so much energy. The large muscle groups in the lower extremities also have the greatest androgen receptor density.
So if you do a set of squats, you are going to promote a spike in the adaptive hormones like testosterone and growth hormone. Extremely important for both males and females. Although a lot of times we talk about testosterone T with the, uh, the, the bro science and the relevance to the aspiring male. But females, although they have 20 times lower levels of testosterone than males, if your testosterone level is not optimized, you’re gonna have similar symptoms of feeling weak, tired, poor focus, all kinds of adverse impacts. So, doing those, those lower leg movements will help the body produce, absorb and utilize testosterone effectively, perhaps superior to doing, uh, working the upper body. Um, Dr. Luks argues that calf muscles are one of the first muscles to succumb to the changes brought about by sarcopenia.Sarcopenia is the definition of age related loss in muscle mass, which is kind of silly.
It should be named inactivity related loss in muscle mass caused by years of inactivity instead of just age and isolation, but you get the point. Senior citizens have a high incidence of sarcopenia and related, uh, adverse health consequences of all kinds. So he wants you to really work on those calf muscles and do calf raises. Isn’t that interesting because I’ve been chartered with increasing my attention to calf strengthening and stretching, cuz I keep getting injuries and nagging aches and pains down there in those very sensitive muscles. Aren’t they the most sensitive muscle, especially when they’re sore and you touch your calf and it hurts just to poke it with your finger. So, get on those, uh, machines where you can do machine related raises or just, uh, going up and down on your toes, uh, allowing the heels to drop, uh, beneath flat.
So if you’re on a stair, right, you put your toes, the ball of your feet on a stair and then lower down being low, the level of the stair, and then back up to your tippy toes. And you can just do basic sets like that. And when you get good, you can do single legged. So that that lowering portion one leg will absorb that eccentric load. And that’s definitely advanced, but double legged, calf raises just on the edge of the stair would be a great way to start. Okay. So we’re gonna start working on our calves and let’s learn a little more detail. Why muscle mass is so important for longevity. Uh, this is some quote from Dr. Luk’s article muscle mass is 50% of body weight. Muscles help us control our glucose levels. That’s cuz the muscles will take up a lot of glucose.
They’ll soak up a lot of glucose rendering sugar bombs, much less offensive, especially after workouts. Uh, Dr. Cate Shanahan says when the glycogen suitcases are open, a carb bolus, a big intake of carbs is not at all harmful because the first objective is to restock glycogen. So, uh, that is when you have your free pass to go and enjoy carbs. And of course, uh, nutrient dense carbs would be an easier to digest. Carbs would be much more advisable than going to Seven-Eleven and getting a Slurpy after your workout. Although technically ingested carbohydrate is going to be converted into glucose and sent into glycogen storage depots in the muscles and the liver. So the main objection to consuming, uh, junk food carbohydrates is often what’s piggybacked with it, uh, such as refined industrial seed oils or the ingestion of processed sugar in whatever form the S slurpy, uh, or, you know, God forbid, the Ding Dong or the Twinkie with all the other chemicals and, um, oils and, and bad ingredients.
But the objection of consuming processed sugar would be how it might compromise your gut health. Jay Feldman talked about the production of endotoxin in the intestines and the adverse health consequences of consuming, junk food of that nature. But generally speaking, if you’re out there on a hundred mile bike ride and you’re slamming down the energy gels and sugary drinks, it’s gonna help you get through the, get through the effort if your digestive system can handle it. And then afterward you’re gonna restock those glycogen tanks and not be concerned about how many calories of carbs versus your daily scoreboard. If you’re trying to count macros and things like that. Anyway, back to the quote from Dr. Lux. Muscles help us control our glucose levels. They use glucose as fuel, and they have a role in insulin resistance and type two diabetes.
They improve insulin sensitivity when you have functional muscle mass. The opposite of insulin resistance, uh, back to the quote, loss of muscle mass sarcopenia contributes to poor health outcomes, fatigue, loss of function, disability, fall risk, frailty, and death. The changes that occur to our muscles as we age are profound and can have a dramatic effect on our health. Guess what listeners of all ages? Muscle mass starts to diminish as early as age 38 and in your sixties, the decline accelerates dramatically. Here’s some good news about being active when you’re younger, we send genetic signals that make a big difference to aging gracefully later, and it’s easier to build and maintain muscle mass when we do so throughout life. But if you’ve had some bad decades of your track record, you were inactive, whatever. It’s never too late. Quote from Dr. Luks. We have tens of thousands of genes in our DNA.
Not all of them are turned on. Exercise leads to some of those genes being turned on. This is called an epigenetic change, a response from environmental influence to influence genetic function. And those genes might decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, premature aging, neurocognitive decline, and so on. Sarcopenia is the decline of skeletal muscle tissue. As we age one of the most important causes of functional decline in loss of independence in older adults, the causes are hormonal changes, chronic inflammation. We talked about before from sitting around too much sedentary behavior, chronic illness and poor nutrition Obvious, obvious. So we want to take that fork on the road and head over in the direction, especially of resistance, exercise muscles will respond to load or force regardless of your age, quoting Dr. Luks.
ks article. Yes, a 20 year old can build bigger and stronger muscles than an 80 year old, but an 80 year old will grow larger muscles when they perform resistant exercise. Studies show that seniors have the fastest rate of strength gain than any other group.
Isn’t that awesome? So you’re not going to, uh, be setting records in the gym, but you’re going to improve faster than the younger populations. Obviously you have more room for improvement. So when my mom sends me her Osteostrong scores and she’s doubled her strength in the deadlift in a matter of a couple months, that’s way more impressive than, uh, my son, who’s already dead lifting 350. He’s not gonna get 700 in a couple months, just not gonna happen for him. And of course you understand the ridiculousness of the comparison, but it’s super empowering to know that the senior population has the quickest and easiest rate of progress to getting stronger. So go in there and start putting up big numbers or little numbers. If you’re just pulling a stretch cord a little bit and getting started in a comfortable and safe and appealing manner, but definitely put that into your objectives that we need to put our muscles under resistance load, no matter who we are and we have to do so the rest of our life.
And the way to determine if you’ve done sufficient work is you wanna be, uh, breathing a little heavily and perhaps feel a little bit of that burning sensation in the muscles that indicates that you are running out of ATP energy because of the demand you’ve placed upon your muscles over a short term explosive, high powered effort. And so we just wanna put our muscles into a bit of discomfort, uh, one way or the other.
And now we’ll transition into the importance and the great benefits of high intensity, sprinting and jumping workouts. And this is where you get the most profound adaptations for body composition, as well as the flood of anti-aging hormones, like testosterone and growth hormone, and also developing that important attribute of insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, when you are able to adapt or, uh, progress toward doing high impact, high intensity exercise, such as sprinting on flat ground, or doing any assortment of jumping exercises, that’s when you will also improve bone density and the resilience of your joints and connective tissue.
Of course, if you’ not ready to go out and run sprints on flat ground, you will progress gracefully by engaging in low or no impact sprints such as on cardio machines, like an exercise bicycle, or even in the water swimming, doing a rowing machine rowing on real water. And then, uh, over time, you’re gonna tiptoe in that direction of getting some, uh, impact, and that might be starting with sprinting up the staircase or sprinting uphill, much lower impact than sprinting on flat ground. And then dabbling in wind sprints where you accelerate for, uh, just a few brief strides and teach your muscles in your body, how to operate when you’re trying to absorb impact and move quickly, uh, sprinting increases competency and reduces perceived exertion at all, lower levels of exercise intensity. It makes you more resilient against all other forms of stress in life.
We call it the ultimate primal workout and the ultimate manifestation, the desirable manifestation of the human fight or flight response. And so we have this wonderful genetic mechanism to kick into high gear and improve the function of our brain, our muscles, everything is fine tuned for magnificent peak performance. And unfortunately we tap into it too frequently, for too long duration of time and for inappropriate circumstances where it’s not a life or death, a fight or flight. And so, sprinting would be a wonderful application of your fight or flight attributes whereby uh, getting into repeated arguments with loved ones would be the absolute worst example of tapping into fight or flight in inappropriate manner. That reminds me of something I heard on Jay Feldman, energy balance podcast, talking to a sidekick Mike Fave. And they were saying, yeah, we talk about hormetic stressors, like the sauna, the cold plunge, the fasting, the keto, but we never used the example of like, Hey, get into a gnarly argument with your significant other as a hormetic stressor.
And , that’s a really good comparison there because this notion what doesn’t kill me, uh, is gonna make me stronger is not true. And, um, especially when you consider the effects of stress are cumulative. And so we wanna make sure that we’re sprinting in a very appropriate manner where we are well within our capabilities. We’re stimulating that fight or flight response appropriately, but we’re not traumatizing the muscles joints with too much immediate trauma and muscle damage because that’s gonna compromise the intended benefits of sprinting. And so starting on the bicycle and performing no impact sprints for a long time until you really, uh, build cardiovascular and muscle strength and only then considering, and perhaps never in many cases, right. But you might wanna someday, uh, form that ambition of doing high impact sprints to get further benefits, but it certainly don’t have to. The main objective to honor or principle to honor here is that a little goes a long way.
And so you don’t wanna have any risk of overdoing it as we see so frequently in the endurance training scene, Dr. Ronina says that being competent at explosive high intensity exercise is even better than anything shown on blood work. So your performance markers, your capability in this athletic realm is right up there with delivering, uh, impeccable blood results in terms of an anti-aging marker. Uh, the great study, uh, performed by the Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas. They were the creators of the, the term aerobics and launching the aerobics movement back in the sixties with Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s bestselling book Aerobics. They performed a study, uh, asserting that one’s time in the mile run at age 50 is an outstanding predictor of longevity and your ability to make it till your eighties feeling strong and competent and healthy.
The study revealed that those at age 50, who were able to run eight minutes mile for male and nine minute mile for female, had a dramatically increased propensity for long, healthy life versus those at age 50, who were unable to break 12 minutes for the male or break 13 minutes for the female. They were dumped into the high risk category, and they had, uh, much, uh, worse outcomes trying to get to the 80, the 80 yard line, the 80 year mark in good health obvious again, and there’s, uh, correlating studies that track, grip strength, squat competency push up competency. There’s a famed, uh, firefighter study where they tracked, uh, the push up competency, the firefighter, and those who could do less than four, where in deep trouble, as far as aging gracefully and those who could do more than I think it was 40 were in the superior category.
I had my show with Chris Hinshaw, the former Ironman triathlete compatriot of mine, and now a prominent coach in the CrossFit scene. His operation is called Aerobic Capacity and he argues for the importance of developing the disparate skills of being competent in the mile run as well as in the 400 meter dash. And this is working of different energy systems and having a, uh, a healthy or a respectable comparison between those two performance markers. And he wants to see a mile time around 20% slower than a 400 meter time. And that represents that you are a complete athlete in a manner of speaking. Let’s address those extreme endurance enthusiasts who might be able to run a respectable mile, and then you ask them to run an all out 400 meters, and they haven’t been trained for that.
They haven’t developed those energy systems or those muscle enzymes, or the things that need to get up on your toes and fly around the track. And so there’s the deficiency there that Chris Hinshaw would like to see you improve by perhaps introducing more training specific to 400 meters. And then on the flip side, someone who’s competent at 400 meters, but can’t turn in a mile time that is in that realm. That’s gonna be, um, an area, a needs to improve area if you’re striving for broad based athletic competency. Interestingly on a personal note, uh, I’ve been focusing so much on sprinting that I’ve lost a lot of my endurance. And so my ratio is probably inferior today where my 400 time, if I can run around a minute for 400, I should be able to run around five minutes for the mile, but there’s no way I can do that.
And so that would mean I’m deficient in the endurance sense, for the first time in my life. So something to think about, and I am thinking about it, and I’m also contending that it’s difficult to train those disparate skills. It’s a real challenge to get good at sprinting and put in those workouts and recover from those workouts while also trying to maintain respectable endurance base. So you can perform in an endurance goal like the mile run. But all back to a general discussion of your athletic competency. Can you jump up in the air and land on the ground safely and efficiently? Can you go to an uphill and push yourself to go for maximum speed for 30 seconds on an uphill incline? So not asking you to pound your legs or do anything risky. It might be a fast walk, but get out of breath and go until you feel those legs burn.
And, can you do that right now? Or have, have you not seen that since gym class decades ago? Uh, and similarly important, could you if asked complete a two hour hike in the mountains, or perhaps could you complete a five hour hike? Because we probably also wanna have that feather in our cap where we’re competent across a variety of fitness challenges that directly correlate to health anti-aging, disease protection, uh, with sprinting though, it takes so little time that again, um, and going back to the original Primal Blueprint, fitness objectives that are extremely time efficient and within reach of everyone. So we’re asking on the Primal Blueprint recommendation, it was one sprint workout every seven to 10 days where the high intensity efforts are accumulatively very short in duration. I’ve talked about the optimal sprint template, inspired by Dr.
Craig Marker, the hit versus hurt commentary and the optimal template for just about everyone. Unless those of us are training for specific track and field events where you wanna do specific workouts. But just to become competent in sprinting and get the maximum benefits, the maximum return on investment for minimal stress. What you wanna do is between four and eight repeats of a sprint lasting 10 to 20 seconds. That’s the sweet spot for maximum fitness stimulation with minimal cellular destruction. So it’s four to eight sprints of 10 to 20 seconds with a six to one rest to work ratio. So if you’re sprinting for 10 seconds, you’re gonna rest for a minute. If you’re sprinting for 20 seconds, you’re gonna rest for two minutes between those. And you’re gonna do four to eight until you notice any decline in output or technique. And then your workout is over.
And as far as the range between 10 and 20 seconds is concerned, you’re gonna go on the shorter end of that range if you’re doing high impact sprints, such as running on flat ground, and you can go up to 20 seconds if you’re doing things like swing pool or pedaling a bicycle, and thereby taking a longer rest period. So get started right away, doing something explosive and powerful. If you’re out there on the stairs watching TV or pedaling your bike, absent-mindedly, get out there and, and punch some sprints out and see what it’s like to get your breathing up to maximal and get your energy output up to that point where the muscles are burning and screaming for a break. And again, 10 to 20 seconds is that sweet spot. That is a lot of objectives to hit for one show.
So I think I’m gonna wrap it up here and then we’ll finish up. We’ll pick up the pieces with a part two, where we get into, uh, things like balance, flexibility, mobility, and also dietary strategies that go hand in hand with these fitness objectives. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you can implement these right away. Any questions, email@example.com, share the show with someone you care about who deserves to be fit and healthy and avoid that accelerated decline into aging and demise that we see around us. It doesn’t have to be that way if you’re listening to the B.rad podcast.
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