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077: The Benefits of Micro Workouts with Brad Kearns

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What are the benefits of micro workouts? Can brief, intense bursts of exertion be more beneficial than longer types of physical activity? Here to answer those questions and more is none other than Brad Kearns.

Brad is a New York Times bestselling author and is a former national champion and world-ranked professional triathlete. He has written over a dozen books on diet, health, peak performance, and ancestral living; he is also a popular speaker and the face of the Primal Blueprint online multimedia educational courses.

On this episode of Awesome Health Podcast, Brad tells us about being passionate about what we do at any stage of our lives and about how getting older helped him make the transition from ultra-competitive athlete to a more holistic and well-rounded person.

He says there is wisdom and insight that comes with age and self-reflection; one of his favorite one liners to remember is this: take what your body gives you each day and don’t force things to happen that aren’t meant to be. This lesson applies to workouts of course, but also to the other areas of our lives and learning to enjoy the journey rather than be completely focused on accomplishments and destinations.

We explore a bit more about today’s world of airbrushed social media before talking about micro workouts. It’s a simple concept where you work out in brief bouts of powerful exertion and effort, and the payoffs are tremendous. Brad thinks this is going to be one of the fitness breakthroughs in this century. He explains more on today’s episode including some industry leaders who are sharing this approach to workouts and how he uses this strategy for his own health and fitness.

We wrap up by talking about the benefits of cold water plunges: one of the things Brad is best known for is his five minute plunge into a chest freezer full of 36 degree (Fahrenheit) water. It builds focus, energy, discipline and provides a natural hormone boost. Hear him give more details on that topic and more on today’s Awesome Health Podcast!

Episode Resources:

Read The Episode Transcript:

Wade Lightheart: Good morning, good afternoon and good evening. It's Wade T Lightheart from BiOptimizers with another edition of the Awesome Health podcast. And folks, if you're getting up there like I am, today is a great episode for you to hear. We have got none other than the New York Times bestselling author, Guinness world record holder, and a professional speed golfer along as he's also a former national champion and number three world ranked professional triathlete. He's written over a dozen books on diet, health, peak performance and ancestral living, and is a popular speaker, retreat host, and face of the Primal Blueprint, online multi media education courses. Wow. That's a lot of stuff to get into. I want to welcome Brad Kearns to the show. Brad, how are you doing, man?

Brad Kearns: Oh my gosh, Wade. I might've been at level 7 before your introduction, and now I'm up at like 9.5. Ready to rumble. You could be a ring announcer in your spare time. Let's get ready for the podcast. Yeah, very nice.

Wade Lightheart: You know it, you got it. I'm actually working on my own pitch. I have my own saying, cause I love Michael Buffer and Bruce Buffer and that whole thing. I am going to work that in sometimes, if you're listening, Dana White, you need to get me on a trial. But anyways, Brad, you know, there's so many things to talk about here. Were going to get into a lot of things. We're going to talk about micro workouts today. We're gonna talk about cold plunges. We're going to talk about mofo, something that you're doing as well, but tell me a little bit for our listeners that might not be familiar with you, Brad, like who is Brad Kearns? How did you get in this whole journey and become such a big face of kind of what's possible in biological optimization?

Brad Kearns: Oh my gosh. That's so funny you asked that question today because I just finished recording this podcast episode for my podcast, Get Over Yourself, it's called. Had a great interview with you. I can't wait till that drops. And people will love going over there and listening to you being on the hot seat instead of the interviewer seat. But the episode was titled Meet Brad after 200 episodes. And I just told my own story kind of going through my childhood, when I was obsessed with sports and being active and having fun before the age of digital entertainment and mobile devices, and, you know, going through my journey as an athlete and how important that was to my life.

Brad Kearns: And then my adult life being in the health and fitness scene. And I was inspired to do it by some other guys that have done a cool job you know, introducing their audience to what they're really all about. One is Luke Storey, The Life Stylist was podcast. I'm sure you know him, he's your former neighbor in Venice. And also Abel James does a really cool thing on his website, where he just talks in detail about his musical background, his childhood. So, it was really fun to record this thing and then go back and listen to it and find out who this Brad Kearns guy is. I'm really trying to honor the title of my podcast, Get Over Yourself. And that was the most profound lesson I learned through the athletic experience that when we get so competitive and focused, and driven, and disciplined, and want to excel so badly and to rise above the rankings, and especially in sports where the rankings are very black and white a lot of times that can serve to bring suffering and disappointment.
Brad Kearns: And so what I learned through my athletic experience and I applied to all areas of my life is that when you are motivated for the right reasons, for the pure love of the journey, and you are able to release the attachment of your self esteem to the outcome of what you're doing, I feel like that's when we have a chance to be at our center of power for peak performance and not only perform to the highest level, but also enjoy the whole experience rather than just being a successful asshole with a Ferrari who cuts people off in traffic and is mean to his girlfriend and so on down the list. So I'm kind of this work in progress where I'm really trying to have fun. You'll hear me being silly on this show and on my own show and not taking myself too seriously, but at the same time, you know, life is short.

Brad Kearns: You might as well go for it. I feel like we're now immersed in this world of luxury and decadence, and nonstop entertainment options where we can just sit back and consume YouTube videos and social media and not do anything significant with our life where we push and challenge ourselves. I'm also about that way. Especially we talked on our other show and offline, you know, now I'm 55 year old guy. So the guy you read about in the bio who was on the triathlon circuit and was winning the races on the global circuit… That was a long time ago, man. And I can certainly tell stories if you want to ask me questions about back in the day, but what's most important is what I'm doing with my life right now and if I can find a way to maintain that wonderful passion and competitive intensity that I had as an elite athlete. And so that's kind of what I'm all about and what my favorite subject to talk about is

Wade Lightheart: You bring up a really good point, because, I think both you and myself, enjoy a competitive past and when you're competing for you and a lot of endurance athletes, if you've got some great track records as well, it's pretty impressive, but it's a very single minded focus to become even a nationally ranked athlete, let alone a world class athlete. I mean, like the jump from say local to state is a big jump, and from state to National's a big jump, and from national to world is a ginormous leap. It's real, like everybody's really extraordinary. And it almost takes a single minded obsessive focus for excellence. I think there might be a cue here, because there's a part here you've kind of transcended into, you've rounded out the corners of your life, if you will. And I think it's in the, Get Over Yourself component. So how did that kind of fuse into who you are today? Like, you know, that foundation of that ultra competitive athlete into a more well rounded, holistic oriented person. What was the aha moment or do you think that's a natural transition or was it something that you struggled with?

Brad Kearns: Oh, good question. One part is just getting older, right? And there's not a lot of great things about getting older. I'm so much more easily injured and take so much longer to recover from my great workouts and so, you know, some of that's a bummer, but I think that wisdom and that life experience allows you to look back with a much healthier perspective than when we were living and breathing this stuff at the age of 27 and, you know, you had a bad workout and the rest of your day, you're in a bad mood and weird stuff like that. But I do have to credit, I'm getting my ass kicked over and over, and picking myself up off the ground, and doing some important self reflection, looking in the mirror, going: gee, what's going on, I'm training as hard as I can.

Brad Kearns: I'm totally devoted and disciplined and all the description that you just made and it's not working out for me, what's the missing piece? And that's when I had to have this awakening that when I could just relax. And for example, one of my favorite one liners take what your body gives you each day and nothing more, don't force things to happen that aren't naturally meant to be, especially in the realm of fitness, but we can be talking about many other challenges and peak performance realms. You know, I'm a father, my kids are now 22 and 20. I was a racer before I became a father. So, as a parent, I'm referencing constantly this idea of getting over myself not attaching my self esteem to the accomplishments of my kids, or even my effectiveness as a parent. Realizing that a lot of it's out of my hands and the important, hitting those big picture items like giving unconditional love and support, and also knowing how to establish boundaries and guidelines and parameters.

Brad Kearns: And boy it's kind of fun to see everything in a light where you can just relax a bit and try to remember what's important in life rather than get sucked into this rat race mindset, which is so easily… We're so easily drawn into that. Especially in today's era of the airbrushed world of social media and, you know, both of us are thought leaders and we're trying to create a following and it's very easy to kind of tip toe off the edge and become inauthentic or who knows what, you know, there's a lot of people that I look that are shaping culture, but they don't really seem to be happy, well balanced and even truthful to who they really are, they're just kind of a puppet. And so that's the part that we really need to dig deeper. That's why the long form of podcasts is so important. If the show's over right now and you know, Brad Kearns is going to send you off with a couple tips to swallow your vitamins in the morning and eat my super shake in the afternoon, and then we're gone it's not as meaningful as when we get down into it and touch and connect with people in a meaningful manner.

Wade Lightheart: Yeah. You brought up something that, I think, is really important I think in today's world. We have these two divergent aspects of social media and that's the clickbait kind of stuff, the tantalizing ads the sexual overtones or whatever, and the Instagram models and stuff like that. And then we have this other side, which is this deepening long formats podcast kind of interview style, which is spearheaded by the Tim Ferriss and the Joe Rogan's and these types. And then you have the intellectual dark web, which is its own thing as well. And we're seeing this rapid growth. So there seems to be a hunger for both sides. It's kind of like people are going into two sets. I want to tie this all together in that, I believe that a lot of the population has become an observer and we've got so many observational components, we've become voyeurs to life as opposed to actual participants in life, but it seems like you've cracked the code on really maintaining and being a participant. Do you feel that's easier for people such as ourselves that grew up in the age without internet and were conditioned from an early age, as opposed to maybe your kids who've really been born and bred in the digital age? What do you see as a father and also as an influencer yourself?

Brad Kearns: Oh my gosh. I mean, that's a tough one and I think we should all ask ourselves that question. It seems to me the secret is to have some discipline and self control with the way that we consume technology, because there's no turning back, there's no hearkening for the old days. I remember when my entertainment time was to read books rather than watch videos and do short snippets of, soundbite content, which seems to be really prevalent now. But you know, we're still in control. You can still turn off your camera and microphone today and walk out to the beach with no device and just stare at the waves and probably have a growth experience of some kind. You might even think up a new product when you're out there and great breakthroughs happen of that kind.

Brad Kearns: So I just moved to Lake Tahoe last year. And one of the driving reasons was just to be closer to nature so I could go out and swim in the lake every single day, year round. We're going to talk about cold plunge in a moment, but things like that that can easily be discarded off to the side if we're not really paying close attention. So I'm really trying to create a lifestyle where…. Sure I'm immersed in it, just like everybody else, I love watching the instructional videos on YouTube and learn how to high jump better and connect so wonderfully to advance knowledge so quickly. But boy, if we can learn how to use that off switch at whatever age. I didn't really answer your question. I mean, the kids have a rough time today too, but oh my gosh, the off button works for everybody.

Brad Kearns: So I don't think there's… We're all succumbing to it. We're not immune to it. And I think we're all obligated, but especially man, my heart goes out to the young people that, you know, didn't even have a reference point of the childhood of playing in the forest and Wade story of going way out into the rural area and had nothing else to do except, you know, hoists some heavy weights and get on the journey that you were on. Today man, you could be like the guy watching the bodybuilding contest on YouTube, it would be, you know, you'd just be entertaining yourself in the same way. And I think I should put in a plug like, yeah, we've turned into a spectator lifestyle now, and there's nothing inherently wrong with that. Unless you feel a sense of pain and avoid, and I'm gonna argue that most of us probably will, if we're just sitting back and not challenging ourselves physically or even intellectually and just watching and consuming more and more Netflix. I think there is a deep down sense of something missing.

Brad Kearns: But you know, we don't want to judge that. So I don't want to put pressure on people to say: Hey you know, this person talking on a podcast or giving you this video is a superior physical specimen to you and so you should feel bad about yourself. And it's easy to fall into that mindset to where you just get discouraged, because you're not as badass and you can't afford the Ferrari nor have the giant muscles of the person that you're consuming content from. So we all got to do the best we can every single day and little things make a big difference. Oh my gosh, just hanging around with my dog and watching her jump in the creek and run around, looking for fish this morning was a highlight of my day. It was free and it didn't even have anything to do with me, but there's little things every day that we can take a deep breath and enjoy.

Wade Lightheart: Well, a couple of things I want to get into on specifics with your lifestyle as it is, and you can touch on whichever order that you want. And I think that's something that you referred to earlier before we got on here and that's micro workouts and cold plunges as ways of really fighting off that decline that is normally associated with aging. I always feel this way is, because I was a world class athlete at one point in my career and you hit that peak and then you start to experience the decline, you actually start to see the ravages of the aging process happened much earlier noticeably as a top level athlete, because the margins of error are so slim. And you know, that 1% difference is the difference between first and like 17th.

Wade Lightheart: You know, it's like a huge amount and you're like: well, I can't hit it or I can't recover from injury, all that stuff. Then you start the natural progression as well, how do I maintain my performance? Or at least, how do I stay healthy? So I think we get an advantage, where maybe the general population it's a medical issue, it's a heart disease, it's diabetes. It's some sort of medical intervention that need is required to kind of wake them up to a whole: wait a second, you know, my life or my health isn't a guarantee. When you made that transition, where did this whole concept of micro workouts and cold plunges and stuff fit into your kind of healthy aging optimization program?

Brad Kearns: Oh my gosh. I feel so excited about this concept of micro workouts. I think it's going to be one of the great breakthroughs in the fitness world in many decades. The breakthrough of the century, if you will, since we're early into the century And the concept is simple thatyou can perform these brief bouts of explosive effort and have a tremendous overall fitness benefit and lifestyle benefit without worrying about the complexity and the extreme energy requirement of a proper workout session. You know, I've been in the fitness industry for a long time, just like you and there's a lot of things we can shake our head at and one of them is this pension for these overly stressful workouts, especially with the novice enthusiast who shows up at the gym on January 1st signs up for the 12 pack of workouts with the trainer and on April fFool's day, they've spun out of there, because the workouts were too strenuous and they didn't adhere to it, because it represented pain and suffering to them.

Brad Kearns: So I think a lot of the fitness modalities are overly stressful. I used to work for the spinning program, the indoor cycling program, and a lot of my efforts were toward educating the instructors that you didn't have to crush your clientele, every single workout, screaming at them to finish the climb to the top of the hill on the theoretical tour de France route. And we still see that today where CrossFit is so popular and it's so cool and have so many great things to say about the varied workout environment and the challenge and the camaraderie, the social aspects. But I have to say, every time I've done a CrossFit workout, I had this inclination to sneak out of the back door of the gym at the two thirds mark, because I had given such a tremendous energy output to do the rope climb and then run around the block at a high speed and then do some box jumps.
Brad Kearns: And it was so much fun and it was so difficult, but at a certain point it's like, all right, I'm good. I've put out a lot. I know I'm going to have some recovery time ahead of me and it's time to pull the plug. But we have a tendency to want to go to the extreme, to adhere to this, no pain, no gain ethos that's been programmed into our brains since we were little kids, you know, on the football field and the coach screaming and blowing the whistle or the track route in my case. And so that part, I think we need to unwind and realize that fitness is much more simple and less pain and suffering than we think. And so when you take the example of a micro workout, it could be you listening in your work cubicle right now, cause' we want to listen to Wade shows during the workday.

Brad Kearns: That's really important. But you could be in your work cubicle and lower down for a set of 20 deep squats, and you have a little micro session of muscle stimulation and a heart rate elevation and all that. And then you resume your busy day after what, a minute or a minute and a half of effort. And if you can sprinkle these in to your largely sedentary day, we're talking to most listeners, right? If you have a busy job at the warehouse and you're lifting boxes all day, you probably don't need to worry about micro workouts as much as a knowledge worker, right? But if you can throw these things in to break up these prolonged periods of stillness, which are now being seen as such a devastating impact on health you meet all these different objectives. One of them is to break up the stillness and improve the metabolic function of the body during the day.

Brad Kearns: The other one is, if you add these up, they add up to tremendous cumulative fitness benefit over time. One of my favorite examples is I have the hexagon old deadlift bar and it's in my backyard, and it's on the path to the garbage can from the kitchen. So when it's time to throw away some garbage, I walk around the side of the yard and I pass by this hex bar. And every time I pass by, I do a set. Maybe I'll do two sets one time. It's not a proper workout, I might be not dressed or whatever, but I'll go and lift this bar. I'm a pretty strong guy, so I have 200 pounds on the bar, Wade. And so if I do, let's say six reps of 200 pounds, I know that's nothing for you, a strength people listening, but I'm still lifting 1,200 pounds when I throw away the 20 pound bag of garbage.

Brad Kearns: And so if that's my routine and that's part of my lifestyle and we talk 365 days later, and I do this however many sets in a week's time, like five or six or seven sets in a week, not counting my workouts, right? I might go out there and do a workout, and then I'm doing this and I'm doing that and I do five sets of this or whatever. But outside of that, I'm lifting, let's say hundreds of thousands of extra pounds in a year, which dramatically elevates the platform from which I launched all my formal workout sessions. So I reduce injury risk, and I have a higher fitness level. It's not like it tires me out or it's going to compromise my real workout the next day, is just having a more active daily lifestyle rather than sitting, and then sitting some more when it's time to relax and watch Netflix after your long day sitting at the computer.

Wade Lightheart: Yeah, it seems like that kind of would mimic how maybe humans are naturally inclined to do. I mean, if you live out in rural environment, like I did, for example, a year mowing the grass on the lawnmower, and then you get to get off and you've got to move some rocks out of the way, or some sticks that have fallen down and then you've got to an hour later you got to lug something here from the truck to the barn, and then, you know, a couple hours later, somebody gets stuck with the truck and you're lifting, moving stuff. Like there are these kinds of like literally micro workouts, like how many micro workouts could a person do in a day?

Brad Kearns: Oh my gosh, I have a buddy of mine and frequent podcast guest named Dude Spellings. And he is an amateur enthusiasts down in Austin, Texas. He has a full time career, but he's also a health coach and he's deep into the scene and a wealth of knowledge and he's really pursued some of these techniques and strategies to a deep extent. And so his challenge for COVID was that he set a little alarm on his computer on the hour and he would do, I believe it was 30 pushups on the hour, eight hour workday. So all of a sudden he's doing 240 pushups a day and then he added on a quick walk around the complex where he lives. And so it was I think, a half a mile or something. So now all of a sudden he's walking four miles a day doing 250 pushups.
Brad Kearns: And all of a sudden his fitness is skyrocketing. He's getting ripped, he's dropping body fat and it's nothing, it's not even his workout patterns have changed or anything like that. And so, you know, we've heard all these excuses this year, like, well, you know, my gym's closed so I gained a bunch of weight and I got out of shape, the whole thing's thrown me off. And, you know, here's an opposite case of someone who just set a computer alarm and then who can't do 30 pushups, if you're a fit person it's nothing, it takes probably one minute. But you know, the break and the ability to regenerate so that these things aren't strenuous. That to me also is valuable, because I was noticing as I was getting older, my workouts would take a long time to recover from, and it was kind of frustrating, cause' I'd go and do my sprinting and things that really meant a lot to me and I was trying to get better.

Brad Kearns: But then, you know, I'd have stiff calves for three or four, or five days afterward and this would inhibit my progress, because I was in recovery and rebuild mode so frequently. Maybe I wasn't taking enough BiOptimizers product, but you know, this soreness and this fatigue after hard workouts was something that I had to reflect on. And now there's some great leaders in the fitness scene like dr. Phil Maffetone, dr. Craig Marker, your Canadian cohort Ferriss, who's MMA trainer, Joel Jamieson, also in the MMA [email protected]. And they're advocating kind of a recovery based approach to athletic training, even for the world's elite athletes where you tone down that crazy go to the well type of workout strategy where you're puking on the side of the track, or in between the machines, and instead just maintain kind of respectable baseline where you're going out and you're putting out energy every day, but it's not taxing you and straining you and making you sore.

Brad Kearns: And so there's this distinct admonition, especially from dr. Maffetone, who I've known for a long time, he says: you know, you shouldn't get sore after workouts. And I'm like: what are you talking about, man? I'm sore all the time. I'm sore after every time I sprint. But it really makes a lot of sense, because if your muscles are sore, then they're in the rebuilding and restoration mode rather than the growth or fitness improvement mode. So what I've tried to do is like tone down that competitive craziness that I still carry with me from decades ago and go out to the track and do a sprint workout where I'm well within myself, much more so than I might've been previously. There's a great article, one of the best articles I've read in years and years by dr. Craig Marker on breaking called Hit versus Hurt. And hit, of course we know, is high intensity interval training, those tough workouts, where you try to stick to yet another interval and another, and another, and really challenge yourself on numbers 8, 9, and 10, and try not to slow down and you're not resting enough in between.

Brad Kearns: And so you end that workout, you're depleted, you're exhausted. You want to go straight to Jamba juice and have the medium scone and the smoothie and get this massive slam of sugar. And the, the alternative concept is called hurt, high-intensity repeat training. So the repeat means that every time you perform an explosive effort, you want it to be of consistent quality as you proceed through the workout. So my template sprint workout is eight times 70 meter, a full sprint across the football field, or what have you. And so on the first one, I feel pretty good, I'm rested, I'm well warmed up and ready. And on the fourth one, and on the fifth one, and on the sixth one, I still feel fantastic and I'm delivering an effort of equal quality and time to the first one.

Brad Kearns: And one of the reasons is, because I do what dr. Marker recommends, is take luxurious rest intervals in between these efforts rather than towing the line, because I'm a tough guy and I used to be an endurance athlete, and I can recover quickly and handle a lot of pain and go and do another sprint while I'm still trying to catch my breath and my legs are still traumatized from the previous sprint. So the workout, you walk away from the track feeling less taxed, less trashed. You also ran faster and delivered a higher quality performance. And I'm talking sprinting, you could be talking about this with kettlebells or whatever you're doing in the gym where you're just, you know, focused on explosive output with excellent form and not trashing your body in the process.
Wade Lightheart: You know it's interesting how things cycle around, of course, years ago the Bulgarians began training their Olympic athletes five, six times a day, and taking these massive rest between lifting protocols. And then I remember Ben Johnson the famous sprinter, of course, he tested positive during the Olympics. I mean, according to Linford Christie, everybody in that final was on chemicals, but that's besides the point that something we can still learn from some of the training methodologies. He would take up to 15 minute rests between explosive exercises, cause' they were always working on that quality and the explosiveness. And you couldn't deny, drugs aside, how effective of a sprinter he was the performance. And I find that interesting. This is kind of coming back into Vogue again, maybe from a little bit more holistic perspective of both these micro training components and not going. So if you were to say, let's say these hurt training if you will. Walk us through what that sprint program looks like for you today on a typical day and then maybe how many times would you do that in a week?
Brad Kearns: Boy, I'm glad you brought up Ben Johnson, the great Canadian sprinter and his coach, Charlie Francis, arguably the best sprint coach ever. And it was so sad to see, you know, the way the mainstream media and the people not plugged into the world of athletics just threw everything out in the garbage, because Ben possibly got a spike test too. There's a lot of conspiracy theories, because he wasn't taking that drug near the Olympics. He was taking a lot of shit, but he wasn't taking stanozolol and all of a sudden he's testing positive. And they're like, what? That doesn't make sense. My other favorite doping positive tests was this runner Martti Vainio from Finland who got the silver medal in the 1984 in LA., and he tested positive for this really obvious anabolic steroid that clears the system within days and no athlete would be stupid enough to test positive for that and they couldn't figure it out.
Brad Kearns: And then finally they realized that he had blood doped. So they had pulled his blood six weeks prior during a training cycle and then stuck it back into him two nights before the race which, you know, you can't test for blood doping. That was the great Finnish strategy that was known to be a Scandinavian origin. And so he had blood doped with his own dirty blood full of steroids and gotten lost his silver medal in the Olympics, but that's an aside that we can shake our heads up, but yeah, Charlie Francis, I read his wonderful book about sprinting. It helped me a lot. And that eye opening thing that they would take 15 minute rest periods, we now know that you can probably correct me, but the full replenishment of ATP in the cell takes something like five minutes or three to five minutes or something like that?
Wade Lightheart: Yeah, you can take that long depending on how much you depleted and what's the conditions, there's a variety of variables on it, but it's a fascinating component. So going back to your kind of sprint routine, how does that work? Like how does that work?

Brad Kearns: Putting us back on track after the memory lane?

Wade Lightheart: Yeah, we went down that memory lane. That was the kind of the first eye-opener, cause' Ben Johnson wasn't the face of track athletes, and, you know, of course we had the great Carl Lewis who was the US favorite and kind of the poster boy who was defeated in that race. And then of course, after the testing and got his gold medal, and of course later on was proven that he was doping as well as everybody else. Not to discredit any of these people or take away from their athletics, I think that was the first eye-opener that, oh, well, these athletes are on drugs. It's far more prolific than the general public is led to believe and of course the general public, if they opened up their cabinet is on a vast array of performance enhancing drugs so they can go to work, whether that's painkillers or antidepressants, or blood sugar medication, or heart medication, anxiety pills, or sleep pills and all that sort of stuff. So it's kind of like, I don't understand, can't we just get to the truth, can't we get to accuracy and can't we just make people healthier, which is what we're all about?

Brad Kearns: Yeah. The lawyers who were bringing down Ben Johnson were taking adderall to finish their case in time for the court session. It's brutal, man. And I mean, we can get ourselves going here, but I kinda like to make that distinction of an athlete who's cheating versus a sport, which become dirty largely thanks to the governing bodies. I go way back with Lance Armstrong. I wrote a book about him called "How Lance does it", which is now a funny title since everything blew up, but we have to remember that, you know, there's 200 people on the tour to France and they were all confirmed to be using all manner of doping products. Lance handled it really stupidly, and it affected his public image, and he harmed a lot of people with his aggressive stance, but we still have to remember that, you know, he's the greatest cyclist of all time.

Brad Kearns: And the other interesting thing that I'll leave you with before I answer your original question is like, you know, if the sport were squeaky clean and the best athletes were allowed to come out, the best athletes who work the hardest, had the best strategy, the most discipline arguably Lance would have won the Tour de France by 20 minutes instead of 2 minutes, because he was clearly, you know, the athlete of the century when he was 15 years old, he was racing with guys like me on the pro circuit. I could hardly believe my eyes at this young human had ascended to a world class level that takes years and years of training all day long. And here's this kid who's a high school punk that's hanging with the top pros in the world and triathlon. So he was truly a gifted athlete, had a great career.

Brad Kearns: But all that mess that big time sports is it's tough to navigate through at times, but then navigating through my sprint workout is easy, because I have the wonderful strategy where instead of trying to recover so quickly and push myself to do another sprint, I take my time and I relax and I try to formulate the mentality of a sprinter rather than that mentality of endurance athlete, which I had for so many decades before. So, it's kind of fun, because you can kind of channel you saying Ben Johnson and realize that these athletes are so finely tuned and so explosive, and so fit, because they're able to deliver maximum output and, you know, even for a short time. And I feel like for most of us, most of us listening who are into fitness, you're probably deficient on that maximum output end of the spectrum.

Brad Kearns: And in contrast, you go into a gym and you see the people climbing the stair machine and watching CNN on the television. And of course they're getting their cardio and it's certainly better than sitting at home, but if you'd never challenge yourself and push yourself to the maximum output, you're going to be missing all these anti-aging benefits. The bone density, the muscle mass, you know, the preservation of muscle mass, which is a huge anti-aging factor and also when you're able to sprint or give a maximum effort on your kettlebell swings or whatever you're doingyour perceived exertion and your performance at all lower intensities is much better. So when I can learn how to sprint competently, my form as a runner in this example is superior even when I'm jogging, because I've learned with the highest penalty possible. When you have a poor technique, when you're sprinting the loss of forward momentum is huge rather than when you're jogging, you can shuffle along.

Brad Kearns: And I have a video on YouTube. Viral video baby, one of my goals in life, I got 700,000 views. It's called Brad Kearns running technique instruction. And it was just me and my guy, Brian, my filmmaker, having fun in the park one day. And I delivered a lot of these insights where, you know, what you learn when you're running at maximum speed and trying to get maximum propulsive force off each stride directly translate to how to be a better jogger and how to minimize the impact trauma that causes so many injuries among the massive packs of marathon runners. So whoever you are and whatever your performance goal is, even if it's an ultra endurance type of thing, getting competent at maximum output, maximum explosive efforts is a wonderful addition to your fitness program. And if it's not going to be running, because your joints and muscles, you're not used to it, you can sprint uphill, upstairs, or you can do things on the exercise bike.

Brad Kearns: I have this bike called the Carol bike, C A R O L, and it's an eight minute workout template and a lot of research and science behind it. You probably did know what studies they're referencing, that if you can sprint a couple times at maximum effort and the whole workouts over in eight minutes, your fitness can progress dramatically over time, your fat reduction goals, all of these things can actually come out superior to going and pushing yourself several times a week with a 45 minute spin class. That's a little too strenuous, that stimulates glucose, burning glucose appetite, a carbohydrate appetite, and, you know, kind of puts you at high risk of a breakdown, burnout, illness, and injury.

Wade Lightheart: Funny, you should say that, cause' I'm doing these a couple of times. 10 times a week I hit the attack bike on my deck right now, which is 8 minutes. I do these 22nd sprints and 42nd recoveries. And then, you know, I push to that point where I can't seem to recover my breath very well and then that's it. It's literally between six and eight minutes and then I vary that. I'll drop down to 10 seconds, 10 second intervals. And I would have been thinking, cause' I've read some of this research. I haven't yet tried it. I'm going to do an experiment really soon about doing these, like one all out sprint 7-8 times in a day you go in and like once an hour, you come back and do it and just see what happens physiologically from it. Have you tried anything like that? Cause' we haven't still got to that sprint session, but I'd like to kind of get into some little bit of meat here.

Brad Kearns: Yeah. I've tried that stuff and I have this like living room here in my new home. Well, it's not new, it's beat to heck. I mean, it needs a remodel project. We're hoping someday soon, but I have the opportunity to kind of trick out my living room with all these strange little fitness contraptions. One of them's the X three bar.

Wade Lightheart: I got one of those. Sprint curve totally different on.

Brad Kearns: Incredible. Yeah. So, you know, it's a great discovery that you can tie yourself out pretty well with very short duration workouts. And even the Carol bike. When I first got it, I was having so much fun and I was doing it a couple times a week, a few times a week and then pretty soon you're like, you know what, even the 8 minute workout, if you only do it a couple of times a week, that's plenty, because it's so strenuous.

Brad Kearns: And same with my sprints. If I'm out there once a week I'm pretty happy with that pattern over time. And I think as we progress with our fitness competency, we have to be more and more intuitive with our workout planning rather than regimented. And so I think that's another breakthrough that's necessary for the fitness professionals listening the trainers that are trying to set your client up on a patterned schedule and especially the triathlon coaching, same, which I was a part of for so long. It just doesn't work to charge people money for their six week program that says on Thursday, the 27th, two weeks from now, you're going to do a really long swim and then you're going to ride your bike a hundred miles after that. It doesn't fold into real life very well. Maybe for an Olympic athlete at the training center or, you know, the greatest miler of all time up in the mountains of Morocco, where they know what he's gonna do for the next 17 weeks straight.

Brad Kearns: Because all he's doing is living a monk like existence and training to break the world record. But for most of us, we have to go with the flow. We have to feel where our body's at on a given day. Sometimes we feel lazy, cause' we've had a long, stressful day at work. You've got to get up there onto the roof and start pedaling. And you'll know, you Wade, and also the listener, after a couple few minutes, you know where you're at, you know, whether you're ready to bang one out or whether you just need to cruise and look at the seagulls. And I think we've got to bring that voice back into play more so than just this hard headed approach where we got to get it done otherwise we're a slacker.

Wade Lightheart: You bring up really good thing and it's something I've learned to do, cause' I was so rigid and regimented when I was on my training programs and you know, I can remember a part in my career where I had to improve every single workout, no matter what, right? That was the rule. And I would not leave the gym. It didn't matter if I was screaming, it didn't matter if I barfed my guts out, it didn't matter whatever I was going to improve. And I wrote down, okay, I got eight reps with this rate. I'm getting nine, no matter what. And it was real mental, but now you bring up a good point. It's like, so… I think I just moved, I traveled, I got back from Zen a week ago. I said: Oh, well, you know, haven't got to do the bike.

Wade Lightheart: And I went up on the thing and I have my eight rounds scheduled. Well, I hit round three and I'm like, I'm done. You know, like I'm wasting my time here, because I could totally feel that I didn't have that output that day. It was just not there. And I said: you know what, my body's not ready for this. Now, conversely, four days later I got some biohacking stuff going on here, I got some recovery modalities and getting my place, got everything. I went back and said: Hey, you know what? I think I'm ready to hit the bike in the morning. And I banged out an extra one, cause' eight felt better than the third one I did the other day and said: you know, I'm going to do just one more round, cause' I'm feeling really good.

Wade Lightheart: And so that's one thing I've noticed as I've gotten older, is that allowing myself that variance, allowing myself it's there today, or it's not there today, not having to force it, just kind of allowing it to kind of its own rhythm and stuff. I want to talk about modalities, cold plunges and its role in your life and why you think that's so important? Well, first off, can you explain to people what a cold plunge is, how it is, how tough it is and then how you kind of worked your way through that whole model?

Brad Kearns: Yeah. I don't know how I got started… I guess it was my friend Dave Cobran, my childhood friend, and I went over to his master bedroom and he had an ice machine plugged in near his master bath nd he was explaining how he made these ice blocks and dropped them into his tub and was doing the cold plunge. And I think we can all reference our whole lives back when we were young or, you know, when we're out on vacation at the Lake or on a ski trip and we jumped in the snow and did snow angels and then back into the jacuzzi. And when we expose ourselves to cold water we get this incredible invigorating sensation right away. Even a ten second plunge into the chilly river before you race back into the warm cabin.

Brad Kearns: And obviously the research is now becoming a modality, a biohacking favorite, and there's some wonderful research that shows that you get an instant hormonal boost when you expose yourself to cold water or those cold air chambers that are you know, they have the expensive centers around, but cold water is 21 times more conductive than air. So the water is a really great way to experience this. And so in a very short time, you get this incredible boost of the mood elevating hormone, norepinephrine and related adaptive hormones, so that you feel alert, energized, refreshed you know, loving life, that kind of thing. And the effects lasts for quite some time. There's some research from Finland that a 22nd exposure to water temperature of 40 degree Fahrenheit results in a 200 to 300% boost in norepinephrine that lasts for up to an hour.

Brad Kearns: So as far as a morning wake up call and the beginning entry point here is simply a cold shower, especially if you live in Canada or somewhere where the water's coming out cold. If we're in Phoenix and we're in the summertime, that cold shower is not going to be too impressive, you might have to go to greater lenghts. But you can get a sense of what this is all about by getting it in your shower and then, you know, cranking that handle over to full cold for the last minute or two of a shower, and the way to kind of overcome this initial shock response where you scream and you can't stand it and it's too cold for you, is to engage in some intentional deep diaphragmatic breaths. So this is, you're probably familiar with Wim Hof, listeners. He's done these amazing feats of cold exposure, and it's all through breath control that he's able to override this initial fight or flight shock response that compels us to jump right out of the river and get back into the warm cabin or the warm shower.

Brad Kearns: So I am a normal everyday guy. I was actually the guy who got cold first when I was doing the swim training. When I was a triathlete, I'd start shivering when everyone else was fine. So I don't have any magical powers, but I really got into this and made it a centerpiece of my life. I upgraded from the cold shower. The next logical step is, the ultimate step is the chest freezer. So I have this 15 cubic foot chest freezer, top opening, where you put meat in there, whatever. I filled it up with water, I have it on a timer so it's cool at all times to 34 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit. And I'll go in there now my morning session takes five to six minutes and it's completely comfortable. I'm not shivering or freezing. So I don't want the listener to get the wrong idea that this is some torture fest, because it makes me more badass than the next person down the block.

Brad Kearns: This is a hormonal and an energetic boost that is very much under control. So as soon as I get into the water, I actually submerge and I hold my breath, don't try this at home, but everything's under control. And then when I emerged from the water, I commence a set of 20 deep diaphragmatic breaths, where I'm taking as deep a breath as possible, holding it for just a beat and letting it out smoothly. And all I'm thinking about, it's like a meditative experience, where all I'm thinking about is the sequence of my breaths, and counting my breaths. And I'm feeling fine inside. If I were to get a sensation of cold or to get a little chill, that's when indicate it's time to get out, because you don't want to overstress the system and have it be a negative experience. So the hormonal benefits are great, but what I've really found after doing this now for about three years straight, which is not a long time, but I hope to do it for the rest of my life, what I've found is there's these intangible benefits, which are super awesome.

Brad Kearns: And I feel like my ability to get into that tub every day makes me more focused and disciplined and resiliented against all other forms of stress in daily life and if you listen to some of the commentators on this subject of cold exposure, they talk about how it accesses an ancient pathway of renewal and energy and improve cellular function and also that resilience that humans had throughout human evolution and we've now gone totally soft and luxurious and decadent, where we don't put ourselves under thermal stress anymore. Even year round we're able to, you know turn on the heaters and get the proper clothing on to wear. A freezing cold day is just the walk from your car to your air conditioned office or home.

Brad Kearns: And so by putting back these hormetic stressors into daily life, and that term hormetic means a brief natural stressor that has a net positive effect on the body. A sprint workout is a hormetic stressor, fasting is a hormetic stressor, weight workout in the gym is a hormetic stressor. And there's a balance point where too much is too stressful and just right is what makes you a stronger, more disciplined, focused, resilient person. So the cold exposure is very targeted, very strategic and then you're getting all the benefits without the suffering like it's, you know, the worst part of your day, rather than the best.
Wade Lightheart: Do you do the cold exposure every day?

Brad Kearns: Yeah. Every day when I'm in town and when I'm traveling or I'm away from my chest freezer, it feels like there's a void in my day, rather than this is some special thing that I'm going to do when I'm on vacation at the health spa. And I love that distinction for anything we're talking about, like the micro workouts or my morning flexibility mobility routine, which I'm a big fan of. I have that put up on YouTube also. And I've kind of wired this into habit so much, so that that's my normal baseline and if I miss it, I'm kind of bummed.

Wade Lightheart: Beautiful. I think that's really cool. I know Tony Robbins is a big guy that cold plunges. I go down to Bulletproof labs, I'd walk down the street and do the cryotherapy, but now that I've got the space in the new bio home that I have here, it's like, okay, we're actually putting in a cold water theraphy. When you started out did you start..? How long were you going in when you first started?

Brad Kearns: Oh my gosh. I had the rough and tumble journey. So do as I say, not as I did, cause' what happened was I bought like the farming livestock tank, I'm sure you're familiar with one of those, and put it in my backyard and you know, filled it up with water. Then had to go get ice bags at the grocery store and dump them in there and then you could only do the cold plunge, you know, right then and there. And then the ice would melt and in the summer it was too warm. So I finally, you know, after some false starts, I popped for the chest freezer. You can go on home Depot right now and they'll deliver it free to your door.

Brad Kearns: You plug that thing in. Of course you need a timer, because if you fill it up with water and then turn on a freezer, it's gonna freeze into a block of ice. I made that mistake when I went out of town and came back and then had a big fat chunk of ice in there and had to chop through it, took several days to thaw out. So now by having a temperature controlled, it's a wonderful, 24 seven home therapy experience, which as far as affordability, I mean, I also have a sauna in my backyard from Almost Seven Saunas. Those are great. You got to get one of those too. And so I can have the heat and the cold.

Wade Lightheart: On Shipman right now.

Brad Kearns: Yeah, I mean, and that's a little bit bigger of an investment, but the benefits of sauna, a parallel, actually the benefits of cold exposure. I feel like my sauna is more of a relaxation. It's a social experience where people will come over and they'll sit in there and talk. For some reason more people want to go on my sauna than my cold plunge. I don't know why, but you know, when people come over and do the cold punch it's a pretty, you know, everyone gets that sensation of something that's interesting and special and not part of general, everyday comfortable life. And I just can't go on enough about, you know, the importance of challenging this physical human body to be the best we can be and experiencing some discomfort once in awhile.
Wade Lightheart: Beautiful. Talk to me. I want to be mindful of time, you've been very generous. Talk to me about what you're up to right now. I know you've got this Mofoproduct and stuff like that you're doing, you're very big in the kind of the keto world and that sort of stuff. So can you talk about what that's all about, what you're doing with that and where you're going with that and what's the plan?

Brad Kearns: Oh, thanks. Yeah. The Mofo mission, man, I'm on a mission. So my friends at Ancestral Supplements we created this product and it was designed for male hormone optimization, testosterone optimization, and it's simply an animal organ supplement. So as opposed to the, you know, the great products that you put out and I'm trying a bunch of those, I appreciate that so much.

Wade Lightheart: Vince Gironda, the trainer in Hollywood who wrote the "Wild Physique" was big into organs and glandulars, is what he called from organs and would do all sorts of interesting stuff with that. So talk to me more about it.

Brad Kearns: Yeah, so this is like food supplement, right? I'm making the distinction between a performance or a vitamin thing where this is just bottled up a hundred percent grass fed animal organs from New Zealand. So a very clean product. And it's designed to have the proteins, peptides, enzymes, cofactors, and molecular biodirectors that correlate to the organ function for male optimization. So it has testicles in their prostate, liver, heart, bone marrow. And so it's kind of fun to put out a product that you believe in and you're behind. Just like you're businessman, you're walking your talk and living the dream. But I also realized that putting something in a bottle and having the consumer use it is just really the tip of the iceberg to get the maximum benefits out of it. So we created this Mofo mission behind the product, the product is called Male Optimization Formula with Organs stands for Mofo, and then all these lifestyle elements behind it, so that you can sort of get your money's worth when you're investing in a performance supplement, let's say.

Brad Kearns: And so there's these 10 attributes of the Mofo mission. You can see it on my website, You click on Mofo. You can download a wonderful ebook, very detailed about how to tackle each of these distinct objectives to be the best you can be, especially to arrest this disgraceful decline that we're seeing today in the average male testosterone levels. There's research that the levels are declining 1% per year since the 1980s. That was 40 years ago or 30 some years ago. So, we are not the man that our dad or grandpa was and it's all kinds of reasons why. One of them is modern technology. You know, the EMF dangers, the hyper-connectivity, the lack of rest and downtime for the brain. All this other environmental estrogenic compounds. We're consuming food and plastic and drinking the plastic water bottles. I thought I was a healthy guy.

Brad Kearns: I got tested with my neuros balanced thrive program and I found toxic plastic residue in my bloodstream. And it was traced back to drinking those disposable plastic water bottles that might've been heated up in my vehicle during the day and then the next morning, it's nice and cool and I drink one on the way to the gym or whatever. So we really have to be mindful of getting the pollution out of our environment, the stuff we put on our skin, the stuff we put in our body. So we're talking about diet, we're talking about the exercise patterns, and we've touched so much about exercise, but a quick summary there is like - quit overstressing yourself with too much exercise and poorly formulated workouts and make sure you hit that top end and do some explosive training, because that is a huge boost for testosterone growth hormone and all those things, but a lot of times we're just numbing that down with doing the crap that I did for so long, which was the extreme endurance training day after day for hours and hours. And that's just a testosterone killer. When I was in my twenties, in my peak hormonal prime, I would go in and get tested all the time and my testosterone, serum testosterone was between 200 and 300 usually, which is on the very low end for adult males. And now today in my fifties I'm routinely 750 to 850. 863 was my last one. I report this stuff. I mean, it's great. And as I was patting myself on the back, Wade, to notice that I was in the 95th plus plus percentile for males, my age, 55 to 59, I sat back and I realized for a second, wait a second, the 95th percentile, who am I comparing to, but this disgraceful average today of the fattest and sickest population in the history of humanity.

Brad Kearns: So if there's anything but 95th percentile, I'm going to be disappointed. I'm calling 95th percentile normal. So anyone listening to the show, you want to strive for the very, you know, high level of the averages that they use to score blood tests and, you know, accept nothing less than that. I'm so inspired by guys in my age group or older age groups who are doing these magnificent athletic feats. There's some track stars on the master circuit who are just astonishing what they can do at an advanced age. So the possibilities are there, but we have to hit these objectives one by one and make sure that we're not, you know depleting our natural hormonal essence as males with modern lifestyle practices that are unhealthy.

Wade Lightheart: I think the possibilities are truly extraordinary. And just there was a viral video that just went the other day with Terrell Owens, the former football player at 46, running four forties in a 40 meter with the Tyreek Hill, one of the fastest guys in the NFL. And it looks like he just stepped off the football field. And I think, you bring up a great point and that is what is normal? And normal isn't anything that you want with your doctor. If I went to my doctor and he tells me I'm normal, I'm in deep trouble. First off, I don't go to a regular doctor. I go to performance optimization doctors, naturopathic doctors, you know, all of these kinds of people who are looking on the optimal side of things, because you bring up a good point. Check out the video listeners, the disappearing male on the effects of estrogenization of the society.

Wade Lightheart: It's a huge thing. The average 70 year oldin the seventies is where the average 30 year old is today in regards to testosterone. So that gives you an idea of why that happened. But let's wrap this up and find out where can people find out more about what you're doing with Mofo, some of your books and follow you on Instagram, Facebook, social media, all of these kinds of things, because I mean, you look fabulous. You've made the transition from like this super high intensity endurance to these micro workouts, these holistic things. And you're doing things that are really breaking ground and setting an example for people what we can really do as we age and we can age, not just gracefully, but optimally. So can we find out where we can reach you?

Brad Kearns: Yeah. Thanks so much, Wade. It's great to connect with your audience. Bradkearns.Com. you can find everything, including the access to the Get Over Yourself podcast. You can find that wherever you listen to podcasts. Watch for the Wade Lightheart show, was a fabulous recording. You're going to learn all kinds of things about your background and your fun journey. So yeah, I'm just doing my thing and then being sure to take that downtime from social media, whatever. So if I'm not posting every day, my apologies, cause' I'm out there trying to be a Mofo myself.

Wade Lightheart: I love it. So there you go folks, hurt training, micro workouts, cold plunging, you can be a Mofo too, if you want to be, it's the way to live, to optimize. And of course, Brad has been so generous with his time. We really appreciate having him. Make sure you check out his Instagram, all the show to know links, Facebook media, his website. He's a wealth of knowledge, a wealth of information, and more importantly, he's living what he's talking about. And that's a beautiful thing. So for everybody here at BiOptimizers, I want to thank Brad for joining us today and on another episode of the Awesome Health podcast brought to you by BiOptimizers . And the bottom line is, that the thing is quote and do it today "Just get over yourself". Take care and have a great great day.
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