Archive for April, 2020

My nominees for the 4 greatest athletic sports

April 27, 2020
  1. Free-diving: uses powerful movements to descend as deeply as possible as quickly as possible, all the while using as little exertion as possible so as to minimize the need for oxygen.
  2. Mountain climbing: incredible grip strength, fearless, agile.
  3. Figure skating: combines power, speed, agility. All done in apparent effortlessness.
  4. Boxing: strength, quickness, overall conditioning

How to train so that when you are 100 you look, perform, and feel like a fit 50 or 60 year old

April 19, 2020

This is an incredible interview of Dr. Peter Attia on aging:

Here are my notes:

What does it mean to be 100 years old, but look, perform, and feel like a fit 50 or 60 year old?

As we age, there is a lot of joint failure that becomes problematic. When we are younger our exercise routines tend to disproportionately load joints over muscles. We need to figure out exercises where we can maximally load the muscles while minimally loading the joints.

What should a 100 year old be able to do if he is to live a physically fulfilling life? Here are some ideas: He should be able to carry two 25-pound bags from a grocery store. He should be able to lift a 30 or 40 pound suitcase over his head and put it into the airplane overhead compartment. He should be able to dip down into a squat, grab his great-grandchild, and pick her up. He should be able to jump down on the floor and play with cars or dolls and then stand up without assistance.

If you want to live to 100, you must delay the onset by about two decades of every major chronic disease – cancer, heart disease, and others. It’s not that you won’t get them, but you better figure out how to get them 20 years after the average person gets them.

Bruce Lee looked at every discipline of martial arts, including boxing and wrestling, and said, “Let me extract from each of these disciplines that which I believe is useful and discard that which I think is useless.”

How will you train so that you can be the best 100 year old imaginable? How will you do it if you’re only able to spend 10-12 hours per week preparing for it? My guess is that you should take a lot of things from various disciplines and discard a lot of things and build a routine that involves the maintenance of muscle mass, joint integrity, flexibility, functional movement, and balance.

The advantage of deadlifting and squatting is that they reveal all of your errors in the movement. You can’t take bad form into those movements and not get revealed. The question is, are they unnecessary risks? Am I one bad deadlift away from a catastrophic injury? Do I need to do them to become the best version of myself as a 100 year old? Lately I’ve been doing a lot of single-leg movements such as curtsy squats, lateral lunges, incredibly strict lunges where the front leg glute is specifically loaded, and bodyweight squats with meticulous form so that I am fully loading the glute and not overloading the quads (overloading the quad is a common mistake). By doing these things, I don’t feel that I’ve lost a step.

The term “cardio” is confusing. Most people think VO2 max is a heart/lung issue. It’s actually mostly a muscle issue. The bottleneck is not how much you can get into your lungs. The bottleneck is how much your muscles can utilize. When you look at the winner of the Tour de France or the gold medalist in cross-country skiing, or the person who wins the Boston marathon, or when you look at the most extreme endurance athletes, what is unique about these people is their muscles, which is counter-intuitive because they are typically very slender individuals, but their muscles are so efficient at aerobic metabolism, they are able to extract so much oxygen out of blood. When you or I are at our VO2 max we are breathing out 80% of the oxygen we breath in, so it’s not a gas-exchange problem, it’s a muscle problem.

So much of what we do is joint overload. Take the military press. Is there a time and place for a military press? Absolutely. Does it have any role in my life? Absolutely not. Why not? First, I don’t need to load my spine in that way. If I can get 80% of the benefits of the military press by doing activities below my neck and using more static-loaded movements above my neck, and that gives me 80% of the benefits at 20% of the risk, that is exactly the kind of compromise that I am willing to make. I think we need to apply risk/reward more often to how we exercise.

I don’t want anything to get in the way of the knowledge that can drive living longer. That, to me, is such a priority. I would rather be poor, but know how to live longer than to have all the money in the world and then loose my health.

Regarding the many changes in my life (i.e., the many career changes), I have been able to internalize the “Fallacy of a Sunk Cost.” The sunk cost fallacy is talked about in every Economics 101 class. To take an example, suppose you are building a bridge and it costs $10 million dollars. You are $9 million dollars into it and then the contractor says “It’s going to be another $11 million.” For many people they evaluate the contractor’s statement based on how much they have already put into the project. That becomes a very dangerous game because you can’t get those dollars back. Instead, you have to evaluate it exactly from where you are standing right now (i.e., ignoring the money you’ve already invested). For whatever reason, I’ve been able to stand at any point in my life and say “I want to do X. I am going to evaluate it only through the lens of how many years I have left on Earth and not at all through the lens of what I’ve already put into this.” It just seemed very logical to me to always pursue my bliss. Also, we’re in a different world now. The days are long gone of doing one thing your whole life. It’s no longer ridiculous to have a career change every five years. I don’t know what I’ll be doing in 10 years, but I would be shocked if it looked exactly like what I do today. If you’re not growing, if you’re not constantly being reminded of how much higher you have to climb, I suspect life becomes a lot less fun.

David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech in 2005 called “This is Water” is unquestionably my absolute favorite 22 minutes of what to listen to. The first time I heard it, it didn’t resonate with me. I needed to hear it a few times before it really resonated. He said, “If you worship power, you will forever feel powerless. If you worship the intellect, you will forever feel like a fraud.” The former didn’t resonate with me because I am not a power-seeker, but the latter did resonate with me. “If you worship the intellect, you will forever feel like a fraud.” It is so true. I find myself, on at least a daily basis, thinking “I hope people don’t find out how much I don’t know.”