The Drive with Peter Attia — Alex Hutchinson

On: Translating the science of endurance and extreme human performance

Episode: 151

Date: 1 March 2021

Journalist and author of “Endure“.

Key Subjects

  • VO2 max: how much aerobic energy can you deliver.
    • Amount of oxygen per unit time (per Kg) you can process at maximum effort.
      • Circulatory system: lungs, heart, muscle ability to extract, etc.
    • Plateaus.
      • Not clear what part of the system is the limiting factor.
    • But you can still go faster.
      • Using other systems.
    • In theory, VO2 max is independent of motivation.
      • But perhaps not that useful comparing different people.
  • Trade-off between VO2 max and muscle efficiency.
    • As you deliver more energy to the muscles, they become less efficient at using it.
    • Perhaps you’re good at either one (VO2 max) or the other (efficiency) (at elite levels).
    • Implication: don’t overly focus on VO2 max, include zone 2 training (efficiency).
  • Role of the brain in exercising and health.
    • Understanding of and comfort with body’s distress signals.
  • Exercise and longevity: amount of exercise.
    • J-shaped curve:
      • Initial: increased exercise (volume) -> decreased mortality.
      • At some point: increased exercise (volume) -> increased mortality.
      • Somewhat controversial, but true at least at the extreme.
    • Exercising too much: probably not an issue:
      • Most people are not close to the upward inflection point.
    • Don’t need much exercise to get benefit of the J-curve.
      • As little as one hour a week.
  • Exercise and longevity: type of exercise.
    • Most people focus on exercise volume, rather than optimizing exercise composition.
      • Vary intensity (Hit), work on strength and stability, vary energy systems, etc.
    • Requires understanding of your goals.
      • What do you want to be able to do at what age.
      • What do you need (muscle mass / strength, flexibility aerobic fitness, etc.).
  • Injury prevention.
    • You gain metabolic fitness faster than you can improve the strength and flexibility of your muscles, ligaments and tendons.
    • Progress slowly to let the rest of your body catch up.
      • Helpful indicator: ratio of 1 week versus 4 week average work load.
  • Interval training.
    • You need it to run faster.
    • You can’t only do interval training.
    • Type of interval (1 minute versus 20 seconds) depends less on what’s best (efficacy) than on what you are most likely to continue doing (effectiveness).
  • Do the hardest thing possible.
    • You can only slide in one direction (down).
  • Don’t worry too much about whether you are talented or not.
    • Most people don’t get near their genetic potential.

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