Optimizing Health, Achieving Results, and Avoiding Over-Training

Your nervous system is key to helping you stay healthy as you age. So it only makes sense that keeping the nervous system functioning optimally is a key component to long-term health. My guest on this episode is Dave Asprey, the original biohacker and founder of Upgrade Labs. He is the author of multiple New York Times bestsellers and the creator of Bulletproof Coffee and Danger Coffee.

He also hosts the award-winning podcast, Human Upgrade. In this episode, we talk about the importance of taking care of your nervous system and the various methods of biohacking that can be done with little to no money to improve your overall health and well-being. In a past life, Dave used to overtrain and under fuel, which led to few results from his efforts. He figured out that he had to fix his nervous system and learn to nourish his body the right way in order to reach his goals.

In his new book, Smarter, Not Harder, he explains that you don’t need to overwork yourself to get the results you want, but you do need to take care of your nervous system and work smarter. His new project, Upgrade Labs, the world’s first biohacking center, is using the power of AI to find new ways to send signals to the body to make it change in the way we want. You don’t want to miss this exciting episode where we explore the new frontiers of biohacking, and be sure to stay tuned until the end where we’re giving away Dave’s sleep course for free!


0:04:06 – Unlocking the secrets of nervous system health

0:08:41 – Exploring the benefits of biohacking with JJ

0:10:10 – Biohacking and optimizing the nervous system

0:12:07 – Heart Rate Variability and how to measure and improve your nervous-system recovery

0:16:18 – Strategies for improving HRV and overall resilience

0:17:34 – Upgrade Labs and AI algorithms to create custom prescriptions for optimal health

0:19:25 – HIIT: a smarter way to improve cardiovascular performance in less time

0:20:34 – Reduced Exertion HIIT

0:24:48 – Exercise and cold therapy for muscle building

0:31:42 – The benefits of cold and heat therapy

0:32:59 – Sunlighten Sauna use for biohacking

0:34:41 – Exploring altered states of consciousness through biohacking

0:39:07 – The benefits of meditation retreats and spiritual hacking

0:40:23 – Working hard vs. working smart for success

0:42:06 – The benefits of becoming ‘Dangerous’

0:43:27 – Upgrade Labs, Sleep with Dave program, and Danger Coffee

Freebies From Today’s Episode
Join Dave’s FREE 14-Day Sleep Challenge

Mentioned in this episode:

Learn more about Dave Asprey 

Order Danger Coffee and use code JJ to get 10% off

Attend the Biohacking Conference and use code JJ40 to get 40% off

Read Dave’s new book Smarter Not Harder: The Biohackers Guide to Getting the Body and Mind You Want

Visit Upgrade Labs, Dave’s Human Upgrade Center

Try cold therapy with a Kooru Cold Plunge and use code JJVIP500 for $500 off

Experience the benefits of sauna therapy with a Sunlighten Sauna

Order Dave’s new Danger Coffee and use code JJ to get 10% off

Click Here To Read Transcript

Episode 549 – Dave Asprey
[00:00:00] I am JJ Virgin, PhD Dropout. Sorry, mom, turn four time New York Times bestselling author. Yes, I’m a certified nutrition specialist, fitness Hall of Famer, and I speak at health conferences and trainings around the globe. But I’m driven by my insatiable curiosity and love of science to keep asking questions, digging for answers, and sharing the information I uncover with as [00:00:25] many people as I can, and that’s why I created the Well Beyond 40 podcast.
To synthesize and simplify the science of health into actionable strategies to help you thrive. In each episode we’ll talk about what’s working in the world of wellness, from personalized nutrition and healing your metabolism to healthy aging and prescriptive fitness. Join me on the journey to better help.
So you can love how you look and feel right [00:00:50] now and have the energy to play full out at 100.
I literally called Dave Asme and my brother and people were talking about, they said, Hey, your brother Dave. And I went, oh you, you’re taking me seriously. But. It’s kind of when I met him, we went, oh, we’re long lost family. So I’ve got my brother Dave back on the show. He has a new book out, smarter, not Harder.
It really feels like the book, that’s the [00:01:15] foundational book for everything that he does. I was like this, this book, we’ve been needing this book for a long time. And the tagline is The Biohackers Guide to Getting the Body and Mind You Want. What I really wanted to talk to him about here is the nervous system, because I’ve really been digging into that over the last couple years.
I probably should have dug into it a lot sooner, but it is clear to me that for all of us that are looking to be well beyond 40 and our [00:01:40] well beyond 40, that our nervous system is like the priority focus you wanna make so sure as you’re aging and aging well that. Not catabolic all the time, right? Your body has to break down and build up and break down and build up.
Better yet, build up and break down. And so that’s where your nervous system comes into play. So we are gonna talk about some of the hacks he has. And by the way, in the book, what super cool is he [00:02:05] has what you can spend a lot of money on or you can spend no money on. So there’s a way to do all of these different things that we’ll talk about for free, for a little bit of money at.
Or for a lot of money or go to one of his upgraded labs. Let me tell you a little bit about my buddy Dave. He’s known as the father of Biohacking. He’s a multiple New York Times bestselling author of Game Changers, headstrong, and The Bulletproof Diet, which I wrote the forward to. He created Bulletproof Coffee.[00:02:30]
And now has, uh, danger Coffee, which is a micro mineral rich coffee. He has the Human Upgrade Podcast and which was the Webby Award-winning number one rated health show. He’s the founder and c e o of upgrade labs. And he also has a 40 years of Zen company that I’ve gone to. We’re gonna talk about that as well.
So lots of cool stuff that [00:02:55] he’s involved with. I’m gonna put all of that in the show notes, and also a 14 day free sleep course that you’ll be able to get in some other cool bonus codes you’ll hear about in the interview. And that will all be at jj virgin.com/smarter. And with that, I will be right back with Dave.
Stay with me.
So I think one of the big challenges people have is they get 40 [00:03:20] plus. I always call it you got no margin for error, but that if you’ve not been doing things to take care of your nervous system, you’re going into a deep hole. And I have you to thank for basically bullying me, Dave, into going to 40 years Zen.
But that was sort of the beginning of just becoming. Even aware of all this that I would always ignore. I do an adrenal salary index periodically [00:03:45] realize how much I’d messed everything up, try to fix its, um, half-heartedly, and then go do it again. So I’m super excited to talk about all of this because I think, you know, you have really been on this path for a long time of how can your nervous system, what you need to do to really get this thing dialed in.
So, I wanna start with basically, why does this matter? How would you know you had an issue? Why does this matter? How does it impact? [00:04:10] Well, if you have a nervous system that doesn’t work, you are not going to get results from all of the work that you do. And this happened to me when I weighed 300 pounds. I would go to the gym six days a week, 90 minutes a day, jj half weights, half cardio.
And at the end of all of after 18 months, just religiously going to the gym. Even if I was [00:04:35] sick, even if I didn’t sleep, it didn’t matter. It was just my top priority. Low fat, low calorie diet. And you think I was, you know, a walking wall of muscle. I still had the same size pants. I was a 46 inch waist. I didn’t lose the weight.
And I was so thoroughly indoctrinated in the calorie message that I figured it probably cause I’m eating too much lettuce because I already had to quit in the dressing. And the chicken is too high calorie. I mean, heaven forbid. I [00:05:00] kind of feel like I, I was abused by the calories in, calories out bullies, and there’s still a few of them on the internet today, and they walk around telling you a Snickers bar and a Diet Coke will cancel each other’s out.
It doesn’t work like that. So what was going on with me at the time is I was over training and my nervous system was not in good shape, and I see this happening over and over. To people where maybe you handled it well when you were in your [00:05:25] twenties and you say, okay, well I’m in my early thirties and I just can’t handle it quite as well.
Maybe it’s aging or maybe I should take better care of myself or something, and we make up these excuses. But your nervous system takes hits along the way and you take toxic hits, and you probably haven’t been nourishing yourself with the right foods. So no wonder things are declining. But even if you eat the right foods, if your nervous system is stuck in fight or flight, then we [00:05:50] have an.
That’s something that I had to address in order for me to get where I am today. My new book, smarter Not Harder. I talk about a lot of this, but I’m about 8% potty fat. I’m never hungry. I, we, we have to show that, like before we really started recording, we were like having the look at my abs, look at my abs.
Like maybe we’ll put that picture somewhere. At some point he will. But my, my abs have stretch marks on [00:06:15] them. Just to be really clear, because I was fat and. In my entire life, if you’d have told me when I was 25, Dave, someday you’re gonna be in Men’s Health Magazine with your shirt off, I would’ve been like, yeah, right.
And I’ll be in vogue. And it turns out both of those have happened to me because it turns out when you fix your nervous system and you fix your diet, you don’t even need to exercise very much in order to get the [00:06:40] results you. You can exercise if you want to, but I’m seeing a lot of people do what I did, which is you exercise a huge amount, you don’t nourish properly, and you put your nervous system into this really bad place.
So you start declining and then you realize, well, I have to work out more. Mm-hmm. It’s the same thing I did when I was a vegan. I’m like, oh, I must not be vegan enough because it worked at first, but now that I’m breaking my teeth and I’m cold all the time and I have rashes and auto immunity and I’m getting weak, how do you become more vegan?
Oh, [00:07:05] well, well it’s easy. You know, maybe I should be a raw vegan. Uh, maybe, you know, maybe honey really is an animal product. Maybe I just need to force more kale down my throat, right? And I mean, I, I have the juicers and sprouters and all that kind of stuff, and it just didn’t work. What I’m looking for is the things that let us get the results we want while we live our lives, and that’s why smarter not harder was worth writing because.[00:07:30]
You and I, both JJ could spend all day biohacking, going to the gym, getting a massage, you know, doing all the things that make us stronger. And at the end of the day, we’ve done nothing that we wanted to do, right? So that doesn’t work from a, what is my experience as a human being kind of perspective. So how do you, if you say, I have 30 minutes a day, how do you know what to do?
And that’s why I wrote this book. In fact, [00:07:55] with ai, with new technologies, There are ways that you can handle the five big requests that people have. These five requests come from Upgrade labs. Upgrade Labs is the world’s first biohacking center, and I opened one under Arnold Schorge Singer’s office. I mean, you’ve been there, jj?
Mm-hmm. And this is maybe eight years ago in Santa Monica. And since then, it’s inspired an industry. There’s a whole, there’s a bunch of sort of small versions. [00:08:20] But what I’ve been doing is getting data and looking at dozens of different pieces of biohacking knowledge and equipment to figure out what works and what are people actually asking for.
And what I wrote in Smart Harder is, here’s the trick. It’s not, I wanna be healthy because, I mean, jj, do you even have a definition for what being healthy is of all people I think you would know well. And even worse than that is [00:08:45] optimally healthy, right? Yeah. Everyone listening, if you think about. You wanted your energy back.
You wanted to lose weight, you wanted to gain muscle. You wanted your cardiovascular system, you wanted your brain to work again, or maybe you wanted to manage stress better. Each of those is a different goal, and what we’ve done for all of these is only a few things that don’t work very well. One of them is eat less.
That doesn’t work very well. [00:09:10] Number two is well meditate, so sit somewhere with your eyes closed and think about nothing. Okay? There you. The third one you could is pick up rocks. Maybe you concentrate them into iron plates. That’s our biggest innovation in the last couple hundred years. Uh, or maybe you run away from tigers.
Our big innovation there is you can do it on a treadmill so you don’t have to actually move, but that’s all of exercise. And the reality is none of those works very well on a permanent basis. You [00:09:35] spend a lot of energy, a lot of time, and you don’t get great results. So I ask myself, what would happen if we actually use science and technology?
In order to find out how to get a signal into our body to make a change of the way we want, and the result of that is Upgrade Labs, which is a franchise you can go to own and upgrade labs.com and open one in your neighborhood. Nice. We will put all this in the show notes too cause I know we have this [00:10:00] and your conference.
So many things. Thanks jj. I’m just looking to make biohacking and it’s already million, millions of people do it. But you know, my job is to, you know, lead the movement. You know, I think it’s interesting too cuz I look at this book and to me, This is the foundational book. Like I looked at this and went, this is like the book that comes after the Bulletproof Diet.
Like this is the, it’s like the Bible for biohacking. I wanna even back it up a little bit cause I still want you [00:10:25] to define like, you know, how would someone know if their nervous system was not working well? But prior to that, You know, not everybody knows what biohacking is. What I know. I know. So let’s define biohacking and let’s also say, so how do you know if your nervous system’s not optimized?
Biohacking is a movement that I started in 2011, and the definition when I first wrote it down was the art and science [00:10:50] of changing the environment around you and inside of you so you have full control of your own biology. What that means is it’s not the science of working really hard. To get the results you want.
It’s the science of changing something so that your body will change and it gives you back control over your nervous system, over the way your body does things. I was very frustrated. I was anxious all the time. I felt just [00:11:15] extremely tired. I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and uh, I had toxic mold poisoning and I was fat, as I mentioned, but I had arthritis since I was 14 and like a lot of just really bad health stuff.
My gut was. So if I thought working hard was gonna do this, working hard would have tweaked my nervous system because it wasn’t in shape to work hard. It was already worn down. So imagine this, like you’re at the end of a [00:11:40] marathon and you’re not feeling very good and they’re like, oh, well you’re not feeling good.
We need to run some more. That that’s actually what I was doing. Instead of saying maybe you should rest and, you know, eat some stuff and you know, put your feet up. So it turns out we’re cyclical being. And how do you know that your nervous system is blown out? Well, one of the things, if you have a sleep tracker, like I’m wearing a ring that does that, there’s lots of watches and things, I’ll do it.
But all of them now have a sleep score. That includes [00:12:05] heart rate variability. Heart rate variability is a measure of how well recovered your nervous system is at night. So if you did something today like, you know, I, I was gonna be really healthy, so I only had salads. And I lifted really heavy and then I ran five miles and did a hot yoga class.
Cuz look at me, I’m so powerful. Okay, that night [00:12:30] you’re gonna sleep a lot and you’re gonna get terrible sleeping. Your heart rate variable will be low. You overtrained and undernourished. And if instead you’d have eaten a large amounts of protein, including animal protein. Good quality fats and some carbs.
Maybe even if you tolerate them, some garbanzo beans. I’m not promising that was the right one, but I mean, you could. I would typically say white rice or sweet potatoes might be better choices, or even honey and [00:12:55] fruit, whatever your body needs. It turns out the person who ate after they worked out and ate the right way has recovered at night, and they might have a much higher heart rate variability.
So now you have a tool to say, am I tweaked or am I not tweaked when you wake up in the morning? The only thing I’ve heard about where H R V should be is Peter Atia saying that, I think it was like, you know, if it’s below 14, it’s problematic. [00:13:20] And they couldn’t find any research to say that if it was above that it did anything.
And I thought, I don’t think that’s the way we’d really wanna be using H R V. We’d wanna be using H R V to really learn where we’re at, see what we can do and improve it, and then see how it’s affected every day. So what does the number mean? Where do we want to be? How do we wanna look at it every day? So it sounds really technical when you look at HR-V, what the heck?
It’s not as complex as it. [00:13:45] Imagine if your heart were to beat 60 times a second, just once every second. It’d be a very even heartbeat. Okay? That’s someone who has no variability in the spacing of the heartbeat, cuz it’s perfect like a metronome. But someone who’s healthy and recovered, you might have 60 beats in a minute, but they’re not spaced out identically.
They’re kind of drifting all over the place. It’s like they’re playing a song. So you might have da dumb, da dumb da dumb versus da, [00:14:10] dumb da. It’s that constant heartbeat that is a classical sign of a stressed animal for all mammals. It’s so funny. It seems like it should be just the opposite. It turns out mother nature hates constancy.
It loves rhythms, it loves cycles, and when your heart rate is cycling and it’s spacing, it means your body’s happy. It means that you’re not stressed and when it thinks there’s a tiger, even if it’s just [00:14:35] another email or your boss yelling at you or a bad relationship or toxins or lack of nutrients, it says there’s a threat.
Get ready. And when you get ready, you start that even heartbeat. That’s all it is. Is is there heartbeat dancing or, or is it drumming? The standard unbearing rhythm and the number there for heart variability is a percentage of how much it varies normally. Yes. If your heart rate’s below 14, you [00:15:00] definitely have problems.
But what most people find is after you’ve measured yourself for a month, you know where it usually is, and maybe yours is usually in the thirties or the forties or the fifties or the eighties or something. Higher is generally better, but you can say, well, what evidence do we have that fifties better than 40?
There’s a lot of observational evidence, but more importantly, if you’re running normally, say, [00:15:25] mid thirties or 40, And you change something in your life and it goes up to 50, good job. And then the next night you have two glasses of wine and the pasta, and the next morning it’s at 14. You’re going, oh, something makes it go up.
Those are good things and something makes it go down. Those are bad things. Now, for me, I have a genetic sensitivity to chili and [00:15:50] cayenne and to to nightshade vegetables. You. So for me, if I ate one of my favorite foods on earth, uh, which is New Mexico Green Chili. Not only am I gonna wake up with arthritis the next morning, but my heart rate variability tanks because it caused inflammation throughout my body.
Now I know that’s kryptonite for me, but it might not be for you. So all of a sudden you start knowing, oh, that’s weird. Wine before bed equals lower [00:16:15] heart rate variability equals I’m less recovered the next day. And you start almost effortlessly adjusting your life to do that. I would be shocked if anyone could do wine before bed and not tank their heart rate variability.
I actually think it’s possible to have one glass of wine before bed and not tank it. You just have to take a whole bunch of supplements with it to undo the damage it did, uh, on the way. So what I’m teaching in Smarter Not Harder is, [00:16:40] I don’t think you have enough time to do all the things you’re supposed to do.
Well, you should meditate for an hour. You should do at least a half hour of cardio. Right. And probably another half hour of lifting weights, cuz you’re a good person. You should probably do it every day. Oh, and you also should probably get a massage. And, and, and, well I have two teenagers. I have eight companies.
I have a podcast that’s won a webby and has 300 million [00:17:05] downloads and four New York Times bestsellers. So, I don’t really want to do that. And so I started buying all the gear almost at any price that increases heart rate variability, that makes humans more resilient, that that gives us more and less time.
And I put that together into upgrade labs where now you walk in the door, we measure you, and then we give you a survey to say, okay, what’s most important to you? And if you’re someone who wants their energy and their brain back, we [00:17:30] are gonna treat you very differently than someone who says, oh, I just wanted to lose some weight.
Right. So we understand the relative value of each of your goals for your. And then we apply AI algorithms to that. We tell you, go through the technologies we have in this order and have them set this way. So it’s a custom prescription to spend a very tiny amount of time to get results that would’ve taken many hours.
As an [00:17:55] example, JJ. Can we talk about cardio real quick? Oh yeah. About what, when you said that you walk in the door, how are you measuring them when they come in the door? We use an electrical scan that provides medical quality results, but this is a non-medical facility, so you don’t have to make it cost 10 times more than it would cost because anytime you make something medical, you enter a realm of regulatory and, uh, paperwork and things like that that don’t provide any [00:18:20] value or increase in safety because what we’re doing is non-med.
So we use a exceptionally expensive thing that will tell you via an electrical scan, whether you have fat in your liver or not, whether you have the dangerous kind of fat around your organs, where you have bone density, whether you have inflammation in your cells, whether your cells are dehydrated, and we do something.
That’s another measure of how your mitochondria, the power plants and the, we’ll call them factories in [00:18:45] your cells, how they. And that’s based on how well your body can handle small amounts of electricity. So it’s a highly technical scan, but it gives us thousands and thousands of data points. We combine that with your goal and go, aha.
Now we can tell you something that no one else can tell you how to do, which is how do we save them most time? When you go through here as an example, there’s a study that shows if you do an hour of [00:19:10] cardio five days a week, say a spin class. Or, you know, climbing stairs or, um, you know, going for a run, any of the typical types of cardio treadmill work that if you do that reliably for two months, so Monday through Friday, you’re on the, on the treadmill.
Then you’re gonna improve your VO two max. This is a, the gold standard for cardiovascular performance. You’ll improve by 2%, 2% 30 minutes, and we’re talking [00:19:35] steady state, like zone two style cardio training that isn’t even zone two. That can just be, you know, doing hills on the cardio machine. Almost no one does.
Zone two on cardio Zone two is a highly technical thing, requires a heart rate monitor. I just tell. Get to the point where you’re slightly breathy, but better yet, do hit, which I think we’re getting to right? No, actually we’re not going to hit. Are we gonna get to reduced exertion? Hit ooh. Look. Almost like you read Smarter, not harder.
Jake, I might [00:20:00] have, I might have looked at some of these things and went, yeah, I wanna definitely get some details on this. Just a couple other things too. Okay. Back to cardio. So about 10 years ago, uh, I started talking about high intense interval training. So did you, cuz we’re early adopters and saying, Hey guys.
Doing this, 45 minutes to an hour of cardio doesn’t work very well, so try doing maybe five, one minute sprints and walking between [00:20:25] them and it’ll take less time. You’ll suffer some more, but you’ll get better results, right? So along comes artificial intelligence and data science. And now we have three studies showing that reduced exertion hit, which is what we offer at upgrade labs amongst a whole bunch of other tech.
If you do five minutes, three times a. You will get a 12% improvement, 15 minutes a week [00:20:50] instead of five hours and six times better change in your cardiovascular performance. What is reduced exertion hit as opposed to classic hit. Classic hit. You sprint, you walk for a minute, then you sprint, then you walk for a minute, then you sprint, then you walk for a minute.
Now what reduced exertion is you only do two and there’s no walking in. And this is an example, and I go through dozens of these in the book of a [00:21:15] new principle in biology that I’m proposing and I call it because it’s a new principle and they have to have fancy principle names. I call it slope of the curve biology, which is not a marketing term cuz this, you know, a lot of my books are science books.
But this is a very accessible, like, here’s what you do kind of book. What that means is that your body doesn’t care how hard you work. It doesn’t even like you to work hard. In fact, it goes against your, your body’s operating system. What [00:21:40] it does though is it says if you work really hard, really quickly to the edge of your capabilities and then as fast as humanly possible, you recover and calm back down and you have enough minerals and you have enough building blocks in your body, the body goes, oh, tiger, almost ate me, but I got away.
It’s time to make myself stronger. If instead though, you say, I did my first sprint. [00:22:05] In other words, you’re back in the class and the instructor says, okay, everybody stand on your pedals. Make it harder pedal like this. Ah, right. Then that’s the same as a tiger trying to eat you. But then. Instead of saying, okay, body, it’s okay.
You keep doing it for another 45 minutes. What that means is your body thinks I’m being hunted and I can’t get away. And if you do that on a salad with no dressing and no protein, yep. Catabolic, not only are you getting [00:22:30] hunted, you’re getting hunted during a famine. And so there’s a stress response and that soaks up most of your energy.
Instead of with reheat, it’s you. You don’t sweat, you barely even breathe hard. But with the AI system guiding you, telling how to breathe, telling how to calm down, everything like. It is five minutes and it, most of the time you’re barely even moving. What I love about that too is that takes out that whole, like, I don’t have time.
It’s [00:22:55] less time than brushing your teeth jj. So a couple key important things because you know, in in fitness how quickly you recover is everything you know, in cardiovascular fitness. So what you’re just showing is like your body’s going, how to recover quickly. So that’s the first thing we know. If we’re doing less, we’ll do it hard.
I was just listening to, I think it was Lane Norton today. Someone today who was talking. [00:23:20] If we work out harder, take way longer, rest breaks and do less sets, we’ll get way stronger. You know, so it’s, it is all done. I dunno if you read my book, all the Less is more. I think Lane’s been around for a while, honey.
He, he has, but, but, but this slope of the curve stuff is happening a lot. But Lane Lane’s also been like, he kind of swings, he swings with the crowd and gets into a lot of fights online. I’ve seen that forever. Not that you do that at all. You. [00:23:45] I said, not that you do that at all. I only fight with vegans cause they can’t defend themselves.
You just poke the bear a little bit. You poke the bear a little bit. I’m like, uhoh, maybe Lane’s nervous system is healthier today. Well, I love this whole reduced exertion hit because I’ve been really playing around with doing more of what I’m calling now, sprint training, I suppose even high intensity interval training.
It’s like go just kill yourself. [00:24:10] What I’d also loved to, any other stuff on exercise there? Cause I really definitely wanna dig in a little bit on cold therapy and, and sauna and light. Yeah, let’s talk about those two. There’s a whole chapter for cardio. There’s a chapter for weight and when it comes to weight, the traditional bodybuilding crowd gets really, really mad cuz I’m a biohacker and sorry guys, I just didn’t wanna live in the gym, uh, cuz I have other stuff to do.
So if you [00:24:35] wanna put muscle on really quickly, you don’t use weights. If you want to polish the backside of your tricep head and get some sort of thing, there’s value to weight training, especially functional based weight training. It just takes a long time. 92% of the population doesn’t even exercise as much as the government says, and the government doesn’t know anything about health anyway.
Well, and the government says 150 minutes of moderate exercise. Yeah, they don’t even know what they’re talking about. And we [00:25:00] know that intensity is the real trigger in all of this. So we do. So if you’re gonna use weights, what Lane said works, but it turns out you can put muscle on three to five times faster using an AI driven resistance platform.
Or there’s a bunch of other technologies. And for each of these goals, I tell you, here’s, here’s the latest technology, the latest techniques, the latest knowledge. Here’s the one that’s expensive, what the crazy billionaires do. That’s why I put an upgrade lab. So you can go to your neighborhood and.[00:25:25]
There’s one that’s affordable at home, and then there’s one that’s free. And so the idea is this is accessible to everyone because even if you’re on a really extreme budget, you can do curls with your TV like, like you can put resistance on things, but doing curls with weight is just less effective than doing curls with resistance bands, for instance, because it changes the slope of the curve that exhausts the muscle more.
So there’s all chapter going into that. So those [00:25:50] are the de exercise things, but let’s talk about the other stuff here. Yes, let’s talk cold therapy. I’ve been a fan and you’ve been a fan for huge amounts of time. I have not been a fan for huge amount of time, really. So let’s be clear. Did you not read my early books?
I didn’t. But you know, it’s like, I always joke, there are three things that if these happen to me, don’t be around me. And they are, especially if they happen all together. If I’m cold and we’ve been in this situation together where I’m cold, hungry, [00:26:15] and have to. It’s like a bad situation, but, uh, but you know, then I just decided, you know why.
Mm-hmm. I’m just, I’m gonna really focus on this cold and see what happens. We got cold plunge and you know, once you’re in it, 30 seconds you’re numb, so it doesn’t matter. And then I let myself get out and shiver for 30 minutes or so. I was, I was staying in there too long and I was talking to our buddy Mark Sissen, and he’s like, jj, you know, you don’t need to [00:26:40] shiver for four hours afterwards.
I’m like, oh, you know, you’re a classical example of a really committed, powerful person and the more you are, you’re liked, that you’re willing to do the work, you’re willing to work hard, the more likely you are to fall for the trap of working. Which is if something is good, more of it must be better. Now, I don’t normally do that, and I just like, no, you totally go, Jim, you’re a rockstar.
So I, [00:27:05] you know, we’ve been friends for years. You’re a total stud. But I was glad to hear I did not need to be in that damn thing for 10 minutes. Right? So you were pushing yourself more than you needed to. So even five minutes gets you results. I’ve been doing four lately. So let’s talk about why people would wanna do this again.
You know, I know it can start with something as simple as a cold shower to. But like, you know, what are the benefits of cold therapy? Maybe talk a little bit [00:27:30] about beige fat, all of that kind of stuff. Cold therapy does a lot of stuff, and it turns out one of the things that no one talks about until very recently is its effect on dopamine sensitivity.
And dopamine is that happiness and motivation chemical. And when you spend a few minutes in cold, in addition to making your body better at, at, making you warm, better at making energy and heat, it also, Makes it so [00:27:55] that your brain can experience happiness better throughout the day. So if you’re someone who’s dealing with just anxiety and depression, um, or even addiction, cold therapy, even social media addiction, cold therapy makes it easier for happiness to happen in the rest of your day.
So this is a really powerful three minutes, and if you go to an upgrade labs, we do cryo with liquid nitrogen or really cold air. So that’s a three minute thing without getting wet. But if you have a cold [00:28:20] plunge at home, because you can buy one for about five grand. And that was more convenient for you.
You can do it. And if you don’t have that, you can do a cold shower. And if that’s too much or you live in Texas, uh, like I do some of the time, then there’s no cold water part of the air because it’s really, well, it’s, it’s what? It’s too hot. It’s Luke warm. It, it’s not cold enough that comes out of the tap.
You go to Canada where I live the other part of the time, and that’s cold water. So you get water that’s, you know, [00:28:45] 40 degrees versus water. That’s 60 degrees in the tap. So here’s what you do, and this is in the. Anyone can do this and it’s free cuz it’s actually a luxury. Okay? I’m gonna drive to 7-Eleven and I’m gonna buy five bags of ice, throw ’em in my trunk, drive home, open it up, put ’em in this tub that I have somewhere, put the water in.
It’s a huge amount of work, it takes an hour and it’s also expensive. So what you do instead is you take a salad bowl the size of your face, you put water in it, [00:29:10] just maybe half full, freeze it, and then the next morning, take it out, put tap water on top of it. And now. The frozen water will make the rest of the water cold.
And then you take a deep breath and you dunk just your face in. Ah, if you do just that, that gives you most of the benefits of the cold shower and the cold plunge. Not all the wow, but most, it’s called the dive reflex. How long do we dunk our face in there? Um, [00:29:35] just five minutes. It’s easy. Yeah. No kidding.
No one can breathe that long. I actually got to the point when I was doing. Where I just bought a snorkel cause it was easier. But most people you can do eight seconds, 10 seconds, and you start getting like a Mr. Freezy headache. But wow, after three days, your cells change. There’s something called cardiolipin in the mitochondrial membrane, but they become more powerful.
So you do this on your face, it makes your nervous system [00:30:00] stronger, your vagal nerve gets better, and your heart rate variability goes up. So this is holy folks. Everyone can do this, and it’s less suffering. And even if you do it for two minutes before bed, it calms your nervous system. It makes you stronger.
Okay, you could go dunk in an ice bath. I do that. In fact, I have one in my backyard. You go to upgrade labs, we’re opening one in US and I’ll be there doing cryotherapy with cold air cuz it’s faster and less work. Right. But. If you [00:30:25] have no tools other than a bowl, you can do cold therapy and it’ll change your ability to be happy all the time.
And it makes your body turn on more brown fat, which has more mitochondria, which means you hold a bigger electrical charge and that brown fat is up in your head and neck. So that makes sense. So, okay, so here’s a question just because of the hair situation. So how much of. Space. Like, could you do it [00:30:50] just your hairline?
It’s a, it’s a neat technology. I’m gonna show it to you right here. It’s called a ponytail holder. And, and you, you take one of these. So that’s the question. You could just go to your hairline. Uh, yeah. Just go to your hairline and pull your, this is a big, important thing for all of us women. And pull your hair back just like I’m doing right now.
I don’t exactly have hair as long as yours, but give me time. I’m kidding. Um, and. Yeah, just up your hairline so you don’t have to get your hair wet. This is a big thing too. That’s [00:31:15] amazing. That is an amazing thing. And if you’re at a hotel and they have an ice machine, you can get one or two things of ice, put ’em in the sink and do this.
And you don’t have to try and deal with, you know, ferrying back and forth filling a duffle bag at the ice machine. I’ve done all these things in the course of learning how to do, uh, cold therapy. I’ve been doing it for 15 years actually, and, and talking about the blog for 10, I just, I find if you wanna show up in the world, you wanna look better, [00:31:40] burn more calories, you wanna feel better.
This is a meaningful way to do it. That is very exciting. We rented this Airbnb a couple years ago and we did a retreat there and one of the things they said, we had this huge master bathroom right off the pool. They did a massive. And they go, yeah, you have unlimited ice. Now. We had 80 people there, and they’re like, oh, you have unlimited ice.
I’m like, great. Well, you know what we did? We, we turned it into a massive [00:32:05] ice bath and we were there four days. By day three, they’re like, there’s no more unlimited ice. You are cut off. I’m like,
Vincent Pedre won the, uh, won the award for the longest time in the ice bath. It was between him and Tom Morro. Pretty amazing. All right, let’s move since we’re from cold to hot. And, and what I’d also love to explore there is kind of move in between both of those and if there’s any value there. But [00:32:30] infrared saunas, heat.
What about that? When you do heat and cold, you wanna do heat first? And saunas have abundant evidence, whether they’re steam or dry or infrared for improving your lifespan. And infrared is the best from my perspective because it creates a lot more detoxing in your sweat and it changes the water in your cells so that they work better.
I use [00:32:55] a, uh, sunlight and sauna. Um, I dunno. Do you have a brand that you prefer? I use sunlight. What setting are you using on it? Are you doing one of the programs? Like what are you doing? So, I’m a professional biomarker, jj, you don’t use, you make your own program. I turn it all the way up. Okay. On all frequencies.
And I pin it and it, and it takes me 20 minutes to sweat. Like I, I have a, okay, I have a level of resilience. It doesn’t even make sense. So you put in all frequencies and [00:33:20] then highest temperature, all frequ. Highest temperature frequencies is what I do, but okay. If I’m stressed, they have like a stress relief one.
I, I like that. What they’re doing, you can’t see it, but they’re changing the frequency of the light to cause additional changes in your nervous system. And that’s a real effect. So if I’m looking just for the sweating effect and I’m looking for the exercise mimicking effects of it. Mm-hmm. And for detoxing, I typically [00:33:45] turn it all the way.
But if I’m looking for a specific effect, I’ll run the program for that. Okay. I’ve been running the program that’s longest cuz it’s where we let ourselves watch Netflix. That’s how I’ve been choosing the program. Yeah. Okay. That makes sense. Yeah. It depends on what episode of what you’re watching. Right. I will tell you, um, when you are not at the Mexico TLC trip.
Darn it, Roxanne and David and David and Lee Pro Mutter and we all went and did a sweat lodge together. Oh, [00:34:10] those are so good. Oh my gosh. I didn’t know I could sweat that much. You can’t sweat that much. The first time I did a sweat lodge was with Alberto Vito and I’ve done his shamonic training. It’s just a really fascinating guy.
So when I did my first round of Shamonic work with him, we did a, a traditional Native American sweat lodge and I got in there and it was so hot and I was sweating like crazy that I looked at the guy next to me who [00:34:35] was a, a medic and I said, you know, there’s a really good chance I’m gonna pass out cause I have low blood.
Uh, so if I do, um, just know that that might happen, and he goes, what do you want me to do? I go, drag me outside. Yeah. Keep me away from the rocks. Yeah. He said, okay, I’ll drag you outside if, if you pass out. And, and that was that. I didn’t pass out, but I came close. So that was intense. But it, it does put you in an altered state.
[00:35:00] It’s, it’s one of the many ways, Of accessing altered states. Um, in fact, that’s a big focus for the Biohacking Conference in Orlando in June. It’s biohacking conference.com. Uh, we’re gonna talk about non-ordinary states of consciousness as ways of accessing your meat operating system, the, the un unseen hidden parts of your body, the way it looks at the world around you.
Yeah, doing a really heavy duty sweat lodge type of [00:35:25] heat therapy is a way to do that. And there are countless others, and I go through those in the last couple chapters of the book because just sitting in a cave, looking at the wall, meditating for 20 years is the slow path. I’m too busy to do that. I have stuff that matters that I’m gonna do at the time instead.
So you can meditate much faster than just meditating, which is why I initially went to 40 years at Zen. I’m like, I can get all this done in a. Talk to me now about what’s [00:35:50] changed with 40 years as Zen, which I’m interested now is like what it would it be like now that I have the Dr. Joe to spend, uh, tools on board?
You know, it’s funny, a lot of people who’ve been through Joe’s program end up also going through 40 years Zen. They’re very different programs. What you’ll find when you go to 40 years of Zen is in Seattle. It’s a five day program. And since you’ve been jj, uh, we’ve, we’ve got seven patents on new neuroscience that we’ve, uh, invent.[00:36:15]
And uh, when you go there, you learn the reset process, which is in the last couple chapters of the book and the reset process. There is a way to, instead of doing what traditional meditation is, oh, I’m aware of my feelings. I see them, I’m passing them through. I’m like, how about I do something about them?
Cuz that feeling that keeps coming up, I keep getting triggered. Maybe you could erase the thing that makes you get triggered so that you remember whatever happened that was the cause of the trigger, but you’re just not [00:36:40] reactive to it anymore. That’s like turning off a notification on your phone. So a big part of biohacking is, hey, how do I be less triggered?
Because the reality is that if you are triggered, it means there are bullets in your gun and you should unload them because you’ll be happier. So is that process in your book something you could do without going to 40 years as Zen? Absolutely. I think it works better. I mean, you’ve been through the reset process at 40 years to end with electrodes.
You kind have a light [00:37:05] detector to make sure you didn’t do it, but I walk you through each step. In the book so that you can go through and just go, oh, oh, I’m not gonna get triggered by that thing ever again because you really got it. So if you spend your meditating time doing that, or one of the other dozen technologies in there that change the state of your brain very quickly compared to what we used to do, um, well, it’ll work better.
So, You can use pulse [00:37:30] magnets, consumer grade devices that cost under a thousand dollars. You can use electrical stimulation, you can use, um, neurofeedback like we do at 40 years of Zen along with a bunch of other technologies. You can even use lasers on your brain to change what it does. I do all of those.
I’ve done all of those for 20 plus years, and I did my first e EEG sessions in about 19 97 90. And it, it’s just another thing [00:37:55] I, I could just sit there and go, I’m feeling something. I wonder what it is. It was gas or I could sit there and say, oh, if I make this sound get louder, I’m actually doing something and, and it’s something with intent.
So instead of like wandering around and being like, well, I feel something, and eventually you realize it’s an elephant, after you grabbed all 25 parts of it and you drew a picture of it, you could also have a computer hooked up to your brain that [00:38:20] says, do more of this thing. I can’t tell you the words for it, but the computer can with.
And it’s gonna sound like a violin. And when you do that, all of a sudden you can see the elephant. And it was way less time. I wanna go back now with these tools cuz and just for everybody listening, I go to do this because Dave made me and I go with Joe Polish and Vision Lani. Both have been total meditators.
Oh, when, say, when you went to 40 years as Zen. Right? Like me [00:38:45] never, never did anything. They’re like, go on in there. You, they put the electrodes on your head and you go and sit there in a, a dark. And then you hear these tones and you’re supposed to make them do something. And I’m like, what am I supposed to do in here?
I’m like sitting here writing a talk, you know? I’m like in my mind and I’m like doing all sorts of stuff. Nothing meditated, cuz I don’t know how to meditate. Right. And it was just interesting to try to figure out, like, [00:39:10] I could not figure out that that whole first day, like why is that going up? Why is it good?
It was craziness. But I think now it w it was such good feedback. Like the thing that’s always a challenge. Going to a meditation retreat is, you know, especially for someone who’s kind of a Type A and wants to get an a. Is, it’s like, well, how do you know if you did this right? Like, how do you know? Like when I’m at these meditation retreats with our buddy Dr.
Anne [00:39:35] Shippy and she’s off in outer space somewhere. Yeah. You know, and I’m like sitting here going, all right. And Tim went with her. So you know, these things that give you some feedback. So you go, ah, All right. Well, when I did that, that seemed to work. That other thing did not work. You know, writing a talk while I’m sitting in there is definitely not working to turn my tones into violins.
Right? [00:40:00] Yeah. When, when I first got to know you, you were not as relaxed as you are now, and you’ve done the work with, with Dr. Joe, you’ve, you’ve done 40 years and a bunch of other stuff that people, you know, may know about, may not know about. I’m not sure what all you talked about, but the level of calm that you just walk around with and just like happiness, it’s, it’s a big.
And it comes from that kind of stuff that’s in the, the spiritual hacking part of smarter to harder. There’s just so many things [00:40:25] accessible today that you wouldn’t be able to find or, or maybe hadn’t been invented 10 or 20 years ago. So all of a sudden, you know, what if, if I wanna do this, whatever this, have a sense of calm, have a sense of focus, there are just ways to do it that aren’t very, And since so many of us believe in our, like, almost like if we don’t work hard, we didn’t earn it.
But do you know people who work hard and don’t get results for their whole life? Yep. Uh, in fact, that would be more of them than not, [00:40:50] right? It turns out working hard doesn’t get results, right? It, it’s not highly correlated. Working hard does create suffering. That said, if you, if you don’t know how to work hard, you probably won’t be successful.
But if you work hard all the time, you’ll just suffer. So there’s kind of a conspiracy to trick you into working hard all the time at everything you do for someone else’s benefit. The reality is that if you have the right tools and then you work hard for a brief period of time and then you rest and recover and play, [00:41:15] you will become a very powerful human being.
And that’s why I wrote Smarter Not Harder. That is a beautiful statement, and I think for a lot of people it’s just getting the permission to then take the time to have fun and. And realizing that probably in for your best health, whatever that means, that’s probably the more important part of it. It is the more important part of it.
Because even if you’re saying, oh, I have a food addiction. [00:41:40] I know I emotionally eat, I have all these uncontrollable cravings, there’s nothing I could do. I’m helpless. Learn how to regulate your nervous system and your brain, and you’ll find out you’re not helpless. And the goal of, of everything I’m working on right now across all my companies 40 years, was in Upgrade Labs, the Biohacking Conference, and especially Danger Coffee, which is my new coffee company.
Um, now that I’m no longer with Bulletproof Danger Coffee has a huge dose of [00:42:05] trace minerals. And these trace minerals are necessary for your body to be able to respond to the environment around you. So if you pick up heavy things and you wanna build muscles and you don’t have trace minerals, your body will just get stressed.
So I put ’em in the coffee, but it’s called danger coffee because I want everyone to be dangerous. And what dangerous means is not out of control. It doesn’t mean it’s emotional, it doesn’t mean senseless risk. What danger [00:42:30] means is that who knows what you might. Because it’s under your control. It’s putting you back in charge of yourself.
And the reason that’s dangerous is cause you could do anything, right. You could stop and you could help the little lady across traffic. You could be nice to someone who’s being a real jerk right now. But you are un programmable and I want a world full of dangerous people who choose to be kind. I do not want a world full of people who are so tightly [00:42:55] controlled, beaten down and malnourished that they’re sort of kind because they are too tired to get up off the couch.
Well, those are the people who snap. Yeah, exactly. Those are the people who snap. So I just wanna run through a couple of these things just so everybody’s aware. You have smarter, not harder, the new book out now. So that’s definitely one you wanna. We are gonna put all of this in the show notes. You also were going to give everyone your [00:43:20] 13 day sleep with day program for free.
So you’ll be able to pick that up too. And I’m gonna put all of this at jj virgin.com/smarter. We’ll also put links to the conference. I have no idea when someone’s listening to this. This year is in Orlando and it’s, it’s a very cool conference to go to. Amazing speakers, amazing panels, and then this expo hall that is like a [00:43:45] giant adult playground.
It is super fun, super cool stuff going on. Any other things? Oh, upgraded labs, of course. Coming to a town, a city near you. When are we gonna get a Tampa one? You were like, we were so close. And then you, like we were, we were gonna build a corporate one there, but there’s so much interest in Florida from franchisees that I’m pretty sure we are gonna have a franchisee sign up for Tampa.
Yeah. And I would assume Tampa Tampa’s like [00:44:10] a hotbed for totally all of these fitness, uh, researchers. Like, I was like, there’s so many of them here who. So that’s very exciting. So let’s get one going here quickly, cuz I need one. There’s only so much room at my house at this point. And then anything else I didn’t mention here that would be important to mention?
Your Danger Coffee, that hopefully we’ll have some kind of deal for our listeners. Hello? Hello Dave. I’m just thinking [00:44:35] about it. Come on. So you want a discount code for Danger Coffee for your listeners? That would be nice. Yeah, I’m just thinking like, how am I gonna do this? I’m gonna make up a code and by the time you post this, we’ll have it for you.
That will be awesome. Use code jj, when you go to danger coffee.com and we’ll. Give you a discount and I’m gonna talk to my team to, and then we’ll figure out what is, it’ll be a really juicy one too. That’ll be juicy. So there we go. Delicious. So we’ll put that in the show. [00:45:00] That’s, I always like to, yes. That coffee’s fabulous.
It makes you feel different because the electrolytes and the trace minerals in it make the coffee hit different. And of course it’s lab tested and all that kind of stuff. So it’s, uh, it, it’s noticeably different. And if you wanna put butter and MCT oil in it, the way I’ve taught people, you know, millions of people to do it.
That works too. You don’t have to, but it’s, it’s a great combination. Awesome. Perfect. Okay, all of that will be at jj [00:45:25] virgin.com/smarter. And thank you so much for hanging out with me as always. It’s always fun and enjoyable and fantastic, and I, when do I get to see you? I don’t think I get to see you till August.
This is ridiculous. Until August. Anyway, hopefully you won’t be in Austin when I’m there, so I’m sure we’ll figure something out. Maybe you’ll meet me in South Korea, Bali, or something fun, so it’s been [00:45:50] fantastic. Again, jj virgin.com/smart. To learn all about all of those things and get some great discounts, freebees, et cetera, and make sure you grab the copy of your.
Thank you. Be sure to join me next time for more tools, tips, and techniques you can incorporate into everyday life to ensure you look and feel great, and more importantly that you’re built to last. And check me [00:46:15] out on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and my website jj virgin.com. And make sure to follow my podcast so you don’t miss a single episode at Subscribe to jj.
Dot com. See you next time.

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