How long can a human run without stopping? What’s the most weight a human can deadlift? Will someone ever run a mile in less than three minutes and thirty seconds?
My guest explores these questions in his latest book, and along the way uncovers insights into all the factors that go into pushing the limits of human athletic performance. His name is Alex Hutchinson and he’s the author of Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance.
Today on the show, Alex and I discuss the history of the science of human performance and the three competing theories about how to measure and improve it. Alex first explains the interplay between physiology and psychology when it comes to humans pushing themselves. We then spend the rest of the conversation discussing factors that have an influence on our performance including pain, thirst, muscle strength, diet, and mental fatigue. Alex finally shares insights from the latest research on how you can manipulate these factors to run faster and longer and lift heavier weights.
- The competing theories that try to determine the limits of human performance
- What is VO2 max? Does it determine your physical limits?
- Why isn’t VO2 max held in the same regard as it was 1o or 20 years ago?
- The central governor theory, and the brain science behind endurance
- How great coaches help you build your endurance
- Samuele Marcora’s theory of human endurance
- Why perceived effort has such an affect on our performance
- How mental fatigue impacts your physical performance
- Can you train yourself to ignore pain? Can you separate that pain from your perceived effort?
- How should you fuel yourself for optimal performance?
- Does high-fat/low-carb diet work? What happened to carbo-loading?
- The hydration debate — what does the science really say?
- What can we do to train our brains to endure longer and push the limits of our own physical performance?
- Why you should embrace training when you’re mentally tired
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- The Race to Break the 4-Minute Mile
- How Bad Do You Want It?
- VO2 max
- Tim Noakes
- Central governor theory
- Dig Deep: You’re Stronger Than You Think
- The RPE Scale
- Embrace the Grind
- Cold pressor test
- The Ultimate Glossary of Strength and Conditioning Terms
- The marshmallow test
- The Power and Pleasure of Delayed Gratification
Connect With Alex
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Read the Transcript
Last updated: February 23, 2018