Try These Body Hack Techniques to Improve Performance

The majority of people who engage in exercise or team sports often look for ways to improve their performance. With that, brings us to how we can better “hack” our body to improve performance, some also call this DIY science….or biohacking. Dave Asprey, a biohacker who created the company Bulletproof, defines biohacking as “the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you so that you have full control over your own biology.” 

Why Try to Hack Your Body Anyway?

There are many people out there who try to hack their body to improve performance, on some level. They typically do this basically because they have a strong desire to feel better and to see just how far they can push their body. A lot of people are hacking their body essentially to try and live as long as possible. Dave Asprey as an example, has been quoted as saying he wants to live to 180 years old.

Another well-known body or bio hacker is Tim Ferris, author of the best-selling book, The 4-Hour Body. Ferris has a well-known reputation for trying to hack just about everything related to his body. He does a great job chronicling his experiences on his website and through his books.

Now that you have a better understanding of what trying to hack your body is all about, check this out.

Mindful breath work can have a positive impact on everything from stress reduction to improved sports performance.

Breath Work: An Easy Way to Improve Performance

We all know how to breath intuitively and how important breathing is since it gives us life. Best-selling author, James Nestor, author a new book, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art looks into the science behind your breath. He offers up some great easy-to-follow tips that you can use in your practice right now. I actually tried his 6-second breath technique on my morning walk today. You can try this when seated (or like me, walking). Take in a long, slow breath through your nose only, for 5-6 seconds. Then exhale slowly for the same amount of time and try this for about 6 repetitions. The goal of this type of breathing, is to help more nitric oxide enter your body and tissues. It’s been reported that when you breathe through your nose, nasal resistance increases by 200 percent and this in turn helps release more oxygen. If you were wondering, mouth breathing does not let your body take advantage of the sinuses production of nitric oxide.

Nasal Versus Mouth Breathing

Take a moment and try this now. Close your mouth and breathe slowly in/out through your nose for about minute. According to a lot of the science out there, “breathing through your nose is one of the most beneficial things you can do for the overall health of your body and for your longevity.” You may already know the value of breath work, if you practice yoga on a regular basis. Think about this for a minute. How great would it be if we could get a legitimate boost in performance by simply breathing slowly through our nose only? For additional reading, check this great article out on the science of breathing by Sarah Novotny and Len Kravitz, Ph.D. and this research paper on effects of nasal breathing in runners.

There are many experts and researchers who think breath work should become a component in health & fitness model. Meaning, you work on strength, flexibility, cardio, nutrition, etc. – why not also incorporate breath work as part of your daily routine? Try adding it in when you warm-up or as part of your relaxation/meditation time during the day.

Mobility: Unlock Tight Hips to Improve Performance

We typically spend a great deal of our time in the gym pushing weights or doing cardio. One key area that often gets overlooked is mobility. Mobility can be defined as freedom of movement without pain through a full range of motion. Mobility exercises can be done as part of a warm-up if you’re always rushed for time. They are great for reducing joint pain, improving a fuller range of motion and can even reduce the chance of injury. We all know tight muscles and connective tissue are an accident waiting to happen.

When you want to squat, lunge, or lift weights better, mobility work is key, especially when it comes to the hips. You may have limited hip mobility because of an old injury, you don’t work on mobility or you may sit or drive all day for work. In any event, tight hips can cause, over time, a chain reaction resulting in dysfunctional movement. Over time your hip joints will become tight if not addressed appropriately, you’ll begin to notice issues when performing exercises like Squats and Deadlifts.

Some of the Better Hip Exercises You Should Do?

There are a lot of different directions you could go here. This is an opportunity to use the Jefit app and perform this series of exercises. Complete each exercise below slowly, working through a full range of motion. Perform each exercise as a hip and glute warm-up prior to working out, especially on leg day, and you’ll eventually see an improvement in hip mobility. Some may not be pure hip mobility drills but doing these will in turn improve glute/hip function. Perform each movement for 30-seconds then move to the next and repeat the circuit twice. Over time you can increase your time spent on each one.

Use the Jefit App

Jefit is an award-winning gym workout app that helps all gym goers and athletes keep track of their fitness goals. Not only does it give you the ability to update and share your workout log with the supportive community, it has the largest exercise library that covers weight training, cardio and flexibility.

Becoming Super Human Through Biohacking

Dave Asprey, a New York Times best-selling author and entrepreneur has done his home work on how biohacking can potentially increase longevity. His latest book, Super Human (Harper Wave, 2019), is a fascinating read that explores this topic.

Mitochondria and the Four Killers

The book begins with what Asprey calls the four killers:

  1. Heart Disease
  2. Diabetes
  3. Alzheimer’s
  4. Cancer

He talks about the current state of each and how inflammation creates ideal circumstances for each of these and that it’s all “stemmed from mitochondrial dysfunction.” Mitochondria are responsible for processing energy from the food we eat. When you add oxygen to the picture the body produces adenosine triphosphate, known as ATP. In a nutshell, the bodies cells produce energy that is stored in the body until it is needed at a later date. When we’re young this process works well. As we age, the body starts to produce free radicals as a result of the mitochondria not working well.

An Increase Chance of Disease

By not taking care of our body when we’re young, we increase our chances later in life of becoming unhealthy while increasing our risk for disease. Things like minimal exercise, sitting too much, and poor nutrition all contribute to this recipe of disaster. This is why people like Dave Asprey and others are leaning more towards advancing biohacking.

It has been reported that there is a 40% chance that a person could be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime. According to research from the book, if left untouched the other “killers” place the odds at 10% risk for getting Alzheimer’s. It does not stop there; there are two more items to worry about, a 23% risk of dying from heart disease and a 25% risk of becoming a diabetic (later in life). Taking care of yourself, eating healthy, daily exercise and having good genes will decrease your odds.

Biohacking to Minimize the Seven Pillars of Aging

There are specific forms of cellular aging that a person can help potentially minimize by way of biohacking. The following seven pillars constitute the main portion of the book. Here is a brief synopsis of each of them to hopefully offer insight into what areas to start focusing on as you age.

1. Shrinking Tissue

One of the first items discussed in Asprey’s book is loss of muscle tissue through inactivity and aging. A physically inactive person can expect to lose 3-5% of their muscle mass after the age of 30. The great news though is regular bouts of strength training will build and preserve the loss of metabolically active, lean muscle tissue. The take away here is keeping your mitochondria healthy as you age will help avoid unnecessary cell loss.

2. Damaged Mitochondria

Damaged mitochondria is a critical by-product of the aging process. Plain and simple. Things get damaged constantly inside the body, especially when free radicals are present. The take away here is to work hard to keep your mitochondria healthy. As a result, you’ll have less inflammation and keep accelerated aging at bay.

3. Senescent Cells

Over time your body gains more and more senescent cells, what the book refers to as “zombie cells.” One of the many side effects of having these cells is the body becomes less respondent to the hormone insulin. When this happens the body becomes insulin resistant and more belly fat, known as visceral fat, deposits around the abdominal area.

4. Extracellular Matrix

The space between your cells contain a network of proteins called – you guessed it – the extracellular matrix. This area is important because it gives tissue its elasticity and offers protection from stress and trauma according to Asprey. Having too much sugar in the body, could lead to stiffening of this matrix. Asprey makes a point that if you want to become Super Human, then reducing blood sugar is not optional.

5. Extracellular Waste Product

As you age, waste products known as extracellular aggregates build up both inside and outside your cells. Over time they build up and form plaques and the short story is you end up with some form of autoimmune disease. About 30% of Americans have autoimmune disease and this number is growing.

6. Buildup Inside Cells

The human body contains Lysosomes and they act as a waste disposal removing waste product from your cells. The problem with lysosomes is they can’t remove everything and over time these cells become dysfunctional. The net result is the body can’t control blood sugar levels and this increases your risk of cancer and heart disease.

7. Telomere Shortening

To offer a better understanding of what telomeres look like, think about the ends of your shoelaces, that plastic coating around the tip looks similar to a telomere. An enzyme called telomerase is responsible for maintaining telomeres. Over time, telomeres deteriorate and eventually shorten. Shortened telomeres have been linked with a weakened immune system and a host of diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis. The goal is to keep telomeres long but things like stress has been shown to actually shorten telomeres.

In one study, women with high stress for long periods had shorter telomeres and their life expectancy was a full decade less than women who had minimal stress. Finally, exercise is another way that has been shown to prevent early telomere shortening.

The net takeaways from the book are when specific interventions are followed, they could lead to a longer and healthier lifespan. The goal is to find ways to help reduce and manage stress (i.e. yoga, exercise, meditation). Work on eating whole healthy food, avoid fried foods, added sugar, and trans fat. Stay consistent with strength training and exercise each week. Get plenty of sleep and oh yes doing it all for the rest of your life will definitely help your cause!

Stay Strong!