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Peter Attia: Exercising for Longevity: Strength & Stability

Podcast Duration: 1:14:02

Release Date: 05/09/2022

5 Key Takeaways

  1. Deadlifting 2-3 times per week with good form and moderate intensity can increase strength, stability and longevity

  2. Over training can decrease life expectancy

  3. Training for longevity requires function movements that can be practically applied

  4. Example:

  5. 30lb goblet squat is similar to lifting up a grandchild

  6. Developing a baseline level of strength and stability at a young age is crucial because muscle mass begins to decrease 1-2% annually after the age of 40

  7. Cross training weekly in zones 2 and 5 is pivotal for promoting longevity

In this episode Peter discusses his framework for exercise, what he’s really trying to optimize, and how to train today to prepare for a good life at age 100. He Emphasizes the importance of strength, stability and why deadlifting is an important tool to consider for longevity. Additionally, he details why training in zone 2 and zone 5 is important to support health and increase VO2 max. Finally, Peter reveals his current exercise routine.

What is Peter Optimizing with Exercise?

  1. Peter explains how performance goals, like running a marathon in under two hours or completing an Ironman triathlon within 10 hours, require intense physical training but is not always optimal for health

  2. This type of exercise may have great results for performance but can lead to shorter lifespans

  3. This is due to joint damage and inflammation associated with over training

  4. To achieve the best longevity possible, Peter suggests focusing on stability and strength exercises

  5. It is important to couple low-level aerobic activity (low intensity exercises like walking) with brief bursts of more intensive work

  6. Peter calls this model "the Centenarian Olympics"

  7. Training at these levels prepares your body to do activities throughout life without damaging it too much

  8. This will promote a longer lifespan with less physical pain or dysfunction

Training for the “Centenarian Olympics”

  1. Most people’s bodies will fail before their minds do, so it is important to prepare at a young age by “backcasting” from age 100

  2. Backcasting:

  3. A planning method that starts with a desirable future and then works backwards to identify exercise programs that will connect the specified future to the present

  4. In order to achieve future fitness goals, you must include regular exercise and activities that match or exceed future demands

  5. A good example would be a parent who wants to be able to pick up their future grandchild

  6. Doing goblet squats regularly with a 30-60lb kettle bell would emulate lifting a child

  7. Daily exercises and training should be specifically designed to promote future movement patterns and life demands

Importance of Exercise

  1. Regular exercise is crucial to stay healthy and strong

  2. Exercise has four parts:

  3. Stability

  4. Strength

  5. Aerobic performance (like distance running)

  6. Anaerobic output (explosive exercises like sprinting)

  7. Problems with stability usually begin at a young age when children are forced to sit at a desk for extended periods of time

  8. To fix this problem, children should work on daily dynamic or static exercises that help build up their muscles in a way that helps keep them stable for longer periods of time

  9. This can be accomplished by putting children into sports at a young age

  10. Kids can do these kinds of activities easily but as you get older it gets harder to build strength

  11. Keeping a sustained strength baseline from childhood helps reduce fluctuating fitness levels in later years

  12. This is achieved through maintained frequency in training

Super Slow or Slow Training and How it Works

  1. This Style of training is all about increasing the time under tension

  2. Normally a set of 10 squats might take 20-30 seconds

  3. "Super slow" or "slow training involves the same number of repetitions for 90 seconds

  4. This takes much more effort than lifting quickly, because the whole time your body has to remain tense to stabilize the weight

  5. This sustained time under tension can fatigue the muscles in 10 minutes instead of 45

Hijacking Your Way to Becoming a Centenarian (living over the age of 100)

  1. Peter believes that it is possible for people to “hack” their way into living to be 100

  2. This can be accomplished by creating an exercise checklist or doing things differently than others in order to live longer

  3. This can be achieved by looking at studies of other long-lived groups like the Ashkenazi Jews from New York, Italians from Thomas Pearl's study and Okinawans

  4. These groups live incredibly active and stress free lifestyles

The Importance of Preserving Strength and Muscle Mass as we Age

  1. As people age, their bodies become weaker and progressively lose muscle mass over time

  2. Studies have found that muscle mass losses are between 1-2% per year after age 40

  3. Strength loss is between 2-4% each year after 40

  4. This means that if you want to stay strong as an 85 year old, then you can't afford to be average when 50 years old

  5. People should strive to be in the 90% for fitness in their age/sex category

  6. One study looked at men and women's leg and grip strength every 5 or 6 years from ages 54 (men) and 53 (women)

  7. Research showed that for each point reduction in quadriceps (thigh muscle) there was a 26%-39% increase in mortality rate (chance of death)

  8. A reduction in grip strength measurements increased mortality rate by 23%

  9. Peter stresses the importance of having good cardio-respiratory fitness too because otherwise all our strength efforts wont matter due to risk of heart disease and stroke

  10. Strength is important for overall health and it's easier to measure if you normalize strength by size of muscle

  11. We can use default charts to see how strong someone needs to be in order to stay healthy

The Value of Deadlifts for Stability and Longevity when done Properly

  1. Deadlifts are a functional exercise that involves lifting heavy weights off the ground

  2. Peter recommends two-three times per week using both straight bars and trap bars without trying to go too heavy

  3. Absolutely crucial to be coached on this movement to be sure it is being done correctly

  4. When done right, this kind of lifting will help you pick up kids or luggage easier in everyday life

  5. It also prevents your spine from getting compressed when sitting for long periods of time

The Importance of Zone 2 Aerobic Training

  1. Zone 2 aerobic training

  2. A type of low intensity aerobic (oxygen supply can meet physical demand) training which involves doing things like cycling, rowing or running at an easy pace for long periods rather than high-intensity workouts

  3. It can have lots of benefits:

  4. Improved glucose metabolism

  5. Increased mitochondrial health and density

  6. Higher levels of BDNF (a protein that helps keep the brain healthy)

  7. Doing this kind of activity doesn't need to be hard

  8. You can enjoy listening to podcasts or audio books while exercising for three or four hours a week

The Most Effective Ways to Engage in zone 2 Exercise

  1. Zone two training is a type of exercise that can be done at home

  2. The best device to do this on would be one that allows you to easily produce the same output every time

  3. Examples

  4. Station bike

  5. Rower

  6. Treadmill

  7. The goal is to increase the heart rate as high as possible while sustaining the same work output for long periods of time

  8. If output (distance per mile) cannot be sustained for 45 minutes then reduce the intensity

Zone 5 training and VO2 Max

  1. Zone five training involves working at maximum effort for short amounts of time followed by periods of rest and recovery

  2. Peter's approach to this kind of training includes using the Stairmaster machine at the gym where he does short intervals of sprints followed by longer intervals of slow walking

  3. Heart rate should reach baseline during slow intervals

  4. Peter also likes doing one-to-one work/rest intervals on his bike outdoors

  5. Four minutes working hard followed by four minutes resting

  6. Spending too much time in zone 5 isn't always necessary if your goal is just being healthy

  7. It all depends on how active you want to be when old age comes

  8. Tabata workouts are great for zone 5

  9. 20:10 or 10:20

  10. 20 seconds high intensity with 10 second rest

  11. 10 second high intensity with 20 second rest

  12. There is no need to pace yourself

  13. Work at a pace that is realistic for the desired amount of intervals

  14. Even talented athletes like Usain Bolt can only sustain about 10 seconds of all-out effort

A Primer on VO2 Max

  1. VO2 Max is the measurement of how quickly your body can take oxygen from the air, and use it to give you energy

  2. This measurment increases with fitness levels

  3. People with high V02 max can produce more power in physical activities that require endurance

  4. With high intensity exercise the lungs cannot meet the oxygen demand required to support muscle contraction

  5. This results in lactic acid buildup which is responsible for muscle burning and fatigue

Stability—The Cornerstone of all Exercise and Movement

  1. Stability is important for staying safe and strong

  2. It helps your body move in the right way so that force can travel safely through it

  3. If you are not stable then the wrong muscles will activate when lifting an object off the ground

  4. This increases risk of injury

  5. When we are young our bodies know how to move in a functional manner

  6. For many people this ability gets lost by the age of 6 because of too much sitting or not enough activity

  7. Stability can be improved through postural restoration, dynamic neuromuscular stabilization, Pilates and strength training

Peter’s Current Exercise Routine

  1. Peter exercises 6-7 days per week

  2. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday

  3. Zone 2 bike ride for at least 45 minutes

  4. 30 minute workout in zone 5 after biking

  5. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are lifting days

  6. Alternates between upper and lower body workouts

  7. If Peter misses a day he will double up another exercise during the week so all four lifts get done no matter what time it is

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