December 11, 2021
[00:00:52] Podcast Sponsors
[00:03:25] Podcast and Guest Introduction
[00:07:34] The Idea and the Uniqueness of CAR.O.L.
[00:21:14] How cardio with CAR.O.L. impacts chronic disease and longevity
[00:27:22] Podcast Sponsors
[00:29:26] cont. How cardio with CAR.O.L. impacts chronic disease and longevity
[00:30:50] Does the CAR.O.L. achieve the same benefits as other types of cardio?
[00:38:03] The breath pacer on the CAR.O.L
[00:39:43] Can CAR.O.L. be combined with other biohacking tools?
[00:42:10] How Ulrich uses the bike
[00:44:33] How to mitigate the EMF the CAR.O.L. bike produces
[00:46:22] Features of CAR.O.L
[00:52:45] How one can get started with CAR.O.L.?
[00:56:38] Legal Disclaimer
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast.
Ulrich: So, it's very noticeable. It's not subtle at all. If you do this for eight weeks, you will substantially improve your cardiorespiratory fitness. It's a very fast way of improving your fitness levels.
Ben: Yeah, I mean, I'm like, “Why can't I just go to the gym or go on a walk and run every other telephone pole and get the same thing?”
Ulrich: But you have to find something that actually fits into your life. That's kind of how we see CAR.O.L. and where we think a lot of people will actually benefit from it.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
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Well, folks, welcome to today's show. You know, I think it was probably in a podcast last year where I talked about some of the deleterious impact that high-intensity interval training can have on the body. And, of course, high-intensity interval training is the bee's knees. It's the cat's meow. It's what everybody is doing for ultra-efficient training. And, it actually is a away if you're someone who competes in a very glycolytically demanding event or something that produces a lot of lactic acid that you need to buffer a very good way to train if you are that type of athlete or someone who's prepping for the CrossFit Games, or a Spartan race, or something like that. But, it's interesting because when you actually look at the effects of those repeated bouts into bleeding lactic acid out your eyeballs, the evidence that that might have an impact on things like arterial stiffness, and calcification of the arteries, and things like that as one ages dictates that with a lot of high-intensity interval training, you may actually be trading a little bit of health for the performance or the fitness gains that you're getting from high-intensity interval training.
Now, when I talked about that and all these studies that have been done on this, at some point last year, I forget which podcast it was, I brought up the idea of something different than high-intensity interval training called HIRT, H-I-R-T. And, HIRT, as opposed to a classic Tabata, set where you might be going 20 seconds hard, 10 seconds easy, 20 seconds hard, 10 seconds easy like 8 times through is instead something that involves luxuriously comfortable rest periods, interspersed between a very, very short number of extremely high-intensity sprints. And, this is something I've done before. I'll just go on a long walk and every fourth telephone pole, just sprint my ass off for 10 seconds. And so, we're talking about a walk where I might do 5, 10-second sprints and be walking the rest of the 40 to 45 minutes.
And, it's interesting because there's another guy named Pavel Tsatsouline who wrote a book called “The Quick And The Dead.” And, he's a Russian kettlebell instructor, and he also goes into this idea that modifying your rest intervals and your work durations when it comes to overall health recovery performance and staving off some of the deleterious effects that excess lactic acid and the excess free radicals generated from that could produce might be a good idea, especially if you're in it for the long game from a fitness standpoint.
So, why am I telling you all this? Well, there's something very similar that high-intensity repeat training that I just described and it's called REHIT training, reduced exertion high-intensity interval training. Okay, this is very similar to this concept of instead of beating yourself up with tons of lactic acid, you go just for a very, very short hard effort and then you recover for a long period of time.
Well, recently, I got my hands on–it's out in my gym this bicycle that kind of walks you through a REHIT session. There's actually a few different options for REHIT sessions and the interval lengths vary from 10 to 20 seconds, but it's super interesting the way they've developed this, and it's almost one of those things where you get a little bit guilty when you use it because you feel as though you maybe should have written for a longer period of time or gone harder, but the data doesn't lie in terms of what this REHIT training can do for the body with a remarkably kind of short period of time exercising, or at least a short period of time, especially in the hard exercise phase.
So, I wanted to get somebody on who knows more about REHIT training than I do and some of the science behind it, so I did. The problem is that my guest today, his name is very difficult to pronounce, it's Ulrich Demplfe. Ulrich, did I pronounce your last name right? Ulrich Dempfle.
Ulrich: That is perfect. Yes, Ulrich Dempfle.
Ben: Well, it doesn't matter because I'm not going to say it again on the whole show, I'm just going to call you Ulrich. But Ulrich is actually the guy who helps to develop this particular bicycle. It's called CAR.O.L. What's CAR.O.L. stand for, Ulrich?
Ulrich: It stands for Cardiovascular Optimization Logic. And, that's kind of evidence or about our geekiness to some extent. So, it's the AI persona, the AI character. If you want that personalizes, then optimizes the REHIT exercise just for you.
Ben: Say that again. It's cardiovascular–
Ulrich: Cardiovascular Optimization Logic. We were inspired by HAL algorithm from Space Odyssey 2001. And so, we needed to have one of those characters too.
Ben: To me, it sounds a lot of hyped-up marketing. That was my initial reaction. I'm like, “Oh, they're calling this some artificial intelligence bike.” And, Cardiovascular Optimization Logic, aren't I just getting on a bike and riding kind of HIIT easy and then throwing in a couple of sprints along the way? And so, that was my initial thought about your bike honestly because, yeah, I'm like, “Why can't I just go to the gym or go on a walk and run every other telephone pole and get the same thing?”
So, when I use the bike now though, it seems there's something kind of different going on. And, we have time to dive into this like the breath pacing and the way that it adjusts the intensity and everything else. So, I want to get into that because that was my initial thought. You get that sometimes from people who are just like, “Can I just get on a bike and do this myself without buying one of your bikes?”
Ulrich: Yeah, of course. And, I wouldn't expect anything different. So, we basically get two things very frequently. One is people are skeptical about the science. Yeah. They question whether it is really possible to get these superior health and fitness benefits in such a short amount of time. And so, that's kind of questioning the science behind it and skepticism towards that. And, I mean, it has very robust evidence. And, it's actually very-well understood why and how it works.
And then, the other question is, why do I need a special bike? And, I mean, I tell you when we first came across the science of REHIT and that this is 2012. This is quite a while ago. We basically fell in love overnight and thought this is amazing science, I want to do it. And, the very next day after I heard about it, I went to equipment shop and bought myself a bike that I thought was most suitable for that type of exercise. And, I was–
Ben: You mean, you bought a stationary bike from the–
Ulrich: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Ulrich: Exactly, exactly. I went to my local fitness store and bought spinning bike.
Ben: You mean, a spinning bike that kind of has the flywheel on it?
Ulrich: Yeah, exactly, exactly.
Ben: Yeah. I'm very familiar with those because I used to be a spin instructor. I spent a long, long period of time on those bikes.
Ulrich: Yeah. And, I tried to get REHIT right as I had heard about it on a BBC documentary was just nothing like what they had shown it to be. It was very hard to actually execute and to get right. I mean, one quite amazing fact is that if you do it right, you hardly sweat. But I sweated buckets. Instead of in a relatively easy to do exercise, it was very hard. And so, we contact–
Ben: What did you do exactly? What was the protocol that you did?
Ulrich: So, I did three 20-second sprints or try to do that and a few things that people do get wrong. To get the sprints right, you would need to find the right resistance that's just in your sweet spot, reasonably high, higher than people think. You need to apply it at exactly the right time. And, that is after you've built up quite some pace and start pedaling really fast. And then, the resistance has to kick in a fraction of a second and go very fast from low to high.
Ben: Okay. I'm going to keep interrupting you, much of the chagrin of my audience because I don't want to forget this stuff as you're going through your story. So hopefully, I don't derail you as you go because I want to get back to the whole story if I got this stationary bike and then what you did from there. But so far, a couple of quick questions. When you said you have attained a certain speed and RPM before you get to your first sprint, basically in very simplistic terms is what you're saying that a warm-up is key. You shouldn't just drop everything. If you're at the office and just drop down and do a 20-second sprint if you want to get the most out of something like this. You want to warm up first and then go into your sprint.
Ulrich: No. Actually not. The warm-up doesn't do terribly much. Obviously, you want to get ready and be a little bit. It's really just the few seconds before the sprint. Think about it like cycling up a steep hill. You wouldn't want to start in the middle of the steep hill and then build up pace. You would want to kind of pick a little bit of speed up on the flat stretch and then go with high speeds into the steep part.
Ben: Okay. Yeah, that makes sense.
Ulrich: So, it's just the last two, three seconds before you apply the really high resistance. You want to rev up because you're just more efficient at a higher RPM level and rev up, and then apply the resistance. And, that's where you get your absolute maximum power. And then, throughout the sprint, the power will drop off, and that's completely normal. You can only keep your maximum power for a fraction of a second. But this kind of basically getting to sprint pace at low resistance and then applying the correct sprint resistance in a fraction of a second.
In the lab, before those researchers have CAR.O.L. because now they're working with CAR.O.L., basically there was a lab technician next to the bike operating the bike and coaching the research subject. So, it was just a two-man operation. Whereas, what CAR.O.L. is, it's fully automated and you don't have to do anything. You don't have to turn any buttons or so, any knobs to adjust the resistance.
Ben: Right, which makes sense, because if you are riding a bike, and you want to get into your sprint phase, and you have to increase resistance, and you're reaching down to fumble to increase resistance, these are the subtle nuances. It takes you away from being able to do your spin-up like your high RPM spin-up prior to the effort. So, to have some kind of way that the bicycle will automatically at the right time switch into that high resistance mode actually does make sense. And, what you said about spinning up, if you were outdoors riding on a bike makes sense to me because I've done a lot of competitive cycling.
And yeah, before you get to the hill, you typically will increase RPM and kind of get ready to tackle it. And, there's something that goes on there too from a sympathetic nervous system standpoint for those three to five seconds as you're spinning up, getting ready for the effort, your brain is clicking on and getting ready, and you sent the message to your brain. It's about time to go hard. You get that slight norepinephrine, and epinephrine response, that little bit of a cortisol release and your body is like okay. You see the lion coming. And, there's those few seconds between the time you see the lion coming and the time you start running. And, that kind of seems to quickly prime the pump.
The other quick question that I had for you as you were explaining about this stationary bike you got and how you started and you did these three 20-second efforts, you mentioned that it's important that you choose the correct resistance. And, that's something that I wanted to ask you. What is better for these very, very hard 10 to 20-second efforts? A very high RPM at a low resistance or a very high resistance at a low RPM? Or, is it something in between?
Ulrich: So, it's basically something in between. There's an optimum resistance, and that's part of what our algorithms, what the AI does. And, this is basically based on, now, a rider community of more than 10,000 riders and hundreds of thousands of rides. It's learned basically based on how you exercise, who you are in the context of everybody else, what is the optimum resistance and the optimum RPM for you to perform at your peak intensity. And, it will keep adjusting that. Through our collaboration with academics and through our own data, we know fairly well what the right resistance for a person for you would be.
Ulrich: But then we keep titrating and adjusting it as you get fitter because obviously, it's not stationary, you evolve but you get just fitter and stronger. Or, if you take breaks or so, then also kind of reduce it. And, that's a key thing. But even the researchers in the university labs couldn't do because their equipment just didn't have the capability, whereas our algorithms do dynamically adjust from ride-to-ride resistance to optimize it.
Ben: That's where the AI piece comes in. The bike is learning about you each time that you ride it and then making the adjustments to your sprints and your effort.
And then, I have to admit, I run into this with fitness equipment sometimes and this is going to sound me tooting my own horn. But sometimes, I find that the preset values seem to be too easy for me. I had to do this with my Vasper too. I talked to the engineers with that because that was not so easy as it was with the CAR.O.L. But I had to go in and adjust what the base level is that you start with because, for me, it was like, I'll be honest, it was too easy. The periods of time in between the sprints, it was so easy that there was so little resistance for me that I almost felt my knees were hurting because they didn't have any muscular engagement, whatsoever. So, I went into my settings on the CAR.O.L. and there's a setting on there that's your base setting. And, I kind of manually adjusted that up a little bit. And, I know I have a lot of fit listeners listing in who if they get a bike, they'll be like “Oh, this is too easy,” but I just manually adjusted the base level.
And, what I like about that is not only does it feel I can get a better warm-up and lead up to the sprint, but then also I have the bike out in my garage. And, sometimes I just use it in free mode. I'll just get on and use it in manual mode just like I would a stationary bike. So, it helps for me to set the base setting like that. But that makes sense, what you're saying is as far as the actual intensity goes.
Alright. So, I derailed your story when you were talking about how you bought this stationary bike and you're messing around with it. You did your three 20-minute sprints. And, then what happened from there?
Ulrich: Well, so we called up the scientists who were on that BBC program and basically asked them, what's up? Why is this not working? What are we doing wrong? And, they were kind enough to meet up with us. And, the first thing they said, “Well, you need a special bike.” So, that was one thing that the BBC had conveniently not mentioned.
And, in the lab, they had these special pieces of equipment. They were 15- and 20,000 pounds and they're a two-man operation. And, we still liked it so much and we're disappointed enough that there was no consumer-friendly like a mass-market solution that we decided. Well, if there's a gap in the market, let's close it. Let's develop something. And, maybe kind of just to put a little bit more context around it. At that time, my cofounders and I, we were working in healthcare. So, we worked on setting up chronic disease management programs for people with diabetes, with heart conditions and it is just the fact that exercise is the most important intervention. And, that people with such conditions should use and benefit from, but at the same time people just don't do it.
And, if you surveyed them and if you ask them, the number one response is they don't have enough time. And, this is exactly what REHIT kind of answers. And then, we set out to build a bike that would make REHIT very, very easy. And, that's basically the background.
And then, CAR.O.L. was just a name. It's just the brand, isn't it?
Ben: Yeah. Plus, it's kind of like CrossFit. CrossFit has all the names of its workouts like Fran and Murph. And so, CAR.O.L. works for that too. So, you killed two birds with one stone.
And so, you develop this bike based on the REHIT training. And, I want to get into some more of the bells and whistles that we briefly dove into regarding REHIT and how you've woven into this bike. But I'd be remiss not to kind of ask you a little bit more about what you found out regarding chronic disease. Because in your marketing materials for the bike, for example, you say that regarding diabetes that it can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 62%, was this based on a REHIT study or how did you actually find this out regarding the blood sugar management?
Ulrich: So, that's based on a study that was conducted independently at Western University, Colorado. It was commissioned by the American Council of Exercise. So, they saw our product, they liked it, but they said, “Before we can make any recommendations or so, we actually want to try it.” So, they commissioned independently, they bought two of our bikes, and commissioned Western University Colorado to do a randomized controlled trial. So, with two cohorts, one did two and a half hours per week, five times 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, and the other cohort did three times a week CAR.O.L. So, that's 26 minutes in total, three times the REHIT routine and then measured VO2 max. The whole study lasted eight weeks. They measured VO2 max. And then, they measured something called the MetS Zed score, which is common score to measure the risk to develop metabolic diseases. And, it takes your blood glucose levels, triglycerides, kind of a basket of six, seven clinical measurements, and basically then expresses your risk of developing metabolic diseases.
Ben: What's that score called?
Ulrich: It's called MetS Zed score.
Ben: MetS Zed score, okay.
Ulrich: M-E-T Zed-S score. And, it's a common measurement to basically take a basket off these clinical markers and combine it into risk score. And, in only eight weeks, the subjects, so with 16 in each group reduced their MetS Zed score by 62% and also kind of just to provide the context. The group that did the two and a half hours moderate-intensity exercise, they also improved their score but they improved it by 26%. So, we had more than doubled the improvement in the risk score in 20% of the time. And, I mean that's very significant. It's the level of change you'd expect to see when you take metformin or something like that.
Ben: Yeah, I was going to say that's pretty significant. That's actually more than what you see. I think, the men's Finnish sauna study found I think it was 40%. I could be wrong there on the exact percentage, but we know that 98% of statistics are made up on the spot anyways. But I know it's more than what they found in the sauna study, it's similar to what you'd see from something like metformin, or any of these blood glucose disposal agents, which is significant considering and we'll get into this like how long the actual workout lasts because it's pretty short.
Did you guys see anything on triglycerides, or blood pressure, or any of these other metabolic effects that you'd want to pay close attention to from a chronic disease standpoint?
Ulrich: So, that all basically bundled into the MetS Zed score. And, I'd have to dig them out now briefly if you want. But yes, so it's insulin. The triglycerides and blood pressure all form part and go into the MetS Zed score. Yes.
Ben: Okay. So, painting with a broad brush. We know it's very favorable from a metabolic standpoint. From a fitness standpoint, I think that's the other eyebrow people raised. It's like, how could I actually get fit with a couple of 20-second sprints a day? I believe, correct me if I'm wrong, there's even some 10 seconds sprints on there, even though I've just been doing the 20-second workout.
But regarding the actual cardiorespiratory fitness, I wouldn't imagine that you'd see much with lactic acid buffering just because you're not really producing much lactic acid, and that's kind of the point of it, but did you see anything with VO2 max, or muscle strength, or anything like that?
Ulrich: So, VO2 max, absolutely. And so, same study, I'm citing the same study. The REHIT group saw an improvement of 12.3% in VO2 max in eight weeks. And, that compares–
Ulrich: Yeah. That's very significant. It's not subtle at all. To illustrate it, on average, you lose about 10% in VO2 max per decade of aging. So, in only eight weeks, you can basically feel more than ten years younger in terms of fitness levels. So, it's very noticeable. It's not subtle at all. If you do this for eight weeks, you will substantially improve your cardiorespiratory fitness. So, it's a very fast way of improving your fitness levels.
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Obviously from an aerobic training standpoint, which is kind of the bucket this would fall into, you typically don't see that being something you would do for, say, muscle strength or power. Although, when I was in exercise physiology in college, we would use the Wingate cycling protocol, the very fast short sprint, just the ungodly hard test to test for power output. And so, I'm curious if you guys were able to test it all for any effects on leg strength or power output in somebody who uses this type of approach.
Ulrich: This is again Western University Colorado. We have another study of running measure the impact on peak power. And, that would be kind of just one rep max for squat after doing eight weeks of CAR.O.L. I don't have the results yet because the study is ongoing. However, we see from our own data that peak power in our users, so the real-world data absolutely does go up and does go up by something like 15% on average. This is kind of the academic study. This is happening as we speak. And, we should have results in the new year. And, we're very curious what it does to kind of strength.
Ben: What's the science behind what's going on in terms of the actual metabolic effects and some of the training effects that we're alluding to with such a short surge in energy demands? It's a very sudden spike in energy demands, but also very short. So, can you go into what's happening on a physiological level when we're engaged in these sprints, the kind of the science behind the Physiology?
Ulrich: The thing that makes you fitter. The point is rapid depletion of muscular glycogen stores. That's the scientific consensus as to what triggers the adaptation and what makes you fitter and stronger. And so, what really happens is the sprints create really sudden surge, a sudden spike in energy demand. It's about 100-fold greater energy demand compared to rest when you start those sprints, usually. And, in many exercises, types of exercises, the muscles would burn kind of fat or sugar from the bloodstream. But if you have this sudden surge in energy demand, that's no longer possible and you forced the muscle basically to burn muscular glycogen which is a form of sugar. It's stored in the muscle. And, that muscular glycogen is in some ways it's your body's emergency energy reserves. So, if you need to access very rapidly large amounts of energy, that's where you go to.
So, what's really clever about the exercise and kind of what makes it a bit of a hack, yeah, is that the muscles mobilize. They mobilize a lot more glycogen than is actually needed for those short sprints. So, because the rapid increase in energy demand, the body and the muscle anticipates a huge energy demand over a sustained period and prepares for a fight or flight situation, and it mobilizes lots and lots of glycogen. But you don't actually use all of that in those two sprints, and you don't have to. So, if you did more longer sprints–
Ben: Right. I was going to say it'd be impossible to deplete your glycogen in your liver and your muscle with something like 10- to 20-second sprint because you got 2,000 calories of available glycogen on board.
Ulrich: So yeah, and here's the thing. You don't have to burn it, but what does happen is that the glycogen gets mobilized, so glycogen is a quite large molecule of polysaccharides with all these branches of essentially sugar. And, you mobilize these large molecules, but then only use the very outer branches during the exercise. And, if you did a lot longer and a lot more sprints, then you would burn through more of it. The burning of the glycogen is not what triggers the adaptation. Our understanding of it is that what triggers the adaptation is just the basically that this energy store gets depleted and that the glycogen gets mobilized. And, that can be measured. With ultrasound, for example, measure the level of glycogen depletion. And, we know that on average, we achieve 25 to 30% glycogen depletion in your quads and your glutes. And, that triggers the release of certain signaling molecules, that's specifically AMPK and then PGC-1alpha, which then trigger mitochondrial biogenesis. It triggers a response that your body develops more also bigger mitochondria so that you're basically able to utilize oxygen or burn more oxygen in your muscles. And, that's the adaptation chain.
Ben: It's actually very similar to in a book I wrote some time ago called “Beyond Training.” I outlined how there are kind of two different ways to train for optimized cardiovascular fitness. The short and efficient route that for most people, aside from the very high-level pro athletes, works very well, which releases and activates these same signaling molecules you were alluding to, AMPK in PGC-1alpha, which triggers mitochondrial biogenesis. And then, there's the polarized training approach where you spend very, very long periods of time at a low aerobic intensity with a few brief forays during your training, about 80% aerobic, 20% high intensity. But that requires lots and lots of extra time spent training and is something that typically only a pro athlete has time for. So, this kind of short cuts that and instead goes via route that just rapidly depletes glycogen, which you just referred to, and that type of quick high-intensity sprint basically results in and very similar. It's kind of surprising, very similar levels of mitochondrial proliferation and also vascularization.
And, from what I understand, and this is probably I want to imagine how it's affecting the VO2 max, increased blood reserves, and more blood pumped through the vascular system. Because when you look at VO2 max, traditionally, the classic way to train for it is hard maximum sustainable efforts for four to six minutes in duration, not 10 to 20 seconds. But VO2 max is dependent on cardiac output. It's dependent on the ability of your muscle tissue to be able to harness oxygen as it rushes past the bloodstream and is dependent on stroke volume. So, it sounds to me probably the main element of VO2 max that these short high-intensity sprints are creating. It's probably due to the increase in blood volume or cardiovascular delivery. I wouldn't imagine that the overall volume of air you're breathing into your lungs is being triggered because I don't breathe that hard when I'm doing it, but I like that very, very brief surge and your heart rate goes up, but you're not breathing hard and you don't get that lactic acid burn. So, I'd imagine that's what's going on.
It just surprises me sometimes. I don't know if you're the same, but in the exercise world that we operate in, people really do think that you got to put yourself through a lot of pain. The “No pain, no gain” type of thing. And, it is true. That's partly accurate. But it constantly surprises me how little you actually need. If you truly go as hard as you can when you're supposed to go hard and then give yourself these luxurious rest periods.
Ulrich: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So, I do think that there's truth in the “No pain, no gain,” but you can actually with little pain achieve really quite remarkable gains. Obviously, there's no such thing as a free lunch, so you do have to push hard and you go to max intensity. But because it's so short, it actually makes it quite easy and makes it quite easy to adhere to. I find sometimes you almost get through the sprint so fast that kind of, by the time it hurts, it's basically almost over.
Ben: Talk to me about the breath pacer that's on it. Why did you guys put in this? Because it's kind of interesting. Especially during my recovery periods to have that little slider that shows me when to breathe in, when to breathe out. It's kind of a cool feature that I haven't really seen in cardio equipment before. Shocking that when you go to the gym, these fancy computers built into every elliptical trainer and bike, and in rowing machine and everything don't actually have some type of breath indicator, or breath pacer, or breath cue. Talk to me about what you guys did with the breath pacer on the CAR.O.L.
Ulrich: The thing that gets you fit are the two 20-second sprints. That's really what creates the response, but you can't just do two 20-second sprints and then straight away jump off the bike. You can actually or could shorten the warm up and the first recovery. The cooldown is definitely necessary for your body to normalize again after the sprints. It's not 40 seconds, it's 8 minutes 40 seconds. So, you have spare time basically.
I think most of your listeners would appreciate the benefits and the importance of breathwork and having basically a nervous system balancer that brings you into a parasympathetic state and therefore kind of just helps you. It's a bit of mindfulness that you can use while you're doing it. We want CAR.O.L. to be very time efficient. That's the key thing. And so, it's layering different hacks on top of each other.
Ben: Well, speaking of hacks, are people actually combining this with anything? Because I haven't done it yet, but I was thinking about maybe using blood flow restriction training and putting blood flow restriction bands on while I do it. And then, some people I know will use a training mask to restrict oxygen flow or even I have a Live02 that will allow me to wear a mask that flips between hypoxia and hyperoxia. Have you gotten reports back or if you yourself kind of combine this with any, I guess what you would call biohacking tools that you've found kind of upgrade the experience a little bit?
Ulrich: It's quite a broad range. So, we definitely have biohackers. It's clever, yeah, but we also have every day normal users who just want an improvement of their fitness levels and want something that fits into their life. But yeah. No, we do, in fact, blood flow restriction bands. We've got users who use it with that and see good results. The Live02 surprisingly many actually have reported back that they use it with that fasting or using it, I think, more correctly with time-restricted eating. That's, I think, a quite common combination. Cold exposure—
Ben: Well, particularly with fasting, by the way, because you really aren't burning through a lot of calories, or you're on the bike. The post-exercise metabolic rate that you see the increase in. This thing is a no-brainer in a fasted state. It's not one of those things where, again, coming back to glycogen depletion, unlike a CrossFit workout where you're burning through so many carbs at such a high rate for such a long time, you actually sometimes can perform better when you've had a pre-workout meal. This thing I feel I could do it after a 24, 48-hour fast. I mean, because it's all super-duper, duper simple aerobic warm-up, aerobic exercise with just these brief sprints in between. I mean, you're burning creatine and these slight amounts of glucose, so it seems to work out really well for fasting.
Have you guys done any studies at all or have you seen any studies done on the combination of this REHIT form of training and in a fasted state versus [00:42:01] _____ state.
Ulrich: Not yet. I can only talk about myself. So, I do it usually first thing in the morning. I do it almost every day first thing in the morning and then would not have breakfast. And basically, my eating window wouldn't start until like 2:00 or 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon. And, I find it works very nicely. And, in fact, I find it suppresses my appetite and helps me to extend my kind of general fasting window.
And then, the other thing. I rarely do kind of all-out fasting like just water fast for several days. But what I do like to do are these Valter Longo fast, the fasting-mimicking. And, there where you just have reduced calorie intake like–
Ben: Right. It's 40 to 60% of your normal calorie intake. You do that for, well, four to five days.
Ulrich: Yeah, correct, correct. And there, I find it very easy to still adhere to care and use CAR.O.L. and find that actually quite nice.
Ben: Okay. By the way, have you tried blood flow restriction bands with it yet? Because I've done blood flow restriction bands with the Airdyne. I call it the Hell Bike. That's the one out in my garage and it's incredible. I have also done that one wearing the electrical muscle stimulation suit, the Katalyst electrical muscle stimulation suit. Both of those, oh my gosh, for super-duper, well, difficult workout, the BFR bands with the bicycle or the electro steam with the bicycle. Those both just amp it up through the roof in terms of how you feel and they kind of allow you to kill a few birds with one stone. And, I know some people will be chuckling at the idea of me out in my gym wearing an electrical muscle stimulation suit and maybe a training mask with some red-light therapy on while I'm riding a bike, but some of this stuff just kind of fun to mess around with and honestly I love to stack modalities like that. They give you more bang for your buck if you're going to be sitting on the bike, anyways.
Ulrich: So, I've ordered my blood flow restriction bands. I'm still to experience it properly. I think I ordered the wrong brand first but didn't find them that appealing. But, yeah, no, definitely I'd like to try that. I know a few of our riders who swear by it.
Ben: Yeah, I think you'll find it to be difficult but also it'll amp up the experience for sure.
Now, one question I always get from people, and this is something that I also look at when I'm getting a device is whether it produces an appreciable amount of EMF. Now, what I did with my CAR.O.L. is I connected it to my phone because I don't have Wi-Fi at my house. I just tethered it to Wi-Fi and then I set up my account and everything, but I write it with any Wi-Fi or anything off. I probably should have asked about this, but when I reconnected to Wi-Fi, will it still upload my data and you guys can still get access to that if you need it? And then, when it's off Wi-Fi, it'll still operate as it normally should, right?
Ulrich: Yeah. We have something called off-line mode. And, it's for two cases, either for people who don't have stable Wi-Fi or for people who are concerned about EMF exposure. And, in which case you can set the bike just to airplane mode. And, this off-line mode will just activate automatically and can use the bike pretty much as normal. However, it was designed as a piece of connected fitness equipment. And so, you for the initial setup, you need Wi-Fi to basically set up a new user, you'll need Wi-Fi. And, we do recommend at least periodically to hook it up to a mobile hotspot or so. So, the data gets uploaded, the personalized resistance gets downloaded again. And also, you get our latest app updates with new features, and any bug fixes, and so on so that the software is all up to date. So, it can be operated without permanent Wi-Fi. But every now and then, it should connect.
Ben: Right. Okay, that makes sense. Another question that I have for you, and this was just something that I kind of chuckled at when I was first riding the bike. You can choose from a bunch of different music. You can put techno music on or something that's kind of motivating for a music standpoint. But then, there's also this voice that will walk you through a scenario where it's quiet on the Savannah and you're relaxing in the sun and here comes a lion, and the lion comes and you sprint.
Ben: Whose idea was it to work in that story element, almost like an ancestral story element to the bike? It seemed cheesy at first and then it's actually kind of motivating.
Ulrich: Yeah, yeah. No. I mean, my cofounder came up with that. I think it's much loved and I mean at some point people may be also not listen to it anymore, but it is to set you at ease and relax and help you relax during the warm-up and recovery and cool-down periods, and then kind of help you kick into action with, “Hey, there's a tiger behind you” and kind of getting that extra bit of motivation to help you push for that very brief moment to your max intensity.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. And then, the other thing I wanted to ask you just because we really didn't cover this but it's important. The workout itself takes 8 minutes and 40 seconds, something like that. There's more than one workout option on there. Because I've just been doing the 20-second, but aren't there a few different workout options?
Ulrich: Yeah, sure. So, you have different lengths of the sprint. So, at the moment you have 10, 15, 20-second sprints. The most important thing is adherence really. If 20 seconds are still too hard or too long, then by all means do the 10-second version. The most important thing is adherence.
Then we have what we call fat burn protocol. So, that's a protocol that has shorter sprints at a lower resistance, but they're all kind of linked to your REHIT resistance where you do like 30 or 60 sprints. I mean, that burns a phenomenal amount of calories and creates a phenomenal amount of afterburn, various fitness tests kind of to test your FTP or if you have a breath analyzer or access to one to test your VO2 max, or your maximum aerobic–
Ben: FTP. For people aren't familiar, that's your functional threshold power. So, you could actually test your power very similar what you doing, exercise physiology lab. And then, if say you're a competitive triathlete, or cyclists, or something like that, you could actually take percentages of that functional threshold power to develop certain training zones. If you find out your functional threshold powers, I don't know, 400 watts, you could actually develop, let's say you're an Ironman athlete and you want to do your race at 60% of your functional threshold power, that will allow you to easily test it.
So, there's a lot of little bells and whistles that you guys have woven in. But I mean, the amazing thing is how freaking short it is. I mean, you mentioned that you broke a sweat. I think that was with the stationary bike that you were originally developing, but I don't sweat at all in this thing. I mean, that's what I like too is I don't have to change clothes or anything. And, I think I even saw some marketing materials that you guys have, some guy riding on it in his office suit or whatever. And, it seems kind of dumb, but you actually can. You actually can just get on it and ride. Get off, have your workout done. I suppose you're a very perspirative person, you don't actually really sweat on the thing.
Ulrich: So yeah, that is the case. There's a little bit, I guess, genetics or every person is a little bit different. But most people, if they just do those two 20-second sprints don't actually sweat.
Now, we've dialed that a little bit back in terms of how much we talk about it because people are already skeptical enough when they hear two times 20 seconds. If you tell them, then you also don't sweat, then no, that can't be true at all. For many people, it is true that you barely sweat and we have quite a few of our bikes in offices. Yeah. So where, I don't know, like a marketing agency or law firm or even the local council where they have bikes in their offices and where people use it in their lunch break and in their coffee break because it's A, so short and B, most people, few unfortunate ones maybe do, but most people don't sweat.
Ben: Wow. Well, it's kind of one of those too good to be true things, but I mean it works. So, I'm sticking with it. The data doesn't lie. When I'm in exercise, there's sometimes that sensation that if you don't feel it, it's not doing anything but this one is remarkably simple. Yet, if you actually go as hard as you're supposed to go on these efforts, you definitely, definitely experience some pretty good benefits. So, I certainly have my stamp of approval on it, and I appreciate you guys kind of just basically connecting me with what you guys are doing. And, I think it's going to help a lot of people, especially people who are time hacked and just need some way to train for cardio and even power and leg strength without actually spending a lot of time at the gym. And, you can of course do your CAR.O.L. workout 9 minutes and then go on and do your strength training workout or vice versa.
There was a recent research and meta-analysis showing that there's actually no loss in your chance of hypertrophy or muscle strength when you combine aerobic strength training or aerobic with strength training, so-called concurrent training. And so, you could technically just use the bike as a warm-up or use the bike as a finisher for a strength training workout for example, which is also something that I'll do sometimes just to basically get in there, get the cardio all over with by a couple of 20-second sprints, then go straight into the strength training. So, a lot of versatility with this thing.
Anything else about the CAR.O.L. bike that you want to share with us while I have you on, Ulrich?
Ulrich: Maybe just to highlight because we hear people are skeptical about the science, people are skeptical why do you need a special bike? We do offer to overcome that and to make it easier, I guess an industry-leading kind of trial period. So, we offer 100-day risk-free home trial when you purchase the bike. You can try it. That's easily a long enough time to see the benefit. And, if it's not for you or yeah, you're not convinced by it, you'll give it back to us at no cost and you'll get a full refund. Because we've recognized that some of our claims are quite out there, two 20-second sprints, fantastic fitness, and health benefits, we offer that trial. There's not much to lose in that sense.
And, the other thing which I find really, really important is because it is so short, and this is my experience with it and feedback we get from our users. It is actually really easy to make it part of your daily or kind of like your usual routine and fit it into your life. Because while it is fantastic to see how fast you can gain fitness, if you stop exercising, you also lose it again, of course. So, fitness is something you need to stick to and you need to find something that fits into your life and that you can commit to and do basically every week kind of comes sunshine or rain. And, we believe that if you just don't have two hours or three hours per week for cardio, yeah, it's no good to have great music and other external motivator. But you have to find something that actually fits into your life and that you can stick to. That's kind of how we see CAR.O.L. and where we think a lot of people will actually benefit from it.
Ben: I'm happy to have exposed my audience to this. You guys have, I think I have this discount code, you get 100-day trial to be able to experience it risk-free, which is enough time because most of your guys' studies have shown that you get all this stuff going on for you within eight weeks, which is less than 100 days last time I checked. So, you'll be able to actually try this thing out for yourself and see if it resonates with you. Normally, the bike I think is around 2,400 bucks, $250 off with the code BEN. If you go to the CAR.O.L. bike websites, it's carolbike.com/Ben.
I'll also put all the studies and everything that Ulrich and I talked about in the shownotes. If you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/carolpodcast. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/carolpodcast. And, you could also go over there and jump in with the comments and the questions if you have questions for Ulrich or myself, or if you have your own anecdotes to add about what you found from using this bike or anything that you've successfully combined with it and found to be a real game-changer as far as stacking different modalities with it. So, that's all going to be a BenGreenfieldFitness.com/carolbike and get a bike for yourself at carolbike.com/Ben. And, use code BEN for $250 discount and a 100-day money-back guarantee.
Ulrich, thanks so much for coming on the show and sharing all this with us, man.
Ulrich: Thank you. Thanks for having me. It was a pleasure.
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Ever heard of the AI-powered smart bike that gives you the benefits of a 45-minute run in under nine minutes?
Here's the deal: we already know HIIT training is a great way to work out. The bike uses REHIT—Reduced Exertion High-intensity Interval Training—which is HIIT taken to the next level.
With REHIT training, you can get better health and fitness results compared to steady-state exercise, in 20% of the time, just 26 minutes a week—and you’re not putting your body under the kind of stress that you get with chronic cardio, which can actually be damaging to your health and stall your weight loss.
I have a CAR.O.L. bike in my office, and I now use it for my REHIT breaks. You just get on the bike, you start riding, and in less than nine minutes you’ve checked your cardio off for the day. This thing is a game-changer—it was developed in collaboration with fitness researchers and is clinically proven to give you the shortest, most impactful cardio workout you can get.
The CAR.O.L. bike will get you fitter, healthier, and leaner. In eight weeks, you’ll increase your cardio fitness and see a 12% increase in VO2 max, which may add two years to your lifespan. You’ll reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by 62%, and lower your blood pressure, triglycerides, and blood sugar. And you’re going to burn more fat because the CAR.O.L. workout increases excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, which boosts your metabolism and keeps your body burning fat for hours after a workout.
My guest on today's show, Ulrich Dempfle, is Chief Product Officer and co-founder of CAR.O.L. Ulrich holds degrees in business administration and mechanical engineering, and leads all aspects of product development at CAR.O.L., from data science to software and hardware. Previously, he was the director of PwC’s healthcare AI initiatives in the UK and has a wide range of experience in healthcare, engineering, and startups.
The idea for CAR.O.L. was conceived in 2012 while working on chronic disease management programs for people with diabetes. The team found it very challenging to get people to exercise, and the main excuses they heard were a lack of time and frustration with slow results. The beauty of CAR.O.L. is how REHIT solves these problems, offering a scientifically proven workout in under nine minutes. After discovering REHIT, the team embarked on creating CAR.O.L., the first and only consumer REHIT exercise bike available.
Ulrich practices what he preaches, and uses CAR.O.L. regularly. He says his cardiovascular fitness has improved by 50%, and he has lost about 10 kg and can now easily manage his weight without counting calories. His blood pressure was slightly elevated but is now optimal, and he’s in better shape than ever.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-HIIT or HIRT?…03:30
- Q&A 426: Does Being Overweight Help You Live Longer?, The Dark Side Of Fasting, The Latest On Caffeine & Exercise Performance, Boosting Nitric Oxide & Much More!
- The Quick And The Dead by Pavel Tsatsouline
-How did Ulrich come up with the idea?…07:30
- CAR.O.L. = Cardiovascular (CAR) Optimization Logic
- The idea for CAR.O.L. was conceived in 2012 while working on chronic disease management programs for people with diabetes
- Excited about how this technology could help people with significant health concerns
-What's unique about the bike…08:43
- Helps people achieve their maximum fitness gains with minimum time requirement using the power of REHIT and AI
- The core REHIT ride using the bike is 8 minutes and 40 seconds
- Every ride is personalized according to each user's data and level of fitness
-How REHIT is different from HIIT…18:58
- A new, improved form of HIIT
- REHIT session with CAR.O.L. consists of two 20-second sprints, separated by a short recovery
- Total workout time – 8:40
- REHIT offers maximum intensity training; pushes the body to new limits, making you much stronger and fitter
-The benefits you can expect with CAR.O.L. and REHIT…21:17
- Partnered with the leading REHIT researchers
- Improve your cardio – 8 weeks to turn around your cardiorespiratory fitness—improve cardiorespiratory fitness (measured by VO2 max) by 12.3%
- Get healthier – lower your risk of Type II Diabetes by 60% in 8 weeks—that’s the same level of change you’d see actually taking Metformin
- Boost your metabolism – burn twice as many calories minute-per-minute compared to traditional exercise, because of the “after-burn” effect, which means you keep burning calories for hours after a CAR.O.L. workout
- Lose weight – in a 15-week study on the benefits of HIIT, participants saw a 2.5kg reduction in total body fat, particularly in the legs and tummy
-How cardio with CAR.O.L. impacts chronic disease…23:35
- MetS-Z score – score measures risk of developing metabolic diseases
- Cardiovascular and Other Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing: A Review of the Evidence
-How cardio with CAR.O.L. impacts longevity…29:26
- 2019 Telomere study in the European Heart Journal – aerobic endurance and HIIT, but not resistance training, increase telomerase activity and telomere length in blood mononuclear cells thus supporting healthy aging
- Working out with CAR.O.L. for 8 weeks adds 2 years of healthy life expectancy to your lifespan, thanks to improved cardiorespiratory fitness; a 10% improvement in VO2 max may add 2 years of healthy life expectancy
- In the general population, VO2 max tends to decline by about 10% per decade after the age of 30—since CAR.O.L. increases VO2 max by 12% in 8 weeks, it effectively turns back the clock on your fitness by a decade
-Does the CAR.O.L. achieve the same benefits as other types of cardio?…30:50
- You’d need to spend a lot more time on it: with other cardio, you would need 2.5 hours per week and more whereas with CAR.O.L. it is as little as 26 minutes per week
- Feedback from users is that CAR.O.L. makes it easy to establish a healthy habit because it is so short and you can fit it easily into your daily routine
- It’s fantastic to see how quickly you can improve your fitness, but the flip side is that you have to stick to your routine to maintain it
- If you stop exercising, you lose much of the fitness gains within a 4-week period
- If you don’t have an extra 2 hours a week for exercise, it’s no good to have a bike with great music and celebrity instructors
- Such external motivation might work for a while, but you ultimately need something that fits into your life and that you can stick to
- CAR.O.L. can be a backstop for longer forms of cardio
-The science behind the bike…38:03
- Pretty much everyone is familiar with HIIT, so REHIT is a specific form of HIIT, developed by Drs. Niels Vollaard and Richard Metcalfe at the University of Bath
- They developed an exercise protocol that is MUCH more time-efficient than both conventional exercise and HIIT, while still providing the same or better health and fitness benefits
- “No pain, no gain” has put a lot of people off exercise; a minimal amount of pain can give you very big gains
- The sprints create a sudden spike in energy demand that’s 100-fold greater than rest
- Sprints tap into your body’s emergency energy reserve as it anticipates and prepares for a “fight or flight” situation
- You don’t have to do more or longer sprints because the mobilization of the glycogen is triggered by the rapid onset of the energy demand in the sprint (why it doesn’t matter so much how long you sprint but how quickly you start)
- Rapid glycogen depletion triggers the release and activation of certain signaling molecules (AMPK and PGC-1α), which triggers mitochondrial biogenesis, i.e., your body develops more mitochondria, which are the “power plants” in your cells, which means you are better at utilizing oxygen in your muscles
- Beyond Training by Ben Greenfield
- New study shows that your body gets better at delivering oxygen to your muscles by improving your cardiac output, your heart gets stronger and pumps more blood through your vascular system
- Two 20-second maximum intensity sprints “saturate” the signaling response mechanism—which is like a switch, so more or longer sprints have no additional benefit, so after those two sprints that’s it, you’re done for the day, and you only need to do it 2-3 times per week
-Why do you need a special bike?…39:43
- The maximum intensity levels during a REHIT sprint are about three times higher than in other HIIT cycling classes
- On a regular exercise bike you’d need to:
- Apply the correct resistance (just in your sweet spot)
- At the right time (just after you’ve built up speed at a low resistance)
- In a fraction of a second (instantly go from very low to very high)
- In other words, it’s very difficult without an exercise physiologist or an expert personal trainer by your side
-How Ulrich uses the bike…44:33
- He does a ride in the morning, in a fasted state, and burns 215 kcals straightaway
- That’s more than 10% of his baseline calorie need and it helps him manage his weight with very little effort
- Ulrich finds it suppresses appetite and helps him stay in the fasted state longer
-Can CAR.O.L. be combined with other biohacking tools?…47:40
- This year CAR.O.L. reached 10,000 riders in the community so definitely have lots of feedback from riders on combining CAR.O.L. with biohacking tools
- One of the exercises that is easier during fasting as it is so short
- If you do a longer, strict fast, it is probably sensible to be careful with exercise
- Can work beautifully with time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting
- Cold exposure
- Very popular but some concern and evidence that ice baths after resistance training blunt the effect
- However, the same problem is not present with cardio and endurance training
- Some riders love to combine CAR.O.L. with blood flow restriction bands
- Other riders combine CAR.O.L. with LiveO2 trainer with increased or reduced oxygen supply
-How to mitigate the EMF the CAR.O.L. bike produces…52:45
- The bike has an off-line mode automatically activated if the bike is set to airplane mode
- The bike was designed as a connected fitness equipment
- Connect the bike to wi-fi for initial set-up
- Connect once in a while to upload and download personalized data
-How one can get started with CAR.O.L.?…55:06
- Pricing: $2,395 and offers code BEN to get a $250 discount
- 100-day home trial. Research shows you’ll get CAR.O.L.’s health and fitness gains in 8 weeks. Experience it for yourself, risk-free.
- Click here to get a CAR.O.L. bike and use the discount code BEN for a $250 discount and 100-day money-back guarantee until January 14, 2022
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following bengreenfieldfitness.com/calendar
Resources from this episode:
– Ulrich Dempfle:
- American Council of Exercise (ACE): Acute and Chronic Responses to Reduced-Exertion High Intensity Training.
- BBC 5-Week Experiment Results.
- The Effects of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise Training on Fat Loss of Young Women.
- HIIT Workouts Are More Effective At Improving Cardio-Respiratory Fitness.
- Beneficial Effects of Reduced-Excursion High Intensity Interval Training (REHIT)
– Podcasts And Articles:
- Q&A 426: Does Being Overweight Help You Live Longer?, The Dark Side Of Fasting, The Latest On Caffeine & Exercise Performance, Boosting Nitric Oxide & Much More!
- The Powerful Health Benefits Of Fasting (Plus The Top 5 Questions I Get Asked About Fasting).
– Other Resources:
- Dr. Niels Vollaard
- Dr. Richard Metcalfe
- MetS-Z Score
- Cardiovascular And Other Health Benefits Of Sauna Bathing: A Review Of The Evidence
- Workouts With Fewer Reps Could Yield Better Results
–Kion Coffee: Elevate your daily grind with pure, delicious Kion Coffee. Available in Whole Bean or Ground, our coffee meets the highest standards for health and taste.
–JOOVV: After using the JOOVV for close to 2 years, it's the only light therapy device I'd ever recommend. Give it a try: you won't be disappointed. For a limited time, JOOVV wants to hook you up with an exclusive discount on your first order. Just apply code BEN to your qualifying order.
–Butcher Box: Delivers healthy 100% grass-fed and finished beef, free-range organic chicken, and heritage breed pork directly to your door on a monthly basis. All their products are humanely raised and NEVER given antibiotics or hormones.