October 5, 2019
[00:01:56] Podcast Sponsors
[00:03:54] Guest Introduction
[00:05:50] Crossfitter vs. Spartan Event Results
[00:11:38] Hunter's Transition from Troubled Teen to Champion Spartan Racer
[00:21:43] Moving from Endurance to Crossfit Training
[00:32:54] Podcast Sponsors
[00:35:50] cont. on Moving from Endurance to Crossfit Training
[00:39:31] Interests Change Regarding Training as They Age
[00:44:10] Recovery from Intense Training Sessions
[00:52:40] Optimizing Sleep and CBD
[01:02:51] Books and Podcasts Recommendations
[01:06:32] Hunter Being a Conversation Kind of Person
[01:08:12] How Crazy Bobby Changed Hunter's Life for The Good
[01:14:52] Closing the Podcast
[01:15:34] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Hunter: My dream job is to be the crocodile hunter. And I told the academic advisor in there, they're like, “We don't have a degree for that.” And I'm like, “Well, I'm out of here.” Can I run 400 meters while doing high-rep benches into ring muscle-ups, into walking on my hands? No.
Ben: So, you're saying the missing component of CrossFit in terms of it claiming to be producing the fittest man or woman on earth would be like the stamina or the endurance component?
Hunter: I feel like you'd know about that. If anybody was going to know about some kind of crazy surgery, it'd 100% be you.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Oh, hello. Yow, this is Ben Greenfield. Of course, it is. You're listening to my podcast. I had a chance to sit down with my buddy and crazy athlete Hunter McIntyre recently at Spartan World Championships. This guy has a ton of history in obstacle course racing. Before that, I believe underwear modeling. And before that, swinging chainsaws in the forested wilderness of Montana somewhere. Anyways though, he has a super interesting story. He's been on the podcast before. If you go to my website at BenGreenfieldFitness.com and do a search for Hunter McIntyre, you'll find it. And everything that we talk about on today's show you can find over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/hunterpod, H-U-N-T-E-Rpod, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/hunterpod.
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Alright, I'm sitting here with my buddy Hunter McIntyre. Men's Journal called you “The Man Behind the Spartan Race Empire.” Competitor Magazine called you “The Rising Star of Obstacle Course Racing.” Men's Fitness, which I think did a cover story on you–
Hunter: That's good to hear.
Ben: –listed you as “The Future of the Sport.” And your list of accolades goes on and on. I believe that yesterday, you added another crown to your list of achievements as the top something in a sport that doesn't quite exist yet but that we made up.
Hunter: Well, I mean, all sports don't really exist when they first start out, and then all of a sudden, a couple of years and some good athletes and some good names behind it, you get some energy and it becomes something awesome.
Hunter: Yeah. Dude, I was just looking at your hands. I had no clue your hands are so big.
Ben: They're big, and they're also a little bit swollen from all the cool stuff yesterday.
Hunter: I was going to say, “Why are your fingers so gigantic?”
Ben: Did your fingers get swollen after all the cold at the top of the mountain?
Hunter: I don't really think so. Honestly, I really managed it super well with gloves and I took care of myself and I realized that we're going to do so much CrossFit in the afternoon, that if I didn't have good management, I would have lost it. Chandler had to drop out of the competition. He's a military guy. He got really bad cold exposure on a mission–a training mission, and he has such bad frostbite. Like as soon as he gets as close to cold, he completely loses control.
Ben: The human body is weird like they had the same thing as with the hyperthermia. People have had hyperthermic shock-like, whatever, a military in the desert or whatever, they're way more heat sensitive.
Hunter: Heat sensitive or cold sensitive?
Ben: Yeah. More heat sensitive. And then people who have had the cold stuff, like this guy Chandler, you're talking about, had like thermal cold sensitive.
Ben: So, probably the worst thing you'd want to do in life is get frostbitten and get hypothermic because you won't be able to handle shit.
Hunter: You get to [00:05:41] ______ like Arizona the whole time. Actually, what's the most moderate temperature you could probably find?
Hunter: Yeah, Southern California.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, Southern Cal. So, anyways though, you put together this whole CrossFit versus the Spartan athletes?
Hunter: It was interesting. I've always loved CrossFit and I've always loved Spartan Racing. I was a Spartan Race athlete. I did CrossFit Games this year. I went into their grounds and I challenged him and I did my thing. I wasn't the champion the way I wanted to be, but in reality, it took a whole year off to go expose myself to that. And I contacted my buddies. I was like, “Listen, guys. I did your thing –“
Ben: Buddies in CrossFit?
Hunter: Yeah. I contacted Chandler Smith, Jacob Heppner, and Sean Sweeney, all multiple time CrossFit Games athletes. And I told the guys, I was like, “Listen, I have an awesome opportunity. I want to get you guys to fly out to Spartan Race and I want you guys to do this thing. In the morning, we're going to run the race. In the evening, we are going to do four CrossFit WODs, and everybody was super into it, and I'm pretty amazed that it went so smoothly because honestly, when you're a professional athlete and then someone asks you–like if someone invited me to the CrossFit Games just like on a whim a month later, I don't think I would show up. But these guys showed up, and they threw down, and it was pretty spectacular like big results.
Ben: Okay. So, the CrossFitter athletes, and I think most of my audience know what CrossFit is, they had to go to a full endurance stamina-based Spartan Race.
Hunter: Yeah. Probably the hardest kind you can imagine because mountain running is spectacularly challenging on a–
Ben: Oh, it's much harder than just like a trail run. And they got a half-hour head start on you guys?
Hunter: And we did chase them down. The whole goal is to catch them.
Ben: Did you chase them down?
Hunter: Yeah, we all got them. They're actually very impressive like top guy only finished I think 30, 45 minutes behind me.
Ben: And that's a lot of muscle to carry up a hill.
Hunter: Totally. I mean, these guys are 5'7″ to 5'9″ and they're holding 195 pounds. They're like 10, 15 pounds lighter than I am.
Ben: I mean, I'm not just saying this to give you shit, but you are, at least in the realm that I plan in endurance sports, you're one of the bigger dudes.
Hunter: Yeah, totally.
Ben: And I saw you on the CrossFit Games and you looked small compared to these guys.
Ben: And you're not a small dude?
Hunter: No. I mean, they're just so densely designed. I mean, CrossFits completely–almost every sport's done this. It's completely designed and it cones in on such a body type that's perfect for that sport. And for that sport–I was just talking to Kelly Starrett's wife and she was like–a study came out from UCLA I think or one of UCLA's things and they said it's a 0% chance if you're 6 feet tall that you can win the CrossFit Games based on all of the metrics.
Ben: That's just basically on the lever arms, like the muscle length.
Ben: The bone length.
Hunter: 6'2″, and when I reach my arms up overhead like I'm well over 9 feet over here. And if you can imagine, these guys were 5'7″ who have even shorter little stubby arms. There's probably about a quarter second in every single rep that they're missing out on that I have to travel.
Ben: They're like Vikings, basically.
Hunter: Yeah. It kind of sucks. I mean, listen, I've never wanted to be short, but if I was going to become a professional CrossFit athlete, I think I'd probably have some surgery to remove some femur bones.
Ben: I think that would be good. I think the Chinese know how to do that.
Hunter: Yeah. I've heard about that.
Ben: Go to Hong Kong, come back a year later with your bones broken.
Hunter: I feel like you'd know about that. If anybody was going to know about some kind of crazy surgery, it'd 100% be you, so I'll definitely hit you up.
Ben: Yeah. I'm going to find affiliate league for some Hong Kong bone-breaking [00:08:57] ______. Okay. So, then you guys came back, and on the same day, you turn around and then you go ahead to head on these WODs?
Hunter: Yeah. So, the first one was very–when I say these are CrossFit workouts, it's by their definition, constantly varied high-intensity functional movements. So, they weren't with barbells, they weren't on pull-up bars, they weren't on box jumps and stuff. Everything was done in a parking lot to the side of the venue where we had huge 150-pound slam balls, the RAMrollers. We had the 4-foot wall, 6-foot wall. We had 400-pound logs where you're doing–
Ben: I think people know what everything is that you just said except the RAMroller.
Hunter: RAMroller is a piece of equipment that Spartan Race started to employ, which is pretty cool. I mean, it's super well-designed for functional fitness just to have in the gym. It has multiple designs in the way–it looks just like a foam roller but it's 55 pounds, super dense material, really high composite rubber. You could chuck it against the wall, you could slam it against a rock, you could do whatever. It's not going to fall apart.
Ben: But it looks like a foam roller?
Ben: But it's a piece of exercise equipment.
Hunter: If you really want a foam roller, you have a foam roller, but if you want to do something like–all those cross-chop core or burpee type things, you use that.
Ben: You guys are on the hail and the snow doing this?
Hunter: Well, it was actually perfect like beautiful sunshine, perfect weather, a little bit of a gust of wind but it can't cool when you're doing–
Ben: Lovely. It's got country, baby.
Hunter: Yeah, it was. I was like, “Wow, this is like serene.” It's like I cannot believe that this is like–because we were supposed to get snowed out, we were supposed to get slammed by bad weather. And of course, the fourth workout is about to start and lightning, hail rain came and we had to cancel fourth workout, which I'm super glad we did because it was the suckiest one. You had to crawl under barbed wire carrying a RAMroller. I would have rocked my day.
Ben: Alright, so smoke clears. What happens?
Hunter: Smoke clear is like I had a pretty clear big lead. I had three workouts and I was already leaving my five points. So, it was, not to toot my own horn, but I'm just telling you guys how it goes. But we had actually–teen CrossFit was just a few points behind us and overall points. They actually kicked some serious ass. Isaiah took second, Sean Sweeney the CrossFit guy took third, Kempton took fifth, and Heppner took fourth.
Ben: Alright. So, if people want to see a video of this, is there a video anywhere, like in the shownotes?
Hunter: Yeah. So, they're trying to produce it a lot. At this point, I don't have the content, but supposedly, this is produced through Spartan Race sponsored by FITAID going to be in your inbox, hopefully, in the next month.
Ben: Okay. I'm going to write notes myself. You guys go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/hunterpod. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com, like Hunter Podcast, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/hunterpod. And I'll put the video in there. You can go check it out. You'll probably have it on your Instagram, too.
Hunter: Totally do. We'll share it as soon as I get it.
Ben: Yeah. I'll link to Hunter's huntthesheriff Instagram page on there, too. Okay. So, before you got into the world of Spartan–and even when I was looking at Spartan, I think I caught a glimpse of you at one point. I saw you training in the backwoods of Vermont at Joe's farm on some documentary. And so, I had seen you at some point on TV. And really, my own interest in Spartan was just seeing an interesting sport that looked like it was something totally different than triathlon the time I was bored with triathlon. So, I started getting to Spartan, and I ran into you, and you had a whole different kind of entry into that whole world. For you, it was almost like a savior to an extent from what I understand.
Hunter: I mean, certainly interesting. I was a successful athlete in high school, but like, I'm not going to say troubled in the wrong way, but I certainly got in a lot of trouble, doing a lot of drugs, partying a lot, getting arrested a lot, for harmless things like throwing a rock into our box.
Ben: It's like weed and beer?
Hunter: Yeah. I mean, I would do cocaine and anything else. I dabbled with heroin, every kind of drug you could imagine.
Ben: Yeah. Okay. More than weed and beer then?
Hunter: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But those were my go-tos. I'm not going to say that I was one of these kids who had like a needle in his arm walking around town. I was just more like if you hit me up, I mean like dude, I got this bag of something and —
Ben: You're like a jock who partied?
Hunter: Certainly. I think there's a lot of jocks who party. I'm a person of high intensity. I love the intensity of competition. I didn't even train at all. At that point in my life, I never worked out. I didn't do any of the training practices, nothing. I would just —
Ben: What were your sports?
Hunter: Wrestling and running.
Hunter: Yeah. I had to go to wrestling practice, but I would just fuck around. I wouldn't learn any of the moves. And then I just came–they blew the whistle and I just focus on pinning the person or taking him down. That's all I cared about like main handling people. And then when we go to cross-country practice, I would just go on the woods and smoke a joint, and we were supposed to be back in 45 minutes and we were supposed to do our mediocre run every single day and I don't think I'm like a mile into the woods, a mile back out with like washing my hands after I'd smoked the joint.
Ben: Well, they say CBD is good for endurance athletes.
Hunter: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Dude, it's so crazy. That's one of the weird things. I could smoke so much weed when I was a kid. Now I can't. I mean, CBD has become like a total lifesaver for me because I can't smoke weed when I get super anxious.
Ben: Now you sound like my mom. Weed has changed since the '60s.
Hunter: Oh, yeah. It's crazy, dude. If I take a puff of weed nowadays, I honestly feel like I'm on another planet.
Hunter: Yeah. So, to go back to where I was at, I went through that whole experience. I had to go to rehab for a year because I basically–they're going to send me to jail but there was kind of like they were going to give me one last chance. They're like, “We'll send you to rehab for a year and put you on two years of probation. But if you don't come back completely by the book and all your community service hours, everything done perfectly and not one scratch on your record for the next two years, you're going to go to jail.”
Ben: Who said that, your premise?
Hunter: No. There was a court system.
Hunter: Yeah. I wish my parents had that kind of power.
Hunter: Yeah. It would be crazy.
Ben: That'll be a bad thing if parents have the power to put their children in jail.
Hunter: You want a jail.
Hunter: So, basically, I get out of rehab. During rehab, I was like, I only got more into drugs, to be honest. I just met up with more people who were better at doing drugs than I was because there's this–
Ben: Was this the rehab where you were like in the backwoods in Montana or just different rehab?
Hunter: No. That's where I started out, Montana, went to rehab, went to my first-year college. They were giving me like a couple classes and I was going to–I was doing all outpatient program. So, it was like the loosest version of rehab. I had my own apartment. I had to do like four [00:14:46] _____ meetings a week, two therapist meetings a week, had to meet my PO twice a week, pee in a cup twice a week, but I didn't have a leash on me.
So, basically, did the rehab thing, and then I got booted out of that rehab because I was partying too hard, went to another rehab, and then I went to another rehab and went to another rehab. And I think the first time that I ever really appreciated hard work was I finally got back from one rehab to the one I originally started in and I told my probation officer, I was like, “If I don't do something that's going to exhaust my energy so much, I'm going to end up going to jail. You got to help me out here.” It's not the fact that I don't want to be a better person just because I don't have any reason to be. You guys are just telling me to stop doing drugs. I'm like, “What's your reason behind stop doing drugs?” And no one could give me a real answer because here's the reality like when you're that age, there's no reason to not explore life to its absolute depths in every length in every direction.
Are you gay? Are you a drug doer? Do you like to read the Bible? Do you like to climb up to the top of mountains? Are you a person who stays at home and read books? You're just developing as a person and it doesn't matter which direction you go and there's no right or wrong answer. And when you have people who are older than you telling you like, “No, this is the way to do it and this is the way to do it,” and it just creates this calloused emotion of like, “I don't want to hear the shit you have to say. I'm trying to figure it out on my own.”
Ben: Were you also on Ritalin or Adderall or ADD, ADHD, stuff like that?
Hunter: I was on every kind of medication you could imagine from the age of 7 until I was 21.
Ben: So, you were the classic boy wired to move, wired to explore, who's basically getting held back?
Hunter: Which is crazy. I mean, the way I look at it now–the amount of drugs that they were giving me on a daily basis, I could sell those pills for probably $100 plus a day to people who want to take Adderall to get high. I had people I'll see in my parties and they like crush up 20-milligram Adderalls and snort them. It's like, dude, I used to have to take four of those just to wake up in the morning because they told me —
Ben: Right. That is a freaking adolescent, as a developing adolescent. While River and Terran get hyper, they are going out in the cold pool, they're getting in the sauna, they're building for chipmunks, they're running around on the bed. I just basically exhaust them.
Hunter: Yeah, and that's the thing that should have been done.
Hunter: Yeah. And schools don't really have that infrastructure to handle somebody of my caliber.
Hunter: I don't necessarily blame the school system because it's developed to have a one-size-fits-all because of the funding around it.
Ben: They should have at least given me a treadmill desk though.
Hunter: Yeah. That would be nice. The standing desk that they have now would have probably been helpful. So, went through that whole pattern. And when I was in the rehab, I just said, “You have to give me something that gives me purpose.” So, he got me a job as a logger, and I had to be a logger for like eight months in the woods, punching holes through snow to wrap up big logs with chains. And I went from 160 pounds to 215 pounds.
Hunter: That is like the second puberty stint.
Ben: And was this logging food like fat or you're just like putting on muscle?
Hunter: Oh no, that was fucking injected. I was humongous. I was stronger than I am now pretty much. It's interesting. I've actually wrote a lot about it. Just picking up raw objects rather than being that linear pattern of doing 5 by 5s and stuff of squatting and benching, my hands became thick. My hands have changed back to being a little bit more slender, but the meat of my hands and my fingers, everything transformed because it's a different kind of strength training like you're getting in —
Ben: My brother is a farmer. And you were commenting about my hands earlier, like he shakes my hand and his hands just like enveloped mine, just like eat them up. They're huge, yeah.
Hunter: Yeah. So, everything changed and I think that's when I started to gain appreciation for working hard, and I watched my body transform. I never had a bad body. I was always a lean kid and had–under those kinds of like boy six-packs always. But now all of a sudden, I was like, “Boom, boom, boom,” like ass, thighs, chest, triceps, biceps. And I was like, “Okay.” And then I went to college for a year, and I was on academic probation, and I didn't really get the experience I wanted to be as an athlete. They wouldn't let me compete. I basically just started training really hard in the gym. It was the first time I had ever picked up weights, and I was like, “I don't understand why I want to go to school and study something that I don't want to do when I just want to compete.”
My dream job is to be the crocodile hunter, and I told the academic advisor in there. They're like, “We don't have a degree for that.” And I was like, “Well, I'm out of here.” So, then I get out and I didn't really have any direction. I was a good-looking lean kid and someone told me, he's like, “You should be a model,” because he was already a model and he told me I should do it.
Ben: Of course.
Hunter: I was partying and I jumped out of —
Ben: Especially if you get to model crocodile hunter outfits.
Hunter: Exactly. So, I popped out of a door in my underwear at this house party and this kid was like, “You should be a model.” I was like, “Hell, yeah, I should be a model, bro.” And the next thing you know I had a contract down in Miami and I started modeling, and then I'm traveling overseas, modeling them in New York City, modeling–I did that for a while and it was a thing where–it's almost like when you experience bodybuilding, you want to see the way you could just develop your body. You want to see what length, and like, modeling for me wasn't really–I didn't care about the fashion, I didn't care what clothes I wear.
Ben: It's fun, too. To a certain extent for me, it was like art with my body as the canvas. You're just basically molding it and seeing what you could change, which I think is the draw for a lot of people for bodybuilding your figure.
Hunter: So, that's what I had to do. I had to transform from this now at 215-pound body and I brought myself back down to like 169 at my skinniest and found a way to take my shoulders out here, my waist down to here, my thighs trimming down to like this lean kind of like slender body down here. I was obsessed with that for a while and then I was like–honestly, all I'm doing is working out really hard to take pictures. There's like no real depth to this. So, that's when I moved out to California with a couple of friends and I kind of locked out. One of my buddies in college made a lot of money and he wanted to house all of us–party for a year in California. I didn't have a car because I just moved from New York City and living up in the hills of Malibu, which you've seen before.
Ben: Is that same place at Malibu?
Hunter: Similar spot, just down the range.
Hunter: So, basically, I was like, “I don't have a car. I just have a bicycle.” And I started working as a spin instructor. So, I used to have to ride my bike down the mountain, get on a bus, ride the bus into town, teach a couple of spin classes, come back, and then do a workout. Without even trying, I was already getting like four to five hours of workouts a day. That's when I discovered my first–I did a half marathon. I was like, “I should get back into running,” because I was a good runner when I was younger. Did well there, and then I did a turkey trot, and then I did Gladiator Rock'n Run, and then I did my first Spartan Race, and I was like, “Holy crap.” From that point on, I was like a tidal wave.
Ben: So, your base in terms of endurance and strength was actually pretty massive going at your first Spartan Race.
Hunter: Yeah, totally.
Ben: Just through life.
Hunter: Yeah. I mean, I had probably spent every single week logging 40-hour weeks doing on lines just like [00:21:35] ______.
Hunter: Logging humongous stumps that were so heavy and carrying, basically, like a 30-pound chainsaw [00:21:42] ______.
Ben: So, your career in Spartan I think that–I do have a lot of people who listen, who are in the world of endurance, who watch Spartan races and know about Spartan. I think it's obvious, like you had a really successful career at Spartan. You won multiple championships, you're a podium athlete, you're one of the top-ranked Spartan athletes. For all the years you competed, how many years was that?
Hunter: 2012 until 2017 was the last one I did.
Ben: Yeah. So, like a five-year stint, and then CrossFit happened?
Ben: How did that go?
Hunter: I mean, it was interesting. Imagine anybody who's listening to this podcast, you eventually find that the stimulus that you're putting yourself through in fitness, unless you decide to reach out into another endeavor, like your body will reach its kind of like maximal capacity–
Ben: Or you get bored.
Hunter: Exactly. Boredom, but also, it's just like your body grows stagnant. I'm always a person who's like, I've already told you I'm ADD type of person. I need to have something that's very energizing, distracting. I need to have tons of passion for it or I can't do it. I'm the kind of person who will not do anything unless it's 100%. And I just said to myself, I was like, “I had these two years of doing Tough Mudder. I started to pull away from Spartan and do the things.” TMX was almost like CrossFit on wheels, like it was CrossFit while running. It was an easy transition because I didn't have to get into heavy weightlifting. I just had to kind of do the circuit style —
Ben: That's right. I forgot about TMX. That was kind of like in between Spartan and CrossFit for you.
Hunter: Yeah. And that was a lot of fun.
Ben: And describe that briefly to folks what TMX was.
Hunter: So, they market as the world's hardest mile and it's 10 functional fitness movements. They couldn't use the word CrossFit because of branding, and trademark, or whatever the heck it's called I guess, but wall traveling through a mile with 10 obstacles. So, you could start out and do–first year, we did it like this. You run, you do one obstacle–you do one functional fitness movement then you do an obstacle, functional fitness movement, obstacle, 10 times in a row covering a mile. That was a really brutal style. Then they were like, “We want to appeal this more to somebody who's into CrossFit.”
So, then they started it out with run, hit a circuit of like four to five movements, then four to five obstacles, then four to five movements, then four to five obstacles. That one was a totally different sport now because now it allowed these CrossFit Games athletes to come in, who did very well that year, and be able to take this WOD mentality in structure of their fitness, and basically just hammer through those and then buzz through the rest of the section. So, I had to completely transform my training from this guy who could swing kettlebells and carry sandbags really hard to somebody who can now take like a 95-pound barbell, which is not massive for any of you guys to hear, but anything–if I told you to run 100 feet, if you ran it hard enough, it's hard.
So, you take a 95-pound barbell and I need to be able to rep out like 20 thrusters, 20 lunges, 20 power cleans, 20 shoulder to overhead straight through and do not break. You can put the barbell down for a second, shake your hands out, and then go right back into it. So, then I got exposed to competing against all these CrossFit Games athletes. Admittedly, they're all very talented athletes, but I gave them a good ass whooping, like I crushed them.
Ben: Because there was a lot of stamina and endurance still involved.
Hunter: Yes. You still had to have like a crazy good engine.
Ben: Yeah. And by the way, do they still do those, the TMXs?
Hunter: No. Tough Mudder, this is a whole another tangent we could go off on, but Tough Mudder had to really rebrand themselves. They shut down Will Dean. The CEO of the company left and all this money fell apart. So, now they're starting from scratch again. So, hopefully, they said it will develop for 2020.
Hunter: Yeah. So, they took a year off.
Ben: But that's what got you into doing CrossFit workouts, and before TMX, you hadn't really been doing much CrossFit?
Hunter: Well, I mean, I always did CrossFit style training, but there's a difference between training CrossFit and then training–it's like me saying I body build, but I don't compete in bodybuilding. It's like totally different. One of those people is doing steroids, counting their macros, doing everything, working on their tanning, they're posing. Another person is just growing out in the gym, trying to get some pecs and biceps.
Hunter: So, I was doing CrossFit at very mild level.
Ben: But don't fart on elevators?
Hunter: Oh, yeah.
Ben: Especially with fitness experts.
Hunter: My gas is exponentially worse as a CrossFitter than it is. I don't know why. I think it's because the level of stress that my body's under at all times.
Ben: I can tell you exactly what it is because it happens to me on certain days and it's sympathetic nervous system overdrive, drawn a ton of blood away from your gut. So, everything just sits in there and ferments because it can't digest.
Hunter: Okay. So, I needed that explanation because I couldn't tell–like I would literally be sitting next to my girlfriend and I'm like, “Dude, I just finished this hard-ass workout and I cannot [00:26:08] _____ farts.”
Ben: Yeah. And a lot of athletes are like [00:26:11] _____ low FODMAP, but you need to do high-carb, low-fat; high-fat, low-carb. But all it is, it is like you just donate blood to your gut, like you can't digest stuff.
Hunter: Yeah. And that's probably going to be a problem for me for many years. It sucks. What I was saying though is I basically competed against these guys and I beat them and I feel like I still didn't get the street cred for being like a fit athlete. They're like, “Oh, you beat us and you're a little mud run thing.” And I'm like, “Goddamn it, I'm sick and tired of like–” these guys get pegged as the fittest on Earth and I'm like, “Honestly, I think that's a crock of bullshit because I know so many people would blow your minds.” I'm like, “I got friends who can run sub-15-minute 5ks and bench-like 400 pounds, like there's just freaks out there and they do different things–
Ben: Who can do that, by the way?
Hunter: Just some guys in Hollywood who were just pretty nasty.
Hunter: Yeah. But I mean, the reality is I'm almost there though. I used to be able to run sub-15-minute 5k and I can bench over 300 pounds. But can I run 400 meters while doing high-rep benches, into ring muscle-ups, into walking on my hands? No.
Ben: So, you're saying the missing component of CrossFit in terms of it claiming to be producing the fittest man or woman on Earth would be like the stamina or the endurance component?
Hunter: I would say that it's just–it doesn't like–today is a better example for me. It's such an incredible test of stamina, but then it's also incredible tests of strength but it's not extremely technical strength.
Hunter: There's a barrier to entry there. If you don't have technique, then you can't play the game. It doesn't matter how strong you are because I know —
Ben: Yeah. Maybe a little bit of resilience, too. I mean, like there's the elements, right, like cold and heat and the attrition component of having to fuel not just pre and post but during. There's a lot of little things that happen in these longer events.
Hunter: Yeah. I mean, it's interesting. So, I came to that crossroad where I was like I need to prove to myself that I could at least do what these guys do because I'm never going to–I have this tarring feeling at me every single morning when I woke up and started training again that I was like, “If I don't beat them or at least get the satisfaction of being toe-to-toe with them again in their own world, I'm never going to feel satisfied as an athlete,” because I've won tons of titles in the obstacle course racing. I've been undefeated on broken skull ranch, I've been undefeated in this, I've been undefeated in that, and it's like, “Yeah. Those are things I'm just good at.” It was easy for me, not necessarily easy, but it was just something that I had trained really hard and I was very well-versed in.
Hunter: I needed to get out of my comfort zone and jump in the water with a bunch of great white sharks and just feel that fear and feel that intensity around me. So, within that, it was kind of crazy. As I started to formulate this idea in my head, all of a sudden, the wild card came up. Anybody who doesn't know what that is, CrossFit decided for the first time ever to invite athletes outside of their sport based on merit and other sports to come compete at the CrossFit Games.
Ben: It's kind of smart from like a promotional or media standpoint.
Hunter: Totally. I think it's super badass and I thought it's something they should have started earlier, but I'm lucky I was the first person they ever invited to do it. So, I get the bid. I go in. I competed and they had a cut structure, which basically if you didn't come top, 50% in each workout that you did, you got a cut.
Ben: So, they're like cut multiple times per day?
Hunter: Oh yeah, it sucked. I mean, start from like 150 and then went all the way down to 10 athletes the next day.
Hunter: And it took out a lot of really, really talented athletes because originally, the way it was structured, it was like you could be a specialist and do really well in three to four workouts and have really high points, and then be decently good at the rest. And now, if you screw up on anything and you're not pretty much iron tight with this stuff, you're out.
Ben: Or if those first few workouts in which they're cutting a lot of people don't happen to be something that you're particularly good at, it's just bad luck of the draw.
Hunter: Yeah. That's what happened to me. So, I did well in the first one, which is like a run 400 meters, climb a legless rope, climb 20 feet three times, which was insanely hard, and then snatch 185 pounds seven times, four rounds. All things that I'm decently good at. I'm good at the running, but trust me, running is not easy after you do those —
Hunter: Then the next piece was a row into shoulder to overhead into walking on your hands. Super good at rowing, super good at shoulder to overhead. I never tried walking on my hands on Astroturf. And this wasn't just Astroturf, this is brand new Astroturf. So, if I told you to do push-ups or even hold a handstand in this floor right here, it's very stable. But if I told you to go do a similar movement like a pistol squat on that rug right there even, even those little micro imbalances right there, it fatigues the muscle differently. And I was not ready for that, and I blew up, and I went 100 feet, I think so, and then I only had to go one or two more lengths and I couldn't get it done.
Hunter: And I had so much time left. I had six —
Ben: Dude, that's like sports specificity on the micro level.
Hunter: I know. It drove me nuts. I had six minutes to cover basically like 80 feet on my hands, and I can cover 100 feet in less than a minute, and I can repeat it over and over again. It's something that was emotionally burning me for a little while afterwards.
Ben: It's also where being a seasoned athlete comes in handy.
Ben: People who have competed at the CrossFit Games before probably knew they're going to be hand walking on Astroturf.
Hunter: Yeah. I didn't even think about it, and it's embarrassing, like it's one of those rookie things. Now when I run Spartan races, Joe De Sena taught me this, if you tie your shoelaces regularly and then you knot it backwards the other direction–let's say you do right over left the first time, do left over right the next time when you knot it, it never comes undone. And I didn't know that because he had done so many ultra-marathons and things like that. He taught me how to tie my shoe really quickly. And I never had my shoes come apart at Spartan Race ever again. But so many times before that, I'd be running races and my shoes would come apart, and I'd be like, “I tied that thing so tight. What the heck is happening?” Even something as small as that changed my life afterwards.
Ben: Were you working with a coach at the time?
Hunter: No. I did my own thing. I just wanted to know–I mean, I had worked a lot with coaches and I had somebody kind of be advisor for me, a couple people. But here's the one thing that I'm even realizing now. Here's what a high-level CrossFitter does and here's what a moderate level CrossFitter does. And I basically tried to close that gap so fast that it was just like prone to injury and just bad habits.
Hunter: And coming from this world where I was the best at one thing and this super high amount of volume of endurance and everything, I was like, “I trained 25 to 30 hours a week. I'm going to go try to train 25 to 30 hours a week doing CrossFit.” You can't do it. One task taxes the cardiovascular system, and in some ways, can tax the nervous system mildly, but this is completely on your skeletal structure, your nervous systems, your tendons. Everything is getting fried on a daily basis with CrossFit.
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Yeah. If you measure and they've done this real-time heart rate variability, which is insight into sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system activity while you're doing any type of movement, it is powerlifting. It is heavy barbell loading that decreases HRV during the exercise. The most meaning of anything that trains your sympathetic nervous system, and also stresses your sympathetic nervous system, it is heavy loading under a barbell. There's nothing like it to stress the body, which is great. If you want to get fit fast, that's the way to do that. But it also means that your neuromuscular system is more beat up by that than anything else, which means that if your cardiovascular system is good, your blood has replenished and your ATP pool and your creatine and everything, and your musculoskeletal system has recovered, like the fibers have repaired and regenerated, that means your neuromuscular system because they'll be like two or three days behind still.
Hunter: Yeah. So, that's the interesting thing that I'm at right now. So, I just did CrossFit really hard for the last year. I'm a person who reads books like crazy. I mean, that's how I discovered you and started to get into podcasts. I constantly want to just eat up information and break it down, and try to find out ways to cut corners, and develop myself faster, and make myself fitter in any way possible. This whole year of doing CrossFit, I just keep on pulling in more and more information. And the way that I'm starting to train, it's just I know that it's not good for me. What these guys are doing, to be honest, maybe because they've been doing it for so many years, they might be able to handle it. But to train at their level and try to speed things up or accelerate to that point the way that I'm at, it's just not possible.
Ben: Hasn't the guy who won the CrossFit Games, Mat Fraser, been involved in powerlifting or Olympic lifting for a very long time?
Hunter: Like the young teens and he was training at the Olympic Training Center and everything. So, if you imagine, the guy's almost 30 now and he has probably like 13 years of barbell lifting on his shoulders and legs, he has probably done thousands of reps every single year. So, he's reaching up towards that 20 to 30,000 rep mark.
Ben: Yeah. So, with that being analogous to like Malcolm Gladwell's book about the 10,000-Hour Rule, which applied to chess, it would be the equivalent largely of you attempting to be a chess grandmaster on 2,000 hours this year instead of 10,000.
Ben: So, you still would have like 8,000 hours still left to go to really truly feel as if everything was smooth.
Hunter: Yeah, but the one issue is I'd much rather try to be a chess master than end up having like disc and knee surgery because I've tried to match those guys' levels. It was this terror is a man, an ego–like this ego inside of myself where I'm just fighting. I'm like, “Am I just not good enough, and I want to walk away because I'm not good enough? Or am I just the person who–do I need to swallow the pill that I do not think that taking this challenge of CrossFit further than I'm going right now like in pushing deeper into the training hole is healthy for me?” Because I keep on reading up and trying to find out more information about these guys. I know over a half dozen guys who have been on the podium since the beginning of CrossFit who've had knee surgery. You can't say that about Spartan Race. I don't know anybody who's had surgery for the eight years that I've involved in the sport.
Ben: So, what are you going to do? I mean, do you want to go back and compete a CrossFit and try to see if your body can soak that up after going through at one time just coming back as a little bit more of not a veteran but obviously more experienced [00:39:29] _____ walked on Astroturf?
Hunter: Here's the thing that I'm thinking about right now. This weekend really shifted my brain a lot just coming back into this space because I've been away from it for almost two years. I'm a person of passion, and as I said, I need to be 100% in, and I'm starting to fall out of that place where I was 100% into CrossFit because I'm starting to realize the lifestyle behind it of training four to five hours in a gym just never leaving this space that we're in right now when if you could just go out your door and look outside, look what we're surrounded by.
Hunter: I mean, I live in Malibu, California. It's equally as beautiful as this. United States, I stay inside all day long, and my body is destroyed because of it. I'm not saying the sport of CrossFit is bad by any means. I'm just trying to say that if anybody is in my shoes right now and they're like, “What do I do? I want to get better at CrossFit and stuff.” You can't speed up and try to match these people like it is an incremental gain of just slowly putting on like a pound to every single movement every single month rather than trying to–if the best guy in the world is snatching 300 pounds, I cannot try to train at his numbers, his volume. Some days I'm putting out 30,000 pounds of volume, and that's crazy.
Ben: It's a long road to hoe, and it sounds to me like part of you knows that it's going to be a lot of time in the gym away from nature, which I can tell you love.
Hunter: I love.
Ben: I run into that sometimes, too, at a much smaller level because I'm no longer really competing for the type of titles and at the level that you're competing in. But when I look at the Japanese centenarians and the Sardinian Italians living off the coast of Italy and drinking rosemary tea, and walking in the mountains, swimming in cold rivers, getting lots of sunshine, when I hear that, if I'm in a hotel gym with moldy carpet and a bunch of treadmills and Wi-Fi and fluorescent light, part of me inside knows that I'm really not making myself healthier. I'm getting fit.
Hunter: Healthier, happier.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. And for me, it's hard because the gym is a happy place for me. I love to go and work out. I'll go work out. Even if I'm not signed up for a race or competing for anything, I like to work out. It feels good. It's happy movement for me. It's almost like moving meditation. But increasingly, I find myself thinking, “You know what, this is not what anybody who's living a long time is actually doing.” And maybe it's just getting old, but it's more and more appealing to me to go for a walk and go out and do some push-ups under a waterfall with some rocks.
Hunter: Yeah. I mean, it was interesting. I just competed in the parking lot where a month earlier or two months earlier, I was competing in a stadium with tens of thousands of people. And competing in that parking lot just being surrounded by the outside, I was like, “Wow. This is just incredible.” We were taking sandbags and just running up a fire road. It wasn't even that crazy of a workout. This just feels like me.
Hunter: So, I'm in an interesting place. I mean like, I'm just such a competitive person. I can never be, as I said, anything less than 100%. So, I have to go back from this weekend and really talk to my coach and try to find like a happy medium because I do really–I'm very passionate about competing in CrossFit. I think it's super cool. But I understand that it will come at a cost. So, I still have to find that.
Ben: Take up chest, like I said. The pieces are somewhat heavy. Carpal tunnel is a–it is a risk.
Hunter: I play a lot of Magic, The Gathering, to be honest.
Hunter: Or Dungeon or Dragons.
Ben: Mm-hmm, yeah.
Hunter: Listen, are you a dungeon master?
Ben: I am not, no.
Hunter: I feel like you would be a dungeon master.
Ben: No. I never found it handy for picking up girls, the dungeon master.
Hunter: You know, all the things that I did when I was younger that I knew was going to get the babe-age that I wanted to get, I now have started to bring back in my life because I realized that I hit this point in my life where I was like, “Man, all I want to do is get girls. I just want to pull girls all day long.” It's kind of like this man feeling. You got to lift weights and pick up girls and get in bar fights. And now, I realized that picking up girls does not really make me that happy. It was like a moment in time. And now, I'm going back to all the things like playing instruments. I played trombone for nine years. As soon as I found out the girls did not like trombone, I left trombone behind.
Ben: And then you're going to find that they probably do like it. I think that's probably the babe parabola.
Hunter: Dude, I should have —
Ben: It isn't we're going to make that up.
Hunter: Yeah. Dude, I should have been like John Mayer. Everyone made fun of John Mayer and gave him shit, and then he got really good at guitar and singing, and now he literally could have any girl in the entire world.
Ben: I think that happened with folks like Buddha too, but they had to die first before people like them.
Hunter: I don't think that works. I mean, if you and I die before people like me, I don't think I really get any of the benefits of that.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Well, dude, my audience likes–they like little practical hacks and tips and tricks. And for you, putting your freaking body through CrossFit, like you did having to take the accelerated route recovery. What kind of things were you doing to help you recover as fast as you needed to?
Hunter: I'll tell you one thing. Hanging boots. If you're very, very into lifting weights, you should get into hanging boots.
Ben: Like gravity boots?
Hunter: Yeah. Basically, I'm over 6'2″ when I'm healthy. And with tons and tons of weight lifting, I can go down to 6'3/4″. It's like over an inch lost.
Hunter: Yeah. It's bad.
Hunter: It's just like it compresses the disks, and your joints, and your hips, and everything. You're like this. You're just completely displaced. So, I started to do that and it would alleviate the stress on my ankles, my knees, my hips, and that separation of the joint capsule. And I think maybe that would just allow fluid to get in there and bust out inflammation.
Ben: No. I have gravity boots. I use a jogger trapeze more because it's easier to hang inside for the boots on and off. I find that when I hang from the gravity boots, I can almost swing my hips side to side, almost as like you're–trying to get out of the boots, and you can feel it traction your hip.
Hunter: This one pops out?
Ben: Yeah. Yeah, you can literally feel the popping. Do you have any other little moves that you do when you're hanging on the gravity boots?
Hunter: Typically, what I do is I'll hit like five sit-ups, five hamstring curls, and then I allow myself to really relax. I get tension and then I do extreme relaxing. It's called PNF where you basically contract —
Ben: Yeah, for like that body scan thing you can do before you go to bed at night where you tighten your toes then–get more relaxed than it would normally.
Hunter: Yeah, exactly. So, I started to do stuff like that where I would allow myself to really activate and get into it. I allow myself to pull. I try to really open up through my lats because it's really hard to get upper body stretches. I do yoga a lot and apps like ROMWOD, and I'll talk more about that. This thing right here I'll pull against it and I'll push against it, and it's really open up all the intercostals in here and get my lats going, open up the shoulder girdle.
Ben: Yeah. It's hard to traction the upper body with that. Well, Kelly Starrett has a [00:46:18] _____ ROMWOD in a second, but Kelly Starrett used to be a MobilityWOD and I think he's something else now.
Ben: I forget. Sorry, Kelly. But he has the idea that you attach —
Hunter: Is it game ready or Ready State?
Ben: Yeah, Ready State. That's what it is.
Ben: You basically attach elastic bands to, for example, your wrist, and then you're like pulling away with one in the elastic bands. It's actually like a pole or immovable object. And so, you can basically use an elastic band to traction the upper body. But it is more difficult than hanging from gravity boots. Someone needs to make gravity wristbands.
Hunter: You mean like hang like this?
Ben: Yeah. Gravity wristbands.
Hunter: That would hurt so much, dude.
Hunter: You have to really build up to be able to hang upside down like it hurts at first.
Ben: I don't know. Like clamps with a hook on the other end like a gravity boot except made for the wrists.
Hunter: Listen, I'm willing to try. I got another thing. I guess I mentioned that ROMWOD thing. I have no financial interest in them. I like the Apple. Speak on their behalf, they're awesome people.
Ben: And what is it?
Hunter: It's basically just like–it's an app designed for more CrossFit and functional strength style people because one thing I realize is as a runner, you have a very similar movement pattern. It's a simple movement pattern. It is nice to have some range of motion in there, but it's not super, super key to success.
Ben: And how long would a ROMWOD last?
Hunter: You can do the short one, and that's like 11 minutes. You can do all the way up to 45-minute long one.
Ben: And what type of movements are you doing?
Hunter: It's basically a ground-based program. It just coaches you through and discusses through every single one and there's a video on everything. I'm the kind of person who almost–I don't like going to yoga classes for some reason. It just doesn't fit with me. Every once in a while, I'll just grind–
Ben: Yoga pants are uncomfortable.
Hunter: Yeah. It's kind of creepy. And I sweat so much and I look like a total goofball.
Hunter: Yeah. I remember in one of my first yoga classes, I wore tights that were almost see-through and I didn't know it. And then a girl came out to me after class, she's like, “I could see everything going on your pants. It wasn't sexy.”
Ben: Yeah. As a former underwear model, I don't think you could really make it in a yoga studio.
Hunter: Yeah. I mean, listen, I certainly made people want to do more yoga. So, like the ROMWOD thing, I only mention it because I realized also humongous part of being fit is also being able to get into the positions. It is more stressful on your heartrate in your entire system trying to get into a position that your body can't mobile-y even reach. So, you have to grease those grooves to actually have power, and strength, and mobility, and speed, and endurance in those grooves as well.
Ben: Would you define ROMWOD as more like dynamic stretching, or are you doing like static stretch and hold?
Hunter: All static stretch and hold.
Hunter: Yeah. The basic lift.
Ben: [00:48:47] _____ it up.
Hunter: Yeah. It's easy, it's easy. I mean, I'm the kind of person where it's like if I'm just cruising on my phone, I'd rather do ROMWOD, and the app allows you to come out of it and it will dictate–it keeps on telling you what to do and you'll have to watch the video, and you can just screw around, write emails, whatever that you want to do while it's going on.
Ben: I'll link to it in the shownotes for you guys at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/hunterpod. I want to ask you about sleep, but give me one more recovery tip.
Hunter: Dude, biggest thing is probably calories. I think everybody is super undereating and super dehydrated. I started tracking my water. I have like a 64-ounce water jug that I carry around with me everywhere and I have to take down about two at least a day. And also, doing like a MyFitnessPal and making sure that I'm hitting bare minimum of 4500, and then all the way up to like 6500 a day.
Ben: Yeah. And there was actually a research study that showed that that was, and this was recent amongst female endurance athletes, the biggest problem was just lack of calorie intake overall. And for me, because I have some female athletes will come and hire me to go through their nutrition, and I'll look through what they're eating and they're like, “I'm just shoving food down the hatch. I can't eat anymore.”
Hunter: Like one egg white.
Ben: Pumpkin spice bar for breakfast. Egg white with spinach for lunch. And then they'll carbo-load at night with half their sweet potato.
Hunter: It's kind of crazy. I mean, it's kind of sad, sensitive subject, but I just bumped into another girl who's an incredible endurance athlete here and she had a fractured sacrum. I think it's a very hard bone to break.
Ben: Yeah. It's a very hard bone to break.
Hunter: And she broke it running. That's something that's different for that population, but at least for me, I realize how much I was undereating and I shouldn't basically be eating 10 Big Macs a day just to even hit base level of calories. It's crazy.
Ben: Yeah. Were you using any quantification device that you could wear to tell you about how many calories you're burning?
Hunter: I mean, I did work with–what the hell is it called? I tried WHOOP for a while, and I'm not trying to make fun of their company but I broke it all the time.
Hunter: That's a cool piece of equipment if you're more of a [00:50:55] ______ wild person like myself. I do my Suunto and that would track everything, and those are my go-tos.
Ben: Yeah. And then with the water, I don't know if you've discovered this tiff, but have you tried adding a bunch of minerals like salt [00:51:08] _____?
Hunter: Totally, dude.
Ben: That helps with hydration so much because what I do now is 32-ounce glass mason jar in the morning and in the evening. And the one I'm using right now is called a Quinton, Q-U-I-N-T-O-N, and it's like this super salty seawater. They actually get it from the sea. They isolate it from the sea.
Hunter: You put it in. Is it a liquid already?
Ben: Yeah, it's liquid. And you could pour it straight into your mouth. It just tastes like horribly salty salt water, but then you dump it into like 32 ounces and it's like you're drinking mildly salty salt water.
Hunter: I use this company called The Right Stuff.
Ben: Yeah. I've heard of them before, too.
Hunter: That's incredible, dude. I mean, it's got like 70% of the electrolytes that you need to have for the day. I put that in the jug in the morning and I shake it up and I chug through that thing. For some reason, my body actually really has a hard time drinking just regular water in the morning. So, I almost need to add either [00:51:56] _____ or something else, just like something just to change my–get palate exhaustion from drinking too much water.
Ben: Yeah. I found another thing I like, and I put this in there with the minerals, is how there's all this research now on hydrogen water. It's really good for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and it reduces lactic acidosis if you do it before a workout. But there's this company–it's the guy I interviewed on my show. I'll link to it in the shownotes. It's Robert Slovak. And he has this website where he sells hydrogen water tablets, but they're like raspberry lemon flavored. So, you put a few drops of those in the water and they're non-calorie and they just give us this amazing flavor to the water. But so, you get hydrogen and minerals and you [00:52:34] _____ water.
Hunter: Dude, pass it on your boy. I need some of this stuff.
Ben: Yeah. I'll send you the link later on. Okay. So, sleep. Sleep is obviously–it goes hand-in-hand with recovery. What were some of the biggest things you did for sleep?
Hunter: This is going to sound crappy because I know that you're a very intelligent person, but I've never been a person who slept very much. Last night, I went to bed at 2:30 and I was up by 6:30, and I've been going all day and I won't —
Hunter: I can just be that kind of person. I am a person who's —
Ben: So, you're modafinil sponsorship.
Hunter: What's that?
Ben: You're modafinil sponsorship.
Hunter: What's that?
Ben: That's like the anti-narcoleptic drug that all the CEOs in Silicon Valley used to go for 18 hours a day. It's this little pill called modafinil.
Hunter: They just hang out with me and I'll teach them my tricks.
Ben: Yeah. But there's some people with a genetic variant that allows them to go through a sleep cycle like a 90-minute sleep cycle and like 45 to 60 minutes, and then get by on way less sleep because you can get four or five sleep cycles in like six hours.
Hunter: Yeah. I remember reading about that. Yeah. So, basically, I don't sleep that much. I mean, I do sleep about seven to eight hours a night. Since I started doing CrossFit, I'd go to bed around 10:00 and I can stay in bed until like 8:00 or 9:00. It's crazy impact on my body. My roommate Kempson (ph), he talked to me yesterday about it. He's like, “Dude, you and I have been living on and off together since 2016,” and he's been with me through every form of training, what I've been training for. And he was like, “Dude, when I first met you and you're training like 100-mile weeks and over 100-mile weeks on the bike and over 100-mile weeks on the foot and hitting the gym, you'd go to bed at any time and you were up by 4:00 a.m. like exploding. Now with CrossFit, just because I said the different kind of load on your body, I need to stay in bed longer. I didn't necessarily sleep longer, but I just needed to be in that laying position because I was so crashed.
Ben: Yeah. It's again the neuromuscular thing.
Hunter: A big thing with sleep. Just those super shakes. Like at nighttime, I think when you just get over into that overreaching state as an athlete, usually a lot of it has to do with the fact that your heart rate is still elevated, like I would put a pulse oximeter on myself and try to make sure like I will not work out too late in the evening especially high-intensity because your heart rate will never come down. I'm like a 33 to 29 guy as my resting heart rate when I'm sleeping. I found that I could not go to bed without a certain amount of food in my body if I was still in the 40s,
Ben: Yeah. That's the jerky part because there's all the research on disruption of circadian rhythmicity when you eat too close to bedtime. But all those studies are not done in athletes who are completely emptying their glycogen tanks three hours prior to bed. Did you ever try like a cold shower to get the core temperature down before you go to bed?
Hunter: Dude, this is crazy. This summer, we didn't have–I just called it the hothouse. We had this crappy apartment house in Boulder. It still costs $600,000 and it was a piece of crap house. That's what Boulder become. So, we didn't have any air conditioning and I would be so hot at nighttime and just like sitting on the couch naked, basically. And I would take a freezing cold shower, and then I would take my towel, and I would get it wet, and I would literally put it on my body and lay under a wet towel. And we'd even empty out protein jugs and we'd make swamp coolers. We put it inside of a bucket of water and put a fan over it. And I would sleep with a freezing cold. I'd wrap it up like a baby and I'd sleep with like–did you ever heard of like a hot toddy where you put it and you put it between your legs and you heat it up so you stay warm at night when you're camping? We did a reverse version of that with like a freezing cold bottle.
Ben: I was in Switzerland. I'm teaching at that Swiss health clinic in the Alps for a couple of weeks.
Hunter: That was amazing.
Ben: It was really cool, but it was during the —
Ben: Wave in Europe. And so, it was like 104 to 106 degrees. And I had to do a five-minute cold shower. And then I went to the little town and took like 40 minutes out of the Alps going to town. I found a fan. So, it just got myself as cold as possible. Put the fan on, then you just lay there naked. That's how you fall asleep.
Hunter: Yeah. Dude, every single night is crazy. I actually did a bike race across those same exact Alps during the heatwave back in 2015. Picturesque, beautiful, but one of the worst feelings I've ever had, worse dropout I've ever had–
Ben: I don't know why Europe doesn't believe in our condition yet. Okay. So, sleep, for you, it is having enough calories in your body when you go to sleep. Make sure the body temperature is cool. And then are you using any kind of devices like special noises when you sleep or–?
Hunter: Just that fan kind of like having that white noise.
Ben: Yeah, yeah.
Hunter: As I said, dude, I try to keep things as simple as possible. I almost use only like a training Timex watch like that nowadays because I just want to get all the technology off of me. But the one thing is using a pulse oximeter can be a very basic–
Ben: Pulse oximeter really?
Hunter: Yeah. As I said, I would just put that thing on there. I would see where my oxygen saturation was, read my heart rate, track that very easily.
Ben: The one that stays on the whole night?
Hunter: You don't do it all night. I would just do it for like–I would lay down on the couch and just breathe, and I would just sit there for a second and I'm like, “Okay. This is where my heart rate's at and this is where my oxygen saturation is at.” I can tell that I'm pretty fried right now. I couldn't really change the oxygen saturation, but I could track where I was at. But if my heart rate, as I said, was high, I would have to do a couple things before I would allow myself to go to bed.
Ben: Like the cold or like enough food.
Hunter: The cold, enough food. I would make these super shakes where I'd do about six to eight tablespoons of honey, up to six bananas if I was really up there, and about four scoops of protein, a little bit of heavy cream, a little bit of coconut milk, and a lot of creatine.
Hunter: Yeah. I'd just put a lot of Himalayan sea salt in there, too.
Hunter: It was gross.
Ben: Everyone who's listening in who's trying to lose weight, don't do what Hunter just said. Everybody who's an athlete who can't sleep, try what Hunter just said.
Hunter: Yeah. Everyone's like, “Yeah. I'm going to try it.” And they get like 50 pounds of fat in like a month.
Hunter: [00:58:19] ______.
Ben: One other question regarding sleep. You ever messed around with CBD or any of that stuff?
Hunter: I'm here with a company called Pure Spectrum. They're my sponsor and I've been using CBD for like two years constantly. As I said, I used to love smoking weed and I got really bummed out. As I got older, I just kept on making more anxious. And having that spot where I could like–you know me, dude, I'm a freaking energized person.
Hunter: One if I work out too much, I'm super energized and too–like I had to drink two glasses of wine before I competed the other day at nighttime to go to bed because I saw people like you and I'm like, “Oh, Ben is here,” and then I'm like, “Oh, Ryan's here.” So, the only thing–I'll take almost 200 milligrams a night.
Ben: Yeah. CBD helps. I'm surprised with the number of people who drink wine to sleep who don't realize all wine is just GABA. It's that inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA.
Ben: You can buy GABA at Walgreens. Right. So, people who don't want the alcohol or the calories or whatever from wine, you can literally just go buy GABA from CVS or wherever and it does the exact same thing as wine does.
Hunter: Yeah. I'm sure it's kind of like that casual sipping feeling, too.
Hunter: It's almost like some people just smoke cigarettes like it's just [00:59:26] _____.
Ben: Yeah. There is a social element out of it, yeah.
Ben: That's true.
Hunter: But what that guru is talking about?
Hunter: CBD, yeah. That's one thing. I was having a conversation with–so Atkins came and stayed at my house for a couple of days. He just finished–I'm sure this information is out there, but he went and competed in the–what is it called? The new ultimate–what is that called? Survivor challenge or something quest?
Hunter: Yeah, Eco-Challenge.
Ben: Eco-Challenge, yeah.
Hunter: Yeah, which is like a crazy ultra-endurance race, and he's beat up from it. He comes to my house, he flew from Fiji, comes to my house. He's like, “I'm here for the week until we go to Tahoe.” And I was like, “Dude, do you want some CBD? You must be so messed up.” And he's like, “Oh, dude, I don't believe in that stuff.” I'm like, “How much are you using?” And he goes, “I'd put three or four drops under my tongue.” And I was like, “Dude, I'm taking three or four droppers.” That's one thing that really changed up my game is like I take massive doses of that.
Ben: Yeah. And of course, it depends on the source. They now have what's called phytocannabinoid-rich hemp, I think it's called, with denser sources of CBD. It depends if it's got the terpenes in it.
Hunter: This come by a really high level.
Ben: Yeah. I found some companies–either way, I have to take at least like 100 milligrams, but I found some companies you need like 200, 300.
Hunter: Yeah. Remember when we met with Mark from Primera (ph)?
Hunter: He and I originally started to build our friendship because–
Ben: The secret behind the scene, sleep supplement that doesn't exist yet.
Hunter: Yeah. Dude, trust me, I have been on that phone call multiple times. Well, I can have a great conversation about that. But basically, I would call him and I'm like, “There's no way that creatine–like someone my size who works out as much as I do needs to take out the same amount of creatine as somebody who's like 150 pounds in the gym and they work out four days a week.” And typically, they give out such bad information on creatine these days. It's just like five grams of creatine and that's all you need.
I come from the school where I was reading all these bodybuilding books where these guys are like super dosing 20 grams a day and gallon jugs for a week just to saturate the muscle with it, and then would get on to 7 to 10 grams minimum of creatine. These are strength training athletes. And the same exact thing as I said with–as I'm reaching with CBD, it's like depending on–I think there's not enough information out there for people who are really high training, high performing people where we really need to not only have more calories, we need to have everything on such a higher level.
Hunter: And it took me years as an athlete to find that out because all it meant–like I hate to put down the card that I'm getting older because I'm still young and I'm in my prime, but I can't drink a six-pack of beer and have a couple of drumsticks of chicken and a coconut water. That's my food for the day. And then I just train all day long. Like if I want to get better, I need to eat the right things, I need to do the right things because everything now is like milliseconds practically getting better. Atkins has come second place at the Tahoe World Champ, Spartan Race World Championships four times now in all than less than a minute margin, like on the same freaking obstacle. And not to say that he's not training the right way, but if you just change a couple things, if you took almost a second off of every single obstacle, he would have won the race.
Ben: So, in other words, he's using 70 milligrams of CBD. He needs to be using 80?
Hunter: Total amateur.
Ben: It could change the whole game.
Hunter: Total amateur.
Ben: Only these people knew.
Ben: Alright. So, you're a well-read guy. You mentioned that you like books. I know some people give you a hard time–like you're a meathead or something like that. But I talked to you and you read a lot of books.
Hunter: Yeah. I try to play dumb. It makes things a lot easier in life.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Top books lately–I won't give you a number. It could be one, it could be a few, but anything you've read lately that–or in the past, that's just mind-blowingly good that you think more people should have read.
Hunter: I'm going to actually go into my phone so I can get the exact titles because I just don't want to screw this up.
Hunter: Give me 30 seconds.
Ben: And while you're doing that, I'm going to throw one in there just because it's fresh on my mind right now, and it's “Stillness Is The Key” by Ryan Holiday. Amazing book.
Hunter: So, I just finished reading “Hitler's Last Days” by Bill O'Reilly. I like reading when I'm heavy in training competition about history books, about some of the greatest people in history. And not saying like I'm applauding Hitler for what he did–
Ben: Because you find them inspiring or because they put you to sleep?
Hunter: No. I find them inspiring.
Hunter: Imagine like I am–I'm reading actually another book on Hitler, getting deeper into it because the transformation of who he was and who he became is insane. And what he did is not what I'm trying to applaud, but I'm saying like it's the mentality, and it's the daily practice, and it's the things that he did that blow my mind. Reading about all the generals and the people surrounding him and his thought process of attacking things, like reading about Napoleon, whatever is going on, like I love to read about history because history is basically a great indicator of what's going to happen in the future. And being able to read what the greats did back in the day is a very easy way to direct yourself into those, becoming one of those same people. I do read a ton about exercise science, but I think I'm at the point now where I do read scientific studies and journals every once in a while, just to stay up of date but–
Hunter: Marc Bubbs?
Ben: Dr. Marc Bubbs. It's a really good book. And I'm not just saying this to toot my own horn, but beyond training, I spent a lot of time [01:05:04] _____.
Hunter: Yeah. It's a great thing. I first see that all the time.
Ben: His book was kind of like a fresh well-researched version of that sort of remind me while I'm reading it. It's really good. It's called “Peak,” the new performance. There's one other history one I was going to bring up, but I'm forgetting what it was. It's like the history of the world, like in a very small manual–
Hunter: I like that.
Ben: –but a ton of takeaways.
Ben: Like every single sentence in that book is impactful. I don't remember what it is, but I will find it for you guys who are listening in and put a link in the shownotes. In addition to books, any audios, podcasts, documentaries, any other forms of media that you found to be really meaningful?
Hunter: I'm kind of burnt out on podcasts, to be honest. I think there's like our oversaturation discussions of the same exact thing.
Ben: Well, podcast is the new blogging. I just got one.
Hunter: And there are so many brilliant people in the world, like you're an incredible resource. I honestly feel like people listen to your podcast, and then all of a sudden, they try to do the same exact thing and open up the same kind of conversations. You're only a few degrees away from everybody else. You're one of the people who's at the top, and then there's just a couple of people below you who try to do what you do just like–
Ben: Well, the only reason I'm at the top is because I'm the oldest.
Ben: I'm doing it the longest time.
Hunter: Yeah. You've been biohacking the longest.
Ben: I've been podcasting for long enough to where the iTunes algorithm I think favors me just because I started so long ago that I'm just considered an OG now I guess in Apple. That's my logic.
Hunter: That's pretty incredible.
Ben: Yeah. That's the only reason I could figure out that I'm still up there.
Hunter: But the thing that I try to do the most is I make a lot of phone calls every single day. And with the mentors, I try to reach out to them every single week and I try to speak very deeply on anything. As I've grown older, I communicate everything that I can, any emotion, any question, any–I leave like no stone unturned. I'm in a relationship with a girl right now, and usually when I was dating, people, like if they bothered me at all, I just let that stuff build up and I would just be like, “It's not even worth having the conversation because it's probably going to annoy me even more.” But now, even though I know that I'm going into the heart of a storm, I just dig right in. It's kind of changed my life. That's probably the biggest sources of information for myself nowadays.
Ben: You'll just like pick up the phone and call someone if shits go south or if you just need to know what conversation needs to be had.
Ben: You don't text. You don't IG message.
Hunter: Dude, you want to see something crazy?
Ben: Actually, I know this because you've called me out of the blue a couple of times.
Hunter: Nine hundred and sixty-four unread text messages.
Ben: Oh my gosh, he's not lying, folks.
Hunter: Yeah. I don't read anything like people sent me. I'm just a conversation kind of person.
Ben: That's interesting.
Hunter: That's where I'm kind of getting my sources of motivation nowadays. I think honestly, if you can, one, find great sources of light, meaning, whether it'd be a book or people. And then two, constantly verse that to yourself and other people. That's what I'm talking about–I talk so deeply with you about–I talked to everybody this weekend of what I'm going through, the idea of whether I go back to CrossFit or come back into Spartan Racing just because if I just sit there and do all of it myself, I think I don't really get to really live out the ideas.
Ben: Yeah. One last question I wanted to ask you was about mentorship. Talk a little bit about coaching, but I think of mentor something different. I went for the longest time, years and years as a lone wolf without a mentor. I've read a lot, like books are my mentor, books and occasional conversations with people and their little unique sectors of whether it's nutrition or fitness or whatever. But I never found somebody who I felt like, “Oh, this person finds family important, understands health and fitness, is inspirational, is massively successful, like somebody who could go forth and do things before me and then turn around and teach me the lessons. Very hard for me to find and it's only been literally in the past two months that I have finally found the guy, like the person who I can actually listen to and respect as my mentor.
That's actually why I had to reschedule our show today to be later because he wanted to get on a call with me and I had to take it and I stepped out to call with him. But it's life-changing. I actually have this person now who–it's kind of like–that person I wish I'd always had just to be able to ask any questions and talk to. I'm sure someday, for those of you listening in, I'll have him on the podcast and tell people who he is. But in the meantime–
Hunter: Keep it secret, keep it safe.
Ben: Keep it secret, keep it safe.
Ben: How about you? You've met him?
Hunter: I mean, I have a few. Everybody provides different kind of thing, like Crazy Bobby is an easy one to talk about. I think I've mentioned Crazy Bobby to you.
Ben: Crazy Bobby?
Hunter: Yeah. He's this guy in Malibu. The first time I ever met him I go over to his house and he's just like–my friend told me, he's like, “You got to meet Crazy Bobby. He's like the older fitter version of you.” And I was like, “No one [censored] fitter than me [01:09:49] _____.”
Hunter: So, next thing you know I come over this guy's house and he's got a wrestling mat in his backyard. He's like, “Yeah. I used to be an Olympic Trials wrestler.” I'm like, “I wrestled for 10 years. Let's go.” And he's 55 years old. I think 54 years old when I meet him. We wrestled for like an hour straight. Eventually, he breaks my nose while we're wrestling. I was like, “You son of a–” But from there, I immediately respected him because he was just like, one, not only could he physically handle, back up everything he was saying with physicality, but he is so deeply read like you and that was every piece of the body, like mind, body and spirit. He changed my life.
I'll admit I went through this crazy breakup back in 2015 and I came here and I just was like on this rampage of all I wanted. I kind of hated girls. All I wanted to do is just go out and casually date and drink a ton. I started getting back into drugs a little bit and I was like, “[Censored] this.” And I was working out really hard. I was really pissed off. And I met him in that period of time because I had to rebuild like a friend group. And so, I started reaching out in different directions around L.A. He's like, “Dude,” he's like, “I kind of watch you and–” tell me if I'm being too crude for your podcast. I don't intend to be, but he's like, “You're basically just like [censored] off into the world. I just watch you go on dates. I watch you–“
Ben: That's too crude. I'm going to edit that out. All the minivans just stopped [01:11:06] _____.
Hunter: I don't know who listen to your podcast, so I try to keep it PG this time. But he's like, “I'm watching you go out on these dates and you're just messing around with these girls. You don't get anything out of it. You're just charging the world in your workouts, you're charging the world nighttime drinking, you're charging the world this direction, and it's like none of it is reenergizing. All you're doing is just giving away your energy.” And he started to bring me into the whole mindset of like the Taoist approach to sex life and longevity, and just started to teach me these little things about actually really being intentional with your time, with the person in the relationship, being intentional with your time in the way that you train, and being intentional with the time with the substance that you put in your body.” Because I wasn't in that mindset at all. Honestly, the guy is now 57 years old and–
Ben: And lives in Malibu?
Hunter: Yeah. He lives in Malibu, Park City.
Ben: This isn't like a well-known guy like people wouldn't know who he is?
Hunter: He is really well-known in that area. Everybody knows about Crazy Bobby, but Bobby is not like this celebrity or anything like that. He used to be a really successful stuntman, model, everything like that, and he just always stayed away from the scene because I don't think you've really wanted to be one of those people.
Ben: And I see that guy you mentioned me is like inventing some top secrets of like recovery spaceship thing.
Hunter: Exactly, yeah. So, like a super brilliant guy.
Ben: Maybe I'll have to have him on the show once he invents that. We move and keep that under wraps for now.
Hunter: It's there now, dude. Right now, they're doing testing with the Air Force and NASA and stuff.
Ben: Give people the 30-second overview of what it is.
Hunter: It's a product called stratosphere, which basically is an extreme chamber that you can do exercise in, and you can do almost anything in it. It's big enough like it's probably about a fifth of the size of this room and it can change pressure in altitude extremely rapid rate.
Ben: It's like a–I forget what that's called, like a CVAC machine.
Ben: Yeah. So, take it from the bottom of a mountain to the top of a mountain over and over again.
Ben: They have one. I've seen the one at the upgraded labs in Santa Monica. They have one, but it's not like a giant room. You couldn't work out in it. It's like a pod.
Hunter: Yeah. So, his is uniquely designed for–one, it's going to–I don't want to bastardize this information here, but I'm going to try to give you the rough understanding of what I have. Basically, it can help through revolumizing your red blood cells, things like that, helping out with athletic endeavors, health endeavors. There's tons of research going into it now, but the guy is just a genius. And as I said, he continues to impress me. He came with me to the CrossFit Games this year and he could have competed in the CrossFit Games without even really knowing how to do CrossFit. He's just an intensely physical beast, and also an extremely smart person.
As a man growing up in the world, you almost don't want to allow other males to make you feel insignificant with their intelligence or their physical dominance because you want to be like, “I'm the man in the room.” You know what I mean? And being an athlete, that's very challenging for me because I always need to test myself against other males. So, as I started to put away that ego and allow other people to come to my life and show me flaws and [01:14:10] _____ make them strengths, it changed me as a person.
Ben: Yeah. Wow. So, Crazy Bobby is the man.
Hunter: Crazy Bobby is the man. He's the guy who I eat raw elk heart with during a podcast. Disgusting.
Ben: I ate elk heart for dinner last night and wound up at the parties [01:14:27] _____.
Ben: Well, no. It's [01:14:28] ____ Montana then came here, and he showed up at the party with a Ziploc bag of elk heart and a Ziploc bag with the elk liver. And we had somebody went to 7-Eleven and try to find olive oil and butter. Couldn't find it, so he just slapped those things on the grill. I had some sea salt with me. And it was like salt, pepper, liver, and heart.
Ben: It was actually pretty good, but I was also really hungry, and it was cold.
Hunter: It grossed me out.
Ben: Well, Hunter, maybe like three years from now, I have to have you on the show again as a three-peat. Maybe sooner. I'm excited to see where your life goes in the next few months as you explore the–maybe CrossFit thing or wherever else things go.
Hunter: Whatever I end up doing I'm going to crash something. I'm feeling pretty physically strong these days.
Ben: I believe it, I believe it. And folks, if you're listening in and you want to listen to my other episode with Hunter or just delve into anything that we talked about today, you can go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/hunterpod. I will link to everything. And Hunter, dude, thanks for inspiring people, thanks for being who you are, thanks for being a curious seeker and lover of life. I love you, man.
Hunter: Oh, it's a pleasure, man.
Ben: Alright, cool.
Hunter: Yeah. Thanks for having me.
Ben: Over now, folks.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
Men’s Journal describes him as “the man behind the Spartan race empire.”
Competitor Magazine calls him the “rising star of obstacle racing.”
Men’s Fitness acknowledges him as “the future of the sport.”
Yes, his list of accolades is indeed mighty impressive. Bad boy turned elite Spartan athlete, in 2011 he moved from New York to Malibu to give a shot at being a celebrity personal trainer and model. After running his first Spartan race on a dare, he placed near the top of the field and was quickly propelled into Elite Spartan status, rarely missing a podium.
He eventually partnered with me on the Obstacle Dominator podcast and also appeared on my show in the episode Inside The Masochistic Mind Of The Top Obstacle Racer On The Face Of The Planet.
But Hunter's been up to much more lately…
Hunter McIntyre, AKA “Hunt The Sheriff,”—six-time Obstacle Course Racing World Champion, four-time Obstacle Course Racing National Champion, three-year Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Ranch Champion, and two-time Tough Mudder X Champion— was granted a wildcard invitation to the CrossFit Games for chance to measure his accomplishments against a deep field of proven athletes.
In this episode, we get into that journey from Spartan to CrossFit and much, much more.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-CrossFitter vs. Spartan event results [5:50]
- 3 Crossfit athletes did an endurance/stamina based Spartan race
- Carrying 190+ lb of gear up mountains with a 30-minute head start
- “I wouldn't do a cross fit race with a month's notice, but these guys made it happen.”
- Cross fit is designed for a specific body type: bulky, short, small limbs, etc.
- Ram Roller
-Hunter's transition from troubled teen to champion Spartan racer [11:30]
- On all types of medication: ADD, ADHD, Adderall, etc.
- Got into lots of trouble as a teen
- Loved the intensity of competition, not the training (wrestling and running)
- In rehab and probation for 3 years (in Montana)
- Sought an activity from his probation officer that would exhaust his physical energy: led to a job as a logger in Montana
- Became a model: art with the body as the canvas
- Moved to California, got into marathons, eventually Spartan races
-What it was like moving from endurance to CrossFit training [21:45]
- The body grows stagnant and the mind becomes bored after doing anything for too long
- TMX – the world's toughest mile
- Hunter was able to compete and win in CrossFit because of his endurance background; still didn't get street cred in the CrossFit community
- It's an incredible test of strength, but not technicalstrength; if you don't have technique you can't play the game
- Wouldn't feel satisfied unless he could go toe to toe with CrossFit pros
- Was invited to the CrossFit Games as a wild card (first ever invitee)
- Trained on his own, no coach
- In hindsight, Hunter believes he tried to close the gap between a moderate CrossFit athlete to a seasoned pro too quickly
- Age causes one to lose the luster of training for CrossFit and endurance
-How both of our interests have changed regarding training as they age [40:40]
- Japanese and Sardinian centenarians don't do CrossFit or endurance training
- Difference between getting fit and getting and staying healthy
- Interests change as you rearrange priorities (i.e. what attracts the babes)
-How to recover from intense training sessions as quickly as possible [44:10]
- Hanging (gravity) boots
- Tension, followed by extreme relaxing
- Ready State, Kelly Starrett
- ROMWOD app
- Consume more calories, drink more water
- My Fitness Pal app
- Suunto watch
- Add minerals to your water
-Hunter's tips for optimizing sleep [52:40]
- “I've never been a person that sleeps very much”
- Need more sleep during CrossFit training than endurance
- Keep cold while sleeping
- Have enough calories in the body
- Fan that provides some noise
- Pulse oximeter
- CBD (Pure Spectrum)
- Eco Challenge
-Books and podcasts Hunter and Ben recommend [1:02:50]
- Stillness is the Keyby Ryan Holiday
- Hitler's Last Daysby Bill O'Reilly
- Peakby Marc Bubbs
- Focused more on personal connections than digital media
-How Crazy Bobby changed Hunter's life for the good [1:08:15]
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
– Books recommended by Hunter and Ben:
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