December 7, 2013
[1:54] About Matt Kuzdub
[4:13] What is PUSH?
[10:15] How the PUSH band works
[17:25] The future of PUSH
[19:38] PUSH funding
[23:00] End of podcast
Brock: Hey, everybody! It’s Brock here filling in for Ben Greenfield while he’s off gallivanting around Thailand doing his triathlon camp and doing a 70.3 in an Olympic-distance race a week apart. Crazy guy. I don’t know what he’s thinking. But today, I’ve got Matt Kuzdub in the room with me. I was going to say studio but we’re actually in my dining room. We can call it my studio for the day. And he is the lead sports scientist at a company called PUSH and we’re going to talk about the product that he and his team are developing right now: how, and why, and all of the good stuff about the whole product that’s coming out and hopefully get into some of the journey of how you got to where you are and where the product is today as well.
So, welcome to the show. Thanks for coming by.
Matt: Thanks a lot for having me here, Brock. I’m really excited to be here today and thanks for the coffee. It’s strong so I’ll be talking quite a bit I think.
Brock: Yeah, dude. By the end of the show, we’ll both… our eyes will be bugging out and looking like ehhhhh. I guess, first of all, before I have a sip of coffee I mean, get you to talk about yourself a little bit. Tell us what your background, your education, what got you here doing what you’re doing.
Matt: Absolutely, absolutely. I was always a big sports fan and that sort of lead me into an undergraduate degree in kinesiology. I also competed as a tennis player. After school, I tried to go on tour a little bit, didn’t work quite well. It is tough out there. It’s a bit of a grind…
Brock: Yeah, there’s not a lot of money, is there?
Matt: There’s not a lot of money in it unless you’re at the very top.
Matt: But experience was fantastic and it kind of got the wheels spinning for me a little bit and I wanted to learn a little bit more what kind of separated top performers from the rest of the pack. So, I enrolled in a master’s degree in strengthening and conditioning and got a chance to… after school, got a chance to work with some travelling tennis pros and then this opportunity with PUSH came up and thought it was really interesting. So, I gave it a shot.
Brock: So, you just gave up everything and went whole hog into PUSH?
Matt: I wouldn’t say everything. I still work with some athletes part-time.
Brock: Cool. They’re mostly tennis players then?
Matt: Mostly tennis players, yeah, a few volleyball players… I’d love to, down the road, get into more sports, but currently, tennis players.
Brock: Interesting. Cool. I actually didn’t… We’ve had a few conversations now and that’s never come up. That’s interesting. Yeah. Ben is a huge tennis player.
Matt: Oh yeah?
Brock: We could someday set up a match between the two of you.
Matt: Yeah, I’d probably have to play left-handed though for him to have a chance. Kidding, Ben.
Brock: Zing! Okay, so, most of the time when people come up with new ideas, they come up with an idea for an app, for a newsletter for a company or for any kind of invention, the idea comes from sort of problem that they’re trying to solve. So, then they’ll sit down and realize, okay, my life would be easier or people’s lives would be easier or more interesting or more fun if ‘X’ existed. So, what was the problem that you guys were trying to solve? What was your ‘X’?
Matt: This all started with Rami, our CEO. He’s an engineer but he’s also very… avid Olympic weightlifter. So, he was in the gym about a year ago, or just over a year ago, and he hurt himself and he thought there must be some sort of way where can objectively get some feedback on what I’m going in the weight room. So, he started researching what’s out there, what kind of devices are out there, everything out there, force plates, and linear encoders, these kinds of really technical devices are all research based, lab-based, and expensive. So, he started looking into what these devices had inside them and he said, “I could probably build one of these myself.”
Brock: Cool. So these are all, like all of the devices you just listed, these are ways of measuring force, or velocity, or output or something while you’re lifting weights and not while you’re running or swimming or anything like that? Specific to weightlifting?
Matt: Yeah, specific to…
Brock: Or resistance training?
Matt: Yeah. They can measure jumping as well and how much force you’re producing in those types of movements, but also things like squats and Olympic lifts.
Brock: Okay, gotcha. Okay. Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt the story there.
Matt: No. No, no, no, not at all.
Brock: So, he injured himself doing some Olympic lifting.
Brock: Had to take some time off, anyway. Had this thought of, “I could make a better product.” So, that’s PUSH?
Matt: Yeah, and then he went with sort of an early prototype which was probably as big as a softball and went to his Olympic weightlifting coach and showed it to him and he thought, “wow this is great, you should continue doing this and see where it goes.”
Brock: Awesome! So I saw the device, or at least the… Is it the alpha copy that I saw or…?
Matt: You saw the early prototype and it was both the size of a pack of cards maybe a little bit fatter and you strap it on to just below the elbow, like right on your forearm.
Brock: Right. Now, I understand you showed me the newer prototype? It’s a little bit smaller, a little bit skinnier. Is that the size you’re going to launch with?
Matt: Yeah. In the spring that’s the size we’re looking to do. We have a beta that’s currently getting made and that’ll be in-between the two sizes.
Brock: All right, and people can get copies of it? Like they can preorder the prototype or, I guess, not the completely final version, but the version that’s coming out in the spring?
Brock: Is that what the Indiegogo…?
Matt: Indiegogo campaign. We had two main objective with it. So, the first was to get betas onboard, beta testers, and that consisted of mainly coaches, researchers, athletes.
Matt: So, we’ll have about 100 athletes, which we’ll be sending those out in December to January. They’re going to test it out with their athletes and give us some feedback and then we’ll have the final product ready in the spring and that’s sort of why we launched the Indigogo campaign, to kind of spread the word and start getting preorders for that final version.
Brock: Cool. Okay. So I’m just going to sort of get back to the whole idea of… I can’t remember his name. Remy?
Brock: Rami was in the gym; he’s doing Olympic lifts; he injured himself, and so he wanted to invent something to not get injured or help other people to not get injured. So how exactly will PUSH do that? How will it give him the knowledge, or coaches the knowledge, or athletes the knowledge to not hurt themselves or over exert themselves?
Matt: That’s a good question. Basically the device has an accelerometer inside of it.
Brock: So, like the same thing that’s in, like, an iPhone or an Android phone or something like that?
Matt: But its samples are at a really high frequency.
Matt: Which gives us a lot of feedback on movement that people are doing in the weight room. We have to write custom algorithms though for each and every exercise to be able to tell you how many reps you’ve done and to give you for real feedback on each of those reps.
Brock: Oh yeah, I guess it needs to know the difference between an overhead press and a bicep curl. It needs to know what that movement looks like or feels like or… there’s a gyroscope and an accelerometer, is that right?
Brock: I guess the gyroscope would pick up the rotation. The accelerometer would be the velocity or the movement?
Matt: Yeah, the movement basically… detects movement and from those two, we can get a lot of information.
Brock: So, it’ll actually… if you’re going through, let’s say a complex at the gym or super set or something, it would know the difference between doing a squat, doing a deadlift, doing an overhead press based on the algorithms that you guys have fit into it?
Matt: Exactly. You do have to tell… It is app-enabled and you do have to tell the app which exercise you’re doing and the load that you’re doing it at.
Matt: Because based on the load, we can get a force that you’re applying in that exercise.
Brock: Okay, so I’m in the gym and I’ve got the push on my forearm and I have my smart phone with me. Is it iPhone and Android?
Brock: So you can have either one? And I say, okay, I’m going to do my deadlifts now and I’m going to be doing it with 135 pounds. So I put in 135 pounds, put the phone down, and get to work and it does…? What does it do from there?
Matt: From there, you just press go, you do your exercise and right away it detects. Right after your set, you can review exactly what you just did.
Brock: Oh, so it’s real time? Awesome.
Brock: You just actually look at your phone and be like, “okay, I did, like, 10 reps. I had…” What else does it…
Matt: It’ll tell you how much force you had applied for every rep of that set, the speed of movement, if you’re doing a squat, how fast you were coming up, and then, overall, the power you were outputting.
Brock: Okay. So I guess you could actually use that as watching your own fatigue set in on that workout but would you be able to analyze that over a longer time period so you’re not just looking at today’s workout, but looking over the last week or the last month?
Matt: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So, you can do either or monitor it yourself during that session or look over trends over time and see if improvement’s occurring based on your training program and then you can modify and update your program to make sure that you are in fact improving.
Brock: I know you actually showed me a bunch of this stuff. So I’m acting a little bit dumb here because I have seen it, but for the benefit of the audience, is this… there’s more than just the interface on the phone itself. You can actually log into a website and see all of the information on a much more granular level, much more even bird’s eye view.
Matt: Yeah. Exactly. So you can create a workout on our portal and that workout can get pushed directly to the app. So every exercise and every load that you’re working with can get sort of automatically populated and all you have to do is press go on either of the device or app before every set and it records everything for you.
Brock: Cool. So I see you didn’t list this as one of the problems that you were setting out to solve, but I, as a coach, see this solving another problem which is that I create these workout for my athletes, I can track their running and their swimming and all that kind of stuff using Garmin devices or ______ [12:26], the FitBit or any of those kinds of things. But I’ve always had to sort of take their word for it that they were getting the actual strength workout done. So, what you’re saying is, I could as a coach, set up a workout, say I want you to do this many deadlifts, this many cleans, this many overhead presses blah blah blah blah blah, send it to them, and then my athlete would just show up to the gym and say, okay I’m going to do this workout. I’d actually have physical evidence of them (a) I guess, completing the workout and seeing how they’re actually doing at the workout.
Brock: Are they improving, are they getting… well, hopefully not getting worse.
Matt: Yeah, exactly. With coaches having lots of athletes or trainers having lots of clients to work with, they can’t monitor every second of their workout. I think it’s a useful way to keep track of what they’re up to.
Brock: It is, yeah, I see that as a huge thing and I know that Ben’s whole interest in what you guys are doing came a lot because he really worries a lot about overtraining. A lot of the stuff we focus on, a lot of questions we get on the podcast are about overtraining, being overworked, and this would really give you a way to see if the force… would it be the force and the velocity that’s dropping off that would give an indication of some sort of fatigue, I guess.
Matt: Yeah. I think a lot of the research out there today is looking at velocity stuff. Seeing a drop in velocity during an exercise, either during a set or over time over multiple training sessions, that can be a big indicator of sort of central nervous system fatigue.
Brock: Yeah, and I guess also being able to see that information you’d be actually be able to strive to hit a certain amount instead of just like, okay, I lifted it and it felt pretty good. You can look at it with the real-time feedback and be trying to hit an actual goal of force. Really akin to the way people use power meters on a bicycle.
Matt: Yeah, exactly. So, we actually had a lot of inspiration from a lot of the cycling apps out there. One of them was Strava and they do a great job of tracking and even having a social aspect to their app. So, that’s sort of one of the areas we were looking at, what apps out there are doing a great job.
Brock: I guess that actually brings up another idea or a point if at some point, maybe not right now, but are you looking at being able to integrate the information to Training Peaks or to be able to bring it in to Strava is they opening up their API or allowing you to push information. Do you see that as something you guys would move towards?
Matt: Absolutely, absolutely. We have… currently we have an open API.
Matt: And we’re looking to integrate with various different apps that are currently out there.
Brock: For the audience out there who doesn’t know what an API is, it’s basically an app system like Facebook, Twitter, any of those kind of thing, they’ll have what’s called an API that you can tie into so you can have your application or your website or your sales service or whatever actually communicate with another system. So it’s just a fancy way of apps talking to each other.
Brock: Cool, cool. Yeah, I see that as like, the social aspect is huge. I know a lot of my runners, I coach a lot of runners, and if they don’t put their workouts up on Facebook, they get so much guff from everybody else, like all their friends, all the other runners around them and stuff, and it’s like, they find that to be a huge motivation. And, yeah, you don’t really see that at this point. There’s no way to say things like, “I did a workout for 30-minutes at the gym.” Like, “good for you, did you walk on the treadmill or did you lift something heavy?”
Matt: Yeah, exactly. There are guys out there who talk about, “I lifted this much” or “I benched this much today,” but it’s still not give you a real metric as to what you’re doing in the weight room. So yeah, the social aspect, the competitive aspect is huge. We want to be able to have some certain high profile athletes that are using the device post their power outputs for their Olympic lifts or their squats and things like that. People can follow them and share their own workout routines.
Brock: Do you ever see this moving beyond the gym, beyond the weight room, and maybe, because you mentioned tennis, would you be able to use it for something like analyzing somebody’s tennis stroke?
Matt: Absolutely, absolutely. We have a lot of interest in using it in sports specific applications like a tennis swing or golf swing or a strike in volleyball, and things like that, even swimming and running. Those are kind of…
Brock: You missed a really important one. We’re in Canada right now! You didn’t say hockey!
Matt: Hockey, I know.
Brock: It’s got to be tied into hockey somehow.
Matt: Yeah, maybe. Maybe a slapshot or something like that.
Brock: Yeah, a crosscheck.
Brock: How much force can you get into the guy’s head?
Matt: Exactly. So, those are really interesting areas for us to look into down the road. We can do it, it’s just a matter of testing, really, being able to test all these different things and come up with the algorithms. That’s sort of where the brain power is in all of this. It’s the custom algorithms.
Brock: Yeah, you said you had a bunch of the beta versions out to different universities and different sports clubs and stuff and you’re collecting, I guess, just gigabytes of data from all these different people and I guess the real challenge is, once you have all that data, what do you do with it?
Matt: Yup. Yeah, so, we’ re asking all the coaches to let us know what exercises they’re doing and when we receive all the data, we can kind of start looking into ways we can start analyzing those specific exercises so they can have that information as well. So, we’re rolling out with probably 20 exercises for our beta program and for our final version, we’d like to get close to the hundred exercise mark.
Matt: So that’d be in the spring. And then it’d just be software updates and exercise updates from there.
Brock: Cool, so I know, like, you mentioned that it’s a matter of collecting the data and getting the algorithms and stuff, but it’s also got to be a bit of a monetary thing too. The Indiegogo seems to have been very successful for you for raining money. But to do these constant updates and keeping things going, are you seeking more funding or is it really just the hope that it’ll pay for itself at a certain point?
Matt: No, we are seeking some funding. We’re in an investment round right now that we’re trying to close in the next month or so, mainly Canadian investors so far, but we are looking to move down into the Valley, hopefully soon, and get some funding from there as well.
Brock: Cool. So if any ______ [20:00] are listening out there, we’ll put your contact information in the show notes for sure.
Brock: And we'll actually put in a couple of videos too. I know you’ve got a couple of really cool videos that do a good job of showing what the device is doing and how you could use it in certain circumstances and certain atmospheres and stuff. What else… is there anything else you would want the folk to know about what you guys are doing?
Matt: We also just launched a blog.
Brock: Oh, okay!
Matt: Yesterday. So…
Brock: What’s the URL for that?
Matt: That’ll be on Tumblr actually. Yeah, we’re using Tumblr right now and I can send that information to you, but basically it’s going to be really heavy on the sports science stuff.
Brock: So it’s going to be blog not necessarily just about the product itself, but about all the science around…
Matt: The science around what we’re doing, just sort of what’s out there right now, what are sports scientist researching, and what do coaches want to look for, and that sort of thing. We really want to focus in, kind of, what’s in the cutting-edge right now.
Brock: Awesome. So if somebody wants to go and actually and pre-order a device today, as they’re listening to this app, what would they do? What should they do?
Matt: So, you can still pre-order our device at our website at pushstrength.com.
Matt: And then, hopefully, in the New Year, we’ll have some better ways you can get your hands on a device.
Brock: Awesome. Well, I think that summed it up really well, I feel like that’ll give the folks a good idea what you guys have been doing and hopefully, if you have any questions, post them in the comment section on the website. And, maybe we can even get Matt or somebody from the team to answer some questions if you’ve got some stuff that goes beyond my knowledge of the product. I’ll make sure to involve you guys in that process. And yeah, thanks for coming by. This has been very cool.
Matt: Yeah, thanks a lot for having me. We really appreciate it and we’re always looking for feedback, so if anyone’s out there and wants to know more, please get in touch with any of us.
Brock: Awesome. This is Brock signing off from BenGreenfieldFitness.com.
Have you ever wanted to be able to truly know if you're getting stronger when you train?
How about how much force and power you're producing when you lift weights?
You're about to discover how.
In today's podcast, Brock (filling in for Ben Greenfield, who is off gallivanting about Thailand) interviews Matt Kuzdub, MSc CSCS and Lead Sport Scientist at “PUSH” about a product he and his team are developing, why it is an important advance in strength training methodology and the journey that got PUSH to where it is today.
Here's a video of Matt actually using the PUSH device while performing some sweet power cleans:
In the interview, Brock and Matt talk about PUSH, how to get stronger, and important considerations including:
-If your nervous system becomes overtrained or overworked, force production at high velocity is going to decrease and you will begin to lose power. Until now, there was no way to effectively measure that.
-When Ben is training himself or working with a client, there’s currently no done-for-you, simple way to get a quick glance at true force production and strength metrics in a quantified way. But now there is.
-When you’re doing a tough strength workout, it can be very easy to hold back on strength – often because you don’t have a goal in mind or can’t measure your force production in real time. This allows you to overcome that obstacle.
-Strength, speed and power are three essential elements that Ben describes in “Beyond Training” as some of the most neglected components of many training programs. This device allows you to set goals and measure all three.
-This device has huge applications for coaches, trainers and even parents. During the workouts Ben does with his clients or kids, he could use this to track their development as they train for powerful, explosive sports like tennis, soccer, basketball, etc.