[Transcript] – The Most Efficient Exercise Machine Known To Humankind – Massive Strength Building Results In Just 15-20 Minutes Per Week – With Mike Pullano of ARX.

Affiliate Disclosure


From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/mike-pullano-arx/

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:00:57] Podcast Sponsors

[00:04:52] Guest Introduction

[00:09:02] The science behind ARX and its development

[00:14:22] How was this machine invented?

[00:16:43] How does the concept of the single set-to-failure work?

[00:25:29] What are the other effects of this style of training?

[00:28:33] Frequency of workout sweet spot

[00:33:53] What are the key workouts that are good for most people?

[00:36:11] Podcast Sponsors

[00:39:41] cont. What are the key workouts that are good for most people?

[00:45:23] ARX Modalities and how to understand data on the screen

[00:57:24] OMNI and ALPHA machines

[00:59:05] Things to combine with ARX machine

[01:07:53] Special deals and discounts

[01:12:20] Closing the Podcast

[01:13:19] Upcoming Event

[01:15:32] End of Podcast

Ben:  My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.

Mike:  Time is one of those things that most people would say is the reason why they don't do any exercise. And so, I think the single set-to-failure idea is just really attractive to those people who are like, “Hey, I don't need to be in the Olympics. I don't need to be the best biggest possible version of myself. I need to be healthy. I need strong bones. I need to clear some glycogen every once in a while. And, I got to be able to run around with my kids and keep up.” If that's your thing and you want to do it in a time-efficient manner, the single set-to-failure thing is great. It's super simple, you just got to make sure you're working hard enough to actually make it impactful.

Ben:  Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.

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You have probably heard me talking a little bit lately about this giant robot that I fight in my gym two or three times a week now. It literally is like a robot, a bunch of cables and handles and weird pieces of apparati coming off of it with a giant computer screen dashboard that quantifies everything that I'm doing. And, basically, it kicks my proverbial ass for about 15 to 20 minutes. It's a very advanced piece of exercise equipment. It's built with a 25-horsepower engine. And, I figured the day I'm stronger than 25 horses. I ought to go try out for, I don't know, powerlifting in the Olympics or something. But, it's really my primary means of strength training of late unless I'm on the road traveling in which case I'm still hitting the kettlebells and the free weights at whatever little hotel gym I happen to be in or using my blood floor restriction bands and doing calisthenic style training. When I'm at home, two or three times a week, I pop in and I do basically one single set-to-failure on, in my case, primarily the chest press, the pull-down, the deadlift, the overhead press, the row, and the squat. 

And, this whole idea of single set-to-failure training is something that has been fleshed out in the literature is a very effective way to train, it's something that I got into back when I read a book called “Body by Science” by Doug McGuff. But, this machine takes that to the next level. It's called the ARX, stands for Adaptive Resistance Exercise, I believe if my memory serves me. Although I worked out on it this morning so I might have too much blood flow to my muscles and not enough in my brain, so my guest today will be able to set me straight if necessary. But, it's this mashup of single set-to-failure training and super slow training around two minutes per set for anywhere from four to eight different exercises depending on what you choose, gives you a perfect rep with every rep. And, unlike a traditional weight machine where you adjust the weights with the pins or plates, you don't actually set the resistance, the machine instead applies resistance in direct proportion to what you're producing at any moment through the entire rep. I mean, both pushing and pulling.

This thing is crazy. It's one of those things that most often at least in my experience has appeared in commercial gyms, but there's a lot of biohackers, self-professed biohackers at least, getting into this technology for home use as well. One of the guys who introduced me to this thing, his name is Mike Pullano, and Mike is the chief product officer at this company at ARX, which is now considered to be the world's leader in computer-controlled motorized resistance technology. Mike has a real passion for biomechanics and Physiology. He studies the nuts out of this stuff. He lives in Austin, Texas where he claims to spend 11 minutes and 46 seconds exercising each week. So, I don't know, he might even be hacking into the minimal effective dose more efficiently than me. He's got a bachelor's in science in sports and recreation and tourism from the University of Illinois. And, I've had several conversations with him about training and he really knows his stuff, especially when it comes to using this style of training to get very strong in a very short period of time. So, as we discuss this whole concept of ARX and single set-to-failure training, how it works and how you can get into this, all the shownotes are going to be at BenGreenfieldLife.com/ARXpodcast. That's BenGreenfieldLife.com/ARXpodcast.

Mike, welcome to the show, man.

Mike:  Awesome to be here, Ben. Yeah, it's been fun to watch it from afar using the machine and tracking your numbers and stuff like that. We could talk about some of that, but you've had it for about five months and I just love seeing some of your posts and just how it's working for you.

Ben:  Yeah. And, from what I understand this computer even though I have it always in airplane mode or offline mode just because I don't have Wi-Fi, so I occasionally will tether it to my phone and upload some data. So, I guess you're a little bit of a fly on the wall as you alluded to from afar, and can see some of my data which we can get into if we have time.

I have to ask. You say you spend 11 minutes and 46 seconds exercising in your bio that you sent over to me. Is that true? Are you just doing 11 minutes on this thing per week?

Mike:  Yeah. So, when I say that, that got about eight years' worth of data that we've been tracking for my ARX database. And, my typical workouts are going to be once or twice a week. And, that 11 minutes and 47 seconds or whatever it is is the average of time that I'm actually fighting the machine. There's rest time in between there, but yeah.

Ben:  Yeah. Alright, cool. Because, yeah, I rest as well. There's a few sets where I will go from set to set like I found the sweet spot like I'll go straight from the deadlift to the horizontal chest press. I'll also go from the squat straight into the overhead press. And, I've found that from a cardiovascular standpoint, I mean, I'm through the roof cardiovascularly when I go back-to-back on some of these sets with no rest. But, in most cases, you need to step away in between each single set-to-failure. And, for me, I'll just hit the AirDyne for recovery a little bit or walk on the treadmill or bounce around the gym or do a little bit of core exercise and come back to it. So, you're saying 11 minutes and 46 seconds of actual work time is what you're at.

Mike:  Yeah, like time under tension. Fighting the machine is about 12 minutes a week is what I average.

Ben:  Okay, that makes sense. I would love to hear your description. We'll have plenty of time to get into the science of this and best use protocols and some of the very interesting data that you get from it.

But, describe the ARX to me, just how this thing evolves and how you would actually describe it to someone on a very long elevator ride. We've got more than 30 seconds.

Mike:  Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, generally, the things that I say to people at parties is we make resistance exercise machines that use motors instead of weights. And, it's all controlled and tracked by computer software. So, that's the shortest version I would give somebody. And ideally, that's something that we have a longer conversation about as to what's the value of that stuff. But, generally, the main thing to know is we're using motors to create the resistance during your exercise instead of weights. So, we're taking gravity out of the equation. That's step one. And then, because we have a motor now as the source of resistance, we can use computer software to tell that motor how far to move in one direction, how fast to move in one direction, when to pause. We could send all these instructions to it, which are the things that we as we're going in the gym and we're just going to do a bench press set today, we're tracking those and there's a lot of opportunity for human error there, a lot of opportunity for human inconsistency. Did I do the range of motion exactly the same on that squat as I did last week or did I cheat a little bit? I can't remember, did I do 300 pounds last week in the squat or 315? If you're not really monitoring a lot of that stuff, we do a lot of guessing. 

Because we have the motor because then we can add the computer software on top of that, it offloads a lot of the difficult parts of resistance exercise that we all have been struggling with in gyms for a hundred years or more. And, we're just offloading it to the software, offloading it to the technology. So then, the thing that you work on I'm sure is you just work as hard as you can in the moment and then you're just getting instantaneous feedback on the screen of how are you doing compared to last week, last month, your best ever.

Ben:  Okay, got it. So, this engine, when you say a 25-horsepower engine, it's literally attached to these cables that feed through the machine. So, when I, for example, put an overhead pull-down bar attached to the cable, that's just fed in through the engine of the machine and then the computer, the dashboard I'm looking at as I'm doing this workout is then quantifying the amount of force that that machine is pushing or pulling against me with?

Mike:  Yeah. So, a couple clarification points here. One, it's only a 2 horsepower, so no need to go more than that just because we're not that strong.

Ben:  Oh, my gosh. Now, I feel like an idiot because I've been telling everybody 25 horsepower. And, it does feel kind of silly because I'm like, “Is anybody even stronger than 1 horse?” So, 2 horsepower, still impressive I suppose as long as we're not talking about ponies.

Mike:  Yes, exactly. So, yeah, it's like the myth of ARX, it just keeps growing.

Ben:  Okay.

Mike:  One day it'll be 100 horsepower.

Ben:  I'm probably responsible for that myth. And, you're right, it is going to be a 100, yeah, stallion power at some point. But okay, so 2 horsepower.

Mike:  Yeah, totally. So, it's just 2 horsepower motor, but that's more than enough that we're talking about in compared to–we're talking hundreds, thousands of pounds of force that this thing can create. And, you also have the OMNI, so we have two models FYI for everybody listening. Ben has the OMNI, which is a cable-driven machine and we also have the ALPHA, which is a sled base more looks like a leg press, chest press row device but doesn't use cables. 

But, at the end of both of those mechanical systems is a motor. So, the way that you transfer force throughout your OMNI goes through all these cables and pulleys. And, at the end of it is a chain and a motor. And, that's the thing you're fighting and pushing against. And then, we also have a measuring device that is located at the motor level that is telling how much force you are creating against that motor at multiple times per second. That's the thing you're seeing on the screen. That's the thing we're graphing.

Ben:  Okay. Now, who invented this thing?

Mike:  Yeah. So, it's just an idea that has been around since about the '70s or '80s to use motors instead of weights. This kind of goes back to the Arthur Jones Nautilus days. The problem is is back then, the technology really wasn't mature enough, wasn't cost-effective enough to even to utilize in a setting like we are right now. So, in about 2010, we first started putting motors on a machine. And, that was a very crude version of what you see today. Didn't have the computer readout, didn't have any of the self-driving features that you know and love today where you can just push a button and the thing moves to position A, it moves to position B, and then control speed. All that stuff came much later, but the initiation of the idea started in around 2010 through 2012 and we were testing it here in Austin, Texas at Efficient Exercise, which is a high-intensity straight gym that Mark Alexander, our co-founder, discovered. So, we were toying with these ideas a long time ago and then it started to really develop. 2015-'16 is when we started to create the versions of the machines you see today.

Ben:  Okay.

Mike:  That are much more technologically advanced. But, you could just put a motor, you could go find a forklift and get a hell of a overhead press. But, that doesn't mean it's safe, it doesn't mean that it's commercial ready, it doesn't mean it tracks anything. So, there's a lot of ideas of how to fight motors but then how do you optimize that whole entire equation so that it's actually safe, effective and efficient.

Ben:  Yeah, there's a lot of subtle details built into this thing including and we can get into this, the customization of the actual length or range of motion that the limb moves through because it's different from person to person. So, everyone who uses it has their own unique profile in the computer. So, it's automatically adjusting the exact angle of my knee bend when I start a deadlift where I end the deadlift and back up. So, you can adjust range of motion pretty specifically on it, which is just one of the smaller built-in features that I think makes a big difference. But, I would love to, before we get into some of the features, hear a little bit more about the science of this concept of single set-to-failure training because correct me if I'm wrong, this thing really is designed aside from perhaps maybe a warm-up set, I suppose, to be one single set-to-failure with a pretty significant time under tension.

So, can you explain to people what's going on physiologically or biomechanically in that type of scenario and how the concept of single set-to-failure works because you kind of get the raised eyebrow and especially in the biohacking industry that these people don't work, they're trying to shortcut training, got to be at the gym for 60 to 90 minutes to get a true workout? And, I think that in some cases, that is true I think that if you're sitting on the couch with six electrodes on your abs trying to get a six-pack abs while you watch a documentary that's one thing. But, I think that the amount of sweat equity put into this thing in a very short period of time justifies the short amount of time spent on it. But, I'd love to hear you explain single set-to-failure training how this works.

Mike:  Yeah. So, I will correct you a little bit. You can't absolutely use the ARX technology for single set-to-failure. It's kind of where it was born out of, but it is severely matured over the years in terms of what it's capable of. So, you could do single set, you could do a bodybuilder, high volume, negative only training. You can do isometric training, bone mineral density.

Ben:  Why didn't you tell me this five months ago, dude? I've been doing a soul-crushing workout every time and I've never really messed around anything traditional with it. So, this is good to know.

Mike:  In the end though, our technology is really universal for pretty much any program you want to go after of which a lot of people like the time efficiency and the overall simplicity of doing a single set-to-failure on our technology for a lot of reasons. 

So, let's just, one, talk about where does that idea come from a single set-to-failure. That has been around and was highly popularized in the '70s, '80s, '90s by the Nautilus company who makes a lot of weight machines and specifically a guy Arthur Jones. Now, that was then taken by Dorian Yates and that was then taken by Mike Mentzer who are these well-known bodybuilders. And ultimately, what it's trying to do is what's the best amount of science that we can put into a exercise, a set of exercise to make sure that it's time efficient and highly effective. And, if you're a bodybuilder back then, do you have to spend hours and hours in the gym doing it kind of the more traditional way, which is I do medium amount of tension and resistance and I do multiple, multiple sets of that just creating tons of volume, just creating that stimulus to the body that like, “Hey, there's some damage here, we need to repair it and then grow bigger.” That's the simplistic way of looking at it.

And, if you really have three hours to do that and you love doing that, by all means, have at it. But, most people don't. And so, what the guys back then were trying to figure out was, well, what happens if I just tax the muscle to its maximum? And, we're talking about high levels of intensity. These is grunt-worthy workouts. There is no chatting while you were doing a leg press. You're deep in the fatigue. These are some difficult places to go that most people are not going there. But, if you were capable of going there, we can train that. What would happen in the body? They toyed with this for years and ultimately saw huge, huge gains and benefits in people. And, it really was a paradigm shift for everybody out there who thought you had to spend hours in the gym every day in order to pull this off and do tons of volume. And, that was the genesis of it.

Flash forward to who you just referenced Dr. Doug McGuff who's a good friend of ours writes a book 12 years ago called “Body by Science,” takes a lot of those principles that happened in the Nautilus days and add some new research on top of that, some new findings and as well as just his own discovery. He's run a facility for 20 years that optimizes for this category of training, single set-to-failure. And, that book really just took everything that was happening in the '80s in the bodybuilding world and brought it more to your high-performance people, the time-strapped parents or executives out there and they're like, “Wow, if I could get all the benefits of a multiple set multiple effort two, three times a week training program and I could do that all-in-one training program one day a week kind of thing with one set and it only takes about 20 30 minutes, then fantastic.” And, that's the stair-stepping timeline that we're at.

And, flash forward to where we are today, which is ARX's recorded over 600,000 workouts and we have a lot of people that use this type of training. And, everything that was happening back in the Nautilus days, everything that Dr. Doug McGuff talks about has been proven by our customers and their customers time and time again for the last 10 years. And, that we also have been able to quantify it at a level that other people have not. So, that's kind of where the evolution of all this has arrived is we knew this stuff worked, we saw people growing, we saw people getting benefits, then we put some quantification to it and some software and we said, “Okay, we can actually point to by how much now.” And, we can actually see that this is working in terms of strength improvements, DEXA scans, all the new modern-day technology that we have to quantify gains. And so, it's been proven out. I would consider this as settled as it could be that this stuff works. And, it has a very specific goal. It is supposed to be the most effective, the most time efficient. That does that mean is the only type of workout that you should be doing.

Ben:  Yeah, I would never claim that this would be the ultimate protocol, especially for functional fitness or athleticism. We're primarily talking, in my opinion, correct me if I'm wrong here, Mike, about strength. And, I actually want to hear a little bit more about the idea that Doug McGuff presents in his book, this idea of peripheral blood pressure increases resulting in a really nice cardiovascular response when you've got a single set-to-failure high time under tension type of training. But, I think we're primarily talking about strength because I don't know if you saw the recent systematic review and meta-analysis by Schoenfeld, but at least he was involved with it. I think it might have been Ruffalo who kind of oversaw the most recent meta-analysis. But, it was basically this idea that you don't need to go to failure when it comes to hypertrophy. And, it was pretty significant to find that resistance training performed a momentary muscular failure is simply not superior to non-fail failure base resistance training. And, there might be a little bit of an advantage in training to failure for trained individuals who do need to push themselves a little bit harder. But basically, this is a lot of what Schoenfeld's been talking about recently is well you got two options for hypertrophy, you can go low load high rep or high load low rep. But, neither results actual failure in order to generate the type of metabolic stress that results in muscle hypertrophy.

And so, when it comes to muscle hypertrophy or for those not familiar with that phrase, just basically getting bigger muscles, you don't have to do single set-to-failure training. But, if we're talking about efficiency or especially inroads into strength, I think that's where the beauty of this type of process lies is for people who really want to get strong not necessarily bulk up or put on a lot of muscle even though you do gain or maintain muscle in my opinion, but this would be, I think, the primary effect would be strength. Am I correct?

Mike:  It is definitely one of the things that most people are getting out of an ARX workout no matter what they do really set and rep combinations. And, I think to the point about the Brad Schoenfeld comment and what they've discovered is there's a lot of ways to elicit change in the body. And, it's really what are you trying to optimize for. So, if you just want to see hypertrophy, well, it's pretty easy to just knock out a bunch of volume at moderate intensity if you have the time. If you don't have the time, then that becomes less of a desirable pathway for you. You might want to start looking at something that's more intense for a shorter period of time to achieve similar results. 

So, I'm not discrediting anything that Schoenfeld and his team have done, I'm just saying that there's a lot of things to optimize for out there. And, time is one of those things that most people would say is the reason why they don't do any exercise. And so, I think the single set-to-failure idea is just really attractive to those people who are like, “Hey, I don't need to be in the Olympics. I don't need to be the best biggest possible version of myself. I need to be healthy. I need strong bones. I need to clear some glycogen every once in a while. And, I got to be able to run around with my kids and keep up.” If that's your thing and you want to do it in a time-efficient manner, the single set-to-failure thing is great. It's super simple and you just got to make sure you're working hard enough to actually make it impactful.

Ben:  Okay. So, what are the other effects that result from the use of this style of training? Have you guys looked into bone density? Have you looked into cardiovascular stimuli? I mean, how many bases are we covering when we do something like a 20-minute protocol on the ARX from a physiological standpoint?

Mike:  Yeah, totally. So, let's just talk about a little bit of the idea of Adaptive Resistance first because it's going to wear a pillar up from there. So, if we're just talking about I'm going to do a single set of chest press on an ARX machine, you got to realize that when you are pushing off on your first rep, you're giving your best effort positively and your best effort negatively and the machine is matching you the entire range of motion. And, that is consistently hitting you with different levels of resistance every inch that you move positively and every inch you move negatively. And, all of the studies that you just referenced were all done with weights, so they're not really seeing the full benefits of what a perfectly optimized concentric and eccentric positive and negative side of the range of motion can do for you. 

And, when you're doing an ARX workout, let's say you're doing a set of six, at first, you're doing a lot of high tension because you have a lot of high force capacity and you're doing strength workout for let's just call the first three reps of that set. Then, we're getting into rep four, rep five. Now, we're starting to see some fatigue but we're still creating moderate amounts of force. So now, we're closer in that hypertrophy range, we're getting higher reps and we're lowering the resistance and it's all happening dynamically. I'm not changing anything. I don't have to do drop sets. I don't have to do bands or chains or anything. 

And then, you get into later repetitions. And now, I'm getting that metabolic fatigue, and it's all happening dynamically. I'm just doing the best I can every single rep, but I'm getting the benefits of strength, getting the benefits of the muscle damage and the hypertrophy zones. And then, as I get later in the set, as you referenced earlier, you are really gassed like you are huffing and puffing and your body's been working for two minutes straight at whatever capacity it has. And, with the way we always see it is you're getting all three of those in any set on ARX that you're giving high effort towards.

With the weight, you have to typically optimize for one of those three. So, if you want to do really high-strength stuff, you're going to do what powerlifters do, put a lot of weight on a bar, lift it once, twice, maybe three times, and then pause and rest. You can't just continue on into the hypertrophy zone because you're exhausted and you have to change the weight. And then, you can't continue on to reps 8 10 12, which is the metabolic conditioning area because then you'd have to reduce the weight even more. So, with a weight in the static number, it's just difficult really to do something so dynamic. And, that's what we love about our workouts is you can do that single set-to-failure and you can hit all three of those adaptations just in a single set working as hard as possible. And then, we can watch it play out on the screen with numbers. That's the thing that matters the most.

So, I kind of wanted to start there and craft it for people who've never used the machine.

Ben:  Okay, got it.

Now, when it comes to the frequency of workouts, some people will say do it once a week, some twice, some three times. What do you think is the sweet spot for the workouts? And, I suppose I might be putting the cart before the horse here because my workout that I do is actually influenced by kind of the old school single set-to-failure training multi-joint approach. Meaning although I think I have 20 plus different exercises to choose from on the ARX OMNI, including things like curls and push-downs, I essentially chose the big six. And, that's almost all I do 99% of the time. Deadlift, chest press, pull down, squat, overhead press, row, and each of those last about two minutes. So, assuming that I'm doing whole body like that and someone's listening and that's where they're going to start, what's the frequency of workouts look like? How much recovery time do you think is necessary? I realize it varies from person to person, but about how many times per week do you think would be the most effective way to use this thing?

Mike:  When you're starting out, specifically on ARX, you are going to do once or twice a week. Probably twice a week is the place where most people who are newbies are going to start. You are going to do compound movements exactly as you're doing, like a leg movement, a push movement, and a pull movement. So, it sounds like that's how you're organizing everything and you're going to be in that one to two sets of each one of those. And, that's going to be two sets of four or one set of four, one set of three, or one set of five and one set of three. There's a lot of ways that we can mix and match, but generally speaking, you're going to end up around two minutes of tension. You're going to fight the machine during a chest press for about two minutes and you're going to do it as good as you possibly can do it for that two minutes. And, that is something that has worked time and time again for let's just call it your first three to six months. 

Then, once you start getting stronger, then your workouts because ARX is only mirroring back what you give it. So, as you get stronger during that process, you're no longer a newbie anymore, you got 50% stronger, which is totally common for people who are coming off the couch specifically. Now, you're 50% stronger which means your body is giving that machine 50% more effort and it's giving it right back so you have a larger stimulus that you have to handle that you didn't have on day one. And so, you might have been going twice a week but those were very small hits of stimulus, very small efforts. Your effort is growing now six months later because you're stronger and the machine every day just automatically adapts and gives you exactly back what you're capable of and you might have to go once every fifth day now, once every seven days now as you continue to get stronger in your development.

Now, if you're going for strength, you're going to need longer rest periods and you're going to make that a priority. If you're going for hypertrophy and growth, you might be trying to tighten up that training and do it more often, get more volume in over time, and care less about strength, care less about metabolic conditioning. And, that's how we always see things is it's the shifting sands. But, the best answer to this is let's go and do some workouts and let's look at the numbers that are on the screen, which is a huge benefit of having computer software in front of you to show me, “Am I improving and at what level?” Because if I'm not improving, maybe I do need to back it off.

Ben:  Right. If you don't meet or exceed the previous workouts performance, then unless you're just working out for the mental stress relief benefits, you're actually not really making any significant gains as far as strength and potentially even overreaching, right?

Mike:  Yeah. So, you're optimizing in that case for I want to feel good and there's tons of benefits from doing an ARX workout or any exercise neurologically great. But, that's not going to mean that you're maximizing for strength, that's not going to mean that you're hitting levels for muscle growth or metabolic conditioning, it just means I'm optimizing for that one thing. And, in the beginning, most people just need to optimize for a general blend of all three of the ones I just mentioned: strength, hypertrophy, metabolic conditioning. And, if you're doing a single set-to-failure on an ARX machine, you're going to hit all three of those because the machine dynamically adjusts all of the resistances according to what you would normally do in a weight world with drop sets and all various weight changes that would be required to hit each one of those. And, you can knock that out for three months and then decide, “You know what, I feel great, I'm back to wherever I was a year ago, five years ago, 10 years ago and maybe now you have a different goal of I'm going to go do an Ironman. Well, now your goal has changed so now we need to optimize your workout differently. But, generally speaking, everybody starts about once or twice a week doing six to eight reps of a single leg press, a single chest press, a single overhead press.

Ben:  Which again would be about two minutes or so for that.

Mike:  Yeah. Time and retention is going to be right around 90 seconds two minutes and most people cannot go any longer than that. And, for somebody who's not familiar with high intensity resistance training, you think, “Well, how long can two minutes be?” An eternity when you are working your ass off.

Ben: Yeah.

Mike:  It feels like an eternity sometimes.

Ben:  Yeah. So, in terms of that workout that I just described, do you think that's pretty good or do you have other workouts that you have found to just really work for a large number of people on the ARX that are key workouts? Because the computer program is quantifying everything I'm doing, but you don't actually log in and see, I don't know, a tonal or a peloton or something like choose a specific workout, you're just basically looking at the list of exercises and dragging and dropping in, which ones you're going to do then pressing start. But, do you have any favorites in terms of something in a dish into what I've just described that there would be some examples of solid workouts on this thing?

Mike:  Yeah, yeah. So, let me ask you a real quick question. What are you currently optimizing for with that organization of exercises the way that you're doing it?

Ben:  Full body strength.

Mike:  Okay. You want strength, okay?

Ben:  Yes, preferably as functional as possible from a multi-joint standpoint.

Mike:  Right. So, you're doing compound movements, so more than one muscle group at a time. That's a squat or a bench press. It's not just your tricep in the bench press, it's multiple muscles that are all working in concert together.

So, if that's your goal, then you want to do it very similar to how you have it right now, which is you are hitting a push movement, a pull movement, and a leg movement. And, I think you're doing it in superset fashion.

Ben:  Yeah, mine's upper body push, upper body pull leg, and then another upper body push, upper body pull leg type of movement. Again, chest press, pull down, deadlifts, overhead press, row, and squat.

Mike:  Yeah, totally. Absolutely great program that you have set up there. And, you are choosing to optimize for strength so you're doing about how many reps did you say per set?

Ben:  It comes out to about eight reps. And, I know that the computer, the software has the ability for you to choose how much time you want to train or to just simply stop once you reach a certain percentage drop off from your max, or to simply choose number of reps. And, I generally just go number of reps. My mind works well with that just like, “Hey, I got to do eight,” so I'm going to do an eight.

Mike:  Yeah. So, I think where you have started and based on what your goal is, that's a really good program. Not everybody can start off by doing six different exercises that last about two minutes of time. In fact, the majority of people cannot. You're highly trained individual, so therefore you can handle more intensity for longer.

Ben:  Let's talk about blood tracking. There's a really, really slick platform called InsideTracker. They not only test your blood but they give you this amazing action plan that gives you personalized guidance on your exercise, your nutrition, your supplementation. You can connect with your Fitbit or your Garmin. Basically, that means you get real-time recovery pro tips after you complete your workouts. This thing's like having a personal trainer and nutritionist and blood work interpretation expert in your pocket. And, they do blood, they do DNA, they do fitness tracking data, and some really smart cookies, specifically scientist in aging and genetics and biometrics designed the whole platform.

So, if you want to know exactly what's going on inside your body with no guesswork, InsideTracker is the company that does that and they do it really well. You go to InsideTracker.com/Ben. That gets you 20% off their entire store. That's InsideTracker.com/Ben.

Look, you may or may not be aware of this, but I spend countless hours each week, knee-deep in the latest research on everything from performance, to digestion, and gut issues, to hormone optimization, anti-aging, fat loss, mental performance, hyper-productivity, nootropics, smart drugs and a whole lot more. And then, for the very small select number of VIP clients who I work with on a weekly basis, I take all that knowledge in over 20 years of experience optimizing the human body. And, I supply each of my clients with the exact fitness, nutrition, supplementation, biohacking, and lifestyle plans that they need for full optimization. I'm incredibly thorough. I dig through every last shred of your data, from blood work and biomarkers to DNA saliva, to stool and urine. I walk you through the whole process. I even track daily metrics like sleep rhythms and heart rate variability. 

In other words, I'm the CEO of your health and my number one goal is for you to be a high operator. Basically, like the Navy SEAL or whatever industry you happen to be in, whether you're a hard-charging executive, elite athlete, or a father, a mother who just wants to get the most out of life and wants a no-guesswork program that allows you to wake up in the morning and know exactly what to do, and also know that somebody's watching your back and taking care of everything for you 24/7. I do all that for you.

Not only that, but I've trained a team of elite coaches, so even if you can't work with me because it's outside your budget or because there's no openings to work with me, you have full access to a well-trained team who have learned all my knowledge and who meet with me on a monthly basis for office hours to continue to learn more and to talk about how we can deliver to you the most benefit using a very unique combination of ancient wisdom and cutting edge modern science that's constantly developing based on everything that we learn and then apply to you.

So, if this sounds like it's up your alley and you want to join the ranks of those who have access to every last shred of knowledge and experience that I've gained over the years, then you can go to BenGreenfieldCoaching.com to get started. It's BenGreenfieldCoaching.com. Fill out the form there. Someone will be in touch with you within 24 hours to get you fully dialed in because it's time for you to start looking, feeling, and performing the way that you deserve. So, go to BenGreenfieldCoaching.com, select any option that works for you from a monthly phone call with me to VIP upgraded work where I'm taking care of everything for you 24/7. It's all there at BenGreenfieldCoaching.com. See you there.

By the way, I do track neuromuscular repair and recovery using heart rate variability for the first month or so after I got this device. My nervous system, it was pretty fried for about four days. I just would sleep like a baby at night after I use this thing. It seems now I'm pretty much recovered after about 48 hours or so.

Mike:  Yeah. And so, whether or not that's true or not, we'll talk about that in a second. But, the main thing to note here is that you are able to start this program, you're able to guess that I guess about where I should be and then you let the numbers dictate to you whether or not you're recovered. You let the numbers dictate to you whether or not your drop-offs per set is in what we think is the 20 or 30% range. That's about what we like to see on somebody's set to know that we've sent the stimulus to the body at an effective level like something good is going to happen because of this. If you just do one set of one rep every day or once a week, you're not going to see much improvement. You haven't elicited a strong enough signal to the body to force it to change. And so, you are already a highly trained individual; however, you're not highly trained when it comes to maximum eccentric load because that's something you've never really had an opportunity to do and so you own an ARX machine.

Ben:  Right.

Mike:  So, these are levels of tension that your body is not used to. And so, it makes sense in the beginning that you struggled a little bit as everybody does to not even relearn just learn how to create that neuromuscular firing, that neuromuscular recruitment to hit a maximum of eccentric chest press. And, that's going to be pretty intense on the front end. And, this is what I'm saying is everybody goes through this learning, they all have to do it, it just depends on how long does it take you until you start to get to the place where you are now, which is, “Hey, I've been doing this for a while,” my body is like it knows really high eccentric load, it knows high levels of tension and I can handle it. But, in the beginning, you couldn't because you'd never seen it before. And, when we start people off, we know that everybody has to go through this learning curve and it's great to watch on the computer screen as it happens because you can watch people's graphs change. All of a sudden, their peaks get higher, their lines get smoother, they can create force for longer. You watch this development happen in people just doing sometimes one set of six of three exercises. That would be the very baseline starting protocol for somebody; a leg movement, a chest movement, and a row movement like a push and a pull and a leg movement. So, three exercises for about 90 seconds but done so optimized resistance via ARX and at a high level of intensity. You've got to be working hard in order to get away with really, really efficient workouts like that.

Ben:  Okay, got it.

So, in terms of the workout, you think that this idea of full body push-pull actually works pretty well?

Mike:  I love that idea.

Ben:  Okay.

Mike:  I've been doing that myself for eight years. That's how we train all of our customers and that's how they train their customers. And, if you wanted to do isolation moves, a bicep curl on tricep press down, you can also do those. But, when we're talking about general fitness, the general population, how are we going to help the most people around the world, you're going to want to do these big compound movements that incorporate large muscle groups and are a holistic approach.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. Okay.

So, in terms of what this actually looks–by the way for people who might have been, I don't know, paleo effects or some of these other health conferences and seen this apparatus, this ARX machine there, people will step up to the plate and try it and just absolutely be crushed. I've seen people lying on the floor afterwards, people just like me screaming as we go through a set just the entire body shaking as we finish that last rep. And so, it's certainly something that especially when you first get it, I mean it really puts you through the ring or I don't feel as though it really beats me up quite as bad after having used it for a few months. Is that because my body's grown accustomed to it? Is it because I've kind of checked out, I'm not working quite as hard because I'm kind of used to the machine and checking out mentally a little bit? What do you think?

Mike:  The ARX machine will scale up or scale down to whatever you want it to. If you are at a place where you just want to coast and be strong at that level for the rest of your life, great, just keep hitting those same numbers over and over and over again each week and that's your goal. If you want to really push yourself, well you might have to increase the intensity. And, at some point, we all kind of plateau because psychologically, it's super hard just to gear up for some just grueling grinding workout that is just going to put you on your ass. And, that's really not what most people want, that's not really what I opt for anymore. I do go to high levels of intensity but I just don't go to, yeah, I'm not puking after.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah.

Mike:  And, I don't think that's desirable. I don't think it's necessary for what you just said about Brad Schoenfeld's research. It's not necessary to go to that level. It's fun to tell the story or it's fun to post that on Instagram about how hard you work, but it's not necessarily necessary.

Ben:  Yeah. It's nice to know you can though if it's a very busy day and you're like, “Hey, I'm doing nothing today except this.” Or, you've got a long-haul plane flight the next day and you just know you're going to be sitting on that plane the whole time and in full-on recovery mode anyways. I'll choose either the ARX. The other one I'll occasionally do is an electrical muscle stimulation workout. Those are probably the two hardest types of strength training that I'll ever do when I do want to dig really deep mostly from an efficiency standpoint or a limited exercise time standpoint. So, that makes sense.

I have some specific questions to ask you about the actual modalities themselves that appear on this screen. So, do you mind if I throw some rapid-fire Q&A at you in terms of how this thing actually works from the dashboard standpoint?

Mike:  Yeah, yeah, let's talk about it. I mean, I just might point out. Anybody wants to come see these, you can just go to our YouTube channel. You go to our website and watch a workout and then you'll see the screen, you'll understand what's going on here. But yeah, I'll try to do my best to kind of visualize it for people listening.

Ben:  Okay, cool. I'll put some videos too in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldLife.com/ARXpodcast. And, you guys did include when I got the unit a bunch of an old video library that walks you through a lot of this stuff. But, the first is “travel time.” Travel time. And, I assume that's not the amount of time that it takes for me to walk out to the gym and get on this thing. So, tell me what travel time is for each of these sets.

Mike:  Yeah. So, because we have a motor, we have a computer that can control it, we can tell it how fast to move in each direction. So, in this case, travel time means in a bench press, chest press, it's going to be seven seconds positive and seven seconds negative. And, we're going to control that at the motor level. Like in the cable system, in the OMNI that you have right now, that's going to let out, slack at about seven seconds on the way out and it's going to pull you back at seven seconds. That's your travel time. So, if you're working hard the whole rep there, that's a 14-second rep that you just did.

Ben:  Okay. So, it's simply the amount of time per rep travel time is.

Mike:  Yeah, yeah, per rep that the machine is moving.

Ben:  Yeah. And, from what I understand, I can set that up so that I could instead of just saying I want to do eight reps in a set, I could say that I want to do X number of seconds per rep. And so, I could choose to do 10 seconds up, 10 seconds down, seven up, seven down, 20 up, 20 down, whatever I choose. And, if I were to choose 15 seconds up, 15 seconds down, obviously an eight-rep set is going to take significantly longer than if I were to choose half that for my travel time, right?

Mike:  Yeah, those are going to be brutal. But then, keep in mind, you can also independently control each side of the range of motion. So, on the concentric pushing side, you might say I want to go at five seconds. And then, on the eccentric side, the lowering portion of the range of motion that has way higher force capacity, and I might want to spend more time there to create more damage on my system, I might accentuate that and do 10-second negatives, a 510 [00:47:48] _____.

Ben:  Okay.

Mike:  You can control all of that at the motor level. And, this is what I was talking about earlier where that's the stuff we think about when we push off with a bench press with a weight, and you kind of hope that you get the timing right and you got a spotter that maybe is counting it out or you're counting in your head. You just offload that all to the technology and you can accentuate either side of the range of motion or do perfectly match seven seconds each way. It's all controlled by the computer software. That's travel time.

Ben:  Okay, got it.

Now, what about the “pause time” that you can select per rep? Is it best to just not pause at all? Or, what have you found to work well in terms of the amount of time in between each rep like the inter-rep rest?

Mike:  Yeah. If you are optimizing for metabolic conditioning, you want to be huffing and puffing at the highest level. You want to clear as much glycogen as possible and you are looking for that fat burner style, then you're going to do probably no rest in between any of the reps and almost no rest in between all of the sets. And so, that would be pause time of zero.

Now, if I was going to optimize a little bit more, like I do personally for hypertrophy strength, I'm going to have little three-second pauses after every rep. I want to give my system an opportunity to clear all the byproducts that are building up in my muscles. And, that could be a five-second rest, that could be some people do a 15 or 20. I think Carl Lanore is doing a 20 or 30-second rest in between every rep.

Ben:  Is that the host of the Superhuman Radio podcast?

Mike:  Correct.

Ben:  Okay.

Mike:  Yeah, yeah. Carl's out there getting innovative and he's like, “Well, how do I optimize for strength improvements?” And, you would want to have a lot of rest time in between your reps. You can program all of that. And so, it's just consistent every time. Every rep has a 20-second rest and then it starts again.

Ben:  Yeah. And, I've done little adjustments here and there. For the squat, I think I have that one set up for a longer travel time. I think there's a slight pause between each rep. And, for the chest press, it's different. So, you can kind of change from exercise to exercise. But, the next question I have is the number of reps or I suppose that might also reflect the time under tension, is there an ideal time under tension that's been studied or that you guys have found to work well? Because again, I think I'm about a 1:50 to 2 minutes or so per set. But, have you found people doing 4-minute sets, 1-minute sets, or is there any real secret sauce when it comes to the amount of time per set?

Mike:  Yeah. Because we have so much data, I'm actually able to see how long people are doing things for and ultimately how many sets of each one that they're doing, so sets total that they do per workout. And, generally speaking, most people are in that 7 seconds, so a 14-second rep and they're doing that for about 90 seconds to 2 minutes, give or take, right?

Ben:  Okay, yeah.

Mike:  Give or take. That's the sweet spot to start in. And then, you start asking yourself the question, “What do I want to start optimizing for?” And then, you start playing with all the variables.

Ben:  Okay, got it.

Now, you mentioned that you can do more traditional-style strength training on this. And so, I was actually planning to ask you if I could do more than one set per exercise. And, it sounds like if I weren't going to absolute failure, I actually could do a traditional strength training routine on this where I could superset whatever chest press and pull down and deadlift and squat and row and overhead press and do three to four sets per exercise if I wanted to.

Mike:  Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And, that's exactly what the research that we dated with Western Colorado. We did a study in reverse, ARX versus [00:51:12] _____ moderate-intensity weightlifting.

Ben:  Okay.

Mike:  And, the program that we set up there is two sets, and then it was a superset with a chest press in a row. And so, that's kind of how that we did the research there. We recommend that to a lot of people. It's highly, highly effective and it's scientifically smart.

Ben:  Okay. Alright, got it. So, the next question I have is when you're looking at the screen, there are a few terms with which I was a little bit unfamiliar like inroad and then there's one that shows your max force produced I think eccentrically. What are some of the main things to pay attention to when you're doing an actual set? Do you know the part of the screen that I'm referring to?

Mike:  Yes, of course. Let's talk about the way that the software reads force and then ultimately what the software reads is like feeding back to the user. So, we're measuring every little moment of force that you're creating multiple times per second. And then, we just graph that out in front of you. And, that's what the software reads. And then, we say, okay, well, what's like when you're doing an eccentric, the lowering portion in a bench press? What's the highest number that you created there? Okay, just that portion of the range of motion, just the return back to your chest moment. And, we say that's your eccentric max. So, that's a good number because that's peak force output on the eccentric side.

Ben:  Right.

Mike:  Then, you also have a peak force output on the concentric side, the pressing side, which tends to be sometimes two or three times less than the eccentric side. Both of those are valuable numbers.

Ben:  Which by the way is not uncommon. Everybody's stronger eccentrically resisting because you've got your, I mean honestly, your bones are resisting along with your muscles. And, when the muscles are being lengthened like that, everybody's stronger in the eccentric phase, right?

Mike:  So, this is the entire reason why ARX was created is because weights don't adapt to that exact thing you said. We all have known for a hundred years that we are stronger lowering things than we are pressing, but we chose technology in the form of traditional gravitational weights. That's static. It doesn't change. It doesn't adapt that. But, when you put yourself in a system like ARX that adapts and gives you the maximum eccentric capability for position 15.5 but then you get down to position 15.6, your range of motion or your leverage has changed and your force capability has changed. And, that number might be higher or lower depending. And, we want to track this, we want to see which one at what point in time is getting higher or lower. 

But, always, always, we are able to create more force eccentrically than we are concentrically. And, that is sometimes at the level of two or three times more force on the eccentric side. And, when you just lift the weight, you're limited by how much you can push off your chest, which is the concentric portion and that's a bummer. So, we want to track those numbers and they both mean things in terms of fatigue throughout a set. We're looking for probably 20 to 30% fatigue on your eccentric max peaks. So, this would look like a bunch of up-and-down peaks and troughs and troughs. And then, you would just see the highest peak of your eccentric would be 100. And then, when you can no longer get an extension peak above 70, we know that you fatigued 30% of your eccentric.

Ben:  Okay.

Mike:  And, that might mean your concentric is down by 50%. And, those are just two different numbers to track. All that stuff kind of makes more sense down the line, but that's what those peaks are for not only to show peak force output.

Ben:  Okay. Alright, got it. What about the inroad, outroad? Is it inroad and outroad?

Mike:  Just inroad. That's the term we took from Dr. Doug McGuff. And, inroad just means how much have I fatigued. And, if you're doing the inroad mode there, you might set a limit of 30%. And, it kind of gives you these lines like I said earlier. If you're doing a chest press and you push the hardest number and the highest number, you could get is a 100 pounds of force. The next line is going to draw in inroad mode if you set it to 30% inroad, 30% fatigue is going to be at 70. And, we're just going to keep doing reps until we can't reach 70 pounds of force. 

And, that's really, really valuable because now I'm guaranteeing myself that I'm not over training and I'm not under training. And, a lot of people end up under training because they don't know when to stop, they don't know when they've reached a certain level of fatigue. It's like cooking a steak on a grill without a thermometer. You're just really not sure when it's done. And so, we guess a lot. But, with ARX, you don't need to guess, you just look at the number and say, “Have I achieved 30% fatigue? Yes or no?” And, if not, I might have to do another set, I might have to do a couple more reps, whatever the case is.

Ben:  Yeah.

Mike:  I can just look at the software and it dictates me. But, that's what inroad is.

Ben:  If I'm looking at how much I was able to produce on the first rep and the amount of force drop off, the percentage of force drop off after that first rep, is there a certain percentage of force drop off where you think you're really getting minimum benefits after this point?

Mike:  Anywhere after 30% for me personally. And, what I've seen with people seems to be pretty deep levels of fatigue is.

Ben:  Is that 30% of what you were originally producing or a 30% drop off?

Mike:  So, yes, we find the maximum number that you achieved on your eccentric portion of a workout. So, when your arms are fully extended away from you, you hit 100 pounds. Okay, great, that number is going to draw a line across the screen at 100 pounds. And then, I'm just going to keep doing reps until I hit maybe 80 the next one, and then 72 the next one, and then I hit 70. I say, “Okay, cool. I know that I've done 30% inroad fatigue compared to my best number that I did this set.” And then, it's going to just draw a line and give you some numbers and show you a little percentage next to it. 

And, this is all based off of the eccentric max. You could do this also off of your concentric peaks as well. And so, that's two different ways to train, two different things, two different systems that we're trying to train. But, generally speaking, I'm looking at what is the differentiation between the highest point that I did eccentrically and then 20%, 30% from there. I make a decision about like, okay, when do I want to say I'm done? And, I always feel after 30% seems diminishing returns.

Ben:  Yeah, okay. Alright, got it.

One other question about the actual logistics of this thing. And then, I want to get into some of the fun biohacking things you might be able to combine with it. But, the two models, you said you have an OMNI and you have an ALPHA. From what I understand, the OMNI has a greater range of available exercises that you can do on it, right?

Mike:  Yeah, correct. So, we went to market knowing that we wanted to create something that was the most time efficient. It's really what we sell at the end of the day to anybody out there who's trying to think about investing in one. The thing that we sell to everybody who uses ARX is like this is the most efficient thing that we can put into a product. And, in order to do that, well, you can't have a whole room of machines that you got to bounce from machine to machine to accomplish the job of just getting the stimulus of exercise. So, we decided to do two machines that have encompassed most of the most important what we believe compound exercise groups, exercise movements, and a couple selectorized isolation movements as well. And, that's why we've created the two machines where the ALPHA crushes on efficiency because you could do a leg press, a chest press in a row, which is what most people need in life, and never leave the seat never make really any significant adjustments. The OMNI is slightly more complicated in the fact that you might have to do a belt squad or a deadlift and then move to a pull-down and you might have to clip a handle onto something.

Ben:  Okay.

Mike:  The ALPHA doesn't have any of those attachments or anything like that. But, everything we've done in terms of how we've designed a product is meant to be what is the absolute most efficient way to do this that is not a high learning curve, it doesn't require a lot of [00:59:00] _____ around with stuff so that we can make things efficient and save people time.

Ben:  Okay, got it.

Now, I want to talk a little bit about things you could combine with this. I think it was maybe Jim who set up my unit who had mentioned to me that, for example, some people will put on blood flow restriction bands when they use this thing for the BFR effect. Other people have mentioned that since I have this full body electrical muscle stimulation suit that would be interesting to combine an ARX workout with that, although I don't know if I'm as masochistic as that would probably result in delivering to me. But, what have you found in terms of modalities you can combine this with either doing things in between each set or things that people are wearing or doing during the set as far as additional things that could be sprinkled in just for fun and games?

Mike:  Yeah, for sure. So, I've done a lot of them. And, let's just start off by the first thing you need to do is work as hard as you possibly can just doing workout. Then, if you want to start adding things on top of that, support it and stack–I'm a huge fan of stacking things. Generally speaking, if you are going to add BFR, blood flow restriction, know that the level of intensity of that is not for everybody. It is super intense. It is the craziest pump you've ever had. I mean, you can go ahead. I know you have the cuffs, but I've used the KAATSU system over the years and it's really intense really fast. So, ARX is already super-efficient. We're talking about minutes per week that you're investing. Then, you're going to make it even more efficient by adding the KAATSU or B Strong or any of the blood flow restriction devices that are out there. Take that one step further and start adding neuromuscular stimulation. So, this is your NeuFit.

Ben:  Like a NeuFit or Katalyst or something like that?

Mike:  Yeah, yeah. So, a couple of those devices specifically that do direct current, please try to find one that does direct current because that eccentrically elongates the muscle and so does an ARX machine when you're doing the negative. And, that level of intensity is also not for everybody, but holy cow, the recovery that's required when you have maximal mechanical eccentric stimulus and maximal electrical eccentric stimulus is the highest level I think that is possible to put your muscles and your brain to the test. So, if you're down for that, if you're trying to reach the highest levels of peak optimization, by all means, have at it. Also be weary, it is a bear to recover from.

Ben:  Do you band both the arms and the legs when you do that?

Mike:  I have done both. I would recommend you separate. I would recommend you do upper body and lower body separate.

Ben:  Right. So, you'd wear the upper body cuffs stirring the upper body movements and the lower body cuffs during the lower body movements. 

Mike:  Yeah. I'm saying I'm doing a set of six bicep curls at again these slow reps are 14 seconds reps. I mean, by rep four or five, the level of burn is just insane in your biceps. So, when you add the blood restriction, it is an amplifier.

Ben:  Yeah.

Mike:  It is already something intense that you're walking into and then you are making it more intense. By doing that, just know that that comes with recovery on the back end.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. Okay, got it.

Now, what about any type of supplementation? I had a fascinating podcast. I'll link to it in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldLife.com/ARXpodcast with an old school bodybuilder named Milos Sarcev who's very into, for example, use of some nitric oxide precursors, arginine, citrulline, would often sip on amino acids during the workout to enhance the blood flow delivery of the amino acids to the muscle being worked, obviously a fan of creatine. In some cases, he would use I believe was GlycoFuse like a potato-based starch for the carbohydrate replenishment and even greater pump during the workout. Is there anything that you guys have found combines particularly well with this type of super slow high eccentric single set-to-failure type of training?

Mike:  Yeah, yeah, totally. So, I was going to mention all those things. And, the best part of what we do is when we add something external to the workout, a supplement, or we do a sauna beforehand, or take, yeah, do creatine monohydrate, we have data to show instantaneously whether or not that is actually helping us or hurting us. And, all of those three things you just pointed out are all the things I was going to recommend because they all work. We see a significant improvement in either total output during a workout, peak force outputs can go up, and sometimes it's all of the above.

The other thing I would add is we have a Morozko Forge cold tub. And, I put people through workouts all the time at our headquarters. And, what I noticed once we got the cold tub was doing cold exposure, probably in that three-minute range as everyone recommends. Everyone kept coming back to me like, “Hey, I just did 15 more on my leg press.”

Ben:  Wait, wait, it was post- or pre-?

Mike:  Pre-.

Ben:  Okay, yeah.

Mike:  Doing cold before the workout dramatically improves people's ability to push and force.

Ben:  I experienced that a few times over the summer where I'd sit in the Morozko Forge because I have found that cold, especially on a hot day, can really enhance the work as long as it's not excessive. Excessive cold seems to inhibit the neuromuscular function, but a quick one to two minutes for me at about 32 to 33 degrees makes me feel unstoppable in the gym, probably due to the adrenaline and norepinephrine release. But, you've found consistently that cold pre- this style of training seems to amplify the effects.

Mike:  Yeah. And, I mean, these are people who just went and did the cold tub, never told me, walked into the room like I have a little gathering thing I do. And so, there's 10 or 15 people hanging out. I don't know what everyone's doing and then they just keep coming back to me like, “Why are my numbers up so high?” And, I go back and I ask them questions and then I eventually arrived at, “Oh, you're doing the cold before now. You were doing the cold tub before.” And, I think a lot of it has to do with neurotransmitters. I think that's a huge part of this. But regardless, that stuff works. And so, if you have access to cold exposure before, hop in there, grab a nitric oxide supplement, do not get to the place where you're shivering.

Ben:  No, it's literally one to two minutes I think is all you need.

Mike:  Yeah, yeah, just get that hit of like, “Oh, my god, I'm alive.” That feeling that happens in a cold tub and then go do your workout. And, what's great is we have quantification right in front of us to gauge whether or not that works.

Ben:  Okay.

Mike:  And, that's what I love doing with any of these technologies, any stacking.

Ben:  Okay, got it.

The other thing that I've found interesting is doing the blood flow restriction training prior with this machine called the Vasper. And, this is getting pretty advanced, but I keep a LiveO2 exercise with oxygen contrast therapy device next to the ARX. It's a 21-minute workout and I've found those two are turkey and cranberries. I'll literally go out to the gym, do a Vasper workout, which takes 21 minutes, get on the ARX and go through my–usually it's about from 12 to 20 minutes on that and I'm in and out in about 45 minutes. That one-two combo especially during the BFR training prior to doing the ARX, it's probably one of my favorite workouts that I do right now. Obviously, I realize that that's a lot of expensive equipment and kind of a hassle to deal with all that. But, if you have a setup like that like a Vasper with oxygen contrast next to the ARX, even if you own a gym like one of these newer biohacking facility type of gyms, that one-two combo works really well. Have you run to anybody who's doing anything like that?

Mike:  Yeah. So, just so everybody out there, we have a lot of customers who have started some of the earliest biohacker gyms all going all the way back to 2015. And, a lot of those customers have invested in Vasper units. We know the guys well at Vasper. And, BFR training, and they have saunas, and they have cold tubs. And so, at scale now, we're starting to see what things are working well together. And then, we also have a lot of individuals like yourself, Ben, who have all of that stuff in their house. And, what's great is the stuff that we see that works the best together is the stuff you would assume it does based on the science. 

And so, when we talk about what's the benefit of Vasper training, well, the benefit of Vasper training primarily is going to be it has the blood flow restriction and it creates the signal to the pituitary to create more growth hormone. It's essentially what the core pitches. It's a great, great hack. So is the same thing with blood flow restriction if you just have some bands, just does it at a less level. I would recommend you could do some of the blood flow restriction beforehand but not hyper-intense and optimize your setup before you do an ARX workout. But, after talking to Sebastian and the guys over at Vasper, they agree that the thing to do in between ARX workouts is the Vasper, is the blood flow restriction, the cold tub, because that growth hormone is going to help with recovery from the ARX workout. So, you could stack them together. It's going to get real probably time intensive and pretty intense overall. But, I think the best way to do it would actually be to split those up and add the blood flow restriction growth hormone stimulus on the days off from ARX.

Ben:  Yeah, okay. Alright, got it. Super fascinating. I do know that we're also going to–I think we have. Even though this unit is expensive, we have a deal on it I believe. Do you recall what the special deal is that we have for people if they want to get one?

Mike:  Yeah. So, we're offering some discounts on some shipping up to $500 and then we also are inviting access to our team and our director of education to do some private one-on-one stuff for your coaching, which is not something we offer to everybody. But, yeah, if you're getting this for your house, there are some basic things you can do but then eventually you want to have fun and you want to have these deeper level conversations, that's where our team can really be of assistance to keep you progressing.

Ben:  Oh, wait, walk me through that again. So, people are getting a coaching program with a person from ARX or how's that working?

Mike:  Yeah, yeah. So, we're going to give you a custom coaching program. We're going to be on the call with you during your training and you're going to have access to our director of education to make sure that we are dialing in the necessary training protocol for you, your goals, your family, your business, whatever the case is. Everyone's got to go through a learning curve because it's a new form of resistance, it's a new form of technology and it's just not your same old weight stack machine. And so, that comes with a little bit more complexity. We're here to clarify that complexity and make it simple for you and use our expertise over time.

Ben:  Okay.

Mike:  Yeah, we're providing that for all your members.

Ben:  Got it. And, would that be as simple as me just putting the link to that in the shownotes, and then people will wind up on the right page to get that set up?

Mike:  Yeah.

Ben:  Okay.

Mike:  If you're all excited about this, just go to arx.com/Ben. He'll care of everything from there, give you to the right landing page. And yeah, that'll make sure that we know that you came from your audience.

Ben:  Okay. And, obviously, this thing has a decent-sized footprint, a little bit larger than a nautilus machine. If someone gets it, what's the setup actually look like here?

Mike:  Yeah. So, it depends on what model you get. Most of our private individuals, our home users are going to get an OMNI. That's just kind of just how the data works out. But, the ALPHA is amazing, it's the most space efficient. It runs about 7 feet by 3 feet wide. OMNI is going to be about 11 feet long by about 3.5 feet wide, so just slightly longer and a little taller. But, yeah, either one of those would work great at home. Most of our business customers are providing their users or their customers with both machines because the ALPHA is such a low learning curve, it really, really does super well with the aging population. So, these are people who don't really want to exercise, they don't want to do deadlifts, they want to do leg press, they want to sit back and just push and resist. 

So, just like my mom, she doesn't really want to–yeah, she might think she wants to be a high performer but she really just wants to have good strong bones to keep up with her at least with her grandchildren. And, the ALPHA is fantastic for that and then the OMNI has more versatility customization, can do a little bit more when it comes to your athletic population. It's kind of manual transmission and automatic where automatic transmission is easy, out of the box, it works great, that's the ALPHA. Manual transmission requires a little bit more of a learning curve, that's the OMNI. And, they're both really simple, but that's how the flow works out.

Ben:  Okay, perfect. Well, what I'll do is for anybody who wants to get this–well, I would say probably the majority of people would be commercial gym owners or people running personal training studios. So, if you have a trainer and you're interested in them getting this for their facility, I would say sending this podcast but then if you want for your own home, I have one now and for a long time kind of resisted getting one because I wasn't sure if I was going to justify using this big piece of exercise equipment out in my gym but it's now probably I would say that and the Vasper and my kettlebell are my three favorite things I own now for maintaining fitness in a very, very efficient manner. 

So, I'll put links to everything at BenGreenfieldLife.com/ARXpodcast for anybody who wants to take a deeper dive into this. You can also leave your questions, your comments or your feedback over there. And, I got to tell you, when it comes to you not having to spend 60 to 90 minutes at the gym to literally get extremely strong, I mean, I'm 40 and I think I'm stronger than I've ever been in my life using this thing. Even back in my bodybuilding days as far as pound-for-pound strength, granted I weigh about 172 pounds and I weigh 215 when I was bodybuilding so I was pushing around a little bit more weight. But, as far as my weight goes with my strength, I mean, I feel I've got as much strength as I'll ever need and it's with a very, very low time investment. So, I really want to get you guys on to talk about this.

And, Mike, thanks for your time and for making this thing happen.

Mike:  Yeah, for sure, Ben. And, I appreciate all your support, love hearing your benefits. If everybody's curious about research regarding this, we have an amazing study that we did with Western Colorado that's on our website. Please go look at that, check that out. The number were crazy. It was all the benefits that you're talking about here, but we've quantified it and it's twice the amount of strength. It was two and a half times more fat loss, more lean mass than people just doing moderate intensity resistance. And so, the stuff that you're saying is also being born out now in research. And, it's also something we've heard over the last 10 years from our customer base. Every once in a while, something is truly, truly not a gimmick. And, yeah, so we're excited to get out the world and thanks for the time.

Ben:  Awesome, awesome. Well, folks, again, the URL is BenGreenfieldLife.com/ARXpodcast. And, until next time. I'm Ben Greenfield along with Mike Pullano from ARX signing out from BenGreenfieldLife.com. Have an amazing week.

Just imagine a hotel surrounded by nature, vineyards and gardens, this forest classified as a historical garden in a very special country at a hotel located in the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. Imagine this place has a state-of-the-art spot, 2,200 square meters, 10 treatment rooms, an indoor pool with underwater sound and chromotherapy. Imagine a kitchen team that brings to the table not just delicious food at this place but values environmental sustainability and wellness and local sensitivity and global sensibility. Imagine being able to be bathed in luxury and being able to be local, to buy a local and to eat local, not caged off of some fancy tourist but it's a part of the community and part of the [00:38:33] _____ of the region. Well, that's exactly what you experience in Portugal at their Six Senses luxury retreat. And, I'm going to be there for a special event that you can read up on at BenGreenfieldLife.com/SixSenses. It's called the Boundless Retreat.

And, at BenGreenfieldLife.com/SixSenses, you can see everything we're doing. Every day starts with a healthy farmhouse breakfast, morning movement session with me, you get access to three different 60-minute spa treatments that you can choose from throughout the day, indoor pool and vitality suites, meditation, sound healing, an alchemy bar with kokodama and yogurts and pickles and sprouts workshops, retreat meals all made from locally sourced organic produce, Q&As and sing-along sessions with me. This is going to be an amazing remarkable once in a lifetime experience. You get four nights full board accommodation in a deluxe room there at the facility. And, this thing, as you can imagine, is going to fill up fast. It's in Portugal at the Six Senses retreat in Portugal.

Again, all the details are at BenGreenfieldLife.com/SixSenses. And, the dates are February 27th through March 3rd, 2023, February 27th through March 3rd, 2023. I hope to see you there.

More than ever these days, people like you and me need a fresh entertaining, well-informed, and often outside-the-box approach to discovering the health, and happiness, and hope that we all crave. So, I hope I've been able to do that for you on this episode today. And, if you liked it or if you love what I'm up to, then please leave me a review on your preferred podcast listening channel wherever that might be and just find the Ben Greenfield Life episode. Say something nice. Thanks so much. It means a lot.



You may have heard me talking lately about the “giant robot” in my gym – an advanced piece of exercise equipment built with a powerful two horsepower engine. It is the primary means by which I have been becoming “strong as a bull” of late with only three 20 minute strength training sessions per week.

I've known about this crazy machine for years, but finally got one installed in my gym about 12 weeks ago and the results have been unparalleled.

It's called the ARX.

The ARX – which stands for Adaptive Resistance Exercise – is a mashup of single set to failure training and superslow training that can be used for extreme efficiency strength training or for rehab. The ARX technology “biohacks” strength training with a computer-controlled, motorized resistance that is capable of matching any force you produce, giving you a perfect rep with every rep.

Unlike a traditional weight training machine that requires you to adjust the weight with pins or plates, there is no need to set the resistance while using ARX. Instead, the machine applies opposing resistance in direct proportion to what you are producing at each moment in time throughout an entire rep. The entire effort for that one single set to failure is then measured and displayed by the software in real time.

The ARX OMNI – which I own – allows for over a dozen motions, including the squat, deadlift, pulldown, row, overhead press and chest press, while the smaller ARX ALPHA allows for leg press, chest press, row, calf raise, and torso extension and flexion, both with significant strength, bone-density and muscle-building results in as little as one workout per week.

Recently, the ARX came up in “The Future Of Biohacking Fitness, Longevity, Recovery & More With Beth McDougall.” and in this podcast, I interview Mike Pullano about all things ARX. Mike Pullano is the Chief Product Officer at ARX, the world's leader in computer-controlled, motorized resistance technology. After an achilles tendon injury sidelined his fitness routine, Mike found a passion for biomechanics and physiology. In his search for better fitness solutions, he discovered an early prototype of ARX. Blown away by the results, Mike joined the ARX team
in 2014 to help develop Adaptive Resistance™ technology for its introduction to the market.

Bringing an extensive background in product development, customer experience and marketing, Mike oversees the end-to-end product creation from design to delivery for ARX’s renowned offerings.

Mike currently lives in Austin, Texas where he spends 11 minutes and 46 seconds exercising per week and using the rest of his time exploring the world of human performance, golfing, hunting and playing music.

He holds a bachelor’s in science in Sports, Recreation and Tourism from the University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign.

During our discussion, you'll discover:


  • Ben likens exercising on the ARX as fighting a giant robot in the gym
  • Chest Press
  • Pull-down
  • Deadlift
  • Overhead Press
  • Row
  • Squat
  • Body by Science by Doug McGuff
  • Podcast with Doug McGuff:
  • ARX – Adaptive Resistance Exercise
    • World’s leader in computer-motorized resistant technology
  • Mike Pullano – chief product officer in ARX

-The science behind ARX and its development…09:00

  • Mike trains 11min. and 47 sec. once or twice per week
  • Ben’s best practice and sweet spot
  • AirDyne
  • ARX is a resistant exercise machine that uses motors instead of weights
    • Controlled by computer software
    • Instantaneous feedback on the screen
  • Has a 2 horsepower motor
  • Two types of the machine
    • OMNI – cable driven
    • ALPHA – sled based, no cables
 -How was this machine invented?…14:20
  • The idea to use motors instead of weights has been around since the 70s and 80s
    • The technology wasn’t mature enough and cost-effective enough
  • Arthur Jones and Nautilus
  • A very crude version of what we have today was created in 2010 – 2012 
    • Years of development and testing 
  • In 2015-16 the present version was created

-How does the concept of the single set to failure work?…16:42

 –What are the other effects of this style of training?…25:26

  • Adaptive Resistance
  • Metabolic fatigue
  • Benefits of strength, muscle hypertrophy, metabolic conditioning
    • Lifting weights can focus only on one of those three goals
    • Watching it play out on the screen with numbers
  • Frequency of workout sweet spot
    • When starting out – twice a week, compound movements, 2 minutes of tension
    • When you are 50% stronger – the machine adapts, longer rest periods
  • The machine shows the numbers – is there improvement or not
    • Optimizing depending on your goal

-What are the key workouts that are good for most people?…33:48

  • Ben’s goal is full body strength
  • Maximum eccentric load
  • Watching your learning curve and development on the screen
  • The machine scales up or down and adapts to your needs

 –ARX Modalities and how to understand data on the screen…45:17

  • ARX YouTube channel 
  • Travel Time – the amount of time per rep, adjustable
  • Pause Time – resting time, depends on your goal
  • Number of wraps – is there an ideal time per set
  • Super Human Radio podcast with Carl Lanore
  • More traditional sets of exercise
  • Main things to pay attention to on the screen and how to understand them
  • How to know when to stop – achieving 30% of fatigue
  • Inroad – how much have I fatigued
  • OMNI and ALPHA machines
    • ALPHA – crushes on efficiency
    • OMNI – slightly more complicated

 –Things to combine with ARX machine…58:57

-Special deals and discounts…1:10:53

  • Discounts on shipping
  • Custom coaching program
  • Dimensions and set up
    • Alpha – 7 ft. x 3 ft.
    • Omni – 11 ft. x 3.5 ft.

-And much more…

Upcoming Events:

  • Six Senses Retreat: February 27, 2023 – March 3, 2023

Join me for my “Boundless Retreat” at Six Senses from February 27th, 2023 to March 3rd, 2023, where you get to improve on your functional fitness, nutrition, longevity, and the delicate balance between productivity and wellness. Complete with a healthy farmhouse breakfast, yoga spa sessions, and sound healing, you learn how to live a boundless life just like me, and I'd love to see you there. Learn more here.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

– Mike Pullano:

– Podcasts:

– Other Resources:

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Ben Greenfield Coaching: Personally vetted and trained by Ben Greenfield, these coaches will personalize your diet and lifestyle, and get you looking and feeling your best. Visit BenGreenfieldCoaching.com to learn more about which plan might be right for you. 
Six Senses Event: Join me in this beautiful 19th-century wine estate in Portugal and enjoy treatments that go beyond the ordinary in Six Senses Spa. Ten treatment rooms and an indoor pool with chromotherapy and an underwater sound system offer a unique and layered wellness experience. Try delicious food made with local sensitivity and global sensibility. Head over to  bengreenfieldlife.com/sixsenses and claim your spot today.


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