December 5, 2019
[00:00:50] My Gum
[00:02:41] Podcast Sponsors
[00:04:49] Where I’ve Been Working Out On
[00:08:36] The Story of the Vasper Machine
[00:12:04] The Efficacy of the Vasper for Performance Implications
[00:18:13] Vasper’s Components
[00:31:37] Podcast Sponsors
[00:34:03] Exercise Regimens Programmed Into the Vasper
[00:36:38] 21-Minute Sessions
[00:40:05] Vasper and Strength Training
[00:41:42] The Optimal Time of Day to Use the Vasper
[00:42:46] Vasper Users
[00:44:17] Vasper Location
[00:46:51] Use of other technology in conjunction with the Vasper
[00:48:33] Research involving stem cells, TBI, and more with the Vasper
[00:53:42] Closing the Podcast
[00:55:48] End of Podcast
Ben: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast…
Sebastian: The average increase in anabolic hormones for the Vasper group was 42%. And, at the same time, their average decrease in stress and inflammation hormones like cortisol and estradiol was actually 69%. So, it really is sort of the ultimate complement to any existing strength training regime in optimizing your hormones for better performance, better gains, and better recovery.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Oh, oh. Yeah, yeah. Hello. You guys are constantly asking what kind of gum I chew. I should probably spit out this gum. It's so rude of me chewing gum during intimate conversation in your earbuds. I used to chew a lot of nicotine gum. Actually, I was chewing that Lucy stuff for a long time and I still, occasionally, will hit a two or four milligram piece of nicotine gum. But, I decided that I want to be in control of my body and not be addicted to anything except, maybe, coffee, I guess. So, I switched and now I'm using gum that is admittedly kind of expensive, but I used it to win myself off of nicotine gum because it kind of gives me this little metabolic high. It's marketed as weight loss gum, but you may have heard me talk about, what's it called, mastic gum before, which is frankincense, frankincense resin, which I learned about from the guy who ran the 50 marathons in 50 days and then ran the Spartan Marathon in Greece, Dean Karnazes. He chewed on this gum to keep his saliva, kind of lubed in his mouth.
And, this gum I'm now chewing is called Slique, S-L-I-Q-U-E, Slique. And, it's basically frankincense resin. But then, it's only colored with turmeric and red cabbage juice. And then, it has this slimming fresh mint blended, and peppermint, spearmint. And, it totally satiates my appetite as well. And, I like it too, because it retains flavor for a really long time. This, actually, isn't even a commercial, not even a sponsor of the show. But, what the heck, I'll give you a link now, I guess, since I told you about the gum I'm not chewing. It's BenGreenFieldFitness.com/slique, BenGreenFieldFitness.com/slique. But, it's spelled, S-L-I-Q-U-E, Slique, Slique gum. Check that out.
This interview today is with my friend, Sebastian, who helps to invent a crazy exercise device that we're going to talk about. This podcast, like all podcast, is brought to you by Kion. And, this is the time of the year when everybody's ordering Christmas gifts. Let me tell you, we have a wonderful bundle called The Daily Life bundle. It's perfect as a gift. We can't gift wrap it for you. I'm sorry. And, if you're a shitty gift wrapper as I am, that's going to be a big issue for you. But, find an auntie or a cousin or a spouse to lovingly wrap the Kion Daily Life bundle. It is a whole box of my clean energy cacao, coconut, almond, honey bars, wonderful, dark, antioxidant rich Kion coffee, or Kion Aminos, one of the most potent muscle building and appetite satiating compounds we have. And then, Kion Lean, which, basically, lets you eat all your Christmas cookies and not have them make you fat. So, that's the Kion Daily Life bundle. You can get it at getkion.com and use discount code BGF10 at getkion.com.
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All right, folks. This is officially it. You guys have been wondering what I've been up to in my secret Batman labs out here in Spokane, all the crazy exercise equipment I'm constantly experimenting with. There is one thing I have been on every single day that I have been at home for the past two months. I think I have–I got to go check my records on the sexy little dashboard on this piece of equipment, but I think I've logged in excess of 40 workouts right now on it, each one exactly 21 minutes long.
And, I forgot to tell people when they come over and they visit my gym and they see this thing in my gym that even if I get nothing else done the entire day physically, aside from just my basic standing workstation, low level physical activity throughout the day, this one thing gives me all I need for my metabolic stimulus for the day. It's basically, and my guest on today's show is going to be able to fill you in in far more detail than me, but it essentially combines what you've probably heard of before: blood flow restriction training, which is often kind of thrown around along with the term, “Kaatsu training.” They're different. But, right now, let's just focus on what this thing does.
It's basically blood flow restriction training, cold thermogenesis, and high intensity interval training, all combined together to give you this massive workout in 21 minutes. Now, several years ago–man, I think it was six years ago, somebody asked me about this device. I hadn't worked out on one yet, but I got the inventor on the show to just talk about the technology because I thought it was cool. And, the title of that show was “How to Get Two Hours of Exercise in 20 Minutes.” So, I talked to the guy who invented this thing and we rift for a while. And, I'll link to that one in the shownotes, if you want to go back and listen. But, again, I didn't have a lot of personal experience with it.
Well, since then, not only have I seen this piece of equipment take the, I guess what I would call, the biohacking fitness world by storm, but I've also, like I mentioned, added it to my own arsenal at home. And, in preparation for today's interview and, also, in preparation to just basically tell the world what I've been up to, I've been working out a lot on this thing.
So, my guest on today's show is actually the son of the person who I initially interviewed back in the day, the inventor of this device, which is called the Vasper. And, his name is Sebastian Wasowski. Hopefully, I didn't bastardized that last name too badly.
And, he knows this thing inside and out. I have a ton of questions for him about it.
As you listen in, everything we talked about, you'll be able to find at BenGreenFieldFitness.com/thevaspershow, BenGreenFieldFitness.com/thevaspershow, V-A-S-P-E-R, the Vasper Show. Because the name of this minimalist exercise machine is Vasper.
So, Sebastian, welcome to the show, man.
Sebastian: Thank you very much. Happy to be here.
Ben: Yeah. And, I see you, every health and fitness conference I go to, you are there, taking people through workouts on this thing, showing them how to use it. I know, like I mentioned, you know it inside and out. And so, my first question for you is, who the heck came up with the idea for this? There's got to be a story behind it.
Sebastian: Yeah, there is. So, this is something that my father invented to address some of his own health concerns, actually. We moved from the Bay Area, California to the Big Island of Hawaii. And, he was dealing with post-traumatic stress in his ankles, post traumatic arthritis, more specifically. And, he was having a really hard time walking sometimes. And, he was also pre-diabetic. He was flanking his glucose tolerance test for years and his grandfather actually passed away from diabetes. So, he was doing research on ways that he could avoid taking drugs for the rest of his life, stumbled upon the research behind blood flow restriction, behind intermittent cold exposure and cooling, and interval training. And, he had the idea to combine all three into a single system, ended up putting together a prototype in the backyard, and, this was when I was still in high school, and put together a system, started introducing it to friends, family, and neighbors.
And, in a very short period of time, we had 15 different people showing up on a regular basis to get their sessions in, based on the results that it was generating.
So, we actually formed the company, founded the company, in 2009 and have been all over working with all sorts of different groups, sports teams, military, and NASA, and so forth, and getting the technology out there.
Ben: I'm just curious what it was like watching your paps out there in the backyard working on a piece of fitness equipment. I mean, were there multiple iterations of this thing?
Sebastian: There were, yeah. It really interestingly, the first person that helped him build the prototype was somebody that he met in line at Costco, who overheard his phone conversation talking about it. And then, he chimed in and says, “I work in refrigeration.” And, they helped put together the first system.
So, we have some really great photos from the early prototypes that were in the backyard in the laboratory. My grandma was one of the initial guinea pigs and test subjects for the whole thing. And, it had a tremendous impact on her overall strength and mobility and balance.
And then, yeah, we had 15 different people, at least, showing up on a regular basis to get their sessions in. And then, in 2009, we had a trial on Oahu with 220 people. And, that was the first time that we had taken it from the backyard into the real world. Overwhelmingly positive results. And, from there, we landed to trial with the San Jose Sharks.
And, that's actually how we ended up here at the NASA Ames Research Park at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California.
Ben: Okay. So, the San Jose Sharks, I mean, I didn't plan on getting into this this early in the show, but I mean, that's a sports team. It's a hockey. And, this is something that I think happens a lot in the biohacking industry. People kind of snicker behind the scenes. Real strength conditioning coaches and real athletic performance specialist would see something like this and say, “Well, that's just like a glorified elliptical trainer. That in no way is going to move the dial from an athleticism or performance standpoint.”
So, I guess, right now, just because I'm sure skeptics are wondering, and we'll come back full circle and talk a little bit more about the technology and how you combine compression and cold thermogenesis, and things like that, but, talk to me about anything that you know of, or that you guys have studied, when it comes to the research on what might happen from a performance enhancement standpoint because I don't want to give the impression this is just for, say, rehabbing a bum knee. But, I'm also just curious as far as actual studies on performance implications.
Sebastian: Yeah, definitely. I mean, what this system is actually designed to do is, of course, to stimulate your body's production of anabolic hormones. So, this is something that naturally takes place when we work out at a very high intensity. It's arguably one of the single most significant benefits of working out. And, Vasper is simply a means of initiating that same benefit but through a much lesser threshold than is normally involved. So, through a combination of blood flow restriction and cooling, we're able to mimic the physiology of a much more intensive workout, initiate the same response from the endocrine system, and see a very, very significant increase in anabolic hormone levels without any of the stress response that you might see from a big workout.
And, we had a study where 10 of the pararescue guys did 20 sessions in comparison to a control group. So, both groups are training with Mike and the Vasper group had Vasper. And, the average increase in anabolic hormones for the Vasper group was 42%. And, at the same time, their average decrease in stress and inflammation hormones like cortisol and estradiol was actually 69%. And, that translated to more significant gains in their pre and post strength assessment.
So, their runtime to exhaustion, the Vasper group improved actually 17.3%. Their pull ups to failure improved by, I think, 2.1%. And, their recovery was 32%.
Ben: What about transfer over to things like some of the standard exercise physiology performance metrics like run time to exhaustion. And, it was a big one. Heart rate recovery is another. Did you guys measure any of those standard physiology measurements?
Sebastian: No, it was mainly the hormones and then their pre and post strength assessment stuff.
But, anytime you have higher levels of anabolic hormones, you're going to see an increase in performance, you're going to see more significant gains from the work that's being put in, and then, a greatly expedited and enhanced recovery, sort of in the same way that steroids might help you in all three categories. This is tapping into your body's endogenous production of those same agents.
And, of course, when it's your own brain producing its own hormone, you're not running into any of the potential pitfalls that you have with introducing these things exogenously.
Ben: So, you saw across the board with the use of this thing an increase in growth hormone. So, I'm assuming you were just measuring IGF-1 testosterone, decrease in cortisol, and decrease an estradiol.
And, in terms of what you were comparing that to, was that another group that was not exercising? Was it a group that was doing a different exercise protocol? Or, what exactly did the study look like?
Sebastian: No. Both groups were the pararescue guys and they were both training. They had the same existing strength training regime. The only difference was the Vasper group had Vasper in addition to that. So, there's hormonal baselines done on both groups. And then, the average increase for the Vasper group versus the control group was 42%. And then, their average decrease in cortisol levels was actually 69%.
And, that also correlated to very significant improvements in sleep quality, which is interestingly the most common in people report across all demographics, actually.
Ben: What did you guys look at when it comes to sleep quality?
Sebastian: I mean, that was self-reported sleep scores on the PSQI. And, the Vasper group was reporting significant improvements in sleep quality. And, interestingly enough, sleep quality and hormone production are very closely related. And, I think it's about 50% of our available growth hormone is only released between the first and second stage of deep sleep.
Then, that's why sleep quality is absolutely paramount for your endocrine system and for general health and wellness.
Ben: Yeah. Okay. So, the PSQI, for those of you who don't know what that is, it's the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index.
I think it typically lasts over a one-month time interval or so, but it's 19 different sleep metrics that are scored by a participant on a daily basis to analyze sleep.
And, actually, it does hold up when it comes to actual correlation to sleep laboratory measurements. It's really interesting, the increase in sleep quality, because I have actually noticed on the evenings, after I use the Vasper in the mornings, an increase, specifically, in deep sleep percentages. It tends to go up on average by about 2% to 4%.
And, obviously, I'm doing a lot of different things throughout the day that affect my sleep. And, I will admit, I'm constantly experimenting with a wide variety of everything, from nutrients to macronutrient modifications to red light therapy to a host of other parameters.
But, there's definitely something going on here. And, it's actually pretty impressive, what you guys found in the pararescue trial when it came to the actual change in hormones. I mean, that is undeniable, what you guys saw from a hormone standpoint.
Now, backing up a second, I do want to ask you because I know that you've also studied some of the very interesting results on some markers like VEGF and stem cell production, some of the things you'd expect from, say, hyperbaric oxygen therapy. And, you've also looked at TBI concussions. But, before we get into the effects of this on some of those parameters, let's back up and break this thing down.
So, first of all, one of the first things that I do when I get on to work out, I can get myself set up in about two minutes flat now to start my work out on this thing, is I put on these compression wraps. Now, tell me about that first part, the compression.
Sebastian: Yeah. So, the compression cuffs, this is really how we're delivering our method with regards to blood flow restriction.
So, it's almost like a blood pressure cuff. And, instead of filling up with air, the pressure is actually created through cold water. So, these cuffs fill up with water that's about 40 to 45 degrees in temperature. And, they are persistently squeezing the limbs throughout a 21-minute interval based workout.
The pressure is, then, reducing the superficial blood flow from the muscle, which results in a rapid concentration of lactic acid and other metabolites. And, that's actually how we're able to mimic the physiology of a much more intensive workout.
When we're exercising conventionally without blood flow restriction, the lactic acid that's produced is constantly swept away by the venous system. So, it takes a considerable amount of both time and effort to actually produce a concentration strong enough that's going to initiate the downstream anabolic effect.
And, for anybody who's physically compromised, dealing with an injury, older, has a condition, in many cases, they are unable to work out and exercise in a meaningful way. And, that's actually going to create the physiology that's going to initiate the most significant benefits of exercise. And then, that's definitely a very powerful sweet spot for the technology.
And then, of course, it's also used on the performance side, almost as a means of active recovery, as well as just optimizing the endocrine profile for better performance, better gains.
Ben: Yeah. And, that refers to, of course, what is abbreviated BFR training now in fitness literature. And, like I mentioned, this is linked to the initial Japanese research on these Kaatsu training devices that cut off blood flow to a limb during exercise.
And, it's very interesting because you see a response from a strength and a muscle gain or muscle maintenance standpoint, very similar to what you get if you were lifting heavy weights. But, by cutting off blood flow to the muscle and concentrating lactic acid within the muscle, you fool the muscle and the thing is getting damaged. So, there's this very interesting satellite cell response and mitochondrial proliferation response that you see with blood flow restriction training; whether it's done on something like a Vasper or whether it's done with these tourniquets that you can get on Amazon, or one of the more expensive Japanese Kaatsu training devices.
The very interesting thing is that you don't need a lot of weight to actually build muscle, which is why I feel, when I'm using this thing in the morning and I take off the compression wraps post workout, it feels as though I've lifted heavy weights, even though, essentially, I'd been on a piece of cardio equipment or what looks like cardio equipment for the past 21 minutes.
And then, I know that that's linked to the growth hormone response too, because anytime you just trap lactic acid and muscle tissue and IGF-1 responses is one of the results of doing something like that. But, the best way I could describe like a poor man's version of this would be, and I've told people about this trick before, you buy Amazon blood flow restriction bands and put them on your arms and your legs. And then, you get on an Airdyne bike or one of the elliptical trainers that has both the arm and leg attachments, and you do a high intensity interval training workout with those attached.
If you want to kind of a little bit of a flavor of what this Vasper feels like, if you've never been on one, that's kind of sort of what you experience as far as everything being trapped in the muscle.
Although, you guys, Sebastian, have this. It's like a dashboard that's attached to the Vasper. It's a tablet that you can adjust the pressure in terms of millimeter of mercury up and down.
And, correct me if I'm wrong, but you guys are using actual water infusion to these wraps to adjust the actual pressure that someone has in their arms and legs, correct?
Sebastian: Yeah, that's exactly correct. And, because we're doing this over a much wider surface area with liquid shield cuffs, it's a very different experience than traditional BFR, which is usually over a much more narrow surface area and a much higher compression gradient.
Ben: Yeah. Talk to me about the chill effects. What about the icy cold water that circulates through this thing during the workout?
Sebastian: Yeah. So, not only are we cooling the body, you know, at the side of the cuffs, but the entirety of the seat that you're on is also cooled as well as the footpads. And, it's for a number of reasons.
One, it definitely helps mitigate some of that discomfort of rapidly concentrating lactic acid, the burn that you would normally feel towards the tail end of a workout. You start to experience that in the first three, four minutes. But, in many cases, without being out of breath, without breaking a sweat.
But, more importantly than that, the cooling enables the user to be more powerful throughout the protocol. So, we're just sort of mitigating heat stress. When we exercise, we generate heat. And, the process of sweating involves blood actually being shunted from the muscle to help facilitate respiration. And then, you're losing oxygen at the muscle level and your performance begins to decline. So, we're just trying to streamline the user's efficiency, make them as powerful as possible for the 21 minutes, being able to generate as strong response from the endocrine system as possible.
Ben: Now, have you looked at all into whether or not it's not just the cold circulating through these cuffs that allows you to achieve a higher rating of perceived exertion because it's keeping the body cool, and it's kind of alleviating some of that burn, that very intense burn you'd normally get during blood flow restriction training. But, if you looked into whether or not there is a metabolic effect of the cold, meaning do you burn more calories if you are exercising in the cold or if you're using cryotherapy during the actual workout session?
Sebastian: That hasn't been studied specifically. But, that is absolutely the case. There's definitely a response from the metabolism in cooling the body with exercise. And, we're sort of banking on some of the same existing benefits from cold exposure, which is, interestingly enough, combining it with a dynamic 21-minute interval based workout.
Ben: Now, what about the mat that–and, I will readily admit, I haven't been using the cooling mat because I have a giant cold pool next to my gym that I usually jump into after my workouts and I get a pretty quick cool down from that versus lying on this map. But, I know gold standard is every Vasper comes with this cooling mat. And, I have it. I just haven't been using it. What's the idea behind the cooling mat that you get on afterwards?
Sebastian: So, after the workout, you lay down on a cooling pad for about 5 to 10 minutes. And, we want to allow your heart rate and your respiratory rate to drop back to baseline and for it to essentially act as a little transition between the workout and the rest of your day, sending that hard stop signal to the body in the brain, recognizing that the intensity is over, the workout is over, you sort of shifted into a new phase of the day. And, that can sort of help coax along that downstream anabolic effect.
So, the way that I often describe it to people is at the end of a yoga session, you're laying there in Savasana, and this is essentially our version of the exact same thing following your Vasper protocol.
Ben: Well, I've certainly done a podcast in the past about certain nutrients and compounds that can actually enhance white fat to brown fat, adipose tissue conversion, and the effects of cold thermogenesis, the metabolic effects of cold thermogenesis, some of those being things like green tea extract, bitter melon extract, or any of these calorie restriction mimetics like berberine, for example, caffeine, to a certain extent, cayenne is another one, and even some of these vasodilatory substances like niacin or beetroot for example. And, they can all enhance the effects of this cold thermo. And, that's actually something I've been doing prior to my Vasper sessions is using, typically, a blood flow agent – in my case niacin – along with one of these agents that accelerates white fat to brown fat conversion – in my case, typically, bitter melon and/or caffeine or coffee.
And, again, I haven't seen an actual study on the Vasper itself or on exercising in the cold in conjunction with the use of these supplements. But, to me, from a physiological standpoint, it just make sense. So, that's what I've been doing.
But, long story short is that when you combine the cold with the blood flow, there's definitely something different going on. I mean, you can achieve intensities. Because I hit, when I'm doing one of the intervals on this thing, I'll hit 700, 800 watts during one of the 10 to 15-second intervals. And, that's something I normally wouldn't be able to do if it wasn't for the cold. I would literally overheat doing something like that.
So, it's an interesting feature. And, again, this one's tough to replicate, for those of you listening in. I mean, I suppose you could get your garage super-duper cold, go out there and put blood flow restriction bands on and try to ride an Airdyne in that type of setting, and, maybe, get a little bit of a taste of it. But, it's a very unique combination.
I also wanted to ask you, Sebastian, with the cooling effect, the actual pads that the feet go on as you're doing this workout on this full-body exercise machine, I think you guys use something called a New Step, I'll ask you about that as the platform for the device and why you chose it, here in a little bit. But, you're barefoot. You're barefoot and your feet are touching these metal pads that actually get pretty cool. Is that intentional that those pads are cool as well? Is there cooling effect going on through the feet?
Sebastian: It is, yeah. So, the same 40-degree water that's flowing through the cuffs as well as the seat is also flowing through the copper foot pads.
And, the idea there is just to help lower the overall body temperature. And, our hands and our feet can sort of both act like thermostats. If you're ever hot under a blanket and you just stick your feet out, there's some immediate relief. So, eventually, we're looking to actually add hand cooling to the system as well. But, it is very intentional that we're cooling the bottom of the feet and that you're barefoot throughout your protocol.
Ben: Now, being barefoot throughout the protocol, this kind of relates to something I've talked about a lot before on the podcast before. That's the idea of earthing or grounding.
I know the device is plugged into the wall and I didn't know that there's a three-prong plug. So, it is connected to the grounding outlet. But, I'm curious if there actually is any type of grounding or earthing effects since you're barefoot on metal with a grounding cable going into the wall. Are you technically getting some of that negative ion exposure to while you're on this, like that anti-inflammatory grounding or earthing effect?
Sebastian: Yeah, that's precisely correct. And, there's some of that same 10 hertz discharge that occurs when you're barefoot on the surface of the earth where you're able to download static electricity from the body, and then, of course, upload those negative ions and electrons that play significant role in free radicals and cellular health, and so forth.
Ben: That's interesting. I think you guys underplay that on your website. I couldn't find a lot of information about it. But, every time I'm using it, I keep swearing. I'm technically, I mean, “Look at the technology. I'm barefoot. I'm on copper, metal conductive surface. It's the device is plugged into the grounding outlet. So, I am grounded the whole time I'm using it.” And, I mean, man, if you guys also add cooling to the handles, so both the hands and the feet are grounded, that would be pretty next level.
So, it's very interesting and I hadn't really thought too much about the earthing or the grounding effect until I really got a few workouts in and then just realized that I'm definitely grounded the whole time I'm using this thing.
Now, the device itself, like I mentioned, is a device you could find at some gyms. My YMCA has a New Step. And, it appears that you guys basically took a New Step like this full-body exercise device, and just outfitted it with the compression, with the icing, with everything like that. Is there a reason that you chose the New Step versus a stand up elliptical trainer or more like an Airdyne bike type of setting?
Sebastian: Yeah. So, we have a number of platforms now that the Vasper System is paired with. But, the New Step is really an ideal initial one to go to market with, based on the fact that it's recumbent stepper and you're actually sitting in a chair. And, it's very, very low impact and it's very versatile with the amount of people that we can serve on.
Vasper is being utilized in cardiac rehab, physical therapy, geriatrics, every type of rehabilitation and medical fitness you can think of. And, on the other end of the spectrum, we're with Special Forces, professional sports teams. And then, the whole general health and wellness spectrum in between.
So, the New Step itself is extremely low impact which is by design. And, without bearing your weight, you're still able to mimic the physiology of an intensive workout, ranging something closer to two hours.
Ben: Hey, interrupting the show. My new book is out. My new book is available right now for pre-order anywhere. You go to boundlessbook.com. The book is called “Boundless: Upgrade Your Brain, Optimize Your Body, and Defy Aging.” It is 650 pages long, and it is a tome, let me tell you.
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Now, I am a creature of habit and like you just alluded to, you're getting a very, very of the equivalent of a very long cardiovascular workout, the equivalent of two to three hours of training when it comes to the actual mitochondrial response in about 21 minutes. And, the two programs I use the most are the “Burn, baby, burn,” which is, I think, alternating 30 and 60 seconds sprints. If I remember correctly, that's the Burn, baby, burn one.
And then, the other one I use quite a bit just based on this idea of me wanting to just go high intensity, hit the creatine phosphagenic system, not accumulate a ton of lactic acid but actually tap a little bit more into power and use almost like a burst form of training is the alternate the 15-second and 30-second sprint.
So, the longest I'm working is for a 30-second sprint. And, really, 90% of the time, those are the two workouts I'm doing. However, I think there's several dozen different workouts programmed into this thing.
So, talk to me about the type of exercise sessions that are programmed into the Vasper and why you guys kind of chose the ones that you did.
Sebastian: So, we probably have about 30 different protocols that are within the software, varying in sprint duration, frequency, intensity, and so forth. And, every one of those protocols is able to be customized for any demographic and match their level of fitness as well as their goals.
So, each one of those almost acts like a blueprint and people make additions to those or able to save them in different settings, medical settings, and so forth.
Ben: So, when you're actually programming these workouts, let's say you guys launch a new workout and somebody has a Vasper, is there a way that the technology somehow downloads from your guys' central unit? Or, how does this actually work from almost like a firmware update standpoint?
Sebastian: I mean, we're working on further developing the software. And as long as the user is connected to the internet, we're able to update their software remotely. So, that's something that's in process.
But, right now, we're not actually capturing any of the session data from the individual units that are out there.
Ben: How do you actually upload, let's say, somebody buys this and you guys come up with five new workouts, how will they get those workouts on to their Vasper?
Sebastian: With just by updating their software.
Sebastian: So, with updating their software, they'll have all the new protocols automatically uploaded there.
Ben: Okay, got it. Cool.
Now, every single session, at least, every single one I've done is exactly 21 minutes long. Why 21 minutes?
Sebastian: So, with the research around blood flow restriction and what we found, 21 minutes is sort of the optimal time to initiate the maximum response from the endocrine system to generate a strong downstream anabolic effect as possible without stimulating cortisol, without initiating any type of stress response.
So, it can be, of course, customized to any level. We have 96-year-olds in cardiac rehab settings that are doing this for 21 minutes, of course, at a different intensity than you are. But, we found the 21 minutes to sort of that sweet spot to get the maximum response from the endocrine system without initiating any bit of a stress response.
Ben: What would happen if you use it for longer than that? Have you had people stay on for 30 minutes or done like a full 45-minute routine or anything like that on it?
Sebastian: No, that's not something we've actually looked at. I know at some of the initial sites, we have heard of people doing multiple sessions in a single day, which isn't really something we'd recommend.
Ben: But, that's hard to do. I mean, if you truly–it's kind of like a Tabata set, right? If you do a true Tabata set and you're really doing the 20 seconds as hard as you're supposed to, you don't want to do another session later on in the day.
So, this is a little bit difficult to describe. But, when you're doing the Vasper workout, there's basically a line on the top of the screen and a line on the bottom of the screen, and you simply keep this little yellow dot in the middle of those lines so that when it says, “Go hard,” getting that yellow dot where it's supposed to go is incredibly hard. And, when it says, “Go easy,” you really are supposed to let that thing down so that you're able to go as hard as you're supposed to when it's time to go hard.
If I really, truly, do the entire routine and go as hard as you're supposed to go during the hard sessions, I'm done for 24 hours. I can't effectively–because I've tried doing the two a day before. You can't hit the intensity, if you really are truly using it the way you're supposed to and not doing junk training. Because I thought, “Maybe, I'll do it. I'll get super fit and do this as a two a day.” But, you can't, in my opinion, if you use it properly.
Sebastian: I completely agree with that. It's really not designed to be done more than once a day. Most people are probably on their three to four times per week. And then, of course, people that own them in their homes tend to do it more frequently, just based on the access that they have.
Ben: Yeah. And, in terms of working out before or after the use of the Vasper, my own personal experience is I typically find in the morning 30 minutes is a sweet spot for me for exercise. So, I've been using the Vasper and then I'll finish up with just a few hex bar deadlifts, or I'll finish up with a round of I have a vibration platform next to it. So, I'll do a round of push-ups and squats in the vibration platform.
Again, none of this is really my–I'm training for the RKC certification right now, the Kettlebell cert. And so, I've got my kettlebell workout that I'll typically do in the afternoon or the evening, but I still will kind of after the Vasper session, just finish off with a few little moves.
And, I feel as soon as I take those cuffs off and I get that huge blood flow to my extremities, this big boost in energy. And, I feel as though I can go for a much longer period of time in the 9 or 10 minutes I'm doing after I finished the Vasper. But, I'm curious if you guys have looked into the utilization of this, especially for the pro sports teams you're working with as a pre-workout as a post-workout. Is there other exercise sessions that this is typically being done in conjunction with, or can it be done in conjunction with things like that?
Sebastian: It definitely can be done in conjunction with regular strength training. And, in all of the professional athletics settings, that's obviously how it's done.
Different athletes will have a different approach. Some people will approach it more of like an active recovery on like a regime day or in concluding their training as a means of initiating the recovery hormones that's going to help get them fresh for the next outing.
But, most athletes, just like you mentioned, actually prefer to use it as a warm up and find that starting their training with the Vasper session and then going in to their regular training, they're seeing more significant gains from the work that they're putting in. And, there's just sort of an enhanced synergy by having that increased anabolic hormone levels going into the workout.
Ben: Yeah. It's absolutely amazing for active recovery. Like for me, after I've flown or when I don't feel like working out, it's one of those things where even if I'm doing one of the recovery sessions, once I get hooked up to it, I think it might be the cold just kind of wakes you up and gets you moving.
Ben: Or, the fact that you don't have to produce a lot of wattage since your limbs are blood flow compressed. Doing this, even if I'm already beat up from another workout the day prior, it absolutely accelerates my recovery because I'm getting that increase in blood flow and it's probably partially the growth hormone and testosterone response as well.
Now, how about morning versus evening? Have you found any difference in terms of benefits on sleep or hormone profile or anything like that for a morning versus an evening session?
Sebastian: In general, the data around sleep and its impact, or exercise and its impact on sleep quality, shows that earlier in the morning that you're exercising, the greater the impact on sleep quality.
With Vasper, we have people coming into our facility at all times of day. We close around 8pm every evening and there's always a big rush there at the end of people coming to use it at 7pm in the evening, and they're saying that they're doing it for their sleep primarily. But, we have had a few people that report a pretty significant increase in energy following their workout. So, they actually won't do it past a certain time in the day, just because they get a little hyped up afterwards. And, they actually have a harder time falling asleep.
But, in general, it's almost anytime that you can fit it into the day. And then, of course, if you can be consistent with it, around three times per week, that's what's going to give you the most meaningful lasting results.
Ben: Okay, got it. Now, how about you mentioned that the San Jose Sharks were one of the initial teams that use this thing, not that I necessarily want you to try and sell a Vasper by just listing all the cool people that are using it, but I do know, for example, I was over in Dubai recently and I think somebody remarked to me that the prince of Dubai has something like 12 of these in his garage, or something like that, that he rotates through. I know Tony Robbins uses it. What are some other teams or other people who seem to be using this thing with pretty good efficacy?
Sebastian: We're with the San Francisco 49ers, the Miami Dolphins. I was just in Germany installing a system for TSG Hoffenheim. So, we're in the Boomers League and professional soccer in Europe now.
There's a team in professional baseball that I'm actually not at liberty to mention. But, before purchasing a system, we landed a trial with them during their spring training, and they wanted to quantify the impact on five of their athletes. So, they did a hormonal baseline on five athletes. And then, two weeks later, they did eight sessions during those two weeks, measured them again. And, actually, the average increase in testosterone after eight sessions was 132% increase, formerly athletes’ performance. That's an incredible company that primarily trains professional athletes in the offseason as well as a huge inroads in corporate fitness, as well as the military.
Yeah, those are some of the top athletic organizations using it at this time.
Ben: I know that a lot of folks, like you alluded to, they will go to a facility to use something like this rather than–because I mean, let's face it, these things are expensive. I think the price points on a full Vasper unit, soup to nuts, is north of $30,000. Am I correct?
Sebastian: That is correct. Yeah, your fully-loaded cost of a system in the US, which includes your shipping delivery, installation, on-site training, the warranty, all of it included, is $45,000.
Ben: Okay. Now, somebody could also, though, go to use this thing in their local community. Is that generally what happens, is there's facilities that actually have this? And, if so, how could somebody find a facility if they wanted to try one out?
Sebastian: Definitely. I mean, there's a growing number of health and wellness businesses, gyms, medical professionals, medical institutions that have successfully incorporated Vasper or using it with their clients and with their patients.
So, from the homepage of our website, in the upper right corner, there's a “Locations” tab. And, from there, you're able to find if there's a Vasper provider in your area and that's a list that's growing every single day.
Ben: Okay, got it. Now, in terms of the actual way that this would get set up, if somebody did want to actually put one into their own home, because I'm talking a lot of people will come to visit my house, they actually do want to put one in their home, are there anything, because, again, that price point is a lot for a lot of people, do you guys have payment plans, pricing plans, things like that?
Sebastian: There's leasing and financing options available but only for commercial installations, only for people that are looking to incorporate Vasper in a commercial operation and make it publicly available. So, we have yet to find somebody that's going to do the lending on the home side.
Ben: Right. But, if you have a personal training studio or you are a physical therapist, chiropractor, etc., you could do some kind of a lease program?
Sebastian: Absolutely, yeah. And, there's a growing number of people doing exactly that.
The average price per session in a commercial setting is right around $50. So, with any steady degree of traffic, the earning potential of even a single system is actually really exciting. And, in many cases, people are able to realize the full return on investment in three to six months. And then, it's all gravy at that point.
Ben: Yeah, I know it's pretty popular down at the upgraded labs down in Santa Monica. And, I believe, Beverly Hills also has one. So, there's a lot of people down there using it. And, every time I'm around those facilities, somebody's on the Vasper.
And, usually, in many cases, and this is the case in my house too, kind of doing things in conjunction with it. I have one of those LiveO2 units, which is essentially pressurized oxygen that you breathe while you're exercising, which has an effect on stem cell mobilization and inflammatory markers and mitochondria production, etc. That one's called a LiveO2 that's sitting right next to my Vasper. So, it's a mask I wear while I'm on the Vasper.
I'm curious if you've seen people successfully utilizing technologies like that in conjunction with the Vasper, for all those people who are just far out biohackers, or anything else people have used in conjunction with this thing to get even better results.
Sebastian: The main one is definitely LiveO2. So, we have a growing number of customers who have added LiveO2 to their system. And, it's something that pairs very, very well with Vasper. Of course, to use LiveO2, you need an exercise platform. And then, just to do it with Vasper is just a total upgrade of both cases.
Ben: Right, because the LiveO2 has to be next to a bike or a treadmill or something like that anyways.
Anything else that you find people are using along with the Vasper, whether it's food supplements or pre-workouts, post-workouts, or anything like that?
Sebastian: I haven't heard much with regards to supplements that people are pairing specifically with Vasper. It's really just general exercise and strength training that people are doing with Vasper and finding that in conjunction with using the system, they're seeing a lot more synergy in the work that they're putting in.
So, it really is sort of the ultimate compliment to any existing strength training regime in optimizing your hormones for better performance, better gains, and better recovery.
Ben: Now, how about stem cells? I believe it was you that mentioned to me that you guys have looked at the potential for increasing mobilization of stem cells.
Like I mentioned, probably one of the best at home ways to do that that I know of from a biohacking standpoint, is hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which is incredibly effective for stem cell mobilization.
But, what have you guys found as far as the Vasper and mobilization of stem cells or growth of stem cells?
Sebastian: There's actually a study that took place at the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, Florida, with the Dr. Adam Anz. And, he found that after a single Vasper session, HSC stem cells increased in the blood really significantly. And, that's something that's listed on the research page of our website. And, I believe that's something that's in the process of actually being published.
Ben: The HSC's are hematopoietic stem cells. Those are the ones that could become, mostly, any type of blood cell, like a red blood cell or platelet, or a white blood cell. So, you're seeing a significant increase in those HSC's in response to a Vasper workout.
Sebastian: Even a single session, yeah. As well as white blood count also increased after a single Vasper session.
Ben: Interesting. What about TBI and concussion? I think that's another one that you guys have done some research on.
Sebastian: Yeah, that's one of the most exciting and recent studies that's in the process of being published right now. It's from a Dr. Robert Cantu in the Cantu Concussion Center, which is part of Emerson Hospital just outside of Boston. And, he's a world renowned expert on this.
In many cases, if they're doing a story on the news or HBO Real Sports about brain trauma in the NFL, he's one of the doctors that they're going to be interviewing.
And, there's a study that's in the process of being published right now where there is a control group and a Vasper group both dealing with post concussive syndrome. And, the control group was going to the interval protocol on the New Step but, of course, without the cooling, without the compression. And then, the experimental group was doing the Vasper protocol in conjunction with their regular rehab. And, they found that the Vasper group improved much more significantly with less symptom variability and symptom severity. Even in, I think it was a six-week follow up after concluding their Vasper program.
Ben: Okay. So, in terms of TBI and concussion, do you think that that's due to the growth hormone response, due to the production of the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor? Have you, guys, hypothesized at all as to mechanism of actions and how those things are working for TBI or blood flow to the brain?
Sebastian: I think, it's exactly both of those things is the increase in anabolic hormones, which is going to help things heal. And then, just being able to increase perfusion to the brain. But, of course, through a really low impact in platform.
In many cases, in the case of TBI, it's difficult to do any meaningful exercise without aggravating the injury itself. Finding something that's low impact enough that's actually going to initiate this hormone response is what we're finding with Vasper.
Ben: It is interesting, too. I know there's been some investigation on lactate levels and protection of neurons against excited toxicity. So, some of it could be just concentrated in lactic acid and keep it in there for 21 minutes is having some kind of positive neuronal effect as well. So, it's really interesting. Regardless, something is happening and you have a lot of moving parts on this thing, both literally and figuratively. So, it might be tough to kind of figure out exactly what it is; but, regardless, it's a fascinating, fascinating machine.
And, I understand there's probably a lot of people listening right now who have a little bit of sticker shock on the price of something like this. But, again, even if you just hunt one down in your local community to try it out and you get a chance to pop in there, even just two or three times a week to use this, it is amazingly incredible when it comes to compressing an enormous amount of exercise benefits into a very short period of time. Probably, one of the favorite exercise, and I might misuse this term too much, but I'm going to do it anyways, favorite exercise biohacks that I have ever used.
So, if anyone is listening and you get a chance to try this thing, you should. If you're listening in and you like to own nice things or money is not an issue for you, this would be a no-brainer to add to your gym or to add to your fitness facility or anywhere else where you want to use this thing.
I think, with LiveO2 next to it, I mean, that's an amazing one two combo. I mean, I can literally rock this until I'm like 98 years old and be able to do it with zero pain at all, which is really nice because it's all impact-free training on this New Step. And then, once you add the cold wraps and the compression, you literally don't feel a thing in your joints, which I really appreciate as well. I've had low back injuries, knee injuries. I've done a few things since I've gotten the Vasper and, every time, I can continue to use it.
So, yeah, I dig it, Sebastian. It's a pretty cool device.
Sebastian: Awesome. I'm really happy to hear that.
Ben: Yeah. And, is it just vasper.com, V-A-S-P-E-R.com, where people can go and look into it more, or fill out a form to get in touch with you?
Sebastian: Exactly, yeah. So, vasper.com is the website where Vasper Systems, everywhere else on social media. And, through the contact form there, you're able to get more information and we can start a conversation.
Ben: Cool. And, I think you guys put some information about how I'm using it and some videos of me using it. I think that's Vasper.com/ben. So, you go to Vasper.com/ben.
I think there's some kind of an offer there too. It's like $1,000 off or $1,000 towards the unit, or something like that. So, if you want even better deal, you go to Vasper.com/ben and there's a cool offer there.
And then, the other thing that I'll do, if you go to BenGreenFieldFitness.com/thevaspershow, BenGreenFieldFitness.com/thevaspershow, I'll link to the other episode I did way back in the day on the Vasper as well as everything else that we talked about today, like the LiveO2 unit, some of the research that Sebastian and I discussed, etc., along with some links to photos and videos of me using this thing.
So, Sebastian, anything else you want to share about the Vasper with us before I let you go?
Sebastian: I feel like we've covered a lot of it. Just encourage people to actually get on and experience it themselves. It's one of those things that once you get on and have a session for yourself, it's something that is readily apparent that there's a visceral change taking place in your physiology, and it's something that people want to continue with.
So, there's a growing number of providers and, hopefully, there'll be one in your area that you're able to engage with.
Ben: Yeah, cool. Well, I dig it. So, anyways, again, the shownotes are at BenGreenFieldFitness.com/thevaspershow. You can check out more about the Vasper at vasper.com/ben.
And, until next time. I'm Ben Greenfield, along with Sebastian Wasowski from Vasper Systems, signing out from BenGreenFieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
My guest on today's show is Sebastian Wasowski, co-founder of Vasper Systems. I first interviewed Sebastian's father, inventor of the Vasper, on the show “How To Get 2 Hours Of Exercise In Just 20 Minutes.”, but plenty has happened since then…
…particularly the fact that I've been using the Vasper every morning for the past 3 months to experiment with just how good it actually is at building and maintaining fitness with a minimalist dose of exercise.
So what exactly is this thing?
Vasper is a complete exercise system based on three scientifically proven principles: compression technology, cooling, and interval training. By combining all of these principles, the results are extraordinary.
In 21-minutes, the Vasper enables you to get a complete workout. Utilizing compression, cooling, and interval training, you are able to concentrate lactic acid and enhance growth hormone production. The “cooldown” session, which involves lying on a cooling mat, enables you to work out again later in the day (should you like) or head straight into the office.
Vasper has a wide range of use cases and users. The machine is used by medical professionals, people recovering from cardiac incidents, athletic teams, and the Special Forces.
During this discussion, you'll discover:
-The story of the Vasper machine…8:45
- Sebastian's father invented it to address his own health needs; post-traumatic stress in the ankles
- Discovered research on blood flow restriction, intermittent cold exposure, interval training
- Prototype was popular among locals on Big Island of Hawaii
- Company formed in 2009; successful trial with San Jose Sharks hockey team
-The efficacy of the Vasper for performance implications…12:20
- Designed to stimulate the body's production of anabolic hormones in lesser threshold of a normal workout
- Mimics physiology of much more intense workout
- In a controlled study, participants using the Vasper far outperformed counterparts not using it
- Far better for overall health than exogenously induced compounds such as steroids
- Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI)
-About the components of the machine…18:30
- Compression cuffs around the wrist
- How blood flow restriction occurs
- Pressure filled up via cold water rather than air in a blood pressure monitor
- Similar to Kaatsu devices
- The seat and footpads are also cooled; enables user to be more powerful throughout the workout
- Positive metabolic response to the cold exposure
- Cooling mat is used post-workout to reset heart and respiratory rate to baseline
- Bare feet touch metal pads which are cooled by same cold water; lowers overall body temp
- You're able to ground with the earth via the machine; it's plugged in with a 3-prong plug
-About the exercise regimens programmed into the Vasper…35:15
- 30 are programmed into the machine
- They are customizable for each individual user
- New protocols added are accessed via software update
-Why each session on the Vasper is 21 minutes in length…36:40
- 21 minutes is the optimal time to initiate max response from the endocrine system, without stimulating cortisol (stress response)
- Not recommended to go longer than 21 minutes, nor to do multiple sessions per day
-Whether the Vasper can be used in conjunction with strength training…40:10
- Can be used as a recovery tool on an off day
- Ben reports amazing results for active recovery after traveling or working out the day prior
-The optimal time of day to use the Vasper…41:45
- The earlier the better for sleep quality
- Some report an increase in energy following the workout, harder time falling asleep
-People you may have heard of who use Vasper machines…43:15
- Tony Robbins
- Prince of Dubai
- San Jose Sharks
- San Francisco 49ers
- Miami Dolphins
- Major League baseball team reported huge increases in testosterone levels after use
-Where to use a Vasper if you can't afford one for your own home…44:20
-Use of other technology in conjunction with the Vasper…47:30
- LiveO2 mask
- Most users report a greater synergy with strength training when using the machine
-Research involving stem cells, TBI, and more with the Vasper…48:40
- Research page on Vasper's website
- Andrews Institute study found that a single session, HSC stem cells increased in the blood
- Dr. Robert Cantu reported TBI patients are able to exercise without aggravating symptoms
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
– Ben's Podcasts/info on the LiveO2
- A Surgeon’s Little-Known Secret to Biohacking Your Body With Oxygen Therapy
- The Ultimate Guide To Biohacking Exercise With Oxygen Therapy, Hypoxia, Elevation & Altitude Training.
- Here is a video of the LiveO2 oxygen reservoir system
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