From podcast: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/jeff-banman-podcast/
[00:00:52] Podcast Sponsors
[00:04:24] Guest Introduction
[00:07:47] Jeff’s Childhood Dreams Manifested Into Being A High-Performance Specialist
[00:14:24] How Jeff Quantifies And Manages The Central Nervous System In High-Stress Scenarios
[00:29:43] Podcast Sponsors
[00:33:29] How Jeff Disseminates What He’s Learned To Others Across The Globe
[00:36:32] Why Unstable Loads Are The Key To Jeff’s Training Program
[00:41:15] A Rabbit Trail On How To Recover COVID-Induced Brain Fog
[00:42:44] cont. Why Unstable Loads Are The Key To Jeff’s Training Program
[00:48:02] A Gold-Standard Workout Using Jeff’s Practices
[00:57:17] Nutrition Protocols Recommended By Jeff For His Workouts
[01:06:50] Closing the Podcast
[01:07:29] Legal Disclaimer
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Jeff: Cognitive function, comparing awareness, comparing decision making, their rate of recovery, how fast it took them to get back to probably 80% of their base.
Ben: Who also is able to withstand rigors of hypoxia, rigors of cold, rigors of heat, and rigors of unstable objects. You’re going to operate as a more impactful human being.
Jeff: Right. The more willing I am to extend myself into the unknown or the D levels of discomfort because I’m developing kind of an internal power or confidence.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
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Alright, folks. Occasionally, as you know, I like to interview badasses on my show, folks who are doing some pretty cool things in the realm of human performance. And, in this case also human behavior in high-stress environments. My guest on today’s show is a guy who helped to develop the equipment out in my garage that I have a love/hate relationship with these sandbags which I use in which my sons when I have them at training drag up and down the driveway, chockful of sand or these kettle bell-shaped bags and overhead bags, and all this crazy stuff made by a company called Brute Force.
And, Jeff Banman is my guest on today’s show. By the way, Jeff, do you pronounce your last name Banman or Banman or Banman?
Jeff: Yeah, Banman. Yeah, yeah, it’s just straight Banman, easy.
Ben: Fancy French or something if we wanted to, Banman. Anyways, Jeff has over 30 years of experience across a lot of stuff, like the fire service, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, the Central Intelligence Agency. For those of you unfamiliar with that, it’s also called the CIA. Jeff serves as the COO, like I mentioned, and the Chief Human Performance Officer for this fitness brand called Brute Force. So, he’s got experience conducting counterterrorism operations in 23 different countries and different combat zones, and a whole bunch of other high threat or what are called nonpermissive environments. And, he has had the privilege of dissecting human behavior at a pretty intense level in those pretty intense situations and is even studied up on things like the minute shifts and heart rate variability that occur in a stressful scenario and how the central nervous system can be managed under periods of significant stress.
And so, not only does he really know his way around physical performance but also around mental performance. And, because I’m a fan of grit and of developing humans who are resilient and not only resilient but in the way I’m educating my own sons’ freethinking, and independent, and able to survive and unpredictable scenarios which, I think, is a very handy skill for human being to have these days. As a matter of fact, I think two skills that every young human should learn is how to operate without producing large amounts of stress in high-stress scenarios. And then, secondarily, I think that a young human should be able to filter information and digest information through a specific filter or lens because we live in an information era where you just got to be able to do that.
So, regarding the latter, I’m not sure Jeff and I are going to talk too much about that, but the former, absolutely. So, Jeff, welcome to the show.
Jeff: Hey, Ben. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.
Jeff: Look forward to today.
Ben: Yeah, it’s going to be fun. So, I mean, I always wonder when I talk to guys like you who are just so deep in the trenches, especially in these high-stress scenarios, and in many cases working with the Armed Forces and the CIA and working as a firefighter. Is this something that you have always been into because people ask me that and I’m like, “No, I grew up reading ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ and programming computers.” So, did you grow up with somebody who’s doing all this stuff?
Jeff: Yeah. Actually, it’s funny I did. I mean, my mother tells a story like when I was four or five. Whenever I could change my own clothes, whenever that age hit like if I was playing army, I had to have my brown corduroys on. Or, if I was playing fireman, I had my blue corduroys on. I was very distinct like in character from a very young age. And, I will say on that side of the equation, I’ve gotten to live out all my childhood dreams. And, I don’t really know where those came from. That’s not a family thing, that’s just who I kind of showed up to this planet to be.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Well, I’m curious with that childhood where you actually kind of crossed the threshold into beginning to work with some of these high-performance communities. Can you walk me through how you got plugged in so to speak?
Jeff: Yeah, man. I gave a keynote a couple years ago to one of the firehouse conferences and I kind of in it. I just jumped in and kind of said, “You know, my life when I looked back beautifully orchestrated, completely unplanned.”
Ben: Yeah. As I say, God draws straight with crooked lines.
Jeff: Absolutely. Right. So, I mean, I was a 16-year-old kid working at Domino’s, slapping pizzas and doing my thing. And, one of the drivers one day came by like a Saturday or something. Comes in the store and is like, “Hey, man, come here and check this out.” Like, “What?” We walk outside, he pops his trunk and he’s got fireman gear in his trunk. “Where did you get that?” He’s like, “I joined the Firehouse down the street.” I was like, “What?” He was, “Yeah, you can do that.”
Next day, I hopped in the car, I was like, “Oh, let’s go check this out.” Next day, hopped in the car, drive down firehouse, 16-year-old kid, stupid haircut, “Hey, I want to be a fireman.” And, filled out the application because in the Northern Virginia area at that time, big volunteer system, big, structured departments, and a lot of opportunity to do that. They changed the law now, but back, at 16, you could join and ride straight up and do everything.
So, it went pretty quick. I mean, I filled out the paperwork, got voted into the department, was in fire school a week later, and off I went. And, I wasn’t a big fan of high school, just wasn’t my gig, it wasn’t my thing. My senior year, I only take two classes to graduate. So, I was the county’s first intern, petition them to do an internship with them so I could get out of school early, and then got hired 32 days after I graduated as the 14th career fireman hired in Loudoun County, Virginia, which they’re now a department of 800 plus people.
So, yeah, it’s been an interesting stage. And then, get bored, made a recruiter a couple years in, kind of feeling like, “Hey, I’m going to be stuck being a fireman and doing this stuff.” And, not in the best shape, not super healthy kind of could see the writing on the wall that if I stayed at that time in the fire service health and fitness wasn’t really a key thing, wasn’t a big driver and met this fricking recruiter who had just come out of range of battalion and thought, “Hey, that sounds like a cool idea. Let’s go get pushed to the limit physically.” So, join the army, went in, spend my time to Coatesville in 99 for the first guys in the ground there, and then got out shortly after, was back in the fire service. Actually, on duty the night of September 10th, having coffee the morning September 11th, and then spent kind of the next four days in response down to the Pentagon.
Jeff: And then, just because of the work I had done in the unique things that I had skill sets that I developed over time, was doing some projects with some people, guys from the agency were there, they were like, “Hey, what are you doing?” I said this. They said, “You want to come to work for us?” I said “Sure.” And, six months later was in Africa working my first counterterrorism operation. So, it’s kind of been a wild ride.
Ben: Wow. So, in terms of these counterterrorism operations, is that where you got into the whole mental game and performance under high-stress scenarios? Or, was this something you already kind of mulling on as a firefighter?
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, I think I was always mulling on it. Ben, I was always kind of a pain in the ass, the different thinker, “Hey, we can do this a little better,” kind of guy. And, the unique thing was kind of our responsibility had both an external responsibility and an internal responsibility to train and develop some of our people. And, kind of as we were progressing beginning to look at things, there was what I would say kind of a rudimentary education going on around mindset that they would teach in some of the programs. And, I sat in one of those classes one time, super smart guy, former Seal Team 6 guy, but looking around the class, it was just missing everybody. And, I got it because I understood that world because I already kind of been reading and researching and really diving into some stuff. And, we just had to figure out a better way to deliver. Did they get it connect? And so, actually, I called my uncle who did the choosy moms choose Jif peanut butter campaign back in the day.
Jeff: You remember choosy moms choose Jif peanut butter?
Ben: Oh, geez, I’m feeling a little bit dumb even though I don’t consider myself a peanut butter aficionado, but perhaps a peanut butter addict for much of my life. But no, not familiar.
Jeff: That was the big, huge campaign that Jif came out with back long time ago. So, he’s a big marketing guy and he’s a big emotional intelligence marketing guy. And, I called John one day and said, “Hey, I have about an hour to deliver highly scientific yet highly emotional content. How can I do that?” And, he was pretty integral in helping me understand how to develop a class with a certain flow that engage people’s emotions and then dropped into logic and science and then brought them back in and just kind of rode this wave. And then, that compounded into, “Okay, how do we train and develop our people better?”
And, out of that, we were really up against some of the things during that time post 9/11 had to understand we’re kind of a what I would call a head-up force. So, we’re very thinking culture. Everything kind of goes on in the head. And, we’re dealing with a nose down culture where it’s very much about intuition and instinct. You show up in the environment. If I’ve got to meet people from the other side, they’re going to smell the nervousness or the energy on me instantly. So, this is where we kind of just started down the line of discovery of how do we develop people to be capable to operate in those environments more effectively.
Ben: So obviously, there’s a lot of different places that we could start, but what I thought was kind of interesting that caught my eye when I was looking over some of the things that you’ve done is how you have kind of delved into the quantitative aspect of what’s going on with the nervous system in a high-stress scenario and how you’re calculating that and then how you’re then implementing specific tactics to be able to manage the central nervous system in those scenarios. And obviously, that’s kind of a big question. But, I’d love for you to kind of dive into how that actually looks.
Jeff: Yeah. So, a couple things. I’m kind of a guy that, okay, what’s the question we’re trying to answer? What’s the problem we’re trying to solve? How do I take people and get them more in body, more regulated and begin to understand what’s going on inside at any moment? Traditional things, even in fitness, and even–because this is all [00:15:19] _____. My thing is everything we’re talking about is applicable to every aspect of life.
So, normal patterns of development are really more task based. Can I do this? Can I do that? Can I do this? Can I do that? I learned something. I do have the skill. I can demonstrate it. Now, it’s like, “Okay, cool. Now, go out in the world and produce me results.” Well, there’s a big gap between stepping out of something and then producing quality results that really matter. And, that was the place of play and discovery, really. And, I needed tools and resources that I could leverage in the field. I didn’t have a lab. I needed the uncontrolled space to see what was actually happening, what the behaviors were that were being exhibited in very specific conditions.
And so, we went to heart rate variability, Polar Electro, Heartmath, where the primary games in town at the start of it. And then, I got to know the kid who developed the Zephyr Bioharness. So, we started using that because that gave me heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration rate, all kinds of goodies, and the ability to see it live, which was a big one.
Ben: And, by the way, the use of that Bioharness, the Zephyr Bioharness which I’m familiar with and for those of you interested, it’s Z-E-P-H-Y-R if you want to look it up. And, I’ll put all this stuff in the shownotes if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/BruteForcepodcast. I know that it does some pretty advanced monitoring of things like central nervous system variables and HRV, but was that prior to the advent of some of these smaller wearables like the Oura or the Whoop or the Biostrap?
Jeff: I always joke and say that if I could have published my documentation back in the day, I don’t Whoop today. But, it was all done for another reason.
Jeff: So, yeah, they didn’t exist back then. And, really at that time, heart rate variability was a fairly new part of the equation. I mean, HeartMath was really the leader in discovering heart rate coherence and stuff at the time, and their science pretty solid in a lot of ways. And so, we began to look at the methodology began to understand shifts in heart rate variability and what those were. And then, I needed to develop a training methodology or scenario methodology that enabled me to apply very distinct stressors in certain conditions at certain times and then measure output. So, measure information gathering awareness, actions, behaviors, decision making, all those criteria of what the result, what is actually coming into result.
So, what we found was a couple unique things. One, using heart rate variability. In that methodology, we started to outline what we call the stacking effect which was interesting.
Jeff: So, for instance, if I’ve got a group of operational people going into a scenario very hyper-realistic, a lot of work to it, and I’m laying in small things like old man and Garb walking across the street in front of the car and extra little people hanging out there or kids playing soccer, whatever it is. I’m adding in all this kind of peripheral stressors that have no impact on what they’re about to do, but start to cause the brain to separate its thinking process.
Jeff: And, an end date of what we’re able to see is a kind of each application stress, either that’s an indirect satellite or direct stressor at each application was the individual recovering from that heightened experience. Were they integrating specific techniques to maintain control of their central nervous system?
Ben: Now, when you say recover, do you mean like I’m met with a stressful scenario, and let’s use a very small example, a bunch of lines jumping out from the email inbox in my computer and we know that you can do just say three settling breaths, two count in through the nose, four-count out through the mouth, three times and you can measure. And, I’ve done this a pretty significant near instantaneous shift in heart rate variability. Now, is what you’re alluding to the fact that that can be trained or is better managed in certain individuals and you were starting to measure that?
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, ultimately, I kind of joke after I teach up four or five-day class. I’m like, “Hey, we just spent five days together, and really all I did was taught you how to breathe.” Because that’s the primary course of action. And, a rhythmic releasing breath process, very similar to what you described, few mods to it. If you distinct characteristics to it, it becomes the primary source for regulating the central nervous system. When I begin to combine that with anchoring into the present moment, getting off the thought trains not getting spun into a different direction when I return to now, whatever condition I’m in, I’m able to begin to regulate that system.
Now, you also have to understand that’s not going from, “Oh, crap, we’re about to get in a firefight” to like, “Oh, I’m totally chilled out on the beach.” You need to use the advantages of your system however you want to keep it in zone. Just like fitness, just like we’re working out, you want to be in the zone that you need to be in to perform at the level you want to perform. So, even applying the same techniques, no matter what the conditions are, my system is regulating to the optimal space. And then, we’re able to see that on data. I’m able to actually measure impact and severity of the stressor on the individual, I’m able to measure what I would call the time under the threshold or slang term dragging the bottom, which is the time that they are dropping their heart rate variability, comparing cognitive function, comparing awareness, comparing decision making, and then their rate of recovery, how fast it took them to get back to probably 80% of their base.
Jeff: Right. And, I’m able to see that on the data. Does that help or make sense?
Ben: Yeah, absolutely. Now, you refer to a couple things there. I’ve obviously treated breathwork pretty extensively on prior podcast kind of kicked that horse to death. But, you mentioned a few other things, like you said, anchoring in a specific moment, and then you said something after that. So, in addition to breathwork, what would you say are when someone is in a high-stress scenario, whether it’s physical or emotional or mental stress, what are some of the other big wins that you found through that quantification process that just work like gangbusters for managing stress in those scenarios?
Jeff: Yeah, man. I mean, most times what happens is when we experience, and I like to refer to as load on the system, less about stress–and it’s very individualized across the board as well I found in all of these studies. But, when there’s a load on the system and the system kind of starts moving into a state of arousal, and things start kind of working, I’m stressed, I’m feeling a certain way, there’s some real distinct tactics to use because what begins to naturally happen in the untrained or undeveloped person is my system start to work in conflict. Meaning, my brain, my thought patterns are skewing off into more than likely a future-based outcome. Fear is just a projection of the future of what may or may not happen. So, my mind is getting ahead of myself. And, it’s triggering things that haven’t even happened yet, which my body is trying to move into alignment saying, “Hey, I may be under threat” or something is going on. There’s a perception that something is going on and I need more right now in this minute.
So, central nervous systems kicking it into queue, you’re getting all the chemical dump, you’re doing all those things. Mind starts shaping forward into creating kind of worried out or whatever it might be conflicting back and sending disconnected messages back down to the central nervous system. So, I’m operating a conflict at that point. And, you said something interesting about the way you want your boys to grow up. And, I really like to when I’m teaching, I break down the difference between perception and discernment. I believe discernment is really a gateway to seeing what is actually happening, being very flat about it, versus a perception which is going to go through our filters which may go through our biases, which is more interpretive if you will.
So, utilizing the right breathwork, coming back to the present moment, anchoring into what’s actually occurring, and dealing with the challenges at hand, kind of being very, very flat about it, used to call it. You’d see guys out of Seal Team 6 or Delta or whoever you know, guys have been in combat, we call it a thousand-yard stare, which just looks like they’re burning a hole right through you. They have trained over time to be extremely discerning. They’re just assessing factually what’s happening.
So, when I can get to that place, that actually starts to bring brain, heart, central nervous system into alignment rather than this kind of disrupted space fighting against each other, compounding the effects. And now, I am actually more settled, and I’m allowing my body to do its natural course of action to give me the energy or the blood flow, or the breath, whatever it is I physically need to deal with it in that moment.
Ben: Can that be trained? And, if so, how would you feel in something like that?
Jeff: Oh, yeah. So, I mean, some of it is fairly easy. I mean, it’s been crazy across the board. There’s really no difference between a pro golfer, an operator, a guy on the stock exchange floor, a CEO running a public trading company. One, the breathwork is key. And, I know you’ve exhausted this, so I’ll just do this quickly. Our technique is nasal breath in roughly about a four-count deep into the diaphragm, fully engagement. I find a lot of people have to actually learn to reengage their diaphragm because there are more shallow chest breathers than they are diaphragmatic breathers. So, there’s the practice of that. So fundamentally, I’m taking control on the way in, I feel good about it, I’m controlling my breath. Deep into the diaphragm, full expansion, and then I just do an open mouth, relax jaw, allow the breath to leave the body at its own pace.
Ben: And, by the way, it’s interesting. I should mention the open mouthpiece because a lot of people will tell me, why don’t you breathe out through the nose the same way that you would breathe in through the nose? Because you breathe in and you get the nitric oxide and the filtering and some of the better oxygenation. But then, breathing out, it’s interesting that there’s a few different things that happen biomechanically, but one important one is you actually see a little bit more movement of the diaphragm when you breathe out through your mouth, it seems to somehow incorporate more of those diaphragmatic muscles and also allows for a little bit more control, meaning you’ve almost got this built-in meter, meaning your pursed lips, and how fortunate you exhale through those pursed lips of the length and the intensity of the exhale. It’s more difficult unless you’re reaching out and pinching your nostrils through a nasal exhale to be able to modulate the outflow as opposed to breathing out through the mouth. So, I’m typically 90% of the time doing breathwork unless it’s getting into a real hefty pranayama.
Jeff: Right, right.
Ben: Usually going in through the nose out through the mouth.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, it’s really, I call it the return to the original breath. You look at your kids, about age 5, 7, they’re belly breathers. They don’t care. They don’t even think about it. Then they hit the playground, they got to start posturing. Shoulders rise, chest comes up. I move my breath up to the upper chest. And there, I am shallow breathing because it becomes more about posturing and demonstrating. So, return to the original breath.
And, the other thing that you’re doing in that giving up control kind of I almost described like letting gravity pull the breath away. Let the breath leave the body. You’re also triggering the vagal nerve and you’re sending signals of safety of the brain. So, you’re actually checking in with yourself going, “Hey, I’m safe.” And, this is another kind of core aspect of what we discovered.
I fundamentally believe now and I’ve said it several times, there’s really only one question that matters to every being on the planet, and that is, am I safe? That’s the constant check. Am I safe? Am I safe to say this, be this, do this? Am I safe physically? So–
Ben: Right. Am I safe? What were the three things? Basically, security and control. Am I loved? Meaning, am I being seen and heard?
And, there’s a third. Why am I blanking on the third? It’s to be loved, it’s to be in control, and it’s to be–
Jeff: Is that to be acknowledged or be–well, you said be seen. So, love the knowledge.
Ben: Probably people are jumping through the podcast right now, screaming it at us so.
Jeff: So fundamentally, here’s what we’re doing when we bring everything together. Safety is a matter of perception. Most of us don’t have quality anchors of safety from growing up. It’s skewed. Safety is not necessarily–we don’t label it good or bad, it’s a sensation in the body that were radically unfamiliar with. And so, when I align the breath with the cognitive tools with the anchoring in the present moment, I’m validating the sensation being experienced in the body. Right now, I’m sitting at my computer, I’m sitting at my desk, I get to look out at the beautiful backyard. We’ve got 8 inches of snow on the ground right now. It’s snowing like a feen. It’s wonderful.
And, I get to breath, sit in and anchor into this present moment going, “Oh, how cool is this?” I’m in the experience of the moment and it’s registering down into my lower systems as I’m okay, I’m safe. I’m good. The more I develop that, the more comfortable I become being in uncomfortable situations. Right, the more willing I am to kind of extend myself into the unknown or the levels of discomfort because I’m developing kind of an internal power or confidence that I will be able to figure things out, that I will be able to deal with it, that I will be okay.
Ben: Yeah. And, that reminds me when you said that that jogged my memory, it’s control. So basically, you want to be safe and secure. You only loved, accepted, noticed, seen and heard, and then we desire control. Those are the three basic things: Safety, love, and control.
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That makes sense. And, I understand that through breathwork and through anchoring into the present moment, we can begin to develop this ability to be able to operate well under significant stress. Would you say there’s anything else mentally or emotionally that are big things that you focus on?
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, I think one of the things, so we won’t get into it today, but I’ve got a math equation for what kind of this looks like. I had to figure out a way not–yeah, so not only to develop like the systems and the understanding, but then how do I train operators? How do I train anybody? How do I communicate this effectively so people get it? And, got super-smart people around me. I mean, guys from Wharton, head up performance of the pirates who was working at the Navy at the time, doing some things with us, like really big brain people. And, I would send them things like, “Hey, does this work?” And, we came up with this math equation for how do I develop certain behavioral traits that we identified through about 300 interviews that exist in the top tier performers and either don’t exist or exist in very small forms and fashion at the lower end of the spectrum.
And, what we found was this–I’m not going to just talk about him. I call it their C3 which is extreme level of comfort in very uncomfortable or dysregulating situations. They just can go anywhere in the world anytime just because they’re good because they’ve anchored that model of safety and trust in themselves which leads to the second C, which is confidence, a true faith in self, a true faith in their own abilities and their training which then leads to the third level, which is creativity, the ability to figure it out. I mean, I spent my life being dropped into various countries with crap information, half stuff, this, that like “Okay, go sort it out.” And, you just learned and natively do that over time and experience. However, following to the distinct process, you can begin to speed that up rapidly. But, in that component, the key aspect that is the developer of that is a person’s level of openness which can be measured. And, openness is a kind of a composite of curiosity, use of imagination, and humility.
And so, when I have those subtle factors behind the scenes when people are truly open to experiences, open to learning, they’re not coming with all their judgment like, “Ah no, well, somebody else taught me this, and this is the way it goes.” It’s like breathwork. I mean, it’s all valuable to me. I mean, as long as it’s practiced, as long as it’s developed, as long as there’s some data behind it, you’ve got to find what works for you. I’m not like “you have to do it this way” kind of guy. So, those key aspects at the underlying aspect of human behavior are the catalyst for real performance, real change, real capability.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. And, there’s kind of a corollary here, and this is kind of a perfect segue because I wanted to get into this whole idea of unstable physical loading because I know that’s something you also are expert in because that’s where this whole idea of sandbags, and sand-filled kettlebells, and things that you guys have it at Brute Force come in. What I’ve found is when training with kettlebells, and sandbags, and kegs, and so-called strongman training, I still think one of the better books out there I read back in the day I interviewed on my podcast. I’ll find the link and put it in the shownotes for you all at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/BruteForcepodcast. The strength coach named Zach Evan-Esh, I think, has one of the best strongman training books out there. It’s kind of how I learned to build up my little garage gym, chockful of equipment that is full of unstable loads.
I’ve found that when I wind up in the average hotel gym with Nautilus machines and symmetrical barbells and dumbbells that it feels so easy, but mentally and physically compared to this unstable, unpredictable loading. And, obviously, from a very broad standpoint, most people get it that when you use an unstable load or something slightly asymmetrical like a kettlebell that you are going to develop the ability to perhaps recruit muscles in a manner that allows for more stability. But, I’d love to take an even deeper dive into what’s going on with, I think you guys at Brute Force call it ULOO training.
Jeff: Yeah. So, that’s kind of the core fundamental process, the Unstable Load/Odd Object was what was developed.
Ben: Unstable Load/Odd Object.
Jeff: Yup, Unstable Load/Odd Object. So, that was the program that one of our team members, Chris Lane came up with. Phenomenal guy, super beast, way forward thinker. And, put it to the test, took it to the universities, started laying it out. We’re going to be launching the Level 1 certification course online here in about three months, I think.
So, this is kind of the fundamental context of the sandbag or whatever shifting load work you’re going to do. For me, I love it. Now, 47 years old, a lot of damage to the body. A lot of use on this kid over time. And, for me, what I find is fundamentally no matter what your movement is, your body is always regulating. I compare it to the new way they design cars. You’re driving the car. However, what’s going on underneath of that is suspensions constantly shifting, tire pressure is maybe shifting like if you’re buying a fully upgraded car, the calculations that are being done to make that a smooth ride for you are incredible. And, that’s really a good comparison to working with the unstable load, to working with sandbags. You’re taking very specific basic movements that you may do on CrossFit or other environments now but you’re adding a level of complexity because you are internally managing this load that is constantly moving back and forth. I mean, it’s always funny to me when I see other sandbags out there or people out there who pack their sandbags so full. It basically becomes just a weighted bar.
Ben: Yeah, that’s a funny thing. If it’s too full, it’s actually paradoxically easier. It’s heavier but easier.
Jeff: Absolutely. And so, because you are firing all the neuromuscular connective tissue, all the activities inside, all the internal stuff, you’re actually, and I’m being the geek that I am, I’m now putting data to this to look at what’s actually happening within the central nervous system. Heart rate raises faster, increases recovery time at a faster rate if combined with breathwork, and we’ve talked about some of the things that we’re doing. So, I’m literally laying out now taking the fundamentals we learned, the things we did in the operational environment now truly breaking them down into this fitness model. And, we’ve been in conversations about what’s next beyond functional fitness, what’s next beyond what’s out there, and we’re testing it out in the challenge now with a lot of people moving more towards this idea of instinctual fitness, this idea of full-body, brain, mind, breathwork alignment in the activity, so that I am re-anchoring points of safety, I’m extending my point of comfort, I’m willing to be a little more discomfortable or excuse me–
Jeff: Yeah. Sorry about that. Recovering from a couple days of brain fog. I’ve been sick a couple months ago. Still not firing on all cylinders. I’m glad we didn’t do this yesterday. I cancelled a show yesterday that was going to be on because I was just not functioning.
Jeff: So, willingness–say again?
Ben: Why were you not functioning?
Jeff: So, I mean, post my COVID in November.
Ben: Oh, it was like post-COVID brain fog. Yeah.
Jeff: Yeah, man. And, some days it just comes out of nowhere and I feel like I’m an idiot, simple.
Ben: Yeah. There’s certain things that can happen. Like a lot of those intranasal peptides like Semax and Cerebrolysin. Those are amazing for that.
Jeff: Yup, that’s what I’ve been–
Ben: I think that’s like top of the totem pole. And then, the other thing is from a technology standpoint like the two things, because I’ve had people with brain fog and even post-COVID issues who visit my house and down in my basement. I have all these toys and the hyperbaric chamber and then there’s this other device called the Biocharger that combines near-infrared radio frequency, PEMF, and infrared light, and there’s some settings on there that are directly correlated frequencies for stimulating the brain. That and then there’s this thing called Vielight, V-I-E-light, is developed for dementia and Alzheimer’s at a 40 Hertz signal. It just turns on the brain. They have 10 Hertz alpha more relaxing signal. But, that’s some of the more advanced stuff. A lot of people may not know about it. Intranasal peptides, hyperbaric, Biocharger, and the Vielight. Like you stack those and you can beat back just about any form of brain fog.
Jeff: Yeah. When we’re done here, I will get on the line and get some stuff situated.
Ben: Yeah. Okay. Anyways though, I derailed you. So, you’re talking about how stupid you are. I’m just kidding. And then–
Jeff: Anyway, right, so extending the ability to be uncomfortable.
Jeff: Because that’s where growth occurs. We know this. I mean, you serve yourself up daily to what’s next? I mean, I’ve curated my Instagram feed to get what I want and to actually enjoy my time when I do have the moment to scroll through. And, every point is a value, somebody I appreciate, somebody I want to learn from, somebody who’s bringing something to the table. You’re in that stack and have been for quite some time.
Ben: I’m going to have to get some tips here. I’ve never scrolled through Instagram in my life. I have yet to figure that out. I post to it sometimes, but I’ve never actually scrolled through Instagram. I’ve never even played around with that screen.
Jeff: No, man. I’ve kind of figured out how to curate that so it’s effective.
Jeff: But, part of the job being out there. So, anyway. So, this whole process when we begin to align a more disruptive movement pattern, for instance, we had the big guys in the gym the other day, the big boys, we said, “Alright, won’t you kind of do a warm-up set with 135-barbell clean and press.” Just go until you’re kind of like, “Okay, I’m good, I’m functioning, ready to go.” And then, we break out the 135-pound sandbag and said, “Okay, now you got to meet the same rep things.” And, it was halved.
And, one of the big guys, he’s a big strong man guy, Olympic lifter, he literally threw the back town. It was like, “I’m now clear. If I need to get stronger, that’s what I need to do.”
Jeff: You’re seeing them by seven grabbing other handles, trying to figure out how to manipulate the bag, trying to get it up, just sweat pouring off of them. So, it’s not a one-for-one correlation, we tell people that all the time like, “Don’t try to start off at 100 pounds of sand. It ain’t going to work.”
Jeff: Get your ego out of the way.
Ben: Yeah. And, what’s interesting is this unstable load training. A lot of times people will find despite lifting lighter weights, they’ll be more sore. And, when you think about it, there’s actually a concept in exercise physiology called inhibitory postsynaptic potential. So, what that means is basically when you’re using all these big prime movers, these big muscles that you’re used to using, a lot of times you get used to using and stabilizing using those big muscles. But once you add in an odd asymmetrical object, it shifts a lot of the load to different areas in the joint, you get different neuromuscular recruitment and you’re going to begin to recruit all these tiny stabilizing muscles that inevitably result in kind of an increased delayed onset muscle soreness post-workout, but also results in using your beautiful analogy about the car, a better ability of the body to be able to modulate itself under stress, almost like a Ferrari.
And so, the only thing I’ve really found that simulates that type of, “Oh, gosh, I didn’t realize I have all these muscles, I haven’t been using, I’m sore” type of effect is electrical muscle stimulation training where you’re basically just overriding the brain and bypassing the brain that’s really working during the Unstable Load/Odd Object training and instead just saying, “Alright, we’re just going to shock you into submission.” And, you use an external controller rather than the brain but similar concept, both electrical muscle stimulation and unstable load training wind up with a neuromuscular recruitment that often even if you were thinking about using those other stabilizing muscles like thinking about say turning on your glute mead by driving your knees out at the bottom of a squat and externally rotating your hips. Even then, it seems that once you throw an asymmetrical object in or once you throw electrical muscle stimulation in, there’s no choice, it automatically shifts the body into using those muscles whether you like it or not.
Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, and that’s why we’re big proponents of integration of this. We’ve got some people in our community that are 100% sandbag all the time every day. That’s just their thing. That’s what they have in the garage. That’s where they live and operate. But, we’ve also seen this massive influx of big-time cross-fitters, big-time lifters now moving to a two- or three-day-a-week kind of sandbag integration.
And, going through the process here like I’m curious to see now if we can, we’re going to get a bunch of cross-fitters do a huge study on it that we’re going to take some core movements where they’re plateauing, move them to certain sandbags exercises for a distinct period of time, and then come back and see the gains. My theory is they’re going to be pretty, pretty solid.
Jeff: Yeah, because you come back to that bar after work in sand for a period in time. It’s like, “What is this thing?”
Ben: Yeah, yeah. And, then like boots on the streets. For people who haven’t ever done this type of ULOO training, what we’re talking about is equipment. If you were to go to your website, Jeff, basically you’ve got sandbags, which we’ve established, you shouldn’t overfill, keep them kind of loosey-goosey. But still, to load the challenges, you’ve got balls which are sand-filled, adjustable, Atlas Stone style balls that are also obviously somewhat unstable. And then, you’ve got your kettlebells that you can fill with sand, which I kind of like because you can also take these when you travel and you just fill them up whenever you get to where you’re going and not paying 70 KG TSA fee. And then, you’ve got weighted vests.
Now, let’s say that somebody’s like, okay, we’re going to–I think you guys even have a garage gym bundle on your website. Let’s say somebody grabs that bundle, they’ve got all this shit laying around in their garage, walk me through what, in your opinion, like a gold-standard typical training session would be for the folks who are kind of the 80/20ers. They’re like, “Alright, there’s probably 100 different workouts I could do with these things.” But, what would be an example of a go-to work out in a scenario of ULOO training using stuff equipment?
Jeff: Yeah. Before we get in, I’m going to tell you, I mean, one of the things I love about sandbag personally just coming from my background. It is definitely a more visceral-based workout. There are things you get to do with the sandbag you don’t get to do with everything else. And so, kind of one of the cool, throw it in the garage, go hit it, basic 20-minute AMRAP, many rounds as possible. And, we like to start off with our push-up drags. So literally, you’re saying you’re going to plant your bag to the right side of you, you’re going to do a push-up, on the up, you’re going to reach through with your left arm, drag that bag all the way through and across. So, you’re actually–yeah.
Ben: I like it.
Jeff: Yeah, right, back down, back through. So, we got 10 pushup drags. Then, we’re going to get up, we’re going to do 10 shoulder slams, which is really a cool engagement in the body. So, I got to pick this bag up, up onto the shoulder, and then just full power force slam to the ground and just let it rip. Back up, and slam to the ground.
Ben: So, rather than like an overhead med ball slam, you’re just going to the shoulder then slamming?
Jeff: Yup. Yup.
Jeff: Up to the shoulder, and then using a full [00:49:37] _____. So, for me, I’ll rotate, I’ll do one-one on the shoulder. So, come up to the shoulder kind of anchoring for a second, power up, move down a line, force drive all the way through, and just right to the ground just with full energy. Then, pop that thing up, do 10 shoulders to shoulders, which is really developing that entire system. So, literally, it goes from grabbing the bag, got to manage it, got to figure out where I want to hold it, up, full extension overhead, back to the other shoulder, up, full extension over the head, back to the other.
And then, we’d close that out with probably 10 jump squats with the bag, which is a humbling experience.
Ben: For the jump squats, you have the bag like–
Jeff: Back rack.
Ben: Back rack.
Jeff: Yeah, just kind of back rack.
Ben: Okay, okay. Got it.
Jeff: Yeah, just back rack.
I mean, we do have front rack, jump squats, so you kind of can modify it up. Yeah, it’s a great thing about it. We’re in the process of refining gear right now. That’s kind of been our primary effort is how do we refine what we have and make it more functional, et cetera. So, the small bag which will now be called the “scalp,” that’s going to become a recommended 20 to 50 pounds sandbag. The “midst tear,” which is the athlete, that’ll sit probably about 30 to almost 80 pounds when we’re done with it. Then, the strongman, the big one, Georgia State Police, more police academies use these things. They’ve got a couple of them and they call them the “bag of woe.” That thing goes from about 75 to 140, which is gnarly. I mean, gnarly.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Okay. So, that’s kind of like a garage gym AMRAP style workout.
Ben: I love to talk workout. So, I’m going to throw a more endurance-style workout yet, and then maybe come back at me with one of your favorite endurance workouts using this stuff.
Ben: So, there’s a guy named Brian Johnson, The Liver King. I’m having him on podcast soon. He has a workout called The Barbarian in which you hold two kettlebells, one in each hand and then weighted vest sled, ankle weights, and you just do a drag for a mile holding the kettlebells kind of a brutal farmers walk with a whole bunch of extras added in.
And then, my Ben cares about his joints and he’s 40 years old now and maybe wants to go a little bit easier is this new one I’ve been doing where I’ve got these 4-pound hand weights that just strapped to each hand, and then weighted vest and resisted breath training device. Meaning, I use one called Relaxator.
Ben: And, I’ve got a mile out mile back course where I hold the hand weights. You pump those vigorously the whole time. Got the weighted vest on. It’s all nasal breathing with resisted exhales. And, your only goal is to go 2 miles without taking that breathwork device out of your mouth while pumping your arms the entire time. That one is surprisingly tough. But, all you need is weighted vest, 4-pound hand weights and this little breath training device called Relaxator.
I’m always just sitting around coming up with dinkie fun little workouts like this, but for you from an endurance standpoint, what would be an example of how you would use some of you guy’s equipment for something a little bit more endurance-based?
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, so weighted vest is always great when you can just add a little more to it, add it to a run, or do like a bird and run. With the sandbag, any of that stuff. I mean, some of the things that we are trying to develop our people around is understanding the various models, understanding how to slow certain things down to actually operate in a little bit lower zone and in function. Speed is not always the right thing to be doing. I don’t need to rush through this workout and be distinctive. So, we have been adding in a lot of breathwork to the challenges to the workouts that we’re putting out. So, whether that’s box breathing or whether that’s nasal breathing, adding a lot of that function in because the value of that is it naturally causes somebody to think about what they’re doing and really concentrate on managing breath under load, under work.
But, we’ve done a variety of things. I mean, I think a lot of what we took over when we acquired the company was more kind of garage gym. Blow it out like the whole CrossFit style work, go out and crush it.
Ben: Right, right.
Jeff: So, we just onboarded really a phenomenal coach here who’s redesigning everything. They run endurance program at the gym where they do very much kind of Zone 2 work. We just interviewed him the other day. He made a great sign like you’re trying to build that endurance level, you should be able to clearly communicate, I’m okay, I feel fine without taking a breath. So, we’re actually looking at how we begin to do that in more limited space because a lot of our people, our garage gym people are home-based people. And, this time of year, they’re not going to get out in the snow and go run or go at a [00:54:40] _____ and go do those things.
So, a lot of the efforts are slowing down, focusing on breathing, and doing movements like bear crawl drags, for instance, which is gnarly. I don’t know if you’ve got your kids doing those yet. Make them do that when they’re not following the rules.
Ben: Shooting bear crawls with the sled.
Jeff: So now, what you’re doing is you’re doing bear crawls and it’s kind of the push-up drag. So, bag between my legs, hand forward, drag the back all the way forward past my head, then bear crawl up, left arm move, bear crawl up. And so, I’m dragging that bag forward as I’m bear crawling.
Ben: But, the bag is between the legs?
Jeff: So, think about it. I’m getting–
Ben: Oh, wait, you’re not holding it between your legs, you mean? It’s like under your body. And basically, you’re doing it–essentially, it’s like–
Jeff: Yup, pulling it forward.
Ben: Yeah. So, it’s like bear crawl from point A to point B, but that bag is got to stay with you the whole time underneath you?
Jeff: The whole time.
Ben: Yeah, okay. So, basically like a drag, yeah.
Jeff: Right. So, if we slow that down and then we add nasal breathing to that, one body position, body position head down becomes radically difficult. I’m going down to slow down my movement. I’m going down to get more distinct. I’m going to have to moderate myself to stay in the lower zone rather than trying to just speed through the workout and really functioning on those things.
So, we’ve been looking at and exploring a variety of ways to step that up. That hasn’t been something we acquired the company at the mid-2021, early 2021. That’s just something that hadn’t been fully nested per se and really understanding the value of that level of workload on the system and then continually exploring the gear and equipment in the most effective ways to really achieve that.
Ben: My 13-year-old sons are going to hate you after this podcast because I write out their workouts every week. I’ve been taking notes. Next week, workouts are all going to be some bear crawl drags and some sandbag work.
Jeff: Oh, man. Mike and I did a thruster ladder the other day, just straight up thruster ladder with the sandbag with one-to-one ratio. So, one thrust or one nasal breath, two thrusters, two nasal breaths. And, you could breathe in, open mouth anyway you wanted to during work, but you had to be nasal breath on recovery.
Ben: I like it. And, by the way, if you have any key workouts that you want to send over.
Ben: If you send them or if you have a little PDF or anything like that, I’ll totally put it in the shownotes for people to download if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/BruteForcepodcast. And, I’ll also include, I think you guys are giving us a discount code to some of the sandbags and equipment. I’ll toss that in there as well. I don’t know it off the top of my head, but I’ll put it in there.
Obviously, fuel, what’s in the gas tank is a big part of this. I’m just curious. Are you just a full-on MRE cheeseburger guy, or do you have any specific nutrition protocols or specific diet that you use in your training or the training protocols you recommend?
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, it’s interesting. I didn’t grow up in healthy environment. I actually grew up in the antithesis of that, and wasn’t really guided well in health and fitness growing up, so it’s always kind of been a struggle for me. And now, having kicked into my 40s really starting to pay attention to what my body says, what’s going on, what I need to do, the things I need to really take on. Because I want to be a guy at 80 that you look at and you’re like, “Dude, that guy is 80?” That’s important to me. I want to be functional and capable all the way through the end for as much as I can.
And so, for me, I’ve made some mods recently. I’ve been using the Kion stuff for a while now, which I know you’re a big fan of, clearly.
Ben: Yeah, I’m a little biased, but I’m a fan of supplements, yeah.
Jeff: And, yeah. And so, my protein I just shift a little while ago. Kion was better than most on the market. However, I moved into a full plant-based stuff. I’ve actually moved to almost, I would say, 90% plant-based diet. This last year just really getting in touch with my body and how food was affecting it. It’s felt better in the system.
Ben: Yeah. You still doing alright with protein though. You finding that you can get protein without gut upset from excess plant intake?
Jeff: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s actually and this is a big thing to me, like individualize stuff. It has really shifted a lot for me. And, I’m a big, “Hey, eat steak, do the ribs.” I was always that way, and it’s just been one of these things that has been inching in over this last year, especially. And so, I’m just playing with it now. It’s probably been four or five months of real solid consistency around it. I’m feeling much better. My energy levels are up. I feel like my body’s been more of alignment, my gut is flowing better. But, at the same time, I’ll just pay attention to my body, and if it doesn’t seem to work for me, then we’ll shift forward to what needs to be done.
Ben: Well, definitely stay on the Kion Creatine, at least because you really need that in the plant base.
Jeff: Well, I’m still using the Colostrum that’s why I say I’m about 90% or so. I still drop that into my shake in the morning.
Jeff: Still on the creatine doing the Aminos.
Ben: Yeah. I was going to say the Aminos for plant-based diet. That saved so many of vegan clients I ask for protein because it’s lazy man’s protein, just do a few scoops, you’re good.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, the stacks and I come in the morning, I start my coffee while my coffee start, and I put my shake together. Open the cabinet. You open my cabinets, all Kion stuff, protein powder.
Ben: Yeah, yeah.
Jeff: But, that’s the stack and that’s my morning routine. That’s what I go through.
And, I’ve played and tested supplements over time of what works for me. I will say more than any other one I can actually–I feel connected with the results.
Jeff: You know what I mean? That’s what I’ve noticed.
Ben: Wait, for which one?
Jeff: Well, just for kind of the spectrum, adding the–
Ben: Right, you’re stacking all in.
Jeff: Yup, just stacking them in, just putting them in place, following that protocol, and just being consistent around it. It’s like, oh, okay. Whatever I’m doing in conjunction here seems to be working really well.
Ben: Yeah. I mean, that’s my go-to as well. I’ve got my Colostrum, Creatine, Fish oil in the morning along with the whey protein isolate if I’m going to do a smoothie. And then, I basically got my Immune if something’s going, I don’t take the Immune every day, I just take it like on days where there’s something going through the house. And then, the Flex, I kind of overdo the Flex. I do six of the Flex on an empty stomach before I go to bed at night for soreness. That’s freaking of me. I’m going to probably need to upgrade it after I wind up doing these workouts we’re talking about. But, yeah, I mean it’s so easy.
So, yeah. Honestly, I’ll quit tooting my own horn here in a second, but that’s my whole goal with the company was I just wanted stuff that would allow you to pretty much have it all covered with one brand and have it be, let me put it this way, we’re kind of a budget brand. It’s not super expensive, fancy, fringe from some corner of the Amazon harvested by a one-armed monk stuff. It’s just human clinical research-based stuff that tastes good and works. So, yeah.
Jeff: I will say outside of the supplement stack, the coffee is amazing. I’m a big–black coffee, two cups in the morning.
Jeff: I transition to it. Man, that medium roast, I’m a black coffee stop, I don’t put anything in my coffee ever.
Ben: I haven’t had the coffee in like a week because I’m experimenting right now with kratom. So, I’ve been doing a little bit of kratom and it does not blend well with coffee. So, I’m missing my coffee, but I’ll return soon, I think.
Jeff: Yeah, it is great. I mean it’s out of everything that’s out there, I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been fantastic.
Ben: Yeah. Well, for me, the big message I’m getting here is let’s say that I want to make myself more gritty and resilient both mentally and physically. Typical morning, what it could look like, for example, is get up. And, once you’ve taken care of and I highly emphasize this, your spiritual fitness, take care of it.
Ben: Bible reading, prayer, meditation, devotions always care for that first. I cannot overemphasize the quality that’s brought into my life. And then, morning, for example, heat stress, cold stress, and breath stress. I really like that kind of stuff in the morning versus getting after the heavy stuff right off the bat in the morning. I think you’re a little bit more susceptible to injury and I just think that other stuff fits better in the morning if you have the luxury of time to do it two a day.
And then, afternoon, you could do something like anchoring into the present moment, breathwork, warm-up, get your unstable loads in, try to do nasal breathing throughout and stay present while you’re doing some of these moves that we talked about. Maybe finish with some recovery breathwork, and a quick dip into an ice tub for increased resilience. And, I mean something like that. I mean, you could do that with your kids. I mean, that’s similar to what I’ve done with my son since they were 5 years old.
And, I’ve been able to witness in a young human being when you start young, I mean, their ability to be able to function in high-stress environments, I think is good. And, for me personally, my ability to be able to function when standing in line at the airport and they announced that the flights delayed four hours or when I open up my emails and I think I’m done with work and all of a sudden there’s 30 emails. Scenarios like that, I think those type of routines helped to build that grit and resilience. Which ultimately, I mean, if we step back and look at things big picture, our goal in life is to love others most with whatever unique skill set we’ve been given in life. And, if we’re freaking out and flopping around like a Muppet every single time, shit goes south, that’s not going to happen. But, I mean, if you can be that present, Zen, fully mindful anchored person who also is able to withstand rigors of hypoxia, rigors of cold, rigors of heat, and rigors of unstable objects, I just think you’re going to operate as a more impactful human being. And, especially in the times that we’re living in right now, a human being who can react to unpredictable scenarios pretty rapidly without, as we were talking about earlier in the podcast, these disturbing shifts and heart rate variability or central nervous system adaptation.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s really it. Like I always say three distinct qualities that separate the top 1% from the top 10%, so the top tier, their abilities. They have actually taken on and developed core set of abilities and fundamentals that they know work and work for them in what they want to accomplish. Two, their willingness to actually put themselves up there, serve themselves up, take it on, and the discipline to stay in or in the work. Those things, you see those things exist. You begin to take those things on. I live and die by my calendar. I integrate my breathing process all day every day now when I tell people to start. So, just put in the calendar three to five times a day for three minutes. That’s it. Just give me give me three minutes five times a day [01:05:53] _____ breathing for the next two weeks.
Ben: Yup, yup.
Jeff: It’s all I’m asking for.
Jeff: Because sometimes the stack, it’s too big for some people. So, how do we bring it down? Yeah, I mean, just give yourself that grace for the day and give yourself even three three-minute segments, five-minute segments. That’s it. Doesn’t take much. The body will start to realign.
And, your point about the kids, I agree with you, I’m watching it with my son. I went back after two girls, and 12 years later, did it again. Got a four-year-old now and I watch it in him. Those are the same traits that I want him to remain as much in the natural breathwork central nervous system regulation as possible because that is the key fundamental that he’s going to grow up with and carry out into the world and be able to then navigate all the garbage that you want to show up.
Ben: Yup, yup.
Ben: And, that my friends is how to make yourself physically and mentally more gritty, resilient, and harder to kill with Jeff Banman of Brute Force.
Hey, I’m going to link to all your stuff. And, for sure if you send over any workouts, I’ll put those in the shownotes as well. We’ll put some of our discount codes for any of the garage gym, unstable load type of stuff from Brute Force, same stuff that’s littered around my entire garage now in the shownotes, if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/BruteForcepodcast. Remember folks, get out there, get cold, get hot, challenge your breath, lift unstable, unpredictable loads, and stay physically and mentally gritty.
Thanks for coming on the show, Jeff.
Jeff: Thanks for having me, Ben. Really appreciate it.
Ben: Alright, folks. I’m Ben Greenfield along with Jeff Banman from Brute Force signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
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My guest on this podcast, Jeff Banman, is a recognized leader in the area of human performance and human behavior in high-stress environments. With over thirty years of experience across multiple domains including the Fire Service, the US Army Special Operations Command, and the Central Intelligence Agency, Jeff now serves as the COO & Chief Human Performance Officer for the global fitness brand Brute Force.
After conducting Counterterrorism operations in over twenty-three countries, two combat zones, and multiple high-threat/non-permissive environments, Jeff has the privilege of dissecting human behavior at a micro-level in order to enhance individual and team performance in some of the most intense moments imaginable. His study evaluated and developed algorithms for calculating minute shifts in Heart Rate Variability against variable stressors, distinct practices for managing the Central Nervous System while under significant stress, and integrative techniques to help high-level operators remain fully present in order to navigate extreme situations.
Jeff sees the world differently than most people. For three decades he has been relied upon to solve highly complex problems in extreme and often intense situations. In his time as a firefighter, airborne ranger, and CIA Counterterrorism Operator and business leader, he’s learned one big lesson: extreme and intense is as uniquely relevant to a person as is a fingerprint.
When we experience something significant, stressful, or uncertain, Jeff teaches us how to respond accordingly. Through his core work developing new human performance protocols for US SOCOM and the Intelligence Community, and working with professional athletes and high-performing business leaders, he has dissected how we navigate intensity, diversity, and complexity at any level and in any situation. That insight guides us to a greater level of awareness, an improved ability to regulate our own central nervous system, and a significant advantage in the behaviors that produce the results we are out to produce.
During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-How his childhood dreams manifested into Jeff’s calling as a high-performance specialist…07:25
- Jeff became a fireman at sixteen
- Health and fitness in the fire service wasn’t a big thing for him at that time
- Joined the Army and was sent to Kosovo in 1999
- Back in the fire service September 2001
- Post 9/11 realization: we were a “head-up force/thinking culture” dealing with a “nose-down culture (intuition/instinct)”
- This started him down the path to discover how to develop and train people to operate in that environment
-How Jeff quantifies and manages the central nervous system in high-stress scenarios…14:40
- Normal patterns of development are more task-based
- There’s a big gap between learning the tasks and producing great results that really matter in the field
- Needed tools and resources in the field to discover what behaviors were exhibited in various conditions
- Looked at HRV and used Polar, Heartmath, Zephyr Bioharness
- Incorporated “peripheral stressors” in training and measured/watched how trainees were recovering via things like breathwork
- BGF podcasts and articles on breathwork:
- “Anchoring in the present moment” helps you “get in the zone” to perform at your optimal level
- Measured the impact and severity of the stressor on the individual
- Measured time under the threshold
- Rate of recovery/how fast it takes to get back to base
- In the untrained person, when there is a “load on the system”…
- The system starts to work in conflict
- Thought patterns are running off into a future-based outcome
- There is a perception that something is going to happen, which drives fear
- Perception or discernment
- Perception is more interpretative
- Discernment is seeing what is actually happening
- “Am I safe?” is the one question that matters to everyone
- Safety is a matter of perception, a sensation in the body
- Aligning the breath with cognitive tools and “anchoring in the present moment” tells your body it is safe
- As this is alignment is developed, it becomes easier to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations
-How Jeff disseminates what he’s learned to others across the globe…27:34
- Came up with a math equation on how to develop certain behavioral traits identified from interviews
- C1: extreme level of comfort in very uncomfortable situations, can go anywhere at anytime
- C2: confidence, has true faith in their abilities
- C3: creativity, the ability to figure things out
- Key aspect of developing these skills is “openness,” a composite of:
- Finding out what works for the individual
- Brute Force Training (use code GREENFIELD to get a free training plan of your choice ($49 value) with the purchase of a weighted vest or sandbag)
- Zach Even-Esh
- BGF podcast with Zach Even-Esh:
- The Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning by Zach Even-Esh
-Why unstable loads are the key to Jeff’s training program…36:46
- ULOO – Unstable Load/Odd Object training
- No matter the movement, the body is always regulating
- Adding a level of complexity to basic movements because you are internally managing an unstable load that is constantly moving
- What’s next for functional fitness is moving towards “instinctual fitness”: full-body, brain, mind, breathwork alignment
-A rabbit trail on how to recover from Covid-induced brain fog…40:49
-A gold-standard workout using Jeff’s practices…48:11
-Nutrition protocols recommended by Jeff for his workouts…57:15
- Kion supplements
- Jeff follows a plant-based diet
- Kion coffee
- In the morning, Ben has
- In the afternoon, Ben has
- 3 distinct qualities that separate the top 1% from the top 10%:
- Core set of abilities that work for them in what they want to accomplish
- Willingness to go out there and take it on
- The discipline to stay the course
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
– Jeff Banman:
– BGF Podcasts and Articles:
– Other Resources:
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