On the show today, I have Patrick Estes, Co-Founder of Evolve Health & Performance, which was a collaborative effort between Aaron Davis and Patrick Estes to bring services (human performance, fitness, rehab, nutrition, and health management) commonly seen at Olympic training centers to the community of Austin, TX.
Patrick served as a strength and conditioning coach at several universities, including the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Denver and the University of Maryland.
We discuss the light bulb moments Patrick has experienced in his progression into exercise science, particularly with regard to structure, function, and bioenergetics. We spend a good chunk of our conversation on the underrated importance of breathing for better performance.
Patrick shares why a good breather is going to be able to put more miles on their car and what it means to “let your breathing dictate your movement.” He also explains why coaches should focus on helping their athletes recover faster rather than simply performing better.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode:
- [00:44] An introduction to Patrick Estes
- [05:45] Light bulb moments for Patrick as he dove into the structure, function, bioenergetics realm
- [16:15] Replenishing and increasing ATP reserves, and the importance of breathing for better performance
- [23:36] How MMA fighters can benefit from mastering their breathing
- [28:15] How your respiratory system can limit your performance
- [38:25] How CrossFit athletes can up their game by letting their breathing dictate their movement
- [43:47] Why technology can never replace coaches
James Cerbie: Hey team! What is going on. Thank you for tuning in. Welcome back to another episode of Rebel Performance Radio. On the show today we have Patrick Estes, from formally Train Adapt Evolve. Now just Evolve HPL down in Austin, Texas. Was super excited to get Pat on the show today so we could talk about and unpack this structure function, bioenergetics model that they use, which I’m totally in love with. And then we spend a lot of time talking about oxygen and the importance of gas exchange and getting oxygen down to the tissue. Think you’re really going to enjoy the episode today. So, let’s dive in with Pat Estes.
All right, there we go. We did it, we’re live. Technological problems have been overcome. We’ve slowly started to figure out how to fix the Texas football program. And now we can go live and maybe talk about some training stuff for people and let me ask, do you go by Pat or Patrick?
Patrick Estes: Doesn’t matter. Matter. Pat or Patrick. Thanks for having me on, man. It’s a pleasure to be here.
James Cerbie: Yeah. So, Pat Estes right, for the people listening or watching that have never heard of you and we don’t know who you are, what you do. Can you give them the quick rundown just so we’re all on the same page?
Who is Patrick Estes?
Patrick Estes: Yeah. I was a collegiate strength coach for a long time. I had the pleasure of being under some phenomenal coaches. Actually, we were talking a little North Carolina history. Actually, went to Lenoir-Rhyne and did football and men’s basketball at Lenoir-Rhyne as a strength coach. Then was at the University of Texas under Todd Wright and Logan Schwartz who are two amazing coaches, mentors of mine still, and they introduced me to Gary Gray. I did the GIFT program and that was phenomenal. It really pushed me in a different direction and thought process.
And, you know, this comes down to understanding what we’re learning in school might not exactly be what is real in scientific truth. And then we’re actually seeing that. I’m watching that happen again, going into some of this bioenergetic stuff that we’re talking about. But I left Texas and went to the University of Denver, got to work with Matt Shaw. You got to work with Bill Tierney, probably one of the best coaches of all time. And we commend the cross team when I was at University of Maryland, that to give a shout out to my boy Kyle Tarp there and basically just learn from all those guys and then started kind of taking bits and pieces from other coaches like Dan Pat and did a lot of manual therapy stuff with Lenny Parracino.
And at that time, I was pretty function based and then spent a couple of years driving down the PRI rabbit hole and then came out of had enough of the collegiate setting and wanted to just be able to deliver a more encompassing product to my athletes and clients. And that’s why me and Aaron kind of started what is now called Evolve Health and Performance. He likes to change the name on people.
And now we’re also working Brian Kozak. So, Aaron and Brian have kind of taught me more about Bioenergetics than almost anybody else. I was the strength coach that had read this book and then was like, good to go. I know I don’t need to worry about anything else because I was definitely asleep during exercise phys, I was definitely asleep. I’m trying to get a C in this class. I can get the practice and get out of here. I’m trying to get strong and lift weights. I’m not worried about cellular processes, and now I am. So here you go.
James Cerbie: There you are, right, it’s funny when you talk to people that go through the exercise phys programs and then they usually get a handful of years into coaching and they’re like, you know, I probably should have paid more attention to my physiology classes because people that get into this get into this because we like to train. We’re athletes.
I’m going to throw down the weight room. How dare you try to talk to me about glycogen and mitochondria and all this other stuff. That shit doesn’t matter. Blah, blah, blah. Right. And then you eventually reach your ceiling. Well, I can’t really improve as a coach from a programing conceptual standpoint unless my physiology gets better because I just don’t know what’s going on underneath the hood.
Patrick Estes: Yeah. We understand that, and the crazy thing is I almost feel like I got lucky and from the standpoint of me and Aaron and what we did and getting exposed so early on because I didn’t know what was going on before and then allowed me just to learn more what we would deem the truth, the new kind of physiology model. And I got to start a little fresh, so I got to pay attention. And I was like, wow, these guys are a lot smarter than me.
So, I’m going to listen to what they have to say, and this technology is giving us all this information. So, I kind of snuck out there. But it definitely comes down to an ego thing. If you want to learn what’s really going on, you have to put aside, hey, I won a national championship doing stuff that probably wasn’t the most optimal for my athletes. But it doesn’t mean that I still don’t want to move forward and grow and continue to deliver a better product.
James Cerbie: Yeah, without question. So, a cool place to start this conversation could be in that structure function bio-energy energetics realm. If you want to think about potentially a couple of light bulb moments or bigger variables for you when you dove into that. Are there any that jump off the pages like this that it totally changed how I thought about things.
Patrick’s Light Bulb Moment and Progression into a Deeper Understanding of Structure Function and Bioenergetics
Patrick Estes: I mean, I think that’s kind of our philosophy and a lot of it is this structure function bioenergetics, and each one took years to create that bucket. So, I spent from the time that I was a young strength coach all the way through being under Todd and doing GIFT fellowship and everything like that. I only had the function bucket understanding, chain reaction, biomechanics and 3D movement. And so, I only had this function bucket and I rolled with that. And then even when you talk to other people, these other things, you don’t need to worry about them.
They’re extremely dogmatic. And it wasn’t until I got exposed to some PRI stuff that I was like, wow, that’s completely opposite end of the spectrum. And that’s kind of this structure bucket where joint ranges of motion matter, understanding postural patterns and position matters. And it was this light bulb moment where I was like, oh wow. If I had to give you an example, if I have a pelvis that’s already in an internally rotated position, I might see a lack of hip internal rotation, and motion.
And that was kind of like, oh, shit, now I have these two things and I have to learn how to balance them. And then the past I would say, probably five years it’s been, oh, wait a second, there’s this other bucket, this bioenergetic bucket that really influences all three. They each influence each other. And then once you start spinning that wheel around, it takes you down a rabbit hole.
And from every standpoint you could think of, whether it be rehab, nutrition, strength and conditioning, doesn’t matter. We’re just talking about fundamental truth of the human body now and then how you express them in your programing or your training. But if we want to kind of give you an example, if we want to dive down in that structure bucket, like I said, anybody with a PRI background is well more versed in it than I am.
But let’s say somebody has an inversion ankle sprain. Super common. We see it all the time. How does it normally get treated in most athletic training rooms? We’re going to put a boot on it depending on the grade, and then we’re going to give the athlete some crutches and then we’re going to give it time to heal. And we might do some ice and then let them maybe walk without the boot a little bit.
But when you start diving into these buckets, you kind of see all the different variables that can go into the return the play process. So, if I’m thinking structure bucket with an inversion ankle sprain, I want to look at that athlete structural foot position. Do they have an inverted rear foot which would kind of predispose them already to getting the inversion ankle sprain. Where’s their sacral position at? Do they have a functional leg length due to sacral rotation?
If they have a short right leg and an inversion ankle sprain and an inverted rear foot? Now, you really have a situation. That set up for the athlete to continue to have this injury, and then when you take the boot off, you’re going to continually be putting stress back where the injury occurred. So now we’re thinking from the structure, side treatment process. Well, I have to treat this sacral position because I know that the body always wants to keep your eyes level and the feet on the ground.
And so, if I have this right leg that’s functionally short, it is going to endurance phase is going to invert itself even further than it already is to try to get it level and get it on the ground faster. So, if I want this athlete in a tissue to be able to heal and take stress off of it, I have to treat the sacral position right. And then I have to have appreciation for the rear foot position. And with that understanding of biomechanics, that takes you right into the function bucket.
OK, well, now if I fix this leg length and I have appreciation for the rear foot position, I know that calcaneum and subtalar joint exertion are incredibly important to me. And because there is an injury there, and that tissue is going through inflammation and going through healing, the body is going to take away two different things. It’s going to take away motion and more importantly, it’s going to take away ankle dorsiflexion and eversion. Bbviously inversion the third motion, there’s a ton of pain there due to the injury. So, it’s going to kind of take away motion. But I can drive eversion and dorsiflexion most of the time pain free, especially if you pre-position that inverted rear foot. Right. If you pre-position in eversion, you’ll get this motion there and motion is lotion.
So, the more that I can drive this dorsiflexion and eversion in this ankle sprain, when coming out of this boot, instead of me having an ankle that is limited in all three motions, now I have an ankle that has already restored eversion, restored dorsiflexion.
And the last thing you want coming out of that situation as of the ankle sprain is that you have an ankle that is now limited in all three and it’s going to affect the tibial internal rotation at the front gate, which is going to affect more internal rotation, which is going to affect the hip. And now, because you took this athlete and you put them in a boot, you didn’t drive a new motion from a three-dimensional functional position. Now you’re going to probably see dysfunction happen all the way up the chain when they’re kind of returning to play.
And those two buckets were like, man, I was like honed in on those for a long time and from an ankle sprain. It never really occurred to me like, oh, well, if I had a better understanding of bioenergetics, how could I also help this injury and get my athlete back even faster? And once you start learning about breathing and oxygen and CO2, it becomes very apparent that if I can have my athlete go and drive a hypoxic position, I’m going to then create a massive dilation, which is going to bring better fluid dynamics, which is going to bring more blood flow, which is going to speed up the healing.
And then I can do that in conjunction with driving ankle dorsiflexion and eversion. Then you’re really putting all three things together and you have you’re going to have an athlete that’s going to come in. I want to say, two weeks ago, we had an athlete roll her ankle and followed a similar protocol and she goes to the doctor. OK, I’m going to be out three to four weeks. She’s back in eight days. And so, it’s I never appreciated how understanding cellular processes was going to make me better at rehab or better at training.
And that’s kind of where the triad really flows. It goes even beyond what people normally come to us for from an education standpoint, like the webinar we just did is based around the new energy system model where we’re basically telling people like, hey, that old anaerobic process that happens early on, it’s not really what’s going on. The aerobics system and the creatine system are linked together. They desaturate together. They recover together. You did all kinds of research in this area.
Having Optimal Performance and Power in an Oxidative State
You know more about it than I do. But it really just comes down to having an appreciation. I know that I want my athlete from a bioenergetic standpoint to use the process that is most efficient and gives me the most bang for my buck, which now that we know that the oxidation occurs immediately during exercise, if we’re using oxidation, we’re getting thirty-six ATP to replenish that CP that we need to produce power and repeatability. And if oxidation is not present, then I’m using glycolysis, which is only giving me two. Ask any kid, do you want thirty-six cupcakes or do you want two cupcakes.
James Cerbie: Plus, the added complication of PH changes.
Patrick Estes: Yeah. I mean you can go down a whole rabbit hole there of all these different, this cascade of things that happen. I think we can get as complicated as we want. But one of the things that I’ve taken from bioenergy is let’s simplify it and just say if we are in an oxidative state, we can have optimal performance and power. If we’re not in an oxidative state, we’re in a survival state.
And what do we get in a survival state? Probably, if I’m running from a lion to save my life, is that the best time for you to learn how to juggle? I know what I mean. I probably need to be in a much different environment within my physiology to be able to learn and have skill acquisition. But if I’m in a survival state, and I’m running from a lion and you give me a high motor learning task, it’s probably not going to go well.
So, I feel like I’m off on some kind of tangent. You want to rope me back in?
James Cerbie: No, this is beautiful. This is great. I love it. It’s funny, guests, when they get going, it’s fantastic for me because I have to ask less question. So, a couple of things there that we could unpack for the people listening. When we were talking about these different energetic pathways, different ways for us to regenerate ATP. Right. The game is, I need ATP so that it can then donate a phosphate to an empty creatine and then I get creatine phosphate and creatine phosphate is better at moving around the cell.
So, you don’t just make a ton of ATP, then pump it around the cell. Creatine is the carrier that takes that high energy phosphate and moves it around the cell for us, so that I can then replenish ATP in local regions. Another reason that has to take place is because if you don’t funnel off the ATP being made at the end of the electron transport chain, you get a back pressure, and the whole chain will slow down.
So, if I have a ton of ATP, which is the end of this long reaction chain, you get a back pressure and we’re going to try to move things in the other direction. So, that ATP has to donate a phosphate to creatine so that I don’t have a high ATP concentration. I have an ADP concentration that’s going to pull the whole reaction forward. It’s like those are the two big reasons they are often overlooked, but it’s so important because that creatine phosphate aerobic system, they’re totally married. You can’t separate them. They’re meant to function off of each other.
Why Glycolysis is Considered a Survival System
And then you have the weird redheaded stepchild. If anybody listening to this is red head, my apologies, but that’s just how the saying goes. Glycolysis doesn’t play nice with anybody. It’s this more back up, and I think the way you described it, it’s a survival system. From an evolutionary standpoint, if I’m having to type into glycolysis, something is going terribly wrong, right.
Patrick Estes: I think that we also don’t appreciate how fast this is actually occurring. When I was a strength coach looking at this, we’re talking old model now. You have this period of time, depending on what book you read, could be anywhere from five to 20 seconds goes by. And then I shift into this other thing. And then there’s another phase that lasts for hours.
And I’m like, well, I’m training football players. Our plays are maybe four to six seconds. So, you know what? I don’t have to worry about these other two things on that last one.
James Cerbie: Yeah, what’s that last one? That last one out there is just boring evidence to do that aerobic work.
Patrick Estes: Now what’s happening is this aerobic system is actually happening immediately. So, as a football strength coach or any kind of coaching, any kind of athlete that almost has to do anything. Now, the thing that you didn’t give a shit about you now need to care about, because oxygen is your gas.
James Cerbie: It’s the game. It is the game.
Patrick Estes: It is the game. Oxygen is your gas, and your gas gives you power. If I’m the strength coach, we might spend all summer trying to put fifty pounds on a guy’s bench press. If I want him to be able to express the 350lb bench press that we spent all summer trying to get, I need him to express that on the field with repeatability. The only way he’s going to be able to repeat it is if he’s got oxygen present. No gasoline, no power, which even spills into the next thing.
OK, well, have you even thought about who’s filling up the gas tank? And that would be the respiratory system. We were talking about light bulbs. When we were first looking at mirrors and I was like, OK, well, we’re using oxygen right away. And then it shoots back up, but these guys have taken forever to shoot back up.
Two minutes. I don’t have that kind of time. I mean, how do we get this to go faster? And then you start realizing that it’s the respiratory system that’s going to help replenish this and then that takes you down the rabbit hole of, well I’ve never really trained an athlete’s respiratory system. How do I do that? So, it really just to come full circle, if you don’t understand, even rudimentary bioenergetics, that everything that you’re working for from a strength and power perspective, depending on your specific event, for the most part, if you’re a team sport strength coach, everything you’re working for is pretty much dependent upon that, and that changes the way we think about it. Let’s stop doing the same old stuff, but actually realize not to just jump headfirst into breathing. But this thing that we thought was this woowoo, that’s for yoga instructors. I’m not worried about that.
The Importance of Breathing for Optimal Performance and How It Is Undertrained
This breathing thing is incredibly important to performance. I’m starting to get myself into the camp of the best athletes are the best breathers. In our profession, really has no respect for breathing. And in my opinion, it’s the most undertrained functional system in the human body. Under the heart, if you stop breathing, you don’t do too well. So, it’s definitely something that we need to shed some more light on and as a profession, as a whole, come to accept it a little bit more.
James Cerbie: Yeah, you got to be able to move gas around. Gas exchange is a big deal. So, I’ll throw a totally shameless plug here. The whole conversation we’re having is the reason that I put together that oxygen course because it’s something that most people haven’t gotten. I think about a huge gaping hole for a lot of strength coaches and trainers. Most of them are getting biomechanics and movement talk from someplace.
They’re getting more of that structure and function conversation. How good it is. Right. Who knows? But one place that people just aren’t having a conversation in our room is oxygen. This coordination of a respiratory, cardiovascular, muscular system. to get oxygen from the atmosphere to the muscle mitochondria, what does that even look like? How does that happen? What are the regulators? How do I change those pathways? I still think Jameson’s book is great, right?
It’s a phenomenal place to start. I still recommend that book all the time. But if you want to go to the next step, then you’ve got to unpack this cascade right now. The whole reason I put the course together, because that’s my interest. That’s what I did in grad school. But the respiratory system that you bring up is really interesting. I think it would be worth unpacking that one.
Patrick Estes: One thing that drives me crazy is me and Aaron are both MMA fans. And I can’t tell you how many times we’ll see an MMA coach, and they break, and their athletes sit down and they’re like, big inhales, big inhales. Breathe in, recover. And you’re just sitting there. Even if you have some amazing fighters that are worth millions of dollars and they have somebody who does not understand the fundamentals of physiology that’s educating them.
Literally if we think about it, they just went out, performed a high intensity work, built up a ton of CO2, and then they go to their corner and they are literally coaching them not to blow off the CO2 or oxygen source. What’s the worst thing I can do for you in this corner to get you ready and head back into this fight. OK, don’t blow off the CO2. Let’s just say there and keeps doing giant inhales and not allowing CO2 to basically get blown off so your body can drop more oxygen off.
James Cerbie: You might as well just hold your breath.
Patrick Estes: And it’s amazing. We would watch Conor McGregor fight and, man, in the first round, this dude is an absolute freak.
James Cerbie: Savage. Yeah. He comes out blazing,
Patrick Estes: Then by the third round, who is this guy? And I don’t think it’s a training thing. I can’t give you any definitive data or technology or something like that, but I’m going to go ahead and put all my money in the bank that he probably has a respiratory limitation that we see. When we go back to the structure function, bioenergetics, think of it like he has structural positions that have restoral limitations.
Why Learning How to Breathe Can Help Extend an Athlete’s Career
When we look at things like infrasternal angle and functionally you see him with this extended breathing pattern. And then, by the way, he’s getting improperly coached on how to breathe in between. And once again, we’re talking about a cascade. That’s a huge cascade. But I think I’m definitely in the camp now. If you are an athlete and you want to extend your playing career, you need to learn how to breathe. So, it’s almost like we have a car, and a good breather is going to be able to put more miles on their car. A bad breather is going to be able to put less miles on the car. So, I want a car that’s going to be able to have the most amount of miles that you can possibly put on it. So, from a bioengergetic standpoint, I can recover from that and refuel my gas tank faster because my respiratory system is a weapon now and then the reverse of that, I can drop off oxygen to the cell more efficiently and I can repeat power outputs over and over and over again.
That’s a really good thing for my function for the tissue. Now I have less stress that goes on the tissue because my tissue is spending less time in this survival state. And guess what? If I have oxygen available, now from a tissue standpoint, I’ve got more optimal coordination. I’m going to have less occlusions when we start looking at things like the minable reflex and skill acquisition. It’s hard to have good skill acquisition when my body is shunting blood away from my extremities that I need to perform whatever skill that you want.
And it’s spinning it to my respiratory tissues. Now, from a functional perspective, I gained a huge advantage from tissue quality and skill acquisition. And then structure, there’s less stress on those tissues. There’s less stress on the structure. There’s going to be less compensation. And my structure doesn’t now have to adapt to a faulty movement pattern or excess stress continually going through the same pattern of tissues. And essentially now you have a car that you can put more miles on, right? You’ve got my Chevy truck. You’ll last forever.
James Cerbie: So, when you’re talking about the respiratory system as a limiter, are you thinking more the capacity to move a ribcage, to be able to actually get gas flow in and out simply because if we think lung tissue structure, it’s an incredibly non plastic organ in terms of our capacity to say, OK, I can’t hypertrophy along, I would hypertrophy a muscle. I’m not going to grow more alveoli. The lung structure itself, we have a hard time really changing, but what we can impact is how well do your ribs move?
How well can you move gas in different positions? How much blood is the respiratory musculature stealing from your locomotor muscles? And then the other one that I’ve mentioned before on here, which there’s just nothing we can do about, is the red blood cell velocity through the pulmonary circulation. If it gets too high, you don’t have loading time. But what am I going to do, tell you to have a smaller cardiac output, so we can throw that one out the window?
But we have these other three that we can actually really focus on and have a big impact with. Is that the direction you’re coming at with this?
Patrick Estes: I think if we look at structure, one thing in our evaluation that we want to take a look at and I got to give credit to the PRI crew and definitely Phil Hartman for sure, is bringing an appreciation to infrasternal angles and what that means. And so, we actually really try to change that. I can’t tell you how many times people come to us and they’re like, oh, well, I was trained to be a belly breather.
James Cerbie: Oh, God, yeah.
Creating Expansion in Compressed Areas by Focusing on Rib Movement
Patrick Estes: And what I try to explain to people is that I want you to be able to not just push air into your belly, but we all have compressed areas. And so, if I look at somebody’s posture and say, oh, we have compression in our lower back, can air expand down there? Probably not too well. So, we might want to focus on air down there and create expansion in that compressed area.
And so, the optimal situation is, is that we have this cylinder that can expand three hundred and sixty degrees. I think everybody’s so focused on, is it my chest, is it my belly? No, I want three-hundred-and-sixty-degree expansion. Even when I’m coaching somebody on a squat, I put my hands on the ribcage and you have this natural weight belt that you can utilize to help protect yourself on the load. And so, I want it.
Can you expand there and then keep the air there to protect yourself? So, you have two different kinds of infrasternal angles; you have wide and narrow. So, we want to push people in the direction that they need to go. And we do use our respiratory device to do that, which I’ll plug. It’s the NX, coming to your hands soon. So, we’ll use that to basically say, OK, where is this personal structure?
Where is that compression? And then where can we send air so that we can get that three-hundred-and-sixty-degree expansion? And that’s great, because that’s going to really affect function from the standpoint of, we’re going to have more stability. We’re going to probably take a diaphragm that is having to do some accessory stabilization and it doesn’t really want to do and say, hey, let’s focus on respiration, which is your main goal, and then the other functions dealing with digestion, to go down a different rabbit hole a little bit.
But if we can get that expansion, then that improves our three-dimensional movement. You’ll see multiple times that if we can get expansion in certain areas, that range of motion will increase in different joints. Now that we can expand 360 degrees, that person is a much more efficient breather. You’re going to see things like tidal volume increase. If I have somebody who’s constantly stuck in this extended posture and they’re only able to fill this kind of top portion of their chest is what I’m referring to.
Think of any football player or power lifter. And they’re in this drastic extension. Well, if you just go into the structure of the actual lung, you’ve got more alveoli in the bottom of the lung. Can they even get it down there? Maybe they can. Maybe they can’t. But if you’re locked in this extension and from a football coach standpoint, if I have a bunch of guys in extension and they’re sitting around, and they get tired and their shoulder pads are moving up and down, it takes a lot of energy to do that.
So, you touched on it a second ago. Are we sending oxygen and blood flow distribution to these accessory tissues when they should be going to your limbs, because that’s what you’re using to play your sport? So, we’ve got kind of the structural side of posture, and then we’ve got the functional side of the restoral limitation. What kind of breathing pattern we have, but then we also get into what respiratory frequency do you find yourself fatiguing at?
And then, can we increase title volume? Can you take larger inhales and exhales? So, when I’m thinking of training somebody from a respiratory standpoint, just like a dumbbell, I’m like, well, can I have them be able to do a higher amount of repetition? So, if somebody’s fatigued at a respiratory rate of 40, if I then get them comfortable at 40, now I can take them to 50. That goes back to what we were talking about, the car that’s going to last longer.
So now they’re going to be more efficient at delivering that O2, to then be able to desaturate it. So, we’ve got the restored frequency that we can clear and then the strength piece. Who doesn’t want to touch on the strength piece of the respiratory system? Right. So, can we get you actually stronger before you’re blowing out at maximum four liters and now all of a sudden, I have you blowing off five liters. So, I’ve increased your respiratory frequency and I’ve increased the amount of liters that you can blow off with every exhale.
Using Your Respiratory System to Recover Yourself Back to an Optimal State
Now, I’ve taken a respiratory system that was an actual limiter for you, and I created it. And it’s become now a weapon that you can use against your opponent. And that’s what we really want. I would love to have control of a basketball team that during a 30 second timeout is able to use their respiratory system to be able to recover themselves back up to an optimal, we’ll say, gas tank, versus the opponent. So, I would love to be able to tell my head coach, hey, guess what?
Let that guy call a time out, because every time out that he takes, he’s allowing our team to use our respiratory system to refuel. That means more time and optimal coordination, more time to express maximal power, more time when you’re not in a survival state and you’re going to probably make better decisions. And that means less turnovers, better three-point shooting percentage, all the above. All because we had an appreciation for somebody’s respiratory system and how can we improve it to make it a weapon instead of a limitation?
James Cerbie: For sure, because if we think about whole body exercise, if you’re healthy, if you’re not old and don’t have a disease, you’re going to be supply limited during whole body exercise. It just is what it is. There’s such an overwhelming amount of data that would support that conclusion. But part of that supply component is whether or not you can load oxygen in the lungs, because if you don’t load oxygen in the lungs well, then you inherently have less supply.
By the time it gets to the heart to get pumped, you’re not sending as much out. So, I had Evan Peikon on here recently and we were chatting about this with relation to CrossFit more. But one video that stands out that I remember watching a handful of years ago when we talk about athletes able to breathe and move gas. So, there’s a video of Rich Froning, the original CrossFit champ. It’s on YouTube. It’s called Frantasy Land. So, he does the CrossFit workout, Fran, back-to-back to back with increasing load and increasing challenge on the pull ups.
And I remember someone sent it to me to check out because it’s incredibly impressive. The dude smokes it unbroken with no issues. This is, regardless of your opinions on CrossFit, it’s fucking impressive. But the biggest thing that stands out to me when I watch that video is homeboy’s ability to breathe, his ability to move gas. It’s under load and then in weird positions. You watch, and the breathing is incredibly deliberate.
He has clearly put time and attention to figure out when he wants to breathe. Just watch his ribcage and his thorax. It’s this huge 360 expansion. When you watch people he competes against that he beats. They don’t get that.
Just watch their thorax and they’re struggling to breathe. They’re getting tons of neck tone and tension. I’m seeing all these traps kick on and it is really that huge of a surprise that this dude dominated as long as he did because he moves gas incredibly well?
Patrick Estes: It’s funny that you bring up CrossFit because I’m actually working with a female CrossFitter, and she just completed, what is it, 21.2 whatever?
James Cerbie: Yeah, they’re in the open. So, I haven’t seen what the workouts are, but I know what’s happening.
How to Let Your Breathing Dictate Your Movement
Patrick Estes: She had a workout where it was burpee box jumps and snatches. And so, one thing I try to coach a lot of athletes on is, let your breathing dictate your movement. So, when you’re breathing is coordinated, that’s when you run into trouble. And so even when we’re thinking about a squat, we want to inhale as we go to the eccentric base of the squat. We want to exhale before the phase. And we actually put a Moxy on her and went to do the workout in real time.
And we’ve only been working her respiratory system. She’s been working on this for like thirty days. So, we can really get a lot done in thirty days. Right. But one thing we’ve just been hammering a lot of respiratory work for the past thirty days. And it was really cool to see how she would utilize oxygen when she was doing the Burpee box jump. And then when she was doing the snatches, it was a relatively light weight for her.
And so, she was able to actually, when her breathing was coordinated and she was inhaling and exhaling properly with the movement, she’s recovering all the way back up to optimal performance during that time when she’s doing the dumbbell snatches. When I’m watching it, she did that for the first two sets. And I was like, man, she might actually come up with a good time. She might kick everyone’s ass.
And on the third set, she was having trouble coordinating her breathing with the snatches because her breathing became uncoordinated. That started this whole cascade of well, she was going back up to 80. I think of it as a fuel tank. So, if you have eighty percent gas in your tank and you’re able to drop it down, well, now she only went to 60. And then on the next set she’ll be going to 30. And then sure enough, after that next set, she hit the wall and she finished with a time, but she definitely didn’t come up with the time that she wanted because she was basically in a glycolytic state, right?
She was no longer oxidative. And so, you literally watch that car go from being able to go to three hundred miles an hour. And from a standpoint of we’re more efficient, we’re getting thirty-six ATP with oxidation. So now we’re only getting a two from glycolysis, and that’s basically watching her hit the wall. And it just put more of an onus on, hey, you realize that you broke down as soon as your breathing broke down.
And then you can think of it on the flip side. Just another thought for like coaches that don’t have a Moxy or anything like that. If your athlete’s breathing is fully recovered, they’re ready to go again. And it goes both ways. If you have an athlete that’s out there and their breathing becomes uncoordinated, they’re probably in trouble. If their breathing is fully recovered, they’re ready to go again. So even if you don’t have a fancy technology, like a Moxy, they’re still different things that you can pick up.
I mean, amazing coaches in the past haven’t needed this sports science tech, and they just use their eye. But it definitely makes it a hell of a lot easier if you have the technology. I got to be honest about that.
Staying in A Steady State to Maintain Activity for A Significant Period of Time
James Cerbie: Yeah. It’s almost like kind of going into more kinetics or the critical power land. But it’s almost like she hit this point where she found a metabolic rate that she couldn’t reach a steady state with. And then once you’re not in a steady state and I have this line start climbing because if I’m beneath gas exchange threshold, then I reach a steady state, no problem. If I’m beneath critical power, I’ll reach a steady state, but we have that slow component that develops.
Still trying to figure out exactly what that is. Right. But as soon as I get over critical power and I’m looking at this line because if I want to be able to do an activity and maintain that activity for a period of time, like my performance, my power output, I need that to be on a steady state. It needs to be plateaued.
If that line does this and it starts climbing, just start the watch because it’s only a matter of time until you are fatigued and you are no longer able to maintain the power output performance that you’re chasing.
You don’t even need to really go read critical power literature if you just look at the graphs, because conceptually I think it’s a really good way to think about, where is my athlete? Are we at a plateau? Is supply and demand able to meet right now? Are we OK or am I on the slope? Am I on this line that’s climbing and it’s a matter of time until we hit fatigue? And in looking at the breathing and a couple of other things is the easy way to just use your eyes and come to that conclusion.
Patrick Estes: Yeah, I think especially when you start talking about different technologies, we’re known for we use a lot of technology and stuff like that, but it definitely doesn’t take away from your eyes and your ability as a coach. I think that’s a big misconception. It just adds to it. I can’t tell you how many times we use the amalgamate teams. A very important conversation that I might not be thinking about, especially if you’re a coach and thought ten people yesterday.
So, you’re seeing ten people. It’s hard to really dial in before every session and then think, OK, well, where was this person last time we saw them? Sometimes you’re just back-to-back to back and to be able to look at a screen and then see a complete change in a trend. Whether it be you see potential, I can’t tell, especially working with youth and high school athletes.
Like you see kids with potential who look like a fucking earthquake. We’re like, hey man, how are you doing today? How’s everything at home? It definitely can have started some very important conversations. But at the same time, you can look at him when he comes in. You know, if he was up all night fighting with his girlfriend, it’s probably written all over his face. But like I always said, the Moxy was a great safety net for me, especially when it comes to anybody doing any kind of rehabilitation, because I don’t necessarily want to guess every day on volume and intensity.
And unfortunately, the state of physical therapy that we’re in, we are still very much in a world of protocol based physical therapy. And people will come to us and I’ll see these like physical therapy protocols. And you could tell everybody’s getting the same thing.
James Cerbie: I mean, it’s just like the one of those books, the dummy books? Not to call physical therapist dummies by any means, but it’s pretty much like, alright, shoulder pain. Let me flip the page to eighty-seven. OK, here’s what you’re going to do. That’s what it feels like sometimes.
Patrick Estes: Yeah. And I’m like, oh what exercise are we going to look at? I’ll show you. And they pull out all these papers and it’s got like three by ten on all, you know what I mean.
James Cerbie: Guarantee two to three by ten. Wise T’s bent T’s. Make sure you sleep or stretch too because you got to get back that internal rotation and why don’t you just go blow out that posterior shoulder while you’re at it.
Patrick Estes: So, when I call it, going back to the safety net, is that I get a proxy every day on the tissue and the quality of the tissue and whether we can push that tissue today or whether we need to think about a recovery modality. Because one thing to think about, if you have a tissue that is not utilizing oxygen, that is a damaged tissue. So, if you are performing, if I have two athletes and I have athlete A I’m going to use the NIRS device with, and I have athlete B who I’m not going to use the NIRS device with, we can use your manual.
I mean, you keep your exercise selection. That’s a whole separate topic. But if athlete B does their three sets of ten and can’t utilize oxygen, then you know, you just did three sets of ten of survival that created more metabolic damage. And now athlete B has to recover from that. Athlete A with the NIRS, I’m like, shoot they’re not going to be able to desaturate oxygen. You know what, today might be a good day to do some recovery protocols, maybe work on other functional systems.
Maybe we can work on somebody’s left ventricle work. We can work on somebody’s breathing. That’s what’s kind of great about having this kind of respiratory training device. It always gives you different options and different tools to help somebody when, you know, a lot of people think like, oh, OK, well, you’re not going to do anything today. What are you just going to send them home? Hell, no. There are a million things we can work on. So now you come back the next day.
Athlete B just did three sets of ten of survival, and athlete A did a recovery. We come back to the same exercise, athlete B is still in a state of fatigue, still trying to recover, but it doesn’t matter. It’s Tuesday, you’ve got three sets of ten. Then athlete B has recovered the tissues in a better place. You’d be shocked at the amount of volumes when a tissue is in a healthy place that it can handle. Sometimes I’m doing 12-15 sets of an exercise, and if I’m getting good oxygen utilization, I’m getting the kind of contraction by understanding THB. If I’m getting the contraction that I want, and then I’m getting optimal recovery of that oxygen, I might do 12, 15 sets for somebody.
So, all that volume in one day by just having an appreciation for how our tissue actually adapts, I did more volume than the three sets of ten over two days. And that person’s tissue is still in a state of survival. And I think all too often we are so gung-ho to start work, especially early on. Any time, we get a new athlete, or somebody comes into rehab, we want to start doing work.
We want to see this person improve. And that’s definitely not a bad thing. But I think sometimes we just need to have a little bit more patience and understand that we’re not running a race to get you performance. We’re actually running a race to get to recovery because the faster that you can recover from this that I give you, the faster you adapt and then the faster and more weight you’re going to be able to lift.
Getting Your Athletes and Clients 1% Better Each Day Versus the Traditional Approach of Guessing
This misconception, I would rather have somebody come in and I get them one percent better every single day. And that looks different, getting somebody one percent better every single day. It doesn’t look traditional versus before I was just guessing. I was like, OK, we’re going to do three sets of ten today. We’re going to do three sets of ten tomorrow, three sets of ten here. I’m going to deload you for maybe a week and then do three sets of fifteen or whatever it is.
And you’re just kind of out there and you’re like, well, I really hope this works. And a lot of times it does. But if I’m working with a multimillion-dollar athlete or the dad who wants to be able to play with his son or go skiing with his family and stuff like that, I’d rather not guess. I’d rather just know and make more informed decisions. So, I think we got to as a profession that deals with people, I feel like improving people for whatever reason it may be.
It’s in our best interest to try to dive into this information so that we can provide everybody with a better product. Some of the PT stuff that I see people doing, and I’m just like, man, are people looking at this and they’re like, man, this is really good. Does it seem like I did this pamphlet? I get these exercises on all of them. I’m kind of wondering as a parent consumer and, man, what are people thinking when they’re in there?
James Cerbie: Yeah, it’s crazy without question. I think all of that can be summarized that we need to prioritize quality over anything else. I think sometimes we lose track of building as much high-quality volume. And the thing that we talked about was that concept of coordinated contraction. The goal is to build as much volume as possible with these coordinated contractions for our athletes. At the end of the day, if we want to bottle it down, that is a very simple goal.
The execution of that goal more complicated, right? But that’s what we’re chasing. That’s what we want to try to have make happen. So, Pat, this has been fantastic. I feel like we could easily just keep running on this all day. I need to come down to Austin and just bring a camera and a mic and just sit there and have coffee and just talk about whatever.
Patrick Estes: During football season.
James Cerbie: Yes, dude. Yes. Good call. Yeah. We’re actually going to have a football season this year, which will be fantastic.
Patrick Estes: We can dissect the game, and we can point out, oh, look at all these guys on the field.
James Cerbie: Yeah. So, it’s the end of the second quarter and they’re all dying.
Patrick Estes: Yeah, that would be fun.
James Cerbie: That would be a blast. It’s funny, I actually was telling my wife Kels yesterday, because we want to come down to Austin at some point because her sister and brother-in-law live there. We were going to try to do maybe in May, but I don’t think it’s going to work out because you know, we could go in the fall and it’ll be football season, and she has no interest.
Patrick Estes: Has she ever been to a game?
James Cerbie: No! I was like, Kels. you should go. It would be a totally different experience than anything that you’ve done before. It is a worthwhile life experience to go to a football game at UT. It’s a blast.
Patrick Estes: It’s a bucket list.
James Cerbie: We’ll go eat brisket. Have some Mexican food. Watch football. We want minimal. There’s very few other things I need. So, to wrap, can you tell people where to go to find you, what you’re doing, everything that’s going on at Evolve, just so they can jump off the podcast and find you if they are so inclined?
Where to Find Patrick Estes
Patrick Estes: Yeah, we just finished our exercise, this kind of mentorship, and we’ll be having another one soon. We’re also going to be putting something out more for sport coaches. So, if you’re interested in understanding just some basics of this from the sport coaching side and maybe being able to communicate with your strength coach, that’s going to be coming up too. We do have our respiratory device, the NX, definitely by probably the next four to five months. We’ll have that available to purchase and we’ll be putting out more information there.
You can contact me on Instagram, @petraingsolutions is my personal. And firstname.lastname@example.org is my email. Shoot me an email and we’ll figure out a way to communicate.
James Cerbie: Beautiful. Well, this is fantastic and thank you again. We’ll definitely need to schedule another time to run this back now that we’ve worked all the tech issues out here on round one.
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