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 min read
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Braden Mosley

Longevity experts agree - Top 2 predictors of lifespan

Dr Peter Attia has spent decades studying longevity.

He’s attempted to not only answer the question, “what makes people live longer?”, but more importantly, “what makes people live better?”

Longevity hacks have become incredibly mainstream in the past few years:

  • Intermittent fasting
  • Cold and heat exposure
  • Painful NAD drips and more

However, we are missing an important piece to the puzzle of a fulfilling life - healthspan.

Put plainly, healthspan is how well you live.

let's agree that one without the other—long lifespan with poor healthspan or short lifespan with rich healthspan—isn't what most people want. - Dr. Peter Atia

The good news is, there are 2 biomarkers that are extremely effective in predicting lifespan and healthspan:

  1. VO2 Max
  2. Muscular strength

Today, I will explain what each of these are and how you can optimize them in order to live longer and healthier.

VO2 and strength are the measurements, Fitness is the means

In a study of 122,000 individuals, the biggest difference in mortality rate was due to differences in fitness level.

In the health field, there’s an endless debate between:

  1. Diet
  2. Exercise
  3. Bad habits (smoking & drinking)

When it comes to longevity, this study shows that improving your fitness from low to above average causes the greatest increase in life and healthspan!

So, while I’ll discuss how to improve your VO2 Max and muscular strength, understand that they are merely biomarkers that measure the overall fitness of an individual.

VO2 Max

VO2 max is a measure of how well our body uses oxygen during exercise. It tells us how fit your cardiovascular system is (heart, lungs, capillaries, etc.)

There are 2 main components to improving your VO2 Max:

  1. Building your zone 2 base
  2. Increasing your lactate threshold

1. Zone 2 base

This is when you do steady-state cardio for a long period of time within your zone 2 heart rate level.

At this pace, you could barely pass the talk test, meaning you could have a conversation, but don’t want to.

Spending more time in this state will train your muscles and cardiovascular system to be more efficient. You will transport oxygen and resist fatigue more effectively.

2. Lactate threshold (LT)

Your lactate threshold is the point during exercise when our body produces more lactic acid than it can clear away. It's like a tipping point where you start to feel fatigued and your muscles start to burn.

Improving your lactate threshold means you can do more work faster before you exponentially accumulate lactic acid in the blood stream.

Training to improve your LT usually looks like intervals:

  • Below LT
  • Above LT
  • Below LT
  • Above LT

Click here to estimate your current lactate threshold.

Muscular Strength (learn to drive, buy a car, step on the gas)

According to [celevlandclinic.org](https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/23167-sarcopenia#:~:text=How common is sarcopenia%3F,people ages 80 and older.):

"Sarcopenia, the stealthy thief of muscle strength, can lead to loss of independence and long-term care, impacting quality of life and contributing to the risk of frailty, falls, and even death.”

There are 3 concepts you’ll need to understand to combat sarcopenia and maintain muscle strength later in life:

  1. movement quality
  2. Muscle mass
  3. Neuromuscular connections

1. Movement Quality

If you practice proper mechanics when you perform compound exercises, you are:

  1. Less susceptible to injury
  2. Exercising the entire muscle chain properly

(compound exercises are multi-joint movements that radiate from your core to extremity - squats, deadlifts, push press, and more)

🚘 Practicing good movement quality is like learning to drive.

2. Muscle Mass

Muscle mass is often direct reflection of your work capacity. Put simply, when you do more work (sets, reps, weight), your body will have more reason to keep muscle cells.

Maintaining muscle mass through resistance training is the #1 way to fight sarcopenia. Give your muscles a reason to stay!

🚘 Maintaining muscle mass is choosing which type of car you want.

3. Neuromuscular connection

Finally, it doesn’t matter how much muscle mass you have if they don’t fire when your brain tells them to.

Every now and then, you should increase the weight and go heavy.

Please (please, please) be safe. Warm up very well, make sure your movement quality has been dialed in, and slowly increase your weight.

🚘 Using heavy weight for low reps is like pressing the accelerator in your fancy new car.

Strength example - the squat

Here’s how you can put these three together. We will use the barbel squat as an example:

Let’s say you are just starting out, and you can only do a quarter squat with no weight.

  1. Drill the movement
    1. Quarter squat over and over until you can get to a half squat
    2. Eventually, spend more time sitting at the bottom of the squat
  2. Add a little weight
    1. Start with a PVC pipe
    2. Work towards a barbell
  3. Increase work capacity
    1. Slowly increase sets, reps, and weight
    2. You can also decrease rest time
  4. Occasionally increase the weight
    1. Occasionally lower reps to 2-5
    2. Increasing the weight will teach more muscle fibers to fire

Putting it all together

According to Dr. Peter Attia, living a long healthy life is strongly correlated with a having high VO2 Max and muscular strength.

Although these fancy numbers provide a straightforward answer to the question “what’s has the greatest impact on longevity?” they are simply measurements of overall fitness.

In order to build and maintain fitness later in life do these 6 things:

  1. Spend more time in zone 2 cardio
  2. Train your lactate threshold with intervals
  3. Perfect your movement quality
  4. Increase muscular work capacity through sets and reps
  5. Sharpen your neuromuscular connection by occasionally pushing the weight

That's all for today!

Talk soon.

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