This week, we’re celebrating 100 episodes of the WHOOP Podcast.
Along the way, we’ve talked with professional athletes, business leaders, CEOs, scientists, doctors, and members of the WHOOP team to really help you understand everything about the broader world of human performance.
We’re going to use this episode to look back at many of the learnings we’ve taken away from the first 2 years producing this podcast. We’ve compiled some highlights from our first 100 episodes and it’s our hope that you have found our amazing guests as insightful, informative, and inspiring as we have.
1:24 – Episode 1: David Stern. NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern was the guest on the first ever WHOOP Podcast, sitting down with Will for a wide-ranging discussion about his career and the future of sports. David passed away at the beginning of 2020, and he’s sorely missed by all of us at WHOOP. He believed that the use of technology will continue to change how athletes are managed.
“Because of WHOOP, and other devices like it, you’re going to know whether the player needs the rest or not,” David said.
4:41 – Rory McIlroy. 4-time major champion Rory McIlroy came on the program in Episode 68 to talk about his career in golf, how he has learned from failure, and why he uses WHOOP to give him an edge.
“Sometimes the fear of failure is a good thing. For me, it was I never want [the 2011 Masters] to happen again. I’ve always prided myself in learning from my mistakes and I made a lot of mistakes that day and that week. Maybe the next time you’re not going to do everything perfect but you’re going to be a little bit better. … All I wanted was another opportunity. I wanted to get into the final group of a major again and I wanted to show myself and people that what they saw at the Masters wasn’t a true reflection of who I am.”
7:53 – Justin Thomas. Episode 77 featured 2-time major winner Justin Thomas, who spoke in-depth about the mental side of the game and how nerves are a common occurrence, even among the most elite athletes in the world.
“I wouldn’t understand why someone would do something if they’re not nervous, because if you’re not nervous then it doesn’t mean anything to you. There’s definitely good nerves and bad nerves. There’s the ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so nervous and I’m scared to fail’ nervous, and there’s like a ‘This is such a big moment, I can’t wait to make this putt and show everybody this moment,’ nervous. … It makes me laugh and it honestly drives me crazy when some guys are so stubborn to say that they’re not nervous teeing off Sunday at Augusta with the lead. What, are you dead inside? That’s not possible. I’m nervous anytime I go play Augusta for fun, let alone the first round of a tournament, let alone on Sunday with a lead.”
9:59 – Sue Bird. Basketball legend Sue Bird spoke of the fleeting feeling of winning when she appeared on the podcast in Episode 42.
“I’ve not found other things that can make you feel the way that feels. … But the sad part is it really only lasts that night. Nothing is ever quite like the night you win.”
11:41 – Andrew Huberman. Stanford neuroscientist Andrew Huberman appeared on Episode 69 of the podcast and shared fascinating insights on the inner-workings of dopamine and serotonin and how those chemicals apply to motivation and meaning.
“Mother Nature installed this feel-good chemical called dopamine that is secreted anytime that we’re focused on something outside of the reach of our hands and our own skin, literally. It’s about focusing on things outside of our immediate sphere of experience. … It makes sense why Mother Nature would design a chemical like this because otherwise why would we ever go forage for the food that would give us the reward? Or forage for the mate that would give us the reproductive event? Why would we ever do that? It keeps us motivated. … It’s a beautiful mechanism because it keeps us focused on the external goal and feeling good while we’re en route to that.”
16:00 – Mark Divine. Former Navy SEAL Mark Divine, who appeared on the program in Episode 59, explained why mindfulness and meditation helped him become one of America’s most elite warriors.
“When you start to meditate and you get control of the rational, cognitive, left-brain aspect and you can drop into these moments of silence where you’re not doing anything … you’re not actively doing anything you’re just listening and you’re searching or being quiet, and all of a sudden that’s when you can hear or sense what the gut is telling you.”
18:33 – Ryan Holiday. Ryan Holiday, the bestselling author of The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy, and Stillness Is the Key, dove deep on the meaning of stillness and success in Episode 75.
“To me, stillness is when things slow down, when you get into a zone, when things are clear, when you’re not distracted by external or internal things. It’s the ability to concentrate, the ability to focus, the ability to be at peace with oneself. Stillness comes in a lot of forms. I think we can more clearly define it by what it’s not: It’s not inactivity, but it’s also not needless activity. This idea of stillness and this idea of being ego-free, I don’t think it’s antithetical to achievement, to success, or to great feats of prowess. … I actually think it’s more impressive to be successful and good and something and not a slave to it.”
20:37 – Kristen Holmes and Emily Capodilupo on Heart Rate Variability. Check out Episode 29: Everything You Should Understand About HRV.
“When your heart rate goes down, it means that each heart beat is more effective.” Emily explains. “When your HRV is higher there is more capacity to allocate resources towards exercise.” HRV naturally goes down while you’re exercising hard. “The more you’re not sympathetically dominating the more room there is for sympathetic activities to come in and dominate.”
23:23 – The Impact of Alcohol. In Episode 42, Kristen and Emily detailed alcohol’s effect on sleep, recovery, and performance.
“Alcohol is a sedative, it’s not actually a sleeping aid. Sleep is an incredibly active process, our bodies are working really, really hard when we sleep, and if you have alcohol in your system, none of those very active processes can happen.”
25:04 – Sleep Performance. Kristen and Emily dove deep on how to improve your sleep in Episode 55.
“If you can understand when to go to bed and when to wake up, everything else rights itself for the most part,” Kristen notes. “Figure out how to spend every second that you’re asleep getting benefits,” Emily added.
26:23 – Nicholas Christakis. When coronavirus hit the United States in March, we had Yale sociologist, physician, and public health expert Nicholas Christakis on the podcast (Episode 66). Nicholas is one of the most well-respected experts on COVID-19 on Earth and spoke about the dangers we would be facing as a country as the virus spread.
“In most pandemics, about 40% of the population gets infected … so if we say 40% of Americans get infected, that is 120 million Americans or something. Let’s say on the conservative side that 0.3% of Americans die from that … that’s 360,000 deaths. That’s a top-3 killer in our society. It’s catastrophic, that many deaths. And it could be worse, maybe 60% of Americans get infected and maybe the case fatality rate is higher. It could be better. We don’t know and this is one of the frustrating things to try to communicate to the public that we cannot know for sure what is likely to happen. There’s a range of outcomes. What I can tell you is we need to take this seriously. This is not a drill.”
27:47 – WHOOP Research on Respiratory Rate. In Episode 67, we unveiled our research into the connection between COVID-19 and elevated respiratory rate.
29:10 – Nick Watney. Pro golfer Nick Watney tested positive for COVID-19 over the summer, despite being asymptomatic. He noticed an elevated respiratory rate in his WHOOP data, leading to his test. He spoke about his quick action to prevent the virus from spreading on the PGA Tour in Episode 80.
“It really is amazing. People have asked me, ‘If you had no symptoms, why did you get tested?’ It’s because of the WHOOP data. … I went to the golf course, social distanced while warming up, and got a call about 20 minutes before [my round] that said ‘Your test came back positive. You need to go. You need to leave as soon as you can.’ I said to the doctor, ‘Is this real? I know I saw the data, but…’ He said, ‘This is real. You need to go.’”
30:25 – Chris Herren. Former basketball standout Chris Herren saw his NBA career derailed by drug and alcohol abuse. He now uses WHOOP to help recovering addicts and shared his powerful story in Episode 95. Chris detailed the moment that finally got him on the path to recovery.
“A counselor told me I should play dead for my family. I had just relapsed and my wife was in the hospital, she had just given birth, and I relapsed on alcohol and heroin. When I went back to the [recovery center], he told me I should play dead. … He said, ‘Give your wife some peace and tell her to tell your children that their daddy died in a car accident today. I want you to get in a vehicle when you leave here and drive as far away from Massachusetts as you possibly can.” He looked me in the eye and said, ‘Play dead and let them live.’”
31:44 – Kevin Flike. Former Green Beret Kevin Flike (Episode 61) shared his incredible story of perseverance after being badly wounded in Afghanistan. He was faced with death multiple times, and said that in those moments you reflect on the way you lived.
“Wow, you’re going to die today,” Kevin said of a harrowing experience while he was trapped on a mountain fighting the Taliban. “The heat’s going to get you, or the bullets, you can’t keep being so lucky. I had a conversation with myself at 26 that most people don’t have until they’re 80 or 90. I started asking myself questions about my life. What kind of man are you? Did you live your life the way you wanted to live your life with a zest and a zeal. Did you love your family? Did you love God? Did you take advantage of your opportunities? I ultimately came to the conclusion that I hadn’t because you always think you have the next time, and today is it for you, you woke up for the last time today…I’ve never felt so terrible in my life.”
33:05 – The Story of WHOOP. Will reflects on the beginnings of WHOOP with Michael and Marcus from our friends at NOBULL. You can listen more in Episode 74 of the WHOOP Podcast.