Dr. Bob dives deep on why age is just a number and details how you can lower your “biological age” by improving your heart rate variability with WHOOP. At age 72, he is competing with 25-year-old athletes on his WHOOP team and is consistently putting up better data than many of them.
Bob gives great advice for our younger and older listeners alike and shares his thoughts on how you should adjust your training and approach in every phase of life. Make sure to check out his new book, Flip the Youth Switch, which is out now.
2:54 – Dr. Bob is Back. This is his second appearance on the WHOOP Podcast. Check out his previous episode.
3:15 – His WHOOP Team. Dr. Bob talks about his WHOOP team, “WHOOP Hardos,” and how he’s competing with, and out-performing, 25-year-olds despite being in his early 70’s. More about WHOOP teams.
4:26 – Age is Just a Number. “With WHOOP, using HRV (heart rate variability) as a marker, you can bring your biological age down, bit by bit.”
5:28 – Learning to Recover. “I bought the WHOOP and lo and behold I was red every day for weeks and weeks and weeks. I completely changed my training and I had an HRV of 18-20, which was like my age, 72, I actually got it up to 130. I was the equivalent of my 7-year-old.”
6:30 – New Book, Flip the Youth Switch. “I devoured it, I loved it,” Will says. “A big theme right off the top of the book is the importance of age just being a number. You have a real biological health as well. You talk about how heart rate variability is so core to this understanding of your physiological health.” Bob says “There’s no greater dream in life than to perpetually live the life of a 25-year-old.”
12:15 – Warning Sign. Dr. Bob details how his red recovery on WHOOP helped his doctors piece together that he was dealing with an intestinal obstruction. “The warning sign was my WHOOP told me something was going on over the previous week because I had all yellow scores, and it suddenly [went] red. On the basis of that, I went down and had the operation. … Thanks to WHOOP as an early warning system, I knew [something was wrong] and [took] decisive action.”
15:05 – Game-Changer. “What I think is happening with wearables is you’re completely changing the face of medicine. … [It’s] better than an exam. You have minute-by-minute, second-by-second data, day after day, year after year, so the doctor can say, ‘I think something is wrong here.’”
16:55 – A Useful Tool. “These [wearable] devices are not taking the place of doctors, but what they’re doing is they’re working as an assist. They’re there to warn you.”
19:54 – Tip for Optimizing Workouts and Recoveries. “What [people] don’t realize is you should go really, really, really hard, and then [take it] really, really easy.” Will says putting different strains on your body is “fundamental” to success. “Most people are doing a 10 or a 12 [day strain] every day, when they should be doing an 18 and an 8.”
21:31 – Defying Age. “The fact of the matter is you’re not old, you’re just not recovered.”
22:46 – Advice for 20-Somethings. “Don’t rest on what your birth certificate says, look at your WHOOP score and get it together. Now is the time in your 20s to get those lifelong patterns together. … There was a runner from the distant past named George Sheehan, back in the heyday of the running movement, and he had a great quote which was, ‘First, be a good animal.’ … If you feel great every day and if you live life as a great animal first, you have won.”
29:04 – How to Tackle Your 30s. “I think the 30s are where you really want to start to put together a program. You want a regular program of athletics. … I would make certain to pick up some sort of life sport. One of the great tragedies I think in America is that we turn so many kids off to sport. We use them as a feeder system for professional sports. … We really should have a motor education.”
35:14 – Finding Sports with Age. “I say to athletes, ‘Look, you’ve gotta have a transition sport. You’ve had this great heart-lung package that’s allowed you to run marathons and triathlons, but you’re losing the muscular component. Find something you can translate it to.’”
37:16 – A Sport for Everyone. “My first book ever was called Sport Selection. It says everyone of us has a sport that we’d be very, very good at. … I’m very much a believer in building athletes rather than just having someone who is a naturally skilled athlete. You may not win the gold medal or you may not become Tom Brady, but you can win at your sport by understanding that this is not just a gift and people learn it.”
41:12 – Education in Athletics. “An athlete is taught to use failure as a point of learning, as a point of process for improvement,” Will says. “If I hadn’t had that ingrained in my life, I don’t know if I would have felt comfortable starting a business where the probability is failure.” Bob adds that “Athletics is a wonderful surrogate all the way through [your life]. So maybe things aren’t going well today in some aspects of your life. … But you can have athletic success today.”
46:19 – Improving Quality of Life. “Part of the chapter in my book is what I would have looked like in 1918. In 1918, I would have been in a wheelchair, on oxygen, unable to see, unable to think, unable to keep food down, constantly miserable, terrible pain, I probably wouldn’t have lived out of my 50’s. Through the miracle of modern science, I’ve had cataracts replaced, I’ve had both hips replaced, I’ve had a whole bunch of operations and cleaned myself up inside, and now feel like I’m physiologically and medically perfect.”
46:52 – Advice for People Over 50. “Diseases are now starting to show themselves in your 50’s and 60’s that are going to kill you or slow you down or make you give up, so be incredibly aggressive. It’s like a car, your tires are old, your transmission is worn, your cylinders are starting to go, the rings are leaking, you’re like a car and you have all these different systems, and these different systems are going to start to go bad. You want to focus on them. Make sure your heart is 100 percent. Make sure you’re using a WHOOP to have those green days to go out and have a big workout. Keep your cholesterol and inflammation where they should be.”