RPR Episode 33: Dr. Ben House - Rebel Performance Radio

Episode 33

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Published on:

31st May 2020

RPR Episode 33: Dr. Ben House

Dr. Ben House joins the show today to discuss his journey to a PhD in Nutritional Sciences for UT-Austin, hypertrophy, his retreat center in Costa Rica, science, body composition, service, emotional intelligence, and where the fitness industry is headed in these changing times.

Like most, Dr. House was a failed athlete and found himself in the weightroom, loving it more than any sport he had played. He eventually found Crossfit and dove in head first, while academically earning a spot in med school without an undergraduate degree.

Ben decided against the med school route, and decided to move to Austin,Texas where the health and fitness industry was non-existent in the midwest at the time. Here he taught highschool biology and algebra, and later worked in retail selling prepackaged healthy meals, each of which taught him valuable skills he is grateful for today. He then began his 4.5 year journey to achieve a PhD in Nutritional Sciences from UT-Austin.

Ben and his wife, Steph, moved to Costa Rica and built Flo retreat center, where they host continuing education and yoga training events throughout the year. This is something they had wanted to do since meeting each other, and made a long-term plan to make it happen. Luckily, both Ben and Steph have limited wants & needs, enabling them to make sacrifices to meet their goals. More recently, they have welcomed a baby into the world and have decided to move on from the 24/7 concierge service that has been their lives since building Flo. This falls in line with a fantastic theme Ben holds, being that he and Steph do more of what they enjoy, and less of what they don’t.

Next we switch gears and discuss Ben’s passion for hypertrophy and current misconceptions about the topic that pervade the industry. Ben discusses the issue of correcting others when we could be more focused on providing more context for the people that need it. While selling nuance isn’t exactly easy, he believes that you can still keep the consumer informed without talking over their heads and let your results speak for themselves. Ben then elucidates on how a blend of know-how and a high degree of emotional intelligence will separate the wheat from the chaff as the dynamics of how fitness is delivered continues to evolve. 

This leads us to discuss the implications of the current environment and its implications on the fitness industry. As gyms are going out of business or limiting members, there could be a higher barrier to entry for the general population. Most big box gyms operate as a volume model, and that may be limited going forward. As technology enters the fitness arena, the ability to output spreadsheets and programs will be a commodity, however the ability to connect with others is what will set you up for success. Creating an experience for a client is what is going to keep them around, not reps and sets. Ben emphasizes the importance of going the extra mile for clients and how it can make a huge difference in the long run.

This leads us to discuss the challenge that is science in the fitness realm. Things are constantly changing, and we can never be absolutely sure of something being true. James points out this is more of a spectrum, and we have to be ready for something to completely change our understanding every few years. James gives an example of the mitochondria, and how drastically different the environment becomes when studying it in a lab. There are endless limitations to science, and most people are simply just reading about it on a paper. Learning to take everything with a grain of salt and applying it correctly is what is going to keep you on the right path. 

Next, Ben describes the findings of his latest study with Bro Research. The reality is that most studies find nothing, and when they do find something it is pretty boring. The study involved taking highly trained athletes and running the same workout 4 days in a row to a 9 RPE, only to find that volume did not decrease significantly (in the squat, it actually significantly increased on day 4). Importantly, Ben brings up the massive psychological component in humans that cannot be ignored when discussing the physiological. For instance, when squat numbers go up on day 4 here, Ben points out the atmosphere and motivation he observed as the gruesome workouts were coming to an end. From this, he was able to extract that the ability to grind and push yourself is a learned trait and that if you don’t have this ability, then using subjective measurements like RPE or RIR may not hold up. 

Next we discuss Dr. House’s functional medicine practice and his big rocks he requires for clients before diving into complexities that don’t matter. First and foremost he emphasizes the necessity for referring out. Next, maintaining a healthy body composition goes a long way for all things health, which will vary for women and men. Metabolically, movement and muscle are going to fix the lion's share of your problems. 

Once you’ve arrived at a healthy weight, you need to transition off of dieting and develop more of a long term strategy. The next check box is going to be looking at food quality, which is highly individualistic based on tolerances for certain foods. Ben works from an anti-fragility model, but understands how some clientele will come to you as fragile and need to be coaxed along.

Enjoy and hit that subscribe button if you learned a thing or two.

Episode Highlights:

2:45 – Dr. Ben House’s background

10:00 – Flo Retreat Center

15:00 – Hypertrophy

27:30 – The current fitness climate and where it’s headed

40:00 – The challenge of science

48:00 - Bro Research’s latest study

56:00 - Dr. House’s baseline for clients

1:03 - Dr. House’s recommended resources


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Rebel Performance Radio
A podcast for educated meatheads trying to forge super freak athletes
Rebel Performance Radio is a podcast for educated meatheads trying to forge super freak athletes. Each week we light your brain on fire with some of the top coaches, athletes, scientists, dudes, and gals on the planet to help you suck less as a strength coach, athlete, and human. We talk all things training, nutrition, movement, and lifestyle with a healthy amount of banter, movie quotes, and predator handshakes sprinkled on top. New episodes air every Monday morning. Why not start your week with us?