Phil Maffetone: Barefoot breakthroughs, getting stronger, keeping fit as you age

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After the awesome big picture show about healthy living and avoiding the manipulations of today’s mainstream media and marketing forces, Brad welcomes Dr. Maffetone back for a show on the usual popular topics of endurance peak performance. First, Phil discusses the amazing marathoner Eluid Kipchoge, and how he can finally hit the magic 1:59 barrier. First, running barefoot would achieve a significant time improvement! Yes, hard to do if you have been in shoes for years. Second, getting muscular balance treatments, because hard training creates imbalances that increase injury risk and slow you down. Dr. Phil says even extreme endurance goals are not necessarily unhealthy for older folks if you adopt the correct approach. He cites examples of world class endurance athletes around age 40, and also recommends that you have more patience with recovery as you get older. On the topic of explosive training, Phil relates how important this is even for endurance athletes, who “epidemic” show physical and functional weaknesses. Try to add a vertical jump test to your MAF test as an excellent fitness marker. If you can’t exceed 12 inches from a standing start, you best add more explosive training. 

A couple great ideas: Sprint for 7 seconds several times, with long recovery periods between (~30 seconds) and repeat a couple times per week. Consider Maffetone‘s “slow weights” idea, where you perform a single set of a single exercise, but repeat it several times a day. I have a hexagonal deadlift bar in my backyard for this purpose. Choose a weight that’s about 80% of your single rep absolute max and do about six reps. If you do this several times a day, you are talking about a fantastic increase in strength in a short time! What you are doing with these brief workouts is recruiting more of your existing muscle fibers to perform a function. This differs from the hypertrophy workouts when you break down and exhaust muscles, slam down protein shakes, and prompt the growth of bigger muscles—often these are for looking rad only and can obviously compromise endurance performance. With these brief single set, single exercise sessions, you avoid the risks and the adverse consequences of post-workout muscle soreness, something Brad complained to Phil about and he confirms is no bueno. Soreness leaves the muscles weak for a couple days, and if you get sore a couple times a week, well…FYI, did you know Ben Franklin was the one who made up “no pain, no gain?” Always fun insights from Dr. Phil. Enjoy, and check out his website and products!

It’s time to start thinking about running barefoot. [00:00:43] 

We are now close to an athlete breaking two-hour marathon. Look at Eliud Kipchoge. [00:03:41] 

Muscles imbalance is a big concern. Posture and gait are important. [00:12:59] 

Running at the same pace with muscle imbalance could raise your heart rate 5 or 6 beats! [00:15:27] 

What kind of practitioner would deal with muscle imbalance? The assessment is really important. [00:17:19] 

The times of the marathon have decreased in recent years. Why have people slowed down?  [00:19:18] 

Diet is primary to the training. You cannot run away from a bad diet. [00:22:51] 

As we age, do we need to rethink the basic premise of these endurance goals? [00:24:16] 

What about in the explosive sports? [00:29:04] 

As you age, are there some modifications one would make to their training? [00:31:53] 

What kind of parameters do you recommend to assess whether the subject is recovered and ready for another explosive workout?  [00:36:18] 

Overtraining or undertraining? [00:38:49] 

Shouldn’t we expect muscle soreness after workouts? [00:41:13] 

What is a jump test? [00:42:58] 

How can we build strength without getting weak muscles? [00:47:00] 

We can train the brain to learn to contract more muscle fibers within the muscle. [00:51:57] 

If you are not eating enough protein, it will be difficult to get stronger. [01:01:56] 

Not all vitamins you buy in a jar are healthy. Do we get enough Vitamin D? [01:03:53] 


Eliud Kipchoge

Phil Maffetone

Pocket Hercules


  • You cannot run away from a bad diet! (Tim Noakes)
  • We have a serious epidemic of weakness throughout the world. (Phil Maffetone)
  • Why would you want to sacrifice your health and fitness just to look better? (Maffetone)
  • People who put on a lot of bulk are not necessarily stronger. (Maffetone)

Check out this episode!

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