Ben Greenfield is an ex-bodybuilder, Ironman triathlete, Spartan racer, coach, speaker and author of Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health and Life. In 2008, Ben was voted as NSCA’s Personal Trainer of the year and in 2013 was named by Greatist as one of the top 100 Most Influential People In Health And Fitness.
What was your childhood like? Any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
Raised in rural North Idaho, I was homeschooled K-12 – a complete nerd. I was the president of the chess club, played violin for 13 years, wrote fantasy fiction and spent most of my childhood years with his nose in a book.
As a result, I developed an enormous amount of creativity and outside-the-box thinking that I now apply to…drumroll please…the world of fitness and biohacking.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
I can’t think of a single dark period I’ve ever had, knock on wood. I have a strong belief that if you have a real passion for what you do, plenty of love and relationships in your life, and a hope and belief in a higher power who has written a magical story for your existence, those dark periods will seldomly come, and when they do, they’re much less dark than you’d think.
I produce one piece of “art” each day, whether an audio, a video, an article or some other piece of helpful content that educates or entertains people.'I produce one piece of “art” each day, whether an audio, a video, an article or some other piece of helpful content that educates or entertains people.'Click To Tweet
I’ve been doing that for over a decade, and, as a result, have over 4000 unique pieces of content that help to establish me as an expert, to build trust and to help many, many folks.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
That’s quite simple really. Buy stock in Apple, Google, purchase a bit of cryptocurrency, bank your stem cells.
But seriously, and on a related note, I would have begun to invest in promising companies even earlier than I did – I had a great deal of education and smarts about the industry as a youngster, and in my youth, should have put a bit more money into investments and a bit less into savings or “hoarding” of wealth.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
“Get up early and crush the day” is a common one. I personally like to “ease” into my day with deep breathing, spiritual reading, gratitude journaling, meditation, and an easy-going mentality that keeps the stress of the day much lower than charging out of bed to go throw down a Crossfit workout or hard run.
What is your morning routine?
Wake. Unless I have a flight to catch, I do not use an alarm, and ensure that I only book appointments, calls and work after 9 am, so that if I do sleep in, I’m able to follow my body’s natural clock and not get “fired from work”.
I remove my huge, wraparound Sleep Number eye mask and ear plugs (get the kind you’d use on a gun shooting range – something that really drowns out the noise).
I then roll over, strap on a Bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitor (most models work but here’s an exact list of compatible ones), smear conducting gel all over the monitor electrodes, and do a 5 minute measurement of my heart rate variability (HRV), nervous system readiness and stress using the NatureBeat app.
While I monitor my HRV, I complete a morning entry into my Five Minute Journal, practice box breathing meditation, read my Bible and pray.
Walk downstairs to the kitchen. I pour 20oz of water, into which I add 10 drops of lemon essential oil and 5 drops oil of oregano. As I drink this water, I take my morning supplements and there’s currently quite a few – specifically:
- 5g CREO2 Creatine
- 2 capsules NatureCleanse
- 4 capsules NatureColostrum
- 2 capsules Caprobiotics Advanced
- 1 capsule Aggressive Strength Testosterone Booster
- 1 capsule Aggressive Strength Estrogen Control
After swallowing this small drugstore’s worth of capsules, I put on the water to boil for coffee and head down to the basement gym.
In the gym, I flip on the lights, which powered by a special kind of bulb called “Awake And Alert“. These bulbs crank out massive amounts of blue light, and if the day is gray, I’ll head to the gym rather than the backyard patio for a massive dose of light.
Then, I proceed to do my 10 minute morning stretch routine, which frankly, is still pretty dang close to what I was doing 5 years ago. Some things never change. The only major difference is that I add 10 dead-hang pull-ups at the end of the stretch.
I charge back upstairs and grab the coffee, which is always caffeinated for 3 weeks, then decaffeinated for 1 week, allowing me to only be nursing a caffeine habit 75% of the time (and allow for resensitization of the adenosine receptors). I use Dave Asprey’s Upgraded Coffee and simply get 3 bags caffeinated and 1 bag decaf with each order. And no, I do not use the butter or MCT oil. Just black coffee, thank you.
Coffee in hand, I head to the bathroom.
So I’ll let you in on a little secret: I only poop once-a-day. That’s right – I get it all out of the way with one massive dump first thing in the morning. There’s just something I don’t like about walking around during the current day with the previous day’s majority of solid waste still inside me.
I’ve pretty much got the morning poo down to a science. I stroll into the bathroom, hop onto my Squatty Potty, then shift, shimmy and shake until everything is out.
Typically, I have a few sips of coffee, scroll through emails and Facebook (yep, you know it), read any of my bathroom books and magazines, and just chill until everything is expulsed.
This is generally an oh-so-glorious 15-20 minutes, I walk out of that experience with a big goofy smile on my face, and yes, anytime I return from a big bout of travel (and about every two weeks as a rule) my morning bathroom routine includes a Bulletproof Enema.
Hang out with my two boys before they head to the bus stop. We talk about their sleep, their dreams, their morning journal, breakfast, and the day’s activities.
Then they’re off until 3:30 pm, which gives me 8 hours of extreme productivity. The day’s goal is always to be finished up with all the hard work by the time the boys get home, so we have plenty of time for afternoon workouts and father-son activities.
Do 30 minutes of morning movement. This varies a bit from day-to-day but generally is setup as follows:
- Monday and Friday mornings: yoga. I’ve been through enough yoga routines to where I have my own hybridized version, but it’s usually basic flow yoga with an intense focus on deep breathing, often in the cold, and often wearing an elevation training mask.
- Tuesday mornings: 20-25 minute full body foam roller a la “Becoming A Supple Leopard” and 5-10 minutes hanging from an inversion table.
- Wednesday mornings: 30-minute cold water swim at 55-60F. Finish with hot tub and warrior breathing.
- Thursday mornings: 30-minute breath hold walk (hold breath every 2 minutes for as long as you can) or 30-minute kettlebell walk (just what it sounds like – carry a kettlebell however you want for 30 minutes).
- Saturday and Sunday mornings: 30 minutes Core Foundation training.
I always finish any of these routines with my signature cold shower. Post-shower, I slather my legs with magnesium lotion and I slather my face with extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
I take a cold shower in the morning and in the evening. As a result, I have become more resilient and ready to tackle any other “discomfort” that happens the rest of the day. I also, for similar reasons, do 30 burpees a day – no matter what.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?
Sleep. Sleep on it, preferably with a notepad near my bedside so I can write down my thoughts should I wake with the solution or a return to focus. The next best tactic is a long walk, with no phone – just a journal and a pen.
What’s a book(s) that have influenced your life the most? Why?
I have read one book a day for the past ten years, so this is a tricky one. But the first three that come to mind are
Poor Charlie’s Almanack – a wonderful collection of wit and wisdom from the guy who made Warren Buffet the richest man in the world.
The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down – How to be Calm in a Busy World – the title of this one kinda gives it away. I recommend reading a chapter each evening before bed.
The Tao Of Leadership – this flies under the radar, but in my opinion is a must-read for anyone in a position of leadership who wants to lead as a gentle yet fearless leader.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” – Robert Heinlein