Biohacking: Surprising Ways to Boost Your Workout

by Samantha Wolfe

Biohacking is the practice of manipulating your body at the cellular level to enhance the results of a given action. Using this technique to improve one’s physical fitness has become a much more popular practice in today’s fast-paced world; in a video by What the Wellness, it is demonstrated that, by biohacking your workout, you could participate in a 40-minute workout equivalent of the recommended training for a week’s time. By subjecting your body to varied condition, you can maximize the impact of certain exercises to improve your physical strength training and recovery. By changing the chemistry and physiology of one’s body through science and self-experimentation, your body can become energized and enhanced. In short, biohacking your fitness means striving to get the maximum effects while exerting minimal effective effort.

One of the conditions you can use to manipulate your body and the outcomes of your workout is heat. By subjecting your body to different light and higher temperatures, you can both relax and energize your muscles before, during, and after a vigorous workout. For example, infrared light is used at most biohacking facilities to help warm up your muscles from the inside out. Light waves measuring 600-900nm in length (infrared) can be absorbed 8-10mm into your skin. At this depth, your mitochondrial chromophores absorb the photons, activating your nervous system and metabolic processes. In other words, infrared light that penetrates deep enough through your skin can help your cells regenerate and repair themselves. Infrared light is also known to promote faster healing of deep tissue and can possess pain-relieving qualities.

Though heat produced in a sauna is different from that produced by infrared light, it can also benefit your body’s recovery by stimulating the travel of oxygen-rich red blood cells throughout your body, thereby improving your cardiovascular health. By sitting or stretching in a sauna, you can relax your muscles as well as challenge your breathing and the fitness of your respiratory system. Before or after your workout at the Hockessin Athletic Club, take a trip down to the sauna. Warm up your body through a simple stretching exercise, engaging all your muscle groups to maximize the effects. Wear a mask not only to keep yourself and everyone else safe but also to train your breathing in this heavier air temperature and quality.

Another condition that can help produce maximum physiological benefits is extreme cold. Cryotherapy is the use of very low temperatures to cause vasoconstriction (the constriction of your blood vessels). By restricting your blood flow during a workout, you decrease the amount of oxygen received by your muscles, forcing your body to work much harder. Additionally, by exercising in these colder temperatures, one’s endurance is increased greatly. When the body later returns to normal temperatures, an endorphin rush is released, providing the body with nutrients and minerals. Instead of sweating during your workout on the outside, your body is metabolizing inside; by keeping your body cool, you are in turn training it to work more efficiently. Some popular “biohackers” can be seen attaching cold packs to their body during a workout to simulate these effects. Swimming in colder water, whether in a pool or natural body of water, as well as taking cold showers or ice baths can reduce inflammation and aid in recovery through this vasoconstriction technique, too.

Outside of changing one’s physical conditions, the machines used in a biohacked workout can assist in producing better results with minimal effort. An AI-incorporated stationary bicycle called CAR.O.L® (Cardiovascular Optimization Logic) is utilized to conduct a “reduced exertion high intensity training session”. The workout provided by this bike only lasts eight minutes and forty seconds but utilizes resistance personalized to your body to guide you through a warm-up, two 20-second sprints, a recovery, and cool-down periods. After a few “assessment rides” to analyze your biometrics (heart rate), the machine sets the ideal resistance to hit supra-max intensity to deplete the glycogen storages in your body. Ideally, you will reach 80-90% of your maximum heart rate in this workout to enhance and energize your body.

Two other pieces of equipment – the Omni and the Alpha exercise machines by Arx – use Adaptive Resistance™ technology to deliver an extremely efficient strength training workout. Instead of having to choose your own weights for a chest press, a row, a leg press, etc., these machines give back to you what you put into them. With personalized resistance, you are able to get a total body lift in a safe and effective way. Upgrade Labs, a biohacking facility that utilizes Arx machines, claims that with one 15-minute maximum lift session, you can biohack a week’s worth of strength training for your body.

In general, biohacking doesn’t need to be done to the extreme. Anything you might do to help you achieve the physiological outcomes you want with less time or effort could be considered biohacking – you’ve probably already “biohacked” your life in some way without even thinking about it! There are plenty of ways to biohack your workout at home without any fancy facilities, too. When you go for a walk, run, or hike, wear a backpack with weights in it – books or canned goods can work too. The additional weight allows you to strength train during your typically cardio-focused workout. Completing your workout session outside can improve both your physical and mental health, so take a mat or resistance band out in the front yard for all of your neighbors to cheer you on! Finally, improving your sleep routine and diet can both impact the internal and external health of your body and be very important to maximizing the effectiveness of your biohacked workouts.

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