Outside the Box

Cool Tech for Your Workouts

December 9, 2013

I know that what you'll encounter in today's Outside the Box is not macroeconomics. But we all have to live in the real world, and our health is as real as it gets. So this is just one guy telling his friends about something he found that has helped make his world a lot better. 

My friend and colleague Pat Cox is always finding something new and different. When Pat first introduced me to this idea, I thought he was being a little over the top. But I happened to be in Palo Alto the following week and met with the scientists Pat mentioned and saw their results. Then I got a beta unit and used it for the first time on my last birthday last year. 

I am in reasonable shape for my 64 years. I can do 50 pushups relatively easily and then go on to other parts of the gym, but I could never get past 40 for the second set and then even less if I attempted a third set. I would hit maybe 8 machines and exercises as part of one full upper-body set. The first time I used the AVAcore device you're going to read about, I did three sets of everything, including 3x50 pushups over about 75 minutes, then went home and told the kids – who expressed a certain amount of skepticism. I immediately dropped and did another 39. All in less than two hours. It was a good birthday. 

And I was not sore the next day, which was even stranger. But let Pat explain the science. It all makes sense. I have talked with and seen interviews with lots of real athletes who swear by this. This is for real, but as Pat emphasizes, it is not Miracle-Grow. It will do nothing for you if you don’t work out, and baby workouts won’t cut it, either. But if you train seriously – and you should –this is the coolest thing ever (pardon the pun). It will increase your stamina and workout effectiveness.

This is really the first time the device has been offered to a general public audience. And yes, in one year it will be a different and better model and likely cost less. That’s the way of the world. So you can keep your current workout if you like, or you can do much better workouts, starting today. And you'll amaze your friends. This is a rather cool thing to take to the gym.

Your keeping cool and pounding reps analyst,

John Mauldin, Editor
Outside the Box

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Cool Tech for Your Workouts

By Patrick Cox

Two Stanford University biologists have discovered a way to dramatically increase the benefits of exercise. I've used this technology for the last year and, like many other early users, have seen remarkable improvements in strength, endurance, and muscle mass. In fact, my results are better than they were thirty years ago when I was in my thirties.

I understand, by the way, that…

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Ralph Casale

Dec. 10, 2013, 3:21 p.m.


Be careful with this.  The science behind it isn’t fully appreciated.  You may be doing yourself no favors by extending your ability to exercise strenuously.  One well (but not fully) appreciated concept that has a role in the exercise - benefit relationship is hormesis (see link below).  It relates to the ability of biological systems to strengthen in response to occasional stress (Roubini would love the concept).  But, a hormetic response is ‘Laffer-like’ i.e. none is bad, too much is also bad, while the right amount of stress to optimize the response benefit is hard to pin down.  Dietary antioxidants (second link) and medical procedures currently being researched like ischemic preconditioning (third link) have a hormetic character.


The point is that one can certainly exercise beyond the ability to benefit from that effort, and even potentially do harm.  Even moderate exercise itself may well be harming ones body, but in a way that the response to the harm improves the system (our biological antifragility).  Perhaps such a device as you mention can indeed help build endurance, or strengthen connective tissue if used periodically, but I would hesitate to leap to presume a long term benefit from regular use.  I agree this is a fascinating area of current research, and more will be learned in the coming years.  Until the long term benefits are better appreciated, I would suggest only occasional use.



Dec. 10, 2013, 7:09 a.m.

This is interesting.  I wonder whom to ask this: 
A common problem for older people is arthritis in the hands.  Cold exacerbates it.  Has there been any testing of such individuals to see if the device makes their hand ache?

Can it work for a person with faulty temp control? Spinal cord injured quads typically have difficulty feeling cold all the time as well as with heat dissipation.  Most can exercise.  Will the device make their extremities colder, or help cool the core and make overall work better?  Will it vary by individual?

I read the abstract of the study with MS sufferers but it did not address this sort of issue, that I saw.

Meanwhile I will put hand prints all over the windows during my workout to test the idea.

Jeffrey Frederick

Dec. 9, 2013, 6:59 p.m.

This is not so new to me.  In 1972 my brother and I helped my 85 year old grandfather replace the roof on our cabin in 90 degree heat.  Every 20 min he instructed us to go down to the cold mtn spring and we all put our hands in the water to above our wrists.  People that grew up before air-conditioning knew these things.

And why does this need to cost nearly $1000?  This is just waiting for some budding engineer-entrepreneur to put together a backpack hydropack that can take some ice cubes and connect with a simple waist belt hydropack that can take both hands, with maybe a squeeze pump in between to come up with a $50 device that is 90% as effective.  There is money to be made here for the first guy that can get this made in China.