Lexus redesigns its cars and SUVs so they stay fresh and they’re ALWAYS better than the ones that came before. Spartans are no different. They’re always redesigning the way they train, eat, and think — whether it’s to prepare for the next unbreakable feat or overcoming obstacles like injury or age. In this five-part series, we spoke with Spartan founder and CEO Joe De Sena about how redesigning his training, nutrition, and recovery over the years has forged him into the Unbreakable CEO that he is today.
Technology has come a hell of a long way since the days of ancient Spartans. There’s data and tracking on just about everything an athlete could ever wonder about their own body.
Wearables are giving those athletes incredible amounts of information about their vitals, performance, and recovery. Precision medicine companies are using genomics and biometrics to maximize health span and optimize performance. And it seems almost as though a new supplement, device, or “protocol” comes out every day, promising performance-enhancing benefits.
Data, technology, and recovery practices are useful resources and tools. But according to Spartan founder and CEO Joe De Sena, we can’t forget about the power of good old fashioned grit, resilience, and determination when it comes to pushing our minds and bodies to limits we didn’t think were possible.
“The human body and mind has been proven that it can do amazing f****** things,” he says.
That doesn’t mean that humans don’t need days off, couldn't use better sleep at night, or that certain recovery practices don’t help. But it is quite possible to take the idea of “recovery” too far.
“There's all of this talk of recovery, but before you know it, you’re recovering from recovery,” De Sena says.
Should You Track Your Fitness Data ... or Is It Making You Weaker?
500 years ago, humans needed to go out to hunt for food to survive.
“Can you imagine saying we can’t go hunting today because we did legs yesterday?” De Sena says.
He believes we’re much more resilient and adaptable than we give ourselves credit for sometimes.
“Think about history and all of the terrible times that humans have been through and endured,” he says. “Our bodies adapt.”
How to Have a No-Fluff Approach to Recovery
De Sena’s recovery routine is simple, yet effective, efficient, and research-supported: cold showers, saunas, and deep sleep.
“One of my favorites is finishing up a workout, hopping in the sauna if it’s available, then doing a cold plunge or cold shower,” he says.
The other is doing everything he can to make sure he gets as much quality sleep as possible. He won’t eat three hours before falling asleep, drops the room temperature down to 66 or 67 degrees, makes it completely dark, and takes a quick cold shower before getting into bed.
“I love a cold shower before bed, even though you think it’s going to keep you awake, it doesn’t,” he says.
While data, technology, and tools are valuable resources, De Sena prefers going with his gut and experience.
“We’re in an office with 40 biohacking companies with folks looking at all kinds of data, which I love," he says. "But I also laugh and think, ‘Wow, I’ve got 30 years of data in my head just from pushing my own machine around the world.'"