Biohacking Series Part 5: The Benefits Of Exercise & The Best Workouts For Weight loss, Muscle Strength and Longevity

Biohacking Series Part 5: The Benefits Of Exercise & The Best Workouts For Weight loss, Muscle Strength and Longevity

If you’ve been keeping up with our biohacking blog series, you’ll already know that biohacking refers to practices and protocols that aim to change the body’s chemistry and physiology through self-experimentation. Famous biohackers like Tim Ferriss, Dave Asprey and Ben Greenfield have been showing us how to accelerate fitness, boost fat loss, optimise sleep and increase longevity since around 2005 with hacks like cold immersion, heat therapy, as well as using supplements and nutrition to enhance overall health. 

In today’s blog, you’ll learn how to biohack your exercise and workouts to help you build more muscle, lose fat fast, feel stronger, improve your heart health, and expand your longevity. You’ll discover the top tips biohacker Tim Ferris shares in his book The 4 Hour Body for fat loss and muscle gains, and the biohacking workouts expert Ben Greenfield advises in order to maximise results. Plus, you’ll understand the best exercise for muscle building, the best workout for weight loss, and the supplements you need to improve your workouts.

Are You Getting Enough Exercise?

Humans are born to move. No matter where you live in the world, you’ll see cultures moving, running, dancing, swimming, climbing, hunting and moving in a myriad of different ways. Children are a particularly good example of how natural movement is for the human body; let them loose for a moment and they’ll likely want to run, jump and play. That is, at least how it’s been for most of human history, until now.

One of the biggest health problems in the developed world today is lack of movement, and a sedentary lifestyle. Statistics show that more than 60% of US adults do not engage in the recommended amount of physical activity per week, and 25% are not active at all. [1] In the UK, 1 in 3 men and 1 in 2 women are not active enough to maintain good health, and as we age, physical activity tends to decrease too. [2] The W.H.O now identifies a sedentary lifestyle as a leading cause of disease and disability, increasing all causes of mortality, doubling the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, and increasing the risk of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression and anxiety. It is estimated that a shocking 60 to 85% of people worldwide now lead sedentary lifestyles, making it one of the most serious yet under-addressed public health problems of our time. [3] Children today also get far less physical activity than they need, with around 50% of children engaging in more screen time, less physical play, and more sedentary activities after school, which all contributes to the growing issues of childhood obesity, lower self-regulation abilities, dysfunctional behaviour, slower motor development and cognitive development, and reduced cardiovascular health.  [4] [5]

The Benefits Of Exercise & Why Exercise Is Important

The benefits of exercise affect every aspect of our health – physically and mentally. These are some of the top benefits of exercise.

The benefits of exercise:

  • Aids in weight management
  • Can increase weight loss
  • Reduces risk of dementia by 30%
  • Improves mental health and mood
  • Improves sleep
  • Reduces risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 40%
  • Helps maintain and improve bone density
  • Reduces colon cancer by 30%
  • Reduces risk of hip fractures by up to 68%
  • Improves brain health
  • Strengthens muscle
  • Improves metabolism
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves heart health
  • Can improve libido
  • Reduces all-cause mortality by 30%

[6] [7]

With some of the top health issues today linked to metabolic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity, it seems that exercise is definitely one of the most important pillars of health that we all need to include in our lives. The type of exercise you choose to do however, will determine how much benefit you get, and how quickly you’ll see the results you want from your chosen workouts.

Types of Exercise

Before we dive into the best types of exercise to see the results you want, it’s important to understand the different types of exercise, and the best type of exercise for your needs.

Aerobic exercise: Also known as cardiovascular exercise, these types of workouts include brisk walking, dancing, running, cycling on an outdoor or stationary bike, jumping rope, or swimming. Aerobic exercise is essentially anything that increases your heart rate and your body’s use of oxygen.

Anaerobic exercise: This type of exercise breaks down glucose in the body without using oxygen – this type of exercise is usually more intense than aerobic exercise, but lasts for a shorter duration. Types of aerobic exercise include:

  • Resistance Training, Weight Lifting or ‘Strength Training’
  • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
  • Calisthenics (Plyometrics, jump squats, box jumps)
  • Sprinting or Interval Training (Whilst running, cycling or swimming)

The Best Type Of Exercise For You

The type of exercise you choose to do is completely personal and should be determined by your goals. If you want to increase longevity and cardiovascular health, your workout choices may look different to someone who wants to build muscle and endurance. The most important place to start is by defining your goal; are you at risk of type 2 diabetes? Do you need to lose weight? Do you want to get stronger, or improve your mental health? Here’s a quick guide to the best types of exercise for individual needs:

The best exercise for weight loss

By ‘weight loss’, most people refer to the fact that they want to reduce body fat whilst maintaining lean muscle. To do this effectively, the body needs to switch to ‘fat burning mode’ in order to burn fat for fuel instead of sugar. Intermittent fasting overnight for at least 14 hours can allow the body to move into fat burning mode, and you can take advantage of this by exercising first thing in the morning. Research shows that fasted moderate cardiovascular exercise can help burn more fat whilst you’re working out, as the body burns fat for fuel whilst you’re exercising. [8]

To biohack your fasted workout for better results, ensure you’re exercising in the ‘fat burning zone’ with moderate exercise such as brisk walking, gentle jogging, cycling on an outdoor or stationary bike under 10 miles per hour, or swimming. The fat burning zone is typically between 50% to 72% of a person’s Vo2 max (the maximum rate at which the heart, lungs and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise). If you can still speak whilst you’re exercising, know you’re in the fat burning zone. Other ways you can biohack your fasted cardio include nasal breathing, which increases fat burning compared with mouth breathing, and ingesting a small amount of caffeine before exercising.

The best supplements that may support weight loss include:

MCT Powder

Matcha Green Tea

Keto Collagen Bar


The best exercise for heart health

Most doctors recommend at least 150 minutes of heart-pumping exercise per week to strengthen your heart and improve heart health. Activities that can help with this include brisk walking, running, jogging, dancing, cycling on an outdoor or stationary bike, and jumping rope. Improving your heart rate variability (HRV) can also improve heart health, increase cardiovascular fitness, speed up recovery from workouts, and increase your resilience to stress. Breathing exercises like ‘box breathing’ – inhaling for 4 seconds, holding for 4, exhaling for 4, and holding again for 4 seconds – can improve HRV, as well as including both strength training and aerobic exercise in your weekly workout routines. [9]


The best exercise to build muscle

To build muscle and strength, focus on resistance training and lifting weights. Some of the top muscle building exercises include squats, push ups, deadlifts, pull ups, bench press, over head press and rows. Building muscle is also known as ‘hypertrophy training’, where a moderate weight is used in relatively high repetitions (anywhere from 8 to 30 reps) to increase muscle size. [10] Lifting heavy weights three times per week is generally thought to be the best way to give your muscles the stimulus they need to get bigger and stronger, whilst allowing adequate time for recovery between workouts. Full-body workouts, or splitting workouts between upper body and lower body can all trigger muscle growth.

In his book The 4 Hour Body, biohacker Tim Ferris shares his Minimum Effective Dose method to give the best results in the least amount of time, focusing mostly on strength training. The plan involves just 2 workouts a week, with exercises like the bent-over row, Yates Bent Row, weighted dips, leg press or squat, seated calf raises and bench presses all performed at a 5x5 cadence to failure. [11] Building muscle also requires that your body receives proper nutrition around your workouts, which we’ll cover in a moment. Essentially, if you want to build muscle; lift weights two to three times per week, and don’t skip leg day, because exercising the biggest muscles in your body can help improve overall strength and hypertrophy.

The best supplements that may support muscle growth:


Essential Aminos Drink


The best exercise for metabolism

Improving your metabolism can increase energy levels, speed up weight loss, improve sleep quality, and help you burn more calories throughout the entire day (and night). Whilst cardiovascular exercise like running or swimming increases metabolism whilst you’re working out, resistance training however, can also increase your resting metabolic rate, meaning you’ll be burning more calories whilst at rest. To boost your metabolism, combine both cardiovascular and resistance training in your weekly workout routine. [12] If you’re looking to burn the most calories in the shortest amount of time, these are some of the best calorie burning exercises:

  • Burpees
  • Running
  • Interval training
  • HIIT training
  • Boxing
  • Jumping rope

The best exercise for longevity

According to research in the Blue Zones, where people tend to live longer and healthier, it seems the best workout is the one you enjoy the most, and the one you can maintain consistently. Pushing yourself through a workout you hate is simply stressful and could be counterproductive, so ensure you choose something you’ll look forward to. Maintaining a balance between activity and rest is also important if you want to live a long and healthy life; over-training can lead to poor immune health, injuries, and can even permanently damage the DNA structure of muscles [13], so if you start to notice the signs of over-training like unusually sore muscles, more frequent colds and illnesses, lower exercise tolerance, delayed recovery and loss of motivation, give yourself some time off. It turns out that the people who live the longest and healthiest lives engage in exercise like walking fast for an hour per day, cycling, running or swimming 30 to 40 minutes every other day, and using their muscles in general day-to-day activities like climbing stairs washing dishes and carrying their groceries. When it comes to increasing your longevity, general low-impact movement on a consistent basis is key. [14]

How long should I workout for?

The length of your workout depends upon the type of exercise you’re doing. HIIT workouts generally last between 10 to 30 minutes, whilst moderate cardiovascular exercise could take 60 to 75 minutes. One of the problems with working out for too long however, is that it can trigger the release of excess cortisol (the stress hormone), which can actually prevent fat loss, and lead to bone loss, muscle breakdown, more belly fat, sugar cravings, and insulin resistance over time. [15] Many fitness experts agree upon an upper limit of around 60 minutes for a relatively intense workout such as strength training. Especially for women, intense training sessions like weight lifting are best kept to 30-45 minutes maximum, as too much exercise for too long can negatively impact hormones like oestrogen and progesterone, and cause elevated cortisol levels for an extended period of time. [16]

The best supplements to help keep you hydrated through your workout:

Electrolyte balance


The best time of day to exercise

If you read our previous biohacking blogs on optimising your sleep, you’ll know how important it is to balance your circadian rhythms or ‘body clock’. To avoid disrupting your sleep, it’s best to keep your workouts to the earlier parts of the day if possible. If the only time you’re able to exercise is in the evening however just make sure it’s no closer than 2 hours before bed time. For fasted fat-burning cardio, aim to exercise at a moderate pace in the morning, whilst research shows that the optimal time for strength training is between 4pm and 6pm, as body temperature, pliability, speed and strength peak at this time too. However, the benefits differ between women and men; women tend to burn more fat and experience improved blood pressure readings by exercising in the morning, compared to men, who burn more fat at night according to research. [17]

How To Plan Your Workout

Now you know the best exercises for weight loss, muscle building, heart health and more, the best time to exercise, and how long to work out for, here’s how to create your weekly workout plan. The first place to start is by choosing a specific goal – the more specific, the more motivated, focused and successful you’re likely to be. Then, use our guide as inspiration on developing your weekly workout plan. You can use the SMART goal setting exercise to help you get clear on your exercise goals:

Specific: Be as specific as possible about the results you want. Do you want to lose 10lb? Be able to bench press 100kg? Perform 100 press-ups or lower your blood pressure to a specific marker?

Measurable: Your goal should be something you can measure; being able to track and measure how close or far you are from your goal helps boost motivation and focus, and is more likely to keep you on track. Track your workouts by using a simple paper and pen, or your phone. In order to build more muscle, you’ll need to focus on progressive overload – that is, gradually increasing the amount of weight you’re lifting over time. By keeping track of each workout, you’ll know how much weight you’re lifting, and for how many reps. The same goes for the number of miles you’re able to run, or your blood pressure measurements.

Achievable: Your goal should be achievable for you. Remember that everyone is different, and we all start out with different abilities. Your goal should be challenging, but not so unattainable that you dread each exercise session. Assess where you’re starting from, then choose a goal that requires you to push yourself without overdoing it.

Relevant: Choose a goal that actually means something to you, and you’ll be happier about chasing it. If you have no interest in building bigger biceps, don’t choose a goal focused on that… if you really want and need to lose weight for your health and wellbeing however, this would be a relevant goal, as well as something you can track, measure and be specific about it.

Time-Bound: Having a set amount of time to achieve your goal is another factor that can help you feel more motivated, and less likely to make excuses about missing workouts. Give yourself a realistic amount of time to achieve your goal, taking into consideration your day-to-day commitments, level of fitness and the degree of difficulty of your goal.

The Best Exercises For Your Workouts

Remember that everyone’s needs are different; your body may respond best to more rest days, less strength training, or different types of exercise. This simple guide outlines how you might think about shaping your weekly workouts:

Day 1: Leg Day

Exercising your legs utilises whole-body power, improves metabolic rate, and increases metabolic rate since the legs are some of the biggest muscles in the body. Some of the best leg and lower body exercises include:

The Best Leg Exercises:

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Leg Extension
  • Hamstring Curl
  • Lunges
  • Split Squat
  • Front Squat
  • Leg Press
  • Good Mornings
  • Calf Raises


If you’re focusing on building muscle size (hypertrophy) aim for 10-12 reps and 2 to 3 sets of each exercise. Choose 4 to 5 exercises for your workout.

Day 2: Fasted moderate morning cardio

Wake up in a fasted state, enjoy a large glass of water and perhaps a black coffee or green tea for an extra fat-burning biohack, then engage in 60-75 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise in the fat burning zone. This could be a brisk walk, cycling on an outdoor or stationary bike, swimming or a gentle jog.

Day 3: Upper Body

Strength training the upper body helps maintain a strong core, as well as strengthening the back muscles to prevent back pain. Some of the best upper body exercises include:

The Best Upper Body Exercises:

  • Pull-up
  • Push-up
  • Tricep Dips
  • Bent Over Row
  • Bench Press
  • Lateral Side Raise
  • Over Head Press
  • Incline Dumbbell Press
  • Bicep Curl
  • Sit Ups
  • Plank
  • Side Plank

side plank

If you’re focusing on building muscle size (hypertrophy) aim for 10-12 reps and 2 to 3 sets of each exercise. Choose 4 to 5 exercises for your workout.

Day 4: Rest Day

Enjoy a walk, stretch session, or Epsom salts bath to relax your body. This is also the ideal day to practice cold immersion and heat therapy, to help speed up recovery.

Day 5: Whole Body Strength

Exercising the entire body is a great way to build overall strength and endurance, as well as functional fitness and metabolic health. Kettlebells are some of the best equipment to increase fat loss and muscle gains. Try a combination of 3 to 4 of these kettlebell exercises, performed in a circuit of 3 to 5 rounds:

Kettlebell Exercises:

  • Kettlebell Swing
  • Snatch
  • Clean and Press
  • Kettlebell Row
  • Turkish Getup
  • Kettlebell Deadlift
  • Single Arm Kettlebell Swing


Day 6: HIIT Training

High intensity interval training can improve your stamina, endurance, fat loss, heart health, and help reduce stress too. Join a class to get the benefits of exercising socially, or opt for HIIT exercises like these, performed for 30-40 seconds, with a brief rest period between:

HIIT exercises:

  • Burpees
  • High Knees
  • Lunge Jumps
  • Jump Squats
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Rope Jumping
  • Speed Skaters
  • Sit ups

Day 7: Weighted Walking

To boost your overall cardiovascular health, strength and endurance, a long walk of between 2 to 4 hours (time permitting of course) can help improve metabolic health, blood pressure and bone health too. Adding a heavy object such as a rucksack or weighted vest is a little biohack that can go a long way to improving your health, whilst simultaneously giving you the benefits of plenty of time spent outdoors. To do this, simply put on a heavy rucksack or weighted vest and head out for a long walk.

Check out our next upcoming blog on biohacking your workouts to increase fat loss, gain more muscle and speed up recovery, as well as the specific workouts top biohackers agree will help you get stronger, leaner, faster and fitter quickly.


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