060 – The art of breath and human performance with Brian Mackenzie


Today we welcome breathing guru Brian Mackenzie onto the show. Brian has dedicated his life to breath practices and understanding the key role which they play in wellbeing. Maintaining the body’s pH through breathing impacts physical and mental performance, and it even improves our emotional responses to situations. Brian is here today to share more about these biochemical aspects of breathing. There is a common assumption that replenishing oxygen is the desired outcome of breathing, which Brian lets us know is wrong. Carbon dioxide tolerance is actually the most important thing to be paying attention to, and Brian gives us some idea of how to manipulate it to get its full benefit. He also talks a little bit about how we can optimize performance biomechanically, through nasal breathing for example. Brian has made an incredible app called State: Breathing, which provides exercises in different categories to help build co2 tolerance and raise the HRV score. Join us today to find out exactly why breathing is the next frontier for performance optimization.

Today’s podcast is brought to you by Fresh-Pressed, who also wants to hook you up with a bottle of olive oil for $1. You can pick it up at freshpressedoliveoil.com!


  • Brian’s book Unplugged. [05:10]
  • Brian and Andy used “super-ventilation” to lower blood oxygen levels below 50%. [05:53]
  • Non-super-ventilation methods for bringing oxygen levels down. [08:08]
  • Andy’s use of BOLT, co2 tolerance score, and the Max Exhale Test. [08:35]
  • The benefits of low co2 in physical and mental wellbeing. [12:01]
  • Implementing co2 lowering practices prior to exercise. [15:17] 
  • 80% Of training should be nasal breathing and 20% should be mouth breathing. [16:44]
  • The benefits of nasal breathing: burning more fat and staying in the aerobic system. [19:30]
  • Breathwork in relation to aerobic and anaerobic systems. [21:45]
  • Using breathing to determine the internal physiological state and how to adjust training. [23:37]
  • Using breath work to improve co2 tolerance and HRV score. [24:34]
  • Brian’s co2 tolerance practices: AltoLab, State: Breathing app, & breathing cycles. [26:46]
  • The State: Breathing app tailors breathing protocols to subjective bodies. [28:04]
  • Correct form in breathing mechanics. [32:57] 
  • High co2 tolerance mediates stress thus is meditative. [38:22]
  • How State: Breathing gets people to start practicing through milestones. [39:53]
  • A breakdown of reactiveness measurements: above 60 seconds is the goal. [40:22]
  • A 60-second+ co2 tolerance, coupled with nasal work is highly beneficial. [40:59]
  • Training nasal breathing at very high heart rates adapts the body to handing high co2. [42:17]
  • Acidity and alkalinity through different breathing practices. [43:05]
  • Mouth breathing while exercising makes acidity, and while sitting still, makes alkalinity. [43:05]
  • Breath training is about shifting body pH. [46:17]
  • The idea of physiology as misunderstood psychology. [46:50]
  • History teaches us that we have ancient methods for health which can be tapped. [50:54]
  • There is a generational disconnect due to conventional schooling. [52:56]
  • People’s unwillingness to try new things which will help them. [53:18]
  • Breathing, walking and meditating as the key contributors to health. [54:21]
  • Brian’s new 102 course focusing more on breathing gears and the brain. [56:02]
  • Brian’s accident and his journey to recovery through breathing, yoga, and aerobics. [57:54]

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Ben Pakulski

Since first lifting weights as a teenager, Ben has been on a mission to do whatever it takes… …to become the most muscular man on the planet! On the eve of The Arnold Classic, he confronts the dark realities of bodybuilding… And his own future! Follow him on his journey…

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Formerly the Muscle Expert Podcast. The world’s top authority on intelligent muscle building and fat loss gives us a simple to understand deep dive into the complex world of building a body you love, and living your greatness. Weekly interviews with leading experts in a vast number of scientific fields focusing on health optimization (nutrition, sleep, hormones, mindfulness and mind set), strength, (both physical and mental), and muscle hypertrophy. Learn proven strategies for optimum life performance, whether it be in the gym, the board room or the bedroom; this is the blueprint for becoming the upgraded modern man. Ladies, this podcast is for you too. The topics, tips, and life hacks covered are essential for every individual who wants to upgrade themselves mentally and physically.

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