Alex Hutchinson on Pushing the Limits of Physical and Mental Performance


If you want to know more about the science of human performance, and how to increase your capacity for physical and mental output, then you want to listen to this podcast.

What determines the true limits of our physical performance?

It it mostly hard-wired physiological factors that can’t be changed, or is it more nuanced than that?

What about psychological factors? How much does the “inner game” affect the “outer game,” and how much is this under our control?

People have been searching for answers to these types of questions for decades now, and new research has provided some pretty surprising insights.

That’s why I wanted to talk to Alex Hutchinson, who’s been studying all of this for over a decade. In case you don’t know of Alex, he’s an award-winning science journalist, former physicist and national-class runner, regular columnist for publications like Runner’s World, Outside, and The New York Times, and in my opinion is one of the best fitness writers around.

He has a new book out called Endure that dives deep into the fascinating science of human performance and potential, and in this interview, he shares with us some of the key takeaways from the extensive research that went into the project as well as some highly practical strategies and techniques we can use to increase our capacity for physical and mental output.


4:58 – What are the latest studies on the physical limit for a human?

8:32 – How much does our mental dialogue effect our pain tolerance?

11:06 – How much of our physical pain is determined from preconceived ideas versus our thoughts during the moment?

12:25 – What are some psychological coping strategies to increase your pain tolerance?  

15:07 – What is motivational self talk and does it enhance performance?

27:34 – What is electric brain stimulation?

35:24 – What is an example of positive self talk?

39:54 – Does your psychological tolerance increase when your physical tolerance increases?

54:21 – Where can people follow you and find your work?

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What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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