Podcast #49 with Matt Kuzdub of Push Strength


Today I got to Interview Matt Kuzdub from Push Strength. I hope you enjoy it!

This podcast was edited and remastered professionally using Fiverr as well as fully transcribed using Fiverr

Ari: Welcome to the Less Doing Podcast. Today my guest is Matt Kuzdub, lead sports scientist for Push Strength. Hi Matt.

Matt: Hi, Less – or Ari.

Ari: That’s OK. You can refer to me as Less Doing. That’s totally fine.

Matt: I was going to say Less Doing. Ari, how are you?

Ari: Good, thanks for taking the time to talk to me.

Matt: Absolutely.

Ari: Yeah. So now I’ve talked on this podcast and I blog a lot with my audience about self-trackers and quantified self and I have not been shy about saying that I think that a lot of the devices out there are much more consumer-oriented and give you information but they’re really not a lot of the information that some people might want if they’re taking this stuff really seriously. So Push Strength does something a little different, right? So tell everybody first of all basically what Push is.

Matt: No problem. Push is basically a wearable device that you strap on your arm and it tracks movement in the weight room. So basically any type of barbell or dumbbell exercise, we’re able to track via a smartphone and you can review every rep of every set, either as you’re working out or you can kind of see trends over time.

Ari: So how is it different? I mean I know the answer for that. How is it different than something like a Fitbit or even a basis watch? What are the sensors that we’re going to get in a Push that we’re not going to get in the others?

Matt: Right. I think the main difference is that we sample at a higher frequency so we’re able to get a lot more information or detail out of every movement that you do. So we will be able to – based on our sensors or accelerometers, we’re able to detect reps and from every rep that you do in the gym, we’re able to give you real kind of scientifically validated metrics like force, velocity and power out button, something that some of the other wearables aren’t able to do. They’re just a little bit more lightweight and provide things like steps and calories but not more detailed info.

Ari: So now what can somebody do with that kind of information? What can they do if they know how much power they are putting? I’m coming at it from the Iron Man background where power meters on the bike, they’re like sort of a game changer. So I feel like this is almost like that for your body.

Matt: Absolutely, absolutely.

Ari: So for those who don’t know, what can you do with that power information?

Matt: Well, first off, I think it’s important to note that athletes and coaches have been using these sorts of metrics for decades now.

Ari: Sure.

Matt: But the devices out there are very technical and difficult to use, so they’re keeping track of these metrics to improve their for example explosiveness. If your power rep is higher in a certain lift, then you’re able to produce and generate more force and be more explosive or powerful on the field or ring.

Same with velocity. If you’re able to kind of increase the speed of movement, then that will translate to speed of movement in your sport. So this is I think – and consumers can benefit from this as well if they’re kind of geared towards more of the performance end spectrum.

So we are gearing towards that sort of – we’re gearing towards that end of the spectrum and I think the main thing is being able to track progress over time. So basically you can have more information as to what you’re doing rather than simply how much you can lift. You often hear people saying, “Oh, I lifted this much and this much but it’s hard to gauge progress that way.”

Ari: Sure, and one of the things that I find with myself as well as athletes that I work with is that some people have good days and bad days, right? When you’re in the gym when you’re performing and sometimes you don’t really know what it is and that was something that I always found really interesting with the power meter on the bike was there were days where I just felt like I was like biking through cement but I was actually doing OK and it was really sort of just nothing else physiologically. So I’m not really up on my high school physics but power and force is measured with newtons, right?

Matt: Force in newtons, yeah.

Ari: Force, OK.

Matt: Power in watts.

Ari: OK, right. So thank you. So I mean you sort of just answered this question. But more specifically like what do I do knowing that I am producing this many newtons of force? Do I want to produce more next time or is it just sort of – it’s just a marker?

Matt: Yeah. First of all, it is a marker but secondly force is associated with strength. So the more you can lift, generally the more force you will be able to generate. So if you’re someone who’s kind of looking at just increasing overall strength, that would be maybe one of the metrics that you’re looking at.

If you’re someone who wants to increase the power of explosiveness, then you will probably look at power and there are different exercises that are geared more to one of the metrics versus the other.

Ari: Sure, of course.

Matt: Like Olympic lifts would be more power-focused. Traditional lifts like squat and deadlift would be more force-focused. Jumping exercises, biometrics would be more velocity-focused for example.

Ari: OK, OK. So that does make it a lot clearer. Now, if someone – well, actually, so you’ve brought up a good point there. So someone doing squats versus Olympic lifting, the device is worn on the arm, right?

Matt: Correct, yeah.

Ari: So obviously if you’re doing a jump or you’re doing a lift, like it’s still going to get that but this is not going to help you if you’re doing something like leg presses obviously.

Matt: You can strap it on sort of your ankle.

Ari: Oh, you can.

Matt: And be able to do leg presses as well. So we’re trying to make it as user-friendly as possible. So for the majority of the lifts, you strap it on your arm and you will be able to track that.

But if for a leg press for example, you put it on your arm and the accelerometer is not moving at the arm during that lift. So you’re going to have to put it on your leg for movement to occur and for us to detect the rep.

Similar if you’re doing like for example a chin-up. You would have to put it up around your waist because we would have movement from that area of the body.

Ari: OK. So how does it know what exercise you’re doing?

Matt: That’s one thing you do have to input into the app. So either you can do it as soon as you get to the gym if you don’t have anything sort of in mind. You just really easily select the exercise. You start typing in the exercise that you’re doing. It will start populating exercises and input the weight. Just kind of scroll through the app. Input the weight. Press Go either on the app or on the device and it will track it for you and then press either Stop on the app or Stop on the device after the set and it will record that story for you.

If you have something already where a workout is already created ahead of time, either by yourself or by a trainer, then the app will pre-populate that workout for you. So you just have to press Start before I reset.

Ari: OK. So that’s pretty cool actually because – does that mean that you can really accurately sort of predict I guess what your one rep max might be for something?

Matt: Exactly. Yeah. There are definitely sort of velocity and velocity based on the equations that can predict one RM which is great because even for high end athletes, the trainers very rarely want to do one rep maxes with their athletes, the risk of potentially injuring themselves.

Ari: Well, and personally I can tell you that like I can’t remember if it’s with back squats or front squats but there are some very sort of standard conversions that you can do. Like your three rep max should be 91 percent of your one rep max for the back squat, I think.

I’ve always found those to be really inaccurate for me. Either the one rep max was way more heavy than I thought I could go or end up being lighter. That didn’t happen too many times. So it sounds like with this, you can really take that data and be like well, I’m producing the proper velocity which are relative values. So that’s really, really amazing and I guess that also would help as you said sort of prevent injury.

Matt: Yeah, exactly, prevent injury and sort of give coaches and trainers better sort of baselines to work off of with their clients or athletes and be able to base programs off of those numbers.

Ari: Great. I mean that’s really great. That level of information I think takes it to a really, really valuable place. Yeah. Are you going to be integrating with like myWOD or things like that? Is there going to be open API for this?

Matt: Yeah, there is an open API apparently, so yeah. We will be doing that. We even want to – we’re looking into sort of like the Withings scale and other scales out there where – because a lot of it – the metrics are based off of a person’s weight. So if that’s fluctuating on a daily basis or over the course of weeks and months, then step on the scale and automatically your profile gets updated with body fat percentage and weight, height, all that stuff.

Ari: Great. So when is the device going to be available?

Matt: We’re looking at April 2014 for our first wave of devices. We have currently a beta program in place where we’re sending about 100 units to various strength coaches and sports science researchers and they’re going to test the device for us, validate it, give us some feedback. Once we get it, we can have it ready for the spring.

Ari: Wonderful. So it’s available for preorder on the site now for $149, right?

Matt: Exactly.

Ari: So what is the URL for everybody to find out all about it?

Matt: That’s www.PushStrength.com.

Ari: Right.

Matt: We’re taking preorders as well right now.

Ari: Oh, good.

Matt: We did have an Indiegogo campaign that did pretty well. We surpassed their goal and we’re pretty excited about that.

Ari: Well, congratulations on that. So the last question that I always like to ask on the podcast – I’m always talking with these really cool high performance people. What are your personal top three sorts of productivity tips, the things that make you more effective everyday?

Matt: All right. I wasn’t prepared for this but I got a couple of different – anyway. Coming from sort of an exercise and sports background, for me personally, making sure that I get some form of exercise in on a daily basis and that helps me clear my mind and be a little bit more focused when I come into work.

So that would be one of them. My second would be I like to do things in sort of chunks. So kind of 90-minute or 120-minute time slots, kind of really focusing on the timeframe to do a task and then have a little bit of a break and then go back into it. Third one, if I need to just sort of have some quiet, I like to put my headphones on and listen to some kind of relaxing music while I work.

Ari: Cool. Those are three very good tips. I’m always interested in that question especially because I always get such different answers. So thank you very much for sharing that.

Matt: No problem.

Ari: Yeah, and thank you for your time. I hope everyone gets a chance to try out Push when it comes out because I know the people listening to this could definitely benefit from that kind of information. So Matt, thanks again for taking the time to talk to me.

Matt: Yeah, thanks Ari. I really appreciate it. It was fun.