Episode 119: Chris Adams

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Description: Host Brad Kearns joins firefighter and PrimalCon legend, Chris Adams, to talk about the stresses of shift work and sleep disruption, as well as how he helped Arizona firefighter academy students dramatically improve their performance by emphasizing aerobic exercise instead of stressful, higher intensity cardio training.

Chris and his partner Tina Leaman (Primal Blueprint audio engineer, who produces all podcasts and audiobooks) have the distinction of attending all nine PrimalCon events around the world from 2010-2014. They served as group and staff leaders to ensure guests had a fabulous time.

Working in high stress environments that involve sleep disruptions can be a real health challenge, and also interfere with fitness progress. Chris, a devoted CrossFit athlete with superhuman strength and athleticism, learned the hard way about burnout when he combined a heavy CrossFit schedule with his night shift firefighting work and guaranteed sleep interruptions. Chris talks about expertly managing the Adrenalin rush that comes when the bell rings for emergencies, how to manage the common “compassion fatigue” that afflicts public servants, and how to respect the big picture instead of “compartmentalize stress,” i.e., making workout decisions based on workout schedule, but not respecting the influence of your work schedule.

Enjoy this informative conversation, especially if you deal with sleep disruption or are trying to balance enthusiastic workout goals with a challenging career. Learn how Chris helped fire academy students slow down and then deliver major peak performance breakthroughs on testing day!

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Show Notes:

  • What role has Chris played in the all NINE PrimalCons? What did he gain from this experience? [00:00:44]
  • What challenges does he face as a fire fighter/paramedic in Arizona? [00:04:31]
  • The sleep interruption is a major stressor. What does Chris do to deal with this disturbance in the autonomic nervous system? [00:08:30]
  • How are the new recruit firefighters learning how to handle these stressors? [00:15:43]
  • What is “compassion fatigue?” [00:16:36]
  • How does working out come into play in Chris’s life with his team? [00:19:47]
  • What is HRV and how does it help manage stress? [00:24:47]
  • When Chris realized that things were out of balance, how did he learn to slow down? [00:29:31]
  • How slow does one have to go to make sure it is aerobic? [00:35:02]
  • What is “ventilatory threshold” and how does it relate to what we are talking about? [00:36:40]
  • How does skill practice come into play for training the firefighters? [00:38:00]
  • How does high intensity work with the new methods of training? [00:43:24]
  • The importance of stress mitigation is a missing piece in training. [00:47:53]

Selected Links:
HRV (Heart Rate Variability)
Phil Maffetone Podcast
Ashley Merryman Podcast
Ventilatory Threshold

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