Supplements, Unconventional Training Tools, and Spirituality w/ CEO of Onnit Aubrey Marcus – EPISODE 126

Audio Only: iTunesStitcher

GET 10% off at Onnit:  Just use this link —>

Aubrey Marcus might have the most interesting title of any Barbell Shrugged guest to date.

You can call him a spiritual experimentalist, human optimizer, unconventional fitness junkie, and warrior poet. He’s also CEO of Onnit, a unique human performance company which sells performance and health supplements, as well as some novel training tools. They also make some pretty righteous YouTube videos, including this jewel with Joe Rogan.

Watch that video right now if you’re in need of a motivational kick in the ass!

Aubrey’s interest in human optimization began during his basketball career. With the help of his step-mother, a naturopathic doctor, he was able to experiment with all manner of supplements and develop a regimen to aide his performance on the court. That’s really a huge advantage, especially when you consider that most young athletes are 100% uninformed on the topic. They are completely subject to marketing spin and are left to experiment on themselves, which is obviously less than ideal.

First things first, before you invest and consume any supplements, make sure you do your research. Read all you can on the topic. Visit websites such as, which can help you quickly sort through the available scientific evidence (Do that!). And sure, if you happen to have a qualified Naturopath in the family, please ask them what’s what before you go snorting bee pollen or powdered deer antler during your next heavy deadlift session.

As you understand more and more, please do experiment with supplements and pay close attention to how they affect your performance. Read the available research. Add them in one at a time. Take careful notes. Track your training numbers. Hey, you might be surprised. The addition of nootropics or some cordyceps sinensis mushroom’smight make a real difference. There’s only one way to find out.

All of these unique supplements are really interesting and potentially beneficial, but the coolest thing Aubrey has to share is the importance of unconventional fitness tools.

You probably know all about barbells, dumbbells, and even kettlebells, but I would bet that you’re much more unfamiliar with things like steel clubs, maces, and maybe even battle ropes. It would be easy to label this stuff as little more than functional training gimmicks, but before you make any conclusions consider the history.

Tools like heavy clubs have been around for the better part of a millennia, making people strong, and preparing them for the dangers and rigors of war. That’s really the foundation of human performance training. It’s not sport, really. We began training to become bigger, stronger, faster, and more mobile or stable in key joints because we wanted to decrease our odds of getting chopped up into ground beef on the battlefield.

Imagine, how much harder would you train if that was your reality? If that was the training goal? We don’t face much in the way of real danger outside of the gym today, but it’s fair to say that almost none of us train as hard as we could, or should. That’s the first consideration, before programming, before supplements, before judging your tools. What is it that you are training for, and be honest, how hard are you prepared to work?

If you want to see just what unconventional fitness looks like, pop over to the 19:00 minute mark in the episode and see Aubrey rough up the entire Barbell Shrugged crew in the Onnit gym. Laugh all you want, but those clubs and maces are no joke!

For more human optimization info make sure to check out the Onnit podcast, especially Aubrey’s chat with Chris and Mike on episode #28. You’re sure to enjoy it. Also, if you want to learn more about those unconventional fitness moves, go visit the Onnit Academy on YouTube. Just be careful with those clubs, they are much harder to handle then you think.

Chris Moore

P.S. While you get familiar with all these new fancy tools, just remember one thing – The barbell is still king. Squats still tule. In fact, bounce on over to TechniqueWOD and let Doug school you on the finer details of the front squat. You’ll be ready for battle in no time.