5 questions with Andrew Galpin, Ph.D. about fitness apps, genetic testing, and muscle physiology research

Andy, it’s always a pleasure to chat with you. It seems like you’re doing it all: high-end exercise physiology research, book-writing, and maintaining active social media platforms.

Dr. Andy Galpin
Andrew Galpin, Ph.D., Associate Professor, California State University, Fullerton.

Q1: What drove you to pursue a social media presence as an exercise physiologist? Additionally, what have been the rewards and challenges of your social media ventures?

AG: Initially I hated the idea of SM, but my friends Mike Bledsoe and Doug Larson (from Barbell Shrugged) convinced me by helping me realized that people are looking for quality fitness, training, health, & nutrition information, and they will get it from one place or the other. So, if scientists don’t engage with people and do our part to communicate our findings, who will? I was also inspired by legendary scientist Dr. David Costill who told me we should strive to have 1 lay publication for every 1 scientific one. SM is a faster, more effective method of that.

Q2: You just authored a book titled “Unplugged: Evolve from Technology to Upgrade Your Fitness, Performance, and Consciousness.” What is the premise of this book?

AG: Helping people understand how to use and not be used by fitness training technologies. One should use any technology to enhance self-reliance, not technology dependence. Hopefully the book helps people achieve that.  

Q3: Reading the synopsis of the book (and looking all around in the real world), it seems like we all have this desire to “bio-hack” ourselves to better fitness. A large part of this effort is using apps for sleep, physical activity, food monitoring, etc. Are you largely in favor or against this strategy?

AG: I’m in favor of people understanding that every decision you make has a benefit and a consequence. Acknowledge and understand both, then make your decision accordingly. Things that tend to induce immediate effects also tend to circumvent, attenuate, or even entirely blunt long term adaptations. “Hacks” have their place, but the vast majority of the time we should prioritize solving the problem rather than “hacking” into short-term relief.  

Q4: Another form of bio-hacking is commercial genetic testing. I think a large majority of people expect this sort of testing to provide the key answers to all of their problems (e.g., “Oh, this gene explains why I’m addicted to sugar!!!”).  What is your take on this sort of biohacking, and what limitations do you think genetic testing has in informing us about who we are?

AG: My full answer is complicated, but the short version: In terms of exercise-related gene testing, it’s basically useless for most people right now. Do we really think it’s appropriate to throw out the entire exercise science and strength & conditioning fields (and their decades of work) because of a few genetic polymorphism markers? It’s silly.      

Q5: Aside from your book-writing and social media ventures, you also happen to be a great muscle physiologist (a scientist of my own heart).  What are some of the cutting-edge themes that your laboratory is working on?

We specialize in taking our Biochemistry & Molecular analyses to the single fiber level. We’ve got several projects in the areas of nutrition (intermittent fasting, different protein types, etc.), monozygous twins, NASA, elite athlete muscle, and female athletes that we’re working on in 2019. All of these are centered on how these interventions do/do not influence the numerous muscle cell types (e.g., fast vs. slow-twitch) differently.

Thanks so much for the time today, Andy!

Andrew Galpin, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology in the College of Health & Human Development at California State University, Fullerton. To find out more about Dr. Galpin’s research check out:

Website: http://www.andygalpin./com
YouTube: Andy Galpin
Twitter: @DrAndyGalpin 
Instagram: @DrAndyGalpin