Stories of a Lab Rat: Brought In to Test Physical and Mental Conditions of a 40+ Year Old Mentally and Physically Fit Man

Jan 17 2012

One of the beauties of living in a college town is the endless amount of “lab rats” that grad students and professors are looking for to gather data.  Often I can get physical and mental tests that would cost thousands of dollars all done for free in exchange for making my data public.  Yesterday was one of those days.

The test were part of data gathered to set up a basis of which to compare dialysis patients and their physical health.  They needed subjects 40-45 that were in average to above average shape and would use that data to be the “norm”.  The test were balance, gait, body fat and body mass.  I did it in exchange for that data if they would throw in a V02max.  VO2Max is a test that gives you you the maximum physical potential you are capable of. There would also be some mental challenges in there to see how you would react physically to being challenged mentally.  As a person that is always trying to improve mentally and physically, this is the kind of data I cherish. I live by the mantra “Outsmart the dumb ones and Outwork the smart ones” and in order to outsmart and outwork long term you have to stay in top mental and physical shape.  I say long term because there is no sense killing yourself at work if you’re not going to live long enough to enjoy the fruits of your labor ie die young and rich. Without mental and physical health you can’t work a hard day and come home with the energy and positivity that your family and kids deserve when you get home.  These test would help me see how I was doing.

The first one was height.  Sounds like it shouldn’t be any big deal.  It is what it is, right?  Wrong.  By strengthening up more core over the last two years I actually now stand two tenths of an inch taller than my last test.  These are pretty exact measurement and taken several time so I really do believe its true.  I haven’t grown but rather started to carry myself taller.  Next came stability.  The test was no different than a Wii fit test.  First you stand as still as you can for 30 seconds, then the same thing with your eyes closed.  This is simple for many but as adults age and gain weight their stability decreases.  Especially when they close their eyes.  Many dialysis patients and average people can’t stand upright when they close their eyes.  Lifting one leg with your eyes closed and staying their for 30 seconds is very difficult for most.  The one that got me was the mental quizzing while you tried to balance.  They started off by asking you a question that you should know.  Mine was name as many fruits and vegetables as you can in 30 seconds while staying perfectly still.   For me that was easy.  I had just done the fruit tree catalog and I easily rattled of 16 in 30 seconds.  I thought it was pretty good but I have a brilliant mathematician friend who runs and cycles with me.  He rattled of 26 in 30 seconds.  Always someone better than you no matter how good you do.  The next question got me.  “Name as many words that start with “H” ” .    I froze like a deer in headlights.   I don’t know how to describe it as I’ve only had one other instance like it in my life.  It was the time the teleprompter broke during a live tv show I was hosting and I just froze.  I was reading and not thinking and I had no idea what to do.  For some reason I felt that exact same way.  I got to my fourth word and my mind went blank.  Nothing.  I could not think of one word that started with H at that point. I was fidgety and squirmed all over the balance plate. You have all these people staring at you wondering what’s going on in your mind.  They easily can think of ten yet I couldn’t spit out anything.  It’s embarrassing yet all so telling.  It shows that your mind can leave, quit, and it takes practice to learn how to think quickly and get it back on track.  Unless you put yourself in those positions you will never know to react.  Putting yourself in front of a large crowd, going on live TV, putting yourself in an uncomfortable position, they all build mental strength.  In this particular test, I failed.  But I still enjoyed it.

The next test is VO2Max.  I won’t bore you with the details but I put out a mediocre 47.  Forty seven is OK for an endurance athlete, great for someone my age.   Since VO2Max is calculated by weight it also showed me that if I took off 15 lbs then I would have increased that 15% or so.  I also pushed 340 then 380 watts which unless you are a cylclist you have no idea how tought that is on your legs.  The data showed me what I needed.  I was in the top 10% physically and that was probably why I continued athletics.  See VO2Max is roughly 70% genetic and you have to play with the card your parents dealt you.  It’s why people that still participate in athletics after 40 tend to have high Vo2max, they have the physical ability to compete so therefore they can.  It also shows how I can maintain the schedule that I do.  The 4 am to 10pm schedule is physically taxing and I think this conditioning allows me to “compete” with other business people that have to give up something in order to be successful.

The last test was body fat and mass.  What you carry around all day is taxing.  Your brain, your heart, your lungs, all have to provide support to your body weight.  What do the countless hours of sitting in a chair in front of a computer do to your bones?  Has sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair really strengthened my core?  The first part of the results were as expected.  I have 16 percent body fat.  I am a big guy and carried 220 just walking around when I don’t exercise so getting under ten percent requires a strict diet.  At 225, I also fell asleep as soon as I got home each night.  That, or I was a zombie.  What surprised me was my bone mass.  My hips and legs were some of the highest recorded bone density on record.  So was my head.  They were frickin solid.  I knew something was up when the guys were laughing after the body scan.   They said my bones would have been in the top 1 percent of a 20 year old’s category.   Upper body was a little more normal and they knew I was right handed because there was less body fat and my bones were more dense on the right.  All fun info.

So what does all this have to do with business?  It’s the fact that work is tough.  Tought mentally and physically.  Work is supposed to be the means in which to you can do the things you want it life. Working hard all day and coming home exhausted every day is not good for yourself, your family, and those you that surround you.  Keeping in top physical and mental shape will allow you to be more competitive in your field.  It will allow you to work at a more efficient pace, keep your brain less tired so it can take in more information, and despite what others may say, good physical appearance moves you faster to where you are headed.  I took the test to see if I was getting stronger, or just getting older.  The answer is stronger and although I have no idea how I die, I am not taking for granted the only things in this world that are truly mine.  My body and my mind.

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About the author

Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

View all articles by ShaneCultra


  1. Trico


    Thank you for sharing this. I found it to be a fascinating read.

    I swear I am not trying to increase my ACI index and am not trying to be a nitpicker but the correct spelling for “gate” in the context I believe you mean is “gait”.

    Normally I wouldn’t say anything since I know what you meant and I don’t like to nitpick but since you said you are “…a person that is always trying to improve…”, I thought I’d add my comment in case it wasn’t just a typo.

    1. Post author

      Thanks Trico,

      I do know the spelling but obviously chose not to use it. 🙂 It’s corrected, and I do very much appreciate it. I never mind being corrected. Funny story. My daughter used to ask a million questions so I asked her one day (she was 4 at the time) “Why do you ask so many questions” and she replied “Because that’s how I learn” I’ve never forgotten it and ever since then I haven’t I’ve had less of a problem asking questions. I also seem to take feedback better as children and wives are quick to point out your errors.

  2. AndyO

    That’s pretty cool! How long have you been training/keeping an active lifestyle for, Shane? Do you have a set training routine or just keep active whenever you feel like it?

    1. Post author

      Started 8 years ago after I broke my neck in Hawaii. Long story, but the result was after rehab I promised myself that I would never take my body for granted from that point on. I have a group that I train with. I haven’t run alone but maybe 5 times in 5 years. I do something 5 days a week now, 6 days a week when heavy training kicks in.

  3. Clay Burt

    Nice stats and I couldn’t agree more about staying fit and active. I lift weights 5 days a week for an hour, but cardio and body fat suffer 🙁
    Goal this year is lose 25 pounds and be under 10% body fat – tough at 42, but well on my way with 7 pounds gone already. Maybe a toughmudder after that.

    1. Post author


      Great goal. Trust me I know how tough losing weight is. Tough Mudders are a great event. Weight lifting is great but you’ll find that if you bike, swim, and run it probably won’t be necessary.

  4. Nebraska

    Fascinating read. Is there a place that just anyone can sign up for those tests? I began running around 18 months ago (now 43). Doing OK, but I find it dull. If I didn’t want to live longer I would give it up…

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