Dr. Duncan French: How to Exercise for Strength Gains & Hormone Optimization

Listen: YouTube | Apple Podcasts | Spotify

In this episode, Dr. Huberman talks to Dr. Duncan French, Ph.D., the Vice President of Performance at the UFC Performance Institute and a world-class performance specialist. They discuss specific resistance (weight) training regimens for increasing testosterone in men and women and how to vary mechanical loads and rest between sets and workouts to optimize hormone output and training results. They also discuss how stress-induced “catecholamines” can increase testosterone or decrease it, depending on duration and mindset. Dr. Huberman and Dr. French discuss specific cold- and heat- therapies for increasing resilience, reducing inflammation, heat shock proteins and more. We discuss nutrition for training and how to match nutrition to training goals and metabolic flexibility. They discuss mental focus and how long to train for skill development. Finally, they discuss how mixed martial arts and the UFC Performance Institute are a template for exploring human performance more generally.

This episode is intended for anyone interested in athletic and mental performance: athletes, students, and recreational exercisers and includes both science and many practical tools people can apply in their own training.

Dr. Duncan French


  • 00:00:00 Dr. Duncan French
  • 00:02:27 Roka, Helix Sleep, Headspace
  • 00:05:44 Duncan’s Background in Exercise Science
  • 00:11:45 How Certain Exercises Increase Testosterone
  • 00:16:22 What Kind of Training Increases Testosterone & Growth Hormone?
  • 00:20:19 Intensity: Mechanical Load; Volume: Metabolic Load; Inter-set Rest Periods
  • 00:25:25 Training Frequency & Combining Workout Goals
  • 00:29:35 How Stress Can Increase or Decrease Testosterone
  • 00:36:55 Using Cold Exposure for Mindset, Anti-Inflammation, Muscle-Growth
  • 00:46:55 Skill Development
  • 00:50:05 Why Hard Exercise Creates Brain Fog: Role of Nutrition
  • 00:53:55 Low-Carbohydrate Versus All-Macronutrient Diets on Performance
  • 00:56:15 Ketones & Brain Energy, Offsetting Brain Injury; Spiking Glucose During Ketosis
  • 00:59:13 Metabolic Efficiency, Matching Nutrition to Training, “Needs Based Eating”
  • 01:05:00 Duncan’s Work with Olympic Athletes, NCAA, UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship)
  • 01:08:00 Why UFC & MMA (Mixed-Martial Arts) Are So Valuable for Advancing Performance
  • 01:12:40 Voluntarily Switching Between Different States of Arousal
  • 01:14:30 Heat, Getting Better at Sweating, Heat Shock Proteins, Sauna
  • 01:20:12 Using Rotating 12-Week Training Programs; Logging Objective & Subjective Data
  • 01:24:07 Surprising & Unknown Aspects of The UFC and UFC Performance Institute
  • 01:27:45 Conclusions, Zero-Cost Support, Sponsors, Supplements, Instagram