Want to hack your brain for higher cognitive and physical performance?
This involves hacking the biggest muscle in our body, the human brain that contains on average 100 billion neurons. This hack also involves a specific area of your brain called the primary motor cortex or Broadman’s area 4. Which is responsible for sending signals to your muscles in order to get them to move.
So how exactly can you hack your brain so we can see better gains in your workout performance? Well, thanks to Halo Neuroscience there is this new device that has recently come on the market called the Halo Sport. It is a headphone-like device where the band connecting the two speakers just so happens to be directly over your primary motor cortex. On the Halo Sport, the band is rigged to be a transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) device. This means it has electrodes within the researched parameters that lead to the stimulation (an increase in neurons firing) of your primary motor cortex through cortical excitability (Nitsche et al., 2005).
Why high performers or athletes should use this hack
There is a saying that it takes you 10,000 hours of practicing to become a master. Who wouldn’t want to significantly decrease the number of hours it takes your brain to become a master at something. This is where the Halo Sport comes in using this device your mind and body can become a master at a focused activity in a shorter amount of time. With tDCS, which is the is the type of stimulation that the halo device uses, you can do this due to the electrodes that send a current to the primary motor cortex signaling it to fire more neurons at one synchronously. Your brain already has a tendency to do this but the device enhances the primary motor cortex’s natural ability. In the rehabilitation (medical) community there is a sang that people are only as strong as their motor cortex’s ability to send neurons to their muscles.
Why it Works
Every single time you move your motor cortex fires tens of thousands of upper motor neurons, in your Central Nervous System (CNS) that send electric signals through the brain (cerebellum) and down specific spinal tracts to the lower motor neurons located in your Peripheral Nervous system (PNS) in your muscles, causing muscle contractions. Neuroplasticity is when your brain creates new functional pathways as well as strengthening the old pathways, this is the result of a person learning and acquiring new skills, a great way to do this is through physical exercise! [r]. Neuroplasticity is created and induced by neurons firing together as they send and receive signals. When a person first begins a certain type of exercise or activity their mind and body is a novice at the movement, expending more energy than necessary with continued practice your brain uses plasticity to become an expert at that task. Which allows you to use energy efficiently, precisely and powerfully, turning your brain and body into a master at that activity.
The way the Halo Sport improves neuroplasticity via Neuro Priming, which leads to your brain to be in a state of Hyper Plasticity.
When using the Halo Sport the 20 minutes before you start the activity, it primes your brain by the process of using electoral stimulation. This is called neuro priming. The purpose of neuro priming is to increase neuroplasticity before doing an activity. Neuro priming creates an environment where your brain can be in a hyperplastic state.
Is a state that enhances your brain’s ability to send and receive signals faster by encouraging more neurons to fire together. Therefore, leading to your brain’s ability creates and enhances its neural connections. The Halo Sport makes neurons more sensitive, meaning they need less of an input signal in order to fire, therefore, helping neurons also fire together, which as discussed above leads to neural connections being created stronger and faster. In this hyperplastic state it takes less of a trigger to fire a neuron, therefore causing more neurons to fire together, this leads to an increase in your brain’s ability to build new connections (neuroplasticity).
How to use it
Wear the Halo for 20 minutes at the beginning of your work out (neuro priming) and it lasts 60 minutes after. While wearing the Halo Sport 20 minutes before your workout it is smart to set a specific intention for your workout, honing in on one task you want to significantly improve. After 20 minutes your brain is in a hyperplastic state for 60 minutes this is when you want to begin your training while paying attention to what you are trying to accomplish. Due to the tDCS your brain is in a state of hyperplastic for 60 minutes, which allows your brain to be in a state where its normal neural plasticity occurs at a more rapid rate. Meaning you get more bang for your buck rep for rep.
You can use it for specific skill development, like writing, playing an instrument [r] or any activity that involves a specific set of actions to complete [r]. The Halo Sport works by developing your brains plasticity, therefore, its ability to send the specific signals to the correct muscles in a precise efficient order in order to ensure the highest quality result [r]. Technology like this has even been used by DARPA in training snipers. During this research, they found that the snipers using the tDCS learned twice as fast [r]!
You can also use it for lifting weights. Weight lifting has to do with two main things, the strength of your muscle fibers and how well your primary motor cortex fires neurons to ensure your muscle fibers are firing together and not competing with one another. The Halo Sport helps your mind send neurons together so that way they can activate a muscle or muscle group. By using the halo sport your body becomes a master at contracting the necessary (agonist) muscle fibers together and relaxing the (antagonist) muscle fibers. Allowing you to have more gains in the weight room! Studies have demonstrated how tDCS has an ability to accelerate and enhance this process. [r] [r][r]
You can use it for endurance activities. Neuroplasticity allows your brain and body to form strong connections that are effective in energy conservation. The more neuroplasticity occurs the abler your body is to reduce how much energy that action takes this leads to your bodies ability to do more of that action for a longer period of time.[r] [r]
On their website, they have testimonials that share their stories on how Halo Sport has enhanced their athlete’s abilities to perform using objective measures.
I also believe that in the future this device will begin to be implemented in rehabilitation settings, especially in those populations who have suffered from Traumatic Brain Injury, Stroke or Spinal Cord Injuries. There has already been a study conducted [r] where they demonstrated that with tDCS there was an enhancement of long-term motor learning with participants post-stroke. This could be a very effective tool for rehabilitation specialist, having their patients wear this for 20 minutes in the waiting room before the therapeutic intervention starts, it could reduce the amount of time it would take someone to recover by enhancing their brains motor learning abilities.
Thinking of sending transcranial current stimulation to an area of your brain? You definitely want to make sure you are doing this in a safe and effective way. Previous research has demonstrated that some devices may cause mild tingling sensations, mild burning, mild itching, or fatigue (Poreisz et al. 2007). Thankfully, Halo Neuroscience has conducted research trials of the safety of their product. Their research using 1010 participants concluded that there was no is a very low incidence of low-level symptoms (occurring in 1.2% of participants wearing the halo device, which could most likely be caused by performing a highly demanding cognitive or motor task) or mild scalp pain(.9% of participants) [r].
One of our buddies, Nicolas Zahasky, borrowed the Halo to try it out himself. Here’s what he had to say:
Initially, I was somewhat skeptical about the technology but I have heard about electrostimulation to the motor cortex before. I know that in ancient Chinese medicine such as acupuncture they stimulate meridians with needling and current. But the skepticism I had was with the Celia like jelly’s that would be doing the work.
First time I put them on I was a bit perturbed because there was no connection even after wetting the connections. I even wet my scalp and hair, then I tried the recharging gel which was a bit of a help but not too much. What I did find the most beneficial was actually soaking the connections in a bit of warm water for 60 to 1:20 seconds and then getting my head really damp almost dripping! Boom, it worked and I was able to crank the amplitude up to ten!
At first, it is an uncomfortable sensation of what can only be described as “burning” but as I I warmed it faded and I could really not or wasn’t aware of the burning but more of the sensation.
I almost immediately felt a CNS and motor control connection. I believe that this sensation or connection will be entirely different for novice vs professional. I’d consider myself a professional considering I’ve been at physical training for over 18 years now and have competed professionally in sports. There is something to be said about innate athleticism and learned athleticism. I’d say that I fall on the latter of the two because as a child I was a bit like “Gumby” when I did anything and didn’t come into my true potential until my late twenty’s and early thirties. Sure I was Strong AF for a 170 pounder but there was just a missing connection or a link that tied it all together.
So, the first feeling was a connection, I can’t really describe it any different. I was seriously “dialed in”. I decided to see what it felt like when I was going to deadlift. The deadlift and pull-up may have been the most profound experiences for me while using the Halo.
The first deadlift session I went through my normal warm-up and activation utilizing principals and movements from Z-health, Foundations Training, Kinstretch, Strong First, RkC, and of course things I have constructed over the years. I did this for 16 of the 20 minutes Neuro phase and utilized the final 8:00 minutes to do three sets of “loading” work of the hip hinge deadlift. I used half my body weight for three sets of three reps. I could tell this was going to be an interesting session. Mind you I had only begun deadlifting weeks earlier after taking two years off of heavy lifting and focused on only body weight and endurance.
Two weeks earlier I struggled to pull 285 pounds for five reps and I couldn’t budge 290. I have been focusing more on Strength since my SF certification in Italy this December so I dropped all my sets to 5×5’s. I had done my first set with 135, second with 185, third with 225, and my fourth with 275! I was jazzed so I decided to load the bar with 315. Why not what’s the worst that could happen? I slapped myself a bit and stomped around for a little CNS stimuli and got under the bar. Boom, the bar moved and I had four perfect reps with 315, I felt that the fifth wasn’t necessary because my lumbar on the fourth began to loose connection so I stopped there. You know when you just feel it? I just felt it and things progressed from there.
As of yesterday, I completed my 5×5 in deadlift with my final three rounds being at the 315-pound mark! With no lumbar leakage and at 153 pounds which is a far cry from my 179 days. I’m working to pull my high-school PR of 560 at 178 pounds to being able to pull 560 at no heavier than 160.
Also, my tactical pull-ups have just turned a corner. I still apply the same principals in my warm up with previously stated modalities but the movements mirror the mechanics of the pull-up but are addressing ROM of the shoulder and recruitment of surrounding stabilizers. I started the Russian Pull-up progression 22 days ago and this morning just completed the 23rd day. It was a challenging getting my chest to bar even when I could pump out 25+ pull-ups. Today and yesterday I completed my five drop sets of 10,10,8,8,5 and 10,10,8,8,6 with every rep being chest to bar. The coolest aspect about that as I think of it. This morning I didn’t use the Halo. So, this can only mean to me that the movement pattern has been almost solidified and now needs some tweaks.
Overall, this is one of the coolest pieces of tech I’ve used and seen almost immediate improvements. I want a pair sooo bad. I’d use them with my clients on a daily basis. I guess that’s it. Except for that the headphones are not the greatest when working on handstands or inversion work. Even the down dog or cat position the headphones will lose connection. That’s just a drop in the bucket for what it’s done for me in merely four weeks. I’d wear a freakin chin strap to make gains in my handstand pressing!
Halo Sport Discount Code – $150 OFF!
If you’d like to try out the Halo Sport for yourself and get $150 off the price then head on over to http://haloneuro.com and use the discount code PRIMALHACKER at checkout.
Poreisz C, Boros K, Antal A, and Paulus W (2007). Safety Aspects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Concerning Healthy Subjects and Patients. Brain Research Bulletin 72:208-214.
Nitsche MA, Seeber A, Frommann K, Klein C, Rochford C, Nitsche MS, Fricke K, Liebetanz D, Lang N, Antal A, Paulus W, and Tergau, F. 2005. Modulating parameters of excitability during and after transcranial direct current stimulation of the human motor cortex. The Journal of Physiology, 568(1): 291303.
Hummel FC, Heise K, Celnik P, Floel A, Gerloff C, and Cohen LG. 2010. Facilitating skilled right hand motor function in older subjects by anodal polarization over the left primary motor cortex. Neurobiol Aging, 31: 21608.