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Podcast No. 8: Marc Gasol, 3-Time NBA All-Star

January 30, 2019

Today’s guest is Marc Gasol, three-time NBA All-Star center for the Memphis Grizzlies.

By Will Ahmed

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Marc has been a WHOOP user for quite some time, and at 34 years old is putting up some of the best numbers of his career in his 11th season in the league.

We talk about his background coming from Spain to the NBA, what he’s learned from having an older brother in the league, the players he looks up to and models himself after, and a funny story about falling asleep before hearing his name called the night he was drafted.

The majority of our conversation focuses on the many things he does to keep playing at an elite level as he gets older, including pregame workout routines, recovery tactics, avoiding unnecessary strain, diet, improving his sleep, and traveling better. We also discuss some takeaways from his WHOOP data, and the one piece of training advice he’d give to others.

Whether you’re an athlete, a basketball fan, or just somebody looking to improve your performance, I think there’s something here for you.

Show Notes:

2:57 – Basketball Background. Did he always know he’d be in the NBA?

4:52 – Draft Night. “By the time they picked me I was asleep.” Marc shares a funny story of missing the moment he was selected by the Lakers, as well as what it was like to be traded for his brother Pau.

6:03 – Older Brother in NBA too. “It sets the bar.” It helped him learn about the locker room, what he needed to do, and how to deal with the veterans. “I always stayed in my lane, did what the vets told me.”

7:28 – Career Longevity. He’s averaging career bests in multiple stats in his 11th season in the league at age 34. How? “First you’ve got to be lucky. … Obviously you must do all the right things to have that luck.”

8:58 – What he Does at 34 that he didn’t do at 24. “A lot more preparation, before and after the game. … Doing the work before practice and the work after practice. Obviously getting enough hours of sleep. Now they monitor everything we do on the court, so nothing comes out of nowhere. … Trying to stay ahead of injuries is really important.”

10:04 – Pregame Routine. He likes to do a “mini lift,” an activation “that gets my blood flowing.” Marc also does a contrast bath, three minutes back-and-forth between a hot and cold tub.

11:32 – Avoid Unnecessary Strain. What does he do differently pregame if there’s a morning practice? “I think the practice in the morning is kind of outdated in today’s NBA … I wear my WHOOP during those shootarounds, and [my strain] will go up probably from an 8-point-something to close to a 10. You don’t necessarily need that at that time. That’s my whole thing … you want to keep as much energy as you can for the game and activate you body just once for the big event.”

12:55 – Why Does he Use WHOOP? “[For] rest the most, monitoring my rest … see how the different things I do before going to bed affect my sleep. … Knowing what affects my sleep and when I want to peak, what should I do that night before?”

13:50 – What Improves his Recovery? “It’s hard to turn your brain off after games … I try to read at night, but sometimes my thoughts will overcome what I try to read.” Marc likes to watch shows that take his mind off basketball (while being mindful of blue light). Also “A good meal, no wine or beer.”

14:49 – Meditation and Mindfulness. He uses the Waking Up app. “After the game it’s just hard for me to shut off.”

16:04 – Time in Bed. “I’ll spend close to 9 hours in bed, but I’ll sleep probably about 6.” His sleep efficiency could be better. “I don’t take naps. I tried it, it doesn’t work for me, I just can’t fall asleep. Some of my teammates find it kind of crazy, but I just can’t do it.”

16:53 – Stimulants and Supplements. Marc takes Tier 1+ before games, “and I’m a big coffee drinker.” He also takes magnesium, zinc, melatonin, and a few other things.

18:29 – Post-Game. “I always eat after the game,” even if it’s late. He likes to do saunas as well.

19:17 – Recovery Modalities. He likes Normatec after shootaround, the “activation stuff” on his legs when he’s “really, really sore.” He also likes vibrating foam rollers. “I love getting massages, but not the night before a game … all these techniques are great, I’m always open to trying new stuff.” Although he doesn’t like cryotherapy, “I’m kind of claustrophobic.” He normally ices his ankles post game.

23:30 – Training Advice. “I think you’ve got to find the balance between having what you like, and what you need. You’ve got to understand what your body needs, set your goals, and diagram a plan. … If you’re inconsistent throughout, you’ll get inconsistent results.”

24:18 – Youth Athlete Specialization. He picked basketball at 7 years old. “As long as kids are happy.”

25:23 – Burnout. “The summers are great for recovery, during the summers I sleep great.” What was his most relaxing vacation?

26:12 – Travel Tips. “When I get to a [hotel] room I always put it on the same temperature.” Marc also likes to get outside and work out after arrival, but not after 5 pm.

27:45 – Role Models in league today. “You look at the older guys … like Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, my brother obviously, Tony Parker, last year Manu Ginobli, Tim Duncan a couple years ago. It’s not easy to go 15-17 years … you have to love it.”

29:06 – Paleo Diet “is something I’ve learned works well for me.” Marc discovered it from Tim Duncan.

29:45 – Fasting. “I do the 16:8, I’ll fast for 16 hours and eat for 8.” He’s been doing it for 2 years and is the only player on his team who does. “During the morning, while fasting, my brain just functions differently … everything comes much clearer than if I ate breakfast.” He doesn’t eat until 1 pm each day, but after games wants to eat as soon as possible.

31:25 – Lowest WHOOP Recovery? “Single digits. It was more about a loss, losing the game, drinking maybe 1 or 2 extra glasses of wine … normally my cutoff is at 2 glasses.”

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Will Ahmed

Will Ahmed is the Founder and CEO of WHOOP, which has developed next generation wearable technology for optimizing human performance and health. WHOOP members include professional athletes, Fortune 500 CEOs, fitness enthusiasts, military personnel, frontline workers and a broad range of people looking to improve their performance. WHOOP has raised more than $400 million from top investors and is valued at $3.6 billion, making it the most valuable standalone wearables company in the world. Ahmed has recruited an active advisory board that consists of some of the world’s most notable cardiologists, technologists, marketers, and designers. Ahmed was recently named to the 2021 Sports Business Journal 40 under 40 list as well as 2020 Fortune 40 Under 40 Healthcare list and previously named to Forbes 30 Under 30 and Boston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. Ahmed founded WHOOP as a student at Harvard, where he captained the Men’s Varsity Squash Team and graduated with an A.B. in government.