At the time of this recording we are smack dab in the middle of the 2018 Winter Olympics and a lot of us are camped out in front off the TV cheering on the Americans in their favorite winter sports, like ice hockey, figure skating, snow boarding, and skiing just to name a few, while others are actually headed to the ice or to the slopes themselves.
So how does all that tie into a podcast about slow-motion, high-intensity strength training? Though you may not find Olympic athletes training at the several InForm Fitness facilities across the US, Mike and Adam have heard numerous reports from their clients how the Power of Ten Protocol has shown significant results to improve a skiers performance and endurance while enjoying their time on the mountain.
Adam Zickerman – Power of 10: The Once-A-Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution http://bit.ly/ThePowerofTen
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Adam: Skiing is demanding, skiing, downhill skiing is a very fast twitch, anaerobic kind of activity. So that strength you’re getting in your legs, it stands out more when you’re doing that type of activity. Downhill skiing is similar to weight training, high intensity weight training, where you have brief bouts of high intensity.
Tim: Hey, InForm Nation, good to be back with you again. Thanks for joining us for episode 44 of the InForm Fitness Podcast, with New York Times bestselling author, Adam Zickerman. And general manager of the Manhattan location, Mike Rogers. I’m Tim Edwards with the InBound Podcasting Network, and at the time of this recording, we are smackdab in the middle of the 2018 Winter Olympics. And a lot of us are camped out in front of the TV, cheering on the Americans in their favorite winter sports, like ice hockey, figure skating, snowboarding and skiing just to name a few. While others are actually headed out to the ice or to the slopes themselves. So how does all of this tie into a podcast about slow motion, high intensity strength training? Well, though you may not find Olympic athletes training at the several InForm Fitness locations across the U.S., Adam and Mike have heard numerous reports from their clients. Of how the Power of 10 protocol has shown significant results to improve a skier’s performance and endurance, while enjoying their time on the mountain.
Mike: Every year, we receive testimonials about how this 20 minute workout really changes their lives and one of the common ones I get is from downhill skiers. It’s February now and perhaps it’s too late to get the skiers this season, but I think we need to address it.
Adam: We’ve still got spring skiing coming up.
Mike: That’s right, that’s true. Somewhere in the world, you’re skiing, somewhere.
Adam: That’s right. If you go down to South America, during our summer, you can still ski in Santiago, Chile.
Mike: Exactly, so I guess this is relevant no matter what [time of] year we’re doing this.
Tim: You have a lot of skiers.
Mike: And in this podcast, I’m going to be the questioner and I’m going to interview Adam about..
Adam: And I’ll be the obliger.
Tim: That’s right, Gretchen will be proud.
Mike: I’ll be the upholder.
Adam: If you don’t know what I meant by that, check out our podcast with Gretchen Rubin.
Mike: Anyways, the big things we want to think about is, why does it make such a profound difference for a skiers performance? Why is strength training so important for skiers and why does this form of weight training, the Power of 10, why does that take it to a much higher level? First of all, Adam, you used to ski but now you’re a snowboarder, right?
Adam: I went to the dark side.
Mike: How long did you ski for, by the way?
Adam: I was right at 13 or 14 years old. It was right after my Bar Mitzvah, I took one of those high school group trips and I was skiing every year until I was like 40. And for the last 13 years, I’ve been snowboarding and I haven’t looked back.
Tim: What was that transition like? It’s really, I would assume, completely different — [in terms of] technique.
Adam: It is completely different and I spent five days literally on my butt. It was probably — which amounted to probably 7,500 pushups. You’re just doing pushups to get yourself up off the ground. So we can make this relevant to what we’re about to talk about, which is, I was — only because I was in really good shape, that I was actually able to withstand the brutal nature of learning how to snowboard. Matter of fact, so many middle aged adults talk to me about possibly taking up snowboarding, or talk to me about how they tried to take up snowboarding at a later age. And quite honestly, a lot of people have given up because it’s just too hard to kind of transition. They couldn’t get up after a while, they were really too weak to continue, to learn. Because you fall so much until you finally get the hang of it, and once you get the hang of it, the learning curve is actually kind of easier than skiing. Again, I skied a long time and I was an advanced skier but I was doing everything I could do while skiing. I was not a great skier, I was a very good skier but not a great skier. I just kind of felt like I wanted to try something new and I was challenged to do that, by somebody who invited me to their place at Sun Valley. He said, listen, you can stay at my place but you’re going to snowboard. Alright, that’s a deal; and that’s how it happened. Anyways, I really owe me being in really good shape, to being able to endure all of the falling that I endured for five days.
Mike: That guy was, by the way, 60 when he started snowboarding. That other guy.
Adam: The guy that invited me, it’s true. He started — he did skiing too and went to the other side.
Mike: But getting back on track, the reason why this peaked my interest and why I wanted to talk about this today is because over the years, we have heard so many rants and raves about people who have — they started the Power of 10, they come here, they work out for three months or four months. And then, they go and do skiing as they do every year and I’m not kidding, I’ve heard this at least 15 or 20 times over the year with this expression, “night and day.” They say, it’s literally night and day from the last time they went to skiing to this time, and they said, that was the major change they did, was our type of strength training. So that’s why I wanted to focus on why strength training helps for skiing, and what specifically about the Power of 10 really, really can take it to the next level.
Tim: And Mike, before we go down that road, you said that it’s night and day. Is it night and day in their technique or in how they respond to falling?
Mike: Strength and endurance. Their ability to spend more time out there, feeling like they can actually spend more time on the mountain, and just a level of stability to do this specific task. I haven’t heard it from snowboarders, most of our clients are skiers, but we’ll talk to Adam about that as we go. Adam, I’m not crazy though, I’m not the only one who’s heard this.
Adam: No, I mean, I’ve heard it over the years so many times. Again, if they started with us in the off season and then ski season comes along and then they come back. They’re like, holy cow, I’ve never felt so good on the slopes before. And they’re weekend warriors, they’re people who ski three or four times a year maybe. So they know how they feel usually after they’re done skiing. They come back saying, I just had more stamina than I’ve ever had. And this whole topic speaks to the idea of thinking that you need to do conventional cardio for this type of thing, versus strength training. And it was really all about what our interview with Dr. Gibala was about, with the one minute workout. Again, intensity is what gives our endurance, as Dr. Gibala has found out in his research, and what we’re finding out anecdotally with our clients that are doing this and then going skiing. At high altitude, by the way, so you have that adjustment to deal with and we’re going to talk about that because actually, high intensity training can actually help you with high altitude. Just the way your body adjusts at high altitude, high intensity training actually has that same effect, which we’ll get into. But again, this is all because their muscles and their energy systems, if you will, are primed for this activity. Even though they haven’t skied for a year, but their legs are getting really strong and they have an ability to utilize energy better than if they weren’t training. Because the reason we bomb when we go skiing after not working out and going to high altitudes, is that our body has to use all kinds of energy sources that you’re not using when you’re just sedentary at sea level. But if you’re doing high intensity training, those energy systems are being utilized and primed. So when you go up to high altitude, it’s already primed and you don’t have to adjust anymore. It’s done, it’s been done.
Mike: Adam, we’re going to get into that but first, let’s get into strength and fitness, what we do. First of all, let’s relate it to skiing. What postures, what positions are involved in skiing and inevitably, what muscles are we using when we’re skiing? What’s involved?
Adam: It’s a full body thing but obviously, your quads. Your lower back and your quads. You’re constantly just squatting the whole time down the mountain, which is your glutes and your quadriceps and your hamstrings, to an extent. And obviously, really strong quads and legs are going to help you a lot. And that’s partly what’s happening here. You’re getting really strong and that’s what we do here, we’re doing leg presses, we’re doing squats, we’re doing leg extensions, hamstrings and curls. These are the movements that strengthen your legs, so that’s the answer to that, succinctly.
Mike: Inevitably, I was going to lead you into, are we recruiting core muscles and what about upper body? As you said before, you have to push yourself up when you fall down. Maybe you have to withstand a fall and have the upper body strength to fall a little bit better or a little bit more efficiently. Or just have the strength to not fall on your shoulder or your head, for example.
Adam: The whole body is involved in skiing, there’s no doubt about it. Especially your core, I mean, you’re twisting, you’re torquing your body, you’re pivoting around your hips. It’s a full body exercise but interestingly though, the better you are at skiing, the less effort it becomes. Because you’re better at it, you become much more skilled at being efficient and not straining your muscles as much. Unless, of course, you’re doing pure [Inaudible: 09:45] runs, which there’s no way around that. You’ve really got to use your body.
Mike: The testimonials that I’ve heard over the years, going back to what I said before was, usually, these are very experienced skiiers. People who are already — they’re not taking lessons, they already have the technique down, they’ve been doing it for a long time. And when I said, night and day before, they said, it’s unbelievable how much stronger I feel. And we’re talking 50 year olds, 60 year olds, and even 70 year olds who are telling me this stuff. That’s the reason why we want to tackle it. Do we have to consider balance or our ability to maintain our center of gravity? Is there anything, from a fitness perspective, that we should attack in order to address that idea?
Adam: The short answer is, I don’t think so; I really don’t think so. It’s a controversial answer and question. I mean, you have training places and philosophies all over the place. Mentioning that you need to work on your balance, work on one leg and shifting, and mimic the sport of skiing by using those slides that they have, going back and forth. All kinds of things like that. There’s a big problem with that because the skill that you’re doing doesn’t transfer, from a motor skill point of view, to the mountain. So my philosophy has been for a while, and it stays this way, because it hasn’t been proven out to be otherwise, quite honestly. And that is, just strengthen. Strengthen your body and then, if you want to become a better skier, a better nuanced skier, you’ve got to ski. There’s no way around it, you have to ski. So the combination of strength training in the gym, where you’re not doing anything to mimic skiing, because there is no way to really mimic skiing, not exactly and that’s what it has to be. It has to be exactly that, because anything that you do that looks like skiing, it’s just not going to prepare you, motor skill wise, for the actual thing. To the brain, it’s completely different, even though, to you, it seems similar. But to the brain, it’s a completely different activity. This has been tested and up until about now, it still hasn’t been proven out. So all of these ideas that you should do it is really based on anecdotal or a belief that it has to be true, because it doesn’t make sense that it’s not true. But just because you have a belief and it makes sense, doesn’t mean it’s actually true. That’s why you have scientific methods, because a lot of these instincts that we have are all — are very often proven wrong, when properly tested. So what I think should be done is safe strength training for all of the muscles involved. According to the muscle and joint function, and then, go do your sport; in this case, ski. The reason people are saying they’re feeling really good is because they just have that general strength. They already have the skills. If they’re only skiing — if they’re not living in Colorado or they’re not skiing that much, they rely on the skills they’ve developed. Once you ride a bike, forget it. So once you’re a good skier, they can tell that, wow, usually when I ski for the first time of the year, I’ve got to quit by one o’clock. Now, I’m lasting until two, three o’clock. The next day, I can actually go back out again and the next day — I’m noticing a difference in how I can really hang in there a lot longer. A story that I experienced, when my brother got married, he got married up in Aspen and we went mountain biking. Here I am mountain biking at sea level, and then we go up there and I think Aspen is like 8,000 or 9,000 feet up. And these Colorado guys are inviting me to go mountain biking with them and I’m like, oh boy. Here I am, riding these little catskill hills in New York, and now, I’ve got to go to these real mountains at 8,000 feet. I said, alright, I’ll try it. I’m not one to turn down a challenge like that, so I went. To my amazement, I hung in there ¾ of the way. For ¾ of the ride, I was right there with them; I couldn’t believe it. I did bonk at the end but like, all of them were amazed that I hung in with them as long as I did. There’s no doubt in my mind that the reason was because I prepared at sea level, I was strength training. I was doing a lot of strength training, as I always did, and I was riding, but that was more of the skill than anything else. And my body’s prepped to work at high altitude, as a result of the high intensity training.
Mike: That sort of leads us into endurance and I kind of want to differentiate between the word strength and endurance. I think sometimes this gets confused for a lot of people, including trainers.
Adam: Strength is kind of like power, how much you can lift at one time real explosively, how much — that’s strength Can you lift your luggage into the overhead or not? It takes strength, how much strength do you have? How heavy can you lift a bag, how heavy can that bag be before you cannot lift it over your head? That’s strength, but endurance is more like, how long can you last? And that comes, again, from really high intensity strength training, as again, the episode with Martin Gibala was about. One minute workout, it was a high intensity workout for very brief periods of time, that create some physiological change, that gave you endurance. He noticed and we noticed, that just because the workouts are very short but intense, you can build endurance. Meaning, you can last longer for an activity. Well, how’d that happen, because you’re not doing endurance training. You’re only doing brief, high intensity training; so how did you build endurance from doing something very brief? Well, because endurance comes from not doing steady state activities for a long period of time. It comes from your body being able to utilize different sources of energy. When you’re not trained and you’re not doing high intensity exercise, your body is pretty much using glycolysis and aerobic metabolism through the Krebs cycle, on a regular basis and these are the most common ways of using energy. But when you are doing high intensity exercise and when you’re doing endurance athletics, what happens is, your demand exceed the capabilities of just glycolysis and the Krebs cycle. Our two main ways of producing energy. But when you’re doing high intensity exercise, your body starts realizing, oh shoot. My current ways of creating energy, glycolysis and the Krebs cycle, are not adequate enough. So the body says, okay, no problem because we have other ways of getting energy. It’s going to take me a little time to get that up to snuff. It’d kind of like you’re relying on oil and heat in your house when it gets really cold, and now, you have to start using your fireplace on top of the oil and heat. But the thing is, you don’t have any wood. So you have to go get wood, because you haven’t used your fireplace in like, ten years. But now, it’s getting cold this winter and all of a sudden, it’s like, hey, maybe we should use our fireplace but you haven’t used it in ten years. So you have to go clean it out, you have to get the chimney sweep in there. You have to go cut some wood or buy some wood, depending upon where you live, and that might take some time to get it up to snuff. Well your body, if they’re not using these other energy systems for years, and all of a sudden, you’re requiring the body to do these endurance activities. Your body will have to say, okay, we’ve got to incorporate some more energy systems. So that’s what happens. When you’re doing high intensity exercise and you’re exceeding the limits of your current energy suppliers, the Krebs cycle and glycolysis, which work very closely together. Then, all of a sudden, other things start developing that your body — so really, endurance comes from your body helping out and supporting your basic energy systems. It’s adding to and helping out the Krebs cycle and glycolysis, just like the fireplace kind of helps to add more heat to your house, because the oil heater is just not cutting it. And those systems, we can get into biochemistry. It’s called the coronary cycle, your body gets better at metabolizing fats. So if you’re not really working out with high intensity and you’re also eating maybe a higher carbohydrate diet, your body is not using fat for fuel. And the thing is, your body doesn’t all of a sudden start using fat for fuel. Your body has to prepare for that, there are enzymes, special enzymes, that are needed to burn fat for fuel. So if your body isn’t needing fat for fuel, it doesn’t create the enzymes for it. So all of a sudden, you go on a low carbohydrate diet and you start doing high intensity exercise, your body is like, whoa, I need to start using fat for fuel. So the next thing you know, it starts expressing the genes, it starts to create the enzymes that are necessary for fat metabolism. It starts expressing through the genes that are responsible for the coronary cycle, which is another metabolic system that utilizes lactic acid. It actually takes lactic acid and turns that into energy actually.
Mike: The reason why I was asking actually and I want to go back to skiing in general. I want to get back to that specificity because we have cyclists, we have runners, we have tennis players, we have bikers, we have swimmers, we have so many people who do all types of sports. They all generally have — they report that their cycling is better, their golf is better, their running is better, all of that kind of stuff. But it’s not as dramatic as skiing, it’s not as dramatic. The testimonials are significantly higher among skiers and what I’m talking about is, what’s the difference between the endurance, the ability to last longer on the mountain. Versus the ability to last longer on a bike or noticing that your strength training has made a difference on the bike, versus your strength difference has made a difference for skiing.
Adam: I think when you’re doing biking or things like that, you’re not going all out. It’s a nice stroll or something, so you don’t notice it. But when you’re skiing and you’re going downhill skiing and you’re challenging yourself. For about two minutes, you are doing high intensity exercise, you are pushing yourself. Your thighs catch on fire right away. But when you’re biking, unless you’re going uphill and you’re really pushing yourself, you’re just strolling around. So I don’t think you notice as much. Skiing is demanding, skiing, downhill skiing is a very fast twitch, anaerobic kind of activity. So that strength you’re getting in your legs, it stands out more when you’re doing that type of activity. Downhill skiing is similar to weight training, high intensity weight training, where you have brief bouts of high intensity.
Mike: Is there a difference though between sustaining like a squat position, versus cycling your legs? Like for that amount of time. Say you’re actually cycling your legs at a medium to high level of intensity, versus sustaining like a squat or variations of a squat. Three quarters of a squat, half of a squat. What I’m imagining, you’re sustaining a posture that’s similar to that while going down the mountain. Is there a difference between that and spinning your legs?
Adam: No, there is no difference. The differences that you find are very specific adaptations for each movement. Again, endurance is not just about strength. Endurance is not just about having our energy systems support our basic energy systems, that’s part of it. Definitely getting stronger, pushing your energy systems, now having better ability to metabolize fats. Having better abilities to have your hemoglobin let go of oxygen easier. These are all things that adapt to high intensity exercise, to help with endurance. But those aren’t the only things that need to adapt. You also have to practice that actual activity. So building endurance, we have to be careful. Really comes from motor skill development also, and no exercise program is ever going to be able to make up for that. You have to do that also. So if you want to build endurance for biking, there’s many things that you have to do. You have to do high intensity interval training, to push those energy systems and to develop those extra energy systems. Diet might have to do with it, sleep might have to do with it. Timing, the way you train, how often you ride the bike. And then skill development, are you riding the bike properly, are you learning how to become a more efficient bike rider? All of these things play into overall endurance. So to say that strength training and strength training alone is going to help endurance is ignoring all of these other factors and you can’t ignore those factors. But again, I think skiing, downhill skiing, is more of an anaerobic, kind of high intensity experience versus the other things you’re talking about, bike riding.
Mike: Is it closer to like strength training than it is riding a bike?
Adam: Yeah, downhill skiing is closer to high intensity exercise than biking or even tennis. With skiing, you’re like doing a hundred squats in a row when you’re skiing. When you’re biking, if you’re doing steady state cardio or steady state biking, you’re not pushing your energy systems like that. So you’re not going to hear them. But I bet you if somebody took up criterion bike riding, where you’re sprinting around a track really hard and there’s no breaks, I bet they would say that strength training has helped them for that. I bet you’d hear a similar response, because that’s more similar to high intensity, pushing yourself to the max.
Mike: Well, on top of all of that Adam, what about altitude? You mentioned altitude a little bit earlier. Does strength training prepare us for altitude?
Adam: This is really interesting and I don’t want to get too much into the weeds with biochemistry. When you do high intensity training, your body has to adapt to the extreme amount of lactic acid, or acid, that gets created and your body has to deal with that. If your body doesn’t deal with that acid, it becomes a very dangerous situation. So what happens is, amazingly the body…
Mike: Are you talking about CO2 when you say acid?
Adam: Yes, exactly. The hydrogen ions that come from the metabolism of energy, exactly. So CO2 is an acid, it’s specifically called a Lewis acid, if you want to get really technical. So yeah, CO2 is an acid that is expelled out. So high CO2, chronic high CO2, as a result of high intensity exercise.
Mike: Muscles working.
Adam: Right. What happens is, your body starts creating the molecules that will bind with your red blood cells. Now, your red blood cells are what carry oxygen around. Red blood cells have a very high affinity for oxygen, and when you’re at high altitude, where oxygen is very low, your body creates this molecule, that binds with hemoglobin. So it makes it easier for the hemoglobin to let go of the oxygen. So when you go up to high altitude and people feel really weird when they first get up there; it’s because their body didn’t create this molecule yet. So it’s high altitude, low amount of oxygen, much less oxygen up there than there is at sea level. So your hemoglobin is not letting go of the oxygen fast enough, because there’s hardly any oxygen up there. So what your body does is it creates this molecule and it takes time, again. Your body doesn’t just have it there if it’s not using it on a regular basis, so it has to create it. That’s why it takes a couple of days to adjust, because your body has to create this molecule. So your body takes time to create this molecule. Once that molecule is created and the molecule binds with hemoglobin, now, your hemoglobin is letting go of oxygen easier to the tissues that need it, and you don’t feel weird anymore. So your oxygen delivery has improved, as a result of your body reacting to high altitude. Now, when you do high intensity exercise, you’re creating the same problem. You’re creating an oxygen debt, and when you’re working out on a regular basis with high intensity exercise, even though you’re at sea level, your body is creating that molecule also. So our clients, when they do high intensity exercise, this molecule is actually there when they go to high altitude skiing. They don’t have to adjust, because it’s already there from their high intensity training.
Mike: I think this actually answers or gets closer to answering the question that I had before.
Adam: Of why, well, again, in part, yeah.
Mike: When you think about it, endurance is usually about oxygen transfer, oxygen uptake, and your ability to do it efficiently. Of which, if…
Adam: When I say in part it’s because not only are you improving your energy systems and you’re improving your ability to metabolize fats for fuel and taking some of the load off of the Krebs cycle and glycolysis. You have the coronary cycle, which takes that load off, and you have this. What I’m talking about, this molecule being created, it’s called the Bohr Effect, if you want to be specific. Bohr Effect and this is what happens when, again, the Bohr Effect shows that when you have high CO2, what happens is, your body will produce this molecule. That will bind with hemoglobin, that will make it easier to transport oxygen to the tissues, and that’s another tool that the body uses to improve endurance. But it’s not just that, it’s all of those things combined. High intensity exercise affects all of these things, plus more. Your ability to utilize glucose and all kinds of things change when you subject yourself, periodically but consistently, to high intensity exercise. So you have your ability to metabolize fats better when you go to high altitude skiing. You have the ability to release oxygen to the cells better because of the high intensity training. And these are all different things that are occurring at the same time.
Mike: So basically, I think this is — we’ll wrap it up after this, but the last thing, I think we’re answering the questions about strength training. And we know that high intensity strength training really helps with all of these things for skiing, and for a lot of other sports.
Adam: It makes you stronger, that’s the other thing, the obvious one.
Mike: But honestly, I think we’d be remiss without just mentioning also, why does the Power of 10 take it to the next level, because there are tons of other high intensity exercise modalities out there. But I think one of the things is that you don’t want to be injured when you’re going out there, and this is the high intensity exercise, which really, I think, considers safety.
Adam: You just answered the question. You asked me and that was my answer. Why Power of 10, why is our version of high intensity exercise, which is basically lifting weights at a slower pace, to prevent the forces that cause energy. We’re avoiding the extreme ranges of motion. We’re doing things according to muscle and joint function. We’re modulating intensity with rest. We’re doing all of those things so you don’t get injured, so you’re not overtrained or undertrained. You’re primed and you’re just really strong, and your joints aren’t compromised.
Tim: Thanks Adam and Mike. Strength and endurance, both on and off the slopes, for a mere 20 minutes of intense strength training a week. That’s a small price to pay, to live the kind of active life you want to lead. We’ve been telling you about it for 44 episodes, here on the InForm Fitness Podcast. For those of you who reside near Manhattan, Port Washington, Denville, Burbank, Boulder, Leesburg and Reston, we have good news for you. At the time of this recording, which is in February of 2018, there’s a free session waiting for you at informfitness.com. Just click the “try us free” button right there on the homepage, fill out the form, pick your location, and enjoy a slow motion, high intensity, full body workout in just 20 minutes, for free. I promise, you’ll feel the difference after one workout. The workout is intense but it’s sustainable for those of us with busy schedules, which just about covers all of us, doesn’t it? But most importantly, it’s effective; I know this because I’ve been enjoying this workout for almost two years now.
If you don’t live near an InForm Fitness, you can pick up Adam’s book, Power of 10: The Once a Week, Slow Motion Fitness Revolution. It’s just one click away and available at Amazon. For less than 15 bucks, Adam explains everything in this easy to read book and exercises that you can do in your own home. We’ll have a link to Adam’s book in the show notes. Okay, we’ve said many times on the podcast, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. You may be building washboard abs, but you probably won’t be able to see them under that layer of you know what. So next week, Mike and Adam reveal some very small nutritional changes that you can make that will yield some really great results quickly. That yield the building of muscle and burning the fat that covers the muscle up. So make sure you’re with us next week, here on the InForm Fitness Podcast. For Adam Zickerman and Mike Rogers, I’m Tim Edwards with the InBound Podcasting Network.