Halo Neuroscience Halo Sport

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Halo Sport Neuropriming Four-Week Training Update and Results

In search of ways to get faster, stronger, and more proficient on the bike, our three test subjects are giving this unique training tool a go.

Halo Sport Neuropriming Four-Week Training Update and Results

For just over one month we have been utilizing the Halo Sport headphones in tandem with regular mountain bike riding and training in order to assess whether or not we are achieving more significant improvements than previous years. The headphones are a neuropriming device which activates the motor cortex and puts the brain into a state of hyper-learning, which, in theory, should "help achieve accelerated improvements in strength, skill, speed, and endurance" on and off the bike.

Remi Gauvin and Miranda Miller are both using Halo Sport as a part of their elite Enduro World Series and UCI Downhill World Cup training regimens as well. They’re averaging somewhere around the high teens in terms of their number of training hours per week. In my case, I manage to get to the gym twice per week and

For just over one month we have been utilizing the Halo Sport headphones in tandem with regular mountain bike riding and training in order to assess whether or not we are achieving more significant improvements than previous years. The headphones are a neuropriming device which activates the motor cortex and puts the brain into a state of hyper-learning, which, in theory, should "help achieve accelerated improvements in strength, skill, speed, and endurance" on and off the bike.

Remi Gauvin and Miranda Miller are both using Halo Sport as a part of their elite Enduro World Series and UCI Downhill World Cup training regimens as well. They’re averaging somewhere around the high teens in terms of their number of training hours per week. In my case, I manage to get to the gym twice per week and generally only have the opportunity to ride on the weekends, with my ‘training’ averaging around eight hours per week. We’re all using Halo Sport during warmup in order to provide a one hour window of hyperplasticity.

We explored the concept of hyperplasticity in our First Look feature (below), but as a recap it means that it takes less input for neurons to fire – therefore any given input during a period of hyperplasiticity will result in more signals being sent, in addition to nearby neurons firing in a more coordinated manner. This happens with normal training, however Halo Sport allows this to happen more, which allows "better, faster fine-tuning of your brain’s neuronal connections."

Scientific Validity

The Haloscience Sports Research Lab has already produced a number of peer-reviewed studies in their own laboratory.This study compared the difference in rate of improvement between subjects’ grip strength in their non-dominant hand, concluding that Halo Sport helps with force production and coordination of movement compared to a control group. In 2016, Halo Neuroscience took their headphones one step further when they worked with elite athletes from Michael Johnson Performance to measure the difference in rate of improvement in squat and vertical jump movements – two highly coordinated movements that mountain bikers require to perform on the trail. Again, they noted a more significant rate of improvement in test subjects using Halo Sport compared with control subjects. Scientists also noted a trend, which would suggest that over time these small improvements would accumulate and ultimately lead to greater athletic performance compared to control subjects.

Numerous studies have been produced over the last several years supporting the validity of transcranial direct-current stimulation for the purpose of enhancing athletic performance.

We acknowledge the conflict of interest of funding studies to support one’s theories, but the results are what they are and there has already been a high level of adoption across almost all U.S. sports including the U.S. National Ski Team. In addition, numerous studies have been produced over the last several years supporting the validity of transcranial direct-current stimulation for the purpose of enhancing athletic performance. For a more detailed look at the science behind Halo Sport, including links to additional studies, have a gander here.

The Plan

For the past month our three test subjects (including myself) have been doing what we’ve always done. The elite athletes have trained and the average Joe(l) has also "trained." The only difference compared to previous years is the addition of Halo Sport. Each subject was tested for 6-second and average power, in both seated and standing positions, plus 20-second seated and standing efforts. Subjects also completed a MAP test (maximal aerobic power), tracked weights lifted in the gym, and spent time riding as per usual. The majority of their concentrated training efforts were rehabilitative, followed by a transition back to regular strength training and fitness-oriented riding sessions. Subjects have not spent a significant amount of time attempting to develop new skills in conjunction with Halo Sport, however we plan on taking a closer look at this concept for our long-term review.

The Data

As stated above, we added a 6-second measurement and chose to use MAP rather than functional threshold power, however the remainder of our data collection remained the same as we stated in our First Look.

Target Training Outcomes:

  • Improved peak power
  • Improved 6-second average power
  • Improved 20-second average power
  • Improved maximal aerobic power
  • Improved 2-minute heart rate recovery
  • Improved bike handling skills
  • Improved strength

The Experience

Using Halo Sport is easy. Prior to each ride or gym session we used the headphones to prime our motor cortex just as Halo Sport suggests: dampen the primers, open the bluetooth phone app, choose music, and get down to business. People who already use headphones for training will seamlessly integrate Halo Sport into their routines. Those who don’t generally wear headphones or who prefer ear buds won’t notice them after a session or two. They’re comfortable, stay put, and while the stimulation from the primers is noticeable, it isn’t distracting. For music lovers, the sound quality isn’t on par with an expensive set of noise cancelling headphones, although they’re still solid, crisp, and comfortable.

The Results

Before we begin, we would like to point out once again that we’re not claiming to have run clinical trials or controlled every variable. Rather, we’re putting Halo Sport to use in a real world application in an attempt to either support or refute the efficacy of Halo Sport as a means of creating hyperplasticity, which in turn may or may not yield a greater return on training investment and improvements on the bike.

The most notable improvement after four weeks of use is strength – measured in this case with a six repetition maximum.

The most notable improvement after four weeks of use is strength – measured in this case with a six repetition maximum. In four weeks with Halo Sport I’ve gone from squatting 185-pounds for six repetitions to 225-pounds, which is the most I have squatted in a number of years and is much more significant than my gains from previous years. I can’t say whether or not Halo Sport is allowing me to improve more steadily, but I will say that I feel pretty solid in the gym right now. In terms of my output on a bike, I haven’t seen dramatic improvement. My reasoning for this is that fall/winter is here, days are short, and riding is only an option on the weekends. Nevertheless, here are some percentage improvements for an Average Joe after four weeks of using Halo Sport.


Four-Week Trial Results:

  • Peak power: 7.1% increase
  • 6-second seated power average: 3.6% increase
  • 6-second standing power average: 6.2% increase
  • 20-second seated power average: 2.1% increase
  • 20-second standing power average: 1.6% increase
  • Maximal aerobic power (protocol): 2.2% decrease
  • Barbell squat: 21.6% increase

What about the professional athletes? Both Miranda Miller and Remi Gauvin have been using Halo Sport with similar user experiences to those listed above. In both cases, improvements to the tests above were also observed. The question is whether or not these improvements are more dramatic with the addition of Halo Sport, and if so what caused this? We will take a comparative look in our long-term follow up.

What about the professional athletes? Both Miranda Miller and Remi Gauvin have been using Halo Sport with similar user experiences to those listed above.

The Next Steps

For the next three months our subjects will continue to train as per usual, with Halo Sport being the only difference compared to previous years. We will continue to monitor hard data, and also plan on taking a closer look at how Halo Sport might benefit skill development. Finally, we will compare athletes improvements with Halo Sport to their historical data to see if any significant differences exist.

Visit www.haloneuro.com for more information, and stay tuned to see how each of our athletes continues to progress.


About The Author

Joel Harwood is the owner and coach of Blueprint Athlete Development, where he helps top level athletes get even faster. He has been playing in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia for over ten years. He spends his summer months coaching DH race groms in the Whistler Bike Park and guiding XC riders all over BC. He dabbles in all types of racing, but is happiest while blasting his trail bike down trails that include rock slabs, natural doubles, and west coast tech.

Photos by Jessie McAuley

Training Average Joes and Super Pros with Science - Halo Sport Neuropriming First Look

Can these wild headphones make a substantial training improvement for the reigning women's DH World Champion, a Top 10 EWS racer, and the average rider? Miranda Miller, Remi Gauvin & Joel Harwood will put them to the test.

Training Average Joes and Super Pros with Science - Halo Sport Neuropriming First Look

Here at Vital MTB, our product reviews and testimonials are almost exclusively bikes or bike components. The bonus of being a part of the review posse is that all of the product testing compliments my ‘real’ job as owner and coach of Blueprint Athlete Development. I get the fortunate opportunity to test the differences between designs, brands, and products for the sake of finding opportunities to improve athletic performance and the fun factor. The main facet of my coaching role is to improve the rider themselves, which is something that hasn’t crossed paths with Vital MTB, until now.

As a part of striving for every opportunity to improve, coaches are always looking for ways to refine the skills, fitness, tactics, and mindset of the athletes we work with. This led us to Halo Sport, a very

Here at Vital MTB, our product reviews and testimonials are almost exclusively bikes or bike components. The bonus of being a part of the review posse is that all of the product testing compliments my ‘real’ job as owner and coach of Blueprint Athlete Development. I get the fortunate opportunity to test the differences between designs, brands, and products for the sake of finding opportunities to improve athletic performance and the fun factor. The main facet of my coaching role is to improve the rider themselves, which is something that hasn’t crossed paths with Vital MTB, until now.

As a part of striving for every opportunity to improve, coaches are always looking for ways to refine the skills, fitness, tactics, and mindset of the athletes we work with. This led us to Halo Sport, a very interesting new product from Halo Neuroscience. The company isn't the first group to look into the effectiveness of neuropriming, but they’re the first to put the research into practice with athletes, with a focus on real-world improvement. Before we dive in, here’s a brief introduction from Halo Sport’s Chief Technical Officer:

Halo Sport Highlights

  • Wearable neurostimulation device with audio output
  • Designed to help athletes improve their performance
  • Helps achieve accelerated improvements in strength, skill, speed, and endurance
  • Uses Neuropriming technology, which activates the motor cortex and puts the brain into a state of hyper-learning
  • Included with Halo Sport headset: Primers x3, open earpads (pre-installed), closed earpads, quick-dry carrying case, USB charging cable, USB wall adapter, audio cable with microphone, spray bottle, Primer recharge kit
  • Lithium ion battery (included)
  • Requires downloading of the free Halo Sport app
  • Color: Black
  • MSRP: $599

Halo Sport uses gentle pulses of energy transmitted through point-shaped Primer pads to improve the brain’s response to training.

Curious? Us too, which is why we wrangled a pair and plan on putting them to use for the next few months with the reigning women's UCI Downhill World Champion, Miranda Miller, the 8th-ranked Enduro World Series racer, Remi Gauvin, and myself to see just how much of a difference they’ll make compared to training without them.

The Plan

Halo Sport is most effective when used for training repeatable movements. For mountain biking, the easiest on-bike skill to study is pedaling. A focus on power output, cadence, or fitness are all reasonable, and for the sake of this article we’ll be looking at all three. Since most of us are more fired up about shredding than our fitness, we’ll also look at skill development. Since Halo Sport offers the greatest benefit with repeatable training within the one hour window of hyperplasticity, we’ll focus on pump track skills, timing, and ‘results’ using timed training. It's conceivable that using short sections of a trail, lift-access, shuttles, or a training loop would also produce similar results and we’ll them where possible for the long-term study. Lastly, strength training is another controllable, repeatable movement that we’ll use for comparison throughout the review process.

Halo Sport connects to your phone via Bluetooth using the Halo Sport application.

The Process

While we can’t make scientific claims about the effectiveness of Halo Sport, we can control the vast majority of training variables, including implementing a similar training model to previous years. Furthermore, data will be compared to previous testing results. If the relative improvements are the same as previous years, we’ll infer that either the headphones weren’t effective or that we didn’t use them properly. If improvements are greater, and assuming we’ve controlled as many variables as we can (within reason), we’ll infer that the hyperplasticity provided by Halo Sport was the independent variable that has made the difference in our dependent variables: the target training outcomes.

The Guinea Pigs

Out of sheer curiosity, I will be using these headphones and represent the donkey category. I’m a fairly fit donkey, but keep in mind my training regime consists mostly of parenting, building a new house, and working 50 hours per week… nevertheless I certainly have more to gain than a professional athlete who is already approaching their peak fitness and skill levels.

Both Remi Gauvin and Miranda Miller will represent the racehorse category. In their cases, we’ll be looking at full-time professionals on strict training programs that us working class folks couldn’t hope to replicate.

The Data

We’ll keep it brief for now, with more detail on the process when we circle back after four weeks of training using Halo Sport.

Target Training Outcomes:

  • Improved peak power
  • Improved 20-second average power (see 2017 World Champs final sprint)
  • Improved functional threshold power
  • Improved 2-minute heart rate recovery
  • Improved bike handling skills
  • Improved strength

4-Week Protocol:

  • Baseline testing
  • 4 weeks of training: priorities are strength, flexibility, and skill development
  • 4-week testing

4-Month Protocol:

  • Use 4-week testing results as baseline
  • 12 weeks of training: priorities will shift throughout this time, but improvements across all categories is expected
  • Ongoing training

Halo Sport went through an intense design process before the final product was revealed.

The Reason

We're guiltier than most when it comes to gear lust – we literally do it for a living. The Halo Sport headset slots in at $599 USD, and while it isn’t inexpensive, many of us are guilty of investing far more into upgrades, kits, and computers. We're curious as to whether or not the return on investment might be more significant if we chose to focus on personal development. In the case of an amateur athlete or factory racer, it seems like a no-brainer to look into options like Halo Sport to maximize the efficacy of training in the same way that eating properly, getting adequate recovery, and having a well-organized program are essential components of maximizing one’s potential.

To put it another way, a racer like Remi Gauvin needs only a marginal improvement in fitness or skill to win his first Enduro World Series race. For us, we would prefer to ride like Sam Hill on an outdated 26-inch hardtail than end up on @joey.of.the.day on a $10K superbike. In either case, if wearing headphones for a twenty minute warmup provides more significant improvements, Halo Sport may actually make a lot of sense.

Visit www.haloneuro.com for more information, and stay tuned to see how each of our athletes progress.


About The Author

Joel Harwood is the owner and coach of Blueprint Athlete Development, where he helps top level athletes get even faster. He has been playing in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia for over ten years. He spends his summer months coaching DH race groms in the Whistler Bike Park and guiding XC riders all over BC. He dabbles in all types of racing, but is happiest while blasting his trail bike down trails that include rock slabs, natural doubles, and west coast tech.

Photos by Halo Neuroscience

Specifications

Product Halo Neuroscience Halo Sport
Audio Type Headphones
Features Wearable neurostimulation device
Designed to help athletes improve their performance
Helps achieve accelerated improvements in strength, skill, speed, and endurance
Uses Neuropriming technology which activates the motor cortex and puts the brain into a state of hyper-learning
Miscellaneous Included with Halo Sport headset: Primers x3, Open earpads (pre-installed), Closed earpads, Quick-dry carrying case, USB charging cable, USB wall adapter, Audio cable with microphone, Spray bottle, and Primer recharge kit
Batteries: 1 Lithium ion batteries required (included)
Color: Black
Requires downloading of the free Halo Sport app
Price $599
More Info

​Halo Sport

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