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Welcome, and thank you for visiting Big Red Physical Performance.  Athletic performance, bodybuilding, and health and fitness are our passions!

Some would even go so far as to call them an obsession.  For the past 6 years Jason Cholewa has sifted through the drudge of fact and fiction that is the bodybuilding and fitness industry.  He’s spent this time building not only his body, but also his mind by reading, researching, and experimenting with everything he could find concerning bodybuilding, fitness, nutrition, athletic performance, and in between.

You’ve just taken the first step in a long walk toward achieving your goals.  The fitness and performance industry has changed dramatically since Jason Cholewa first became involved in it 12 years ago.  It seems today everybody has fitness advice to lend, and everyone is a self-proclaimed expert. If only it was that easy: How many times has following the advice in the fitness forums produced the results seen on the covers?


Big Red Physical Performance was founded to provide you with an opportunity to attain the knowledge you need achieve the results you desire.  We help you remove the guess work from your diet and training by combining the most current, primary scientific data with years of personal experience and experimentation.

It begins with commitment.  This is where dreams are formed and abilities are realized.  Make it happen!

  1. Jason Have you read any papers from Professor Franco Cavalerie of the University of British Columbia? Both of you are trail-blazers in the field of nutrigenomics.

    • Hi Robert, I actually do not think I have. I came across his website in a quick search, but couldn’t find any published research by him (again, via a quick search). I wouldn’t call myself a trailblazer. I have my own (small) niche of primary research where I am in the trenches, and then I try to help others interpret the research that other scientists in the trenches have have published.

      • Thank you for responding so quickly Jason. Franco Cavalerie is a former North American body building champion who used his knowledge as a Nutritional Biochemist to produce health care products that would give him the advantage in his sport. He won everything he competed in. Cheers Dr. Bob

  2. Hi Jason — I ran across your website while researching for “measuring optimal arousal levels in performance”. My interest in not in physical activities, instead it is in exploring optimal arousal state for emotional and mental performance. Lower arousal is needed or cognition is compromised. In particular I am interested in optimal (not rest) arousal states that would be found in the performances of chess, bridge, or trading active investments. I am currently developing a biometric device for measuring HR and skin conductance to give real time evaluation of the growth of emotions in traders. The heart at rest is not the optimum rate for cognitive performance. It is more like driving a car in the rain at night. There is focus, alertness, concern, and calm as the feeling states. Arousal is there, but to the degree that prepares a body for athletic performance. Do you have any idea what heart rates respond to this particular sense of flow? I am currently using the Emwave 2 device, but it is too narrow in its focus.

    Thank you

    Rande Howell

    • Hi Rande,

      That is actually a very interesting study you are working on and product you are developing. I wonder if the optimal heart rate for cognitively demanding events such as chess or day trading might be similar to the heart rates measured during high level performers in video gaming or professional gambling. As far as a device to measure heart rate and its variability, as well as other measures of readiness you may want to check out Omega-wave. It would likely take some modification to change the settings to match the requirements you find for cognitive based performance, but the device provides a lot of feedback.


      • Thank you Jason. I will look into the device you mentioned. I’ve been using the Emwave 2, but its focus on HRV at rest and deviations from that state don’t speak to the need for a state of cognitive readiness to manage the uncertainty of the markets (risk). I get many folks who have trained for peak performance in business and athletics that fall apart when managing the stress of uncertainty where you have to give up control of outcome. The more cognitive the endeavor, the more arousal has to be fine retuned for a very different peak performance state. The literature on physical performance is extensive, but I’m finding the study of states of mind and their physiologies in performance are not. The video gamer, without physical exercise, would be in line with the kind of arousal, but it’s not area very well studied either. I guess I’m just going to have to test some of my trader clients for what I’m looking for.

        Thanks for your willingness to help.

        Rande Howell

  3. That’s very interesting. My younger brother is a trader and I am sure he would be interested in hearing about your results and the product developed. Please keep me updated.


    • Jason

      I actually found some pretty good information on poker sites where professional poker players do a lot of testing of their fight/flight response. Got a 3 point range from them that at least gives me a guesstimate of where to start building my HRV zones for optimal cognitive performance. So thanks for your suggestion.

      If your brother has figured out that successful trading is really about integrating left brain knowledge with right brain emotional development, then I encourage him to check out Currently I’m using video of active traders and the emwave2 right now as the emotional markers that I train to. I’m looking to move way beyond the emwave2’s relaxation response training to where the mind itself is reorganized for management of uncertainty. So this includes the performance beliefs that the trader is projecting upon the markets. That’s the key.

      Rande Howell

  4. Rande,

    I passed the site on to him, is that your ebook? I wonder if for pilot data you could do work on students or amateur traders. Perhaps set them up with a game with a real monetary reward, take metrics, and see how that relates to performance. If you have professional high level traders you work with, you could also compare the metrics between amateurs and professionals.


    • Jason

      That is my ebook. I decided to self publish when I discovered how little money authors get when they use a publisher or Amazon. If you’d like, I can send you a copy of Mindful Trading as a gift. It might help you understand the peak performance mind of trading. The unique thing about trading is that it exposes primitive performance beliefs that can ride underneath the radar of other endeavors. It really operates on a level of your experience embedded as beliefs about your capacity to manage the probabilities of uncertainty.

      I don’t see a way to attach a file in this environment. Let me know.

      I have access to a number of professional traders who would make a much better group to get baseline measurements from than amateurs. The trading environment is unique particularly when it is your money at risk. Those traders are across the globe, and that is a problem. It would have to be self report. It seems like I’m going to have to have the device with its specific sensors and interface to baseline HRV for different arousal states. It’s a delicate matter in trading where minor shifts in physiological arousal can really mess with the emotional mind that has to stay patient, disciplined, and focused.

      After your suggestion, I found myself on various poker blogger sites where professional poker players were discussing arousal. One guy was measuring pulse rate. He got in cognitive trouble when the heart rate began hitting 105 bpm with a resting pulse of 63 to 83. He speculated that his best arousal level was from between 80-100 bpm. His winnings were much better in this range. Of course, he was not using HRV, which is what I’m looking for. Still, he knew it was his business to keep his arousal in a certain range or his clarity of thinking was compromised. So far that is about as much science as I’ve seen in the study of this.

      Thanks for your voice. In this endeavor I am an entrepreneur seeking historical research that I thought was already going to be there. If you take a look at the inverted U of the Yerkes curve, I am looking for the arousal state just before you get the top of the inverted U. The mind is keen, but the body isn’t revved up yet.


  5. Rande,

    This is awesome stuff and I would love a copy to read. You can email it to my personal account:

    Most polar hear rate monitors now allow you to measure HRV, and there are several apps available for smart phones that will do the work for you. My Ithlete is one example that is available for iphone or android, and is compatible with a number of different sensors. If you have people who are willing to work with you, it wouldn’t be very difficult to collect the data. And, I would think you could do likewise with players at poker tables, especially since many of the straps are not visible and the data could be collected without instant feedback affecting the performance.

    The 80-100 bpm range is very intriguing. The heart’s intrinsic rate is about 100 beats per minute. Anything below is indicative or increase parasympathetic nervous system tone. Above 100 beats per minute is indicative of sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight initiation) tone. So maintaining state with both minimal PNS and just before flight or flight would likely correspond to the final upslope of the U, and provide the best physiological environment for cognitive performance and decision making.


  6. Yes, that is the correct address. I wonder if the file is too big? You can also try

  7. Hi,I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.When I look at
    your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.

    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Oter then that, wonderful blog!

  8. It would be interesting to have the titles and publication/presentation dates given for those articles/presentations mentioned on this web site. Some of us would like to learn about the content, which give the reader a better understanding of his background and of the information that lies behind his present work..

    • Hi BJ, which articles are you referring to? All of my articles contain citations and the references to the scholarly journals in a bibliography at the end.

  9. A.J. permalink

    Hello Jason! I just wanted to say keep up the good work! I admire all what you do. You’re definitely an awesome coach out there! Thanks for all what you do! 🙂

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