Interview with Compound’s Lead Clinician, Dr Ben Condon

Compound is Australia’s leading program for men’s health and performance. Through a blend of comprehensive diagnostics, clinical support and expertly guided lifestyle intervention, Compound members ungergo an intensive 15-week journey to reset their health and push them to perform like never before.
Written by

Dr Ben Condon oversees all clinical aspects of the Compound program. He leads a wider team of clinicians including physiotherapists, dietitians, exercise physiologists and strength and conditioning staff, while interpreting diagnostics and serving as the primary medical contact for members. A clinical doctor with seven years of experience, Dr Ben is a Senior Clinical Associate at Eucalyptus and has acted as the Clinical Lead of Compound since its inception.

We sat down with Dr Ben to ask him about Compound and their ambitious goals in the preventative health space. 

Q: Members from the first cohort are already seeing impressive results. How does that make you feel as part of their care team?

A: I’m thrilled. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing patients succeed in improving their health and witnessing their confidence grow as a result. It has been wonderful to play a small part in helping them achieve such great results. The whole team is so energised and excited by these results.

We have seen impressive preliminary results in our first two cohorts on a medicated program, with the primary aim of accelerated body recomposition.

So far we’ve seen: 

  • Average weight loss of 9.6kg absolute (equating to -9.16% loss relative to starting body weight)
  • Body fat percentage reduction of 5.01% absolute (equating to -19.37% reduction relative to starting body fat %)
  • Average Visceral Adipose Tissue (VAT) decreased by 536.18g absolute (equating to an average 29.25% Relative reduction in starting VAT) 
  • VO2 max improved on average by 7.14mL/min/kg absolute (relative 23.71% increase)

Q: How is Compound’s three-month program designed to support time-poor high achievers who want more from their health?

A: The program is designed to maximise the return on investment (ROI) that members spend training, recovering and focusing on their nutrition. For many of our members, that means training smarter within the time they have, rather than finding more time to exercise.

We provide a structure to both our strength and conditioning program that’s flexible, meaning members can swap what days they do a particular session, allowing them to stay active and on track even when they are travelling or perhaps have a particularly busy week.

We also help members strategise on what sessions to drop or adjust if they face significant time pressure from other aspects of their lives. Similarly, we also recognise that having convenient meal options readily available (be that a healthy takeaway option near the office or a pre-prepared meal) increases the likelihood of a member making a good choice as opposed to making a bad decision because they are time-poor and are experiencing decision fatigue.

We hope to teach members how to make better choices more consistently, which ultimately allows them to make progress over time. 

Q: During your consults, what has surprised you most about members and their overall health? 

A: Most members have impressed me with their health literacy and how engaged they are with their health. Despite this, most remained confused about the best strategy to achieve great results, which was a surprise to me. As a clinician, you often assume health literacy translates into positive outcomes and behaviours. Being able to provide members with clarity on our program as well as the founding principals that have informed each element of their plan is always a great moment. You can almost feel their relief that someone else will be doing the thinking for them and that they just have to listen and act, saving them a lot of mental bandwidth. 

We’ve seen members fall into some common traps when it comes to their nutrition, including not getting enough protein (most members struggle to hit 50% of their daily protein target when they complete our initial testing), inadvertently consuming a large amount of high-GI carbs and making decisions they think are “healthy” but in reality are not. For example, drinking non-alcoholic beer that contains seven tablespoons of sugar per serving, or reaching for calorie-dense snacks that are not as healthy as they appear. Seeing the penny drop when we explain this to patients and offering relatively easy alternatives is always a highlight of the consultations because the learning is palpable.

Many members have chronic injuries that are a persistent barrier to consistency in their training. Getting the right diagnosis has often proven evasive for them. We’re lucky to have Matt McCutcheon as part of the clinical team and his ability to diagnose these chronic problems and then set a clear rehab plan for our members to follow is world-class. It goes a long way in building member’s confidence in their bodies early on in the program, which is incredibly powerful.

Q: Why are diagnostics such a key part of the Compound program?

A: We believe in order to achieve sustainable change and growth, you must produce consistent action that’s born through insight. What that means in practice is using a breadth of diagnostics to help provide members with the most comprehensive assessment of their current health.

Being able to quantify more elements of their health, allows a member’s care team to provide personalised and solution-focused interventions. Our diagnostics help us coach members on the levers they have available to them to level up their health and performance. Importantly, we then repeat diagnostics at the end of the program to highlight what can be achieved in just three months. We’ve found members are energised by the prospect of improving data points.

Compound member case study 

Looking at the results of Kaushik Sen, a Compound member from the first cohort, the tangible results of the program are clear. As CMO at UpGuard, Kaushik is extremely time-poor but wanted to take effective action to improve his health. In three months, Kaushik transformed not only his physical and biochemical metrics but has been able to realise the benefits of a high-performing routine and enjoy being more present with his family as a result of increased energy levels and higher focus at work.

An example of a Compound member's diagnostic card

Q: What’s the most common barrier patients have to success?

A: Self-limiting beliefs. Whether telling yourself you’re too busy or are stuck ruminating on past “failures”, leading you to think you’re destined to fail. They are all just distractions and a form of procrastination. It has been wonderful to watch members prove themselves wrong and realise they are absolutely capable of achieving great results, they just need some guidance on how to get there sustainably.

Q: What’s one thing you wish everyone understood about the connection between health, longevity and performance?

A: A recent meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine demonstrated that cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) had the largest risk reduction for all-cause mortality when comparing people with high versus low CRF. Importantly, they also identified a dose-response relationship with improving fitness demonstrating a compounding reduction in all-cause mortality. This was quantified using a metabolic equivalent of task (MET) measurement. 1 MET is defined as 1 kcal/kg/hour and is roughly equivalent to the energy cost of sitting quietly. For every 1 MET higher level of CRF, it was associated with an additional 11%–17% reduction in all-cause mortality. [1] 

This highlights how important even marginal improvements to your cardiovascular fitness levels can be on your health both now, but also from a longevity perspective. I think this is critically important when you consider we typically overestimate what we can achieve in a day, but underestimate what can be achieved in a year. We also seemingly forget about the miracle of compound interest (or compounding improvements to our health). Small strategic changes made week-to-week can compound into a level of health, performance and ultimately longevity that before you could only dream of. The key is making a start.


Learn more about the Compound program here

Sources: 

[1] https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/58/10/556?rss=1 

Authors

Dr Ben Condon
Senior Medical Operations Associate