Many enthusiastic climbers work hard to level up their performance year over year, and some of us invest great time, effort, and resources into pursuing our climbing goals.

One powerful tool for gaining a performance edge is the use of a functional medicine approach to blood testing…which is the focus of this episode of the TFC podcast.

My expert guest joining me for this episode….is Thomas Cunningham, a Louisville Kentucky-based doctor, who also happens to be a 5.14 climber! Dr. Cunningham is a board-certified physician, researcher, and functional medicine specialist who believes in combining evidence-based medicine, nutrition, and training to improve your health, wellness, and human performance.

Over the next hour or so, Dr. Thomas Cunningham will help us better understand biomarkers related to health and performance, and we’ll discuss training, recovery, and nutritional interventions to help optimize training and recovery protocols.

The specific focus of this podcast is the use of regular blood testing, and how you can potentially use blood test results to adjust your nutrition and training in ways that amplify your efforts, accelerate recovery, boost performance, and enhance your overall health and well-being.


00:15 – T4C podcast mission statement

00:45 – The things we do to level up our performance

1:10 – Intro of podcast topic: Blood testing to optimize health and performance

1:35 – Introducing our expert, Dr. Thomas Cunningham (Instagram:

2:30 – Use of blood test biomarkers

3:45 – Value for older athletes

4:10 – Podcast Sponsor: PhysiVantage Nutrition — used by 2024 Olympians Natalia Grossman, Alex Megos, and Yannick Flohe’. Get your PhysiVantage at 15% off (code: PODCAST15) at

5:00 – Interview with Dr. Thomas Cunningham

5:30 – What is functional medicine: “Medicine 3.0”

9:30 – Preventative health care through your primary physician – The “Big 4 Killers”

11:20 – Pursuit of “optimal” rather than “average”

14:00 – What testing is appropriate for 20-somethings vs. 50-somethings, etc.

16:40 – “Treat the patient, don’t treat the numbers!”

19:15 – Basic blood panels: Metabolic, Lipid, Complete blood count

22:25 – Self-order/self-pay bloodwork at or

23:30 – More nuanced blood work to consider: Vitamin D, Hormone Panel, Thyroid Panel, HbA1c, ApoB

31:45 – Vitamin supplements to support Testosterone – vitamin D3, zinc, selenium, boron. (PhysiVantage Nutrition VITALIUM is a single-source supplement containing these micronutrients.)

35:00 – The role of genetics, stress, training, nutrition, and sleep.

37:10 – Considerations for vegan athletes. Supplements to consider: B-6, B-12, Iron, D3 + k2, iodine

40:00 – The journey toward optimization.

47:02 – Considerations for female athletes – abnormalities to watch for and treat.

49:50 – Thyroid function and blood panels

53:00 – Hormone changes in women

55:00 – A brief mention of peptides

57:00 – Get the low-hanging fruit…by getting your sleep and nutrition on point…and do some strength training every week.

1:01:00 – Final thoughts

Support the TFC podcast sponsor, PhysiVantage Nutrition. Get 15% off full-priced nutrition with checkout code: PODCAST15 (North America only). In Europe and elsewhere visit EPIC-TV Shop or to get your PhysiVantage!

Music by Misty Murphy

SAVE on  La Sportiva shoes here >>

Thank you! La Sportiva, Maxim Ropes, DMM Climbing, Friction Labs

Follow Eric on Twitter @Train4Climbing

Check out Eric’s YouTube channel.

Follow Eric on Facebook!

And on Instagram at: Training4Climbing

Copyright 2024 Eric Hörst | Horst Training, LLC.