Upon waking every morning, Sierra Campbell plunges her face into a bowl of ice, stands in direct sunlight for 20 minutes, stretches, and then ingests a five-step supplement regimen including magnesium, electrolytes, and an amino acid complex. The 29-year-old mom and marketing specialist is not a Goop devotee, yoga guru, or part of a cult. She just has a Huberman Husband.
That term is internet shorthand for a male devotee of the Huberman Lab, a health and lifestyle podcast hosted by Stanford neurobiology professor Andrew Huberman. With suggested “protocols” like sleeping with mouth tape and using exclusively red light after sunset, Huberman has developed an enthusiastic following of tech bros and other educated young men obsessed with biohacking their way into a better life. And now, it’s spreading to their partners.
Campbell appears to be the first person on TikTok to have used the phrase “Huberman Husband,” which came to her after a Huberman-recommended morning cold plunge. She told The Daily Beast that her husband, who owns a combination surf store and barber shop in Santa Clara, was always into health and wellness, bonding with her over their shared embrace of the Paleo diet when they first met. But she saw a noticeable shift when he started getting serious about his sleep hygiene, installing red lights and turning off all the overhead lights after sunset. “All of a sudden I was like, ‘Where are you getting this stuff?’” she recalled. “And it was from the Huberman Lab podcast.”
Last month, Campbell posted a tongue-in-cheek video about being dragged through her husband’s extensive health protocols, dubbing him a “Huberman Husband” as a play on the term “Almond Mom,” which TikTokers use to describe their diet-obsessed mothers.
“I don’t know which is worse, having an Almond Mom or a Huberman Husband,” she says in the video. “But the case for the Huberman Husband being worse is not only do I have to live with him my whole life, but I’m also going to live forever.”
Apparently, other women relate: The video received more than 50,000 likes.
In the comments, women commiserated about their own Huberman-crazy husbands, with one popular influencer writing: “i’m legitimately crying we need a support group.” Another chimed in about how the Huberman obsession had upended her life: “We’re opening a whole ice plunge/sauna recovery studio thanks to that man,” she wrote. “Omg I didn’t know there was a name for it,” one woman added. “My husband tricked me into drinking probiotics and vinegar last night.”
Still others made their own videos about their husband-enforced wellness routines, showing off red light saunas and overflowing supplement cabinets. One woman gave a peek at the “pretty heavy duty” shower and tap water filters her husband installed in their home and revealed he was considering installing an air filtration system, too. “That’s pretty much all for my Huberman Husband,” she concluded. “Ours should be friends.”
Huberman has been publishing studies out of his Stanford laboratory for more than two decades, but his popularity really took off when he started podcasting in early 2021. It likely helped that the show launched in the midst of the pandemic, when health was of utmost concern and staying in to listen to a three-hour podcast didn’t seem unreasonable. With his calm, measured professor’s voice and dutiful citation of scientific studies, Huberman provided a kind of counterweight to the panic and misinformation of the early pandemic. It didn’t hurt that most of his advice was rooted in relatively sane, uncontroversial fundamentals: Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol.
Huberman also seems to offer a missing link for men—a way to talk about health and wellness that didn’t appear too outwardly feminine. (Or perhaps, more cynically, a means of casting self-care as “science,” not vanity.) While diet, exercise, and other means of improving your appearance have usually been the purview of women’s magazines, podcasters like Huberman allowed men to rebrand it as “biohacking” or even “optimization.” As Jessica Grouse wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times about her own Huberman Husband, “My hunch was that middle-aged men are just an unsaturated market for diet information, because they haven’t been inundated with as much of it as women have been.” With Huberman’s podcast, men could be in on the fun—or the pain, depending on how you look at it.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that the men adopting Huberman’s protocols are rubbing off on their partners, given the time, energy—and sometimes money—they require. Huberman has confessed to waking up at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. every morning, not eating until midday, and spending two hours a week just cycling between his sauna and ice bath. He also never drinks alcohol and goes to bed by 11 p.m.—not exactly a routine conducive to leisurely mornings or fun nights out with your partner.
But Heather Maio, a gym owner in upstate New York, said she got into Huberman’s teachings out of jealousy for the benefits her husband was reaping. When he first purchased a cold tub for morning ice baths, she said, “I went into it thinking, ‘Ok, this is another type of bro biohack bullshit thing.’” But after seeing the results, she started taking morning dunks herself. Now she’s used the cold tub consistently for over a year, and says she saw positive effects on her mood and metabolism. “At first I thought he was crazy, but now I’m the one using it every day,” she said.
Despite Huberman’s reputation for being a little rigid, Maio says, she likes that nothing he advises is as rigid as the low-fat, low-calorie, aerobics-obsessed culture she was born into in the 1980s. Although some might see cold plunges and mouth tape as an extreme measures, “he’s never asking people to do things that are going to harm them in any way,” she said. “He’s never promoting protocols that are extraordinarily restrictive, or counting calories, or micromanaging food.” In other words, compared to the Almond Moms, Huberman Husbands are relatively enlightened.
These days, Maio has more of what she would describe as a “Huberman household:” She and her husband and her 21-year-old daughter listen to the podcast and often share what they learned around the dinner table. In fact, a number of women responded to Campbell’s TikTok saying they were the Huberman Husbands in their relationships. The trend is less about gender, Campbell said, and more about anyone pulling their family members into their new, “optimized” lifestyle. And it doesn’t have to be about Huberman’s tips in particular: There is a growing community of male lifestyle influencers with similar, slightly oddball health recommendations; Huberman, she says, is just “the hub.”
The trend has also attracted its share of detractors, who question whether poring over metrics like sleep quality and workout recovery time is really any better than staring at the scale or counting calories. One TikToker shared the experience of dating a boyfriend who was obsessed with his health, and how that led her to become rigid in her own behaviors. “I just know that, through my own personal experience and also through talking to other people, that it can be really easy for a disordered way of thinking, when you’re trying to do something healthy, to take over,” she said.
“For example, maybe you’re taking ice baths every day,” she continued. “That’s great, but if you miss your ice bath, is your day ruined? If you miss your ice bath, do you feel like crap? Is it OK if you miss your ice bath?”
So-called “male wellness culture” and an increased focus on men’s appearance has, in fact, led to some negative outcomes. (Look no further than the horror stories about penis or height enhancement procedures gone wrong.) In some cases, as the Times documented in 2018, the health and wellness space has led men down darker and darker rabbit holes, toward alt-right, incel-adjacent political beliefs.
Campbell’s advice to the partners of any Huberman Husbands is to approach them with some healthy skepticism, and pick and choose the “protocols” that work for you. She said she even uses her husband as a guinea pig, letting him try out a new protocol and seeing if it works for him before adopting it herself. But some of the things he does, she says, “I’m like, that’s so weird. I don’t wanna do that.” For anyone else with a Huberman Husband, she said: “Always run it through your own filter.”
That’s also why Maio says she’s happy that the Huberman Husband trend seems to be taking jabs at people’s near-religious following of the podcast—even if she’s one of those people.
“I think it’s—rightfully so—poking fun at this kind of obsession with what [Huberman] is saying and wanting to try everything,” she said. “It should be mocked, it is kind of fucking ridiculous.”
Still, she added, it doesn’t mean she’s giving up on it. “On the other side of it, these things I’ve gleaned from him are working,” she said. “So I don’t give a shit, I’m going to continue to do them.”