June 22, 2020 10 min read
Joe Rogan is a man with a finger in every pie.
If you don’t know him from his UFC color commentator days, then you might know him from his hosting Fear Factor. Or maybe his acting, or him being a stand-up comedian, and especially his superstar status when it comes to “The Joe Rogan Experience.”
In the shadow of a massive $100 million Spotify deal, Rogan continues to climb new heights as a podcaster and cements his reputation as one of the biggest cultural forces in this day and age. But if that’s all he was, we wouldn’t be talking about him.
With over 1500 podcast episodes, Rogan has made his interest in health and fitness more obvious than ever. Not only a former Taekwondo champion, Rogan also boasts a black belt in both no-gi Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and gi Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and training in kickboxing among other martial arts. His MMA background informs a lot of how he trains and diets, and also his more recent interest in things such as regular cardio and yoga.
While his thoughts on every single subject when it comes to health would be difficult to summarize with a catalog of 1500 multi-hour episodes, we’ve compiled some important things to keep in mind to get into the Rogan-mindset. Recreational drugs, cigars, and booze are optional.
Rogan is over 50 years old now, which is difficult to tell from just looking at him. The man has aged well, there’s no questioning that. But what can that be attributed to?
As always, it’ll come down to hard work, consistency, and planning. While Rogan might have a finger in every pie, there are things he picks up and drops if that’s what his body tells him to do. For example, he plans his workouts for the week every Sunday.
If you’re struggling with consistency or just getting in the gym when you said you would, this is a fantastic way to grapple with that. In the past, we’ve talked about how setting goals is one of the most important aspects when it comes to advancing in anything. While we’re talking about the physical body here, that notion can be utilized when you’re working towards anything.
And Rogan’s system is that much more effective because it focuses on the short term. While it’s important to keep your eye on the long-term prize, it’s just as essential to keep your short-term actions in check in order for them to work up to that goal. By setting a weekly workout routine each Sunday night, it becomes easier to not only stick to a consistent training plan on a week-by-week basis, but it also allows for flexibility in scheduling.
And it’s this latter point, the flexibility, that’s often forgotten. Everyone’s “fallen off the horse” in one thing or another—and seen first-hand how difficult it is to get back on. Because, in the end, being super motivated and working extra hard for a week doesn’t matter at all if you can’t keep it up for the long term. Which brings us to the next point in the School of Rogan.
He also follows in Pavel Tsatsouline’s (“Enter the Kettlebell!” author) footsteps by limiting his reps to about half his max. He’s not a believer in going until failure or doing as many reps and sets as possible. According to him, it’s not natural for you to beat up your body over a few hours one day, and then be sore for the next two—and he has a point, at least when it comes to functional strength.
Bringing up the examples of farmers or even animals who do long hours of working hard with “lighter” loads, Rogan purports that this is the way in which the body builds functional fitness the best.
Consistency is also important.
Not only are you looking at workouts over a mid-to-long-term timeframe, since you’re doing more reps with lighter loads, but it also puts you in the mind-set of looking into the long term. With slow, methodical, and practiced workouts, you can get a strength that goes much further than traditional weightlifting and bodybuilding workouts.
A slower, more methodical approach to fitness is also a good way of cultivating the mind-muscle link with your workouts. Rogan takes this to the next level by maintaining a yoga routine—especially hot yoga—in order to keep his body limber and his toxins flushed out. What’s more, Rogan has said in the past that hot yoga does a great deal for your mind, since a long session really cuts through any cloudiness in your head.
And if you’re familiar with his podcast at all, you already know that he’s a fan of a number of recovery techniques, having tried quite a few. This includes sauna sessions, cryotherapy, stem cell rejuvenation, and even isolation tank meditation. When it comes to the sauna, he loves to crank the heat all the way up.
Such a slew of recovery techniques is sure to relax his body at the very least, keeping recovery times to a minimum—not to mention the effects it must have on his mental well-being. While he may not do these things after every workout session, he does fit in yoga at least twice a week.
With a yoga session twice a week, he complements that by going to lift weight at least 3 to 4 times. We’ve mentioned how he does a light-low/high-rep routine for most of his workouts to build functional fitness, but he also compounds that with the tools he uses.
While his gym (we recommend you take a look at some pictures online) has the classic racks and heavy weights, there’s also a number of bodyweight tools and pieces of functional fitness equipment that’s available. While he obviously uses things like dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells, there’s also more esoteric equipment such as:
Along with a pull-up bar, you have the necessary ingredients for a body that’s not only rippling with functional strength but also looks good.
While he hasn’t necessarily shared his exact workout routines, we imagine they’re very holistic and place an emphasis on full-body, compound movements. Furthermore, there’s the element of listening to your body and doing what feels right and doing the volume that’ll train up muscular endurance rather than destroy you when it comes to soreness.
This emphasis on functional strength is highlighted even more when you consider that Rogan still keeps up his practice of different martial arts, such as Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai.
Muay Thai is a great way to increase your core strength, leg strength, improve your cardiovascular condition, and improve your hip mobility. When it comes to core strength, performing strikes and defensive movements activate your core muscles to a very high degree.
Your leg muscles are the most utilized muscle group in Muay Thai since footwork drills and kicks are practiced most often. Not only is your endurance increased, but also your ability to exert power through your legs, your agility, and also your mobility.
This last point, mobility, is also paramount when training Muay Thai. With all the necessary kneeing and kicking, your hip mobility will see great improvement with consistent practice. With Rogan complementing his martial arts training with stretching and yoga, it ensures that his muscles stay limber and he doesn’t injure himself.
When it comes to Jiu-Jitsu, there’s an even greater emphasis placed on flexibility. You’ll find yourself in positions that you’d never be able to recreate in everyday life, and hence, your mobility and range of motion will be greatly improved. Much like Muay Thai, this martial art will also improve your endurance, increase your strength, and boost your energy levels.
If martial arts just aren’t your cup of tea, you can still take away a number of lessons from the way Rogan incorporates these into his overall health. Especially when paired with an emphasis on functional fitness, martial arts allow you to put your body through movements that are seldom seen inside of a gym. These novel movements increase your range of motion, your mobility, and your flexibility.
And not only does this prevent injuries, but it also allows you to work out better, even if you’re just lifting weights. For one, your range of motion will be greatly improved. Furthermore, you’ll be able to exert your force over a longer time, since your endurance will be built up.
Remember that it’s not necessary to do martial arts if you want these benefits, but it is important to incorporate exercises and movements that impart similar benefits—whether that’s in the realm of mobility, endurance, energy, or flexibility. Not to mention that being a high level in any martial art is really sick.
Like most people, Rogan didn’t really start out as much of a cardio fanatic—but it’s something he’s begun including in his weekly routines in the past few years. He tries to run at least twice a week, and he prefers running outside than on the treadmill.
Although it’s important to be aware of some of the differences between treadmill and outside running, it’s infinitely more important to just get out and run.
The list of cardio benefits, and specifically running benefits, is almost as exhaustive as the list of reasons why we don’t like to do it. But it’ll be a boon for strengthening your heart and muscles, burning calories, helping control appetite, boosting your mood, helping you sleep at night, increasing mobility and reducing stiffness—not to mention the full-body conditioning that comes along with it.
It really is essential for any athlete looking for some functional strength, and if the hulking physique of Rogan does it multiple times a week, then we should do.
Spanning over 10 years now and well over 1000 guests, Rogan’s not only come into contact with a wide variety of different diet ideas and fads but also disseminated them over a wider audience. And to add to that, the man’s mind is like a sponge—even if you think you’re pan-curious then Rogan most likely still has you beat.
So, it’s very telling when looking at a diet such as Rogan’s, since not only has he heard of hundreds of ideas concerning nutrition, but he’s also experimented with a bunch. It’s like forging a diet-sword in the fires of hundreds if not thousands of hours of talking to people about nutrition. So, generally speaking, what does this “diet-sword” look like?
Well to the surprise of no one, it’s very clean eating with healthy food. Mostly a lot of game meat and a lot of vegetables combined with intermittent fasting.
The main premise of any ketogenic diet (for example, the Atkins Diet) is to limit the number of carbs you take in every day, usually under 50 at the very least. While carbs are allowed, the focus is on complex carbs that take your body longer to break down, while avoiding simple carbs such as pastry, anything made from white flour, and sugars.
Since carbs are the first energy source your body burns, once you run out of them your body begins to burn fat and muscle. This is especially useful for those people looking for weight loss, with the added benefit that you don’t have to forego your carnivorous lifestyle. While more studies need to be done, there’s a laundry list of potential benefits.
So the main facets of the Rogan diet are vegetables and meat—easy enough. But we can go deeper.
He’s also a big proponent of the “eat what you kill” movement which is an attempt to move away from factory farming and the mistreatment of animals. So wild game is often on the menu at the Rogans household; elk, for example. We’ve looked at bison in the past and its many benefits over traditional beef so check that out too, but the gist is that wild game is free from growth hormones and steroids.
While bison isn’t necessarily a wild game, it’s normally grass-fed and antibiotic-free, along with avoiding growth hormones and steroids. It’s also low on saturated fats which are bad for your health.
Wild game has these same benefits, but it’s admittedly harder to track down (unless you’ve got some hunter friends, or you yourself are one). With “cleaner” meats, you’ll feel less sluggish and bogged down after a hearty meal. Looking at wild elk meat and pork belly, for example, it’s obvious which one’s going to make you feel more lethargic.
While the red-meat debate is still something to think about and a conversation worth having, the fact of the matter is that, well, red meat is delicious. While arguably not as healthy as other animal proteins, giving it up might take more than we’re willing to give. So, if you’re going to eat it, it’s best to make sure that it’s of a higher quality.
And to round up the meats, we have the vegetables. If you’ve seen any of Rogan’s Instagram posts, you’ll probably have seen the pictures of dishes with healthy servings of veggies. Vegetables give you the full nutritional profile you need to succeed both in the gym and out, and they’re really difficult to get wrong. Make sure that vegetables fill the majority of your plate at each meal, and you’ll be further ahead than most people.
No conversation about Rogan’s fitness routine would be complete without looking at his supplement stack. Much like with diets, Rogan has undoubtedly tried a lot of things and heard about even more.
Doing away with the coffee, he instead opts for a powdered mushroom mix of chaga and lion’s mane—not magic mushrooms, for those wondering (but it wouldn’t be a surprise when it comes to Joe Rogan). While the human trials of medicinal mushrooms have been small and it’s important to take the claims with a grain of salt, some of us could definitely do with less caffeine in our diets.
The mushroom coffee is supplemented with an array of multivitamins, vitamin supplements, probiotics, fish oil, omega 3 and 6, creatine, and cognitive boosting supplements as well. When it comes to well-oiled machines, Rogan is the pinnacle. And while taking his health super-seriously, he still doesn’t lose the common touch by doing away completely with his vices.
The Rogan fitness experience is all about planning but room for flexibility. Eating clean but leaving room for indulgences.
Much like his method of working with light loads over a higher rep count, the rest of his fitness regime seems to follow a similar idea. What’s more, is that this type of routine will allow you to stick to it longer and more consistently. While a strict regime can be good, there are always things that are going to come up in life.
Keep your eye on the prize, but plan your actions for the short term. If your actions get you closer to the prize even a little bit, it’s only a matter of time before you reach it.