The Tim Ferriss Podcast, Episode 3: Kelly Starrett and Dr. Justin Mager


Kelly Starrett pic

It’s my first podcast threesome! [blush]


This episode features two incredible guests: Dr. Justin Mager and Kelly Starrett. We all drink wine and get crazy.

Dr. Mager is my personal doctor and has helped me with dozens of my crazy experiments, complete with blood testing and next-generation tracking. He’s brilliant (and hilarious).

Kelly Starrett is one of the top Crossfit coaches in the world, and one of my favorite PTs and performance trainers. His clients include Olympic gold medalists, Tour de France cyclists, world and national record holders in Olympic lifting and powerlifting, Crossfit Games medalists, ballet dancers, and elite military personnel. If you’re interested in taking your body or brain to the next level, or attempting to become the guy from Limitless, this episode is for you.


And…want to win some cool stuff today? Tweet out your favorite quote or line from this episode, using the following format, and I’ll pick a few of my favorites for prizes:

“[Insert quote]” More: #TFS”

To encourage other people to retweet you, try and ensure your entire Tweet is 120 characters or less. The iTunes link above will be automatically shortened.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes! My iTunes rank — largely determined by subscriber count — is critical for recruiting future guests. Other options for download are the end of this post, but iTunes (here) really helps me out, even if just for the first few episodes. Help me make this podcast as strong as possible, and click subscribe here!

If you’d like a teaser of Episode 3, some of the subjects we cover are below. Learn more about Kelly at MobilityWOD and through his Twitter account:

  • Defining a “performance whore”
  • The potent combination that is Justin Mager
  • What makes people “well” and what makes people thrive
  • Mixing passions for endocrinology and eastern philosophy
  • How chakras described in Ayurvedic medicine correspond to nerve plexuses and endocrine glands
  • How Justin Mager changes lives by exploring the body as a whole
  • Experimenting on the fringes of physiology and what limits can be pushed
  • Working with high-end athletes and military to exceed supposed “optimal” performance
  • Blood testing is a snapshot, not a overall description of health — how do you improve it? What do you measure?
  • Delving into the effects of travel on circadian rhythms, and how to correct problems
  • Exploring the Quantified Self (QS) movement and Kevin Kelly
  • Testing quality of sleep
  • Why science isn’t the cause-and-effect master of the universe, or shouldn’t be viewed as such
  • Pattern recognition and “chunking” for improved talent acquisition
  • The diverse role of genetics; what can be changed and what cannot
  • The health and performance implications of testosterone, boners, sleep, and more
  • Mattress selection from the mobility expert (Kelly)
  • Hacking the nervous system for rejuvenating sleep, utilizing body temperature as a tool
  • Rebooting the parasympathetic nervous system
  • “Supple Leopard” morning rituals
  • Kelly’s test of functional mobility
  • How pain tolerance, mobility, and movement come together
  • Common qualities of top physicians, coaches, and bio-hackers, and how you can emulate them…


For Android users, this podcast can also be found on Stitcher.

Just want the plain old RSS feed? Here it is!

Users of Pocket Casts (and similar apps) can copy the Feedburner link above, then paste it in the app’s search bar. It’ll take you straight to the good stuff.


Posted on: April 27, 2014.

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114 comments on “The Tim Ferriss Podcast, Episode 3: Kelly Starrett and Dr. Justin Mager

  1. I liked the podcast. I noticed several years ago contact lenses block UV light. All the contacts I have say they block UV. What are the potential consequences of depriving your eye, retina and brain from UV light? I am a chiropractor, I do ART, and functional movement assessments, so I am tune to nervous system issues and movement pattern evaluations. Sitting, forward head position are white collar epidemics, loss of peristaltic function, heartburn, diminished lung capacity, low movement through the C spine deprives the brain of motion, and allows for more aberrant pain signalling, high pain means brain deterioration… low motion equals low BDNF and other brain derived neuro levels and the entire house of cards starts to fall in. Discs need manganese, and soft beds are good for back sleepers but not belly sleepers. Love the Janda reference, spot on.


  2. Keep those podcast going, that’s really geat. I’m still working on the transcript of episode #2 (it’s a hella longer to do than i thought) and Josh was so full of crazy useful insights and tips that i’d actually pay to listen to podcasts like that. Sort of like “insiders” into the best minds out there. Great great stuff, thanks

    I don’t think i’ll do the transcript for the #1 or #3, though (unless i feel like throwing a challenge at myself), will you get someone to do that? It’s great for taking notes and remembering important parts…



      • Hey Tim, well, i just finished writing down the transcript from Podcast #2. A HELL of a job, geez. So if you think I did a good job and want a copy now, you may use my version.

        To get the transcript: my name + dot com, no space of course. There a link at the top of my blog.

        Hope to get the transcripts from the other soon :)

        Tell me if you like!


      • Can you kind of provide updates on transcripts.I would appreciate a place where I can check on the transcripts being posted. Since I would not subscribe to any podcasts which it is no use to me because I am deaf. So I would appreciate on your next podcast making a mention on transcripts so that I can keep up and track. I will subscribe to iTunes as soon the transcripts become available just to give my support for your subscriber counts although it have no use to me.


  3. Hey Tim!
    What was it they used to check if you can work out if you have a cold and what do you need for testing that? I didn’t quite catch what levels they looked for and so on.

    Regards from Sweden


  4. Great cast. I’m not sure how your other listeners react to you long pod casts but these seem to be difficult to find a block of time for listening. It may make sense to repurpose or chop up these into segments or some other method of spreading content across multiple times.


      • I listened to it at multiple times also. And how you absorb content is likely far different than you avg. listener (i.e. you’re more likely to listen to the whole thing). But how many actually listen to the whole thing?

        I’m sure you may find some value in testing multiple ways to present this content. If you consider performing a test, I would recommend ‘length’ begin a priority variable.

        Or, if lengthy content is not going to change, then maybe providing incentive to listen ‘intently’ to the entire cast: e.g. best content at the end, or learn about this awesome {cool thing} at the half way point.


    • @Kevin: I Disagree. Just press the pause button and listen to them in separate chunks. -> Long podcasts are great. They are the only way to get deeper into the interviewee’s mind and exctract higher value (vs some more superficial interviews). Tim, keep them long! KR – Nic


      • That was the answer I was looking for. I love what you do. You and your guests continue to inspire me, but I wasn’t looking forward to that intervention announcement in a few years. I had to give up drinking about 3 years ago ’cause I’m one of those . . . how you say . . alcoholics. The best / only decision for me to remain on this wheel. You do get a smidge emotional with the hint of a slur sometimes though. No judgement. Just a fan.


  5. Excellent podcast. Kelly kind of takes over, which was okay because I am a huge fan of his. I really enjoyed Dr. Justin Mager’s viewpoints, so I would of really loved to hear more from him.

    With regards to rolling on a Lax ball or foam rolling, what should pressure be like? I see from mobility WOD videos that Kelly likes to make people squirm and maybe believes in the no-pain no-gain approach. Are there any cons from attacking the soft tissue with very hard pressure? Does light-medium pressure on a consistent basis have more benefits than hard pressure on a consistent basis? Should the number of sessions that you perform correlate to the amount of pressure/discomfort you are feeling from the soft tissue work?


  6. Tim! I’m loving every second of your podcasts keep up the great work! I have a question for you: What would you suggest for someone wanting to take their fitness level from great to the best? I’m going to be rowing in college next year and I would love you opinion on how I could really excel!


  7. I’ve had elbow pain for a year. If there’s an angel out there who can tell me the steps to correctly diagnose the issue, I would love them, forever.


    • That sucks to hear about your elbow pain Heyward. Probably the best thing you could/should do is to see a licensed Physical Therapist about the issue.

      They will for sure plot a best course of action for you.


  8. Amazing informations Tim!
    Your podcasts just turned out to be the best for someone who spends a lots of time on the road.
    Looking forward for the transcripts too. As I am not a native english speaker I tend to miss a few specific information.

    Cheers from Brazil!


  9. Any links for this one. You mentioned a few books as well as where do I get a cheap oxygen sensor for before my workouts. Another great podcast keep it up. Also audio is good, no reason to apologize for the dog upstairs. We can’t here it.


  10. Hey Tim, great podcast and big thanks for keeping traditional methods out as much as possible. For 12 years, I’ve been recovering from a C1, C4-C5 spinal core injury and thalamic stroke due to the trauma of the accident. This injury basically turned me into an anatomy guru simply because there was no other way to get back on my feet. Ultimately, this has lead me to see the regulatory pressures MDs, therapists and patients are faced with, as well as confront the legitimacy of the Canadian Healthcare System on long-term issues of chronic illnesses and injuries being 15 years old at the time of the injury, (”wait.. isn’t the system public in Canada…, wrong”). Now, I advocate and engage in public speaking for families living with life-limiting injuries or illnesses. Despite being a full quadriplegic at one point in life and the ongoing rehab/training to this day (“as anyone should with or without injury”), I was fortunate to make it back on a Snowboard. I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty fucking awesome! That being said and please allowed me to say this last thing; it’s truly “out of the box” MD thinkers and therapist, positive and realistic coaching methods and new technologies which allow many beat the odds. Dr. Mager, Kelly Starrett and yourself are so right. We must consistently rethink our traditional ways and must reinforce our daily modern life habits as are entering one hell of a healthcare crisis. Our biomechanics patterns are so mess up, that also includes mine btw! PS: I’ll be in SanFransico at the end of May. I will definitely checkout Kelly’s Crossfit gym. Maybe, I’ll be lucky bump into him. TBD! Thanks again for the podcast.
    Cheers, Eric


  11. The podcast was great, but Kelly gave some inaccurate info about the DCML being a pathway for movement and pain. It is a purely sensory track, and is resonsible for light touch, proprioception, and vibration. Sensory tracks carry ascending input while motor tracks (primarily the corticospinal tract) carry the output from the brain to the muscle for movement, so while you need both for a feedback loop, it is not part of our physiology to carry motor and sensory information on the same track. Pain is a multifaceted problem that has many different theories, but the only track I’m aware of to be shown in the central modulation of pain is the spinomesencephalic track. I hope this doesn’t come off the wrong way because I think Kelly is an awesome coach and contributor to th field, my intent was to clear up th neuroscience if anyone had any interest or wanted to explore this further.


  12. Hi Tim, I’ve really enjoyed your previous podcasts and will be listening to this one. As a newcomer to podcasts, what are three of your favorite podcasts that you would recommend?


  13. Why doesn’t Dr. Mager have a book? Tell Dr. Mager to get on it! I want to hear more about what he has to say, very sad that many doctors (and the majority of the ones I go to) treat the extremes like you guys were talking about.