I’m pleased to announce Peter Ragnar on The Vital Way Podcast. In my mind, he’s one of the greatest examples of the possibilities of youthful longevity. In this interview you’ll discover:
- The Chinese “Immortals” and What They Did
- Peter’s Daily Meditation, Work and Training Routines
- How to Reverse Aging with Resistance Training
- The Importance of Maximum Recoverable Volume
- How Lack of Sleep causes Accelerated Aging, Insulin Insensitivity, and Genetic Diseases
- Using Your Battery for Qi Force and its Connection to Melatonin
- 2 Tests for How Young You Are and How You Can Train These for Anti-Aging
- The Pineal Gland and Clairvoyance
- Peter’s Top Recommended Herbs
- And Much More
For more from Peter, including a free download of Breathing Techniques for Age Reversal visit LongevitySage.com.
Click the link below to access the complete transcript.
The content found on the Vital Way podcast in Superman Herbs is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, for the diagnosis or treatment of a health condition or as a substitute for medical counseling. Please review any information with your qualified healthcare provider before making any decisions concerning your health. You assume all risk for use, misuse or disuse of this information.
Logan: Hello, I’m Logan Christopher and welcome to the Vital Way podcast. I’m very excited about this show because I have a person who has been a tremendous influence on me over the years in a wide variety of different subjects from health and nutrition to wealth, strength training, qi gong, all kinds of different things. So please help me welcome, Peter Ragnar. Thanks for joining us, Peter.
Peter: It’s my pleasure, Logan. I feel honored to be on your show here.
Logan: Well, thank you for joining us. If you guys are not aware of Peter, it’s hard to sort of sum up this guy. He’s really done so many different things like the areas I was talking about. To me, he’s a great sort of example of what a person can be become if they just set their mind to it. I always like that he is not just focused on a single area but kind of like I try to be myself a bit of a renaissance man, being great in all of these different areas. For people that are not familiar with you, can you give a little bit of your background, Peter? I don’t even like know where to begin with it because there’s just so many things I could say.
Peter: Oh goodness, Logan. Background, what is that? Well, I’m an author. I’ve written over 30 books. I’ve published numerous courses on strength, longevity, on wild crafting, on herbs, nutrition and health. I’ve been involved in martial arts for over 60 years. I’ve had an incredible number of wonderful students. I taught MMA, too, and jiu jitsu. I’ve been involved in kickboxing. Gee, the list goes on and just like you said, Logan, working out my whole life, lifting weights, working on my strength and all that good stuff and also teaching qi gong.
Logan: I’d say the first time I was introduced to you, I believe I saw an ad on maybe it was Black Belt Magazine showing you doing a grip feat with you pinch-gripping I don’t know the exact weight but it’s a significantly heavy weight. You were at an event. I suppose we can talk about the longevity subject as well but as I was getting into the strength training, just seeing that you were able to do these pretty amazing feats of strength, that’s the initial thing that got me in. Along with that as I was starting to get into health and nutrition, just seeing what you were doing there, I love the title of one of your earlier books, How Long Do You Choose to Live. So could you tell us a little bit of your philosophy around health and longevity?
Peter: One of the little phrases that’s almost become a cliché is that time isn’t toxic. It can’t kill you but your thoughts about time can and I’m a firm believer in that. I guess if you look at some of the things that I’ve written in Black Belt, Inside Kung Fu, all the interviews I’ve done with magazines like that and What is Enlightenment, Inside Enlightenment, a few magazines like that, it all comes back to this: that we haven’t even begun to tap our abilities, our potential. We only just scratch the surface of it. We end up believing lies of limitation. When you start believing that you’re over the hill when you’re 30 or 40 athletically, it’s crazy. The minute you start believing that, of course is the moment you begin to accelerate your aging process. I think that’s really a movement going on right now, that more and more people are realizing that they can be not only in their athletic prime later in years but also that they can stall the aging process by simply changing your attitude about it. Like I said, time isn’t toxic; it can’t kill you but your thoughts about it can.
Logan: Yes. My wife’s grandfather, I think he’s somewhere around 80 years of age and he’s always saying just wait till you’re my age. I just smile and nod along but I really don’t believe that because like I said, I kind of use you as my influence, my sort of ideal of how a person can age and I know you don’t even really think in terms of age. The idea that time is not toxic is really important because it’s what you do throughout time, not the time itself.
Peter: Exactly, Logan. If this isn’t fun, if this isn’t a fun adventure for you, if you’re not seeing yourself getting up out of bed every morning feeling excited about your life, the bottom line message is why am I hanging around? Well, your selves pick up that self-talk and what do they do? Well, they respond to it. But the reverse is also true. When you’re excited about your life, when you’re interested in things and you’re curious, when you’re continually learning and growing and developing, you never think about time. You think about what you’re focused on. You’re in the moment. You’re in today and that is such a beautiful place to be. Because if you’re involved in something that is really interesting to you right now, are you thinking about what happened yesterday? Are you thinking about what’s going to come tomorrow? No. You’re so focused. You are here now.
I think a lot of that holds a great secret to one’s longevity. You’ve got to enjoy doing what you’re doing every single day. Hey, if you’re not enjoying your life now, change it. Change it. “I can’t.” “I can’t.” There’s no such thing as I can’t. Every time I hear that word, “I can’t” I think it’s “I don’t want to.” I really don’t want to. I’m afraid. Well, when people are afraid they stay in the comfort zone and nothing good ever happens in the comfort zone. You’ve just got to get out of that. Get out of that and get invigorated. Find out all the things you can do, not the things you can’t.
Logan: I think we really addressed that, just how important that belief and attitude is. I’d like to sort of follow that up with, what are some of the daily actions or habits that are worth cultivating that will help people to really sort of live life in this way, rather than how the vast majority of people live life?
Peter: How about get off your butt? That’s a good starter. Get off your butt. Stop talking and start doing. It’s like a lot of folks talk about. “I’m going to get to the gym.” “I’m going to start working out.” “I’m going to get on a program.” There’s an old saying, “Talk doesn’t cook the rice.” Just get up and do it. I think a lot of times we feel a little timid about that. We feel a little ashamed and using just this as one example. There are many, many areas that we can explore but I think the basic motivation is the same.
If you feel embarrassed, let’s say you’re grossly overweight and you feel a little ashamed walking into the gym. What will people think of me? Will they make fun of me? Well you know, people don’t. They generally don’t. People are now applauding people who are willing to get up off the couch and to make the commitment.
The same thing applies to diet, the foods you eat, changing your diet. Sometimes, you may choose a diet that no one else has and feel a little funny about saying well, I choose not to eat those things; this is what I eat. I like to eat vegetarian or vegan or whatever it may be. Whatever your diet, it doesn’t matter which way you’re going. The fact is you’re focusing on changing and changing in a positive direction. Now you’re going to change one way or another. Whether you sit there and do nothing, you’ll change. You get up and do something, you will change. The only decision that you make is which direction will you choose?
Logan: Yeah, I think that’s really important and also the idea that it’s an ongoing process. You never get to a point it’s like okay, everything’s perfect because in the next moment things change, one way or another. You constantly have to adapt to this and always work toward that better and better.
Peter: And that’s the thing, there’s always going to be something, a beautiful challenge before you. You just get comfortable with that. As an example, when do you have enough money? When are you strong enough? When are you healthy enough? When do you have enough mental acuity? These are all ongoing processes and there’s never a point of arrival, it’s a moving wall. But to be comfortable with that moving wall, that’s where life happens. I’m comfortable with it being always changing.
Logan: I’m curious. I always like to hear the specific details of what high-performance people are doing. Could you give an idea of what your daily routine looks like? I’m sure it changes from day to day to some degree but what does it look like these days?
Peter: Well, I always get up early, starting usually when it’s dark. That depends. Since I make my own schedule, I can get up any time I want. I can sleep in if I choose or not. But I kind of get up around 5:00, sometimes earlier, sometimes later. When I get up, actually the first thing I do is I fix myself a cup of good organic coffee. Oh my heavens, Peter drinks coffee? Yeah, I guess he does.
Logan: I was wondering about that because I was drinking coffee this morning and I was like, I wonder if Peter Ragnar drinks coffee.
Peter: We can get to a lot of studies on that. There’s some new recent information with its benefits and relationship to helping with Alzheimer’s disease and various other mental situations but nonetheless, okay. As that’s brewing, I go outside on my deck and it’s so quiet except the birds are singing. Other than that, there are no human noises. We’re situated right up on the side of the hill, overlooking a lake and I do my qi gong early in the morning and I go to my qi gong routine.
After I finish that, I’ll come in and I’ll have a cup of coffee. Then I’ll go and I’ll meditate and I usually meditate an hour or sometimes two hours. After I finish meditating, I have my journal always nearby. I write down my insights. I’m always writing. I write every day, which I make a habit of writing and of course obviously after authoring 30 books, in order to do that you have to write. As I’ve often said, writers write, musicians play music, poets compose poetry and painters paint. If that’s what you do, that’s what you do. You set aside time to do that.
Right after that is when I fix my breakfast. My breakfast, almost always, let’s say 99% of the time is this: I’ll have some raw organic hemp seed, organic hemp seed and I’ll take up to half a cup of hemp seed, sometimes less, sometimes more. For a while, I was taking a full cup of hemp seed and I’ll mix some blueberries or whatever berries are currently available, organic. I’ll put those in there and like this morning, I’d add some oats, a little bit of organic oats to that. Then I’ll put some coconut milk in that. Also, I have a little coffee grinder where I’ll grind up a handful of apricot seeds. I put the apricot seeds in that and also some raisins. That is my morning breakfast. My breakfast is very substantial. As you can already tell, it’s very high-protein. I keep track of my grams of protein for the most part.
After breakfast of course, I have my dogs to feed. I go over to feed all the dogs. We have help here on the farm and our friend, Keith, is usually here about that time. We talk about what’s to be done. Then I come back in and I come into my little office and start answering emails and make a post on Facebook. I have a private Facebook site for a group of people which I call my Good luck Family. I answer their questions and queries about personal transformation, physical fitness and nutrition, the whole gauntlet of topics that are related that we started the show with, Logan.
Right after that, after I finished that then it’s time to go to the gym. I feel very fortunate I have a very, very good gym right here in my house so all I do is I go downstairs whatever the day it is that’s on the program, I’m doing a split routine basically power lifting with heavy emphasis on strength. It may be the day that I work legs, which is primarily squats. It’s always squats plus a secondary exercise. I work abs after I’ve finished my squats.
As an example, yesterday I’ll do four sets of five after I’ve gotten warmed up, continuing up with my poundages, up to about 85% of my max. Then I will drop the weight down to about 50% to 60% and then do five sets of ten, as an example. Then I do five sets of ab exercises. That was like yesterday. After that of course, the following workout will be chest. The following workout will be deadlifts, just working my back. After the deadlifts, I start again. I’ll work presses then we’re back to the routine squats, bench press, deadlifts and presses. So there we go.
As soon as I finish my workout, I come up and I make certain that I have a high-protein meal. I also supplement also just prior to my workout. I’ll have a protein drink and I would use either a raw protein or just a vegan protein and mix with coconut milk and I’ll take other things out. I’ll put some cacao in there. Then I’ll take a lot of my supplements. I’ll take the pine pollen tincture that. By the way, I like pine pollen that I got from you and I made a huge batch of tincture. I’ll take some tongkat ali and a number of other different herbs.
Then immediately after the workout, I would supplement with creatine and with something that is a high-carb that really jacks up the insulin for that time period to bring that nutrition to the muscle tissues. It’s like you take the muscle tissue and you squeeze it like a sponge. You squeeze everything out of it if you’ve had a workout. That’s what I call a workout. You come up there, you know that you’ve done something. It’s not just a social club. Down there, it’s a transformation.
Right after that then my wife is fixing a delightful meal. I will have some grains or beans, greens and beans in particular for protein and amino acids. Katrina has so many absolutely exquisite delights that she’s always surprising me. That leaves my afternoons pretty much free for relaxing or we go for hikes. If we have do some errands, whatever that may be, we now have the time to do that.
Evening, my meal in the evening is always a salad. My salads are sometimes wild-crafted greens and different things, stuff from the garden. I also always add some chickpeas or something like that, chickpeas and nuts, some additional protein right there. We relax. Evening comes, we feed the dogs again, go for an evening walk, whatever. Then bedtime comes early for us. I’m usually in bed by anywhere from 7:30 to 8:00 in the evening. Then I leave that for meditation time and also playing with the cat and reading. I read till I get tired. I go to sleep and start all over again the next day.
Logan: Excellent. That sounds pretty simple but obviously quite effective. I’d like to dive into a little more detail. I have some specific questions about that. You mentioned you woke up early, like what time? Just curious.
Peter: Somewhere around 5:00.
Logan: So that means you’re getting about nine hours of sleep or something each night?
Peter: I’m getting plenty. I make sure that my workouts demand that I get more sleep. That’s where I find that I’m growing. I’m still pushing my records, my personal best for a lifetime and I can monitor that. I know that if I get up in the morning and oh by the way, I keep a record of my pulse, my blood pressure and things like that, and I notice that if I’m up 10 beats or more, it means I’m getting close to pushing over-training. So I make sure that I know where I am, what my body is needing. I get a good eight hours of sleep, a solid eight hours, if not sometimes nine.
Logan: I’m curious about that, looking at your pulse, a good way to look at over-training. I’m guessing that you’re also just really tuning in to how you feel on day to day and sort of modifying these things as you feel you need to. Is that correct?
Peter: Exactly. One of the keys to continual progress is understanding what your maximum recoverable volume is in your lifting. When you understand that and you’re actually really working the most fatiguing lifts—deadlift is probably the most fatiguing because it requires more muscle and therefore it takes on more fatigue. The squat is next. The bench press might third. Press might be fourth—you realize that there is a certain red line or there’s a certain place that you can be to get the maximum amount of benefit without going over that line. That requires also that you know how much recovery time you have. I have the luxury of giving myself all the recovery time that I want before I hit the weights again.
Sleeping, this is a huge topic we could do a whole show on. Some of the classical sleep studies were done out of the University of Chicago by a Dr. E. Van Couter. He found that accelerated aging took place in even healthy young men after just one week of sleeping around four hours a night. Harvard Medical School did a study that if you’re not getting enough sleep for your body, you will be pre-disposed to your family line’s genetic diseases. In other words, if you tip that scale and all of a sudden whatever genetic diseases run in your family, you open the door for them. This was all based on solid studies done on sleep. There were some other studies done—I’m not sure, I think this is a Japanese study—there was a study done on women who slept less than five hours a night. They had an 82% higher rate of cancer and mortality than those women who slept eight hours.
If you think about this, you have 70 million people suffering sleep deprivation. All the drugs that people take in just because they can’t go to sleep. When you stop and think of this, if you’re sleeping less than six and a half hours a night, you’re lowering your insulin sensitivity. The studies that were done on that link that lack of sleep with diabetes. Is there any wonder that diabetes is the second to third—I’m not sure where it is on the list—of the most invasive diseases in the Western world? We push, push and push, running like little rats on a hamster wheel and not sleeping. I was thinking, for what? It’s absolutely nutty.
One of the things that I do also is before I go to sleep at night, I take melatonin, not because I have to necessarily but I think it’s a good adjunct. I think it helps or even eating a banana which is high on tryptosine which help effect your hormonal balance. You’ve got melatonin at night and serotonin in the day, that mood hormone balancing act. But think of this, that the pineal gland shrinks by 90% by the time a person reaches the age of 65. All of a sudden, the pineal is no longer secreting melatonin. It’s not secreting melatonin. You’re not going to sleep. You’re not going to sleep because you’re not secreting that at night and you wonder why your mood is screwed up in the day time. It’s because melatonin and serotonin are both balancing hormones and the serotonin level is now whacked out in the daytime so your mood gets whacked out. All of these comes back down to having that good night’s sleep.
Here’s something else that I found very fascinating. Recent medical research has shown that the endocrine cells in the gut, in the lining of the gut also produce melatonin. Now think of this – the ancient masters understood that by focusing your attention on the area below the navel which is called the dantian, focusing on the energy they defined as qi that it had amazing rejuvenating effects on the physical body, let alone the mental body. Now we’re discovering that just simply focusing on that area in meditation releases melatonin that is now found in the endocrine cells in the lining of the gut, even higher than it has been found in the pineal gland.
Therefore, using certain breathing techniques, which is something that I do—Actually, for those people interested in some of the breathing techniques I do, there’s a free eBook available called Breathing Techniques to Age Reversal. It’s on my website, PeterRagnar.com. You get it free just for signing up for my newsletter which is free—as you do these certain breathing exercises, you trigger the production of life force energy that the ancients identified as qi and learn to move it around in your body, which also increases your physical vitality, your hormonal balance. Keep this in my mind – melatonin counters cortisol, which is the major stress hormone. So we’re producing stress hormone from the stressful lifestyle. It’s got to be balanced to have health. Health is all about balance. It’s very interesting that your third eye or the pineal gland, that’s the gland that knows your real age. That’s what determines your real age, not the clock. It’s not your chronology. It’s that.
Logan: Wow, so not only are you sleeping a fair amount but all those times spent with the qi gong and meditation, I know that’s a vast subject but beyond these breathing exercises, could you give a little bit more detail on what it looks like when you’re doing this? What sort of other effects? I have not heard this stuff, that the gut produces melatonin. Anything else like that you care to share?
Peter: Oh, have we got another hour? Well, there are so many different places that we can go from here. There’s also a balancing of focusing our energy on the area of the pineal gland. That opens up clairvoyance, which means clear seeing. It’s activated through certain meditation practices which are focused on that area. Now here’s the great news: when you put together a program for yourself that incorporates all these little ideas with the proper herbal supplementation, you are now mimicking “immortals.” These were basically hermits that went off into the high mountains in China that become recluses because they wanted to go there and practice. All of a sudden, people notice that these people did not age. They did seem ageless. So they got the nickname “immortals.” Whether they were physically immortal or not remains to be seen. Of course, without birth certificates and someone sticking rectal probes, doing all of the other medical research on you, which I didn’t do, who knows? Who knows if these are fabled? But there’s one thing that we do know for certain. It’s that these people lived a long time. They somehow stumbled onto the secret of great longevity.
Now of course immortal in that terminology meant mountain man, basically describing the fact that they did hide themselves away. But now these secrets that were at that time either whispered just from one person to the other, we’ve gotten a glimpse of it. We’ve gotten some insights as to what they did and we’ve found a way to make that applicable in our modern society, at least some of us have, and that’s very, very exciting. It just opens up the door of tremendous speculation as to where we can go with all of this stuff.
Logan: I really like what you said there because it’s a combination of the physical actions or the practice along with how herbs can support. I’m curious. What herbs are specific for the pineal gland for helping in these sort of functions?
Peter: I think it’s a combination of things. Just on your site alone, I would recommend that people just start spending some time on your site, on the things that you already put out there. The herbs that I take, my regular ones, I take a lot of ashwagandha. I take pine pollen. I take tongkat ali. I take horny goat weed. Let’s see what else. Obviously ginseng. I make my own ginseng tonic with a number of different herbs that I’ve put in there, damiana, fo-ti, ginseng and a number of various Chinese herbs. That pretty much sums it up. Oh, with numerous different types of medicinal mushrooms as well.
One of the ones—again, you just put out some information on this one—lion’s mane is extremely good for the brain and anything that’s good for the brain is good for the pineal gland. So much of our hormonal balance directly reflects on our longevity. It’s bringing ourselves into balance. It’s always about balance, not too much this way, not too much that way, finding that central ground. Even physically, by the way, because as people age, what happens? They lose their balance. It’s a lack of balance.
A good example of this how long can you stand on one foot with your eyes closed? Now a young person can stand obviously longer than an older person but it seems to correlate with increasing age. If you practice that and let’s say you are 70 years old or 80 years old and you can stand for a minute with your eyes closed on one foot, well you’re exceeding the balance capabilities of a teenager. That’s just one example.
Another very, very important thing, and this relates to mental health oddly enough, is spinal flexibility. How flexible is your spine? The same thing happens as we age, people get stiff. They start succumbing to years and years of gravity. They start being bent over, their joints start fusing up and their back starts becoming rigid. The usefulness is measured by the flexibility of your spine. A great exercise, and this is something that I do all the time, do the wrestlers bridge or gymnast’s bridge where basically you put your hands over your head, touch them behind you on the floor and then arch you body up until the only thing that’s touching the floor are your hands and feet and you’re just arched in a bridge.
Another way, here’s a piece of apparatus that I love using. By the way, I do most of my ab work on this. It’s called the Roman chair. Basically, the Roman chair just supports your hips and you have a place to hook your feet. I like going all the way back where I touch my hands to the floor behind and then come all the way back up. That works your core muscles unbelievably. That really develops that core and as you’re developing that core, you’re also stimulating that area we talked about just a few minutes, that area where the ancients believe we generated life force from and that was in the dantian. That’s the battery for our qi energy. As we strengthen our core, we strengthen our life force. The spine, the core that area below the navel, strengthening and working and concentrating on that, we strengthen our longevity right there.
Also, you wonder why so many people in this country have backaches. Well first of all, they sit on their ass too long. They spend too much time sitting and not enough time walking. Their abdominal muscles are weak and therefore they have backaches. You have a backache, it’s simply because the bands around your body, which is supposed to be toned muscle become unused and you’re always pulling your back. Incredible. Anyway, I’m off on a tangent there.
Logan: I have not gotten to use a Roman chair personally myself but the bridging, that’s long been a favorite of mine, all the different variations of that. Yeah, those are some great tests. I like the idea that one, you can sort of test your age with it and in training in that way that helps you to basically grow younger.
Peter: Yeah, it absolutely does. I came across a study. It’s been a number of years ago now. It’s by a Dr. Tarnopolsky and his associates. They did a study on resistance exercise and how it reversed aging in human skeletal muscle. It was published in the Public Library of Science. The study was done on groups of men 70 years of age, which was the average age, there were older than that and younger than that but in that category, and a group of young men with an average age of 26. They did muscle biopsy on both groups before they began. They put them both on a program of weightlifting for six months. Then they came back and they studied them again. They did more muscle biopsies. They found that the older group was able to reverse genetic aging in a mere six months by just adding resistance exercise, that their cells literally became young again, which was one of the most incredible findings of recent times. I thought that was just absolutely mind-blowing.
Another study that was done back in 2005, Bob Brown with Ironman Magazine, it came out—I’ll have to think which issue this was but it was some time in the summer of 2005 that Bob Brown presented this. They did a study where they found that 55% of average men, in other words men who didn’t work out, didn’t lift weights, died before reaching 65, 55%. Then they considered strong men and they found only a quarter of them fell into that category. There was only 10% of untrained men who lived past 75 years and yet 50 percent of weight-trained men lived past that. What does that tell you? It supports the Tarnopolsky study that you can actually reverse aging by getting on a good workout program with resistance exercise. They didn’t find the same thing necessarily with endurance exercises as they did with resistance exercises, which was very, very interesting. There you have it.
Logan: Yeah. As I was studying hormones, just kind of the idea came to me was like these are chemical messengers and they kind of work both ways and it really applies to health. If you act like a younger person then in many ways your body just kind of falls along with that idea. Younger people tend to be more active doing something like resistance training. To me, that makes a lot of sense that it can really help as well, sort of the stress it places on the body kind of forces it to make up for that and thus be healthier and stronger.
Peter: Yeah and hey, staying alive is a good thing.
Logan: All right, Peter. Well, we can definitely go on and I’d love do another call some time and we can dive deeper into one of the like thousand subjects we talked about today briefly but I definitely got a lot value out of this and I’m sure those listening did as well. You mentioned your website before as well as that free eBook. Say that once again just for everyone and just for the show notes as well.
Logan: Excellent and I wholeheartedly I recommend many of Peter’s different books. I haven’t read them all but the ones I have read, all great information, like we began this call with and talked about and the wide range of subjects. So I’m sure there’s something for everyone listening. Thank you very much, Peter.
Peter: It’s my pleasure, totally my pleasure.
Logan: Thanks, everyone, for listening. We’ll be back next week.