The King of Comedy - Jerry Seinfeld on Weightlifting, Cardio and Meditation

The King of Comedy - Jerry Seinfeld on Weightlifting, Cardio and Meditation

Resistance training and cardio exercise, combined with meditation, builds the body, rekindles creativity, acts as an age retardant and is the greatest system of stress relief known to man.

I am a comedy fan and a car fan and a Jerry Seinfeld fan so when I discovered a little series called Comedians in Cars getting Coffee, I became a binge watcher. The episode with Jamie Fox is my favorite. Jerry Seinfeld is a profoundly serious car collector and has assembled one of the best collections of Porsche automobiles in the world. In 1996 he purchased and renovated a three-floor building is downtown Manhattan to house his extensive collection of Porsches. He has fulltime staff to keep the vehicles in tiptop shape.

In 2016, he decided the building was too crowded and wanted to sell some vehicles to make room for some new additions. He sold eighteen of his fleet for a cool $22 million dollars, including a 1955 550 Spyder that hammered for 5.3 million. His elated after-auction response, “Thank you, insane car people.” It is estimated that Jerry Seinfeld has created an assemblage of collectible cars worth close to $100 million dollars, all housed in one building.

I recently learned that the master comedian is 67 years old. He looks fifteen years younger and has a vibrancy and alertness rarely seen in 67-year-old men. I discovered that the reason for his youthful appearance and his excellent mental and physical health is that he has been a hardcore weight trainer, a high-intensity cardio practitioner and a serious meditator for decades. He feels combining these two seemingly unrelated disciplines, intense exercise, and twice-daily meditational sessions, are the key to fighting frailty, to recharging continually drained creative energies, to retarding the aging process and, lastly, neutralizing stress.

Jerry Seinfeld suffers from mental fatigue that accompanies highly concentrated creative work. It is draining to be creative. "As a standup comic, I can tell you, my entire life is an exercise in concentration fatigue," he said. "Whether it is writing or performing, my brain and my body, which is the same thing, are constantly hitting the wall. And if you have exercise and meditation in your hip pocket, you're Columbus with a compass."

He told interviewer Tim Ferris that he has practiced a magical combination of intense exercise (hardcore weight training, intense cardio) combined with twice daily meditational sessions and has done so for decades. These seemingly unrelated disciplines, sweaty training and ethereal meditation, combine to revitalize and reinvigorate Seinfeld, both physically and psychologically.

Jerry is thought of as a standup comic and on-camera personality, however, he spends most of his workday in concentrated writing sessions. This is when he hatches new ideas and polishes and refines a multitude of ongoing projects. He needs creativity to think up new stand-up routines and create new ideas for TV shows and movie scripts. He needs creativity to conjure imaginative projects and possibilities.

Maintaining high levels of creativity requires intense concentration for extended periods. Hemmingway once noted that “A man starts off each day with a finite amount of creative ‘juice.” Seinfeld discovered one unintended, unexpected benefit of intense physical exercise: in addition to strengthening and conditioning his body, intense exercise short-circuits the internal voice, the mental chatterbox that never shuts up. Intense exercise causes the internal commentator, the voice in our head, to shut down. For people that think and use their Mind all day long, quieting the internal and unceasing voice, is highly beneficial.

If the exercise exertions are of a certain magnitude, the internal voice grows silent without any prompting. Simultaneously, a hormonal floodtide is released, kick-started by adrenaline, quickly followed by bliss-inducing endorphins, then growth hormone, serotonin, dopamine, etc., Extreme physical effort causes the body to fuel-inject hormones into the bloodstream creating an exercise-induced euphoria that post-workout, envelopes the trainee.

When the internal voice falls silent, the brain can rest and repair itself. Mental quietude allows the overworked and overused brain time to cool down overheated circuitry. Exercise done right, rests and revitalizes the brain, “It’s like taking your brain to a carwash.” This discovery is a godsend for creative people and stressed-out people.

The 1955 550 Porsche Jerry Seinfeld sold for 5.3 million The 1955 550 Porsche Jerry Seinfeld sold for 5.3 million


Jerry Seinfeld has been lifting weights for decades. He smartly lifts thrice weekly and three times a week, on non-lifting days, Jerry does high intensity interval cardio. This is a magical combination. Seinfeld strains and struggles when he lifts; he pants and sweats when he does HIT cardio. He also engages in two formal meditation sessions per day “And I will engage in another meditational session any time I feel like my energy is dipping.”

If during a daily writing session, he runs out of inspiration, he will take a break and meditate. “If I sit down to write and the pen doesn’t move for like 20 minutes, I know I’m out of {inspirational} gas.” He will sit in meditational posture and concentrate on breath or a repetitive mantra. Jerry Seinfeld is smart enough and has been doing it (training/meditating) long enough to see the subtle connection and understands why exercise and meditation go together so well.

"Weight training and meditation: I think they could solve just about anyone's life, and I don't care what you do.” In other words, no matter who you are, no matter what your do, Mind and Body training make a natural pairing. Seinfeld’s pronouncements are music to my ears. I have been on a one-man march pointing out the same thing for longer than I care to remember.

Jerry’s weight training and cardio approach, Jerry’s meditational approach, will differ radically from my weight training/cardio and meditational practices, we agree on the big check squares: anyone that does intense weight training combined with intense cardio and intense meditation, on a consistent basis is going to be the better for it, mentally and physically. Intense exercise is the most effective stress-reliever known to man.

Most regular folks do not derive either the physical or psychological benefits from exercise because their exertions are insufficiently intense. Unless there is herculean struggle, unless there is maximal effort, there is no physiological hypertrophy and no psychological stress relief. Ditto with meditation. The landscape is littered with hip mindfulness strategies, most are the equivalent of Lite beer and all come with a price tag. Effective meditation is deep and serious and causes the Monkey Mind to fall quiet of its own volition.

The enforced silence of willpower is no silence at all. The true mental silence of deep meditation is vibrant and electrified. The meditator is alert, immersed in a state of frictionless clarity. Thoughts may occur but they do not “cling.” One Zen Master pointed out, “Just because a thought drops by doesn’t mean you have to invite it in for a cup of coffee.”

"I think your body needs that stress, that stressor," Seinfeld added, referring to the herculean stresses he demands of himself in training, be it lifting or cardio. "And I think hard exercise builds resilience into the nervous system. I think meditation is the absolutely ultimate work tool." By combining weight training with cardio exercise, by adding some serious meditation, the trainee builds and strengthens both body and Mind. The only check square missing is nutrition. We will save that thorny discussion for another time. In the meantime, get to training and get to meditating create some hormone-induced bliss and stop thinking so much!

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About the Author
As an athlete Marty Gallagher is a national and world champion in Olympic lifting and powerlifting. He was a world champion team coach in 1991 and coached Black's Gym to five national team titles. He's also coached some of the strongest men on the planet including Kirk Karwoski when he completed his world record 1,003 lb. squat. Today he teaches the US Secret Service and Tier 1 Spec Ops on how to maximize their strength in minimal time. As a writer since 1978 he’s written for Powerlifting USA, Milo, Flex Magazine, Muscle & Fitness, Prime Fitness, Washington Post, Dragon Door and now IRON COMPANY. He’s also the author of multiple books including Purposeful Primitive, Strong Medicine, Ed Coan’s book “Coan, The Man, the Myth, the Method" and numerous others. Read the Marty Gallagher biography here.