Triple H on Pre-Fight Rituals, Injury Avoidance, and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (#72)


“His way of telling you that you did something wrong was hitting you in the head with a phone book in a shopping bag.”

– Triple H (Paul Levesque) on learning from Killer Kowalski [10:05]

“Why would I be wound up? I’m either ready, or I’m not. Worrying about it right now ain’t gonna change a damn thing.” 

 Floyd Mayweather, Jr. just before a fight, as recalled by Paul Levesque [34:20]

Paul Levesque, more popularly known as Triple H (@TripleH), is a 13-time World Heavyweight Champion in World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE). Not only that, he is also the Executive Vice President of talent, live-events, and creative at the WWE.

In this episode we explore everything, including the teachings of Killer Kowalski, how he avoids and repairs injuries (even if on the road 200+ days of the year), pre-game rituals, and habits developed with the support of trainer Joe DeFranco, The Undertaker, and even boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr..

This podcast is not limited to athletic performance. We dig deep into Triple H’s inspirations, and how he manages his responsibilities as a husband and father of three daughters.

[Also, if you missed it, I’m giving away a once-in-a-lifetime zero-gravity flight! If you’ve ever wanted to float like a astronaut, this is your chance. Click here for details.]


You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#72: Triple H on Pre-Fight Rituals, Injury Avoidance, and Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Have you heard my previous blockbuster episode with Tony Robbins? — Triple H listened to this episode while preparing for our interview. In my episode with Tony, he shares his bizarre morning rituals, thoughts on punching Barack Obama, and how to master the game of money (stream below or download by right-clicking here for part 1 and right-clicking here for part 2):

Ep 37: Tony Robbins on Morning Routines, Peak Performance, and Mastering Money
Ep 38: Tony Robbins (Part 2) on Morning Routines, Peak Performance, and Mastering Money

This podcast is sponsored by LSTN Headphones. LSTN Headphones are gorgeous headphones made of real exotic, reclaimed wood. Proceeds from each purchase help a hearing-impaired person hear for the first time through the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Check out the headphones that I love and travel with here: On that page, use the code “TIM” to get $50 off orders of $99 or more!

This podcast is also brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.  Click this link and get a free $99 upgrade.  Special offer: For the month of April only, you can get an additional $30 off. Give it a test run and share your results!

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received for injury prevention or repair? Please share (or read) in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • How Paul Levesque answers the question, “What do you do?” [05:10]
  • Common misconceptions of Triple H and the WWE [6:30]
  • Important lessons learned while training with Killer Kowalski [9:40]
  • Emotional story telling: the critical factor behind each WWE event [12:45]
  • Why a regimented daily workout schedule is critical for longevity as an athlete [16:25]
  • Training as mediation [21:55]
  • Pre-game rituals with the help of Joe DeFranco, The Undertaker, and Floyd Mayweather [23:05]
  • Learn about Triple H’s models of success [35:10]
  • Insights on fatherhood [40:55]
  • Describing the first 60-90 minutes of every day [43:25]
  • Triple H’s current role in the WWE and his responsibilities as Executive Vice President [47:45]
  • Rapid fire questions:
  1. Most played band/song [52:39]
  2. If you could only do 1 or 2 exercise movements for the rest of your life what would they be? [53:00]
  3. Advice for your 20-year old self [53:40]
  • The story of meeting Tony Robbins [55:15]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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55 Replies to “Triple H on Pre-Fight Rituals, Injury Avoidance, and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (#72)”

  1. “Don’t use ibuprofen, don’t ice it, just let it rest and quit using it for a little while.”

    I still have trouble actually doing this.

  2. Another classic!

    Tim, I LOVE the blog but the podcasts are taking things to another level lately. I totally dug this interview with Triple H, and I must admit have an entirely different view of Glenn Beck after listening to his interview.

    As always, keep up the great work; the world is in desperate need of your wisdom, whether it be yours directly or through the virtue of others.

    Avid fan,

    Darren Michaels

  3. Enjoyed the interview. See if you can get George Foreman on also. Thank you. I’ve learned so much from your interviews.

    1. indeed that was a great podcast as always.HHH has been my favourite WWW wrestler.He has been married since 2003 and has three daughters together: Aurora Rose, Murphy Claire, and vaughn-evelyn-levesque.Aside from their involvement in WWE, Triple H and Stephanie are also actively involved in charitable work which i appriciate the most about him.

  4. You scored another kick-ass interview, keep them coming! Having been a big fan of WWE during Triple-H’s peak, it was great to hear about his routines and road to success.

    I knew he was training with Joe DeFranco, but didn’t realize the wild schedule they were running. There’s another man that’s reached the top of their respective game, hoping you get him on your podcast soon.

    DeFranco’s Westside for Skinny Bastards program helped me with massive strength gains, and was my muse to finally get my Four Hour business off the ground.

  5. Tim – my appreciation for your craft grows with each week. I’m constantly fascinated by the shared similarities you uncover amongst a staggeringly diverse set of compelling individuals. I’m quite glad you don’t “batch release” podcasts, as I’d have a hard time not staying at home and soaking in all the detail (a la House of Cards or OiTNB).

    Please try to ignore the unpleasant minority (I saw some of the silliness with those exploring litigation, etc.) and know that there are many thousands of folks who feel these are modern day sutras – each self-contained pearls of wisdom. I have a notebook that I’ve devoted to your podcast now to jot down concepts I need to revisit, or things worth incorporating into my routines, or questions to push me out of my comfort zone.

  6. I’m a 22 year old senior at Harvard college graduating in May moving to SF Bay area in July to work in sales at a small/established/growing tech company. I studied economics/psychology/chinese/japanese and stoic philosophy/animation/meditation/habit-improvement/self-reflection in my free time. There were additional circumstances in my life/background during college and series of events that put the normal finance/consulting jobs just out of my reach which i won’t go into here.

    Tim, I found your blog a couple of years back and realized your early story is similar to mine and I wanted to ask you something that I am unsure of: Outside of my full-time job (once I begin), what skills/readings/activities would you suggest for me to invest my time in for someone at my point in life?

  7. Hi Tim,

    You continue to draw in SO many interesting folks! I have been a Triple H fan for some 20 years. I started following wrestling in high school and the guy is still involved with it. More than anything you working in a Killer Kowalski reference is classic, including his training methods. The thing that gets me is these WWE guy’s dedication to their craft. They are great athletes and awesome actors too; what a 1-2 punch. Factor in them being on the road for so much of the year, the stress on their bodies and you have something epic.

    As for the Tony R podcast his morning routine rocks. I have been turned onto John Lee Dumas’ podcast; I keep hearing successful person after successful person talking about shocking their system with cold water. Either an ice cold shower, or diving into a cold ocean, or as Tony has done in the past, jumping into an ice cold pond/stream. I did it for a bit back in NJ when things were brutally cold and it really moves you into a higher, insanely productive, inspired vibe.

    Here in Bali I am having a tough time finding any cold water for the whole body bit as the showers don’t even get cold, it’s so man hot and humid lol….but I could work with ice, and chilled water, with a splash to the face. Not quite like the body bit but at least I get a charge out of it, and move into a higher vibe, which benefits me and everybody whose lives I touch.

    Bravo Tim!

    Tweeting from Bali.


  8. This episode was really enjoyable. HHH has never been a favourite performer of mine but his ability to support and make his fellow performers shine really speaks volumes about his character. What’s becoming a really positive re-occurring theme through the pod-casts lately is work ethic. Especially directed towards a passion. There is a really great short YouTube clip called “Triple H Punks the cast of Tough Enough” if you want to see the difference between those learning their craft and those at the top of their game. Great stuff, keep it up.

  9. Hey Tim,

    Another great episode. It seems like your questions are very thought out but it’s the kind of freestyle follow-up questions that I find to be the most enlightening. I’d love to see a blog post about your rituals for preparing for a podcast. (We all know you have them, being the ritualistic kinda guy you are.😊)

    Thanks for all of your dedication!

    Matt Taylor

  10. Triple H starts out this interview in full WWE mode, as he does in many Wrestling Podcasts.

    Over time he gets more personal than he usually does. Not my favorite wrestler, but Tim made a great choice for this podcast due to the multiple roles he has been in.

  11. Response to request for best advice on injury prevention/repair:

    For prevention, my experience was just like Triple H mentioned. Going from Arnold as ultimate training hero to learning what functional training truly looks like. Training for mobility and power rather than muscle size gets you the best of all worlds and some muscle size as a bonus. Also, you get more transferrable gains in performance without spending all day grinding down your joints. No one piece of advice got me on that track, just exposure to guys like Pavel (thanks for having him on), Kelly Baggett, Paul Chek, Jim Radcliffe (Oregon S&C coach – look up early plyometrics) who started to steer me in a better direction.

    In 3 months after college just trying out a new approach, I went from a 27 inch vertical to a 37. Went from 7 to 15 on 225 lb Bench Press test without benching in my workout for 9 months straight. Dropped my 40 time from 4.75 to 4.47. All while cutting my total lifting/running time from roughly 18 hrs/wk to under 4 hrs/wk. By the way, this was before you wrote 4 Hour Body, so I ate that book for breakfast for weeks! Still using programs in there for athletes I train.

    For injury repair, all the best answers point back to the body’s own potential for healing. Early on, I gained an understanding from my dad, who was an elite wrestler (hates WWF by the way – oops) taught me that the healing process inevitably involves some discomfort. Not bad pain necessarily, as in good pain from a lactic acid burn during a workout vs. the bad searing pain of a muscle strain. But the general discomfort that comes after the injury has gone through the initial self-protection phase and now must force blood vessels, nutrients and other good stuff back into place. In other words, your body has to setup a construction site in that area, and construction always causes discomfort. The new wave of myofascial release practitioners (John F Barnes would be a fascinating interview) talk about bringing the muscle back to the position of injury in order to fully heal. In other words, if you hyperextend a joint, you must be mentally/emotionally prepared to follow the time of protecting the joint from even getting to normal extension to the somewhat unpleasant phase of pushing the joint back into normal range. Whether using ice baths as another reader mentions, or avoiding previous activities for awhile, or finding somewhat to help you break through scar tissue, most of us stop short of pre-injury range because we have the wrong expectations of how the process should feel. If you don’t know how, FIND SOMEONE who can help you hurt in the right way to heal.

  12. Tim,

    I feel like the question, “What would you tell your 20 year old self?” is always answered shortsightedly. Several interviewees answer, “I would tell myself to relax, slow down, etc”. In all likelihood if their own advice was taken they would not be where they are in their careers/lives today. Being a 21 year old, it’s frustrating to hear all these very successful people tell their younger selves not strive as swiftly for greatness, but to relax.

  13. I almost didn’t listen to this episode. It wasn’t that I dislike Triple H or made any conscious judgement, I just intuitively felt no interest in listening. I’m so glad I changed my mind and “gave it a go” anyway. Definitely, one of my favorite episodes. No bravado, no ego, just a good ol’ down to earth dude with something to say. It would be very cool to get a follow up in the not too distant future.

    Also, I think Colin Cowherd, ESPN radio host, would make for an excellent “Four Hour” interview.

    Cheers ~ Ray

  14. Tim, I’ve just started listening to your show a few weeks ago after reading the 4 hour work week and I’ve breezed through all of them already. This is by far one of the best interviews along with Arnold and Tony.

    Always looking forward to your next show.

    A lucky new fan


  15. This was a great Podcast, looking forward to part two this one seemed short and Triple H seemed to have so much more to say. Not that this is a wrestling podcast but any chance of getting Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnson on?

    Great work as always

  16. Great interview your podcast is one that I look forward to ever week and has given me a ton of information. The best recovery for me has been ice and mobility work that you buddy Kelly preaches. Hands down I bound back so much faster because of those things.

  17. Loved the interview as always. Best recovery for me has been nutrition,ice and mobility work. Which I was introduced too by your podcast. I can recover from a marathon the next day previously I would be down for at least 3 days. Thanks

  18. Fantastic episode! Never thought I’d be so sucked in to a WWE wrestler’s story. Well done!

    I had this thought while listening and figured it was worth a shot to comment on a guest suggestion. I’d love for you to interview Hugh Jackman on his routines and his path to success. The fitness element would be extremely interesting and I loved the interview on the creative side with Jon Favreau and would love to hear more from artists and creative types like him.

    Cheers to you and thanks for all the information you continue to put out there! I’m hooked!

    PS – I put on 15 lbs in 3 1/2 weeks of doing the Geek to Freak experiment after losing 16 lbs the month before doing the Slow-Carb Diet for the first time. I’m now melding the two and doing a workout that Hugh Jackman did in prep for Wolverine. I’m loving the minimalist approach but wanted to now kick it into high gear for 4 weeks and see what new results I’ll get.

  19. Greetings from Finland! Another great podcast, Tim! I’ve really enjoyed all shows i’ve listened. Btw, have you ever thought doing a show more global, as in getting guests around the world? And also another cool guest who should be in your show is Duff McKagan

  20. Good interview! As someone else mentioned, you frequently challenge the assumptions I make about certain people. So that a podcast that superficially seems entertaining actually ends up improving how we can relate to people. On the social scale, the effect is powerful. I don’t think that’s something somebody would understand “looking in from outside”.

    About joint prep/prehab – a really exciting topic for me! I’m PhD ABD in exercise physiology with a big research interest in soft tissue (tendon/ligament) adaptation, and also personally apply a lot of joint preparation work. Here are some thoughts/advice on injury prevention/treatment:

    Ido Portal’s (short) misalignment speech regarding joint prep:

    The idea that joints become more resilient through exposure to MISALIGNMENT is borne out in some old-school research: rats who ran on an uneven treadmill had stronger ligaments than those who ran on even treadmill (this was shown by killing the rats, hanging a bucket off their ligaments, and filling it with sand until…)

    Higher intensity (>70% 1RM) work SEEMS to be more likely to cause increases in tendon stiffness (a desirable adaptation for reducing injuries and improving force transmission)

    Lower intensity work probably is more useful during rehab phases for increasing blood flow.

    Most people presenting with joint pain don’t have markers of inflammation / tendinitis. . Instead, they often have a degeneration of tendon (tendinosis) in which collagen fibrils disorganize. Best treatment? Probably slow/controlled eccentric work, at about 10 reps per set. If untreated, tendon degeneration (which doesn’t always result in pain) will increase risk of rupture.

    Pain and tissue damage frequently present in the absence of each other. As in a huge portion of people with pain have no tissue damage, and a large quantity of people with tissue damage have no pain.

    A friend of mine had full rupture of pec, recovered without surgery to amazing levels, through a very aggressive rehab approach:

    Apologies if that was too long-winded, soft tissue adaptations and injuries are fun stuff for me.

  21. I totally this interview. It goes up there with Arnold’s interview.

    I relate to them, I understand what they say. And I am impressed by what they do beyond what we just see of them.

    You gave us the opportunity to get another aspect of their life and characters and I am really impressed by their determination to reach their goals.

    I agree with Tripe H (I like his stage name more 😉 that Gym teaches everything we need to know about life.

    Keep up the good work Tim and thanks for doing this free podcast for us.

  22. Thanks Tim & Paul

    Really enjoyed the conversation.

    If you do another session I would enjoy hearing how the balance of family, relationships and work were maintained with such periods on the road.

    Keep the great content coming.

    Regards Simon

  23. I just have to say that I really enjoy not only the podcast itself but the way you interview your guests. We really get to hear about them and learn quite a bit. Thank you for doing such professional work.

  24. This highly engaging podcast is far and away my favourite tool for maintaining a pro-active internal dialogue of self improvement. I find it absolutely fascinating!

  25. Hey Tim!

    To answer your question, the best injury prevention advice I’ve received came from the example of Stu Mittleman, who ran over 1,000 miles in eleven days and nineteen hours, at an average of eighty-four miles per day, without injury – not even a blister! Pretty incredible, huh? His training regimen took into account the distinction between health and fitness, and was optimized by training mind, body and METABOLISM. Commonly, excessive anaerobic metabolic training has been linked to recurrent exercise injuries. That’s why it’s important to build an aerobic base.

    Great interview, as always! Look forward to meeting you one day!

  26. Tim , found your podcast after seeing you on barbell shrugged during 3 weeks off work and doing a little navel gazing . I ve overdosed on all your podcasts /books and you tube vids and caught up to date .Fantastic empowering info and keep up the good work . An ex wrestler I d like to here on your podcast would be the “Rock” .Cheers mate .

    Regards Nat

  27. Working as a Endurance Athelte’s coach for 15 years, i really like to use the Phillip Maffetone Technique of Aerobic Training. After some time training in that way, my injuried athletes were able to get back to their sports as healthy as always, some with PRs.

  28. Hi TIm.

    I’ve got a quick “4 hour body” style question. I’m a programmer, and like you with your writingm we work in long stretches of time. I’ve been trying to figure out what the relevant diet and fitness-regime factors are to improve one’s ability to stay focused for 5 or 6 or more hours. I supposed it would be similar to the fitness regimes that chess players go through before tournaments. Do you have any insights into this?

    All the Bets,


    p.s. I think your doing awesome work. / also, sorry for posting here. I didn’t know the “right” way to contact you.

  29. Tim, You have one of the best podcasts I have found. You clearly do homework to prep and do a great job of balancing letting the interview direct the conversation and driving the conversation in the direction you want.

  30. Slightly tangential – but RE: the free zero gravity flight – great book on Richard Branson called ‘Richard Branson Behind The Mask’ by Tom Bower

  31. great podcast, would be great to get a part 2 and ask him about his favourite gym workouts and who his favourite wrestling matches of his own are!

  32. Awesome interview. Triple H was very insightful & had some great advice. Thanks for putting all this together. Just bought the season pass to your show. 4 Ever a fan –


  33. May I recommend Jim Kwik for a future interview. He has an amazing story you can find with a quick google 🙂 CEO of Kwik learning, he went from brain trauma as kid to memorising 50 numbers from a crowd at a talk he was giving. Sounds like something you’d be interested in.

  34. Tim huge fan love the podcast but one small thing would be great if you could name the podcasts all starting with TFS then number podcast as it makes it a lot easier to find the podcast in our playlists after we download them, the way they are named now they become scattered all over according to the first one of the guest. Keep up the good work

  35. This was great–as I am getting ready for my first BJJ competition, there were a lot of good takeaways. The podcasts you do with fighters, and athletes in general, are GOLD!