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The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast

423. Greatness, Marriage, Parenthood, & Climbing New Mountains | Chris Bumstead

Thu Feb 15 2024
fitnessbodybuildingpersonal growthrelationshipspublic speakingparenthood


Chris Bumstead, five-time consecutive Mr. Olympia champion, discusses the utility of aiming high and pursuing goals. The conversation delves into marriage, parenthood, public speaking, and personal growth. Balancing caloric intake and exercise in bodybuilding is also explored. The importance of relationships, overcoming fears, and embracing change are recurring themes throughout the episode.


Aiming High and Pursuing Goals

Chris Bumstead shares his journey as a five-time consecutive Mr. Olympia champion and emphasizes the importance of setting ambitious goals.

Balancing Caloric Intake and Exercise

In bodybuilding, achieving desired body composition requires balancing caloric intake with exercise. Protein intake and adjusting carbohydrate and fat intake based on caloric needs are key factors.

Overcoming Obstacles in Fitness

Developing discipline, overcoming self-consciousness, and finding support in the fitness community are crucial for personal growth in fitness.

Facing Fears and Building Bravery

Confronting fears voluntarily is the universal pathway to overcoming anxiety and developing bravery at a physical and psychological level.

Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking

Overcoming the fear of public speaking involves embracing nervousness as an opportunity for growth, being authentic on stage, and reframing anxiety as excitement.

Balancing Success and Relationships

Success in bodybuilding can come at the cost of relationships. Prioritizing relationships and personal growth leads to a more balanced and fulfilling life.

Embracing Change and Parenthood

Transitioning from one phase of life to another, such as becoming a father, provides new challenges and opportunities for personal growth.

Building Strong Relationships

Open communication, vulnerability, and supporting each other's growth are essential for building strong relationships.

Maintaining Connection in Parenthood

Prioritizing the relationship after having a baby is crucial for maintaining connection amidst the challenges of parenting.

Embracing Change and Gratitude

Leaving behind successful pursuits can lead to even greater opportunities. Expressing gratitude for loved ones and embracing change are keys to fulfillment.


  1. Aiming High and Pursuing Goals
  2. Balancing Caloric Intake and Exercise in Bodybuilding
  3. Developing Discipline and Overcoming Obstacles in Fitness
  4. Overcoming Fears and Developing Bravery
  5. Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking
  6. Strategies for Overcoming Nervousness in Public Speaking
  7. Fear of Judgment in Bodybuilding and Public Speaking
  8. Questioning Goals and Embracing Emotions
  9. Deepening Relationships and Pursuing Personal Growth
  10. Finding Fulfillment Beyond Bodybuilding
  11. The Importance of Relationships and Personal Growth
  12. Balancing Success and Relationships
  13. Building Strong Relationships and Embracing Vulnerability
  14. Celebrating Victories and Looking Ahead
  15. Parenting Challenges and Prioritizing Relationships
  16. Maintaining Connection in Parenthood
  17. Embracing Change and Gratitude

Aiming High and Pursuing Goals

00:04 - 07:01

  • Chris Bumstead, five-time consecutive Mr. Olympia champion, discusses the utility of aiming high and pursuing goals.
  • He talks about the challenge of balancing single-minded obsession with developing other aspects of life.
  • The conversation delves into marriage and how Chris has integrated his relationship into his professional pursuits.
  • Parenthood is also discussed, including the role his father played in his life.
  • Chris finds pleasure in being a role model and sharing his disciplined journey with followers.
  • He practices identifying impediments to progress and overcoming fears, insecurities, and insufficiencies voluntarily.
  • The discussion touches on public speaking and social engagement within the confines of a relationship.
  • Plans for the future beyond Chris's athletic career are mentioned.

Balancing Caloric Intake and Exercise in Bodybuilding

06:39 - 12:54

  • The key to achieving desired body composition is inputting less calories than you're outputting.
  • In bodybuilding, the focus is not just on performance but also on appearance.
  • Balancing caloric intake and exercise is crucial in bodybuilding.
  • The speaker eats about 300 grams of protein per day and adjusts their carbohydrate and fat intake based on their caloric needs.
  • Bodybuilding competitions have different structures and popularity levels, with local competitions being common for amateurs.
  • The speaker started weightlifting at the age of 14 because they were athletic but not skilled in traditional sports.
  • They found success and enjoyment in strength training, which led them to pursue bodybuilding with the guidance of a coach.
  • Weightlifting can improve posture, coordination, confidence, and physical appearance.

Developing Discipline and Overcoming Obstacles in Fitness

12:34 - 18:32

  • The speaker started working out at a young age and gained confidence from being good at it.
  • They had a natural physique for fitness and were already athletic.
  • The speaker developed discipline over time by sticking with their workouts and becoming more passionate about it.
  • They initially felt self-conscious in the gym, but realized that no one was judging them and that the fitness community is encouraging and inclusive.
  • Overcoming obstacles like lack of knowledge, self-consciousness, and lack of discipline were part of their journey.
  • The speaker's parents instilled a mindset of independence and responsibility in them.
  • They started with basic exercises at home before joining a gym at a young age.
  • The speaker was dedicated to their workouts, even running to the gym in snowy conditions when they didn't have transportation.
  • Being in the gym provided a sense of solitude and enjoyment for the speaker.
  • They learned that everyone in the gym was once a beginner and that people are generally supportive rather than judgmental.

Overcoming Fears and Developing Bravery

18:10 - 25:08

  • People who are working on themselves and seeking personal growth believe that they still have work to do.
  • Successful individuals are willing to jump into new things and be the fool, admitting that they don't know everything.
  • Incremental progress is more important than starting at the bottom, as long as you're honest with yourself and refuse to stay stagnant.
  • Feeling worried or anxious about something may indicate a need for personal growth.
  • Facing fears voluntarily in graduated doses is the universal pathway to overcoming anxiety.
  • Confronting fears not only develops specific skill sets but also builds bravery and resilience at a physical and psychological level.

Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking

24:51 - 31:22

  • Becoming braver doesn't mean becoming less afraid, but rather facing challenges and becoming more courageous.
  • Epigenetics suggests that behavioral changes can lead to profound genetic changes that may be passed on to future generations.
  • The fear of public speaking can stem from past embarrassing experiences and speech impediments.
  • Overcoming the fear of public speaking involves differentiating between one's expected persona and one's true self.
  • Nervousness before public speaking can be seen as an opportunity for growth and self-improvement.
  • Stepping on stage with the goal of being oneself rather than seeking approval leads to greater self-confidence and fulfillment.
  • Crafted false fronts in public speaking may prevent humiliation, but they don't lead to genuine connection or success as a speaker.
  • It takes time and practice to overcome nervousness when speaking publicly, but gratitude and excitement for the opportunity help alleviate fear.
  • Recognizing that most people in the audience want you to succeed helps combat the fear of being judged.

Strategies for Overcoming Nervousness in Public Speaking

30:58 - 38:06

  • Recognize that you're among people who wish you well and don't care about the opinions of mean-spirited individuals.
  • Craft your words based on what you believe to be true, rather than trying to please everyone.
  • Focus on making others comfortable and attending to them, which can help alleviate self-consciousness.
  • Change your frame of mind from fear to excitement when facing new opportunities or high-stakes situations.
  • Reframe heightened arousal as excitement rather than anxiety.
  • Avoid falling into feedback loops of fear and panic by interpreting emotional states in a realistic but positive light.
  • Understand that arousal tends to increase before an event but will decrease once it begins if you withstand the anxiety.
  • In bodybuilding competitions, judgment is based on physique and performance rather than speaking ability.

Fear of Judgment in Bodybuilding and Public Speaking

37:41 - 44:36

  • The speaker discusses the difference between being judged on their physique and performance in bodybuilding competitions versus being evaluated as a speaker.
  • They mention experiencing nerves and anxiety in both bodybuilding and public speaking, but they have had more experience in bodybuilding, which has helped them become more confident on stage.
  • The fear of judgment on stage has transferred from bodybuilding to pressure and expectation, especially now that people expect them to be the best in the world.
  • The speaker emphasizes that conquering fear doesn't mean absence of fear, but rather getting better at dealing with it. They share examples of how people often falsify themselves due to lack of security or fear of consequences.
  • Even successful individuals continue to face challenges and threats as they push themselves forward, but they can find happiness in confronting those challenges.

Questioning Goals and Embracing Emotions

44:13 - 50:50

  • The speaker has been questioning the risk versus reward in their life, especially as they are getting older and starting a family.
  • They have found value and growth in pushing their limits physically and mentally through bodybuilding.
  • The speaker used to suppress and compartmentalize their emotions, but realized that by numbing the bad, they also numb the good in life.
  • They have transitioned from feeling relief after winning to wanting to feel joy and embrace all emotions before and after success.
  • Challenges during preparation have taught them the importance of embracing fear, stress, sadness, and seeking support from loved ones.
  • The speaker wonders if stepping away from bodybuilding will leave them without a challenging enough goal to continue growing, but believes fatherhood will provide a new challenge.
  • The interviewer suggests that there are different types of challenges to pursue rather than just reaching higher mountains. Diverse climbs can contribute to personal growth.
  • Becoming a father is seen as an opportunity for growth and being a mentor with no limit on how good one can become at it. Marriage is also mentioned as an area for deepening relationships.

Deepening Relationships and Pursuing Personal Growth

50:26 - 57:31

  • The speaker discusses how his relationship with his wife grew apart during a two to three year period, but they found new depths in their relationship afterwards.
  • The speaker emphasizes that there is no end to the depth and growth that can be achieved in a marriage, especially once children are involved.
  • The speaker acknowledges the listener's ability as a public communicator and suggests that they can continue doing good by developing their ability to express themselves.
  • The speaker mentions a program called Future authoring at, which helps individuals envision their future selves and set goals for personal growth.
  • The program encourages individuals to imagine themselves five years in the future and consider what kind of person they want to be, what challenges they may face, and how they want their life to be.
  • It advises individuals to address their flaws and fears while also pursuing interests and excitement in order to develop a vision for their future.
  • The program prompts individuals to think about the kind of people they want to be surrounded by, how they can repair or grow relationships with family members, educational opportunities, self-care, occupation choices, life outside of work, and being of service to others.
  • The speaker highlights the importance of enjoying the process of pursuing goals rather than solely focusing on achieving specific outcomes.
  • Mastery is indicated when one can approach their discipline playfully. Children love play and it is important for fathers to engage in play with them for a productive and enjoyable relationship.
  • Despite being at a pinnacle in his career at a young age, the speaker asks the listener about what beckons them in terms of fatherhood and their overall life progression.

Finding Fulfillment Beyond Bodybuilding

57:07 - 1:02:58

  • The speaker acknowledges that bodybuilding is not a lifelong pursuit for them and plans to retire at a young age.
  • They realize that being the best in bodybuilding takes away from other aspects of their life, such as being a father and husband.
  • The speaker wants to be the best father and husband they can be, inspired by their own father's impact on their life.
  • Stories from people who have followed the speaker's journey motivate them to keep going and be vulnerable about their own struggles.
  • The speaker shares an emotional experience where a young boy with Tourette's thanked them for being an inspiration and helping him through his own challenges.
  • This experience reaffirms the speaker's belief that they are on the right path and fills them with energy to continue their work.
  • While bodybuilding will not last forever, the speaker wants to focus on their relationship with their wife, being a father, and helping others in the bodybuilding community and beyond.

The Importance of Relationships and Personal Growth

1:02:42 - 1:09:47

  • The relationship with one's spouse and child is extremely important.
  • Jocko Willick, a disciplined man, found meaning and excitement in modeling appropriate conduct for others.
  • Being successful at something requires hyper focus and insane dedication.
  • There are cascading benefits to becoming really good at one thing, such as getting more attention from others.
  • However, there is an opportunity cost to being hyper focused, making it difficult to be fully committed to other things.
  • Stepping back from obsessive concern can lead to a more balanced and comprehensive personality development.
  • There is no limit to personal growth in areas such as public speaking or fatherhood.
  • Admitting weaknesses while celebrating successes can make one more relatable and inspire others facing similar challenges.

Balancing Success and Relationships

1:09:26 - 1:16:20

  • The speaker reflects on how people started calling him a "dad" in the fitness industry, which is ironic because he wanted to be a father.
  • He mentions his admiration for high-level athletes like Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Tom Brady, but realizes that their success often comes at the cost of their relationships.
  • The speaker has a champion mentality and believes that progress and personal growth are more important than external achievements.
  • He prioritizes his relationship and is not willing to sacrifice it for bodybuilding.
  • He believes that younger kids should focus on meaningful relationships while pursuing long-term success.
  • The interviewer discusses how a strong relationship can actually support bodybuilding goals by providing support and avoiding distractions.
  • The speaker has been with his wife for five and a half years and married for less than a year.
  • They have built a strong relationship by addressing issues head-on, communicating honestly, and not allowing any unresolved problems to accumulate.
  • Their commitment to truth and accountability has made them stronger as individuals and as a couple.
  • They are excited about starting a family because they know they can face any challenges together.
  • The emergence of pure excitement in their relationship is akin to the spirit of playfulness seen in children playing successfully together.

Building Strong Relationships and Embracing Vulnerability

1:16:01 - 1:22:39

  • The speaker reflects on their relationship and how they initially had different experiences growing up.
  • They emphasize the importance of open communication in their relationship, even though it wasn't always easy.
  • Over time, they both showed each other their worst sides and built trust.
  • The speaker's partner has been supportive and understanding during difficult times, instilling confidence in the speaker.
  • They discuss the significance of sharing deep emotions and vulnerabilities with their partner without fear of judgment.
  • The couple has helped each other grow and overcome challenges, leading to a strong bond.
  • They express gratitude for being able to share meaningful experiences with someone who loves and accepts them fully.
  • The host appreciates the speaker's story and highlights the importance of confronting problems together in a relationship.
  • The host also emphasizes how having someone to share successes with deepens the experience and makes it more profound.

Celebrating Victories and Looking Ahead

1:22:11 - 1:29:06

  • The speaker reflects on the emotional moments of victory and how sharing them with a loved one makes them even more special.
  • The true celebration is the one shared with a spouse who knows the journey and obstacles faced.
  • The speaker's wife is currently pregnant, and they are expecting a baby girl in April.
  • The last few months of pregnancy can be challenging for both the mother and father.
  • The speaker shares his experience of initially feeling unsure about having a baby but eventually embracing it.
  • Tips for entering fatherhood include recognizing that play with infants can start early, taking care of the wife while she takes care of the baby, and understanding that the mother's primary responsibility is to take care of the baby.
  • It is important for fathers to support their wives during this time and ensure they don't get overwhelmed.
  • Building a strong bond between mother and baby in the first six months is crucial for long-term security.

Parenting Challenges and Prioritizing Relationships

1:35:16 - 1:41:46

  • Having a small age gap between children can lead to sibling rivalry and jealousy.
  • Teaching the older child to take care of the new baby can help them feel included and benefit from the new situation.
  • It's important for both parents to establish a disciplinary structure for their kids and not let them do anything that makes them dislike them.
  • Spending time with little kids can be incredibly enjoyable, as they want to be liked by their parents more than anything else.
  • Communicating with your partner about intense phases or periods of preoccupation can help manage expectations and prevent resentment.
  • Resentments can develop when one partner is preoccupied with a new baby, leaving the other feeling left out.
  • Regular dates with your partner are essential to maintain a strong relationship amidst the busyness of parenting.
  • Couples should make a conscious commitment to prioritize each other during the months and weeks ahead of having kids.
  • Planning how to prioritize your relationship while taking care of a baby can save you from misery.

Maintaining Connection in Parenthood

1:41:34 - 1:43:57

  • Prioritizing the relationship after having a baby can prevent misery.
  • Preemptive planning is important for maintaining connection in a relationship.
  • Being conscious of the time spent together and apart is crucial for optimal balance in a marriage.
  • Planned togetherness can help discover when both partners are happiest to see each other.
  • Balancing career and family with a new child is a challenge that needs to be worked on.
  • Looking ahead and transitioning from one phase of life to another can lead to new forms of growth and fulfillment.
  • Knowing when to leave something behind, even if it's successful, can open doors for even greater opportunities.
  • Transitioning from one phase of life to another may feel challenging but can lead to something better.

Embracing Change and Gratitude

1:43:17 - 1:49:12

  • The speaker reflects on the idea that everything comes to an end and leaving something great behind can lead to something even greater.
  • The speaker expresses gratitude for having their family in front of them, as they consider them to be something much greater.
  • The conversation will continue on the Daily Wire Plus side of the platform, where they will discuss the speaker's admiration for his father and his role as a dad in his pursuit.
  • There is an invitation for listeners to join the conversation on the Daily Wire Plus and support it, highlighting its advocacy for free speech and inquiry.
  • The host thanks the guest for engaging in the conversation and discussing the obstacles he faces while working to overcome them.
  • Both participants express appreciation for each other's contributions and acknowledge that their conversations have been helpful in processing and learning.