Dietary advice and nutrition trends get the brunt of our attention here at MDA, but an equally crucial component to the Primal Blueprint is the development of functional strength and fitness through Primal exercises. Lifting heavy weights, running intense sprints, and incorporating constant, steady movement into your day mimic the activities of early man and represent the most efficient path to fitness. The free weights at the gym are great, but you don’t always have time to get there. Short of absconding into the wilderness for a boulder-lifting, tree climbing, beast hunting sabbatical, investing in a few kettlebells will give you the means to emulate some of the more savage strength building movements our ancestors employed, without having to drive to a gym.
The Prison Workout. New idea? Nah. It’s been around as long as there has been anyone locked up that is looking to stay in shape. Still compelling? Absolutely. Here is MDA’s take on why we think it is worth another look, along with our own variations on this classic routine.
Why We Can Appreciate the Prison Workout:
You have no excuses. You can’t fall back on the most often used excuse to not get in shape.
You don’t get to decide whether you should go to the basketball court, to the gym, to the tennis court, to the park, ride your bike, play ultimate Frisbee with friends etc. etc. because you don’t have a choice. Your options are limited. But this is a good thing. You don’t get bogged down with endless decision-making. You’ll be working out while Joe Schmo is still deciding what to do.
Much like was discussed in Fat Loss 101, building muscle is basically a hormonal event. Hormones such as testosterone, insulin, growth hormone and cortisol are giving the body signals on whether to build muscle, or break it down. While exercise is necessary to create a stimulus for certain hormones to be activated, it is also just a small part of the equation. This is why you will see so many people putting in hard effort at the gym day after day, and never really getting any results. So throw away all those books, stop spending $400/month on supplements, cancel your magazine subscription to Muscle Weekly (or one of the other 75+ fitness magazines out there), and master the basics. This is where you get 90%+ of your results from.
I am 6 feet 2 inches tall. I have been eating and exercising in the “evolutionary” or “primal fitness” way for about 18 months, and I was in good physical condition prior to that. I have been lifting weights for years. I am fit and active with a low percentage body fat. My stomach is flat. You can tell that I have abdominal muscles. But here is my hang up: I can’t seem to pack on any extra muscle. I weigh in at 150 pounds. I am the ultimate hardgainer, as they say in the iron game. I’m not looking to become huge. I have a lanky, Jimmy Stewart kind of frame, and no amount of training will turn me into Arnold. But what the heck does a guy have to do to gain a lousy 5-10 pounds of muscle? — Ed
Ever heard of it?
If you are a regular to MDA and you subscribe to a Primal Health lifestyle I’m guessing it is likely. If not, now you have.
Crossfit is a type of physical training that blends power lifting, gymnastics and sprinting. Why do we like it? Because it fairly closely aligns with our Primal fitness philosophy in which variety, weight-bearing activity and anaerobic exercise is key. Here is a great description of CrossFit:
CrossFit maintains that proficiency is required in each of 10 fitness domains: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy. CrossFit uses free weights, kettlebells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars and many calisthenics exercises. CrossFit may call on athletes to skip, run, row, climb ropes, jump up on boxes, flip giant tires, and carry odd objects. They can also squat and explode up to bounce medicine balls against walls.
CrossFit workouts typically call for athletes to work hard and fast, often with no rest. Many CrossFit gyms use scoring and ranking systems, transforming workouts into sport. CrossFit publishes its own journal and certifies its own trainers. Many CrossFit athletes and trainers see themselves as part of a contrarian insurgent movement that questions conventional fitness wisdom.
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