The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
Nearly every day I get emails from readers about P90X and CrossFit. Most are favorable, some not so much, but mostly, people just want to know if these fitness programs fit within the context of the Primal Blueprint Fitness methodology. In this article I’ll explore what’s great about P90X and CrossFit, and then I’ll voice my nit-picky criticisms and explain how I think both can be improved upon.
It’s often said that any movement is better than no movement, that simply getting up and being active is better than sitting on the couch and stewing with guilt and self-reproach. For the most part, I agree with this assessment. It’s imperative that everyone be active, even if it’s just taking nightly walks or using the treadmill at the gym. But “just any old movement” isn’t ideal. Ideally, we should be performing movements that support, enable, and enhance quality of life. Our exercises should make us stronger, faster, and more capable of accomplishing just about any physical feat the world throws at us. They should be enjoyable (pleasure-giving), brief (without sacrificing effectiveness), sustainable (lifelong), immediately accessible (to young, old, and untrained), and infinitely scalable (from beginners to elites). A fitness program, then, should meet these benchmarks.
The thing about overtraining is that it exists on a spectrum, without clear-cut rules or boundaries. As I said last week, sufficient training volume is entirely subjective, and it’s constantly changing depending on an individual trainee’s goals, nutrition, sleep habits, stress levels, and injury status. What worked well for the last three months might prove to be excessive if your diet gets disrupted. A particularly stressful stretch at the office could undo a heretofore-steady strength progression. The human body is resilient, but there are limits – and the limits aren’t always clearly delineated. To divine them, it takes finesse and thoughtful tinkering at the edges. Sometimes you have to fall off the edge to know where it is. It’s more art than science. There are some solid, basically objective ways to deal with it, though, even if you’re not sure what constitutes overtraining for you.
A couple weeks ago in my post about health and vanity a good discussion got started in the comment board about the body composition of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Was Grok lean and ripped or not? Let’s take a look at what we know.
It’s pretty well established that hunter-gatherers eating their traditional, whole-foods hunter-gatherer diet (whether Inuit, or Masai, or Pacific Islander, or whatever else) display little to no signs of the diseases of civilization. Infection, warfare, pestilence, starvation, and colonial incursion were occasional or even frequent sources of poor health outcomes, but for the most part they were well-nourished and free of degenerative diseases, even the long lived members. These guys weren’t dying for lack of statins or chemotherapy – let’s put it this way.
When you spend some time among the ever-growing circle of evolutionary-based health writers, thinkers, bloggers, and doctors, you notice a curious thing happening. Conventional Wisdom is becoming turned on its head. Saturated fat is generally healthy and excessive endurance training is generally unhealthy become the presiding narratives. Grains are either unnecessary or have the tendency to attack the gut lining, even guts with “clinically undetectable levels of sensitivity.” You don’t need six square meals a day to keep your metabolism up and running, after all; one or two a day will do just fine.
Less is more – as far as exercise goes – is becoming another accepted truth, especially when you understand that 80% of your body composition is determined by how you eat.
I’m in the Army National Guard. I would really like to follow your workout guidelines, especially with regard to cardio (I actually hate running and I’m not very good at long distance), but with regard to the Army Physical Fitness test, which I have to pass, I have to run 2 miles in a set amount of time, less than 16 minutes essentially. I feel like the only way I can maintain this is to do sustained running sessions about 3 times a week for about 20 minutes a shot (Again, I hate running, haha). Do you think if I follow all of the workout advice in the Primal Blueprint, I can still pass this test?
Monday’s “Dear Mark” sparked a great discussion about raising healthy kids, but the conversation really got going (in the comment board and forum) when readers lamented the hard-headedness of their parents.
Yes, we too often paint younger folks as the impulsive, devil-may-care madcaps or hapless Pied Piper targets. Truth is, there are plenty of those qualities in every age demographic. Kids aren’t the only ones who can dig in their heels after all. So, to take on the flipside of Monday’s question, what’s a Primal child (of any age) to do when Mom and Dad are the ones whose health needs a major overhaul?