Meet Mark

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...

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Category: Fitness

What Does it Mean to Be Fit?

(This is the first part of a four part series on fitness. Part 2: Could You Save Your Own Life?, Part 3: Modern Fitness Standards)

fit-ness

\?fit-ness\

n.

  1. The capacity of an organism to survive and transmit its genotype to reproductive offspring as compared to competing organisms
  2. The ability to conduct oneself in physically demanding situations; to function effectively in emergencies; to display superior body composition and aptitude in matters of strength, cardiovascular capacity, power expression, reaction time, speed, agility, flexibility; to evince generally superior health and resistance to injury and disease

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Bodyweight Exercises and Injury Prevention

Despite our recent spate of posts extolling the many and varied benefits of heavy resistance training, I’ve actually been moving away from the weight room for a couple reasons. Foremost is my desire to stay active and as injury-free as possible. While I still wholeheartedly endorse and believe in lifting hard and lifting heavy, at my age I’m starting to realize that the potential for injury – at least for me, personally – is too great to risk spending three days lifting heavy things on a weekly basis. At this point in my life, my motivation is simply different. I’m not really interested in pushing myself to the limit, let alone past the limit (realistically, those days are behind me); I’m instead focusing on maintaining my current performance. It’s almost a Buddhist thing where I’m content with my strength and my body (and have been for a long time now), rather than dissatisfied and constantly striving for more. I also Grok (or “own”) the notion that my diet dictates 80% of my body composition, so I really don’t have to work so hard to maintain muscle mass, strength, power, body fat etc. I’ve touched on this in the past, but a recent email from reader Griffin made me realize a substantial post was in order.

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The Danger of Muscle Imbalances and the Importance of Symmetry

Symmetry is a beautiful thing. It seems to be nature’s preferred state, at least in the structure of organisms: two eyes for stereoscopic vision (the better to hunt you with), two legs of equal length for injury-free traversal of the environment, two hands, two arms. For all intents and purposes, the two sides of the body are approximate mirror images of each other, with corresponding muscles and ligaments and tendons. Our anatomical symmetry is obviously a product of evolution, because a balanced body simply works better. Kids born with right legs an inch or two shorter than the left are more prone to injury, just as cars with bigger wheels on the left will be more prone to disrepair. Objective human beauty is determined by symmetry of the facial structure, as if we’re innately drawn to balance. A balanced body structure, too, is objectively attractive, because it connotes strength and competence in matters of survival (war, hunting, protection). It becomes clear that if symmetry weren’t important for survival in this environment, it wouldn’t have been selected for, we wouldn’t be drawn to it, and plants and animals would have assumed entirely different forms. Maybe we’d be amorphous blobs just kind of oozing around (as opposed to the amorphous blobs with legs and arms that presently populate our planet).

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How to Maintain Muscle While Losing Weight

“Losing weight” is insufficient terminology. It’s too vague, too unspecific. When a person sets out to lose weight, just what are they trying to lose? Bone density? Muscle mass? Organ weight? Of course not – they’re generally looking to lose adipose tissue. People want to burn body fat, and they want to do it without negatively impacting the more beneficial sources of (corporeal) gravitas. Simply put, you want to lose fat, not muscle. The only problem is that the popular methods for shedding weight often result in excessive (but really, any amount is excessive) muscle loss, too. I’m talking, of course, about precisely the practices I rail against in the Primal Blueprint Chronic Cardio, ultra low-cal/low-fat ascetic dieting, and other trappings of Conventional Fitness Wisdom. Granted, adhering to any, individually or in concert, will probably help you lose weight, but a ton of it will come from your lean mass (not to mention bones and organs). That said, if you’re going for skinny-fat chic or the waiflike, undernourished look, feel free to run fifteen miles a day and live off canned tuna and rice cakes. The scale will drop, and you won’t be weighed down by that pesky musculature any longer.

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Contest Video: Bodyweight Basics

As part of our ongoing Primal Blueprint Fitness Video Contest reader Peter Nathan submitted his interpretation of Primal Blueprint bodyweight exercises (the current theme). He is in the running for a cash and prize package worth $400 and has a one in four shot of winning. If you’d like to be featured on Mark’s Daily Apple for a chance to win Primal gear read the Primal Blueprint contest details and submit your video (fitness or recipe), real life Primal story or Primal recipe soon!

Check back tomorrow for a Worker Bee culinary creation of a reader’s Primal recipe submitted as part of the Primal Blueprint Cookbook Contest (current theme: A Primal Breakfast).

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How to Improve Your Posture

Just because Conventional Wisdom seems to get almost everything wrong when it comes to effective fitness, proper human nutrition, and preventing degenerative diseases, it doesn’t necessarily follow that all official recommendations and prescriptions are faulty. Cigarettes are bad for your health, for example, and drinking and driving actually do not mix. Those are two obvious examples of CW getting it right, and there are definitely a few others, but today, I’m mostly interested in the popular concept of good posture. What is posture? Is “good posture,” as defined by chiropractors, teachers, office ergonomic consultants, drill sergeants, and Grandma (“straighten up, sonny!”), actually good for us? Or have the experts gotten it wrong, once again? Looking around me, if people are listening to the professional advice, it’s bad advice. Slumping, slouching – I see it everywhere, every day, and not just when people are sitting. Can we apply the Primal Blueprint approach to posture and toss it all out?

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