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
For the modern Grok, sprinting is generally an elective endeavor. His animals come pre-slaughtered, his honey comes bee-free, and the once-constant threats of predator or rival clan usually fail to materialize nowadays. He doesn’t “have” to run. If he runs fast, it’s probably because he chooses to do so – for sport, for fitness, or perhaps to catch a bus. But especially in matters of developing one’s physical potential (and, I suppose, when pursuing public transportation), speed still matters. Your sprints should be actual sprints, if you want to get the most out of them; you should be running at or around your maximum speed. But can we really squeeze out every single ounce of power without the threat of instant death or starvation licking at our heels? Is the modern sprint truly a sprint without the mortal urgency? Heck, even Usain Bolt seemed to let up on the intensity in his record-breaking 100m run, and he had a few billion eyes on him, not to mention the weight of a nation’s expectations bearing down on him. Can a mere mortal expect to give it his or her all?
If you’re interested in a low-cost, no-hassle piece of homemade training equipment, look no further than a heavy rope. Not a jump rope (although that’s a worthy ally, too); just a thick, unwieldy rope, a confederation of fibers woven together to form a cordon to be used for strange and unconventional workouts (my favorite kind). Your rope should be around fifty feet long and two inches thick. It should be a manila rope, which is a hardy, durable variety typically used in boating. Manila rope is also especially heavy – a distinct advantage when you’re trying to get the best workout possible. Hardware stores should carry manila rope in various lengths and widths. If two inches in diameter is too much, go for 1.5” instead.
How about some unconventional methods? You may be stepping outside of your comfort zone a bit, but that’s a good thing. Though I’m a big proponent of baby steps, sometimes (and especially for certain personality types) a massive change is precisely what we need to make progress. Besides, there’s not a whole lot about us that’s conventional in the first place, so I figured it wouldn’t be too drastic a leap.
This may sound harebrained, but I’m going to go with it. While out for a customary evening neighborhood walk with the wife last week, I happened across an enormous rock hidden in some bushes. It appeared to be of ornamental ilk, but since it had been abandoned to the elements, I felt no guilt in heaving it up to my shoulders and continuing on my way. I made sure to use proper form, of course – setting the back, keeping the core tight, lifting with the hips – without any issue, but getting the damn thing back to the house was a feat. In fact, I felt no compulsion to hit the weights as previously planned; my trek back to camp, rock in tow, was sufficiently grueling and my entire body was exhausted. Throughout the walk, I was constantly shifting it around from shoulder to shoulder. Its weight was such that keeping it in a single position for the duration wasn’t possible, and I think the constant movements made it all the more dynamic.
Next time you’re out on a walk, keep your eyes peeled for heavy objects. Rocks, tree stumps, truck tires, whatever’s bulky and difficult to carry home. Make like Grok and carry it back to camp for a great Primal workout and a decidedly Primal activity. Even better, you’ll always have an unconventional (and totally free) piece of exercise equipment to use.
Based on the feedback I get, people like the Primal Blueprint for its simplicity. All it takes is a reasonably strict adherence to the ten Primal laws for most people to enjoy improved body composition, increased strength and general fitness, better sleep, and reduced inflammatory markers. The dietary component in particular is easy, simply because it stresses the inclusion of good fats, ample protein, and quality carbohydrates – the very same foods that have been naturally selected to appeal to our taste buds – but some have trouble with Primal fitness.
At first glance, this shouldn’t be an issue. No more chronic cardio and no more hour-and-a-half long workouts on the machines at the gym? Great – sign me up! But for those of you coming from a highly-structured fitness background of classes and strict schedules (which is most people, especially newcomers to the Health Challenge with their wrists still smarting from the shackles of Conventional Wisdom), putting the free-flowing, spontaneous Primal fitness concepts into practice can take, well, some practice. It sounds fantastic in theory, but we’re left with that lingering question: what, then, to do (and when, and how, and how often)?
For this month’s 30-day challenge, we realize that everyone is starting from a different place. As much as we learn from our hardcore Grokkers, we welcome Primal newcomers with open arms and eager ears. We want to know their stories, their challenges, and the strategies that finally make it work for them. Some of us are the type to jump in the deep end of the pool and figure it out when we get to the bottom. Others of us dip our toes, scan the ladder placements, and study the grade of floor depth. Different strokes, we say.
Even as we accept that our own Primal journey will be different from the next person’s, it can be a little awkward or discouraging to be the one feeling out the shallow end while others are doing flips and belly flops in the deep side of the pool. We thought a post on baby-stepping, breaking down the transition into small and very manageable steps, might come in handy for many of our readers – newcomers, renewers, or even old-timers who are coaching friends and family in a Primal direction. Kick back and get brainstorming for your next baby step!
Next time you’re in the vicinity of a hardware store, stop in and ask for the sledgehammers. They are a relatively cheap, easy way to get an effective Primal workout. Building your own exercise equipment is fun and satisfying (and inexpensive) in its own way, but sometimes you just want a simple, over the counter alternative. We aren’t all DIY types, after all. It fits the general criteria for Primal workouts: natural movements that engage the entire body in a full range of motion; heavy thing on stick that can withstand vigorous pounding. Men and women have been working with large hammers for millennia, as tools of work and of war. Smashing things with heavy objects is in our blood.
The best part about the sledgehammer workout is that it doesn’t really seem like work. It takes me back to childhood when, for whatever reason, I’d often wander around the countryside interacting with the environment in various (and sometimes destructive) ways. Throw rocks and logs into ponds (nothing better than a big splash on an empty, tranquil lake), smash rocks together or against tree trunks, test out my boxing skills on whichever tree had relatively soft bark. Just the pure, uninhibited release of bottled up boyish energy.