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
The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge manifests differently for everyone. Some folks are focused on improving their diets, on removing this food or adding that food. Some have committed to optimizing their sleep by getting to bed at a certain time and eliminating nighttime electronics. And many just want to look better naked. But there’s one tie that binds nearly everyone I’ve interacted with through the course of this and previous challenges: physical activity. Whether you’re trying to eat, sleep, or look better, exercise matters. Effective exercise especially matters for everyone, and my intent when creating Primal Blueprint Fitness was to democratize fitness without compromising it—to distill effective training down to its essential elements so that everyone could practice it.
Last month, the NY Times Well Blog dropped a piece discussing the results of a recent study of how endurance runners alter their stride as they age. Investigators observed a group of 110 experienced runners aged 23 to 59 making their way around a track. Runners under 40 tended to display greater lower leg activity as they ran, whereas runners over 40 showed impaired lower leg activity. The latter relied more on their hip musculature (the absolute activity of which was still lower than that of younger runners) and showed an impaired “push off”; they had weaker strides and didn’t rise up as high off the ground. Overall, the older runners used their ankles and calves less without increasing hip musculature activity to cover the difference. They just got slower.
Print this out. Bookmark it. Send it to friends who don’t quite get the Primal thing. Consider this a valuable resource for all-things Primal. It’s a nice, alphabetical encapsulation of what it means to lead a Primal lifestyle. It’s not everything, of course. You can always dig deeper into the details, but this summary gives a high-level look at just about everything.
Without further ado, I present The A-to-Z Guide to Leading a Primal Lifestyle.
Avoid chronic cardio. I spent about half my life running (and later, with triathlons, swimming and cycling) myself into the ground. I thought the more miles I could log, the healthier I’d be. That’s the mindset many people have, and it’s absolutely wrong. Running a ten-miler is different than running a ten-miler every day. We have the capacity to go long distances and even outlast wild animals upon which we’re preying. We don’t have the capacity to do that every single day without consequences to our health. Run long distances if you love it, compete if you love competing, but know the cost it incurs.
It happens to the best of us. You start sneaking a few more bites of bread when out to dinner and trying your buddy’s delicious-looking pizza. Your workouts trickle to once a week, sometimes none. You walk less, couch more. And then one day, you realize you’ve gone off the wagon. You’ve gained belly fat. You’re getting winded going up the stairs. Your once-pleasurable hikes have become grueling affairs that you dread and end up avoiding. Your fridge is full of takeout boxes and you realize you haven’t cooked in two weeks. You need to restart your Primal lifestyle, and fast.
How do you do it?
Turns out there are more than a few ways that you probably haven’t considered. Let’s explore them:
Late last year, I introduced the idea of the minimum effective dose: the lowest dose to produce a desired outcome. Whether it’s calorie intake, exercise, sunlight, carbohydrates, or work habits, we often think we need much more than we actually do to get the results we want. Why crank out those extra reps, put in those extra few hours, choke down another chicken breast if they won’t make you any more prepared to handle what life dishes out? Failing to heed the minimum effective dose costs you money, time, and mental real estate. Figuring out the minimum effective dose for the various inputs shaping our days can make us more efficient and open up the rest of our life to do the things we actually want to do.
What, exactly, are the minimum effective doses for exercise? How little do I have to train to stay and/or get fit? And what kind of effects can we expect to get from said minimal doses?
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two questions from readers. First comes from William, an officer in the Navy who likes lifting heavy but also needs to score well on the physical fitness assessment, which involves a 1.5 mile run, pushups, and pullups. His taste for basic 5×5 strength work has left his running performance lacking. What can he do to improve the run without eating into his strength numbers? After that, I explore whether sitting on a footstool or medicine mall in the squat position is better than just sitting in normal chair.