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
Last week, I told you how to strengthen your tendons and improve their resilience to strain and injury. You had a lot of questions in the comment section. For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering some of them. First, can Dan John’s “Easy Strength” program work for bodyweight training? Probably, and I give my suggestions on doing so. Next, what’s the deal with meniscus tears—mild ones? Can you heal them yourself? Are there any exercises that help the process? And finally, can the tendon exercises I discussed in the original post help folks with carpal tunnel syndrome?
There were some other questions about nutrition for tendon health, which I’ll cover in a future post. Don’t think I’m ignoring them.
Building muscle is simple. Lift heavy things, rest, make sure you eat enough food, sleep, repeat. For a beginner, progress is linear and relatively sudden. You get quick feedback: your muscles get more defined, you look a little leaner, you can lift a little more each session, friends and co-workers notice and comment on the changes. New striations pop up, clothes fit differently, you feel more capable dealing with the physical world. You’re hungrier and heavier, yet still manage to drop belt sizes. All is well.
Muscle isn’t the only thing you’re impacting when you lift heavy things, though. You’re also imposing stress on your tendons and demanding an adaptive response. You’re training your tendons, too.
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: