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
As great as back squats are for strength, general fitness, and body composition, sometimes they just don’t work for a person. Maybe they cause knee, shoulder, or wrist pain. Maybe someone’s body proportions aren’t conducive to proper back squatting. Maybe their legs are too long to achieve good depth without compromising position. While there are dozens of articles imploring you to mobilize this or that joint and work out the kinks in this or that muscle so that the back squat will work, and those can be very informative and helpful, some people just don’t want to back squat. For whatever reason, it doesn’t work for them.
So – are these people doomed to perpetual chicken legs? Should they turn in their gym card forever and resign themselves to a life of sedentary existence?
Just as we should eat the foods our bodies were designed to eat, we should move our bodies the way they were meant to move and impose the stressors they were meant to bear. That means squatting, and squatting often. Our hips flex, knees bend, and ankles dorsiflex so that we can rest comfortably in a squat position.
Okay, but isn’t the squat a bit outdated? Why not just use a chair?
You’ve probably heard how modern processed foods use refined sugar, salt, and seed oils to hijack our natural desires for fruits, animal fat, and animal meat. They exploit our wiring and provide hyper-stimulation to our senses, prompting massive overconsumption; some refer to this as “Food Reward.” In a similar vein, chairs hijack our anthropometry, which was designed for squatting. Just look at yourself in a chair:
Throw reality out the window for a second and entertain a hypothetical. Imagine you can only do one exercise for the rest of your life. If you had to choose a single exercise to do for the rest of your life, right here today, what would it be? It’s a popular question with a divergent set of answers depending on who’s being asked, and for the most part I see where everyone’s coming from.
If you ask the AARP, it’s the plank, which is easy on the joints, involves every body part, strengthens the core which can help prevent falls, is very safe for seniors (the intended audience of AARP), and you can do them anywhere without equipment. I have no fault with the plank.
We talk about aging gracefully, but what does it mean? How does one age gracefully? To me, it means ensuring your final years are good ones. Basically, we want to avoid the “regular” maladies of aging like dementia, osteoporosis, blindness, sarcopenia, and immobility. We want to live long and drop dead, not live long and wither away from a host of degenerative illnesses that prevent our ability to enjoy or even experience life, relegated to a bare room tucked away in a building somewhere. That scares me more than anything, more than heart disease or cancer or shark attacks: helplessness.
When I’m nearing 100, I want to be able to…
One of the most common questions I get from readers is the same one I get from people who have no idea who I am or what I do: “What’s your workout, dude?” Because I write a blog that discusses the latest fitness research, some of you might get the impression that I’m constantly switching up my routine to incorporate the latest and greatest. Many times, you assume that because I wrote approvingly about something, I must be doing that thing. Well, by and large, I am not doing that. Even if some particular lift is proven to build the most strength most efficiently, I mostly stick to my tried and true. I’m no longer an elite athlete. I don’t need the latest and greatest. If it works for me and my goals, I stick with it. Of course, it helps that the way I train was already fairly consistent with the latest research, and is easily fueled by my Primal Blueprint eating strategy.
Here’s one of the latest inquiries into my training:
For this week’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got a two-parter (although the first question has several parts to it). First up is a question about bee products and their effects (or non-effects) on human health. Are they miracle supplements? Are they all hype? Or is the truth somewhere in between? Find out below. Then, I try to help out Dan, a guy with a bum knee who, before injuring himself, based his entire workout routine around the back squat – which he can no longer perform safely. He wants to figure out a way to work out his lower body without the almighty squat at his disposal. Luckily, there are ways, which I’ll discuss below.