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  • Epiphany?

    Ok admittedly that is a bit over the top for my ideas today but here it goes.

    I was listening to the Latest in Paleo Podcast (formerly this week in Paleo) and in one episode many of the Primal like fitness/health experts (Mark Sisson included) were asked to give the 4 most best exercises to do fi that is all you can do.

    There were a lot of similarities and a few differences. But some form of squats, deadlifts, pushups and pullups were at the top with most of them. Mark Sisson actually added a 5th (Plank) and someone else used sprints (I think that was just going outside the bounds of what others thought they were contained to -good point however)

    They all sounded very reasonable to me and interestingly enough earlier in the year I did some heavy strength training and picked Squats, Deadlifts, pullups with weight and pushups with weight. Conventional wisdom prevails.

    However today I started thinking about this a but more critically. First I started thinking that these are all kind of contrived and pushups an plank are actually somewhat non-functional (don't shoot me I am just free thinking here )

    So starting from the top:

    Squats: In general in a natural environment why would anyone squat multiple times with a heavy weight?

    Deadlifts: This one is actually about the best I think but I think a barbel is a poor choice (from the natural perspective. Lifting things that are oddly shaped like a sandbag a heavy bag (flip over the should), a rock etc seem to be a lot better. Maybe lifting lighter items above the shoulder. I also can't seem lift really heavy objects. Sure a 50 pound bag (all relative) but a 400 pound barbel? I would have asked a friend or two (or my wife ) to help move that damn thing or find something else to do.

    Pushups: ? I guess that is all I can say about them

    Plank: See pushups.

    Pullups: Like deadlifts I think this one has potential with modification. The act of doing sets of 10 or pullups to exhaustion seems too artificial. I thinik climbing a tree or hanging from a branch or climbing a very steep grade (pulling with arms steep and maybe with added weight ) are much more realistic. For instance I have been using a bar in the gym and instead of straight pull ups I hang "walk around" by scaling back and forth pulling etc (a bit like a monkey) and hanging with one arm and two (now trying not to look like a monkey). You will find with this that the core is very engaged. and the back muscles are more fully engaged since your relatively weaker arms are not stressed as much as a tradional pull up. So swing and hang for time (endurance) might be a nice substitute.

    So I would have answered the question different based on my little thought experiment.

    1. Sprinting and chasing one of those funny shaped balls that bounces randomly would be at the top.

    2. Lifting random objects as high as you can sometimes (so if the object is light lift it above the shoulder and it it is to heavy or shaped oddly don't)

    3. Scale obstacles and walk grades (negative, flat and positive) with and without weights (bag over shoulder), weightvests, medicine balls under arms etc.

    4 Climb things both with just the arms and then with the body too (up and down a hill side for instance) with and without weights.

    I would also add a 5th element as well. That would be chopping, tossing and throwing objects of varying weights. Rocks, sticks, medicine balls.

    Again, just a little thought experiment so no need to bash me as I have done my fair share of "traditional" functional exercise but I think I will take this up. The very good with all of this is that it gets you outside a bit to do some if it.

  • #2
    I think you misunderstood what they were asked, what 4 EXERCISES would you do if those are all the EXERCISES you could do. They answered accordingly, what you're proposing aren't really exercises, they're physical activities... I know that an exercise can be described as a "physical activity" but none of the things you described are actually exercises in the common understanding of the term.

    Nothing wrong with your plan, in fact they all sound interesting, functional and challenging but what those guys said are "if you're going to train, you might want to throw these in the mix" I didn't listen to the podcast but unless the question was "what movements best mimic survival in the wild" then they all answered the question which from reading your post was "what exercises would you do if you were limited to 4"
    I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.

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    • #3
      I totally agree. I just took it the logical step (in my mind) further on if you are going to the trouble to do exercise in the name of health and functionality then these may go a long way at doing this.

      Again, I am sure you are correct in your assessment of the question.

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      • #4
        It is great to do all the things that you suggest if you can really do them properly. Chances are - you cant, unless like Grok you are doing them every day all day. Those exercises - whilst not fully functional - are simple enough that you can do them correctly and progress quickly on them, with a carryover on the real movements.
        If all you do is to lift oddly shaped objects once a week, I believe you either dont lift very much, or you will at one point hurt yourself. Would be interesting to hear Coach Palfrey on this - but I'd say that as long as you stick to sandbags you can also build your skill, even though I'd doubt you can progress as fast on sandbag deadlifts as you can on barbell deadlifts
        http://thorfalk.wordpress.com

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Thor Falk View Post
          It is great to do all the things that you suggest if you can really do them properly. Chances are - you cant, unless like Grok you are doing them every day all day. Those exercises - whilst not fully functional - are simple enough that you can do them correctly and progress quickly on them, with a carryover on the real movements.
          If all you do is to lift oddly shaped objects once a week, I believe you either dont lift very much, or you will at one point hurt yourself. Would be interesting to hear Coach Palfrey on this - but I'd say that as long as you stick to sandbags you can also build your skill, even though I'd doubt you can progress as fast on sandbag deadlifts as you can on barbell deadlifts
          I think this all comes down to specificity - you'll get good at whatever you do. I train predominantly with sandbags but still train with a barbell at least once a fortnight (snatch, clean and jerk, deadlift, squat). I see the barbell work as prep for my odd object lifting. I can deadlift 400lbs or so but there is no way I'm getting a 400lb sandbag off the floor.

          Although the progress can be slower, if you want to be able to work with (dare I say it) "functional" weights then perhaps this is a truer representation of your actual strength?
          Sandbag Training For MMA & Combat Sports
          Sandbag Training Guide on Kindle
          The Complete Guide To Sandbag Training
          Brute Force Sandbags
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          • #6
            I think you kind of miss the (well my ) point. Getting better at sandbag deadlifts as fast as barbell deadlifts is not what I am trying to achieve with any of these.

            The idea is to use your body at all angels with different intent. I do not believe dead lifting 400 pounds is better than 300 pounds in the name of health, or overall functionality. Balance and the ability to move freely in all situations it what I want achieve.

            Now this is not sport specific training. I race my bike and train in a way to augment that. The only way to do that is ride my bike

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Coach Palfrey View Post
              I think this all comes down to specificity - you'll get good at whatever you do. I?
              Hey can we be friends I say this almost every conversation I have with people that talk to me about training.

              Oh by the way I will look at your sandbag stuff as I had one a few years ago I made but was never happy with it.

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              • #8
                The absolute BEST primal workout.

                Walk out into the surrounding country side with a stone knife. Find dinner. Repeat daily.

                Failing that, do exercises that most closely simulate the above, in what available time and space you have.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by stephenmarklay View Post
                  I do not believe dead lifting 400 pounds is better than 300 pounds in the name of health, or overall functionality.
                  But being able to deadlift 400lb over 300lb will have your legs/back more prepared for when you go to lift that 800lb dresser with your one buddy. Yes, weight lifting exercises are orchestrated movements, but that is in order to get stronger while protecting ourselves. As Mark has said before, we want to be inspired by Grok, not become him. If you really want to be that much like Grok, got off your computer and go pick fleas off your SO :P

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                  • #10
                    That's exactly the point. You will build muscles faster when you dead lift vs sandbags, and those muscles will carry over to sandbags and biking. So effectively you will build up your strength at sandbags faster if you dead lift.
                    By the way - rip mentions in his book that bikers must be careful when they start lifting because they are strong on the concentrics and weak on the eccentrics - you are in for a monster DOMS if don't keep this in mind...
                    http://thorfalk.wordpress.com

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                    • #11
                      If we're talking about strength training, then remember a key word here is "training" - doing 10 or 20 pull-ups in a row probably isn't something that would come up in day to day life in the wild, but if you are training to get stronger, doing sets and reps of pull-ups, squats and, yes, even push-ups will likely lead to more substantial strength gains in less time than sticking strictly to activities that "grok would have done."
                      "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they couldn't be more different."

                      "You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want."

                      My blog: http://www.AlKavadlo.com

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Al_Kavadlo View Post
                        If we're talking about strength training, then remember a key word here is "training" - doing 10 or 20 pull-ups in a row probably isn't something that would come up in day to day life in the wild, but if you are training to get stronger, doing sets and reps of pull-ups, squats and, yes, even push-ups will likely lead to more substantial strength gains in less time than sticking strictly to activities that "grok would have done."
                        Very true..
                        I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.

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                        • #13
                          It is not a hidden fact that a lot of the early gains in heavy lifting is from motor unit recruitment (brain, spinal cord, muscle fibers). That is you will usually see a big increase in strength that tapers after a short while and then the returns are much slower and require constant and dedicated attention.

                          Following a more simplistic routine as I mentioned (there is absolutely nothing at all sacred about them by the way and I already decided that it needs to have some jumping and leaping and falling) will allow the body to become what I would consider "athletic". That is a body that is strong, enduring and less injury prone than what that has not engaged in this type of training.

                          I do think that when a pterodactyl swoops over head this type of training will help me duck faster, run and hide easier and maybe even kill it if it persists and then drag the bastard home and then be able to do it again tomorrow if his buddy comes around for revenge - better than a canned set of deadlifts, pushups etc. By the way this could have been a mugger or dog chasing me on my bike or whatever.

                          I have done the standard stuff. Ok I did not deadlift 400 recently but I was doing 315 at the new year as part of my full body workouts (Squats, deadlifts pushups and pullups) and I dare say the added 85 pounds would not have changed much.


                          Originally posted by Al_Kavadlo View Post
                          If we're talking about strength training, then remember a key word here is "training" - doing 10 or 20 pull-ups in a row probably isn't something that would come up in day to day life in the wild, but if you are training to get stronger, doing sets and reps of pull-ups, squats and, yes, even push-ups will likely lead to more substantial strength gains in less time than sticking strictly to activities that "grok would have done."

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                          • #14
                            I like to think that if Grok had a gym membership, he'd be in there a few times a week doing pushups and squats just to keep himself in shape for all the lifting and climbing he has to do...

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by stephenmarklay View Post
                              I think you kind of miss the (well my ) point. Getting better at sandbag deadlifts as fast as barbell deadlifts is not what I am trying to achieve with any of these.

                              The idea is to use your body at all angels with different intent. I do not believe dead lifting 400 pounds is better than 300 pounds in the name of health, or overall functionality. Balance and the ability to move freely in all situations it what I want achieve.

                              Now this is not sport specific training. I race my bike and train in a way to augment that. The only way to do that is ride my bike
                              That's all well and good but are you really training this way because you don't see the benefit of high levels of relative strength or because you aren't able to build high levels of relative strength? You talk about functionality but that, again, is always subjective. Being able to lift heavy stuff is functional unless you go out of your way to avoid lifting heavy stuff in daily life.
                              Sandbag Training For MMA & Combat Sports
                              Sandbag Training Guide on Kindle
                              The Complete Guide To Sandbag Training
                              Brute Force Sandbags
                              www.facebook.com/sandbagfitness
                              http://fitedia.com/ - Health and Fitness eBooks, video, audio and workshops

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