Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
13 May

Unleash Your Inner Grok

InnerGrokEven though we, as Primal enthusiasts, do acknowledge his presence by eating his food, doing his exercises, and minimizing the kind of artificial stress he rarely experienced, something seems absent from our relationship with Grok. We pay attention to his counsel when it comes to nutrition and biology and fitness – but is something lost in the translation between his past and our present? It’s almost like we’re tourists on some grand expedition: temporal-anthro-eco-nutro tourists who visit the Edenic past and, indeed, adopt its way of life and follow its precepts to a tee with resounding success and inimitable results. But in the end, we remain tourists. We aren’t yet truly going Primal.

Environment and necessity naturally play big roles in our disconnect. Much like our ancestors at the dawn of agriculture, we can simply settle in and “enjoy” the fruits of civilization. For most people nowadays, it isn’t a conscious choice – it’s just what we’ve grown up with. It’s all we know – it’s our environment. For Grok, his diet and behavior also revolved around his environment. He ate what was available and most efficient. He ate what made him strong and tasted good while rejecting things that tasted bad or bitter or had previously made a relative ill or took too long to prepare or gather. We Primal Blueprinters, on the other hand, have the exquisite luxury of picking and choosing. We stand aside, careful observers, and take what works from Column A (Grok) and Column B (modern life) while casting aside the remains (of course, Column A is our favorite, but don’t sell Column B short – bacon, red wine, dark chocolate, and soap aren’t anything to sniff at). We’re healthier and happier for it, but we’re still missing something.

Same goes for fitness. People today work out to look good, to feel healthy, and to get stronger. We construct elaborate exercise systems of pulleys and cables, and ridiculous infomercial contraptions that – in the end – only seem to get between us and our environment. We wear shoes on our feet, weight lifting gloves on our hands, and skin-tight under armor that prevents any semblance of perspiration. Grok’s motivation for fitness? Survival. The next meal. Dominance over a rival tribe (okay, maybe not much has changed here). His equipment? Rocks, branches, cliff faces, and trees.

And so we choose to go Primal, albeit in a decidedly unPrimal world. We know our limitations. We can’t go back in time, and – though who knows what awaits us in the coming decades – modern life isn’t a hard-scrabble constant battle for survival and limited resources. Our world is not Grok’s.

So how do we truly go Primal? How can we unleash our inner Grok? If it’s not just the foods we eat, what is it?

The key is utilizing a specifically human ability, one that has been handed down generation after generation for hundreds of millennia. It has fueled our campfire stories, our innermost thoughts, and our art: our ability to imagine, to visualize, to transport ourselves into another experience is the answer.

Short of heading out to the African savannah and taunting lions until they chase you, imagination is going to have to suffice. When you’re sprinting, envision a predator right behind you. Imagine a rival tribe is bearing down on you, stone clubs in hand, and if only you push it hard enough you might make it home in time to warn everyone of the impending attack. Scream if you have to – it’s just your inner Grok yearning to be unleashed. You’ll find that imagination like this doesn’t just work for kids; I think you’ll be surprised at the results and your sprint performance will improve. With a sabre-toothed tiger lapping at your heels, even if it’s imaginary, you’ll find yourself sprinting that much harder.

When you lift weights, especially heavy ones, don’t be afraid to grunt. Get Primal. Let loose your barbaric yawp, fellow-gym goers be damned. You think Grok was meek and polite when lifting a massive boulder to smash a mammoth’s thigh bone for the marrow? Not a chance. You do the same. If people are offended, they shouldn’t be in a gym. There aren’t just performance benefits to letting loose (rather than holding in your breath and reducing efficiency) in the weight room; you’ll undoubtedly feel more Primal and Grok-like than that guy reading “People” on the stationary bike.

Unleashing your inner Grok can take many other forms. Eating with your hands every once in awhile, scouring your neighborhood for local, public fruit trees, going hunting or fishing, as well as the visualization and projecting during exercise – these are all effective methods for going Primal and bridging that gap between our world and Grok’s.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I’ve never been one to make a lot of noise while working out, but I may just have to start so I can make Grok proud!

    Holly wrote on May 13th, 2009
  2. Made me think of this,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQ6OrO1f610

    Good for a few laughs.

    Jay wrote on May 13th, 2009
    • That was funny, considering it says no deadlifting on the sign, making it NOT a gym. =)

      George wrote on May 14th, 2009
  3. Mark,
    What protein do you use Mark? I like Jay Robb Protein but it’s smaller and more expensive. I used a brand called Body X Fortress Super Advance Whey Protein from Wal-Mart in the past. What do you think?

    Calaman wrote on May 13th, 2009
  4. Ha ha. I have a home gym and man, it feels perfectly primal to let out when lifting heavy – helps to finish the rep. In karate, we call it ‘ke-i’, it’s like a focusing of the energy you are putting into a movement

    Mayfield wrote on May 13th, 2009
  5. Visualization is so very powerful.

    I can remember many sprint drills where I was imagining running away from 10 bears. Not only were the bears themselves frightening/motivating, but the fact that they had adapted into a pack animal was even scarier!

    John Sifferman wrote on May 13th, 2009
  6. Besides imagining yourself running from a predator, you can also imagine yourself as the predator. Pick someone ahead you, who is about your speed or a little faster, then begin stalking them. Pick up the pace every once in while, then rest. When you get close enough, go all out and go in for the kill. Don’t worry about saving energy for the rest of the run of your run. Attack!

    P.S. Don’t actually kill your prey. Just catch up, then slow down or stop and catch your breath.

    Rob wrote on May 13th, 2009
    • I’ve totally done that, and not told anyone thinking that they would think I was a little weird. Good to hear I’m not alone.

      When running sprints I will also imagine that I have to get to a loved one in trouble.

      Visualization is very powerful.

      Andrew wrote on May 13th, 2009
  7. Oh man, I can’t wait to get home and RUN!… After a quick stop at the grocery store. I’d much rather forage.

    Diana Renata wrote on May 13th, 2009
  8. This is good Mark! Real good!! Now I’m on board. But specifically ditch the barbells–too unnatural! Do actually lift boulders and poles instead. And get up off the ground a lot–unloaded.

    will wrote on May 13th, 2009
  9. I’m all about letting loose when you’re really digging deep, but a word or two of caution. Don’t get yourself all psyched up and start screaming unnecessarily, especially when doing movements requiring mid-line stability (deadlift, presses overhead, loaded squats, pretty much all the useful ones). Mayfield mentioned the karate yell focusing the energy, but only when it comes at the end of the movement. Inflate the lungs and tighten the core during the rep to protect that spine!

    Troy-SBCF wrote on May 13th, 2009
  10. I think if we really want to unleash our Inner Grok, we have to expand our personal space. We tend to live in invisible, three-foot-radius bubbles at all times, and so much potential interaction both with fellow human beings and with our environment never happens. We’re naturally social beings who are curious about our environment, and we’re not allowed to be that way these days.

    Try expanding your personal space to include the entire room, and be comfortable in it. The people in it are not infringing; they are yours to explore and play with. Get used to that, and then expand your personal space to the horizon.

    Jumping over park benches, engaging other people as active parts of your own personal world, grunting with effort while training, all the things mentioned in today’s post; as long as you’re not purposefully trying to disturb others, do it. Be yourself. We all love to be interacted with. Something as simple as an exchange of hellos to someone on the street leaves me smiling and feeling good.

    Evan wrote on May 13th, 2009
    • Great post! So true.

      Andrew wrote on May 13th, 2009
  11. I unleashed my inner Grok today…no lifting, no sprinting, and no grunting, though…

    Instead, my wolf and I walked out to a big field and laid on the ground for two hours…and slept.

    Russell wrote on May 13th, 2009
  12. And of course don’t forget that Grok loved to make paintings on his cave walls. Get going on something creative!

    Jeff wrote on May 13th, 2009
  13. I grunt, but only when necessary. Feels good! Can wait for it to get nicer in a few weeks so I can take it outside!

    That Globo Gym video is hilarious. I’ll add no grunting to my current 101 reasons for NOT joining a gym.

    Grok wrote on May 13th, 2009
  14. Yeah but you’re NOT Grok hoisting a bolder to smash a thigh bone. You’re a person in modern society in the gym with OTHER PEOPLE concentrating on their workouts. It’s awfully RUDE to grunt and groan like you’re the only one in the gym. I get what you’re saying, but it’s not appropriate in a modern gym with other members. If you have your own equipment at home, go nuts! We do live in a CIVILIZED society after all. ….sort of. :)

    Fixed Gear wrote on May 13th, 2009
    • Is it really distracting to you to hear someone grunt? Granted, some people cross the line (I’m thinking of the 250 # bodybuilder who like, hollers as he bicep curls 30 pounds or something). Unfortunately for most gymgoers, they aren’t used to truly, truly pushing themselves past capacity. If you are really trying to lift something heavy that you can hardly move, sometimes it takes a little vocal action to push it over the edge (the grunt/yell tightens the core if nothing else I think). I know I either make noise to get the weight up or I make noise in frustration as i fail. Haha.

      Meghan wrote on May 14th, 2009
    • If the world has gotten so darn civilized that a bit of grunting can distract someone that badly at the gym (and probably through whatever they are listening to on their iPod…) they need to learn to ignore it! I mean really? Its a gym. People work out. If you are REALLY working out you will probably make a bit of noise…

      Ruth wrote on November 19th, 2010
  15. Civilization is so overrated.

    Evan wrote on May 13th, 2009
    • That’s about the best statement I’ve read all day!

      I’m a grunter. I work out at home cause I just don’t like the gym mentality of the posers and the people who think they know what they’re doing. My wife and kids have learned to mostly ignore the noises coming from the weight room. In fact, my wife has been known to let loose with a Primal yell a few times when she’s lifting heavy things! :)

      These people are supposed to be there to build muscle and get fit, not worry about what I’m doing. Why should those of us who make some noise have to worry about offending someone who obviously doesn’t belong there anyway? Maybe they should try loosening up and grunt a little. They probably wouldn’t be so damned uptight!

      Steve wrote on May 18th, 2011
  16. I just get out in the forest a lot, rock climb, ride trails on my mtn bike, sleep under the stars. When I’m at the gym or work, or winter is dragging on, I visualize my next trip outdoors or my last one. Visualization is powerful, but I’m really happy visualizing my own modern life, with its primal orientation and modern gadgetry and gear.

    DThalman wrote on May 13th, 2009
  17. Though I must admit I love Crossfit, but hey, my heart’s big enough to love Grok too =]

    Fitness Fab wrote on May 14th, 2009
    • Grok would have waited till the CrossFitters were panting on the ground, then taken them out and taken over their gym.

      George wrote on May 14th, 2009
  18. Every way works different in everybody.

    estetik klinikleri wrote on May 16th, 2009
  19. Love this post!

    YummyG wrote on May 28th, 2009
  20. This post is awesome. I never thought of imagining a tiger chasing me down while sprinting. I hope to remember to do that this week when I sprint!

    Primal Toad wrote on May 16th, 2010

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