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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...

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December 13, 2010

WOW: The Climb

By Mark Sisson
26 Comments

25 Minute Climb

Variations on this WOW are encouraged. See the “How-to” and “Variations” sections below.

How-to:

Warmup: 30 second Grok Squat, 30 second Grok Hang.

Rather than just train the muscles and movements that prepare us for actual, real-world skills, today we’re going to cut out the middle man and just do the real thing. Today is about skill work. There are no pullups, only climbing. There will be no sets or reps, just actions carried out until completion. The goal is not to beat your time or lift more weight; the goal is to be in the moment, aware of it as it occurs.

First, find something you can climb. Something tall, preferably. For the sake of safety I recommend a climbing gym. I can vouch for Hangar 18 here in Los Angeles. Google “rock climbing gym {city}” to find a gym in your hometown.

If you don’t have access to a climbing wall, feel very confident in your climbing skills, and are sure of the climbing terrain, climbing something that was forged by nature is also a good option. It might be a massive boulder with serendipitously placed handholds and niches for feet. It could be a cliff face, if you know what you’re doing and have the right equipment. Tall trees work well, too. For the fit, ropes or poles can also be climbed. I sometimes climb a flag pole but stop short of the top due to excessive wobbling. Whatever you choose, make sure all precautions are taken to avoid injury.

Next, climb. Keep your body close to the object you’re climbing in order to make the ascent more efficient, make sure the branch or foothold or toehold is enough to support your weight before committing to it, don’t forget about using your legs, and go as high as you can. It might get a bit harrowing, but a little derring-do is good for us. Just be safe and smart about it. Your inherent sense of self-preservation will always win out.

Finally, climb down. This might be the toughest part for some folks, since you’re leading with your feet and not your face. I recommend going barefoot for the increased grip and tactility, because you’re going to need it. Let your sensitive bare feet be your eyes (on top of using your actual eyes, too).

Repeat until 25 minutes have elapsed.

Make it harder:

  • Wear a weight vest or a backpack.
  • Take a random item along for the climb, like a rock, a small kettlebell, or even a stick. It doesn’t have to be heavy, necessarily; the simple act of carrying another object makes the climb a little more involved than normal.
  • Pick the more difficult route. Every climbable object will have multiple routes for its ascent. Some might force you to use your arms exclusively for one section, while others might offer fewer handholds.

Make it easier:

What are WOWs?

  • Workouts of the Week (WOWs) are an optional component of Primal Blueprint Fitness that add a fractal and often fun and playful quality to the basic PBF protocol.
  • In most cases WOWs should only be completed by those that have mastered Level 4 of each Lift Heavy Things Essential Movement. Also, it’s recommended that WOWsreplace one or both Lift Heavy Things workouts or the Sprint workout (depending on the WOW) each week instead of being done in addition to the Lift Heavy Things and Sprint workouts.
  • Learn more about WOWs and Primal Blueprint Fitness by getting the free eBook. And access all Workouts of the Week in the WOW Archive.

Reader-Submitted WOW Pics:

A big thanks to Mark’s Daily Apple reader and PBFer Tab for submitting these WOW pics. Grok on!

Mark,

We have been doing a variation of todays workout of the week over here in Afghanistan for quite a while now. Granted it’s a little different than a regular climbing gym, rather it’s very unique!! Our Canadian contingent has built a climbing gym inside of two twenty foot storage containers. There are multiple routes going both ways and also routes that put you upside down on the ceiling of the container! On face value you would think there wouldn’t be much of a workout…you would be wrong! Doing one route called the “Tatas”, green…um somewhat anatomically correct holds, is an incredible workout that hits all areas of the body and requires an exceptional amount of hand strength and completely fries your arms. Doing these routes backwards steps up the challenge as well. Granted the fall danger is pretty low, only a max of 4 feet (if your on the ceiling), but there are pads to cushion the blow. Don’t have access to video unfortunately but please take the attached photos as a substitute for the Workout of the Week.

Tab


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26 Comments on "WOW: The Climb"

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R.L.
5 years 9 months ago

I don’t get into town much. I live way out in nowhere but we do live on a ridge so to get down to the street, or down to the chicken and goat pens, I have to descend then climb so thanks for the reminder. I’ll try to do it more.

New follower here. R.L.

FresNO
FresNO
5 years 9 months ago

I’m surprised that this is the first climbing-related workout I’ve seen on this site. Climbers are some of the leanest, strongest, most coordinated people I know. Plus, climbing is a lot more primal than farting around in a gym with Katy Perry blaring in your ears. I expect to see more on climbing!

The Primal Palette
5 years 9 months ago

Dallas Rocks is a great indoor climbing gym for those of you in N. Texas.

T
T
5 years 9 months ago
Mark, I think you have more exlpaining to do. I read your book and I think you have great points. Leveling out the body’s insulin response seems like a worthy goal. What you don’t explain so well is why we need to elimnate ALL grains to accomplish this. On your plan we’re allowed to eat other foods that cause insulin levels to spike. I don’t see why simply keeping your carb count at 100-150 or less doesn’t suffice. Why can’t I have a slice of bread as long as I keep the carb/GI load down? I know grains are a… Read more »
Erik
Erik
5 years 9 months ago

troll much?

Caitlin
Caitlin
5 years 9 months ago

Are you sure you read the book thoroughly? And have you been over every post on the site? How about the scientific literature? No?

Also, the fact that bread is good, according to you, is exactly that. It’s your opinion. However, nutrition isn’t an opinion, it’s science. Read the scientific literature and then form an educated opinion.

I think you have some reading to do! Good thing the holidays are coming up. Take some time off and read some more.

Robert
5 years 9 months ago

I like this week’s workout. Pity the subzero temps and ground covering. This may be the first WOW I skip? till spring at least.

Louise D.
Louise D.
5 years 9 months ago

I’m sympathetic, here in the UP (n. Michigan). I am thinking about finding a nice, climbable snow burm, though. I imagine that a short but intense sub-zero scramble would have its own special benefits. Don’t worry, I will make sure they know where to start digging to find me.

Ulla Lauridsen
Ulla Lauridsen
5 years 9 months ago

Please, Erik, he’s legitimately annoyed until proven otherwise.
I, for one, choose to eat junk foods sometimes, and I think this is a very nice site. Not much condemnation or condescention around. But I also believe that the theory is very sound, and that grains are not good for me or anyone, so I can’t blame people for being enthusiastic. Some have lost a lot of weight and become much healthier overall.
If the paleo diet is not right for you, by all means let it be.

T
T
5 years 9 months ago
If you guys know something I’m not getting, please explain. That’s why I posted. Also, I never said bread was good for you becasue it tastes good. I said let’s not pretend it tastes bad. I also agree that taste is an opinion, not science and never claimed otherwise. As stated in my post, I think salad tastes bad which is an opinion, and I have allergies to raw vegetables which is a fact. All of those articles tell me why a spiked insulin response is bad for you but none of them really explain why grains need to be… Read more »
Robert
5 years 9 months ago
I think your question is very valid, I too have had this question. I strongly suggest Robb Wolfs new book the Paleo Solution. Where as DR. Loren Cordains book spelled it out very well, Robb’s book makes it enjoyable to learn. This is something you need to find, there are wonderful ways of learning the grain interaction with the gut. It is obvious that grain and such do not effect your body as it does others like myself. The major point to the Primal Blueprint and other iterations of the Paleo diet is a healthy energetic lifestyle. Unprocessed and good.… Read more »
darren
darren
3 years 3 months ago

For awesome info on why wheat/grains are not good for you i recommend Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD. Its information overload but well worth the read or listen.

T
T
5 years 9 months ago

Oh, one more thing. I’m not trying to say the whole community is bad. There are a lot of positive things overall about it, but I have noticed a lot of posts that kind of look down on people for not thinking dropping junk food is easy.

Robert
5 years 9 months ago

This too is a very valid point. There is a lot said about cleaning out your pantry but the doing and cravings part is missed a lot of times. Speaking from someone who quit smoking and sugary processed foods at the same time! Go with the 80/20 rule or even less, better yet try a primal way for thirty days, really stick with it. That is the true measure of results. That will answer all of your questions more than a book ever will.

AustinGirl7
AustinGirl7
5 years 9 months ago
Hi T! Welcome to the group! I started following the primal style of eating 3 months ago, after watching my best friend loose a bunch of weight and look AMAZING and healthy by eating this way over the past year. I was nearly a vegetarian and making the switch from lots of soy and grains to lots (well, to me) meats wasn’t that easy. I started out slowly, by reducing the number of carbs I ate a day and adding meat whenever I could. My two main goals were to “eliminate wheat gluten and added sugars”…the rest is a work… Read more »
T
T
5 years 9 months ago
Thanks fr the responses guys! I will definitely check out the books suggested on here. I have heard about Paleo Solution and Dr. Loren Cordain but I haven’t read too much on them. Also, thanks to the guys that understand where I’m coming from. I like the idea of trying to build up very gradually (which I know Mark has suggested elsewhere on the site) since I used to be a very high carb eater. I think I could definitely work on adding more meat to my diet which will leave less room for the carbs. I guess I need… Read more »
Robert
5 years 9 months ago

Again this is mostly for those with Celiac or other irritations, but keep in mind that the Gluten and other irritants can retain in your system for up to 15 days. The “Carb flu” is also worst around the second week. Maybe these go hand in hand. It is important to stick with it and you will see something. Worst part is 30 days with out things you like, best part could be 30 days with out things killing you slowly?

salim
salim
5 years 9 months ago
thnks Mark it is really good to see that finally primal fitness includes rock climbing…it is one of the most fun exercise-play it is hard both physically-mentally…it is also like a chess game and teaches you a lot how to move your body efficiently..one tip; try to move with your legs and core and keep arms straight and start your moves by moving your hips..bend your knees a little and move your belly into the wall whihe the shoulders go out. that way you wont use your forearms too much, you will use your core and legs. and enjoy it… Read more »
salim
salim
5 years 9 months ago

if anybody cant find climbing wall, they can try trees in the park, door jambs (little hard for beginners), scaffolds…

Jason Sandeman
5 years 9 months ago

I like the WOW this week! It is a little cold to be trying a cliff around these parts, but I know of a gym that has a climbing wall I have always wanted to try!

gini
gini
5 years 9 months ago

Happy to finally see climbing in the WOW since I climb a couple times a week! Woo!

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Tim
Tim
5 years 7 months ago
Great post! I was wondering if I’d find anything on this site about climbing trees as it’s always been one of my favourite activities and also a very primal one. In the spring and summer I probably get just as much exercise fooling around in the forest than doing conventional workouts. Tree climbing is usually easy (depending on the tree.. you’ll always be able to find an easy one nearby) but decent exercise at the same time and once you climb up twice your height or so and keep going you just keep getting more adrenaline, which fuels the workout!… Read more »
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