Nearly every day I get emails from readers about P90X and CrossFit. Most are favorable, some not so much, but mostly, people just want to know if these fitness programs fit within the context of the Primal Blueprint Fitness methodology. In this article I’ll explore what’s great about P90X and CrossFit, and then I’ll voice my nit-picky criticisms and explain how I think both can be improved upon.
It’s often said that any movement is better than no movement, that simply getting up and being active is better than sitting on the couch and stewing with guilt and self-reproach. For the most part, I agree with this assessment. It’s imperative that everyone be active, even if it’s just taking nightly walks or using the treadmill at the gym. But “just any old movement” isn’t ideal. Ideally, we should be performing movements that support, enable, and enhance quality of life. Our exercises should make us stronger, faster, and more capable of accomplishing just about any physical feat the world throws at us. They should be enjoyable (pleasure-giving), brief (without sacrificing effectiveness), sustainable (lifelong), immediately accessible (to young, old, and untrained), and infinitely scalable (from beginners to elites). A fitness program, then, should meet these benchmarks.
Most people are at least cursorily familiar with the concept of the circadian rhythm. For those who aren’t, the circadian rhythm refers to our internal, approximately 24-hour cycle of biochemical, physiological, and behavioral processes. Every living thing, from fungus to bacteria to plant to animal, has a circadian rhythm. External cues called zeitgebers (what a great word, huh?) help synchronize or alter our rhythms; they include temperature, nutrition, meal timing, social interactions pharmacological interventions (medicines, drugs), and, most prominently, the light/dark cycle of the earth.
Thank you and congratulations are due to loyal Mark’s Daily Apple readers, as you smashed viewership records in February, 2010. MarksDailyApple.com had hundreds of thousands of unique visitors and millions of page views! This level of volume ranks MarksDailyApple.com as one of the top-5 health and fitness blogs in the world. I am also excited to report that the first printing of The Primal Blueprint (16,500 copies) sold out in December, 2009, and I have recently received a second printing of 20,000 hardcover editions. The book continues to climb the rankings at Amazon.com, reaching the top-250 among all books and top-5 in the Exercise & Fitness category in recent days. (To help me push it to #1 check back on March 17. Read all the details here.)
While this is more than enough self-congratulation for one post, I do want to emphasize the collective power of the Mark’s Daily Apple community and how important it is for our movement to continue to generate mass exposure and appeal. We currently share space on the pop charts with programs that I feel are disastrously in conflict with what our genes require to be healthy. It’s time to displace the overly stressful, high-carb, high-intensity, high-stress diet and exercise programs with lifestyle practices that are healthy and sustainable – not just for the hard-core folks, but everyone balancing the responsibilities of hectic daily life. In pursuit of my modest goal of taking over the diet, exercise, weight loss and health industries, my team and I have several ambitious endeavors in the works for 2010. These are the things you’ve been asking for, and now they’re on the verge of being released. As always, I sincerely appreciate your comments and suggestions to help me deliver the best possible support, educational material, services and products to you. Thanks in advance for your feedback!
The thing about overtraining is that it exists on a spectrum, without clear-cut rules or boundaries. As I said last week, sufficient training volume is entirely subjective, and it’s constantly changing depending on an individual trainee’s goals, nutrition, sleep habits, stress levels, and injury status. What worked well for the last three months might prove to be excessive if your diet gets disrupted. A particularly stressful stretch at the office could undo a heretofore-steady strength progression. The human body is resilient, but there are limits – and the limits aren’t always clearly delineated. To divine them, it takes finesse and thoughtful tinkering at the edges. Sometimes you have to fall off the edge to know where it is. It’s more art than science. There are some solid, basically objective ways to deal with it, though, even if you’re not sure what constitutes overtraining for you.
The following reader email brought to mind a NY Times article I read a few weeks ago. The article discusses a fairly new field of research that is uncovering the surprisingly fundamental and intricate ways our bodies influence our thinking and vice-versa. We’ve discussed the mind-body connection in the past, but embodied cognition puts the relationship in a new cast. Think motion-emotion, action-thought. It’s all integrated in ways you wouldn’t expect….
I’ve been a PBer for a couple years now and feel better than I ever have. I’m at this point interested in digging deeper into new areas of the PB. I’m intrigued by the mental-physical connection some of your posts and book refer to. Other than the relaxation and stress influence, what kind of sway does the mind-body thing really hold? How do you suggest harnessing it? Thanks and Grok on!