How to Personalize Primal Blueprint Fitness

The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge manifests differently for everyone. Some folks are focused on improving their diets, on removing this food or adding that food. Some have committed to optimizing their sleep by getting to bed at a certain time and eliminating nighttime electronics. And many just want to look better naked. But there’s one tie that binds nearly everyone I’ve interacted with through the course of this and previous challenges: physical activity. Whether you’re trying to eat, sleep, or look better, exercise matters. Effective exercise especially matters for everyone, and my intent when creating Primal Blueprint Fitness was to democratize fitness without compromising it—to distill effective training down to its essential elements so that everyone could practice it.

Sure enough, the same basic concepts apply to—and work for—everyone:

  1. Strength train two or three times a week, focusing on the basic compound movements—pushing, pulling, squatting/knee flexion, hip extension, planking.
  2. Sprint once a week—move as fast you can for short distances.
  3. Get as much long, easy aerobic movement as possible—hiking, walking, easy trail running.
  4. Play as often as you can.
  5. Make your short, intense workouts—the sprints, the lifting—even shorter and more intense. Make your long, easy workouts—the walks, the hikes, the jogging—even longer and easier.

But here’s the thing about effort, intensity, workload, and even exercise choice: it’s all relative.

A former high school wrestler will apply the concepts differently than a 65 year-old retiree. A burnt-out CrossFitter will sprint, lift, and play differently than a disgruntled marathoner.

Elite athletes’ schedules will look very different. PBF probably won’t get you past BUD/S or into the upper echelon of the CrossFit games without serious modifications. Bodybuilders won’t be contest-ready on vanilla PBF. But for everyone else, this basic structure underlies every effective fitness program.

How can different populations tailor PBF to their needs, goals, and capacities? How does the retiree do PBF? The former CrossFitter? The recovering triathlete? The harried parent of twins? Let’s go through some basic archetypes and my recommendations for each.

The Retiree

Maybe you’re not exactly retired yet, but you’re certainly of the age, and you’re a little out of shape. You probably couldn’t identify a kettlebell. There’s a little, or big, paunch situated below your sternum. You’ve noticed everyday things getting a little bit harder than you’d prefer. Climbing more than two flights of stairs is unpleasant, your [enter body part] aches from time to time, and things that shouldn’t be sagging are sagging. You want to get stronger, be more active and comfortable on your feet, and lose some of that paunch.

Vanilla PBF is the way to go. Download the eBook if you haven’t already and stick to the basics. Figure out your capacities and work your way up from the bottom.

Pushups, squats, pullups, and planks. Assisted when necessary.

Sprints performed on a stationary bike. If you insist on running, sprint uphill, as that’s easier on the joints than sprinting on flat ground. Remember that sprinting is as fast as you can go, not as fast as others can.

Walk tons, hiking when possible. I don’t see the need to jog or run at all. You’ll only risk injury without getting any fitter than sprinting and lifting will make you.

Find something you love doing that keeps you active. There’s a reason you haven’t exercised much over the years, and not enjoying it is a likely candidate.

The Endurance Athlete

You’re skinny, or maybe skinny fat. You pride yourself on your capacity to run/bike/swim far longer than everyone else, but you’re unclear whether it’s actually improved your quality of life or overall fitness. You’d like to be stronger and—let’s face it—have bigger muscles. Even your lower body, which does the most work, isn’t nearly as impressive as your neighbor who doesn’t appear to do anything but lift weights a couple times a week. Not fair. Also, you’re skinny with an annoying layer of subcutaneous fat that won’t go away and, unbelievably, seems to get worse the more you run.

Limit yourself to one big training run a week. Your endurance capacity is high, so you have a weird idea of “easy, slow movement” and can get away with a lot more while keeping it easy. Whereas the average human finds a five mile run to be highly taxing, it’s chicken scratch to you. You need to tone it way down, if only to avoid getting sucked back into the maelstrom of hardcore chronic cardio.

Focus on strength. And once you have the bodyweight movements mastered—which shouldn’t take long, as you are an athlete—move on to weighted lifts. Lifting heavy things is most crucial for endurance athletes, as excessive endurance athletics done to the exclusion of all else tends to atrophy muscle and reduce bone mineral density. Lifting weights can reverse that trend and even improve your endurance performance by strengthening joints and giving you raw power. Get a coach if you need one. Just lift.

You also need to sprint. Since you’re a runner through and through, you can handle full-on sprinting. If you’re a cyclist, do 30 second all-out sprints with plenty of rest. You’re good at maximizing your output over long periods of time. Now it’s time to see how hard you can go for 10-30 seconds at a stretch.

Find something fun to do—a sport, a “childish” game like tag or capture the flag, anything. Speaking as a former marathoner, I know the love-hate relationship you have with your training. You hate doing it, you dread doing it, but love having done it. With physical play, you look forward to doing it, love doing it, and love having done it. Win-win-win.

The Parent

Bad sleep, worse eating habits. Stress levels sky high. Less sex than you’d like. More responsibilities than you’ve ever known. Parenting, especially the early years, can really throw your fitness routine for a loop. But you shouldn’t allow it. Training is more important than ever.

Strength training has to happen whenever you can grab it. You can’t rely on single chunks of time devoted to training. Working out while parenting is all about workout snacks. As soon as you wake up, do 10 squats and 5 pushups. While you’re waiting for the bottle heat up, do another 10 and 5. Plank while the kid’s nursing (unless your breast is involved).

When sprinting, keep it short and sweet. High stress environments call for low-stress training (stress is stress). And while longer sprints are supremely taxing, short (5-7 seconds) sprints are easy to recover from and still provide great benefit.

Walk every day as a family. Strap that kid onto your or your partner’s chest and walk. Walk through the neighborhood. Walk through green spaces (I strongly believe this is a way to lower stress for everyone and imprint the beauty and majesty and importance of nature onto your kid). Even if it’s just 15 minutes, walk.

Incorporate your kid. You can overhead press, KB swing, deadlift, squat, curl, row, and bench press a child throughout infancy and on into toddlerhood. Lay that slab of baby flesh across your back and do some pushups. Plop that kid astride shoulders and do walking lunges through the grocery store. You’ve probably got poop on your sleeve as you’re reading this, so why the modesty? Expel shame and embarrassment.

Play. Set a good example for the kid and stay sane.

The CrossFitter

CrossFitters who are happy with CF don’t go looking for other modalities. So if you’re considering switching to PBF, you’re probably a little burnt-out. That’s okay. That’s to be expected. CrossFit is a powerful tool melding fitness, community, and competition, but it’s very demanding. If you’re not careful and cognizant of your recovery, sleep, and nutrition, you might burn out.

Focus mostly on bodyweight exercises to lower the intensity from your normal routine or focus on heavy weights with low reps. Either way, you need to take a break from lifting moderately heavy weight for high volume at high speed with little rest. That’s the hallmark of many CrossFit WODs, and while it can get people really fit in a short amount of time, it comes at a heavy price.

Focus on all-out sprints with more rest than you think you need. Instead of running tabata hill sprints, take a full three to four minutes rest in between each one. Low rest intervals are great for building stamina, but I’ve noticed the greatest benefits from resting long enough to give it my absolute all each time. Rowing, cycling (your CF box probably has an Airdyne, which is fantastic for sprinting) also work.

Walk. Just walk. You’re gonna fight it. You’re gonna think you’re wasting your time. But trust me on this: you are healing your broken body and relearning how to simply move for movement’s sake. Don’t think about all the force you could be applying over time and distance and just move and glide through the world.

Pick up a sport. This is fun, so it’s a form of play, but team sports feed both your competitive streak and need for community that you may be missing. Also, the raw athleticism and stamina you’ve picked up CrossFitting will serve you well running up and down a field or basketball court.

The Office Worker

You sit all day. Your posture isn’t great. You may like your job, but you don’t like being cooped up inside all day. What to do?

Start with basic PBF. Just like the retiree (only younger), you’re probably out of shape and out of the game. You need to ease back in and get comfortable with the movements before increasing difficulty. The same recommendations apply to you. In addition:

Prioritize sleep. You’re working long days. You’ll be tempted to sacrifice sleep for training. Don’t.

Train outside as often as possible, maybe at lunch. You need the fresh air and the sun.

As you’ve noticed, there are many common recommendations. Pretty much everyone over the age of five needs to play way more than they do. Play doesn’t discriminate. I’d even argue that focusing on play becomes more important the older we get because the world conspires against us engaging in it.

And while I couldn’t speak to every individual situation, there are overlaps. People who come home from work exhausted from being on their feet or doing manual labor all day can refer to the CrossFitter recommendations. Anyone of any age who’s really out of shape can glean useful advice from the retiree and office worker sections.

That’s it for today, everyone. Read the post, see which section applies to you, and let me know what you think down below. Thanks for reading!

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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68 thoughts on “How to Personalize Primal Blueprint Fitness”

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  1. Loved reading this article. I’m female, 51, train 6 days a week with kettlebells, for strength and endurance. On Sundays I’ve started doing stretching with Yoga, plus I walk. I’ve been a couch potato until my 50th birthday. I’ve come to enjoy my training, feel great, but still have a lot of lbs to lose.
    This morning, after training, which is second nature for me now, after getting up, I thought, why is it such a struggle for me to eat right? I know all of what’s good for me, and what isn’t, but still can’t stop from eating the wrong things, not all the time, but at least 2-3 times a week, and it’s stalling my much needed weight loss. I’ve lost ~ 60lbs, but still have another 60lbs to go to reach 141lbs, which would be right for my size.
    It drives me crazy that I’ve stalled my weight loss since last October. I know I’ve gained muscle, but still, I can’t seem to get my diet under control.

    1. Are you prioritizing sleep? For me, too little sleep is the number one guaranteed craving generator! You may need more rest than you realize.

      1. I’m aware of how important sleep is, but I DO have sleeping problems, can’t sleep as much as I would want to. Always working on that.
        I’ve also dialed back a bit on the training, because it made me SO hungry.

        1. As more ‘senior’ ladies we definitely need to adjust our approach, the hormone shifts do make a difference. I agree sleep is my prime trigger for over eating or eating less well. But also looking at the macros, more emphasis on protein, a little less fat and keep the carbs moderate – super low seems to hamper our age group.

          Stress is my biggest issue and that includes stress from too little sleep, too little play and too much training (as well as not enough!). Never mind feeling frustrated at stalling.

          I’ve found daily meditation (10-30 minutes) makes a difference.

        2. You may not be eating enough carbs to restore the glycogen you’re losing from the kettlebell work. I was getting extremely fatigued on lifting days and couldn’t sleep well because I was doing that. I found eating more healthy carbs after the workout and before bed helped a lot.

    2. Kudos for the weight you have lost, which is no small feat. Just guessing here, but you could be over-exercising and your body is craving carbs as a fuel source, particularly if you aren’t getting enough protein and healthy fats. You might also be trying to lose weight more rapidly than your body is capable of, in which case patience is the answer.

      Keep track of everything you put in your mouth by writing it down. Doing so can be a real eye-opener, even when you know what you should eat and what you should avoid. Some people can stick to a 100 percent Paleo diet indefinitely; others can’t manage it, for whatever reason. 80/20 is a reasonable compromise that will still allow for gradual weight loss.

      1. Thanks, Shary! I’ve noticed that on days I felt tired and hungry, and I gave in to eating food with carbs (other then the veggie carbs), I slept a lot better. I’ve dialed back training a notch the last couple of weeks, to see if it makes it easier to stay within the calories suitable for weight loss. I’ve been keeping a food journal for the last nine month. For most of them I did calorie counting/calculating, but stopped with the new year. Still keeping the journal though. I might start calorie counting again, if I continue to stall, but not looking forward to that.
        I do get enough protein, and use coconut oil, and avocado oil for cooking, sometimes EVOO as well. I’m definitely in the 80/20 category. :o)

        1. I (female, 60s), too, notice that when I eat more carbs I sleep better. It’s a bit defeating, actually. While I’d love to be one of those people who can just eat anything primal, I have to count calories in order to lose weight and even maintain the weight I’ve lost.

    3. Try reading the book The Willpower Instinct by Kerry Mcgonical. It will help you figure out where you’re getting hung up.

  2. It took me far too long to come to my senses and realize that fitness, especially on the road, doesn’t have to be that hard. Instead of researching the perfect workout of the day, just do 50-100 of something.
    100 burpees doesn’t sound fun, but in less than 10 minutes you’ll be good to go and have some street cred for being that insane.

      1. Wow, 100 burpees! I can barely do 10, and yet I am quite fit – swim 2km once a week, sprint once a week, do one long run, and hike a lot. But burpees kill me – is it just a question of keeping at it and working on increasing the number every day? There must be a crucial burpee muscle that I am missing!

  3. I want to live this lifestyle! Very hard to right now in Alaska, but only a few more weeks until Spring.

  4. I’ve injured my arm, torn rotator cuff I think. So I can’t do pushups at all. But I can do the elliptical trainer, lat pull downs, slow twisting crunches, some yoga, and a variety of other exercises. Anything that doesn’t cause pain. already seeing results after just 2 weeks of staying on diet.

    1. Let the arm rest and then try wall push ups every other day. Can vary the difficulty by moving your feet from the distance to the wall. (Speaking from similar injury)

      1. I also need to look up the isometrics post on MDA for some other non-painful ideas.

    2. IF you tore your rotator pulldowns would kill you! Lifting your arms and the pull would leave you screaming. Where exactly is the pain? Push up pain could be the deltoid, and/or pectoral muscle, or the tricep…

      1. The pain is midway between shoulder and elbow. From the research I’ve done, its torn rotator cuff. It doesn’t hurt if I raise weights to the front. The lat pulldowns don’t hurt mainly as I’m doing the work with my back. However, laying on my back and doing fly’s hurt like a SOB. I really don’t know what it is. I can’t do pushups without excruciating pain in my left arm, midway between elbow and shoulder.

  5. Well, I am 70 and workout daily. Deadlifts, dumbbell presses, kettle bell swings and front squats. No back squats because of bad knee and torn tendons. March through September I climb a mountain every weekend. So, do I need aerobic during the week if I am doing a four hour mountain climb (I jog down) every weekend? I have been doing the stair master, but thinking of doing the tabard type stuff instead – burped, mountain climbers, etc. What say you?

    1. That’s wonderful! I miss the mountains. I’m originally from Austria, hiking every weekend was a given.
      Now I live in the Suburbs in Canada with not a hill in sight.
      I have bad knees as well. It was so bad, I could barely walk up and down the stairs. But since I started training, I can do front squats, goblet squats, and many of them!
      I can only wish to be in as good shape as you are when I reach this age. :o)

    2. .. what say I?….. I say your awesome!!!! My mum at 70 is the typical “non-mover, overweight, diabetic, lots of medications,” type of person. My father at 80 is still active, and although he doesn’t eat well (lives on his own), he is on very little medications and his blood work is very good.

      My goal is to stay active, lift weights and eat well so that I don’t end up like my Mum…. ie not just “give-up, slow down and wither into old age”.

      Strangely, my Mum still asks me when am I going to slow down? (I’m 51)
      … what say I…. ” hummm… really !!???”

  6. You can combine these too, some of us are parents and office workers and some of us are even single parents.

  7. Labourers are almost always forgotten and it can be very problematic as you are burnt out from work and carrying injuries constantly

    1. Depends on the labor, I suppose. My second job involves a lot of physical work, and I’ve noticed a need for a lot more sleep and protein for recovery.
      The work itself, though, is a mix of slow, easy cardio, play (because the team has a goal to hit – get all the cargo into the plane before its scheduled departure time), moderate (50-150lbs) lifting, and some climbing/crawling.
      Since I sit at a desk during the day, the 4-5 hours of movement really helps work out all the pent-up energy.
      I think I’d refer to do that full-time.

    2. So true. I walk a brisk 5 miles+ a day at work. Lift various weights, squat, lift, twist, reach, pull and push moderate to heavy objects all day. And training can be and has been the short track to burn out. Eating three meals is all I can manage and most times I simply cannot pack in enough calories without a major slowdown afterwards. Plus my stomach has shrunk over the years and fills up fast.

      But I keep at it, even if its just 30 minutes of some exercise, even if I half-a$$ it. Just do it and respect the body’s need to rest.

  8. Anybody here do stair workouts? I am 54 years old, and work on the 14th floor of an office building. I walk up to the 14 floor 4-6 times per day. I pause every 2 floors to check my heart rate (hand to the neck, 10 seconds, multiply by 6) and to keep it at a steady 120 beats per minute the whole climb. That, combined with a 20-30 minute brisk walk at lunchtime gives me a weekly total of gentle aroebic exersize (at no more than 75 % of max heart rate) of 4- 5 hours, and that doesn’t include walks and bike rides with my wife in the evenings and weekends! I love stairs – they are free, very low skill and no special equipment needed. I think stair breaks beat smoke breaks!!! Would love to hear if anyone else incorporates stairs into their primal fitness plan.

    1. I love stair workouts better than running. It’s easy when i don’t want to go too far or the weather is bad. I live in a appartment building with only 6 floors. I “used to” roll out of bed into my gear, out the door and do 15 to 20 minutes (30 to 40 flights. I didn’t check heart rate or anything like that but I’ll try that. I really bombed out in 2015 and hardly did anything in terms of excercise. So now I have to get back into the swing of things. Pretty hard to jump out of bed in teh morning when I am not sleeping enough. But no excuses, got to do this!

  9. Hm this post is so relevant to me right now. I am a 25 yo female and I just quit crossfit this month after doing it at a pretty high level for a couple of years. it is still tearing me up a little on the inside since I loved it, but it is not getting me towards my personal goals right now, only appeasing my ego to be the best (I can be incredibly competitive). I was burnt out, it was making me eat ravenously/excessively all the time, and I was using too much time and muscular energy on it when my real goals would indicate working on dance (I am also in a professional dance company). No I am not afraid of getting bulky obviously, but the truth is that crossfit builds my body insanely, and not in a useful way for the specific needs of contemporary ballet. I will just do low rep/ heavy lifts, sprints occasionally, walking/hiking for my cross training from now on. The effectiveness of this type of training really hit home when I went on a month long vacation this winter to southern Mexico where I walked all day, did alot of yoga, some surfing, and a handful of beach sprints- guess what? I came back with a shredded six pack I hadn’t seen in a while!!! Oh I also was eating way more carbs (and not caring) than what I was trying to restrict to in the states, as well as sleeping/relaxing more. I will miss the crossfit community and may just drop into a WOD that sounds fun and supports my goals a couple times a month.

  10. Great advice Mark as I combine The Retiree (Maybe you’re not exactly retired yet, but you’re certainly of the age) with The Office Worker.

    Wish I was combining The Young Adult with The Elite Athlete … but oh well … I guess embracing reality has its benefits lol.

  11. Excellent and perfectly timed post! I’ll definitely be sharing.

  12. I’ve tried to space everything out during the day so at least I’ll hit 2 out of three. Morning and after work it’s play time with our dog, lunch break is strength training or HIIT, and evening is yoga. The dog is a bit of a requirement and I can always hit one out of the other two. If I miss strength or HIIT, I pick a more demanding yoga routine. Plus yoga doubles as my relaxing “me” time to listen to my body which I love.

  13. I loved this article as I am 52, love doing weights, squats, planks, hiking, anything BUT running and sprints. This article made me feel a whole lot better about doing more walking and hiking and not beating myself up for not doing sprints 🙂 Thanks for the ideas to personalize the program!!

  14. Thanks, as always, Mark! Will look into sprint biking…
    I am with you Healthy Guy ~ hilarious!

  15. I wear my 25 lb baby on my back or chest probably at least an hour every day. And I go up and down the stairs at least 5 times a day with him strapped to me as well. Would that count as lifting heavy things?

    1. My opinion is, not exactly the same, because you’re not using your arms and shoulders throughout the extra weight-bearing period. Are you making sure to engage your core muscles while carrying the baby? That will help. So will things like looking into your gait, not crashing your heel down, maybe some bafeoot-walking or barefoot-style shoes.

      Not a trainer, but I used to walk miles a day, including hills, with a heavy backpack delivering leaflets and it did very little for my upper-body muscle tone, and until I woke up to it, I’d got into some bad habits with gait and posture.

      1. I’ve been strictly barefoot for over a year now, only wearing flip flops or slippers into Whole Foods and other stores, so I naturally haven’t been heel striking. I think I’ve gotten down the right foot placement when walking, and my toes have spread out more since walking barefoot (which I’m super happy about!). I may not work my arms much, but my shoulders are killing me by the time I take him out of it, because he likes to lean completely to one side or the other and hang out sideways. :p I don’t think I’m engaging my core all that much, I’ll have to start doing that. Thanks. 🙂 I’m not clear on what looking into my gait means? I guess I’ll Google that.

        1. Correction: my traps get sore, not my shoulders. I mixed those up. I guess my shoulders don’t get worked after all. I’ll try and incorporate more incline pushups (not even close to doing a full pushup yet)

  16. Great breakdown for various folks … I have to implement this myself (I’m an office worker that is actually somewhat fit)!

  17. I’m the parent. I was gifted a FitBit for Christmas and oh dear, I may as well frame it because I rarely crack 5k steps in a day! That alone has been an eye opener. I always find excuses not to exercise, mostly that’s it’s too difficult to organise two babies under 2 to do anything at all, hell, I can’t even go to the loo alone! But the snack size workouts are a great idea. I’ll take a closer look at the primal movement videos.

    1. Can you find a mum in your neighbourhood and swap baby care, so you both get a couple of hours a week, mutual benefit-style?

      1. That would be a good idea, I just feel bad about lumping the two of them on anyone, it just seems like a lot of work so I can dance around in lycra for a bit (or equivalent). But I’d be happy to do it for someone else. I should just get braver and take the kids for walks in the pram.

  18. Restoring cardio fitness is pretty much the last frontier for me. I’m a super clean eater, good sleeper, go barefoot, daily yoga / body weight practice, etc. Sprained my knee a couple of years ago, quit my trainer and lost it. Out of nowhere I got doctor’s orders a week ago to achieve my cardio “best” in a stress test in four months. (Congenital heart defect causing problems and she wants a baseline against which to measure future heart health).

    Thanks to MDA, I wasn’t freaked out. I knew that I knew what to do. I started my slothful office worker training the next day on a “get started” level and have my increasing HIIT work outs planned for four months combined with aerobic exercise every day (again doctor’s orders) — and into the foreseeable future given her instructions. It was really a gift that I knew what to do and that this is the critical plank missing in my platform.

    I am well aware this will also open outdoor activity doors for me and so immediately also discussed a summer trip to Colorado with my husband where I can look forward to some serious hiking with my planned fitness level.

    Neither my “change readiness” nor my knowledge would be in place without MDA and this community. Awesome timing on the post and thank you.

  19. Thanks for this post, its very insightful. I do a lot of cross-training but don’t belong to a crossfit gym. Currently I’m strength training 3 days per week and taking Krav Maga (martial arts self-defense) classes, which i consider cardio, 3 days per week.

    I tried a crossfit gym but being pushed to do 10 reps of barbell snatches at the end of an already intense workout with little to no form checks from the instructors would get me injured so no thanks I quit. Before Christmas, I was doing some pretty intense, cross-fit/density styled training using moderate to heavy weights & after Christmas switched over to strength training in the 3 – 5 rep range on military presses, pullups and front squats. Once I hit my target weights (or reps) on these lifts I’ll simply switch the lifts and target deadlifts, rows (either inverted or dumbbell), and chest press.

    Around March I’ll start looking into increasing my endurance on the treadmill to prep for doing some sprinting at the track for April. I’ll incorporate sprints, ladder drills, kettlebell exercises & resistance band work over the spring/summer), & flip back to some density training again around July – August in preparation for Tough Mudder.

    Great post, thanks again!

  20. Does anybody else here think that a Primal Blueprint Fitness DVD would be an awesome idea? How encouraging and inspiring would it be to have the great Mark Sisson taking us through push-ups and pull-ups and lifts and sprints? As been mentioned on this site before, a lot of home DVD workout programs are designed to be highly intense but unsustainable, promising that “beach body” in 90 days, but with not much thought about what happens after that 90 days.

    While most extreme home DVD workout programs are all about the no pain, no gain mentality (Dig deeper!), it would be a breath of fresh air to have Mark guiding us through a workout, reminding us to keep our heart rate in check and not blow our adrenals out. I would think this would be especially great for the demographic of folks that are intimidated both by the gym, and by the extremeness of most workout videos.

    Just my thoughts 🙂

    1. I agree. I really enjoyed the P90X videos as a motivator & as a sort of social connection. I work from home, so exercising along with a personable instructor really worked for me.

  21. Great post. This really is so accurate to real life. All the best intentions can’t overcome the limited time and burden of responsibilities that modern life is comprised of. But not losing sight of the principals of the PBF plan really does work. As a 35 year old, father of 3 young kids, office job and one hour commute each way I can fit into multiple categories described in this post. Incorporating unstructured and spontaneous workouts into real life, whenever possible, really does go a long way. I have Mark to thank for bringing this clarity to real life goals and approaches to staying fit. In years before discovering the Primal Blueprint it was jumping from one Men’s Fitness “best workout” to another trying to reach unattainable goal after another and just being disappointed and burnt out. There is a sense of peace knowing that even without a structured workout routine at any given time 50 push ups, 10 pull ups or even a game of basketball doesn’t even require a second thought. A long life of fitness is a lifestyle that presents itself to you everyday, you just have to have the awareness to see it. PBF gives you the knowledge to see those opportunities. Thank you Mark for sharing this knowledge!


  22. Truly an article that everyone needs to pay attention to. I think most of us will probably fit into more than one category, though: I’m parent and office worker with a little bit of endurance athlete thrown in, so the key thing is going to be to figure out the happy medium between these. For me, it’s always going to be lots of walking, hard core strength workouts 2-3 times a week (usually bodyweight exercises due to time constraints), sprints of course, and lots of play with the kids. You gotta do what you have time to do!

  23. I put my 8 year old on my back and do squats. He’s 60lbs. I let my 5 year old lay on my back while I plank. I also bench press the 5 years old and use her for leg lifts and lower ab work.. haha they love it! I get them to count reps too. Helps the 5 year old with her numbers! 🙂

  24. i have been a distance runner for ~5 years and i am now a first year in college. recently went paleo. run 6 days per week. i have done three half marathons and a few weeks ago i was even thinking about doing a full marathon this fall…. now i am starting to change my mind. i am starting to realize that it sucks to have my grades and social life suffer bc of so much running on top of some weight lifting. i am kind of torn on whether or not i should give up distance running or not….. i am starting to incorporate even heavier lifting and this week i did almost all sprints rather than running junk mileage.

    it is, however, kind of mentally difficult to detach myself from running. i still love my easy long runs and the sense of accomplishment i get from them. have any former distance runners gone through something similar? it’s like trying to rip off an extremely painful band-aid, hahaha

  25. Yes the concepts that you mentioned above has worked for everyone in my close friends. We applied it at the same time to see who will get the best result and in minimal days. We started with strength training and always walk as much we can. It not only help us in boosting our strength but also our inner potential are increased. We all have a fit body now and it doesn’t mean we stopped our daily exercises. We still continued on your concepts.

  26. I am in the middle of training for the Boston Marathon, I listened to the book Primal Endurance a few weeks ago and started the 21 day challenge two weeks ago. Do you think i am messing up my training for Boston by trying to run below my max aerobic heart rate threshold while getting ready for this marathon? Should i wait to covert to Primal Endurance after the race in April? I have been eating Paleo for two weeks and running (albeit very slowly). Thoughts?

  27. Im struggling with the exercise. I have always been one of those that exercises to complete exhaustion and now at 46 I am feeling it. I have started just walking and doing yoga and do some resistance stuff but I am fighting the feeling that I am not doing enough. I am a retired martial artist so I want to add that in as a sport to do for fun. I really need help with kind of a schedule to incorporate the walking, the resistance and the martial arts into my week. Any suggestions?

  28. Lovely article.Its always good to workout a bit even you are busy.Mark, Thank you for sharing your blueprints for fitness with us.

  29. Hey mark,

    Yes, I completely agree with your valuable given inputs about an importance of exercise in a life.
    this blog is really meaningful, logical and motivating.

    Keep blogging Mark, it really inspired the people like us.

    Thank you

  30. Thanks Mark Sisson for sharing this informative piece of article. I have been in the healthcare industry from past 10 years and I believe the advantages of exercises are innumerable. Exercises can bring happiness, boost up confidence, learn to set goals and achieve them, reduce heart disease risk and improves memory.
    We should spend ample time on this.

  31. Mark, I would love for you to make a post for teenagers. Particularly about the different ways a teen can go primal and how to recover from and improve our daily struggles- being forced to sit for hours at a time at grade school, having frequent mood swings (common stereotype for teens), having screwed-up circadian rhythms, acne, and keeping an appropriate attitude about our PB-ness (not being arrogant, or frustrated when other teens aren’t primal, or not feeling upset when others insult our lifestyle) around other teens that often don’t prioritize their health whatsoever. I see more and more teens improving their lifestyle and I think that one one would be better at giving us a guide to primal teenhood than you.

  32. Kudos for the weight you have lost, which is no small feat. Just guessing here, but you could be over-exercising and your body is craving carbs as a fuel source, particularly if you aren’t getting enough protein and healthy fats. You might also be trying to lose weight more rapidly than your body is capable of, in which case patience is the answer.

  33. As more ‘senior’ ladies we definitely need to adjust our approach, the hormone shifts do make a difference. I agree sleep is my prime trigger for over eating or eating less well. But also looking at the macros

  34. Hi Mark! I have been reading primal endurance and just got a HR monitor. As I have been testing it it actually seems that I have to run harder to get to my 180-my age rate than I have been going since I have tried to stop doing chronic cardio. My runs are primarily on a treadmill but most recently have been running at 8.5 mile/hour pace but when I put the monitor on had to run above 9.5mile/hour and was still not to 180-age. I would love your thoughts. Thanks

  35. I want to start the Primal Blueprint Fitness, but I don’t have any access to a pull-up bar. Are there any exercises that I can do for the shoulder area without a pull up bar?

  36. You. All. Have. An. Eating.Disorder.
    Orthorexia, compulsive exercise. Potentially anorexia.