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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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January 04 2018

Primal Action Point: What Problem Will You Solve?

By Mark Sisson

Inline_Fitness_Live-Awesome-645x445-02I have a question for you today. Maybe it’s already part of your New Year vision. Or maybe it could help clarify a goal or add a new aim to your plan.

What are you physically unable to do (comfortably) that you’d like to be able to do (comfortably)?

Just as the most effective type of exercise is the kind that you actually enjoy and are willing to do consistently, the most effective kind of fitness resolution aims to solve a problem that you actually have.

Think about the physical acts you’d like to be able to perform but currently cannot, like comfortably sit in a squat for ten minutes, play with your kids for a solid hour, hike a local mountain without feeling like you’re dying, participate in a charity 5K, do a pull-up, or deadlift twice your bodyweight. It could be anything really, as long as it’s something you actively want to do.

What deficit do you want to correct? What “problem” will you solve this year?

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27 thoughts on “Primal Action Point: What Problem Will You Solve?”

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  1. I want to be able to hike with my hubby and not feel like he is waiting on my slow butt each time. I have to take a lot of breaks when the trail has a moderate incline. Fewer breaks would be awesome.

  2. Great question and great timing. I realized the answer to this just yesterday, when I became aware that I can barely carry my 4 year old from the car to the front door of a store without my arms shaking. I realized that this is newer for me, to be this weak. Just a few years ago, I was routinely carrying his older sister at a similar weight for long distances on trails or at events where she couldn’t make the hike back to the car. I can’t do that now! I want to be able to carry my son like this.

  3. I want to be able to lift my right arm above shoulder height without pain. Stretching and very painful rolling is required to fix those muscles. Here I go!

  4. I am doing great with three of the Primal Essential Movements…I can do countless squats, hold a plank for over two minutes and have no problem with push ups. But I cant do a pull up to save my life! I know it’s partly fear…every time I’ve tried I feel some discomfort in the area where I had hernia surgery. But that was years ago, so I’m probably being a baby. So that’s my goal…to actually be able to do pull ups!

    1. If I may… start lifting, by shortening the distance between you and the bar, by standing on a chair or a sturdy box. Most if not all gyms have boxes. For starters, try doing chin ups (palms garbing the bar facing forward) and as you improve, you can move on to pull ups..

    2. Me to! Can’t even do one. My tip is to use a resistance band, fasten it to the bar and put one foot in it. Then lift. It will take some of the weight off. More bands can be used if necessary – it certainly is for me. Good Luck!

  5. Six miles carrying 120% bodyweight. This is the same performance as the upper quintile of adult male Nepalese porters. My current performance is four miles at 95% bodyweight, about the average for that population.

    Current conventional wisdom is that carrying more than 35-50 pounds will “break down the body” (John, McKay, McCarthy), that “Westerners are so far removed from this level of daily work that we physically can’t do it anymore” (Carrier) and that 150% bodyweight for one mile may be impossible (Inman).

    I’ve already disproved the first two and hope eventually to disprove the third (though probably not this year.)

    From a primal perspective, the evidence seems compelling that bipedalism, along with fine motor control, originally arose as an adaptation to carrying maximum weight for long distance. For some reason, almost nobody trains this way. My early results indicate that we are leaving the lion’s share of health improvements on the table if we fail to train it — or, heaven forbid, train unloaded locomotion instead.

    I hope to prove this with my own results and demonstrate carryover adaptations to tests of pure muscular strength. So far, carrying heavy weight has led to personal bests in squat, deadlift, and press after years of plateauing.

    Ideal nutrition to support this expensive metabolic undertaking is a matter of intensive investigation, but seems to involve a great deal of organ meats.

    I hope that I will not be the only one investigating this subject in 2018.

      1. Right now I use a backpack frame for the very heavy loads, strapping an 80 pound weight vest flat, tight and high for the best balance I can get, then adding water and other weights as necessary. For 40-60 pound loads I like a musette bag with shoulder straps carried high on the back. Perhaps the most interesting loadout from a paleo perspective is a large backpack with a heavy weight in one end, lighter weight in the other, carried around the neck like a hunter animal. But there are a vast array of options and I haven’t tested them all. If you want to dig deeper with me on this, there’s a 30 minute discussion of the anthropology of carrying on my YouTube channel (UrbanPrimalist).

  6. I want to be able to go through the clutter that appears daily, all that paper from where? It seems to be difficult to go through and throw stuff out or shred.
    I will just do a little a day, move the shredder to a place that is easy to get to and use the time to relax.

  7. I want to be able to do a pull up! So many of my goals for the new year are emotional/career related, so it’s great to have something physical and clearly defined.

  8. I would like to write Mark and send in my MVA success story post because I made my goal of 225 lbs (which would be 125 lbs lost) and am feeling great. Only 95 pounds to go.

  9. I will fix my bad elbow and gain five degrees of range of motion (surgery 4 years ago did not work as expected)

  10. I’d like to be able to hold a free standing handstand for 30 seconds. I’ve been working on it for awhile and am making progress, but I’m not there yet. The journey has been great and it’s started some cool conversations in the gym.

  11. The problem I want to solve this year is pretty general. I want to be stronger over all. I have seen my muscle mass shrink and I am going to build it back up with weight lifting. To be a little more specific though, I really would like to be able to do 10 regular push ups. I can barely do one push up right now.

  12. get back to the strength i had last year – i was bit by a tick while on a motorcycle camping trip to Maine from western pa last year – blood work came back positive for lymes disease – joint pain has me mostly doing body weight exercises witch i guess is OK but i use to bench 200 pounds for about 12-15 reps – can only do a push up a lot of days – big time elbow and shoulder pain – at least i can still do my hikes and hitt jump rope – i think it would be a lot worse if i didn’t eat primal – i hope someday the mark and the worker bees can give me some help getting back – this web site has change my life – plus drop 50 pounds

  13. Last year, with lots of yoga practice and some extra stretching, I was able to touch my toes for the first ever (was a division 1 soccer player 5-10 years ago).

    Next up, get back to a 6-min mile!

  14. I’d like to be able to bend over and pick something up off the floor. And do a pull-up.

    Another blogger once wrote about the ability to “911 yourself”, that is, are you physically fit enough to get yourself out of trouble? Can you pull yourself up from the side of a cliff? Can you life something heavy off yourself? Can you climb a tree to avoid a bear? Can you run away from the same bear? (Or an attacker, for that point.) I found his viewpoint both refreshing, and disappointing. I’d die pretty quickly.

    1. The “911 yourself” idea seems a great way of assessing our real fitness. I too would meet a very swift end. My goal for 2018 is to be able to get onto and off the floor, multiple times, with ease.