Rest and Recovery: A Whole New Perspective

Inline_Rest_RecoveryIf you’re a type-A, hard-driving peak performer, my hope is that this post will stop you in your tracks.

Today I want you to completely rethink your basic philosophy about how you manage both your fitness activities and the assorted stresses of hectic, modern life. This post was inspired by a great article from training expert Joel Jamieson of titled, “All Pain, No Gain: Why The High Intensity Training Obsession Has Failed Us All.” Joel’s message set off a firestorm of internal dialog among members of the Primal Blueprint team. (Catch Brad Kearns’ recent interview with him for the Primal Blueprint Podcast.) After much back and forth and additional research, I’m eager to get you reflecting and commenting on the genuine nature of recovery from an entirely new angle.

We only have a certain amount of energy we’re able to expend each day. No matter how hard you try to burn additional calories through crazy training, or express your type-A, workaholic tendencies to get more done across the board, you’re ultimately constrained by your own personal daily maximum caloric expenditure.

This assertion is supported by a well-publicized study of the Hadza, modern-day hunter-gatherers in Tanzania. The study revealed the shocking insight that we modern slackers burn a similar number of calories (pound for pound, of course) as our seemingly harder working, traditionally living counterparts. The authors of the study, which was published in the journal PLoS One, reported that, “The similarity in [total energy expenditure (TEE)] among Hadza hunter-gatherers and Westerners suggests that even dramatic differences in lifestyle may have a negligible effect on TEE.” I’d consider this mind-blowing.

The idea that we have an energy expenditure limit is known as the “constrained model of energy expenditure,” in contrast to the popular, but now seemingly disproven belief that we operate on an “additive model of energy expenditure.”

Screen Shot 2018-01-16 at 1.10.17 PM

In the additive model embraced by conventional wisdom, your impressive morning workout adds to your total daily energy expenditure, seemingly promoting fitness gains, a faster metabolism, and a reduction in excess body fat. While logical at first glance, the additive model is being exposed as inaccurate.

Screen Shot 2018-01-17 at 9.54.04 AMIn the constrained model, when we bump up against our max, the body compensates. The downward slope of the “other” section is you glued to the couch watching Netflix all afternoon, too worn out to even answer the doorbell on the heels of your 10k run that same morning.

Figure Source: “Constrained Total Energy Expenditure and Metabolic Adaptation to Physical Activity in Adult Humans”

This is an extreme example of compensating with slug time when you do something really strenuous; however, there are more subtle, nuanced ways we subconsciously adjust our behaviors when we bump up against our daily max.

I also speculate that we might best look at a bigger timeline than a single day. As longtime Primal enthusiast and Newport Coast, CA fitness legend Dave Kobrine observes, if he strings together a good week or two or three of impressive workouts and busy daily schedules, he often eventually experiences a need for some sincere downtime: less exercise, less work (overburdening his brothers in the family business in the process), more sleep, and more recovery. Keep this concept of “borrowed time” in mind when we discuss recovery debt shortly….

This commentary supports the compensation theory that I’ve discussed at length in Primal Blueprint books in relation to calorie balance and weight loss. The theory contends that calories burned during exercise lead to a corresponding increase in appetite and a decrease in general activity levels, as your body tries to preserve energy and recover. Particularly if you exercise in chronic patterns, the appetite stimulation can exceed the calories you burn, such that your overly-stressful workout patterns will actually compromise your weight loss goals.

As I like to quip to lecture audiences, “Your brain is saying, ‘I better stuff my face in case this clown tries to do this again tomorrow.’” In all seriousness,there are profound implications to this maxim, especially for avid exercisers who get frustrated when they can’t shed excess fat.

Besides the appetite and hormonal dysregulation from excess exercise that promotes sugar cravings and fat storage, the compensation theory suggests that you get lazier and eat more calories over the course of the day as a consequence of your workout. This happens consciously, such as when you enjoy a hot fudge sundae as a reward for your “big” workout. It also happens subconsciously, where you might default to the couch for longer than planned; generally move more slowly and feel less motivated to do routine chores in the aftermath of one of those big workouts. Brad Kearns offers a great example of this from when he was training full-time on the pro triathlon circuit. He would drive the 0.6 miles to his mailbox—too tired from hours of training to bother walking or pedaling there. You might also zone out at work and take longer for routine tasks when you are stretched too thin by family, fitness, and fun; and/or snack more frequently with less discipline or awareness than usual.

These assorted compensatory reductions in metabolic activity on the heels of strenuous exercise and generally hectic living are typically outside of your awareness. On his Primal Blueprint podcast appearance, Joel Jamieson references research that athletic types paradoxically have a slower metabolic rate at rest than those who exercise less. Who knew!

The Recovery Deficit

Here is the other glaring omission from conventional thinking about stress and rest, the centerpiece of Joel’s argument for what he calls “recovery-based fitness”— recovery and restoration require energy in and of themselves!

Our flawed rat race, “no pain, no gain” perspective about peak performance in fitness— and in life—is that we should go, go, go until we collapse in a heap at the end of a productive day. We take rest and restoration for granted, instead of allocating a necessary slice of the daily energy expenditure pie for it.

Reflect carefully on Joel’s contention that our daily energy resources are allocated to three main functions:

1. Vital Biological Functions: We prioritize basic daily survival with assorted homeostatic mechanisms that require substantial energy—firing brain neurons, digesting food, breathing air.

2. Workouts and General Everyday Stress: Yes, these have to go in the same category. Realize that whatever energy you wish to allocate to fitness ambitions must compete with your commute, busy workday, jet travel, and shuttling around to the kids’ weekend soccer games. Exercise may be a great “stress release” from a hectic day at the office, but it’s also another form of stress to the body.

3. Recovery and Restoration: Surprise! Restocking depleted muscle glycogen, optimizing immune function, and replenishing the sodium-potassium pumps in your brain neurons and exercised muscles all require significant energy expenditure.

It follows that a type-A hard driver trying to dispense big energy to career, family, and fitness endeavors is playing with fire, constantly challenging the body’s maximum energy expenditure ceiling each day and consequently incurring what Jamieson calls “recovery debt.”

This is where your big expenditures on objectives #1 and #2 compromise what you have left for #3. Perhaps your immune system will break down and you’ll catch a cold. Maybe you’ll take nine hours to put together your audit report or quarterly marketing plan, instead of the six (with fewer mistakes!) it might take if you were firing on all cylinders during the work day. Maybe you’ll blow out a hamstring or strain your shoulder during a workout—not because the workout was beyond your abilities and not because of bad luck or an insufficient warmup, but because you weren’t fully repaired and prepared for your physical effort.

Relax, Records Are Made To Be Broken

One exciting element about this discussion is how it might foretell the future of athletic peak performance. They say records are made to be broken, and we have seen improved performance in team and individual sports in recent years due to increased economic incentives and refined training techniques. Tiger Woods single-handedly generated massive increases in money and attention to golf, and now we have droves more superfit, super competitive players from all over the world competing for unimaginable fame and fortunes. NBA and NFL players are bigger, stronger, faster, and more skilled than in decades past (sorry, Jerry West, it might be time to update the NBA logo!), thanks to the aforementioned economic forces.

However, we’re clearly approaching the ceiling of human potential in many prominent professional and Olympic sports. The exploits of LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant are not going to be trivialized in 50 years by 8-foot tall superhumans sinking 35-foot “four-pointers.” Nor will Usain Bolt’s world 100-meter record of 9.58 (that’s a human running at a top speed of 27.8 mph for the uninitiated) be considered pedestrian in 50 years.

Consider that the current high jump world record of 8 feet (yes, a human can clear his entire body over a bar that is the height of your ceiling!) has held now for 25 years. Forget the famed four-minute mile, the current record of 3:43 (c’mon, watch it on this video, it only takes a few minutes…) by Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj has held for 18 years.

“El G,” who at 5’9” was estimated to have the cardiovascular system of a man 6’6”, the inseam of a man 6’2”, and the upper body of a man 5’2” (“a machine,” said commentator Craig Masbach, a former 3:52 miler himself) was also motivated by deepest of callings; he believed that it was his destiny in the eyes of Allah to become the greatest middle distance runner in history. After an upset loss in the Olympics he reported that, “I was unable to eat or sleep for a week.” He didn’t lose again for several years. Tough guy, and experts that predict that in 100 years, the mile record may only drop a couple seconds at most. But I digress…

Where are we headed from here? How will future athletes actualize the
“records are made to be broken” maxim when we have already seen such superhuman feats? I speculate that future performance breakthroughs might be attained by athletes who train less than the current mindblowing standard of the world’s elite athletes.

Remember the legend of Jerry Rice, considered the all-time greatest NFL wide receiver? His off-season hill-sprint-till-you-puke regimen gained legendary status amongst fitness enthusiasts. “He worked harder in the off-season than anyone! No wonder he lasted in the league ’til he was 40!” the thinking went.

Today, in the aforementioned bigger, faster, stronger league (with consequently more severe impact trauma), we have exhibit B, Atlanta Falcons All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones. An article about him caught my eye because of his trending toward Primal-style eating, but another statement from his interview was the real revelation: “I don’t have an offseason workout regimen. I don’t lift weights. I don’t run. I don’t do anything. I let my body rest. I just eat good. I actually eat great.”

Please don’t scoff and say “genetic freak.” I think Jones is giving us a glimpse into a future in which elite athletes (and enthusiastic everyday folks pursuing peak performance) will do more chilling, take longer off-seasons during which they log more beach time in Hawaii and steer clear of any fitness or lifestyle regimen that gives off a whiff of anything chronic.

Maybe we’ll even see pharmaceutical influences drive record breaking. The Tour de France guys love their drugs, right? What if they pedaled like crazy for 1,000 miles over 10 days, and then the team docs hooked them up to IV bags to enter medically induced comatose states for 72 hours of blissful recovery. Altered States II here we come!

Yes, the tide is turning. The Primal Endurance movement is being well-received by the endurance community that has long been mired in the overtraining, carb dependency paradigm. The Primal Endurane Mastery Course portal is filled with video interviews from leading training experts and champion athletes pounding the theme that there is such a thing as too much. In his Mastery Course videos, Olympic gold and silver medalist Simon Whitfield echoes the need for restraint when he says he is currently coached by his 80-year-old self!

Dr. Phil Maffetone—whose MAF method of aerobic-emphasis endurance training is finally getting its due after 30 years of stubborn resistance by tightly-wound endurance enthusiasts—promotes this theme beautifully in extensive interview commentary in the course. Here’s a sneak preview of his interview footage.

In Dr. Maffetone’s book, 1:59 Marathon, he argues that breaking this magic barrier will happen when an athlete actually does less mileage and less intensity than today’s elite, but improves running economy, optimizes rest and other lifestyle factors, and learns to race barefoot (because of reduced weight and improved explosive force per stride… once the feet become conditioned of course!). The current marathon world record is 2:02, a pace of 4:42 per mile! If you want to fully appreciate how amazing this is, go to a local track and try to complete one lap in 70.5 seconds. Good luck. Then imagine carrying on at this pace all the way from your house to downtown, or whatever other distant landmark you have in your town. FYI: you can’t approximate the marathon record pace on a treadmill because they max out at five minutes per mile pace!

The MMA world is also slowly but surely discarding the old school boxing mentality and ushering in an era of highly sophisticated training and recovery strategy. World champs are sparring much less, and spending more time in float tanks thanks in big part to the influence of the forward-thinking podcast king, MMA event host and standup comedian extraordinaire, Joe Rogan.

But let’s bring it back now. How about you? Are you willing to allocate a generous slice of your daily pie chart of energy allocation to recovery and restoration? What about taking down time on a park bench during your work day, taking an evening stroll with the dog instead of an elliptical session at the gym, turning around at mile 25 instead of mile 45 on your bike ride, and going to sleep instead of going to the email inbox? What if these choices might be paths to future breakthroughs in peak physical and cognitive performance? Yes, it requires some reprogramming away from conventional wisdom, but isn’t that what we all do here?

That’s it for me, everybody. Thanks for reading today, and I’ll look forward to hearing your questions and feedback on today’s post—and all things fitness and recovery based. Happy hump day.

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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224 thoughts on “Rest and Recovery: A Whole New Perspective”

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  1. I would love more HIIT/primal tips for type 1 diabetics. Thanks Mark

  2. I see a lot of discussion of people who are now elite doing these more relaxed exercise regimens. But, for example, Mark has years of lifting heavy to actually have put on all of the muscle mass he has. Or in the primal endurance scene, Brad has years of running on his system, same for the examples of Mark Allen, Mike Pigg, etc.

    Is there any sense in doing a really hard exercise regimen for say 6 months, like Starting Strength, to really put on muscle before entering the more relaxed type B style exercises?

    1. Ethan

      YOu bet you bippy there is . I am a novice lifter in Starting Strength (novice meaning in what is called the LP or linear progression phase where volume held relatively static and intensity increased incrementally by adding weight). Starting Strength is about lifting, but the gains come from recovery.

      Mark Rippetoe…”you don’t get strong from lifting weights, you get strong from recovering from lifting weights”….so this blog today of MDA is very relevant.

      therefore the recovery phase, rest, sleep, nutrition is carefully monitored. Now “rest” is to be compared with “active recovery”. Some people will tell you and theymay be correct that light exercising (but not weight lifting) between sessions will produce sufficient recovery.

      Furthermore, there is a well known “interference” effect of endurance training on strength training….. this is not an excuse to blow off strength training because of a blunted effect (strength training does not interefere with endurance training). But SS advocates endurance training with bicycle ergometer or pushing prowler (non eccentric so little soreness) but it is very intense.

      So it is best to start getting strong for six months in a progressive training program with major lifts like squat, Press, Deadlift….and once you have a base of strength, then endurance training or even HIIT can be engaged .

      If you go to a big box fitness operation, you will encounter all sort of people who try and lift weights. They do not know what they are doing. They especially do not know regarding the proper recovery issues with strength training. It’s sad.

      Good luck with whatever you do.

    2. That’s an interesting question Ethan. In the doping world, it’s believed if an athlete dopes up and trains like crazy in the off season when testing is less likely/frequent, the gains made during these aggro training phases can last for a long time. I think any period of time where you are in a chronically overstressed state is a bad idea. Six months of crazy training has high risk and minimal reward. You don’t want a forced rest period you know? The body can progress over time with a more gentle approach

      1. Thanks for the feedback Brad!

        I guess I don’t mean a chronic stress pattern, which thanks to your rants on the Primal Endurance podcast I never want to enter. I mean just being more type A at the start so you get more muscle mass, stronger, leaner more overall fit and then try to be more intuitive.

        I meant hard as in, really lifting, doing MSP type workouts with major lifts multiple times a week. Then, after you actually have some muscle to work with try an aerobic base building period or a more intuitive approach to the lift heavy/sprint protocol/

  3. I am a firm believer that to be truly successful in any physical endeavor, you must put as much, if not more, effort into recovery as “training”. In fact, this just occured to me: focusing on your weaknesses to shore up deficits is a great strategy for injury prevention; how about giving recovery efforts as much time and diligence as any other weakness?

    1. To clarify: My last line was not meant to read as “needing to recover is a weakness”. I intended quite the opposite: “recovering properly leads to lasting strength.”

    2. that’s great stuff Chad. Calling recovery a “weakness” is very clever and insightful. Yes, go work on your under activated glutes and work on your couch time ha ha!

    1. I second that. Rest is just as important as the workout itself, as it is during the period of healing that the muscles are built.

  4. I would love to see articles (more) about pre and post workout nutrition. I know a lot of people believe in supplements (I have) and would like to know more about what nutrients your body really needs that can come from food.

    1. There are many studies now showing that protein supplements approximately 1 hour after weight training of prior to sleep (sweet spot 30gm) will increase muscle protein synthesis. When you look into it….that is true, but the gains are not major and I wonder, especially before going to sleep whether it is appropriate to engage the anabolic machinery when sleep is often devoted to finding and throwing out the daily “trash”. I suppose, if you are making new neuron connections etc, you do use energy but I see it as potentially detrimental.

      Of course whey supplements are not whole food….but certainly protein substrate.

  5. I would be curious if there are certain life events that affect a person’s TEE. Do gestation and breastfeeding really require eating additional calories because they expend more energy or does your body automatically compensate and your TEE stays the same.

    Maybe in the future the idea of better rest and recovery will drive health care policies for maternity & paternity leave for parents who are adapting to less sleep during the newborn phase, or people who undergo surgery and really shouldn’t be going back to work as fast as they are now.

  6. if working out earlier in the day leads to subconscious laziness adjustments, is it better to exercise later in the day? or no effect, since our total energy available will be the same regardless of when we use it? how can we think about this for our primal movement?

    1. Hi Nicole, it’s an interesting question but I think, like the example from Dave Kobrine, we should look at a bigger picture of a week or a month to full appreciate this concept. Whereby the time of day is not a big deal. The best time to exercise is the time that you prefer and is most convenient, period.

      however, I guess if you have a busy busy day and tire yourself out, it might affect your evening workout motivation and performance you know?

  7. Stress + Rest = Growth

    By the way the best marathoners already usually take a few weeks completely off (no running) after major events, what most recreational runners don’t do (“I’ll lose my fitness…!!!”)…

    Suggestion: Maybe something about the importance (or not) of flexibility / stretching

    1. I have not heard of the best marathoners taking a few weeks completely off, but they and everyone else should. Peter Snell set the world 800m record within weeks of running a marathon. Arguably, a well-trained elite runner who is only out there for two hours and change might recover faster than a recreational athlete who pushes themselves hard to a 3 hour or 4 hour effort you know? Lot’s of muscle damage if you are not adequately trained the marathon really fries you.

      Similarly, I am absolutely fascinated watching the Olympic runners complete an all-out 400m or 800m or 1500m race, and then jump around in excitement right away and cover a brisk victory lap right away. I recall being absolutely spent for several minutes after an all-out middle distance effort. I speculate that I simply was not at that elite level of conditioning, and my 4:20 mile was by many measures “harder” on my body than someone on the pro circuit running a 3:50 mile. Just a hunch man, but something to consider.

      Post-marathon absolutely, positively should be a time for ZERO running for a prolonged period of time, zero exercise except easy walking for a week or two – just massive focus on rest. I read once that 80% of first-time marathoners catch an upper respiratory infection in the couple weeks following the run. Thanks for the comment Mathieu

  8. I’d love a discussion on careers that blend well with someone’s desire to live a primal lifestyle. I was laid off recently due to restructuring and now thinking critically about my future. I’m really not certain I want to jump back into the 80 hour/chained to my desk work week. I wish there was a resource where I could find employers who were really in tune with the primal commandments.

  9. I’d love some specific workout suggestions for newbies (I mean someone who has never exercised in their life): what to start with, how many reps/sets, how long to recover and what to look for in recovery, etc.

    1. Have you downloaded the Primal Fitness Ebook? It’s a great resource, and it’s FREE 😉

        1. Apparently it’s not directly available anymore. (Mistake, maybe?). Signing up for the mailing list was the main way to get it, but it doesn’t send a working link to download it. I can’t find any other link either.

          1. Brad, I’m having the same problem as Eric. I signed up for the newsletter and the eBook was supposed to be sent, but never was. Do you know if they are only sent out on a periodic basis, not automatically upon confirmation of the email list signup?

          2. Shannon, we’ve been experiencing some difficulty with that lately. My team is working on it, and it should be resolved this week. I’ve forwarded your name to them.

  10. My suggestion: blog posts on fitness for older adults just getting started in a fitness regimen.

    Our populations are aging in many areas of the world, and as (hopefully) the paleo/primal dietary guidelines continue to gain traction, people cleaning up their diets and feeling better may (again, hopefully) start looking toward getting back in physical shape as well.

    Some posts focused on people 50+, who’ve been desk jockeys most of their lives and now want to start on a road to fitness would have a large audience I think. Perhaps you could save a few from going down the chronic cardio path, as well as avoiding injuries.

  11. I used to work out with a gym owner / trainer who would say “less is more”! He would design intense workouts (that began with warm-ups and he was a stickler for using good form) that would last for 45 minutes, at which time he would kick you out of his gym. Some of the things I read about Crossfit fanatics makes me wonder if they understand how important recovery is. That “said”, all other things being equal some people seem to naturally have more energy and recover more quickly than average, know your own body is important I think.

    1. 45 min to me is way to long for a high intensity session. Just sayin’. Less is more. yes, and also respect the differences between individuals. Top trainer Dave Dolle in Switzerland talks about how certain clients run more steady with better endurance but not much explosiveness while others can go blasting hard for a short time but thrive on much shorter workouts. I am very impressed with the CrossFit approach and their pursuit of broad based fitness competency.

      However, I will state emphatically that at least for me, doing HALF of a CrossFit workout works much better than a full one. I would speculate the same for many, but not all, enthusiasts. The movements and challenges in the workouts are designed to be explosive and intense. If someone asks me to box jump 10x, I am going to go for it. If they ask me after rest period to do 7 more and then rest and do 5 more, I am going to get chapped and not so inclined!! Go hard and go home is my opinion. And the other times, ala Primal Endurance doctrine, go easy or really easy and build your aerobic fitness without overstressing yourself.

      1. 45 minutes of sports performance training is not too much if you have adequate rest between sets. So the actual time exerting yourself is far less than 45 minutes. The TOTAL workout with rest and setup for a given exercise takes place within a 45 minute time span.

  12. What’s the best strategy for pre run nutrition for Keto dieters who run long distances?

    1. how about ingesting some high quality fat or at least a macronutrient balanced smoothie with lots of fat from coconut milk or almond milk, maybe a tbl of MCT oil, along with greens and perhaps a high protein, moderate fat powder like Primal Fuel?

  13. Didn’t check whether you’ve covered this before but: gaining flexibility and mobility is an aspect of full fitness that I think many overlook.

  14. This is very specific but what about arm exercises for women without much upper body strength and not-exactly toned arms.

    1. Hey Susan, a great way to start toning your arms and building upper body strength is with body weight exercises like the plank and push up (which are some of the essential primal movements) Both of them work your upper body and core, and I feel starting off with body weight stuff you’re less likely to injure yourself (this is just my personal opinion) And there’s tons of moves you can to with light weights to tone up your arms.

  15. Mark’s blog is pretty inclusive. I find so much information here that I rarely read other blogs. It’s all relevant to my lifestyle and goals. I love the professionalism and detail you provide.

  16. How do I balance crossfit 3 times a week, other 3 times of dance class (Flamenco), which is hard work but also loads of fun for me (so no way I will give this up), and still get enough rest and recovery?

    1. That’s alot to try and balance. Better sleep a ton and better cruise thru many of those workouts. Go down to a lower ability level at Crossfit on 1-2 of those 3 weekly workouts. Same with dance, dial it down at times and still have fun in the class

  17. I’m 68 and do something at the gym everyday. I try to do 3 HITT bike workouts 3 times a week. Other days I might do 20-30 minutes on either stair stepper or elliptical (keeping my HR around 112 or so and do some weights. Not trying to set any records with weights but a nice 15-20 minutes of a little effort
    I go to bed around 9:30 every night-get up at 5-5:30 have coffee and go to gym
    Am I doing to much? Should I cut back ? I’m curious what you would say a typical week might look like fitness wise

    1. Bruce there is no simple answer except to say that setting a goal like ‘do 3 x HIIT per week’ is possibly a flawed mindset. You take what your body gives you each day and each week and don’t force things. Some weeks you are best to do 0-1 HIIT workouts per week. Maybe 3x a week once in a while but that’s highly ambitious to do week in week out at your age or any age. Check out mastery course for some great guidance on designing an ideal schedule.

  18. More stuff on protein intake amounts and timing, now that most of us are going down to 4-8 hour eating windows. If you only eat once or twice a day are we eating 50g of protein per sitting? Are we lowering protein amounts even if we are not trying to do keto?

  19. How about a list of some good “walking” cities to visit on vacation. For that matter, any vacations spot that encourages primal movements.

  20. I’d like to cover and maybe even arrive at a definitive statement regarding the optimal macronutrient ratios of post workout meals and for how long, in particular, after a session of of personal bests in resistance training. As a primal adherent, I always wonder what sort of altered insulin response to carbohydrate would occur after a rigorous gym session and for how long it would last. More over, I also wonder if excess or at least, considerable amounts of carbohydrate are even preferable to recovery and gains.

  21. Great article, Mark I would love to see an article that takes look at gynecomastia through the primal lense.

  22. I really appreciate new lifting ideas. The MAF method has been huge for me, and I’d love other high bang for my buck strengthening workouts.

  23. I’d like to read an article that focuses on people with energy problems and how best to add exercise to their lives. I’ve suffered from very low energy (that is improving with a keto diet) and tried to start exercising several times over there past few years, but needed so much recovery time that I had to quit after one or two days working out in order to have enough energy to go to work and live life (shower, eat, etc.).

    1. if you have low energy at rest your only workouts might best be walking or simple mobility/flexibility exercises. I had to learn the hard way as a pro athlete that when my energy was low in daily life, it meant no training was warranted.

      1. Thank you, Brad. I’ll try to start more slowly. I used to lift weights, swim, etc., and it’s been very difficult not being able to get back into any of that yet. Hopefully things will continue improving!

  24. My wife is pregnant. She is fairly active. Likes to bike, do yoga, hike, okay soccer, and other outdoor activities.

    I assume the soccer is out due to contact with the belly. What about yoga? Are certain poses a no go?

    What exercises are beneficial? Maybe some are better in the first trimester for increased blood flow and some are better towards the end due to reduced mobility?


    1. a good yoga teacher can accommodate a pregnant person. They even have lots of pregnancy yoga classes. Im sure any doc would agree to pass on the soccer for a while

      1. Yes. We have tried searching for some pregnancy yoga videos on YouTube. We have yet to find one we like. Any recommendations?

        I know about workouts are off limits for the duration of the pregnancy? And obviously ones with direct contact as well. Should these women ignore strengthening their core altogether?

  25. I would like to know how primal might affect dysautonomia conditions like Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.

  26. Love this post! While I am not one to push myself to the limits when I work out, I still see the need for rest and recovery. Just in the past month I’ve been making a huge effort to improve my sleep (quality and quantity) and I’m noticing that I have way more energy to work out and just feel better all over.

    As far as what I’d like to see…maybe some fitness/nutrition stuff geared specifically towards women every now and then. And I love the idea posted below of suggestions for good walking cities…that is definitely my favorite way to explore a new place.

    And I just enrolled in the Paleo Cooking Bootcamp…cannot wait to get started!

  27. I would love to read more fitness articles geared at the absolute beginners out there. I tried to train as a runner for 2 years. I ran 3 miles a day, 5 days a week for 2 years. I never got under a 12:00 mile pace. I think I ran one 10:00 mile one time. How can that even be? To call it frustrating is a huge understatement. In all that time my legs never hurt/got sore/burned, but my chest was always tight during a workout. Why is that?

    1. Nikki,

      Did you run exactly the same frequency (5x week), intensity (12 minute per mile pace) and duration (3 miles) for the ENTIRE 2 years without any progression whatsoever?

      Do you run with a heart monitor?

      Do you track your resting heart rate every morning and 1 minute post run?

  28. I would love some practical tips on breaking through the mental barriers to actually devoting more time to rest and recovery. Thanks!

  29. I appreciate the info… what would be helpful to me is a “beginner’s guide to fitness.” I get so lost in “where to start” that it becomes overwhelming. What’s the best weekly routine for a total fitness noob? How to start with HIIT and strength training… almost like a couch to 5k sort of program for total body fitness. Thanks!

    1. If you haven’t downloaded the Primal Fitness ebook from this site, you really should. It’s quite detailed and exactly what you’re describing.

  30. Less work and more rest is always music to my ears. Between this, and the 12 min/week exercise as prescribed by Doug McGuff, we’ll all have plenty of time to play. How about some articles on how to play / move better? I didn’t even realize how much natural movement ability I’ve lost until I tried to mimic my kids’ movement…

    1. Yes! Watching my little one’s bursts of natural energy is amazing. She’s generally been a calm girl and actually has hypotonia so she fatigues easily, but she gets these hyper moments when she runs around, laughing and screaming. It’s a delight to see and i try to mimic it in my life and do movements that feel good when I feel intrinsically motivated (plus two formal workouts per week 🙂

  31. Wow – as I read this post it was like I could almost physically feel my mental paradigm shifting. It makes SO MUCH SENSE and is music to the ears of this former intense (injury prone) exerciser, now working my way through a thicket of hip, gut, and autoimmune issues. LOVE knowing that the kinder and gentler fitness approach I’ve been forced to assume is primal and optimal.

    1. thanks for the note Amy, a paradigm shift is a desired response. We really need to start totally rethinking the concept of recovery.

  32. What an awesome giveaway! I’d love to see more articles on sleep and rest, as well as play, being just as important part of our lifestyle. Oh, also, about how regular people can achieve great metabolic flexibility through the Primal Lifestyle (maybe that would be more of a success story thing?)

  33. I’d love to see information around managing TEE in the context of injury and/or chronic illness.

  34. Great article Mark. Work smarter not harder! I like to lift 3 times a week and do small hikes in the winter, but then when it’s summer and the mountains are free of snow I switch to lifting Tuesday Thursday and a BIG hike and fun on the weekend. I found a lot of struggles trying to hike hard on the weekend AND lift heavy 3 times a week…wasn’t making any progress…gave myself Mondays and Fridays as big-lazy-eat a-lot-rest days and suddenly made much more progress in the gym!

  35. Great post today, Marc. I was able to apply some of that to an ongoing discussion my team is having about “leadership” and organizational change. Ya never know what you’re gonna get.

  36. I’m trying to be more active through the day, but due to arthritis (hereditary) I feel a limit as to what I can do. What type of exercise is good for someone with really bad knees. I know a lot of people say swimming, but I can’t handle cold water either.
    And also what to do after a knee replacement.

  37. Hey Mark! I was curious what your thoughts are on crynotherapy and the benefits a lot of people seem to swear by including muscle recovery and decreased inflammation? Thanks and Grok on!

  38. Anything Primal for kids. There’s almost nothing out there that educates kids, books, videos, etc…

  39. I would love to see an article about fitting combat sports into a primal paradigm – a sort of “how to” for fitting high intensity, aggressive training into an otherwise chill primal lifestyle.

  40. I would love a go-to place or course(s) that have DAILY workout videos that progress from Beginner to Advanced. I am a high school teacher and struggle to maintain my workouts over the course of the school year. I know everyone is busy and having a place to go – see a video of the moves/and or instructions for the day would be a time saver, inspiration and motivation!

  41. With the Peloton craze expanding to treadmill and boot camp workouts, is it possible to leverage their original spinning classes and emerging workout technologies with Primal Fitness? How can one use these services without becoming it becoming chronic?

  42. I concur with constrained energy model. Right now, we are getting our first “real” winter swells. Everyone is surfing overhead pumping waves for two to three hours a day. Sometimes twice a day. So what happens after a week of this? We are all becoming less productive in our daily activities. We’re friggin’ exhausted and mentally zoning out. We move slower, lounge more, eat more and sleep more. We’re starting to finally get our more muscular, rugged, higher endurance winter bodies but it comes at a cost. Even my vision suffers and I’m using my weak readers to see the computer screen clearly. But that’s the cost of surf addiction. We gorge when it’s on.

    1. of course its worth it and the rest of life can wait when there is a swell. At UCSB classes were half empty whenever there was a swell.

  43. Perfectly timed article! I’ve noticed exactly the behaviors you described and wondered what to do about it. “Do” being the operative response for a type-A personality Duh! Do less (but better), rest more, eat smart.

  44. I would like more tips on caloric intake when you are injured and can’t burn the extra like normal. I know grams of carbs need to be counted more carefully but, is there a inflammation burner food that help recovery go faster?

    Thank you for all you do to help us!!!

  45. I have a friend who I’m not sure if he is chronic cardio or not? He is running 70-90 miles a week, but says most of it is at low intensity (7-9miles). We have tried getting him onto primal endurance but he didn’t make it very long before switching back to quick carbs. He’s so open to primal/paleo but won’t take the time to reset considering he’s been high intensity and high carb for years. But that is just a background. How about an article on excessive working out and finding your significant other. He’s run into issues with girlfriends and them “not being able to keep up” with his lifestyle.

  46. What might be the best recovery concepts / techniques? In a 24 hour time frame. We definitely have sleep ( what are the determining factors for optimal and what is an indicator or how much time). And through out the day what type of rest for recovery do you employ? Would Meditation have better quality recovery than napping or listening to some classical music ect…

    1. For me I’ve found sleep, lots of water, maybe ice on sore muscles, and upping both carbs and protein – mostly protein but you need some carbs for recovery as well. I also tend to go for some red meat and saturated fats when I’m physically pushing my limits.

  47. I’d be curious to have Mark interview people like Herschel Walker and Ido Portal and see how they recover.

  48. I want more on parenting primally. Despite my best attempts, it seems my kid only wants to eat rice and pasta these days. We started her on lots of fruits and vegetables but she seems to have lost her taste for them. Maybe it’s a stage? Also, we got her a tablet and she’s glued to the thing. We have to hide it! I’m worried about her generation.

  49. I’m always looking for quick easy recipes or meal prepping recipes. Especially for breakfast or lunch that I can make ahead of time and just grab to take to work.

  50. Someone already mentioned pre/post workout recovery food and supplement suggestions but I’ll second that request. As a 40-something female I was finding I was getting very sore from my heavy lifting days and needed to scale back to only 2 days of lifting per week. I recently found out I’m actually low in DHEA suggesting some adrenal fatigue and likely adding to my muscle fatigue and slow recovery. Trying to figure out my supplement and nutrition plan since then has led me into a very confusing world with so many different options…one doesn’t know where to begin. Obviously, everyone is different and needs to experiment, but what are the most current recommendations for recovery feeding for low carb athletes of various ages?

  51. 1) Tools and methods for tracking and self-assessing one’s progress on various fitness regimens, such as strength training, conditioning, cardiovascular health, mobility/flexibility, etc.

    2) Early warning signs of injuries to watch out for when training and how to respond appropriately.

    3) Dispelling myths surrounding conventional wisdom around fitness.


  52. Rest is so underrated. Mike Mentzer one of the greatest bodybuilder ever who went on to become one of the greatest trainers, developed the HIT. He would have his clients before say a squat to absolute muscle failure for only one set. Then he would move them into say underhand pull downs and complete one set to absolute muscle failure again and that was it. No more work. He wouldn’t get his clients back for another 6-7 days. He had clients putting on 10-20lbs of lean muscle doing this. And when the gains stop, instead of increasing the volume (which everyone did) he would instruct his clients to take an extra 2 days off. Recovery is relative to the individual but if your workouts are that intense then you require a greater amount of rest. Higher intensity longer rest. Lower intensity less rest. Simple

  53. Mark,

    Can we discuss the correlation between heart rate variability and recovery and how the two coincide with each other when it comes to training?


  54. I read this, I logically believe it, I just struggle to do it. I’m a chronic cardio person who freaks out if I miss one day. But part of my “reasoning” is that I have a desk job so I sit almost all day. It’s computer-locked and meeting based and there’s not a lot of opportunity for movement. So if I don’t do my heavy early morning workout, I fear I’m REALLY falling behind. This article mentions that part of the downside of over-exercising is laying around on the couch, but since I don’t move much all day regardless, I want to get my workouts in. I understand the flaws in my logic, just having trouble implementing. Perfect day for me to read this as I’m snowbound at home and panicked over missing a spin class. Ha.

  55. I would like to see some tips on how to incorporate primal movements during a regular workday in an office environment. I believe that an hour or two of movement after 8+ hours of sitting just cannot be enough.

  56. I would love to see suggested menus for the different type of training days (recovery, intense intervals, endurance).

  57. This is question for us older guys. I will be 73 next month. How should we adjust training for the older folks. What is optimal for a 75 year old in good health. I used to lift a couple of times a week. Sometimes now lifting only once weekly works best. it seems there is all kinds of advice for the 30-50 age group but not for those of us in their 70’s. I know everyone is different but can you give us some general guidelines on how to remain fit and healthy.

  58. Rest is by far a factor in recovery. Even if the body feels good I often wonder about the major organs we abuse and how aware are we when we do not recover them also. The after affect from racing proceeds with weeks of hormone depletion, muscle loss, and mental fatigue. Plus you put in working full time and you look back and say, “how did I do it”? Great article and I needed that! Thank you bunches!

  59. I’m a personal trainer and have a hard time convincing the general public to steer away from the Standard American/western way of thinking when it comes to nutrition and exercise. Even given my status s a fitness professional and the physical characteristics I proudly display as an adopter of the less is more high fat low carb lifestyle.

    So my question for discussion is, how can we further our teachings and open the minds of those who cling to old school thinking, without coming off as preachy or overwhelming health seekers with too much info too fast…


  60. I would be very interested in learning more about preventing/reversing metabolic syndrome.

  61. Would like to see a guide on how to strengthen calves by lifting. I cant seem to get them to grow from standing calf raises, and nobody at my university’s gym knows how to either.

  62. How does IF and Keto fair for women? I know IF is supposedly better for men but more details for the ladies on how to maximize this would be great!!

    1. MPartin, I’ve been Primal for years and have gradually transitioned to Keto. Primal felt great to me…Keto feels amazing. I’m 51 and feel more focused and energized on Keto for sure. Didn’t lose any weight (I wasn’t trying to) but have better muscle definition for sure. But I totally struggle with IF…most days I’m just too hungry!

      1. Thank you Elizabeth! How many times do you IF a week? Are you keto 27/7?

        1. Hey MPartin, When I first tried IF it didn’t work for me…I was starving. At the time I was also chronically sleep deprived. I think I was simply up and active too much of the time for it to work. Now I just try to listen to my body. I always have coffee blended with fat and collagen peptides in the am (maybe 6 am) Today I didn’t eat again until lunch time. I’ll probably have a super early dinner (like 4) and then not eat until my coffee tomorrow am. But there are days when I get hungry and eat throughout the day…but still totally keto. I have a sporadic work schedule so I have to work around that. I don’t track my macros because it makes me crazy, but I know with what I’m eating I’m definitely in keto territory. Lunch today was sockeye salmon cooked in butter, a whole avocado and some spinach wilted in the pan I cooked the salmon in. I post many of my meals on my Instagram account if you want more ideas of how I eat keto.

    2. Yes, me too! I happily and easily do IF, but wonder as I hear it is not so good for women.

      1. I think limited IF works well for women. I routinely do IF from an early dinner until around noon the next day–about a 17-hours fast. Sometimes I eat earlier than noon, but I never snack between dinner and bedtime. This type of IF comes naturally for me, whereas fasting for several days in a row or a week at a time does not. Personally, I don’t find extended fasting to be at all beneficial.

  63. I think it is about time athletes and everyday fold are realizing this!

  64. this discussion is fascinating to me-I am a runner who follows the Galloway method (run/walk at 3 runs a week). I often get told I need to run more but Ive tried that and my body doesnt like that. I would love to see more articles around the idea of rest and recovery as they are things people seem to forget.

  65. This is timely, after taking time off from my usual workout routine over the holidays… I’m always so nervous to return to my routine if I’ve taken off more than a week, but without fail, I seem to come back stronger, faster, and better balanced.

  66. I would love to try the diet and primal way of eating!!

  67. Fitness question: Is hot yoga all that beneficial to your body versus regular yoga? If so, how?

  68. I would like to see some options for minimal style shoes suited for casual everyday use and for being on hard modern surfaces

  69. I’d love to read about TEE and recovery time/energy in the context of chronic fatigue…

  70. I am always interested in different recipes and food strategies for a busy family.

  71. There’s definitely something to adding more recovery to your regimen. What will be really interesting is how one would prescribe the best cycle time/design to maximize it’s benefit and how that applies to your own fitness goals. Ie. As someone who’s been doing crossfit for the last 7 years with the goal to stay fit and look good naked 😉 does it make sense to reduce days in the gym from 5 to 3 for the entire year? Or 5 days a week for a month, then next month 3 days a week? Or something even on a larger scale like Julio Jones at 6 months? What if just maintaining your fitness isn’t enough, can you make strength or endurance gains on that type of regimen as well?

  72. I’m a mother of two (and want to have more) who started following because I saw an in-law at her grandson’s first birthday. She looked like a flipping teenager! So I asked her what she was doing and she gave me one name, “Mark Sisson”. I have since adopted the primal lifestyle and my husband has now joined in. First week and he is down 15 pounds! Men. You all can drop it so much faster.

    I would like to learn more about the primal lifestyle and children. Should I add some extra carbs for them? I know healthy fats found in avocados and eggs are excellent for their brain development, but what about other growth and functionality of their immature bodies?

  73. I would love to see an article with a sample work out plan for someone newer to working out who has the hectic full time work schedule work kids. Pairing this also with eating Paleo/Keto. I work with a lot of people trying to make this go right but coming across so much contradictory info online that they either give up or burn out fast. Including me! Love your Keto book. I’ve been successfully eating Keto & intermediate fasting for a few months with a little break over the holidays (which wasn’t worth it!). The only thing missing is what to do fitness wise & how often. Thanks!

  74. I’d like to see more ideas on exercise for parents of young kids. How to best use the few minutes we have here and there.

  75. Can eating too little be as counter productive as eating too much, even if we’re eating all the right nutrient rich foods?

  76. Ideas for how best to overcome this mindset of “all go, no stop” would be helpful. The rest part might be easy to say, but how to switch your mindset isn’t always.

  77. This was a great article for me to read today! After living the last 5+ years constantly increasing my exercise regimen and pushing my body daily, I finally found my limit by blowing a disc in my C spine. Rehab has begun after a lengthy rest and injections, all focused on slow movement under tension. It’s boring, I despise it and I long for my hardcore HIIT training. After reading this I feel much better about taking it slow and more hopeful knowing that positive results can come from a more recovery focused routine!

  78. I really enjoyed reading this post as I sit here feeling sick (with the flu) and I think I weakened my immune system through too much exercise. However, I am wondering what constitutes rest? Would lying down on your bed watching a movie be considered recovery? Or reading a book? I know you mentioned a few restful activities, but I would love to see a more comprehensive list. Thanks Mark.

    1. Chronic Cardio = the number one way to suppress your immune system.

    1. Unfortunately not good news – the facts of life – If you want to do Triathlon’s and win, you will need to engage in chronic cardio, which means sacrificing your body and your health. The very nature of the Triathlon’s is that it focuses mostly on chronic cardio.

      You are telling your body that you need to push through long duration cardio, and as such, it will go into a catabolic state – where muscle tissue, and then organ tissue is sacrificed to give you the energy to keep going. Expect fatigue, low hormones, and numerous other maladies over time.

      Almost all of the Triathlon enthusiasts I know have a number of injuries, and age very quickly – it’s the price to be paid I guess.

  79. I would like to know how to train for a triathlon the primal blueprint way

    1. Check out Primal Endurance. There is a book, a podcast and a Mastery Course.

      I would definitely say check out the podcast first, there are shows label “interval show” or something where Brad Kearns goes over all of the topics in the book and also adds in a bunch of information off the cuff, it is a great show!

  80. I would like to see a discussion that sums up all previous posts regarding PB Fitness, including CrossFit incorporation, Muscle Gain, associated Supplements such a Whey Protein, BCAA’s, Creatine. Also include Rest Days, working out in a Fasted state and while in Ketosis, and how intense Primal Play effects our strength training efforts. A new post that incorporates all that content, plus any new updates would be a great resource for those new to this PB journey!

  81. Even though the science of explaining why more recovery is better may be new, the practical concepts are not. “Olde Time Strongmen” like the Saxon brothers and Hermann Goerner as well as pre-steroids bodybuilders like John C. Grimes all used the maxim of “train, don’t strain”. These men achieved feats yet to be equalled by any of today’s athletes even without using a pound-for-pound measurement. The two biggest mistakes I see in every gym (besides horrendous technique) are glottal stop breathing and rushing the inter-set rest periods. Both put your system into fight-or-flight mode and drive cortisol through the roof, overtaxing recovery ability. The strongmen of yesteryear often worked out 2, 3 or more hours at a time, but with a leisurely pace between efforts. They believed in coaxing, not forcing growth, often going many months using the same weights while perfecting form. I could go on and on, but I think you get my drift.

    1. Agreed – and they put correct technique above all else – they “milked” everything they could get from each new progression.

      The mentality now is to do a crazy charge to the “top of the hill” – “I want it all now” attitude.

      I find it amusing to watch so called “Type A’s” burn themselves out, they are fast out of the gate – but bad on the long haul.

      1. This is where awareness of training history pays off. John Grimek, as a national and world champion Olympic lifting champion and winner of Mr. America and Mr. Universe among many other titles would put Rich Froning to shame with a 600# DL, 700# Sq., 480# BP and 285# Military Press while being able to do a round-off, back handspring, back flip combo into full splits. And he was still squatting up to 645# in his 70s! And 4-time Olympic Champion Carl Lewis was constantly criticized for “not working hard enough” at Olympic team training sessions, but he made it clear that he knew how much effort (and how much volume) he could expend and still make progress and peak for competition and would simply state “but who has the records and the gold medals?” There are many more examples of past champions who knew when enough was enough if anyone cares to do the research. I have kept to what I call the middle path most of my life, and while no champion, I am very happy with the consistency of fitness, body composition, strength, power, agility, flexibility and mobility I have maintained and continue to improve after 46 years of training. Not to mention the benefits of equanimity, perseverance, concentration and cheerfulness that seem to be a natural outgrowth of my training and diet.

  82. Please, please expand on this idea of an energy maximum. I suffer from celiac-related thyroid disease, and the crash I experienced when it hit was, in today’s parlance, epic. I would love to know how to approach a normal energy maximum with a depleted thyroid. I feel like I have to work so hard just to exist, and that’s with a TSH that is as low as medication can get it safely. 🙁

    1. There is stacks of research done on Women, you just have to find it. A lot of the so called “research” comes out of marketing hype, which in turn is driven by demand, i.e., mostly men craving to get and bigger muscles and leaner bodies, ironically probably to impress a Women. This leads to a lot of “garbage research” directed at men.

      That aside, there really is an endless supply of research directed at Women, and the human body in general, don’t forget, Men and Women share the same core biology we aren’t talking 2 different species here.

      Advice: Cash out that victim card, sell the excuses, and read Marks “primal blueprint” – it has all you need to know.

      1. Hi Tribal – thank you for your response. Perhaps I should have been more clear in the question, I want to know more on how women differ from men – and due to the variance in hormones there are many different responses to inputs. To ignore this would be ignorant. I have zero excuses and I am full primal and scream it from the rooftops. As mark says, I want to live awesome and I’m always looking for new perspective. Also please consider not attacking people it’s really not necessary.

        1. I agree Jennifer! It seems much easier to find information on men (Tribal — can you point me to that plethora of endless research on women, thanks!) I am just trying to learn . . . don’t bite please.

          1. OK – from years of experimentation, trying different “books”, and research, exercise, diet approaches – when I found the primal blueprint, I quite literally found all the other stuff redundant. Having said that, there was a spin off of the primal blueprint called “Paleo Girl”, which I read myself as I have daughters – it sort of added new things, but its all similar theory. Other ones you might want to throw into the mix, “Strong Medicine” is a good one, all of these books are not directed at any particular gender, and can be tuned to your own body and lifestyle.

  83. More tips for following the Keto lifestyle as a newbie in the first two weeks.

  84. The wind chill was negative 13 and the bus was 20 minutes late on my way to work this morning. Instead of getting angry I wondered, are there any benefits of safe exposure to the cold? What are your thoughts, Mark? How can I live more primally in the midst of an Iowa winter?

  85. Hi Mark, I would love some more articles about fitness and maintaining a regular, healthy menstrual cycle. Thanks!

  86. Do I still need a rest day? I just alternate my short HIIT workouts one day and just yoga or pilates the next day.. I do try to sleep at least 7 hours daily and a semi paleo diet…I do have some joint pains and moving helps a lot… Thanks Mark

  87. I would love to see more on nursing, family, and kid oriented health.

  88. I love this post. I’d love to see more on adrenal fatigue and research on the benefits of float tanks for athletes. Great stuff!

  89. Not only have I begun a new lifestyle journey, my daughter is doing the same. She has PCOS and is hoping this will help her.

  90. I have been eating Keto for some time and now my daughter is joining me. We hope Keto helps her PCOS.

  91. It seems as if there is a proper technique for everything, is there a proper technique for rest? Is proper resting just crashing on the couch, or should proper rest technique include functional movements or things like Fascial stretching therapy? I would like to see articles or research on proper resting technique, if there is such a thing.

  92. What are some good strategies for physically preparing for a multi-week/month backpacking trip? Is it as simple as “grab a heavy pack and do a lot of hiking?” And of course with adequate rest and recovery.

  93. I have been eating keto for awhile now my daughter is joining me. She hopes this will help her PCOS.

  94. Hi Mark, as a marathoner, I loved your book Primal Endurance. I would love to see some articles about marathon training (even though I know you’re somewhat against it, I’m still hooked!)

  95. Hey Mark, this was a great article. I would love to see some more information on exercise recovery and balancing nutrition with an active lifestyle. I do appreciate the less is more tack your writing takes and the advice that you give, however, I also want to learn how we can become higher performers as well.

  96. It’d be awesome to see the effects of being in ketosis while trying to keep up strength and energy. The positive effects are notorious, but so are the negative effects. How does one maintain a healthy ketogenic diet/diet leading to ketosis without the “crashes” and weaknesses so often experienced.

  97. Where do you think the line should be drawn when it comes to technology helping with recovery? Or does there need to be one? Like fitbits, garmin, Whoop, or Joel’s own Morpheus (yet to come out) – versus taking old fashioned down time?

  98. Hi, I have been experimenting with keto for performance in ultramarathons and trail races, but have noticed my HR spikes above MAF threshold often when actually running in ketosis.. I’ve started trialing adding superstarch and ketone supplements about an hour before I run, and that seems to help and not kick me out of ketosis, but I’m unsure of how to continue fueling for big efforts without carbing up too much… If I run longer, say 6-8 hours, I find my HR spiking again after a few hours unless I add more carbs like superstarch or Mark’s collagen bars.. So.. my question is how to best fuel in keto for long efforts like trail running? Is there a guideline for how many carbs or ketone supplements to take before a run, and then when/and how much to add during the run.. I’m figuring it out by just experimenting on long runs, but some guidance would be great..
    And one more question! Is it advised to restock glycogen (eat carbs) after big efforts, especially if I am doing “back-to-back” long runs the next day, or is staying in ketosis more beneficial for recovery post exercise?

  99. It is noted in some clinical studies that there is a higher incidence of a low white blood cell count in endurance athletes based on the clinical reference range. please comment

  100. I watched the Breaking-2 documentary/film on a plane recently. Was disappointed they never touched on the topic of diet optimization. They focused more on the running technique, cutting wind resistance, bouncy shoes (well it was sponsored by Nike), a flat track and they did it in 2:00:25. Would be good to see what a barefoot runner on a primal diet could achieve!

  101. I would love some more posts about nutrient timing when going keto around intermittent fasting, trying to get in resistant starch, and post fasted workout creatine and protein or continuing the fast.

  102. I would love to see a post around nutrient timing post workout when going keto and working out fasted as part of an intermittent fast. Things like getting resistant starch and readily available protein and avoiding muscle catabolism.

  103. I am Evernoting this article, this is golden; the concept of “recovery debt.”

  104. I’d like to hear more about how intense exercise sessions coordinate with intermittent fasting times. Best timing, best recovery, etc.

  105. I’d like to know how intense workouts coordinate with intermittent fasting schedules – best time, best recovery, etc.

  106. My wife has a friend that recently has decided to adopt a plant based diet and move away from valuable meat proteins and good fats. Her diet includes grains like corn and rice, she is gluten free so no wheat. I have given my wife some ammunition about why primal or keto is the way to go from your books, but what other information could I give her. Forgot she has also giving up dairy.

  107. Thanks for doing all that y’all do! I’d love to see more about how to eat and live to control insulin spikes and keep insulin resistance and diabetes at bay.

  108. Great information lots of application with respect to how I train in self defense and injury.

  109. What are your thoughts on wearable recovery devices such as WHOOP? I used this during my training for my first full ironman distance race and the main takeaway I got was sleep was extremely important for recovery and performance. Thanks

  110. I look forward to your articles as they are so insightful, informative and instructive.
    Discussions on gene testing and analysis is a quagmire to me – so would appreciate your take.

  111. Julio Jones season ended in mid January and mandatory workouts don’t start until mid / late July. I have a very hard time believing that he does absolutely nothing for 6 consecutive months and is ready to go for pre-season training camp!

    Julio should have post season and pre season tests to compare results for strength, speed, power, agility, work capacity to truly determine where his body is at after being dormant for 1/2 a year. That would be very revealing!

    Generally, fitness levels can only be stored for 2 – 3 days before regressing. Exceptions could be made for chronic over-training and advocates of the super-slow weight training whereby some advanced trainees only train once per week or so. I could understand 1 or even 2 months off for an athlete that is physically and mentally drained from a long competitive season.

  112. I am 61, and in pretty good shape, do to the primal blueprint. However, trying to get into better shape, as in more endurance, stronger, seems to be rather elusive for me. Is it that I just don’t have the younger in shape base? Maybe not enough recovery time?
    I would like to hear more about over sixty science on metabolic improvement. I want to be able to be active, and happy till I drop dead.

  113. I have been working to slow down my runs in order to keep my heart rate below 150. I LOVE the way I feel after these slower runs and my recovery is almost non-existent!

    I am currently training for a half marathon and don’t always have a bunch of time to run during the week. I have been running 4 miles over my lunch break and do my long runs on Saturdays.

    Would it be possible that I could be ready for a half if I run 4 miles 3 days a week and increase my miles by 1 each Saturday, until I reach 13??

  114. I’m curious as to how much our work-related or family-related stress diminishes our ability to properly rest and renew in order to optimize our performance. I may take a break from physical exercise to renew energy, but does it do any good if I’m stressed at work? And when I’m stressed at work, physical activity seems to help me better handle the stress. Almost feels like a catch 22.

    Ideally, I suppose, is to find a way to simultaneously take a break from everything…or at least develop the right habits that minimize stress in these areas.

    What does a proper rest look like?

  115. I would love to hear more discussion on inflammation and the current focus on avoiding all exercise induced inflammation. Thanks kindly.

  116. I’m interested to learn why the Paleo diet did not score higher on the U.S. News ranking of best diets.

  117. Mark or Brad, I haven’t read all the comments yet so apologize if this is duplicative. But I like to steal from a comment a week or so ago and see a post on the benefits of weighted carries. I think it was liverking or Timothy? (kilt dude) who talked about the benefits of carrying 140%+ of ones bodyweight, with six miles at 140% BW being the equivalent of what an average Himalayan Sherpa can carry. This, along with other workouts, that will help get me strong enough to summit Everest (or at least Kilimanjaro) would be my desired post request.

  118. It will be interesting to see how this new approach to rest & recovery plays out in training cohorts and fitness groups, both on- and off-line. Ideally, there’ll be fewer high-fives for stringing together consecutive workouts or overdoing it just to log a PR right after your buddy does, and more ‘likes’ and fist-bumps for power-naps and good meals.

  119. “The candle that burns twice as brights burns for half as long”

  120. of course quality/length of sleep is a big one for recovery, and how much you will need.

  121. How does Crossfit mesh with this new rest and recovery paradigm?

  122. I would like to hear more about more simple workouts for handicapped people with limited,strength

  123. I’d love to see some pointers along the lines of what’s in Primal Endurance for martial artists who might be training 3-4 x 1-2 hrs every week and can or should be working on supplemental strength training outside of the school or ring to stay functional and to improve their technique or overall fitness. This is something I’ve wrestled with for a while, because it seems difficult to put in effective training time in a combat/contact-oriented art only attending once or twice a week and mostly resting otherwise.


  124. Would love to see a fitness recommendations/tips for those of us who work very long hours…ways to incorporate simple but impactful exercises into the daily routines of those tied to our offices without access to a gym.

  125. Great article. I am interested in what constitutes good recovery relative to a Paleo lifestyle. My understanding is strength training acts to stimulate more efficient muscle contraction and growth, but can create metabolic by products. Gentle movement may help remove these faster and be better than complete inactivity. I am really interested in what types of recovery are more effective. Specifically whether activities such as yoga which promote stability, flexibility and mental calm (which may have a beneficial impact in off setting stress) might be better than complete rest. Thanks.

  126. HI Mark, I probably qualify as type A…. I am a 40yr old ex special forces sniper who was consistently in the top 10% of fitness amongst my peers. Surprise surprise I am now paying the price for this life (I was competing in bjj and muay Thai prior to lining the military). I have had multiple surgeries from injuries and routinely limp when I get out of bed…..
    I wish I could’ve laid aside my ego when I was younger so as to not pay now. That being said your lifestyle and diet advice is always on point and of great value to me.

    Than you, great post, keep up the good work

  127. I would like to see an artcile about recovery after an illness. I’ve never been hugely fit, although I could walk 12 miles in a day up and down mountains, but since having had a course of chemotherapy I am having to start again slowly and build up. Some tips would be good.

  128. Great article by the way as we, and I am very guilty of this, need to see rest as part of training instead of a hinderance to it.

    Would be good to see more on masters athletes that are in endurance sports as how HR is to be looked at as the 180-age starts to be very difficult once you get near 60 and I am not sure the studies that have been done on older athletes with regards to HR.

  129. Awe! I missed the deadline. This might have already been a discussion….. I’m 55 and have done crossfit for the last 5 years. My body has been telling me slow down, take it easy, but it is very hard when cf coaches are coaching to go full out all the time. I’d be interested in a crossfiters take on rest/workout ratio with this new mind set.

  130. This is very thought provoking and another way that we see tradition being turned on its head. I’m interested in seeing more about how primal eating and living affect sleep and vice versa – both the power of sleep to heal and dealing with sleep disorders.

  131. PCOS and IBS – this could be covered in more detail than what is on the site today. What impact does stress really have on the cause and symptoms of each? They seem connected based on my medical history.

  132. The more I learn (and the more I realize just how Type A I really am), the more I see the need for effective rest and recovery. Great article Mark!

  133. As a Professional Lacrosse player often times I find myself training until exhaustion, what can you recommend as active recovery methods?

  134. So I REALLY enjoy running and while I do race, the vast majority of my miles are a minute or more slower than my race pace (Hansons Marathon Method). I’m guessing I could rest more. That being said, I think having individualistic markers of what constitutes rest would be extremely helpful. For instance, my running at a 9 min/mile pace is normally not taxing but running at 7 min/mile would be. An elite could say that running at a 7 min/mile is not taxing so the point being, having markers that are specific to ourselves is critical. There are so many variables and our bodies are so complex that having broad recommendations could really miss the mark for most. Thanks for the post!

  135. I’d like to see an article on we older folks over 70 on how we keep ourselves from the aging process that we see around us.

  136. So interesting. I agree that the advances in economy and form will be critical. Is there some offset in the intensity of the work/workout day in the quality of sleep you get? Or is it really that even deep, constructive sleep is part of the that energy expenditure?

  137. As a slim, but out of shape senior I would like to hear much more about relaxed exercising.

  138. I’d love your updated insight on cold therapy for well-being and recovery. Anytime you can speak to a FODMAP diet would be great too.

  139. after I read this it seemed like i finally gave myself permission to admit how tired i am. what we think of as rest might not actually being helping us recover that well, i wonder. I am interested in hearing about what you know about the effects of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), which is produced exclusively from animal products (i.e., red meats, eggs, high-fat dairy and fish); it has been shown to have detrimental effects on glucose tolerance and atherosclerosis, but maybe you have seen studies that show different?

  140. This is an incredible article. “The tides are turning.” Amen. I would love more articles on these lifestyle changes of rest, maybe modes of recovery, and what food works hand in hand with recovery specifically, too! Thanks!

  141. Hi (long-time reader, first time commenter),
    I’d like to read an article that integrates the intersection of recovery with the parasympathetic nervous system (including the vagus nerve), breathing techniques (not whm), ice baths/ cold water therapy, slightly more than adequate sleep, and perhaps chi gong. Perhaps the article, in obiter, could also look at the effects of the aforementioned on insulin sensitivity and stress management at ‘crunch time’. Following this discussion, and in particular, it would be great to read succinct slab on the applicable techniques that maximise the utilisation the PNS in the recovery nexus. (noting the much appreciated past MDA articles on PNS and vagus nerve.)
    Thank you. And thank you for the years of excellent info – I often refer friends across the site.

    Lastly, @ Charles, thank you for your insights.

  142. I agree that I’d like to see more discussion about how to integrate a paleo / keto lifestyle with having a corporate job. There’s the expected business dinners, hour after hour of meetings. Any tips on how to become more “primal at work” would be appreciated.

  143. The idea of doing less to achieve more physically is related to the ancient Ayurvedic way of thinking. See the book, “Body, Mind, Sport,” by Dr. John Douillard. An aside: He advocates something called “nose breathing,” to keep your parasympathetic nervous system tamped down and thereby decreasing your body’s overall stress response to exercise.

  144. Ya, really this is a very helpful article. I love to read blog and try to get some knowledge. This article will help me very much. I will try it. Thanks for sharing this article.
    Keep it up.

  145. Would like to see how using Primal can help us age gracefully. I’m 57 and in pretty good shape both mentally and physically. Clearly it is not a race, competition, or anything besides living with what you were blessed with out of the gate. Thank you for all of the great information you provide:)

  146. Just in the nick of time… sincere thanks Mark. I went down hard yesterday in a cycling event crash… off the bike for at least 6 weeks. Shattered. However, re-reading this post (I recall having read it months ago) gave me a massive emotional boost. I see my predicament now as a blessing… recovery and balance mindset that will have me coming back faster, stronger, happier. I can’t thank you enough. #gratitude #respect

  147. I got a fitness monitor that measures my recovery and strain, HRV and RHR and all of that, called Whoop. It allows you to fill out a journal entry the morning after You wake up about your habits- from If you took anti inflammatories, to wearing blue light glasses, to if you follow a meat based, Paleo, Keto or vegetarian diet. I only have a month’s worth of data, but it said on days my diet was Paleo (I subscribe to the Primal Blueprint but consider it Paleo on the strap records) I recover worse. What could I be doing wrong? Not adhering to the eating guidelines 100%? I feel horrible when I eat gluten and wheat and all of that! How can I improve my diet to improve my recovery?