The Cost of “Perfection”

What does it take to achieve fitness perfection (if there is such a thing)? Or posed in a more personal way, what would you have to do to reach your ultimate genetic potential? Consider that for a moment. What comes to mind? Enormous time commitment. Steely resolve. Pain. Suffering. Sacrifice. Blood, sweat and tears. Yes, if you want to be a pro athlete, make the Olympic team, keep up with Lance or Phelps, or even just make a 1400 pound powerlifting total (bench, squat, dead), you’ll probably have to give your life over to the pursuit of your goal. You’d give up free time lost to the gym and the track. There would be missed opportunities at spending quality time with friends and family. Not to mention the injuries, the physical wear-and-tear and the toll of applying constant stress to a compromised immune system.

Here’s the thing, though. For most people, all that hard work is largely unnecessary and there is a more effective, balanced, and simpler approach to fitness.

For most folks, the ones who want to bang out consecutive pull-ups, climb several flights of stairs without losing their breath, go on a three-hour hike for fun, run a few miles if they feel like it, keep up in pick-up games of [insert sport here], go skiing/snowboarding/surfing/waterskiing, or just generally be comfortable dealing with the physical demands of everyday life, a little bit of efficient, targeted, concise activity goes a long way. I’d even say that most people have far more to lose than they do to gain by throwing themselves into a hardcore fitness regimen – the type that monopolizes your time, inhabits your thoughts, and forces you to reconstruct your life to accommodate its presence.

My whole outlook on health, fitness, and nutrition is founded upon the notion that it doesn’t have to be difficult to be healthy. I’d even say that obsessing over eating and exercising turns the process into just another stressor we have to deal with, and reducing stress is just as important to our health as staying active and eating right. In my opinion, then, keeping things simple isn’t an option for Primal folks; it’s the only way to do it. It’s the whole game. It has to be easy, simple, and effortless to work. There’s no point in making yourself miserable just to lose weight or pump out a few more reps, when following a few simple fitness rules, eating right, and tinkering with some easy lifestyle hacks will get you most of the way there. To break it down further:

  • 80 percent of your genetic potential for body composition is determined by what you eat. You’ve probably heard me say this in the past. Eat Primal and you’re almost there.
  • Five more percent of your body composition can be further influenced by how much sleep and leisure time you get and how you moderate your stress levels. Lifestyle stuff.
  • 10 more percent of your genetic potential for body composition will come from smart exercise: Lifting Heavy Things, Sprinting, and Moving Frequently at a Slow Pace.

With minimal effort and time commitment, conducting a Primal Blueprint Fitness routine of bodyweight exercises, sprints, and low level movement will take you to the next level of your genetic potential, after achieving tremendous results through Primal eating and lifestyle. Sounds easy, right? It is, and that’s the whole point!

  • The final five percent of your potential body composition/physical performance is achieved with more advanced training and highly specialized athletic goals. We’re getting into hours-long gym session, pain and punishment territory.

Can we really call our conventional ideas of physical perfection perfect if they come with so many downsides for so many people? What good is “elite” if maintaining that level of performance means you’re not available to enjoy the rest of your life? Is that last five percent really necessary? Do you need that eight-pack, or is the six-pack good enough?

The point here is that you can get huge results with minimal effort and that incremental improvements beyond that demand a disproportionate amount of effort and commitment, and a come with host of other downsides.

If elite performance is your ultimate goal in life, then sure, go that extra mile and give it all you’ve got. Some people truly derive happiness and fulfillment (and, if they’re lucky, a living) from the pursuit of extreme physicality, and to those folks, I say godspeed. I was one of them for many years, but that changed when I realized the cost-benefit ratio of my endurance lifestyle was becoming severely imbalanced. Don’t let me stop you, but heed my words of caution all the same.

In just a couple weeks, I’ll be releasing Primal Blueprint Fitness (for free, of course). It will flesh out all the things I’ve hinted at in this post and in the past by presenting a fitness plan that is sustainable, simple, effective, and smart. It’s designed to work for the people who want a good strength-bodyweight ratio, to look good naked, and be fit enough to go for a long hike or run a 10k at a moment’s notice. It will provide steady, measured progression, but also variety in the form of constantly shifting Workouts of the Week (WOWs) to be posted each Monday here at Mark’s Daily Apple. It will make you work hard, but you won’t work long. It will stress intensity over volume and quality over quantity. In short, it’s designed to get the most people the fittest they can be in the shortest amount of time possible. PBF may not make elite athletes out of you, but, along with diet, lifestyle, and stress-mitigation, it will get you 95% of the way there. From that point, you can take things up a notch to reach that elite level, or you can chill out and enjoy a long, active existence.

And so, I ask once more: Is attaining elite physical performance worth the costs incurred along the way? For me, for most of you, and for anyone who just wants to be healthy and stay active for life, the answer is a resounding no.

Don’t give into the same flawed Conventional Wisdom for your fitness plan that you’ve already rejected with regards to Chronic Cardio – that more is necessarily better. In my estimation, there is a better way. One that defines fitness in the broader context of overall health and life quality. One that delivers impressive results with simple, novel hacks. And I’m confident all this can be achieved through PBF. In the coming weeks, you’ll have the chance to try it on for size. Until then, Grok on!

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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87 thoughts on “The Cost of “Perfection””

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  1. This should be a very interesting read. I read the Primal Blueprint and was really surprised by the focus on slow, easy cardio.

    As a competitive strength athlete I can attest that pushing it all the time really beats the body up and can leave you asking why?

    Unless you really care about winning I highly recommend a stress free, balanced approach to fitness. It should be fun!

  2. Very cool post!

    With work and family being my priority these days, an easy approach to health and lifestyle is why Primal is the way to go for me.

    Food choices are a no brainer. Excercise is quick, concise, and effective.

    I get my fix in the car listening to podcasts. A Primal Podcast would be an awesome thing Mark!


    1. Hello, Farley,

      I’ve got a Primal podcast in the works, exclusive to all Primal Leap participants. The Primal Leap Kit will be launched in August. Stay tuned!

    1. I’ve built PBF to seamlessly accommodate other programs and skill/work/sport specific training if that is your wish. I recommend to not overdo it, but if you have something you want to integrate into the PBF plan there are very easy ways to do it.

  3. I’ve been thinking for a while about how the Pareto’s Principle — 80-20 rule — soooo applies to adopting a healthier lifestyle.

    There’s a 20% that’ll bring 80% of the results. The other 80% are the details.

  4. Bravo!

    This is exactly the point – who wants that last 5%, I tried for it, probably achieved a bit of it, but it nearly killed me and it certainly didn’t make me happy. Just today I exchanged emails with a buddy of mine who has been shifting to Primal (especially with regard to training) over the last six months and I paste below what he said …

    “I can almost see my season review writing itself even now. After all the years of training in CC I have enjoyed this year so much more and I have more enthusiasm for events and even training itself. If the results end up showing that I’ve got faster as well then this will put the icing on the cake.”

    Grok on fellow followers 🙂

    1. As you alluded to, Kelda, how long can that last 5% be maintained, too? Not long, and yet another reason to approach fitness with a more relaxed mindset from the outset.

  5. What a great (and timely) post! As I get closer to my fitness goals I’ve been thinking a lot about the next step. Do I want to push harder, longer to reach the next level? I’m starting to realize that the level I’m at now is perfect for me. I work hard, but not too long. I feel energized, fit and healthy, and I don’t have to worry about every weight I use or every calorie I put in my mouth. It’s incredibly freeing to be thinking this way after obsessing (and not getting very far) for so many years. I may not ever have a perfect-looking body following this path, but I’ll continue on the road to optimum health for sure.

  6. Good point about food v exercise. It reminds me of a recent Paul Chek seminar titled something like “sporting performance begins and ends with what you eat”. When you think that maybe you eat 20 meals per week opposed to exercising 3 or 4 times per week – which one makes the biggest difference? what you eat now is being metabolized over the next 48+ hours compared to some exercises where the effect last only during the exercise or for a short time after – although sometimes I can feel the effect of a heavy weights session 2+ days later, especially when I change to a new program!

  7. I am soooo looking forward to PBF!! I am in pretty good shape, but would like to be stronger and also get rid of my lingering belly. 🙂

  8. After reading you almost daily for a year and a half this post really sums up how I feel about fitness now. The problem now is convincing all of my friends and family that their constant obsession with the next marathon or triathlon or bike race and the hours of training that comes with it maybe isn’t the best and healthiest way to live…that it’s ok to play and that just because I am not signed up for the next marathon like I used to be I am still pursuing a healthy lifestyle. This ride the last year or so has been the most life changing eye opening thing for my family and I. The hard part for me has been trying to convince others of it.
    Thanks Mark for giving me permission to enjoy life, play, walk, move slowly…it really has been a breathe of fresh air and I feel better than ever! (Still working on getting over the urge to compete and race…any suggestions?)

    1. I’ve stopped trying to convince anyone, just enjoy the results myself and let my example do the talking, as for the urge to compete, just go with the flow, if you want to, do, I’ve still been ‘competing’ but using Primal eating and training to support it, and you know what a) I enjoy it far, far more and b) I feel the need to do less and less to be honest, and to do different things. It’s all about enjoyment not denial.

    2. I identify with you completely, Ed. I too am surrounded by friends training for the next big race. After all, until recently, I was one of those addicted people too. In fact, no one believes me when I tell them I don’t work out like that anymore. However, I am calmer and less wound up from constant physical pursuits. Not to mention, I have more free time. I would say to your temptation to race – try a new sport as a casual thing. I have found that helpful to distract me from my desire to run long distances.

      1. Thanks for the suggestions Rebecca and Kelda. I am trying to find other things to do to satisfiy my urge to compete. I think the competitive side of me still wants to go out and prove to everyone that I still have it and that I can compete with all my friends and family. I wish I could get all of them to come play a fun game of ultimate with me.

  9. I know a guy at work who works out before a date to look good in his Ed Hardy T-shirt. The last time I checked, no girl went home with a guy because he had the most vascular pair of guns!

    1. I guess you’ve never seen an episode of “Jersey Shore”! (Just kidding, I haven’t either.)

    2. _Immediately_ before the date? All that does is make him sweaty! (Works for some gals… not me…)

        1. Ah yes. Adequate time to de-sweat. (Sweat is part of the fun for certain Grokkian activities of course, but not usually the beginning…)

  10. Mark, I can hardly wait until you reveal the PBF. So far I have lost 25lbs in 3 months and just now (about a month ago) started following your 7 day workout routine using the 15 minute workout for HIIT & bodyweight exercises for lifting heavy things. I am in the best shape of my life and I am just getting started! I love the fact that I can achieve a better looking, better feeling me by doing so little. With a wife and kids, time is very valuable to me and this lifestyle fits the bill. Thanks!

  11. Do I have to resign to get the workouts since I already get the newsletters?

    1. Nope. All existing subscribers will be sent a special email with Primal Blueprint Fitness attached as a PDF. Keep your eyes peeled.

      1. Great, I’ve signed up!

        I sure appreciate all the info, Mark.
        I guess you could say my favorite sales method is the ‘soft sell’ which you have done.

        I too found my way over from

        I have eaten vegan before and experienced firsthand how my vegan diet did good things for endurance but seemed to lack the protein needed for healing after heavy gym sessions. My vegan diet was ‘low on the food chain’, like the primal diet, sans animal products. A well known heart doctor has written several books on nutrition, and following his guidelines I was able to go from 224 to 214, simply by cutting out high glycemic foods and getting my fat intake up. Using the ‘primal’ method now(which seems natural to me) I’m now at 198 and headed to 185. At 6′ I think 185 is a good benchmark, and I may revise either up or down a little from there. I do love the variety and type of exercise you reccomend. It feels good to both the body and the brain.

        Grok on, Brothers (and Sisters)!


  12. Mark,

    I’ve been working out a gym for almost 3 years, doing the same old workouts, and lost 65 pounds. But I’ve been trying to lose the last 25 for nearly 2 years! Hence, I found your site and switched to Primal eating about 3 weeks ago. And I’m really glad I did — I haven’t felt this good in years!

    Here’s my question — I also recently started CrossFit (well, I have to modify or do substitutions for nearly everything but the running due to lack of proper equipment and just lack of strength). Will your Workouts of the Week be similar to the WODs? I’d really like a program where I don’t have constantly make substitutions for headstand push-ups or barbell snatches — but I’d like an intense workout that doesn’t take 2 hours of my time.

    Thanks for everything you’ve put in to this site — it’s been eye-opening and life-changing!

    1. There will be some similarities between WOWs and WODs, but some distinct differences, too.

      Most notably, we’re working on constructing WOWs that:

      a) occasionally use specialized equipment, but with a focus on workouts where you can use ANY kind of weight (where a dumbbell, kettlebell, weight vest, heavy rock, etc. will do equally well)

      b) occasionally use specialized equipment but with weightless (i.e. bodyweight) variations also provided

      Not all WOWs will be solely about Lifting Heavy Things.

      And, harnessing the power of this informed community, we’ll be accepting WOW submissions. They’ll be filtered by me and my team. Those that make it to MDA will be entered in a drawing to win a Primal prize.

      But I’m getting ahead of myself!

      Stay tuned for the ebook!

  13. I’m so excited for PB fitness! I’ve been slowly converting friends and family by sending them links to your site and preparing foods for them from the PB cookbook. Hoping this is the final nudge that some of them need!

  14. Thanks Mark for all the wonderful information you provide. I can’t wait to begin Primal Blueprint Fitness!

  15. Can’t wait to see your take on it. I’m curious to see how equipment intensive it’s going to be. Hopefully requiting (ie taking advantage of) some heavy barbell movements.

    Again I’m super excited. (you should consult Robb wolf for ideas/implementation)

  16. I really enjoy reading MDA, so much that, I keep going to the page hoping that Mark got up super early one morning and posted it earlier (I work from 6 a.m to 2:30 p.m and get caught up in my work too quickly). I am so excited for the PBF to become a tangible item!!!!

  17. I’m just finishing up my first round of P90X and after 13 weeks of going hard an hour at a time, 6 days a week… I’m just burnt the heck out! I think its a great “boot camp” type of program, and I’ve lost over 30 pounds on it (while also eating Primal)… but it has seriously OWNED me for the past 80+ days, it eats into my time with my family, its prevented vacations, and has it been worth it? For the short term, yes. Long term though, I need something that I can do quickly, enjoy, and involve my wife/kids. Bring on PBF!

  18. Interesting post, Mark. As with many other areas that require discipline, I now have trouble exercising only in moderation, and I’m wondering if any other MDA readers find this to be true for themselves as well. After almost 3 years of eating Primally and exercising regularly but not not extremely, I found myself hitting a wall in body composition and started CrossFit. Once I had a 300 lb deadlift, all I could think about was 400, and when that was achieved, 500.

    I’m really enjoying the journey, but I sometimes wonder where it’s all headed. Of course, not having a wife or kids also plays a role – my friends who have families tell me that they couldn’t overtrain anymore even if they wanted to. For now, I just try to train hard and put equal effort into recovery, but I definitely feel like I’d have a hard time slowing down even if my health would actually improve as a result.

  19. Thanks Mark. I am a crossfitter, but far from the elite athlete. I have had amazing results from crossfitting 3x week. As most of you out there no crossfit workout are short!

    I think the most importnant part of fitness is FUN and ENJOYMENT! if your not having fun what’s the point? I have discovered after 30 years that i LOVE lifting heavy things and LOVE INTENSITY. So crossfit is the perfect fit for the FUN factor (for me)

    I workout because I LOVE MY BODY (not to lose weight of change it) I accept whatever body I get from that love 🙂

    But alot of crossfitters workout for the numbers and 8packs, more power to them, but there is so much more to be gained from your point of view.

    Thanks for helping so many people question convential wisdom!!

    Who has fun on the eliptical?

  20. Stellar post, Mark.

    I’ve been posting a lot on my fitness philosophy at my blog the past couple weeks and am happy to see we are both on the same page in many ways.

    When it comes to fitness – as opposed to athleticism, which I view as fitness for fitness’s sake – I believe there are four reasons why we should strive to make it a priority: to increase sexual attraction, increase status, increase energy while reducing illness and injury, and increase lifespan.

    Unfortunately, these things don’t scale linearly with the time, effort, and money put into them. When it comes to your health, The Pareto Principle is in full effect – 80% of our results are coming from only 20% of our efforts.

    I urge my readers to focus on the “vital few” 20% (or 25%) to get themselves to an 8/10 or 9/10 for all of the “Core Four” reasons I listed above.

    Anything more and you had better be an elite athlete for the increased investment to become worth it.

    Anyhow, I’m really looking forward to the unveiling of PB Fitness! Looks like I’ll be able to get a lot from it.

  21. Good post.

    But I find it hard to completely agree in my case.

    I just want to get bigger! Im so skinny. You say 80% of your body composition is what you eat. I have low body fat but obviously can’t eat my way to muscles.

    I’ve been doing two intense lifting sessions per week for several months. Im totally about not getting obsessed with perfection so dont do more than this, but despite lifting heavier weight see no improvement in muscle gain. I eat right and exercise but can’t reach my goal.

    I know many would envy me being skinny! but I believe gaining this weight is harder than losing!

    1. Try adding raw milk to your diet if you haven’t yet.

      I go through 2 gallons of raw goat’s milk every week for about 6 weeks now. My 4 small dental cavities filled in and my weight is stable. Weight started coming off fast eating primal and raw goat milk stopped the weight loss. I feel stronger, tougher and my overall skeletal looks broader. Noticable at my shoulders and collar bone.

  22. Mark, what’s your opinion on taking up some strongman training? Not competitively, but training that way for more functional strength.

  23. Hi Mark – a first time poster here (although I must admit that I have read in detail several of your post topics)

    Couple of quick things:

    I read with interest your interview w/ Karen De Coster on end of last week and then posted a short response to her directly, it can be found here:

    I then developed a much longer response since my takeaway from that interview was a denial of endurance strength conditioning. After reading your note here, and the sublink on “moving freq’ly at slow pace”, now I am confused.

    I e-mailed my longer response as an attachment (which I can’t do here) to Karen this week, and asked her to share it with you.

    I could send it to you directly if you e-mail me.

    But I am discovering (actually have been unconsciously aware of it for a few decades) that there is real interplay between speed strength and endurance strength conditioning. They are mutually self-reinforcing!

    That is why I am so over-reactive to poo-poo’ing endurance work. Now, in my longer response I get very specific about endurance work and the “chronic-cardio” term is not something I am familiar with. Sorry, I never went to a gym to do a work-out. Weights were at home (lol!). So, I am clueless there (grin).

    ———–OFF TOPIC————-
    I have just discovered (today & yesterday) that I am suffering from a side effect of taking too much Alpha Lipoic Acid (1200mg/day orally). I was trying to accelerate the healing of a nerve sheath coming from a herniated disc I got last year. I thought that I had caught a very aggressive stomach flu (just would not go away)!

    I had also suffered insomnia as well, so I am pretty convinced it was an overdosing of ALA.

    In my research of this (and I have done multiple searches on your site and have not been successful), it was stated that too much ALA can cause semi-hypoglycemic events, so it is important to have a boost in B1 (thiamine) as well.

    Why is that? I have also been feeling a bit drained some days of the week, but it isn’t a daily experience.

    Thanks very much for your help – know you’re very busy,


  24. Thank you Mark. Haven’t enjoyed any post as much since primal perparation for the post-nuclear age one a few months back.

  25. You can try all you want to be 100% perfect but if you weren’t born to primal parents you will probably never be 100%.

    Every person I come across has some degree of cranial deformities from an underdeveloped maxillary bone. It makes breathing difficult, worsens eyesights, gives eye pains, crowded teeth and therefor dental and jaw pain. These things can’t be corrected with a primal diet.

    I have healed everything from rheumatoid arthritis, brittle nails, degenerative lower back disc disease but nothing I do affects my facial bone.
    I have now found a web site which can correct dental and jaw bone problems.
    I have an appointment on the 5th with an orthodontist who specializes in that departement.

    This widening of the jaw and nasal passages will allow more oxygen to be delivered and allows people to perform better. If you’re an athlete or want to become one it’s important you look into this. Simple cases cost around 2000 us $. The more complicated ones which are upper + lower jaw run around $5000 US.
    On top of being able to perform better you’ll also have perfectly lined up teeth and it can even cure sleep apnea (the kind that makes ya snore).

  26. So, will the PBF be available for Wii?

    hahaha, just kidding 😉

    can’t wait!

  27. Mark,

    Another great post stressing the importance of reducing stress.

    (I assume that) We are all greatful that you put in that last 5% for us when you do your research and scrutinize your PB claims! Hopefully the powerful community of healthy people you are helping to create far outweighs any daily stress you may incur as a result.

    To answer the question, I would likely stop pushing myself harder the moment I feel that it is disrupting my relationships with other people. That is one of the main reasons (along with lifting heavy objects and sprinting) I do CrossFit. I have made fantastic friends and I’m in the best shape of my life and I only really spend 3 or 4 hours dedicated to “fitness.”

    Thanks again!

  28. I check my emails everyday hoping to see your PBF!

    I did P90X too and it had such a bad impact on my time, family, mood and all the things that are important to me. Obviously it was my choice to do it but as a new mum I desperately wanted to do something for me and to make me look and feel better. With your help my health and fitness journey has become attainable and fun.

    Mark you must be an amazing person and it must give you so much personal satisfaction watching so many people achieve a better quality of life because of what you do. I hope you remain so caring for years to come. A big thank you for all of your hard work!

  29. Can’t wait to get this! I need the kickstart and this is perfect timing. I’m looking forward to the Primal Leap, too! I thought about this insane chronic cardio world today as I walked along the bike path by the beach and saw people jogging and biking past me with agonized looks on their faces and decked out in the latest bike/running fashions along with ankle, knee, calf, elbow braces. Sad. I, in the meantime, walked 2 miles up the bike path in my VFFs and loose shorts and t-shirt, crossed over the dune path to the ocean and returned to my vacation spot oceanside, refreshed and ready to start the day with no pains. So relaxing.

  30. I am already receiving a weekly news letter from you. Is the fitness email separate from this? I am reading PB right now and I just received the cookbook. I haven’t started the program yet but I am working towards it. My problem is getting the motivation to get to the gym at the end of the day. I say everyday I am going but by the end of the day I am whipped. Please let me know if it is a separate email. Thanks

    1. Just read a post up above with the same question. So its been answered. But I would love some advice on how to get going on this.

  31. Like all of your work Mark, this one should prove to be just as informative, insightful and very useful. I look forward to it!

  32. Any form of perfection is a waste of time. Nothings perfect in the first place, so nothing you desire is perfect at the same time.

  33. I am so incredibly excited for this, ever since Mark hinted at the prospect of a PB Fitness!

    I also check my emails everyday hoping to see your PBF!

    P90x gave me some good results, but it’s just too time consuming. I want to live! Super stoked!

  34. i love this post. it’s perfect. well, y’know…close enough. it’s exactly what i needed today. i don’t know how you do it, but i thank you for writing these posts JUST FOR ME. 🙂

  35. Thank you! Very good post that just reminded me of the basics – I have a tendency to sometimes make things way too difficult for myself causing unnecessary stress and disappointment from time to time. Yes, this is an enjoyable lifestyle and the rest will follow, hurrah!

  36. Hi mark

    I love this website – it’s my top read and has changed my life. I have the book, just received the cookbook (here in the UK), i’ve bought the t-shirt and most importantly, I’m living and breathing the lifestyle. Looking forward to primal fitness. Would be great to see more of what you do in Europe. I’m also a great fan of erwan le corre (MovNat) who is French but he’s moved to the USA! Argh!

    I’m not 45 and feel stronger and fitter that at almost any point in my life. I’m looking forward to being an incredibly fit 50 year old and helping others get there too.

    Can I ask what Primal Leap is and if you ever run conferences outside the US? The UK needs primal is much as the states – I’d love to be an ambassador for your work and connected with it in some way.

    Thanks for the daily inspiration. Mark

  37. Mark,

    You are on fire lately! So many people out there have the best intentions and probably work “harder at it” than most primal folks. I used to be one but now life is easier and simpler in the primal style.

  38. I am really looking forward to this! I’ve been doing training for a few 5K’s this year, but don’t want to end up being ‘chronic cardio’. I try to do sprinting and heavy lifting to mix it up….having a PB fitness will be awesome!! Mark, you rock!!

  39. This post just lifted a weight off my shoulders. Between a self-imposed pressure to start exercising again and being at a loss as to where to start, I’ve been feeling like a deer caught in the headlights.

    “In my opinion, then, keeping things simple isn’t an option for Primal folks; it’s the only way to do it. It’s the whole game. It has to be easy, simple, and effortless to work. There’s no point in making yourself miserable….”

    That quote, the permission to keep it simple, and the PBF will be the perfect nudge to get moving again. Thanks for lifting the load. 🙂

  40. Mark, I got a laugh out of your 1400 pound powerlifting total. Over a decade ago when I was 19, I could total 1700 and was 6′ and 235 pounds.

    Good article, especially given that our priorities and needs (not to mention our recovery capabilities) change as we age. The way we each define “perfection” evolves throughout our lives.

  41. Mark, this is the post I’ve been waiting for. Real interested to see what these “WOW” workouts look like, and then put them through their paces.

    Been kind of “adrift” workout-wise lately, with a mix of Crossfit, Wendler, and Westside (how’s that for a combo?,) with decent results, but I want to establish more of a go-to routine for a while. WOW may be the answer.

    Looking forward to it. Thanks for the always great commentary.

  42. I love this post Mark –
    ‘Eat Primal and you’re almost there.’

    Years ago when I tore my major pec tendon and was out of action for 6 months, I really learnt the power of nutrition and was able to stay lean by eating a primal diet – I couldn’t believe that I didn’t gain any fat (in fact I lost some) and was doing no running!

    I live in the city now, and people live such a rushed lifestyle. This has motivated me to develop my Rule Free fitness tools, which enable me to stay lean and fit without committing my whole life to it.

    I admit that I have quite an obsessive personality and physical activity is a key part of my lifestyle. Fortunately I have a great fiance to keep me in check.
    I feel strongly about balancing our lives and fitness which motivated me to write this article:

    I hope that others can relate to the message….there is more to life after all isn’t there?

  43. Hi Mark

    Aaron on your staff to a crack at the long letter I had sent to Karen De Coster & flipped some very useful links on MDA.

    Now I understand “chronic cardio”. Thanks Aaron!

    And from your other posts on low level endurance, it seems that we have come back (almost?) full circle to LSD that David Bedford (`70’s England) popularized? Emphasis on the S part.

    In my letter, I defined my preferred endurance training as a running pace where you are breathing lightly and you feel strong. Almost like you could do it forever.

    That is getting pretty close to your endurance activity posts.

    I just wish I had done that (a lot more often) when I was young…

    Finally in my letter I hypothesized that there was a mutually self-reinforcing relationship between speed strength and endurance strength (improvements in one lead to improvements in the other and vice versa). Then I came across this at the bottom of your post:

    This seems to give some weight to my hypothesis!

    PS In your interview w/ Karen, you really zinged the Ultimate crowd (I am one, played just below the National level)! Ultimate at this level is total “chronic cardio”, even higher (not for as long tho)! You might want to say a light game of Ultimate pick-up or catch or something. Hahahahahahahahaha – this is so funny.

  44. Mark,
    Maintaining a fitness-life balance is very important. You could spend all day and night exercising and eating perfectly but to what end and at what cost? I’d much rather eat healthy most of the time, perform short intense workouts and spend time with my family.

  45. I was going to cheekily point out that 80+10+5 is only 95% but then I read on and saw that the last 5% is for people who want to be elite. I guess I’ll save my cheekiness for later.

    I recently got the PB cookbook btw. I am now officially going primal. I’ll let you know how it works out. I’ve already tried the pot roast, and it was >amazing<

    Keep up the good work!

  46. You know Mark,you do have the ability to make me sit back and say, “Yeah. That’s right.” I have to thank you for continuing to remind me that life can be and should be as simple as possible.
    Really appreciate your posts.

  47. Cant wait for PBF. I’ve been eating primal for four months now and it’s only in this last month of July that I’ve been able to properly follow primal fitness as advocated on this site and I can already see huge differences in my body!

    So waiting for PBF to tweak my current workouts and get new ideas.

    Thanks alot Mark!

  48. Since making the switch to a more primal life 17 months ago, I’m already in the best shape of my life from a fitness perspective. I’ve never surfed better because I weigh 150 now instead of 200. (Imagine paddling around with a 45 pound plate from the gym on your back…. AND throw in a 5 too!) I avoid CHRONIC cardio, but not all cardio, I take my bike on the 5 mile round trip to the gym 3 days a week. There’s a hill on that trip that I used to stand up pedal and huff and puff and almost max out my heart rate to get up. Now, I remain seated and just cruise up that same hill. I doubt my heartrate gets over 75% max the entire bike ride. I made a conscious decision to just ENJOY the ride instead of trying to set a new land speed cycling record every time. And the ironic thing is I know I’m FASTER at it anyway… just as an unintended consequence.

    BUT…. with all that being said. I’m unhappy with my “almost there” appearance and 10% bodyfat body. I didn’t set out on this quest to ALMOST get as lean as I want. I want 6 or 7% bodyfat. For pure VANITY. I want that six pack damnit!

    And there is NO EASY way to get that. There’s no “effortless” to it. Mark, if you were able to get as lean as you are effortlessly… JUST by switching to more primal lifestyle, kudos. But undertsand it does NOT work that way for most people. JUST switching to primal foods/exercise/lifestyle I did effortlessly drop the first 40 or so pounds and get down around 15% bodyfat. So I went from fat to normal very easily. But from 15 to 10% has been BRUTALLY difficult. NOT fun. Not only do you have to go primal, you have to count every damn calorie, carb and protein gram. (Ironically you don’t really have to count the fat grams, that’s just “the difference”).

    My natural apetite even eating all primal foods, doesn’t want to let me go below about 15% bodyfat. EVERY ounce of fat loss below that has been through deprivation and HUNGER. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to bed hungry because I’ve already hit 2,000 calories for the day and I’m trying to log at least a 500 calorie defecit each day.

    I don’t want perfection. But I am NOT SATISFIED with your typical American, average white guy, DOUGHY “skinny-fat” body. Even if 15% is very healthy, it looks like shit. I’m going all the way until I see the six-pack. I agree with what you’re saying, but if you have lofty goals, expect HARD WORK and a lofty price.

  49. There are many inaccurate statements about running as follows:
    1) Requires large amounts of carbs: Only if you eat and train that way. You can train you body to burn fat very quickly. I run 20M-30M every Sunday before breakfast (Carbs less than 10% of my daily intake)
    2)Decreases Efficient Fat Metabolism: I’m just under 10% Body Fat
    3)Inflammation: Maybe you don’t know how to run.
    4)Boring: Maybe you are….well to each his own. I also do sprints – more boring than 30M at 12,000 Feet.

    Truth is, do what you enjoy. You like hanging out at the pool, I enjoy running or mountain biking 20M-30M in the mountains.