Primal Health Coach Institute is 7 years old, and it’s grown up faster than either one of my kids did. We’ve evolved the curriculum, added more tools and resources, and launched several new courses for aspiring and current coaches and health professionals. I’m dedicating today’s blog post to PHCI’s latest development because it’s transforming my mission in the very best way. With the joint efforts of Mark’s Daily Apple and our global community of Primal Health Coaches, we’re not too far from reaching my goal of helping 10 million people take control of their health. And given all the success that the broader primal movement has had over the last two decades, perhaps we should, yet again, add another zero to the goal. I think Primal Health Coach Institute’s newest training programs focused on fitness will get us there. You’re probably familiar with our flagship health coaching program. It’s a comprehensive certification program that’s equal parts health and wellness education, coaching skills training, and business development. We’ve certified thousands of Primal Health Coaches, and they’re making an impact in 75 countries around the world. And now, we’re going to do the same with fitness coaches. Because, after several years of development, we’re ready to unveil the Primal Fitness Coach Certification Program. What Is Primal Fitness? Before I get into course specifics, I think it’s important to clarify what we mean by primal fitness, and what makes it different from other fitness philosophies. Throughout my years as a professional athlete and coach to athletes, I’ve seen a common theme and talked about it often—the tendency to push ourselves and each other so far beyond our limits that we chase fitness gains away and invite injury, burnout, and illness. For people just looking to get fitter, it’s difficult to find a balanced approach to exercise that can be sustained for a lifetime. Moving more becomes stressful when it should be fun, and it’s difficult to get fitness gains to stick. That’s where primal fitness reshapes the traditional model. It’s a back-to-the-basics fitness philosophy that takes a playful approach to movement and focuses on functional fitness fully integrated with healthy living. If you’re a regular reader, you’re likely already up to speed with the 10 Primal Blueprint Laws and know I’m a proponent of moving frequently at a comfortable pace, sprinting once in a while, lifting heavy things, and playing. Maybe you’ve watched our videos demonstrating the correct way to do Primal Essential Movements. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Over the past two years, I’ve worked closely with PHCI staff and instructors, as well as other experts with decades of experience as personal trainers and fitness educators, to round out primal fitness so that it now addresses all areas of movement, exercise, and fitness in a holistic manner. It’s the culmination of my life experience in this area, and it includes everything I know about fitness and exercise. I also want to give a shout-out to Brad Kearns, who was … Continue reading “Introducing the Primal Fitness Coach Certification Program”
For this week’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a question that came in response to my previous post on teens and creatine usage. Should women take creatine? Are there any differences in creatine metabolism between men and women? Does creatine work the same in women? And, the age-old question, will creatine make women bulky?
Let’s dig in.
In today’s Dear Mark, I’m tackling a reader’s question regarding a new workout that’s apparently all the rage on social media. I’m not much for hopping on viral fitness trends myself, but I’m always interested in keeping my finger on the pulse of what people are doing in the name of health, strength, and weight loss. You never know when the next truly great thing is going to come along, right?
Let’s get into it:
I’m seeing a new fitness trend all over my TikTok: “12-3-30.” Other users are claiming it changed their bodies in just a month, and I’m tempted to try it, but as far as I can tell it’s just… walking uphill? Is this trend too good to be true or worth trying? Do you think something like this could be considered “primal”?
Thanks for asking—and for thinking that I might be hip enough to already know about a TikTok trend! As a general rule, if a “get fit quick” scheme seems too good to be true, it probably is. However, let’s not discredit the actual value this trend might hold without examining it more closely.
What is the 12-3-30?
A quick dive into Google explains the “12-3-30,” aka the 12.3.30 treadmill routine, is walking at a 12 percent incline at 3mph on a treadmill for 30 minutes. Credited to influencer Lauren Giraldo, this workout’s short time frame and relative ease have piqued people’s interest. I’m sure the testimonials from people claiming to have made big physique gains in a short time don’t hurt either.
Hey folks! In this week’s Ask a Health Coach, Erin is answering your questions about how to fuel on race day, why overdoing cardio is linked to burnout, and how to squeeze more (effective) exercise into an already busy day. Post your questions over in the Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook group or down below in the comments. Dean asked: “I’m walking a 10K a week from today. I can do it fasted, and have so before, but is there any benefit to having some carbs, protein, or fat before my event?” It’s never a good idea to try something different on your event day. This is the day you’re putting all your hard work to the test, so don’t be tempted to introduce anything new. That goes for what you put on your body and what you put in it. Here’s Some Food for Thought Sure, there’s tons of info about fat-adapted athletes who follow the train low, race high school of thought. The difference is, they’ve practiced it before they get up to the starting line. These athletes know how different sources of fuel feel in their stomach, if it makes them nauseous once they start moving, or if it makes them feel energized. They’re definitely not grabbing a few dates or a pack of almond butter on their way out the door, crossing their fingers, and hoping it works. If you typically exercise fasted (and are fat adapted), eating before your race may decrease performance. And really, seeing as you’ll be moving at a low-ish intensity, I’d doubt that any kind of carb-protein-fat mix would move the needle too much anyway. But the bigger question here is, if you’ve trained fasted and with fuel, why wouldn’t you choose the method you’ve found works best for you? Why would you totally discount something you’ve tried — and seen the real-time results — in lieu of advice that may or may not work for your body? Why We Don’t Trust Our Gut Maybe you’ve seen others carb-it-up before a race and constantly crush their goals. Or they swear by slower-burning sources of fat or protein. Deep down, you know what your body requires. You might not think you do, but you do. And usually, when you doubt your own inner knowing, it’s because you’re comparing yourself to other people and questioning your own ability to live up to the challenge at hand. A certain level of self-doubt can be healthy though. It indicates that you understand what you need to improve upon to reach your goal, whether it’s getting a PR on your 10K or moving away from the Standard American Diet. But too much self-doubt can derail you. That’s why it’s important to trust yourself and your decisions. Check the negative self-talk (that we all have, mind you), and start reinforcing your strengths. For instance, here are three things I already know to be true about you: You can complete a 10K You’ve trained fasted You’ve trained with … Continue reading “Ask a Health Coach: Fasted Exercise, Chronic Cardio, and Microworkouts”
One thing the pandemic made clear is that it’s a good idea to have a home gym. For most of the year in some places, gyms were closed. They still are if you’re unlucky. And even after they opened, a significant portion of the population doesn’t even want to set foot in one out of fear of getting sick or because they have to wear a mask. I for one hate training in a mask and frankly won’t do it. Takes all the fun out of it. Plus, in some locations, going outside wasn’t an option. You couldn’t even go out to workout or take a walk without a “real reason.”
Home gyms are here to stay. But how can people with different budgets set up their home gym without sacrificing the quality of the resultant workout?
Today’s post is going to give different home gym setups for different budgets. I firmly believe that anyone of any means can have a “home gym” they can be proud of.
The craziest thing happened to me once on a hike. It was a decent one—about 8 miles roundtrip, with plenty of elevation gain. I went up just fine, even picking up random logs and rocks to carry along the way to add to the experience (and intensity). But on the descent, about a mile in, my left quad started cramping. I changed how I walked, I took rests, I walked more slowly, I tried placing more emphasis on my hips and glutes, but nothing worked. The cramp was overwhelming and getting worse by the minute.
So I took my shoes off. When I say shoes, I mean my Vibram Fivefingers. If you don’t know, these are ultra-minimalist footwear with individual slots for each toe. They allow your toes to spread and your feet to feel the ground and everything on it. They’re about as “barefoot” as you can get without actually being barefoot. And yet, when I took my shoes off and put bare foot to ground, the cramp subsided. Within a minute, it was gone, never to return. I flew down the mountain, feeling faster, fresher, and lighter than ever. The fact that I was already in Vibram Fivefingers, which approximate the biomechanics of the barefoot experience about as well as anything out there, suggests that there was something else going on. It suggests there is something very special about being barefoot.
I have long advocated going barefoot as much as possible. I’ve written post after post on the topic. The simple fact is that the stiff shoes with pronounced heels and thick soles that don’t let you feel anything underneath you we wear today are evolutionary aberrations. They are totally novel inputs that our bodies haven’t adapted to. Barefoot is how we’re born and, for tens of thousands, how we spent our days. You aren’t weird for going barefoot. Everyone else is weird—on an evolutionary timescale—for wearing thick shoes.
For my money, it’s also the best way to train. Barefoot workouts provide a host of benefits:
You know the stereotype: People who exercise hard, then eat harder. I’m talking about the marathon runner-in-training lounging on the couch with a bag of chips beside them and a gallon of ice cream balanced on their chest, or the hardcore CrossFitter bankrupting the all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse.
Perhaps you’ve even heard that you shouldn’t work out too much or too hard, lest you stimulate your appetite and end up negating all your fitness gains with your fork.
You might be surprised to learn, then, that the scientific evidence overwhelmingly suggests that exercise doesn’t make you hungrier. If anything, being sedentary is associated with dysregulated appetite and greater food reward. Exercise actually suppresses appetite, especially during and immediately after a workout.
Wait, So Exercise DOESN’T Make Me Hungrier?
The most important part of the workout isn’t the workout—it’s after. That’s when muscles grow, when you get stronger, when mitochondria replicate, when glycogen regenerates, when depleted cells rehydrate. It’s where the actual benefits of physical training occur. The workout is the stimulus, and the time after your workout is where your body adapts to the training. Your recovery methods make or break your training.
What’s the typical advice?
Eat, sleep, repeat.
This advice isn’t bad. It’s actually the foundation of workout recovery. Of course you have to eat food, sleep, and do the whole sequence consistently to get results in the gym. That goes without saying. But it’s the absolute bare minimum. There’s more you can do, and should do.
There’s also the possibility of doing too much. Of getting lost in the weeds. Of optimizing all the gadgets and hacks and supplements and forgetting about the foundational precepts of workout recovery methods: good food, good sleep, and consistency.
So today I’ll lay out everything I’ve learned about recovery methods over the last 40-50 years of training.
The big 5-0 rolls around and you start grappling with your own mortality. You wonder about your place in the world and how long you have left. Sure, 50 is just another number, but it’s a number that society has placed a large bolus of meaning. For better or worse, whether it’s real or not, turning 50 makes you re-evaluate everything. Especially your health.
One of the most important ways to preserve and enrich your health is physical training, fitness, and movement—and it only becomes more important the older you get. It also gets more important to do it right. If you’re 50 or older and just getting started in fitness, doing it wrong might make your health worse. You might get injured, and injuries incurred as we age become more catastrophic. You probably won’t bounce back from injuries like you did when you were 20 years old; you might never make it back.
So how should you get into fitness at age 50 and beyond? What should you avoid? What should you do?
Let’s dig right in.
Before we get into details about the two best exercises ever known to mankind to shed excess body fat (sprinting and jumping), I want to put in a little plug for the trending healthy living topic of gratitude. The concept is easy to pay lip service to, especially when you’re struggling and not in the best mood to feel it naturally. I’m recently recovered from a minor knee injury lasting six months that prevented me from doing my beloved sprinting and high jumping workouts. While athletics no longer dominates my life as it did when I was a pro triathlete, there was a lingering frustration deep down from being deprived of my favorite fitness endeavors, being unsure of the diagnosis of my injury, testing out the knee and experiencing setbacks, and being forced to be massively patient.