Hi, folks! Enjoy this guest post from my pal Ryan of GMB fitness in which he covers a topic near and dear to my heart: mobility exercises and undoing some of the negative effects of a too-sedentary lifestyle. Take it away, Ryan.
The unfortunate truth of modern life is many of us sit for too long during the day. This is mostly due to office culture that requires us to stay at a desk to get our work finished—even if we work from home. And while you might be combatting this with regular breaks, walks across the office, or even fancy ergonomic chairs and standing desks, it might not be enough to maintain a healthy range of motion throughout your joints.
You need mobility exercises designed to combat all that sitting.
If you’re making time to move and exercise regularly, you know how important your hip, shoulder, and ankle mobility is for deep squats, pullups, lunges, and other full-body movements. Over time, if you’re not actively working on improving and maintaining mobility, it’s easy to lose. Fortunately, we can keep a healthy, functional range of motion starting with these five mobility exercises you can do anywhere.
People do not pay much attention to how to strengthen tendons and ligaments, until they suffer a tendon injury. Only then do you realize that training your tendons is just as important as working on muscle strength and endurance.
Our bodies “expect” a lifetime of constant, varied movement. From a very early age, most humans throughout history were constantly active. They weren’t exercising or training, per se, but they were doing all the little movements all the time that prepare the body and prime the tendons to handle heavier, more intense loads and movements: bending and squatting and walking and twisting and climbing and playing and building. It was a mechanical world. The human body was a well-oiled machine, lubed and limber from daily use and well-prepared for occasional herculean efforts.
When you ask most people what it takes to be fit, you get some pretty wild answers. Hours on the treadmill or pounding pavement every day. Hours in the weight room. Obsessing over how to turn every moment of the day into an opportunity for some kind of workout move.
I never liked what I heard, and after many decades of overtraining, I decided it was time to come up with a sane alternative—Primal Blueprint Fitness as I’ve called it over the years. It boils down to three logical steps all rooted in ancestral patterns people lived for hundreds of thousands of years:
Primal Blueprint Law #3: Move Frequently
Primal Blueprint Law #4: Lift Heavy Things
Primal Blueprint Law #5: Sprint Once in a While
All told, it’s a handful of hours a week, most of it moving frequently. In addition to those 4-5 hours a week of walking or other light movement, throw in an hour’s worth of strength training and 15 minutes of sprint time. There you go. Do that, and you’ll be in darn good shape.
Maybe it’s an injury that took months to overcome. Maybe it’s an illness that left you bedridden (or demotivated). Maybe it’s simple disuse and neglect that dragged on and on—or lasted your entire life until today. Or maybe you read my recent post about claiming health in later life and want to get back on the road to vitality. For whatever reason, almost everyone will be forced to recover and rebuild their fitness and strength after an extended period of inactivity. But there’s a wrong way and a right way to do it.
Here are some tips for doing it the right way:
Many people get to age 60 or so and, if they haven’t lived a healthy, active life up to that point, assume it’s too late for them. After all, things only get harder the older you get. You’ve got aches and pains. Your doc is always reminding you about your weight. Things creak and crack. You look wistfully at the gym you pass by every day, thinking to yourself, “It would never work.”
At least, that’s how most people deal with getting old: they lament their “inability” to do anything about it as oblivion approaches and overtakes them.
Forget all that. While you can’t turn back the chronological clock, you can “de-age” yourself by engaging in the right diet, exercise, and lifestyle modifications. So—how?
Earlier this year, I collaborated on a pair of papers (1, 2) with Matthew Wallden, Global Head of Institute of Education for the Chek Institute and an absolute obsessive when it comes to applying ancestral lessons to modern life. The papers were all about how humans today are failing to honor their tissues at rest: by sitting in chairs, slumping on couches, and slouching at the computer. The sad fact is, we’re ignoring the myriad ancestral or archetypal resting positions that humans have been using for hundreds of thousands of years, and this is having huge consequences on our health.
Older people (and those headed in that direction, which is everyone else) are really sold a bill of goods when it comes to health and longevity advice. I’m not a young man anymore, and for decades I’ve been hearing all sorts of input about aging that’s proving to be not just misguided, but downright incorrect. Blatant myths about healthy longevity continue to circulate and misinform millions. Older adults at this very moment are enacting routines detrimental to living long that they think are achieving the opposite. A major impetus for creating the Primal Blueprint was to counter these longevity myths. That mission has never felt more personal.
So today, I’m going to explore and refute a few of these top myths, some of which contain kernels of truth that have been overblown and exaggerated. I’ll explain why.
As you might have noticed, I’ve been doing more mini-videos about my daily routines, training regimens, and other thoughts on health. After some initial trepidation and a lot of demand from readers, I find I actually really enjoy doing them. They’re a great way to get a quick take on a topic and give a visual representation of all this stuff I talk about on the blog. They don’t take that long to make. People like them, find them helpful. It’s actually the perfect medium to complement my writing.
In the past, I’ve done videos on a broad range of topics: active workstations, standup paddling, Ultimate Frisbee, the evolution of my fitness routine and outlook, microworkouts, slacklining, and my coffee routine. Today, I’m showing a video about my favorite exercise: the trap-bar deadlift.
The fitness world is booming these days. You can see it in the popularity of CrossFit boxes, obstacle course and endurance events, and record-breaking gym construction. It’s encouraging. Inspiring even. But there’s also a downside to the rising gym memberships and event registrations. There are still too many people dealing with recurring patterns of breakdown, burnout, illness and injury. More people are trying to do the right thing, but the flawed approaches they often gravitate to end up derailing them.
Nonetheless, there are changes afoot. It’s an evolution of thinking that’s slowly spreading its way through fitness circles. More forward-thinking coaches, trainers, and researchers are helping right the wrongs of the fitness boom with a general rejection of the “more is better” approach for one that respects the importance of balancing stress and rest, one that moves toward an intuitive approach to workout planning.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering six questions from some of my Twitter followers. Yesterday, I asked the community for questions and got some great ones in return. For instance, how much oily fish should one eat each week? And how does diet and nutrition influence posture and coordination? Third, how should a low-carb diet affect acid reflux? Fourth, is there a good replacement for whey protein? Fifth, does milk with your coffee break a fast? And sixth, how does one stop viewing and using food as an indulgence? I’ll get to the rest next time.