Workout Suggestion: Planned Spontaneity

Ideally, we should look forward to exercising. Dreading an integral part of a healthy lifestyle makes falling off the wagon more likely; if you like what you?re doing, you?re more likely to keep it up. The easiest way to achieve this is to incorporate the Primal concept of play into everyday life, whether it?s Ultimate Frisbee, playing with your kids, or going for a hike. Activities like these can be enjoyed by pretty much anyone who?s physically able, and they?re legitimately fun ? the perfect disguise for actual exercise. But what about the requisite weight lifting or intense aerobic activity prescribed by the Primal Blueprint? Excepting of course the gluttons for punishment (and there are many among us), it can be difficult to make those fun. Sure, they?re highly rewarding and we always feel better for having worked out, but they can be ? by definition ? fairly unpleasant.

Lucky for you, I happened across a great idea for a fun, enjoyable workout that doesn?t skimp on the intensity or results. The other day, while enjoying an evening stroll with my wife, I found myself dwelling on the fact that it had been a couple days since my last real workout (the book is nearing completion!). As much as skipping a workout or two (aka recovery days) is totally fine and completely normal, this time it was really getting to me (maybe it was the extra bottle of IPA I?d had with dinner the night before or something), so I grabbed a nearby low-hanging branch and did a set of fifteen pull-ups ? just something to get my heart pumping. My wife joined me, and it felt good being out there in the cool night air engaged in a spontaneous workout. We continued our walk but peppered it with random bouts of spontaneous exercise: boulder jumping, walking lunges, modified dips on two garbage cans a house had set out for pickup the next morning. We even dropped down for a few sets of push-ups.

Though I think we caught more than a few strange looks from the neighbors, it was an incredible workout experience. We were both pretty exhausted afterward, but in a good way. I was no longer beset by the nagging feeling of needing to workout, and I didn?t have to psyche myself up for a grueling workout before hand, since it was totally spontaneous. While the workout wasn?t exactly what Grok would have done (he didn’t consciously work out; his exercise came from necessity), the varied movements and wide range of targeted muscles were classic Grok.

I?d highly recommend that you guys try a similar workout. What follows is a general guideline, but you might even want to try coming up with your own variation.

Get a partner and pick an area with plenty of things to play, climb, and work out on. My neighborhood has plenty of trees and random obstacles, so it?s perfect for me. A wooded area would work well, as would an urban landscape full of fences, ledges, and poles. You can make any environment work ? you just may have to get a little more creative in some cases.

Start walking at a brisk pace so that your heart is pumping. Now spontaneously call out ?lunges!? or ?pull-ups!? or whatever exercise you want. If you decided on lunges, do lunges for 20 paces and then resume the walk. After some period of time (30 seconds, 2 minutes, anything as long as it isn?t too much time) call out the next exercise: ?squats!? Now do 20 quick body weight squats. Sound fun? It is. Just keep the pace going, keep it relatively spontaneous, and be supportive of each other, but also a little competitive (keep that motivation going).

Some other exercises you can do:

Step Ups (onto rocks, stairs, ledges, etc)
Box Jumps (also onto rocks, stairs, fallen trees or ledges)
Stairs (if you see a set of stairs, sprint up it!)
Leaping/Bounding (traverse the environment by jumping around ? either long or broad jump)
Skipping (not just for kids)
Push Ups (all you need is the ground)
Sprints (make it a race)
Pull Ups (on branches, ledges, poles, etc)
Running Backwards (same idea as sprints)
Dips (garbage cans work great, trust me!)
Whatever else you can think of.

No routine will ever be the same. You can surprise your reluctant partner by asking them out on a leisurely walk and then spring it on them. Anyone can do it, whatever your skill or fitness level. Don’t over think it. Just put on your shoes (or don?t) and head out.

Further Reading:

Bodyweight Workout

Prison Workout

Kettlebell Workout

Sandbag Workout

Slosh Tube Workout

Sprint Workout

15-Minute Workout

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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