Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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March 13 2011

Weekend Link Love – Edition 134

By Mark Sisson

I’ve always been envious of chimps for their climbing skills, their impressive strength-to-bodyweight ratio, and their ability to bite a man’s face off, but now you can add “penis spine” to that list.

The heavyweights who brought you that paper on hunter-gatherer fitness are back with another paper, and they’ve upped the ante. Full paper is free for download.

She may not be Catholic, but Barbeygirl is still giving something up for Lent: Monsanto. Cheers to that.

Don Matesz has been bringing the pain to the raw vegan camp. And by pain, I mean truth. Because the truth hurts only if you’re twisting and turning to avoid it. Read his entire series.

70’s Big takes on Vibrams in the weight room. What do you think of his take?

Staring at breasts is good for your health. Experts caution against reading too much into what they are calling a preliminary hypothesis… ah, who am I kidding? Get out there and get healthy!

Recipe Corner

  • Primal Palate appears to have a deep understanding of what makes meat great. Here’s how they’re doing flank steak, with (drool-inducing) pictures. See what I mean?
  • What can I say? I love a good pizza approximation. Here’s one for the time-strapped among us, coming from Health Bent.

Time Capsule

One year ago (March 6 – March 12)

Comment of the Week


– Vidad from 6 Sneaky Ways to Work Offal Into Your Diet

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70 thoughts on “Weekend Link Love – Edition 134”

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  1. I think 70’s Big take is flawed on the basis that if you need technology to assist you; the movement is probably a net-negative interms of long-term body & joint health. What’s wrong with not being able to deadlift more than 400lb!?!?

    1. He doesn’t know what he is talking about. I’ll outsquat that punk any day of the week and will do it in my VFF’s. The closer to barefoot you are when doing olympic lifts, the better your form and progress. I do olympic lifts in Softstars, personally but the principle is the same. He’s a stupid, little man.

        1. Agreed – and I know it was just hyperbole, but if your squat really goes from 250 to 400 just cause of your shoes, well… a good carpenter doesn’t blame his tools.

        2. Even coming from someone who cusses a lot, as soon as you start saying things look like (choose a scatological reference), or only (insert homophobic slur here)s wear them, you stop being taken seriously. He can go ahead and lift with his deadlift-helping shoes and belt without demeaning his argument with juvenile name-calling. Or, maybe he can’t.

        3. name calling aside,
          I think the main takeaway from his post is that in all scenarios of life and death, the guy expects to have his weight lifting belt and wrists straps with him, and always being in proper foot wear.

          Sure, modern world usually doesn’t require us to be prepared, but taking a look at what’s going on in Japan, I would imagine none of the immediate response teams had their weight lifting belts with them, and I’m sure the survivors didn’t worry about their choice of shoes.

      1. That’s right. Andy Bolton 9powerlifter) has a deadlift of 800+ plus and, I have seen pictures of him pulling in nothing but “ballarina” slippers. The proof is the pudding, as they say!

  2. Staring at womens breasts is good for your health – this is common sense, right?

    The flank steak recipe looks, well, um… I am struggling to think of a word! Thats it, I am grilling steak this week.

    I have porterhouse, ribeye, sirloin and t-bone… which one should I grill?

    1. Hmm. Looking at women’s breasts is healthy. I have two of them. This gives me an idea for a business! Why should Vibram and Whole Foods get all the trade from the primal people?

      1. Seriously. People stare at mine all the time anyway. I may as well get something out of it!!

  3. That steak looks amazing! Too bad my grill is still buried under a foot of snow… I’ll have to bookmark it for summer.

    1. I keep the snow away & off the grill – the mound next to the deck is 2 feet below my neighbor’s roof! I love standing in a flurry & grillin’

  4. I stopped reading the Vibram article when he starting using profanity.

  5. 70’s Big…well the way his one-sided argument ensues in such a vehement manner makes me believe that he is also 70, years old that is. After reading his rant, I picture an old man sitting on his front-porch rocker saying to everyone passing by, “You little whipper snappers!”

    I agree with Immortalist in thinking that his view is flawed. The notion of lifting with nothing but your feet on the ground seems logical, from an evolutionary POV. Oh well, we all have our own opinions.

  6. re: the breast staring study. how did they get men to not look at breasts for 5 years? did they blind them? remove their eyeballs? who would agree to submit themselves to such a study?

    1. I wondered about that too. Seems unethical to make this a condition of being in the study. Kind of like torturing little baby rabbits with cosmetics testing.

      Let’s have cruelty-free science for a change!

      I want to see a label that says, “No men were harmed in the research for this study.”

    2. my thoughts exactly – this is inhumane –
      wait – did they pay them a lot of money?

      naaaa, no guy would agree to that for merely money (would they?)

  7. Cheers, Mark! The more I read about Monsanto, the angrier I get…and the more determined not to support them.

  8. 70’s Big has a worthless take on Vibrams. His article is unnecessarily hostile and extremely rude, especially due to the unwarranted profanity, and all his claims to foot injury and the likes are without merit. When he makes such claims, also about the supposed superiority of conventional footwear, he draws no causation and cites no evidence, making him guilty of begging the question.

    I’d have to say that link isn’t even worth considering. He’s obviously a person who’s opposed to VFF on purely emotional grounds without intellectual basis, so he ought to be ignored accordingly.

    1. It annoyed me that his first comment was that Vibrams are “not straight.” Off the record, he probably says things like, “Those shoes are so gay!” Sounding like a seventh grader.

      Gay-bashing and Vibram-bashing in the same sentence. Not cool.

  9. With apologies to the writers of Billy Madison:

    70’s Big, what you’ve just written is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having read to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  10. Thanks for passing this along, Mark! You just introduced me to amazing recipes at Primal Palate and they even live in my city!

    1. Hey Lauren –
      Glad to hear you like our site! The primal/paleo community here in town is small, but active! Hopefully we’ll get to meet sometime. Oh, and thanks for the link love Mark!

  11. That 70’s Big article is pretty shortsighted and ludicrous. I agree 100% with the stance on Oly lifting in Vibrams, but the rest of the article is just idiotic and it seems they are more concerned with how they look rather than function. “Fitness” in the Globo Gyms have become a popularity contest and fashion show (oh, and of course money). Screw these jokers.

  12. 70s big – you know, I probably wouldn’t squat 400 lbs with Vibrams on either. Granted, wouldn’t squat 400 lbs period.

    Let’s see how well he does on the track.

  13. The 70’s big article needs to be looked at in terms of Barbell Training. He states they have a general application to other things, however his site is about weightlifting and the optimal ways of performing the lifts. I think five fingers are good for deadlifting, but once you start getting serious about lifting heavy, and especially with any olympic lift, the five fingers or any minimalist footwear just will not cut it.

    If you are wearing minimalist footwear the majority of the day, or running in them then that is ideal. Wearing legitimate weightlifting shoes while strength training (essentially an unnatural but beneficial activity) will bring great benefit and is such a brief period of time in non-minimalist footwear that it will not destroy your efforts to stay primal.

    1. I understand there are some mechanical benefits to Olympic lifting shoes (although people were still doing heavy Oly lifts just fine before the advent of special shoes). But, we have to put that in context–there is a mechanical advantage for people with bad, malformed feet to wearing Olympic lifting shoes. I haven’t really looked into it, but would people who have grown up barefoot (and therefore not changed the natural shape of their feet, and hence altered their entire posture) still require the same technological corrections to lift with proper form?

  14. Hooray for 70’s Big!!! Keep the Vibrams out of the weight room …

  15. Gee, lets see, 70s Big’s dietary advice includes hamburger buns, potato chips, some sort of brownie hot fudge Sunday dessert, ample amounts of beer…all great stuff for getting fat. And honestly, the guys idolized on that website as “70s Big” just look bloated (probably because, yeah, they have a lot of muscle but also a lot of fat). So when a website starts with fundamentally flawed dietary advice, I’m going to take anything else it has to say with a heaping bowl of salt.

    I mean maybe Vibrams are bad for lifting–but that diet is bad for your everything. I’m also pretty sure all the extra calories needed to get “big” are not going metabolically, even if they are clean. The amount of food bodybuilders need to eat is just ridiculous…you have to eat constantly. I know, I tried that approach once for a while. I didn’t feel good. I got muscle-fat big and pretty strong and probably took a couple years off my life expectancy. If someone’s goal is to get uber muscley, great. I just don’t think eating 9000 calories a day and carrying around an extra 50 lbs of muscle is much healthier than someone with an extra 50 lbs of fat overeating constantly.

    Moreover, that size isn’t linearly correlated with strength. There are plenty of “scrawny” looking Crossfit types very impressive deadlifts and squats (barefoot even). Yeah, they’ll never lift as much as powerlifters with their powerlifting suits and lifting shoes and all that extra fat. Big deal.

    All I know is that most shoes make my feet hurt when I exercise. Barefoot, Vibrams, or even Chucks, no. So I’ll pass on the arch support and high heeled lifting shoes, thanks. /rant

  16. Maybe Mr. 70’s Big should concentrate on his lifting and stop looking at my feet.

  17. My university gym won’t let me wear my Vibrams into the weight room. I can walk around the track in them, etc, but if I venture into the weight room, they fuss at me.

    Recently I discovered a corner where they rarely see me, with some small ladylike weights that i can use.

    I think their logic is that you might drop a weight on your foot. But it’s hard to see how the canvas shoes that a lot of people wear would be all that much more protection.

  18. I just got done running 10×100 meter sprints in my VFFs and then did 5 sets of 3 300lb deadlifts. Im not 70s big but im 10s fit and i dont shave my pits, nor am I a homophobe.

  19. I am loving the hatred on 70’s BIg. I just ran 2 miles in my vibrams this afternoon. Almost ready for my first ever barefoot 5K.

    What is the best calf exercise in the world? Running barefoot hands down.

    1. yeah i got mine a week ago and my calves have been WORKED running in them! like others commenting here, the vibrams allow me to run without pain in my foot; they change my stride for the better. what’s interesting to me about the guy’s blog is that the shoes have become political. it seems he doesn’t like them because gays, californians and cross fitters do like them…and these groups (broad and diverse as they are!) threaten him. so i like my shoes even more now knowing they irritate people like him.

  20. In the interest of doing things right, I tried finding the New England Journal of Medicine that had the breast ogling article in it. Turns out, this is an old hoax, found references years ago to the same non-existent study.

    Sigh…perhaps, maybe someone should fix this hoax and actually do the study–purely in the name of medical advancement, of course.

  21. The article by 70s Big came across as very immature and muscle-headed. He’s entitled to write in whatever style he wants, but I won’t read another word of it myself.

    I bet he AND his arrogant gf will be wearing VFFs within a couple of years. 🙂

  22. I originally found MDA from a link about vibrams. I don’t know how they work but that column got me thinking and I started my treadmill walks and runs barefoot. I had a lot less back pain and my ankles have gotten stronger. I know, I know, I should run outside not on a treadmill but I live in New England. The ground is covered with snow and ice for @ 5 mos out of the year. Not good for running or even walking. It appeared that 70’s big major beef is appearance

  23. Just had a look at the 70s Big post on Vibrams and guess what product was featured in most of the ads on the side? I always get a chuckle when monetized websites post something negative about a product, thereby generating ads for it.

  24. The whole 70’s big mentality that “big is synonymous with being strong” is flawed, they are looking at the guys from the 1970’s who are massive and strong and think that is the only way to go. What about Bruce Lee, he was doing his thing in the 70’s, he was ridiculously strong, but not big at all.

  25. Yeah… the 70s Big article seems to be comprised of the following arguments:

    – VFFs suck because they’re SO GAY SERIOUSLY LOL
    – Come on, look at how ugly they are!
    – I hate Crossfit and Crossfittors use them, so they’re bad!

    This classy fellow needs to reach his 13th birthday and consider making a real argument next time.

  26. Interesting that the 70’s Big article has raised such a ruckus. I say send all that energy to being angry about Monsanto.

  27. I always find it funny reading articles like the 70s big one. I could almost imagine him covering his ears and screaming lalala to anyone that showed him evidence contrary to his and his gfs beliefs. But hey, it keeps all those morons off this great site!

  28. I kinda got a kick out of the 70s Big article, but I was confused because I thought lifting barefoot was good! And then they were saying that VFFs shouldn’t be used for running?! Wha? Tell that to my shins, which always used to hurt when I ran in regular shoes…. hmm….

  29. 70?s Big is almost right! I used to lift and was a devotee of Arnold’s book as the bible for lifting. Arnold recommends lifting barefoot if possible. So much for 5 fingers. Oh, and I run in my 5 fingers and am clearly not a vegetarian, at least not for more than a meal or 2.

  30. 70s big lost all credibility with the juvinille homophobia. I’m not a huge defender of Vibrams, because my second toe is too long to properly fit in them; that said, there appears to be some seriously powerful lifters out there that wear them. Once I get my vivo barefoot shoes, I plan on wearing them to lift.

    Even without the childish and lame queer/hippie jokes, his argument appears to come down to:
    1. They’re ugly.
    2. Something vague and largely unsupported about body mechanics.
    3. Did I mention they’re ugly. My girlfriend told me to say that.

    Meh. Not impressed.

  31. I’m sorry you gave 70s Big an audience, Mark. He doesn’t deserve one.

  32. So raw vegans got their blenders and make do. It may not seem “natural” but we “naturally” have big brains and make spears and blenders.

    the LFRV crowed just side steps the issue by eating tons of fruit and some greens, nuts, seeds, avocado to round it out. probably less “sustainable” but seems great for those that can pull it off.

    what worries me about some vegans is the denial that animals, including us, are part of nature. Id hate to see operation hope shut down because its “abusing” animals.

  33. After reading the 70’s Big post, I looked into weightlifting shoes a bit more. I found a post by Mark Rippetoe, and his basic criteria for a good lifting shoe was an incompressible sole to maximize load transfer to the ground and a stable base to control the lift. Sounds like VFFs to me. As for the heel lift, he says that “A variety of powerlifting shoes with essentially flat soles and no heel lift, much like track flats or wrestling shoes, are also available … These shoes are less suited for squatting, since they require that you have better than average flexibility to squat in them, but they are excellent for floor work and standing exercises.” Assuming this applies to Olympic lifting as well, it sounds like the heel lift is there because people have tight heel cords. The wedge heel gives a mechanical advantage, sure, but it sounds like stretching would do the same thing.

  34. I don’t understand how some people have mentioned that barefoot olympic lifting is the best way to do the oly lifts. If that was anywhere near the case don’t you think you would see the strongest people in the world doing it that way. When I say the strongest people in the world I am talking about the Olympics. They are the strongest in the world for a reason, they are genetically gifted and they used the appropriate tools and training to get there.

    70s Big is a site dedicated to strength training and getting the biggest squat, bench, and dead lift possible. Primal fitness does not seem to be about that. Bruce Lee may have been strong, but how do you think he would have done in a power lifting meet. People on this site have different goals than people on that site. They are about training to compete in Power Lifting events, that is not the goal of this site. So for their goals VFFs don’t work to getting you the biggest squat, bench, and dead lift (although a low of power lifters dead lift bare foot).

    I think that article was appropriate for their audience. And the authors of that site do compete in the Olympic Lifts and in Power Lifting, so they do know what they are talking about when it comes to that realm.

    1. If the man wants to make a case for VFFs not being good for Olympic lifting, I would love to hear it. I don’t own them but was considering getting a pair for lifting, and if he has some legitimate reasons that this is a BAD idea, I’d LOVE to see them! Really! However, “they look gay” is not an argument. It’s a thing adolescent boys say when they’re trying to prove how macho they are. It isn’t something mature adults say, and it doesn’t make me want to listen to anything else he has to say.

      1. This may not be the best reply to your request for not wearing VFFs while Olympic lifting, but I have been coached by 3 different coaches that have had lifters at the national level. I wore some flat soled Converse and brought some lifting shoes. When I approached the platform in my Converse I was told to switch out my shoes. I wasn’t told any scientific reason behind it, but these were coaches that knew what they were talking about and could back it up in results and decades of experience.

        From my experience you have a solid platform to land on when wearing lifting shoes after your pulls (either in the snatch or c&j). I have also done this in Converse. In the converse, no matter how tightly you lace them, you can roll onto the side portion of your outer foot. In proper lifting shoes it is hard to do that and lessens your chance of getting injured. I guess this may only apply if you are doing MAXIMAL weights (which is what 70s big is about). But if you are doing light weight snatches or c&j’s (ala Crossfit style) then I guess it would not effect you are much.

        As I said before the shoes are just a tool to get you where you want to be. In the case of 70’sbig that means the biggest squat, bench, and dead lift. If you want to be BIG and STRONG (not strength to body weight ration, just pure strength ie. 600# Squat) then why not emulate what the strongest people do.

        1. See, this is an actual reasonable argument. I can’t be sure if it’s true, but it makes sense. Thanks for taking the time to respond, I appreciate it. Too bad the 70’s Big guy didn’t feel the need to do the same.

  35. Good luck on the Monsanto boycott! I have to buy gas, and I’m sure the SoCal stuff contains a ton of corn ethanol, so I’m screwed.

    1. Ride a bike or take the bus! Hurray for alternative transportation and not adding to the congestion!

        1. Wrong. Buses run on diesel.

          However, some buses are running on a biodiesel mix, which includes used cooking oil (ie vegetable oil). So the “green” bus is indirectly in the Monsanto chain. (Cleaning up its mess, actually, because before biodiesel, these restaurants were dumping grease in the drains and causing sewer lines to burst.)

          Nobody mentioned trolleys. These run on 600V DC.

    2. Thanks! I live way out in agricultural country, myself, and have been looking for sources of 100% gas to avoid the ethanol issue. It’s tough, though!

  36. Did you see the latest vegan pubmed (link in my name)? In part 3 of 4 it talks about cruciferous vegetables and risk of coma.