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.
I’ve written over the years about ideas for moving frequently—walking, hiking, and various ways to keep your walking routines interesting. But it’s not just about walking. Moving frequently can mean a lot of things after all.
Today I’m sharing a whole host of video how-tos and routines that touch on all of those three Primal Fitness Laws—but especially #4 and #5. Sit back, watch the ones that speak to you, and see how they’ll shake up how you’re working out….
First off, let’s review the Primal Essential Movements:
The 4 Primal Essential Movements
For those who have these moves down and want to step up the effort, variations are one tool.
Advanced Variations On Basic Moves
Dead Stop Push-Ups
Now let’s move on to resistance training workouts.
Lifting Heavy Things
My Favorite Way To Lift Heavy Things
That brings us to Primal Law #5: Sprint Once In a While….
My Sprinting Workout
Running Form Primer
Now that you’ve got the basics, let’s move on to quick workouts you can do anywhere.
On the Road Warrior Workout
More About My Personal Routine
How My Routine Has Changed
My Take On “Ab” Workouts
How I Rest: Matters for Ancestral Fitness
My Favorite Way To Play… After All These Years
Thanks for stopping in, everybody. Have thoughts or questions about any of the above moves or routines—or anything fitness related? Shoot me a line below. Have a great week.
The post Video Roundup: The Moves, Routines and Know-How You Need For Ultimate Primal Fitness appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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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:
1. Do Anything You Can
Isometric contractions in the hospital bed (only if allowed by your doc, mind you). Single leg squats when standing up from the couch with your good leg. Bicep curls with the one arm that isn’t incapacitated. Whatever movement you can muster, get moving.
While it’s definitely “better” to train your entire body, training just a single body part or limb is better than doing nothing. It sends a signal to your body that you haven’t thrown in the towel, that you still need your metabolically-expensive muscle mass.
2. Motion Is Lotion—but Only If It’s High Quality Motion
The quicker you can get back to normal movement, the better. Normal movement, not normal speed. Quality over everything. For instance, say you sprain your ankle. The best thing you can do to recover is to start walking on it with good technique. Once you can walk with good form, however slow you go, get walking. Walk without a limp, even if it’s 1 MPH. Walk without a limp, even if you have to use crutches or a cane to bear some of the load. Don’t roll onto the outside of your bad foot. Don’t splay that foot out like a duck to avoid the pain.
The point is moving—and moving well.
3. Eat Tons Of Protein
Inactivity increases the protein requirement. When you’re on bed rest (mandatory or self-imposed), your protein metabolism shifts toward that of an older person’s—lower efficiency, higher substrate requirements to attain the same result. You need more protein just to stay on top of daily maintenance. Plus, since you’re actively healing and recovering and laying down or repairing tissue, you need extra protein to handle the extra processes.
Eat a good 1 gram protein per pound of lean body mass as you prepare for your return to activity. Consider including whey isolate, as it’s an easy additive source of protein that’s been shown to improve recovery after bed rest and surgery.
4. Learn To Distinguish Between Pain and Soreness
When recovering from an injury or just getting back into exercise, you want to avoid pain. Sharp pains in the joints, strains in the tendons that you feel for days after, a pulled muscle—these are not okay.
But you will and should feel discomfort. Muscle soreness after a session is fine. It’s normal. Burning in the muscle during a session is fine. It’s normal. Pain is not. Avoid pain.
5. Go For Walks
Regular walking is a powerful signal of “abundance” to your body. It tells your body that you’re still in the game, that you’re engaged with the world and have places to be. Walking is also the simplest, most fundamental way to get the blood flowing, get your joints lubricated, and apply a low-level stimulus to your musculoskeletal system. Pretty much everyone can walk.
If you have access to hills, even better. Walk up and down hills as often as possible. A brisk uphill walk is a legitimate way to build strength and endurance.
Work your way up to 5 times a week of 30-45 minutes. Throw on a weighted vest or throw some books in your backpack to add resistance.
6. Do Bear Crawls
Slow bear crawls are a great way to loosen up your joints and prepare your shoulders and hips for more complex, weighted movements. They’re actually a good exercise in their own right, especially if you haven’t done them since you were a baby.
Do these several times a week, preferably in the morning or before workouts, for a few minutes each day. Crawl forward, backward, sideways in a controlled fashion, making sure you feel the movements.
7. Do Balance Work
One basic way to improve balance (or just get more comfortable in unstable positions) is to stand on one foot and slowly sweep the opposite foot across in front of and behind you. Switch feet and do this every day for a couple minutes, or whenever you have down time—standing in line, for example.
You can also buy a 2×4 from the hardware store, place it on the ground, and practice walking forward and backward along it. You get the benefit of balancing on a narrow surface without the risk of falling to your doom.
8. Start With Bodyweight Exercises
Basic movements: knee flexion (squat, lunge, split squat), hip hinge (deadlift, kettlebell swing, trap bar DL), push (pushup, overhead press, dip), pull (pullup, chinup, row variations). You can do just about all of them with bodyweight, with the only one that’s really hard to do without external weights being the hip hinge.
Grab the Primal Blueprint Fitness ebook. It’s free and provides a step-by-step progression for all the movements, from total beginner doing pushups on the wall and assisted pull-ups to experienced lifter doing feet elevated pushups and weighted pull-ups.
9. Consider Finishing With Bodyweight Exercises.
Bodyweight exercises are totally sufficient for most people. It’s all about the amount of work you’re willing to do and the amount of effort you’re willing to give. In fact, I made the case in this post that you could build incredible strength and general fitness simply using bodyweight exercises plus some weighted resistance for the lower body (perhaps, say, my new favorite exercise: the trap bar deadlift and its many variations).
10. Take Fish Oil or Eat Fatty Fish.
The benefits of seafood on recovery and bounce-back-ability are multifold:
First, seafood is a great source of bioavailable high-quality protein—protein you need to recover from whatever sidelined you.
Second, the long chain omega-3s have a potent anti-inflammatory effect that can improve your recovery and speed up your return to normal activity. They reduce pain and inflammation without curtailing the healing process. One study even found that high dose omega-3 intake increased physical activity, maintained physical function, and reduced the incidence of joint replacement in older adults.
Third, the long chain omega-3s also increase muscle protein synthesis, particularly in older adults (presumably with higher baseline inflammation levels). In other words, they make physical activity more anabolic. They improve your ability to build muscle, muscle that you’ve probably lost being injured and inactive.
That’s it, everyone. These are the tips and methods I’ve used to get myself back on my feet after a long layaway, and to help others do the same. If you have anything to add or questions to ask, do so down below. I’d love to hear what worked (and what didn’t) for you. Thanks for reading.
Arentson-lantz EJ, Galvan E, Ellison J, Wacher A, Paddon-jones D. Improving Dietary Protein Quality Reduces the Negative Effects of Physical Inactivity on Body Composition and Muscle Function. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2019;74(10):1605-1611.
Alfaddagh A, Elajami TK, Saleh M, Elajami M, Bistrian BR, Welty FK. The effect of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids on physical function, exercise, and joint replacement in patients with coronary artery disease: A secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial. J Clin Lipidol. 2018;12(4):937-947.e2.
Smith GI, Atherton P, Reeds DN, et al. Dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;93(2):402-12.
The post 10 Tips For Rebuilding Fitness and Strength After Long-Term Injury, Illness or Atrophy appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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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?
Realize That It’s Never Too Late
The scientific literature is rife with examples of older individuals making changes to their lifestyle, diet, and exercise and seeing great results.
How about 68-year-olds still getting gains from strength training?
Older women switching to high-fatty-meat or high-cheese diets and enjoying better heart health.
Verifiable examples (or “anecdotes”) from people online are also available. Like PD Mangan, who went from this to this. That’s not impossible, or even difficult to achieve. What you need is the will and means and know-how—all freely available.
Know that it’s possible. Know that it’s probable. Know that your efforts will not be in vain.
Realize That It’s Your Fault—And Even If It’s Not, It’s Your Responsibility
I don’t care where you fall on the belief spectrum. It could be that “your body is a temple ordained by God and you’d be remiss to let it fall to ruin and in doing so fail your creator.” It could be that “your body was the work of hundreds of generations of ancestors who fought and suffered and scrounged and died to ensure you’d make it and to fail to maintain your health is a huge insult to their sacrifices.” It could be that “your body is the product of millions and billions of years of evolution through natural selection, a chance byproduct of a process that probability says shouldn’t have even happened, and you’re going to waste it?”
However you approach it, what matters is that you have a remarkable body (and mind) that deserves your attention, care, maintenance and nourishment. Only you can do anything about it. Maybe you were fed bad food as a kid and bad info as an adult (this is most people). Doesn’t matter. You still have to own it and take the steps necessary to improve your condition. Responsibility means ability to respond. Claim it.
Eat More Protein
If you’re over 50, you need more protein than you think.
If you’re over 50, your ability to utilize protein isn’t as good as it used to be.
If you’re over 50, you need more protein to do the same job as a person 25 years younger.
If you’re over 65, the supposed negative relationship between meat and mortality the “experts” are always crowing about reverses, magically becoming a positive relationship.
And if one of your issues is trouble losing body fat, more protein will also help you beat back exaggerated hunger and keep food intake low enough to lose weight. Many people in the ancestral community don’t like acknowledging this, but it’s true for a great many people: protein is the most satiating macronutrient.
Moreover, protein will help you lose body fat and retain (and even gain) the all-important lean muscle mass. Losing muscle when you’re over 50 is harder and harder to recover from.
The only catch is that if one of your “aging-related maladies” is kidney failure, you may have to slow things down and keep your protein intake low to moderate. Emphasis on “may.” Check with your doctor if that’s the case.
Get As Insulin Sensitive As You Can
The relationship between insulin signaling and aging is a bit unclear. What we know is that people with higher insulin sensitivity live longer and healthier lives. We know that insulin resistance is strongly linked to most degenerative diseases, like cancer, diabetes, sarcopenia, and osteoporosis (to name only a few). But researchers are always oscillating between “cause” and “effect.” Is insulin resistance a cause or a sign of aging? Are insulin sensitive people healthier into old age because they’re insulin sensitive, or are they insulin sensitive because they’re healthier?
I’m not sure it really matters. Either way, to become more insulin sensitive you have to do a bunch of things that will also make you healthier and age better like lifting weights, quitting overeating, taking more walks, doing more low level aerobic work, and regulating your carb intake.
I’ve always said that you should burn as little glucose as possible. The more you can rely on stored body fat for energy and daily maintenance, the better. Well, the more insulin sensitive you are, the less insulin you’ll have blunting your ability to liberate stored body fat, the more fat you’ll burn and the better you’ll age.
Walk Every Day
One of my favorite predictors of mortality in older people is walking speed: they ask people to walk at their normal speed and then track how fast they go. The slower the walk, the higher their risk of dying earlier. It’s my favorite because it’s so elegant. And no, actively forcing yourself to walk more briskly when you get tested won’t increase your longevity. But if you get up and walk every single day, walking will be second nature. Your walking speed will increase naturally, and it’s the natural increase in walking speed that presages a longer, healthier life.
Walking will also force you to get out and see and experience the world. It’ll lower your fasting blood glucose and postprandial blood glucose (hint: walk after meals). It will introduce novelty to your life and in doing so extend your time horizon.
Eat Tons Of Collagen
Collagen improves skin health, elasticity, and reduces wrinkling. This might sound superficial, but altering those “surface level” signs of aging indicates that you’re also modifying the internal aging markers.
Another reason to up your collagen intake is to balance out the meat you’re eating. As an older person, you’ll need to eat more meat to counter your suboptimal protein utilization. That means you need to process more methionine, which requires more glycine, which comes from collagen.
The easiest way to get collagen and hit a few birds with one stone is to eat lots of collagenous meats—shanks, skin, knuckles, oxtails, ears, snouts, feet, tendons. That way you get your muscle meat protein and collagen protein. Collagen protein powder is another option.
Lift Heavy Things To Build Your Musculoskeletal System
Exercise isn’t just good for your muscles and your heart. It’s also the only reliable way to build and maintain bone mineral density. But in order for exercise to improve bone mineral density, it must satisfy several requirements. It should be dynamic, not static. It needs to challenge you. It needs to challenge your muscles. In other words, you need to lift (relatively) heavy things. You need to progress in weight, intensity, and duration. It should be “relatively brief but intermittent.” No long drawn-out sessions that do nothing but overwork and overtrain you. Keep it short and intense. Also, the exercise should place an unusual loading pattern on the bones. That could be different movements, or increased resistance, as long as you’re introducing something “new” to the body; don’t just do the same old weights forever. Finally, for exercise to improve bone mineral density it must be supported by sufficient nutrition, especially calcium, vitamin D, sufficient protein, and vitamin K2.
Develop Your Balance Yesterday
The number one cause of death and degeneration after age 70 is falling and breaking something. You step out of the shower, slip, and break a hip, then never recover. You step off a curb and fall on your knee, breaking your femur, and never recover. Avoid this at all costs. Improve your balance as soon as possible.
Get a slackline: Keep it low to the ground, have a partner to help, or use something like a walking stick to support you. Focus on simply balancing rather than trying to walk.
Try standup paddling: Not only is it a great workout and a great time, paddling forces you to balance—constantly. And as long as you can swim, falling is totally safe.
Walk on uneven surfaces (carefully): Go for hikes, walk in the sand or in the grass, walk along cobblestone streets, walk on slopes.
Walk along curbs (very carefully).
Wear footwear that is as minimalist as you can handle (or just go barefoot if you’re up for it): The bottom of the foot is loaded with nerve endings that inform you and guide your balance as you make your way through the world. They help you subconsciously make those micro-adjustments to your posture and body position that make up “good balance.” A big clunky rubber sole blocks that out and cuts you off from your body.
Play Every Day
They say that when you stop moving, you start dying. I say when you stop playing, you start dying. We see this in dogs; once a dog no longer wants to play, chase the ball, roughhouse, or do the things he or she used to love doing, they’re on the way out. I firmly believe the same is true for people—just spread out across a longer timeline.
So have fun. Play sports. Try Ultimate Frisbee (my favorite).
Don’t forget about the mental games. Game nights. Crosswords in the morning (that’s what I do). Play cards. Do a weekly poker night with friends and make it a potluck.
What I’m not saying is that doing the crossword will stave off Alzheimer’s or make you smarter. What it will do is send the message to your brain and body that “this person hasn’t given up.” Ideally, your physical play will train your muscles, bones, and balance—that way you can satisfy all those requirements and have fun doing it.
Don’t Do It Alone
If you’re an older person reading this and actually preparing to make the changes necessary to be healthy and vigorous, you are a rare bird. Most of your peers have given up. Most have resigned themselves to being less healthy and less vigorous with every passing day. Don’t let that happen. Enlist a friend, a loved one, a peer. Not only will it give you another person to play, train, and walk with, but it will help you stay the course and enjoy doing it. It will also save another person—or at least give them the best chance they’ve got.
Those are the big tips. There are others, though. And for anyone interested in better health and longevity and more life in the years you have, Keto for Life, offers more information than I could fit here. All the points I covered today and many more are fleshed out and expanded upon twenty-fold.
But if you just focused on these 10 tips, you’d be pretty far along on your way to health (no matter what age you are).
That’s it for today, folks. Take care, drop your own tips down below, and have a great Thanksgiving!
The post Late To the Healthy Living Game? 10 Essential Tips Making the Transition to Better Health appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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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.
I wrote a blog post explaining the consequences. Not only are modern resting positions destroying the health and viability of our connective tissues and muscle function, they’re even inhibiting our ability to control blood glucose levels. We’re getting injured more often, ending up with terrible conditions like osteoarthritis, and we’re making our already substandard blood glucose control even worse.
The point of all this is that sitting in one single position with the majority of our tissues supported by furniture is incredibly harmful. Instead, we should be shifting our body from position to position. We should be stretching this muscle in one position and stretching the opposing muscle in the next position. Our rest should be productive. It shouldn’t be turning off the entire body for 8 hours. It should be resting one piece while engaging another—and switching things up constantly. Even our rest, whether from our workouts or daily life, should involve movement, in other words.
Despite being “ancestral” or “archetypal,” it’s a foreign concept if you’ve never done it. These can be hard to visualize through text alone. So I’ve made a helpful video showing some of them. As you can see, these positions aren’t always “easy” or “natural,” especially if you’re coming from a background of modern resting positions (like all of us). But do what you can, and work toward achieving these resting positions. Even breaking up all that sitting with an hour or two of shifting ancestral positions on the floor will be a huge help.
I hope you enjoy the video, and I hope you give these a shot. You can also listen to my podcast with Matt here.
Let me know what you think. Which of the postures do you see your incorporating—now or moving forward?
Wallden, Matthew, Mark Sisson, “Biomechanical attractors—A paleolithic prescription for tendinopathy & glycemic control.” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, Volume 23, Issue 2, 366 – 371.
Wallden, M., Mark Sisson, “Modern disintegration and primal connectivity.” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, Volume 23, Issue 2, 359 – 365.
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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.
1) “Don’t Lift Heavy: You’ll Throw Out Your Back”
Obviously, a frail grandfather pushing 100 shouldn’t do Starting Strength right off the bat (or maybe ever, depending on how frail he is). That’s not my contention here. My contention:
Lifting as heavy as you can as safely as you can is essential for healthy longevity. That’s why I put it first in the list today. It’s that important.
For one, lean muscle mass is one of the strongest predictors of resistance to mortality. The more muscle a person has (and the stronger they are), the longer they’ll live—all else being equal. That’s true in both men and women.
One reason is that the stronger you are, the more capable you are. You’re better at taking care of yourself, standing up from chairs, ascending stairs, and maintaining basic functionality as you age.
Another reason is that increased lean mass means greater tissue reserve—you have more organ and muscle to lose as you age, so that when aging-related muscle loss sets in, you have longer to go before it gets serious. And that’s not even a guarantee that you’ll lose any. As long as you’re still lifting heavy things, you probably won’t lose much muscle, if any. Remember: the average old person studied in these papers isn’t doing any kind of strength training at all.
It doesn’t have to be barbells and Olympic lifts and CrossFit. It can be machines (see Body By Science, for example) and bodyweight and hikes. What matters is that you lift intensely (and intense is relative) and safely, with good technique and control.
2) “Avoid Animal Protein To Lower IGF-1”
Animal protein has all sorts of evil stuff, they say.
Methionine—linked to reduced longevity in animal models.
Increased IGF-1—a growth promoter that might promote unwanted growth, like cancer.
Yet, a huge study showed that in older people, those 65 or older, increased animal protein intake actually protected against mortality. The older they were and the more protein they ate, the longer they lived.
Meanwhile, low-protein diets have been shown to have all sorts of effects that spell danger for older people hoping to live long and live well:
- Slow the metabolism, increase insulin resistance, and cause body fat gain.
- Impair the immune system and make infections more severe.
- Reduce muscle function, cellular mass (yes, the actual mass of the cell itself), and immune response in elderly women.
- Impair nitrogen balance in athletes.
- Increase the risk of osteoporosis.
- Increase the risk of sarcopenia (muscle wasting).
And about that “excess methionine” and “increased IGF-1”?
In both human and animal studies, there’s a U-shaped relationship between IGF-1 levels and lifespan. Animal studies show an inverse relationship between IGF-1 and diabetes, heart disease, and heart disease deaths (higher IGF-1, less diabetes/heart disease) and a positive association between IGF-1 and cancer (higher IGF-1, more cancer). A recent review of the animal and human evidence found that while a couple human studies show an inverse relationship between IGF-1 and longevity, several more show a positive relationship—higher IGF-1, longer lifespan—and the majority show no clear relationship at all.
3) “You’re Never Getting Back That Cartilage—Once It’s Gone, It’s Gone”
Almost every doctor says this. It’s become an axiom in the world of orthopedics.
But then we see this study showing that people have the same microRNAs that control tissue and limb regeneration in lizards and amphibians. They’re most strongly expressed in the ankle joints, less so in the knees, and even less so at the hip—but they’re there, and they’re active.
I’ve seen some impressive things, have been able to personally verify some stunning “anecdotes” from friends and colleagues who were able to regrow cartilage or at least regain all their joint function after major damage to it. Most doctors and studies never capture these people. If you look at the average older person showing up with worn-down joints and degraded or damaged cartilage, how active are they? What’s their diet?
They are mostly inactive. They are often obese or overweight.
They generally aren’t making bone broth and drinking collagen powder. They aren’t avoiding grains and exposing their nether regions to daily sun. They aren’t doing 200 knee circles a day, performing single leg deadlifts, and hiking up mountains. These are the things that, if anything can, will retain and regrow cartilage. Activity. Letting your body know that you still have need of your ankles, knees, and hips. That you’re still an engaged, active human interacting with the physical world.
4) “Retire Early”
This isn’t always bad advice, but retiring and then ceasing all engagement with the outside world will reduce longevity, not increase it. Having a life purpose is essential for living long and living well; not having one is actually an established risk factor for early mortality. And at least when you’re getting up in the morning to go to work, you have a built-in purpose. That purpose may not fulfill your heart and spirit, but it’s a purpose just the same: a reason to get up and keep moving.
Retiring can work. Don’t get me wrong. But the people who retire early and make it work for their health and longevity are staying active. They’re pursuing side projects or even big visions. They have hobbies, friends, and loved ones who they hang out with all the time.
The ones who don’t? Well, they are at at increased risk of dying early.
You don’t have to keep working a job you hate, or even a job you enjoy. You can retire. Just maintain your mission.
5) “Take It Easy As You Get Older”
As older people, we’re told that sex might be “too strenuous for the heart” (Truth: It’s good for it). We’re told to “take the elevator to save our knees.” They tell us “Oh, don’t get up, I’ll get it for you.”
They don’t tell me that because, well, I’m already up and doing the thing. I’m active and obviously so. I don’t take it easy.
Stay vigorous, friends. Stay vivacious. Don’t be foolhardy, mind you. Be engaged.
“Take it easy” quickly becomes “sit in the easy chair all day long watching the news.” Don’t let it happen.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t rest. Rest is everything. Sleep is important. But you must earn your rest, and when you have the energy, take advantage of it. Don’t rest on your laurels.
As you can see, there are tiny kernels of truth in many of these myths. We should all be careful lifting heavy things and pay close attention to technique and form. Everyone should care for their cartilage and avoid damage to it. No one should continue working a job that sucks their soul and depletes their will to live if they can move on from it. And so on.
What we all need to avoid is sending the message to our brain, body, and cells that we’re done. That we’ve given up and our active, engaged life is effectively over. Because when that happens, it truly is over.
Someone asked me when aging begins. How old is “old”?
I think I know now. Aging begins when you start listening to conventional longevity advice. As I said on Twitter earlier today, healthy aging begins when you do the opposite.
Want more on building a life that will allow you to live well into later decades? I definitely have more on that coming up. A perceptive reader shared the news in one of the Facebook groups already, so let me mention it here. My new book, Keto For Life: Reset Your Biological Clock In 21 Days and Optimize Your Diet For Longevity, is coming out December 31, 2019. I’ll have more info, including a special bonus package for those who preorder, in just a few weeks. In the meantime, you can read more about it here on our publisher’s page.
That’s it for today, friends. Chime in down below about longevity or any other health topics you’re thinking about these days. What are the most egregious aging myths you’ve heard? What do you do instead? Take care.
Karlsen T, Nauman J, Dalen H, Langhammer A, Wisløff U. The Combined Association of Skeletal Muscle Strength and Physical Activity on Mortality in Older Women: The HUNT2 Study. Mayo Clin Proc. 2017;92(5):710-718.
Malta A, De oliveira JC, Ribeiro TA, et al. Low-protein diet in adult male rats has long-term effects on metabolism. J Endocrinol. 2014;221(2):285-95.
Carrillo E, Jimenez MA, Sanchez C, et al. Protein malnutrition impairs the immune response and influences the severity of infection in a hamster model of chronic visceral leishmaniasis. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(2):e89412.
Castaneda C, Charnley JM, Evans WJ, Crim MC. Elderly women accommodate to a low-protein diet with losses of body cell mass, muscle function, and immune response. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995;62(1):30-9.
Gaine PC, Pikosky MA, Martin WF, Bolster DR, Maresh CM, Rodriguez NR. Level of dietary protein impacts whole body protein turnover in trained males at rest. Metab Clin Exp. 2006;55(4):501-7.
Wu C, Odden MC, Fisher GG, Stawski RS. Association of retirement age with mortality: a population-based longitudinal study among older adults in the USA. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2016;70(9):917-23.
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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.
Why Do I Love the Trap-Bar (AKA Hex Bar) Deadlift?
It’s a good balance between quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, and glutes—the anterior and posterior chain, in other words. And, you can accentuate each muscle group by making slight variations with your technique.
You can do them with more knee flexion bias—this hits the quads a bit more.
You can do them with posterior bias, keeping your knees straighter—this hits the glutes and hams better.
You can do both in one workout. First one bias, then the other.
You can increase the weight and use the higher grips, allowing you to increase the intensity and shorten the range of motion for safety.
You can decrease the weight and use the lower grips, giving you a deep range of motion.
You can stack weights and stand on them inside the trap bar, giving you an even deeper range of motion. Stack them high enough, and you can turn the lift into a near-squat.
That’s a ton of variation and customization with just one basic movement.
And if I’m feeling like doing some other stuff, it’s right there ready to go. I can do farmer’s walks with the trap bar. Load it up, pick it up, and walk around under load.
I can do bent-over trap bar rows.
I can do shoulder shrugs. Sometimes I’ll even combine the deadlift with the shrug: lift it up, shrug at the top, repeat.
Most of all, the trap-bar feels comfortable in my hands. It feels right when I lift it. It feels like exercise should feel: like I’m stressing my body but not endangering it.
How I Do It
Check out how I do my deadlift session and how I use the handle options for different weight loads.
It’s safe to say the trap-bar is going to be in my arsenal for life. I suggest you get yourself one, or try it out the next time you hit the gym.
What’s your favorite exercise? Have you tried the trap-bar? What’d you think? Got any other trap-bar exercise variations you’d recommend?
Take care, everyone, and thanks for reading.
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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.
More people are implementing strategies to maximize workout return on investment and minimize the risk of injury and burnout that too often result from an indiscriminate approach. The endurance world, for example, is finally rejecting the narrowly focused, overly stressful chronic cardio approach of old in favor of emphasizing aerobic development at lower heart rates, avoiding chronic patterns, and becoming fat adapted instead of sugar addicted. Endurance athletes are embracing the importance of strength training and explosive sprinting just as strength/power athletes are doing more aerobic conditioning. The CrossFit movement itself is an ode to the health and longevity benefits and increased enjoyment that comes from achieving broader fitness competency.
What’s Wrong With HIIT?
I’ve talked recently about microworkouts and recovery-based workouts. Today, I want to delve in further and share a radical transformation in the way high intensity workouts are conducted that will generate fitness breakthroughs while simultaneously minimizing the risk of exhaustion. Specifically, I’m taking aim at the extremely popular workout pattern known as HIIT—High Intensity Interval Training. Sprinting is a part of the Primal Blueprint Fitness Pyramid, but I’ve been wary of the details around traditional HIIT practices because these workouts are quite often too stressful and exhausting to deliver the intended fitness boost they promise.
Yes, you have to challenge your body regularly with hard efforts to build fitness, but most of us do it the wrong way. When you complete a killer HIIT session at morning boot camp or spin class, at home on your Peloton bike, or with the Tuesday night track group, you get a tremendous sense of accomplishment and a flood of feel-good endorphin chemicals into your bloodstream. Unfortunately, the typical HIIT workout can also be depleting, exhausting, and stimulate an assortment of unnecessary cellular damage and inflammation.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Be redesigning your high intensity workouts, you can get leaner and fitter with higher quality, more explosive, less physically stressful workouts that are easier to recover from and thus can be performed more frequently. In short, a better approach involves transitioning from HIIT to HIRT, High Intensity Repeat Training. HIRT is an acronym coined by Dr. Craig Marker, psychologist, certified strength and conditioning coach, and CrossFit instructor from Florida.
Here’s a compare and contrast that can revolutionize your approach to intense workouts….
Comparing HIIT and HIRT
The problem with a typical HIIT workout is that it’s too strenuous—too many repetitions of hard effort that (each) last too long, and with insufficient rest between hard efforts. This results in cumulative fatigue during the workout, a diminishing quality of performance over the course of the workout, increased cellular damage due to this cumulative fatigue, and extended recovery time afterward. These kinds of sufferfests are a great source of satisfaction and personal growth when you high five your fellow bootcamp classmates after an hour of power, or cross the finish line of a big event in which you’ve trained for months to prepare. But including them as a major and recurring element of your training program is a really bad idea. Unfortunately, the sufferfest mindset is incredibly common these days, perhaps suggesting that the ego has more influence that strategic planning or intuitive decision making.
A HIRT workout stops short of the exhaustive nature of HIIT. The essence of HIRT is to conduct maximum efforts, typically of shorter duration, with much longer recovery, and fewer total efforts than a HIIT session. The word “Repeat” in the acronym suggests that you maintain a consistent quality of effort on every repetition of hard work. This means not only the same performance standard, but also the same level of perceived exertion.
For example, say your workout entails running 100-meter sprints across a football field, and you hit 18 seconds for your first sprint. This is a nice controlled, explosive effort with excellent technique, and you assign a perceived exertion level of around 90 out of 100. Hence, you’ll want to do successive sprints in 18-19 seconds each, preserving explosiveness and excellent technique—delivering what you still discern to be 90 out of 100 on the effort scale. If you have to “dig deep” (the implicit objective, and badge of honor, with a HIIT session) just to arrive at 19 seconds on your fourth effort, that’s it, you’re done. If you notice a slight attrition in explosiveness or breaking form during the effort, you’re done. Typically, this might be a little twinge in the hamstrings or lower back, a tensing of the face or chest, or any other indicator that you have played your best cards of the day.
In Dr. Marker’s landmark article titled “HIIT versus HIRT” at www.BreakingMuscle.com, he explains that after HIIT sessions we bask in self-satisfaction of a job well-done, but disregard the health-destructive consequences of these sufferfests: “[Y]our subjective feeling of the effectiveness of a workout is not as important as what science tells us is important to building an impressive base of endurance and changing your body composition.” (That sound you hear is a slap to the face of highly motivated, goal oriented, Type-A fitness enthusiasts across the land. Don’t worry, I’ve been there, too….)
This admonition applies to everyone from elites to novices. Elite athletes are notorious for constantly pushing the envelope and frequently succumbing to injuries or periods of declining performances. Novices generally don’t concern themselves with training strategies, often leaving their fates in the hands of the bootcamp instructor. Without sufficient experience or reference points, they exercise themselves into exhaustion, believing that pain and suffering are part and parcel of the fitness experience.
The (too often) result? Ambitious, well-meaning enthusiasts burn themselves out and then are down for the count. The most dedicated keep going to their detriment, all the while accumulating fatigue, injuries and even pounds. Others simply stay away from the gym by invisible magnetic force. Alas, the subconscious is very good at avoiding sources of pain and suffering. Can we dump this suffering-and-attrition dynamic already?
Side note for those who love to read about sports: For inspiration, check out this article about the greatest marathon runner in the history of the planet, the amazing Kenyan Eulid Kipchoge. The article describes his training regimen as extremely devoted and incredibly impressive, yet he maintains a relaxed mindset, remains in control of his energy output, and never extends beyond his limits into exhaustion. Even the march to the unthinkable two-hour marathon (Kipchoge’s current world record stands at a mind-bending 2:01.39) comes from a sensible approach instead of an extreme one.
Marker explains that there’s an optimal duration for sprinting where you can obtain maximum benefits with minimal cellular destruction, and this is typically around 15-20 seconds. Try to maintain maximum effort for any longer than that and you’re not really sprinting anymore anyway, since it’s impossible to maintain maximum energy output.
Here’s why this works:
Look at what’s happening physiologically over the duration of a near-maximum intensity sprint of any kind (running, cycling, rowing, or kettlebell swings). During the first five seconds of your sprint, lactate starts to accumulate in the bloodstream. Lactate levels double between five to ten seconds, then double again from 10 seconds to 20 seconds—up to what Marker calls the highest acceptable level. As you increasingly feel the burn, lactate doubles again from 20 seconds to 30 seconds. It doubles again from 30 seconds to 60 seconds, causing cellular destruction, ammonia toxicity, and extended recovery time.
As Marker explains, “The amount of lactic acid produced up to 20 seconds [of sprinting] is still manageable, but the next doubling is over the top. Even a single 30-second sprint spikes ammonia levels almost five times! Why trash the body for no good reason? Rebuilding broken down cells is a costly and time-consuming process. And while it’s taking place, you feel tired and run down, with your ATP short of a full stack.”
You may be familiar with the Tabata concept of interval training, which entails a repeating pattern of work efforts lasting twice as long as rest intervals until you complete a Tabata set of a certain total duration. The original Tabata protocol, developed by Japanese physician and researcher Dr. Izumi Tabata and colleagues at the Japanese Institute of Fitness and Sport in Tokyo, calls for four minutes of a 20-second sprint, 10-second rest, 20-second sprint, 10-second rest pattern. In the original studies, Japanese Olympic speed skaters achieved massive boosts in VO2 Max in a short time with Tabata training. Unfortunately, the original Tabata concept has been widely misappropriated into workouts that honor the 2:1 work-to-rest ratio, but carry on for too long and generate cellular damage and exhaustion: multiple sets of kettlebell swings, pushups, box jumps, running sprints, cycling sprints, and so forth. Bottom line with sprint workouts: a little goes a long way, and too much can really mess you up.
How To Transition From HIIT To HIRT
To transition into a more effective, less stressful high intensity workout pattern, pick the sweet spot of 10-20 seconds for your explosive efforts. Take what Marker calls “luxurious” rest intervals to ensure that your cells have a chance to partially or fully regenerate ATP (takes around three minutes) and minimize the disassembling and deamination that occur when you ask your body to perform again and again with rapidly depleting cellular energy.
Finally, conduct between 4 and 10 sprints. You should be able to manage four shorts sprints even if you’re a novice. If you claim you can complete more than 10 and feel great, you’re better off going faster and doing fewer more explosively.
Keep in mind that a properly conducted HIRT workout is going to feel different than a HIIT sufferfest. It may require an adjustment in your mindset to feel confident and satisfied that you’re training with maximum efficiency and minimal suffering like a “real athlete.” If you’re a focused, driven, goal-oriented type, be vigilant about resisting the addictive allure of the endorphin rush that happens after a sufferfest. Remember, the blissful feeling of powerful pain-killing chemicals flooding your bloodstream is a fight or flight reaction to the extreme stress of the workout. Realize that the genetic purpose of the endorphin response is to help you continue to run for your life instead of lay down in exhaustion! If you abuse this delicate mechanism with a chronic pattern of extreme workouts, you’re going to pay a heavy price. Dr. Tommy Wood calls this overactivation of the fight or flight response, “liquidating your assets,” and I couldn’t agree more.
Several friends who have recently updated their approach to a HIRT protocol report feeling much better in the days following their most challenging sessions—more energy, less soreness and stiffness. That’s how it should be.
Combine the HIRT strategy with recovery-based workouts and walking. See how it goes for you, and let me know. Thanks for stopping in. Share your questions and thoughts below, too.
The post HIIT vs. HIRT: Reducing Workout Stress To Increase Fitness appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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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.
I’m wondering, should the average person limit oily fish per week? Kresser says eat up to a pound. Masterjohn says fish PUFA should be no more than 4-8 ounces per week.
I’ll defer to the Chrises on matters concerning biochemistry, but here’s how I look at fish consumption:
It’s very self-regulating. I’ll go on wild salmon benders where I’m eating it every single day for a week or two, then none for awhile. Back in Malibu, I used to have my fish guy save King salmon heads for me, which I would then roast—the things were huge, fatty, and extremely filling. Between the brains, the cheeks, the collars, and all the skin, I reckon a King salmon head had about 20-30 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. Maybe more. Every time I ate one of those I didn’t feel like even looking at fish (or fish oil) for a week or so.
Ancestral background matters here. Your average Inuit is going to have a very high tolerance of (and likely requirement for) dietary long-chained omega-3 fatty acids because that’s the environment his or her ancestors inhabited. As someone of Northern European ancestry, I have a higher baseline tolerance for and requirement of long chained omega-3s; my ancestral food environment was very high in cold fatty fish. Someone with South Asian background is going to be better at converting shorter-chained omega-3s (ALA) into the long chained ones, so they don’t need to eat as much marine fat as a guy like me.
What is the influence of diet and nutrition on posture and coordination?
First and foremost, the micronutrients and macronutrients in the food we eat help program and provide substrate for the hormones, neurotransmitters, proteins, and energy used to coordinate movements and maintain posture. Every physiological process has a physical corollary; a good diet full of vital vitamins and minerals and absent toxic foods is a diet that supports good posture, energy generation, and movement.
One specific example is thiamine, a B-vitamin. Extreme thiamine deficiency is a disease called beri-beri, characterized by nerve tremors, difficulty moving, and extreme fatigue (among other serious symptoms). Almost no one in developed nations gets beri-beri anymore, but low level thiamine deficiency is common enough and can most likely result in deficient neuromuscular coordination.
I know that a diet deficient in collagenous materials (collagen powder, connective tissue, bone broth, skin) will worsen the health and resilience of your bones, tendons, ligaments, and fascia—the connective tissues that support and enable your mobility.
And finally, a diet that results in low energy levels, unwanted weight gain, and bad aesthetics will worsen your mental health and leave you down in the dumps—itself an independent predictor of poor posture.
But this is a difficult question to answer with specific references to individual nutrients or foods because no one I’m aware of is running studies on the connection between diet and posture. Just know that “it matters.”
Perhaps I’ll revisit this in greater depth.
What is a low-carbber to do if he deals with acid reflux? I’m told that a high fat diet aggravates symptoms… and it has for me. Is there any way I can stick to a healthy diet without having to resort to a “conventional wisdom” reflux plan?
That’s pretty strange. Normally, low-carb diets are great for acid reflux. There’s actually a lot of evidence showing that low-carb is the best diet for the condition, even a “cure.”
However, there’s also evidence that high caloric density within meals (in other words, huge meals) can worsen GERD severity and high fat intakes can increase the frequency of acid reflux episodes.
How do we square this evidence away?
In one study, the very low carb (under 20 grams a day) anti-GERD diet that treated obese individuals allowed unlimited meat and eggs with limited portions of hard cheeses and low-carb vegetables. That’s a standard Primal diet, but it doesn’t say anything about the fat content of the diet. If you’re eating ribeyes, that could be a pretty high-fat diet. If you’re eating sirloin, that could be a very high-protein and moderate-fat diet.
I’d stay low carb, but try eating more protein and not overeating. Avoid huge meals; don’t drink melted butter.
I’m allergic to whey protein. What can I use instead?
Does coffee with milk impact fasting effects on keto?
It depends on how much milk you’re using.
Milk itself is rather insulinogenic, owing to its lactose and protein content. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, but anything more than a few tablespoons will effectively “break the fast.” I’d opt for heavy cream over milk. It tastes better in coffee, provokes a much lower insulin response, is mostly just fat, and thus allows the fat-burning metabolism of fasting to continue relatively unabated.
Hello Mark! Thank you for everything! – Question – what can be done to change how food is viewed? As life – not as a indulgent part of our lives?
That’s a good one.
You have to LIVE. You have to stop mulling over the thoughts swirling through your head. You have to go outside and do the things you’ve been considering doing.
I know people who have all the knowledge they’d ever need to know (and some they wouldn’t) about health and human happiness and nutrition and productivity and business, yet they act on very little of it. Instead of taking the lessons to heart and living out the conclusions of the latest study, they just move on to the next bit of research.
Food, like any substance or activity that triggers the reward systems of our brains, can fill a void in a destructive way. Fill that void with meaning, with love, with purpose and direction. The food will still taste good (or even better), but it won’t become an end in itself.
That’s it for today, everyone. Take care. Be well. And write in down below with any further questions or comments!
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Good morning, folks. Today’s awesome post is offered up by Primal Health Coach Chris Redig.
Are you struggling to see results at the gym? Has your strength training hit a dead end? Maybe you’ve noticed that lifting heavy things doesn’t automatically build muscle. It doesn’t automatically get results.
There’s nothing worse than putting in the work but seeing no benefits. Carving time out of a busy schedule to lift heavy things is already a Herculean effort. That time needs to be productive. So, if you’re struggling to get results, here are the ten most likely reasons.
1) You’re Not Fully Motivated (Yet)
Building a lean muscular physique takes considerable work. There’s nothing quick or easy about it. To maintain your motivation, it helps to remember the benefits.
Not only is it fantastic for your health and a great longevity strategy, but it’s arguably the best form of exercise to lose fat.
A lean, muscular physique is useful, visually appealing, and built for adventure. Whether you’re climbing trees with your kids, portaging a boat or carrying someone away from danger, muscles help get jobs done.
Strength training checks all the boxes, and it’s hard to imagine a better use of your time at the gym. But it’s not always easy to make consistent progress. If you’re struggling to get results, your training may lack progressive overload.
2) There’s No Progressive Overload
How do you build muscle? The answer lies in the concept known as progressive overload. When you lift heavy things, you create a significant challenge for your muscles. In response to that challenge, they grow bigger.
So far so good.
But as they grow bigger, the heavy things stop being heavy enough. It may feel heavy enough. You probably don’t enjoy lifting it. But for your muscles, it has stopped being a reason to get bigger.
Consequently, to maintain growth you must strive to increase the challenge. The two best ways to do this are by either increasing the amount of weight you are lifting or increasing the number of reps you are performing.
In other words, if you lift the same weight for the same number of reps week after week and month after month, you are not building muscle. Progressive overload is central to success. To get bigger, focus on lifting heavier.
If you’re not sure how to maintain progressive overload, you’re probably not logging your sessions.
3) You’re Not Logging Your Sessions
But how do you know how many reps to aim for? How do you know how much weight to lift? Initially, the answers will depend on the program you’re following. But once you get started, the answers will be determined by your last session.
So, you need a log book.
First, a log book tracks your progress. It will record how many reps you performed and how much weight you lifted. This is how you know what to do at the gym at your next session. And this is how you know if you’re building muscle.
Second, having a log book will keep you honest. It will force you to train hard. You’ll know the numbers you need to beat. It will prevent you from putting down the bar and thinking, “Well, that was easy.”
Third, it will give you a record of achievement. It takes months to see significant results. That can seem daunting and discouraging. A log book brings those future results into the present. It’s a regular reminder that you’re getting stronger.
Finally, if you start keeping a log book, you may notice that you train inconsistently.
4) You’re Training Inconsistently
Habits first. Muscles second. Nothing short of time and consistency is going to get results. A single hard session at the gym isn’t going to cut it.
Therefore, it’s crucial to build some habits. Going to the gym should be on autopilot. First, this requires a different mindset and a shift in focus. The desire to get results should become an obsession to become consistent.
Second, a fitness journey needs to be sustainable. To be fit requires consistent work. If the work stops, the fitness slips away. Ask yourself, how many times per week do I want to go to the gym 18 months from now? Make gym time sustainable. Become consistent.
But with consistent training comes the risk of training too hard.
5) You’re Training Too Hard
As you progress and strive to beat your last session, you will start failing reps. Failing a rep is exactly what it sounds like. You hit a point where you simply cannot finish another rep without taking a break.
It’s easiest to experience with pullups. After a certain number of pullups, you hit a wall. You can’t get over the bar again without taking a rest. The purpose of strength training is to push that point of failure back further and further.
But you can train too hard. It’s probably not a good idea to constantly fail reps. The goal isn’t to feel wrecked the next day. And if you can’t do another rep, resist the temptation to cheat. Progress shouldn’t come at the expense of good form or range of motion. You don’t want to get sloppy to show fake progress. Your last pullup shouldn’t look significantly different than your first pullup.
Instead, always leave a couple reps in the bank. Stop one to three reps before failure. It’s okay to occasionally hit failure. But don’t spend a day at the gym training to total failure or getting sloppy.
If you’re training too hard, you might also be too focused on fatigue.
6) You’re Too Focused on Fatigue
You’re at the gym lifting heavy things. You’re pouring sweat, out of breath and about five minutes from total collapse.
If you want to build your mental toughness, work capacity or conditioning, then yes. But if your goal is muscle, then it’s questionable. The body adapts pretty narrowly to the stress you impose.
If you’re too focused on fatigue, your body will primarily get better at preventing fatigue. If you want more muscle, then you need to focus on stressing your muscle through progressive overload.
This means you should catch your breath between sets. You don’t need to jump straight from one set into the next just to keep your heart rate up. Take your time. Be ready mentally and physically to lift the weight. Be ready to give your best and most impressive effort each and every set.
Instead of pushing your endurance, try pushing your comfort zone.
7) You’re Stuck Inside Your Comfort Zone
The goal is to feel comfortable all over the gym. Maybe you’ve noticed there are specific areas where all the fit people train. They spend their time by the squat racks and deadlift platforms. There’s a reason they’re over there. Compound lifts work.
They’re time efficient. They improve coordination, movement patterns and flexibility. And they’re useful outside the gym. It’s worth taking the time to learn the challenging lifts. Just take it slow, and do your research.
Owning the difficult lifts will also give your motivation a big boost. Few things are as motivating as stepping outside your comfort zone and mastering a new skill. Stay safe, but don’t stay comfortable.
Weighing yourself can also be very uncomfortable. But is it the right measure?
8) You’re Using the Wrong Measure
The scale doesn’t tell the whole story. Nothing tells the whole story. Progress is slow and hard to see. A fitness coach might ask for weigh-ins, measurements and pics, and even then progress can be hard to detect, until one day it’s obvious.
If you’re starting out or struggling, then you need to build a foundation of improved habits, health and fitness. This is the hardest and most important part of the journey, but it isn’t easy to measure.
Fortunately, it is easy to measure progress in your strength training. You can judge your training by your log book. If you’re getting stronger, then your gym time is productive. The visual results are coming.
If your progress is still stalled, you’re probably training too little.
9) You’re Training Too Little
When you first start strength training, almost any amount of lifting will produce results. Newbie gains are fantastic. You’re constantly setting new PRs and getting stronger. But over time the progress slows and eventually stops.
You could stop right there. Those initial gains are plenty to look, move and feel great. You could focus on other dimensions of fitness or active leisure. And if you have dialed in your diet and lifestyle, you will look completely beach-ready.
But for those who want more, the answer is often more volume. And at this point your training becomes a balancing act. On the one hand, you need to ask “Can I spend more time lifting? Am I recovering? Am I avoiding injury?” And on the other hand you need to ask “Am I getting stronger? Am I increasing my lifts or reps?” There’s no formula. It’s an N=1 experiment.
If you’re struggling to increase your volume of training, it may be time to look at your recovery strategy.
10) You’re Not Recovering
The central pillar of any recovery strategy is diet and lifestyle. As readers of Mark’s Daily Apple, you already know what you want to be eating. Now the hard part is doing it. If past efforts have been ineffective and you’re struggling, I recommend taking a slow approach.
Better and best are not enemies. Many of the benefits of eating a good diet are dose responsive. This means that small improvements in your diet provide real benefits. Plus, those small improvements become habits and generate momentum.
Eating well is a set of skills. And skills need to be practiced.
My own diet transformation was a multi-year journey. Over time bad habits turned into good habits. The good habits accumulated. And one day, my diet was on autopilot. It takes time. It takes consistency. It’s worth it.
Strength training is a key ingredient of looking, moving and feeling your best. I hope some of these recommendations help you break through to the next level. Thanks for reading.
About the Author:
Chris Redig is a health and fitness coach. He loves helping people move, look and feel their best by optimizing their nutrition, movement and lifestyle. He is a Primal Health Coach, a Henselmans Personal Trainer and a Movnat Master Trainer. He has lived, adventured and traveled in 20 different countries and holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs. In particular, he loves to help adventure-enthusiasts build ready-for-anything minds and bodies. He currently lives in Denmark with his wife and two kids. For online coaching or a free consultation, visit www.chrisredig.com. Or you can follow him on Instagram.
To learn how you can become a certified Primal Health Coach like Chris Redig, click the following link and download the free eBook How to Become a Health Coach: 5 Steps to Embarking on a Career You Love.
Thanks to Chris for stopping by the blog today and sharing his coaching wisdom. And thanks to everyone out there for reading today. Have a question for Chris—or a post idea our Primal Health Coaches can weigh in on? Let us know down below. Have a great end to your week.
The post Top 10 Reasons You’re Not Getting the Results You Want in the Gym appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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I’ve been around the block. I’ve spent thousands upon thousands of hours in the gym, on the track, on the bike, in the water. I’ve tasted glory and defeat. I’ve been sidelined with injuries, I’ve gone stretches where I felt invincible. I’ve trained with, and trained, some of the best to ever do it. And along the way, I learned a lot: what to do, what not to do, what matters, what doesn’t.
Last week a comment from a reader gave me a great idea for a post: Give fitness advice to younger Groks. Help them avoid the mistakes I made and capitalize on the wins.
Let’s get right to it.
“Gain As Much Muscle As You Can Through Natural Means.”
Lean mass, which primarily includes muscle mass but also connective tissue and organ reserve, is in my opinion the single most important variable for overall health, wellness, physical capacity, and performance. The more muscle you have, the better you’ll age. The younger people will assume you are. The more capable you’ll be. The less frail. The harder to kill. The better to conceive children, give birth, and be an active parent (and eventually grandparent). You’ll have more energy. Basically, more muscle allows you to resist gravity, and gravity is what slows you down, breaks you down, and makes you feel old.
The more muscle you have when you’re younger, the more muscle you’ll retain as you grow older. Because when you’re older, you can still gain muscle, but not as easily. You’ll need more stimulus and more protein to get the same effect. And entropy is working against you.
And by “natural means,” I mean don’t take anabolics unnecessarily (unless you have low/lower testosterone and a doctor helps you gain physiological levels via TRT). Don’t spend three hours a day in the gym. Don’t let strength training take over your life.
“Listen To Your Gut. If Something Feels Wrong, or Even Not Right, Back Off.”
I realized that every single time I hurt myself, I knew it was coming on some level. I had a premonition that I shouldn’t train or perform that day. Sometimes that message would come hours before the injury. Sometimes it would come moments before. It was usually non-specific, often nothing more than a vague sense of disquiet. But there was always something.
That time I strained my bicep tendon maxing out on bench, I remember waking up in the morning feeling like I probably shouldn’t go for the PR. Still I went for it and paid the price.
And last year during a set of pull-ups, I’d noticed I was leading with my chin—something I’m usually good about avoiding—and told myself to stop. But I thought I had another rep in me and, sure enough, as I was trying to finish the next pull-up, I felt something to the left of my ear and down around my trap give. I actually did keep the chin neutral but still got hurt. Leading with my chin was my body’s way of indicating that I was reaching the limit. I ignored that indicator and regretted it.
It’s not always a physical sensation or “pain” at all. Sometimes it’s just a weird feeling in my gut that says “this isn’t right.” Listen to that feeling. One day it won’t just be a tweaked shoulder or tendon. It might be downright catastrophic.
“Pull More Than You Push.”
Your phone. Your desk job. Look around at the average person walking around—their shoulders are rolled inward, internally rotated. Are yours? Society pulls our shoulders inward at every turn, and then you go to the gym and do a bunch of push-ups, bench presses, and dips, followed by a few sets of rows. That’s not enough. To maintain shoulder health (and build a strong, stable back from which to exert great shoulder force), you should train with a 2:1 pull:push ratio. That means for every 10 reps of presses (dips, pushups, bench, overhead press, etc) you do 20 reps of pulls (rows, pullups, face pulls, etc). If you already have problems with your shoulder or posture, bump that up to a 3:1 ratio.
“Focus On Compound Movements, But Include Some Isolation/Bodybuilding Movements As Well.”
While compound, multi-joint movements are the best way to build total body strength and athleticism, it turns out that training the “beach muscles” is important too. For instance, an exercise like curls can go a long way toward building up your bicep tendons and ligaments, preparing you for placing more stress on the muscles themselves and helping you avoid injuries down the line.
Plus, they make you look good—which is its own benefit but also motivates you to keep going.
“Compete With Yourself.”
Competition is good. Competition compels us to be greater, to improve ourselves. Just be wary about whom you’re competing with. These days, you have billions of potential competitors. You can hop on social media and find hundreds of people with better bodies, stronger lifts, faster times, and more perfect technique than you. It’s fine to use these people as motivation to improve yourself, but don’t beat yourself up—or, worse, get yourself injured—trying to beat them. Not everyone can do everything. We have different skills, different capacities, different priorities.
What you can and should do is compare your current self to your past self. Are you getting stronger than that person? Faster? Fitter? Leaner? Great. That’s how you do it. That’s what matters most.
“Walk Every Day.”
You won’t get the physiological/fitness effects right away, but they build up over time. Walking every day for the rest of your life is all about accruing compound interest.
“Get a Tribe.”
There’s research showing the physiological benefits of training in a group setting, but that’s tangential to my main point: having a fitness tribe—a group of friends, a sport, a training school—creates accountability, which promotes consistency. When someone’s counting on you, expecting you, you’re more likely to stick with the training. When you train with your friends or tribe toward a common goal, it becomes a joyous occasion. And even when it’s downright difficult and miserable, you can endure by drawing on the energy of the others.
If you can figure out a way to train in a way that you love and truly enjoy on an intrinsic level, you’ll never be out of shape.
For some people, that means CrossFit. Or powerlifting. Or bodybuilding. Or running, martial arts, wrestling, parkour, or rock climbing. Dancing, mountain biking, surfing. There are many ways to skin the cat, but what really matters is that you enjoy the act of training for its own sake.
For me, I trained in the opposite manner. I loved the feeling of finishing a race. I liked the accolades and pride I felt and received when I won. But the act of racing? The moment to moment experience of training all those days? Miserable. That should have been an indication that I shouldn’t be doing it. I ignored it, though, and paid a price.
“Train To Support Your Goals.”
These days, as I’m fond of saying, I train to play. I train to support my Ultimate Frisbee match every weekend. I train so that I can get out on the paddle board twice a week. I train so I can try all the fun new fitness gadgets. If I were to do heavy squats and deadlifts 3 times a week, I wouldn’t be able to play Ultimate very well or go paddling whenever I wanted. I’d be recovering. Since my goal is to play, my training has to support that.
Search within your soul and figure out what your goals are, then hew your training to them. Are you trying to get as strong as possible? As fast? To build up your VO2max? To look good naked? Then align your training with your goals.
“Don’t Think You Have To Squat and Deadlift and Press With a Barbell.”
Those lifts are fantastic for building strength and developing athleticism, but they aren’t the only paths. Lunges, single leg deadlifts, kettlebell swings, trap bar deadlifts, and dumbbell presses are excellent alternatives that work many of the same muscles and can even be gentler on the body than the Big Three lifts.
There’s probably way more that can be said on this subject, but that’s where you come in. Down below, let me know what you’d say to your younger self who came to you asking about fitness tips. What would you do differently? What would you keep the same?
The post Fitness Advice From A Primal Elder to Younger Groks: What To Focus On and What To Let Go Of appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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