“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

I received a very cool email recently, and both it and my reply got me thinking about the subject of today’s post.  But before I go on, here’s the email:

Hi Keith,

I’ve been meaning to drop you a line for ages.  I just wanted to let
you know how much I enjoy your blog.  I find your writing style to be
intelligent, knowledgeable and interesting (not always a combination
you find on the web).

I have gone “primal” over the past few months almost immediately after
first reading about it.  It really hit a chord with me straight away,
and whilst I didn’t have that much weight to lose and was already
relatively active, I have found the “primal”diet has given me more
energy and body is slowly becoming more toned.

I have messed around with weights/gym/exercise for 10-15 years but
have never managed to get the size/tone.or definition I wanted  but I
get the feeling, like you said in your last post, by keeping it simple
with sprinting/sand bag lifts and  a kettle bell( i have just
purchased) I am going to get the results I want, one of my goals is to
I want a 6pack before I am 40 !(which is Feb next year).

So that’s it really, just a letter of appreciation for the effort you
put into your writing and sharing your knowledge with us all.


Very nice.  And what follows is my reply, seriously reeking as it does of, I dunno…a kind of, middle-of-a-harried-work-day efficient communication, I guess.  It might well have been puked by a robot:

Hey, thanks for the good words, Guy.  It really does boil down to simple theories applied [and] practiced in a most intense fashion.

Short and to the point.  And nothing at all new here, right?  No big revelations, no bombshells.  If my diet book is short — eat lots of quality protein, plenty of good fats, a little bit of veggies and greens and maybe some raw dairy —  my workout book is even shorter — in and out of the gym in 45 minutes or less, but bust your friggin ass while you’re there — so you’d think my reply was spot-on.  And it is, in a sense; the only problem is, I tend to carry this most intense fashion attitude for too long and into just about every other aspect of my life outside of the gym.  If something is important enough to show-up on my radar at all, it becomes an object worthy of being dealt with in a most intense fashion.  And it’s been my experience that most people who are attracted to the Paleo lifestyle and/or physical culture in general are wired the same way.  My point in all of this?  We need plenty of programmed down time to be healthy.  We need plenty of low-intensity, play-like activities to engage in.

With that in mind, check out this short clip from someone I’ve admired for quite some  time.  Most folks have probably never heard of him; he’s an author by the name of Alan Weisbecker who I “discovered” after reading the cult classic Cosmic Banditos, many, many years ago.  I’ve read all of Alan’s books (I recommend them all), as well as the little communique he puts out every so often by the name of  The Down South Prospective.  So why am I profiling a surfer-cum-author in a blog dedicated to the proper applications of diet and physical culture?  Quite simply, because Alan’s got the “get plenty of low-intensity activity” part of the equation nailed.  We’d all do well to follow his lead ; check it out, here.

And here’s another:


Good stuff, a fantastic locale and a hell of a lifestyle.  Sign me up.

Have a great weekend everyone.  And remember that the “plenty of active play” portion of the equation is every bit as important as the periods of short-duration, high-intensity work.  It’s a balance, a yin-yang kind of a thing.  And things out-of-balance tend to fly appart at the seams after a while.

In health,


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Keith Norris is a former standout athlete, a military vet, and an elite strength and conditioning expert with over 35 years of in-the-trenches experience. As a serial entrepreneur in the health and wellness space, he is an owner, co-founder and Chief Development Officer of the largest Paleo conference in the world, Paleo f(x) . As well, Keith is a partner in one of the most innovative lines of boutique training studios in the nation, Efficient Exercise. He’s also a partner in ARXFit training equipment, and a founding member of ID Life. In his spare time, he authors one of the top fitness blogs in the health and wellness sphere, Theory To Practice.


  1. Nice post Keith.

    I did some searching on your site, but maybe I didn’t look hard enough. I was trying to find a good explanation for the differences between speed-strength, strength-speed, and the other tempo/load based variations which you use to keep yourself challenged and progressing through numerous modalities of power output.

    If you have such a post, or reference, could you link it?


    • Hmmm, I guess I haven’t posted anything on this topic; sounds like something I need to explain in a little more detail than what I’m going to drop on you here:
      Think of speed-strength and strength-speed as two sides of the power coin. Actually, “coin” is not a real good analogy here, as what we’re talking about is more like “shades” of color. Or aim, though, in each, is a simple (an subtle) manipulation of the power formula (power = force x distance/time). For the sake of explanation, let’s assume we’re dealing with a closed-chain exercise in which the distance is fixed. With distance fixed, then, I’m left with either force (load) or rep speed as my malleable factors influencing power. Quite naturally, then, I can emphasis the strength (force) aspect of the equation by choosing a heavier load for my working sets, or I can emphasis speed by choosing a lighter load. This, of course, assumes that I put my all into every rep — no doggin it, so to speak — so that in theory my power production should not change. Let me know if that helps explain things.

  2. Makes a lot of sense. I think what I need clarification on is which particular area of the power curve you meant when you say “strength-speed” and which you meant when you say “speed-strength.”

    Conceptually I’m with you, I just didn’t know which was which.

    • When I say “strength-speed”, I’m emphasizing (or increasing) load with an associated decrease in execution speed. I’m still, though, attempting to move the load as fast as possible. The opposite is true when I emphasize speed in “speed-strength”; I’ll lighten the load and, as a result, the rep speed will increase. The power output should, if I’ve selected my loads appropriately, remain about the same between each variation. Of course, I have no way of actually measuring this, so for me, it’s a “feel” thing. Also, I didn’t want to imply that the execution distance had to remain constant. Think of the difference between a regular 2/1/2-tempo (for example) squat (strength) and a heavy jump squat (strength-speed), and then compare that to a bodyweight vertical jump (speed-strength).

      • Makes a lot of sense. I always try to execute with as quick a concentric as possible, though I occasionally throw in slow eccentrics in the same lifts. Recently, though, my training has been pretty low in the speed-strength category, due to a hip flexor injury and the fact that I’m just really enjoying this spat of rest-pause strength training.

        So if the vertical jump is “speed strength,” is the sprint simply ‘speed?’

        Thanks for the explanation. Of the subject, I’ve heard a few people recently refer to studies that say that experienced trainees of the same height almost universally have similar muscle mass. Do you think this is true?

  3. It perhaps needs stating:
    Deloading is so you don’t eventually feel like you absolutely need to take a week off.

    I filled my week of deload with plenty of play (and jumping) even though I really wanted to go to the gym. Had a great workout today as a result. That backing off can’t be overstated, imo.



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