“Real luxury is time and opportunity to read for pleasure.” – Jane Brody

 

Photo credit – Christopher Lozano photography — a high school friend whose heart is genuine, and whose talent is beyond description.

Pictured, left-to-right:  Mark Alexander (President, Efficient Exercise, ARXFit), Skyler Tanner, Robb Wolf, Michelle “child bride” Norris, your’s truly, Mark Sisson.

Why the big smile?  Because our crack team of awesome PFX12 volunteers had everything firmly under control.

Yeah, PFX12 was a rockin’ good time and I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.  But as I sit here decompressing, I more and more agree with Jane; my one on-going regret is not having the time to read more Cormac McCarthy.  Ah well…one day…

But, I have had some time to peruse industry-related stuff.  Anyone read Dan John’s and Pavel’s Easy Strength yet?  If not, and if you’re an athlete (apart from an Oly lifter or bodybuilder, that is), you’re really missing out.  This is one of the best S&C books for non-iron game athletes that I’ve come across in a hella long time.  Not often will you hear S&C coaches (in public, anyway), tell athletes that the path to becoming better at their chosen sport is to practice the technical aspects of that particular sport, and that strength is — although highly important — relatively easy to acquire.   And that the acquisition of that strength doesn’t require (if programmed correctly) much dedicated time to achieve.  It’s that “if programmed correctly” caveat, though, that’s the real ass-biter, and that’s where a good S&C coach is worth a king’s ransom to a trainee.

The reason I bring up Easy Strength in this post though, is that for the last couple of weeks I’ve been on one of my 28 (ish)-day “grease the groove” cycles.  This is very similar to the 40 day program Dan and Pavel cover in Easy Strength.   I move into one of these phases when (1) I’m stressed to the max from things outside of the gym,  (2) I feel overtraining creeping up on me, or (3) I’ve just hit a new circa-max in a particular exercise that has taken a bit of a toll on me.  Right now I’m in the land of #1 and #3 — We’re just coming out of the PFX12 craziness, and I just hit a solid 115 lb x 5 rep dip circa max.  Time to glide for a bit.

Now, on paper this program seems pretty damn easy — 5 or 6 exercises completed for a total of 10 (ish) repetitions per exercise and using approximately 50 to 80% of the particular exercise’s 1 rep max.  The base set/rep scheme would look like 2 sets of 5; 3 sets of 3 if I get itchy, or 6 – 8 “heavy” singles if I’m about to pop out of my skin.  I perform the same exercises as many days in the week as I can — sometimes twice is all I can get in, sometimes it’s seven in a row.  And I let “feel” dictate the rep scheme and loading.  I hardly break a sweat in these sessions, however, by the end of the 4 or so weeks that I’m on it, I usually hit a new max in those target movements.  And if I feel like ditching the gym in lieu of sprints (or whatever), I do.  Or, if I’m in another studio and feel like a change of pace, I’ll let ‘er rip.  But then I’m back on plan…more or less.  Does it work?  Hell yeah it does.  But as Dan says, there’s no magic to it, and it seems too damn easy, so you’re likely not to stick with it.  All I can say is, do yourself a favor and give it a shot.  Here’s my current scheme:

Back squats: 2 sets of 5 at 225

Front press (strict/military): 2 sets of 5 at 135

Cheat curl: 2 sets of 5 at 135

Clean from the floor: 2 sets of 5 at 155

Deadlift: 2 sets of 5 at 275

Standing Ab wheel roll-outs: 2 sets of 5

Seriously, that’s it.  And it only takes about 30 minutes to complete.  The key is to strive for as near to perfect execution in each repetition as possible.  Now, am I likely to throw an ARXFit blow-out in there somewhere in the next month in lieu of my 28-day “base”?  Yeah, probably so.  There are no hard rules here — only sign posts, and a general direction.

 

Safe Starches vs Exercise?

I can’t tell you how many side conversations and panel questions I fielded during PFX12 that essentially boiled down to debating minutia that would, in my opinion, be rendered completely inconsequential if adequate and appropriate exercise were added into the equation.  I’m using “safe starches” here, of course, as a proxy for any of the multitudes of minutia that are debated within the larger Paleo community.  And while I love to geek-out on this stuff just as much as the next paleo aficionado, my day-to-day reality in working with the “rubber-meets-the-road” public requires me to aggregate and distill all of this information into palatable and usable chunks for a time-strapped mainstream public.

My point here?  The positive effects of exercise (check this out as well) render these minutia inconsequential.  Can one exercise away a totally crappy (SAD) diet?  Not on your life.  But if you are exercising properly, the issue of whether one does, or does not, consume moderate amounts of “safe starches” (for example) becomes an irrelevant thread within the overall tapestry of health.  My point now is as it always has been — our species evolved as obligate physical beings, and opportunistic eaters.  Physicality is, in fact, the single commonality of our species regardless of environmental pressure affecting each individual culture.  As such, we need to put more — much more — importance on the physical aspect of Ancestral Wellness.  Again, I don’t want to discount these “minutia” discussions (hey, I dive-in to these head first, too!), but I just don’t ever want the idea (even if implied) that even a pristine diet can correct for lack of movement to ever be perpetuated.

 

In health, fitness, and Ancestral Wellness –

Keith


 

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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.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Well stated. Too easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Focusing in on too much detail also overwhelms newbies and alienates those who could really benefit from the Paleo lifestyle.

  2. Glad to hear the Ancestral Health Forum was a success. I’m interested in the book reco also. Why do you exempt Oly lifters or bodybuilders in your reco? Due to the highly specific training requirements of the sport? I’m changing gears w/ my workouts and am looking to continue strength training but not as Oly-centric. But losing strength as a result would make me cry. (Unless I got a shredded physique – ahh vanity strikes again). Thanks Keith!

    • Hey, Beck! Yes, PFX12 was a rousing success! So glad to have been a part, to provide the platform for so many intelligent, forward-thinking folks.

      As to the book recommendation — Why do I exempt Oly lifters or bodybuilders? Yes, due to the highly specific training requirements of these particular sports. With these endeavors, lifting *is* the sport, as opposed to S&C work intended to *augment* performance otherwise.

  3. Another reminder of the 30,000 foot view. Another takeaway for your readers is the discussion we had on Friday regarding salt: paleos tend to get really silly about salt when they really needs to get to a good body composition with good food and a nice strength/conditioning program. By that time you’ll find that salt intake is no longer causing a problem.

    Body composition of a sufficient leanness fixes a LOT of ailments. Not all, but people would be surprised by how many.

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