“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” – George S. Patton

Michelle and I recently had a rather lengthy Skype conversation with Dallas Hartwig (he, together with wife Melissa, of Whole9 fame) related to the inter-workings of PFX13.  I consider it one of the priceless perks of being in the position that I am to be able to kick back and chat with minds of Dallas’ caliber, as ideas are always spawned in my own mind from these conversations.  Another reason why an Ancestral Health Symposium or Paleo f(x) event is just such damn fertile ground for idea generation.

Anyway, during our talk, Dallas mentioned how he thought of health, ethics and foodie-ism as being a three-way intersecting Venn diagram, and how he thought of his and Melissa’s brand of Paleo as occupying that intersecting ground.  What and awesome visual.  And after thinking about it for a couple of days, I thought to add one more Venn sphere to the mix: that of  performance.

The resulting visual depicts precisely how I tackle diet considerations on a personal level; it’s also how I coach my Efficient Exercise clients to approach their diet.   Considered in this way, Paleo becomes less a totalitarian, eat-this, don’t-eat-that regime, and more as it should be: an n=1 expression of healthy living.

Let’s take a quick look at each of these intersecting spheres:

Health – easy enough to define.  How do the foods one consumes affect both internal and external, measurable parameters of basic heath?  Body fat and lean mass levels?  The appearance of skin, hair, nails?  Dental health?  Blood panels?

Ethics – sustainability is a big issue for me here.  As is properer animal husbandry.  I think the ethics of the American plains Indians hold the ideal for me in this realm: reverence for the animal that has given it’s life so that you may live healthy and well.  And the realization that our relationship with the environment is not depicted by a pyramid with humans at the apex, but as a circle, with us as part of the unbroken chain.

Foodie-ism – I truly appreciate a well crafted meal.  For me, this is also a reverence issue, as it is an expression of art and, well…a celebration of life itself.

Performance – good food is high-octane fuel, simple as that.  Nutrient-dense food supports superior performance.  No one would ever think  to expect a Ferrari to run well on watered-down gas.  The inter-workings of your body put the nuts-and-bolts engineering of a Ferrari to shame.  Treat it as such.

The intersection of all four spheres?  A nutrient dense, Paleo diet.  Personally, that works out to a high(er) fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate gig.  But that’s just what works for me.  I do have clients whose diets are almost indistinguishable from that of a grain and legume-free vegetarian.  We’ve tweaked the same four spheres to accommodate their n=1 desires.  Remember: just as with fitness, diet is an on-going journey, not a destination.  Throughout one’s life, each of these four spheres will wax and wane in importance and influence.  The resultant intersection may drift, widen or constrict, but the end result will always be some version of nutrient-dense Paleo.

Sprinting squares –

Adding a change-of-direction element to your sprinting is a great way to liven things up, not to mention tax your body in a unique way.  Try this at your next sprint outing: mark-off an approximate 45 yd x 15 yard square, and run the perimeter in alternating clockwise and counter-clockwise sprints to hit the change-of-direction aspect from multiple angels. The key here is an an inside hand touch/outside foot plant at each 90-degree change of direction.  Each sprint will incorporate 3 slow-down/change-of-direction/accelerations that really change the whole “sprinting” dynamic.  I ran these last week, and clocked a time of right at 20 seconds clockwise, and 20.5 CCW in hitting 6 total all-out bursts.  Just another idea to keep in your program quiver.

The Javorek barbell complex –

I’ve written previously about adding barbell and dumbbell complexes to the mix.  And I’m big on complexes because they fit so nicely into my HIIRT style of interval training.  Dan John is a big fan of the complex as well, and I always keep this template of his tucked in my workout journal for last minute “what to do” inspiration.  Why do I think complexes are so underutilized by trainees and trainers alike?  Because they look so easy on paper…and then are so devastating when actually performed.   They’re the ultimate S&C bait-and-switch  😉

Last Thursday I found myself time-jammed, and wanting to squeeze in a quick workout.  I’d hit some max-effort, ARXFit work and “square sprints” earlier in the week, and wanted to “surf” another portion of the force-velocity curve in this particular outing.  Sounded like the perfect time for the ol’ Javorek barbell complex!

Looks easy, right?  Heh…yeah, just give it a shot.  I went three rounds with the Javorek BB complex on Thursday — one at 135 lbs and two others at 145.  And that was all I wanted, thank you very much!


In health, fitness, and ancestral wellness –





  1. Keith. Nice post. I like the paradigm shift…kind of like the pliable brain, the weekly, monthly, and quarterly workouts and goals can be a pliable Venn as well!

  2. Awesome! I’ve been creating some interesting complexes involving kettle bells for myself. I love my routines, and I love changing them now and then.

  3. Just done this with olympic bar only 10 reps each. Absolutely slaughtered.

    How many times per week can i do this? I really need to get my conditioning up.


    • Throw it in the mix a couple of times per week. It’s a great way to improve strength AND conditioning. But always remember that strength LEADS conditioning, not the other way around.

  4. Thank you.

    Monday i do deadlifts reverse pyramid and chin ups 3×5
    Wednesday bench reverse pyramid and pull ups 3×5
    Friday squat and military press reverse pyramid with 3 x8 lunges.

    Would it be ok to do it twice per week on top of that or would that be too much?

    Does this workout look ok.

    Thanks a lot for your time, i really appreciate it


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.