“I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” – James Michener

Since returning from AHS13, I’ve been consumed with listening to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History account of the life and times of Genghis Khan.   Of course there’s a hell of a lot to the Khan story — roughly 10 hours worth in the case of Carlin’s treatment of the subject — but one thing that continues to stick out in my mind is this: that period in history (and the Khan empire) might very well represented the perfect marriage between the nomadic hunter/gatherer lifestyle and modern technology; namely, the horse and the bow and arrow.

If you’ve ever ridden a horse at full gallop, you know this to be true: it ain’t easy — both in terms of balance and strength.  It makes “functional” Bosu ball training look like, well…Bosu ball training.  But add to that the drawback and accurate firing of the Mongol bow.  It’s estimated that the drawback of these bows required 160 lbs of force.  Compare that to the modern crossbow which requires approximately 45 lbs of force.  And the typical Khan cavalryman carried somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 arrows which were discharged at a rate of 12 per minute until his ammo were fully discharged, at which time he shifted to using swung, skull-cracking implements of doom.  Just a regular day of punching the clock at the office of Khan, LLC.  I’m sure the numbers can be argued, but still — repeat sets of high rep single-arm Kroc rows while balanced upon a steed at full gallop is a pretty damn impressive feat of strength, endurance and athleticism.  With a heavy-implement swing finisher. Fueled by?  Yeah — meat, mare’s milk, mare’s blood (yes, you read that right — blood), fish and the occasional “gathered” or “pillaged” something-or-other.

Note: it would be very interesting to find out if the Khan avoided the grain stockpiles of the non-nomadics they happened across in that region.  After “extinguishing” all but the pre-pubescent males and helping themselves to every last useful item of the conquered (virgins included), you have to wonder what was done with any grain stockpiles.  Anyway….

Now, this Khan story intersects with something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.  Namely, the idea that “programming” according to a 7-day week is simply not in accord with our natural, evolutionary rhythms.  And believe me, I get it — our hand is forced if we’re training in circumstances where a competitive schedule is mandated — American football, for example.  This is where autoregulation can somewhat “save the day”, as it attenuates, at least a bit — the Soviet “command and control” nature of training according to week/block, etc. (i.e., periodization).  More on that next week…

Our bodies only recognize the day/night cycle, the lunar cycle, gestation periods, and the passing of seasons.  I highly doubt that every 7th day was the Khan bro empire national “Kroc row with a bow” day.  And there was certainly a seasonality to their activities.  And I’m willing to bet there was a natural adherence to lunar cycles as well.

I’ve not kept to a “normal” weekly training block scheme for the last 20 years or so.  But in the last 3 or 4 years, I’ve been in a position that allows near total abandonment of being beholden (at least in a training sense) to a weekly block schedule.  I’m surrounded by physical culture outlets here in Austin, and my “office” is a gym.  I think my gains during this period owe a hell of a lot to that freedom.  If I look back over my training logs, I can see a natural fluctuation in intensities (as defined by percentage of 1RM, CNS “hit”, and gross physical effort) that follows pretty damn close to a 28-day cycle.  If I were able to completely scrub my life of the modern 7-day work/life cycle, I’m convinced that my intensity swings would perfectly match the lunar cycle.

Total woo?  What’s next — training according to your sign?  Yeah, maybe.  But I’ve proven, at least to myself, and in an n=1 sense, that there is something to this 28-day intensity cycle.  I’m not trying to force square pegs into round holes, here — just looking at and tracking what I’ve done in the past.

And I’m a scorpio, by the way.  Which, in astrological terms, can be equated to “Wolverine”.  This, my friends, is true serendipity 😉

Anyway, the gist of what all of this means is that the old school bodybuilding model (6 x moderate intensity/week), the Crossfit model (3 high/1 off per week) and the classic HIT model (1 high, 7 to 10 off) are all, in my humble opinion, woefully inadequate.  The correct way is a “wave and weave” modulation of intensities and modalities.  An even more expansive conjugate for the masses.  Because it’s not that the bodybuilding, Crossfit and HIT modalities are “wrong”  per se — every modality has its place and compliments (roughly, with some minor tweaking) some aspect of the force-velocity curve —  it’s that the non waving (of intensity) and non weaving (of modalities) is wrong.  Or, at least not nearly as effective.

And look, I’m no pollyanna — I realize that the 7-day work/life cycle is here to stay.  Which is why I believe that my Efficient Exercise style of HIIRT / wave-and-weave training is the best leveraging of modern technology and training methods to achieve ancestral health and wellness in a modern world.

I know this is a crap-ton to digest, and really it’s just scratching the surface of what’s pinging around in my mind.  One day I hope to fully flesh-out these ideas in one, comprehensive piece.  The TTP blog is just not the type of venue for this.  But then, neither is a book really.  The information changes rapidly, and on-going revision is a must. New technologies make such a compilation possible but, as of yet, I haven’t found the “just right” technology venue for such an undertaking.  If any of you tech-minded folks have any ideas on this front for sure let me know.

How about a sample workout?

Well, it doesn’t get much more basic than this:

Trap Bar Deadlifts (low grip): 255/5, 345/5, 455/2, 485/1, 505/1, 515/1, 525/(miss), 455/5

To put some context here, this was the second workout back after having been off for 5 days attending the AHS symposium.

No AHS13 recap?

Other than to say I had one hell of a friggin’ blast, no.  There are more recaps from insiders out there than you can shake a stick at.  And, being a presenter myself might really bias my point-of-view.  But I will leave you with this: I had the privilege of meeting Carl Lanore and Alisa Profumo of Super Human Radio, who were attending the show.  Fantastic people for sure, and enthusiastic supporters of what we’re doing in the AHS / Paleo f(x) community.  Check out this episode of Super Human Radio for a recap from a couple of physical cultural enthusiasts who were attending one of these events for the first time.  It’s a unique point of view that you might not otherwise come across.

In health, fitness, and ancestral wellness –

Keith

 

 

 

5 COMMENTS

  1. While CNS remains important, a shift to ligand-receptor whole system communication & embodiment is the big step contemporary auto-regulation is taking. That does away with the mind-body dualism, and with it mind over matter.

    Fascinating about Genghis Khan. First learned of his amazing troops and dried mares’ milk protein through Charles Poliquin some years ago = a topic Poliquin’s written on.

  2. Congratulation! You’re off to a good start. And there are miles to go! My Orderly Chaos Training has inspired roots in lunation cycles and their replication in biological cycles not considered in the dominant Western materialistic reductionism of physiology – both medical and exercise physiologies.
    That’s where so-called auto-regulation is a big key. I use auto-regulation in the sense given it by pioneering bio-feedback scientists, then amplified in the newer neurobiology of contemplative traditions. This much is for sure: given neuroplasticity, the Paleo brain is subject to maturation as a self-reflecting post-modern human – giving birth to integrative wisdom and skills separating practitioners from the maddening crowd at the mercy of a limbic system dominated fight-flight fear based orientation to life mandated by adherence to dominant socio-cultural ‘reality’. In short, Orderly Chaos Training facilitates fitness of the whole person.

    Those pro wrestlers who introduced me to such out of the box thinking in 1960 really set the course for my education and explorations for more than fifty years. The major item for me was earning Kyoshi licensing/certification in an extant Awakening Wisdom tradition in 1972. And the blessing of emerging new sciences facilitating a bigger, more comprehensive paradigm – essentially a new Humanism.

    Harkening back to fictional ‘Paleo training’ misses the point entirely. Our task is to become independent, autonomous persons – that’s where fitness moves from the abstract to the real and existential case. Paleos lived at the mercy of their limbic systems protecting them for episodes of stress; modern humans live in sustained stress as life pressures, bringing horrible body/mind erosion that shows itself as ‘over training’ – then not recognized for the real causal factors.

    Vince Gironda used to talk a lot about Instinctive Training. He was spot on. Vince, it turns out, knew quite a bit about auto-regulation from traditional East Asian sources. Takes considerable self-mastery or auto-regulation to know the difference between Instinct and Impulse, the latter being knee jerk stuff.

    Orderly Chaos Training done with black iron certainly incorporates the few training systems you mention – AND incorporates a whole lot more.

    I’ve given hints about Orderly Chaos Training in my blog for several years. Beyond that not much will be disclosed until publication of my forthcoming book. It’s been 50+ years in the making with journeys all over the world, and is copyrighted to preserve its integrity for now. Loren Cordain’s lessons with Paleo becoming a popular, commercialized watered down version of his work has been taken to heart.

    Good start. It’s pleasing to note someone finally inspired and running with the ball. Good work!

  3. Right on, Keith. Where possible, I try not to build programmes around a 7-day cycle for the very reason you outlined here – 7 day cycles are a recent human social construct. There is absolutely no biological reason why a leg day has to be programmed for every Wednesday.

    I’m a big fan of non-linear, block periodisation schedules and I very much take a seasonal view of what I am doing.

    Love your work.
    Jamie (a fellow “wolverine”)

  4. Hi Keith,

    So glad I found your post – lunar cycle strength training is something I’ve recently started experimenting with, and I can find almost nobody else writing anything about it anywhere.

    About a year ago, I started to notice that my physical energy levels seemed to be effected by moon phase… I’d often feel good approaching the full moon, and run-down approaching new moon. Another thing I noticed was that I consistently weigh more during the waxing moon. I’m a yoga teacher — HOT yoga — so I’m acutely aware of my level of hydration, which I regularly check by weighing myself. This past month for example, I’ve consistently weighed about 4-5 lbs more/less during the waxing/waning moon. That’s from 147-152lbs.

    I recently decided to try synching my strength training (free weights and calisthenics) and supplement use(creatine, pre-workout caffeine) with the moon phase. After finding absolutely no information about the topic, I decided to do 2 week “growth” cycles from New to Full moon, and 2 week “recovery” cycle from Full to New. I’ve just finished one cycle only, and I’m not being scientific about it, but it seemed to work great. I happened to “peak” on the day of the first quarter — 7 days into the cycle — I was able to lift a LOT heavier than usual. Of course I can’t say how much of the boost was due to the moon phase, or due to the prior “easy” 2 weeks.

    But now something I’m trying to understand:
    I decided to try my hard training during the waxing moon, because I generally feel stronger and am better hydrated. However, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t be going hard on the waning moon — tearing the muscles down — and then recovering during the waxing moon and allowing my body to rebuild better.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this Keith!
    Thanks,
    Erik

    Thanks again and please let’s keep working on this!

    • Dude, right on. I’m quite sure there is lunar and season phase in our ability to perform optimally. It’s just a matter of finding that wave, and riding it to shore.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

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