Primal Workouts

I posted earlier this week about Mark Sisson’s new book, The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation, and reading it has reminded me of one of the many things I love about the Primal lifestyle: simple workouts.

The underlying theme behind the Primal Blueprint’s quick and efficient fitness regimen is that 80% of our body composition is the result of diet, not exercise. It might only take 15 minutes to eat a 1000 calorie cheeseburger from McDonald’s, but you’d have to run for well over an hour to burn most of that off. Thus, killing yourself in the gym to make up for a poor diet is not only inefficient, but exhausting and unsustainable. It’s much easier to eat healthy and exercise less. As Mark says in the book, exercise should be about the movement rather than the calories. It’s about staying young and active, not compensating for ice cream cones.

Primal Blueprint fitness consists of three elements: moving slowly, lifting heavy things, and sprinting once in a while. The majority of exercise takes the form of low intensity activities, like walking or hiking. Two days a week are dedicated to bodyweight exercises, including pushups, pullups, squats, overhead presses, and planks. Finally, once a week or so, you sprint with maximum effort.

The best part of these routines is that they’re quick and enjoyable. Lifting Heavy Things only lasts about 45 minutes, and that’s with a high amount of reps. Sprint workouts only last ten or fifteen minutes. If you’re active most of the time — i.e. not at a desk for eight hours a day — and have a proper diet, little else is necessary.

I’ve tried Insanity and P90X, and while they’re great for a swift kick in the ass, by the end of the program, you’re going to be exhausted and burnt out. Find me someone who completes P90X and then exercises the next day. It’s unsustainable longterm. Overtraining is what causes us to fall out of healthy routines, and being too tired to workout sucks.

That’s why I love the Primal Blueprint. It doesn’t demand an hour of my time six days a week, and it’s much more fun than working out in front of my TV at night. My mood is elevated afterward, and exercise doesn’t become a source of dread. Coupled with the Primal diet, it all just works.