Before I was introduced to The Primal Blueprint, a good day’s workout for me would be to run 30-40 minutes on the treadmill right after work. This was my “check the box” kind of thinking, and I felt good if I got this time on the treadmill and got a good sweat going. I would do the same on the weekends with the only difference being I would try to push myself to go longer than 30-40 minutes.
Then my world was flipped upside down after reading the The Primal Blueprint. My routine for 15+ years certainly had some positive benefits, but there was a whole new way of thinking and doing that is much more beneficial to my overall physical well-being.
One thing I learned that you will hear me talk about over and over again is your Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate, which is 180-Your Age in beats per minute (BPM). This is where you achieve optimal aerobic, fat-burning benefits without triggering the fight or flight response. Sustained workouts over maximum aerobic heart rate, greater than 180-Your Age, burn a greater percentage of glucose instead of fat and triggers the production of stress hormones and lactic acid in muscles.
Gone are the days of the 30-40 minute chronic cardio workouts on the treadmill. The Primal Blueprint teaches you to slow things down and move more throughout the day. A simple and immediate step you could take would be to try to walk for 5-15 minutes after each meal. This will help to mute the pro-longed post-meal blood sugar spike and consequent insulin release. A Mayo Clinic study showed that a leisurely walk of 1mph (this is hardly moving) for 15 minutes after a meal lowered by half the 2-hour long blood sugar spike that occurs after the typical meal. My normal routine now consists of walks around the neighborhood, hikes, the occasional “trot” instead of running at a lower heart rate, and the Primal Essential Movements.
A workout conducted in the aerobic heart rate zone (180-Age) will optimize fat metabolism both during the workout and throughout the day. Some other benefits of getting sufficient aerobic exercise includes:
- Cardiovascular function is optimized as capillary profusion is increased
- Muscle mitochondria multiply, function more efficiently, and get better at burning fat
- Stroke volume of the heart increases (amount of blood pumped with each beat)
- Lung capacity improves as a function of receiving more oxygen from the cardiovascular system
Chronic Exercise, which would be workouts where your heart rate is at levels greater than 180-Age, train the body to prefer glucose as fuel, both during exercise and throughout the day. A chronic cardio pattern has been shown to obstruct immune system function, destroy white blood cells, elevate cortisol levels, suppress testosterone levels, and trigger chronic/systemic inflammation. When workouts are above the optimal fat-burning zone (180-Age), the body begins to burn a greater percentage of glucose for fuel, which leads to sugar cravings after the workout, which leads to spikes in insulin production, which leads to more fat storage!! Any workout regimen that consistently pushes you above the optimal aerobic level without respecting a proper balance of stress and rest can compromise health and disturb delicate hormone balances.
This was my “Aha” moment! My 30-40 runs on the treadmill would lead me to being hungry the rest of the night. I would eat dinner, which wasn’t Primal aligned like I try to be now, and then I would still be hungry later, which would lead to a nightly snack. I did this thinking it was okay because I had worked out. I used to be one of those people who said, “I workout so I can eat, drink, etc.”. Now I have learned why I still continued to have the 10-12 pound roller coaster rides with my weight. Since adopting the Primal Lifestyle, I have been able to become fat adapted, maintain a consistent weight, shed some excess body fat and created a much more enjoyable way of incorporating exercise into my life.
In addition to moving more throughout the day, The Primal Blueprint has what is called the Primal Essential Movements; Push-Up, Pull-Up, Plank and Squat. All of these, with maybe the exception of pull-ups, can be done with your own body weight and without ever leaving your house. Do not be turned off if you haven’t done a push-up since you had to for gym class. It’s ok!! We all have to start somewhere, but the key is to START!!!
The links below will take you to videos done by Mark Sisson, creator of The Primal Blueprint, which will show you the progression for each of the Primal Essential Movements. That’s right, progression! Meaning he will show you how to do each one no matter if it’s your first time, or if you are an expert. Don’t think these movements won’t give you a workout. I am doing two sets at various levels for each exercise and I can assure you my heart rate is pumping! These exercises will also help to build muscle, which is extremely important to do going into the back half of your life!
Get out and move!!!