Strong Not Skinny

One component of Primal essential movement is full-body, functional strength training.  Imagine our ancestors climbing trees, rocks, and walls; carrying animal carcasses, and constructing their own dwellings….than contrast that with our modern life, which may involve….tapping a keyboard.  We were designed to be strong, and building muscle in short, intense sessions releases adaptive hormones, increases our fat metabolism, and can increase longevity.

I ignored strength training for a long time in favor of cardio, particularly when I discovered Zumba and how fun dancing for fitness can be (more on that later).  Strength training can feel tedious, at least to me, and it’s not comfortable.  Another issue with our (American) modern life is we really, really like feeling comfortable!

Winter is a fantastic time to focus on strength training because we are naturally cycling away from the go-go-go high energy of summer which translates more directly to cardio endeavors.  I find it harder to get out, particularly for evening exercise classes, when it’s dark and cold, so I present a workout regimen that can be done at home.  It’s excuse proof!

The 4 essential Primal strength moves are:  planking, push-ups, squats, and pull-ups.  Note these are all body weight exercises focused on improving our power-to-weight ratio. The latter is the only move which arguably cannot easily be done at home – although pull-up bars fitted for door frames do exist if you feel confident in the structural soundness of your home (or rent and don’t care, ha)

If you want to view Mark Sisson (Primal creator) demonstrate the aforementioned moves, I invite you to go to youtube and search “Mark Sisson pushup (or whichever exercise) progression Primal blueprint”.  There are some helpful videos with several modification options so we can all start where we are.  (note he references “how many reps you need to do to max” – if you have questions about this, let me know)

What am I going to be doing?  Well, today I acquainted myself with the assisted pull-up machine at my fitness center.  I am starting at 85 lbs, which I believe means I am only lifting about 25 lbs of my actual body weight, and even then cranking out a handful of reps was challenging!  I honestly don’t know what a viable goal or timeline is, but I want to be able to do *real* pull-ups at some point in 2017, and I’ll be able to track my progress as I measure a decrease in counter-weight on the machine.

I’m also going to cajole my husband to work on the other exercises together at home this winter.  We can do push-ups, squats, and planks while dinner is cooking, or during a commercial break, or right when we get home from work (ok this is a fantasy involving us having the same schedule but you get the idea)

I’ve gotten a whole lot more comfortable being uncomfortable and am coming around on strength training.  Jillian Michaels calls the arms the “vanity muscles” and she’s right….I vainly want ripped arms!   But hey, it IS functional too….I may not need to carry any animal carcasses (eek) but being able to open jars for myself?  Now there’s a goal for 2017.


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