Category: Primal Movement


Heavy Things, Lifted

When you Lift Heavy Things, (LHT) you do two sets of seven exercises (if you count planks, right side planks, and left side planks and separate exercises; if you don’t, you do two sets of five exercises). You do one complete set as a circuit, then do a second set, and then if you’re me, you go home. We have been walking up to the elementary school near our home to LHT because there’s good bars up there to use as pull-up bars, and also because it adds an element of moving slowly, frequently, to the endeavor.

I recorded my results for the first time on August 8. Here they are (numbers are first set, second set):

Pushups, Level 2: 17   20
Pullups, Level 1: 20  9
Squats, Level 2: 40  50
Shoulder Press, Level 1: 25  20
Plank, Level 2: 49 31 seconds
Plank, Right, Level 2: 30 27
Plank, Left, Level 2: 48 48

Here are my numbers for tonight, August 26:

Pushups, Level 2: 30 30 (almost time to move up to level 3–I’m at my “level up” number but want to pull them off a couple times)
Pullups, Level 1: 15 10 (still my weakest spot, I think it’s not helped by the fact that I do my pushups immediately before. But I WILL do a pullup!)
Squats, Level 4: 30 50 (I felt a little twinge in my knee in the first set, so I stopped, but then came back strong in set 2)
Plank, Level 2: 95 47 seconds
Plank, Right, Level 2: 40 40
Plank, Left, Level 2: 35, 75 (again, the first one felt a little hinky, but came back strong)

For those of you scoring at home, this means I did 60 pushups tonight! And I think that’s worth yelling about a little bit!

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Movement: A Primal Primer

A few years ago, Reader Alli and I were both members of the YMCA and made a Gym Pact. We were going to meet at the Y at the ungodly hour of 5:30 a.m., do a half-hour on the elliptical, treadmill, or exercise bike, and get our workouts out of the way early. We both had weight to lose, and we were paying the Y a lot of money each month, and we were just going to be tough and do it.

This lasted approximately three weeks.

The truth was, neither one of us enjoyed going out in the dark, cold morning (because of course this was a New Year’s Resolution). We weren’t going to bed earlier to compensate for the fact that we were getting up at 5:10 to get to the Y. All right, fine, I was getting up at 5:25 to get there at 5:35, but this post isn’t about that. We were combining exercise with restricting calories, and we quickly got sick, tired, and grumpy about the whole thing. In fact, our husbands might say that we never recovered from the grumpy part.

Did we lose weight? A little. Were we happy people? See above.

If you are one of those people who likes going to the gym, that’s awesome. I admit, I’m a little envious of your cute workout clothes and your iPod arm thingies that show off your slender arms. If you, like Tim, enjoy running long distances, more power to you. I am neither of those people.

The primal philosophy of moving is complex. Paleo and primal eating tends to attract people from a wide cross-section of the fitness world. Some of them are people who can tear off a CrossFit workout and make it look easy. Some of us are people who consider it somewhat humorous to even include us on this mythical fitness world. And there are plenty of people in between.

If you’re just getting started, The Primal Blueprint encourages you to consider what early humans had to do to survive: they had to be able to wander (or move slowly, frequently), either to forage for food or shelter, or to spread out a bit; they had to be able to have functional strength, or Lift Heavy Things, for when they encountered obstacles or hit the jackpot and killed a tasty animal; and they had to be able to sprint as if their life depended on it…because it often did.

(Recommended reading: The Primal Blueprint Fitness eBook, available for free here.)

Over the last month or so, I’ve found myself moving a lot more. Tim and I often take a walk after dinner, and a lot of times the kids come with us. Sometimes we leave them at home–a veritable free date! We’re not setting any land speed records, but that’s okay. We’re moving muscles that I tend to pull when I work out hard. My heart rate is elevated, and my body is getting stronger at its own pace. I’ve also mowed the lawn, worked out in the yard, and walked Katy to and from school most days. These are all moving slowly, frequently.

I’ve also become a big fan of Lifting Heavy Things. I used to warily approach the machines at the gym, or try to do Jillian Michaels DVDs and feel like an idiot in my own living room. Primal movement calls for you to have functional strength (as in, it doesn’t just look good, it can actually accomplish something) in the following areas: push-ups, pull-ups, squats, overhead presses, and planks. No machines. No Jillian looking amazing and somehow making me feel bad while she’s encouraging me. There’s a lot of latitude in how you do what you do, but for now I am following the exercises outlined in the ebook. There’s 9 levels of each exercise, and level 4 is considered functional strength. I’ll record my progress in another post–my posts are always long!

I will admit, I haven’t felt up to sprinting yet. Too much of me to move that quickly for now. Tim, Paul, and Katy have done sprint workouts, and Claire regularly does them as part of Cross Country. I’m hoping to join the sprinting crew by September 1.

Even if you think the way I’m eating is nuts, and there are a lot of people (Claire) who do, you’re welcome to join me in the fitness plan. It’s doable, progressive, and effective. I’m getting arm muscles! And Reader Alli reports that my butt looks flatter. All of this is good because I’m scheduled to go to Philmont Scout Ranch next summer and a) I’d like to get on the trail and b) I’m going to need to be able to move slowly, frequently, and to lift heavy things…but hopefully the sprinting for my life won’t come into play.

…Uh oh. I’m afraid this is going to call for before and after pictures. Luckily I have some taken right before I started this. I’ll try to snap some at the end of the month so we can track monthly progress. If that won’t keep a girl honest, I don’t know what will!