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July 06, 2014

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Ok athletes, first up, I'm sorry for the long break between issues, it's been two weeks. I was unfortunately struck down with a very bad virus, which then led to infection in my lungs. A most unpleasant experience. But I'm back and ready for action.

This is a short issue, but it's an important message, something not often covered. So what's this all about? It's about primal performance.

You see, once upon a time your ancestors were wild animals. I mean they were humans, but they were wild. We once lived entirely within nature. We lived off the land, hunting prey with primitive weapons and even our bare hands. Gathering nuts, seeds, fruit and various edible plants. Our needs were simple and life was harsh. There was no central heating and we didn't have guns, fences and cages to protect us from other apex predators. We were at the mercy of the wild. I'm not talking about Bear Grylls here, I mean we lived it 24/7/365, just like any wild animal you can think of still doing it today.

The lion doesn't have a gas heating system at home. It doesn't own a car with a five star safety rating and a comfortable pair of shoes to protect its paws from the harshness of the plains. The gorilla doesn't have a nice warm blanket on a soft mattress. It doesn't have a box of ibuprofen to take when it has a headache.

What about exercise, movement and performance? What about the worry of getting fat? Have you ever seen an unfit lion?

What I want to share with you today is getting back to primal patterns of behaviour. I understand we are not all going to go back to living in the wild, hunting for food, living under a tree etc. But we can simulate the behaviour patterns of wild animals. What I am suggesting is taking in what animals do and adopting that habit yourself, to a certain degree.

What is the fittest, strongest, fastest, most agile and overall most athletic animal you know? It's wild cats, such as lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards etc. Even domestic pet cats are outstanding athletes. They never seem to have tight muscles. Cats don't need a lengthy warm up. They don't need a lengthy stretching routine after a workout. They can be lazing in the sun and then take off after an animal it wants to catch and eat. It will climb trees, sprint, leap in the air and change direction at the speed of lightning.

So cats is what we will imitate here. You are going to start behaving more like a cat. The following are some points to note on behaving like a cat and developing some of their athletic ability and supreme mobility.

1. Whenever you get up from either sleeping or sitting, lengthen out your body and stretch for a few seconds in different directions. Not a full static stretch. You're not going to hold that stretch for a given length of time. Just bend and stretch in multiple directions for a second or two. Take the time to do this many times throughout the day.

2. Minimise sitting on a chair. If you work in an office and your job involves sitting, then you are going to stand up, squat, do the above stretching and move around a little every time you get the opportunity. This should occur at least five times throughout an eight hour work day.

3. Twice a day every day you will do some form of training. I don't necessarily mean a full on workout, I just mean you will do something involving either strength, power, agility or speed twice a day. Many days you will indeed do a workout, but other times you might simply just do a set of 10 squat jumps as high as you can or perform a maximum isometric contraction for 10 seconds repeated twice. You might do a flat out sprint just once or you might do a full blown sprint workout. Move in as many ways as possible. When you get home you might get on all fours and race around the house crawl, dodging and weaving as fast as you can.

4. Develop basic movement skills that are athletic in nature. If you currently cycle or use weight training machines then you will add some movement to your training. Learn to walk with good form. Sprint proficiently. Learn to jump in various directions with maximum power. Practice swimming until your technique is sound. Learn to squat really deep while keeping your heels on the floor, even if it's just a body weight squat. Learn to sit in that squat for at least a few minutes without discomfort. Overall just learn how to move with freedom.

One habit of cats is that they do not spend hours training. They are extremely muscled creatures with an outstanding ability to move with speed and agility. Their exercise patterns involves short bursts of explosive activity followed by periods of rest. Incorporate this into your training.

And finally, learn to eat primal food. NOTE - I did NOT say paleo, that's restrictive and will likely make you miserable. What I mean is eat as many whole and natural foods as possible. Stop eating foods from a packet. Most of your food should be completely whole and natural in the state it was in before it became food. Meat is not a mix of various ingredients, it's simply meat. Instead of sausage eat steak. Instead of processed chicken nuggets eat actual pieces of chicken.

Obviously life is there to be lived. None of what I have suggested should be taken in as rules in the strict sense. What do wild animals NOT do that humans do? They don't worry for long periods of time. A zebra runs from a lion in fear. It's stressed. But when the threat is gone the zebra is no longer stressed. It's not worried about getting eaten tomorrow. It's not worried about the other zebra that gave him a dirty look last week. You need to adopt this habit, live more in the present, even if stressful things have happened or you anticipate a stressful event tomorrow or the next day. Plan and prepare things as best you can, but do it with a relaxed attitude. There are no hard and fast rules, just guidelines.

Have fun with the process and get a little more primal.


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Unleash Your Physical Potential,

Chris Lyons

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