Saturday, December 14, 2013

Simple with few moving parts...what is your crossbow?

The frequency of posts to this blog has diminished quite a bit recently.   My work is busy and when I get in I'm more likely to read or vegetate in front of the TV to relax rather than think about putting stuff up here.  Also you will have picked up the theme in recent months that I am trying to keep things simple.  Sometimes there is little to say.  There is not a lot to add:  move, sleep, eat and relax.

I became disillusioned with the contrarian world of health and fitness on the internet, especially as regards diet.  It is not as complicated as we try to make it...paleo, low-carb, low fat or "real food" or whatever become dead-ends sometimes, cultish little communities where any dissent is akin to heresy.  I've been banned from at least one Paleo Facebook group for questioning their orthodoxy.

Anyway, the point of this post....

Terracotta soldiers

I saw a documentary this week about the Terracotta Soldiers.  A couple of thousand years old, these statues were buried with a Chinese Emperor to guard him in the afterlife.  They are amazingly complex, not mass produced, but with unique facial features.  Looking at the statues and how they were made has revealed a lot about the society that made them.  The soldiers were also buried with weapons.

The Crossbow Trigger

A key weapon for this empire apparently was the crossbow.  The documentary explained how the crossbow was a supremely powerful and accurate weapon, yet was very simple.  There was a metal trigger mechanism which could be manufactured on a mass scale and then dropped into the body of the bow.

Reliable with few moving parts

The programme stressed how elegant the trigger was.  It did its job without complexity.  It was effective and reliable.

What is your crossbow trigger?

In the world of fitness and exercise we are faced with an endless stream of exercises, programmes, diets and treatments.  There is new equipment to try and exciting classes to attend.  Special programming and periodisation.  Hot yoga, pilates, crossfit.....HIT, RKC.  One thing it is not is simple.  Most of us need a crossbow trigger of exercise.  Something simple effective and reliable.

Your workouts are over-engineered

For me at the moment, I am a lot less dogmatic about exercise.  However for the simplest effect perhaps I would propose:

Walk...lots as part of your everyday and as exercise and as recreation.

Push - pushups, planks

Pull - a towel row, batwings....

Bend - a bridge.....

It is basically Hillfit I think, but something like Dan John recommends here would be fine.

Movement in this world is so unusual I just want people to be active!  There is so much mystique about exercise, so much over-engineering of what should be and only needs to be so simple.  We think our training needs to be complex.  It doesn't.  Most of us are not athletes whatever the inspirational posters tell us.

Over-engineering gives the trainer some mystery secret to sell.


Joakim Waern said...

You keep repeating yourself and I have to admit I like it. I need to hear these things again and again to keep doing the simple stuff. I don't know how I would feel without Hillfit.
I took a look at the Dan John stuff but it wasn't that clear to me. Is it from a Power point presentation? Do you have a link to an article or something; I think that might be easier to digest.
As always: Thanks for your post!

Anonymous said...

G'd evening Chris,

Yeah! Good on ya for getting banned from one of the paleo facebook pages. You could make it a personal goal to rack up a few more. :-)

What you say is so true: life itself is complex, but living it doesn't have to be complicated. We complicate it ourselves, especially by seeking out other ideas to override our own internal wisdom. The more I am online, the more I realize how toxic reading about health and fitness can be to one's ironic.

Thanks for continuing to provide sanity checks and reminders to keep it real and keep it simple. Sometimes I am paralyzed by the conflicting health rules I have read about over the years. I just wish there were a way to forget them and to get back to just trusting myself.

All the best to you this holiday season. And thanks for keeping it real.


Stuart Gilbert said...

Another great article. I know these posts are infrequent, but that makes them even more special and eagerly anticipated. I might still read a fair bit on fitness, but the list of people that inspire me and who I now pay attention to is a very small one. I have to say that you are on that list. I love your common sense approach.
Speaking of upsetting people, and debating matters. Have you seen the infighting that goes on in HIT circles. In my opinion HIT is an umbrella term that encompasses many different approaches, usually decided by personal circumstances and preferences. Still there are often far more similarities than differences in the different approaches, yet the amount of in fighting is ludicrous. Why people can't enjoy their training and let other people just enjoy theirs is beyond me. I just don't get this "listen to training style is better than yours" mentality.

FeelGoodEating said...


We've always had a bit of synergy...but this is getting ridiculous :-)

Amen! It's so spot on. Lately I simply focus on moving and eating food that makes me feel good.
That's how simple it is.
Because of this change I've become a 100% more productive in other areas of my life.

I will say that both us have been saying this for years now...and that is, fitness is as simple as moving every day. And the easiest way to do that is simply walking. My bride and i walk our little one to school and home most days. Thats about an hour and 15 minutes every day. Lot's of good movement and i havent even "exercised" yet :-)

Keep it going...


Helga said...

Chris, you are, yet again, spot on with your common sense observations and opinions, so please keep doing what you're doing. People need to hear this, because the big F's industries (food and fitness) have gone completely mental.

"I've been banned from at least one Paleo Facebook group for questioning their orthodoxy."

It was strangely satisfying to read this, as I, too, have been banned from a very popular paleo site. They're afraid someone will shout out that the emperor has no clothes....or maybe only a loin cloth. I agree with some of the paleo ideas, but I dislike anything that smacks of cultism.

Anyway, I hope you don't mind if I quote you again!

Chris said...


Thanks for your comment.

I hope you are doing well. I still enjoy your blog.