In Basics

November 01, 2007

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The purpose of exercise is to live the life we are genetically encoded to live. So be alive, be very alive. We have not spent the last 65 million or so years finely honing our physiology to watch Oprah. Like it or not, we are the product of a very long process of adaptation to a harsh physical existence. The past couple centuries of comparative ease and plenty are not enough time to change our genome.

To a great extent, health problems result from a reluctance by the bulk of our population to do anything that is either physically hard or counter to their prerogative. People seem to have acquired the idea that they have the inalienable right to stroll through life without having sweated, picked up anything heavy, worked hard, or eaten less than they wanted at every meal. We have become lazy.

Those of us who actually train should understand why it’s good. Physically—and mentally—difficult tasks are normal and natural to our existence. Overcoming the challenges presented by these tasks makes us generally better as humans. Finishing a very heavy set of twenty squats, or pushing through “Three Bars of Death” as prescribed, or suffering through “Murph” wearing a weight vest, is as much a mental task as it is physical.

There is just something wrong with getting up every day and moving through your existence with the least possible effort. If your expectations are always those of someone content to live without physical challenge, then when it comes time for mental, moral, or emotional challenge, you fail to meet it because you are out of practice.

Mark Rippetoe is co-author of Starting Strength.

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3 Comments on “Be Alive. Be Very Alive, by Mark Rippetoe”


wrote …

Hell, Yeah Rip.

More things to consider:

1. Lack of sleep. Americans are getting around 2-4 hours less sleep.
2. Less Smoking. Like it or not we smoke less. It has an effect on our weight.
3. People take more meds - birth control, anti-depressants, hormones etc.
4. Fat people live longer than skinny folk - at least historically.
5. Fat people tend to marry and mate with other fat folk. Creates fat genes.
6. Women who give birth later in life have fatter kids - from a study I read.
7. Some foods we manufacture contain hormone disruptors - making us fatter.
8. Porn - it used to take extreme amounts of energy to chase the opposite sex and actually do the deed - porn takes away from this.
9. Off road vehicles - even the outdoors man isn't as active.
10. Fast food; computer games; google etc...

It all ads up man.


wrote …

Isn't it true that even before AC was invented that people were mostly inactive during the hot times of the day anyways as to prevent heat stroke? So I don't know if AC is making Americans lazier... Doesn't change the fact that training hard and being a useful human being are often tied together. Good article overall :)


Rich Maurer wrote …

I love reading your stuff. You have a unique way of pulling readers in. I particularly enjoyed your take on the right to have an opinion on certain topics when discussing deep squats. Your passion for improving quality of life is viral. Hopefully it spreads.

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