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Don't Be a Longevity Midwit
My Some For a Few Protocol for Strongevity
The Highlander helps strength athletes and enthusiasts live stronger for longer. Join fellow Highlanders on the journey:
My favorite meme is the midwit meme. It’s the bell curve one where the simpleton on the left and the Jedi on the right say the same simple insight while the midwit in the middle has some long complex and wrong view.
It looks like this:
The moral of the meme is that when you’re a beginner at something, you focus on the big important things because those are all that matter. When you’re an expert, you learn that the big important things are still all that matter.
The meme encapsulates the “A” of the Highlander ACT philosophy: Always major in the majors.
The midwit is stuck in the middle of the journey of knowledge when you know enough to start thinking about nuance and complexity. He naturally focuses on the little things — the minors — because he thinks he’s got the big things covered, but he doesn’t realize that all the nuance is mere incrementalism against the big important things.
We’re Creating Longevity Midwits
The midwit meme is top of mind because of a tweet that’s stuck with me from a few weeks ago:
The popular longevity community is creating a bunch of midwits. They promote quick hacks and protocols and prescription drugs that will help us live longer and perform better more than they talk about exercise, diet, and sleep.
Who can blame anyone pushing hacks and protocols and drugs for longevity? These things appeal to humans because majoring in the majors is time intensive. Everyone wants the magical program or diet that they probably won’t do anyway. Not many want the basic realities of progressive overload for strength, long, slow base building for cardio, and eating obviously healthy foods while paying attention to calories for diet. Do those simple things for years with no magic program and you are going to be strong, feel energetic, and look great.
I spend at least 10 hours a week strength training and doing cardio. Often it’s more than that. I spend a lot of time cooking real food at home. It’s an investment. No hack or protocol or drug will move the needle on my longevity than the investment I make in the majors. I’m not special either. The same is true for everyone else too.
It’s not entirely fair to bucket the entire longevity community together in this. I’ve learned a lot from Attia and Huberman. They emphasize exercise, diet, and sleep, and put out great and honest work.
Despite that, we have a growing longevity community focused on sun exposure, ice baths, rapamycin, and a bunch of other midwit activities instead of the majors.
The Longevity Anti-Protocol: Some for a Few
An idea that always stuck with me was “some for a few.” I think I read about it from Jim Wendler, an elite powerlifter who trained at Westside Barbell.
Wendler (or whoever it was) said that the biggest and strongest guys never worried about tracking accessory movements like dumbbell presses, curls, leg extensions, etc. They just knew they needed to do some, so they did some for a few. Some days maybe they did more. Some days maybe they did less. But they got it done.
That’s the approach I’ve been gravitating to for my strongevity practice. I know I need to train for strength and hypertrophy. I need to do some cardio. I need to apply discipline to my diet to keep my body composition healthy. I need to get enough sleep.
Adhering to strict prescriptions for these activities is exhausting. If I do some of all those things for a few, I’ve done 80-90% of what matters for my longevity, and it keeps it fun and flexible.
Here’s how I structure the anti-protocol:
Strength/Hypertrophy. For strength athletes, this is always the core of our training. My core weight-related work is built around whatever I’m doing competitively at the time. Right now, I’m rebuilding lost muscle coming off of a bodybuilding show to prep for doing either an Olympic, powerlifting, or strongman meet later this year. Aside from the core strength work, I want to say strong and explosive in what I see as core functions like farmers carries, deadlifts, and throws. Those exercises aren’t in my core program right now, so I add some of them each week for a few to keep the patterns well trained.
Cardio. Like most strength athletes, I don’t love cardio. But I know I need it, especially the longer duration low intensity base building cardio. I used to live on a rigid prescription of minimum 45 minute sessions and trying to get 150 minutes per week. Now I do some for a few. Sometimes I’ll hit 20-30 minutes. Sometimes I’ll go over an hour. Sometimes I’ll sprint. The flexibility has helped me do more cardio in aggregate as it seems less a chore. I’m sure my mitochondria won’t know much of a difference.
Nutrition. Prepping for a bodybuilding show is an expert crash course in food tracking and meal prep. I’ve kept a lot of these principles in my current diet plan, which still largely incorporates my Three Strikes approach. I avoid processed sweets, most breads/pastas, sodas, etc. As I finish my recovery from show prep, I’ll return to eating “healthy” foods (e.g. avoiding obviously unhealthy foods) mostly untracked with a some for a few approach.
Sleep. I try to get seven hours a night. I also have young kids. It’s usually not there. Sometimes I’ll nap some for a few to add a little to my sleep total, but until my kids get older, sleep may be suboptimal.
Bonus: Sauna. Outside of the four majors above, sauna is the only other regular part of my programming. I’ve written about the benefits here before. I used to try to hit three sessions of 20 minutes a week. Now I do some for a few, just like cardio.
If you’ve been living on strict prescriptions for your longevity work, try the some for a few method. See if it energizes your approach to the investment you have to make to live stronger for longer. It did for me.
Disclaimer: The Highlander is an educational Substack about how to live stronger for longer. As with all exercise, and health advice, consult with a doctor and/or trainer. This is not medical advice.