Exercise like a caveman – Part 1
Ok everyone, it is time to deviate away from the food side of primal living and start looking at the primal exercise laws that Mark Sisson’s lays out in his fabulous book, The Primal Blueprint. I will attempt to summarise his most salient points in a few short posts.
The good news is that it only requires two hours a week of walking around, one mini-strength workout a week lasting less than 10 minutes, one complete strength workout a week of 30 minutes and a sprint session every 7 to 10 days. Doesn’t sound too onerous does it?
What did our primal caveman ancestors DO?
They spent several hours each day moving at a very low-level aerobic pace. They hunted, gathered, foraged, wandered, scouted, migrated, climbed and crawled. This daily movement helped develop strong bones, joints and connective tissue. They developed strength, size and power by carrying heavy bundles of firewood or building materials for their shelters. To avoid the dangers that lurked behind every boulder or to be able to chase after their dinner, they needed to be able to sprint in short fast explosive bursts.
What did our caveman ancestors NOT DO?
They didn’t regularly deplete their energy with movement and activities that would leave them vulnerable to a predator or starvation. In other words they didn’t engage in “chronic cardio” exercise – something we seem to have perfected in our modern age. No pain no gain, ring a bell?
What is chronic cardio?
Frequent high intensity workouts where your heart rate is 80 to 90% of maximum. This could be as “innocent” as a 1 hour intense spinning or aerobics class at the gym, where you are sweating like a pig and huffing and puffing like a woman in labour. Does this describe you? Or maybe you are a trail runner doing hectic elevations for hours on end? Training for a marathon maybe? Or perhaps you are a triathlon junkie? Think carefully about whether the shoe fits!
- It increases the production of cortisol, which breaks down muscle tissue and contributes to fatigue.
- It suppresses your immune system leading to more frequent minor illnesses, like colds and sore throats.
- It increase systemic inflammation which is a contributing factor to heart disease, cancer and other illnesses.
- It lowers testosterone and growth hormone which compromises optimal fat burning, energy levels and sex drive.
- It traumatizes joints and connective tissue putting you at risk of injury.
- And if that is not enough – it also causes oxidative damage which accelerates the aging process.
“It’s ironic that many in their 40’s and 50’s start engaging in marathon or triathlon training in hopes of improving health and delaying the aging process, when quite often, it has the exact opposite effect.” Mark Sisson
Look out for the next few posts where I will go into more detail about what type of exercise we should be engaging in for optimum primal fitness.
Reference: The Primal Blueprint – by Mark Sisson