Caveman Training in a Modern World – Part 1

The Paleo diet is a current hype in the fitness and health arena. It’s basically sticking to wholesome, non-processed foods, a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that we presumably consumed during the Paleolithic era—a period of about 2.5 million years duration that ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture. The contemporary Paleo diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.

Paleo in regards to exercise is not a clear concept but this is what it means for me: it doesn’t require gyms, exercise equipment, fluoro trainers, synthetic attire, expensive and potentially harmful supplements, viewing your biceps in a mirror, fitness selfies, backstabbing other trainers/coaches for which you believe are inferior teachers, competing for the most weight lifted or the most pronounced washboard abs.  Paleo exercise, like paleo nutrition goes back to basics of what would seem to be a healthy way to move, eat and live, without all the garbage.


For me, the Paleo idea in the diet world has become so massive that there are now many subcategories of what a Paleo Diet is, not to mention all the arguments in-between of whose Paleo diet is the best.  I believe that there are many ways that people try to create hype about a fitness or health idea because it will make them well-known, but in the end it just comes down to moving and eating well, injury free!

A caveman or cavewoman would not have mindlessly pumped iron or run around in circles to spike the heart rate for the fun of it, they would have done so because their life depended on it.  This would be a likely situation;

1. They would have moved around all day at a low intensity; walking, standing, gathering, wandering, crawling, climbing. This is LOW level cardio as a foundation for health, including a strong heart and blood vessels, oxygenated and well-circulating blood, strong bones and joints. They would not have sat in a car and at desks all day and later in front of the TV to relax.

2. They would have lifted some heavy sh*t infrequently and intermittently, such as carrying dinner back from the hunt, carrying heavy logs and rocks for shelter, or lifted their bodyweight in a tree pull-up to reach a mango (or whatever). The high intensity, short –duration training stimulates testosterone, growth hormone and revs up the metabolism while chiselling muscles and cutting fat. Using free-weight objects such as rocks, trees, tires, or dumbbells to use for lifting or simple bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, double or single leg squats, lunges, crawling and climbing.

3. They would have sprinted once in a while to run away from animals or other cavemen. I recently wrote an article on sprinting or jogging from an evolutionary perspective, and so I would not state that we did not jog. The Paleo approach would say that it would be too noisy and energy consuming to jog in the wild, however the opposing theory looks at the fact that humans are the only species that have developed the capacity to sweat while running. This effectively cools our body temperature and allows us to continue, whereas animals pant and seek shade to cool down.  Unlike cheetahs, we can breathe faster than we can move our legs, getting the maximum amount of oxygen to our muscles. The regulation of our breathing allows us to run for extended distances because we constantly remain in an energy-efficient gait. This theory suggests that out-jogging an animal is how we hunted, since we are far from being able to out-sprint any animal hands-down. Again, whether they sprinted or jogged, this would have been infrequent, not every day.

4. They would have known when to rest and recuperate.

Make it short, infrequent, varied and intense. Stay active most of the time at a low level intensity. Choose natural movement.

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