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First, an apology; It's been awhile since I've updated this blog (Nearly two weeks to be precise). The reason being, I got a little frightened as I found you guys are actually reading. I started getting emails, phone calls and pings on g talk with questions and feedback. And suddenly this is no longer about me exercising my writing skills anymore but developing an audience through honest work. It's exciting albeit a little scary. Please stick with me.
In my last post I wrote about why real fitness and strength is important in daily life.
Being primal is as much about doing the kind of physical work your body was designed to do, as it is about eating what homo-sapiens have been designed to eat.
In this post I'm going to attempt to cover ways in which we can exercise like we're meant to, gain strength and real fitness, and eventually a real nice looking fit body. Not skinny mind you, but lean and muscular. And more than just theory, I’ve tried to explain how I workout in the attempt to give my body what it needs.
Decadence has been around for some time now at least for the lucky few, and the numbers continues to rise. Far more of us today have the luxury of having comfortable desk jobs instead of foraging for food, than ever before. And with the luxuries associated with life, as we know it comes excesses: poor health, rotting muscles, sagging skin, massive bellies and so on. Therefore there is more need today than ever before to set aside time for exercise, because it is not part of our everyday live in anyway. It's actually a hindrance, a chore.
Imagine, we've survived for 100's and 1000's of years with high levels of activity being the core of our existence. Imagine, as a human, unless we were bloody healthy and fit, and could outrun certain animals, we'd all be dead, unless we were incredibly lucky.
So what are these things that they did - they being homo sapiens - for 200,000 years before the recent past - in their everyday life that we should learn from?
What are those movements that we should emulate today in our lives in order to give our genes the proper signals?
Here is an attempt to bring that alive with examples from my own fitness routine today.
1) They moved. Yes the number one thing on the list. They walked and they moved about alot. They migrated, which meant they walked for days on end, and they foraged for food. This low level of activity prompted their genes to build a stronger capillary network to fuel each muscle cell, to be able to store some excess food as fat and also to be able to convert stored fat into energy. They did NOT go out and jog at 80% of their max heart rate as is the trend today.
For us this means incorporating low-level aerobic pace into our lives. For me this means yoga and walking as much as I can, everywhere and anywhere.
2) They lifted heavy things. The women carried babies about while they did their work, the men carried heavy carcasses of prey home, lifted heavy spears and weapons, built stuff etc. They'd all be able to lift them selves onto trees while escaping from predators or scouting higher grounds. These movements created very brief but intense muscle contractions, which in turn generated a spurt in growth hormones, prompting an increase in muscle size and power, especially fast twitch muscles.
What kind of movements were these? In gym terms, they'd be deadlifts, weighted squats, over head press, olympic lifts, pull ups. Note: There are no bicep curls and calf raises in the mix.
What I do when I go to the gym is: spend NOT more than 30 to 35 minutes max, focus on movements that involve the entire body and in wider ranges of motion, and I emulate the movements that out ancestors did in order to increase muscle strength and power, increase bone density, improve insulin sensitivity, stimulate growth hormone secretion and consume stored body fat. I also do plenty of body weight workouts like pushups and bodyweight high intensity squats at bootcamp. This makes up my quota of high intensity interval training which is basically metabolic conditioning - a steady barrage of multijoint, compound exercises, with very little rest performed rapidly, to build muscular and anaerobic endurance.
3) They ran really fast. Running really fast is as much a function of strength than it is conditioning. In a world where you would get eaten if you could not run fast enough and where you'd literally have to run extremely fast to survive, whether it was running away from a charging beast or running to catch your dinner. Running fast as if your life depends on it activates your fast twitch muscles, releases the growth hormone and builds muscle and strength.
For me this means one word - sprints. Lucky for me I have bootcamp where we do sprints and relays at least twice a week where I run all out. But if not, at least one session of intense anaerobic sprint burst is essential in a week. It maybe running, it could be swimming, or cycling if that’s your thing. In whatever activity you're doing, the idea is to go all out at your highest speed till you get fatigued, slow down and catch your breath and take off again. 6 to 8 sprints a session is all it takes and you wont take more than 20 minutes doing this. Or take up a sport. When you play badminton or tennis for example, the competitive nature of the sport compels you to do lots of short sprints without even realizing it.
Benefits of real fitness
As opposed to aerobics classes and hours of cardio that helps you get skinny or other time consuming isolation workouts at the gym that help build good looking muscle which may or may not be able to do real work these are some of the benefits of real fitness. I’ve been there, done that, and these workouts have benefitted me in the following ways.
Strength – You definitely get stronger, fitter, faster. Read my last post for more details on how real fitness has helped me.
Lean muscle – With these movements you build lean muscle which helps us achieve a metabolically balanced state where we burn of excess fat and we get to a point where we have enough fat on our bodies to stay healthy but hardly ever have excess stored fat.
Better sex life – These are the movements are bodies have been designed to do, for its physical work. This helps hormonal balance and ups the production of testosterone in men and women and other sex hormones that directly have an implication on sexual libido as well as better skin and mood swings.
Energy and productivity – Spouses don’t blame me if your better half jumps out of bed super early and putz around disturbing you. Being energetic and super productive are all side effects of being physically active.
Better immunity and the disappearance of previous ailments. I attribute this to eating clean as much if not more than working out this way. Though I’ve always had a good immunity, I’ve been able to go more than a year and a half without seeing a doctor and my migraines that once upon a time came on strong have disappeared.
Better sleep – I now go to sleep before my head touches the pillow, something I was unable to do previously.
Thanks for reading guys; I’d love to hear from you!