I believe one of the most effective ways to look at exercise is to look at what our primal ancestors did in the context of the lives they lived based on survival and successful reproduction. The survival component involved hunting and gathering and escaping the clutches of wild animals or any other form of predators. Furthermore, thousands of generations of homo sapiens have evolved and survived genetically to support that lifestyle. By this I mean our DNA has encapsulated these instincts. Only in the last ten thousand years since the advent of the agricultural revolution has our diet and exercise habits changed and degenerated to the current status of obesity and metabolic disease epidemics. Why? Because we have been eating and exercising in a way that is not congruent with the design and evolution of the species. Those last ten thousand years are a microcosm of the millions of years of development. So we need to break the cycle of excessive carbohydrate intake and exercising inappropriately such as chronic excessive exercise or no exercise at all.
Primal fitness promotes long-term weight management success with low-level cardio sessions that optimize fat burning, and strength training and sprint sessions that stimulate lean muscle development and the removal of excess body fat. Low-level cardio sessions alone won’t increase fat metabolism dramatically enough to significantly reduce excess body fat, but will enhance fat metabolism both during exercise and at rest. Then, including regular brief, intense strength and sprint sessions raise metabolic rate and body temperature both during and after exercise. This helps to turbocharge fat burning provided an eating pattern of low insulin production is followed
It is worth mentioning at this point that exercise is not a primary factor in losing weight and maintaining your preferred body composition. 85% of your general health and well being is a result of your eating patterns. The other 15% is made up effectively with sleep and stress management and exercise. So if the impact of exercising on your well being is somewhere in the range of 5-10% believing you can lose excess weight by exercising like crazy and restricting caloric intake “you are barking up the wrong tree”.
The key to effective exercising in the context of our ancestral evolution involves: moving frequently, lifting heavy things, sprinting, full body resistance exercises and play. So let’s look at these key topics.
Play: This might seem like a strange activity at first blush. For our ancestors to hone their survival skills, they participated in social actives that helped them improve motor skills, lean body mass, and suitable muscles to give them the strength to survive. I am unable to come up with any specific “games” they played, but we can assume a lot of this went on throughout their developing years. It is wrong to think that” playing games” is strictly a juvenile pursuit. Adults playing games have the opportunity to not only keep “themselves in shape” but also benefit from the life-enhancing and the longevity benefits associated with the social interaction, and team building. Bearing in mind at the time of writing this page I am 69 years old I am somewhat limited in the play activities in which to participate. I play golf three or four times a week with a group of thirty or so friends of similar age, and I go hunting with a different group of friends involving all sorts of motor skills, concentration, hiking through woods and generally enjoying the outdoors. All in addition to the activities within the other exercise subheadings. All my games are outdoors; I love being outside (in the summer) and particularly enjoy the sunrise and the sunset in a peaceful rural setting. If only the majority of the hunting season where I live took place in the summer, my games would be even more fun.
Move Frequently: Our primitive ancestors were organized hunters. They used their highly evolved brains to develop superior tracking skills and activated their fat-burning systems by walking or slowly jogging. Running hard for long distances to chase down prey wasn’t necessary or conducive to survival. Doing so would have depleted valuable energy reserves, increased glucose metabolism tenfold, and hastened our ancestors’ demise. In this same manner, a pattern of chronic cardio workouts (sustained aerobic activity above your maximum aerobic heart rate) triggers excessive stress hormone production, anaerobic metabolism with glucose as the primary energy source, and lactate accumulation in the bloodstream. The Movin frequently entails a broad approach of finding ways to move more throughout everyday life, conducting structured aerobic workouts (cardio machines, hiking, swimming, cycling, walking/jogging/running depending on your fitness level) at or below your maximum aerobic heart rate of 180-age, and adding complementary flexibility/mobility endeavors such as yoga, Pilates, tai chi, gymnastics, mobility/rehab drills, and properly conducted stretching exercise. Perhaps of utmost importance are not structured workouts, but just becoming more active in daily life. Taking five- or ten-minutes breaks from your work desk to climb some stairs or stroll the courtyard, switching back and forth from standup to sit-down desks at work, doing some simple squats or stretches while you watch TV, taking the dog for stroll around the neighborhood each evening, parking your car at the other end of the parking lot on shopping trips–these endeavors and activity mindset add up big time over the long-term.
Lift Heavy Things: Our primal ancestors developed muscle tone with functional activities, such as lifting big rocks to build shelters or carrying the large game back to camp. Our bodies likewise thrive with high-intensity, short-duration, functional full-body movements that stimulate lean muscle development by triggering a biochemical signal in the relevant muscle
For many, strength training can seem too complex and intimidating, particularly in fitness club environments populated by hard-core enthusiasts. Even following a circuit of machines can seem confusing and intimidating in comparison to mounting a bike or elliptical trainer and watching the television screen while the desired 30 minutes transpire. The Primal Essential Movements allow for easy integration of strength training into one’s routine if it is currently lacking. There are many other approved methods of strength training, such as gym machines, free weights, specialized resistance equipment such as Bow-Flex and other home gyms, or expert-guided boot camps and Crossfit workouts.
This fitness philosophy prioritizes the “brief, intense” concept for strength training, and allows for extensive flexibility for workout specifics based on personal preference. The Primal Essential Movements aim to make strength training simple, safe, and appealing to exercisers of all ability levels.
Full body resistance exercises: These Primal exercises are four of the most simple and effective exercises ever known to mankind: pushups, pull-ups, squats, and planks. Collectively, these exercises work all the muscles in your body and promote functional fitness for a broad application of athletic and daily life activities. These are representative of the movements our bodies have executed (in some semblance or another) on a daily, near-constant basis to promote survival for over two million years. The exercises can be done virtually anywhere with no equipment (save a bar for pull-ups), with no expert guidance or knowledge required, and with little injury risk when done properly.
A full training session might be made up of two to three sets of maximum repetitions for each exercise (with rest intervals between 30 and 60 seconds), while an abbreviated session might include one to two sets of each exercise
I am not going to go into detail here about assessing your skill level and strength, and how you can work up from zero to full competence. My objective here is to introduce you to the topic then I will go into exhaustive detail in other forms of media and work one on one with coaching clients.
The essential exercises are broken down as follows by male and female and represent one set of maximum effort. These baselines are a target, not a starting point, as less than 1% of the population can complete these tasks leave alone starting out there.
- 50 Baseline Pushups
- 12 Baseline Overhand Grip Pull-ups
- 50 Baseline Squats
- 2-minute hold of Baseline Forearm/Feet Plank
- 20 Baseline Pushups
- 5 Baseline Overhand Grip Pull-ups
- 50 Baseline Squats
- 2-minute hold of Baseline Forearm/Feet Plank
Essential Oils can play a large role in Exercise and recovery.
Respiratory: Arborvitae, Black Spruce, Cardamon, Cederwood, Clove, Eucalyptus, Hinoki, Lemon, Lemon Eucalyptus, Lemon Myrtle, Lime, Litsea, Manuka, Melaleuca, Oregano, Peppermint, Pink pepper, Rosemary, Siberian Fir, Star Anise, White Fir, Zendocrine
Muscle/Skeletal: Basil, Black Pepper, Black Spruce, Celery Seed, Copaiba, Cypress, Deep Blue, Douglas fir, Helichrysum, Lemon Myrtle, lemongrass, Manuka, Majoram, Melaleuca, Oregano, Patchouli, Peppermint, Sandalwood, Siberian Fir, Thyme, Serenity, Wintergreen.
Note: Many different oils are listed above. While they are all relevant, nobody would ever use them all. If you are a Be Lean For Life Coaching client you may have the oils personally mapped to your specific requirement based on data collected during the coaching program.