Marolt: Priming the pump for a paleo exercise video
It seems we have made a two-million-year loop with food fads. As with most things trendy, I can’t figure out the craze for the diet of the Paleolithic man. I like a good steak and I think that is certainly one good reason in favor of it, but I’m not convinced on the health benefits. The average life of the paleo man was only about 35 years. One can achieve that nowadays consuming nothing but Pop-Tarts and Big Gulps; a lot of people do.
Be that as it may, while the paleo diet doesn’t guarantee a longer life, there can be no doubt the stone-agers were in good shape. It was survival of the fittest, not the best fed. If you couldn’t launch a stone like a missile, deflect enemies’ spears with your abs and have thighs that pumped like turbo-diesel pistons, you were saber-toothed tiger comfort food. And, if you were at the fitness level it took to live to 35 in those days, undoubtedly you looked great in whatever animal skin you wore. So, let’s admit now: The paleo diet is not about health. It’s about fitting into skinny jeans.
But here’s the thing: We all know losing weight and looking great hardly occur by simply changing our diets and never happen permanently, even if you happen to initially lose a few pounds. You can eat all the prime rib and chuck roasts you want, but if you don’t burn more calories than you consume, you have dropped a decimal place in the formula for weight loss.
How about a paleo exercise program, then, to go with the steady diet of bacon and beef jerky? I’m serious. If you want to actually get the body of a paleo (and who doesn’t?), then we should not only eat like cavemen, but workout like them, too.
First of all, dump the endurance exercises. There was no room in the paleo person’s day for jogging. They ran because their lives depended on it. They were either chasing down animals to eat or sprinting away to avoid being eaten. Where is the pacing in that?
Long distance running is it not what man ever needed to survive. Look at nature. You can’t find an animal on the planet that depends on trotting around on the balls of its feet to stay alive. Cheetahs attack. Elephants stampede. When deer and antelope play, they move like gazelles … you know what I mean. One could make the argument that man invented long distance jogging out of laziness. It’s what we digressed to after grocery stores were invented.
So, the paleo workout has to include sprinting. I suggest heading out to the local track and doing 200-yard sprints. Pretend there is a giraffe at the finish line and your tribe hasn’t eaten in a week. Ready? Go!
Now you know what running hard is.
Do this seven times or until you puke, whichever comes second. Go ahead and walk for a couple of minutes between sprints. This is where you would be tracking your dinner before actually trying to catch it.
Next, you have to incorporate some kind of traveling on foot type exercise into your routine. It will be a brisk hike, not a run — just fast enough to keep wild animals from tracking you.
Also, there has to be a purpose, because no prehistoric person ever exposed himself to the dangers of nature just for a good Instagram post. Put 10 to 20 pounds of weight in a backpack; think of it as dried meat from a successful hunt that you are sharing with a friendly tribe an hour’s hike away. Alternatively, carry a 5-pound dumbbell in each hand to simulate weapons or a torch.
Finally, you have to lift weights. Forget a 200-pound bench press. What good would that have done cave people? Nobody went to the beach then for anything but fishing. Instead, lift the heaviest weight you can lift 10 or 15 times in a row. Then take a short break and do it again, and then one more time until you couldn’t lift it again if your life depended on it. The idea is to imitate things like fortifying your shelter, packing meat into a shelf in the cave or covering a food stash with rocks during a volcanic eruption.
Do each of these activities twice a week. On the seventh day, try some yoga. Why? Well, we have learned a few things since the last ice age.
Since beginning his paleo workout routine, Roger Marolt has noticed a definite thickening of the hair on his knuckles. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Artist Tony Lewis will kick off the Anderson Ranch Summer Series on Thursday afternoon with a conversation about the practice of drawing.
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