The Best Paleo/Primal Exercise Strategy for You

by Gregory
Paleo/Primal Exercise Strategy

So we laid the foundation in the previous article that the majority of mankind’s existence on the planet was prior to the Agricultural Revolution, the domestication of animals, and the consumption of grains.  Our bodies were evolutionarily equipped to ingest and digest food that had existed in nature for millennia (i.e. meat, fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and seeds). As I wrote in the last post the best way to summarize the Paleo diet is “if God didn’t make…don’t eat it!”

Paleo/Primal Exercise Strategy

They didn’t have double-cheeseburgers or ice cream.  In 95% of our existence we became very well adapted in metabolizing these foods; not so much for the products of the Agricultural and later Industrial Revolution (i.e. grains, mass-produced processed foods and sugars, et al).   Paleo kinetics echoes this sentiment.  Move the way our ancestors moved when foraging for food and hunting prey.  So let’s talk about best Paleo/Primal Exercise Strategy for you.  They evolved to excel at the following:

Walk an inordinate amount of distance.

Cavemen walked and walked and walked like they were the proto-Forest Gump.  They walked for large distances daily looking for food, evading malevolent tribes, and hunting for game.  Connected to intermittent fasting (which I will discuss at a future time), our metabolism handled with ease not eating for several hours if not days.  When the glucose reserves of the liver and body were exhausted the body switched to burning fat in the form of ketones.  The old idea of needing to consume 6 small meals a day or my metabolism will slow down contradicts evolutionary biology.

I could right now walk from Wanderer, Backpack, Hike, Away, PathSan Antonio to Houston with no problem assuming I was well-hydrated and well-rested.  Moreover, maintaining an aerobic low-intensity cardio workout where are heart rate remains below 180 beats per minute –  your age keeps us burning fat.  When our heart rate exceeds that threshold we begin to burn glucose and eventually release cortisol, our stress hormone, which then begins a cascading deleterious effect on the body.

Translate to today: Walk…walk….walk.  Early morning 20 minute walk to prepare your mind for the day….a short walk during your lunch break….a relaxing cool walk prior to sleep.  Hiking, biking, rowing, gardening are all fine as well.   This composes the 2nd part of my mantra “Move the body.”  Let’s talk about another Paleo/Primal Exercise Strategy for you.

{Read our article on the importance of intermittent fasting.}


So our crusty caveman is walking around ruminating on the meaning of life when he is accosted by a large, angry animal.  Time to run!!!!  Through thousands of years of evolution he is able to activate his “fight-or-flight” hormone and run as fast as possible to evade predators.  After outrunning it (or unfortunately going to meet the “Great Clan Bear” in the sky), he returns back to normal: walk…walk…walk.  Cortisol and adrenaline gave him the ability to run at great capacity for a short amount of time.

Running, Runner, Long Distance, FitnessTranslate to today:  Sprint as fast as you can for about 10 seconds, rest until your heart rate returns to near-normal levels, and sprint again.  Do this only about 5 times.  Sprinting unleashes a beneficial and somewhat hormetic effect on the body by releasing growth hormones, testosterone, and other enzymes to improve cognition and fat-burning.

The beauty of sprinting is that anyone can do it and that you only need to sprint about ONCE A WEEK!  That is it.  That being said if you are very out-of-shape I don’t recommend sprinting immediately.  Start with the low-exerting cardio mentioned earlier until you are ready to “run like the wind.”  (I will discuss the fine mechanics of sprinting in the future.)

So which is the Paleo/Primal Exercise Strategy for you?  The more important take-away is that long-term hard-cardio is harmful to your body.  This is so hard to inculcate into the minds of marathon runners because they enjoy the dopamine-high of a run.  Our bodies are not equipped evolutionarily-speaking to run long distances at a high pace.

Once you sustain your heart rate above 180 beats per minute – your age, cortisol will be released.  Cortisol is beneficial and much needed in fight-or-flight situations, but harmful when being released constantly either due to “chronic cardio,” poor sleeping, or stress.  And ironically speaking it prevents you from burning those last 10-15 lbs. of fat.  Please stop going to the gym every day to run three (3) miles as fast as you can.  It is goes against millennia of genetic programming.

{Read our article on Items to Purge From Your House Now.}

Lift but lift hard and fast!

Our stone age ancestors didn’t have bulldozers.  They had to lift everything on their own, but surprisingly most anthropologists and evolutionary biologists believeFitness, Weight, Dumbbellthey were not doing it all the time.  Remember, most of their time was spent looking for food, but when they lifted things they did so in a swift manner.  We are all equipped to lift heavy objects, but not necessarily all day.

Translate to today:  Paleo/Primal Exercise Strategy for you involves lifting.  Lifting is pretty controversial these days.  While many are now transitioning to a more Paleo-aligned diet, the majority of trainers still preach the lift many-hours-a-day, 6 days-a-week to build muscle.  If properly done, you will guild bulky, but that in itself is going against our prehistoric DNA.  We are meant to be lean and athletically fit.

Anecdotally, this reminds me of a study I came upon a few years ago.  It surveyed women from all reaches of the globe and showed them pictures of attractive in-shape men.  The outcome was that women are more attractive to the “soccer player” physique of lean and muscular than the fully-bulked up look.  I think this hearkens back to our Paleolithic DNA.  Hulky men could certainly lift, but they didn’t have the endurance to walk long distances or sprint as well as others.

{Read our article on most-pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables.}

Now lifting is not my forte so I will defer to Marc Sisson and the Primal plan.  Lift 2-3x week, focus on the high-weight, low-reps to shock the body to release the growth hormone and testosterone, and focus always on the Core exercises (planks, push-ups, squats, and pull-ups). Your lifting should NOT exceed more than 45 minutes in length.  Long gone are the hours in the gym.   Use that free time to shock the body in other, more fun ways! This is the best Paleo/Primal Exercise Strategy for you!

Hot…and cold.

To quote Katy Perry, it is time to undulate on the temperature pendulum.    Take a very cold shower, take a walk with minimal clothing on a very cold night, try cryotherapy (future blog).  Conversely, get hot very fast.  My personal favorite and something that I could not live without is the steam room.  My local Y has one and to be honest it is main reason I keep my membership (aside from free child care!).  Steaming releases toxins that we accumulate throughout the day and raises our temperature.  There is a Chinese adage that is roughly translated to “If you are not sweating, you are dying.”  Trust me…it will take some time to become acclimated, but once you adjust you will love it.

Women, Model, Sauna, Beauty, Girl

In conclusion the body likes to be shocked, either in the form of heavy, heavy lifting or dropping to the ground to do as many push-ups or planks as you can, or climbing the stairs to get to your office job.   A sedentary lifestyle dramatically increases your chances of acquiring a malady.  The new fad saying is “Sitting is the new smoking” so get off the derriere, move as much as you can throughout the day (treadmill desk anyone?), sprint once a week, and lift very heavy things.

Reach out to me and let me help you achieve your goals.  I hope this Paleo/Primal Exercise Strategy article was great for you.

Subscribe to my podcast here.  Read my weight loss back story here.

A. Gregory Luna

San Antonio, TX.

Shock the body….move the body!

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Ron January 21, 2017 - 3:00 AM

When it comes to sprinting does it have to be running?

A. Gregory Luna January 28, 2017 - 10:53 PM

No, rowing or cycling is great too!!

Mack Sandoval February 6, 2017 - 3:20 PM

Controversial stuff…so no running aside from sprinting? That goes against the common talk of exercise.

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