Friday, April 15, 2011

How to train naturally

Continuing the previous article, today we will show ways to make our training more natural. As we have said many times in the past, exercising should be divided in two parts: aerobic (running) and anaerobic (weights).

Running – as well as speedwalking – is a natural activity in and of itself. However, there is a way to make it even more so: run in natural surroundings (forests, parks, beaches) wearing shoes with minimum sole (ideally, no shoes at all).

As far as weight training is concerned, surely lifting and carrying heavy objects is natural, however not in the form used today (barbells and dumbbells). These weights are completely balanced and symmetrical, and thus don’t transfer fully to the real world. But there are ways to make this part of our training more natural, too:

1. Weight train in natural surroundings without shoes.
2. Utilize bodyweight exercises: pull-ups, dips, squats.
3. Lift natural loads: stones, rocks, logs, water-filled containers.
4. Push, drag, carry.
5. When using barbells and dumbbells, prefer exercises that are close to real-world conditions: deadlifts, squats, overhead presses.

Apart from improved results, these guidelines will make your training healthier and more fun. Good luck!

How to eat naturally

I am reading here a critique on traditional diets, of which I am also a fan. In short, the author criticizes these diets because – in his words – they were based on specific needs and are completely irrelevant to modern conditions.

The second argument is by definition correct, so we will not deal with it. The first one though, while also true, is exactly what gives value to traditional diets.

When we are talking about traditional diets, we are either referring to people that still live in primal tribes or the primal ancestors themselves. In both cases, we have to accept that these people didn’t have many choices. They were eating whatever was available. This meant two things:

1. These people were only eating natural foods - meaning foods that occur in nature.
2. This process went on for so long (thousands of years) that this diet – whether we like it or not – became natural for our kind.

In other words: it doesn’t matter why our ancestors ate what they ate. Indeed, they did it because they had no other choice. The important thing is that they passed our genes to us, and thus their diet is natural to us, too. We are not that different from them. We haven’t had the time to change.

And finally, no one (surely not me) will ever suggest you should copy exactly the Masai diet or the Eskimo diet. What you will possibly hear is that we should eat naturally. And that is one big and unquestionable truth. Think about it next time you are faced with a candy bar or potato chips.

It goes without saying that the same issues hold true for exercise too. But this will be the subject of a future article.