It’s What the Cavemen did and Other Exercise Fallacies
I sat there watching a guy on Youtube, boxjump, clean, and bearcrawl. No biggie, right? These are all exercises that I use. Put them together, and sweat out a couple rounds.
Except this guy stated in the beginning “Just like the Cavemen did.”
That sentence rings through my brain everytime some uses cavemen to compare their workout.
I get it. It sounds cool, its got a back to basics feel to it. To the person stating this it must feel like a growl of pure courage and exploration of what it means to truly be a human being. Back to our roots. But to the receiver, it sounds like the rattling of trash cans, as it is completely false and unsupported.
Based on what we know about paleolithic man, we know he did not do-
- High Rep Box Jumps
- Olympic Lifting
- Bear Crawls
- Traditional Strength Training
Or anything that would result in something like this:
If you actually want to replicate what the ‘cavemen’ did, go for a run. Although, this is not a universal law to all paleolithic ancestors, observing hunter and gatherer societies show long endurance bouts to attain food during hunts.
What survival benefits does handstand walking provide?
There is a theory that states something along the lines of- Since human beings no longer have the threat of survivability, in which our actions could quickly result in eminent death, we have grown bored and comfortable. Now stupidity, laziness, fatness, and weakness, are allowed to thrive since natural selection can no longer work its magic. So now actions resulting in the picture to the left can be socially accepted since it no longer results in death or threat to the tribe. Decrease the threat of death=good. Increase the rates of stupidity and fatness=bad.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no qualms with handstands, cleans, or bear crawls. I have a problem with the sales pitch.
You might be saying ‘You own a gym called Spartan Fitness, hypocrite!”
True, but never once did I ever sell to someone some bullshit about ‘this is how the Spartan’s trained’. Rather, I like the philosophy, culture, and mindset that embraced the Spartan lifestyle and created a business and fitness methodology influenced by it.
Let’s list out a handful of other completely bullshit sales pitches coaches use to describe their gym or workout that is clearly a fleeting reality-
What you are told: “Training for the Zombie Apocalypse”
What it really means: Training for the end of the world should mostly include real survival techniques, hunting and gathering strategies, purchasing and training in weapons, storing large amounts of food, developing strategies for escape routes, etc. Training for the Zombie Apocalypse does not include you doing airsquats to Journey, or front squatting 1.5x your body weight while wearing cute knee high socks.
What you are told: “Cardio makes you slow to run away(insinuating a battle)”
What it really means: Distance running is a survival technique for hunting tribes to track down wild game. When trained, endurance athletes exhibit both high levels of stamina and power output over long periods of sustained exercise. That is the point. The other problem with this pitch is the concept of battle. What era do you live in? The middle ages? Most of the people sold on this statement probably will never see the likes of combat. Plus, I’d put my money on someone that can endure long bouts of exertion and still maintain power output. This claim typically stems from a bias against endurance athletes/training.
What you are told: “Strength Training makes you harder to kill”
What it really means: Probably not. Professional bodybuilder quantity of muscle tissue may slow down some attempts or reduce the impact of a bullet. But you are insinuating that your barbell snatches and farmer walks will block bullets? Not at all. If the response to that is ‘in hand to hand combat’, strength training does provide some benefits. But, you know whos harder to kill in real life? Boxers, Mixed Martial Artists, Grapplers, etc. Now those guys are harder than a coffin nail. But keep telling your clients that their cute kettlebell swings and burpees to the sounds of 90’s pop tunes will make them practically immortal.
Food for thought, you know what makes someone easier to kill…injuries. Weak spots in their falsified armor.
What you are told: “It’s what they did for 300/Superman/Wolverine”
What it really means: While the 3 months (or however many) prior to filming an actor may go to extreme measures via exercising multiple times per day with a strict, controlled diet, there are other factors at play. Included, but often not discussed, is the actors background and habits prior to film-making, the supplements and PED’s used during training, dehydration during filming, and lighting/special fx. So to heuristically conclude that the actors did this one workout to get the results that you see is more sales than it is fact. Its not fully false, just lacks 90% of the content to actually make a useful conclusion. Therefore, why I haven’t done any of the workouts that actors do for roles (except for the 300 workout, one time, years after the movie came out).
Do yourself a favor next time a coach or trainer tells you something that boosts the workouts cool factor. “Rocky did this workout”. Realize that your coach is selling you on what is popular, trendy, or makes it sound more than it really is. Find yourself a new gym/trainer, one that focuses on science, not punchy fun words.