5 Fundamentals of Caveman Fitness

Read time: 2.5 minutes

A hundred thousand years ago, we didn’t have programmable Stair Masters, chrome-plated dumbbells, and neon-lit health clubs. And we didn’t have exercise program designs, heart moitors, and one-rep-max percentages. We didn’t stand around discussing frequency, volume, and intensity. Sets and reps — are you kidding? The abacus wasn’t invented for another 98,000 years!

1 cave artWe had just the land, and a job to do. And it was pretty simple: We moved… to live and to play. We had no need for barbells, pulleys, cams, and motorized machines. Yet we stayed in better shape than 67% of current tribal America. And that’s from just using sticks and stones and our own two feet in the backyard of Mother Earth.

If we break down our caveman fitness program, then the bare bone would comprise 5 critical Fundamentals:

  • Pick something up from the ground
  • Put something over your head
  • Throw something
  • Run
  • Jump

Any modern fitness routine that’s worth your time should include all 5 Fundamentals. Here’s brief explanation for each:

1 lifting from ground1. Pick something up from the ground.

This can be lifting a stone, a box, a child, or anything reasonably heavy to you. This can be even your own body weight, as well as formal exercise equipment like barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells.

1 lifting overhead2. Put something over your head.

Lift or heave a weight over your head. It could be a stone, a suitcase, or even a playful child. You can even do handstand pushups (with your feet propped against a wall to brace for balance). Formal gym equipment? Be my guest. Just put it over your head.

1 throwing3. Throw something.

Again, it can be a stone. Or a rock. Or a kettlebell. But not a child. Throw the object for distance, or go for height. Or just slam it to the ground. Use two arms for heavy stuff, one for lighter. (Just don’t break your toe or someone else’s.)

1 running4. Run.

This is basic motor skill. But if you’re not conditioned to run, then walk. Build up to running shorter distances, and then extend the run a little farther each time (even if that means only a half a block). You don’t have to run great distances. Just run for a while, anywhere from a block up to a couple of miles will be plenty. No reason to do a marathon and suffer a greater risk for orthopedic injuries and inflammation. Sprint, too, repetitively for shorter distances — nothing longer than 100 meters. If you can’t catch that “buffalo” taxi, then grab the next one that comes along.

1 jumping5. Jump.

Jump over puddles. Jump in the grass. Jump onto steps, curbs, ledges, or sturdy boxes. This is a demonstration of power, not just for the legs but for the entire body — arms, shoulders, and trunk.

Note: Do the above activities with all-out maximum effort — either in maximum weight, speed, or number of repetitions. Mix it up. Do them with sound technique. Stop when you’re too tired to maintain form (when fatigue sets in and degrades form, your likelihood for injuries increases dramatically!). Do these things randomly, 2 to 4 days a week. On rest days, go for a nice walk and enjoy the sun, the rain, or even the snow. The modern world isolates us from nature too much, leaving us not only with vitamin D deficiency but also with a sensory loss of nature, our original home.

Get out there and keep it simple!

What have you been doing for your fitness and well-being outside of a gym? Share it in the comment section!

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