RUN LIKE A CAVEMAN
A look at caveman training, the Paleo diet of workouts.
Lebanese men are no strangers to the gym. With bodybuilding culture so prevalent in Beirut, trainers are constantly looking for new ways to challenge clients who are in continual pursuit of better abs and bigger biceps.
To do this requires the constant changing up of routines. “Functional” training has been de rigeur for years, which is as it sounds – exercising the body for use in everyday life, targeting the core muscles of the lower back and abdomen using a mixture of bodyweight exercises and cardio. “‘If you do one hour of training on the elliptical, you can still walk out of the house and break your neck,” says Jad Jaber, co-founder of Beirut-based fitness consultancy Tan and Train. ‘The idea of functional training is that it can help you in the way you run, the way you walk and your day-to-day living.” Jaber reveals that recently, however, more of his clients have begun to inquire about something called caveman training, which has its roots in functional training and is similar to the ever-popular Crossfit.
This is all down to the fact that everyday life in 2015 is no longer as challenging as it was, say, a 100,000 years ago, and the fitness industry is responding accordingly. Cavemen and women didn’t have the luxury of taking escalators into shopping malls or ordering meals online – they were too busy running away from saber-toothed tigers and climbing up trees to forage their food. This is the notion of caveman training, which is based on primal movements such as jumping, swimming, crawling, running, rolling, climbing, fighting and lifting, jolting us out of our static lifestyles and getting us back to our prehistoric roots. The outdoors becomes the gym; logs take the place of barbells; high-intensity cross-country sprints displace the treadmill; and star jumps are superseded by animal movements like frog jumps. Even walking around barefoot can help to strengthen muscles in your feet.
While one of the great things about caveman training is that it doesn’t require a gym membership, you may need some professional guidance, and it’s more likely to benefit those already in good shape. “If you have a weak core, don’t get into such training, because you’ll immediately get into lower back injuries and God knows what,” advises Jaber.
Several companies are, however, cropping up to provide these “transformational fitness courses,” including Wild Fitness, which holds courses in Kenya and Andalucia. These boot camps seek to foster a corresponding mindset of curiosity, honing instincts to ensure we move with purpose. Nutrition, too, is addressed – the already-popular Paleo diet propagates a “hunter-gatherer” menu based on seafood, meat, seeds, fruits and nuts that compliment this return to primitive form.
While it’s not for everyone, there’s no denying that Lebanon’s rugged mountains provide the perfect backdrop for this sort of training. And if you happen to see a woolly mammoth charging at you the next time you’re shopping in the Souks, you’ll have the benefit of being quicker on your feet than most.