Are Caveman Workouts Safe for the Obese?

a very fat caveman is looking at weights to make some exercise
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Obesity should not stop you from experiencing strenuous workouts, even though obesity probably didn’t exist in prehistoric times.

If you’re obese and think that this exempts you from cavemen workouts, keep reading because you are vastly mistaken.

Cavemen workouts may be the best thing an obese man or woman can do for their body, on so many levels. A caveman workout (i.e., a strenuous or intense routine) is based on effort, not performance.

Confusing performance with effort is where many people go wrong. Look at it this way: Who’s doing the caveman workout?

A 130-pound woman jogging 7 mph for 10 minutes nonstop, heart rate elevated but steady.

A 250-pound woman walking 4 mph up a hill for only 30 seconds to the point of sheer exhaustion, slowly walking back down to recover, and repeating this cycle five more times, each time feeling pummeled at the top of the hill.

Both women spend 10 minutes exercising, but only one is doing a caveman workout: The obese woman!

Think about it. Of these two woman, who suffers and struggles more during those 10 minutes? The obese woman. The thinner woman, despite elevated heart rate, simply breezes through that 10-minute, 7-mph jog.

The very overweight exerciser endures a punishing workout, even though the speed is much slower, and even though total exertion time is only three minutes.

Though her movement is much slower than the thinner subject’s, her three-minute-total workout requires far more effort. It’s much easier for a fit, thin woman to jog 7 mph for 10 minutes than it is for a fat, out-of-shape woman to perform high intensity interval training for six, 30-second segments.

The thinner woman feels warmed up at the end of 10 minutes. The overweight, poorly conditioned woman feels battered.

The bigger woman’s effort qualifies as a caveman workout, because ancient people had to rise to extreme action to survive; they had to endure punishing feats of exertion which were short in duration, causing sudden and high elevations of heart rate and then sudden drops in heart rate.

This kind of action spikes production of human growth hormone and testosterone, which are the most powerful natural fat burners. Steady state jogging has only minimal effect on these hormones.

There is nothing unsafe about briskly walking up a hill. This “peak and valley” concept can be applied to a staircase or cardio equipment. It’s perfectly safe for an obese person to pedal furiously on a machine or walk relatively fast on an incline (keep hands off the machine!).

If a heavy individual can jog for only 30-60 seconds, after which he or she reaches exhaustion, this, too, qualifies as strenuous because it achieved exhaustion.

The magic formula: Brief bouts of very high-effort action (after which conversation is impossible due to breathlessness) alternated with 1-3 minutes of easy movement.

The obese person can also benefit from caveman weight workouts that are perfectly safe, especially since they can be done from a seated position.

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