Methods of Paleo Training: Walking

encinomanWe are defined as a species by walking, as being upright on two legs allowed for our evolution into Homo-Sapiens. Our ancestors were primarily hunter gatherers, following herds of animals around the high-lands and low-lands. This required a slow paced movement as we would typically travel with everything that we owned. This travel, along with daily tasks like gathering and collecting, promoted our ancestors walking the distances of approximately 5-10 miles per day, and in some cultures further.

I really like Mark Sisson’s approach to movement/primal fitness in which he suggests to move slow frequently, lift heavy things and sprint here and there. “Moving slow frequently” or walking is probably the most primal thing we can do towards achieving a weight-loss goal, or reducing body fat. In this day and age we have so many wonderful modes of transportation that walking can sometimes be overlooked, as driving is so much quicker and easier.

I typically use walking as the primary source for cardio with my clients that have a weight loss goal. It is extremely low impact which is much appreciated by our joints. Also, based off of Respiratory Quotient (RQ) studies, in lower intensities of cardiovascular work, our body uses more fuel from our fat. I would typically program 3-4 days a week of a scheduled walk, whether that be in the gym on a treadmill, or outside enjoying nature. When my clients use a treadmill I typically tell them to increase the incline to 6-12% and maintain a pace of 2.5-3.5 mph, depending on ability. This will increase the heart rate into the 120-160 beats per minute which is great for the cardiorespiratory system and for fat loss. Sustaining this intensity for 30-60 minutes is recommended. When my clients walk outside I encourage them to keep a brisk pace for that 30-60 minutes and suggest they wear a heart rate monitor to ensure their heart rate is elevated into that 120-160 bpm range.

I assume all of you know what walking looks like so I put this video up because its awesome.

By Eddie Lester

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Methods of Paleo Training: Swinging

med ball

Swinging objects is deep rooted in our ancestral history. Our ancestors were smart and they realized using tools to perform specific tasks would help ensure survival and promote well being. During combat situations we would typically swing objects at our opponent to give us the upper hand in protecting ourselves. In hunting situations we might swing an object to make a kill. We may use the object like a spear and jab at the prey or potentially swing the object to contact the head of the animal. Sometimes even while gathering we might swing a stick to dislodge high fruits. We might also rotationally swing a projectile, like a rock, with contacting an animal or object being the goal. Swinging requires an immense level of core strength and stabilization which, for our ancestors, may have prevented some of the low back pain our current society suffers from. It also requires power, as typically the harder and faster you swing, the more efficient you were at the given task. This combination of uses, allowed our ancestors to have strong stabilizer muscles of the core including Transverse Abdominus, Internal and External Obliques, Quadratus Lumborum, Multifidus, and Erector Spinae, leading them to injury prevention and optimal performance in survival tasks.

Swinging can be used in your training to improve your core strength and stability, while at the same time increasing power. It can also be used as a form of cardiovascular conditioning within the parameters of interval training. Before you go out and start swinging something as hard and fast as you can, remember that you must already have a decent amount of core stability to begin with. Swinging is considered a ballistic movement and you should start with a low intensity and low volume before progressing yourself as improvements prevail. Most Swinging is going to be in the transverse plane and promote rotation of the body. This is great, as transverse plane movements are not commonly performed in most exercise programs.

Variations of swinging exercises are determined by the angle at which the swing is performed and the object that is being swung. Remember that the Force-Velocity Curve governs the speed at which you swing; the heavier the object the slower the swing will be and vice-versa. If you are training for quickness and speed in a swing, for something like baseball, a lighter object with a faster swing speed will better promote the goal. If core strength is the goal, use a heavier object, which by law will be moved slower, but will stress the muscles more.

Listed below are new aged exercises which promote the primal act of swinging:

Sledgehammer Swings: The Vertical Wood Chop, Single Arm Swings, Baseball/Rotational Swing

Rotational Medicine Ball Throw

Kettle Bell Swing

Just because it was in the name I had to include it. Although its primal roots may be fewer and far between, it is a great exercise to promote extensional explosivness, total body power and cardiovascular conditioning. (This video is just cause she’s good looking)

All of these exercises are mainly focused on power and force production. They are in the advanced category and should be used by those looking to increase rotational and extensional force and power as well as anyone looking for a tough cardiorespiratory workout. Cheers and swing on!

Eddie Lester

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Methods of Paleo Training: Climbing


Getting to high ground was a crucial element during our evolution. From the mountain-tops to the tree-tops, we would use this tactic to scout the areas in which we lived. Locating game, watching for invaders and rival clans, holding special ceremonies and connecting to our spirituality were some of these uses. Hunter Gatherers even made homes out of high locations to protect themselves, like some clans of the Navajo Tribe from North America. Blah blah blah, but how can climbing impact your fitness?

Muscles used in climbing include wrist/finger flexors, Biceps Brachi, Brachialis, Long head of the Triceps, and most importantly the Latissimus Dorsi. The Lats are the largest muscle in the back and their strength and flexibility can assist with proper posture. Lower body muscles can assist as well, which you will see in the videos.


The most consistent ancesteral climbing relative to our fitness would be bouldering.  Bouldering is the process of climbing up a shear, moderate height cliff or rock. This is typically done without safety gear or at most a foam pad to cushion a fall.

Climb a Tree

Okay maybe we aren’t kids anymore but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun. Make a tree climb an exercise and do a few sets at your local park.

Pull Ups

An in the gym practice for climbing, perform multiple sets pull ups as an ancestral link to climbing. Do them outside and get a tan! Vitamin D!

And Just because some people are really cool…


By Eddie Lester

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Methods of Paleo Training: Lifting


Moving heavy things would have been a must for our ancestors. Lifting rocks, logs, the kill from the hunt and even each other would be an almost everyday activity. Things could be lifted in different ways with the size and shape of the object determining which method would be used. Most daily tasks in the current world focus on working on a computer or sitting which forces our lifiting muscles to relax. This can cause movement impairments like upper cross syndrome with rounded shoulders and forward head and lower crossed syndrome in which our hip flexors shorten and cause low back pain. Lifting an object off the floor can counteract the seated position and develop the posterior chain of the body including the Hamstrings, back extensors, Glutes, Lats and should retractors. When these muscles are developed, they can lead to improved posture and reduced low back pain.

Heavy lifting not only promotes proper posture, but this multi joint, full body exercise has been proven to optimize hormone release which leads to fat loss and muscle gain. Below are exercises that most definitely should be included in your workout/Paleo Training program.

Barbell Deadlift:

The deadlift is my go to exercise for the office dweller. Only a few heavy repetitions can offset a whole day’s worth of sitting. Yes, our ancestors did not have barbells and weight plates, but the ability to keep an object as close to the body as possible while lifting reduces the risk of injury, therefore safety wins. After a proper warm up, including movement preparation and activation of the core muscles, get into a squat position and wrap your hands around the barbell. Maintain a straight back while equally extending the spine with the hips and knees.

Single Arm Deadlift:

By choosing the single arm deadlift you are engaging a lot more of the lateral core stabilizers such as the Internal and External Obliques, Quadratus Lumborum and Multifidus. You can choose a Kettle Bell, Dumbbell or any other item that has a handle. Make sure you do even reps on both sides.

If you are looking to get more primal and lift other objects check out the videos below:

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Posted by Eddie Lester

Methods of Paleo Training: Carrying

Methods of Paleo Training: Carrying


Carrying was what we had to do to transport all items in the paleolithic era. We needed a way to move our everyday items such as rocks, firewood, shrubbery and the kill from the hunt. We didn’t have a car or bicycle that would transport these items. Some argue we might have used domesticated animals to transport items, but most scientists agree that we did not domesticate animals until the beginning of the Neolithic era. We did however use different forms of devices in which made us able to carry more or carry more efficiently. The devices we had ranged from animal skin bags to baskets, and even sticks. The distance in which we had to carry items ranged from hundreds of feet to miles. We can use this simple act of carrying to improve our fitness levels. Below are some examples of training that I use to develop a primal body.

The Farmer’s Walk

Assuming the name you may think that this one stems from the Neolithic farmer (not funny I know), but as a paleolithic human this would have been the way we transport many things. Farmer’s Walks are a great core exercise and also, when programmed accordingly, develops strength endurance as well. I typically use this exercise within a circuit having my clients walk for 30 seconds, as fast as can be controlled, with around five to ten sets. This exercise can be done carrying dumbbells, kettle bells or custom bars that are heavy enough challenge grip and posture. Retracted shoulder blades and a neutral spine are vital to ensure you avoid injury and promote proper exercise technique.

Briefcase Carry

This exercise is basically a unilateral farmers walk or carrying only one dumbbell. It can challenge your core to counteract the force pulling you down on one side. The main thing you have to ensure is that you maintain a neutral spine. You do not want to be walking with a slight lean as the purpose is to use your Obliques, Quadratus Lumborum and Transverse Abdominus to stabilize the spine. A similar repetition and set protocol would be used, but be sure to balance out both sides.

Sandbag Carry

There are many different variations to a sandbag carry. My go-to exercises include the bear hug, overhead carry and rack position carry. I tend to use a sand bag for these types of carries as they are safer. The same rules apply to posture, programming and technique as with the above carries. The weight you use will depend on ability level but I recommend you strive to challenge your body.

Carrying can be a great addition to your workout regimen to strengthen the core in a functional manner. Not only does a strong core look good but it protects the spine and reduces the likelihood of injury. Now go out there and carry the weight of your ancestors!

Eddie Lester

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Methods of Paleo Training: Fighting

Methods of Paleo Training: Fighting

As a person who runs I figured I should probably include some methods of Paleo Training I promote. This is the first in a series of blogs in which I analyze the ways in which our ancestors could have achieved their ultimate fitness goal, survival. I am defining Paleo Training as the daily lifestyle activities, challenges and encounters a person living in the Paleolithic Era might have had to face. Without these basic skills, survival would have been difficult to damn near impossible. Using these methods you can train like our ancestors to help you achieve your fitness goals.

The first method I have chosen to discuss is Fighting.

Fighting is extremely innate to all creatures in the animal kingdom. Many animals use fighting as a way to show dominance over another. Others use it to choose a more dominant partner in mating rituals, ensuring the most optimal genes for the survival of their species. Invasions from other groups would leave a paleolith no option but to protect by engaging. Strength, power, accuracy and other variables would decide if you win and survive or lose and die.


Like most animals, training to fight was practiced at a young age in the form of play. If you win, you establish dominance and gain respect from others. If you lose, you train to improve your chances in another bout. This early practice would become extremely useful as more serious confrontations would occur throughout life. This primal act mimics a method of training that closely resembles Jujitsu. Jujitsu, originating in Japan, has taken on many forms as it has been passed down from each generation. According to the scholars, “Evidence that Jujitsu prevailed in Japan in ancient times is indicated by an incident, which occurred in 24 B. C., when the Emperor Suinin ordered two strong men named Sukune and Kuehaya to wrestle in his presence. This struggle to test the strength and courage of the two ancient giants consisted mainly of kicking, hitting, and gouging”. Jujitsu techniques have made it in to different martial arts and is currently helping MMA fighters perfect submission techniques like the Arm Bar, Ankle Lock and Guillotine Choke. Specifically the sport of Jujitsu can be used for the goals of achieving cardiovascular conditioning, strength, strength endurance and power. It is also extremely fun, challenging and can help you take out aggression and reduce stress.


Our fists are our most used weapon. The simple act of balling your fist together indicates aggression and is meant to intimidate a peer or rival. Before tools were widely used our ancestors had to rely on the fist to deal with combative situations. With a punch or swing of the fist we could inflict a blow that would leave our enemy dazed, allowing us to finish the job or escape harm. As throwing punches may not have been a repetitive occurrence like it is in boxing today, we can still use this action to condition our bodies. One way that I incorporate boxing into my clients workouts is to use it in interval training. With 30 seconds of maximum effort work hitting my mitts, followed by a 30 second rest, five to ten rounds leaves you spent. Boxing can be used for goals of cardiovascular conditioning, power and quickness. Boxing is also a stress reliever and can help you take out your primal aggression.

Adding some primal training to your program is fun and can really benefit your progress when looking to achieve your fitness goals.


Eddie Lester

Check out other Methods of Paleo Training:

Vertical Jump Program

Check out my new video on one of my programs to increase vertical jump height.

5 Rounds of 4 Exercises with 30-60s rest in between sets.
1 Rep Max Deadlift
3 Rep Power Clean (near max weight)
1 Rep Max Squat
3 Rep Box Jump (near max height)

Open and Closed Kinetic Chain Movements

This week’s health tip is about learning to choose exercises.

The selection of exercise should be based on movement patterns rather than individual muscles or muscle groups.  Movement patterns or exercises can be classified as occurring in an open or closed chain kinetic chain.

What is open and closed chain exercises?

Open Chain Exercises:

  1. Distal segment moves in space.
  2. Independent joint movement; no predictable joint motion in adjacent joints.
  3. Movement of body segments only distal to the moving joint.
  4. Muscle activation occurs predominantly in the prime mover and is isolated to muscles of the moving joint.
  5. Typically performed in non weight-bearing positions.
  6. Resistance is applied to the moving distal segment.
  7. Use to external rotary loading.
  8. External stabilization (manually or with equipment) usually required.

Closed Chain Exercises:

  1. Distal segment remains stationary (fixed in place)
  2. Interdependent joint movement; relatively predictable movement patterns in adjacent joints
  3. Movement of body segments may occur distal and/or proximal to the moving point
  4. Muscle activation occurs in multiple muscle groups, both distal and proximal to the moving joint
  5. Muscle activation occurs in weight-bearing positions
  6. Resistance is applied simultaneously to multiple moving segments
  7. Use of axel loading
  8. Internal stabilization by means of muscle action, joint compression, and congruency and postural control

For example, looking at the photo below.  The movement is the same but the left picture (a squat) is closed chain and the right picture (leg press) is open chain.

All movements can be open or closed chain.  The key is to train what is functional to you.

Let’s bring back the example above.  The squat is more functional because most individuals will be doing this movement everyday.  You sit down.  You pick something up from the floor.  Every time you go to the bathroom, you squat first to sit on the toilet.

And now let’s examine the leg press. How does the leg press exercise carry to real life situation and how often?  Perhaps, sitting down and pushing an object away.  This will probably happen once a week.

In this example, you will want to pick the squat as part of your exercise routine.

Most upper body movement will be open chain exercises and lower body will be closed chain exercises due to functionality.   Therefore, pick exercises based on movement patterns and make sure they are functional.

Author: Alicia Fong