Paleo Diet & Exercise: A Common Theme

August 8, 2011 — 2 Comments

Reductionism: is this where we went wrong?

[ri-duhk-shuh-niz-uhm] Show IPA
the theory that every complex phenomenon, especially in biology or psychology, can be explained by analyzing the simplest, most basic physical mechanisms that are in operation during the phenomenon.
the practice of simplifying a complex idea, issue, condition, or the like, especially to the point of minimizing, obscuring, or distorting it.

Humans’ analytical minds are amazing, we have and continue to unlock the “secrets” of the universe. More often than not this has allowed us to move forward through time advancing in many areas in life: sciences, technology, medicine, philosophy, etc. And while our advances are impressive, it still is truly daunting to try and understand even a small fraction of what is going on around us. In fact I believe it’s rather arrogant to think that we can analyze and break down all of life’s complexities into small pieces. This is especially true with our bodies, both nutritionally and physiologically. In 2003 the American journal of clinical nutrition “” said the same thing. The idea of focusing on the whole rather than the parts has been realized through a paleo-esque diet which encourages people to just eat real food. Yet the same can’t generally be said for exercise.

Just as a ground up meal of synthetic vitamins, minerals and macronutrients doesn’t add up to the same nutrition as real food, a program of targeted resistance exercise combined with some aerobic conditioning doesn’t add up to a human who actually moves well. This isn’t to say that programs that compartmentalize body parts or capacities are bad-rather that they are lacking the nuances and complexities of moving our body in response to different contexts.

Instead of truly adapting to context, we attempt to create artificial scenarios to address specific goals. Typical Programs are often so focused that they seem blind to all the areas outside of that focus. Strength goals are sought at the expense of mobility and flexibility. Endurance is sought at the expense of strength and power. Capacity is sought at the expense of recovery and hormone levels/health. If one really strives to excel in one area, then they should go for it because goals are important; however, if one really wants to just move comfortably and confidently throughout life they can’t afford to focus on one thing.

Just as we can’t (yet?) reproduce the intricacies of real food, we cannot artificially reproduce all the possibilities of human movement in a static environment. The real test of capability is one’s adaptability. And while some S&C training may translate to ability in certain situations, it doesn’t translate to many others. We must expand our comfort zone and skill sets in varied contexts if we want to truly be capable movers.

Movement capability is sometimes addressed by corrective exercises. These can be fantastic drills to help undo, fix, or reprogram faulty movement patterns and/or missing capability. However, these drills should be a means to head toward full movements in context. This is the same as trying to fix disease with one vitamin or mineral-it may help in one aspect, but you must address the whole diet to elicit real change.

One reason why complex movement is important, it makes us smart. A recent huffington post article discusses this. Children with disabilities are taken through complex movements to stimulate brain development. So I guess I’m saying curls and stationary machines, both cardio and strength, aren’t just boring, they make you dumb.

Get out and move.

2 responses to Paleo Diet & Exercise: A Common Theme


    But life is too short to not do bicep curls! I want to have big arms!

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