Guest post by Steve Gangemi: Endurance Oriented MovNat Training
Hunter-gatherers were constantly active, alternating hard physical days with less demanding days as often as they could. Their routines were balanced, promoting strength, agility, and aerobic and anaerobic endurance, thereby ensuring that their health remained intact. For the most part, their activity kept them strong and injury-free. It’s most likely that the majority of hunter-gatherers were already “well conditioned,” having developed strong cardiovascular and neuromuscular systems as soon as they began to crawl as an infant. This type of optimal physical development is a far cry from that of modern man. “Well conditioned” people are, well, hard to come by. The typical unhealthy individual of today’s human zoo trains inconsistently, and often improperly, either by pushing their body too hard, too soon or because they lack the skills to move efficiently in order to reduce chance of injury. MovNat skills can enhance not only an individual’s fitness-related conditioning, but also their health, as the skills required focus and promote neurological enhancement. Frequency, duration, and intensity of any MovNat skill can be tailored to every sport and every individual regardless of their current fitness level.
Many individuals have a poor understanding of their current level of fitness, and many more are impatient to take the time required to develop fitness properly; so as a result, their health quickly suffers when starting a new fitness or conditioning program. They quickly increase the amount of workload they think their body is able to handle at a given time, perhaps by running too far, or too fast, or lifting something too heavy or too often, and fail to allow themselves sufficient time to recover from the workout properly. In essence, they become “overtrained” even with very little training, and eventually succumb to sickness or injury as their body cannot recover adequately from the work demand and stress they have put on it. In a nutshell, training like a hunter-gatherer requires that you listen to your body by not only training properly, but also by recovering properly so both your health and fitness improve together.
MovNat is a system for everybody – young or old, fit or unfit. Health and fitness will improve as you move through the various innate skills and natural movement patterns we are all born with. Although any type of MovNat training is beneficial, ideally it should be scaled to your individual ability and goals for it to be most effective. For example, if your fitness level is very low and especially if you are suffering from health problems, the skills you should be developing should be adjusted to that current level of fitness. Balancing, walking barefoot, and crawling may be the ideal way for you to start to develop your fitness and improve your health. If you’re already well-conditioned and in good health, then the skills and movements you can perform can obviously be at a more advanced level.
Whatever level you are currently at, careful consideration should be made to keep balance within your body, specifically the balance of your health and well being. It is easy to get caught up in doing too much, too quickly when you’re having fun and seeing progress in your health and fitness. For instance, MovNat can be a highly anaerobic activity if the skills are performed at a high intensity level, regardless of if the skill is more akin to a traditional strength movement or a traditional endurance movement. However, the practice of MovNat can also be highly aerobic if the cardiovascular intensity is lowered or if the load is lightened, and even remain aerobic and develop strength with skills such as performing a series of jumps followed by carrying a stone in a farmer’s walk fashion. This is why you can, and ideally should, train your entire body every day if you adjust the intensity, duration, and frequency to optimize growth and repair as the hunter-gatherers did.
Since MovNat incorporates various forms of aerobic and anaerobic training to allow for optimal and balanced results, you have to adjust your practice to fit your current level of health and fitness – too much, too fast and you will pay the price with injury or illness. Scale the training for your own unique, current level of health and fitness in order to optimize your training results. If you’re just starting out, focus on lower intensity endurance and strength skills and keep the high intensity running and very heavy lifting to a minimum – only increasing as your fitness improves.
If you’re more of an endurance athlete as I am, then your focus will be more towards conditioning through longer duration workouts rather than a strength orientated athlete who will want to focus on skills such as lifting and carrying with a shorter duration of endurance. For instance, one day you may do a long run with a bit of crawling and balancing, and the next day run a shorter distance, but at a higher intensity with perhaps some lifting and carrying. The important thing to remember is the intensity and duration of each activity, as these two factors play very important roles in the balanced development of health and fitness. When training is performed properly, health and fitness improve; performed improperly, health and fitness suffer as a result of the body’s inability to recover and adapt to the stress you impose on it. MovNat is very beneficial for an endurance athlete not just because of the components of aerobic conditioning present in the drills, but also due to the positive neuromuscular conditioning effects that lead to efficiency of movement, resulting in such benefits as a lower heart rate response, decreased metabolic demands, and improved proprioception. A more efficient athlete!
The accompanying video is a type of MovNat combo geared more towards endurance athletes as the skills performed will help enhance overall endurance conditioning due to the long duration and constant, non-stop movement patterns used throughout the combo. With most endurance activity, as the duration increases, the difficulty increases, and the body will shift from more aerobic energy pathways to pathways that are more anaerobic, depending on how intensely you perform the skills and your current fitness level. About the time where you notice poor technique is where you can be assured you’re pushing your body too much, and you need to slow down, change a skill, or stop, as the risk for injury as well as the stress on your body will now outweigh the benefits of the activity. Adjust and adapt accordingly and remember that balance is the key regardless of your current ability or fitness regime.