How to do Fast Exercise

The essence of Fast Exercise is intensity; short bursts of intense exercise interspersed with longer periods of recovery and rest. Exercise done this way has been shown to be far more effective at helping people lose weight and get fit. But it is about more than simply spending a couple of minutes a day on an exercise bike.

It is part of what I would call, “A Hunter Gatherer Workout”.

Each of us has a deep history. We are the product of thousands of generations of our species, a species that for most of its existence has lived precariously. Life for a caveman or woman was generally nasty, brutish and short.

To keep in shape they didn’t ‘exercise’; they simply did a wide range of different activities that helped ensure that they survived and passed on their genes, eventually, to us. Our bodies and our genes were forged by the demands of the environment in which they, hunter gatherers, lived.

As you’ll discover if you read “Fast Exercise”, there is compelling evidence that a hunter-gatherer approach is also good for our more cosseted bodies.

We need to be active, but not too active. We benefit from short bursts of intense activity and we need rest days to recover or we undo all the good work.

As the authors of ‘Achieving Hunter-gatherer fitness in the 21st Century’, a paper in the American Journal of Medicine, point out:

‘Hunter-gatherers would have likely alternated difficult days with less demanding days when possible. The same pattern of alternating a strenuous workout one day with an easy one the next day produces higher levels of fitness with lower rates of injury… The natural crosstraining that was a mandatory aspect of life as a hunter-gatherer improves performance across many athletic disciplines.’

So what are the characteristics of a Hunter-gatherer Fitness Programme? Well, they include:

  • Short bursts of moderate to high intensity exercise (20 seconds to a minute) interspersed with rest and recovery, 2-3 times a week.
  • Regular sessions of strength and flexibility-building. Hunter-gatherers had to chop wood, climb trees or carry a child around.
  • Ideally do as much exercise as possible outdoors, where you get exposed to sunlight, which gives your skin a chance to generate vitamin D. Although it is called a vitamin, ‘vitamin’ D is actually a hormone, with a far wider range of activity than people had previously imagined. Many of us, particularly those who live in the northern hemisphere, are chronically short of vitamin D.
  • Some people find it much easier to do in a social setting. We are intensely social creatures and doing exercise together is a good way of ensuring that we do it at all.

Fast Exercise comprises Fast Fitness and Fast Strength workouts. In the Fast Exercise book, there is a detailed description of the science and tips on how to keep going. Fast Exercises can be done by themselves or combined with a Fast Diet approach (see thefastdiet.co.uk).

If one of your main goals is to lose weight then a combination of diet and exercise is by far the most effective way to go about it.

We wish you well and hope you will also contribute to the forum, help to make this a vibrant, helpful community where people share their successes and their challenges.

All the best, Michael and Peta