Tag Archives: resistance training

Speeding Up Your Metabolism | The Paleo Diet

A fast metabolism has wide appeal to modern humans, yet, it is exactly what our hunter-gatherer ancestors avoided to survive during periods of food scarcity. We are genetically designed to store extra calories, so what you feel is a sluggish metabolism, is actually a life saving measure to buy time to find your next meal.

In times of food scarcity (or self-inflicted calorie restriction), insulin-stimulated glucose uptake by tissues is reduced, which prevents the body from relying on protein from muscle tissue as a product for endogenous glucose production.1 This process provided hunter-gatherers the ability to endure famine by retaining more muscle mass to support the physical demands of fleeing from predators and fruitful hunting. Individuals with metabolisms effective at utilizing proteins, carbohydrates and fats have a genetic advantage. When you avoid calorie restriction, you stop encouraging your body to store reserves easily.2

Metabolism isn’t all about burning all of the calories you eat in order to stay thin. It accounts for numerous biochemical reactions that occur in each cell of the body required for basic survival, called basal metabolism. The basal metabolic rate (BMR) accounts for 70% of the calories you need at rest to:

  • circulate blood
  • contract muscles
  • digest food and nutrients
  • maintain body temperature
  • support the functions of the brain and nervous system 3

In addition to BMR, thermogenesis (food processing) and physical activity, determine overall caloric needs. Food processing accounts for 100 calories on average, while physical activity provides the most variability, ranging from 15-35% of your total energy expenditure. BMR slows 3-5% per decade after age 30, which can be attributed to the loss of lean body mass that naturally occurs with age.4

The key to boosting the resting metabolic rate appears linked to the one element we can control: building and maintaining strong skeletal muscles, thus preserving lean body mass.5 In nonobese individuals, skeletal muscle comprises 40% of body weight,6 and can account for 20-30% of the total resting oxygen uptake.7


Researchers found an extra 100 calories per day were burned after 6 months of resistance training.8 Body weight exercises like pushup and pull-ups can be just as effective as lifting weights to stress muscles enough to build strength.9 As a long term strategy, heavy-resistance strength training programs increase resting metabolic rates (RMR) by increasing lean body mass, sympathetic nervous system activity,10 and insulin action.11


Aerobically trained individuals tend to have a higher RMR than those who are untrained.12 An average increase in RMR of 129 calories per day has been shown with cardio exercise 3-5 days per week, for 20-45 minutes, for 16 months.13 Metabolic adaptations associated with traditional aerobic exercise training correlate with improved insulin action14 and glycemic control.15 Insulin resistance is linked to metabolic disorders,16 and performing moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic and resistance exercise for several hours per week can enhance insulin sensitivity.17,18


Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), also called the “after burn effect,” restores the body to its resting state. RMR has been shown to increase for up to 38 hours post-exercise19 contributing to a greater overall calorie expenditure than would be measured without exercise. The EPOC effect is dependent on the intensity and duration of exercise,20 with the greatest effect occurring following high intensity exercise.21 To further boost the overall effect of energy expended post workout, intermittent intervals can be performed throughout the day, as opposed to performing only one continuous period of exercise.22

Physical activity that mimics the movements of hunter-gatherers offers many metabolic advantages, in addition to purely burning calories. Whether your metabolism is fast or slow, you can make vital improvements through a targeted fitness program for optimal performance.



[1] Carey, Andrew L., et al. “Interleukin-6 increases insulin-stimulated glucose disposal in humans and glucose uptake and fatty acid oxidation in vitro via AMP-activated protein kinase.” Diabetes 55.10 (2006): 2688-2697.

[2] Summermatter, Serge, et al. “Thrifty metabolism that favors fat storage after caloric restriction: a role for skeletal muscle phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase activity and AMP-activated protein kinase.” The FASEB Journal 22.3 (2008): 774-785.

[3] Tortora, Gerard J., and Bryan H. Derrickson. Principles of anatomy and physiology. John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

[4] Hunter, Gary R., John P. McCarthy, and Marcas M. Bamman. “Effects of resistance training on older adults.” Sports medicine 34.5 (2004): 329-348.

[5] Wade, 0. L., and J. M. Bishop. 1962. Cardiac Output and Regional Blood Flow. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, UK.

[6] Owen, 0. E., G. A. Reichard, Jr., G. Boden, M. S. Patel, and V. E. Trapp. 1978. Interrelationships among key tissues in the utilization of metabolic substrate. Adv. Mod. Nutr. 2:517-550.

[7] Wade, 0. L., and J. M. Bishop. 1962. Cardiac Output and Regional Blood Flow. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, UK.

[8] resistance training. After 6 months, subjects had increased their RMR and were burning an extra 100 calories per day.

[9] Kraemer, William J., et al. “American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 34.2 (2002): 364-380.

[10] Pratley, R., et al. “Strength training increases resting metabolic rate and norepinephrine levels in healthy 50-to 65-yr-old men.” Journal of Applied Physiology 76.1 (1994): 133-137.

[11] Miller, John P., et al. “Strength training increases insulin action in healthy 50-to 65-yr-old men.” Journal of Applied Physiology 77.3 (1994): 1122-1127.

[12] Poehlman, Eric T., et al. “Resting energy metabolism and cardiovascular disease risk in resistance-trained and aerobically trained males.” Metabolism41.12 (1992): 1351-1360.

[13] Potteiger, Jeffrey A., et al. “Changes in resting metabolic rate and substrate oxidation after 16 months of exercise training in overweight adults.”International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism 18.1 (2008): 79.

[14] Hickey MS, Weidner MD, Gavigan KE, Zheng D, Tyndall GL, Houmard JA: The insulin action-fiber type relationship in humans is muscle group specific.Am J Physiol 1995, 269(1 Pt 1):E150-154

[15] Houmard JA, Egan PC, Neufer PD, Friedman JE, Wheeler WS, Israel RG, Dohm GL: Elevated skeletal muscle glucose transporter levels in exercise-trained middle-aged men.

Am J Physiol 1991, 261(4 Pt 1):E437-443.

[16] Bonora, Enzo, et al. “Prevalence of insulin resistance in metabolic disorders: the Bruneck Study.” Diabetes 47.10 (1998): 1643-1649.

[17] Stiegler, Petra, and Adam Cunliffe. “The role of diet and exercise for the maintenance of fat-free mass and resting metabolic rate during weight loss.”Sports Medicine 36.3 (2006): 239-262.

[18] Babraj, John A., et al. “Extremely short duration high intensity interval training substantially improves insulin action in young healthy males.” BMC Endocrine Disorders 9.1 (2009): 3.

[19] Schuenke, Mark D., Richard P. Mikat, and Jeffrey M. McBride. “Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management.” European Journal of Applied Physiology 86.5 (2002): 411-417.

[20] Schuenke, Mark D., Richard P. Mikat, and Jeffrey M. McBride. “Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management.” European Journal of Applied Physiology 86.5 (2002): 411-417.

[21] Bahr, Roald, and Ole M. Sejersted. “Effect of intensity of exercise on excess postexercise O 2 consumption.” Metabolism 40.8 (1991): 836-841.

[22] Laforgia, Joseph, et al. “Comparison of energy expenditure elevations after submaximal and supramaximal running.” Journal of Applied Physiology 82.2 (1997): 661-666.

Multi-Joint Exercise | The Paleo Diet

You sit at a desk all day. Relax on your couch while watching TV at night. Travel by car or public transit. What are the chances you could improve the physical demands being placed on your body to be more in line with how we were designed to live and move? Pretty good. We know activity was innate to hunter-gatherers to survive and sustain their lifestyle.1 And yet, while these instincts are still coded into our genes, western societies no longer demand the same physical activity.2

The majority of the time we are awake is spent in either sedentary behavior (58%) or light-intensity activity (39%), and only 3% in exercise time.3 The lack of movement in our society plays a significant role in an increased risk for obesity, poor physical fitness, depression, debility, and other disease. 4 Specifically, we are deficient in engaging in functional movements, positions that require more than one group of muscles and work from the core to the extremity. The three basic movements of squatting, lifting heavy objects, and carrying heavy things all require high ranges of joint motion.

In modern day, western society, the threat for survival is slim, comparatively. Nonetheless, these activities build overall strength, increase joint mobility, and can enhance our overall ability to perform essential daily activities as we age.5 6 Successful aging is measured by the physical, psychological, and social success with which adults are able to independently take care of themselves.7 In fact, the elderly in the Kung! hunter-gathers have been described as playful, vigorous and independent.8

Strong muscles help keep weak joints stable, comfortable, and protect them against further damage. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that every exercise should be performed through a full range of motion when engaging in resistance training,9 which allows for strength adaptations to occur at every angle the joint moves through. These movements can potentially reduce injury and maintain flexibility for healthy joint integrity.10

Full range of motion exercises, like a deep squats, help maintain normal joint function by increasing and preserving joint mobility and flexibility.11 Passively sitting on chairs and couches, where we all spend a majority of our time whether at work or at home, completely turns off the functioning of the bones, muscles, and joints. This has biological consequences beyond reducing the strength of our muscles and the health of our joints.12 Physiologically, the loss of local contractile stimulation, induced through sitting, leads to both the suppression of skeletal muscle lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity, which is necessary for triglyceride uptake and HDL-cholesterol production and reduces the uptake of glucose into the skeletal muscle.13 14

It is not uncommon in non-Western cultures for artificial hip and knee transplants to be rejected due to the resulting limited range of motion. Their daily living, compared to ours, involves many postures that require a much higher range of flexion at the joints.15 Even stair ascent and descent has been shown to be ergonomically demanding enough to work the joints of the ankle, knees and hips.16 Kneeling, squatting and sitting cross-legged on the floor are all basic movements we should be able to perform if our bodies are functioning at a healthy capacity.

Hunter-gatherers would not have been able to survive without being able to move completely, without restrictions, in a variety of positions. This same standard of being able to use our bodies to their fullest capacity should still be our goal today. Challenge yourself to break the norm of sitting in a chair throughout the day, and explore the possibilities of what you can do with your body. Get a standing desk, hang from a pull up bar in your door jam, squat, or even carry heavy items periodically throughout the day. Not only will you feel better, your body will thank you.


[1] Platek, Steven M., et al. “Walking the walk to teach the talk: implementing ancestral lifestyle strategies as the newest tool in evolutionary studies.” Evolution: Education and Outreach 4.1 (2011): 41-51.

[2] O’Keefe, James H., et al. “Exercise like a hunter-gatherer: a prescription for organic physical fitness.” Progress in cardiovascular diseases 53.6 (2011): 471-479.

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Data 2003-2004, 2005-2006. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS); 2009-2010. //www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes.htm Accessed November 5 2014.

[4] Eaton SB, Shostak M, Konner M: The first fitness formula. The paleolithic prescription. New York, NY: Harper & Row; 1988.

[5] Penninx, Brenda WJH, et al. “Physical exercise and the prevention of disability in activities of daily living in older persons with osteoarthritis.” Archives of Internal Medicine 161.19 (2001): 2309-2316.

[6] Ericsson, Y. B., L. E. Dahlberg, and E. M. Roos. “Effects of functional exercise training on performance and muscle strength after meniscectomy: a randomized trial.” Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports 19.2 (2009): 156-165.

[7] Dogra, Shilpa, and Liza Stathokostas. “Sedentary behavior and physical activity are independent predictors of successful aging in middle-aged and older adults.” Journal of aging research 2012 (2012).

[8] Biesele, Megan, and Nancy Howell. “The old people give you life”: Aging among! Kung hunter-gatherers.” Other ways of growing old (1981): 77-98.

 [9] Franklin, B.; Whaley, M.; Howley, E.; Balady, G. ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription: Testing and Prescription. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2000

[10] Cotter, Joshua A., et al. “Knee joint kinetics in relation to commonly prescribed squat loads and depths.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 27.7 (2013): 1765-1774.

[11] O’Shea, Pat. “Sports performance series: The parallel squat.” Strength & Conditioning Journal 7.1 (1985): 4-6.

[12] Dunstan, David W., Alicia A. Thorp, and Genevieve N. Healy. “Prolonged sitting: is it a distinct coronary heart disease risk factor?.” Current opinion in cardiology 26.5 (2011): 412-419.

[13] Bey L, Hamilton MT. Suppression of skeletal muscle lipoprotein lipase activity during physical inactivity: a molecular reason to maintain daily low-intensity activity. J Physiol. 2003;551(Pt 2):673–82.

[14] Hamilton MT, Hamilton DG, Zderic TW. Exercise physiology versus inactivity physiology: an essential concept for understanding lipoprotein lipase regulation. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2004;32(4):161–6.

[15] Hemmerich, A., et al. “Hip, knee, and ankle kinematics of high range of motion activities of daily living.” Journal of orthopaedic research 24.4 (2006): 770-781.

[16] Protopapadaki, Anastasia, et al. “Hip, knee, ankle kinematics and kinetics during stair ascent and descent in healthy young individuals.” Clinical Biomechanics 22.2 (2007): 203-210.

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