Neanderthal hunters walk along the snowy woodland, pine trees scent the air. They are thick-chested with robust thick limbs, eyes on the lookout for any sign of prey. Food is scarce at this time of the year, the tribes hunger rests on their shoulders, and their bellies rumble.
An echo afar halts the group, they crouch down, move in slow and quiet hidden within the canopy. A herd of woolly mammoth grazes in the open prairie, tightly bound to one another.
An adult male feeds the clan for days, yet one slip can cost the hunters their game or worse. Surprise is the path to success, as the beasts are slow to spring, until they pick up enough momentum to trample you.
The hunters creep close enough for the ambush, glance amongst themselves, ready to go.
This article presents the spectrum of human energy systems to help you maximise your fitness efforts. We have separated and specialised both of these functions.
The evolution of man away from our lower apes coincided with our ability to chase and hunt prey. We are made for running longer distances, the selection pressure of being able to run longer distances,we adapted and evolved into our current stature due to this.
We moved away from living in trees and back onto the land. Back on to the savanna being able to chase prey over those long plains distances. Being able to cover large distances and run provided those proto-humans with a selection advantage and continues to impact our life today.
Bipedalism arose, and then the competition between humans of those who could run better lead to intra species selection. Those humans who could spend a longer time hunting, were seen as more fit, as people got more fit in this regard, it initiated a feedback loop, being able to hunt longer distances.
The more slender homo sapien, with better thermoregulation, for better heat dissipation versus the neanderthal which was more suited to colder climates and powerful efforts.
Man as the hunter, we are now in awe of the sniper who lies wait for his target days on end, trailing and relying only on his wits. This stems from the hunter in the savannas.
Humans can outrun almost any other mammal and sometimes even horses when it is hot, according to Daniel Lieberman and Dennis Bramble, from a 2007 paper “The Evolution of Marathon Running”.
We have around 200 bones, we need to move these, we do this via our muscles. Your body evolved specialised fibres with specific metabolisms. They create energy from various sources ranging from sugar to fat and protein, with or without oxygen.
These two systems exist along a spectrum. The first type consumes fuel with oxygen to sustain long efforts such as posture and walking. The second produces power, no oxygen required. Usain Bolt and Mo Farah embody the two polar ends of the spectrum.You either run lightly for a long time, or sprint then tire out fast.
Muscles of the aerobic system are rich in cellular engines known as mitochondria. These biological powerhouses convert oxygen and sugar into energy.
Anaerobic muscles tap into internal nutrient stores to sustain explosive efforts such as a sprint or a jump. These reserves are limited, unlike oxygen, and deplete within 2 minutes. The aerobic system takes over and diminishes the power output.
This depletion triggers the body’s growth signals. A rapid hormonal response refills the muscles after a rest period, such as when you do a second set of the same exercise. Anabolic hormone production will promote structural repairs to reduce the inflammation, especially over the first forty-eight hours. Frequent exposure to this stimulus leads to muscle growth and strength adaptation over time.
The first type muscle fibres adapt with more blood vessels and mitochondria, while the second gain storage potential.
Going back to the human nature of the sniper, the persistence hunter. Modern humans are persistence hunters in that we rely on our stamina to wait out our prey. We would not stop until we get that prey, who would usually overheat before us, our potent thermoregulation was better than most other archaic humans such as the neanderthal. Again a proliferation of factors, such as being able to sweat, our surface area to volume ratios, our slender frames. This edge made us better persistence hunters. Patience is a virtue. Along with our thermoregulation we also have to factor in our energy systems which evolved to take effect under different stresses and thus have different pathways. There are three systems, phosphagen, lactate, and mitochondrial respiration. All end product that gets used is ATP, and they have evolved as different routes, influenced by context.
From what we can see there is an epidemic case of evolutionary mismatch which is when certain evolutionary systems that evolved for a certain environment now are a disadvantage and have more costs than benefits.
Evolutionary mismatch can be seen in humans in the form of metabolic disorders, an epidemic the rise worldwide, yet the body’s energy systems remain the same. Have the rapid changes of modernity underwhelmed your power generators? A practical exercise solution must target the full spectrum of energy systems.
Jogging alone fails to stimulate the metabolism at its full capacity. Include high-intensity activities such as sprints and strength training. Weightlifting allows you to manipulate the intensity of your effort to use a specific energy supply. Sets of 1 to 3 repetitions with a heavier load to tap into the phosphagen system, while sets of 4 to 12 use lactate, anything longer is an aerobic effort.
Fast Forward to London, 2012
We have reached such heights where combined with science and engineering we are still continuing to beat records. The gun’s blast propels Usain Bolt across 100m in 9.63 seconds to win gold, faster than ever, one day after Mo Farah clinched the 10,000m title.
With bleeding edge research new barriers are being broken in genomics and engineering on the level of genetics. Evolution is open ended. No one can accurately say what heights we may go to, or what records we will continue to smash. Tap into your body’s energetic potential to stimulate your system. An active future awaits.
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Joint essay by GRITCULT. & Alex Bernier, Founder of The Online School of Exercise and author of Head To Toe 2 — Body Pillars For Strength And Longevity. Get it today to start your victory here or on itunes, here.
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