Sadly, there is an upper limit to our fitness. No matter how hard we train and how perfect our diets are, there will be a point at which we cannot run any faster and we cannot lift any more weight; we have a maximum work capacity. That fitness limit is determined by lifestyle, pathology and genetics. We can’t really do much about pathology or genetics, but we can still come really close to our fitness limit by paying attention to our lifestyle.
Now, if you look at any animal in its natural habitat, it has several distinct advantages over us in terms of achieving such a goal. For example, a cheetah works out every day, eats high quality foods, sleeps regularly and doesn’t have to deal with a lot of negative lifestyle factors–shoes, chairs, mono sodium glutamate, etc.– preventing it from being as fast as it can be. An animal in its natural habitat has to live very close to its genetically-determined maximum limit of work capacity, or it will die. In our world, we can survive and be successful and relatively comfortable without coming anywhere near our genetic potential for fitness. Of course, animals don’t have it over us. They have a bunch of other things to deal with that limit their potential– pathology and environment, such as parasites, diseases, death from simple injuries, starvation and so on. For the most part, we’ve overcome these difficulties, so if we just access the right kind of lifestyle, we have a better chance of achieving our genetic potential than any other creature on the planet.
But what does that mean, “right kind of lifestyle?” Well, it comes back to genetics. Human beings have been the same genetically–more or less- for the past 2 million years. And while there is some uncertainty as to the specifics of our ancestor’s lives, we do have a pretty clear picture of their lifestyles. We know that humans in pre-agricultural settings lived in the following ways:
- they were active in their daily lives, performing functional tasks; squatting, bending, lifting and carrying, climbing, swimming, walking and running
- they frequently had to engage in maximum intensity movements; sprinting away from danger, throwing stones or spears, fighting or running for their life
- they only ate meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and rarely starchy roots
- they slept or rested as much as possible and spent plenty of time exposed to the elements
This lifestyle is remarkably similar to the that promoted by CrossFit training, which as we all know focuses on an active lifestyle, such as regularly learning new sports; functional, intense exercise; a clean diet consisting of “meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar;” and regular rest days. The fitness program that we promote is the type of program that can help you achieve your genetic potential.
Find your potential. Make your species proud.