Yes, you heard me right that why our grandparents were healthier, not only our grandparents lifted more weights than most of us do, but were physically more active, stronger, disease-free and healthier.
The human body is genetically designed to lift weights or heavy stuff. Understand that when I talk about weights or resistance, our muscles are blind. For the body, there is no difference between a 10kg sandbag, 10kg dumbbell, 10kg bucket of water, 10kg wooden log, or a bag of groceries weighing 10kg.
The muscles to grow and get stronger need stimulus. The heavier the stimulus, the more they will respond and adapt by getting stronger.
Our hunter-gatherer forefathers lifted heavy things throughout their lives, every day without a break. Be it lifting dead animals and carrying them for long distances, carry heavy stones or vessels of water, carry heavy logs of woods, etc. Our grandparents did not have any modern gyms back then, yet both our grandmoms and granddads lifted a lot of weight daily and did a lot of resistance training workouts.
Wherein our grandfathers went to the local akharas to lift weights and do bodyweight workouts, our grandmoms did a similar form of workout in her daily chores. For e.g. grinding wheat in the heavy stone chakki, lifting heavy buckets of water and clothes and carrying it all the way to terrace to dry the clothes, carrying kilos of groceries for kilometers together, carrying water-filled vessels after pulling water from the well, and a lot more.
Our most grueling workouts may not be even close to the workout our ancestors used to do the entire day. Did our grandmothers got bulkier, or build muscles, or did our grandparents become a bodybuilder? No, they just got stronger. But that is why our grandparents were healthier than us.
A lot of people have a doubt that the exercises we do in the gym using machines, dumbbells and barbells, and other forms of resistance are not functional. Firstly, most people have no idea what the word functional means. Doing circus-type exercises in the gym using Bosu balls or Swiss balls is not functional. The simple definition of ‘functional’ would be an activity that helps you achieve your goal.
So if you underwent surgery of your knee, then a basic leg extension machine which helps you develop strength in your quads, and help you in rehab, is functional for you. Exercise like squats & deadlifts helps almost all the sportsmen develop basic strength which transfers directly to their sport, so these exercises are functional for them. A bench press would be functional for various sports like javelin, discus and shot put throwing events. For a mother who wants to lift her baby but is unable to do so due to back pain, any exercise which helps her regain her strength and get over the pain is functional for her.
You don’t want to come to the gym, and you think you don’t want to lift so-called unnatural weights? I’m fine with that. Just do one thing. Next time, when your mom has to get ration from the market which is 4-5kms away. Just carry the entire load in your hand, walking to your house. You will understand that this activity, multiplied by 10 is the amount of resistance your grandparents had on their body every day.
The problem is not that you can’t do it. The issue is that you won’t do it.
Most people are deficient in Vitamin D in the cities despite of ample sunlight. Why? Because they are not ready to expose themselves to the sun due to various stupid reasons. Do they want Vitamin D supplements? No. But they won’t go out in the sun either, so they have to take it, or they will suffer badly from various dangerous consequences like many people are.
You don’t want to study for your exams, you have to.
You don’t want to eat healthy and clean, you have to.
You don’t want to sleep and party all night. But you have to.
You don’t want to exercise. You simply, have to.
Given a choice, the majority of human beings won’t do anything. But, unfortunately for them, it’s not a choice, it’s a need.
Did our grandparents want to do that amount of physical activity? Nope, never, they wouldn’t have ever done it, just like you, if they have had the luxury of the lifestyle we live today. But in their times, they simply did not have the option. Basic living was tough, and they had to survive. Even if they didn’t like it, they simply had no option.
So, activities which they did unconsciously, we have to do the same movements consciously. The amount of resistance they overcame the entire day, we have to stimulate the same resistance in a place which is more focussed on such activities, i.e. your dear gym.
And remember, lifting puny pink dumbbells in the gym will never give you results. No one has ever got results from lifting them. Do you want to get stronger? Fitter? Lose more fat? Have an excellent body composition and physique to carry along? I hope you have got the answer that why our grandparents were healthier. So, start lifting some heavy stuff.