If the theme at PaleoFX earlier this year was “stress,” it’s safe to say that “muscle” was a popular word at the Ancestral Health Symposium (AHS), held just a couple weeks ago. This year’s conference was held at UC Berkeley, and was attended by scientists and researchers, medical practitioners, bloggers and writers, and folks curious to know more about what’s new in the field of ancestral health.
I heard some pretty amazing talks, and while the variety of topics was as diverse as gut health to sustainable coffee (and everything in between), I was pretty taken with how many folks at AHS were talking about muscle.
First worth mentioning was “Specific Requirements & Health Benefits of Strength Training for Women,” the talk I gave with Stacy from Paleo Parents. She is an avid strongwoman competitor, and I’m an Olympic weightlifter, so it was a natural fit to talk about something we are both so passionate about.
- A vast majority of women lack the genetic capability to build very large muscle mass (due to a gene for the protein myostatin and the very small amount of testosterone we produce).
- To be most effective and positively influence metabolism and body composition, lifting should be 1) heavy (relative to the person’s current capacity); 2) low rep (in the realm of 1-5 reps); 3) involve compound movements such as squats, deadlifts and presses; and 4) involve type II (fast twitch) fibers that are most active under heavy load and “fast” speeds.
- The 1600+ women who took our survey most often cited improvements in body composition, confidence and a sense of community amongst the reasons they like lifting.
Another excellent talk was Jamie Scott’s lecture on “The Underappreciated Role of Muscle in Health and Disease” (which you can watch for free by clicking here). In it, Jamie elucidated muscle’s grossly underestimated role as an endocrine organ, involved intimately in our body’s metabolism. I highly, HIGHLY recommend you watch his talk.
He also brought home a critical point: In the world of ancestral health and in conventional medicine, we (as a collective) are often focused so much on fat gain or loss that we overlook how important muscle is. This has incredible implications, not just in terms of moving our bodies for sport, but for the regulation of metabolism, and as an incredible protective mechanism as we age.
I also got to work at my publisher’s booth, and finally got to meet some of the folks involved in making our books reality. It was pretty surreal to see my cover up there with some other sweet Paleo titles such as The Frugal Paleo Cookbook, The Paleo Foodie, and Paleo Takes 5. My book is being copyedited right now, and then it’s on to the final design phase. You can pre-order through Amazon or Barnes & Noble and save 25%!
I’m already looking forward to attending the New Zealand AHS next year (with these guys above), and I’m already plotting my presentation.