The Best Way To Train for a Good Health Span by Sandeep Mall

Last year, I read an interesting book “Exercised” by Daniel Lieberman. A fascinating book and I highly recommend to all. Our ancestors never exercised but were physically more active than we are today. Through physically active tasks like hunting, foraging and other tasks for survival, they were reasonably strong and had great endurance.

If you look at their health span graphs vs. modern day and assuming they did die of infection or as an infant, killed by a wild animal, our ancestors lived a long life with high functional capacity.

They lived many more years as active, functional & physically capable humans, than we do today.

While the modern world is not set up to replicate that lifestyle, we can substitute similar activity with exercise. The right kind & in the right dose will set us up for a long active life.

Three strength workouts a week, few moderate intensity cardio and small dose of HIIT (for those who are capable, not everyone). The writer does not mention this but I will add mobility, one day to it. Many scientific researches and my own experience also recognize this as the best method.


Coming to HIIT, body weight few jumps and burpees is not HIIT. HIIT is “repeated bouts of high intensity work interspersed with periods of passive or active rest.” In the context of HIIT and the science that underpins it; high intensity means “above 90% VO2 max.” To qualify as an effective HIIT session, you need to accumulate around 10 minutes of work at VO2 Max. That doesn’t mean the workout needs to only be 10 minutes long. It’s more like 20-30 minutes to accumulate 10 minutes of true ‘red zone’ VO2 maximum intensity work.

Bodyweight exercises, no matter how “hard” they feel and how out of breath they may leave you, will not hit this intensity of effort. Not even close. The best way to do HIIT can be by running, spinning, rowing etc. Your heart graph will be something below:

June 24, 2021

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