The Four Pillars of Survival Fitness
Dan F. Sullivan 07.06.15
A lot of preppers shy away when they hear the words survival and fitness one after the other, and that doesn’t make much sense to me. Since they’re prepping for end of the world scenarios, it’s pretty obvious that things are going to be physically challenging.
Don’t worry, I’m not gonna ask you to run a marathon or be the next iron man. The only thing that I do ask is that you get out of your comfort zone and get into shape just a little bit because the things I’m about ask you to do are not at all hard to do.
Caveat: you do need to ask your doctor before doing any of the exercises. I’m no physician and I can’t give medical advice, although I’m confident you’ll get the green light to start getting into shape.
There are 4 pillars to survival fitness and you only have to improve just a little bit week by week for them to actually make a difference and make YOU a better prepper. They are: endurance, strength, speed, and flexibility.
Endurance is all about being able to do an activity for a long period of time. Walking, running at a slow pace, working in the garden, and so on. I don’t need to tell you that when bugging out, you might have to walk for hours on end through the woods. Even if you do have your bug out vehicle ready, you can never count that things are going to go your way. Your chosen road might be blocked, someone might try to steal your BOV, you might run out of gas, or even crash it. Who knows?
Endurance also happens to be the easiest way to start your fitness training. All you have to do is start walking. You can increase the difficulty by walking longer distances, increasing the pace, going uphill, and even wearing a backpack as a bug-out bag replacement.
A neat little trick is to go on foot to the grocery store from now on (thus, saving money on gas) and then put all your stuff inside the backpack instead of the usual bags. If you feel you need to stop often on your way home to catch your breath, how will you carry a 40 pound BOB?
Next, we have strength. One of the reasons people go to the gym is to get stronger but you don’t have to. There are plenty of bodyweight exercises you can do at home and all you need is a pair of dumbbells and a kettlebell. Sure, there’s a whole bunch of home gym machines you can buy, but I recommend you start out with squats, push-ups, and crunches. When you’re doing these regularly, you can get that pair of dumbbells and do exercises such as biceps curls, overhead triceps presses, and even bench presses (provided you have a bench or something that can be repurposed into one).
Let’s talk for a minute about speed. You need it when you’re running for your life, which is likely to happen with a wide variety of natural or man-made critical events. You improve your speed by running, of course, but before you start training, you need to make sure your knees and ankles are in good shape. You’re also gonna need a pair of running shoes to protect them.
Last but not least, flexibility is going to be a huge issue. When chaos rules the streets, you’re gonna make a lot of sudden moves, climbing, jumping, and so on. When you’re bugging out through the woods, you’re gonna have to walk or even run on uneven terrain. When someone grabs you from behind and you try to escape, you need to be flexible enough to kick him where it hurts.
Fortunately, working on your flexibility is not that hard. The best way to improve it is to stretch. Yoga is also a form of static stretching so if that’s something you’d like to do, go ahead and do it. If you get bored easily, you can do things such as rope and tree climbing and even chopping wood to improve on this aspect.
Here’s the key to all of this: You don’t need to know and do a lot of fancy exercises. You just have to know a few of them BUT you need to do them long term. Just like your stockpile, you build your stamina and strength week after week. Nothing happens overnight.
The hardest part is not to get started (although a lot of people do get stuck there). What’s tough is to get yourself to do it week after week without ever stopping.
You know what they say: motivation gets you started, habits keep you going!