I don’t often hear about this in the prepper world, we often focus on the beans, bullets, band aids, barter and alternative energies, however much of that is useless in the long run if your in horrible shape.
I’m not one to act as though I am some Spartan Warrior off the set of 300, rippling muscles and six-pack of abs, not at all! I have been in great shape in my life and not so great shape, as with most people i fall in and out of regimented physical fitness.
Only 40% of American exercise on a regular basis, with only 7-8% participating in at least 20 minutes of exercise 3+ times a week, which one can think that this fits most preppers as they are a good slice of Americana, coming from all walks of life, from veterans to lawyers to stay at home Mom’s.
I want you to realize a few things, that may sound harsh but you need to hear them.
- If you are obese or overweight your chances of survival go way down, perhaps even more so than someone less prepared than you
- You will not be able to bug out effectively if you have to
- You will not be able to react to situations where you will need to defend yourself, and you may die, along with your loved ones
- Grid Down living is not easy, it’s not little house on the prairie, wood doesn’t magically appear stacked, deer and moose don’t wander up to your front door and trap lines don’t walk themselves in.
- The coming economic climate will require more DIY and physical activity, the type of activity you have not prepped for, and will be at a disadvantage
- Being obese and even somewhat overweight can highly increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes, two things you do not want in these situations
- Whats the point of prepping if you are going to drop dead a few years from now
- Why would you put away years of food, and set up alternative energy platforms TO PREPARE, but think that life will somehow not require physical activity or you will just RISE TO THE OCCASION?
I don’t say this to be a d*** I do so to help you realize the folly of preparing material goods, while ignoring the most important tool and weapon you have…your body.
The human body is a wonderous machine, one that functions perfectly for all kinds of environments and laborious activities but will only function correctly when you treat it so. In the past Man had to chop his own firewood to stay warm and cook, tend his own animals, plant his own crops, travel miles to hunt, walk many more miles to trade and participate in social activities. Now you can pretty much do everything you need with a cell phone and an internet connection in most modern cities. However we still continue to operate on a basis that takes in massive amounts of calories, once needed for optimal efficiency, but don’t output barely any energy (no walking around the fair grounds will not work off the corn dogs and beer you flush in all day!)
Once again I’m not some big dude, but i do realize the need for physical fitness in my preps and am starting to implement them back into my daily routine. Previously I used to work out 5 times a week, using free-weights and Crossfit. Our small Gym in Afghanistan was outfitted over time at our own expense with a small but functional variety of equipment. However if money is tight you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get in shape, you don’t need a personal trainer and you don’t need $150 gym fees a month (Alaska Club is such a ripoff!)
If you have a little spare cash per month for this I would recommend CROSSFIT this is not a Arnold type gym/workout where you get so muscled up you can’t wipe your own but, yes you look big but being “big” often restricts your movement as well as your combat efficiency. What you want is a good mix of strength and endurance, often the free weight muscle heads can bench 300+ pounds but can’t run 5 miles to save their life, why? because they focus on size and not efficiency, Crossfit is a great way to do this, it’s an asskicker but worth it. I can’t recommend this enough and if you find a good instructor running a good gym (there are some crappy crossfit gyms out there) than i can guarantee you, you will notice massive changes in just a month, and you will be in top physical shape of your life in 6+ months.
Other Small Gyms
There are a lot of small gyms, some sole proprietors and some chains that cater to the we don’t want to “pay for spas and massages” type of crowd, they are lower cost some as low as $10 a month, With these all you need to do is go in and work on your endurance first, that is Treadmills, Ellipticals and Stationary Bikes. Now if you are very overweight you should probably start on the Bike and work your way up, Ellipticals are excellent if you have bad knees (often associated with excess weight, and you will notice a massive reduction in this pain as you lose weight). The biggest thing is to push yourself, and MAKE YOURSELF GO, often people start going, then hit a wall, skip a day saying “I’ve been going for 2 weeks now, i deserve break, im wore out!” Next thing you know its been a month! I said you don’t need a personal trainer but if they gym has someone that can give you a basic workout then go for it, just don’t pay for it. Work on small amount of freeweights, hit the resistance training and don’t forget to do leg exercises, they release a lot of Testosterone that helps build muscle.
AT HOME WORKOUTS
I’ve never tried P90x but i have heard good things, however i think this is inferior to Crossfit, by the way crossfit can be done at home for $25 a year you can get access to their WOD (workout of the Day) log your progress on the online journal and they have video tutorials on how to do the exercises correctly. There is also a program called SEALFIT which is based on Navy Seal training, but you wont want to get into that right away, It works very well and is basically the same as Crossfit, but a little more intense. However that being said if you want to go P90x, go for it, whatever works for you, and if your more comfortable with it, hell yeah!
For the Ladies, Crossfit works as well, there are thousands of women and even grandmas doing Crossfit workouts, Don’t worry, a lot of women think that it will make them “bulk up” that’s not the point of Crossfit, not at all, in fact you will need to add a lot of protein and carbs into your diet as well as freeweights to “bulk up”
However My wife is a huge fan of “Jillian Michael’s” Brand of DVD’s, often she just lays down a mat in the living room, pops the baby into the jumper seat and gets in the 30 minutes (baby dictated) of workout right in the living room, it’s a great way to tone, lose fat and up your endurance levels.
As far as equipment you “should” have that of course is all dictate by where you live and the space available. If you have nice areas to run in most of the year don’t buy a treadmill, run outside, get fresh air, and then pay for a low pay gym membership in the winter months, you’ll still save money over buying a treadmill.
As far as “weights” and other accessories
- Kettlebells are an awesome set to have as they are great at building “explosive” strength and you can use them for your biceps, triceps, shoulders, legs and back doing a number of exercises.
- Bench Press. If you have the space get a cheap one, if you don’t but live in California put it in the backyard, if you don’t have the space no worries, you don’t have to have one, this builds muscle, but does little for endurance other than conditioning your muscles against fatigue.
- Rubber Bands. Not the office ones! These are great for shoulder workouts, which i use to help restrengthen my bad shoulder, as I can’t do too many shoulder presses with free weights since my left shoulder tends to just collapse randomly due to an old injury.
- Dumbbells. Great for a lot of the same things as kettle bells, but are used to isolate a few different muscles, they both have their pros and cons
- Ab Roller. Basically just a wheel with two handles you sit on your knees push out on the wheel and pull back, will kill your abs!
- Pushup Bars. You can buy the “Perfect Pushup” bar, but I think those are overpriced, you can even use dumbbells for this as long as they aren’t circular, basically it allows you to go further down in your push up isolating the back and chest more.
- Weight Vest. Basically just a vest you put on that you can slip in weights in various increments (often 2.5 pounds) to run in or do pull-up, or chinups in. This will increase your running endurance and is great if you have a smaller area to run in and don’t want to loop around 50 times, you can slip in the weights and continue to run but get a more effective workout in. For Chinups and Pullups it helps to “drag you down” and you will be amazed after you do this for a while when you jump on the bar without it, how many you can do!
- Pullup Bar. Simple well-known, i have never used the doorway ones, you can just screw in a few pipes onto the rafters and have the same thing, all depends on what you have available for space, but these will help build your chest, arms and back
Why is this so important?
In a bad situation, such as a grid down scenario or economic collapse, a lot of the things we take for granted that are “given” to us will become great feats to accomplish, such as providing food or warmth.
- Stoves need firewood, to get that you need to chop down trees, cut up the log and split it, if you havent done this for an extended period (say to cut more than a few pieces) its hard as heck and not a fun chore, and very hard on your shoulders and back if you are not in shape.
- Food needs to be provided. Game is not easy to come by often so you will have to trek out for miles to stalk and hunt your game. Even with trap lines you have to walk miles and miles and miles to set the traps and check them often, not an easy chore if your winded after half a mile with no pack! Once you get that game you will have butcher it on the spot, quarter it and haul it back to your home or camp, and not in just one haul, you can’t leave that other meat out there so you may have to make 3,4,5 trips!
- Getting water is easy, now. If you have a solar backup for your well pump or for some awesome reason a hydraulic ram with a cistern (see my water preps page about 3/4 the way down) then you will be ok, but if not it’s not a fun chore. Even if the creek is only a few hundred yards away, hauling 5 gallon buckets of water will beat the crap out of you, even if you are in good shape, imagine if you are not! To test this fill up a couple 5 gallon buckets in your garage and walk to the edge of the driveway and back in 10 times, and see how that feels!
- Gardening and raising even just a half-acre of crops and tending animals is very strenuous, our ancestors didn’t start using tractors because they just felt like it, its hard hard work, and your back will let you know after your stooped over for even just an hour.
As I mentioned on My Bug out Bag Podcast you will want to load up your bug out bags with what you think you need and then test them and yourself, I would start with 1 mile and work your way up to 5. If you can’t even walk 5 without the bag you need to work on yourself first, if you are in decent shape but it’s kicking your butt you need to look at redoing the bag and maybe improving yourself, if you are in good shape and it’s kicking your butt, the bag is the problem.
however the main point is, Bugging out usually means loading up the car and going to your retreat place, or family/friends spot, however you NEVER KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN, so you MUST PLAN FOR A ON FOOT EVAC! With this you need to realize you may be walking 30+ miles with 50+ lbs of gear. In the case of a on foot move, i would bury some excess stuff along with whatever you had planned on taking in the care, but the point is most if not barely any people can walk 30,40,50 miles even without a heavyish bag. You need, no YOU MUST be one of those. You can have the most in-depth bug out plan in the world, but if your winded after a mile, whats the point? You may be having to move very quickly to get out of dodge or to get away from some “hostile” group.
As much as I hate talking about the “shoot em up” scenarios as i see them to be very…unrealistic, or improbably, they are also still a possibility. Even just a group of 3-4 looters or just plain old dirt bags trying to get into your house or attack it, will cause a heck of a lot of problems for you. This situation is Combat, pure and simple and you need to be able to shoot and move quickly and effectively. One of the big things that leads to missed shots is the crank up in adrenaline when this situation occurs, it happens to Marines and Soldiers overseas and Cops here on the home front, and will happen to you to. This can be mitigated by training (Podcast #10), live fire if possible at a range or on your property. Adrenaline kicks up your heart rate, this is unavoidable especially if this is your first or even 10th “Rodeo” However being out of shape will make you breath harder and your heart beat faster on top of that. This will cause your hands to shake and the weapon to rise and fall more while you are trying to “aim in” on the target. If you are in shape you are “prepping” your body for this scenario, and it could be the difference between life and death.
I hope that this was a good primer for Physical Fitness for all of you, and that it included a few more reasons to incorporate this into your preps. Too often this is overlooked, and we concentrate on the pails of food and the solar panels, but in reality it is one of the biggest lifesavers you may integrate into your preps. Even if nothing EVER happens, being physically fit will improve your life immensely. You will feel better, you will be happier, you will be more productive and more of an asset at work and at home. You will wake up refreshed go to sleep without problems and will live a heck of a lot longer than you would if you didn’t. I’snt that the point of all of this? to improve our lives now and in the future? To be happy, secure and confident no matter the situation?