Physical Fitness is probably one of the most over-looked survival skills. You may have enough food and water to survive an emergency, but are you fit enough to last long?
I would be a hypocrite to even talk about being fit since I’ve worked out a total of 20 minutes this year (the time it took for the gym daycare to page me to come get my screaming child), so instead we have best-selling author, G. Michael Hopf, joining us again to give us his fitness tips.
Only read-on if you’re ready to be inspired to get off the couch and get moving. I’ve decided to stop my excuses and take his advice, because we all have 10 minutes a day to do something!
Fit for an Apocalypse
My mother-in-law is very serious about being ready. She has done many things right. The idea for this article came after she put together her bug out bag. She went to lift it but had a hard time handling it. She called me concerned so I went over to see if she had overloaded it. After inspecting it I was impressed that she had everything needed, yes, she might have had a few too many things, but for the most part, it was complete. It weighed a little over 30lbs, that’s not a lot of weight. But for a woman in her late 60’s it was a lot.
She then complained that she’d have a hard time hiking with it. I then got thinking that this must be a problem for others. I understand that the topic of the elderly and prepping is an issue, but what about those that are young but not capable. I, for one, have always viewed being capable or prepared as more than just having a stockpile and waiting for the apocalypse.
Isn’t being a prepper more than that? Shouldn’t we be ready for anything at anytime? What if we ended up in a situation and we needed to handle ourselves, physically. Could you? Be honest.
Are You Fit Enough?
Don’t use the old adage that in an emergency situation, “my adrenaline will carry me through.” Could you run if you needed to? Could you sprint? Can you lift your own body weight? Can you carry another if they were wounded?
As a former Marine, fitness is paramount to being able to carry out our missions. Being able to go from A to B carrying combat gear requires strength and endurance. You might be sitting there reading this and discounting the importance of fitness. You might think that you’ll not need to because you live on a farm, have all you need and will never have to venture out. That attitude is the surest way to ending up a non-survivor.
When / if something happens, how do you know, you’ll be at home when it happens? What if you were 50 miles away? Could you make it back? Are you capable of taking on a group of marauders on the road? Self defense is another topic all by itself that I’ll tackle in another blog piece.
Looking ripped and being fit are two different things.
Fitness, as it pertains to living a prepared lifestyle, is only now getting more attention. Of course there has been some out there advocating that being fit is imperative to survival. I’m not saying that having a few extra pounds will determine whether you live or die in the apocalypse. Let me establish a ground level from where to begin. Looking ripped and being fit are two different things. What I mean is being fit doesn’t mean you have to look like a bodybuilder. People also confuse, being fit equals being skinny. No it doesn’t. I’m not advocating looking a certain way. I am saying can you physically handle surviving if something happened? Stop thinking about 6 pack abs or trying to wear a size zero. This article is not about looking good, it’s about being capable.
Everyone that preps does so because they want to be ready when / if something happens. They will be the ones closing their doors while others are rushing out theirs to get the last can of soup on the shelves. Everyone that preps knows that prepping and survival is more than just buying a ton of stuff, it’s more dynamic than that. It’s also about having skills, knowledge, plans etc.
Prepare for the unforeseen.
You know all the types of scenarios that could occur. It really doesn’t matter what brings on the event. We prep because we want to make sure we have what is needed to survive. I think some people overlook fitness in their prepping plans. Many of us are about ‘getting’ stuff, or learning new skills. Both of those are important, but how many of you have actually put on your bug out bag and hiked for 10 miles? If you haven’t then you’re not ready. You have a BOB because you might need to go and go quickly and it might require you to go on foot.
I’m sorry to say that having the best hiking boots won’t help you go the extra distance. The best hiking boots won’t even prevent you from getting blisters and if you don’t hike, you’ll get them.
Another important element to fitness is the health aspect of it. When you are healthy you need less as it pertains to medicines. You need less overall to keep you going. Being unfit and unhealthy makes you a liability to yourself and your group if you’re with one.
Recommended Exercises to Stay Fit:
I have a very small set of things I personally do. None of them requires a gym membership, but it does require some of your time. I believe that when you’re training for something you train for the task specifically.
Below is my list of exercises I recommend. I’ll break each one down in greater detail later. I realize that exercise is a personal thing, so many of you that are active will have different techniques or exercises that you do. My list is not the definitive one, but what I do and has proven to be successful at keeping me, ‘lean and mean’.
Please, before you just put on your sweats and hit the track, make sure you consult your physician first.
- Pull ups
- Push ups
I write apocalyptic fiction and not unlike most in that genre, it usually has people on the move, going from one place to another. Many times these characters are on foot. The reasons many authors, like me, write characters undergoing these types of hardships is we believe these are probable outcomes. This is why I look at endurance conditioning as important. There are three types of endurance conditioning that I personally do.
Running, sprinting and hiking: When I suggest running, I’m not suggesting you start out with being able to run a marathon in record time, but of course if you start running and a marathon sounds like a goal you want to achieve, good for you.
- Running has many positives, it will increase your cardiovascular health, boost your immune system, raise good levels of cholesterol and lower risk of blood clotting.
- Sprinting: I started to do sprinting a year ago and I swear by it, not just as an aggressive way to shed fat, but for other positive factors. Here is a good article on sprinting – Sprinting Positives.
- Hiking is not just good exercise and fun to do, but you are training at the same time. This is where you get to take out your gear (packs, shoes, socks, clothes etc), put them on and see how they work. The best way to evaluate your equipment is to use it.
Pull ups, pushups and planks: These three items fall into strength training. I believe in having a well rounded fitness program. For you women, you should be doing this too! Don’t fret about getting bulky; you won’t, unless you’re doing anabolic steroids. What you will do is increase your lean muscle mass and be stronger.
- Pull ups are a good test for upper body strength and all able bodied men should be able to lift their own weight. If you can’t, you need to start working out. A pull up also demonstrates something you might have to do in a survival situation, pull up your own weight.
- Pushups have been a part of my daily routine since I was a teenager. You can develop and strengthen different muscle groups in your upper body by just having your arms spread apart differently. I do 100 pushups daily, not at one time, but do them in intervals. I do 25, take a minute break, repeat 3 more times. Try it. You think it’s easy but it can be challenging.
- Planking is great for increasing your inner core strength. If your core is strong it will benefit your overall strength, period. I can’t stress enough how important inner core strength is. Bruce Lee was able to hit so hard for such a small man because of his technique and incredible inner core strength. Here is a link to do a Planking Challenge, try it.
- Stretching: is very important and it falls into the fitness scope by allowing you to be flexible. I learned the hard way not long ago. I was doing sprints, I didn’t stretch in the beginning and I partially tore my Achilles tendon. I personally don’t like to stretch, I find it boring. However, I force myself to do it, and even more now. Stretch and get flexible, it’s very important.
Stop the Excuses!
So I’ve given you a glimpse of what I do regularly to stay fit and ready. I do hit the gym now and then and do other activities, but I always incorporate the above exercises into my routines. I can do them if I’m on the road traveling; there really is no reason to say you don’t have time. If you just do a routine of pull-ups, pushups and planking you can knock out a quick but invigorating workout in 10 minutes. I look at the excuse of not having time as just that. Everyone has 10 minutes!
Be Fit for the Apocalypse
I’ll leave on this note. Fitness is a piece of the prepping puzzle. All the gear, equipment, skills, and plans won’t keep you alive if you aren’t capable physically to do them. Of course, does being fit by itself keep you alive? No. It is one piece in the entire puzzle.
Could you have all the pieces and still die in an apocalyptic event? Yes. Sometimes life shows up and you are in the way….of a bullet! There is no guarantee in life, but making sure you’re physically capable gives you better odds. Having all the pieces to the puzzle will increase your chances of survival. I’m not here to break the puzzle apart and determine which is more valuable, that is useless and why would you? Are you trying to rationalize not doing one over the other? I always encourage debate and respectable conversation. I don’t have all the answers, but no one can convince me that being unfit is smart.
Fitness is important in many ways. Being fit reduces your overall exposure to health related diseases and if nothing ever happens, you’ll feel great and be active. And lastly, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to execute your plans and have the physical capabilities to do them.
So are you Fit Enough?
As always, take care and stay frosty!