A marriage of physical fitness and survival.

This guest post is by Jason S and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .

I haven’t been a prepper for as long as most, so I am by no means an expert. As a newbie prepper one would assume i am running around trying to gather as much help and information as I could in order to be prepared for the inevitable emergency.

I’ve learned outdoor survival skills, like making fire, shelter and finding food. I’ve begun the storing of items and collecting the things I feel will be most helpful according to the information I’ve dug up. Storing food, water, medical supplies, weapons, ammo, clothing, some entertainment for the time expected to be spent in a bunker, as well-being able to sleep when the time comes, all are important aspects of survival.

I am amazed at all the information I have come across in my search for being well prepared in a disaster or emergency situation. The one thing I’ve noticed to be missing though, is physical fitness.

When it coms time to throw on your bug out pack and hike 40 miles to your bug out cabin because the road ways are to dangerous to travel, wouldn’t you want to be able to make haste and not worry about slowing down? What if you have to all out sprint for miles to escape a threat or even find a quick duck and cover location? Someone if firing upon you and all you can do is run. It’s nice to assume that when the shit hits the fan we have a secure basement or bunker to retreat to, and hunker down while the threat passes. What if those locations become compromised, whether by enemy or nature? Can you hike, run, or sprint your way out of danger?

Physical fitness doesn’t have to be a major part of your prepping, But it should fit in somewhere. At least two(2) days a week should be used to add a little muscle and strength. One(1) or two(2) days a week for some cardio. Because when the SHTF- you want to be ready to tackle any challenge. What if you have to engage the enemy in a hand to hand altercation? Strength would be good to have in your toolbox. What if escape means running miles? Are you ready? Is your family ready?

There are simple steps that can be taken in order to keep fit while still prepping. Considering farm work is a good workout, as well as many other prepping activities. One such activity would be a family day of hiking. Simply find a park or location where you can hike for hours without stopping- even in an urban setting this is possible. Think about it like this- Alert! you have to evacuate in a hurry, grab your packs and go. There is absolutely no time for anything else and worse- You have to walk where your going. Can everyone handle the pack you’ve prepared them for at least 10 miles? Is it too heavy for someone and causing the whole group to slow down? So family walks every two weeks would allow for everyone to prep their packs in a way that works for them.

Walking with a heavy pack is one thing, but running and sprinting are different all together. A weekly jog no less than 4 miles should be included in your prep plans for everyone. Being able to so when it matters will be crucial to survival. Now what about strength. Clearly being a muscle head isn’t for everyone, otherwise we’d all be doing it. But you don’t have to bench 350lbs to be considered fit or strong.

Using the simple weights and movements they can be used with will suffice. A couple dumbbells, a bench press bar and some weight plates. you don’t even need the bench. You can press lying flat on the ground. A bag of sand works wonders for squats. Simple movements to workout the muscles are all that’s needed. Preppers aren’t going for a sports scholarship, They just need to be ready to handle life. Below is a simple way to workout and without spending hours in the gym doing so. This added with a healthy way of eating will be a good addition to any preppers toolbox.

  • Quick 50- Push-ups, crunches and squats. You can do this everyday once or twice at any time. It takes minutes.
  • Bi-cep curls (dumbbells)- 50 each arm
  • Squatting Clean and Press(dumbell) 25 each arm. Simply stand with feet shoulder width apart. place a dumbbell between your feet. Squat down, pick it up and “drag it along your body vertically until you reach your shoulder. Now press it up over head. reverse the movement and touch the weight to the floor. repeat.
  • Double Crunches- 50 As you lift your upper body, do so with your lower until you knees meet your elbows for the double crunch. this hits your lower and upper abs at the same time.
  • Pull ups- as many as possible. Climbing may be your only way out.
  • Sprints. One block minimum distance. But push to go further if you can. If you doubt the sprint- look at the legs of a sprinter versus that of a marathon runner. There is no argument over leg strength.

That is about all you need for general purpose fitness. Keeping fit is the best way to ensure you can be counted on when the time comes. Don’t forget to stock a few of these things in your bug out retreat location as well. If you’re in a bunker waiting for the next move, just lying around won’t make you any stronger. Besides you can use an exercise bike to rotate a car alternator and charge batteries as you exercise. That gets more done with less space. An elastic band can replace dumbbells if space is an issue. But two(2) 20lbs dumbbells don’t really take that much room.

That is the conclusion folks, and I hope it’s helpful to at least one person. Remember – being fit can be the difference you need to survive.

(M.D. Creekmore adds – I walk at least one mile and use the Weider Total Body Works 5000 Gym for 15 min everyday. :sweat: )

This contest will end on June 5 2012 – prizes include:

First Prize) Winner will receive a Wise Essentials Kit courtesy of LPC Survival and an EcoZoom’s Versa Stove courtesy of EcoZoom stoves.. A value of over $300.

Second Prize) Winner will receive a $150 gift certificate for Wolf Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner.com   A total prize value of over $150.

Third Prize) Winner will receive copies of both of my books “31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness” and “Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man’s Solution”  and a Katadyn Siphon Water Filter courtesy of Mayflower Trading Company.  A total prize value of $107.

Contest ends on June 5 2012.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. SurvivorDan says:

    Good tips Jason. And you made it clear that one doesn’t have to start going to the gym every day with a trainer. Jog 10 miles a day. Start easy. And a modicum of exercise will help keep one in shape. I exercise moderately and am in shape. Slightly bulgy shape but fit enough to carry a pack quite a ways.
    Can you swing an axe? Can you climb over a deadfall? Can you pull a load up an incline with ropes? Can you hoist your youngest up and tote him/her for an hour? Are you capable of opening a can with a manual canopener? Do you have the dexterity in your fingers to fix small items?
    We all have limitations but would moderate exercise reduce the number of those limitations?

  2. JP in MT says:

    Since my retirement I have definitely been more sedentary. My goal for this year is to start a simple fitness routine I will follow.

  3. I second everything that Jason mentions in his article. I run into many families where the adult members routinely hone their fitness – and pack carrying – skills with drills and practice runs. What often seems to be missing is the kids and yet if the time came where they had to flee, other than carrying the little one’s on their back, they would be in a world of hurt. Making fitness as well as survival a family hobby is definitely the way to go: hiking, camping, fishing and even swimming are all family oriented activities that can increase your ability to survive as a family unit and have some quality bonding time as well.

    And by the way, these fitness activities should occur rain or shine since there is no guarantee that the sun will be out when the big one hits.

    — Gaye

    • axelsteve says:

      Gaye. I agree with the rain or shine.I used ti live in Washington state and you did many things in the rain or did not do it.

    • Gaye, That is a good point about the kiddos! We definitely need to have some long hikes. I worry about my SOs mother. She is pretty frail, but depends upon her #1 son to see her through everything. I would want to help her as much as we could!

  4. Fitness will increase your probability for success and give you options . Why would you want to run with a heavy pack on ? Find a place to ditch it then come back . If you had to run with a load , your an EASY mark , you cant outrun a bullet , and your movement is severely restricted . Your gear isn’t worth your life .

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Good point TR. Drop what you got on your back and run. Maybe you’ll recover it….maybe not. Not worth your life.
      Someone on foot surprises me and takes my stuff and I get away….their chances of getting far are poor. But I’ll pick the moment and place.
      TR’s comment reminds me to go to Home Depot and make me two more caches.

      • SurvivorDan says:

        My local cache contains clothing, energy bars, water, lights and weapons. It is mainly to provide me with the means for re-acquisition of that which was mine. Or to get to my larger cache.
        I have a larger cache in the foothills.

        • I dont know how you do it , and everybody does it differently ……but if you know somebody in a fiberglass shop , draw up a shape with detentions cut in half . and have them glass up a burial storage object . You can get a small fiberglass kit for the seam at Home Depot or Lowes . just an idea .each half doesn’t weigh much by itself . Good thing about glass is you can use anything for a frame for DIY f you dont want anybody involved .
          The car top cargo pods work well also if you dont want to go through the hassle . Prep on !

          • *Dimensions*

          • SurvivorDan says:

            Thanks for the suggestion TR. All mine are 4″ x 24 or 48. I can get quite a bit of emergency gear in them. For any more I think I would use 55 gal plastic drums with a frame around them. I don’t have confidence in my ability to fabricate a custom job from fiberglass. And as you say, I can’t really ask someone to help me. I like the idea of the car top pods. Hmmm…..

            • I used to live in Maine ………even a beat up VW running on two cylinders had a roof pod back there in the summer . As a result , you could find used ones dirt cheap in the winter .

      • SurvivorDan says:

        And I have indeed made me two more small (4 x 24 tubes). I know what to put in them, but where to bury them……….?

    • “…Find a place to ditch it then come back …”
      Which is the reason we should break our loads down to First Line, Second Line and Third Line levels. The First Line is always with us. Be it fanny pack or vest or just heavily loaded pockets, we should be able to survive a few days with just that. Basic minimum would be a belt with canteen, cup, three or four easy-to-eat-dry meals, our knife and handgun and supply of ammo, fire making tools and small First Aid Kit (FAK).
      Second Line will be the pack, which we would remove when taking breaks- but we always have the First Line on.

      • LOL , yeah , you would be surprised at how much bare bones gear you can fit into a butt pack . My day hike setup is a standard surplus pistol belt /Y suspenders , two 1 qt canteens and an Alice butt pack . Im not encumbered , can move freely , and more than I need for the day on me .

  5. Kelekona says:

    Fitness is a good thing to remember.

    I’ve been lax in my treadmill time since the laptop-mounting solution is so finicky and I don’t have the room to bring the belt down anyway, but soon my computer time will be walking time. And I’ll have a bar between the kitchen and my office where I can attempt to do a pull-up every time I pass the doorway.

    Other than that, the paleo philosophy of exercise looks like more fun than standard training. They hike, pull sleds, lift heavy things and carry them around, and they would probably approve of sledgehammer workouts or just chopping wood.

    I just volunteered to get a dozen 40-pound salt bags into my mother’s basement.

  6. Wellrounded says:

    I have to agree that keeping fit is very important. Over the last few years I’ve had a lot of fit young people staying with me, well they thought they were fit anyway. They tell me when they first arrive on the farm that they visit the gym a few times a week, they jog or power walk a few miles everyday. At the end of the first day, almost without exception they tell me how hard the work here is, all their muscles ache, they are exahusted. Most of the time I’ve worked harder and faster than they have and I think the work is easy. What I’m trying to say in a very long winded way is that you need to do the actual job you want to be good at, general fittness although good for us and better than being unfit, won’t help you a lot if you’re doing something new. If you want to be able to walk 10 miles with a pack you need to do just that. If you want to be able to chop wood for half a day, you need to chop wood.

  7. Encourager says:

    I have tried over the years to exercise and build up my strength. I even joined a fitness center. However, each time I have started, I have hurt myself. I ended up having rotator cuff surgery. My knees aren’t in good shape so that limits even walking a few miles. I have arthritis in hands,feet and back. It drives me nuts. I am NOT in good shape but want to be! I own a treadmill and bought a BowFlex for $50 at a garage sale. I use the treadmill until the knees scream but am scared of the BowFlex. I am afraid of hurting myself (again!) Wish there was a DVD for using a BowFlex for people with arthritis!

    • Kelekona says:

      Encourager, what sort of arthritis is it? The name won’t help except to direct a search, I’m more interested in how it prevents you from exercising.

      Look into Tai Chi maybe, especially if you can take it with a retirement community crowd. Yoga might be a bit much. Oh, aerobics in a pool.

      Pay attention to your posture. Pay attention to how you move. Do very slow, short experiments to see if you can get your muscles to take more strain than your joints. If you are paying attention and moving slowly, you’ll at least keep yourself from majorly hurting anything, hopefully.

      • Encourager, You might want to go to a Z-health coach to help you fix your body. One who is also a Chiropractor is probably best. Z-health is a complete training system that puts you back in control of your own performance. By using the nervous system to rapidly “debug” your movement patterns, you can create lightning-fast improvements in performance. (Plus pain relief, injury prevention, and mindset.) http://www.zhealth.net/find-a-trainer Indian Clubs are good for rehabilitating shoulder injuries. http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=CLUBA
        Systema, a Russian martial art has a breathing system that helps all aspects of movement. Since you use it all the time and not just when practicing the martial system it can be better than Tai Chi.
        You could also try exercising with a kettlebell. I know it looks intense, but good kettlebell coaches can fix shoulder injuries, knee, and back problems. Dragon Door has intense training to become certified as a coach. They usually spend years training. Dragon Door also has other rehab training. Some other styles might have competent coaches too. DragonDoor.com has reviews of coaches all over the world.

        • I want to keep my comments shorter, but I haven’t figured out how yet.
          Nutrition is the key to healing ALL diseases. Alot of things need to be removed too, but without nutient dense food no one will really have much health.
          Everlasting Health Humanity’s Guide to Understanding, Avoiding, and Reversing Disease by Robert Berarndini, M.S.

          Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon is the best cookbook to help you eat real food. There are even recepies for food storage (lacto-fermented mostly).
          Herbs for Women’s Health: Herbal Help for the Female Cycle from PMS to Menopause (Good Herb Guide Series) by Mary Bove, M.N.I.M.H, N.D., L.M. Bove is among the most highly trained herbalists in the Western world. She has formal training in the British system of herbalism, and is also a naturopathic physician and midwife. Add years of experience to that training, and we have one of the best resources available for herbs and women’s health.
          The Tapping Solution Book by Patricia Carrington, Ph.D. Dr. Carrington is a professor at Princeton, but Meridian Point Tapping still works. It is based on Acupressure principles.
          So far I only use a few techniques I learned on mercola.com, and it’s quite good.
          Cure Tooth Decay: Remineralize Cavities and Repair Teeth Naturally byRamiel Nagel I included this because almost everyone has too decay. But most can me cured for less than one root canal!

          • ADAPTOGENS: HERBS FOR STRENGTH, STAMINA, AND STRESS RELIEF byDavid Winston, RH(AHG), and Steven Maimes
            Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James L. Wilson, ND,DC Most people have some level of fatigued adrenal glans.
            The Doom and Bloom(tm) Survival Medicine Handbook: Keep your loved ones healthy in every disaster, from wildfires to a complete societal collapse byJoseph Alton M.D. & Amy Alton ARNP I think all preppers need this book. It is the next prepping book I’m buying.
            Radical Medicine Cutting Edge Natural Therapies That Treat the Root Causes of Disease by Louisa L. Williams, M.S., D.C., N.D.
            693 pages $75. Radical Medicine reveals the most essential treatments required to achieve optimal health and ensure against future degenerative disease. In a sense, Dr. Williams has respectfully and carefully updated Dr. Price’s findings for the 21st century, in light of the complex world we now live in. I figure you won’t want to buy such an expensive book, but you could pass the information to someone with severe health problems.
            You can get more information on healing arthritis from the Waston A. Price Foundation. The Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, the American Academy for Advancement in Medicine. Also the Cancer Control Society has great resources for healing & avoiding cancer. 1in 3 to 1 in 2 people in America have or will have cancer. Stress in all forms contributes to cancer. So does inflamation. Project-Meditation.org sell the Life Flow audio meditation course. It works well! Even the free demo. I listen to it on repeat. It is just the sounds of a babling brook and chimes.

          • Encourager says:

            Marcus, I love the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. It has helped me immensely. Soaking your grain is something she really pushes. It DOES make better oatmeal, and I had the best bread by letting the dough set overnight. Highly recommend that book.

            • That’s great! Though you might want to cut down on starchy carbs. I know they are in -expensive, but they can agrivate arthritis even when soaked. I have some arthritis symptoms even though I’m only in my early 30s. I think lacto-fermented soft drinks help a lot, so does ginger. I also think a diet that is 20% starchy carb, 65% fat, 15% protein is the best. In Perfect Health Diet Paul & Shou-Ching Jaminet cite a study that fruits & veggies are broken down to fat before being digested. And another study that humans only need 5 grams of protein a day to gain 26 lbs of muscle in a year. It’s mainly more caloriesn not protein. (Hawiians eat the 20/65/15 ratio. The men are rather muscular and all lived to 100-120 before adpoting industrial food.) Dr. Tom Cowan, MD of the WAPF says to only eat 70g of carbs a day. Dr. Cowan wrote that NT also says 70g carbs daily is best with arthritis. He also says Boswellia aka Frankincense is very good. I think his article is quite good http://www.westonaprice.org/ask-the-doctor/painful-joints The Jaminets say to eat 200g carbs in a 2,000 calorie diet. (They speak at WAPF concentions. I have found quite a few doctors through the WAPF chapter where I live. Though I still live in a metro area. I like going to a doctor who actually uses recipes in Nourishing Traditions.

  8. As they said in Zombieland

    Fatties were the first to go. I think that was in reguards to one of the rules about cardio LOL

  9. I think the general idea is to get in BETTER shape. I have a job that requires strength AND endurance at times. I am amazed at the amount of fat-body slugs that loaf around and don’t keep fit. It literally can coat them tyeir life and yet they still would rather loaf around and eat crap then get up and walk around.

    I recently had q serious injury and had to change my workouts. Instead of lifting heavy weights with few reps I am forsed to lift light weight with a lot of reps. I feel way better now. The cardio plus reps is getting me in better shape.

    You don’t need to do much just do something every day. I alternate between lifting and cadrio to give my muscles a rest. That is way important.

    I agree with the above poster that training with your gear is important but I would encourage you to work up to that. Rather than throwing on your pack and trying to hump 10 miles and failing, you should start off by walking / noting 4-5 miles no pack and work up to the long hump.

  10. axelsteve says:

    I enjoyed this article it was balanced. I am in the chopping wood camp as an excercise.It also provides a useful product int he end. I used to be an iron pumper and never was a cardio freak.One thing that I used to do was endurance day. Endurance day was on a Friday . I would get a moderate weight on the bar.Normally 225 lbs.I would use the bar to do squats 10 sets of 10 reps.I kept the bar on my shoulders between sets and I worked on putting a shorter resting period between sets.I did that on fridays so I would have the weekend to recover.

  11. i paid 13 dollars for my weight set. Its an overnight bagwith a couple of contractor bags that have sand in. it weighs about 30 lbs. I also have a jump rope. i am more in shape using that and just my body (doing various pushups and situps) then i was when i was benching and curling.weight sets are so overrated. they make you big and make you look scary but its useless muscle. Youre muscles need to be conditioned to work for time not for sets.

  12. antifederalist22 says:

    I separated from the Army in mid-2003 then put on 75 pounds over 7 years. I worked it all off back to a lean 170 in 4 months cutting nearly 8 inches from my waist size and I focus on cardio and endurance strength training. I run faster than when I was in the Army, 15 years older than when I joined. I run up to half marathon distances non-stop and have finished in the top 5% on 5 Tough Mudder events from 2010-2011. Have one TM in Sept 2012. I am satisfied.

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