Very strong muscled man holding prepper supplies dropping his toilet paper supply in rage

A Prepper’s Guide to Strength & Fitness Training for the Apocalypse.

Surviving is about more than knowing how to build a lean-to shelter. Being in good physical health will help you battle the odds when you find yourself in the sticks. Survival is about more than lighting a fire or stocking up on rations, it is a full spectrum of skills and abilities that you can continuously improve on. In this blog, we’re going to help you prepare for bugging out. 

The top reasons for preppers to get fit

  1. Carry the weight

    If you’ve been watching our Youtube videos or reading our blogs, you know that bugging out can entail carrying a heavy load. Getting used to the weight of a heavy pack can help you go further, faster––a necessity when every step counts.

  2. The lone wolf

    If you’re alone, can you defend yourself? Lift heavy logs? Carry the deer you painstakingly hunted? We don’t often consider how necessary it is to be self-sufficient, but when you’re alone after grid-down, you can’t just call someone to help you. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and working on them is a critical skill.

  3. Increase your stamina

    The more prepared you are, the better able you are to withstand prolonged activity. So it is essential that you build your stamina before you’re in a survival situation. Try combining your workout with continuing to develop bushcraft skills to increase your ability to thrive. Remember, learning what you can and cannot do and building those skills will help you endure the real thing.

Exercises that engage multiple muscle groups build whole-body strength. 

Compound exercises, as opposed to isolated ones, work muscle groups. These exercises benefit you in several ways, such as: 

  • Increased intermuscular coordination

    This can improve your balance, stability, and how your body moves together to complete a task.

  • Improved overall strength and stability

    While focusing on a single muscle through isolated exercises can develop the look of a specific muscle or be used in physical therapy after an injury, we are focused on increasing your strength. Your overall strength is a necessary part of your survival plan. Compound movement benefits both your strength and stability by engaging more muscle fibres, challenging their range of motion, and developing balance.

  • Develop cardiovascular endurance

    These exercises increase your level of activity which increases your heart rate and V02 max. Improving your endurance and cardiovascular ability is an important part of your fitness, you never know when you’ll have to be able to run farther than a potential threat. 

5 key exercises for preppers

These are great examples of compound exercises that can build your strength and improve your fitness. Always remember to start where you are at––don’t go from no exercise to trying to deadlift 200lbs. Begin lower than you assume you are and build from there. This approach allows you to grow and excel without injury. Remember, all things take time and practice, so be patient with the process. 

  1. Deadlifts

    man performing a deadlift

    Deadlifts target your forearms, lats, glutes, hamstrings, core, and full back––it’s truly a full-body workout. Ensuring you have the proper technique is essential to avoiding injury, so make sure you do some research before grabbing your nearest barbell.

  2. Squats

    Group fitness class squating

    Great for your quadriceps, glutes, calves, and your core, a squat requires no equipment to start and can be done in your living room, which is especially great given that many gyms are still not open due to covid-19.

  3. Pushups and planks

    Woman in white sports bra doing pushups

    Simple often does it––there is a reason these tried and true exercises will always remain a staple. Learn how to do proper pushup and plank and you can do a little at a time until you’re ready to join the navy seals. The best part about a plank is that anyone can do one, for as long as you feel steady holding the plank. Do one every day until it becomes easier. Try doing both planks and pushups in your sets, depending on your level of fitness.

  4. Pull-ups

    A couple doing chin ups together

    You might not be able to do these right off the hop, or you might suffer through one. This is normal and there are ways to practice this technique every day until it feels natural. Try starting with an inverted bodyweight row, doing dips, or practicing negative pull-ups. These great exercises will help you achieve a pull-up in no time.

  5. Bench press

    Man in blue shirt doing a bench press

    Presses help you to increase strength in your entire upper body, which makes them a valuable tool in your workout arsenal. Start small––if you can barely lift it, it is too heavy. When doing work with weights, working with a personal trainer can assist you with navigating form and equipment. Many gyms give you access to a trainer as part of signing up for a new membership. Shop around and find the best option for you.

Other great ways to improve your fitness level.

Becoming more fit can be daunting, even if you’re preparing for grid-down. Finding an activity that you enjoy can be a great way to start adding more fitness into your daily routine. Building a new habit takes work and drive. So start with something you can get into.

Alternative ideas for building a healthy fitness habit: 

  • Join a rock climbing gym

    Mature adult climbing an indoor climbing wall in a green shirt

    If you’ve never been to a climbing gym, it’s a great full-body workout. Continued training is often encouraged as you become more proficient, and you can increase your strength and stamina by continuing to climb harder graded problems. It also mimics a real life survival situation! Being able to move quickly and with skill in complicated terrain is a great skill set to develop.

  • Stretch it out

    Group fitness class stretching after a workout

    While you are working on your strength, it is key that you also develop a good stretching routine to avoid injury and to mitigate the effects of a heavy workout on your body. When you are in the woods with no one around, you can’t afford to injure yourself. While you might think yoga isn’t for you, it is a good way to develop techniques for decreasing your chance for injury. Stretching helps to avoid injury by ensuring muscles are limber and able to handle the stress of a workout. It will also increase your range of motion and overall flexibility. So before and after your workout, stretch.

  • Go with a friend

    Two people trekking in the sunset

    Finding someone to work out with can help keep you accountable, especially if you share similar goals. You can develop a fitness routine with a friend, or even with your whole family. Working with others can help motivate you to continue working towards your goals.

  • Find an adult recreation league

    Regardless of your skill level, there is an adult league that you can join, from floor hockey, soccer, football, and more. Many of these sports will build your cardio and help to form the habit of exercise in a less intimidating environment. Team activities can help motivate you to continue to develop your fitness habits and encourage you to keep them up.

  • Group classes

    There are amazing group classes in a number of exercise styles from yoga to jiu-jitsu. Search your area for more information on group sessions. Group sessions are often marketed in levels, so you can start where you are most comfortable and progress. This is a great rubric for marking your success and can help motivate you to continue.

One of the best ways to prepare for grid-down is to prepare your body.

Man jogging near a river increasing his stamina

In our latest Youtube poll, many of you voted that preparedness fitness was one of your top priorities. We hope these techniques will improve your preparedness plans, and get you one step closer to being ready.

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