xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Fitness for SHTF. ~ The Prepared Guy

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Fitness for SHTF.

Notice how I wrote fitness 'for'  SHTF and not 'in' SHTF.  You must be fit before the S H T F in order to be fit during an SHTF event.  That's pretty obvious but I am concerned about some of you.  I am not a fitness expert nor a nutritionists.  These are my opinions and what I have come to learn for myself.  My hope is to give you some ideas and possibly inspiration to get fit.

To prepare for TEOTWAWKI or an SHTF event we first build up our food storage and other supplies, have an awesome bug out location, practice our fire making and other skills but I feel that physical fitness takes a back seat for many of us.

Depending upon the event, but much more likely than not, you'll be pushed far more physically when it hits the fan.  Your feet, legs and lungs will be the first to notice as they will have to carry you further, under heavier load, and more often then likely they have before.  Your back and arms will take a beating because of the heavy loads and tasks you'll need to perform.  How are your forearms and hands?  Can you cut down a tree and chop it into firewood with a hand saw and an axe without getting blisters or suffering serious fatigue or muscle shutdown?  Is your back strong enough to dig up and turn over your backyard so that you can plant a garden, dig a latrine or even graves?  I didn't think so.  Although I exercise regularly this kind of work is punishing for me physically as well.  It will become reality soon enough so it's time to take getting fit seriously.

Short of living off the land by living off-grid or working on a farm or ranch how does one become prepared for this kind of situation?  One of the many things that I say regularly is that we should change our lifestyles now so that when we are compelled to change the transition won't be as difficult.  Here are a few suggestions and questions to ask yourself:

If you have a tree in your yard, or maybe your neighbor has one that needs to come down, use a hand saw and axe instead of a chain saw so that you can truly appreciate how difficult the work is as well as to condition your body.  It will also help you know your limits as you don't want to hurt yourself, especially during SHTF.  Pile up this wood in your backyard instead of taking it to the landfill.  BTW, I hope you have a wood burning stove in your home.

Stand, don't sit.  Whether at work or where ever you go spend more time standing than sitting.  It is a known fact that standing burns more calories.  However small this difference in calories may be you are also building up your endurance.

Do all of your own yard work including mowing the lawn.  Push your mower instead of using the self drive.

How far would you have to walk to get water from a spring or river?  How long will it take you to get there and how much water can you carry?  How many times a day will you need to make the trip to get the water you need?

Have you ever ground a #10 can of wheat by hand with a hand grinder?  How long does it take you and how often will you need to do it?  Do you have the stamina to do this each and every day?

Can you endure standing watch for multiple nights?  Can you function well on just a few hours sleep each night?

Endurance is the key.

Take the television show American Ninja Warrior for an example.  The muscle bound guys who take on the first qualification course rarely make it to the end.  It's always the skinny, ripped, rock climber types that make it the furthest the fastest.  The need for one person to lift a large amount of weight in a 'real world' setting is few and far between.  Large muscles only get in the way and have very little practical use when SHTF.  If you work out in a gym remember that lots of repetitions with low weight will get you the lean muscle and endurance you need to thrive when SHTF.

I don't believe that working out for SHTF fitness needs to be done in a gym.  Here is a list of my recommended exercises that will better prepare you for an SHTF event.

Push Ups - Shoot for a goal of being able to do 20 push ups at any given time, multiple sets everyday.  I train using "Perfect Pushup" or another device that allows me to increase my range of motion throughout the entire push up; from the top all the way down to touching the floor .  The "Perfect Pushup" also adds a twist so as to strengthen some of the stabilizing muscles. Doing this exercise correctly is key.  All the way up and all the way down slowly so as to work the biceps, triceps and pecs as well.  It also strengthens muscles in your back.

Pull Ups - Forearm and bicep strength is essential when using hand tools from axes to shovels.  My goal is 10 consecutive pull ups, doing multiple sets during each and every day.  Lift your legs slightly at the knee and incorporate a crunch into your pull up or extend your legs outward to strengthen your core muscles.    

Sit Ups/Crunches - My least favorite exercise but possibly the most important.  Core strength is essential to a strong back and to prevent injury.  Strengthening your abdominal muscles can help you to avoid injury to your back.  I do most of my crunches with the Total Gym.

Walking/Hiking - In addition to standing as much as possible during the day instead of sitting, a weekly hike of a few miles is my minimum.  The intensity of my hikes vary greatly from a casual trail hike with my son when we practice some bushcraft skills to summitting a local peak or an off trail bushwacking afternoon adventure.  Longer and more strenuous hikes and backpacking trips are a great way to push yourself and test your readiness.

Sprinting -  If you are not 'in shape' and attempt to sprint you are likely to hurt yourself, especially if you're gettin' up there in age like me.  In many emergency scenarios it may be necessary to quickly run away from danger, to cover, or sprint to someones side who is in need of help.  Mix an occasional sprint in with your regular walking or hiking.
Stairs - This is a love/hate relationship.  Great for cardio and quads.  If I can't go for a hike I do stairs. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Cardio - Hiking, stairs, walking, and swimming.  The heart is a muscle that also needs regular exercise.  That's Zombieland's rule #1,

Total Gym -  I love my Total Gym!   I'm not trying to sell products here.  I spend 15 minutes on this and get more flexible and stronger each time.  It's a great tool for my forearms as well as abs.  Anytime I can be more like Chuck Norris I take the opportunity.

Swimming - I am not much of a swimmer.  I can save myself in case of a water emergency but it won't be very graceful.  This is an essential skill that may come in handy.   A few standards I have set for myself are: Tread water for 2 minutes, swim 100 yards using any stroke, swim underwater for 30 seconds.  

Stretching / Flexibility -  Zombieland Rule #18: "Limber up!"  Take time each day to stretch and warm up the major muscle groups, especially before strenuous exercise.  Stretching increases range of movement and reduces the chance of injury.  Instead of adding weight to your workout routine use less and concentrate on strength throughout your full range of motion.

Breathing / Meditation - Taking time to breath purposefully increases oxygen levels in your blood which assists in detoxifying your body and healing.  Proper breathing can also help to decrease anxiety, attitude, and decrease pain. My technique?  Breathe in deep and fairly quickly through my nose for a count of 5, hold for a count of 10, exhale for a count of 10.  Inhaling deep to expand the alveoli, holding to allow the oxygen to be absorbed, exhaling deeply through the mouth then forcing out as much air as possible, which then creates a vacuum in your lungs sucking air back in.  Then rest for a few normal breaths, repeat.  This is my own version of what I have learned from the way others teach.  The counts can be any version that you decide and need not be terribly consistent.

Diet - Consuming the wrong foods will absolutely limit your ability to build your endurance as well as lean muscle.  Carbonated drinks are one of the worst possible things you could put into your body.  Carbonation is known to cause low mineral bone density and digestive problems.  The high sugar content in fountain drinks is also hard on your body.  Don't be fooled into drinking 'diet' sodas as the artificial sweeteners are actually worse for you than real sugar.  Limit your sugar intake as eating too many sweets can compromise your immune system and lead you on the path to diabetes by overworking your pancreas.  Limit your meat consumption, in particular red meats, as they can tend to cause inflammation and digestion problems.  There are many other good sources of protein than just meat.  Eat lots of live foods like fruits and vegetables and drink lots of filtered water.

These are my minimum personal goals.  I have 5 kids and a full time job in addition to my work with PrepperCon and The Prepared Guy so I have a hard enough time getting in the minimum amount of exercise.  Whenever possible I orient my recreational activities toward fitness in addition to my daily routines.

My advice to you, develop a plan that works best for you and your schedule and be consistent.  It should include as many elements to it as you are able; upper body, legs and cardio with an emphasis on flexibility.  To make progress you must push yourself each time to go beyond your previous performance level.  Once you have reached a level you are happy with working to maintain that level is a good strategy too.  Quitting is not.

As with any activity it is much more fun when you are fit enough to do well at it.  The same goes for prepping and emergencies.  If you're not in shape then SHTF is especially gonna suck for you.  For those of us who are preparing to be in shape for SHTF we may be looking forward to it just a little too much.

Some of you may say that you'll deal with all this when it happens as there's a small chance of it happening anyway.  If this is true, why do you prep at all?  Because you know, like I do, that the possibilities are many and as time goes by the risk increases.  So, what other excuses do you have?


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The purpose of this site is to provide you with information about what I have learned, my experience, and what my motivations are as a Prepared Guy. I have always felt driven to be ready for any situation by something powerful deep inside me. Being prepared has always served me well. I feel compelled to help others do the same.
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