Bug-Out Boot Camp

If you had to carry your loaded 20 pound bug out bag and get the heck out of Dodge on foot, how would you fare? What if you had to carry your sleeping child over the mountains in order to evacuate?

If the proverbial S hits the F, we will see a lot of serious injuries, and even deaths, from people making unaccustomed physical demands on their bodies. A lot of us are going to be using muscles we forgot we had. Our bodies will be under enormous cardiovascular stress. On top of the mental stress we will undergo, the physical stress will very likely kick our butts.

Prepping with food and medical supplies is not enough. A good mental attitude is not sufficient. We have to prep our bodies too.

Moreover, your entire family should begin a fitness program to train their minds and bodies for emergencies as well. A family or group is only as strong as their weakest link. You want a strong group that is physically equipped to handle the demands that an emergency situation may place on them.

*Disclaimer: Before starting this or any other exercise program, consult your physician.

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. You did not get out of shape over night and you won’t get back into shape over night either. If you start off too gung-ho, you risk injury or muscles so sore that you will quit after one or two workouts. You have to listen to your body and locate that fine line between “Okay, that’s all I’ve got” and “If I stop exercising now, I could go lay on the couch with a cold drink, wow, that sounds nice!”

The three facets of fitness are cardio, strength and flexibility. All three are important in a SHTF scenario and for general fitness and wellness. Start gently and work your way up.

Cardio

Cardiovascular fitness might also be called “endurance.” It is the ability of your heart to supply oxygen to your body while you are under physical strain. Cardio is important in many scenarios:

  • In a bug-out situation, you may have to evacuate on foot over rough terrain.
  • When chopping wood you are swinging an axe over and over for an extended period of time.
  • When hunting, you may have to hike through the woods dragging your kill behind you.
  • In a battle situation, you may need to run for cover (or even run away!)
  • In a flood you may need to haul sandbags to build a wall.

To build your cardiovascular fitness, start out simple. You don’t need an expensive membership to a gym. Just lace up your shoes and start walking. I live in a medium sized city and I attempt to incorporate walking into my day by doing as many errands as I can on foot. I also specifically walk for fitness, plugging into my Ipod and bringing along my dog. As your fitness increases, look for more challenging routes with hills. Walking or hiking off road is more of a challenge because of uneven terrain. Finally, you can add a loaded pack for some resistance.

Strength

Strength is also known as muscular fitness. It refers to the ability to lift, pull, drag or push. Muscular fitness can come into play in many ways in a SHTF scenario:

  • When bugging out you’ll likely be carrying a heavy pack while traversing difficult terrain.
  • If you are farming, you will be plowing and tilling, as well as carrying supplies like manure and other fertilizers.
  • Chopping wood is not just cardiovascular – it requires strength too.
  • If a family member is injured, you may end up carrying or supporting them.

To build your strength, you can start out with simple body-weight exercises. Push-ups, crunches, lunges, and squats will increase your strength. Once you have developed a cardiovascular base, do a training walk at least twice a week. Start off with an extra 10-20 pounds in your pack and work your way up from there until you can walk with a 50 pound backpack.  At-home programs like P-90x and Insanity are also great for strength training. Whatever you choose, keep doing it and keep increasing your resistance.

Flexibility

Flexibility is the most neglected part of many fitness routines. Flexibility allows you to perform physical activities without becoming injured. The training stretches your muscles and makes them more pliable and less susceptible to injury.

Yoga is a great way to become more flexible. A yoga DVD or website can walk you through some simple stretches and the routine will soon become a pleasant activity that you look forward to – it simply feels good!  I find that my entire day is off if I don’t start out with my 15 minute routine every morning. If you aren’t a fan of yoga, basic track and field stretches will net you the same results. If you only stretch for 10 minutes per day, you will notice increased flexibility within two short weeks.

Beginner Prepper Fitness Program

Monday:  Stretching 10 minutes, Moderate walk, Strength

Tuesday: Stretching 10 minutes, Moderate walk

Wednesday:  Stretching 10 minutes, Training walk with weight

Thursday:  Stretching 10 minutes, Moderate walk

Friday:  Stretching 10 minutes, Moderate walk, Strength

Saturday:  Stretching 10 minutes, Training walk with weight

As Anatole France once said, “To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” This may sound like a lot, but remember that physical fitness is a prep that is equally as important as a supply of beans, bullets and band-aids. We must work longer and harder at preparing our bodies for being ready to respond quickly and efficiently to short and long-term emergencies. Being more fit will prevent injuries and allow you to take care of business in an emergency situation, without having to sit down and take a breather.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published July 30th, 2012
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  • http://www.survive2balive.com GA

    Good article. Many folks overlook physical condition in their preparedness strategies. Even those that at discouraged or think they are too out of shape to exercise should start some type of physical activity. You can have the best laid plan but if you can’t physically put it into place, what good is it? Additionally, what type of liability do you become to your group or loved ones?  

  • http://survivalsherpa.wordpress.com Survival Sherpa

    Methods are many, principles are few. Just like prepping, health and fitness should become a lifestyle. Otherwise it’s just hit and miss…and usually becomes a routine of misses. Great reminder to all about the importance of our bodies as a survival tool!

  • KM

    Rule number 1 of Zombieland is Cardio.

    Actually once you get in fairly good shape (not great shape) you might want to try p90x.  My wife and I are doing that together and it has been great.  Spending time together as well as giving each other encouragement and support. 

    Or course any workout routine would be beneficial that is just the one we chose.  Tess is right, just get moving.

    We also started backpacking. That has really opened our eyes on what we can do and what we really need to be out for three or four days in the wilderness.  Might want to try that too.

  • KM

    Forgot to add in my comment above that we are in our late 40’s so you don’t need to be young either.  :-)

  • George Collins

    I am a practicing physical therapist and the science on the efficacy of stretching for injury prevention is not well supported. 

    I think a strong case could be made for stretching actually makes one more injury prone.  

    • http://www.readynutrition.com Tess Pennington

      George,

      Respectfully, I don’t understand how stretching one’s muscles makes them more prone to injury. Can you explain that?

      Thanks,

      Tess

  • Marty

    I believe Tess and George are talking about two different things.

    Tess is talking about stretching to increase flexibility. This stretching is done as the exercise itself. Tess is right, it helps avoid injuries and increase “useable” strength. Google “flexibility and strength” for more.

    George is talking about stretching to “warmup” for some other activity. George is right, there is plenty of evidence that this pre-activity warmup increases the chances of injuring yourself during the activity. Google “Bad stretching” for more.

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