Prepping for extreme survival situations often involves acquiring appropriate supplies and obtaining the training required to use them correctly. One often ignored subset of survival is the physical fitness of the prepper. How long would a 300 pound man with 35% body fat last if they were forced to bug out? When it comes to prepping, fitness is a critical element of the entire plan.
Realistically, you do not need to be at the fitness level of a professional athlete. In fact, many of the muscles needed for survival better fall in line with the work down by an Infantryman rather than a cross country runner. When it comes to extreme situations, you will be more likely carrying a pack and wearing boots rather than athletic shorts and field cleats.
The practical reason why the military stresses fitness is because service members, especially those in combat arms, will need to carry heavy packs over long distances (anywhere from 10-30 miles), sprint for short distances while wearing all of their gear, and to be able to carry wounded comrades to safety. Almost all of these will apply to a prepper when the SHTF.
The easiest way to prepare your body is to load up your bugout with about ten to fifteen pounds of additional weight and go power walking. This doesn’t mean go for a stroll in the park. Walk as fast as you can without actually running. Do this for as long as you can without a break though you should aim for an hour when you start. The weight of the bag will work your trapezius muscles and when it comes time to carry your actual pack, it will feel light by comparison.
For those out of shape, do not be surprised if it is hard to go for ten minutes or less at first. Push yourself, but don’t injure yourself. Make sure to stay hydrated and try to ruck with a buddy. Be warned, long rucks often cause massive blister and I’ve seen guys with flayed heels at the end of the march. Invest in some good footwear to try to mitigate these problems.
High stakes scenarios are the adrenaline pumping, fight or flight situations that action movies show every five minutes. Unlike marathon running or rucking, these require quick, violent bursts of activity that involve sprinting from cover to the next place of safety. Again, it isn’t necessary to be a top tier athlete. When it comes to sprinting, it is more important to be able to recover quickly rather than to break some kind of record.
The worst situation you can find yourself in, is when you need to sprint but halfway through can not breath so you stop while you are still vulnerable. This is due to your body being unable to effectively operate under anaerobic activity for long. This is fixed by exercising in short bursts of high energy training, often call HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).
Try sprinting as fast as you can for 30 seconds around a track. Once the time expires, walk for 60 seconds. It is important to keep moving and not to stop and lay down. This causes your muscles to freeze and makes it much harder to preform future repetitions without cramping.