Fitness for Preppers

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Last Updated on April 12, 2018

Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from TekNik.


Whenever I meet preppers, I’m usually fascinated by their level of preparedness. The majority have ample supplies of food and water, weapons and the latest technological gizmos. However most seem to be failing to prepare their most indispensable asset, their body. You can have all the fancy gear money can buy but if you’re not able to run, climb a tree, jump over a fence and push that big boulder out-of-the-way, you ain’t gonna survive for long.

Why does a prepper need to be in good shape?

When the SHTF your normal routine will go bust and you’re gonna have to get that lazy ass of yours from off the sofa and start doing all sort of manual chores. From cranking that water pump to installing barricades to your house, everything takes a toll on your body. If you plan or are forced to Bug Out, the demands on your body will be even greater. You’ll have to walk for miles, usually with a heavy pack, full of your fancy equipment, and when looters get you in their targets, you’ll have to run with that pack. If they catch up with you, you have to fight your way out of it.

To me it seems obvious that a prepper should be in optimal physical shape. A prepper is a dormant soldier who has to spring into action when the need arises. So it comes as no surprise that a prepper should have similar physical capabilities as an active duty soldier.

How to make sure you are in shape?

There are several strategies you can adopt to make sure your body is at the same level of preparedness as the rest of your supplies and gear. The following is a guide to get you preppers in shape for a SHTF situation. I start from the very basics so that even the couch potato preppers amongst us can slowly but surely achieve this.

You don't want to have your health working against you in an emergency.

You don’t want to have your health working against you in an emergency.

If indeed you happen to be a couch potato you need to start slowly and build up gradually. Get into a routine of regular exercise (at least 3 times a week) and base your training on the principle of progression; i.e. making every workout more challenging than the previous one. Start with 30 minutes’ walk and each week add a few minutes. Once you are able to walk for more than an hour start increasing the intensity as well. You can do this by walking at a faster pace or by carrying some sort of weight such as a backpack (ideally your BOB, maybe with a reduced amount of equipment at first).

Once you feel comfortable with long walks at high intensity you can progress to incorporating short sections of running. Do not use any weight/backpack when you first start incorporating running. Each week increase the time/distance you spend running vis-à-vis the time/distance you spend walking. Once you start running relatively long sections you can start wearing your backpack. In a few months’ time you’ll be able to go for long runs with a decently sized backpack on your back. Your body is now ready to start other cardio exercises that increase stamina such as cycling, swimming, cross skiing…The options are endless.

Let’s take care of your upper and lower body strength

Now that you’ve got a good level of stamina and some lower body toning, it’s time to start putting on some muscle. You could enroll with a fitness center or set up a home gym in a room or garage. The decision simply boils down to your personal preferences, availability of space and current finances. Setting up a small home gym will require an initial investment of a few grand but there will be no annual fees to pay. You’ll also get to workout any time you want and there will never be a waiting time for using any particular piece of equipment. On the other hand a fitness club membership will only set you back a few hundred bucks but it has to be paid annually. You’re likely to have a larger variety of equipment at your disposal and there’s also the social aspect of attending a gym.

Irrespective of whichever approach you choose, here are a few of the key exercises you should be performing in order to gain overall strength and muscular endurance.

Upper body


  • Pull Ups
  • Bench Press
  • Military Press
  • EX Bar bicep curls
  • Dips on parallel bars
  • Decline sit ups


  • Lateral Pull Down
  • Chest Press
  • Seated Shoulder Press
  • Hammer Curls
  • Triceps push downs on cables
  • Crunches

Lower body


  • Weighted Squats
  • Dead-lifts
  • Weighted Seated Calf Raises


  • Air Squats
  • Leg Curls
  • Standing Calf Raises

Raising the bar- getting Rambo ready

After several months of doing cardio activity (running, cycling, etc…) and strength exercises, you can progress to more challenging activities which are very rewarding and also provide a lot of functional strength and endurance. Functional strength and endurance is a fitness concept whereby you improve your physical abilities and at the same time get your body used to doing activities that help you in your everyday life, job, or in our case in a SHTF scenario.

Such functional benefits can be achieved from exercise routines such as Cross Fit and HIIT, which apart from the normal weight training exercises also include jumping up and down from boxes, throwing and slamming medicine balls, flipping tires, climbing ropes, swinging kettle-bells, hammering with sledgehammers and several others. These exercises mimic directly or indirectly activities a prepper could be doing in a SHTF situation. Attending combat classes such as kick boxing, Muay Tai and MMA is another good alternative. These classes typically include very intense physical exercise. Apart from that, being competent in unarmed combat is another feather on your prepper’s hat.


Test yourself

Once you have achieved a good level of physical fitness and the required mental attitude to go with it, you could give yourself a ‘trial run’ and subscribe to an adventure / fitness race such as the Men’s Health Urbanathlon, Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest or Tough Mudder. The basis of such endurance challenges is a run of several km (usually 10km-15km) combined with numerous obstacles which range from crossing ice ponds on monkey bars to running across high voltage wires. Few activities could get you as mentally and physically prepared for a SHTF situation as these challenges.

The bottom line

Start investing on your physical fitness now and make sure that you and your family can depend on your stamina and strength if the need ever arises. Make sure you could jump over that wall to take cover from the barrage of bullets coming your way and lift that downed electricity pole to free your trapped son. Being in good physical shape will also come handy in your everyday life. So are you ready to start your journey to being the sexiest prepper in town?

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Just a quick point to add as an avid gym goer. If you want to see a bit quicker results and be able to quickly gain strength always opt for free weights over a machine. The control required to keep your body in proper position and form during the exercise will translate into greater strength. Most guys who can free press 75lbs per arm can usually do 225 on bench even though the difference between the two weight wise is significant.

Linda Smith

You’re assuming all preppers are 18 to 40 year olds? At 70 I just keep working on my aim & try to keep a couple of those “warriors” at hand.


Thank you, Linda! At 64 I figure I need to be careful and smart. Not everyone needs to be young and Rambo-ready. If you’re a youngster, by all means be fit. But no matter how much I train, I’ll never be the same as I was at 20 — nor do I need to be.

S. Cullen

I will agree that being in shape is important…and depending on one’s age that needs to be factored in as well. But also one’s local is important as well. If you live in an urban area or suburban area, then more than likely you’ll have greater contact with people who would want to attack you or try and take your possessions than say if you live in a rural or remote area. Then you have to see how you can fortify your environment… more difficult the greater the population than say a rural area, where the population will be more… Read more »


Interesting stuff and timely with New Year coming. I used to run one or two marathons a week. Ran 50 miles most weeks. Sub three hour marathons were easy. Six years later I’m in dreadful shape. I have to get fit or else what the heck do I think I can survive?
I sledged in supplies to my cottage yesterday. I had to take rest breaks. Sad 🙁
Thanks for the article. I need a kick in the pants. One thing I’d say is chop wood, carry wood, and practice carrying water. All on an empty stomach.

Thomas Paine in the butt

Unless you’re experienced with free weight training I’d suggest using machines. Machines will keep the weight moving in a fixed plane. This will help you learn proper form. Rather than a bodybuilding type routine I’d suggest a powerlifting or worlds strongest man type routine. The latter has a lot of dynamic lifts that have real world parallels.

For those who are familiar with dumbbells, I’d suggest strength bands. These are great for people who travel or truck drivers.

need coffee

Free weights are great at the gym but aren’t you suppose to have a spotter?

Afshin Nejat

This is hilarious. It makes perfect sense, but at the same time, are you ready to provide real-time entertainment to a bunch of people whose society resembles a cross between “Game of Thrones” and “Hunger Games”. And they’ve always confessed that they do for the lulz and thrillz, and because they can, or whatever other flippant motto of evil they are using, and so it is literally a game for them. Meanwhile, everyone, get ready to be contestants on a reality T.V. show spanning the geography of a post-apocalyptic, chaotic yet militarily administered former national entity. It will be a… Read more »

Miko Magalay

Had to read this thrice to actually make sense of what you’re trying to say.

…I like you

Afshin Nejat

I edited it to improves its pronounce.


as a boxer and a MMA fighter (amture) this makes me proud knowing that alot of preppers are great fit for the end

Ian Carson

There are actually THREE main areas to overall fitness & conditioning. In broad terms these are 1) Aerobic 2) Strength 3) Flexibility The last one is often neglected and yet ironically can be one of the easiest to fit in as many of the stretches can be done whilst sitting reading or other more sedate activity (Do I dare mention TV watching) I have had a few accidents in the past where my flexibility saved me. One one occasion my leg went into a deep but narrow hole up to around three quarters the length of my thigh, I was… Read more »

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