The Prepper Journal

Underrated Survival Skill: Getting and Staying in Shape

You’ve pulled out all the stops. Water filter? Check. Stockpiled food? Check. An impressive arsenal of weapons to use only in the case of self-defense? Check. But there’s just one problem that you haven’t accounted for — one that should’ve occurred to you.

Underrated Survival Skill: Getting and Staying in Shape - The Prepper Journal

While you do have a large reserve of fresh food and water and the latest model of assault rifle, what you don’t have is a gym membership. Maybe you thought you didn’t need it, or maybe it just never came up, but now you’re envisioning yourself trekking through a lawless wasteland, out of breath, because you neglected cardio.

Any prepper worth their salt will tell you physical fitness is an essential part of survival in the barren battleground of post-apocalyptic America. Without a strong set of legs and lungs, you won’t make it past the outskirts of your town. Heck, you likely won’t make it past your backyard fence.

There are plenty of reasons survivalists don’t pay enough attention to their fitness. They might believe they’ll be secure squirreled away in their safe room or underground bunker as they wait out the worst of things. Or maybe they aren’t expecting to do a whole lot of travel.

But the key to proper preparation is to expect the unexpected. Even if you plan to keep all 12 of your locks sealed tight, a fire or emergency might push you from your safe space out into the world, and then you’ll have to depend on your physical endurance to get you from point A to B.

So what can you do to begin honing your body into the perfect instrument? This article will list the top ways you can get and stay in shape so you can beat the odds.

Figure Out Your Limitations

Before you start a strict workout regimen, learn what you’re capable of. Doing so reduces your risk of injury. Try basic exercises to evaluate where you stand regarding your present physical fitness, then move on incrementally from there.

Set a timer and see how long it takes you to complete a mile. Perform as many push-ups, sit-ups, crunches and curls as possible before you exhaust yourself. It’ll give you a good indication of where your body is now and a helpful frame of reference to look back on in the future.

Once you have a solid understanding of your current physical acumen, use that information to structure the workout plan you intend to follow. Don’t make the mistake of pushing yourself too far too fast. These preliminary precautions will stop you from doing precisely that.

After you’ve logged your baseline, it’s time to start adding these elements into the mix.

Regular Cardio

Some consider cardio to be the most essential part of physical fitness in the event of an end-of-the-world scenario. And it makes sense. It’s easy to imagine a situation where you’ll be forced to escape a group of people who mean you ill will.

Equally likely is a long journey on foot across hilly or mountainous terrain, especially when you consider gas stations will be permanently out of commission. Reliance on vehicles for transportation is not a safe bet. So, cardio is at the top of the list when it comes to essential skills.

Start your routine with a combination of running and walking, taking intermittent breaks to catch your breath as you begin building stamina. A focus on form is your top priority in the early stages of running. Without good form, you’ll sacrifice more energy than necessary and do damage to your joints.

Before starting your run, remember to stretch! Neglecting proper warm up techniques is a common cause for sprains and tears.


You never know when you’ll need to rely on your physical strength to help you escape a perilous predicament. The last thing you want is to get outclassed by an enemy who can easily overpower you. Your very life could depend upon how much weight you can lift, so take strength training seriously.

A membership at your local fitness center will be well worth the cost. Alternate between machines and free weights to maximize your efficiency with what time you have, taking time between sets to hydrate. Dips are an effective upper-body exercise that hits your chest, shoulders and triceps.

For those of us who find it difficult finding the motivation to visit the gym regularly, involve a friend. Having another person depend on you gives an incentive not to skip. If you can’t find a friend, book sessions with a personal trainer to acclimate yourself to a steady routine.

Coordination Training

Coordination has many practical applications, both in the city and the wilderness. You’ll find any area you traverse will have a set of challenges to test your spatial reasoning. Sharpen these abilities, and you’ll greatly improve your chances of survival.

Maybe you’re sprinting through a forest and have to weave between trees while avoiding their roots. Or, perhaps you’re traveling through an urban setting as you jump from roof to roof. Either way, you’ll be welcoming pain if you can’t swiftly manage external stimuli.

Techniques for improving coordination range from juggling to balancing. If you have access to an obstacle course in your area, see how quickly you can complete it. Otherwise, hopscotch, catch and twist jumps are all excellent for improving your control.

Outside of its effect on your mobility, coordination will also influence your skill in handling particular weapons. Whether you’re wielding a baton, knife or bow, it’s an extension of your body. Your accuracy will fall on how deftly you maneuver yourself.

Let’s See Some Hustle!

No amount of study, stocking or building can help you if you’re out of shape. You have a responsibility to you and your family to maintain peak physical condition at all times. Because when disaster strikes — and it will — you’ll be the first person they turn to for guidance. Don’t neglect your body! Start a cardio routine, lift weights and practice your coordination. We’ll catch you in the field.

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