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No matter if you believe in the theory of evolution or creationism about how the world was created, one constant fact does remain from Darwin’s theory: Only the strong survive.
Survival of the fittest is a fact that resonates with man and animal alike. What exactly does being the fittest mean? We become more fit when we train with our weapons, when we learn new skills, and when we stockpile ammo, food and water.
These things make us more fit to survive a crisis situation all around. But we sometimes forget that we need to prepare our bodies for this situation.
This is something I see throughout the prepping community. Very few choose to spend time to further develop our bodies. There are a lot of reasons for this. A lot of these reasons come down to little things in life like work, lack of time, and of course not knowing where even to start.
Let’s face it: The prepping and even the gun community have developed a stereotype affectionately known as the old fat white guy, occasionally known as the OFWG. This comes from the big guys talking tactics and gear while their gut hangs over their belts. This is something we need to change in our community.
Your mind is your most valuable weapon, but your body comes in at a close second. You can have the most accurate and powerful weapon in the world, but if it’s too dirty to work then all that won’t really matter.
When I was in the Marines, working out was part of my job. Every morning we got together as a platoon or squad. Throughout the day when we weren’t training we were encouraged to go to the gym and work out on our own. It was extremely convenient since the gym was across the street from my barracks. Nowadays, I work a normal job with some odd hours, often early in the morning and late at night. It is extremely hard to find any kind of time to really work out. It really comes down to just doing it — come home from work, change into shorts and go.
Now, where do we even start? There are a lot of great beginner programs out there that require little extra gear. Your body is an amazing workout tool, and being able to work out without equipment means you can do it anywhere — and if time permits even exercise during a survival situation. This sounds foolish and nearly comical to imagine doing push-ups when the world is falling apart, but it’s really not.
A workout regime can help reduce stress levels and give you something to hold onto from better times. Working out can help someone keep mental stability in a constant stress environment. Working out allows a person to temporarily focus on something else, and focus solely on the physical activity. Men deployed to a combat zone will often become incredibly resourceful with the little space and few materials they have to build and maintain their own workout areas. This seems odd, but nothing can help you unwind more than putting your body to the test.
They turn sandbags into weights, old tires into something to flip, and engineer stakes into bench presses and curling bars. They free their minds from stress and keep their minds ready to fight.
The first step is the hardest, and it often takes at least a week before you stop being sore, stop feeling like you’re having a panic attack, and you start to see a few results. The first step is to get off the couch; the second is not putting yourself down. Many of us don’t realize how out of shape we are until we start trying to work out and we get surprised by how much we suck. It’s at this point a lot of us just want to give up.
Push forward and push up, though. I’m not advocating anyone needs six pack abs and a single digit percentage of body fat. I believe at the very minimum a person should be able to:
- run a mile in less than 10 minutes.
- do 50 push-ups in under two minutes
- lift at least 50 pounds over their head a few times.
These requirements aren’t that high and people of most ages should be able to do. This isn’t even the minimum standard of the Marine Corps.
A great program for beginners and those us with a few extra pounds is the couch to 5k  program developed by Josh Clark which has produced hundreds of success stories. The program emphasizes easing into running longer and longer until a person is capable of running for at least half an hour. The program even has an app to track progress on your phone or computer. It combines running, jogging, walking and sprinting.
For those equipment-free workouts that can be done anywhere, from a motel room to a living room, you have a few options. The Neila Rey visual workouts are excellent. She hosts them on her website and they are completely free to use, download and print and she has well over a hundred by now. She has workouts for building muscle, trimming weight and for general cardio. She posts new workouts all the time and updates the site constantly. She also hosts healthy diet habits and offers general nutritional and exercise tips. The best part is that these exercises can be done by anyone, regardless of skill level. If the workout gets easier you can add extra sets, or reps, as well as up the intensity level.
These workouts are great for getting in better shape and developing a good workout routine and the muscles you use every day.
Now, when it comes to a more survival-based option, we have more survival- and combat-based workouts. A punching bag and the proper equipment are an excellent way to not only develop strength and burn fat, but also to develop the muscles and even smooth out and speed up your attacking technique.
Forced marches were a favorite when I was in the Marine Corps, and during my first deployment I saw why. Developing the strength and endurance needed to move with weight is one part, but developing the mental toughness to keep going and knowing what you can do will make the biggest difference. Start with a 5K hump carrying your bug-out bag and if your area allows, your weapons. This serves a dual purpose of getting in some good exercise and getting to test your gear and rebalance your back, readjust or refit your holsters, magazines, and ammo pouches, etc.
The same goes for short sprints. Think of these as a movement to cover or contact. Wearing your gear is going to dramatically increase the difficulty, but will make your boy accustomed to it, and let you know if your gear is up to snuff.
Physical fitness is going to make a bigger difference than most of us want to admit. You can own be as prepared as anyone, but still get taken out by some punk who is faster than you and in better shape, which will keep him in the fight longer.