In this show we talked to Brian who is a veteran of almost 10 years in the Air Force as a Firefighter. We talked about physical fitness for preppers and how becoming physically ready for a SHTF event or survival situation doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym twice a week. here is what Brian wrote for the show today…
Notes From Brian
I’m a veteran of almost 10 years in the Air Force as a Firefighter. Afterward I graduated from Colorado State University with a Major in Exercise Science and a Minor in Business Administration. During and since I’ve received many certifications in the fitness industry:
- Certified Personal Trainer from the American College of Sports Medicine
- Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist from the National Strength and Conditioning Association
- Coaching certifications in Olympic Weightlifting, Kettlebells, and CrossFit
- Instructing certification in Self Myofascial Release
- Experienced coach in many disciplines, such as indoor cycling, sports yoga, boot camps, Crossfit, weightlifting, and all aspects of strength and conditioning.
Instructed at the National Personal Training Institute of Colorado down in Denver, CO. Part Owner/Operator of a Fitness company, FTF Fitness, out in California. Seminar Developer/Presenter with FTF Fitness. Currently working on a “Human Body Owner’s Manual” book on the basics of how our bodies function in movement and exercise.
Blog at www.GnosticJock.blogspot.com
A common theme in Prepping is maintaining a good level of fitness should it be necessary during one of a great many SHTF circumstances.
What does a good level of fitness mean for us Preppers?
The word fitness is really pretty vague. A person can be “Fit” for a great many things. A Fit powerlifter is much different from a Fit triathlete. And considering the great many things a prepper may need to be able to accomplish during an emergency situation, being “Fit” for us is a pretty lofty goal.
When an individual sets out to train their bodies, they should do so with a specific goal in mind. Afterall, if you don’t know where you’re going, how can you hope to figure out which maps and equipment you’ll need? For most people this Goal may be to simply lose some weight, or get better at a certain discipline, say running or cycling. But what might that Goal be for a Prepper? Our journey to fitness will probably include quite a few different goals.
So where does one begin?
Firstly lets understand exactly what we’re trying to do. Simply enough we’re trying to increase our body’s (And certainly our Mind’s too) ability to deal with a large number of stressors. The body you walk around in every day is very much still that of a caveman’s in essence. It’s programmed to survive above all else. When an external stress is placed upon it, it has the ability to adapt in order to better respond to that stress in the future. This is how our species started in a very small part of the world, and over the millennia has spread to every corner of the planet, along the way adapting to the different climates and dangers of each. What’s important to remember here is that your body is an EXTREMELY adaptive piece of bio-machinery. It can, and will, adapt to any stress placed upon it. And we can use this to our advantage by placing carefully programmed types of stress on it in order to mold it into what we desire.
So given this fact, all we have to do is match our program of stress to the goal we want to achieve. If you want to become a better runner, you develop a consistently progressive program to take you from the runner you are, to the runner you want to be. Very simple process really.
One of the keys there is consistent progression. Obviously a couch potato doesn’t simply get up one day and run a marathon. They have to take baby steps to get to that goal. The best way to achieve a goal is to break it into small steps in order to keep your training on course and make sure what you’ve programmed is working the way you want it to.
The way your body gets better at different tasks is to provide it a stimulus, and then let it recover. The art of programming a training regimine is being able to provide an individual with just enough stimulus to affect an adaptation, or change, and then letting it rest and recover. It’s easy to provide far too much, or not enough. But that sweet spot is what we’re aiming for. And that progression is extremely important as well. The same 5 minute jog the first week won’t be enough of a stimulus 4 weeks after you’ve started, so clearly you’d need to increase the time or intensity of your jog in order to continue seeing positive results.
So what, and how, do we train then?
True general fitness includes many different aspects. Just to keep the list short lets stick to Four main attributes that we want to train – Strength, Stamina, Endurance, and Mobility. There are quite a few more, but I feel these are the big ones.
Strength, in this sense, is being able to produce a great deal of force in order to overcome a great deal of resistance. Think of being able to push your car out of a snowbank.
Endurance is being able to continuously exert a small amount of force for a very long time. The easiest example of this would be that 20 mile hike to your bugout location while wearing your #40 pack.
Stamina could be considered a combination of the two. Being able to produce a moderate amount of force for an extended time. This would be something like chopping down a tree, or digging a pit for a shelter. Not an action you’re going to do once or twice, but also not something you’re going to be doing for 8 hours straight.
Mobility includes quite a few things, but the way I like to define it is being able to safely move all your joints through their full range of motion with both strength and stability. Most people these days have absolutely horrible mobility. This is a very important aspect of fitness, and can make even your daily life much easier.
So now that we have some specifics to train, we can start to put together a program. In order to make some good progress, while still not beating ourselves into a pulp, it should be possible to train each of these aspects twice a week. In the beginning a training session could simply be going for a walk, or doing some pushups or lunges and some simple stretches for different joints. It all depends on what your current level of fitness is.
One thing that can hold people back from a training program is that they don’t enjoy going to a gym. Luckily for us we’re training to be more useful and capable humans, which is actually easier using real world equipment in the great outdoors. Ever heard of somebody that had “Farmboy Strength”? That’s because they daily chores and tasks on a farm or a ranch will turn anybody into a beast after a while. Every time you move, lift, throw a different type of item, whether it’s a hay bale or a newborn sheep, that’s a different type of stimulus that your body will respond to. This is a much more effective method of training that just going to the gym and curling dumbbells. Your body gets used to that very quickly. And once it gets used to doing something, then it no longer has reason to adapt.
So now we have some idea of what to use to train right? Simply, keep it changing. When you go for a hike, use a heavier pack some days, and a lighter one on others. Or perhaps alternate walking forward, backward, sideways, etc. Every different kind of stimulus you can think of will cause your body to adapt and be more capable of dealing with new stressors.
Now while I’ve tried to leave things fairly simple, and not get into specifics, I will recommend a few specific training methods.
First is training your Core. When most people think of Core Training they tend to think of their abdominals. While your Abs are a part of your core, they’re certainly not the most important part. Your core is made up of many layers and systems of muscles working together in order to keep your lumbar spine safe, while also providing a strong stable structure in order to transfer strength and power between your upper and lower body. Every movement you do begins in your core. Without a stable core, your body can’t properly stabilize anything else. This means it doesn’t matter how hard you train your arms or legs if your core is a big pile of mush.
Your core must be trained in order to increase all the same aspects of fitness we’ve already talked about. It must be Strong enough to support your spine and hips when you’re lifting a log off of a blocked jeep trail. It must have the Stamina to carry loads of firewood back to your camp. It must have the Endurance to carry you and your bugout bag up a dry riverbed for hours on end until you reach a suitable location to set up camp. And just try to do any of this with hips and a spine that are so tight and immobile that even reaching down to touch your toes is painful.
One very effective way of training your core musculature is by utilizing Kettlebells if you have access to them. They’re a great way to build strength and stamina in both your core and extremities at the same time. And if you can develop proper efficient movements with kettlebells then other items become much easier.
So as far as the types of things I’d program for somebody just getting back into fitness. In the beginning it won’t take much to start getting the body back into gear. As you progress it will take much more, and different types of stimulus to continue to see good results. But to start out I’d go for 1 session per week each of Endurance, Strength/Stamina, and Mobility/Flexibility. This won’t be a complete program, but just enough to get the idea. If anybody would be interested in actual programming for themselves I’d be happy to talk about it with them!
Note: When I say the word scale I mean to add or remove resistance as necessary to complete the exercise prescription as intended. So if you can’t do a pushup on your toes, try doing them on your knees, or even standing against a wall. If the prescription is too easy, try adding weight via a loaded backpack, or by elevating the feet slightly.
Day 1 – Strength/Stamina (all movements scaled as necessary)
- Pushups 2 sets of 8-10
- Single Arm Overhead Press 2 sets of 10-12
- Lunges 2 sets of 6-8 each leg
- Squats – Perform one squat, wait 2 seconds, perform another. Repeat for 90 seconds.
Day 2 – Endurance
10 minute walk at a pace that would make having a conversation difficult. Test yourself by trying to say a full sentence. If you can only get out a few words per breath you’re at the right intensity.
Day 3 – Mobility
In a lunge position, attempt to place your elbow down to the instep of your foot (Use the arm on the same side as whichever leg is forward) Don’t worry if you can’t get it all the way there just yet. Just your palm will do. While doing this, try also to keep proper core alignment by pushing your bellybutton toward the floor. Hold this position for 30 seconds. This video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpgRbgp7PB4 is close, but the rotation isn’t necessary at this point, and the rear knee can rest on the ground. Slowly raise up to the lunge position once more. Next stretch is to push your hips forward in that lunge position. This should be felt in the front of the hip/leg that is behind you. Hold this for 30 seconds as well.
Next movement – Stand against a wall, back facing the wall. Put your arms out at a 90 degree angle, with your fingers toward the ceiling. While keeping your wrists, elbows, and shoulder blades against the wall, slowly pull your elbows down toward the ground, and then raise your fingers up towards the ceiling. Repeat this motion 10-12 times, rest, and then complete another set. [Video Example]
This is a basic program, and the progressions would be fairly simple as well.
- Add 1 set to Pushups, Overhead presses, and Lunges
- Increase time of squat routine to 2 minutes
- Increase walk time to 15 minutes
- Same time/sets for each exercise. Practice increasing the distance you can perform each movement.
The Rocky montage I mentioned, for inspiration, haha
Very good display of a variety of training movements using kettlebells
Thanks for the opportunity Dale,
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