It can be difficult to prioritize your focus when preparing.
Food, water, shelter… all these things are essential for humans to survive.
Nonetheless, I can easily answer when being asked what the single most important thing in prepping is.
What’s best about this number 1 thing in prepping: it doesn’t even cost you any money!
I am talking about your health and fitness.
Why fitness and health are so important
“Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general.” ― Mark Rippetoe
Of course, it’s correct, that food, water, and shelter are also essential when it comes to surviving BUT all of these things are worthless if you are unfit and unhealthy.
Any “SHTF” disaster scenario will be extremely stressful and taxing on both your body and mind. While most people are aware of the mental aspect, they still tend to neglect the physical part. The reason for this is obvious: Getting and staying physically fit requires work and effort while shopping for fancy prepper gear is easy.
In a disaster scenario, you will be under constant stress, causing your body to release stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol which puts your body in constant “fight or flight” mode. While this helps you to perform better for a while, it also dampens your immune system and makes it harder to recover.
On top of that, you will have to put in a lot of work, challenging your body all day long. Maybe you’ll have to shovel sandbags to keep your house from being flooded. Maybe you’ll have to toil in the fields to ensure your harvest or chop firewood to heat your house. You may even have to spend half the night on guard duty, protecting your family from marauders.
Being physically fit will help you a long way to get through all the hardships and challenges that may come.
Furthermore, living a healthy and fitness-oriented lifestyle NOW will help prevent you from getting chronically ill.
Being chronically ill and depending on medication for your type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure will put you in a bad spot. Most of these drugs are produced in Asia and could become unavailable at any time! The lockdowns due to Covid19 have proven how fragile the supply chains are.
Of course, you can’t prevent from ever getting ill, but a majority of chronic illnesses in Western societies can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle and staying fit!
What you should focus your training on
So, what kind of training should you do to prepare yourself physically for the future?
There are two things to focus on, and neither will cost you a lot of money:
- Get your heart pumping
- Lift heavy stuff
What do I mean by that?
1 Train your cardiovascular system
One of the things you should focus on is your cardiovascular system, aka your aerobic endurance. This will help you to be active longer and do the work that needs to be done. A solid aerobic endurance will also help you recover faster from a hard day’s work.
2 Train your basic strength
Almost all the work you can do will require one of the basic movements the human body is meant to do. Those basic movements include:
Make sure to train and build as much strength as you can in those basic movements. This strength will be a solid foundation for any type of work you will have to do. You can do this in your garage with a barbell, weights, and a simple rack. If you don’t have the money for this, you can use filled sandbags or even an old backpack filled with dirt. I do recommend though to have an experienced trainer give you an introduction on how to lift safely.
Must-Do Exercises for Prepper Fitness
Here are a few exercises around which you should build a workout routine.
- Bench press
- Shoulder press
- Core stability exercises like crunches
- Running / Jogging / Walking
How to Start
Now, there are thousands of books and blogs that cover the vast topic of health and physical fitness out there. Not all of the advice you find on the internet is good advice.
If you can afford it, get a good trainer with experience in powerlifting or Olympic weightlifting to coach you when you start with strength training.
If that is not an option for you, I can highly recommend “Starting Strength” by Mark Rippetoe to get into the basics of strength training and learn how to develop your workout routine. This book is widely considered the “bible” of strength training and is full of useful, practical advice.
Soon we will introduce further methods of physically preparing your body to cope with the hardships we will most likely face in the future, so stay tuned!