One of the things you need to worry about in the post-apocalyptic world is fitness. The modern mind set of fitness dictates that you run everyday or go to the gym and lift weights on specific machines. These workouts are essentially designed to make you look good naked and while there’s nothing wrong with that, you need to be “functionally” fit. These workouts are not efficient at building your body to throw objects, walk or run a long distance over rough terrain, out run a predator, etc. You want to train your body to perform everyday tasks as efficiently as possible.
First of all, running is good. You need to be able to run to evade predators and you will probably need to use running as your primary mode of transportation. On top of this, it is a great cardiovascular excercise. The more you run, more endurance you build. While running 6 miles a day can improve all this, you can’t solely rely on that. Add some sprint training into your routine, run with a weight belt, run stairs, do something more than just the hum drum run. Running is an aerobic workout, but you need to work your running muscles anaerobically (in an oxygen deprived state). Working muscles in an anaerobic state is the best way to improve power in those muscles. It will also give you a little extra push when you feel exhausted and on the verge of collapse.
You need to build your core. Your core muscles are your abs, lower back muscles, and glutes. These muscle provide the core of your strength and stability. Improving these muscle groups will do more for you than improving any other muscle group, plus it provides a solid base for improving your other muscles. You don’t really notice how important your core is, but without it you have poor balance, poor posture, etc. There are any number of excercises that can be done to work these muscles, but in my personal opinion: nothing beats pilates. Pilates was designed specifically to improve the core and build control. It looks lame and boring, but it is a killer workout, especially if you’re a beginner. One of the reasons I like it is that it requires no special equipment and can literally be done anywhere that you can lay flat. You can buy DVD’s to learn the techniques or you can go to your local gym and learn.
Aside from this you should pick up some specialty knowledge: swimming, rock climbing, self-defense,etc. It was recently suggested to me that parkour would be a good skill to pick up for the apocalypse. Parkour is a french sport that is sometimes called “freerunning.” The practitioner adapts their movements in an environment to overcome any obstacles in their way. They jump off walls, over rails, climb fences, etc. This is a good example of expert parkour:
I personally think that the key to building and maintaining a functional fitness program is to come up with a routine that you can work with, that pushes you, and that doesn’t require any equipment (in case the apocalypse does come and you have to haul ass away from where you are right now). Relying on equipment or any particular environment (a gym, paved running path, etc) could be detrimental in the long run.
The United States Marine Corps uses a calisthenic program that they call the “Daily 7”. This routine covers a very basic workout that is designed as a warmup as stretching routine, but it will do in a pinch as a simple exercise program.
Daily 7 Calisthenics
- Side Straddle Hops
- Wide Grip Push-ups
- Hand-to-Knee Squats
- Standing Calf Raises
- Standing Toe Raises
- Back Extensions
- Forward Neck Flexion
- Lateral Neck Flexion
- Lateral Neck Rotation
- Rounded Shoulder Forward Reach
- Chest, Shoulder, Biceps Stretch
- Triceps Stretch
- Overhead Side Bends
- Spinal Twist
- Groin Stretch
- Kneeling or Standing Hip Flexor Stretch
- Supine Hamstring Stretch
- Prone Quadriceps Stretch
- Straight- and Bent-Knee Standing Calf Stretch