By The Maj.
I have always maintained a reasonably high level of personal fitness. “Working out” was something I picked up early in life and I have done it so long that I literally feel bad when I miss a few days. As I have aged and things have changed in life, my fitness level has changed. I do not believe it could be classified as a decrease, so to speak, but I am nowhere near what I would consider the top physical condition of my life – still probably miles ahead of most Americans and yet different. My routines have varied over the years but still centered around the age old tenants of Cardio, Weight Training, and Flexibility with variations within each major category for where I needed to be at that particular time. I will not bore you with a laundry list of daily activities / exercises that I have found to work for me but I will tell you that I am not a member of a gym and I have no intention of becoming one. Nothing against gyms, Lord knows I have spent my fair share of time in them, but for my needs there are better options and less excuses.
One of the keys to an exercise program that most miss when they decide to start is defining where they want to be – weight loss, body building, muscle tone/definition, endurance, maintenance, etc. If TEOTWAWKI was tomorrow, what kind of physical shape would you find yourself in? Even if you have an exercise program that you follow religiously today, it is tailored to what you need when the end of the world comes knocking? Does having the ability to bench press 300 pounds 10 times have much bearing on using an axe and cross-cut saw to lay in firewood for the winter? Just because you can run marathons, does it mean you have developed the core strength to sling up a 60 pound ruck and go 20+ miles? Ever seen a bodybuilder that did not have the flexibility to bend over and pick a quarter up off of the ground? Now before any of the marathoners or muscle heads out there jump, I respect what you have done and take no issues with it because your discipline is what you set your goals toward. All I am trying to get across is the simple fact that the “goal” for all preppers, as it relates to physical fitness, should be what is required post-SHTF. How each individual gets there is up to them and even those that are doing something are way ahead of all the couch potatoes out there.
When I first decided to exercise this particular variation of my bugout plan, I re-evaluated my workout regimen to determine where I was potentially lacking in my own preparations. At the point of evaluation my week was:
- Monday: Cardio (jogging, recumbent bike, walking or swimming) morning, Martial Arts evening
- Tuesday : Weight / Core Strength Training morning (endurance focused)
- Wednesday: Cardio morning, Martial Arts evening
- Thursday: Weight / Core Strength Training morning (endurance focused)
- Friday: Cardio morning
- Saturday: Road Hike (5-miles weighted pack) or Tie-In Activity
- Sunday: Yoga (primarily stretching and flexibility) / Rest
Depending on the weather, I would flip Saturday and Sunday, but other than that there was very little variation to my routine, other than the exercises or activities which I changed up to prevent boredom or focus more on specific areas. After considering what I was about to attempt, I decided to replace my Wednesday Cardio with the Saturday Road Hike and started doing the 5-miles for time (no running). I added a 10-mile Cross Country or Trail Hike once per month on Saturday and modified the 5-mile Road Hike for the other Saturdays to allow for speed walking instead of weighted pack depending on what my body was telling me (yes, I am getting older and things hurt more than they used to). I did not change any of my Weight or Core Strength Training around because it is a mix of free-weights and non-weight activities that I feel gives me the right focus for post-SHTF activities.
Since my plans allowed for the eventuality of having to bugout on foot and considering that I will most likely have kids in tow, I do not have a good answer as to why I had not made the adjustments to my schedule before. I suppose part of it was the understanding that I would be better prepared than my kids, allowing them to dictate the pace somewhat and the other part was just dismissing the fact that with kids in tow, I would more than likely end up carrying more gear than I started with or in some instances carrying one of them over short distances. As I progressed through the new regimen and my body adjusted, I added more weight to my pack, which was originally weighted according to what I intended to carry personally, to allow for the eventuality of being required to carry more. If that eventuality never came to be then my original pack weight would feel lighter and my body should be able to push farther.
Wear and tear on my body was another concern I had going into the adjustments. If you have never hiked with a loaded pack, it will take a toll on your body. Feet, ankles, knees, lower back, and shoulders all suffer and can sustain injury if you do not take the proper amount of rest between days and allow your body to heal. I pushed myself with the 5-mile timed hikes on Wednesdays but I would allow my body some rest on Saturdays and Sundays (reducing weight and/or slowing the pace). I also reduced the amount of jogging/running for Cardio to lower my potential for impact injuries. My body adjusted relatively easy, which I chock up to already being in a decent exercise program and maintaining an active lifestyle.
Depending on how things work out during my “bugout”, I will probably modify my regimen again but still focus on the necessary skill of being able to sling my ruck up and bugout on foot when/if necessary. At 10 to 12 miles per day overland in the first and last legs of my exercise, I will not be setting a blistering pace by any stretch of the imagination but I will probably have several “I should have focused on that” moments. Exercising the bugout plan will allow me to identify those issues and address them in my routine before I have to do it for real.