Feb 23

Bugout Log, Entry #2: Physical Preparation

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.


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  1. Interesting stuff, Maj. I’m really excited about this whole thing, and I enjoy hearing about how you’re preparing for it.

    I also wouldn’t mind hearing a bit more about your workouts. I hit the weights a little bit, but I’m trying to find something to do for cardio. Do you follow a DVD, or do you have some kind of series of exercises that you go through?

      • The Maj on February 25, 2014 at 12:39 PM
      • Reply

      I bore easily, so I try to change up exercises in an attempt to combat boredom more than anything else. I do not follow a DVD mainly because I like to be outside when I am working out, which is one of the reasons I do not have a gym membership (among countless others). Never really grasped the concept of exercising in a climate controlled environment when the task(s) you are training for will be outdoors in the heat, cold, rain, snow, etc. Again, the important thing about exercising is finding what works for you AND is something that you will stick with, if the gym is your fit, go for it.

      Aside from the usual cardio (running/jogging, biking, walking, swimming, etc), I try to incorporate cardio that makes other parts of the body burn but gets my heart rate to a level that it needs to be. Some of my favorites include: chain drags (40 yard dash dragging 100 pounds of chain), heavy ropes training, working a heavy bag, variations of circuit training (I.E. jumping jacks, mountain climbers, step ups, etc.), and tie-in activities (cross-cut saw, splitting firewood, stacking lumber, etc.).

      A week of cardio for me looks something like this right now (times are approximate and do not include warm up or cool down but do include rest periods where applicable):

      Monday – 15 to 20 minutes heavy rope and 45 minutes running

      Wednesday – 30 minutes heavy bag and 5-mile hike for time

      Friday – 30 minutes circuit training and 45 minutes chain drags

      Saturday – 5-mile hike or walk

      Monday and Wednesday evenings, I work martial arts, which gives me more cardio and flexibility training for approximately an hour.

      The following week cardio may look like this:

      Monday – jumping rope and stadiums

      Wednesday – sandbag carry and 5-mile hike for time

      Friday – swimming laps (about the only time I go to a gym is in the winter)

      Saturday – 5-mile hike or walk

      I shoot for an hour minimum on the workouts but some get closer to an hour and a half or two hours depending on what else I have going on that day.

      That said, I am not a “fitness guru”. I have just found a routine that seems to work best for me. I try to alternate things up to give my body the necessary rest and combat boredom but sometimes, I do overdo a particular muscle group because I pushed too hard over consecutive days. At that point, I have to back things down a bit. However, changing things up tends to prevent overworking.

      Hope this helps.

      1. Great! Thank you, that gives me some really good ideas.

        I get bored easily, too. I’m always trying to change things up. And I’m not into gyms at all, either.

        Something I’ve started using lately, and you might be interested in this, is a kettlebell. They’re supposed to be great for working out your entire body. I got a 70 pound kettlebell on a sale a while back, and it’s great for strength exercises, but I probably need one that’s about 35 pounds or so for cardio workouts.

          • PJ on February 26, 2014 at 8:27 AM
          • Reply

          I’m not into gyms in a traditional sense (e.g. YMCA or Planet Fitness) but I do pay to attend a training facility where the workouts can be pretty intense. It’s NOT a Crossfit (fish oil and bandannas anyone?) facility but just a large space in a warehouse with no A/C where people get their sweat on. Some of the workouts are similar to what you might see in a gym, eg bench press, but we change things up by putting 30lb chains and thick bands on the ends of the bar. We do lots of work with heavy medicine balls, weighted sled pushes and pulls, rope work, farmers walks and once it gets warmer the tires outside will come into play. Like the Maj I too enjoy workouts outside whether it be running, ruck marching or pushing cars around. I think splitting wood would be a great day well spent but I’m not in a position to make that happen.

          As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned more about what works FOR ME and (here’s the important part) what I need to avoid to keep from injuring myself. Heavy deadlifts? Bring it on! Except the next few days I won’t be able to walk and I’ll have to go to a chiropractor. I can throw up 350 on a bench but if I do twisting situps with a 20lb medicine ball my spine will grind on itself and I won’t be able to stand up at the sink to shave for a week.

          It’s all about doing SOMETHING, getting out there and training and most importantly AVOIDING injury.

            • Brandon on February 26, 2014 at 8:24 PM

            Benching 350 is impressive!

            I didn’t know there were facilities like the one you work out at. That sounds pretty good.

            It seems like the type of stuff you and the Maj do is good for functional strength. That’s the kind of thing I’m interested in, too.

            I also think that, as the Maj pointed out in his post, it’s good to do something for stretching and flexibility. Especially as we get older. It helps keep you from getting injured, and to be honest, it’s an area where I’ve definitely been slacking off.

            • PJ on February 27, 2014 at 9:29 PM

            Thanks man, but for me it’s pretty *eh* as I’ve always had a strong upper body. My struggle is with the lower half, I can run and ruck march but I often find it a challenge where others breeze on through. Functional strength is good, and as you mentioned stretching and flexibility is so crucial. I starting using a lacrosse ball to work out all the knots in my leg muscles and glutes. It’s painful but works wonders.

        • PJ on February 26, 2014 at 8:29 AM
        • Reply


        Glad you brought up stadium workouts. 400’s at the track plus some bleacher work will smoke just about anyone very quickly. I much prefer the quick bursts of energy versus “jogging” for 5+ miles.

    • Brandi on March 12, 2014 at 10:41 AM
    • Reply

    Looking forward to following you on this journey. I have taken a good strong look at myself and realized that physically I am screwed if SHTF. Time to make my physical condition a priority! Thanks!!

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