Author Topic: Physical Fitness and the Prepper: Or, the Chemsoldier changes how he exercises  (Read 5554 times)

Offline Chemsoldier

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Physical Fitness and the Prepper

This section is called "Martial Arts, Unarmed Self Defense, Hand To Hand Combat, and Physical Fitness."

But it seems that we always talk about martial arts and combatives and rarely about fitness and physical training.  This seems like a shame so I will make my contribution.  Many preppers will go their whole lives without getting into a fight.  All of us though, will find our physical readiness an important factor in our activities on a nearly daily basis.

I was an active and outdoorsy kid and did my share of youth league sports until high school. At that point my only athletic endeavors were Army PT.  My physical fitness pursuits after that was all based around the Army Physical Fitness Test events, Push-Up, Sit-Up and running with a bit of pull-ups thrown in because Airborne.  That eventuallt led to some injuries and finally I started to learn a bit about fitness and think maybe there was more to fitness than the Army Physical Fitness Test.  So I talked to some people I respected and did a lot of reading (per usual), and finally decided how I was going to change how I conducted physical preparation.

“Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general.”
-Mark Rippetoe

After an adulthood  of long, slow running and body weight calisthenics, I decided that getting stronger without compromising the cardio abilities that were key to excelling at the PT test.  After study and such I started lifting weights (squat, deadlift, bench, power cleans, etc.) and doing some circuits that are somewhat similar to football circuit training (weighted sled pushes, sprints, ball slams, box jumps, etc).  I am managing the strength training 3 times a week in addition to the normal Army PT 5 days a week. 

I have to say that I am very happy with the results.  I have a much easier time moving under a load, picking up the kids and loading and unloading the car is much easier now.  I carried my youngest for over a mile after a public event.  I simply couldn’t have done it 6 months ago.  Finally some elements of cardio actually seem improved by this.  I have a lot more gas, especially sprinting up hills.  It is something where I am seeing an improved level of performance on a daily basis.  I am moving things easier than I would have before.  I have noticed a more pronounced increase in energy than I was getting from steady state cardio.   My posture has improved.  Oh, and the wife says I am getting more muscular and she approves.  ;)

From a prepping standpoint I think this has been a big win.  Moving heavy things is really handy as I look at tasks to be done in some of the scenarios I have planned.  Loading the car rapidly to bug out.  Picking up my kid and running a long distance.  Picking up and moving my spouse if she is injured.  Changing tires on the truck.  Rucking.  Figure farmer’s carries are important if you are gardening?  I have found it so.  Survival is about unreasonable circumstances, and simply doing what you do every day (no matter how strenuous) is not preparing you for these unreasonable demands.

Despite being a prep for unreasonable situations, it is something I find useful every day and will continue to even if life is boringly suburban for the rest of my life.

My recommendation:  Most anyone could benefit from getting stronger.  I am not saying you need to devote tons of time to it, or try to get massively and overtly strong, but Rippetoe is right, I feel much more generally useful than I used to be.  Lifting heavy things is good training and the overload of this training is great preparation.

As a Soldier I put a lot of stock in being able to pick up and carry your battle buddy.  Don’t be afraid to get help on learning this stuff.  Reading and youtube videos are great and you should absolutely use them.  But nothing beats feedback from a real person.

Lift weights, free weights and not just super light weight high rep work.  Barbell exercises, combined with circuit style training WORKS. 

References: 

The Purposeful Primitive by Marty Gallagher:  A great bare bones look at training from a guy who writes pretty well.  He reinforces that this can be as time intensive as you want or fairly minimal…as long as you are willing to work HARD when you are training.  Anyone who tells you different is selling something.

Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe:  Long and wordy (though colorful at times) but as close as you can get to teaching how to lift from a book. Has extremely detailed, well articulated explanations of why to lift, how to lift (down to the mechanics of the exercise) and programming.  If you really want to understand how it works, how the muscles, bones and angles all work together to make a squat or deadlift work, this is the source to go with.
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Offline Wild Colonial Boy

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Its amazing how much damage one does to ones body whilst in the Services. Most via PT.

I fully concur that fitness (much like insurance) is an everyday prep that is overlooked by many in the community (you just need to spend a few hours on youtube to form that opinion).

In addition to circuit training have you every used the TRX Suspension training system either in the field or in Barracks.  I've heard positive results from a number of guys and have been agonising over whether I should buy the kit or not.  Any opinions?

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I concur, I need to find something better than what I've been doing.  While I can still walk the legs off just about anyone, the fire academy has revealed my upper body weakness.  While the academy itself has certainly helped, I need to build off this foundation going forward.  There's nothing worse than standing in that narrow stairwell shoving hose and hard and fast as you can and running out of juice in your grip strength or shoulder... and then having a real emergency where you might need that strength to save a life, possibly your own.

Offline surfivor

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any kind of exercise is good, it does not have to be alot of heavy strenuous, maybe some of that is good but too much may actually not be  .. if it's fun or something productive that's better, why should exercise be boring ? I like walking, riding a bike, paddle canoe, surfing, cutting wood, splitting wood, kung fu, thai chi. surfing can be super exhilarating for some reason, maybe because of the salt water ..

Offline Hartmann

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Completely agree, this is a much needed topic in this community. The references in the OP (Rippetoe and Gallagher) are excellent. Two others I like a lot are Robert dos Remedios (NASC award winner and S&C coach at a small college in So Cal), and Dan John (S&C coach to Olympic level track & field athletes and NFL pros).

If you're over 40, read Dan John's Intervention. Excellent book that will have you focused on keeping/improving quality of life as you age.
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Offline Hartmann

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In addition to circuit training have you every used the TRX Suspension training system either in the field or in Barracks.  I've heard positive results from a number of guys and have been agonising over whether I should buy the kit or not.  Any opinions?

I'm not in the field or the barracks, but I own one. It is a very flexible piece of equipment and is very portable (I take it with me when I travel), or it can be integrated into a regular workout in a home or normal gym (that's how I mostly use it).

As for whether to get it or not, I'd say that if you have no other equipment, it is a great way to get started into "cardio strength training." One issue with body weight / PT only work is that few exercises target the back, and that is an essential area to strengthen throughout your life. Something like a TRX (or Olympic rings if you have a rack system or something already) can enable you to hit that "posterior chain."

But if you have access to a gym you really like and are doing stuff that is making you feel great already, then a TRX may not be the #1 priority for you. Maybe as you exhaust all other options or are looking for something else to mix it up, you could look at it. Those are my observations.
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Offline Chemsoldier

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In addition to circuit training have you every used the TRX Suspension training system either in the field or in Barracks.  I've heard positive results from a number of guys and have been agonising over whether I should buy the kit or not.  Any opinions?
I have not used them, thank you to Hartmann for his impressions.

"You can always count on Americans to do the right thing, after they've tried everything else"
-Winston Churchill

"You think health care is expensive now? Wait until its free!"
-P.J. O'Rourke

"Is it dangerous to enter the Forum?"
-Seneca

Offline helix2301

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Physical Fitness and the Prepper

This section is called "Martial Arts, Unarmed Self Defense, Hand To Hand Combat, and Physical Fitness."

But it seems that we always talk about martial arts and combatives and rarely about fitness and physical training.  This seems like a shame so I will make my contribution.  Many preppers will go their whole lives without getting into a fight.  All of us though, will find our physical readiness an important factor in our activities on a nearly daily basis.

I was an active and outdoorsy kid and did my share of youth league sports until high school. At that point my only athletic endeavors were Army PT.  My physical fitness pursuits after that was all based around the Army Physical Fitness Test events, Push-Up, Sit-Up and running with a bit of pull-ups thrown in because Airborne.  That eventuallt led to some injuries and finally I started to learn a bit about fitness and think maybe there was more to fitness than the Army Physical Fitness Test.  So I talked to some people I respected and did a lot of reading (per usual), and finally decided how I was going to change how I conducted physical preparation.

“Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general.”
-Mark Rippetoe

After an adulthood  of long, slow running and body weight calisthenics, I decided that getting stronger without compromising the cardio abilities that were key to excelling at the PT test.  After study and such I started lifting weights (squat, deadlift, bench, power cleans, etc.) and doing some circuits that are somewhat similar to football circuit training (weighted sled pushes, sprints, ball slams, box jumps, etc).  I am managing the strength training 3 times a week in addition to the normal Army PT 5 days a week. 

I have to say that I am very happy with the results.  I have a much easier time moving under a load, picking up the kids and loading and unloading the car is much easier now.  I carried my youngest for over a mile after a public event.  I simply couldn’t have done it 6 months ago.  Finally some elements of cardio actually seem improved by this.  I have a lot more gas, especially sprinting up hills.  It is something where I am seeing an improved level of performance on a daily basis.  I am moving things easier than I would have before.  I have noticed a more pronounced increase in energy than I was getting from steady state cardio.   My posture has improved.  Oh, and the wife says I am getting more muscular and she approves.  ;)

From a prepping standpoint I think this has been a big win.  Moving heavy things is really handy as I look at tasks to be done in some of the scenarios I have planned.  Loading the car rapidly to bug out.  Picking up my kid and running a long distance.  Picking up and moving my spouse if she is injured.  Changing tires on the truck.  Rucking.  Figure farmer’s carries are important if you are gardening?  I have found it so.  Survival is about unreasonable circumstances, and simply doing what you do every day (no matter how strenuous) is not preparing you for these unreasonable demands.

Despite being a prep for unreasonable situations, it is something I find useful every day and will continue to even if life is boringly suburban for the rest of my life.

My recommendation:  Most anyone could benefit from getting stronger.  I am not saying you need to devote tons of time to it, or try to get massively and overtly strong, but Rippetoe is right, I feel much more generally useful than I used to be.  Lifting heavy things is good training and the overload of this training is great preparation.

As a Soldier I put a lot of stock in being able to pick up and carry your battle buddy.  Don’t be afraid to get help on learning this stuff.  Reading and youtube videos are great and you should absolutely use them.  But nothing beats feedback from a real person.

Lift weights, free weights and not just super light weight high rep work.  Barbell exercises, combined with circuit style training WORKS. 

References: 

The Purposeful Primitive by Marty Gallagher:  A great bare bones look at training from a guy who writes pretty well.  He reinforces that this can be as time intensive as you want or fairly minimal…as long as you are willing to work HARD when you are training.  Anyone who tells you different is selling something.

Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe:  Long and wordy (though colorful at times) but as close as you can get to teaching how to lift from a book. Has extremely detailed, well articulated explanations of why to lift, how to lift (down to the mechanics of the exercise) and programming.  If you really want to understand how it works, how the muscles, bones and angles all work together to make a squat or deadlift work, this is the source to go with.

In my ham radio meetings we talk about this how being in shape helps to save lives. If your very out shape or have hard time walking long distances might be tough in an evacuation.

Offline Chemsoldier

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In my ham radio meetings we talk about this how being in shape helps to save lives. If your very out shape or have hard time walking long distances might be tough in an evacuation.
I think that was in the latest public service column in QST as well.
"You can always count on Americans to do the right thing, after they've tried everything else"
-Winston Churchill

"You think health care is expensive now? Wait until its free!"
-P.J. O'Rourke

"Is it dangerous to enter the Forum?"
-Seneca

Offline helix2301

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I think that was in the latest public service column in QST as well.

Its not nice to say but if your someone who needs any type of medication or health care regular you need to plan for that in case of an emergency. Fitness is important for anyone even if not in a disaster but if not able to run or walk its something you need to think about in case of a disaster.

Offline RuggedCyclist

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I've recently started lifting weights with awesome results (being 20 rocks!) Basically what I do is pick a group of muscles that need work, example I'll decide my deltoids, pecs, biceps and triceps need to be worked on, so I pick an exercise, do 8 reps at a certain weight, then go up to the next weight and do 8 reps, and work mt way up until I can't go any higher. And then I go back down to the starting weight, or lower. And a lot of times on the way down I'll do more than 8 reps and just push myself to the limit on each set, so I can hardly lift a weight that was easy to lift starting out. Along with targeting specific muscles I have a core of ab and back/shoulder workouts I do. And as soon as I get home I drink some muscle milk protein drink. I swear that shit works.

Besides looking great and the female attention that comes with it  ;) I've been able to carry around the 80 pound masonry cement bags we use at work no problem, a 5 gallonbucket of water is effortless to me now, and last time I was helping out on my dad's farm I was able to carry a 50 pound sack of hog feed on each shoulder.

And I've always been the scrawny nerd, I taught myself c++ my junior year of high school and hung out with the schools IT admin, and people always tried making fun of me for having no muscle (until they realized I didn't really care lol). I still can't wrap my head around the fact that like, I look muscular now. It's really weird to me. (I'm still pretty tiny honestly)
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Offline helix2301

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I've recently started lifting weights with awesome results (being 20 rocks!) Basically what I do is pick a group of muscles that need work, example I'll decide my deltoids, pecs, biceps and triceps need to be worked on, so I pick an exercise, do 8 reps at a certain weight, then go up to the next weight and do 8 reps, and work mt way up until I can't go any higher. And then I go back down to the starting weight, or lower. And a lot of times on the way down I'll do more than 8 reps and just push myself to the limit on each set, so I can hardly lift a weight that was easy to lift starting out. Along with targeting specific muscles I have a core of ab and back/shoulder workouts I do. And as soon as I get home I drink some muscle milk protein drink. I swear that shit works.

Besides looking great and the female attention that comes with it  ;) I've been able to carry around the 80 pound masonry cement bags we use at work no problem, a 5 gallonbucket of water is effortless to me now, and last time I was helping out on my dad's farm I was able to carry a 50 pound sack of hog feed on each shoulder.

And I've always been the scrawny nerd, I taught myself c++ my junior year of high school and hung out with the schools IT admin, and people always tried making fun of me for having no muscle (until they realized I didn't really care lol). I still can't wrap my head around the fact that like, I look muscular now. It's really wei
rd to me. (I'm still pretty tiny honestly)

I am same way I been an IT guy since high school I just started getting into lifting and exercise the last few years.

Offline Sephiroth

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Chemsoldier, you rock for bringing this topic up !

I always said here in Brazil to fellow preppers, that no matter how good your gear is or how high-tech your preps are it will not suffice if you can´t walk at least 5 miles without crocking....

People make these awsome BOB´s, but can´t walk with them for 1 mile without getting tired and stranded... I beleive, that the Nº 1 prep is our own body. Take care of it, because in a desaster scenario, it is going to be tested.

So i made working out and preparing my mind a priority months ago. Today i am proud to say that i have the physical capabilities of an average soldier.

And also, i extended that to self-defense. Joe talked to me about Krav-Maga and training it has also enhanced my physical capacity.

I think every person, no matter what age or condition, should make this priority Nº 1.
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