Posts Tagged With: Functional Fitness

Grease the Groove for SHTF

by Todd Walker

Personal SHTF events are more likely to happen than TEOTWAWKI.

grease-the-groove-shtf

Here’s a fresh example.

I decided to take my 7-year-old grandson on a bushcraft trip with two other grown men last weekend. We hiked about a mile into the woods to practice a few Doing the Stuff outdoor skills for an upcoming survival class.

We set up, built a fire, and then it happened… a personal SHTF for my grandson.

The trip was too demanding for Max. Poor planning and judgement on my part. He needed to go back to the cabin. I ended up carrying him most of the way through fields of hip-tall grass and briars. Had he been injured and unable to walk, I would have had to carry him the entire trek.

Be Strong to be Useful

Developing physical strength is a skill, not just a part of fitness programs. Are you physically prepared to deal with a SHTF event – personal or otherwise?

It makes sense to prioritize for probable scenarios over cataclysmic-end-of-world stuff. But hey, if you’re totally convinced a Zombie Apocalypse is in your near future, this post will help you defeat your un-dead attackers too!

For the rest of us non-zombie believers, we’ll keep doing the practical stuff of self-reliance.

One skill utilized everyday, that is often taken for granted, is functional fitness. If carrying a loved one to safety, changing a flat tire, lifting a toddler, walking two flights of stairs, or hoeing a row is out of the question for you physically, it’s time for you to Grease the Groove.

grease-the-groove-shtf

GTG pushups while hiking.

I first heard the phrase Grease the Groove (GTG) when I started living a Primal/Paleo lifestyle over four years ago. My once athletic physique was 50 pounds overweight and my middle-aged body was a wreck. Mirrors were my enemy. Achy joints were my constant companion.

The Grease the Groove concept came from Soviet Special Forces trainer Pavel Tsatsouline. The idea is to perform a specific exercise frequently throughout the day without reaching muscular failure (max repetitions). Perform 50% – 75% of maximum about 4 to 5 times a day. Keep this up GTG routine up for a few weeks and test you max again for the exercise you’ve chosen to strengthen.

For me, GTG and my new lifestyle changed my pitiful pull up numbers when I couldn’t eek out one stinkin’ pull up.

I’ll confess, I’ve let my numbers slip. So I’ve started greasing the groove again. My goal is to do 15 pull ups – with proper form – before I attend the survival school in a couple of months. I’m guessing I could make it through the course at my present fitness level, but I’m fond of  personal physical challenges.

Here’s my GTG plan…

Install a pull up bar in my classroom. Between class change and breaks (my cue or trigger), I’ll knock out 3 to 5 pull ups. No sweat involved. This would put me in the 20 to 25 pull ups per day range at school for the next eight weeks. The pull up bar behind my shop will be used every time I grill out or fetch a garden tool. These quick reps will all be sub-maximal effort.

I’ll continue my normal bodyweight exercises; push ups, squats, sprints, lifting heavy stuff, and walking – but grease the groove with pull ups only. I’m sharing my pull up challenge for accountability and progress monitoring I suppose. I’ll do my best to update my progress for y’all.

Smash Plateaus with GTG

The principle of Greasing the Groove offers benefits in several areas of self-reliance. This technique can be employed in firearms training, food independence, habit training, self-defense, situational awareness, and all our Doing the Stuff skills.

Repeatedly performing a specific movement causes your nervous system and muscles to work in unison. With enough time and repetition, the movement or skill becomes more natural and easier to perform. Automatic!

Focus on one movement or skill in 2 to 4 week cycles. The key is to remain fresh without reaching fatigue. If you want to shoot more accurately but can’t afford range trips daily, practice drawing and dry firing your unloaded sidearm 3 or 4 times a day between range trips.

Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. Whatever skill you want to strengthen, greasing the groove is a simple technique to get crazy numbers of reps.

Smash your plateaus and be the hero in all your SHTF events!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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Categories: Doing the Stuff, Functional Fitness, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Live Like a Prepper but You Don’t Have to Be a Prepper: A Tale of Two Cities

[Todd’s note: Follower’s of this blog know that I am a lover of unconventional wisdom when it comes to health, nutrition, and fitness… which I consider your most important prep. I discovered Dr. Dan Stickler (Paleo Doc) in his post at SurvivalBlog a few years ago. His advice confirmed my Primal prepping lifestyle. He graciously agreed to write this article for Survival Sherpa readers. Thanks, Dan! Enjoy! To connect with Dr. Stickler, see his bio below.]

Live Like a Prepper but You Don't Have to Be a Prepper: A Tale of Two Cities

by Dr. Daniel Stickler

I live half of each week in Asheville, NC and the other half of the week in Charleston, WV, these cities are of similar size but the mindset of each group is very different.  Asheville would be a wonderful place to be if there were an “event” that took society back a century or two.  The population of Asheville has the mindset that makes them a great prepper society.  Many people raise their own chickens, have permaculture yards, have gardens, and there are many small farmers.  You have people with bees, people making butter, old-fashioned soap makers, and even people making clothes.  These are just some of the things you can find at any of the five or so farmers markets that are going on around town on various days of the week.  People here are also very environmentally conscious and active in promoting it.

Charleston, WV is very different, it has the potential to be like Asheville, but it is not and I am not sure why, especially with its recent history.  In July of 2012, Charleston was one of the hardest cities hit by the derecho.  Power was out over most of the state, the shortest power outage in our area was five days and these days were in the upper 90’s.  Gas stations could not pump gas, stores were closed but it did not matter because they had no drinks after day 2 and we had a boil water advisory.  People were panicking….no food, no water, no gas to get anywhere, and no air conditioning.  This was the first wake up call, some heeded this warning and did some stocking up but many sat back and blamed the government for their failures.  Round two occurred just two weeks ago; a toxic organic chemical used to process coal leaked around 10,000 gallons into the river a mile upstream from the water processing plant that supplied water for over 300,000 residents.  Not sure who allowed this chemical to be stored upstream in the first place but the tanks had not even been inspected for 23 years.  The EPA was not even familiar with the risks of the chemical.  Residents are told do not use the water for bathing, washing clothes, and certainly not for drinking.  All restaurants are shut down, stores are out of water and drinks within 24 hours.  The chemical is finally low enough after five days of this to allow some residents to flush their pipes, three days later we are told a new reading shows the level too high again.  People leave town because they have no water and cannot clean, cook, or stay hydrated.  You would think that most of these people would have been prepared.  Unfortunately, most did not learn their lesson the first time and now complained again about the government failing to take care of them.  Now, Charleston is the chemical valley, there are major chemical plants all up and down the rivers.  Coal and the chemical industry is the life-blood of this region and the reality is; this was going to happen at some point.

I tell this story to first illustrate the point that few people are prepared for these short term emergencies and live in a world where, in their opinion, the government will be there to help.  This demonstrates two emergency situations in a short time frame in one town.  Secondly, I bring this up because it is a real test of preparation.  I had water and food and at no point did panic set in.  I also had a back-up, Berkey water filters, and so I did not concern myself about the water running out.  The black carbon filters along with the PF-2 chemical filters can pretty much make any water potable.  I do not keep a huge stockpile of dehydrated and canned food (3 months for 7 people) and you will see my reasoning in the next part of this article.

Why Prep?

Let’s start by asking: what are you prepping for?

Financial collapse of society?

EMP, solar flare, computer attack that shuts down the grid?

Super volcano or major environmental shift?

Massive pandemic?

It’s really not possible to adequately prep for all of these so you are really taking a gamble if you select one to be your focus.  Also, lets face the fact that in some of these scenarios – does it really matter?

Let’s first eliminate super-volcano and major environmental shift, not only would survival be near impossible but life would be pretty miserable for those that did.  Now pretty much all other scenarios will involve a significant culling of the population but the time frame for this culling is what will dictate the adequacy of the preparations.  If a massive pandemic quickly eliminates 80-90% of the world population then the mindset of most preppers will be justified.  By this, I mean having a retreat or homestead with plenty of stockpiles would be beneficial.  However, the other scenarios where the culling is gradual then this type of mindset could get you killed.

If the grid goes down, people will get desperate and the more hungry they become the more desperate they become.  Desperate people will not reason with morality in mind.  Violence will undoubtedly run ramped and gangs will form up knowing the power in numbers.  The cities will quickly empty and these gangs will head for the countryside’s.  You say you have guns but so do they and they will significantly outnumber you.  Unless you are prepared to spend a few years in a nuclear missile silo then you will lose your preps.  No matter how fortified and well armed you are, you will eventually be overrun.

What about food?  You cannot sustain yourself on years of dehydrated and canned foods.  The slightly unbalanced nutritional mix will eventually catch up with you.  Some have said they could hunt for their food.  Think again, based on the deer population and the number of hunters, the deer herd will be completely wiped out in a few weeks and besides a gunshot in the woods will be like a dinner bell for everyone else out there with a gun.

What about the heirloom seeds you plan to plant to get your garden going?  Again, those marauding hordes will enjoy feasting on that garden when they come.

So what is my recommendation?

We need to get back to basics and learn to live like humans did for hundreds of thousands of years – like hunter-gatherers (HG’S).  Those that are successful at this will be the ones that will go on to build the next generation after an apocalyptic event.

Start Here

Where to begin?

Something that I have spoken about many times before is your health and fitness level.  So many preppers focus on their “preps” but that will be a limited resource.  If you are truly anticipating some major apocalypse then you need to focus on your own health and fitness.  HG’s generally do not survive long if they do not possess a certain degree of fitness.  First, you need to get any excess weight under control and work on resolving any health issues.  Those that are relying on medications to survive will likely not last too long.  Exercise, I am not talking about treadmills and nautilus machines.  I am talking about functional fitness.  Train like you will live.  Strengthen the movements that will be required for daily function.  Basic movements can consist of push-ups, squats, and pull-ups.  Add some long hikes with a pack and also throw some sprints in there.  When I say sprints I mean short bursts of running at your top speed.  Climb things.  Jump around.  Parkour training is an excellent option.

Water: This is life or death.  Learn to identify safe sources of water.  For several months you may be fine using portable filtration devices but these will eventually become depleted.  Learn how to derive water from sources in nature and how to use items in our natural environment to filter the water.

Nutrition: As I said, dehydrated foods will only get you so far and that assumes that you are able to keep your cache.  We must learn to forage off the land.  In most post-apocalyptic scenarios, we are going to need to be mobile at least for the short-term (a few years).  Our forests are full of life-sustaining nutrients and we need to learn how to obtain them.  Buying a book on edible plants and thinking that you will use it when needed is a recipe for disaster.  Many people will look at plants and identify them incorrectly in their field guide and end up poisoning themselves.  There are many available weekend courses on foraging.  Getting a good understanding of plants can also help with being able to identify medicinal species.  You will also need a source of meat.  One of the most successful hunting techniques is trapping.  These small animals are abundant and few of the surviving population will understand the techniques to obtaining them.  This also does not require a gunshot.

As things begin to settle down then you should also consider settling down but not as a mountain man hermit type.  Successful living will require community support.  Once the gangs have dwindled and died out, survivors will begin to gather together in communities to rebuild society.  It is helpful to possess a skill that can contribute to these groups; farming, making clothes from hides, medical care, bee keeping, and other more basic crafts.

I am not telling people to abandon their current ways of prepping but rather to think about contingencies.  Prioritize the process.  No matter what the scenario, your health and fitness level will be paramount so if you have neglected this area so far then make it a higher priority.  Spend some money on a personal trainer or nutrition coach instead of another gun to add to your stockpile.  Take a course on foraging instead of adding another 3 months of dehydrated food to your stores.  Lastly, organize around a group of people who have complimentary skill sets.

I will add that I am not someone who expects this societal collapse to happen but these types of events can be highly unpredictable so it is always good to be prepared as I have learned from experience.

Author bio:

Live Like a Prepper but You Don't Have to Be a Prepper: A Tale of Two Cities

Dr. Stickler trained in allopathic medicine and held board certification in General Surgery for more than ten years; performing general and vascular surgery as well as over 3,000 gastric bypass weight loss procedures. He had a thriving surgical practice and was a specialist in weight loss, treating over 10,000 clients in both the surgical practice and at the wellness institute. The busier he became the more he began to realize that true health is not a result of pharmaceuticals and stainless steel. He discovered that the clients at the wellness institute were making remarkable progress through nutrition, fitness and lifestyle counseling and hormone optimization.  Not only were they resolving disease, they were optimizing health, regaining vitality, improving neuro-cognitive status and creating lasting changes.

This realization led him to the understanding that he could leave the old methods behind and fully embrace the new paradigm of health optimization. He retired from surgery and now knows that each individual has within them the ability to achieve optimal health and live a life full of vitality. He works closely with each client to develop individualized treatment regimens and provides extensive guidance throughout the year to assist the client in achieving their goals.

Dr. Stickler is an avid outdoor enthusiast who thrives on rock climbing, mountain biking, snowboarding, hiking and world adventure travel.  He is a member of the Wilderness Medicine Society, Age Management Medicine Group and is CrossFit Level 1 certified and trained in Mountain Athlete. He and Mickra have five active teenage boys who live for adventure.

Website: Synchronicity Wellness

Blog: PaleoDoc

Facebook: Paleo Doc

Categories: Preparedness, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Best Prepper Practices: Add a 4th B to Your 3 B’s

by Todd Walker

Best practices exist in all endeavors –  sports, business, education, and… preparedness.

Best-Prepper-Practices-Add-a-4th-B-to-Your-3-B's

“Best” practice (BP) is used to describe a method that has consistently produced superior results over time compared to techniques yielding lessor outcomes. Methods of Doing the Stuff should change with new discoveries and better techniques.

Pleeeese, try to leave egos at the door to avoid holding on to less than best practices.

Ask ten preppers for their best food storage practice and you’ll likely get 11 different opinions. We’re an opinionated lot. No problem with opinions. But opinions are highly subjective. The aim here is to discuss stuff proven to work and can be applied by novice and experienced preppers.

Keep in mind that BP’s can and should be individualized to fit your situation. For instance, I don’t eat wheat and grain products. On rare occasions that I eat a slice of pizza, my body pays dearly. I store food that I eat now. Whatever your diet, some food storage is a best practice for preparedness.

Again, practicing the best method for Doing the Stuff of preparedness is our purpose here. We’re not covering all Best Practices in one post. We’ll discuss the first one today… the 4th B.

A good a place to start is at the beginning…

Discovering the online “prepper/survivalist” movement 7 years ago, I realized that I was one and had been for most of my life. I’d just never known what label to paste on the stuff I was doing. I’m still unsure. Maybe it’s my hatred for labels.

Labels aside, there are trillions of bytes of information floating through the preparedness community. At last count, I’ve devoured 2.39% of that mountain of data. I chew on the hay and spit out the sticks.

Searching for hay to chew on, I rarely find survival and prepper blogs mention health and fitness in their apocalyptic lists. This needs to change. I mostly find beans, bullets, and band aids – and lots of shiny objects to collect. DRG and I do a fair amount of stuff collecting too.

But…

Two years ago Dirt Road Girl’s cancer destroyed our best practice paradigm. Today, our #1 concern is staying healthy… in a sustainable fashion. This post was partly inspired by Dr. Dan Stickler (PaleoDoc) and his SurvivalBlog post when he stated…

“I would like to see the 3 Bs change to the 4 Bs: Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids, and Body.”

Being able to use the other 3 B’s depends on how well we develop the 4th B… your Body. You’ll never regret focusing on the 4th B as a prep!

Best Practices to Build Your Body

1.) Destroy the Food Pyramid

Pyramids are built by slaves.

80% of your body composition is determined by what you eat. The obesity epidemic in America is directly linked to our government food pyramid. The problem is compounded by nutritional “experts” recommending food that the human body was never meant to consume.

Here’s a chart showing how the obesity epidemic is fueled by High Fructose Corn Syrup.

cornsyrup

Is your pantry filled with HFCS? Read my post on how dropping the F-bomb could save your live.

Owning years of stored food, guns, water filters, first aid supplies, and bug out bags won’t be of much use if you’re body shuts down from chronic disease.

Type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure may “run” in your family. That fact doesn’t have to sentence you the same “fate.” There’s a better way…

Leave SADisease Behind 

  • Develop a lifestyle of eating what your body needs. Conventional nutritional wisdom promotes the Standard American Diet (SAD – Processed foods, sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup  - chemically created sweetener with little to no whole foods). Our bodies aren’t designed to ingest SAD stuff. SADiet leads to SADisease.
  • Stop counting calories! A calorie restricting diet is one more stressor your body and brain can’t afford. Starve your body and your brain goes into survival mode… to store fat.
  • Eat real food. Processed stuff imitating food leaves you overfed and under nourished.
  • Perimeter shopping. The interior isles of your grocery store are filled with boxes, bags, and cans with labels. You can try to pronounce the chemicals resembling food on the package only if your food has labels. If you can’t pronounce it, avoid it. Adopting this simple strategy alone can transform your health.
  • Nourish your noggin. Eat these excellent brain foods: Eggs – the yellow yolk are high in protein, fat, and other essential vitamins and minerals. Fish – your brain is 60% fat. Feed it high quality, wild caught, oily fish for an Omega-3 feast. Nuts – excellent for your grey matter. Check out the Brain Pyramid here.
  • Get to know your local farmers. Find farmers who produce naturally raise grass-fed animals, free-range poultry, and non-GMO fruits and vegetables.

Here’s a few resources to help you locate local food producers:

  1. Eat Wild
  2. Local Harvest
  3. Locally Grown

If you’d like, you can read more my nourishing thoughts here.

2.) Functional Fitness

Functionally fit means having the ability to be physically useful in everyday life and emergencies. This simply means be strong to be useful… or Be ready to go when the SHTF. 

Doing a set of B.O.B. pushups.

Doing a set of B.O.B. push ups.

Being active and exercising are different. Both are important in becoming functionally fit.

But here’s the distinction…

Exercise should be performed in brief, intense sessions with a purpose in mind. Walking the dog, hiking, cycling, and chasing your 2 year-old is not exercise. These activities fail to meet the requirement of brief and intense. You may be thinking I haven’t met your toddler!

You’re right. I haven’t.

These are all activities that keep you moving and helps pump toxins out of your body – an important part of optimal health. Do activities you enjoy that keeps you moving regularly a minimum of 2 hours per week.

Workout Hacks

More exercise doesn’t mean better. Whether exercising at a gym or not, you should learn hacks that save time and pain while maximizing benefits. Don’t have time (or money) for a gym membership? Me either… but I manage to stay fit.

Here’s my top shortcuts to functional fitness:

a.) Use your body weight: An intense, short session of push ups, squats, and pull-ups works all muscle groups. Lifting heavy stuff adds lean muscle mass – very important for those of us on the backside of 40. Another plus is that you can lift your body weight most any place. No gym required. (1-3 times per week)

b.) Max Out (Sprint): Skip your long slow run and do a 10 minute sprint session. You’ll only need to do this once every week to ten days. Your done in 10 minutes or less. My advise is to take it slow and build up to max effort.

c.) Keep moving at a slow pace: This one goes back to being active; hiking, walking, dancing, swimming, and chasing your toddler. (2-5 hours per week)

d.) Be consistent: Practice doing the stuff for your body – Splitting firewood without hydraulic machinery, carrying heavy stuff (safely), taking the stairs (with leaps and bounds), walking a mile with your bug out bag, etc. 

e.) Be safe: Consult your physician before starting a new program. Learn proper technique. Monitor vital signs like blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. 

If you made it to this point in the article, there’s hope no matter the condition of your body. Even if the term “push-up” automatically means the frozen push up treat in your mind, no worries, you can redesign your body and survivability with simple lifestyle changes. I said it’s simple, not always easy. But totally worth the effort!

Is adding the 4th B on your Best Practices radar? If so, we’d like to know how you’re doing the stuff for your body. 

Keep Doing the Stuff!

Todd

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Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Functional Fitness, Preparedness, Real Food | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Essential Pillars of Preparedness for SmartPreppers

by Todd Walker

Part 1 ~ Essential Pillars of Preparedness Series

Don’t be deceived. No matter how elaborate or advanced you think you are in your preparedness journey, it won’t be enough for every conceivable situation. Life has too many unknowns.

Not knowing, or some cases – knowing, motivates us to prepare. It’s easy to be lulled into complacency by our convenience-driven lifestyles. Press a button, get what you want. Food, water, medicine, security, and shelter get taken for granted in our neo mindset.

Just ask school-aged children where that fried chicken breast they’re munching on came from. I once had a 7th grade student tell me that steaks grew in gardens. I kid you not!

I probed deeper. Apparently, farmers dig a hole, cover a piece of meat, and you pick steaks off the stalk. I’m sure the nice gardener takes his ‘produce’ and wraps it in a styrofoam tray with clear plastic wrap and delivers it to the super market.

Chalk this up to youth and our teach-to-the-test public schooling culture.

In this series, you will learn practical ways to increase your chances of not only surviving, but tipping the scales towards thriving in the coming chaos.

We humans have been adapting and changing for thousands of years. If your alive, things change. No matter how much you plan and prep though, our customary way of living can change without notice. Stocking up on essential supplies, resources, skills, knowledge, and relationships will help you get through the hard times – however they appear. No one knows it all. That’s why we have to help each other.

Doomsday events are relative to the individual. Losing your job, being diagnosed with cancer, or the death of a spouse or child all qualify for personal SHTF events. In my world, lessons from our personal SHTF events are transferable to the big picture disaster scenarios – total economic collapse and the coming Reset.

Preparing necessarily means doing the stuff in advance or before the need shows up at your door. There’s not an Easy Button to press to magically make you prepared.

But… here’s the good news! Even if you’re too broke to pay attention, it’s not too late. You can start today!

Once you start your journey to preparedness and self-sufficiency, good habits replace the bad and a whole new lifestyle is forged. You’ll find yourself applying the famous words of Weaver D (of REM fame) as your prepping becomes…

Automatic for the people!

If you’re taking your first steps to climbing the preparedness mountain, I recommend that you focus on these 7 areas first. Any event that disrupts our ‘normal’ can be softened by building firm, sustainable foundations in these 7 areas.

These are my priorities which reflect my paradigm. If you agree, glad to hear it. If not, chew on the hay and spit out the sticks.

Keep in mind that all areas covered in this series must to be applied to your individual situation (see my Individual Preparedness Plan series for more help). This is not meant to be a cookie-cutter solution for all people. For example, if you’re surrounded by natural, abundant sources of potable water, you may put water further down your list.

With that being said, here’s my list:

  1. Health and Fitness
  2. Water and Food
  3. Skills and Knowledge
  4. Shelter and Energy
  5. Waste and Sanitation
  6. Natural Medical
  7. Security and Protection

Health

If you don’t have health and some level of functional fitness, you’re already running on a deficit. This point seems to be lost on a lot of good folk in the preparedness community.

Let me stop right here.

I’ve been there and done that and lived my first two statements. I don’t want to come across as ‘preachy’ or having arrived. I haven’t. Remember, this preparedness journey takes time, effort, focus, and encouragement – NOT bashing!

Here’s what worked for me. Your results may vary.

“Diets” don’t work in the long run. You’re in this for the long-haul, right? Plus, how will all that Jenny Craig ‘food’ get delivered post collapse? Think of all the real food and preps you could buy with the $7,000/yr. you would spend buying prepackaged JC food.

Developing a healthy lifestyle was the key for me. I eat healthy fats, meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other nutrient dense foods. Basically, I stopped eating the Standard American Diet.

I traded our government food pyramid for this one:

food pyramid flat 2011sm 1

Image Source: Mark’s Daily Apple

Fitness

But my Primal lifestyle goes deeper than just eating like a caveman. When it comes to fitness, I don’t float the mainstream.

I hold two degrees in Health and Physical Education. Over three years ago, I made this discovery – the conventional wisdom I was taught in school was a big waste. Eating what the USDA’s food pyramid recommended and following conventional fitness regiments left me hungry, tired, and fat.

fitness pyramid flat 2012

Image Source: Mark’s Daily Apple

Burn out and injury typically accompany conventional fitness wisdom. You can reach optimal fitness without wrecking your joints and being a permanent fixture in the gym.

If functional fitness is your goal, randomness is a good thing. I define functional fitness as being able to do the stuff (fill in the blank) when it counts.

Would you be able to carry your spouse or a stranger from a burning building? Even if you’re never in a life and death situation, lifting heavy things helps you burn fat, improve bone density, survive longer, and enjoy life better than weaker folks.

Humans have been pushing, pulling, squatting, running fast, and walking slowly throughout our entire existence. Although we won’t have to outrun a saber-toothed tiger or battle rival tribes for hunting territory, these basic movements can help you survive.

Here are four bodyweight exercises every SmartPrepper should incorporate into their physical training: Pushups, pullups, squats, and sprints. There’s no expensive gym equipment involved. And you can do these exercises most any place.

B.O.B. pushups

Doing a set of B.O.B. pushups for added resistance.

If you’re engaging your fast twitch muscle fibers with maximum force over a short period of time, you’ll need 2 to 5 days to recover properly before lifting heavy stuff again.

Mainstream conventional workout programs will have you spend day after boring day on some machine trying to isolate a particular muscle group. When I flip that piece of chimney at our park, all my muscles, tendons, bones, and joints work together at maximum effort. This is how our bodies are meant to function.

brick house workout

Don’t know the weight of this section of chimney. I do know that it takes a maximum effort to flip it.

On days when you’re not ‘destroying’ your muscles from lifting heavy stuff or sprinting, remember to walk long distances at a slow pace.

Do you want to look like a bag of skin and bones just to finish a marathon? Or, do you want to build your body into a functionally fit prepping machine?

The crazy part is that you can gain maximum effect with minimum effort. And you’ll no longer look like the other zombies brainlessly walking on those treadmills at the gym.

This is meant to be a primer on our first Pillar of Preparedness for SmartPreppers. There’s much more that can be added on the topic of functional fitness and healthy living. If you have questions or something you’d like to add, please feel free to drop a line in the comment section or email me.

Essential Pillars of Preparedness Series

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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Categories: Functional Fitness, Natural Health, Preparedness, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle, SHTF | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Physical Preparedness: Practical Performance for Real-World Survival

by Todd Walker

Is your body fit to function in troubled times? Good times? Events are happening with increasing regularity that are steering us to hard times.

Stories from Great Depression survivors reveal how physically demanding life became after the crash. The difference in last century and the cliff we’re dangling over now is we’re in a state of soft. Soft bodies, soft drinks, and soft minds characterize today’s society.

Granted, there are exceptions. But look around. We’ve become a bunch of physical softies. You might be soft if…

  • Minimal physical exertion like walking up bleachers at your daughter’s soccer game leaves you breathless
  • Bending to place a case of bottled water under your shopping cart sends you to the chiropractor
  • Planting three tomatoes warrants a two-hour nap
  • Playing outside consists of a game of Angry Birds on your tablet on your screened porch
  • Checking the mailbox becomes an endurance event

If the soft shoe fits you, it’s time to stop wearing it. No one is immune from emergencies. Natural disasters happen. Some time we put ourselves in stupid situations that demand a strong response. If you’re soft, you’re not going to be very useful to yourself or those depending on you.

Excuses for staying soft run on forever. But if you’re sick and tired of being soft and tired, you’re the only person that can change you.

I work with a teacher who got tired of being soft. She had lost over 100 pounds by the end of this school year. She decided to take charge of her life and get strong. She’s an inspiration to many. Her method is not what I would use, but you can’t argue with her results.

Back to excuses. Not having a gym membership is not a valid excuse to stay soft. There are many more exciting ways to get functional fit than striding on a treadmill or pulling on a lat machine. As a matter of fact, doing conventional workouts with traditional equipment will build a baseline level of fitness for you, but washboard abs and python arms are not your aim in functional fitness.

To be functionally fit, you train your body to handle everyday situations. You want to perform movements that use multiple muscle groups. Whole body movement will increase your endurance, coordination, resilience, stamina, strength, power, speed, agility, and balance.

Think of it this way. When in nature have you seen a wild animal doing the same repetitive motion over and over like jogging in a circle for an hour. That’s not how they exercise - neither should humans.

And you don’t need a gym to get functionally fit. Allow me to introduce a workout I did the other day in our local park. Dirt Road Girl named it after the Commodore’s disco hit “Brick House.”

The Brick House Workout

brick house workout

Rolling a section of chimney from the ruins of a brick house in our park. 

Chimney flip. Moving this chuck brick and mortar was a challenge. Wear work gloves if you flip rocks or jagged stuff like this. It was heavy enough to work my hips, gluts, legs, arms, and every other muscle in my body. Use caution when flipping heavy stuff. Items like this are homes to various creatures like spiders, snakes, and other scary critters :)

I flipped it end over end about ten times. It ruined my legs and I took a short break to sip from my camel back.

Hydrating on the chimney. Don't forget to stay hydrated before, during, and after workouts.

Hydrating on the chimney. Don’t forget to stay hydrated before, during, and after workouts.

Next up, balance beams. There’s a seating area beside the ruins. I’ve never seen anyone use these for their intended purpose. That’s the beauty of this kind of workout. You can turn most anything into functional fitness equipment.

Balance is something you won’t get much help with from your conventional personal fitness trainer in the gym. However, balance is important in the real world and should be practiced. You never know when you’ll have to cross a flooded creek on a slick log – or walk a straight line in a DUI checkpoint ;)

That blur is me jumping from bench to bench ~ I played the stunt double for Predator in the movie.

That blur is me jumping from bench to bench ~ I played the stunt double for Predator in the movie.

The object is to jump from beam to beam without falling. Jump in a high arc to give you a better chance of sticking the landing. I like wearing minimalist footwear or going barefoot when appropriate. Make sure the beam, log, or bench is not slippery before trying this stunt.

Remember, the most important part of survival is Don’t Do Stupid Stuff! If this looks stupid to you, don’t do it. A safer alternative is to lay a 1×4 on the ground and bear crawl from end to end without touching the ground. If you slip, you won’t fall far.

Brick squats. For this I found a smaller section of the chimney and held it to my chest while doing squats on top of the big section of chimney I just flipped. Do a few squat sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

Doing weighted squats on top of the chimney

Doing weighted squats on top of the chimney

Practical Performance benefits: Lifting that case of water, your toddler, or a 50 pound bag of feed.

Timber overhead lift. There are several long, heavy logs laying in our park that I use to work my shoulders and arms. Find one that you can press safely over your head for 2 sets of 10-15 reps.

timber overhead lift

Don’t drop it on your head.

I sometime use shorter logs and balance them on my shoulder and perform squats – or drag them through the park.

Practical Performance benefits: Helps with any over the head lifting, log cabin building, and just looks cool.

Jump on it! Plyometrics are one of the best exercises to increase power. Simply put, power gives you the ability to turn strength into speed, quickly. You need a sturdy elevated surface 18 to 20 inches high. I use two stone park benches. Jump from the ground to the top of the bench and back down to your starting point… and repeat as quickly as possible. Do 2 sets of 10-15 reps as quickly and safely as possible. As you build up your strength and reps, find a higher surface to jump on.

I'm behind DRG's thumb

I’m behind DRG’s thumb

Safety point: If you’ve not been doing much in the way of physical activity, plyometrics are not where you want to start. They are very intense. Build your fitness level slowly before attempting plyos. They are very taxing on your tendons and joints so don’t overdo it.

Alternative to plyos: Do squat jumps. Squat and jump as high as you can. When you land, go into squat position and jump again. Progress until you can do box plyometrics.

Practical Performance benefits: Allows you to finally jump and touch the net (maybe even the rim) on the basketball court, converts strength into power and explosiveness (great for snatching granny from the oncoming bus), and out run your hunting partner while being chased by a grizzly bear.

I finish off my workout with elevated push ups, a few pull ups, and five sprints.

For the push ups, place your feet on the park bench with your hands on the ground after you’re exhausted from plyos and do as many push ups as you can. If you need an easier alternative, put your hands on the bench and feet on the ground to do the push ups.

Keep your body straight and core tight.

Keep your body straight and core tight.

This is my preferred gym, natures gym, to build physical preparedness. The best practical workout of all is actually doing the real stuff like throwing hay, splitting wood, digging fence post holes, clearing land, and carrying rocks for DRG’s garden. When you can’t work on a homestead, at least find a park, backyard, or even a gym and get busy practicing for practical, real-world performance.

Your survival may one day depend on your physical preparedness. Just a thought.

What do you do to increase your practical performance? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section!

Doing the stuff,

Todd

P.S. - As always, if you found this useful, please share it with your friends.

P.P.S. – Dirt Road Girl is finally dipping her toe into the Twitter pool, testing the water. If you’d like, you can follow her @TheDirtRoadGirl - She’s also promised to post here soon!

 

 

 

Categories: Functional Fitness, Preparedness, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

How Chronic Couch Preppers Can Look Good Naked Again

by Todd Walker

Do you hate mirrors!

http://fitnessgurunyc.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/1.1250550826.fat-mirror.jpg

In the not so distant past, mirrors were my arch-enemy. I’d talk myself into believing that the shirt hid my love handles. The Dirt Road Girl must have used a shrinking agent in the laundry. Wait a minute! That doesn’t explain my leather belt shrinking. Hum. What’s up with that?!

I had become a chronic couch prepper. I was carrying 50 more pounds than my once athletic frame was intended to haul. In my delusional mind, I figured on summoning super-hero strength if the time came for me to hump my 40 pound bug-out-bag plus an extra 50 pounds of self-indulgent body fat. Pulling myself up by the bootstraps in a SHTF scenario or emergency situation has it’s time and place. What do I do when merely reaching for my boot straps is exhausting?

If you’ve followed my journey any length of time, you’ve heard me talk about my primal/paleo lifestyle. It’s not some fad diet. It’s a lifestyle of making choices and taking your health and fitness into your own hands. I can’t imagine that preparedness minded people would not embrace this lifestyle. Going into any emergency, natural or man-made, optimal health and fitness might give you the edge in survival. The people who depend on you can’t if you’re a chronic couch prepper.

If you stumbled upon this site and aren’t into preparedness, self-reliance, and resilience, but are looking for a solution to the dieting dungeon and want to experience real long-term health and fitness, you’re in the right place.

The benefits of going primal

Since going primal in February 2010, I’ve lost the aching joints, irritated bowel, sugar cravings, and 50 pounds. I’ve gained confidence in my physical abilities, muscle mass, increased energy levels, new appreciation for play, and a lifestyle of healthy living. An added bonus is I look good naked again – according to Dirt Road Girl :) Vanity? Not really. It just goes with the territory of a primal lifestyle.

Do you have to follow the primal lifestyle to be physically fit? No. It’s the path I’ve followed and highly recommend for those who have tried ‘everything’.

Prisoner of the Pyramid

http://philadelphia.grubstreet.com/20070711zombies.jpg

The real Zombie Food Pyramid is the USDA Food Pyramid

Nutrition is key to a healthy lifestyle. Following conventional wisdom on nutrition was a big fail for me and millions of Americans. I have two degrees in Health and Physical Education. In those six years, I was schooled to follow the conventional wisdom of eating mostly carbs mixed with a little fat and protein. Great plan if you value chronic health problems, fatigue, and dying. Following the misinformation put out by our benevolent government (corporate-driven USDA food pyramid) will only help you remain a chronic couch prepper. Why would they do that? Follow the money. I’ve chosen to abandon willful ignorance and take control of my own life. Self-reliance and preparedness starts within you.

RESET!

Flip the pyramid upside down and start over. Eat no grains, or grain based meals for one month. Hold on there pilgrim! All preppers know that storing grain in 5 gallon buckets is the way to survive TEOTWAWKI. Again, think like a hunter/gatherer. Destroy the old conventional paradigm. I know this will offend and even anger traditional/conventional preparedness folks. I’m no expert on nutrition, I just know what worked for me. All I’m asking is that you take the challenge for one month. Break free from the conventional wisdom and give it a chance.

The Caveman’s Gym

http://agarlandcrown.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/caveman-fitness.jpg?w=470

What would Grok do? Short and intense is better than long and grueling. I’ve had friends join me on my work outs. They are very simple and minimalist. No gym membership, long hours, expensive equipment, or boring stuff. Here’s some of the ‘gym’ equipment I use.

  • My body weight for pull ups, push ups, lunges, and squats.
  • Rocks for throwing and lifting.
  • Fallen trees, broken into manageable pieces, are used for weighted squats and balance.
  • Sledge hammer swung at old tires. I also do Shovelglove. Never heard of it. Click here to check it out. Splitting wood with a sledgehammer, wedge, and axe are great full body movement creating functional fitness.
  • Don’t discount children and grandchildren. I hoist my grandson on my shoulders (40 pounds) every time he comes over and we do our walk. Well, he rides and giggles. I walk.
  • 7 gallon water containers. Grab two that are full to perform killer lunge sets. I don’t do many with that weight. Work up to heavier weight with two gallon jugs of water or other object with a handle.
  • Sprint as fast as you can every 7 to 10 days. This is all out effort whether you bike, run, or swim. My sprint sessions only last about 10 minutes. Long slow distance only leads to stress related injuries (chronic cardio)…especially in shoes.
  • Tree climbing. I’m not talking about with a deer climbing stand either. Get over your domesticated workout and go wild!
  • Here’s another wild workout I posted that you may find helpful.

Functional fitness for SHTF

Specialization is for insects. “Time to go to the gym,” my buddy moaned. He can bench press 400 pounds but can barely squeak out a pull up. In any survival situation, versatility will be the key to not becoming room temperature. If he and I were hiking and had to climb a tree to escape a charging wild boar, he might be out of luck. Ever watch a dog ‘exercising’ outside? He doesn’t run in a boring circles. He mixes it up with jumping, sprinting, sparing, playing, with an occasional stop to pee on bushes. Animals move without monotony. Movement is survival.

Wild animals depend on their ability to move to survive. The odds of us having to sprint to the nearest tree to outrun a wild beast is small. WTSHTF it’s the two-legged predators I’m worried about. Knowing we could escape a dangerous encounter is rewarding. More practically, could I carry my wife or children to safety if called upon? Our fitness level should be well-rounded. We’ve got to be strong to be useful.

Here are a few resources I recommend to get you into the wild and moving naturally.

1) The 13 MovNat Movement Skills© (Check out this site for natural movement)

If you’re wondering what moving naturally means for human beings, think of human species-specific movement aptitudes. Visualize how the human animal would move in nature for his survival – that is natural human movement.

‘Aren’t there more natural ways to move naturally than just running?’

Human beings possess locomotive skills such as 1) walking, 2) running, 3) jumping, 4) balancing, 5) crawling, 6) climbing, or 7) swimming.

In addition to locomotive skills, human beings also utilize manipulative skills such as 8) lifting, 9) carrying, 10) throwing, and 11) catching, and 12) throwing and combative skills, such as 13) striking or grappling.

2) Mark’s Daily Apple. Reprogram your genes for effortless weight-loss, vibrant health and boundless energy.

3) The Paleo Solution. Revolutionary solutions to modern life.

4) Free The Animal. Richard Nikoley’s quest to live a primal/paleo lifestyle.

If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired when it comes to your workout, give these suggestions a try.

You’re turn. What’s been your exercise regiment? – I hate that word. It’s so hard to keep up with a regiment. Share your wild functional workout with us.

NOTE: A recent email conversation with Daisy Luther got us both thinking about the importance of fitness and health for survival. Over the next few weeks I’ll be putting together a more detailed series on functional fitness, healthy living, and unconventional advice for those following a preparedness and self-sustainable lifestyle.

Got anything in particular that you’d like to hear discussed?

 

Categories: Functional Fitness, Natural Health, Primal Skills, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle, SHTF | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Are You a Desk Jockey? Stand and Deliver

My standing workstation in my classroom.

By Todd Walker

When I took a stand two years ago, I’ve never sat at my classroom desk again.

Research has shown prolonged sitting to be neither healthy or natural for us. I built my standing desk out of a throw away desk and some scrap plywood, added paint, and mounted it on top my sit down desk. Being on my feet all day wearing minimalist shoes while teaching, has helped my posture.

It’s rare that I’m behind my desk during class anyhow. However, when paperwork and bureaucratic pencil-pushing call, I stand and deliver – literally.

To refresh my mind and get my blood pumping, I knock out several sets of push ups behind my desk on my PVC DiY push up handles.

Easy and cheap PVC pushup bars

Easy and cheap PVC push up bars

Doing push ups outside in the sunshine is my favorite place. Time constraints and weather don’t always allow me to do so. These bars are sturdy and allow me to twist my wrists to a natural angle during exercises.

Oh, and here’s a closeup of the poster on my wall behind my standing workstation.

The Primal Blueprint Pyramid

The Primal Blueprint Pyramid

You’re turn to stand and deliver. Got any stuff you do to blend health and fitness into your daily work routine?

 

 

 

Categories: equipment, Frugal Preps, Survival Education | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Doing Push-ups for Preparedness

I do a lot of push-ups every day. Why? I don’t need fancy equipment, gym shorts, or a gym membership. Al Kavadlo does an excellent job with his guest post over at Mark’s Daily Apple explaining this perfect primal (and prepper) exercise. Can’t do a regular push-up? No worries. Take it step by step and gradually build up to massive amounts of this functional fitness exercise.

Push-ups: The Perfect Primal Exercise

Push up1This is a guest post from Al Kavadlo of AlKavadlo.com.

Push-ups are one of the oldest and most widely known strength exercises on Earth. They’ve been a staple in military fitness, martial arts and just about every other type of exercise program that’s ever existed. Anyone who has even the slightest interest in working out has probably tried to do a push-up at least once in their life.

Funny thing is, amongst many modern fitness enthusiasts, the push-up is often overlooked due to its simplicity. A lot of people are under the misconception that something so basic couldn’t possibly be the best overall upper-body exercise out there. Even members of the primal community who know better than to buy into mainstream hype are often skeptical of my claim that the humble push-up is nature’s perfect exercise.

I hope you’re at least willing to hear me out.

 

Perfect Push-up

Push up2

Push-ups are as close to a perfect exercise as you can get. They work your entire upper-body (including your abs), and can be modified in an infinite number of ways to suit any fitness level. Push-ups emphasize the chest, shoulders and triceps but every muscle in the body has to do its part for a proper push-up to take place. Your lats, traps and abs must stabilize your pushing muscles, while your lower back, legs and glutes need to stay engaged to keep your hips from sagging or piking up too high. Like many calisthenics exercises, push-ups teach your muscles to work in harmony with one another.

But my favorite thing about push-ups is that they don’t require anything more than a floor, so you can do them anywhere. And as I always say, If you don’t have a floor, you’ve got much bigger problems!

Wall Push-up

WallPush up

Everyone knows strength training is great for your muscles, but a lot of people don’t realize that working out also does a lot for your bones, tendons and other connective tissue. It’s true though; strength training makes the entire body strong. It’s obvious when you really think about it – your connective tissue needs to be strong to support those muscles! Sometimes people are so concerned with aesthetic goals that they overlook the changes that can’t visibly be seen.

If you have bad shoulders, wrists or elbows, in time your joints can be restored with lower intensity variants like the wall push-up. The body can only be as strong as its weakest link, and connective tissue tends to be slower to adapt than muscle. A novice or an injured person should start with the wall push-up, working to 20 and eventually 50 consecutive reps in each set before moving on. To perform this variant, simply lean against a wall with your toes a few feet away and do the push-up movement from this semi-upright position.

Read the rest here

 

Categories: Functional Fitness, Preparedness, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Reducing Chronic Illness As We Age

I highly recommend the primal/paleo lifestyle for health, longevity, and just plain fun. Lose the dieting paradigm and embrace a lifestyle.

obesity-evolution

_____________________________________

by Harriet, Editor-at-Large,

Source: Seasoned Citizen Prepper

One of the most important preps I believe we can make is to stay healthy, or for those of us suffering the myriad of conditions that occur as we age, to improve our health.
I am one of those unfortunate people who have had poor health all my life. As a child I suffered a lot of pain that was variously diagnosed. Mobility became lessened and physiotherapy twice a week was instituted. Later I suffered extreme fatigue, occasions of massive inflammation, much pain and disability. The labels don’t really matter as they changed from decade to decade. Sometimes I got a “respectable” auto-immune diagnosis. Other times they wanted to characterize it as a neurosis or psychiatric problem. But all that time I staggered through life, suffering and getting no help from the medical profession beyond occasional two week placebo effect from some of the pills. There were also occasions when the doctors insisted the drugs they gave me worked when they actually made me feel worse. For decades suicide seemed a good choice as I was given no way out of the pain and suffering.
As a result of this I became very interested in healing and unexpected recoveries from severe illness. I knew there were always some people who had recovered when they weren’t expected to from stories in the bible, to the miracles at Lourdes, to miracles claimed by the modern evangelical churches. So I set out how to find out how to make a miracle healing more likely and along the way have learned how to be healthier than I have ever been in my life.
I became a researcher in a university department of primary care and later got a PhD in medicine studying people who should have died but didn’t. It was difficult to get patients for my study as the doctors did not accept that miracles occurred. However when I suggested I was interested in people who had less than a 10% chance of surviving they came up with people for me to talk to. As a result of that quite major study I discovered the psycho-social-spiritual components of health that all the survivors had.
However when I was publishing the paper a decade later (it took me a long time to be able to write it up in a way that my medical colleagues would accept) I went back to my survivors to see how they were doing. Many of them had died in that time and I had to accept that there was something in the physical arena that I had missed. The psychological, the social and the spiritual components were not enough.
I realized that all of the people in the study had eaten a basic vegetable and grass fed meat diet with little in common with the Standard American diet (SAD) pushed by the current dietary advisers. Because that was the way we all ate it didn’t seem remarkable to me at that time. However more and more industrialized food was being sold and eaten. Was that the reason they died? I had no idea but from the perspective of my own health it was a good place to start.
Categories: Natural Health, Preparedness, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle, Real Food, Self-reliant, Survival | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unconventional Functional Fitness: Sticks and Stones Interval Workout

It is not that our life is so short, it is that we waste so much of them. – Seneca

In my Individual Preparedness Plan series, I thought it necessary to talk about priorities in preparing. Today’s topic: Functional fitness.

I read something the other day about the popular Doomsday Preppers show. It seems that the producers of the show interview potential want-to-be-on-TV preppers and make them choose one doomsday scenario to highlight during their episode. I’ve never seen a full show, maybe one or two 5 minute segments, so I’m in no position to critique or criticize. I’m sure that those folks are preparing for more than that one potential catastrophe, right?

We all have our own reasons for preparing. Some are concerned about possible job loss and not getting that coveted gold watch after 30 years. Others worry about economic collapse, EMP attack, peak oil, government tyranny, zombie bikers, the golden hoard, natural disasters, and all manner of boogie man-isms like alien invasions. No matter the flavor of the brown stuff hitting the fan, being physically, mentally, and spiritually able to deal with chaos only increases your chances of survival. Let’s cover physical fitness priorities first.

I’m still amazed at the total lack of emphasis on being physically fit to handle the extra stress in survival situations. Claire Wolfe posted a letter of thanks from “just waiting” to her Commentariat related to clean up from Hurricane Sandy. Imagine the physical stamina needed for any common desk jockey to have to rip up storm soaked carpet and pad, soggy furniture, and mold infested drywall to the curb. Overwhelming. Preparing our bodies to handle the added stress in these situations should be done in advance. I’ve yet to come up with a workout tailored for alien invasions. Any suggestions? Until an invasion of green beings is imminent, we should focus on the practical benefits of being strong so we can be useful.

With Dirt Road Girl waging war on her cancer, I’ve been very cyclical in my approach to “working out.” Time to get my sweat on. I wedged this phrase in quotation marks for a reason. “Working out” is the path to fitness according to buff experts. Three to four times a week of weight training, squeezed in between a couple of cronic-cardio routines, a yoga class or two, and monotonous hours of sweating to Richard Simmons’ videos is not my idea fun. That goes for P90X and CrossFit. I have great admiration for practitioners of these way-intense fitness programs. It’s just not for me. Number one: My routine has to fit my primal lifestyle. Number two: I refuse to spend money on gym memberships, gadgets, and other shiny stuff to stay fit. About a month after the giving frenzy of Christmas, millions of shiny fitness objects will be laid to rest in the basement corner or closet.

There’s a better way. If you give me a moment, I’ll show how to develop fitness that is both functional and useful in the real world, and possibly in a post TEOTWAWKI world. I say possibly because I’ve never experienced the end of the world.

Obviously, a certain level of fitness is needed to perform basic functions in our modern world. Much less than our ancestors however. Today’s machines and technology have made our post industrial revolution lives more comfortable, convenient, and cozy. Cozy is code for complacent. I’m thankful for modern stuff. I plan on using my car, electric appliances, and time-saving machines like my leaf blower instead of a rake. This gives me more time to do the things I really want to do like hang out with my wife and our son while he’s in town. Plus, we’ve got a primal workout scheduled before we start herding leaves at my in-law’s down the street.

So what is functional fitness? Here’s my simple definition: The ability to do real work in real life situations.

What if our lives depended on functional fitness?

Could you fireman carry your friend or a stranger out of harms way? Split firewood without a hydraulics? Lift your body weight or even your child’s weight? Walk the 20 miles per day on your planned bug out route with 30 extra pounds strapped to your back? Rip 1,000 square feet of soaked carpet and pad from your floor? What if’s are endless. But…could you do it? I tell myself I could. I work towards that end. But quite honestly, I don’t know.

Anyone that has read my story knows that I follow a primal lifestyle. I’ve praised the benefits to the point of exhaustion. Guilty of the workout-so-I-could-burn-all-those-carbs cycle for many years, I discovered that eating, exercising, and weight loss is easy when we follow our true nature. Genetically speaking, we are not meant to eat the Standard American Diet. Humans are built to burn fat for fuel.  And we don’t have live in the gym to be fit. Below is the blueprint I follow.

The Primal Blueprint Fitness Pyramid

For functional, diverse athletic ability, and a lean, proportioned physique

fitness pyramid flat 2012

Sticks and Stones Interval Workout

Bored with your workout routine? Get out of the gym and get spontaneous. Cliche alert: Variety is the spice of life. Here’s a sampling of my functional fitness workout that cost no money (sweat equity required) and pays health dividends now and in our uncertain future. Dirt Road Girl, our son, and I jogged over to our local park a few blocks from our house. The temperature was in the mid 40′s so I wimped out and wore my five finger shoes. On warmer days I do it barefoot. Barefooting is optional.

WARNING: Here’s the caution about starting any fitness program in our happy-lawyer-society. Consult your physician before starting any exercise regiment. This info is for entertainment purposes only. Use your common sense before attempting any of these exercises. If you drop a rock on your head, it will hurt, and maybe even kill you. Don’t blame me. You’ve been warned.

Dead fall squats

A.) Dead Fall Squats: Grab a log you can manage, stand it on end and balance it on your shoulder. I’m not getting into the basics of form and how to. Search “Proper Squat Form” on your search engine to learn proper form and prevent injury. I usually do about 2 sets of 10 reps, alternating the log to each shoulder between reps. This helps strengthen your largest muscle groups in your legs, hips and gluts.

B.) Plyometrics: I do a set of ten box jumps on the stone bench in front of my squat station. I perform these in between each squat set. Find an elevated, stable platform and jump up and back down. It can be a tree stump, steps, homemade box, or whatever. Be sure to choose something that is sturdy and will not move when you stick your landing.

Plyometrics

C.) Front Squats: I like to mix it up with my squats. Rest the log on your chest and squat. Wear clothing you don’t mind getting dirty. Another note: During the warmer months, be aware of insects and poison plants on your workout equipment. Tics or poison ivy will ruin your day.

Variation on squats

D.) Overhead Press: Get creative. I’ve got a longer log that I use for this exercise. It’s about 15 feet long. I grab it at the heavy end, lifting with my legs not my back, and perform 2 sets of 10 presses over my head. The law of gravity and Newton’s Laws of Motion are still in effect, so get out of the way when you’re done and have to drop the log.

Overhead press

E.) Rock and Roll: You probably won’t find an old tractor tire lying around your park you can flip. Here’s Mother Nature’s answer to heavy tires. I have no way of knowing how much this rock weighs. My son said 300 lbs. maybe. He’s smarter and better at estimating. I roll the rock several times. It’s quite a chore and will enlist all of your muscles to perform this primal rock flip. NOTE: Use gloves to protect your hands.

Rock and roll

F.) Sprints: I usually do these about once every 7 to 10 days on our street before going to work. I run between five to six 50 plus yard sprints on days dedicated to sprinting. Sprint days don’t take long, but keeps me young. How many 50-year-old men do you see sprinting down your street with nothing chasing them? Whether you’re biking, swimming, or cycling, all out effort is what you’re going for here. We only did two sprints on this interval training day.

My son out running me

G.) Pullups: Wake up call. I could only squeak out one at the end of this interval session. Our son showed out on the bar. I’ve neglected my separate pull up routine for the last few months. I’ll remedy that oversight. Even if you’ve you never been able to get your chin over the bar, do modified pull ups. That was my goal three years ago. Maybe I’ll write about my goal of doing one stinking pull up in a future post. Oh, you don’t need an official pull up bar. Find a tree limb or piece of playground equipment that you can hack.

Pull ups

H.) Stones Throw: On our way out of the park, we did a few stone throws. DRG and I collected two stones and placed them at the base of a bird house last summer. They’re still there. We throw these like you might throw a medicine ball in the gym. Don’t lug rocks to the gym. You’ll be thrown out. Throw the rock as far as possible. Fetch it and throw it again from the other side of your body. Make about 4 tosses or more if you’re up for it. Then push the rock up over a head-high object (bush or fallen tree) a couple of times like you’re passing a basketball. Do this for as many reps as you can. When you’re done, put the rock back for your next workout.

Stones throw

That’s it. A simple, cheap, and challenging workout. Remember that 80% of your body composition is determined by diet. No amount of working out will overcome a crappy SAD diet.

I haven’t been as disciplined about the fitness aspect of preparedness since DRG’s diagnosis. That has changed. I’ll be posting more follow ups to my progress in later posts.  Whether you are in perfect physical shape or just starting your journey, I’d really like to hear your thoughts, comments, fears, and insights on this subject. I’m no expert. Just a middle-aged guy trying to stay young.

Doing the stuff,

Todd

Categories: IPP: Individual Preparedness Plan, Preparedness, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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