Posts Tagged With: fitness

SHTF Functional Fitness: 4 Unconventional Prepper Workouts

by Todd Walker

I’ve read lots about the little that is written about functional fitness when the SHTF. The image of svelte bodies in wet t-shirt contests on spring break clouds the mind. Snap out of it. TEOTWAWKI is here! The only wet t-shirts you’ll see after a collapse scenario will be sweat-soaked. I personally am not looking forward to the site or smells emanating from Uncle Joe’s overalls while splitting firewood. The bonus of overalls is it saves us the disgusting site of his plumber’s crack.

I’ve written before about my fitness philosophy. Looking good naked may be a fine goal now, but will it help you survive? Life after TSHTF will be, shall we say, challenging. I know a man down the street in his early 80’s that can work circles around me in the garden. Yes, there’s a bit of shame in that for me. This got me to thinking about my functional fitness plan. First question: Is it functional? Duh! Will my weekly pull-ups, push ups, squats, and sprints really make me useful to my family when it really counts?

For instance, I’ve dabbled in blacksmithing. I’m not good at it. The first time my farrier friend taught me to make a simple wall hook, the simple motion of swinging the hammer made my forearm swell to painful Popeye proportions. I swing a carpenters hammer on side jobs all the time. The hammer-on-anvil swing is different, but transferable. So, will your present level of fitness be transferable in post-SHTF? If you’ve got a nagging in your gut that you’ll be toast, you may want to try these functional workouts.

Legal disclaimer stuff: If you’re starting any exercise program, consult your physician first. There’s the legal advise. This is not intended to be professional advice. It’s simply exercises that I do. Your mileage may vary. If you do stupid stuff, bad things will happen.

Build your own SHTF gym!

A.) Taken to the Woodshed

Obviously, the best way to build strength and functional fitness is doing SHTF stuff. Here’s your first workout. Grab an axe, splitting wedge, and sledgehammer and destroy that pile of round wood stacked behind your house. Don’t have any wood? Someone in your neighborhood probably does and would love to have it split and stacked. You’ll be rendering random acts of kindness while earning a reputation at the rotary club as that crazed-wood-splitter.

Don’t want that label in the community? Simulate it in the privacy of your own backyard with one tool, a sledgehammer. Check it out here. I use a ten pound hammer. DRG uses a six-pounder. After a month of swinging the hammer, you’ll be in lumberjack shape.

B.) Haul Water

Water: It’s not just for drinking

Nerd Alert: What is the density of water in pounds per gallon? 8.328676 lb/gal. Being the frugal prepper (cheap is more like it) that I am, I bought these two 7 gallon water jugs at a yard sale for two bucks. Reeking with redundancy, I do walking lunges with these puppies in my back yard. That’s 58.31 pounds in each hand if I measured correctly. Don’t try this at home kids!

Here’s how to haul water like your great grand parents… with proper form of course. If you’ve never done lunges, start out with your body weight only and work up to weighted lunges. Too heavy and your asking for injury.

Starting position: Arms hanging by your sides, feet shoulder width apart, back straight, chest out, core (abs) tight.

Next: Step forward a few feet. As your foot lands, bend your extended leg so that your front heel is below your knee. DO NOT allow your knee to pass beyond your toes during lunges. Your back knee should be about an inch or so off the ground with the heel of the back foot pointed to the sky if performed correctly. From this bottom position, lift your body up to standing position and repeat with the other leg. Your entire lower body will beg for mercy after a set of these.

While you won’t be doing lunges to tote water from the creek or pond, this functional movement will certainly make daily life after a crisis much easier. Whatever your goal, lunges will help build a balanced and stable foundation.

Recommended lunge link:

Walking lunges

C.) Sandbagging

There are so many prepping uses for the sandbag. From flood control to hardening areas of your retreat for ballistic protection. Even if you’re not worried about either of these potential emergencies, repeatedly lifting dead weight bags (livestock feed, rice, beans, etc.) takes functional strength. Could you fireman carry a loved one out of a burning house? For the hunter/gatherer types, can you sling your field dressed carcass over your shoulders and hump it back to camp? Remember, your mechanical advantage disappears WTSHTF. Your four-wheeler is yard art by now.

Here’s how the humble sandbag can help.

Start: If you don’t have sandbags, I’ve seen them at home improvement centers cheap. If your cheap like me, use any bag that is durable enough to hold sand. Use sand or small pea gravel to fill the bags. Get creative.

Once you have several filled, you’ll need a larger bag to hold the smaller sand bags. I’ve seen army duffel bags and sports bags modified for the workout. Again, start out with a weight that you can comfortably handle with good form. You can always add more bags as your strength progresses. Do a search on the internet for ideas on sandbag workouts. I’ve posted a link of a short 3 minute video below.

Homemade Sandbag Training

D.) Homesteader Workout: Clearing the land credit:

Don’t want to go through the trouble of sandbagging? Clear some land. You live in the city? So! You’ve got parks right? I’ve got a section of fallen tree in the local park that I shoulder for doing squats. I’m guessing it weighs about 100 pounds. If you’ve done squats with barbells and squat racks in the gym, the form is the same. However, balancing a piece of wood on your shoulders enlists muscles for balance that you don’t use in a controlled gym setting. I like to alternate the log to each shoulder between sets of squats. Then drag the log up a hill and carry it back down. You’ll be the land clearing queen/king at your retreat.

Don’t forget the rocks. I also throw basketball sized rocks in the same park. The great thing about rocks is that they stay where you leave them. I’ve had to replace my log several times. With rocks, I just keep a stack at the base of a pole with a bird feeder on top. It looks like they belong there.

Start: Grab a rock and lift it with your legs, not your back. Hold the rock chest high with both hands and press away from your body like a basketball pass. It’s not going very far. Run get it and repeat. After a few tosses at chest level, raise it over head, slightly bend your knees and press it up and out away from your body. Do I need to warn you about physics here? What goes up must come down. So, be sure to press the rock up and away from your body, not directly overhead. Throw it over the railing and into an imaginary horse-drawn wagon. Your clearing land post-SHTF. Try throwing for accuracy. Imagine crushing the head of predator ten feet away – caveman style. You’ll be ahead of the curve when all your guns are confiscated. Geez, I just had to get off topic.

Recommended link:

MovNat in a city park

MovNat in the woods

Post-SHTF will require functional fitness. Get started now. You’ll be ahead of the herd!


Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


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Categories: Functional Fitness, Preparedness, Self-reliance, SHTF, TEOTWAWKI | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Chia Seeds: A Tiny Powerhouse for Sustainability

I first discovered Chia seeds by reading “Born To Run” by Christopher McDougall. In this page-turner, McDougall describes a power-boosting concoction made with Chia seeds used by the Tarahumara, arguably the greatest runners in the world. Even if you’re not into distance running, I think you’ll enjoy the read.

Like Tess, I’d only ever know the seed to grow out of a Chia pet. I eat them all the time now. They are well worth finding, eating, and storing.

Read the full story below.

Tess Pennington
Ready Nutrition
April 2012

It’s hard to think about the Chia seed without getting a mental image of a Chia pet.  I always imagine the crazy looking clay sheep with wild greenery sprouting out all over it that used to sit in my college dorm windowsill.

In all actuality, the Chia seed is much more than part of a novelty planter though – it is a tiny little powerhouse that can add a lot of benefits to your long-term food storage while only taking up a small amount of space. The word “Chia” is actually the Mayan word for strength. In ancient cultures, they are considered the food of the warrior because of their nutrient density and ability to sustain running messengers for long durations without other food. 

Adding a serving of the nearly tasteless seeds to a meal can more than double the nutrition you receive! Chia seeds contain boron and Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. They are also nutritional dynamos that blow away many other sources of nutrients.  They contain:

  • 2x the protein of other seeds
  • 5x the calcium of milk
  • 2x the potassium of bananas
  • 3x the antioxidants of blueberries
  • 3x the iron of spinach

In addition, Chia seeds absorb 9-12 times their weight in water, thus helping you stay hydrated longer.

The Chia plant is part of the salvia family, but the seeds are very bland and nearly tasteless. The versatility of these are also a plus when you add them to your recipes. You can use Chia seeds either wet or dry.

To use them wet:

Soak one part seeds in nine parts water for 15 minutes.  The result will be a tasteless gel that can be added to soups, sauces, salad dressings or stews for a savory meal, or to smoothies, puddings or yogurt for dessert. Another method, is to add either ½ – 1tbls of chia seeds to your water bottle and drink throughout the day.

To use them dry:

Dry Chia seeds can be sprinkled on top of granola, yogurt or a salad for a bit of crunch.  Some people grind the seeds into a powder and add this to baked goods for a punch of protein and vital nutrients.

Chia seeds have another perk that makes them an ultimate survivor food.  Because of the insoluble fiber and the gel-like consistency that occurs when the seeds get wet, they provide a long-lasting feeling of fullness.  In a disaster situation where food may be limited, these little seeds can go a long way towards extended your supplies.  Your family will be able to eat a little less without feeling deprived because they’ll have full tummies from the seeds that you’ve added to the meal they just enjoyed!

Chia seeds can also be sprouted to add some welcome fresh greens to winter meals. The sprouts will be ready to harvest in only three days, making this a very speedy, low effort way to get some fresh veggies when the produce section of the grocery store is inaccessible.  For complete instructions on sprouting Chia seeds, click here.

Like everything else in a survival pantry, it’s best to do some experimenting when each meal is not urgently needed.  You may find that these easy-to-use seeds are a welcome and nutritious addition to your everyday meals!


The Chia Food Cheat Sheet

Top 10 Benefits of Chia Seeds

MySeeds Chia articles

You can order Chia seeds from…..


My Chia Seeds

Superseeds (in Canada)

Author: Tess Pennington
Web Site:

Date: April 19th, 2012

Categories: Food Storage, Functional Fitness, Preparedness | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Be Strong To Be Useful

I embrace the label “prepper”. The movement has gone mainstream over the past few years. What movement? The awakening of everyday people realizing that Uncle Sugar is not the answer in troubled times. Preppers take their preparedness into their own hands. Here’s the Survival Sherpa’s Guide to get started on your climb to preparedness.

Prepping is a journey, not a destination

My lovely wife, bless her heart (that’s right y’all – I’m southern), understands and supports this fact. Over the last two years I’ve added these skills to my toolbox (she just smiles and encourages me – and helps): soap making, blacksmithing, home brewing, water collection, medicinal plants and herbs, CPR training, barefoot running (strengthens the foot and ankles), backpacking/camping, and now, blogging (not a great skill after TEOTWAWKI ).  There never seems to be enough stuff, knowledge, or preps. I’ve never watched “Doomsday Preppers” by National Geographic highlighting the growing population of preparedness minded individuals in our country. It’s past my bedtime when it airs. The little I know from reading, the show seems to promote preppers as crazed, gun-totting fanatics. I love my guns, but I don’t watch sensationalized crap on TV. My advise to newbie preppers is to “keep it real” as my students say. Below you’ll find 7 tips to get your journey started. Starting is the hardest part.

Specialization is for insects

Five years ago I stumbled upon and realized that I was a prepper. Thanks to Mom and Dad, I was a prepper before prepping was cool. They taught me how to be self-reliant, an independent thinker, and a serial multi-tasker.

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” — Robert A. Heinlein

My parents went through tough times growing up and passed on their experiences and knowledge to me and my siblings. The ability to think and apply knowledge is the key to surviving our uncertain times ahead. Whether it’s a financial collapse or natural disaster your best human survival skill is the ability to think. The last thing you want is to be the recipient of a Darwin Award in an emergency/SHTF situation. Stupidity will thin the herd – as nature intended.

If you haven’t noticed our predicament, you are not paying attention or watching too much mainstream media. Here’s what I see. A financial collapse is coming. It’s inevitable. Don’t believe me. Read some history. There is no way to print our way out of this enormous hole of debt. Read some Rothbard and Mises to get enlightened.

Two years ago, our family sat around a Thanksgiving table at the in-laws. My mother-in-law brought up and expressed her I-lived-through-the-great-depression opinion on a story she read in the local paper about our economy. In a nutshell, she knew the present levels of debt and fiat money printing will ruin us. “Our money is no longer backed by gold,” she rightly stated. She was scolded by a young 20 something nephew who was getting his MBA in Keynesian economics at our state university. The once pleasant conversation turned heated as he demanded that we believe our money is backed by gold and that our national debt was good for “leveraging”. “Where’s the gold?” she asked. His arrogant ignorance and his presence ended when he called her “un-American” for her beliefs. Debating is okay. Insulting his grandma-in-law opened a can of reality on this “educated” Keynesian. My lovely wife immediately threw out (I’m being nice here) this ungrateful, ignorant, schooled fool. He’s never apologized to my mother-in-law. Haven’t seen him in two years. If I ever see this poor propagandized soul again, I’ll introduce him to Mr. Mises and Austrian economics.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928

Wake up and smell the truth – and prepare accordingly

Fortunately, the internet makes your prepper education much easier than in previous generations. My position in government “education” gives me a front row view of the dulling down of common sense and critical thinking of the masses. Our ruling elites depend on our insane system of forced schooling to mass produce dullards who believe anything and question nothing.

On the phone yesterday with my daughter who graduates from college in May, we discussed her plans. Originally, she wanted to attend grad school. Now she’s not so sure. She is aware of the fact that student loan debt for higher education exceeds $1 trillion dollars. She’s not sure the money spent/owed is worth it. I told her to follow her gut. She’s so bright and has so much going for her, why go further in debt?

Albert Einstein described insanity as, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Recovery is not going to happen. Collapse is coming. Prepare accordingly.

Here are a few of my go-to preparedness sites:

The Survival Podcast

The Economic Collapse Blog

Backwoods Home Magazine

The Survival Mom

Survival Jane

Willow Haven Outdoor

Project Appleseed

Knowledge and skills trump gadgets and tools

We perform what we practice. Gadgets and tools aren’t very useful unless you acquire skills to use them. Example: Can you start a fire from scratch without a Bic lighter? How about sharpening bladed tools (axe, saws, knives)? For families with young kids, this makes for great outdoor family time. Unplug the TV and computer game. Take kids camping, hunting, fishing and hiking. Encourage play. Play is essential in learning. Make games of preparedness. Plant a garden. Get your hands dirty, literally. No backyard? Grow vegetables in containers and get creative. I ran out of room in my garden once and planted tomatoes and peppers in plastic storage containers on my back deck. They grew like kudzu.

Make a written plan for emergencies.

What if the kids are at school, mom and dad are at work, and society goes berserk? Is there a plan in place to get the family home safely? Our children are grown and out of the house. We still have a plan of action (written down) in case the S Hits The Fan.

Avoid information overload

How do you climb a mountain? One step at a time. Seems logical but many newbie preppers experience information overload and shut down. As in any new undertaking, a solid foundation is necessary. Fundamental preps should include: Water, food, shelter, and a way to protect yourself and family (self-defense). Focused energy and resources should be spent on securing these items. These doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. Rethink, reuse and recycle. There’s so much stuff that can be made useful in your preps. Yard sales, Craig’s List, and thrift stores are great at stretching your prepper budget. I’ve added many 100% wool sweaters to my cache from local thrift shops. I call this “Common Man Sense.” Budget for what’s important. Is that latte at Starbucks really that tasty?

Be redundant

Once you jump into prepping, take care of the fundamentals and build redundancy. Can I purify water with more than one method? Always have a plan B and C. Figure it out before you have to.

Get fit for SHTF- Be strong to be useful

I chuckle every time I read some survivalist’s comments on how he/she plans to survive TEOTWAWKI. The chuckle comes when I see their picture posted and wonder how they plan on humping a 60 pound backpack to their fully stocked retreat location on top of a mountain. I’m not cracking on their plan, just don’t see it happening when they are winded by climbing the three steps leading into their house. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about what modern fitness experts tell us we are supposed to look like physically – beach ready with sculpted abs and tan bodies. I’m talking about functional fitness.

So, a plan has to be doable – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Let’s address functional fitness for SHTF.

In a SHTF/TEOTWAWKI event our bodies will be shocked by physical demands. In my ex-coaching days, I never had my football players swing baseball bats during practice. That skill wasn’t very useful for optimal performance on the gridiron. Working out at the gym may offer some transfer in a collapse situation. However, in my experience, carrying buckets of water and swinging a sledgehammer to split firewood can’t be practice in most modern fitness centers.

Ditch conventional wisdom and grease the groove. What’s “grease the groove?” Whatever you want to improve (cardio, upper body, lower body, etc.), do it in intervals throughout the day. For instance, if you want to increase your pull-up repetitions, do a pull up each time you pass a pull up bar (or other structural equivalent). Swing a sledgehammer on an old tire or firewood pile if you have one to increase you upper body strength. I hit 20 to 30 push ups on my breaks at school. I no longer do cardio (long distances over 3 miles). Over the last two years, I started sprinting once a week. This triggers my fast twitch muscle fibers, build muscle mass, and burns fat. And it only takes a few minutes, where the long runs use to take close to an hour. Boring! Note: Disregard the silly stares you get when sprinting through your neighborhood or park barefooted. Be strong to be useful.

Here are some non-conventional resources on jumping, climbing, lifting heavy objects, playing, and natural movement:

Mark’s Daily Apple


Robb Wolf: The Paleo Solution

What did I miss? Let me know.

Semper Vigilans,


Categories: Functional Fitness, Preparedness, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle, SHTF, Survival, TEOTWAWKI | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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