Training for Survival, by Warm Winds

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During a survival situation, being able to do a task with a good amount of stamina can get things done much faster. As an example, a recent survival blog entry was about how bikes are very valuable during survival. If one has no stamina, bikes can be pretty useless. Even if one has a limited amount of stamina, biking can be very exhausting and require a very long time to get from place to place. As a personal example, yesterday there was a big snowstorm where I live. My younger brothers and I decided to shovel snow for money. I can say with certainty that I did at least 75% of the work because I had the stamina to keep working, while they needed to take breaks. There are an endless number of survival situations in which one would find himself needing stamina, but a few include gathering plants in the wild, skinning an animal, running after or from an attacker, hunting, as well as hauling supplies.

When people think of working out, many think of bodybuilding and bench pressing. In a book called “The Lone Survivor,” the author (a Navy SEALS trainer) wrote how the people who were heavy lifters were the first ones to drop out of training because they were too top heavy. Our bodies were created to become stronger for utility rather than to, specifically, look good. I had friends in high school who would body build while I would train in cardio. When we would go jogging together, they would be spent within the first mile, while I wouldn’t even be sweating. The bottom line is that there are two types of exercising– weight lifting (body building) and cardio. While cardio (sit ups, biking, jogging, pushups, etc.) is extremely useful for everyday tasks, bodybuilding (in my opinion) is almost useless. It makes one look nice and may be useful for a good packhorse, but that’s it.

There are two different types of cardio– calisthenics and endurance/stamina. As I will explain, these two can be combined, and doing one does not necessarily mean you are not doing the other. Calisthenics is when you are using your body weight to work out. A few examples are pushups, chin-ups, situps, crunches, and squats. Endurance/stamina is where you are trying to keep doing the exercise for as long as planned and get your heart rate speed up. A few examples of endurance/stamina exercises are jogging, biking, jumping, and sprinting. Endurance/stamina can also include calisthenics. Two examples of combined exercises are sprinting with pushups between sprints and very rapidly doing a combination of calisthenics exercises.

Based upon my experience, I will share my detailed explanation of a good fitness program by beginning with endurance and stamina exercises. In my opinion, this is the most useful of all exercises. Their result is the ability to last a really long time and feel really good about yourself. I have recently noticed what seems to be an increase in their popularity, as I have seen many bumpers displaying the sticker “26.2” (the distance of a full marathon) or “13.1” (the distance of half a marathon).

First, I’ll start with jogging. I am writing with the assumption that you are in the average shape. If you are not, I have never had experiences with this. I assume you keep jogging the amount you think is your limit until you can build it up to a respectable distance. If you are in half decent shape, you can start off by jogging one or two miles three times a week. Once you feel you could handle this distance, you can follow a strict schedule to get you into good shape. Trying to jog everyday will hurt your body, and will not necessarily get one into the best possible shape. I found a marathon schedule for amateurs a few years ago, and since I was jogging for distance and not for speed, I modified it to fit my needs. So here it is:

  • Week One

    Monday: two miles
    Tuesday: rest
    Wednesday: two miles
    Thursday: rest
    Friday: two miles
    Saturday: rest
    Sunday: rest

  • Week Two

    Monday: light exercise (walking or jumping jacks)
    Tuesday: rest
    Wednesday: two miles
    Thursday: rest
    Friday: two miles
    Saturday: rest
    Sunday: three miles

  • Week Three

    Monday: two miles
    Tuesday: rest
    Wednesday: two miles
    Thursday: rest
    Friday: two miles
    Saturday: rest
    Sunday: four miles

  • Week Four

    Monday: light exercise
    Tuesday: rest
    Wednesday: three miles
    Thursday: rest
    Friday: three miles
    Saturday: rest
    Sunday: five miles

  • Week Five:

    Monday: light exercises (walking and jumping jacks)
    Tuesday: rest
    Wednesday: three miles
    Thursday: rest
    Friday: three miles
    Saturday: rest
    Sunday: seven miles

  • Week Six

    Monday: light exercise
    Tuesday: rest
    Wednesday: three miles
    Thursday: rest
    Friday: three miles
    Saturday: rest
    Sunday: eight miles

You get the point. Basically you ease up the distance on both the short runs and the long runs until you feel like you are maintaining a nice distance. As I said before, make sure to take those rest days. You don’t want to wear down your body and cause an injury.

In terms of calisthenics, I make a list of different types of calisthenics and then combine them. I usually take one or two that use various parts of the body. For example, I will do pushups (pecks), sit ups (abs), squats (legs), chin ups (biceps), and sprints (legs again). Sometimes, I will want to work out a specific part of the body, and I will choose a few that concentrate on that area of my body. There are different ways of combining them. One way is to do as many of the circuit exercises as you can in 10, 20, or 30 minutes. Another way is to do a minute of each exercise for five or however many circuits. Still another way is to do one of each exercise, combining many exercises. So instead of putting 5 exercises in the circuit, put 10 or 15. Here is a list of different exercises and a YouTube video explaining each one:

A few points to consider before you start:

  1. Get good running shoes. You don’t want to destroy the joints in your legs. The content trauma of your feet hitting the pavement will cause the cartridge by your knees to wear down. If you wear running shoes, it will cushion the impact. Running shoes also protect your feet from injury better than a different type of shoe. For one, running shoes will soften the feel of objects, such as rocks, as you run over them. Secondly, running shoes are built to stop your feet from rolling too much inwards or outwards; this rolling action can result in sprains, a skinned knee, or a twisted ankle. Additionally, running shoes are lighter, enabling you to carry less weight and jog or workout faster.
  2. Always warm up.

    If you start running too fast, you run the risk of pulling a muscle; tweaking a tendon, bone, or joint; or getting into a pace that you can’t sustain. You end up slowing down and burning out before you’re done with your workout. The worst part is that you’re likely to end your run feeling exhausted, discouraged, and dreading your next workout.

    Old studies on animal subjects determined that injuring a muscle that has gone through a warm-up process required more force and more muscle length than a muscle with no warm-up. This study is in line with the anecdotal data that acute muscle tears occur more often when the muscles are cold or not warmed up.

    Additionally, warming up can improve performance. Experts agree that the main purpose of warm-up is to increase the blood circulation in order to raise both the general body and the deep muscle temperatures, which in turn help to heat up the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in preparation for more vigorous activity.

    Warming up can include walking briskly, marching, jogging slowly, or cycling on a stationary bike. Make sure you don’t rush your warm-up.

  3. Make sure to stretch. It is better to stretch when you are cooling down, since you are doing less strenuous movements. There are a few reasons why one should stretch. It increases flexibility, thus reducing chances for injury. It also reduces cramps, although it does not help stomach cramps. Here is a helpful example of good stretching (active.com):

    The following stretches target the major leg muscles to maintain healthy flexibility and range of motion. Hold all stretches for a period of 30 seconds to two minutes. The Kneeling Hip Flexor and Hamstring Stretch is done from a kneeling position. Plant the right foot on the ground in front of you, so the leg is bent 90 degrees with the knee and ankle aligned. Keeping your back straight, press forward into your right hip while keeping your left knee pressed into the ground and stretch your left hip and right hamstring. To increase the stretch to the left hip flexors, squeeze and contract the glute muscles of your left hip.

    To begin the Standing Quad Stretch, stand with your legs together. Then, bend your left leg, bringing your left heel toward your butt, and grasp your left foot with your left hand. Press your shoelaces into your hand, so that your leg does the stretching instead of pulling up with your hand.

    Begin the Standing Calf Stretch by facing a wall with your hands on the wall at about chest level. Place the ball of your right foot up against the wall with the heel still touching the floor. Now, with your leg straight, gently lean into the wall until you feel a stretch.

  4. Don’t eat or drink too much before exercising. I know this can be a challenge, but I find that if I don’t wait at least two hours to begin working out I get stomach cramps. This can cause one to stop working out. Additionally, you can throw up if you have too much food in you.
  5. Drink water in order to stay hydrated during your workout; one needs to drink a lot of water. Also, if you are sweating more (such as on a hot day), you should drink more.

Further readings:

Jogging [1] [2] [3]

Calisthenics [1] [2] [3]

Stretching [1] [2] [3]

Warming up [1] [2] [3]

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