My friend Jacob Tsypkin and I were discussing various topics last week over a couple of expertly cut and grilled steaks. How to best combine strength training with conditioning, the good and bad of traditional Crossfit programming, and the difference between exercising for health and training to achieve a set goal were all on the table. Naturally, these various topics condensed down to how to best train for and survive the inevitable zombie apocalypse.
One thing that we both agreed on was that for someone who starts out as inactive, weak, and out of condition, there is nothing that can be done to prepare them for the onslaught of the undead in a month or two. The only thing that can shift things in their favor is plenty of luck, guns, and ammo.
I believe that since no one can prepare for the zombies overnight, it only makes sense to set a date. Set a date a reasonable distance away from your starting date. Make it your goal to be as ready for the zombies as you can possibly be at that set date. I think 6 months is a reasonable time period. The zombies have not come for thousands of years, the next 6 months seems like a reasonable bet for the continuation of modern society.
Although the ideal preparation might differ person to person, let’s concentrate on the previously mentioned inactive person. A guy who has spent too much time on the sofa or at a desk. Little history of physical activity. Weak and out of condition. How do you get this guy as close to a Ving Rhames level zombie fighter as possible in 6 months?
I would suggest concentrating on strength first. Strength is the basis for all other physical qualities, can only be built quickly in the absence of significant conditioning, and an increase in strength will in and of itself improve all other physical qualities in untrained people. Quick, linear gains in strength can be maintained for at least 8 weeks for most people who train correctly. So for 2 of your 6 months, do a reasonable linear progression beginner strength program, resist the urge to condition, and eat properly to gain strength.
Since the lions share of quick and easy linear strength gains are exhausted or close to being exhausted for most at 8 weeks, this makes a reasonable point to mix in some sort of conditioning. I would suggest that you start with some quick anaerobic conditioning a couple of times a week, and build from there. Sprinting, 5 or 10 minutes of continuous KB work, any one of the many Crossfit workouts that are over in under 10 minutes. As you go from conditioning twice per week to 4-5 times, strength gains will certainly slow down, and probably stop. That’s OK, if strength was your only goal, you wouldn’t be conditioning in the first place.
After 8 weeks of pure strength programming, and 8 weeks of mixing strength with anaerobic conditioning, it is time to mix in some LSD and get aerobic. After all, when running from the zombies, there might well be a time when you have to cover 10 miles on foot as quickly and effectively as possible.
For your last 8 weeks, I would suggest 2 strength workouts per week, each followed by an anaerobic conditioning session. Enough to maintain each of these qualities, or come close to maintaining them. And add in 2-3 LSD sessions, or, at least one LSD session and 1-2 longer anaerobic conditioning sessions. Crossfit workouts that last well over 10 minutes, preferrably 20 minutes or more are good. Jogging is great. A day of hiking is great. Make sure you include at least one endurance activity per week where you are on your feet most of the time, as you are unlikely to be fighting zombies or evading them from on top of a rower.
If the zombies do not come within these first 6 months, test yourself. Make it a week long event. On the first day, emphasize strength. Get a powerlifting total, or get a Crossfit total. Or max your clean and jerk. Something to test your strength.
On the second day, test your anaerobic condition. Do a 10 minute continuous KB snatch test. Do Fran. Do a 1k or a 2k on a C2 rower. Or do 2 of these things, or something else, something that makes you work longer than 3 minutes, but not more than 10.
On your third day, see how fast you can cover 10 miles. Or 5 miles. Or see how far you can row in an hour. Or how fast you can transverse your favorite hiking trail with a modest backpack weighing you down.
What next? Make a new plan. Emphasize and prioritize what you are weakest at. And set another date to test yourself, preferably using the same tests as you did the first time. Look at where you have improved the most and least, and where your new weak point is, and make a new plan, and set a new date. Repeat to infinity. Remember, they may not be coming tomorrow, next week, or next month. But they are surely coming. Be prepared.
PS: for the average guy or girl who just wants to get more generally fit and healthy and look good naked but does not fear zombies, these are pretty good recommendations for you also.