Monthly Archives: March 2012

Addendum 1.

I had so many question about my advice in the last post to get out in nature and away from the beaten path that I felt I needed to expand on it a bit.

I grew up hunting, fishing, and camping. I took up hiking in the mountains and snowshoeing when living in Montana. Being out of doors, being at least a couple of hours, if not a week or more away from an electrical outlet or running water is something I am familiar with.

It occurs to me that this is not the case for many people. I know people who I believe would be totally and completely lost and helpless without running water or electricity. Who actually might have a chance of dieing if they were dropped off in the woods a couple of miles from the nearest road or home. And I think that the ability to safely get from one place to another with as little dependence on modern conveniences is a useful skill in a societal breakdown. And when the zombies come, then God help us if the places we are going are not somewhere away from a city or town.

If you are not used to being out in nature, then that hill that you have decided to walk over instead of around might well be a LOT bigger, harder to get over, and even more dangerous than you thought it would be. That landmark you are walking toward might be 20 miles away when you think it is only 5. There are many more examples but I will leave it at that. There is no other way to learn stuff like that than to get out and experience it.

And then there is the planning. Planning on what you are gonna need when you will be dependent on what you have packed to be comfortable, or even to live. No, an overnight camping trip isn’t the same as days traveling on foot fighting zombies on your way to a safe place, but the basic thought patterns are the. In fact, the basic thought patters are the same even for a 2 hour hike into the mountains, a quick stop for refreshment then walking back to the trail head.

I have seen people pack so much water and food for a 2 hour hike that the ended up just throwing it away an hour in because it was just too heavy, and they could never have eaten or drank all of it in 2 hours even if they had tried! I have also seen people leave for a day in the woods with only a 16 oz container of bottled water and no food. I have seen people find out real quick that the shoes they had on were just not suitable for walking in grass, or that the socks they chose started to rub blisters and make them miserable as soon as they got wet. Once saw that happen to a guy about halfway through a hike of about 8 miles in the Bitterroot mountains. Guy had run a marathon but ended up not being able to complete an 8 mile hike.

Then there is the idea of risk. Is it the same thing to badly sprain your ankle when you are at a basketball game, medical crew standing ready, hospital close by in case anything is torn or broken, as it is when you are up in the mountains, 10 miles from the trail head with no cell phone service? No, it most certainly is not. In the first scenario, you will likely have an inconvenient evening, and might even walk on crutches for a few days. In the second situation, if it’s bad enough, if you can’t walk and especially if it’s cold, you might die. So do you really want to jump over that creek without thinking and looking at the footing on the other side? Maybe you should think a bit before you act.

I dont know of any way to develop the right mindset to best handle a situation where help, and modern conveniences are not available other than putting yourself in that situation. And hiking is a great way to do that.

Plus, its great fun, great exercise, and will make you a better person in general. I promise.


Staying Alive II

In part 1 we defined what is to be accomplished, to become physically more able to handle a crisis, whether it is a zombie apocalypse, a hurricane, getting stranded in an uninhabited place when your car breaks down, moving a piano upstairs or any other disaster, or in the last case disaster just waiting to happen. Or, in case none of those things happen for a while, just being physically more able to handle, and enjoy normal life.

We have also established that not getting hurt is priority number one, and that you are not gonna go from a fat, weak couch potato to an ass-kicking zombie killer in a week, and trying to do so will usually get you hurt.

The first month of training will focus on strength, with just a tiny bit of conditioning. Why? Because strength is the most basic physical quality, assists in the expression of all other physical qualities, and an improvement in the strength levels of an untrained person, will by itself improve most other physical qualities. On top of that, strength can be gained rather quickly if it is focused on, but not quickly at all if you are doing too many other activities. So, if we want to be as physically capable as possible, say, 6 months from now, you are gonna get the most bang for your training buck by devoting efforts primarily to strength alone at the start.

How to go about this? My preference is a 3 day a week, full body workout, 3-4 exercises per workout linear progression program. A good example of this would be doing squats, BB rows, and bench press on Monday, front squats, pullups, and military press on Wednesday, then Squats, bench press, and deadlift on Friday. Use medium reps (I like 5 best), start conservatively, and progress linearly for as long as you can. More specific advice is easily available on the internet, as there are many specific programs that follow these guidelines which have have been written about ad nauseam. With a little common sense, any beginner can become quite a bit stronger in a month or two with a program like.

But I did say a little conditioning didn’t I? Well we need to start with an activity that won’t interfere with Strength training, and is as broadly useful as possible over a variety of situations. And the winner is… WALKING! If you are really really out of shape, start with an easy 30 minute stroll a couple of times a week. Saturday is a great day to stretch it out a little longer. If you are a bit more motivated than most, get out in nature and go for a hike on your Saturdays when possible. Think about buying some nice hiking boots, you’ll be glad you have them when the zombies come! When you get to the point where it’s possible to go for a Saturday hike that takes you out a few miles from civilization, wouldn’t it be nice to stop for a snack? Maybe a cup of coffee? Plenty of stores like REI, Gander Mountain, or Bass Pro Shop where the average person can buy camping equipment that is reasonably priced and makes fixing a quick pick-me-up on the trail more convenient. It should be an organic process… don’t go out and spend 2k on camping equipment your first week, but, when you are out there walking, think about what you might need out there by yourself, think about what might make you more comfortable if you stop for a rest. And about how much it sucks carrying stuff that you don’t really need.

And that is pretty much all for the first month. A conservative strength training program, and a bit of walking. And for the extra motivated, a bit of practice and thinking about what it means to be out in the woods by yourself and what you might need. It is not glamorous but it is the best way to begin to get in shape for almost any de-conditioned person.


Staying Alive

Whether or not the zombies come in our lifetime, more and more people seem to be interested in attaining the physical skills needed to survive a breakdown in society. The possible scenarios are limitless, and it is impossible to know exactly what will prove to be the difference between life and death, or even safety and security or the lack of it. But we can certainly try, and it seems good odds that a stronger, better conditioned person will have the advantage.

Thus the rise of training programs based on training for survival in a lawless world. My problem with most of these programs is that, well, I think they are going about it all wrong! The first problem I have is that many such programs now in existence are infamous for their injury rate. You know what, I will give an untrained slob better odds in a tough situation than an elite athlete with a ruptured achilles and a rotator cuff tear. In fact, even everyday tasks, and the simple enjoyment of say, a walk in the park with the dog or playing with the kids are gonna be easier for the slob than the injured athlete. And isn’t that a very nice side effect of being ready for the zombies? Just being able to cope better with everyday life?

The second problem I have is the rush, the absolute rush to be ready TOMOROW. Lets lift and run and jump at a frantic pace, hell let’s push till we puke! Other than this attitude contributing to the injuries, it is also based on a false premise, that it is even POSSIBLE to be ready tomorrow. Look, if you have been sitting on your ass at a desk and making excuses about going to the gym for a decade, your not going to turn yourselves into Bruce Campbell by next Tuesday.

Well then, what to do? Well, first thing is to admit a few things. The first is that you are a fat slob and will likely die if anything really disruptive happens in society. The second is that you are not gonna cure that in a week or two, its gonna take a few months to make a real difference. The third is that you are not training to be an ELITE athlete, and trying to do so is likely to result in an injury that will really cramp your style whether the zombies come or not.

So what is needed? A decent program which puts a premium on staying uninjured, yet can over a number of months increase your survival odds in an emergency, as well as giving you that nice little side effect we all want to enjoy, being more healthy, stronger, and more fit to handle the little things that come up in everyday life. And just able to enjoy life more.

We will cover the first month’s programming in the next installment of this series…


The Versatile Vest.

A vest is a pretty useful thing. You will see guys up north out shoveling snow or chopping wood in their quilted vests, a bit of extra warmth while leaving the arms free to work. Most trades have vests that are specially made to stow their gear on while keeping it handy, The military uses them heavily for this reason. If you go fly fishing, you don’t wear a fly fishing jacket, you wear a fly fishing Vest. And the guy in the picture? Well you just know he is about to relax and listen to some tunes. He wold be chilly in just his shirt, but a bit too warm in a jacket. The vest is just right.

Another great variation on the vest is the weight vest. You can use it to add resistance and difficulty to all sorts of footwork drills and different jumping or plyo workouts, like these…

Most vests that work good for skinny guys like that won’t also work for a big guy, but MDUSA vest does, here is 285lb Spencer Moorman wearing the exact same vest as the skinny kid in the video.