What is the Baseline of Prepper Fitness?

Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
What is the Baseline of Prepper Fitness?

Of the myriad of preparedness topics, one that is often shunned is that of prepper fitness. It is easy to see why. Fitness is hard work and with busy lives that border on frantic, we barely have time to go to work, do our chores, spend time with our families, then crash as our head hits the pillow each night. Physical fitness? What’s that? And why is that important?

In the latest think piece from contributor Richard Broome, we ask that question within the context of a disruptive event and SHFT. Going beyond that, we ask a few questions in our quest to establish a baseline of fitness.

What is the Baseline of Prepper Fitness | Backdoor Survival

All you have to do is hike ten miles with a twenty or thirty pack on your back to realize that fitness is indeed an important part of prepping. This article is going to make you ponder, no doubt, but beyond that it just might trigger some positive action to set you on the path of prepper fitness, or, what Richard has call “PrepperFit”.

Enjoy this latest think piece and note the special bonus at the end. Richard is giving away an autographed copy of his book Good Crazy, to one Backdoor Survival reader. You are not going to want to miss it.

PrepperFit ©

“If you wish to be out front, then act as if you were behind.” ― Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher

I have been out of town for the last week spending time with my wife, my four children and their spouses, and four grandchildren at a resort in Florida. I know. I know. Seriously? Florida in July? Yet…it was a great family time renewing our connections before we scattered all over the country at the end of the vacation and tended to our very busy lives. We will not be together again until my youngest son gets married during the holidays this winter.

As I spent time sitting in the shade of a large umbrella, watching my family splash about in a pool, I took note of the other people at the resort and was taken aback some by the fairly rotund people around me. Montana’s lifestyle requires a certain level of fitness. Admittedly there are plenty of people in Montana who could stand to lose a pound or two or more (and, I reluctantly, but honestly must count me in this group). Most Montanans I know here like to hunt, fish, hike, bike, ski and have the physical fitness level to do this.

So, back to that pool in Florida. As we age, it is clear to me that with our intense lifestyles and demanding careers, many of us are not as fit or lean as we would like. Small wonder. Exercise falls to the bottom of the priority list when all you can do is just cope with each stressful, hectic day.

For me, retired from both the military and the business world, and now teaching at a university, I do have more time each day to try to stay fit. I walk at least a couple of miles every morning with my golden retriever, Molly, and then go to the gym on most days to lift weights and generally workout. But, admittedly, I am very far from that peak level of fitness I had at age eighteen as a high school athlete.

I went into the Army about that age feeling very confident about my physical abilities. No problem, I thought. However, pretty early in boot camp they required us to learn to do the things we were expected to be able to do as soldiers.

The first time we were told to drop to the ground with our rifles cradled in our arms, and then low crawl on our stomachs using only our arms and legs (no getting up on our knees, hands or elbows and crawling like a baby) and move for 50 yards as fast as we could go. I was shocked at the effort this took. It was exhausting.

The drill sergeants did help us though. Every time we tried to rise up and crawl on our knees and elbows, (which would expose us to enemy fire if we ever got that high off of the ground) they kicked us in our rumps to encourage us to learn how to do the low crawl correctly. The second time they had to kick you in the rump, they were also nice enough to have you start over at the beginning of the 50 yards, so you could be really sure you understood how to do it right. It was an early, painful, but necessary lesson as we went through the rites of passage from civilian to soldier.

It got better. As a former football player, a big guy at 6’4”, I was assigned the job of carrying my platoon’s machine gun. Just try walking twelve hours in 100-degree Texas heat carrying a heavy machine gun with its belts of ammunition also draped around your neck. Your shoulders ache. Your arms become rubber.

On the move, there was no place to put the machine gun down. Every time the platoon finally stopped to take a quick break and drink some water out of our canteens, I was grateful to rest the machine gun on the ground for a few moments. By the end of the day, I was so spent I could barely move.

But at the end of the day and getting ready to settle in for the night, the drill sergeants then told me to dig a foxhole that I could shoot the machine gun from. I also had to fill up several sand bags with dirt to surround the foxhole. I could not stop until the drill sergeants were satisfied I had built a good fighting position. I thought I was in great physical shape, but was staggering with exhaustion when I finally finished all of this. It was a level of physical stress and endurance I had never imagined.

So, as we begin to have a conversation on Backdoor Survival about what standards we need to have as preppers, it occurred to me while sitting comfortably in the shade by the pool at that very nice resort in Florida looking at some less than physically fit people, that while preppers may well be ready with the material items they need to gather, will our bodies fail us?

On the long plane ride back from Florida to Montana, I was on one of those airlines that had a TV embedded in the seat back facing you. There are moments when you have read as much as you possibly can, so you are grateful for anything that is on TV on an airplane to help pass the time. I know I was.

I flipped channels until I came across the CrossFit games. Men and women competitors were doing feats of strength and endurance such as picking up a 50 pound bag, running the length of a football field with it, then dropping it and running back to fetch another 50 pound bag until they had several bags moved from one end of the football field to the other. They were doing this as fast as they could to win the event. This struck me as a pretty tough challenge that required peak fitness.

So, in that vein, here are some challenging PrepperFit questions:

–Can you walk for twelve hours carrying a rifle, ammunition, food and water hunting for game, then shoot something and carry a heavy load of meat back for several miles to your shelter?

–If the SHTF and we are all surviving, do you think you could carry in each hand a 2-½ gallon can down to a stream three miles away, fill it with water and then carry it back?

–How long during a day can you chop, split, carry and stack firewood?

–Can you build enough of a woodpile over time to keep from freezing during the winter?

–If you had to run and hide, how much can you carry? How fast can you move?

And…how do you even prepare for something like this without your neighbors thinking you have gone completely bonkers?

[clickToTweet tweet=”Prepper fitness is a topic we must not ignore. What is the baseline of prepper fitness?” quote=”Can you walk for twelve hours carrying a rifle, ammunition, food and water hunting for game, then shoot something and carry a heavy load of meat back for several miles to your shelter?”]

Here is the bottom line. My guess is for every 1000 people who read this article about prepper fitness on Backdoor Survival, maybe 25 of you have this level of fitness now and 975 don’t. Just a guess and I am definitely in the 975. I also believe that most of us in the 975 are doing as well as we can, but have no real hope of ever getting into the top 25. Something keeps getting in the way. It is called “Life.” We are who we are. We live how we live. We do what we can do. There is a term for people like us. The term is: “Normal.”

Given my suspicion that most of us will likely be physically challenged if the SHTF, how do you prepare for a sudden increased level of physical demand? I think the most honest approach is to know that you are going to be, as the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu says, behind before you are out front.

I was able to get through my first weeks of Army boot camp because I had a baseline of high school athletic physical fitness to start with. I was sore and tired each day and would fall into my bunk as soon as our drill instructors turned the lights out in our barracks. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and was always startled when the bugle sounded reveille early the next morning and the drill instructors ran through the barracks yelling at us to get out of our racks. Each day I just kept on, keeping on until my muscles grew stronger and my endurance improved. This experience made a deep impression on me.

If the SHTF I do not feel life will be much different than this for most of us. But…for all of us, the key factor is going to be where you start from on the fitness scale and it cannot be grossly obese and seriously out of physical condition. You may die from the physical shock no matter how materially well prepared you are. As well, if you think a good lunch is a bag of Cheetos chased down by a can of Mountain Dew, I am going to suggest you rethink this lifestyle too.

In short, at whatever age or state of life you are presently in, a healthy lifestyle with good nutrition and routine exercise needs to be a baseline for all preppers. There is no way around this.

So, as our starting point to developing a PrepperFit standard, suspecting most of us will only be moderately physically ready for the SHTF moment, here are some questions for all of you.

If asked for your opinion today, before the SHTF, what would your answers be to the following questions?

–How far should a prepper be able to walk in a day right now?

–How far should a prepper be able to swim?

–How far should a prepper be able to carry 30 pounds of dead weight in each hand?

–How far should a pepper be able to carry a 150-pound person on their back?

–How much weight should a prepper be able to lift over their head?

–What other PrepperFit physical standards would you add?

But, most important, how far behind do you think you are right now, before you will be able to get out front?

Richard Earl Broome – Copyright. All Rights Reserved – July 27, 2015


Richard Earl Broome is a contributing author and friend to Backdoor Survival. He has lived an extraordinary life rising from an Army private to an Army colonel who served on the White House staff for two Presidents of the United States as a member of their National Security Council staff.

He is considered a national expert on the subjects of preparedness, disaster recovery and survival. He is a frequent contributor of articles about the many threats facing our society, appearing frequently on shows to discuss issues such as pandemics, ISIS, and the cyber threat and how we need to meet the new threat realities facing all of us.

Now living in a small community in Montana, he is a member of the faculty at Montana State University where he teaches leadership. For more about Richard, visit the About Richard page.

Also, note that his two books, Leaving The Trees and Good Crazy (Leaving The Trees Journey) (Volume 2). His next novel, Final Reckoning Day, will be out in the fall of 2015.

Win An Autographed Copy of “Good Crazy”

You know the drill when it comes to giveaways. This one is very simple; all you need to do is answer the giveaway question posed in the Rafflecopter and you are good to go.

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The deadline is 6:00 PM Pacific next Tuesday with the winner notified by email and announced on the Rafflecopter in the article. Please note that the winner must claim their prize within 48 hours or an alternate will be selected.

The Final Word

On more than one occasion I ask myself why I post articles on the less popular aspects of prepping fitness, for example. After all, traffic, or eyeballs in website-speak, attract advertising which is how most site owners support their efforts. So if a topic is not popular or even uncomfortable, my answer is the same one I used way back when during my years on the corporate world.

“If no one asks the tough questions then nothing will get resolved and this meeting is a waste.”

So there you have it. As proponents of preparedness, we must both ask and answer the tough questions as they relate to our personal situation. And for now, that is all I am going to say about that.

For additional reading, visit Prepper Preparedness: Personal Fitness and Health.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider subscribing to email updates. When you do, you will receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-Book, The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

You can also vote for Backdoor Survival daily at Top Prepper Websites!

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I frequently emphasis the importance of “Comfort” when it comes to survival. Whereas being truly comfortable during and following a disruptive event is an oxymoron, here are items that I feel will contribute to our comfort, for better or for worse. For more ideas, visit 16 Items To Help You Hunker Down in Comfort.

Let’s start with something we can use to brew coffee and move on from there.

Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator: Here is a link to my own percolator. It makes great coffee. I also own this manual coffee grinder but have not used it yet although the reviews are good: Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill. Note that whole beans store well when sealed in a Mason Jar (see How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning).

Making biscuits in a cast iron pan - Backdoor Survival

Lodge Logic Cast Iron Pre-Seasoned Drop Biscuit Pan: Biscuits with jam are one of my favorite comfort foods. This is the pan I purchased for biscuit making and to me, it was worth the cost. If you don’t mind seasoning your own (it’s easy), you can save some money with this one Texsport Cast Iron Biscuit Pan.

Dorcy LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite: Having adequate light when the grid is down is another key to comfort. Don’t let the price lead you to think this wireless flood light is wimpy. I have two of these and feel that these lights are worth double the price.

Coleman Mini Lantern: You already know that I have a think about flashlights but this is a slightly different take on portable lighting. It is 7.5 inches tall lantern and weighs just seven ounces, including batteries. And boy does it give off light. Inexpensive plus, it is a genuine Coleman.

Mr. Heater Portable “Big Buddy” Heater: Off course you are going to need a heat-source. With the Mr. Buddy heater, you can use propane indoors safely. It features an automatic low-oxygen shut-off system that automatically turns the unit off before carbon monoxide fumes reach dangerous levels in home. To learn more about propane, read the series Propane for Preppers.

Ticket To Ride: This my favorite board game, bare none. Family friendly, you will spend hours in front of the fireplace playing Ticket to Ride with your favorite people. This is worth the splurge.

Bicycle Canasta Games Playing Cards: This timeless classic will keep the entire family occupied when the power it out. Playing cards or board games should be in everyone’s preparedness kit.

Coloring Books for Grown-Ups : This is the latest addition to my list of comfort items. I hope you don’t think I am being silly because there really is something quite relaxing about coloring books. Don’t forget the crayons or Colored Pencils.

Note: If you prefer to print your own, check out this eBook that includes a link to a PDF version for printing on your home printer: Adult Coloring Book: 40 Relaxing And Stress Relieving Patterns.


Help support Backdoor Survival. Purchases earn a small commission and for that I thank you!


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43 Responses to “What is the Baseline of Prepper Fitness?”

  1. Very important topic. Since developing psoriasis on the soles of my feet my walking and running endurance has tanked. I figure I’ll save the rest of the family by being the “low hanging fruit” distraction :-).

  2. I think endurance will be most important in a shtf situation. We will be required to do a lot more physically everyday than our normal lives are used to. Brute strength will help for some things, but as with most of the examples in the article, hiking with a pack, cutting firewood, caring water, etc. These are all much more endurance based activities.

  3. Such and important topic. So many ate so sedentary including myself. Stamina and strength have to be aquired and maintained. Start with 30 minutes even spread out thru the day if necessary. We need to do something to be active and fit.

  4. I think this is a very good reason to pick your “prepping community” very wisely. Chose someone that can do all the things Richard thinks we should do. I am one of those that he saw while under his umbrella at Micky Mouse world. If someone said to haul butt, I would have to make 2 trips.

  5. Probably be able to walk 5 miles a day with your backpack on. I think I need a professional to do my back pack, dont think Id make it 1 mile, so heavy. They say carrying some water important. Well.. carry water and dont go very far or carry none and go farther. I am very confused abt my go bag. I am a woman so not sure in how much I should be able to lift. All I know is gotta get back to getting in shape.

    • At 5′ 2″, I am pretty small but can still do 5 miles with a 20 pound pack. Anymore than that weight wise? Nope. I could not handle it.

      Lately I have been stripping my kits down to the items I will most likely need. Even small items that are superfluous are getting set aside. Just the basics for me; if the time comes I need my kit, I will simply make do.

    • This moved me to bring up a parallel issue with fitness and surviving. From training with Army Special Forces and enduring SERE school and other difficult schools, ONE thing stood out to me that was the difference between those that succeeded and those that quit or failed: The WILL to do it. If you have to move 30 miles, but have only done 5 in the past, the only thing stopping you is what your posture is between your ears. Are you a true survivor who will do whatever it takes for your team, your family? Or are you repeating doubt messages inside that is stopping you from pushing past what you thought was possible. I’ve been in bad situations, broken feet, and HUNDREDS of miles to go. I’d never walked or run hundreds of miles before that, but there was no other option for me. Either do it, or lay down and die. That doesn’t mean you have to train like a Green Beret. Just know that your body can do WHATEVER your mind will allow it…even if it breaks…the first thing that will quit will not be your body, but your mind.

  6. Getting more exercise has been on my mind of late. The packs alone which stare me in the face each day are telling me I couldn’t possibly carry them for even 2 miles, much less 15 or more. I’ve gotten sooo slack with the heat being my excuse. I NEEDED this interview, Gaye and Mr. Broome. Thank you very much for the wake -up call.

  7. Being one of those older Americans whose activity levels has steadily gone downhill as I’ve gotten older I wonder if I could even bring up the rear. I have arthritis in my feet and ligament damage to my sole. Ten miles a day seems reasonable for most people but I do wonder if I could keep up.

  8. Be able to start a fire with what you find around you.

    Walk a few miles (3-6) without getting blistered feet. Requires having better shoes than most people actually have.

  9. Ability to be active all day and the grit to push through to increased capacity…At 79, must be realistic but not defeatist…Be sure to have proper footwear…

  10. Start slow and set goals for yourself. I run 3 miles every other day and hit the weights every other morning … of course I am training for some races I compete in every year.

    Get your nutrition in check … stay away from crash diets. You can do all of the exercising you want, but if you are not giving your body the fuel it needs you will tire out.

  11. I think it depends on where you are and what your expectations are during SHTF. Endurance covers a wide range – here in south TX it would be crazy to try to do much during the heat of the day – but you need to be able to survive that heat without passing out. I recently realized my cardio is laughable so I’m working on that, and I’m working on my heat tolerance too. You can only shed so many layers when there is no more a/c.

  12. Now that I’ve transitioned to senior citizen status (10 years ago), Ive learned to “triage” my energy expenditure. There’s no way right now I could bug out with a 20 lb backback. But by focusing on what I can do and always push myself to do a little more than I thought I could, I’m continuing to build my strength up. As I look at my friends, many of whom are quite sedentary, I think one’s mindset is most important. If you think you can’t do something, then you don’t even try. The same thing if you think it’s too hard. A wise man I know said that you have to voluntarily and intentionally embrace some pain in order to really grow. It’s hard being your own boot camp sargent, but it beats settling for the familiar comfort and convenience, thinking it will always be there.

  13. i think everyone at a minimum needs to be moderately in shape in order to be able to physically make it in a post apocalyptic world. I think I fall into this category. I have been building my endurance and strength this year (and have committed to trying to eat as clean as possible with minimal processed food) and I am really starting to see the results! I can hike a couple miles with a moderate size backpack on, run a couple miles without a pack, and I have been doing the Body shred program during the week which involves weights.

  14. I don’t think, in the long run, that immense physical strength is going to be as much an asset in a SHTF scenario as will endurance. Strength is good, yes. But the ability to put what strength you have to use hour after hour, day after day, will be more important.

  15. Well I try to go hiking at least once a week and have also been in the military, so I am well aware of my physical abilities…and let’s just say I need to do a lot of work to get back into shape since the military 🙂 But I think that in a single day, dependent on the terrain (mountains and hills for me) an average person should be able to do at least 5 miles, and my goal is to be able to do 10-15 miles in a day. As far a swimming, I think that also depends on your situation, for me the nearby lake is the largest body of water that we have, so probably should be able to swim across the whole thing. As for carrying the weight, it should probably be around 2 miles and for carrying a person, realistically you will only do that for at most 1/4 mile or less.

  16. Like most other aspects of prepping, the baseline will probably vary from one individual to the next. For my situation, I frequently travel about 20+ miles from home. If a majorly disruptive event were to happen my primary goal will be to get back home. The amount of supplies in my GHB allows for 3 days. If vehicle travel was not an option, then I would need to hike 7 miles per day, so there is baseline #1 for me. My heaviest dependent weighs 40lbs so I would need to make sure I could carry that much weight at least besides by GHB(which is 15#).

  17. I see many people eating a lot of garbage. Fast food and processed foods are a sure fire way to stay out of shape. The first step toward better fitness is as one person already mentioned, fueling the machine correctly. Wholesome foods preferably without chemicals, antibiotics, GMO’s and other additions to the animal or plant before we consume it. Leaving behind the corn syrup is a great way to start shedding pounds. Just look at labels and when you see “high fructose corn syrup” or other corn syrups, don’t buy the food product, buy a different form of meat, for example. most deli meats are chopped and formed with added chemicals, so even if you’re eating a turkey on rye, its full of nonsense your body can’t and won’t use. Change the way you eat and your body will change. Corn syrup is extra calories pumped into food and its addictive. CHALLENGE- go a full week, 7 days, without eating or drinking any high fructose corn syrup derivative. You’ll feel the pull, just like any other addiction. get rid of those calories and your body will naturally lose weight. The equation is simple: energy in (food) = energy out (exercise). When there is more ‘energy in’ it is stored as fat. Simple.

  18. I agree with everything that has been said. I am in the senior category and after I get the surgery done on my leg I might be able to do the 5 miles but I doubt much more. I will probably be the one bringing up the rear.

  19. Being of normal weight and having strength to move around for hours at a time will make the difference between those who make it and those who don’t. This post has inspired me to do begin an exercise plan of strength training and stretching. I have the ability to walk for 10 miles, but carrying anything is beyond me right now. Thanks for writing this.

  20. Those of us in our advanced years know that we have to pace ourselves and not expect what we did of ourselves in our military days. A big part of the prepping process is knowing your limits and preparing alternatives. If I were not a flatlander, I would be in deep trouble. 5 B X is a distant dream.

  21. Anyone interested in finding out how PrepperFit you are or need to be should check out GoRuck Events. Led by a SOC Cadre they’ll put you through your paces. Did. GR Light Challenge in June, and will be doing a Tough Challenge win Sept. The training Anne lets me know I can survive physically, but adding in the rucking, running, and lifting it shows me where I need to improve.

    The Light opened my brothers eyes to the reality he wouldn’t be bugging out into to the woods when the SHTF. Unless he lost a lot of weight and started getting more physically fit.

  22. baseline will vary,but I believe first of all that you need to try and eat as healthy as you can and try to cut out processed foods and refined sugar. With excercise, start slowly and do a little at a time until you build up to where you can do more. In a SHTF, I believe you also need to make sure you’re able to withstand different types of weather: extreme heat and extreme cold. Everyone will have different levels of fitness and I believe endurance more than strength will be important in a SHTF

  23. If you can’t run 5 miles over hilly terrain in 40 mins or carry 40lbs over 12 miles in under 2 hours you’ve got some serious work to do. If you are old and can’t hack it I don’t know what to tell you except…hunker down and hope it happens quickly. SHTF favors the young, absolutely and unequivocally. Old people are more fragile, weaker, less endurance and much more (to include the author). Show me the 75 year old who can whip the 25 year old’s arse and I’ll empty my bank account.

    • PJ – Shelly (aka the Survival Husband) wants to know how much is in your bank account. He said give him 3 months and bring ’em on! 🙂

    • Hi!
      How much is in your bank account? I am a commercial fisherman. Several years ago I watched an 84 year old commercial fisherman beat the living hell out of a jackass punk 17 year old. The 17 year old started the fight. The 84 year old, Wilson Rowe of Mathews County Virginia, would have killed the punk if a couple of other commercial fishermen had not stopped him. Nobody I know ever saw the 17 year old again and he was a big strong kid, he was crying pretty hard as he ran away.
      I have been a commercial fisherman for 50 years now. The difference between old men and young men is that young men do not know that pain will not kill you. You can work through a lot of pain once you understand that. Experience is the best teacher. Experience allows you to work smarter. Endurance is usually much more important than strength.

      OLD AGE: It’s not for young people!

  24. Would like to think I could pack 25 pounds for ten miles without any undo stress. However, I couldn’t make it 2 without lots of stress. I’m a wuss.

  25. all this is good info but , some people cannot seem to getgoing without help (namely a buddy/exercise buddy) and it is very difficult to find them and trainers are always so judgemental that it discourages a person from the start , si it seems , I just never get stasrted

    • Don’t get discouraged. Focus on your purpose for being stronger, faster, and more resilient. Start small, listen to your body, and challenge your mind and spirit to grow. Physical fitness is about spiritual growth. Your body is controlled by the mind, and the mind (unfortunately) is often the weak link. See my response to a message above for context to the whole mind/body thing. Take care, and keep moving forward.

  26. I think it depends on your plans if said event should occur. If your bug out location is 100 miles away and your BOV breaks down 50 miles away then you better be able to walk the rest of the way with as much of your gear as you think you need to carry. If you make it to your location, or if you hunker down where you’re at, then you need to be fit enough to do the chores required to keep yourself and family alive such as carry water, chop fire wood, plant and maintain a garden, etc.

  27. I have been active and work on the homestead. I can hike 10-15 miles on the mountains and do this regularly with the scouts (going this week on a 50 miler!). But when it comes to running forget it. I always said that everyone should be able to run 3 miles. That is my current goal.

  28. This is a great article. Our sedentary and fast food lifestyles have left us all in terrible shape. It’s even worse, I fear, for this video game, i phone generation who does nothing but text, tweet and play online games. Most would be in sad shape in the event of a disaster. I don’t know what a baseline would be but I think its important to recognize that where ever you are starting from, JUST START! You might not make it to your ideal fitness level, but any progress is progress.

  29. OMgosh, he is right. I’m sure very few are in peak condition as he describes it. I agree with being as fit as possible, being able to carry weight, walk long distances, all while also being able to forage if necessary and locate/filter water.

  30. I have been reading through all the comments on my PrepperFit article and am pleased I struck such a positive chord with people. You have to understand that I do not hold myself up as a role model when it comes to fitness, but rather someone who has the same struggles we all seem to have. If you bring a pizza to a meeting, I am definitely the one who keeps eyeing that one slice left in the box at the end of the meeting and wonders if I can pick it up and eat it while no is paying attention. Sigh. But…I do try to do better.

    PrepperFit is what I call a BFO think piece. BFO? A Blinding Flash of the Obvious. We all know we must do better and get fitness under control before a SHTF event. I think if you want to simplify this, get four things under control: Your weight, your blood pressure, your blood sugar level, and your cholesterol levels. Beyond that put down the TV remote and walk every day. I have a golden retriever who simply will not allow me to miss walking her every morning. She sits by my chair and just stares at me until I give up and take her on a walk. She is probably saving my life.

    Richard Earl Broome

  31. I think my answer would have to be “As fit as they have to be.”
    Ideally prepper should have some kind of plan for how they are going to ride out a SHTF scenario. If their plan is to bug out 30 miles with their bug out bag fully loaded, they should be able to walk 30 miles with a fully loaded bug out bag.
    If their plan is to stay in place they should be prepared to fight off any potential threats.
    If they have a homestead they should be able to maintain the homestead, to tend their garden and livestock and perform maintenance on their home and equipment.

    Ideally people should be able to walk at least 15 miles a day fully loaded; this is the average for Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers, these are people who are dedicated to walking a lot while carrying what they need. On a good day with less elevation changes than the AT or PCT you can bump that up to maybe 20-30 miles, but fully-loaded for any group, that’s a stretch. If you have young children one of you will have to be able to make that trek carrying young children at least part of the time in addition to gear. Again, it’s all situational.
    How far should a prepper be able to swim? Well, they should be able to swim in adverse conditions, first of all. It’s not always possible to find a safe crossing for a body of water, sometimes you have to cross water. Knowing how to swim with a current while weighed with gear is very important. I would say swimming a mile would be enough for anyone, but it’s always good to keep in practice. People who live on or near the ocean or large bodies of water should expand this and be able to stay afloat longer, preferably holding the weight of another person.

    How long should they be able to carry 30 pounds of dead weight in each hand? Again, as long as they have to. At least a couple of miles for this, as difficult as it is it may be necessary.

    With a fireman’s carry I find I, a very small person, can carry a 150 pound man about a mile. We’ve practiced. Ideally a person should be able to carry any member of their family or group away from a potential danger such as a fire or disaster zone, in the event that this person is unconscious. This could be as much as a mile or more in the case of large-scale attacks. It’s also important to have medical training and equipment to revive this person if necessary and treat any wounds that may make them unable to walk, but ideally any prepper should be able to carry any member of their family over a mile. Most men can do this if their wife is small, but women should learn the fireman’s carry as it is an easier way to carry a larger person. However, if you are a man who weighs 400 pounds, you should slim down or risk being left behind in a disaster. No one who wants to survive is going to lug around a morbidly obese person over a mile, no matter how much they loved them before SHTF.

    A person should be able to lift at least their body weight over their head, preferably the body weight of anyone in their group for boosting people over obstacles. This one is difficult, but every person should strive to train as much as they can so they can lift as much as possible over their head without injury.

    I would add to this list the ability to sprint enough to escape potential danger, be able to defend against a human or animal attack, and be able to do any tasks that are part of your survival plan, such as walking a huge distance, or chopping wood for your woods stove, hauling water, etc. Everything should be tailored to your survival plan, and, if you have to deviate from this, you should be in good enough shape to do what needs to be done.

  32. We are senior citizens who have been doing strength training at the YMCA 3 times a week for about 8 months. With this,we feel we could carry a 20-30 pound bag for 6-10 miles OK. We really need to incorporate some cardio into our training. We’d certainly do better in a bug-in situation as opposed to a bug-out one!

  33. I agree with others who have emphasized that endurance will be of utmost importance. I readily admit to being rather out of shape. I do try to eat ‘clean’, and weight is not an issue. I’ve recently begun a new job that is more physically demanding than my previous office job, and that is helping me to build up both strength and endurance. And as none of us are getting any younger, the sooner we get going on strengthening our physical endurance, the better off we’ll all be.

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