Prepper Fitness

fitness for survival

In one of the previous posts, we discussed a bit about having a strong mental state. We talked about being mentally tough- having the Prepper’s mentality- and how it being mentally tough can increase your odds of survival. But don’t forget that physical fitness is a very important factor in prepping as well. In a SHTF situation, the mind is the first step in having a good plan in place. However, you are going to be under tremendous physical stress. Mental health is half the battle, but enduring the physical demand of survival is the other half.


Luckily, just like practicing mental preparedness, you can practice physical preparedness. Survival fitness is important in prepping- as important as avoiding sedentary lifestyles. Like emergency preparedness, well rounded exercise is needed for the human body- that’s a your most important tool. Keep it in good shape!


In this post, we will discuss how important it is to have physical endurance and muscular endurance when it comes to survival fitness. We’ll review what exercises will benefit you the most. It might surprise you what exercises benefit survival when you need to walk long distances with a heavy pack, chopping wood every few miles.


You need to get your physical abilities and mental acuity up to par in order to be self sufficient in a SHTF situation. You can come up with a daily routine of SHTF fitness with well rounded exercises, or you can up to strength training depending on your own fitness level. Start with whatever feels natural. Survival fitness is serious stuff, but it’s not boot camp. The goal, as with all exercises, is DO NOT GET HURT first and foremost.


If this means using a knife from your bug out bag to avoid a physical confrontation, do it. Think smart. 

Why is Physical Fitness Important to Preppers?

Many people who sit all day doing a 9-to-5 don’t devote enough time for fitness. Especially survival fitness. Survival fitness takes extreme physical exertion. Prepper fitness is not like body weight fitness or being able to do a squat jump. You aren’t training for a few moments of lifting, like most people in the gym. You’re training to keep your torso upright with a heavy load while you carry out your survival plan. And that plan might include hiking a good distance away from a disaster zone. And remember- you need to do all that and avoid injury! Heavy weights will help out big time in a SHTF scenario, especially high reps with compound lifts. We’ve got some great exercises below that can help people with overall strength.


It goes without saying that being physically fit promotes healthy living, which enhances your quality of life. It’s a life skill to endure the physical pain of hard exercise as well. Also, frequently engaging with physical activities helps to prevent and reduce the risks of some chronic diseases. And the by-product of looking better also gives a boost to your self-confidence.


Physical fitness is inarguably necessary in a survival situation. This type of situation will most likely force you to engage in many strenuous activities. Whether it’s self-defense, obtaining food, building shelter, traveling distances by foot, nearly every aspect of survival requires physical fitness.


Especially in self-defense, being in best shape possible can let you compensate for a difference in skill and overpower your attacker.


The physical ability to deal with whatever comes your way will give you a serious advantage over the average person. Remember that your goal will be to survive with friends or family, unless you’re a lone-wolf type. In that likely case you’re with a group, being physically fit will help yourself and others.


You do not want to drag down others, especially when danger could be around the corner. Think of preparing your body for survival is like being a boxer undergoing training in order to win the match against his opponent.


The pros take plenty of hits at training camp and even the winning boxer will take some hits during a fight. Survival will take a toll on our body even if you’re physically fit, but far more if you’re out of shape.

Are You Physically Fit Enough to Survive?

It doesn’t much matter, because you can start your Prepper Fitness journey today. Just take a short jog. Don’t count miles, just think about being a survivor in life and get running. Maybe you could be chopping wood? Anyone can start doing pull ups, even if you need assistance bands.


Heck, strength training is easy as long as you have a heavy object, no equipment needed. And all Jiu Jitsu takes is a partner! Maybe we are getting ahead of ourselves and you just want to develop your skills and in an emergency situation and increase your prepper fitness.


So take take a brisk run that will get your heart pumping and get you sweating. Even a nice hike will do that. I am a big fan of running stairs, myself.

Simple Home Workout Routine

Here’s a nice mix of exercises to try out. We’ve tried to include a nice mix of lower and upper body exercises to help build muscle. But remember that cardiovascular health is important too! So always mix in some walking, hiking, biking, swimming, whatever you can to get the blood pumping.


This workout will mostly require balancing and stability while working the muscles in your lower body. It’s simple but will have your legs burning in no time. It will strengthen your back, hips and legs gradually, and eventually you can start adding weight with dumbbells in your hands. There are many variations too- walking lunges, standing lunges, sideways lunges, etc. Find the one that works best for you and your body.


This workout will mostly require balancing and stability while working the muscles in your lower body. It’s simple but will have your legs burning in no time. It will strengthen your back, hips and legs gradually, and eventually you can start adding weight with dumbbells in your hands. There are many variations too- walking lunges, standing lunges, sideways lunges, etc. Find the one that works best for you and your body.


Squats are great. Even with no weight, a simple squat exercise can do wonders for your regular routine. For activities like walking, climbing stairs, or bending, squatting improves the smaller support muscles you need for doing all your daily activities without injury. But Squats really work the big muscles in your lower body, like your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Think about the squat motion: You’re bending at the ankles, knees, and hips. It’s just a great bang-for-your-buck exercise. Squats require working muscles in the upper and lower body together which burns serious calories as well. Can you tell that I like squats yet?

Squats Are The Best!

Standing Overhead Presses

The standing overhead press is a staple of weightlifting, and it’s a great functional workout. It’s also sometimes called the Military Press when done with a barbell. This is another exercise that works out all the smaller support muscles, because you do it while standing up. Take dumbbells or a barbell, bring it up to your shoulders, and push it above your head. It’s that simple. There are a ton of variations, though, so do whatever you find comfortable. The key is to do it standing. This workout will keep your muscles in the upper body in great condition. You work your back, shoulders, chest, arms, nearly every muscle in your upper body is engaged doing overhead presses. It requires your balance too, which is part of why it’s so great.

Dumbbell Rows

Grab a dumbbell, put the other hand and a knee up on a bench, lean over so that your body is parallel to the ground, and pull that weight up until it burns too much to do it anymore. Dumbbell rows are a super simple, super effective way to increase back, shoulder, and arm strength. Serious grip strength is built when you’re doing 20-rep sets of these rows. The big benefit here is that it’s another exercise that gets a lot done in a short period of time. Dumbbell rows work your upper back, forearms, biceps and importantly, your core.  


Despite its silly name, burpees are, in fact, a very challenging workout. A burpee is just getting down onto your stomach, and then jumping up back to your feet. That’s it. But it builds real explosive power! There’s a reason why burpees are part of nearly every youth football camp! Burpees provide a full-body workout using only your own body weight. It boosts your cardio fitness and is another big-time calorie-burner.

Planks & Side Planks

The plank is a well-known workout. Just make a plank with your body by propping yourself up with just your toes and elbows. Or take some pressure off your lower back and go sideways- use a single foot and a single elbow and balance yourself on your side. Planks are one of the few static exercises (exercises that involve staying still) that I can stand because it gets your muscles burning quickly.

Glute Bridge

There’s no delicate way to explain this one, but it certainly is simple: Just lay on your back, knees bent, and squeeze your butt muscles to bring your hips up, making your body look like a “bridge” from the side. This workout will help improve your posture, both sitting and standing. It especially helps free those stiff hip flexors that nearly everyone has these days from sitting. I really think it’s important to work the glutes because they have become such a neglected muscle. You sit on your butt all day, you might as well get it in shape, right?  Glute bridges also help strengthen the core and help with lower back pain.

Final Thoughts on Fitness For Preppers

The exercises above are just a few of my favorite suggestions to get started on your way to physical fitness for survival. I’d also be stupid (or crazy) not to warn you that exercise can be dangerous, and you should always talk to your doctor before you go head-first into an exercise program.


That aside, there are many ways to work on your physical fitness, not just by hitting the gym or lifting weights at home. You can also try adult league sports. I personally really enjoy hiking, and nothing beats a jog in the woods in the summer. If you think you don’t have the time, look at your schedule and make the time. Spend the weekend sweating and making some progress, even a little. Just like in other aspects of prepping, this is prepping your body for survival. You should set goals and accomplish them one-by-one, so that fitness becomes a journey and not a destination.

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Kevin Fitzpatrick

Kevin Fitzpatrick

I'm Kevin, the founder of Prepper Base. Ever since I discovered Prepping, embracing the Prepper Mentality became my full-time job. I started Prepper Base as an information resource for anyone and everyone interested in Prepping, Survivalism, and Off-Grid Living. I have combed the web and realized that there's a lot of garbage out there related to Prepping. So I want to help you save time with no-BS information that can truly help when SHTF. I've combed through a lot of books and websites and dove head-first into the things that interested me. I hope you can find some useful prepping information here. I am always looking for new things in the Prepping world. Please drop me a line through any of my social media accounts if you have a current event, an idea, or new Prepping-oriented product that you think I should write about. Thanks for visiting!

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