Are You Fit to Bug-Out? An Essential Guide to Prepper Fitness

prepper fitness

Why Fitness is an Integral Part of Disaster Scenario Preparedness

“Look at the abs on that woman scrounging for food!” Said no one, ever.

Improving your survival fitness doesn’t mean perfecting your body to fitness model standards, it means conditioning your fitness level to enable your body to handle the various physical tasks that will be necessary in a disaster scenario – and it’s just as important as any other aspect of your prepping plan.

While you may have stockpiles of food and water, a bug-out-bag packed and ready to go, and a bug-out plan tweaked to perfection, none of that will matter if you get out into the wilderness and literally can’t hack it. Conditioning yourself to sustain the grueling physical requirements of surviving off the grid will substantially increase the chances of survival for even the most prepared prepper.

prepper fitness
You don’t need to be a body builder to be fit to survive.

Prepper fitness is not about aesthetics or running an extra mile on the treadmill, it’s about gradually increasing your body’s ability to handle the various tasks that your survival will depend on during a disaster scenario.

Improving your survival fitness is something you can start now that will continue to pay dividends down the road and can actually make up for deficiencies you may have in other survival areas. For instance, tasks such as hunting for food, digging a well, or even defending yourself against attackers, can all be augmented with improved physical strength.

To maximize your survival fitness, take a look at your bug-out plan and consider all the activities involved in its execution. In this article, we will examine common scenarios likely to arise in a disaster situation and provide daily workouts to help you achieve your prepper fitness goals. However, before beginning any physical training, it is always best to check with your doctor to ensure you’re in good health and able to safely follow the fitness routine.

Ready? Let’s get started!

Prepper Fitness Guide

Walk For Your Life

Walking is an easy, healthy way to begin conditioning your body for endurance – and it’s something you can do with the whole family!

Not only is walking useful for building up your physical endurance, but also conditioning yourself to walk several miles at a time can be essential for reaching your bug-out location. How many miles do you and your family walk on a daily basis? The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week; if you’re just beginning, start walking for 30 minutes, 5 times per week.

As you get stronger, start to increase the distance you cover as well as the difficulty of the path you take, gradually choosing rougher terrain and steeper inclines to better prepare you for the realities of bugging-out. 

Carry Your Weight

Once you’ve conditioned yourself to walk the distance required to your bug-out location, the next milestone is to ensure you can walk the the distance while carrying your bug-out bag, or other necessities, during a crisis.

prepper fitness
Don’t be intimidated by lifting weights – your bug-out bag will help you get in shape!

Don’t exhaust yourself – start slow by carrying your bag only partially packed a couple times per week. Work your way up to carrying the bag fully packed, all the way to your bug-out location. This also serves as a great exercise to determine if there are any non-essential (especially heavy) items that can be removed from your bug-out bag.

Learning to trek with gear doesn’t have to be an onerous exercise – make a weekend of it! Plan weekend camping trips with your family, gradually increasing the difficulty of the trail you follow to your campsite. Eventually, your entire family will be ready to trek through the woods at a moment’s notice – and you’ll have some fun doing it!

Make a Run For It

While you always hope that in a bug-out scenario walking will suffice, there may be times when you and your family are forced to pick up the pace – whether to cover more ground quickly or to evade threats. Best to start early in training your body to endure bursts of speed as well as longer intervals.

Sprint training can easily be worked into your existing walking routine by adding vigorous sprints at 5 or 10 minute intervals. Sprints are a great way to kick up your heart rate and condition your body, but they also put added strain on your joints and muscles; always stretch well before and after attempting this type of exercise routine.

prepper fitness
Picking up the pace in your survival fitness routine will better prepare you for disaster.

Eventually, you can turn your walk-sprints into a jog, and then a full-fledged run. Running for only 75 minutes per week will do wonders for your cardiovascular health and adds the desirable benefit of helping to trim down excess weight – introducing a running element to your fitness routine is definitely a win-win!

Strengthen Your Chances For Survival

Cardio training is essential for getting you to your bug-out location, while strength training is necessary to help you combat obstacles that may get in your way, as well as surviving the general increase in activity that accompanies living off the grid.

prepper fitness
The world may look very different in the aftermath of a disaster. You never know what obstacles will stand in your way.

If you’re curious as to what level of strength is necessary, it really depends on your particular situation, locale and bug-out crew – are you able to clear an obstacle from your path such as a downed tree (likely in a rural bug-out) or vehicle (likely in an urban bug-out)? Can you lift your children up and over your head? If you were hanging, are you able to drop one hand and offer it as help to someone else? Situations such as these require a strong and developed core.

prepper fitness
There’s a reason push-ups are used in military and athletic training – they work!

The good news is – you don’t need expensive equipment or gym memberships to build a sturdy core. There are plenty of exercises you can do right in your own home using your own body weight as resistance – push-ups, sit-ups, and squats are some great examples. If you prefer a little more guidance and structure, try Run, Prepper, Run! by Dan F. Sullivan to help build your core strength, as well as many other aspects of prepper fitness.

In addition to structured workouts, try taking up a sport to build your prepper fitness. You can typically start at any level and there are generally options for playing sports indoors and outdoors for year-round access. In terms of getting a full-body workout, rock climbing provides an outstanding experience.

Be Flexible

When building physical fitness, never neglect flexibility! Having flexible joints is essential to preventing discomfort and injury while performing the many tasks a bug-out will require of you, such as crawling through a tunnel or squatting by a fire.

prepper fitness
An exercise ball is a great tool for flexibility training.

Building flexibility can be as simple as adding stretches to your fitness routine or, for even greater flexibility, pursuing a flexibility-oriented activity such as yoga. For those just starting out, a great stretch to include in your workout is the toe-touch:

The object of the toe-touch is to stretch the backs of your legs by bending at the waist. Begin with a stance placing your feet shoulder-width apart (feel free to use a countertop or table to support your upper body and assist with keeping your back straight). Once you can easily bend at a 90 degree angle, swing your arms towards the floor and hang there – but don’t bounce! With each exhale, move yourself deeper into the bend.

prepper fitness
Just a few poses a day can really improve your prepper fitness level.

Yoga positions are also excellent for both conditioning and enhancing flexibility. For legs and obliques (the muscles that run up your sides), try warrior stances; for the shoulders, lower back, and hips, alternating cat and cow positions will do the trick; a downward facing dog position will help lengthen your spine while providing a solid stretch for your arms and legs. For further yoga positions, check out this helpful video.

Take to the Water

Having solid skills in and around the water is essential for bugging-out. At the very least you, and everyone in your crew, should know how to swim as well as be familiar with water rescue techniques and how to steer a boat with paddles.

The ability to swim not only opens up your bug-out plan to alternate routes, but can also be a life-saving skill. Especially in the case of a natural disaster, there could be severe flooding that forces you to evacuate using a raft; additionally, in the course of bugging-out, a family member may fall into a river or other body of water – do you have the skills to rescue them?

prepper fitness
A flood is not the time to learn basic water survival techniques.

For adults who have never learned to swim or have a fear of the water, rest assured you are not alone. Plenty of organizations, most notably the YMCA, offer both youth and adult swim lessons that will teach you the basics such as how to tread water, back float, and free-style swim.

For those that are comfortable in the water, consider augmenting your water survival skills by taking a lifeguard certification class, which can provide you with the knowledge needed to assist others to shore, whether they are conscious or not.

prepper fitness
This lifesaving skill is a great one to add to your survival fitness goals.

Learning some basic steering skills for watercrafts, particularly with paddles, can also save you tremendous hardship in a crisis situation. This is definitely not a skill you want to try and pick up on the fly.

prepper fitness
Canoeing is great exercise, too!

You can learn the positioning required to stop, turn and propel a boat quickly by taking a weekend and trying it out with a rented or borrowed canoe. For some essential pointers, check out this video.

Defend Yourself

No matter what the reason for bugging-out, there will always be a need to know self-defense. In the case of civil unrest, the need is obvious, but even in the case of natural disasters, you will undoubtedly need to protect yourself and your family against those who are less-prepared and desperate enough to take your supplies by force.

Depending on your size and build, hand-to-hand combat may not be the most ideal form of defense, but there are ways in which you can maximize the power behind your punches no matter how mismatched the fight. For smaller people, power can be amplified by targeting the eyes, nose, ears, neck, groin, knee and legs of your attacker; you can also learn different ways to free yourself from an attacker’s hold.

Martial arts offers great training for preppers of any size and has the added benefit of building both self-defense and fitness capabilities. Best of all, it’s an activity the entire family can do together to build the positive attributes of self-discipline, strength, and defensive skills.

Final Words on Prepper Fitness

When it comes to building endurance for prepper fitness, every little bit helps. Much like stockpiling food, if you add a little to your survival fitness regime every day, your conditioning will continue to grow. Even fitting in a half-hour walk every day will make you better prepared than those who don’t – and you’ll be surprised at what you’re able to accomplish when you stick to your goals!

If you’re serious about prepper fitness, then Dan F. Sullivan’s ‘Run, Prepper, Run! survival fitness training program is a must. CLICK HERE NOW to visit the training program and learn how ANYONE can improve their physical fitness to bug out!

prepper fitness
Click on the book to learn more about prepper fitness.

Your Thoughts

Do you find it challenging to add fitness into your prepping? Do you have a survival fitness regime you’d like to share? Share your experiences in the Comments section below, thanks!


Chris Ruiz

My name is Chris and I created this site to help ordinary people prepare for the uncertainties of the modern day world. I believe that a well-prepared society is the best safeguard against any natural or manmade disaster.

3 comments on “Are You Fit to Bug-Out? An Essential Guide to Prepper Fitness

  1. Jogging and running with BOB on is a good idea, as is swim training. Bodyweight exercises like the pushups are great too. I actually prefer bodyweight exercises to conventional weightlifting. Another aspect of weightlifting though that I think a lot of people, including preppers, don’t engage in is “natural lifting” or using common daily items or things found in nature as part of a workout. Medium-sized boulders, small logs, wood stacks, tires, large staples and feed sacks, and lumber beams are all good examples of this. Another thing that comes to mind is high-intensity obstacle course-style regimes like Spartan races.

    On a side note, there was a famous exercise expert from the 1920’s-1940’s who advocated an exercise regime that focused on a set of standards that he said “would prepare you to save your own life and the lives of your loved ones in a life-or-death situation.” I can’t recall the name right off top of my head, but he wrote three or four books on the subject (now out of print). The standards he set forth were just crazy! I’ll have to research him again to pass it along.

  2. Absoloutely right…..
    I’m a 25 year Army Vet & was a Physical Training Instructor – The benefits were numerous…
    Probably one of the biggest during stressfull situations is the resistance of injuries (strains & pulls).
    Ability of the body to adapt becomes quicker.
    Hence the term ‘Fitness wins’.

  3. While I understand that this exercise is for young healthy people…

    Any pointers/tips for elderly/disabled individuals who cannot train like this everyday?

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