Survival fitness is a branch of the fitness tree that looks at the application of a person’s overall fitness in a survival scenario. Unlike some other elements that focus on two or three particular areas, survival fitness focuses on many.
In this article, we’ll be breaking down the importance of survival fitness, when it can come in handy, how to train for it, and how to implement techniques into your regular workout regime.
The Importance of Survival Fitness
We all need a base level of ability and fitness to survive in everyday life. This required level is different for everyone, as we all work differently. Some people live in a city and others rurally; some people have physically demanding jobs and others don’t.
This ability to get by in everyday life is not dissimilar to the principles of survival fitness, but instead, a much scaled down version.
We all need adequate hand-eye coordination to drive our cars to the car park, or enough overall fitness to take the ten-minute walk to the office. These skills are taken for granted in everyday life, but they were learnt and taught over time.
In this same sense, survival fitness can be taught. However, day to day, we aren’t living a ‘survival of the fittest’ type lifestyle; this is where the difference is.
Survival fitness is measured against ten key principles; these are:
1. Cardiovascular Fitness
The common component in all survival situations is the physical stress that it places on your body. Whether you’re stranded in a dense forest, hiking through mountains or crossing bodies of water, your body will be pushed to the limit.
Survival fitness is key in these situations, as it will give you the ability to perform better and survive longer.
When Will You Need It?
Unless you’re making regular ventures out into the wilderness to test your survival ability, survival fitness is a backup plan in case a worst-case scenario hits. People spend their whole lives thinking that bad things won’t happen to them, that it’ll always be someone else; unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
Worst case scenarios are rare, but they do happen - that’s why it’s advisable to maintain a base level of fitness.
Fortunately, there are other reasons to implement survival fitness into your routine. Because it focuses on being well-rounded, it can improve your living day to day, allowing you to tone muscles, build stamina and improve general wellbeing.
How to Train for Survival Fitness
To make sure you’re prepared, use exercises to pre-stress your body and build muscles and skills in key areas.
Chances are, you’ll already have some ability from regular life, whether you’re playing coordination sports or taking long walks at the weekend. Therefore, we suggest working on your weaker areas to grow and overall level of fitness.
If you’re a keen runner but have little upper body strength, stamina training will likely be of little use to you, instead, look to implement weights to build muscle. Similarly, if your focus has always been to build muscle, you may want to look at improving agility or balance.
Fortunately, you can build your survival fitness without needing a gym membership. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be stranded on a desert island and need to bench press something to ensure your safety!
The key is to practise using functional exercise and workouts. Walking with a heavy rucksack or chopping and carrying wood are all practical things that could be necessary for a survival scenario, and will help you to build stamina and muscle respectively.
Additionally, if you’re planning on carrying a gun in a survival scenario, use this as weight training. Hold your rifle, or airsoft rifle above your head for 5 – 10 minutes, rest, then repeat.
Bringing It Into Day to Day Life
For anyone that’s already pretty fit, good news, you’re halfway there! If you’ve been in the military or carried out military-style training, even better! Although the military has some high-tech fitness equipment, they also heavily rely on tried and tested methods to ensure the high volume of recruits are at a basic level of fitness.
Because it’s financially not possible to have one treadmill or bench-press for every recruit, they instead rely on outside runs and callisthenics.
Callisthenics is a type of exercise that uses body weight and gravity to exercise large muscle groups with minimal equipment usage. Exercises such as pull ups, push ups and squats etc. all fall into this category, and can be extremely effective in building and maintaining a high level of overall strength and fitness.
Because they require such minimal equipment, they are very easy to start doing at home, and can be done in repetition to form a circuit workout.
This concludes our introduction to survival fitness. If you’re interested in keeping your body in shape and maintaining peak physical performance, why not check out our other fitness blogs?