You need to get into optimal bug-out shape long before an emergency occurs. Failure to prepare by getting stronger, faster and mentally tough is like trying to cook without pots, food or silverware. It doesn’t go very far or do any good, and starvation is the direct result.

If you need to survive a disaster tomorrow, you’d better be as prepared today as you can be, because death is the alternative to survival. These 10 tips are an overall look at the physical and mental prep work that make survival odds go way up when utilized as part of a daily routine. Physical fitness isn’t rocket science, but it is often overlooked among preppers. Don’t let it be!

1. Cardio Is Key

The ability to function during bursts of activity is going to be key for getting out of danger. High-intensity training, also known as HIT, is the athlete’s best friend for game-day prep, and it will be the same in a survival scenario. Train to get out quickly by taking that boring cardio on the treadmill and turning it on its head. Give yourself 20 minutes, and take the first few minutes at a walk. Then crank up the speed as fast as you can handle. Go for a few minutes, then drop the speed down. Let your body rest and get that heart rate to decrease over the next few minutes. Amp it back up to maximum speed for a few minutes. Keep repeating this fast-and-slow pace for 20 minutes three or four times per week.

2. Get To Lifting

Keep it simple. There is no need to get into bodybuilding. Find a simple routine of push-ups, pull-ups and arm work. It can get fancy if you have gym access, but there are so many varieties of the basic movements available that you can look up online now, the possibilities are almost limitless.

3. Prep For The Pack

You need to make sure you can handle carrying your bug-out bag wherever you go. The humble sandbag or backpack loaded with rocks or sand will be the perfect weight for running with or doing any basic exercises. Carry it, run with it, squat with it and drag it.

4. Save Some Body Fat

Forget looking like a fitness model, but being a blimp is no good, either. Body fat will give you energy for living when food is scarce over an extended period of time. Low body fat can also lead to mental strain since the brain is actually made up of mostly fat. Over 50 percent, in fact!

5. Climb To The Top

Besides toughening up the hands and working the back and core, rope climbing is a very useful skill with nearly unlimited potential for saving your butt when the chips are down. A little rope experience would go a long way toward helping you get out of that third-floor window quickly and safely, wouldn’t it?

6. Find Everyday Workouts

The village blacksmith was not the guy to arm wrestle with. Anybody who is swinging a heavy hammer all day, every day for a living is going to be pig iron tough. The same goes for the guy chopping wood. Aside from being great cardio, the experience of handling a tool all day in and out is going to be very useful in a survival scenario.

7. Toughen Up Your Feet

Breaking boots in at the last minute is a pain, literally. Do it ahead of time by walking as much as possible and get those boots properly broken in. Additionally, this will toughen up your feet and make them all the more ready for miles and miles of potential walking.

8. Get A Solid Grip

Often overlooked, having a strong grip means more weight can be handled easier. It doesn’t matter how strong the main muscles of the body are if the hands and wrists cannot support the strain as well. Use thick barbell grips at the gym if available, or practice hanging from a bar for as long as possible. Keep it up day after day and your hands will get strong quickly.

9. Learn to Fight Back

Not required by any means but handy when the chips are down, practicing any form of hand-to-hand combat, from martial arts to military combatives, is going to toughen the body, prepare your mind and be a positive factor for long-term survival.

10. Leave Your Comfort Zone

A rugged body is nothing without a mind to match. More survival scenarios are lost by mentally caving than by physical failure. By straying from your comfort zone readily, be it by taking on new challenges at work or outside interests, the mind can be made ready for tough decisions, failures, bad luck and all of the unpleasant things the world has in store for you. You’ll also experience the positive effects from overcoming obstacles in your life.

Editor’s Note: Please consult with your primary care physician before starting any new workout routines.

This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™ Winter 2016 edition. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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