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Training for Survival

I'm a big fan of video games. If you are too, I'd highly recommend the game 'Firewatch'. You play a guy who takes a job as a fire lookout/forest ranger for a summer, and then certain mysterious events begin to unravel. Anyway, the point is that the game is highly immersive, and I began to think to myself how would I fare in a situation where I had to fend for myself in the wilderness?

It's ironic that modern humans have to artificially carve out a few hours each week, and make up "fake work" (as Matt Vincent once brilliantly put it), just to have a shred of the physical aptitude that was a part of everyday life for our ancestors.

So, how would you stack up? I've come up with a list of three key movements I think you would need to be good at to excel in a wilderness survival scenario.

Credit: Firewatch

1. Lifting / Carrying

To be able to survive, you need to be able to pick things up and carry them. Many of these things are likely to be fairly heavy - whether it's an animal carcass, a bundle of firewood, or stones for building with. You should also be able to carry these things without your grip giving out.

The training takeaway here is to do deadlifts, without straps for the majority of the time. The barbell is, in my opinion, the most efficient tool for this job, but you should also be able to lift odd/awkward objects as well. For this reason it's good to add in thing like atlas stones, if you have access to them.

2. Running

In nature, there are a lot of animals that will kill you if you're fat and slow. Granted, many of the sleek furries out there are likely to outpace you regardless, but you should still have good physical fitness when it comes to moving on two feet. At bare minimum, you should be able to hike uphill without having a heart attack. The king for building strong legs for running is the barbell squat. Also try to integrate more walking into your day if you don't already. When you can, try and get out into nature for these walks. Pushing/pulling sleds and running will do even more to build this endurance. Just don't go nuts on the running. There's a reason why nobody jacked is winning marathons.

3. Climbing

You should be able to pull your ass up the side of a mountain. You don't need to possess the astounding gripping skills shown in Free Solo, but you should be able to pull yourself up and over a ledge if your life depended on it. Interestingly, the kind of strength required for climbing is also fairly relevant to fighting, which would also be pretty important for not dying. (Think pulling, body awareness, grip strength, etc.) This mean pull-ups, and plenty of them. Climbing surfaces come in all shapes and sizes so you'd better be strong in numerous grips too.

Final Thoughts Ultimately this just a fun little thought experiment. Most of us would never have to put the kind of fitness described above into practice. However, if you want to get in touch with the kind of physical ability our ancestors would have relied on for most of the human race's existence, that start to prioritise lifting, running, and climbing.

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