Monday, November 3, 2008

Most essential piece of gear: You body

Most essential piece of gear you own, and the one most often neglected.
Brain gets covered when we talk about mindset, but what about the rest?:)

How many people out there consider themselves ready for disasters and a plethora of SHTF events but can’t run for a couple miles, or even walk 10 miles a day without needing an IV dose of sugar?

God gave us all different bodies, that part there’s not much we can do about it. But think of it this way:
What car runs best? One that is 20 years old, that got properly maintained through the years, even customized here and there with various upgrades, or the rust bucket with the same amount of years that received no maintenance at all?

Your body is your first weapon, your most essential, irreplaceable material belonging, take care of it the way it deserves so it will serve you best when needed.

Cardio and Muscle

You may be a huge muscle mountain and have no cardio resistance at all. You not only need to be strong, you need to be able to walk and work for several hours a day. Your ability to run and walk long distances may be a matter of life and death during a crisis.
Running and walking 3 times a week, for at least an hour, is a good way to get started. If an hour is too much start with 30 minutes, but you really need to work it up until you can easily do an hour of cardio without getting a heart attack. This is of course you minimum setting, if possible you should do more, find yourself a good program and stick to it.
While running is nicer, stationary bicycle and escalator aren’t that hard on your knees so you might want to do that instead.
Doing 40-60 minutes of escalator works nicely and you can do that while watching TV.

If there’s a crime problem in your neighborhood, going out jogging might not be the smartest thing to do.
I use the escalator thing a lot and going up and down stair isn’t a problem.
10 floors by stairs in the hospital because there’s a broken elevator and a line waiting to use the one working? No problem, I take the stairs instead.

Think about the situations when power goes down and or there’s a fire and you must use the stairs, like it or not.

Running away form danger, getting out of a collapsed structure, swimming to save your life when falling in a lake or river, just walking or running to get yourself form one place to another when there’s no transportation available, are just a few situations I can think of right now and are very real possibilities.


Mostly for getting work done, using a shovel, axe or machete, moving things around, lifting heavy objects.
Also for fighting, weapon retention and wrestling, you need strength.
Again, think of it as upgrading your car.
Granted, it’s not just laying down the money, you need to invest time and physical effort, but you can shape your body the way you want up to a point.
As a kid, my mother made me and my brothers swim like fish in the local health club.
Summer brake was worst, we trained everyday, 8AM for two hours.
In return we got good strong backs, good cardio and lung capacity, and that’s something you can’t put a price on when you grow up.
I’m sending my kid swimming as well.

Careful not to make a kid too young do weight lifting, get professional advice otherwise because it can ruin a young boy’s body .
The body should be fully developed before doing serious weight lifting, so it will depend a lot on age. Some say 15 to start lifting, others say 18.
All I know is that I knew two kids from school that overdid it while in their teens, 15 or so, and they ended up with nice looking muscles but lost several inches of the height they would have otherwise, one even had growth problems in his legs and needed surgery just to keep walking, forget about running for the rest of his life.
Both ended up noticeably short, specially when compared to their parents and brothers.

Bench work, barbell and dumbbells of various weights. I do a bit of each at least 3 times a week to keep arms and torso strong.

This website has some good exercises.

No, not suggesting people to get into body building, but the neck exercises pictured are similar to the ones my chiropractor gave me when I hurt my neck, and the rest also sounds like good sound advice.
I don’t care for that kind of looks, but it’s good to have a strong neck, shoulders, back and strong up upper body generally speaking.

Self Defense training

Whatever it is you do, do it often and practice it a lot.
Personally, I believe a combination of box, Muay Thai, BJJ (or some other grappling/wrestling technique you like, such as Judo) is the best combination.

You’ll need a partner to spar with. Real sparring with gloves and mouthpiece is the only thing that works for preparing for what you may encounter on the street.
Run away from instructor that teach self defense but claim the stuff they teach is too deadly and can’t be sparred with full contact.

Of course you’re not going to pop your partner’s eye out, kick him in the groin or crush his windpipe, but other than that you can do all the kicking and punching you desire, and in particular submissions work just like they do on a real fight, the difference being that you wont care if your attacker tried to tap out.

A boxing heavy bag becomes mandatory for any self defense involving punching and kicking, and there’s this great full scale dummies used to practice wrestling that would be neat for practicing submission moves and locks on the floor.
Don’t own one myself but doesn’t look that difficult to make on your own.

The speed bag is also something you’ll eventually want to get, for fast hands and coordination.
The humble jumping rope will get your feet in shape.


Most of these are all mandatory in Argentina
At birth, I got BCG (anti tuberculosis) and anti hepatitis B
From the first month of life onwards, I got SABIN for polio
MMR (measles, mumps y rubella) The VZV shot, commonly called chicken pox.
Antihepathitis A.
Diphtheria, Pertussis, tetanus and Hemophilic influenza type b infections. Tetanus shots.
Getting flu shots once a year isn’t a bad idea either.

There’s somewhat of a debate in USA regarding vaccines and side effects.
There’s no debate here. You’d be an idiot not to get them, given that in recent years we’ve seen many of these diseases believed eradicated resurge, and many kids die because of them.

Best thing you can do is to talk with a doctor you trust about this.
But there’s a catch though.
Your doctor might not think a certain vaccine is really necessary, given that your doctor probably is not a survivalist, and he’s not taking into account the possibility of a more poor, dirtier population in the future, with viruses thought extinct coming back. Yellow fever and dengue just to mention a couple.
As long as there’s no significant serious side effect, get them covered, especially the ones that are common in third world country since these are the ones that may show up as general social health standards to go down along the crisis.


How would you manage without your eye? Oh, I do applaud those that even blind mange to go through life better than most but it is a true handicap, specially when SHTF or when you have to manage in a more brutal society.
I’ve needed glasses almost all my life, but even at a young age I couldn’t find myself wearing glasses.
Maybe others have different experiences and that’s dandy, but in Lomas de Zamora at age 13 wearing glasses was a social death sentence, since any weakness would be exploited.
Right away I refused to wear them and went directly to contacts, only wearing glasses maybe to watch TV or read at night.

Once you grow up? Things change little.
While GQ and Maxim magazine may say glasses make men look sophisticated, your pal FerFAL tells you social predators will see weakness in your glasses, and they are indeed something you don’t want to have in your nose when getting hit.:)
Safety glasses and google are another story, but a piece of glass, and one that you need to see your enemy is not something you want to rely on.
The solution?
For me it came in the form of LASIK.
I didn’t hesitate as I signed the paper that said I acknowledged the possibility of loosing my eyeballs during surgery.
People feel sick in the stomach when you mention the possibility, but for me it was a risk small enough worth taking, when weighted against the benefits.
Glasses ..100 USD with your MasterCard.
LASIK, 1000 USD ..cash..:p
Upgrading your eyes and never again having to reply on contacts, glasses, worrying about getting eye solution, loosing your contacts when getting punched… priceless.

This is what I talk about when I compare your body to a tuned up car. You get what you get in life, but it’s up to you to make the most out of it.
Mind set is terribly important for a survivalist or prepper, for any person than not only wants to survive, but succeed in survival and in every other aspect of life, reaching his maximum potential.
Think of everything you can do to better yourself:
Loose weight, workout, get your eyes fixed, your teeth, having a beauty mark/mole that is a bit too dark removed (skin cancer), fix and improve everything you can about yourself.

Getting rid or a mole today sounds ridiculously silly.
Will you be able to pay for it in the future?
Will you have a doctor available to get it done?



Anonymous said...

Great post, FerFAL. We have to be able to do manual work, walk and take care of others in a survival situation. we can't let our bodies be the limiting factor.

I have done marathon running, weight lifting, Nautilus circuits, stair stepper, bicycling, sports, etc. In the last couple of years I have gone to more simple, portable methods.

I now focus on three simple workouts: 1) running, 2) Kettlebells and 3) body weight exercises

I prefer to run 3-5 miles a few times per week instead of much longer runs that are easy to be put aside with schedule conflicts. Plus,no need for special foods, drinks or equipment that I would need for 15-30 mile runs.

I like the kettlebell as a means of dynamic weight training. A smaller weight (like 54 lbs) being accelerated and changed directions is a great workout. Noneed for big set of bar and weights and various dumbells. Other people like to do similar swings and lifts with sandbags, sledgehammers,tires, etc.

Lastly, I like doing body weight exercises with little or no equipment. Squats, push-ups, pull-ups (only real piece of equipment), lunges, burpees (aka, squat thrusts or body builders),planks, etc. I can do these in hotel rooms when traveling,at home, and outside.

My main point is that you do not need a gym, fancy equipment or several hours to get a good cardio and strength workout. Basic shoes, shorts,t-shirt, and a kettlebell (or dumbell), pull-up bar and a bit of space and you can work up a real sweat in 20-45 minutes.


Anonymous said...

Good post, FF. I would add that teeth are really important. Preppers have to get over their fears and see a dentist today, because they will be in short demand.

Check out www.crossfit.com for intense functional strength workouts. It's free and a lot of their exercises are body weight or can be done in your garage or basement. I run a lot, but I started on that to get a bit more rugged.

Anonymous said...

What a timely post! I've been thinking about this aspect recently, and you gave me some good options to pursue!

You mentioned not being able to take a jog outside. Is it difficult to get exercise equipment (like a treadmill) into your house inconspicuously? In other words, does buying and bringing in a new big piece of equipment mark you to others as having a lot of (disposable) money?
Also, how are the gyms? Is it a wise investment to join one to stay fit after SHTF? Did a lot of them close after 1:1? If some did survive, which type did (like, the all inclusive, super perky ones or the basic, bodybuilder type ones)?
Thanks, I learn so much with each post!

Anonymous said...

Good post.

I wear glasses. I'm not the kind of guy who gets in fights, but when I was 29 I was leaving a dance club and realized that my ride had left.

I didn't have my cell phone and had no cash. All I wanted to do was to call a cab because in my city it was impossible to hail one.

Three latinos were in range, and all on cell phones. I walked up to them, waited for one to hang up and politely asked if I could borrow his phone to call a cab.

"What? You homeless piece of shit! Fuck off."

I was a little drunk; I opened my wallet and said "Do they give the homeless THESE?" - showing off the plethora of credit cards.

These punks didn't like my response and they started to come at me. The first thing they did was to punch me in the face, creating a deep gash in ear.

My glasses were destroyed and I couldn't see. I got hit a few more times and started running. They continued to chase me and I really felt my life was in danger.

At one point the three punks had me surrounded out in the middle of the street. I started yelling "HELP! HELP! I can't see and I'm being attacked!"

I was completely helpless.

Random strangers came to my aid and began beating the shit out of my attackers.

That was 10 years ago and I haven't been in a fight since. I wouldn't consider it with glasses.

Guess it's time I got LASIK.

Thanks Ferfal!

FerFAL said...

Thanks! Excellent story!


FerFAL said...

Hi Ami,

Dont get me wrong, people do jog and go out running, considering too dangeorus to do it every morning is a personal observation and decision.
Weekends are a bit safer becuase there's more people running.

"Is it difficult to get exercise equipment (like a treadmill) into your house inconspicuously? In other words, does buying and bringing in a new big piece of equipment mark you to others as having a lot of (disposable) money?"
Could be. But people do buy stuff and dont worry aobut it much.
Just get things in fast, no leave teh box of waht you buy outside but destroy it a bit instead to not make it so obvious, that kind fo thing.
Yes, gear si readily available. Bs As is a city like any other big metropolis regardign those things, shopping and social life, with a few differences.
"Also, how are the gyms? Is it a wise investment to join one to stay fit after SHTF? Did a lot of them close after 1:1? If some did survive, which type did (like, the all inclusive, super perky ones or the basic, bodybuilder type ones)?"

Some had a rough time like every other business.
But there are a lot of them around still, some very expensive , some not that much.
I just find it more conveninet to train at home regarding thing that can be done here.


Anonymous said...

many people have back problems due to weak muscles of the back.
I recommend latissimus cable exercises. You would need a cable machine though, but these are great. It also trains your triceps.
A bench and dummbells are relatively cheap, too, and useful.

Anonymous said...

One can get a near full equipment for 1000€, it is worth the investment if you use it.
Having equipment at home is better than going to the gym, as most people pay for the gym but are too lazy to actually go there - ask yourself how the gymowners make money - with people who do not go to the gym.

When you have euipment at home, you can train while doing something else. Usually one needs to rest after an exercise and if you are no professional there is plenty of time to do other things.

Look up vicsnatural on youtube, the latissimus exercise is reasonable.

Anonymous said...

Don't have time or money for a gym membership?
Want to get fit in a short time with quick workouts?
Want to know about healthy foods?
It's all FREE and it's here


there are lots of videos to choose from

Anonymous said...

To be fit is to be healthy. It is possible when we shed the excess fat and weight out of us. It is good for us to go to weight training programs for maintaining ourselves fit and healthy.

Anonymous said...

Couple of questions, as I just found your blog today and it was more the guns that I found it by:

1) Is BA still as bad as some of your posts a few years ago?
2) I thought it was very difficult to get a gun in Argentina(?)

-M in Texas

Ryan said...

Great post. For physical training the key is to be a well rounded athlete. www.crossfit.com is worth a read. Be able to run like a runner, control your body like a gymnast and lift like a power lifter. Never the best at any one of the three but being decent at all 3 makes you a heck of an athlete.

Jada said...

As far as convincing your Dr to load you up on vaccines, that's an easy one. Just tell them you're going with a missionary group to some toilet in Africa, and you need to be immunized against everything under the sun.

Worked for me. :)