Independent survival training - how to practice to survive?

2022-07-08
Independent survival training - how to practice to survive?

"Survival" is the art of survival. Regardless of whether we are struggling with the Amazon rainforest or the urban jungle, our priority should be taking care of good physical condition. This is a not very popular thesis, to which couch-survivalists reply that the mind should be more efficient than the body. It's hard to disagree with that, taking into account the fact that survival is largely based on improvisation and constructive thinking skills. So why, in my opinion, is physical training the most important? The saying, "In a healthy body, a healthy mind", which stings with extreme cliché, did not come out of nowhere. More and more scientific studies focus on the relationship between physical training and mental performance. In today's post, I will tell you how to train both the brain and the body to properly prepare for survival challenges.

Survival - how to start training?

Let's start from the very beginning from the perspective of Mr. Janusz, who just got up from the couch with the intention of becoming a survival champion. Our hero is overweight, and building up his physical condition ends with a daily walk to the store across the street. Janusz is not able to carry out interval training, and sudden intense effort may be dangerous to his health.

Mr. Janusz must therefore start with marching, swimming and cycling. To start, he does not have to have much - thermoactive underwear, a swimming pool pass (or a nearby lake) and two wheels will be useful. After a few weeks, our hero's body will get used to the effort associated with running. Aerobic exercise will contribute to the improvement of well-being and mental condition, which is an extremely important issue that I will talk about in more detail.

Preparing the brain for survival

It turns out that just 3 months of regular aerobic training - running, cycling, swimming and trekking, preferably in the right footwear - contribute to the production of new neurons by the brain. Nerve cells multiply in the area responsible for remembering, for divided attention and for concentration. What's more, aerobic exercise training increases the production of endorphins, the happiness hormones that are the natural equivalents of morphine (endorphin = endogenous morphine). Their level remains in the body even a few hours after training, so I especially recommend morning training, which gives a solid motivational kick for the first half of the day.

When our lazy Janusz takes a break from a fierce battle in the comment sections and devotes time to jogging, after 3 months he will no longer need to express his frustrations. Thanks to endorphins, the joy of life of our today's hero will increase, whose regenerated mind will start to cope better with everyday problems. Not only that - Mr. Janusz will lose weight and it will be easier for him to detach himself from the armchair in order to move to a real forest, not a virtual one. Additionally, he will be able to traverse larger terrain, also under the load of equipment. Importantly, the aspiring survivalist will also become discouraged, breakdown and irritable less often. Thus - the probability of making a wrong decision will be reduced. This is why the psychophysical condition in survival is so important.

However, physical and mental fitness after aerobic training is not enough for our hero to cope with a survival situation. The moment when Mr. Janusz stops catching breathlessness during the run will be a signal to start the proper interval training.

What are intervals and why will they help you get in shape?

Basically, interval training is training divided into consecutive phases of maximal exertion and short rest. A very popular form of intervals is the so-called tabata, where a specific exercise, such as a jump squat, is performed at maximum intensity for 20 seconds, followed by a rest for 10 seconds. A full workout consists of 8 exercises in 1-3 circuits.

The only disadvantage of the intervals is the relatively high entry threshold, so Mr. Janusz has to start with aerobics. Before starting interval training, our hero's physical condition must be at least average, otherwise it will not be possible to complete all the circuits.

What are the advantages of intervals over aerobic training?

  1. Accelerated metabolism, and thus - fat burning up to 48 hours after training. In the case of aerobics, this only happens during training.
  2. Short training time: up to 20 minutes. Aerobic training can last up to 2 hours, and it will not bring comparable results.
  3. During intervals, the body does not get used to exercise as quickly as with aerobics. This makes interval training effective for a long time.

Sample survival training based on tabata

The Internet is bursting at the seams with ready-made training programs that Mr. Janusz can use for a good start. However, I recommend my original training, which I do in order to maintain a high level of fitness necessary in survival. The candidates for special units who take part in my training in field navigation also require strength from me. The training program helped me finish the extreme Grom Challenge off-road competition (25 km run with numerous obstacles) with a good result and was helpful in preparing for trips beyond the Alpine and Norwegian trails.

My exercise plan is based on tabata, i.e. a very intense interval training that gives maximum results with a minimum amount of time. Exercises can be performed anywhere, regardless of the availability of equipment. Therefore, without a home gym, Janusz should appreciate my training, especially if he moves between work and his two young children on a daily basis. With adolescent toddlers, it's hard to find time for classic training, which lasts at least an hour. Tabata is only 4-20 minutes a day, after which you should not expect Pudzian's figure. The training is primarily aimed at increasing the efficiency and endurance of the body, while burning fat.

We start with a short warm-up - for example, trot, skips, rompers and arm swings will be appropriate. Then we move on to the proper training, listed below. We perform each exercise for 20 seconds at maximum intensity, trying to do as many repetitions as possible. Then we rest for 10 seconds and move on to the next exercise. There are 8 exercises in the circuit and it is not difficult to calculate that such training lasts only 4 minutes + time to warm up.

It's ridiculous little, isn't it? Meanwhile, this is enough to speed up the metabolism for the whole day. Effect? Mr. Janusz' body behaves as if he was jogging all day, while, for example, he was working behind a desk during this time. However, for this to happen, the training must be performed to the maximum, until you are completely tired. Over time, our hero can add more circuits, thus extending the duration and effectiveness. We take a 2-minute break between the circuits (8 exercises).

In parentheses, I present lighter exercises, which will be useful if Janusz suspends his training for a while and then wants to resume it again. For timing, I recommend the MyTabata (android) and Tabata Timer (iOS) applications.

All clear? Well, warm up and let's get started!

  1. 20 s - bending arms in the front support / push-ups (or push-ups on the knees)
  2. 10 s – rest
  1. 20 s - jump squats
  2. 10 s – rest
  1. 20 seconds - dips on a bench / chair / fallen tree trunk
  2. 10 s – rest
  1. 20 s - pull-ups on a stick / branch with an over grip (or descend from the support facing the board)
  2. 10 s – rest
  1. 20 s - knees are pulled up to the chest while hanging on a bar (or crunches)
  2. 10 s – rest
  1. 20 s - mountain climber
  2. 10 s - rest
  1. 20 s - burpees (or jump squats)
  2. 10 s - rest
  1. 20 s - chin-up on a bar / branch with a grip (or push-ups on the knees)
  2. 10 s - rest

End of training or 2-minute break and repeat.

Tabata is sufficient to maintain good physical condition, but it should not be performed more often than 3-4 times a week. Intervals are best separated with light aerobic training, such as running, cycling, swimming, trekking, and even regular walks.

After a few months of tabata, Janusz will be physically ready to meet the challenges in the wilderness. However, the body is one thing, and knowledge - another, so I heartily recommend the survival tips collected over the years on our blog.

Author: Kajetan Wilczyński

Editing: Tomasz Świgoń

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