Movies by George A. Romero and TV series like The Walking Dead give us a good idea of what the zombie apocalypse will actually be like so we are forewarned if not forearmed but what are your chances of surviving an attack of the un-dead?
As a regular exerciser, you are already better equipped than most to endure the end of mankind as we know it but the same cannot be said of the vast majority of the population. Think about it; who is more likely to get chomped on by a zombie; the fleet-of-foot fitness fanatic or a very overweight and slow moving non-exerciser? I think it’s a no-contest.
Of course, I don’t REALLY think zombies will be taking over the world anytime soon but if they did what fitness attributes would help you survive? Its questions like this that keep me up at night; especially when I am in need of a new subject to write about and have been overindulging in cheese!
So, to that end, in today’s article I want to discuss what I believe are the most important fitness components for surviving what will probably be called Z-Day if and when the dead rise up and start walking the earth.
Firstly, the ability to sprint is going to be a literal life-saver. Although zombies are usually depicted as slow and shambolic, they do seem to be able to move quite fast when properly motivated. While long slow cardio is definitely important for health and staying power, being able to sprint means you can put distance between yourself and your hungry pursuer as quickly as possible. Sprinting is one of the fundamental movement patterns that helped us survive the evolution process so if you want to continue this survival trend, you had better get your sprint on. Incidentally, as well as being a useful survival tool, sprinting helps improve your muscle tone, increases anabolic hormone concentrations, lower your body fat levels, improve your aerobic and anaerobic fitness and targets your type 2b fast-twitch muscle fibers so as well being a life skill, you’ll look and feel better too.
Sprinting in a straight line is all well and good but, as most sportsmen know, you also need to be able to change direction quickly. This is known as agility. Agility is often explained as being your ability to respond quickly to external stimuli and dodging a zombie is a perfect example of why you need to hone this skill. So, in addition to sprint training, it’s a good idea to do some multi-directional sprint drills so you can do more than run fast in a straight line.
If you are unlucky enough to fall into the clutches of a zombie, maybe because you were ambushed or otherwise caught unawares, you are going to have to extricate yourself before you get bitten, become infected and end up as a zombie yourself. Zombies are not known for their superior upper body strength but that doesn’t mean they won’t overpower you if they attack in large numbers. I’ve often said how strength is an important part of the total fitness model and if you are ever unlucky enough to be cornered by a zombie horde, I bet you will agree with me.
Pushing, pulling, punching and wrestling zombies will test your total body strength to the limit so, in preparation, I strongly suggest putting down those pink vinyl dumbbells, getting to grips with some heavy weights and building some survivalist strength. The best tool for this is not some one legged, one armed, balancing on a BOSU ball with your eyes closed cable exercise but a heavily loaded barbell and a simple program consisting predominately of squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, cleans and pull-ups.
Having good cardiovascular fitness will also be useful come Z-day. For starters, as supplies begin to run low, you are going to have to head out and forage for food. Also, staying in the same place for extended periods means that you are likely to be found by a marauding horde and that is nothing but bad news. Subsequently, you’ll need to be fit enough to travel long distances on foot and often while carrying heavy loads.
While studio cycling and step classes do a good job of developing a decent level of fitness, when it comes to the specific demands of surviving the zombie apocalypse, they leave a lot to be desired. Remember, fitness adaptations are specific to the type of training you do so if you need to develop the ability to cover long distance on foot then that’s how you need to train so walking, jogging and running are in, Zumba is out – unless of course you are going to get all Michael Jackson in Thriller and dance your way out of trouble! And just in case you have to cross a river to escape a blood-thirsty horde of the un-dead, the ability to swim may prove useful.
So, to summarize, to survive a zombie apocalypse, you need to possess the following fitness characteristics:
- Cardiovascular fitness
Training for these fitness elements will not only increase your chances of surviving the zombie apocalypse, they will also leave you looking like an athlete – probably a decathlete or MMA fighter. You see, the combination of these forms of training will strip fat, build muscle and also improve your movement quality. Not only will you look great, you’ll actually function as good as you look.
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In nature, as well as in architecture, form follows function so if you train for performance, you’ll soon look like you can perform and with the competition for mates becoming much fiercer in the zombie apocalypse, looking good is an added bonus. No one wants to be alone on Z-day!