Do It Yourself

How Weight Affects Survival



So here we are. The  worst-case scenario we predicted is starting to play out. A disaster of unknown proportion either man-made or an act of God, has now created a failing  system of government and social support. Anarchy and chaos rule. You are on your own.

The highway is blocked, even if you could move you can't get gas, and there is a need to move for survival purposes. You live in the city and to get to your place to safety,  you are looking at 10 to 15 mile hike. So grab all of your gear, firearms and ammo, food and water, shelter and emergence supplies. Now just for fun, take a 45lb. weight plate and stick it with your gear. No reason, you just decide you want to carry an extra 45 lbs. around because it seemed ok to do so and you made the choice to do so.

Now you look at this scenario and think to  yourself, that's kind of a stupid idea. I would agree with you. It is.  You have got to carry around an extra 45 pounds of weight for no beneficial reason? Why would you do that?  Now imagine not being allowed to ever put that extra 45 lbs down, but you carry it everywhere and always. Seems like a bad idea in a survival situation doesn't it?

Currently two thirds, or 66% of Americans are overweight (overfat), and half of them, or 33% of us are flat out obese.  That means way too many are not going to make it very far because they are carrying 45+ lbs. of excess body fat. Weight they cannot just drop in an emergency.

Recently I attended a Japanese garden festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden. The sun was out but it was only in the low 90's.  While we were there for only two hours, there were 4 observed medical emergencies. Every single person was visibly obese.

The story was the same.  Lugging around all that extra weight, but due to the insulating properties of a large thick fat pad,  these people were unable to shed heat as fast as the were generating it. They were going into heat stroke and heat exhaustion, or worse.

I noticed a couple of older women, probably in their late 60's or early 70's,  that were bench hopping. Their entire journey was predicated on getting from one bench to another.  Sometimes only walking a couple of hundred feet and having to sit for several minutes and fan themselves to cool off before being able to move to the next bench.  It was eye opening.

As a personal trainer, I could see the problem.  Their cardiovascular system was un- or de-conditioned.  Adding the extra weight was overloading their body both in terms of workload exceeding ability, but also unable to dissipate the excess heat. They were in trouble and movement was minimal at best.

In a survival situation where it's move or fall victim to roving hoards of hungry or angry people looting, these people are going to have a rough go of it.  They suddenly realize just how much danger their weight has put them in.   I am betting that they would wish they could just drop the weight like a weight plate, but they can't. The extra pounds go where they go.

So what to do? Find a trainer who can measure body fat via skinfold measurements. The more sites the more accurate. I recommend at least 7 sites to more accurately assess your body fat.  You can also check for a local hydrostatic weighing tank, bio-electrical impedance analyzer (4 leads more accurate than 2 leads),  or the Bod Pod, to determine you body fat.

Once you know that, a good trainer can set up a program helping you achieve healthy weight loss using a combination of exercise, cardio and proper nutrition. Progressive resistance training, high intensity interval cardio, and a structured eating plan in conjunction with the weights and cardio to initiate weight loss and improve over all performance.

As mentioned in my previous article, your VO2, or your ability to do work, is affected by by excess fat weight. Drop the fat and your VO2 goes up.  You also increase your chances of being able to move in the case of a SHTF scenario and its time to bug out.

** A note from Joe**

Van makes some great points about cardiovascular health and fitness in a survival situation and I noticed in the previous article some of you had requested some workout tips and tricks.

I've found this fitness program that might work for you check it out and let me know what you think:

Know more survival fitness with these great articles from our site:

Survival Fitness Tips

Survival Fitness: Your Body Needs As Much Upkeep As Your Rifle

The Healing Properties of Catnip Tea | Survival Fitness

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  1. Christopher

    March 14, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Always enjoy your articles Mr. Becker, I added your resistance training to my current endurance and stamina building cycle, as it helps alot with the various martial arts and unarmed fighting styles I’m training in.

  2. Anthony B. Young

    March 24, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    Yep, extra weight is never a good thing. In a disaster situation it can really reduce your chance of survival.
    Stay fit.

  3. Connie Becker

    March 30, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    Great thought-provoking article many people believed they were prepared because they have resources stockpiled . Only to realize that they have to be in prime physical condition.

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