Back in January, thousands of birds dropped dead out of the sky in Arkansas, followed by more birds randomly dying in Lousiana shortly thereafter. Throw in 100,000 drum fish showing up dead on rivers, freak snowstorms demolished the South, dogs and cats living together (mass hysteria!), it has become blatantly clear:
The zombie apocalypse is near, my friends.
Okay, so maybe zombies aren’t exactly real (…yet), but it doesn’t mean we can’t have a discussion as to what our lives would be like if they actually took over the world. Thanks to video games like Resident Evil, Left4Dead, and Dead Rising, movies like 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, and Army of Darkness; and TV shows like the Walking Dead and Hannah Montana, zombies are EVERYWHERE these days.
Even the Onion chimed in with a thoughtful debate: Are Violent Video Games Adequately Preparing Children For The Apocalypse?
So, just because the Zombie Apocalypse hasn’t happened yet, that doesn’t mean it won’t! Fortunately, today is the day you’ll learn not only how to survive an apocalypse once the sh** hits the fan, but how you can start preparing immediately so that you’re ready when it does.
Stay in peak physical condition
Fact: zombies love out of shape people.
They’re easier to chase down, have more flesh to eat, and put up far less of a fight. Compare that with a highly intelligent nerd in peak physical condition: much harder to catch, composed of tough muscle instead of doughy fat, and certainly won’t go down without a fight.
You want to be a zombie’s worst nightmare.
Now, how the heck does one stay in shape during an apocalypse? After all, a simple trip to the gym becomes significantly more difficult when you have to kill a few zombies between deadlifts. Instead, I would advocate quick, efficient workouts that can be done anywhere: on top of a building, in the bottom floor of a basement bunker, and any place in between.
By focusing on quick, full-body workouts, you’ll ensure that you’re always prepared to kick some zombie ass at a moments notice if you can’t sprint away from them fast enough. Sometimes, you just have to fight, and being in great shape is the best way to ensure survival in those situations.
Real world practice: Although the workouts in the Rebel Fitness Guide are designed to be used with just your body weight and some dumbbells, you might not have access to dumbbells when zombies have you barricaded in your own home. In that instance, I’d recommend trying something like the 20-Minute Hotel Workout, which can be done using just your bed and a desk.
But what if you have NONE of these things and still want to stay in shape? Let’s say you don’t have a lot of time either. Well, try this workout on for size: four minutes of push ups, air squats, and pull ups (if you can do them). Here’s how:
- 100 jumping jacks to get warmed up.
- Set a timer for four minutes.
- Do as many push ups as you can - write down the number. Move immediately onto #4
- Do as many air squats as you can – write down the number. Move immediately onto #5
- Do as many pull ups as you can - write down the number. Immediately return to #3 and repeat the process until 4 minutes is up.
In four minutes, you just worked out almost every muscle in your entire body. Keep track of your total number of reps for each exercise, and try to do at least one better the next time you do this workout (after a day of recovery). The zombies won’t be sympathetic when you say “but I didn’t have time to work out, I was busy with blah blah blah.” There’s always time to improve yourself, so no excuses.
Not sure if you’re in shape enough? Here are some good places to start:
- 5 Fitness Benchmarks a Man Must Master
- Zombie Fit, a site dedicated to preparing folks for zombie encounters.
Practice sprints, not long distance cardio
Here’s a story that has been slightly edited to be more zombie appropriate.
Two men were walking in a forest, when they suddenly saw a savage, hungry-looking zombie. One of the men quickly put on a pair of running shoes. The other guy exclaimed, “You idiot! You can’t run faster than a zombie .” To which the first guy replied, “I don’t have to run faster than the zombie, I only have to run faster than you!”
Yes, I know the first rule of ZombieLand is cardio, but I will have to respectfully disagree with that statement. When dealing with super-zombies that are fast as hell, having a great half-marathon time isn’t going to help you out much when a zombie can chase you down in the first forty yards…and even if they can’t chase you down immediately, eventually they’ll get you because of the whole “unrelenting rage and zero fatigue” factor.
Instead, I advocate training to become incredibly fast at short distances. Think like a sprinter, not a marathon runner. If you suddenly come across a zombie while walking down the street, you’ll need to be fast enough to outrun the zombie until you can get to a safehouse. This is where your top speed is going to be far more useful than your total level of endurance.
Real world practice: instead of just going for a run on a treadmill or for a nice leisurely jog through your neighborhood (which might have zombies in it already), try interval training or tabata training. These types of training not only help you recruit more fast-twitch muscle fibers (which is good for maximal-effort sprinting), but they also build up your oxygen capacity. That means you’re improving both your endurance AND your sprinting ability at the same time.
If you’re interested in a relatively basic interval training routine to get started, here’s a 3-minutes slow, 1-minute fast interval workout that only takes 20 minutes, taken from the Recruit level workout of the Rebel Fitness Guide. Click on the picture to see how it’s broken down:
Learn basic Parkour
This one is incredibly important.
Unless you live in the burbs and zombies are chasing you down a nice, flat street, there’s going to be some amount of vertical obstacles that you’ll have to conquer in order to evade capture – whether it’s climbing over fences, scaling fire escapes, or leaping between building tops. Just be prepared, because things are going to get funky when you have a whole bunch of living dead barreling down upon you.
Fortunately, you can use your environment to your advantage. For whatever reason, although people become incredibly fast and agile when turned into zombies, they become really dumb as well. The more “things” that you can put between you and your pursuers, the more likely you’ll be to survive and fight another day. In order to have the best chance for success, you’re going to want to tackle these obstacles in the most efficient way possible to maintain top speed.
Parkour is your friend.
Real world practice: start learning some Parkour moves! No, Parkour doesn’t need to be all about backflips and wall-runs; it can be as simple as learning how to vault over a small wall or jumping between benches. Rather than go into an in-depth explanation of how to train for Parkour, I’ll refer back to a previous Nerd Fitness article: The Definitive Guide to Parkour for Beginners.
Why not start today?
Work as a team – stay together
In every zombie movie ever made, it’s always the guy who says “let’s split up to explore” that becomes a zombie first. If you’re part of a small group of people who have outlasted the rest of the human race, survival will be far more likely if you work as a team. Watch each other’s backs, take turns being the lookout, and work together to solve problems and stay alive.
To borrow a quote from Lost: “Live together, die alone.”
After all, a life of solitude in a post-apocalyptic zombie world doesn’t really sound that fun, does it? Sure Will Smith was alone for most of I am Legend, but he had a pretty crappy time even with a kick-ass dog for a companion. Think about it: After probably two weeks of zombie slaying alone (if you last that long), you will most likely go batsh*t crazy. Who knows, at that point becoming a zombie might not even sound that bad!
Real world practice: Put a team together! Have folks that you can lean on when you’re not feeling motivated, have people you can turn to when you have questions, and help out those who are looking for it. They can be family members, co-workers, college friends, whoever. This is one of the most effective methods I can endorse to keep people motivated for longer than a few weeks – get in shape with a partner!
If you don’t have a support group in real life, consider joining the 1200+ rebels on the NF message boards – they’re all after the same thing as you: a better life. Heck, you can even add your name to the map of the rebellion to see if anybody else is near you for a real life meet-up. That way, when that first zombie comes knocking on your door, you’ll know exactly where to go!
Prepare your food supply in advance
When the world has ended and zombies are scavenging the earth, running the streets, and infecting everybody in their path, do you think an afternoon trip to McDonald’s for a Big Mac is a good idea? When there are dozens of zombies worked up into a frenzy standing outside your boarded-up windows, a drive-through “fourthmeal” from Taco Bell probably shouldn’t be on the agenda.
Whether you plan on barricading yourself in your house or grabbing a backpack and heading to the nearest human survivor camp, you’re going to need food to survive. Now, if you were smart, you already had a few weeks worth of food stocked up at your place just in case. With that food stocked up, your next meals are ready to go and you don’t have to worry about starvation. It’s those folks that have no plan for meals that are figuratively caught with their pants down. When you have to choose between starvation or fighting off an entire legion of zombies, nobody wins.
Except for the zombies. Zombies always win in that situation.
Real world practice: Put together your plan of attack for your meals this week, and don’t deviate. No extra trips to the vending machine, no post-work trips to Burger King, no late-night runs to the grocery store for ice cream.
More preparation now means less dying later when the zombies arrive…which is good, because becoming a flesh-eating zombie totally sucks.
Too many people tell me that they eat unhealthy fast food because they “don’t have time to cook,” which is absolutely a lie. If I can prepare a meal of chicken, brown rice, and asparagus in twenty minutes, you can too. Want to get ahead of the game? Cook up a whole bunch of chicken breasts on Sunday night, throw it in the fridge, and your lunch is set for the next week!
Yeah it might get a tad boring or bland, but it also might keep you alive when the apocalypse happens.
Above all else, stay alive
If you’re one of the few remaining survivors in a zombie-filled world, it’s your responsibility to continue our species. No pressure, but the fate of humanity rests on your shoulders.
So, what does that mean, exactly?
It means you need to do every freaking thing possible to stay alive.
Want to know the most effective way to stay in great shape, fight zombies, and carry on living? HAVE SOMETHING WORTH LIVING FOR. Whether it’s the hope of finding a cure, finding others that have survived, or finding a safe haven where you can live out the rest of your days, remember that hope + action = win. It’s always the guys that have nothing to live for or lose their will to live that become the next zombie.
Real world practice - Have something worth living for right now. Is it so that you can see your kids graduate college? Provide a better life for your family than was provided for you? Maybe it’s so that you can move out of your parents’ house and finally go on a date. Whatever it is, find your motivation that will keep you pushing to become a better person in all aspects of your life. Keep your brain focused on that single message to constantly remind yourself of why you’re doing the things you’re doing.
More importantly, remember that there’s always hope, no matter how dire the situation may seem. It doesn’t matter how old, young, big, small, or alone you are – you can always make a change and live better starting immediately. Don’t give up and assume you’re stuck with a crappy existence (if that’s what you happen to have) – after all, the future of the human race could be in your hands.
As my buddy Mars Dorian says, “The world needs you.”
Help save humanity
And there you have it – how to survive a zombie apocalypse.
It might not happen today, it might not happen tomorrow, it might never happen. But just in case it does, you’ll be far more prepared to take them on if you follow the advice listed above.
So what say you? What other important skills have been left out? Let me know what can be added.
I was going to do a whole section on how to fight zombies, but that would be pure speculation at this point as I’ve never actually fought one. I think we can all agree on a few rules though:
- Aim for the head.
- Conserve your ammo.
- Chainsaws are your friend.
Now, if you happen to be a zombie reading this: you should probably stay away from members of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion.
We’ll kick your ass.
Until Thursday (from Los Angeles),
Today’s Rebel Hero: Nick W. sent along this picture of him hitting an all-new personal record (185 lbs!) on the Clean and Press in his back yard in the snow. Now, I’m not saying that his Nerd Fitness t-shirt added to his awesomeness, but I dare you to try and prove that it didn’t!
All I know is this: Nick is one dude I wouldn’t want to mess with if I was a zombie.