In the last episode, I discussed a hierarchy for buying equipment. At the lowest level was the fundamentals and everyday carry (EDC). The hierarchy worked it’s way up from there to include a variety of patrolling, survival, observation, and combat equipment. Throughout the entire thing, I tied it to the importance of seeking training on how to use the equipment effectively.

There’s an important element that I did not discuss in that episode, though, and one that we’re touching on today. This actually came up in the accompanying live stream that I did with that episode, which you’ll find on the YouTube channel. Towards the end of that stream, as we got into Q&A- the topic of physical fitness came up, and I shared a few thoughts.

Let’s go a little deeper today.

Revisiting Tactical Fitness

One of the pillars of the Everyday Marksman philosophy is fitness. Tactical fitness is a combination of lots of disciplines, from strength to endurance, speed, and flexibility. A tactical athlete, to borrow a phrase, is a generalist.

Even within the field of tactical athletes, there are subsets. I once asked Rob Shaul of the Mountain Tactical Institute about this, and he explained his approach.

From a fitness programming perspective, a tactical athlete’s fitness must cover a much more broad array of fitness demands...their fitness demands are much more “multi-modal”. Green athletes, for example, need high relative strength (strength per body weight), high sprint-based work capacity, tactical agility, endurance (running/rucking) and chassis integrity (core).

Most tactical athletes cannot predict the tactical situations they face, and thus their programming must be broader and embrace more fitness attributes than more narrow sport or competition athletes who can predict what they will face in competition, and program accordingly.

Rob Shaul, Mountain Tactical Institute

I highlighted this particular quote, because Rob mentioned “Green” athletes. In his color coding system, green indicates infantry, land-based special operations, wildland firefighters, and rural law enforcement.

This represents the target for all of us. To be someone who can lift, ruck, sprint, climb, and survive in tough environments. This also ties back to the gear hierarchy I mentioned before. If you’re going to buy the gear, then you also need to be able to carry the gear.


Three Reasons to Be Fit

Now for the meat of the episode. We’re braking down three reasons, or domains, that you need keep in mind. We’re not talking about vanity reasons, like looking swole to impress…well…anyone. We’re talking the nitty gritty reasons to be fit for everyday life, especially in an emergency situation like Scenario X.

The domains break down to the following:

  • Combat capability
  • Health & Durability
  • Developing Mental Grit

Not everything we’re saying here applies only to muscular strength and endurance. Fitness is a holistic concept encompassing several domains.

Combat Capability

I want to talk about the Falklands War for a minute. In 1982, the United Kingdom engaged in a conflict with Argentina over two British territories in the South Atlantic. Without getting into the details of why it happened, I’ll simply state that the conflict lasted 74 days and ended with an Argentine surrender. The reason that I’m talking about it is the actions of British troopers on the ground were a testament to their level of physical fitness.

The British soldiers, during the Falklands conflict, did a remarkable job of carrying heavy loads on their backs over long distances and during adverse weather conditions. A good example of this physical endurance was the 42 Commando of the Royal Marines.

The Commandos landed at San Carlos carrying approximately 120-145 pounds of equipment per man. A typical load consisted of two mortar rounds (26 lbs.), personal weapon and ammunition (50 lbs.), 2 water bottles, food for 48 hours, sleeping bag, shelter, spare clothing and other special equipment required by the individual or his squad. With this load, 42 Commando made a "Big Yomp" (forced march) of 80 miles across the Falklands. The "yomp" was made in three days across boggy and wet ground during wet and cold weather.

There are similar stories from other units as well, aside from Commando unit. The “Mogadishu Mile” from the ill-fated operation Gothic Serpent in 1993 come to mind.

The bottom line is that your level of physical fitness directly impacts your ability to get the job done. If you’re too weak, have poor conditioning, or otherwise can’t “keep up” then you will suffer the consequences.

A lot of people talk a big game, but simply don’t know how they would actually respond. As quick test, go ahead and strap on a 50 lb weighted ruck and see how many times you can dash 10 yards, drop into a pushup, get up and repeat.

Health and Durability

During a recent live stream, Doc Larsen of One Shepherd made a point that fitness in the military isn’t only about getting the mission accomplished. A lot of it comes down to your ability to recover from sickness, poor weather, or even getting injured in the field. I’ve highlighted the moment it came up here:

In Body by Science, the authors make another point about strength and fitness that I thought was relevant to our survival situation. In ballistics, the fastest the bullet will ever be is as it exits the muzzle. From there, it’s going to fly as well as it can based on the starting energy. If you think about health the same way, the best condition you’re going to be in is just before the situation kicks off.

At best, you can try and maintain what you have through some form of exercise- even though you aren’t likely to get as good of nutrition and sleep. At worst, in a dire health emergency like sickness or getting shot, how much muscle you have correlates to how long you’re going to survive.

The medical literature affirms the absolute role that increased muscle mass plays to one's benefit during life-threatening situations. A lot of the beneficial effects of strength training come from the fact that other organs of the body increase their functional capacity to track, one to one, with increases in muscle mass.

As an example, if you were to be in a severe traffic accident and had to be admitted to an intensive care unit, the "start" point from which you would atrophy all of your organs is predicated on your degree of muscle mass. In other words, how long it would take before you reach multisystem organ failure and die is directly linked to your level of muscle mass, because all of your other organ weights are going to be proportional to that.

Doug McGuff, M.D.

The bottom line is this: the stronger and fitter you are today, then the longer you will survive. That’s true not just of emergencies, but studies even show the relationship between consistent exercise and reduced instances of diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and more.

Developing Mental Grit

Let's define grit. Grit is the perseverance and passion to achieve long–term goals. Sometimes you will hear grit referred to as mental toughness.

James Clear

This section is short, but important. Way back when I talked to Mike Moore about survival, he made a comment about developing grit and the will to press on. The only way I know of to develop that willpower, the grit, is to regularly challenge yourself to succeed.

One of the easiest ways to start challenging yourself is through fitness. There’s a lot to be said for someone who sets a goal and pursues it every day in the gym. You cannot get stronger without stressing your body repeatedly so that it adapts. At sufficient intensities, it’s as much a mental game as it is a physical one.

When you are accustomed to testing yourself over and over again, whether it is in the gym or at events like GoRuck, Spartan Races, or any other physical challenge- then you are in a much better position to succeed in other areas of life.

Matt

Matt

Matt is the primary author and owner of The Everyday Marksman. He's a former military officer turned professional tech sector trainer. He's a lifelong learner, passionate outdoorsman, and steadfast supporter of firearms culture.

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6 Comments
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Gus
Gus
Guest

Constructive criticism comment – it gets old listening to her talk only about herself. I know she’s your wife but she appears to be more interested in telling us about her. I run marathons, I ruck, I, me, my….how am I going to get my 155gr of protein..

The last time you had her on – 13-JAN-2022 the same applies with consistent report of I, me, my.

What comes across is a self centered female and the Brits are in phenomenal shape for TAB’ing

Dave
Dave
Guest
Replying to  Gus

I’m not speaking for Matt, but that’s generally how the podcasts work my man. It’s an informal conversation about a topic. If you want a formal post with links and references, then the write up here covers all of that. I think when she shares her experience it can resonate with and inspire a lot of ladies out there to adapt some of this fitness/shooting/prep lifestyle that we immerse ourselves in, into their own busy schedules.

Paul
Paul
Guest
Replying to  Dave

Agree. There aren’t very many opportunities in this focused subject matter where women get to interject ‘their’ views, ‘their’ concerns and ‘their’ solutions. Like it or not (I like it) women make up at least half of our population and will significantly contribute to family, community and their own survival should circumstances warrant it. In fact I’d like Matt and Allison to consider a post on what the ‘planned responsibilities’ as a husband and wife team, parents and community members in a Scenario X situation would look like! Maybe a little less tactical but when ‘family’ is a priority –… Read more »

Paul
Paul
Guest

Matt has addressed this issue many times over the years and he’s right to do so. Yes, marksmanship, field craft, quality gear, preparedness and community involvement are all important but our physical ability to ‘respond’ to the situation at hand is most vital! If we need a ‘reality check’ let’s take some lessons from Ukraine. I’ve never bought in to the ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ nor do I believe that the USA will ever experience an invasion by a foreign ‘land based’ infantry where our citizenry will need to take up arms – we did that ‘once’ some 240 years ago against… Read more »

Joshua
Joshua
Guest

All of the vintage strength publications spoke about strength AND health. Properly executed, a strength program should increase the energy reserves a body has. Too many metcons, “feeling the burn”, and taking every set to failure depletes the reserves and the immune system at large. I truly feel bad for many well meaning, hard working people that come into my practice that have over-exercised themselves into poor health.

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