How to Stay in Shape When There is No Gym

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How to Stay in Shape When There is No Gym

There are two primary reasons that could influence your decision to stay out of commercial gyms:

They are getting more expensive and with discretionary income dwindling the savings could mean the difference between eating or paying bills or not.

With the rise of vector-borne illness the gym might not just compromise your cash flow but compromise your health.

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It may seem oxymoronic that a place designed to get you fit might be the very place that makes you sick but that is the case.

Gyms are crowded and getting more so and they are universally ignoring any precautions that might keep you safe from airborne disease. This is a threat you don’t want to take lightly. Getting sick at this late stage could very easily put you and your loved ones in a very bad situation.

What to do?

Luckily there are lots of different options for getting stronger and more fit, with the additional benefit of training in an outdoor environment which is more in keeping with the needs of apocalyptic life.

The outdoors are ripe with possibilities for increasing strength, endurance, and resiliency. If you combine a few homemade items with the ready availability of rocks and logs you can achieve an impressive level of strength without ever setting foot in a gym.

My go-to guy for improvised outdoor workouts is Chip Conrad. This link to his YouTube page will provide you with more ideas than you can use with items that are just lying around. Or to make things like squat racks, barbells, and weights out of tree branches and cinder blocks.

Now we get to equipment


We will take advantage of Chip’s expertise with this video on how to make a homemade exercise club and after you make it you’re wondering what to do with this thing here is a video on some club jams.

You can get a lot of mileage out of Chip’s channel and I suggest you spend some time there.

Next thing you would want to put together is a dragging sled. These are really cheap because you can use mostly free or low cost materials for the construction. Here are some ideas for exercises you can do with your new sled.

One thing I would suggest buying is a pair of gymnastic rings these can be had for between $40.00 and $100.00 and are invaluable in the field (for exercise, although you could swing them at someone’s head if you had to.)

Another few things that you might want to add to your home gym arsenal are Indian clubs and Resistance bands.

Here is a video on Indian club exercises. These are amazing for structural strength and shoulder mobility and really should be included in your daily routine. I do sets of these as part of my warm up and I have had very few should issues since I integrated them into my life.

Here is a video of a beginning level workout that is done on the rings. They can be used as a standalone or combined with other exercises to create your own workouts.

Bodyweight only workout routines are also a good option and here is a video of a whole body program done with just your bodyweight.

The Strength Side YouTube channel is another source for endless ideas for programs.

Now a sample workout:

So let’s imagine that you have made your sled and you’re itching to take it for a test drive.

  1. Find a grassy field or level spot that is around 50 to 100 yards in length.
  2. Walk backwards dragging your sled to a predetermined end point.
  3. Do 10 push ups.
  4. Walk forward dragging your sled back to the starting point.
  5. Do 9 push ups.
  6. Continue with this pattern until you get to 1 pushup.

…and you’re done (I guarantee it).

Another workout:

  • Pushups x 5-10
  • Ring rows x 10
  • Sled drag backwards going out/forwards coming back

You can either reduce the number of pushups and ring rows each round down to one each like we did in the previous program or you can keep the number the same and do it for a specified length of time, anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.

You can do this work out and target a different set of movements by changing out the exercises for example: Squats and Band resisted overhead presses instead of pushups and ring rows.

Another option that you could explore would be to incorporate mobility exercises between the sets.

That would look something like this:

  • Shoulder rotations x 10
  • Pushups x 10
  • Indian club pattern x 10
  • Heavy club movement (described above) x 10
  • Kneeling hip flexor stretch x 10 each
  • Squats x 10

In a program like this, you would pick mobility exercises that target the area that will be stressed with the strength exercise and do 3–10 rounds.

Weighted carries are anything you pick up from the ground and take for a walk. This can be a rock, a log, or a duffle bag filled with water softening pellets which are a cheap and easy way to add weight to your duffle bag.


What you need to do as you come up with your own programs is try to hit all the basic movements, push, pull, hinge, squat, and carry, each week.

End notes:

You should spend some time mastering movement quality before you start stressing any body part. The importance of that cannot be overstated because the last thing you want is to incur an injury during your training since there is no way to tell when you will need to be in top physical condition, you have a vested interest in staying injury free.

The possibilities that are available using inexpensive and found items for your training are limited only by your imagination. Create a movement practice that includes mobility, strength, and endurance, add to that the development of practical survival skills and you should be well on your way toward being a useful and valuable addition to your community or tribe (I kind of hate the word tribe because of the negative connotations that tribalism has been labeled with but it works in this context).

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