Top 10 Survival Fitness Exercises – SRG USA – Survival Readiness Group

Top 10 Survival Fitness Exercises

This article is Part One in my Survival Fitness Series.

I have been a strength and Conditioning coach for well over 12 years now and actively testing and building workout plans for close to 25 years. I have engaged in fitness routines ranging from my time in the Marines, to Crossfit, Kettlebell Specific, Bodyweight Only Gymnastic Strength Training, Krav Maga & Kickboxing, and many combos of all the above.

There is no one workout style or routine that is perfect for everybody. When deciding on a workout plan you need to first decide what goals you want to accomplish. The SAID principal states that your body will adapt specifically to the imposed demands. So if you want stronger legs don’t just do upper body workouts… it? With that said I have put together an all-star list of exercises each of which are applicable to movements you are likely to encounter in a survival / SHTF situation. These will give you the most bang for your buck.

Keep in mind that there are thousands of other exercises but these compound movements (Multiple Muscle Groups) will train your whole body for the demands of survival fitness. Each exercise is scaleable for beginners all the way up to advanced athletes.  In future episodes I will break down each exercise into its core components and detail how to scale for beginner all the way up to advanced variations. I will also post a sample workout routine in the near future that utilizes these exercises as well as others. Stay tuned for that.

If you need help with a workout routine I offer Online personal training, Contact me to learn more.

Here are my top 10 exercises for Survival Fitness Training.


The bar muscle-up is a combination of a pull-up followed by a straight bar dip. This is one of the hardest exercises to achieve because it relies on having a base level of pull-up strength as well as clean technique to pull it off.

If these are too challenging you can just practice regular pull-ups and parallel bar dips until you can get 15 in a row without rest.

Being able to pull yourself up and over tall walls and other objects is one of the top movements you can train for SHTF.


These are a combo of a front squat to an overhead press. Front Squats require your core to remain engaged more than other types of squats because of where the load is held.

This exercise will usually be limited by the amount of weight you can put up over your head safely.

Farmers Carry

If you are caught in a SHTF scenario I guarantee you will be carrying lots of crap to and fro. Gear bags, water buckets, ammo cans, etc. This is a super practical exercise that works your legs, core, and grip strength.

You can make these harder by carrying the weight in the racked position (as in the front squat video above) or take it up hill or stairs.


In any training program I believe that single leg strength movements are superior because seldom in real life are we perfectly balanced on two feet during activity. These require a base level of leg strength as well as lower body mobility to successfully complete them.

Easier variations require you to do a single leg sit to a chair or bench. Want it harder? Hold a dumbbell or Kettlebell for resistance.

Sledge Hammer Tire

When the time comes that you need therapy this is the exercise that you might want to pick. Beating on something with a large, heavy hammer is extremely satisfying as well as effective. Great for conditioning as well as building strength and power in your core, back, legs and arms.

You can go to a local tire shop and get a large tire for free. Sledge hammers come in different sizes. Start small then build your way up to a 16# hammer.

Renegade Rows

Renegade rows will put a strong demand on your core stability, shoulders, and upper back muscles. If you add the push-up in between reps your chest and triceps will get smoked as well.

Goal here is to remain stable in the core without twisting a lot. I recommend doing this with stable dumbbells before trying them with something like kettle bells.

Turkish Get-ups

Another total body exercise that works shoulder stability, core strength (especially laterally), single leg strength.

There are several variations of this exercise but its best to start with the one in this video first. Use no weight as first until you can do it perfectly. Once you have it down start with a light weight and go from there.


Sprinting is not only practical but it also is amazing for changing your body composition. It doesn’t take a lot of sprint sessions in a routine to reap big rewards. They do however have to be at almost full effort.

If you are just getting into fitness your best plan is to build up a running base first before starting sprints due to the intensity. If you are already on a regular routine add some sprints in once every 7-10 days.

Weighted Hiking

If you are into self-reliance training or survival training then you surely have a get home bag, bug out bag, 48 hour bag, or whatever you want to call it. Get used to building an aerobic base by hiking with your bag 3-6 hours a week collectively. that way if the time comes that you need to get out of dodge with your bag you are ready.

If you don’t hike a lot or are unfit just get out and hike with a lighter bag with some water. Build up to using it for every walk / hike you go on.

Heavy Bag Work

One of the best all around workouts you can do is heavy bag work. It has to be kickboxing so you have to use legs and knees in addition to upper body strikes. Its also practical for warrior mindset. There is something primal about laying into a heavy bag.

I recommend learning Krav Maga or Muay Thai to start. Later stages of Krav Maga deal with armed attackers. Best self defense system out there.

So there you have it my TOP 10 EXERCISES FOR SURVIVAL FITNESS. Go ahead and give them a try. I do always recommend hiring a fitness professional to help make sure you are doing them properly so you don’t get hurt. Stay tuned for PART 2 in the Survival Fitness Series, which will break down each exercise in this article.

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