Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse: A Strength & Conditioning Guide

Andrew Pardue
Written By: Andrew Pardue
January 21st, 2014
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Workouts Celebrity
34.5K Reads
The zombies are coming, so what are you going to do about it? This workout helps you to survive in the wild, escape nefarious situations, and avoid the walking dead.
Workout Summary

Workout Description

As fans all over the country enjoy The Walking Dead among other zombie related shows, movies and video games we all find ourselves wondering what we would do in that type of situation. What would be our weapon of choice? What’s the safest building? What would we eat? Well, being a zombie fan myself, I decided to create a list of essential exercises and explain why they would be important for our survival.

The people with the best skill set, and athletic ability would have a step up on the others when it comes time to run, jump, and fight their way to safety. When beginning a new exercise, the initial improvement in strength is from our improved motor development as our nervous system adapts to more efficiently use our skeletal muscle. The being said, performing exercises directly related to the movements we would perform during a zombie invasion would allow us to be much more proficient than people who did typical workouts with unrelated movement patterns… Who said my education in fitness and health would go to waste?!

Pull your Weight

Functional training seems to be all the rage in the fitness industry now days. Well here’s your chance to actually use it. I couldn’t think of a more important exercise when preparing for a zombie apocalypse than the pull up. When you’re running from zombies or an angry mob of survivors, the time will come when you need to jump onto a low hanging roof or fire escape.

My first suggestion would be to train with many types of pull ups. You never know what kind of object you’re going to have to pull yourself up on. Wide grip, narrow grip, chin ups, and probably the most functional would be to use the rock climbing grips that many gyms now have. If you’re a stronger person, even one handed pull ups could be great since there may be times that you’re hanging from a ledge without anyone there to help you up. Finally my last suggestion would be to do pull-ups as part of a circuit or as part of a super set. This would enable the survivor to adapt to performing pull ups when fatigued, better simulating what it would likely be like when zombies attacked.

Push your Luck

For the last few years bodybuilders have become more and more interested in pushing vehicles as a form of high intensity exercises. In short, athletes will put a car in neutral, have someone in the driver’s seat to steer (safety precaution) and the athlete will then push the vehicle for a distance or for time. Car pushes improve the cardiovascular system, entire lower body, and many upper body muscles like the triceps and shoulders. This exercise has obvious applications to a zombie invasion. The time may come when it’s necessary to push a car blocking an alley or building, push over large objects blocking a pathway or to push objects in front of doors for extra protection.

Pull Ups

Dead Lift or Die!

Dead lifts are almost always suggested to athletes young and old. When people bring up “functional training” this is always one of the first exercises that comes to mind. The deadlift is great for improving core, leg and back strength. Not to mention improving grip strength that can be vital when fighting for your survival.

Just like in a regular training program I suggest both low rep and high rep sets of dead lift. Heavy sets of dead lifts will mimic picking up huge objects like furniture, injured friends, or flipping over large tables as makeshift defense.  Dead lifts with a lighter weight but in higher rep ranges would mimic picking up several lighter objects such as moving boxes out of the way or quickly packing up camp. After all, the last thing you need to is blow out your back because you didn’t properly train how to pick up objects from the floor with good form!

Jump for Joy

Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t suggest box jumps. As a bodybuilder it’s normally not high on the list of leg day exercises. When preparing for a zombie apocalypse however, this has to be in the program. Training yourself to jump onto various heights of boxes could prove invaluable when zombies are after you. When you’re running away from danger, it’s unlikely that you’ll always have a clear path in front of you. Being able to jump onto hoods of cars, or over small fences and other objects could be the difference in living until dinner time, or being the main course!

Lifesaver Lunges

Typically squats would be the first weighed exercise I recommend to clients or friends but this is an exception. Lunges, while they don’t exactly mimic running, do an amazing job of incorporating hamstrings, glutes, and adductors in a way that can benefit a zombie survivor. The movement pattern they focus on and the emphasis on certain muscle groups can prevent pulled muscles, and allow for more power output when running away from zombies! The squatting movements you would likely perform during a zombie takeover would be more than taken care of by dead lifts.

Twisted Fate

This may not be your first thought when preparing for a zombie invasion, but core work could vastly improve your fighting proficiency! Just like baseball players emphasize core work, being able to produce a lot of power through your core will enable you to better swing objects as weapons. Just think about how often survivors have to swing bats, crow bars, and other objects when fighting off zombies.

By focusing on core strength and endurance, you would be able to fight off zombies longer and also produce more power in your swings. This would help you produce more kill shots with fewer swings, allowing you to conserve energy. Some of the most functional exercises for this situation would be rotational medicine ball swings and Russian twists since they closely mimic the movement of the core during a swing.

Run for your Life

My cardio suggestions would be very similar to that of a normal client. This would be to mix both high intensity interval training and more traditional cardio. By including sprints the survivor would obviously be prepared for immediate danger when they need to escape ASAP. On the other hand there will surely be times when you have to cover a lot of landscape before night time. Athletes that can run at a good pace for extended periods of time would have a better chance getting to safety before the sun went down. We all know you don’t want to be walking around in a world full of zombies in the dark…

8 Week Zombie Survival Training Program - Weeks 1-4

Weeks 1-4
Zombie Survival Program
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlifts 6 3-5
Car Pushes 5 25-50 yards
Dumbbell Lunges 3 5-10
Box Jump (superset) 4 5-10
Wide Grip Pull Ups 4 5-10
Side Medicine Ball Throw 4 5-10 each side
HIIT Cardio 2/week 8-10 Minutes, RPE 9-10    
MIIS Cardio 2/week 20-30 Minutes, RPE 6-8    

8 Week Zombie Survival Training Program - Weeks 5-8

Weeks 5-8
Zombie Survival Program
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlifts 4 10-15
Car Pushes 5 50-75 yards
Dumbbell Lunges 3 15-20
Box Jumps (superset) 4 10-15
Rock Grip Pull Ups 4 10-15
Russian Twist 4 15-20
HIIT Cardio 2/week 8-10 Minutes, RPE 9-10    
MIIS Cardio 3/week 20-30 Minutes, RPE 6-8    

And of course if you have extra time, feel free to throw in some curls and close grip pushups. After all you’re going to need to look good when it’s time to repopulate the earth!

Get Ready…They're Coming

We’ve all seen the movies. A person’s skill set will determine if they survive or become a buffet for hungry zombies. A weak, out of shape person wouldn’t last long. On the other hand an extremely athletic person, with very functional abilities will be extremely valuable to a group, and more importantly able to keep themselves safe when times get tough. If there wasn’t already enough reasons to be healthy, now we gym rats have one more excuse to hit up the gym!

Dead alive
Posted on: Sun, 03/23/2014 - 23:02

The best advise to all newbies and oldbies....Do the work outs what you like and feel best for you.. Don crib quacks and celebrities..Keep in mind the routine and work outs which adapts with your life and body.. Dont go overboard in anyway like overweight lifting, cramming supplements and other stuffs in stomach, over eating, steroids etc... SLOW and STEADY get you the GOAL..." When you aim at something far, you ignore other things" follow it... Dont be jealous and jumpy about other bodies..

Andrew Pardue
Posted on: Fri, 01/24/2014 - 10:12

For weeks 1-4 I would probably do around 2 minutes rest during dead lifts, 3-5 minutes between car pushes, then somewhere around 1-2 minutes between everything else.

Week 5-8 around 2 minutes would probably work for everything except car pushes. I would leave that around 3-5 minutes since you wouldn't want to mess around with something that heavy and be out of breath lol

I would do this workout 3 to maybe even 4 times per week if I were doing it.

Posted on: Fri, 01/24/2014 - 09:23

They're coming*

Posted on: Thu, 01/23/2014 - 11:02

what would the rest time be between sets for exercises other than deadlift?

Posted on: Thu, 01/23/2014 - 10:56

what would the rest time be between sets for exercises other than deadlift?