Okay folks, picture this…
There’s a hoard of walkers after you. You’ve been running through woods, up and down hills, and ducking under and around tree branches. You’re scraped and bruised in a hundred different places. The only thing louder in your ears than your own rhythmic breathing is the sounds of the dead chasing you. But in your previous life, you ran marathons. Your lungs are strong and your legs well trained to running. Under the effects of the fear and adrenaline pumping through you, you feel like you could do this forever.
You come to a clearing and see the remains of a small town close by. Spurred on by survival instincts, you run towards the town, knowing that you’ll find a safe place to hide. But the dead, well, they just keep coming. You make it to the road, the little main street that seems to run down the very center of small towns everywhere. But out of the dilapidated buildings come more of the walkers. Seemingly drawn to the sound of your heartbeat, they are everywhere. You cut down an alley way hoping to get out of sight. Rounding a corner, you realize that your running has come to an end. Your alley way is a dead end with walls facing you in every direction.
But there’s hope! There’s an old roof top access ladder on the side of one of the buildings. The bottom of it has rusted away but there’s a dumpster in the corner of the alley. If you can just move that dumpster enough to get under what’s left of the ladder, you can climb to safety. You squeeze yourself between the wall and the dumpster. Using the wall behind you to brace yourself, you push. Your arms and even one of your legs comes up as you try to get as much of “you” as possible applying pressure to move that dumpster. But it won’t budge. It’s just too heavy. You heave and strain against it. But again, it won’t budge. Apparently the end of the world kept the trash man from cleaning out this particular dumpster. Slacker. Refusing to give up, you put your back to it and plant your feet against the wall and the dumpster slowly starts to move away. You have it rolling now but it’s taking way too long. Your legs are burning from the effort but you keep fighting because now you can hear them at the mouth of the alley.
You stop to look and you just need to cover a few more feet before you have a shot at jumping up and grabbing the ladder. But now your momentum has stalled and you have to get it moving again and you’re just not strong enough. There’s no time. They’re all around you now…
Stuff like this made me quit watching that show for a while. Gave me the creeps. Of course, I got sucked back in later on and after watching enough scenes like this play out, my head started playing the game of “Training To Survive The Zombie Apocalypse”. What would you need? What kind of physical qualities would you want to develop?
Obviously, you would need a pretty good set of lungs. Since Zombies don’t get tired, you might end up running for a while. But what if it’s not a lack of lungs that get’s you killed off and on the couch talking with Chris Hardwick afterwards? What if, like in the instance above, it’s a lack of strength? Or what if strength isn’t the issue but it’s muscular endurance that does you in? Think of a power lifter, surrounded by the bodies of the zombies he’s taken out with his trusty sledge hammer. His arms are now burning with lactic acid so much that he can’t lift the hammer anymore. He’ll be on the next episode of “In Memoriam”.
There’s a saying in business that goes like this, “Generalists eat last.” Basically it’s saying that if you don’t have a specialty, you won’t survive. Well in fitness, I thing you could change that to “Specialists get eaten first!”. See, as a specialist athlete (power lifter, marathoner, bodybuilder), you will often, through necessity, short change parts of your physicality in order to bring other parts up. Coach Dan John once talked about the level of conditioning a thrower needed and his response was basically that the athlete needed to be able to walk out to the circle, throw and walk back. Not much traditional conditioning needed there.
This is why I believe that all good programs should have mobility, conditioning and strength components to them. If you are one of those specialist athletes, then by all means dive deep in to your sport and do what it takes to compete at a level that satisfies you within your genetic ceiling. Oh and pray that civilization isn’t temporary. If you are just a general fitness enthusiast, then maybe you should consider trying to develop all three areas of your training. Not at the same time necessarily, but they should all get some love. This, I believe is what Crossfit originally intended to do. Fitness Trainer Pat Flynn talks about this concept as “Fitness Generalism”.
So, what can you do to keep from becoming Zombie food? If you are into heavy lifting, start taking some lengthy walks on the weekends and add some sets of kettlebell swings in between your heavy sets of main lifts. Maybe try working in a yoga session. If you are a cardio bunny, add a few days of strength training in. Pick a few compound lifts like squats and deadlifts (single leg or bilateral) presses and pull ups, and get stronger with them. If you’re a yogi and don’t lift at all, try adding a few sessions a week of TGU’s/swings or kettlebell complexes. And remember that you don’t have to be, or more appropriately can’t be, at your peak for all of these things at once. Spend a little time giving each your focus and then move on to the next. Have a great day!