Survival Fitness by Adam Ticknor

This is a guest article from Adam Ticknor. If your unfamiler with Adam, here is a quick bio.

Adam Ticknor, is a former Recon Marine and a Scout Sniper. He currently works as a fitness instructor, rehab specialist and a bodylanguage instructor. You can see him as a member of Discovery Channel's Season Two of the Colony, he has a blog that he sometimes gets around to updating, and if you are in the Austin area and need info or training (shooting, fighting, surviving, fitness or bodylanguage) contact him.

Thanks Adam for sharing this with us!

I have spent 2 months trying to write this damn thing and it kept getting too long and too technical. Even this last one is too long but I tried to make it more digestible. If you are interested in more detail email me or read and follow the books and people at the end of this post.

Keys to survival
  • The Will
  • The Skillset
  • The Mindset
  • The Tools

All of us have Bug Out Kits, for home, car, plane travel, etc, that all have contents of whatever we can get away with to aid us in our survivability. We all talk about mindset and keeping the right attitude, and a few of us have had to actually use the skills for actually surviving. Many of us have used our kits not for survival but for creating a better experience wherever we may be. Cool gadgets, simple tools, all the preparation in the world can not help us if we do not have the physiology to use any of it. (Will, Skill, Mindset, Tools).

I have been a fitness trainer for years and without fail men don't understand where they are physically. The bigger problem is Americans don't really know how to get fit. Most folks (especially men and Alpha type men) still have a fitness picture of who they are when they were competitive. This usually means high school and to a lesser degree college. Sorry guys most of you are not that fit anymore. However, fitness is a very very easy attribute to gain. It requires much less time and much less training than do the skills required to survive. However, I believe it is far more important.

Why? How, is being fit more important than knowing how to start a fire in the rain, build a shelter, obtain food?

Lets start with most survival situations. You got lost or stranded, maybe you are running away from something. Maybe you/family member has been in some sort of vehicle accident. Maybe you/family member has taken a nasty fall while hiking and has broken something. Maybe another Katrina happens and you have to pack up and move your family all your kit and bug out. All hell breaks loose and you have to defend you and yours.

All of this means that you have to have a certain level of fitness to deal with the situation. Can you carry drag etc your bodyweight for multiple miles for multiple days? Can you in excrutiating pain get yourself into a winnable situation. Can you do this while keeping a positive attitude and ensure everyone in your party is taken care of?

A quick anecdote: A very good friend of mine is an 18D (Army SF medic) and broke his malleolous, (the bony knobs of the ankle) and had finished the mandatory ruck march on a broken ankle, carrying a load and in the prescribed time frame. He had the whole package, Mindset, Skillset, Tools, buckets of WILL and fitness.)

Back to why?
Metabolic efficiency
More strength means more energy efficiency
If your body is used to dealing with stress in a healthy way it can handle larger bouts of unhealthy stress.
If your overall stress response is in better control in everyday life it is less likely to overflow into a compromised environment.

Stress comes in two flavors. Hormetic and non hormetic. Hormesis is the idea that the stress that is applied is in just the right amount that it causes a positive stress adaptation. Non Hormetic, means that the body can not positively adapt and begins to break down. Once stress gets into the bad levels EVERYTHING gets bad at the same time. All of your standard health markers, blood pressure, cholesterol etc., All of your perceived lifestyle stuff gets bad. Things like sex drive/performance, digestion, sleep, energy. Your body begins to fall apart and cant repair itself. This applies to survival because if you are already stressed out and stuff is not working correctly it sure wont do you any favors when you have to provide food and shelter for your family in a survival situation. Last part on this is your system will begin to have a full tilt response on stuff that doesn't matter.

Lets look at this as something that has happened to me. I am in Hawaii, a 19 year old basic Marine Infantryman, fit healthy and just did a 14 mile jungle patrol with just my basic gear. The Battalion Commander ordered us to give up our rucks and patrol with the very minimum, and our stuff would be trucked to the link up. No extra gear, sleeping bags or ponchos, or poncho liners etc. Most of us asked to keep our stuff and we were told no. That night with nothing but 1 MRE, water, Flak Jacket, Helmet and Deuce Gear when the temp dropped from 85 and sunny during the day to 40 that night. The night temp would usually be around 60. To top it off it rained, HARD, for 5 hours that night and we were in the open. Then most of us, (not all were able to) got up and patrolled another 12 miles. Many of us that started didn't make it and had to be treated for heat issues. Who do you think didn't make it?

Those that were living in a high stress life, weren't fit and had a foul mindset. That situation sucked but in two days I moved tactically over 20 miles, got 40degree wind and rain hitting me for 5 hours, with no extra anything, just enough. My body was pissed, cold, tired, chaffed, blistered and burned, but my body was alive and I was able to wander out and get a steak dinner that night. Like I said, a bunch didn't make it and more were hobbled up in their rooms for the next 2 days.

Had I known then what I know now I would have been more fit and better prepared for such a crappy night. However, it covers some major things. Not enough, food, no shelter, little sleep, and huge physical requirement.
How hard is it to build a shelter, fire, gather water, and get food for yourself?
How much harder is it to do that for your family?
How much more difficult is it to do this if one of the youngins is infant/toddler?

So how do you build resiliency?
You do so the same as any other skillset, Practice and Training.
Eat well, sleep well and move well.

What I require of my clients
Everyday walk lazy and loaded L3 here is a link to a post I wrote on my own blog about L3
2 days on, 2 days off
on days = strength training and power development
off days are neuro days
Ido Portal

Example of a
1.      Dead lifts 1.5x bodyweight x 3
2.      Pullups x 5
3.      run 200 meters
all of it done with a weight vest of 10% bodyweight
5 rounds in under 12 min

Day 2
1.      500 pound tire flip 3x
2.      sprint 10 yd grab a 7% sledge hammer sprint back and strike tire 10 x pick up ½ bodyweight and run 40 yd
repeat 5 x

Day 3
1.      Ido portal beginners program leg
Day 4
1.      foam roll and work on handstands 20 attempts through the day

The on days have to have
Full hip extension
A push
A pull
Transit or a move through space preferably quickly and explosively

Books to read
The Paleo Solution          
The Talent Code             
Why dont Zebreas Get Ulcers

People to listen to and follow

Dan John            
Robb Wolf         
Pavel Tsatuline
Ido Portal           
Jim Wendler       
John Welborne
Mark Rippetoe


  1. WOW! This article was my wake up call. I think many of us put gear and tools ahead of fitness. Reality Check...definitly

  2. Adam, this may be a stupid question. But what is a Neuro Day?