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The Juggernaut Standard: Fitness for Survival

Written by
January 1, 2014
Updated April 12, 2018

You’ve seen it in the movies a thousand times: the hero dangles from a rope with one hand while holding the helpless damsel with the other; the hero sprints away from a building just before it explodes; a group of people outrun an oncoming wave as they scramble up a hill to safety; and so on and so forth.

Imagine if your survival depended on something more mundane than a dramatic movie situation

Chances are, you’re never going to face any of these situations (but you might). Even so, most people are pathetically unprepared to save their own lives, much less anyone else’s should the opportunity arise. Even in this modern age of emergency medical procedures, quick-response crisis teams, and instant communication, at some point, you may need to save your own ass.

What if you had to jump over a fence to get away from danger? Or pull yourself onto a roof? Or use a burst of energy to get out of a hazardous situation? These are much more likely situations that could get you killed if you failed to live up to the task (and many people can’t).

Some people can’t even help themselves during non-emergency situations; people whose lack of mobility prevents them from getting off a floor or even a chair. I’m not talking about the handicapped; I’m talking about perfectly (or potentially) healthy individuals who have fallen to the point of non-survival (if the situation ever arose).

But it isn’t just the super-incapable that are in danger of dying in dangerous situations; it’s also millions of people who consider themselves “fit” because they exercise on a regular basis, look pretty and strong, or train using popular TV promos with crazy gimmicks like”reverse interval training.” These pseudo-fit individuals, while more likely to survive, are still woefully inadequate compared to what they could be capable of with a type of training that goes beyond “Functional Fitness.” In order to survive in an epic situation, you need the Doomsday Juggernaut Standard.

The Guidelines of Fitness For Survival

For the sake of this article, the following training guidelines are based on a worst case scenario. Imagine multiple disasters occurring at once (earthquake, fire, terrorist attack, volcano, alien invasion, whatever floats your boat weirdo), and you must save yourself and your significant other because all forms of rescue have been overwhelmed. You don’t just face a situation, you face a prolonged, horrific ordeal that you can only survive if you have the strength to endure. Let’s get to it!

Strength Training For Fitness Survival

In order to survive, you’ll need a minimum level of strength to perform both short-term tasks (like lifting items off yourself and others) and long-term tasks (like carrying someone over rough terrain). Unlike the isolated movements that weight training machines in a gym can provide, these survival strength requirements involve dynamic movements that incorporate multiple muscle groups and full-body movements. For that reason, performing ballistic exercises with unbalanced weights like kettlebells and sandbags can provide more useful strength in a real-world, emergency situation. This workout will aid in your all-around muscle endurance, grip strength, and your all-around general badassedness.

A: Pull Ups with 5 Second hold – 4 x 10 reps
B: Double Kettlebell Jerks – 4 x 15-20
C: Sandbag Zercher Squat – 2 x 50
D: Sandbag Shoulder Get Up – 1 x 10 per side
E: Snatch – 1 x 100 Switch hands every 5 reps. Try to finish in under 5 minutes.

Stamina/Endurance Training For Fitness Survival

It’s possible that an emergency situation will require long bouts of physical exertion that will push you to your limits. Unfortunately, “gassing out” when your life (or someone else) is on the line will cause you more harm than just a disappointing workout in the gym or ring would.

In addition, the long-lasting activity may require more than just running for a long time, it could involve carrying a load (like a person or supplies). For that reason, it’s a good idea to incorporate strength training into your conditioning. Using light kettlebells or sandbags, battle ropes, and sledgehammer exercises can help you achieve the right mix of weight training and conditioning, while also providing you with full-body, functional movements that will translate into usable survival stamina.

With this rope and sledgehammer workout there’s no need for long distances or hill sprints. This hellacious workout will have your lungs screaming for mercy during the first set. Complete each circuit as quickly as possible.

Fitness for survival

A1: Rope Double Slams – 30 sec
A2: Sledgehammer Slams (Left) – 20
A3: Sledgehammer Slams (Right) – 20
A4: Alternating Waves – 30 sec
A5: Alternating Sledgehammer Slams – 50
A6: Jumping Double Slams – 30 sec
Rest 2 minutes between sets. Complete the circuit 3-4 times.

Agility Training For Fitness Survival

How often do you practice falling down? Never? That’s not good! A big earthquake could toss you around like a rag doll, an explosion could throw you to the ground, and falling from a height of two inches could break your ankles! In a survival situation, a sprained ankle could be the difference between life and death. Proper agility and mobility are essential to preventing injury, especially when you are thrown into unusual positions.

Just like fighters say, you need to practice putting your body into odd positions, because sooner or later, someone or something will do it for you. Proper joint mobility will allow you to prevent injury and enhance your strength and conditioning. Equipment like Indian Clubs, Steel Clubs, and Steel Mace can help you enhance back, shoulder, elbow, and wrist mobility. Each tool involves fluid, swinging movements that incorporate multiple muscle groups to lubricate the joints. In addition, dynamic joint mobility exercises (like those encouraged and practiced by Steve Maxwell) can keep you moving properly throughout a lifetime.

A: Steel Mace 10-to-2 – 4 x 10 each direction
B: Somersault Practice – 2 x 10 each shoulder (Roll over each shoulder across a field or on a mat)
C: Split Squat Jump – 1 x 20
D: Side Lunge – 3 x 15 each leg
E: Handstand to Front Roll – 3 x 10 (Tuck head and curl into a ball vs landing straight on your back. Practice on grass or a soft mat.)

Mental Fortitude For Fitness Survival

People who don’t exercise think a good workout is breaking a sweat and breathing hard. Those with a little more experience will know a good workout when they reach a tough spot in their exercise, but push through to the end and finish the set. A far fewer number of people know what it’s really like to fight through the pain, agony, and sheer torment of a sustained physical effort, and succeed.

These people are professional athletes, soldiers, fire fighters, and other full-time badasses, and their abilities are related to their mental fortitude as much as their physical prowess. There are a variety of mental stresses involved in an emergency situation, how an individual handles that stress is related to the Executive Skill of Stress Tolerance (a cognitive function that is hardwired into each individual and determines their reaction to highly stressful ordeals).

How does a civilian practice these skills? Don’t give up! When you set your training up and you push to your breaking point and then keep going, you just won a mini-battle. Keep fighting the good fight and you have yourself the mental toughness the likes of which most weekend warriors and typical gym rats just don’t have. It takes work. Hard, terrible work, but in the end you will walk away from the predicament at hand you’ll be glad you toughed out those tough sessions.

MyMadMethods Fitness For Survival Workout

The Doomsday Juggernaut Standard

Alright, now you know that you’re gonna need certain levels of strength, endurance, agility, and mental fortitude in order to survive a hostile situation. You’re training hard, but how do you know if you’re training hard enough? How do you know if you’re ready?

Don’t fret! We’ve created a list of performance requirements that we call the Doomsday Juggernaut Standard. You meet these, and you’ll be ready for almost anything! The requirements were taken from a variety of organizations, including the US Marines, US Special Forces, Navy SEALs, Russian military, US Secret Service, the Macebell Mauler Certification, California Wildland Forest Service, and a dash of grip tests.

The Ultimate Fitness For Survival Test

Push Ups  100 in 2 minutes 
Pulls Ups  20 without stopping 
¼ mile Sprint  Under 90 seconds 
1.5 mile Run   Under 10 minutes 
500 yard Swim  Under 10 minutes  
Snatch Test   200 reps with 24kg in 10 min 
Bar Hang  2 minutes  
Steel Mace 10-to-2  100 reps non-stop using a 10kg in under 5 minutes 
3-Mile Hike  Under 45 minutes carrying 24kg  
Ironmind #2  Close with each hand 

You might be thinking, “What about mental fortitude?” You try just one of these tests and you’ll understand how the list will test that. But just to make sure, this list also requires that you complete ALL OF THE TESTS WITHIN 24 HOURS.

So bust it out and get ready to survive! Let us know how it goes by emailing your questions and results to

Onnit Academy is the most comprehensive database of information related to Unconventional Training, a unique new form of fitness methodology that focuses on functional strength, conditioning, and agility using the most efficient means and tools possible. The online database includes articles, videos, tutorials, and workouts featuring alternative implements like kettlebells, sandbags, steel maces, steel clubs, battle ropes, and more.
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