How to Train to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse!

So, you’ve got six-pack abs, bulging biceps, and quads that will make Tom Platz envious. Good for you! But, none of that will mean anything when the dead start rising from their graves.

If zombies do ever overrun the world of the living, it won’t matter how buff you are; it’ll be the survival of the fittest. Darwinism will rule.

Tom Platz
Tom Platz

Of course, if the zombies are the slow-moving kind, like those in the Dawn of the Dead movies, even super strong but lumbering powerlifters should survive. But, what if they’re sprinters, like the creatures in 28 Days Later?

If you want to stack the odds of survival in your favor, you need to hope for the best but plan for the worst, so let’s assume the coming zombies are the fast, deadly kind.

Scary Zombie

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at the sort of challenges you can expect to face during the zombie apocalypse and reveal the best way to train for those scenarios.

1. Sprint for Your Life

The best way to avoid being eaten by a zombie is to give them a wide berth. If you see one of the undead coming your way, just take a different route. Give those biters some space!

But what if you accidentally lumber into one of them or find yourself cornered?

While you could fight your way to safety, you will probably be better off making a sprint for it. This will give you the space you need to stop, think, and prepare your weapons if necessary.

Walking Dead
Walking Dead (screenshot courtesy of AMC )

Sprinting is a power activity, and Olympic lifting and other power exercises will develop the explosiveness you need to run at top speed. You’ll also benefit from some specific sprint training.

Head out for a jog and find a hill that’s about 100 yards long. Sprint up the hill as fast as you can, pumping your arms forward and back to increase your momentum. Walk back down to the start and repeat. Do five reps, take a 3 to 5-minute break, and do five more reps.

This type of training isn’t just good for developing speed, it’s useful for fitness and fat burning too.

2. Overcome Obstacles

It’s all well and good being able to sprint in a straight line, but zombie survival is seldom so simple. Invariably, you’ll need to duck, dodge, dive, jump, crawl, and roll your way to safety. In other words, you’ll need to be agile, have good balance, and able to coordinate your joints and muscles so you can get to safety.

Basic gymnastics and tumbling will be very beneficial in this scenario, and you should be able to develop these skills with a little time and practice. At least, make sure you know how to do a forward roll, a backward roll, and a cartwheel.

You’ll also benefit from working on your vertical jump, so you can clear obstacles in a single bound and save yourself from having to run around them.

3. Keep on Running

Having sprinted from your foes and dodged and ducked your way to safety, it’s time to put some serious distance between you and the zombie horde. You might be lucky enough to find a car or motorcycle to use, but if you don’t know how to hotwire a vehicle, you’re going to have to rely on other means of transport. In other words, it’s time to get running.

Running is a fundamental activity that almost all exercisers should do. It’s simple, functional, and you can run almost anywhere and anytime. Run on a treadmill to warm up before weights or, better still, head out and do some trail running.

Crossfit Running
Image via CrossFit Inc.

Work up to running a mile without stopping, and then train to run that mile faster. Why a mile and not three or five? Because if running one mile doesn’t get you clear of the zombies, you’re probably doomed anyway!

Seriously though, while you can run further, a mile should be an achievable target for almost every exerciser, even if you are a massively muscled bodybuilder or powerlifter.

4. Swim for Freedom

If you run far enough, the odds are very good that, eventually, you’ll reach a body of water. If you are lucky, you’ll be able to go around it or get across using a bridge or boat. But, with this being the zombie uprising, you’ll probably need a plan B – swimming.

Arnold Schwarzenegger And Reg Arnold
Arnold Schwarzenegger And Reg Arnold

Swimming is an excellent low-impact workout and also a life skill. Being able to swim could literally save yourself, and not just because the dead have come back to life.

If you can’t swim, it’s time to learn. Get some lessons at your local recreation center or swimming pool.

If you can swim, do some 50 to 100-yard swimming intervals as well as 1000 to 2000-yard distance swims to build your fitness. Also, build your back in the gym so you can pull yourself through the water more powerfully. Swimming IS a full-body activity, but your back muscles are the engines that drive you forward.

5. Climb to Safety

Even if you run and swim like a champ, you may still find yourself unable to continue forward. Backed against a cliff, or even a tall building, you may discover that your only line of retreat is up; you’re going to have to climb for your life!

If you’re faced with lots of steps to climb, like the inside of an office or apartment block, you’ll be glad of all the squats and lunges you’ve been doing. Strong legs will power you quickly up and away to safety. Running stair intervals is also a great way to develop this kind of life-saving fitness and speed.


But, if there is a rock face in your way, you’re going to need lots of upper back and finger strength to make your escape. Pull-ups and chin-ups are arguably the best exercises for strengthening your climbing muscles, and there are plenty of grip exercises you can do, even if you are at home.

6. Fight for Your Life

Even if you survive all of these scenarios, it’s a safe bet that, at some point, you’re going to end up ambushed or cornered by the undead and left with no option but to fight your way out. Fighting for your life involves explosive power, savage strength, and the ability to keep going even though your heart, lungs, and muscles are screaming for mercy. To stop is to die!

Sounds a lot like MMA, right?!

Judokas Fighters

MMA fighters are amongst the best all-around athletes in the world. While we can’t train you to become a zombie-killing MMA champion, we can help you develop the fitness you’ll need to out-fight the undead. Try our MMA-Inspired Workout Plan on for size!

7. Carry a Downed Buddy to Safety

If there is one thing we know from popular zombie lore, it is that it’s easier to survive when you are part of a tightly-knit group. Soloists seldom survive for long, and those that do often go a little crazy!

Being part of a group means someone has always got your back, and in return, you have got theirs. It’s a symbiotic relationship, all for one and one for all.

This means that if one of your buddies goes down, and they’ve not been bitten by one of the infected undead, you’ll need to pick them up and carry them to safety.

Jay Cutler And Ronnie Coleman
Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman

Carrying someone who weighs about as much as you takes strength and endurance. This is one of those times that you’ll be glad you can pull off a double bodyweight deadlift. Once you’ve got them up on your shoulder, you just need to start putting one foot in front of the other and get them (and yourself) to safety.

In addition to working on your deadlift, exercises like weighted carries will be very beneficial. There are several different weighted carries to try, including farmer’s and waiter’s walks, front rack carries, bear hug carries, and rucking. Each one has unique benefits, so try and include a couple of them in your workout program.

8. Get to The Chopper!

Having run the gauntlet of killer zombies, you may be lucky enough to find a way to get clear of the undead once and for all. Of course, no helicopter pilot is crazy enough to set down in a hostile area, and that means you’ll need to climb up into the chopper while it hovers.

In the British Royal Marines, we spent plenty of time training for this exact scenario – minus the flesh-eating zombies. We were required to climb a thick 30-foot rope while carrying about 45 pounds of equipment. Needless to say, we also had to save some strength for climbing back down too. Dropping 30 feet to the ground has serious injury potential.

Towel Pull-ups
Towel Pull-ups

Plenty of pull-ups and chin-ups will develop the arm and lat strength you need to climb a rope, and if you do them with a weight around your waist, you’ll get stronger and faster. You can also simulate the demand of gripping the rope by doing towel pull-ups. This a brutal hand exercise, as well as working your upper body pulling muscles.

Wrapping Up

While we obviously hope that the zombie apocalypse never happens, training for the return of the dead might not be such a bad thing. This sort of all-around approach to exercise and fitness will create a strong, fit, functional body. You won’t just look good; you’ll be supremely capable too.

If you are bored of doing the same old bodybuilding or powerlifting workouts, maybe it’s time to start training for the rise of the undead. That way, if the unthinkable really does happen, you’ll be one of the few people who are prepared. After all, no one expected COVID, so perhaps the zombie apocalypse is not such a crazy idea after all!

Next week: How to survive a vampire attack (just kidding!). 🙂

Share this post with your friends

Leave a Reply