Workout I Did: The Zombie Apocalypse Workout

Credit: Tobias M. Eckrich, Flickr

Credit: Tobias M. Eckrich, Flickr

Who else — besides Tish and me — is super pumped for the next installment of The Walking Dead to begin on Sunday? I’ve been looking forward to it since before my husband and I ravenously devoured the first seasons and caught up to the rest of America in the telling of the zombie apocalypse story. To say we’ve been into it is an understatement. After each binge-watch, Alan and I would analyze various scenarios and discuss what we would do in different situations. We’d discuss weapons and strategies for survival — and, of course, how much we love Daryl, so help us if he ever gets killed I will never watch another episode. (Not true. But I would be REALLY MAD.) I found out Tish was binge-watching and playing catch-up as I was, so we were emailing like crazed zombie lunatics as the last season wound down.

The thing that happens when you binge-watch a show that you’re really into like The Walking Dead is that you start to think about it when you’re mindlessly drifting off to sleep or when you’re driving in your car. And you know you’re obsessed when you see a man walking with a limp on the side of the road and you think “Walker!” Or you walk by axes and hammers at Home Depot, and you think about which one you would select as a zombie-killing weapon. Or you’re in a really crowded public place and you find yourself thinking, “This would be a terrible place to be when the zombie apocalypse hits!”

It’s fun to think about things like this because, well, the likelihood of a zombie apocalypse is slim (right?), but it’s entertaining to think about how you would manage in a tense survival situation. I like to think I’d turn into a seriously bad-ass Michonne-type, who you’re always confident will survive any situation. But I’ve also gotten to thinking about what you’d need to do to prepare physically for a zombie apocalypse. That’s why this week’s Workout I Did is not really a workout I did. It’s workouts you’d better have in your repertoire so that you, too, will be prepared for a zombie disaster.

5 Key Elements of a Zombie Apocalypse Workout

1. Endurance. You’re going to want to have some serious cardio endurance if you want to outlast the zombies. Zombies the likes of those in The Walking Dead are slow, but as you know, slow and steady wins the race, unfortunately. (Fast zombies like those in World War Z … let’s not think about those.)  Zombies don’t get fatigued, they don’t get side stitches, and their lungs don’t get overworked. They’ll just keep coming at you. You need to be able to endure and do the distance, literally, to outlast them enough to strategize your way out of a foot race.

How to prepare: Keep up with your running like I am. Be sure to add hills. A mud run or Tough Mudder would be great preparation from running from zombies in the woods, and there are always those zombie runs that can give you practice dodging non-biting zombies.

2. Speed work. Endurance is huge, but you’re going to want to make sure you can pick up the pace when necessary, like if you need to get to a building and get in before zombies reach you, or if you need to make it to a fence and get over it before any walkers are biting at your heels.

How to prepare: While you’re working on your distance running, add in some sprints here and there. Those sprints will help you get faster, which will help you outpace the slow zombies.

3. Strength. Don’t neglect your strength training. Strength is probably as important as endurance in a zombie apocalypse situation. There will be hand-to-hand combat; there will be situations where a zombie falls on you and you must get it off before you get bit. You’ve gotta be able to swing your weapons and dig graves (let’s be honest) and dispose of zombies once they finally fall for good.

How to prepare: Numerous strength moves will help you prepare. Here are a few to make sure you work into your rotation.

  • Wood chops. Use a medicine ball or dumbbell and practice swinging that “weapon” with strength and force.
  • Pull-ups. You never know when you’ll fall into an open pit or when you’ll have to pull yourself up from a ledge or over a fence. Upper-body strength is paramount, and pull-ups are the only way to prepare. As my husband and I found out in the Tough Mudder, it’s surprisingly difficult to pull yourself up a slippery slope with just your fingertips. You will want to be prepared for this situation.
  • Kettlebell swings. Sometimes swinging at a zombie isn’t your best bet; sometimes the uppercut through the chin with a sharp object is the way to go about it. The kettlebell swing is a great move that will strengthen your legs, core and cardio fitness — and it’ll give you that experience with that upward motion with a heavy object.
  • Kicks and punches. Strong high kicks and side kicks will be a helpful skill to have under your belt. If you don’t have a weapon, it will be be necessary to effectively kick or punch to disable your undead opponent while you’re waiting for your personal Daryl hero to hit said undead through the head with an arrow.

4. Agility. Consider agility the icing on your zombie-preparedness cake. If you’ve got the other elements under control, agility training will serve you well in situations when you come face-to-face with an undead. When you’re in abandoned warehouses or pharmacies — any time the zombie has the advantage of the element of surprise. Quick feet and the ability to dodge will help you come out on top.

How to prepare: Work on some fancy foot work and quickness in short distances. Drills like tire runs, high knees, suicide drills or any number of ladder drills. Anything that will help you stay in practice staying light and quick on your feet and that will help strengthen your ankles. You do not want to sprain an ankle when you’re trying to outrun a zombie herd.

5. Flexibility. This is the least important, but flexibility still shouldn’t be neglected. If you’re handcuffed and need to pick up a tool off the floor to try to escape or need to hide from a pesky human enemy by ducking for cover in a dimly lit room, flexibility can be useful to squeezing into and out of tight spots. The last thing you want when holing up and hiding is an ill-timed muscle cramp.

Did I miss anything? What would you add to this routine to make sure you’d be ready for the zombie apocalypse? I’d love to know! —Erin

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  1. Tish says:

    You are my shero for the day! LOL YES! YES, to all of this!!!

  2. Martina says:

    This whole post is just amazing.

  3. Kayan Wong says:

    very thorough and well-thought plan…any day now, it’s going to happen, me personally I’m stocking up and baracading myself indoors until help arrives. if forced to flee however, I’d like to also incorporate into my workout, leg sweeps. if you sweep zombies, their rotted legs will fall off and then they can’t chase you. er well they still can drags themselves around by their hands, but then it’s hard to take them as seriously.

  4. Sagan says:


    Martial arts training?


    Knife-fighting! In a safe, fitness-focused environment with blunt blades, of course. 🙂

  5. Vicki says:

    This post inspires me to take up biathlon. Cardio + marksmanship will help me survive and deal with walkers.
    As for Daryl, ditto on the sentiments expressed above. I confess I even liked Merle.

  6. Angel S says:

    You are no doubt an avid, passionate Walking Dead fan girl Erin! You crack me up with your superb imagination of a zombie apocalypse. 🙂 You have attained a great mixture of humor and substance for this post, it makes it more fun to read and follow. These are helpful tips especially for us girls in defending ourselves from perpetrators. I have been meaning to enroll at a self-defense program but still could not decide on which martial art form would be ideal. I could use these zombie apocalypse workout routine for the mean time. Thank you!