The difference between having a base foundation of fitness and having a battle-ready physique is like that of day and night. As mentioned previously, without a sufficient level of strength and stamina, defending yourself against the living dead will drain your body’s reserves as fast as a horde of ghouls can strip the flesh from a victim’s bones.
This is not a question of health, youthfulness or vanity. You will not measure yourself against bodyfat calipers, body-tape measurements, or nonsensical Body Mass Index (BMI) ratios. Being combat fit in an undead world means that you are prepared for any situation that involves dealing with the living dead.
With a combat-ready build, you enhance several traits in your physique that will be essential when battling a walking corpse:
Strength – without adequate strength, you will lack the ability to defend yourself from an innumerable quantity of undead attackers, especially if you need to do so without the use of a firearm. It takes a considerable amount of power to deliver a finishing blow to the skull of a zombie. Imagine having to do it dozens, even hundreds of times a day. Strength will be a key factor in your level of survivability.
Endurance – surviving an undead attack is a marathon, not a sprint. The objective is not about destroying the largest number of combatants in the shortest time possible. The objective should always be to eliminate those that pose a clear and imminent threat to your existence.
There have been many incidents recorded where an eager combatant attempted to muscle his way through a horde of ghouls, only to exhaust himself halfway though his attack, losing the ability to both eradicate the threat and escape with his life intact. During an undead outbreak, you may also be required to travel long distances to a potential safe zone, most likely on foot with the undead at your heels. Your endurance level will be critical in such situations.
Accuracy – when engaging in combat with the living dead, the goal is to work smarter, not harder. It may require you five blows to destroy a single zombie, or it may require one. The difference depends not simply on your strength, but moreso on the accuracy of your strikes. Thus, it is often not the strongest who survive in an world of the undead, but the most well-prepared.
As you develop your skill and precision, you will expend less time and energy in every undead combat encounter; time and energy that can be used for other purposes to ensure your survival and that of others in your keep.
What is considered a base level of fitness? At the minimum, an individual should be able accomplish the following sequence in its entirety without feeling considerably spent:
- Jog five miles without cessation (12 minutes per mile or less)
- 35 consecutive pushups (standard straight-leg version) or 45 pushups (alternative knee version)
- 5 unassisted pull-ups or 10 assisted pull-ups
- 50 jumping jacks
There is a significant difference, however, between “base” and “combat-ready” fitness. Without a sufficient level of stamina, having to fend off multiple undead attacks during a full blown outbreak will reduce an unprepared individual to an exhausted shell of a human being within hours. To be a truly effective warrior against the undead, regular, sustained exercise must be maintained.