Essential fitness skills

essential fitness skills

Essential fitness skills.


Does your fitness training involve the basic skills and movements which allowed us to evolve as a species?

Perhaps you can bench press 300 lbs or run a sub-18 minute 5km, but would you be able to climb a ten foot wall to escape an angry rottweiler, or rescue a drowning child from the bottom of a lake?

How practical or ‘useful’ is your training?

Here are my essential fitness skills for men and women – add these skills to your existing training and you’ll develop a smart and ‘useful’ body.



One of the best ways to escape a predator is to take flight and sprint.

Include sprint training in your workouts, but allow yourself time to get your body re-used to the physical demands of sprinting.

Make sure that you warm up enough to sprint without getting injured, and allow sufficient rest between each round of sprints.


Running over distance.

Distance running was how we were able to track and hunt down faster animals.

You don’t need to be running double marathons every weekend, but if you aren’t able to run 5km without stopping, then you probably shouldn’t be describing yourself as athletic.

As with sprinting, give yourself a good few workouts to get your body used to running, and increase your speed and distance over time.



Climbing is another great way to flee a predator.

Visit your local climbing centre and get started on the beginners’ climbs.

If you don’t have access to a climbing wall, then practice scrambling up over a regular wall!

Investing in a chin up bar is a great ?way to work your ‘climbing’ muscles at home.

If you can’t do chin ups, then build yourself up to them by practicing hanging from the bar, lat pulldowns, jumping chin ups and slow negative chin ups from the top of the bar.



Swimming is a method we used to cross lands and to escape predators, and it amazes me the number of (otherwise athletic) people I’ve met who aren’t able to swim.

Swallow your pride and get down to your local swimming baths!

Once you feel confident about your swimming, then start work on diving, breath holding and carrying heavy objects in water.

Don’t rely on a lifeguard being there to save the day if it’s one of your children who gets into danger on your next beach holiday.



The ability to jump in another great way to escape danger.

Jumping builds up the ability to generate whole body power, which was also help improve your sprinting and climbing abilities.

Practice jumping for endurance (skipping or hopping drills), height (box jumps) and for distance (broad jumps).



Throwing was a way in which we caught fish, hunted animals and fought with or scared off predators.

Practice throwing with a focus of developing whole body motion or ‘whip’.

Split your throwing training into throws for distance and throws for accuracy (target practice).

The ability to hit the target with both power and accuracy was essential when we were out hunting for our dinners, so split your throwing training into throws for distance (power development) and throws for accuracy (target practice).

Make sure to practice throwing with both arms – if one of our ancestors injured an arm, they either threw the spear with their other arm or went hungry.


Lifting heavy objects.

Our ancestors also needed the ability to lift and carry heavy objects, in order to transport essential goods such as firewood, water and food.

There wasn’t much use in being able to catch a deer or pig, if you didn’t have the strength to carry it back to the cooking pot!

Make sure that you include lifts from the floor (deadlift variations), overhead lifts (shoulder press variations) and loaded carries (farmer’s walk variation) in your strength training.



Another one of the essential fitness skills, fighting was what we did as a last resort, when cornered and without the option of flight.

Combat skills include striking with weapons, striking without weapons, clinching and grappling.

You don’t have to become the next UFC champion, but try to include some basic fighting as part of your training.

Start training in a combat sport (MMA, boxing, wrestling, judo etc) and begin building up your fighting skills in a realistic way – against resisting opponents in a chaotic (yet controlled) environment.

If you don’t have access to a martial arts or boxing club, then set up your own punchbag for home workouts, or at the very least include some shadow boxing, sprawls and breakfalls in your workouts to condition your body for fighting.



Best of luck adding these essential fitness skills to your existing training!

Contact us at if you need some help planning your future training.


 – essential fitness skills – personal training and yoga in southfields.

Written by 

Sam is a Premier Diploma qualified personal trainer in SW London and is the founder of

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