The most effective, killer workout there is, is slaying dragons. Everything else pales in comparison. Move over, boot camp. Fuck off, Les Mills. Zumba? Pah! Dragon slaying. Nothing will get you fit and buff like killing dragons.
You will have to negotiate some political opposition. That’s probably a post for another time, but for now we’ll cover prep. You need to commit to some years of solid training before you are even remotely ready for your first hunt.
The need for advanced skills with a sword is obvious. But there’s a big difference between lifting a barbell and wielding a heavy sword. It’s not slow and controlled, it’s about momentum and efficiency. A rapier isn’t going to cut it. You need something weighty to be able to get through that scaly hide. You need to be strong, but also efficient and you need to know how to use leverage to your advantage.
Heavy broadsword training is not all. If you can perform ten chin-ups in plate armour, and bench press your horse, you’re probably ready for beginning your sword work.
Sledge hammer swings are a great exercise. On a tyre. Surprisingly, a tyre simulates the resistance of a dragon’s flank quite well. Swings aren’t enough, you do need to learn to cut rather than simply to bludgeon, but it’s a good place to start. Once you’re familiar with the swings – make sure you use the heaviest sledge you can get your hands on –once you’ve got the hang of them, you’ll need to start training in full body armour. In summer.
To that end, it’s probably good to practice loaded carries – farmers walks, and the yoke walk would be a good choice too. You need raw power, stability and mobility, an impressive VO2 max – and all this is still prep work. No slayering has happened yet.
Spear work is essential, too. Heavy spears – no surprises there – javelin presses and lots of them. For starters, keep the reps low but the sets high. If you can, become at least proficient with the bow and arrow. In reality, not many dragons are killed this way. Tends not to be useful. But it’s a good adjunct skill to have, and it will do wonders for your strength and precision.
If you follow the above directions, you should already be getting into pretty impressive shape before you’ve even fought your first dragon. They once used to have these elaborate training machines – four legs, a head and a tail, which all swung towards you. Canvas bags filled with sand, many ropes. A small furnace. It’s hard to get your hands on those for practice these days, but you could try e-bay and maybe you’ll get lucky. You do need to have a castle or some room with sturdy walls and high ceilings for rigging though. Not an easy piece of equipment to store.
So – basic barbell work, mobility work done wearing armour, sword, spear and bow training down, you’re almost ready for dragon slaying.
Now, you might have done Tabatas, or run hill sprints, but until you have fought a dragon, you don’t know cardio. You haven’t even seen it. This shit will wipe you out, or it’ll kill you. And the former is preferable. You’ll have to be supersetting sprints in full armour with sledge swings, and turning that high intensity work into endurance training.
Also, you mustn’t forget horse riding – you’ve got your sports specific movement patterns down – when you do the actual slaying, it’s like all that agility training in full armour, wielding a sword, but it’s also in an oxygen-deprived state either because the dragon’s fire has eaten up most of the breathable air, or because you’re at altitude, or both.
We have not yet discussed mountains. And I don’t mean hills, I mean mountains. Snow capped.
So you probably want to include some altitude training in your prep too.
So obviously – not only is the cardio that intense, it’s also an endurance event. You will have been riding for days, sleeping on hard, uneven ground, and eating only what you can catch and cook, or find, or what you can endure to carry with you. Everything comes down to your training. Take plenty of electrolyte drinks with you for the long treks.
It will be at least a year or two of serious training before you’re ready for your first dragon hunt. For most people, if you haven’t started as a teenager the reality is, it’s just not going to happen. This program was first created in an attempt to get spoilt princes exercising. It’s been through many revisions since then, but this is really only a brief overview.
You’re often fighting a dragon in a sleep-deprived state, at the end of what might as well have been a competitive mountain climbing event, in low altitude, wearing heavy armour, carrying a heavy sword – it is absolutely the best fitness program around.
And the other thing is – once you kill it, what are you going to do with it? Remember those farmer’s carries? Yeah. Sled drags. You should work in some sled drags with your farmer’s and yoke walks. Thick ropes. They’ll need to be thick.
It’s full-body ass-kicking training. All muscles. All energy systems. Everything in your body gets a workout. Also, it’s like Bikram. Exercising in a sauna – those caves aren’t cold. The mountains are cold, but it’s like running from an ice bath straight into a sauna. Dragons have metabolisms like furnaces.
Of course, adrenal fatigue may be a problem, so make sure you eat plenty of flesh and sleep as much as you can.
I’ve been working on a proper program review for a while now – all the right strength and conditioning training to set you on the right path, because nothing busts your ass into shape like fighting dragons.
So if you want to get serious about your fitness – you’ll get the best of Tabatas, Bikram Yoga, Strongman training, sword fighting, all of it rolled into one. If you want to get properly fit, not just fast, but for the long haul, if you want to be fit for the rest of your life, train for dragon slaying. And if you do want that life to be long, make damn sure you’re good at it.
And one more thing, you can wear your pride on your chest; buy the t-shirt.