Whether you’re pursuing big game or small, these hunting fitness tips will get you in shape for opening day.
Staying in shape is beneficial for anyone who spends time outdoors. How many times have you started dragging a mature buck or hefty doe through the woods and could barely make it 50 yards before stopping for a break? We’ve been there far too many times.
An elk hunter trekking through the backcountry must adhere to a daily conditioning routine to prepare for the arduous excursion. Even for a small game, turkey or deer hunter, being in shape can make long hikes through the woods easier, and aid in lugging an animal back to the camp. Good news is you’ve got plenty of time before opening day, which means you can go at your own pace with these hunting fitness tips.
Start Off Slow
If it’s been quite some time since you’ve worked out last, you’ll want to begin with something simple. Going for a walk on your first day is an easy way to get started. Stay at it for about 45 minutes, stopping to rest if needed. Don’t push yourself just yet. That’ll come later. Do this at least four days your first week.
The next week, start to jog and ramp up your mileage. Include elevation change or stairs into the routine on days that you’re not walking or running. After a dozen trips up and down some bleachers at a local park, you’ll be sore in muscles you forgot you had. Rest at least one day a week.
As you feel yourself getting less tired after workouts, increase your pace and add more mileage to your runs. On the days you’re going up inclines, rest for shorter periods between sets. Start to push yourself more, but listen to your body. If you feel any pain or extreme exhaustion, scale it back.
Increase the Intensity
After the initial two to three weeks, you should be walking and jogging up to an hour on your cardio days. Increase your pace and try to take as few breaks as possible. On your muscle strengthening days, add leg lunges into the routine. Eventually, you can add a backpack with up to 10 pounds while you traverse up inclines. Again, lessen your breaks so that your heart rate stays elevated for at least 30 minutes.
Start to focus on your core strength. Strengthening this area will keep you stable while trekking through the woods. Start with planks, tightening your abs for 30 seconds, for three sets.
Keep the Momentum Going
By this point, your jogs should have turned into hour-long runs without having to stop for a rest. Try sprinting at different intervals for 30 seconds to a minute, slowing back down to a walk, then repeating. The key here is to push yourself.
Add up to 20 pounds to your backpack on your incline exercises. When you’re doing lunges, hold 15-pound weights in your hands to mimic a bow or rifle. Start doing squats with weight, which will build strength in your hamstrings, quads, lower back and core.
Sustain Your Gains
As hunting season is approaching, if you’ve stuck with it all summer and increased the intensity of your workouts, you should feel ready to tackle any terrain Mother Nature can throw at you. Just remember to not slack off or cease working out just because you feel good. Sustaining the progress means continuing your routine at least three days a week. Continue running, doing lunges and squats with weight, and strengthening your core.