The hunting industry has become increasingly focused on fitness. While I think it is great to see hunters training more, not all exercises are productive. Focus on strength, endurance and flexibility in order to be properly prepared for the season and to avoid injury.
Multi-joint exercises do the best job developing the functional strength that is useful while hunting. While bicep curls are fun, they create imbalances and don’t accurately replicate any motion while hunting. I recommend higher reps and sets. You’ll be glad you did when you have to carry a tom a mile back to the truck. Stick with lifts such as pull-ups, push-ups, DB row, bench press, squats and lunges. Avoid bicep curls, tricep extension, leg curls and calf extensions.
Endurance is important whether it is a long hike to a duck blind or an all-day pheasant hunt. You don’t want to be the guy slowing down the group. I like to balance my cardio between running and biking. Mountain biking works the quads, which are used when hiking uphill. Additionally, it also demands core strength, focus, and balance. Lastly, running excessively, especially on concrete, can create overuse injuries in your knees and shins. Alternate your endurance workouts between biking and running in order to get the most out of your cardio while reducing the risk of injury. There are over 150 trails in Iowa to check out.
Yoga demands core strength, flexibility and balance. These skills come in handy when you have to take an off-balance shot–through a narrow shooting lane, while leaning around the tree–at the buck of a lifetime. Personally I can think of several coyotes that have come in fast and forced me to take shots while twisted around sideways. Not to mention that shooting your bow leads to tight muscles in your back that yoga can alleviate. Give this 10 minute routine a try, and you will be better prepared and less injury-prone.
I will be hunting elk in Colorado in September, so my routine is likely a little more demanding than necessary for hunting in Iowa. That being said, greater core strength, endurance and flexibility will all contribute to making you a better hunter this fall. Thanks, Stu
Morning: 4 mile run to top of Pistol Butte. Evening: 10 min yoga/stretch
Morning: 100 pull-ups (15 regular, 15 wide-grip, 15 supinated, 15 side shoulder taps, 10×4 same rotation) Evening: 10 min. yoga/stretch
Morning: 1-2 hour mountain bike ride. Evening: ten min. yoga/stretch
Morning: 200 pushups (20 regular, 20 triangle, 20 wide, 20 elbow in, 20×3 feet up, 20 feet low, 20 elbows in, 20 regular) Evening: 10 min. yoga/stretch
Morning: Rest. Evening: 10 min. Yoga.