Hunting season is around the corner, which usually means a lot of hiking. If your hunt is successful, it also means packing out whatever you’ve harvested. Being in shape can make it a whole lot more fun.
“People underestimate how much more enjoyable it is when they’re physically up to the task,” says Bobby Brown, a lifelong hunter and personal trainer at Crossroads Fitness in Grand Junction.
According to Brown, hunters are typically limited by two challenges: cardiovascular conditioning and their ability to pack weight. Here are a few of his suggestions.
“Your cardiovascular system adapts quickly, and there’s plenty of time to get your heart and lungs in shape, especially for rifle season,” Brown says.
His number one recommendation: start doing interval training; i.e., two to five minutes of high intensity exercise followed by five to 10 minutes of lower intensity exercise.
“Find a big hill and walk up it as fast as possible,” he says. “And then slowly walk down.”
Brown also cautions that everyone needs to keep their own fitness level in mind before training. Those who spend more time hunting for the TV remote than walking with the dog may want to start slower. If you can access a running track, run it twice and then walk around it eight times for interval training, he adds.
“Mountain biking is also a great way to get in shape for elk season,” he says.
To get ready to pack out an elk or other large game, Brown recommends increasing leg, core and overall body strength.
The farmers’ carry is great for overall strength: Using correct posture and not slouching, bend from the legs to pick up two heavy weights on either side of your body, then slowly walk forward. Kettle bells are great for this exercise, but other heavy objects can also be used.
Doing a plank, either on forearms or with straight arms, is a great way to improve core strength. Brown recommends holding the plank as long as possible, and working to increase the length of time.
Weighted step-ups, on a step-up board or a natural step, are a good for increasing leg strength. Using a barbell adds the benefit of mimicking a backpack.
Weights held down with arms to either side of the body can also be effective. If you belong to a gym, work out on a stair-step or elliptical machine, which adds leg strength an improves cardio.
Using a treadmill on an incline setting can simulate hills. As for dealing with the elevation change, he adds, nothing helps more than improved cardiovascular fitness.