Workouts For Hunters
Over the last few years, more and more professional hunters have been turning to specific physical training to help them get the most out of their hunting season. And whether you lean towards the latest compound bows and hunting crossbows or prefer to just get out there with your good old-fashioned high-caliber rifle –it would certainly improve your season too.
So, you may ask, what are the best workouts to improve my strength, stamina, agility, and balance for those awesome days out on the hunt?
Well, let’s take a quick look…
One of the most efficient exercises to strengthen your hamstrings and lower back is the tire drag. To start, you will need a fairly large tire in the 15-20 kilo range. All you then need to do is squat low, place your hands on the bead of the tire, and drag backward a few feet at a time. This really simulates the effort required to drag an animal – preparing you for that successful hunt.
It may not seem like the most aggressive of workouts, but regular woodland hiking will dramatically improve your hunting stamina. By using weighted packs and wearing your regular hunting boots, you can easily replicate the conditions of tracking in the field. Remember, the further you hike, the more fitness and stamina you will build. Woodland hiking also gives you the time to familiarise yourself any new kit like hunting headlamps, a new hunting GPS, or off the shelf waterproof clothing – and if you take along your crossbow or rifle -even those new tactical scopes.
The calves are the primary leg muscles you use when sneaking through the woods, stalking your prey. So it stands to reason, the stronger you make them, the stealthier you are going to be. To perform a calf-raise, all you need to do is stand naturally with your feet slightly apart and then move up to your tiptoes. If you perform this action with a repetition of over one hundred lifts per day, it’s guaranteed you’ll have the strength for prolonged stealthy approaches.
Weighted Uphill Training
As you will probably know from experience, hunts are often uphill and nearly always follow demanding forest trails and unforgiving underbrush. So, to help build your strength, balance, and stamina for these conditions, it’s a good idea to load your backpack with about 7-10 kilos and practice walking up some steep local hills. Most good hunting backpacks have ample strapping and support for this type of weight, and this simple exercise will vastly improve your stamina, strength, and agility.
Push-ups are another simple yet effective exercise, which you can do at home. In fact, regular push-ups are incredibly good at building long-term strength in your biceps, triceps, shoulder muscles and core. Building this upper body muscle group will enable you to carry your hunting kit further and with more ease –definitely making for a far more enjoyable and focused hunting experience.
A great exercise for strengthening your lower back and legs is the squat. All you need to do to perform a squat is bend your knees, lower yourself downwards until you are squatting – hold there for a few seconds – then slowly raise yourself back to an upright position. It’s also a good idea to do a few squats before embarking on a hunt to make sure any hunting knives, ammo belts and other waist carried gear doesn’t dig into your thighs.
The plank is a classic core strengthening exercise. On a mat or carpeted floor, simply rest your elbows on the floor, and then on the tips of your toes raise your midsection. Looks really easy, but if you can hold this position daily for more than three minutes, you’ll significantly improve your core strength. Core strength is essential for balance and stability, and will vastly improve your aim from a standing firing position.
The bear crawl works multiple muscle groups and will improve your cardio and aerobic capacity. To perform a bear crawl, you need to first lower yourself onto the palms of your hands and steady yourself on your toes. Once in position, crawl as a bear might do with your left foot following your right hand and vice versa – for the best results, this should be carried out forwards and backward. Bear crawling will improve your strength and balance for stealth crawling when you’re out in the field – very handy for when you need to pull out your hunting binoculars to scan the terrain whilst staying concealed from your game target.
If you’ve spent any amount of time at all on a hunting tree stand, you will know that it can get pretty damn tiring on your legs. To help with this, you can practice the simple exercise of step-ups. Step-ups target your quads, glutes, calves and hamstrings, making them a perfect strengthening exercise for those long hours poised in position on your platform. Step-ups will also improve your stamina, by increasing both your cardio and aerobic capacity.
Single Arm Dumbbell Row
The single arm dumbbell row is the perfect workout for hunters who prefer the bow or crossbow to a rifle. It strengthens your rhomboids, arms and shoulders, and is great for improving your bowstring pulling power. To perform a single arm dumbbell row, all you need to do is lean over a bench, place one hand flat down to stabilize yourself and pull the dumbbell up towards you in a vertical rowing motion. The additional strength you will gain from single dumbbell rows will significantly improve your pull rate and shot distance – great if you ever find yourself in the position where you need to use non-recurve bows or slingshots for survival purposes.
These are but just a few of the many workouts you can perform to up your game for the upcoming hunting season. And remember, badass hunters aren’t born – you have to put in the time and the effort to become one.