There has been an interesting intermingling of the fitness world and the hunting world in recent years. It only makes sense as both markets are growing and changing at a rapid pace. The increased popularity of backpack hunting has played a part in this convergence. I see the two questions above asked often in discussions on message boards and through social media. There is clearly a demand from hunters who want fitness and training information. If you are asking the question of when should a hunter begin to get in shape for a hunt, read on.
Before we jump into these two questions, let me give you some background on me. I will start by telling you what I am not. I am not a cross fitter, I don’t run marathons, I don’t own a gym, sell supplements or workout plans. I am a mere mortal among the leagues of fitness hunters covering the pages on Instagram. I am a 40-year-old guy, with 4 kids, a wife and full-time job that manages to stay in decent shape. For the better part of 20 plus years, I have been consistent in some form of working out.
The simple answer to this question, is to stay in shape year-round. It is much easier for you, and healthier if you stay consistent and grind out workouts all year long.
With that being said, do I specifically train to hunt? My workouts focus on being healthy as I age. I am not worried about having abs or bulging biceps. I am also not concerned with how many burpees I can do and still shoot my bow. This could be an entire blog post about how this could lead to bad tendencies for a bowhunter. I do however alter my workout plans in the months leading up to a western hunt. I love being in the mountains chasing elk. I know from experience that coming from sea level and going to 9K plus feet can be challenging on my lungs.
The changes I make to my workout plan is simple really. I add step-ups or hikes with a weighted pack. I don’t go crazy heavy with the pack weight. I start light, a 25 – 30 pounds in my pack and I hike. I find a hill in my area and I hike up, down, and side hill. This is the best way to train for a western hunt in my opinion. This is exactly how you will be spending your hunt. A pack on your back-chasing game. Train that way.
The other tip I will give you, is to focus on your lungs and legs. If you are going to spend time training for a western hunt the lungs and legs are your lifeblood.
Absolutely, guys kill elk every year that are not in peak physical condition. I see all different kinds of people at the trail head. Young/old, in shape and out of shape. You don’t have to run marathons or compete at cross fit to harvest an elk. For me, it is much more enjoyable when I have trained for it. I can gut it out, and rely on mental toughness if I am not in the best shape, but it is a much better experience when I am physically ready.
Your training plan doesn’t have to elaborate or leave you feeling beat down for days after. Get up, move your body and get your lungs and legs ready. If you are looking for other elk hunting information, check out our Elk Hunting Page. Our free elk hunting gear list is here. If you have questions, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.