There can be a bit of controversy when using weight training packs to train for tough hunts in search of elk, mule deer or moose but one thing is absolutely certain; you will be wearing a pack. Even Nick Lape, Fit To Hunt head trainer, and I have debated before when writing previous articles regarding both the dangers and the merits of training with weighted packs and in the end it always comes down to two things:
In my travels both in and out of the gym I pay attention to a lot of things; posture being one of these. When I walk into an office building full of cubicles and see the rounded backs of workers busting away at keyboards, I cringe. It isn’t much better when they stand up. I can’t say this would be you but as you are reading this do a little self-check: how are you sitting or standing at this very moment? If you find yourself slouched over while sitting or hunched with shoulders forward when you walk by a mirror, you have some work to do before you head out on your next hunting adventure.
It may seem a bit of a buzz kill but let’s start with what we DO NOT want you to do. We want you to be physically prepared for your hunt, not spending time in a chiropractor or God forbid, an orthopedic surgeon’s office which means we need to focus on building a ton of muscular strength and endurance; especially in your core and leg muscles. Therefore if a personal trainer does any of the following, run away as fast as you can:
- Loads you up with a weight pack or vest in session one
- Instructs you to jump or do plyometric exercises in a weighted vest
- Instructs you to jog or run in a pack or weighted vest
Will you have to run and jump during your hunt? It’s possible but there are things we can do to prepare you without performing exercises that create a beeline to the doctor’s waiting room.
What should you be doing? That will depend on your current level of conditioning but rest assured, at some point you will be strapping on a pack. We just need to determine if you are ready. Simple moves like body weight squats, planks and hamstring flexibility can provide a personal trainer a wealth of information because it will let us know where we can start with you. Once we have that info, we can develop a program that will focus on:
- Muscular strength and endurance
- Aerobic fitness
All are important and will mix together. While preparing for a New Mexico elk hunt, United Country Trophy Properties agent Jason Cleveland alternated workouts where he would jog (without a pack) and hike hilly terrain wearing his hunting pack to simulate the conditions he would face on his hunt but at no point did he run or jump wearing a 40 pound pack. This is elk hunting. Not basic training.
It’s also important to note that in the beginning of your training we will most likely not even ask you to bring your pack until you have built a base layer of conditioning. This means a little foresight on your part because you will most likely need to start training 3-6 months before your hunt. Trust me, nothing irks an outfitter more than clients showing up out of shape and nothing will ruin your entire hunt faster than being out of breath and exhausted with a sore back on day one.
Finally, if your doctor tells you to exercise and lose weight, most of us don’t or won’t. It’s boring. If the focus is to beat the mountain and stand victorious with a big, silly grin after you have dropped the trophy of a lifetime, it’s a whole lot easier to workout. At Fit To Hunt we specialize in one-on-one, semi-private and online training. We can also work with you in person or create a program or coach you online. Our mission is simple: We can prepare you for the hunt of a lifetime or simply to hunt for a lifetime. And we will make sure that when you strap on that pack, whether for training or day one of your hunt, you are ready for your adventure.
Stay Fit To Hunt my friends!