Successful hunts are built in the gym
Working out delivers innumerable benefits to enrich your life in the outdoors.
It can help you live longer, drop some weight, lift heavy objects, run long distances, sleep better, and the list goes on. But what about being a more efficient hunter? Absolutely. It unquestionably increases your success rate and magnifies your enjoyment of the pastime. Consider how many times you’ve hit the woods and run out of energy because you haven’t seen the inside of a gym in a while. How many times have you found yourself so sore the day after a strenuous hunt that you couldn’t even get off the couch, let alone think of going back into the field again?
What happens when you’ve stuck that massive buck you were after, but he expires in a deep valley and now your de-conditioned self has to drag him out? You might say, “I’ll just wait for my buddy” or “I’ll try to get the side-by-side close enough to drag him,” but what happens when those options aren’t available? You need stamina and strength to get it done or you may have to leave your trophy to the coyotes overnight.
Being in shape for hunting doesn’t mean you need to be some shredded decathlete, but you should be able to carry yourself in and out of the hunting situations and environments you want to be in without ending up utterly debilitated the next day.
There is some sort of physicality in every aspect of life in the outdoors. Maybe it’s carrying your gear, or climbing a tree to hang a stand, or holding your gun or bow steady when the moment of truth arrives. The last thing you want is muscle weakness holding you back from making the hunting memory of a lifetime.
Although The Ultimate Predator offers numerous workouts targeting specific muscle groups that need to be honed for different hunting situations, broadly speaking, you should focus on adhering to a well-rounded program that evenly distributes pushing and pulling for the upper body and then separates legs into its own category. It is also crucial to maintain some amount of core strength because so many activities stem from your core (drawing your bow, carrying big packs, etc.). You receive a fair amount of core work from big exercises like squats, deadlifts, rows, and overhead pressing. You don’t need to do 1,000 sit-ups to achieve core strength. If you can build even a moderate amount of strength your odds of carrying out a successful hunt will increase by many orders of magnitude.
All hunters need some sort of cardio base because—let’s be honest—if you’re getting winded walking around the grocery store, you’re 100 percent going to have issues walking to your tree stand or climbing a mountain. Cardio is where that heavy breathing comes from. Lung capacity is part of it, but also think heart health. Cardio can be achieved through the stereotypical treadmill session, but consider rowing, high-rep lifting, and the Stairmill to achieve the results in a shorter amount of time. Having a built-up cardio base will help you hunt longer and will help you get to where you need to go faster. You’ll also withstand cold better.
Become a better hunter
Working out will make you a better hunter because there will be less holding you back. It only makes sense to stack the deck in your favor by doing everything you can in the off-season to increase your chances. That includes working out. You can’t be too fit for hunting, no matter what game you’re chasing. Sure, you can still be successful while being de-conditioned, but if you’re in shape, your opportunities will increase. You’ll be able to hunt longer and harder, and you’ll be able to get back in the field faster because you’ll need less recovery.
We can help you get there.
Tony Arendt is The Ultimate Predator’s resident strength and conditioning coach and half of the duo that makes up TNT Outdoor Life. A certified personal trainer and avid hunter, Tony knows his way around a weight room as well as he knows his way around a bow.