Are you sick of the same old routine? I know I get a little burned-out following the same routine day after day. It’s only natural that our bodies and muscles begin to plateau. Plus, with summer finally here, it’s time to get outside and enjoy the nice weather. I’ve included in this article a few things I like to do to change up my routine and find new and exciting ways to build my fitness in connection with my routine at the gym.
You’ve all heard the saying, “Practice like you Play.” Well, nothing holds truer than when you are preparing to hunt elk. We have just two months before the opener here in Utah, so instead of jumping on the stair climber in the gym, I load my hunting pack with my spotting scope and head to the hills. This gets my shoulders, back, and legs used to carrying a pack around. Plus, just being in the outdoors, breathing the fresh air, and thinking about the tags we have drawn for the fall get’s me all fired up.
A few weekends ago, my brother Mark and I did what we call a “Mocky”. We loaded up all our gear and spent the night in a remote mountain saddle. The next morning, we hiked to a great vantage point overlooking one of our favorite hunting areas. We ended up at 9,000 feet in elevation and spotted a total of 40 bulls from this vantage point. It’s amazing to me how quickly the bulls grow their antlers. Many of these bulls were already getting some really good point and beam length. If you don’t have a mountain in front of your house, load up your hunting pack and put on some miles around the neighborhood. You might get a few looks from your neighbors as you try and keep up with your spouse while loaded down with 50 pounds of flour in your hunting pack, but it will get you in elk hunting shape.
Nothing keeps the motivation burning hotter than signing up for a competitive event. These events could include a triathlon, marathon, 10K trail run, mountain bike race, or road cycling event. A popular national event that fits this description is the famous Ragnar Relay Series. Ragnar is an overnight running relay race that makes testing your limits a team sport. Sounds perfect for getting ready for a hunt. Another thing you can do is join a local crossfit group. In crossfit, you compete against others or against time on various exercises. It doesn’t really matter what you choose. The most important thing is that you are held accountable. And probably just as important, just like a good hunting partner, choose a workout partner who will push you and make you stronger.
The last thing I do to mix up my routine is to simulate hunting conditions whenever possible. I try to make shooting my bow a daily practice. To spice it up and add a physical element to it, I jog or sprint to pull out my arrows. Ever try running up a hill to cut off an animal and then execute a shot? Whether you are shooting a bow or a rifle, this type of practice will get you ready for those situations. Shooting with an elevated heart rate is a whole different skill set. Controlling your breathing and squeezing that trigger or release after a hard 50 yard sprint is difficult. How often do we practice sitting in a squatting position for 3 or more minutes? Have you ever had an elk pin you down where you can’t move?
Training for elk hunting doesn’t have to be boring. Try mixing it up and doing those activities that closely resembles your hunting situation. You will not only get in shape, but you will refine and hone your hunting skills!