Last week I wrote about the advantages of a hunter being in shape, both physically and equipment wise. I’m going to outline the simple; but effective; workout regime I follow. I know some trainers may cringe at what I do, but it has worked for me. It is important that everybody have a heath care professional evaluate them before embarking on any exercise program.
I try for 2 things in my workouts, cardio and strength. The best book I have ever seen on training is “Body for Life” by Bill Phillips. He really gets into interval training and the science behind it. It goes without saying that proper nutrition is key to good health. Limit fat intake, cut back on processed foods, sugar, salt, and Big Macs!
The key to cardio training is elevating your heart rate then sustaining for a period of time. I use running because it is the simplest for me. Everybody can find a cardio exercise that works for them, regardless of their present state of fitness, joint health, or any injury they may have to overcome. Treadmills, elliptical bikes, road bicycles, roller blades, swimming, stair-steppers, Nordic-Trac, and list goes on and on, ending with just plain walking. I run 4 miles every other day. I run first thing in the morning before I have eaten anything, and drink nothing but water prior to running. I love dawn breaking, and the local lake I run around is teaming with wildlife which is very active at dawn. The real reason I run at first light is I want to run after my body has been fasting for 10 hours or more (I never snack at night and get 6 hours of sleep or so). This forces my body to draw on its fat reserves to produce the energy I require to complete my run, and I want to burn fat; not food in my stomach. The body is a storage machine. Years of evolution have developed a system whereby your body is preparing for the next famine. It is going to burn what it needs out of your food for current energy and store the rest as fat for the emergency it thinks is coming. In today’s cushy world, we are unlikely to see famine in developed countries and that’s why there is such a tremendous weight problem, especially among our youth, today. If I am going to be hunting in mountains, then I’ll add stairs and steeper hills into my running. Nothing humbles me more than running flights of stairs.
For strength I use dumbbells and crunches. I figure my lower body is in good enough condition from running and only work abs and upper body. I let each muscle group rest 4 days between workouts. To perform a crunch properly you lay on your back with your knees bent and your arms crossed in FRONT of your chest. Concentrate hard on contracting just your stomach muscles. This contraction will raise your head and shoulders only about an inch off the floor, but boy will your abdominal muscles scream. I guarantee you can only do ¼ of what you normally do if you used to put your hands behind your head and “pull” yourself up to a sitting position.
I don’t have the space or expertise to tell you how to work your biceps, triceps, shoulders, lats, and back. Any good book or gym poster can show you many exercises to strengthen these muscle groups. I will tell you my dumbbell routine (borrowed from Bill Phillips). I bought myself a set of power blocks 10 years ago and never cease to be amazed at the ease of use and weight change with this versatile weight set. Let’s use biceps as an example. Start with a weight much less than your max; as you will soon see why. I’m going to use curls and Hammer curls (google them if you don’t know how they are performed) for this set. Start with 20#s and do 12 curls, rest 1 minuet, go to 25# and do 10 curls, rest one minute, switch to 30# and do 8 curls, rest one minute and increase to 40# and do 6 curls. The 6th curl should have been you absolute max, and it doesn’t matter if it’ 80#s or 15, as long as you’ve reached your maximum at this point. Rest one minute (yes I use a countdown stopwatch, switching the weight during the 1 minuet rest), back the weight to 35# and do 12 curls. Rest one minute and do 12 Hammer curls at 35#s (some different workout of the same muscle group). Now in less than 10 minutes you just gave your biceps a workout they will remember all day. They require 4-5 days rest before you should work them again. I can work 3 muscle groups in ½ hour or so and only need to lift twice a week.
I’m no iron-man triathelete, but I can hunt dark-to-dark, drag a deer out of the woods and get up and do it again tomorrow at 54 years old. An added bonus; in addition to more game on the pole; is you’ll have more years to hunt them. The first step is always the hardest, so get out there and take it today. The buck of your life is just over the hill that you were never able to climb before.