BWB Fitness Series #4

 

 

 

                                                 Strength = Mountain Legs = Bucks living room, possibly?

    

    Strength can be the dividing line between success and failure for a mountain hunter.  Endurance training yields someone who is mentally tough with regard to perseverance, but equally important is the strength training that requires discipline and hard effort to achieve.  Endurance is important to get us out there, but to chase down a buck there also needs to be enough strength to follow him up and down hills, over logs and across rivers with the confidence that you can drag all 200+ pounds of him back out. 

    Strength separates merely slogging along from attacking the terrain.  When there is something left in reserve we can be more focused when the time comes and have the ability to alternately pause at a moment’s notice or sprint to the edge of a clear-cut.  Sufficient strength in the mountains enables a hunter to move up and down and across steep terrain without suffering from over exertion and instead maintain concentration on the task at hand.  With increased strength there is increased resilience to the fatigue and breakdown of repeated bouts of intense activity.  Having a strength buffer protects you from a multitude of complaints ranging from repeated overuse, a single day of increased demands or multiple days of high level activity.  The addition of muscle to your frame also provides more than a metaphorical buffer; it provides a very real protective layer of tissue that can shield someone from the injury of an unplanned fall or impact.

A hunter tackling a mountain does not want a lot of increased body weight to carry around while chasing a buck, so each pound gained must serve a purpose.  For a mountain hunter, additional leg muscle will fall on the benefit side of the equation.  This muscle will propel the hunter after his or her buck and allow for a cautious sneak forward on relatively fresh legs when he is bedded ahead of you, regardless of what type of topography has already been covered.  The delayed fatigue that strength gains achieve will allow for greater focus and awareness at the top of the mountain, when it matters most.

    The process of gaining strength can get complicated.  There are many set and repetition schemes to be concerned with, periodization to consider and then finally the goals of the lifter.  I hope to outline a simplified plan to get you stronger with a minimum of gear and time invested.  Will this routine maximize your potential?  I doubt it.  Will it make you an elite deer hunter?  Certainly not.  But will it make you better than you are today and help you stay on the track that takes you up and over the next mountain?  I think it can.  Any training takes motivation and discipline.  This one needs to fit into your busy life and not complicate things.  Commit to some level of training and reap the rewards this fall.  If you want something more advanced, please stay tuned or contact me.

    The most basic gear you need is a back pack you can put 20-60 pounds in.  You can do these exercises in your house, in the driveway or at a gym.  If you go to the gym, simply use barbells or dumbbells to complete the routine.  You should plan on at least 2 days of training per week, though somewhere between 4 and 6 would be better.  Exercise sessions should range between 30 and 90 minutes.  While sessions would ideally focus on one area of emphasis, such as strength or endurance, if there is a day where you have more time, both can be combined.  The strength sessions can be broken into smaller chunks through the day if that fits your routine- just keep your loaded pack handy. 

    This program will focus on basic strengthening movements for the first 4 to 8 weeks, then transition to hunting specific training for the final 4-8 weeks.  It is important to change your routine within these time frames.  After about 6 weeks your body has made about 80% of the gains that it can from a new or challenging stimulus.  You can squeeze out the remaining 20% with continued work over another 3-9 months.  A better plan is to switch the routine for the next cycle of training to make new gains with the new movements in addition to getting more task-specific as hunting season approaches.  You’ll need to count backward from your target date to plan your cycle length accordingly.  The basic strength training movements for the first phase are the squat, the hinge lift (or deadlift), a suitcase carry, overhead press and a bent-over row.  These exercises, along with some steady-state aerobic exercise, will form your program.  Remember that simple does not mean easy- you need to work hard to achieve your goals.

    I recommend modifying the training calendar below for your own use.  Keep cycling through the workouts and jotting down your plan.  The plan below will be for 3 days of strength training and 3 days of aerobic exercise, but these variables can be switched around and combined to create a plan that fits your lifestyle.  You should alternate between days as shown below.  If you get 3 workouts in one week, start the next week with workout 4 and keep rotating through then.  As you get stronger add more weight to the back pack, but make sure to keep your form correct.

    Please make sure it is safe for you to train (consult with your physician).      

 1) Strength 2)Aerobic 3)Strength 4)Aerobic 5)Strength 6)Aerobic
 

2 sets of 10 repetitions each with backpack:

 

Back Squat

Hinge Lift

Overhead Press

Bent-over Row

Suitcase Carry

(1 set = 30 seconds each side)

Push up

 30 Minutes  

2 sets of 12 repetitions each with backpack:

 

Back Squat

Hinge Lift

Overhead Press

Bent-over Row

Suitcase Carry

(1 set = 30 seconds each side)

Push up

 45 Minutes  

3 sets of 10 repetitions each with backpack:

 

Back Squat

Hinge Lift

Overhead Press

Bent-over Row

Suitcase Carry

(1 set = 30 seconds each side)

Push up

 60+ Minutes

 

Matt Breton PT,OCS,CSCS
BWB Pro-Staff

The second cycle of training will have a similar structure with different exercises.  Look for that on the Big Woods website in early September.  If you have any questions, email Matt through the website or at nwsjoutdoorathlete@gmail.com.