MTNTOUGH — Fitness training for the western hunter


All photo credits: Nate Hill of Niveus Productions

Preparing your body and mindset for your next western hunting adventure whether it be high country mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep or mountain goat is nothing to slouch at. Getting your gear in proper order is one thing, but getting your mental and physical aspects ready for what you're about to do is another beast all in itself. I've done everything from heavy weight training, running long distance, circuit training and tinkering with mixing one style with another, but there is hands down one training program that really trumps them all: MTNTOUGH.

I've always kept myself in athletic shape and was never one to buy into programs or routines since I thought that what I was doing was fine. Until I heard about this group of people who have been training strictly for endurance mountain hunting. So, I decided to drive to Bozeman on my day off to participate in a class to see what all the fuss was about. To my surprise, I walked out a believer covered in sweat with my butt completely whooped and sore for the next few days wanting to find out more.



MTNTOUGH Fitness Lab is located in the popular outdoor city of Bozeman, Montana. There they have a newly-acquired facility where they hold seminars as well as training classes during the week for those who are local or simply passing through. But they don't stop there!

MTNTOUGH was founded by a certified National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) personal trainer and western hunter Dustin Diefenderfer. Diefenderfer has designed training regiments geared specifically for the backcountry hunter looking to build mental toughness and endurance. Along with Diefenderfer, the hand-picked staff behind the multiple programs they offer is comprised of a retired Army Ranger officer, a former Navy SEAL member and many other highly-qualified personal trainers. 

Gear Shop bar

The company is dedicated to preparing you to be in peak mountain shape mentally and physically regardless of where you live. The programs that they have created have elements of endurance, strength and mobility, which are critical when pursuing game in the unforgiving terrain and weather of the West. The exercises within the programs all have to do with strengthening muscles involved in hunting movements like weighted step-ups to replicate hiking steep terrain, cardio to increase stamina, and power/strength movements to build your back and legs to prepare them for the heavy loads you will encounter when far away from the truck. Although I've mentioned it before, the main aspect of these workouts comes down to mental toughness, which, in their findings, was the ultimate hindrance on why people quit in the backcountry, resulting in them being unsuccessful. Your body will last a long time in less than ideal conditions; your mind, on the other hand, will make you quit long before your body does. These workouts improve your mental state so you can continue to push past adversity.

The ultimate spring training regiment


MTNTOUGH has made it easy for those who are not local by creating a digital platform for you to get access to your workout of the day along with included videos to show you how to execute the proper techniques required to complete the workouts. The format is simple, yet efficient, breaking it down by weeks to monitor your progress. Also, the digital platform has a social media element to post your completion times, ask questions and link up with other members to complete workouts that helps build comradery and make workouts more fun. The best part is that there are multiple workout programs offered like Backcountry Hunter PreSeason Prep, Backcountry Hunter Post Season, 30-30 No Equipment Workout Strength Program, and the highly popular 22's Workout and videos to help dial in your nutrition. 

Take my word for it


If you want to be in the best shape for the West, then give this a try. I guarantee you will walk away beaten and battered, but also ready to destroy any thresholds that held you back in the past. I personally still use these programs and will continue to as they have definitely made hunting for extended periods of time much easier, which, in turn, has made me more successful.

To find out more about MTNTOUGH, visit

As always, stay safe and hunt hard!



The Deal Wheel is here! 3X points for all members, today only
12 days. 78 winners. Over $40,000 in prizes.