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Four workouts inspired by the elk mountains

The Pack Out: Can be one of the toughest parts of a hunt

Photo credit: Chris Neville

Give these workouts from my personal training routine a try before your next hunt or to keep in shape during the hunting seasons. Designed around keeping the muscles and joints in shape for the mountains for when you're covering country with a pack on. Good luck! 

Disclaimer: Perform these workouts at your own risk. Adjust movements as necessary to accommodate prior injuries or physical restrictions. 


The 30 minute hustle

Equipment required: Rower, 20" or 24" box (or something equivalent) and one dumbbell.

Each exercise that requires a dumbbell will use the same weight. Choose a dumbbell that allows you to perform each movement without being too heavy. One of the main objectives is to continue moving. Having the weight on shoulder and alternating each round will engage your core and stabilization muscles in your abs, ankles and hips, replicating the movements of hiking with a pack on in terrain such as deadfall or rocks.

Each round consists of:

  • Bike: 60 seconds at a medium resistance. If a bike is not available then alternates include: fast jump roping or medium pace run.
  • Box step-up with dumbbell on shoulder: 20 repetitions (10 each leg). Use a 20" box for easy or a 24" box to increase difficulty. Alternate which shoulder the weight is on with each round. 
  • Forward lunge with dumbbell on shoulder: 20 repetitions (10 each leg). Alternate which shoulder the weight is on with each round.
  • Dumbbell front squat: 10 repetitions. Hold the dumbbell in front of you and keep it chest level with each squat. You should feel your core/stomach engaging throughout the movement. I personally like to change the variation of each squat with each round from normal width, narrow width and wide width. This activates different muscles with each variation.

Continue until 30 mins has expired. For more of a challenge, bump it up to 40 to 45 minutes.

Elk runner

Equipment required: (2) matching weight kettlebells, 20" box (or equivalent), rower (or jump rope) 10 Rounds as fast as possible.

Each round consists of: 

  • 30 seconds row or jump rope: If rowing, put resistance at highest setting and try to keep an 800 kcal/hr pace (high pace for those who don't have one that measures this).
  • 20 (10 each leg) kettlebell step-ups: Complete a full step-up and alternate with each repetition just like you were hiking.
  • 5 burpees with push up.
  • 10 (5 each leg) kettlebell lunge.
  • 10 kettlebell straight leg deadlift or regular deadlift: If trying to work the hamstrings more then use the straight leg deadlift; if wanting to work more back muscles use the regular deadlift.
  • 10 sit-ups (unassisted) 

Yes, the goal is to complete 10 rounds as fast as possible while keeping form at the forefront of the movements to prevent injury. For your first time, I would recommend using lighter kettlebells. Then, once you've completed the workout, you can determine whether or not to use heavier kettlebells. This workout will work everything from grip strength to legs. It is a great all-body workout to get in shape for the hills.

Keep track of how long it took so you can beat that time the next run through.

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Progressive weekly step-ups

I'm a big fan of incorporating step-ups in my workouts. Being able to do movements that replicate hiking to strengthen the hip flexors, IT Band and hips is great in preparation for hunting season. Start this progressive step-up routine a couple of months out. 

Equipment required: 20" or 24" box, 45 lb barbell (intermediate and hard only), (2) 25 lb barbell weights (hard level only). 

Beginner

Start Week 1 with 200 step-ups with no weight on a 20" box. Make a goal such as knocking out as many step-ups possible then taking a small break if just starting out. Then get back at it. For increased difficulty, try a 24" box. 

Add 50 to 100 repetitions each week until you reach the goal of 500 total or jump up to intermediate. 

Intermediate

Start Week 1 at 250 total step-ups using a 20" box with a 45 lb barbell on your shoulders. For increased difficulty, use a 24" box. Add 50 repetitions per week until you reach the goal of 500 total or if you are feeling froggy, jump up to the hard level (pun!). 

Hard

Start Week 1 with 200 step-ups on a 20" box with a 45 lb weighted barbell with a 25 lb barbell weight on each side for a total of 95 lbs. 

Add 50 repetitions per week until 600 repetitions have been achieved. 

No weights, no problems

This is an absolute burner of an exercise that is great to do at home without the need of a gym or weights. It's simple yet requires some mental drive to get through it! 

Equipment needed: None! Just some motivation and maybe a notepad to keep track. 

  • 1,000 air squats: I prefer to break these into sets of 25 to 50, take a small break to shake the legs off then get back into it. Be sure to squat down until you reach a 90-degree angle bend in your knees. Once you complete the squats, move onto the finishing exercise: lunges! 
  • 250 forward lunges: Once again, I break these into 20 to 25 repetition segments. 

Allow yourself some time to complete this routine. If needed, start with half of the prescribed workout and bump it up each week. 

I hope you enjoy these workouts I've devised to help gear my training into a reflection of what I plan to see come the hunting season. Any questions, you can drop them in the comment! 

Stay safe and train hard!

More fitness articles to help keep you in shape for elk country:

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