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12 Essential Workouts for Hunters to Get Ready for the Fall Season

12 Essential Workouts for Hunters to Get Ready for the Fall Season

Hunter walking through the forest in rubber bootsHunting is appealing, in part, because it is so difficult. Successful hunters are a breed of their own—they thrive on the challenge of man against nature, and they yearn for it.

The beauty of the land, the diversity of game, and the remoteness of the rugged territory all get under your skin. Whether you are hunting small game, deer, or even elk, endurance and physical strength are necessary to keep up with the demands of the hunt.

Spring or fall, when the hunting season comes around, you need to be ready. You must be in peak physical condition. If you go into the season out of shape, you will be face-to-face with failure before you even get started. Instead of struggling with the terrain, you should be gaining more ground, closing in on your conquest. You owe yourself consistent success, success that can only be achieved if you prepare for the rigorous days ahead of you.

If you follow the cardiovascular and strength regimen laid out for you here, you will develop your core strength and increase the load-bearing capabilities of your glutes and hamstrings. You will have no problem field dressing a young buck or pulling yourself up to the peak to scout out your next target. You will be able to go further and faster to reach your prize. Your aim will be truer because you have taken the time to develop your shoulders, back, and core.

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Next time you’re on the chase, your lungs will not be gasping for air while your trophy runs further from you with ease. Your lightweight boots will not feel like cinder blocks strapped to your feet, and your thirty-five-pound pack won’t triple in weight the longer you hike. If you perform these essential exercises routinely, you are setting yourself up to be a dependable hunter when your season comes around, especially if you will be venturing to high-altitude locations or areas with unforgiving terrain.

You should plan on working out for at least forty-five minutes 3-6 times a week, switching between cardio and strength throughout the week. Make sure to stretch before and after your workout. The last thing you want to do is injure yourself and be out recuperating for six months. You do not want to miss the hunting season just because you did not warm up your muscles properly before working them hard.

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Endurance Training

To hunt in high altitudes or on long, grueling treks, you need endurance, and the only way you can build endurance is to build your heart and lungs with cardiovascular exercise. If you don’t, even if you are physically fit, you will overwork your body and will be knocked out by pure exhaustion within three or four days—strength and muscles will only take you so far.

The best way, by far, to increase your endurance is through HIIT—High-Intensity-Interval-Training. The varying levels of intensity will allow your heart muscles to enlarge as it becomes more adept at pumping oxygen-rich blood to every part of your body at a much faster pace than before. This will, in turn, increase your lungs’ gas exchange capacity, allowing you to breathe better and deeper as your body exerts itself more.

back of man looking out onto lake

To succeed on your hunt, you must master HIIT, so hit the treadmill and Stairmaster at the gym. Each one will work your muscles at different angles, so make sure you master both pieces of equipment.

If you are new to exercise or have not worked out in a while, start out with a slow walk—at about 2.0 mph and a 3-degree incline. After the first five minutes, increase the incline of your machine by one level or degree every three minutes for about fifteen minutes. For the last fifteen, decrease your incline every three minutes until you reach level 3 again.

If you are more advanced, follow the schedule below; repeat it twice per forty-minute exercise session.

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Each time your body adapts and the workout becomes easy, increase your pace and incline by 1-1.5 miles and 1-2 degrees/levels or repeat the round.

Keep in mind, you will be working your heart similarly when you are in the wild but, perhaps, at a level of what would amount to eight cycles of this routine. The more you can develop endurance before hitting the trail, the better off you will be.

If you are training for altitude or sloped terrain, try to keep your incline at about 6-8 degrees. You will be engaging your hamstrings and glutes three-hundred-percent more than you do day- to-day.

If the workout seems hard for your fitness level, then decrease the pace and inclines to a manageable—but still challenging—level and build up from there. No matter where you are now, you will be stronger and more capable when the season starts than you are today. Aim to dedicate yourself to building endurance twice a week; three times is optimal.

If cardio seems boring, distract your mind while challenging your body: watch a movie, listen to podcasts or music, or race a friend. Do whatever you must do, but do not fail to strengthen your heart.

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Strength Training

Strengthening the muscles of your body is just as crucial as ensuring your heart and lungs are up to the rigors of hunting. Carrying even a light pack and minimal gear can wear down a body not prepared to handle the load. A strong back and core are integral to moving over varying slopes, timber, cliffs, and trails.

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Mastering these stability exercises will enable you to engage the deep abdominal muscles to ensure your back, spine, and posture are properly supported and decrease the possibility of injuries. Get a stability ball and perform each circuit of exercises in two sets of ten reps.

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First Circuit

Repeat each exercise 10 times and go through the list twice before moving on to the next circuit.

Wall to Ball Squats

Start with the ball against the wall and lean on it so the ball is located at the small of your back and touching the lower and middle back and hips. Your back should not curve away from the ball. Lower your body slowly and with precision so your hips and shoulders are in alignment and your weight disperses into your heels. Hold for a count of ten; then, with control, return to start.Hunter with hunting dog and rifle

Hamstring Curls

Start by lying on the floor with your feet on the ball. The ball should be positioned so when your legs are fully extended, your ankles remain on top of it. Raise your hips until your shoulders and feet bear your weight. Keep your back and hips aligned with your shoulders and heels to minimize the risk of injury. Using your knees to control your feet, pull the ball as close to your bottom as you can. You should feel your hamstrings contracting. Hold for a count ten; then, with control, return to start.

Back Extensions

Start kneeling in front of the ball and lean over it. Roll yourself forward until your stomach and hips are on the ball with hands touching the floor, legs extended and toes on the ground. Hold your hands behind your head like you are doing crunches, but don’t interlace your fingers. Using your abs, lift your chest as far back as you can. Your back should be arched, but the position should not be painful. Hold for a count of ten; then, with control, lower your back down and return to start.

Bridge

Start by lying on the floor with your feet on the ball and your legs at a ninety-degree angle. Gently push against the ball and raise your hips until your shoulders and feet bear your weight. Keep your back and hips aligned with your shoulders and heels to minimize the risk of injury. You should feel your hamstrings and glutes contracting. Hold for a count of ten; then, with control, return to start.

Single Leg Hamstring Curl

Position yourself as you did with the hamstring curl but keep one leg raised as far as you can, without locking your knees. Raise your hips until your shoulders and feet bear your weight. Keep your back and hips aligned with your shoulders and heels to minimize the risk of injury. Using the lower knee to control your feet, pull the ball as close to your bottom as you can. You should feel your hamstrings contracting. Hold for a count of ten; then, with control, return to start and switch legs. That is one rep.

Single Leg Bridge

Position yourself as you did with the regular bridge and raise one leg as far as you can without locking your knees. Gently push against the ball and raise your hips until your shoulders and feet bear your weight. Keep your back and hips aligned with your shoulders and heels to minimize the risk of injury. You should feel your hamstrings and glutes contracting. Hold for a count of ten; then, with control, return to start and switch legs. That is one rep.

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Second Circuit

Repeat each exercise 10 times and go through the list twice.

Stability Ball Pushups

Position yourself as would for a normal pushup but with your feet or thighs on the ball. Lower yourself down into a pushup position, being careful to keep your back, shoulders, and hips aligned. Hold for a count of five; then, with control, return to start.

ABC Plank

Portrait of a muscular man in plank positionPosition yourself as would for a normal plank but with your elbows and hands on the ball. Your hands should be interlaced in prayer position, and your elbows and feet should be shoulder-distance apart. Contract your abs as hard as you can without compromising your posture. Be careful to keep your back, shoulders, and hips aligned. Hold for a count of ten; then relax the contraction. That is one rep.

Standing Chops

Start by standing with your knees bent slightly and feet a little wider than your hips. Raise the ball above your head with arms fully outstretched but not locked. Contract the abs and “chop” the ball diagonally to the right knee (like you would chop wood). You should be using your abs to turn, not your hips. Raise the ball again and chop to the left. This is one rep.

Rear Fly (Dumbbells Optional)

Start kneeling in front of the ball and lean over it. Roll yourself forward until your stomach and hips are on the ball, hands are touching the floor, legs are extended, and toes are on the ground. Hold your hands away from you laterally in T-formation, with or without weights. Contract your shoulder blades to press close together to lift your arms. Hold for five seconds; then, relax the contraction. That is one rep.

Single Leg Pushup

Position yourself as would for a normal pushup but with one foot or thigh on the ball and one leg up. Lower yourself down into a pushup position, being careful to keep your back, shoulders, and hips aligned. Hold for a count of five; then, with control, return to start.

Reverse Crunch

Position yourself as would for a normal pushup but with your feet or thighs on the ball. Contract your abs and use them to roll the ball forward until your knees are tucked as close to your body as possible. Hold for a count of five; then, with control, return to start.

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Final Thoughts

If you are a beginner, your starting goal is to do strength training twice a week. If you are more advanced, shoot for a frequency of three to four times a week.

If you want to be ready for hunting season, master these twelve workouts, and you will be able to keep pace with any animal in your site. Embrace the training and keep your eyes on the prize!