November 04, 2010
By Dan Staton
Fit To Hunt
By Dan Staton
Pull-ups: Grab the pull-up bar with your hands placed about shoulder-width apart and palms facing away from you. Pull yourself upward until your chin is over the bar, and complete the exercise by slowly descending to the hanging position.
If you think like me, the term Bowhunting 365 does not equate to one week in September or a few days in November. Bowhunting 365 means keeping your foot on the gas pedal and forgoing hibernation during the off-season.
It's no accident that older guys in their 60s and beyond still tackle some of the roughest country each year in pursuit of big game and still beg for more. To hunt your best at any age, and to maintain enthusiasm and efficiency into the senior years, you must toss the term "off-season" aside and embrace the philosophy of Bowhunting 365.
Over lunch one day, Dr. Warren Strickland said, "Dan, bowhunting is not a hobby. It's a discipline." I will never forget that because he is right. If you're going to commit to a Bowhunting 365 mentality, you cannot overlook year-round physical preparation. In fact, numerous hunting guides attest that clients' lack of success in the field is directly proportional to their lack of fitness preparation. To get the most out of the primal, time-tested sport of archery, develop disciplined thought and action. You can never be in too good of shape.
Mountain hunting in particular subjects your body to physical challenges that can break a hunt. Hiking several miles a day at high elevations up and down steep terrain taxes even the toughest individuals. No hunter should take a step into the woods without the confidence of a conditioned body.
You'll need to devote 30 minutes to an hour each day to exercise. If you juggle a hectic schedule of family/work/obligations, as most of us do, you might have to sacrifice a little sleep for your workouts. But, as the cliché goes, with great sacrifice comes great reward.
THE FOLLOWING FITNESS TIPS, de-signed for bowhunters, should jumpstart your fitness and lead to your best hunting season ever.
If your goal is overall hunting competence, strength training is invaluable. Almost everything you do in the woods starts and ends with your core -- torso, hips, and legs. Big biceps are not a priority. The objective is to build a well-balanced physical portfolio. The following strength-training exercises address the posterior chain of the human body -- upper and lower back, gluteals, and hamstrings. As a strength and conditioning specialist, I see this part of the kinetic chain as a priority. Doing these exercises will aid you in drawing your bow, lugging heavy packs, and improving your cardiovascular endurance.
Bowhunter's Strength Series:
€¢ Pull-ups: There's no way around it -- if you want a strong upper body, you have to do pull-ups. In fact, I would endorse the pull-up as the best overall upper-body exercise because it works so much muscle. If you can't do a single pull-up, then you're going to need to get acquainted with the pull-down machine. However, if you're looking for maximum muscle recruitment, please note that pull-downs are not enough.
€¢ Deadlifts: This fundamental movement will provide the most bang for your buck! The deadlift can stress the back, so you must execute this movement with strict form and from a strong core. The deadlift builds raw strength throughout the body, enhancing power and packing on muscle.
Here I am performing cardio on the rower for total body conditioning.
Bowhunter's Cardiovascular Development:
€¢ Rower: To get the best workout, use a damper setting of five. This may feel too easy at first, but once you get used to the rowing motion and are able to spin the wheel faster, you will feel more resistance. The faster the wheel spins, the more resistance it generates. If you're new to rowing, start off by rowing for only 5-10 minutes, and then take a break to stretch out. When you feel comfortable, experiment with stroke rate and power. Stroke rate is your cadence in strokes per minute. It is displayed in the upper right corner of the Performance Monitor. Power is how hard you are pulling. It is displayed in a choice of units in the central display: watts, calories, or pace. Try some three-minute intervals, varying stroke rate and pace.
I love bowhunting, and I love fitness; they both require dedication, persistence, and consistency. As Calvin Coolidge said, "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence!" If you've neglected your body, you need to get back on track. The peak of a mountain is a lot easier to summit if you're already three-quarters of the way to the top, instead of restarting from ground zero.
Bowhunting 365 is synonymous with hard work and continuity. To maximize your enjoyment of the wonderful outdoors and bowhunting, take care of your most valuable piece of equipment -- your body.