Variety may be the spice of life, but it's also the basis for safe and pleasant outdoor adventure.
How do you train for events for which you cannot predict the required time, effort, or strength -- in short, hunting? The answer is cross-training, a mixed bag of exercise modes and durations. Information on this topic is plentiful, so I will dive right into four myths of cross-training -- and bust them.
Total fitness leads to my total elation in the field.
Myth #1 -- Super Slow Lifting Builds Muscle
Actually, lifting slowly produces long workouts with slow results. In contrast, moving large loads over long distances rapidly elicits quick gains in strength, power, metabolism, and more. University of Alabama researchers recently studied two groups of lifters doing half-hour workouts. Both groups performed the same exercises. The first group spent 15 seconds per repetition, while the second group spent two seconds per repetition. The faster group burned 71 percent more calories and moved 250 percent more weight than the slow lifters. Bottom line: Perform exercises and movements as rapidly and efficiently as possible.
Myth #2 -- Sore Muscles Require Rest
Dr. Alan Milesky, Director of the Human Performance and Biomechanics Laboratory at Indiana University, said, "If your muscle is sore to the touch or the soreness limits your range of motion, it's best that you give the muscle at least another day of rest." However, if you just have achy muscles, then engage in "active rest" involving aerobic activity that alleviates some of the soreness. Light activity stimulates blood flow, which aids in the removal of waste products and delivers nutrients to aid the repair process. Bottom line: If your muscles are not sore to the touch and have full range of motion, go cross-train -- mountain bike, trail run, scout, hike, swim, etc.
Myth #3 -- Exercise Machines Are Safer Than Free Weights
Exercise machines might seem to automatically put your body in the right position and help you do all movements correctly, but that's true only if the machines are properly adjusted for your weight and height. Unless you have a coach to ensure the proper settings, you can make various mistakes in form and technique. In truth, the risk of injury is just as high when using machines as when using free weights or performing other non-machine workouts. Bottom line: No machine will prepare you to drag your deer, lift your pack, or haul your treestand into the woods, so stay off them! You can learn to lift free weights and other unstable loads safely, regardless of your current condition.
Myth #4 -- Squats Are Bad For Your Knees
A recent study in Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise showed that machine leg exercises -- those in which you activate a single joint (e.g., leg extension) -- are potentially more dangerous than closed-chain moves -- those that engage multiple joints, such as the squat.
To squat safely, hold your back as upright as possible, keep your weight on your heels, and lower your body until the creases of your hips are below your kneecaps. The squat is vital to your wellness, athletic ability, and injury prevention. The squat is remarkably rehabilitative to fragile knees. In fact, if you do not squat, your knees are not healthy, even if they are free of pain or discomfort. The squat is the most organic movement known to man and has been a part of human movement since the beginning of time. The bottom position of the squat is nature's intended sitting posture, and the rise from the squat is the biomechanical method by which we stand up.
Bottom line: Yes, you can injure yourself squatting incorrectly, but you can also learn to squat safely in order to build strong knees and legs.
In conclusion, constantly vary your workouts, perform the functional exercises discussed above, and execute repetitions at high intensity. Cross-train your way into peak health. This myth-busting effort will prepare you for whatever adventures come your way in the field -- now and for many years to come.