Skip to main content

Training Secrets

Training Secrets

To be in the best bowhunting shape, mix up your training regimen and keep it fresh.


Flipping a tractor tire is an unconventional but effective way to work your muscles.



Based on my experience, training for "general physical preparedness" (GPP) is the best approach for bowhunters because our hunting pursuits place a wide variety of demands on our bodies. For that reason, when it comes to physical training, our specialty really should be not specializing at all. As a matter of fact, cross-training with nearly constant variation fosters a durable, injury-resistant body that will be ready to tackle the demands of any hunt. And while training for GPP always keeps your training program fresh, there are natural pitfalls to such a varied approach.

If you examine a lot of workouts, which is what I do for a living, you soon discover that people often gravitate toward exercises that suit their fancy and cater to their strengths.


As human beings, we often unwittingly avoid the areas of weakness that challenge us the most. A lot of people don't want to hear this, but I frequently see leg exercises take a back seat to workouts on the least-functional muscle groups -- biceps and chest. Beach muscles are great, but they won't help a whit in a deer drag, backpack hunt, or an extended draw on alert quarry.

My point is simple: find your weakness and make it your strength. Are you great at sprinting but lack endurance? Are you great at pushups but lack the strength to do one pull-up? Maybe you can hike for miles but can't even squat your own body weight. These are just some common examples, but the takeaway message is simple -- vary your fitness program and minimize your weaknesses.

Here are a few training "secrets" that you might find useful in your next workout:Core Stability Exercises: It's becoming widely accepted among trainers that exercises requiring the abdominals to stabilize the body are the ultimate "ab builders," preventing injury to the lower back while activating enough muscle to make your six-pack abs stick out. I recommend the Ab Wheel rollout (you've probably seen these on TV), cable rotational exercises, and planks.

To enhance your barbell squats, loop Jump Stretch Bands around the ends of the bar to add additional resistance.

The latter is a great beginner's core exercise that will go a long way in strengthening the key muscles of the trunk. Get into a pushup position, put your weight on your forearms, and keep your hips from sagging toward the floor. Vary the duration of the hold, and draw your abs in tight.

Unconventional Equipment
It isn't enough just to use free weights and machines -- your exercise program becomes too patterned and won't prepare you for the unpredictable movements of the field. To work the greatest amount of muscle, constantly shake up your routine. Try picking up and pressing a sandbag, or maybe flipping a tractor tire. Use sound judgment when selecting loads -- and be sure to use proper form in execution -- and you will see improvement in strength. I tell my athletes, "Don't work out on machines -- become one!"

Band Training
Use Flex Bands (www.elitefts.com). These bands improve power and strength by adding resistance to the particular parts of a range of motion. For example, attach two strong, Jump Stretch Bands to the bottom of a squat rack and loop the opposite ends over both ends of a barbell you've set up to squat. Then simply perform reps as normal. Avoid slack at any point in the range of motion, and you'll feel the additional resistance returning from the bottom of the squat. Band training is used extensively by athletes of all calibers.

Without a doubt, GPP is priority number one when it comes to bowhunting longevity and performance. Take to the field with a body that is fit across broad domains and the odds of hunting success begin to tip your way. Bowhunting prowess means you're fit to hunt!

Editor's Note: You may follow along with Dan's fitness training at hoyt.com and his personal fitness blog at www.sportsmansfitness.com.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New for 2021: Bear Redemption EKO, Legit RTH Compound Bows

New for 2021: Bear Redemption EKO, Legit RTH Compound Bows

Bear Archery's newest bows - Redemption EKO and Legit RTH - are light, adjustable and fast.

New for 2021: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

New for 2021: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

After a fall of testing new 2021 Mathews products on the road as he filmed new episodes for Bowhunter Magazine's television program, editor Curt Wells had an exciting visit with Mark Hayes, Mathews design engineer, as the pair looked at the new V3 27 and V3 31 bows.

Canyon Ranch Roundup Part 2

Canyon Ranch Roundup Part 2

Bowhunter TV's Derek Mleynek and Equipment Editor Tony J. Peterson head to Texas for a late-season mixed bag hunt in a truly target-rich environment.

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best Platforms & Ring of Steps

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best Platforms & Ring of Steps

We all need a spot to place our feet in life … and even more so when in the saddle. The two options are a platform or ring-of-steps. For longer hunts, platforms are more comfortable and most familiar. Ring-of-steps are lighter and easier to pack for shorter-duration hunts and long hikes.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The biggest day of the new year for bowhunters is here. Here's your first look at the latest batch of hunting rigs.New Hunting Bows for 2021 ATA Show

New Hunting Bows for 2021

Tony J. Peterson - January 13, 2021

The biggest day of the new year for bowhunters is here. Here's your first look at the latest...

Whether you prefer hunting from a tree or on the ground, there is something new for you this year.New Treestands, Ground Blinds & Tree Saddles for 2021 ATA Show

New Treestands, Ground Blinds & Tree Saddles for 2021

Jace Bauserman - January 11, 2021

Whether you prefer hunting from a tree or on the ground, there is something new for you this...

Inspired by “Buzzwinkle,” a lit up moose in Anchorage, this Apple and Cheddar-Ale Moose Burger Recipe is sure to be a delicious party on your taste buds with every bite.Apple and Cheddar-Ale Moose Burger Recipe Recipes

Apple and Cheddar-Ale Moose Burger Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Inspired by “Buzzwinkle,” a lit up moose in Anchorage, this Apple and Cheddar-Ale Moose Burger...

Sometimes, it's a mistake to give deer too much credit for thinking.Can Whitetails Reason? Whitetail

Can Whitetails Reason?

Gene Wensel

Sometimes, it's a mistake to give deer too much credit for thinking.

See More Trending Articles

More How-To

Don't let the wind ruin your next shot. Follow these steps for improved shooting performance. Bowhunting Accuracy in High Winds How-To

Bowhunting Accuracy in High Winds

Joe Bell

Don't let the wind ruin your next shot. Follow these steps for improved shooting performance.

You can share the elk timber with dangerous bears if you're smart and prepared.Bear Aware: Elk Hunting in Grizzly Country How-To

Bear Aware: Elk Hunting in Grizzly Country

Ron Niziolek

You can share the elk timber with dangerous bears if you're smart and prepared.

Understanding environmental factors will tell you where to put the pin when the moment of truth arrives.Learning the Body Language of Animals How-To

Learning the Body Language of Animals

Jace Bauserman

Understanding environmental factors will tell you where to put the pin when the moment of...

Here are a few off-season maintenance, storage and photo organizing tips. Storing Your Trail Cameras & Organizing Photos Scouting Tools

Storing Your Trail Cameras & Organizing Photos

Curt Wells

Here are a few off-season maintenance, storage and photo organizing tips.

See More How-To

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Bowhunter App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Bowhunter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now