What’s does your fitness routine look like to get in(and stay in) elk hunting shape?

Coffindaffer

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Sep 14, 2019
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So I’m finally in the planning phases of my first elk hunt next September. Super super excited. I’ve read about it, studied it, watched videos, listen to podcast, etc for a few years now.

Pretty much everything I can do short of actually going and doing it.

one unturned stone for me though is the fitness aspect. I know damn good and well I’m going to have to be in the best shape of my life for this to be an enjoyable experience and to up my small chance of success to a slightly better chance.

I plan on dedicating the next 11 months to doing everything I can to be the best I can be

I know this topic has been covered many times, but I like hearing from “real people”. I know podcast, YouTubers, instagrammers are technically real people, but y’all catch my drift.

what are your fitness routines like? HIIT training? CrossFit? Circuit training? Powerlifting? Rucking? All of it?
I want y’all to tell me more about what you do to be ready for the mountains in September as far as diet and exercise go!
 

Doc Holliday

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Jun 15, 2016
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What elevations are you planning on hunting? Are you 100% backpack hunting or doing some truck hunting?

Without knowing the above, based on my limited experience I would say the best things you can do are:

Cardio
Time in the pack
Wobble ball
Hiking (or stairclimber if you are at sea level)

I wouldnt worry about anything upper body related from a training perspective....you will get the right muscles exercised with time in the pack.....be as lean and mean as you can.....legs, lungs, gut, and butt.
 

Fishnowhuntlater

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Jan 11, 2021
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Nothing works for me better than heavy packs and steep hills. There are so many little stabilizer muscles that don’t get worked out for me without the weight. Even if it’s only a mile a day I can see a huge difference.
 
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Coffindaffer

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Sep 14, 2019
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Nothing works for me better than heavy packs and steep hills. There are so many little stabilizer muscles that don’t get worked out for me without the weight. Even if it’s only a mile a day I can see a huge difference.
I’m a flat lander, but I’m sure I can make something work with the stair master
 
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Coffindaffer

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Sep 14, 2019
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What elevations are you planning on hunting? Are you 100% backpack hunting or doing some truck hunting?

Without knowing the above, based on my limited experience I would say the best things you can do are:

Cardio
Time in the pack
Wobble ball
Hiking (or stairclimber if you are at sea level)

I wouldnt worry about anything upper body related from a training perspective....you will get the right muscles exercised with time in the pack.....be as lean and mean as you can.....legs, lungs, gut, and butt.

Thanks man!

We’ll be in SW Montana. In the early season I imagine most of our hunting will be 9-10,000+

it will probably be like a hybrid style. We’ll be there two weeks. We have a basecamp. Best friends family has a small hunting cabin on private property that backs up to state land. We will be geared and prepared to backpack hunt if needed though.

I like your suggestions. They seem kind of like a train like you hunt style
 

big217boy

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Jan 8, 2021
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Can’t stress enough the importance of doing some training while wearing your actual pack. #1 it will eliminate any surprises when you are on your hunt (hotspots, etc) #2 you’ll learn your pack before hitting the mountain (fit, any necessary adjustments, process to get it on and tightened down). These might sound like rudimentary recommendations but I’ve seen first hand how not doing this can make the first few days of your hunt miserable.

Everyone’s different but for me rucking/hiking with weight work better opposed to running for cardio. Running hurts my back and knees which defeats the purpose of training. But again, everyone is different and I’m sure some guys prefer to run.

I enjoy CrossFit type workouts to build functional strength and prevent injuries while on the mountain.

Good luck with the training, the prep, and the hunt.


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3forks

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Oct 4, 2014
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566
Everyone else has pointed you in the right direction, but whatever you do, don’t neglect conditioning your hip flexors. You could be the fittest guy on the mountain, but if you find yourself in jackstrawed timber that requires you to lift your legs higher than your normal gait would require, you’re going to fatigue quickly.

Also, keep your core strong and stretch a lot. When you kill an elk and have to take it apart, your lower back and hamstrings are going to be screaming (especially if your elk dies on the side of some steep hill or in another inconvenient place).
 

MountainTracker

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Mar 8, 2014
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Location
Blaine, WA
I do a weighted pack on the treadmill at incline or a stair climber. If I’m feeling really bullish I’ll also carry a 3 or 5 lb dumbbell in each hand to simulate carrying a bow or rifle. Don’t forget some lunges


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Crowmangler

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Aug 4, 2019
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662
Location
North Carolina
If you're gonna be hunting in beetle kill/ deadfall areas mock up a log or some type of horizontal obstacle & step over it a few thousand times with your gear / pack. Your adductor muscles will probably get fatigued & cramp. I always keep a bottle of Hylands leg cramp pills with me & take them in morning & evening too.
Don't underestimate the importance of keeping hydrated.
 

AaronMColeman

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Nov 20, 2018
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721
Location
Wyoming
HIIT (high intensity interval training) it's basically circuit training but the goal is to work intensely for shorter workouts. I can't believe the difference it's made.

I also do a fair amount of Yoga which helps a lot with smaller muscles that get fatigued quickly, general balance, and the stretching keeps my muscles looser.

I don't hike with my pack near as much as I should. But I can't imagine that wouldn't help.
 

CoStick

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May 18, 2021
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I bike,swim, and do Pilates. I also do pull ups and push ups. I also spend a lot of time hiking and camping the back country with my wife and daughters.
 

280Ackley

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Jun 4, 2014
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Location
Idaho
I was on the sitting behind the wheel of my pickup and drinking coke this year. I paid for it while packing my buddies bull out. He shot it 7.5 miles as the crow flies from camp. First load with our bivy gear was in the 85-90 pound range. Life was super busy with moving and adopting our girls this year. Just didn’t have the time to take away from daily chores and family demands. I have always been athletic but never could do the whole gym thing. My biggest problem this year was mainly my cardio. I needed a few more breaks this year to catch my breath. The loads were heavy but not unbearable. At a minimum throw your pack on even with just 20 pounds and hike a few miles. I believe mental toughness is just as important as being in good shape. I was able to do everything that my buddy did, he runs 10 miles every day. I’m sure he didn’t feel like he was going to die like I do though!!! Hoping to be able to spend more time this off season and drop 20 pounds or so.
 

Sccritterkiller

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Apr 8, 2019
Messages
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Crossfit and hikes with a atlas pack all year long work well for me. With family, job, kids, ect I find I can usually squeeze and hour out of the day to workout and then I can get weighted hike in on the weekends.
 

3325

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Oct 10, 2021
Messages
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I’m a flat lander, but I’m sure I can make something work with the stair master
A good rucking workout for a flat lander:

Go for a hike with the pack and boots you will use on the hunt. Midpoint of your hike arrive at a stadium, parking garage, or other location with steps. Do a series of stair intervals.

Mix it up. Sometimes dump the pack and sprint the stairs. Sometimes keep the pack on and hike the stairs. Some reps touch every step. Some reps skip a step.

Hike back home on wobbly legs.
 
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Goodtimekiller

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Jun 29, 2017
Messages
616
I purchased a program from mountain tactical this year and after 14 years, i was in the best shape ever. I did not even complete the last 7 weeks and i was in great shape for 10-12k’. Such good shape i decided i would sign up for an ultra and went out on a training run of 14 miles saturday with no issues. The furthest i had ran all summer in the program was 6 miles 3 times. I highly recommend. It is $200 to spend on the most important piece of equipment.


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TX_Diver

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May 27, 2019
Messages
1,083
Jiu Jitsu, running 1x per week, Mtn Tough 3030 (often includes short runs) , ruck w/ the pack, and sometimes a "SandWOD" from bruteforce w/ a 50lb sandbag (also often includes runs).

Through winter I just do jiu jitsu but come late spring/summer I get outside more. I often workout in the heat of the day or go for my runs when it's 90 and just focus on finishing vs time. Your mind will quit before your body does (I'm in decent shape and my mind still quits first sometimes). That said I still don't run through winter in Wisconsin haha.
 

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