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

3325

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Oct 10, 2021
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Do not forget your aerobic capacity training.

I hike, both with and without extra weight, all summer. I also throw in hill sprints on some hikes. I’m giving that activity a break for a bit but I’ve not abandoned it.

The machine exercises I referenced above are something I’m experimenting with for post season. I may continue them during pre-season prep next year depending on how I think they do for me over the winter.
 
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Scoot

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Nov 13, 2012
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...don't overlook swimming for cardio, especially if your swimming correctly. Freestyle swimming will allow you to limit your breathing as necessary for gains in 'wind'.....you can breath every 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 strokes.
...man... I sure wish I could swim worth a damn! Also, I hate (and I don't hate many things) cold water. The pool at the Y where I work out is damn cold IMO. I'll fully admit to being a wimp when it comes to cold water, but I don't like it. Sure wish I could get over it and figure out how to swim- everything Zap said is spot on. Instead, I'll just keep on plugging with my 3-5x/week gym workouts and my added biking, running, and pack workouts in the summer. This winter I'm going to try to seriously clean up my diet and drink fewer beers. The latter is totally wasted caloric intake and I've gotten into a bad habit in that regard. I'll tighten that up a bit and plan to get down to about 180 lbs (182 is my goal weight). Maybe I'll be able to keep up to my decade younger hunting buddies then!
 

sickles107

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Jan 14, 2019
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Montana
As said many times here, and from what I have seen taking friends out from the Midwest,

Best way to prepare for hiking many steep miles with a heavy pack, is to hike many steep miles with a heavy pack.

Hardest thing is to comprehend the terrain you will be in. Hard to replicate in the Midwest. Try hiking road ditches to replicate side hills, and find the steepest chunk of terrain you can around home and walk up and down for as many hours as you have available, and zig zag to replicate elevation and side hills. Consciously lift your feet to replicate dead fall and navigating through brush.

You may look and feel like an idiot, but it's the only way to replicate the terrain you will be in without actually being there.

You can try to isolate cardio on a road bike, and isolate leg muscles with different exercises, but In my opinion it's just not the same as 10 mile days in the mountains.

Do that mostly with day pack weight, but then throw on 100lbs every now and then to replicate a rear quarter and an elk rack. That's when you get into spirit world, dehydrated at 2am with the last load to the truck lol

God speed, you will be happy you prepared when your hucking up a ridge at a bugling bull, rather than huffing and puffing at the bottom.
 

Elk97

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Feb 14, 2019
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NW WA & SW MT
Miles. That's about all you need to remember about getting into elk shape. When you get there you'll be hurt by the elevation (I live at sea level so it hits me every year). First day you'll likely be hiking with your day pack on all day in steep, tough terrain but you'll have adrenaline on your side. The first day will be OK if you've done a bunch of hiking with your pack on. Day two and three are going to kick you (pray there isn't smoke), this is when your training will really pay off. From there on it will be hard but by the time you leave to go home you'll be feeling pretty good at the end of the day. I just hike with my pack year round and fortunately have a 500' steep hill with a power line road that switchbacks up it close to home but I also go off the road and sidehill a lot. I'm slower than my 45 and 47year old sons but do OK (71). Just put on the miles (in your boots) and the rest will fall into place. You don't have to be Superman to hunt elk, but you also can't really overtrain for it either. Good luck next year, you're going to love it.
 

Scrapperdoodles

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Nov 2, 2021
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Montana
I’ll toss this out for controversy. For my post season training this year I started doing something that is often not recommended for performance by trainers and coaches. I started doing a lot of machine and cable isolation/single joint exercises.

That’s not all I do. I also do “functional” movements like split squats, step ups, dips, and pull ups. I organize it by having two full body workouts, one all compound movements and one all single joint machine exercises. I then alternate workouts.

I haven’t been on this program very long but so far the supposed “non-functional” bodybuilding type exercises leave me feeling pretty good. Maybe they’re a form of physical therapy?
There's less impact with machines and it can be good for your joints. You're probably building some muscle with new movements which will contribute to feeling better.
If that stuff didn't work, the strongest guys in the world wouldn't be doing it.
Everything has a place.
 

isocyanate

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Aug 20, 2020
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For me it’s burpees, mountain climbers, lunges, pull ups and running/rucking, mountain bikes.

I train 5x5 in the powerlifting lifts also because I like it.

I wasn’t in peak condition for my hunt this year, but we put on the miles and I was none the worse, although I have a new ankle pain that won’t seem to heal up now….here’s to turning 30….

If you have even modest base fitness, it’ll probably come down to how much pain you will take. Learning is gonna hurt any way you slice it.
 

mtwarden

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Oct 18, 2016
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time on your feet (lots of time), if you can make that in the mountains better yet

I also strength train twice a week (deadlifts/squats/bench/overhead press ala Wendler 5/3/1)

about six weeks out I start adding weight to my hiking, usually twice a week- start at 30 lbs for two weeks, then 45 and finish with 60 lbs; the risk reward going heavier isn't worth it imo- I've never had too much trouble with 100 lb loads during the season (not saying they were easy, but definitely very doable)

I see a lot of folks saying they are going to get after it 8 weeks out, too late imo- much better year round, week in, week out; you want to be consistent with your "routine", let it literally become routine

last week I did a three day trip covering 35 miles and ~ 13,000' of gain over some pretty gnarly country; 15 miles with 70-ish lbs on my back; not easy, but doable

I really don't think age is too much of a barrier (or excuse) either; I'm closer to 64 than 63 :D
 
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