Hunting despite what some may think, is a grueling hobby. I’m willing to bet a lot of people can’t walk a mile through a mucky marsh in waders hulling two dozen duck decoys, shells, and a shotgun! My Team Members and I are fairly fit individuals, having run cross country and track at the collegiate level, and there are days in the field when we find ourselves hunched over, hands on our knees, with the old ticker pumping! Here are some exercises we do to make sure we are ready for the season. I’ll keep them simple; things you can do with little or no equipment.
Exercise One: Chair Dips
The chair dip works the triceps, traps, deltoids and pectoralis minors. Place a chair behind you and place your hands on the seat part, extend your legs straight in front of you. Bending at the elbows lower and raise your body 10-15 times, rest, and repeat.
Exercise Two: Push-Ups
Push ups are a great exercise to strengthen your lats, chest and shoulders and can be performed in a variety of ways.
- Push-Up 1 Normal Stance: Arms shoulder width apart, toes the same and pointed toward the ground; perform 10-15 pushups once
- Push-Up 2 Wide Stance: Arms a bit wider than shoulder width. Same protocol as Push-Up One.
- Push-Up 3 Tight Stance: Arms noticeably closer than shoulder width apart. Same Protocol as Push-Up One.
Squats are another exercise that can help you strengthen your legs, back and core. Keeping your back straight, bend your knees lowering your Torso closer to the ground. Make sure that your knees don’t go to far in front of your toes since this is know to put added stress on the knees. Perform 10-15 repetitions, rest and repeat.
Exercise Four: Lunges
Lunges are great way to work the legs and lower back muscles. Start in the standing position legs shoulder with apart. I like to keep my hands on my head to force me to balance a bit. Start by taking a step forward with your leg bending at the knee. Do the same with the opposite leg. Repeat this exercise for 10-15 times on each side then rest and repeat. In order to increase the level of difficulty, place dumbbells in each hand with arms at the sides.
Exercise Five: Planks
Planks are a great exercise to strengthen your arms but more importantly your core muscles. Strong core muscles will help stabilize your entire body improving your balance in the tree-stand as well as giving you a sturdy base when shooting.
- Plank 1: Facing the Ground forearms underneath your body, and toes towards the floor in the push up position, hold your body up for a minimum of 45 seconds. Increase if your feel its too easy
- Plank 2: Put your right foot and right forearm on the floor, hold yourself up facing sideways for 45 seconds.
- Plank 3: Repeat Plank 2 but on the left side.
Bent over rows is an exercise that stimulates the muscles most similar to shooting your bow. I like to bend over with one knee on a bench or chair. Personally I use a resistance band for this exercise because it forces you to use your stabilizing muscles as a bow would, but a dumbbell would suffice. Pull the dumbbell or band in the upward motion as if you are starting a lawnmower 10-15 repetitions per side, rest, then repeat
Don't forget the Cardiovascular Exercises...
I recommend doing some sort of activity that will raise your heart rate for an extended period of time, 30 minutes at a time at least 3 days per week. Watching hunting videos doesn’t count! Depending on your age and ability level this could mean running, biking, swimming, elliptical machines, stair steppers (especially beneficial if you hunt hilly terrain) or just plain old walking at a brisk pace.
It doesn’t matter what you pursue in the fall, exercise is essential. I guarantee if you follow these tips you will be able to pull your bow back smoother, quieter, and hold it longer improving your chances at harvesting that big buck! These exercises will also help make hauling your gear, climbing your stand or pulling that trophy out a whole lot easier. Did I mention that exercise, both strength and cardiovascular varieties, is proven to decrease your risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, relieve stress and help you sleep better?