Hunting Fitness Doesn't Stop for Hunting Season
If you search online for hunting workouts, nearly every result you find will focus solely on off-season training, and 90% of those workouts are centered on the months just before hunting season begins. So does that mean training should pause for hunting season? Perhaps there's a different way to frame this.
The start of the hunting season is timed with seasonal change, where fall transitions to winter across much of the US. Every day further removed from the beginning of the hunting season creates more challenging hunting conditions. So we'll ask again - should you continue training during hunting season? We fully believe you should.
What's the point in reaching peak toughness right before hunting season only to lose it at the same time conditions become tougher? Without maintaining your fitness in-season you lower your success rate and increase your risk of injury as the season goes on.
Approach to In-Season Training
As the video above states, after years of working with mountain athletes, you notice a major difference in their performance before and after hunting season. The mountains take their toll on the body, and this is most often seen in a loss of strength and cardiovascular fitness when they come back from the season.
The season wears a mountain athlete's body down - returning thinner and weaker. This is the biggest reason the program focuses primarily on those two elements. Functional training is at the heart of every program we create. Don't worry, it doesn't neglect other areas like balance, range of motion, and mental toughness - those all get the amount of attention they need during the phase.
But with hunting season's rapid depletion of strength and conditioning, those two aspects of hunting fitness have to be prioritized to keep you always ready.
This is why we created the MTNTOUGH Backcountry Hunter In-Season Training. Even though it's a rarety among hunting fitness programs, we proudly stand behind the idea of sticking to training throughout the hunting season.
Here are just a few of the reasons we're so confident this is the right call.
Benefits of the Backcountry Hunter In-Season Training Program
The Backcountry Hunter In-Season program is flexible. You've trained all year for this window, so you need a versatile routine that can easily be modified for a weekend or week-long outing. It balances consistent training and fitness maintenance. The goal here is to keep everything as close to the way it was at the start of hunting season or improve upon that state without getting in the way of your hunting trips.
Whether you hunt on the weekend or take the month off, it's versatile enough to keep your body as close to top performance as you can keep it, and still enjoy what you've trained all year for.
In other words, in-season training is a modified version of training that aims to keep the machine running. There are several benefits to doing it this way.
Maintaining a High Level of Endurance:
If you're planning to go hunting this season, you better be prepared for some serious endurance work. And no, I'm not talking about running a marathon or cycling up a mountain - the endurance needed is built to withstand days of the toughest mountain conditions.
You need to be able to trudge through rough terrain, climb hills, and stalk prey for hours on end. Our approach to in-season endurance is extremely focused on how you maximize the efficiency of your heart pumping and lungs working.
Strength Training Periodization:
Some hunters believe strength training for the season is about getting as jacked as possible (common hunting fitness mistake #2), but you're not one of them, because you know adding strength can sometimes hinder performance in the field. That's why it's crucial to follow a strategic strength training periodization plan during hunting season.
Periodization is just a fancy way of saying you're strategically planning your strength training over the phase in a way that continues to challenge your body. It's useful for preventing burnout or overtraining, either of which could throw off your hunting pursuits.
Mobility and Flexibility:
One thing that many hunters overlook when it comes to maintaining fitness during hunting season is mobility and flexibility. The last thing you want is to get sidelined by an injury that could have easily been prevented by keeping your range of motion at its best.
Backcountry Hunting: In-Season Training Schedule
In-season training is where most hunter's fitness discipline starts to go off the rails. We recognize that your schedule is going to be even more hectic since you're adding hunting days into the mix, but we're committed to helping you maintain your levels of fitness. That's why we've developed this program in a way that's flexible in a lot of different ways.
How In-Season Training Is Flexible:
- Strength days are the priority workouts, but you can still adapt the program to fit your schedule and life, but still hit two strength days per week on Days 1 and 3, or you can combine them into a longer Day 1 if you’re short on time.
- Then you take a secondary day on Day 2 and a flush day one day before your hunt for Day 4. This will help push blood, nutrients, and oxygen to and from your muscles right before you'll need it the most.
- If you’re not hunting on Day 5, you’re wearing a pack and boots to road march 10 miles. Since we ramp up strength and intensity as you go, every time you head out into the field you're at your best.
This flexible schedule is what Coach Ara (video above) is referring to in terms of modifying the routine. If you're hunting during the season, your approach doesn't need to match that of your pre-season routine either. This comes down to the idea that your body is getting a world-class workout when you go hunting on weekends. But that doesn't mean you pause training altogether.
With some modifications and picking from the wide options of workouts we have throughout our programs, you can build a schedule that ultimately serves its purpose; helping you keep your strength and endurance the entire season. Staying consistent with your schedule, modified or otherwise is going to keep your metabolism up as well, maximizing your energy on and off the mountains.
Mountain Athletes Train All Year
The In-Season Program is available in the MTNTOUGH+ app, and you can try it risk-free with our 14-day free trial. Plus, we’re offering our favorite In-Season Program workout — W1D1 — for free in the video above, so you can get a taste of in-season training without leaving this page.
There's nothing worse than starting your physical (and mental) prep for hunting season in August. A close second to this is the feeling of starting from scratch after the hunting season, and that's what most hunters will do unless they continue their training throughout.
The solution to both these dreaded feelings is embracing the Always Ready mindset. This is our approach and way of thinking that keeps us going all year. We never have to hit the restart button because we never stop training.
It forges us into physically and mentally tough mountain athletes, able to handle hunting or life outside of hunting at any moment. Training all year is the best way to handle any season and certainly in-season backcountry hunting.