“Nature will never discriminate. She does not care how old or young, weak or strong you are. She is ruthless and cannot be fooled. Rich or poor – she will expose you.” – Elkshape.com
The idea behind being “elk fit” is that you are in good enough physical shape both cardio-wise and strength-wise to successfully carry out your hunt without feeling like you want to die on the mountain.
A bull can weigh over 800lbs and yield a few hundred lbs of precious, delicious protein. From all of the research that I have done, the F.O.C.U.S method seems to make the most sense.
*Foundation – Finding a good program is important. Implement things like squats because you will primarily use your legs hiking, hiking, and hiking some more.
*Oxygen – Hiking and elevation change will kick your trash if you are not in good cardio health. Implement things like HIIT and Tabata. Not sure what those are, let me tell you.
-HIIT focuses on sprints and active rests. Interval training involves using max effort for 30-60 seconds and then slowing your pace to an active rest for 1-2 minutes. A typical HIIT workout should last you around 20 minutes. Example – Jump on a treadmill and set the incline at around 2-3, find a speed that you would consider the max speed that you are able to hold for 30 seconds. Once that 30 seconds is up, lower the speed to a safe walking speed that still exerts energy and walk at that for 90 seconds. Repeat this for 8-10 cycles.
-Tabata is a form of HIIT that uses multiple muscle groups simultaneously (squat thrusts, burpees, kettle bell swings, mountain climbers, sprints, step-ups, etc.) and should last between four to 10 minutes. Tabata incorporates the 20/10 ratio (20 seconds of full intensity, 10 seconds of rest). You should start at 4 minutes until your body adapts, and then work your way up in time week over week. Tabata isn’t easy, but is one of the most effective ways of improving cardio, and burning fat.
*Core – Core is not just abs. Having a strong core will ensure stability, will help decrease the likelihood of injury, and will improve the efficiency of your body in general. Work on strengthening your:
-Lower back and abs – Leg Raises, Cat Curls, Back Extensions, crunches, planks, etc.
-Hips – Single leg hip lifts, Split Squats, Lateral Squats, Side Lunges, etc.
*Understanding – You have to understand that mental strength and physical strength go hand in hand. Your mind will tell your body it’s done long before your body itself gives up. Being mentally prepared for brutal backcountry, and the physical toll a hunt will take on your body is imperative.
*Strength – Strength plays a major factor in a hunt. Packing your equipment in and out, and potentially packing out an animal. It’s important that you are ready for that. Implement exercises that are functional in real life situations:
*Picking things up off the ground
*Pulling things overhead
*Pulling yourself up
*Running, Jumping, and throwing
Bottom line, be prepared. Do you pull your bow out the week before the hunt and hope that it’s tuned and ready in time for opening weekend? Or do you shoot year round? Repetition is key for muscle memory. Keep on top of your physical fitness year round, and you should have no problems having a successful hunt. It’s easier to stay in shape than it is to get in shape.