When we think about prepping for a hunt, many times we are thinking about what we need for the upcoming hunt–what gear we need to take, what kind of meal plans, who may be bringing what when planning a group hunting trip. But how many of us remember to prep ourselves?
Many of us make new year’s resolutions but lose momentum along the way(please check out my resolution blog post) and need a little inspiration, or some of us may just benefit from having someone coach us to reach our goals.
The “Train to Hunt” movement has been gaining momentum across the nation, and we are seeing more personal trainers that are also avid hunters jumping on board with specialized training to better improve ourselves. As hunters, we all want to hunt harder, go farther, and stay out longer. Making a goal to extend our wellness and longevity can help to accomplish this.
Earlier this week, I attended my local Backcountry Hunters and Anglers meeting where they had Lawrence Herrera, the founder of the Performance Ranch as the guest speaker. Lawrence is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the worldwide authority on strength and conditioning. He is also the state director for the NSCA in New Mexico.
Since 2003 Lawrence has helped 1000’s of recreational and professional athletes achieve their goals. He consults for one of the largest sports and fitness companies in the world, Nike, and was nominated for the “2017 World MMA Awards, Trainer of the Year.” He holds a degree in exercise science and is currently working on his master’s degree in exercise science from the University of New Mexico. He has done national presentations for the NSCA on “Training Combat Athletes in a Group Setting” as well as “Strength Training for Endurance Athletes.”
We had an extremely-informative evening and I’d like to share with you Lawrence’s top 10 list of prep tips and the training strategies that you can utilize to get ready to hunt hard and pack out.
- Knee dominant exercises. Squats, lunges, step-ups and downs are crucial. These exercises will work your quadriceps, glutes and core.
- Hip dominant exercises. Learn to hinge properly. Not only is this a great way to minimize back strains, but also teaches you how to load through your hips. i.e. Hip Hinging, deadlifts, floor bridges.
- Upper body pushing. Works the muscles that function as stabilizers and prime movers for our most mobile joint, the shoulder. Pushups are the most beneficial exercise, combined with some overhead pressing, sled pushing, and medicine ball throws.
- Pulling exercises. These strengthen the main muscles that help us draw back our bow, drag big game, pull trees out from their roots and if necessary, carry our buddy up the mountain. Some examples of exercises are pull-ups, band pull-downs, rows, and sled drags.
- Core training. If done properly, the above exercises all address your core. But to target more specific work, Lawrence is a big proponent of anti-flexion and anti-rotation work. This can be achieved by doing planks-front and side, as well as band anti-rotation work.
- Extending the amount of time is imperative. From hunting and holding your weapon, hiking with poles, and dragging your game out of the field., the ability to maintain posture while holding a load is important. We work this with kettle bell farmer carries and offsetting carries as well as holding sandbags and other types of soft load in a front position.
- Crawling! If you’re lucky, you are going to close the distance on a big monster bull or buck. The only way to get close enough when it’s time to make your move is crawling. Whether you’re on your hands and knees, hands and feet or low crawling on your belly, you need to practice these movements. This can easily be done on a field of grass, turf or a padded surface. The more control you establish in your hips, the less strain you’ll put on your back. Over time this pattern becomes ingrained into your brain.
- Hike! This seems like a no brainer but get out on your feet so you establish tissue tolerance in your lower legs. Ideally start with a light-weight backpack and work your way up to a heavier load. Wear the boots you plan to hunt in. Plan on 30-60 min hikes if you’re coming off the couch, stretch it out a little longer if you have been physically active.
- Proper Archery Warm-up. This will pay dividends in shoulder health and increase your time to fatigue. Retraction of your shoulder blades as well as depression of your upper shoulders will help you pattern the right muscle for shooting your bow.
- Proper Recovery Session. Working recovery into your daily routine is imperative. Lawrence stated he liked to use light stretching, foam roller and movement methods to his recovery. (Yes, on my bucket list to invest in for this year’s hunting season) This can be something that can be performed at the end of the day as well as a dedicated day after a previous hard session.
These were the key points Lawrence shared with us, that I feel was a great reminder as well as some motivation with elk season beginning in the next 44 days here in New Mexico. I would certainly encourage you to check out your local area. You might be surprised to find you have a trainer that is also an avid hunter in your area that can assist you in reaching your prep goals for this upcoming hunting season.
Thanks for reading, and as always, happy hunting to you all!