“Short time!” If you read Jerrod Lile’s Soapbox in the December 2017 issue, you know this was a common quote former wrestling coach Kenny Marjerrison would yell at his wrestlers near the end of a match. This is a quote I think we should all take more seriously.
It is a new year with another hunting season in our past, and if you are anything like me, following a long season of minimal sleep, miles of hiking, and bad eating habits, you like to take a little time of to relax. This relaxation period usually comes around the holiday season, which is bad news because all of the progress you made during hunting season and getting in “mountain shape” quickly gets replaced with holiday meals and lounging around on the couch. Before you know it, it is time to plan future hunts, which is always fun, but what you should really be planning is what methods you are going to take to get into better shape for those hunts. With how busy today’s society is, we really have a “short time” before the year’s adventures are here.
Each year, most of us find ourselves in hunting situations that require us to push ourselves to the limit physically and mentally. From experience, the better physical condition you are in the better you will do mentally because your body isn’t asking as much of you. I know I can look back on my hunts each year and think to myself that if I had just been in a little better shape maybe I could have been in a position to capitalize on the situation. The best way to prepare for a hunt is to strap on your actual hunting pack and hike in the mountains or up a long flight of stairs. However, I know that not everyone has that luxury, so I have created a five-step plan that I hope will help you increase your fitness level this year.
STEP 1: CREATE YOUR FITNESS GOALS
The first things to consider before you hit the gym are what you are trying to achieve and what you want the end results to be. Whether you want to lose weight, build lean muscle, or work on your endurance, you need to have a goal in mind. Having clear goals helps you gauge your progress and stay motivated.
STEP 2: FIND A WORKOUT PROGRAM
Anyone can go to the gym and jump on a treadmill or throw some weights around, but is that really helping your progress? When you develop a plan, you will see more progress and be able to stay on track better. There are thousands of workout programs you can download from the internet that can be tailored just for you. One website I use when I am looking for a new program is www.bodybuilding.com. Once you find a program that helps you meet your goals, print it off and stick with it. If you are just getting back into working out, I would recommend finding a program that isn’t too intense. Once you are a couple months into it, you can find a program that will push you harder. There are also several programs out there geared towards hunters. Train to Hunt (www. traintohunt.com) is one that has been around for a couple years, and they host multiple competitions throughout the year in several states. It would be worth looking into or signing up for one of the events as they incorporate fitness and shooting, which will help you prepare for real life situations.
STEP 3: DIET, NUTRITION, AND SUPPLEMENTS
If you are working out hard but not using any discipline around the table, then you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Every body type is different, so you need to find the right diet that is geared towards your goals. Staying away from processed foods, white sugars, and bad carbs will benefit you. Eating clean is hard and expensive. It takes a lot of discipline to say no to the “tasty” foods and drinks and stick to a more wholistic diet. Foods that I eat a lot of while I’m eating clean are wild game, chicken, eggs, avocados, almonds, sweet potatoes, asparagus, and other greens. It’s also a good idea to take multivitamins, fish oil, glucosamine, etc. throughout the year to help you maintain a healthy system. Some people believe that supplements are just favored drinks that offer zero benefit, but I believe that some supplements do in fact help you during workouts and with post recovery. I will admit that I have wasted hundreds of dollars on supplements over the years. Through this process, though, I have narrowed it down and take a few supplements when I work out.
There are many great companies out there that offer quality products, but do your research. I have used MTN OPS (https://mtnops.com/) products for several years, and they work for me. I take a pre-workout before I go to the gym, and for post-workout recovery, I make a protein shake and take either creatine or a post-workout recovery pill. These are just the basics, but I don’t believe I need to take more beyond that. Again, find what works for you and stick with it.
STEP 4: START LOW AND PROGRESS SLOW
If you’re just beginning to exercise, start cautiously and progress slowly. Give yourself plenty of time to warm up and cool down with easy walking or gentle stretching, and then speed up to a pace you can continue for 5 to 10 minutes without getting overly tired. After a proper warm-up, begin your actual workout routine. As your stamina improves, gradually increase the amount of time you exercise. Work your way up to 30-60 minutes of exercise 4-6 days a week. Too many people end up injuring themselves by going too hard or heavy early on, which I am guilty of. It’s not about how much weight you can lift or how far you can run; being consistent and improving is the key.
STEP 5: STAY THE COURSE
Many people join gyms or start programs with good intentions but end up burning out sooner than they expected. It’s easy to get amped up at the beginning, but it always seems like there are a hundred other things that try to steal our time and focus. One thing that helps me stay on track is finding a workout partner. Having someone to workout with will help keep you accountable and will push and motivate you.
I try to work out early in the morning. This works best for my schedule because it rarely interferes with family time or other plans I might have in the afternoon or evening when I get of work. Working out in the morning gives me a good jump to my day, and I usually feel better about sitting behind my desk when I know I got a good workout in.
Doing something active every day, even if it’s only for 20 minutes, is better than nothing at all. Time flies, and you don’t want to be strapping your pack on for the first hunt of the year wishing you had been more physically prepared. Train hard and make the most of the short time you have.