I know there are many in the hunting community that scoff at the idea of “training to hunt”, that think you can get by on grit alone. And for some, this may be the case. For a limited time. But at some point, age, injury or sheer difficulty will stop those people in their tracks. If you’re like me, and consider physical training to be as integral to your hunting plans as shooting your rifle or bow, how should you spend your limited training time?
For the mountain and backcountry hunter, one of the more common recommendations I read and hear is to simply hike with a pack. Though this follows the golden rule that all training should be specifically catered to the primary demands of the activity or event, in my opinion, it falls short of helping a hunter realize his or her full physical potential, and more importantly, be ready for anything that might happen in the backcountry.
The truth is, in the real world, strength matters. It always has and it always will. For the hunter, a singular focus on endurance training is certainly better than not training at all, but you’ll be far better prepared for the unpredictable demands of a hunt if you dedicate some of your valuable training time to moving weight around.
A critical part of any training program is monitoring your progress and setting outcome based goals that will give you the confidence you’re on track to perform for your chosen event. When it comes to backcountry or mountain hunting, heading afield with a solid foundation of both strength and endurance will ensure you’re ready for your next multi-day hunt.
I believe that, for hunters, there are certain strength and conditioning minimums that one should aim for. If you can achieve these minimum benchmarks, and can handle long days on your feet with a loaded pack, you’ll be well on your way to thriving in the backcountry.
Bert’s Strength & Conditioning Standards
Deadlift: 1.5X Bodyweight
Squat: 225 lbs
Pull-Ups: 3 – 5 (Strict, Dead Hang)
Row (Ergometer): 500 Meters in 2 mins
Farmer’s Carry: Bodyweight Equivalent 100 Meters Unbroken (No Dropping/Rest)
If you’re wondering why Bert is qualified to set these standards, his curriculum vitae in the strength and power sport realm should speak for itself:
Professional Highland Games Athlete
Highland Games World Champion (Amateur Division)
Silver Medalist at Hammer World Championships (Highland Games)
4X Division 1 All-American in the Hammer (Weight) Throw
2X Olympic Trials in the Hammer Throw (2002 – 2004)