Become a backwoods badass with one of these at home, functional fitness programs.
Money can buy just about anything. But being in top physical condition is, arguably, the greatest equalizer where consistent success in hunting is concerned.
Out-of-shape hunters have poorer concentration, less determination, are less alert, and more injury and accident prone. A hunter with strength and stamina can hunt longer, hunt harder, and trek farther. That ability to keep going when the going gets tough is something you can’t buy in a store. And it’s that endurance and determination you can rely on to create opportunity more often than luck.
“Functional fitness” is the newest buzzword in the fitness industry. Simply put, this is training designed to prepare you for any physical challenge life may throw at you. No gym membership required. Minimal equipment. Here’s how some of the most popular stack up.
A favorite training methodology used by police, firemen, and military Special Operations soldiers, CrossFit mixes bodyweight exercises, track and field running, power, and Olympic weight lifting movements into constantly varying circuit routines with very little rest between movements.
Cost: None. Online access to daily workouts is free.
Equipment: Olympic barbell set, pull-up bar, dumbbells, gymnastic rings
What to Expect: Ten to 20 minutes a day and workouts that rarely repeat and never get old. After a couple months of CrossFit, you’ll not only be able to jump up from your chair and finish a 10K in a respectable time but also still have enough in the tank to singlehandedly pack out an elk.
Misses: CrossFit offers free access to instructional videos, articles on diet, and loads of information on how to safely get started. But if you don’t know a “thruster” from a “power clean,” the learning curve can be steep.
Mountain Athlete, www.mtnathlete.com
When founder of Mountain Athlete Rob Shaul isn’t in the gym training mountain rescue teams, climbers, Green Berets, and Navy SEALs, he can often be found hunting around his Jackson, Wyoming, home. Shaul, a mountain fitness expert, tailors his high-intensity workouts specifically for high-altitude athletes—including big game hunters. His 6-week Big-Game Hunting Training Program is a mountain hunter’s crash course in strength, endurance, and mental fortitude.
Cost: $40, complete course available in the Mountain Athlete online store
Equipment: Olympic barbell set, dumbbells
What to Expect: About an hour a day, 5 days per week, and in 6-weeks you’ll build the lungs and legs necessary to hike thousands of vertical feet, perform well with a loaded backpack in the high country, and be “harder to kill” in case something goes wrong during your trip.
Misses: None. Mountain Athlete offers free access to exercise instructional videos and workouts can be scaled to fit your fitness level going in.
You’ve seen the infomercials, but here’s the thing—P90x actually works. The focus on pull-ups, pushups, and intense anaerobic circuit training makes P90X another favorite of military soldiers and anybody else looking for the fast track to total body strength and cardio health.
Cost: Around $150
Equipment: pullup bar, dumbbells or resistance bands
What to Expect: A diet plan and 13 instructional workout DVDs that will make you ripped and strong. The marketing may seem flashy, but the workouts are no joke. As for the high cost—and considering that P90X is the only fitness program that delivers on the promise to change your life in 90 days—it’s a bargain.
Misses: After the 90 days, you have to repeat the program. But if you want to get fit fast, the answer is none.
Ross Training, www.rosstraining.com
Former boxer, innovative trainer and author Ross Enamait offers one of the most intense total-body conditioning and functional strength training programs you can find. His book Never Gymless blends body-weight movements and weight training with everyday objects (sandbags, wheelbarrows, sledgehammers, tires) into a punishingly effective program that will help you go 12 rounds on any hunt.
Equipment to Buy: None.
What to Expect: Remember when Rocky’s training went old school to beat the Russian? Pushups, pull-ups, hill running, sled pulling, and stuff like pushing around a wheelbarrow full of concrete blocks. Never Gymless offers a complete workout program with lots sample workouts and basic diet advice.
Misses: None. Enamait is the real deal.
Matt Furey Enterprises, www.mattfurey.com
Former wrestler and martial artist, Matt Furey, took a page from the Charles Atlas school of fitness instruction and has created a mighty recognizable empire thanks to the success of a dozen best-selling books. One of the best known—Combat Conditioning—is one of the new classics of functional fitness training that focuses on body weight exercises and calisthenics to build superb strength and overall conditioning.
What to Expect: Furey bases his conditioning program on what he calls the “Royal Court” of body-weight exercises”—the Hindu pushup, Hindu squat, and back bridge. Theses exercises are demanding and, if perfected, practiced regularly, and supplemented with the other exercises in the book, will give you a basic foundation of muscular strength and endurance.
Misses: Combat Conditioning offers only basic guidelines for workout routines. But if you’re looking for a good place to start your mountain fitness regime, you could do much worse.