Hunters, Anglers Start Now!

Gym
Photo Credit: Margie Anderson

Shaping Up For The Great Outdoors: There’s No Time Like The Present

Does trudging up the ramp to fetch your truck and trailer leave you huffing and puffing? What about throwing a jerkbait all day long – can your arm take it?

How about your last hunt? Did you find yourself missing out on some opportunities because you just didn’t have it in you to climb that hill? To get into better shape for your next hunt or fishing trip, start now.

If you want to maximize your enjoyment of the outdoors, getting and staying fit should be a priority. There are a lot of things you can do to make yourself a stronger outdoorsman. Building core strength is essential — it will improve your posture, strengthen your back, and build endurance and stability.

The Plank

The Plank is a simple exercise you can do anywhere to build your core strength. Simply get down on the floor with your elbows and forearms on the floor about shoulder distance apart.

Your goal is to keep your body straight and up off the floor on your elbows and toes. The toes are bent forward. Start with 20 to 30 seconds at first and build up as you get stronger.

In Step

Balance and stability are important whether you’re standing on the deck of a rocking boat or scrambling up a hill covered with loose rock. Find something to step up on and you can easily work on balance.

Step up, raise one knee, and hold it up for two to four seconds. Step back down, then do it over again. Work toward twenty hold-ups on each leg, and concentrate on keeping your back straight while pulling your belly button in.

At The Gym

Investing in a gym membership is a very good idea. You’re more likely to work out when you are paying for it anyway, and a gym offers much more variety than you can get at home.

If you belong to a gym, take advantage of all it has to offer. Most gyms give you a free session with a trainer once a month, so use it. Tell the trainer what your goals are and he or she can design a workout to help you get there.

A trainer can show you the correct way to use the machines in the gym, but he can also show you many of exercises you can do at home or on the road with a minimum of equipment. You can do a lot of different things with a band and a step, and the addition of a set of dumbbells gives you even more options.

The band and weights can accompany you on those out-of-town hunting trips and fishing tournaments, and you can almost always find something to use for a step.

Mix It Up

Muscle memory is a good thing if you are practicing martial arts forms, but if you are simply doing the same exercises over and over, your body doesn’t get as much benefit out of them. Switch things up constantly to keep hitting your muscles at different angles. This will give you overall body strength.

No Grimacing

Strengthening your rotator cuff muscles is crucial, especially if you plan to do any heavy weight lifting. Visit the free-weight room in any gym and you’ll see plenty of guys grimacing as they rub their shoulders. Don’t let that be you.

The first thing you should ask your trainer is how to perform the simple exercises that will strengthen your rotator cuffs. Do these every single time you visit the gym –— make them part of your warm-up routine.

Be Specific

If you find yourself constantly performing a certain action, specificity of training can help you build strength in the muscles you use for that action. For instance, to improve your casting stamina, use a band to provide resistance while you perform your casting motion. You’ll build endurance and teach your body not to hurt itself.

For Shooting Sports

To build endurance for shooting sports like trap and skeet, try using a weighted bar. These bars come in sizes from 2 pounds to 27 pounds, and you can practice your mount with one just as though it were a gun. “Mount” the bar 10 times, slowly raising and lowering it, then hold it up on the last lift. Hold it up as long as you can, and gradually increase the time as you get stronger.

It’s Not About Mass

You don’t need to be concerned with building up a lot of muscle mass. If you just want to build strength and endurance, use low weights and high reps.

For example, to strengthen your wrists, you can use small dumbbells and lift them using just your wrists. Rest your forearms on your legs and raise and lower the dumbbells with your hands facing down, then again with your hands facing up.

At The Heart Of It All

Your program should be designed to be part of an overall fitness regimen, incorporating strength training as well as cardio. Cardio is simply anything that gets your heart and lungs working. There are plenty of weight-bearing machines that can give you a good cardio workout at the gym.

On the road, you can simply climb the stairs at the motel. Jogging or vigorous hiking or bicycling can also do the trick, but remember that your goal is to get your heart rate up for extended periods of time.

Cardio Differs

Cardio is different from aerobics. A cardio workout pushes you toward the higher end of your target heart rate to make your entire cardiovascular system stronger.

A stronger cardiovascular system means that more oxygen and nutrients can be delivered to your muscles, which will make you able to work harder and longer without getting tired.

The bonus is that as you get stronger and more fit, you’ll burn more calories even when you’re resting. The staff at the gym can show you the cardio machines (treadmills, elliptical trainers, etc.), and most of them can be programmed with your age and weight so that the machine itself will adjust your workout to keep your heart level at the target rate.

Let That Extra Weight Not Be Yours

More and more, today’s pro anglers are athletes. Mike Iaconelli is a prime example. Working out and keeping fit and strong have helped him immensely on the road to being a world champion bass fisherman. Ike claims that his fitness regimen gives him an edge over the competition.

Even if you don’t plan to hit the tournament trail, strength training will help you enjoy your outdoor pursuits even more, and with fewer injuries. Working out regularly will help you lose fat and build muscle, too. Let that extra weight you’re toting be a deer, not excess belly fat.

And, Wait! There’s More: Tips For Healthful Eating

Your snacks for the outdoors (or anywhere, really) should include a balance of carbs and protein for energy and endurance. Balancing carbs with proteins and fats helps to keep the release of energy from the carbs more gradual, which helps to sustain energy.

So when you’re packing for a day of fishing or hunting, bring along things like fresh fruit and nuts.

Jerky is okay in moderation but watch the sodium levels. You should be wary of energy bars too because a lot of them are just like candy

Aim for a good balance of carbs, fiber, and protein when you shop for meal- replacement bars.

Drinking water is incredibly important. Water helps flush toxins out of your body, and you’ll produce a lot of toxins while you’re working out.

Water also helps maintain muscle tone and healthy skin. If you don’t drink enough water, your body will start to hold on to all it can, and water retention is seldom a pretty picture.

Drinking eight 8-oz glasses of water per day is what experts usually recommend, but if you’re overweight, you should add one glass for each extra 25 pounds you’re carrying.