As the CEO of Science of Cardio, I have been personal training clients for over 15 years. Working with many talents and abilities, my expertise ranges from professional athletes, retirees, young adults, and rehab clients. Besides fitness and my family, my biggest passion is bow hunting. So I decided to marry the two things I love together: bow hunting and fitness.
I love the intensity of having to get so close to a wild animal. I don’t know of any hunter that doesn’t get extended about a 200, 500, or 1000lb animal standing 5, 10, 15 yards from you. That is living life to the fullest. Bow hunting makes me feel alive! I have seen my grandfather age out of hunting and other family members slow down on their physical ability. So I want to keep in the hunting game as long as I can. Thus motivating me to keep optimal hunting fitness.
Having the ability to drag elk, deer, bear, sheep, etc. or pack out 100lbs of meat is a gift that shouldn't go wasted. It is crucial to keep fit, maintain the ability to move heavy things. Being able to hike from dust to dawn is what keeps hunters hunting or stops outdoorsmen/women from participating in their dreams. We only get one go around in your “earth suit” so make it the best you can. Life is short so hunt hard… I personally want to hike step terrain and sidehill as long as possible. I wish this for any outdoor enthusiast.
Here are some things that I do to remain in Bow hunting shape. Please note that these are suggestions/recommendations and can be modified depending on level/ability and/or equipment.
You should consult your physician before starting any exercise program.
Favorite Bow Hunting Exercise:
Hold a dumbbell in your bow hand (Shoulder Height) and pull back on a cable or theraband with your string arm. You can work on static holds on both arms or hold the dumbbell in your bow arm and do pulling reps with your pulling string arm. Option 1 - hold both arms for 3 sets of 30 seconds or Option 2 - hold dumbbell in bow hand while completing 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions pulling back the band with your string arm.
Single arm stability ball “figure 8” on wall or “circles” (shoulder stability for push and pull arms). Essentially hold a stability ball on a wall at shoulder height. Then do a figure 8 motion with your shoulder. You can also do circles with a ball on the wall. 3 sets of 15 reps
Band Pull Aparts - rotator cuff muscles. Hold an elastic band at shoulder level and pull both arms apart. This will engage your rotator cuff muscles, tendons, and ligaments.3 sets of 15-20 reps.
Hike - Build up leg strength and endurance (2-3x per week)
Distance (Mileage) beginners 1-3 miles, intermediate 3-6 miles, advanced 6+ miles.
Incline/decline (Slope) Did you know that going up requires more energy and higher cardio challenge but going down is more of a muscle challenge to stop the body from falling. I recommend both.
Include loads/packs for meat hauling and camping gear.
Sled Drag/Pull - Pulling your game to vehicle (Use a snow sled, maybe a sandbag or you can buy a metal weight sled that you can add weights to, to simulate dragging an animal. Example load a snow sled with wood or rocks for weight and pull or drag it for a given distance.
Shooting Bow - Shoot your bow multiple times per week 3x recommend for offseason and 4-6x recommend for preseason/in season
Angle Up (try shooting up a hill)
Angle Down (practice out a 2nd story window or out of a treestand)
Long-range Shots (50-120yds)
Quick Shots (shoot 5-10 arrows rapid fire in under 45 seconds at 40 yds)
Hold long Shots (20-90sec.)
Different positions (standing, seated, kneeling)
Back Row(s) - Back and shoulder muscles for pulling back your string
3 sets of 10-12 reps (2-3x per week) @ 70-90% effort. This can be done with a dumbbell, barbell or an elastic band. Standing or seated. An alternative is a bent over row.
Lat Pulldowns - Pulling muscles in the upper back used for climbing up in a tree stand
3 sets of 15-20 reps (2-3x per week) @ 70-90% effort. This can be done with a cable machine or an elastic band. Typically seated. An alternative is pull ups or chin ups.
Chest Press - Shoulder muscles for pushing your bow and stabilizing or holding your bow
3 sets of 8-12 reps (2-3x per week) @ 70-90% effort. This can be done with a dumbbell, barbell or an elastic band. Standing or seated. An alternative version is a push up.
Internal Shoulder Rotation - rotator cuff muscles. Lye on your back, with your elbow at shoulder level and your elbow bent at 90 degrees. Then place a book or yoga block in front of your hand/wrist. Lower your hand/wrist down/forward to book/yoga block and push into it. Hold with pressure for a given length of time. 3 sets of 10-15 sec. @ 10-20% 1RM
Cardio Circuit - (3 Rounds = 20 minutes)
Elliptical - 2 min. Sprint 80-90% max effort *Alternative use low impact modialites like an arc trainer or stationary bike
Farmer Walk - 50lb dumbbell in each hand. Walk 30-50yards holding dumbbells (down & back)
Incline Walk on Treadmill - 3 min. @ 2-2.2 mph max incline (20-30% incline). *Alternative is use a stair stepper or step mill machine or the stairs
Here is a basic bow hunting workout routine for a successful harvest. Please adjust accordingly to your needs and schedule. Be flexible and know that something is better than nothing. Feel free to modify based on your individual fitness level/ability.
Workout 1 (Saturday)
Seated Row Machine
3 set of 8-12 reps
Single Arm Band Lat Pulldown
3 sets of 10-15 reps each side
Internal Shoulder Rotation Iso (yoga block)
3 sets of 5-10 sec. each arm
DB Shoulder Lateral Raise (Holds)
2 sets of 20-30sec. each arm
4 sets of 75yds (Alternate grip/side)
Bike or Sauna (Save the knees)
Bike 50-75 rpms
Shooting (Angles & Holding shots)
20 reps (10 reps Up & 10 reps Down)
Hold before each shot 30 sec.
Workout 2 (Monday)
3 sets of 8-12 reps
3 sets of 10-15 reps
3 sets of 10 reps
Band Pull Aparts
2 sets of 20 reps
Light mini band
3 sets of 50yds
10 reps @ each - 30,40,50,60yds
Workout 3 (Thursday)
DB Bent-over Row
3 sets of 6-10 reps
3 sets of 12-15 reps
Shoulder Stability Ball Fig 8
2 sets of 15 reps each side
3 sets of 50yds
20 reps @ 10 yds
20 reps @ 80 yds
Going too hard or fast out of the gate will most likely result in an injury typically like joint inflammation injuries (bursitis or tendonitis). So when in doubt be patient. I encourage you to workout every other day to prevent overuse injuries. This will allow your cells and tissues (nerves, muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments) a chance to heal or repair before challenging them again. Another tactic to implement is every 2-4months take an entire week off with no body stress to let my body heal and repair. The biggest issue I deal with clients is pushing through pain and using too much weight when things are injured or healing. Don’t do it. Never work through pain. Adjust angle, position, load/weight, stop, or consult a professional.
So in closing, I wish you success on our upcoming hunt(s). Train smarter, not harder. You make and create your own destiny. So shoot your bow frequently, strength train with purpose and condition those lungs for those trophies of a lifetime.
As my dad always said “you can’t shoot them from your living room”. So get out there and have fun.