Every fall—usually while lying face-down somewhere on a mountain—I make a resolution: Next year, I tell myself, I will be in great shape come elk season. That resolution usually ends the day I come out of the mountains and find myself in a hotel with a pizza box on my stomach and several empty beer cans scattered around. Come the following July, I realize hunting season is just six weeks away, and I cram as much physical activity as I can bear—which really isn’t much—into the hot summer days. I call it the Fat Guy Fitness Plan.
Fellow Tagged Out writer Michael Shea has a great workout plan for over-achievers, which you can find here. I’m the exact opposite of an over-achiever, though, so here is what I try to do in the weeks leading up to hunting season. I still suffer in the mountains, but as long as I’m not the most out-of-shape guy at camp, I feel good about myself. (Note: I’m not a doctor. If you’re grossly out of shape, you might want to consult your physician before taking on this or any workout plan.)
Week 1: Getting started is all about baby steps, with an emphasis on steps. Right now, you just need to get off the couch and walk, preferably farther than to the beer fridge and back. If you’re going from no physical activity at all, start with an easy 10- to 15-minute stroll the first day. Each day after, add another 5 to 10 minutes. By day six and seven, try to walk for a solid hour. If you’re feeling winded, stop and smell the flowers before continuing.
Week 2: Where I live there is little elevation change. That’s a problem for a guy that likes to hunt in the mountains or even the hills. The only way to train for mountains is to climb, so I go to my local high-school football field and climb the bleachers. Auditoriums work too, if you’re friendly with the janitor or the coach, who’s probably running camps already. This week, skip walking for two of the days and climb some stairs instead. Sure, you could go to the gym and get on the Stairmaster, but that sounds miserable—unless you’re lucky enough to get on a machine behind a pretty girl, or guy, depending on your persuasion.
Week 3: It’s time to add weight to your workout. Get your hunting pack and fill it with something heavy, like encyclopedias (remember those?). I carry the Encyclopedia Brittanica volumes A-E, hoping to gain some knowledge through osmosis as I sweat. Wear the pack and your hunting boots as you walk and climb, which you should now do three days a week. To mix things up, walk the risers at an angle or take the steps two at a time.
And don’t forget about your arms. If you live in the country like me, carry your rifle or bow with you on your walks and climbs. If you live in the city, you might refrain from doing this. Opt for a couple 2- to 5-pound free weights—or better yet a steel bar that approximates the weight and feel of your weapon.