After three weeks of working out, my resolve really gets tested. Hunting season is that much closer, and though I do feel better physically, the reality of the mountains starts to sink in. It’s very easy to fall into fatalism and spend every evening from now until hunting season sitting on the porch with a big bowl of blueberry cobbler á la mode. Try to resist this urge, and save the cobbler (sans ice cream) for a reward at the end of a week of physical activity.

Week 4: You’re not going to want to hear this, but it’s time to get serious about cardio. For flatlanders, cardiovascular exercise is the best way to prepare for extreme changes in elevation. For those of us with a belly and bad knees, a bicycle is the answer. Spinning classes are great, but that requires a gym nearby. As much as I hate it, I actually run on a treadmill. Anything to get that heart rate up and lungs burning. Aim for two hard 30-minute sessions this week, but feel free to slow or stop as needed. The rest of the week walk and climb those stairs, though you can cut these sessions down to 30 minutes if you’d like.

Week 5: Let’s extend that cardio by going long for one of the sessions—at least an hour. Again,
if you need to slow or stop a few times, that’s completely fine and expected. We’ll also add another day of biking or jogging. On your non-cardio days, try to do two casual walks—one in the morning and evening—and mix in some step-through lunges as you go. Whenever you’re walking, you should be wearing your pack and carrying weights.

Week 6: During this home stretch, I actually like to take it a little bit easier, figuring my body needs some rest before it really gets abused in the coming weeks. Drop back to two days of hard cardio sessions about 45 minutes each, with two to three days in between them. Take casual walks—with boots on and pack in place—during the rest of the week.

All this work may not have you ready for the mountains but should decrease the risk of dying from exertion while you’re hunting in them. And remember, the Fat Guy Fitness Plan isn’t about being the fittest guy in camp. It’s about not being the fattest.