Outdoor Solutions’ Founder Greg Ray looks at his journey from the couch to tackling some of the toughest terrains and conditions routinely encountered during a big-game hunt.
We’ve established that, if you are going to be successful out West, you have to prepare mentally, maintain the proper fuel for the body and have a good level of fitness. Big-game hunts are usually in rugged and remote areas where you will need to hike miles with large elevation changes. Then once the animal is down, the real work begins with field dressing and packing out the meat. All of this requires a great deal of energy and effort so hunter fitness is one of the most critical aspects to ensuring a successful hunt. Getting to that point takes much work and determination. I can personally attest to the need to be in the best shape possible before venturing into the field.
Knowing what I know now, it is much easier to STAY in shape rather than GET in shape. And when I say, “stay” in shape, I don’t mean working out twice per day and eating salads every day for the rest of your life. In fact I wouldn’t recommend eating salads every day regardless, that’s just gross.
Everyone has a starting point. If you are one of those that need to GET in shape, you can’t go from the couch to hunting the Tetons overnight. You didn’t get out of shape overnight; so don’t expect to be ready to go in two weeks. My best advice is to make this a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. Quick fixes in health and fitness are like “get-rich-quick schemes,” with no retainable gains.
Like my friend Kevin Guillen from Wilderness Athlete says, “Fully Commit.” We mentioned in Part II that the best diet is one that you will stick with and the same goes for fitness. Start with a routine you like and that you will stick with. The biggest mistake, other than doing nothing, is people being over zealous their first week or two and make themselves so sore they can’t or don’t want to continue because they’ve made it too hard on themselves and they quit.
Here are some of my best quick tip pieces of advice I can offer.
- Don’t rely on just the scale to measure your progress. Use it as a tool in your arsenal but don’t let it determine your success. There are too many factors other than what the number on the scale says.
- Take a picture day 1 (before picture). This picture is just for you and no one else. It has to be a picture that shows you where you are. For guys, that means no shirt; for girls, sports bra and shorts. Here is why. You see yourself every day, and we are our own worst critic when it comes to progress. You will be amazed at what you see on day 45 as compared to day 1, and that will be your motivation!
- Take measurements. The tape doesn’t lie. For me, at 54 years old, I am not concerned about adding a ton of more muscle. I want to maintain what I have, but my gut is my indicator. It seems to go up and down with my weight. I can determine my progress just from that one measurement.
- Set a goal. There are numerous goals you can set; lose a certain number of pounds, inches off your waist, time it takes to run a mile, hitting level 10 on the stairmaster. Once you reach that goal, set a new one. This is how you get better and better.
- HAVE A PLAN! You will go nowhere fast without one and you will NOT hit your goals without one. Every morning before I go to the gym, I know exactly what workout I am doing and why. In fact, I pretty much know my entire week and, in some cases, my entire month ahead of time.
I get bored easily, so I really mix my workouts up. I have learned a ton from different trainers I have used, and for the past five years have been a Crossfit junkie. Below is my current routine, but I am getting ready to change it up about mid-July to be more specific to a hunt I have coming up and to specific areas that I am lacking physically. I will be enlisting the help from Dan Staton of www.elkshape.com
Please keep in mind, my routine below is pretty aggressive and I have been doing this for years. So don’t feel like you have to workout twice a day every day to get to where you want to be. In fact, we will have a discussion about over training with Kevin soon.
Here is my current routine. The workout below is early mornings on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday, I walk 20 minutes on an inclined treadmill, 20 minutes on the Stairmaster and then I do an Every Minute On the Minute (EMOM) of pushing a sled about 20 yards and then add in either 10 push ups or 10 Goblet Squats for 10 rounds. My evening workouts are either at my Crossfit (not an affiliate) gym or walk three miles with my weighted vest.
Three-Day Hypertrophy Workout
Day 1 – Pull
A) Deadlift 4×8
B1) Wide grip pull up 3×12
B2) DB Shoulders shrugs 3×12-15
C) Single arm bent over row 3×12
D) Dumbbell lateral raises 3×12
E1) Bent over DB Rear deltoid flyes 3×15
E2) Biceps curls 3×10-15
Day 2 – Legs/Hips
A) Back squat 4×10
B) Front squat 3×8
C) Walking lunge 3×10-12
D1) DB single leg DL 3×10-12
D2) Split Squat 3×10
E1) Single leg glute bridge 3×15
E2) DB Calf raise 3×15
Day 3 – Push
A) DB or BB bench press 4×8
B) DB incline press 3×12
C) DB overhead press 4×10-12
D) Close-grip push up 3×12-15
E1) Leaning lateral raises 3×12
E2) DB Triceps extensions 3×12
It doesn’t matter if you workout in your garage, the park or nice gym. The important thing is to get out and move.
There are a ton of resources for workouts online, but here are a few that I have used and really liked.
- Any type of Crossfit
- Mike Millner: I’ve used Mike’s workouts for years https://www.peakoptimizationperformance.com/
- Dan Staton: I will be using his program in the final weeks before my mule deer hunt. www.elkshape.com