Today's blog post is brought to you by our fabulous blogger and outdoor guru, Katlyn Spade.
Start The Hunting Season At The Top Of Your Game
Two of the most common areas of the body injured by bowhunters are the rotator cuff and the forearm due to the actions required in bowhunting. During the off-season, many hunters neglect to train these areas, which can cause strain and the increased likelihood of injury when it’s time to pick up the bow again. In order to minimize the risk of putting yourself out of action during hunting season, focus on maintaining cardio fitness and strengthening both the upper and lower body in preparation for your next hunt.
Crank Up The Cardio
When it’s cold and dark outside, it’s tempting to neglect cardio training, but in order to perform at your best come hunting-season, it’s important to maintain your fitness and stamina. You could find yourself walking long distances to find the perfect treestand, and even scouting your catch can take you miles. The most efficient way to maintain your cardio fitness is to practice High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) which will increase your lung capacity and improve your heart rate. The principle behind HIIT is to alternate quick bursts of high intensity exercise with periods of moderate intensity activity. If the weather’s on your side, you can do this by running outdoors and increasing your speed for short bursts, but during the winter, you may need to consider indoor workouts. A treadmill is the perfect companion for HIIT - simply adjust the speed of the treadmill so that you can alternate bursts of high and moderate intensity training. For variation, follow HIIT videos online, which will coach you through a range of aerobic exercises.
Work On Your Upper Body Strength
The best way to prevent an injury to the rotator cuff when you’re shooting is to ensure that you maintain your upper body strength. Drawing a bow relies on the muscles in your shoulders, as well as those in your back and stomach. Whether you’re training at home or in the gym, focus your upper body strength training on your shoulders. Bent-over rows are particularly valuable to archers because they target the same muscles you use to draw your bow and ensure full rotation and flexibility. Use cable machines and resistance bands to practice the motions used in drawing your bow and holding a steady shot. Pay attention to strengthening your forearms too by using dumbbells or practicing pull ups.
In addition to regular gym activity, try to find time during the off-season to practice your archery skills. As well as training your upper body, this will help you stay on your game in terms of precision and accuracy, so you’ll be more likely to step into the hunting season at the top of your game. If you don’t have a shooting range nearby, a simulation bow is a good investment.
Don’t Forget Your Lower Body
While upper body strength is the most essential to bowhunting, it’s important to maintain lower body strength too. Your hunt will often involve steep climbs, and having your lower body strength in tip-top shape will make these easier during a hunt. Train your quads and glutes by working squats into your training program, and maintain your mobility and stability by practicing lunges. In the gym, do deadlifts to train all major muscle groups so you’re fully prepared when it’s time to lace up your hunting boots.
It’s tempting to hibernate indoors and wait for the winter to pass, but to ensure you’re at the top of your game when it’s time to pick up your bow again, make sure you train regularly during the off-season. You’ll reduce the risk of sustaining an injury when the season rolls around, and you’ll maximize your chances of a satisfying hunt.