Crossfit: The Elk Hunter's Conditioning Program

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Elk have been killed close to roads where they could be loaded whole into the bed of a pickup. But it doesn't happen often and I'm not sure that is the experience that I long for. The type of elk hunting that I prefer requires rigorous physical exertion that can cripple someone who is not in shape. Being a college hockey player I have to be in at least fair physical condition most of the year but when one of my buddies got back from the Navy Seals he changed the way I think about physical training for hunting. He swears by a technique called crossfit that I am starting to convert to.
Crossfit is a strength/conditioning routine that focuses on not specializing on certain body parts. It is a very broad training program and that is why it works so well for hunters. Take the bench press for example. It is a press/building move for your chest. But what exact point does it serve for the elk hunter. Crossfit can be tailored to whatever you want out of it. Here is a basic rundown of what my buddy is doing to prepare for a 1st season backpacking hunt.
Crossfit is meant to be universally adaptable. Different people have different work out intensity needs not different workout type needs. Work out 4 days a week with 3 days of rest thrown in. Take this routine and start easy and work up to get in the best hunting shape of your life.
Day 1 (3 sets each)
-Jumping rope (5 minute duration)
-Standing cable butterflies
-Standing military dumbbell press
-Core (crunches and excercise ball moves)
Day 2
-Swimming (20 minutes)
-Wide grip pull ups
-Preacher bench curls
-Core (lower back & roman chair)
Day 3
-Power Cleans
-Leg Press
-Bench Press
-Core (crunches and excercise ball moves)
Day 4
-Running (two miles)
-Tricep rope extensions
-Core (Lower back & roman chair)


arrowflipper's picture

I'm tired

Wow!  I'm tired just reading about the workout.  My goodness, this old man ain't never goin on not elk hunt if I have to do all that.  I'm 66 years young and like to think I'm in pretty good shape for my age, but I don't hold a candle to that.  I've been elk hunting and backpacked my elk out about 4 miles, but I wasn't in that kind of shape.  Are you trying to kill yourself? 

Like Hunter25 said, I'll take my elk right beside the road any time I can.  In fact, if I could shoot one way up on the hill and have him roll down into the back of my pickup, I do it. 

I have a grandson who told me that a "real" hunter would sleep on the hard ground without a pad.  He said he didn't even need a sleeping bag.  Well, I guess I'm not a real hunter.  I prefer a cot with a two inch pad on that and a warm sleeping bag with my own soft pillow.  I like to hike out of camp and shoot my elk less than a quarter mile from the road.  When it's in the freezer and I take out some backstraps, I don't know that I'll be able to tell the difference between elk that was taken 17 miles on top of a mountain or 100 feet off the road.

I like to call deer meat "Dear Meat" when I have packed it out a mile or so on my back.  I call the same meat "venison" when I drive a four-wheeler up to it and haul it to the house.  I quit being macho a long time ago.  I don't have anything to prove to anyone.  I'm just an old man that loves to hunt and is fairly successful at it.


hunter25's picture

Sounds like most of us here

Sounds like most of us here are older guys and gonna need a lot of pre work to get ready for this one. That's great workout program that we can all use as a blueprint for working up our own.

And as far as the elk go I will happily take mine as close to the road as possible thank you.

jim boyd's picture

Wow - that looks like a young

Wow - that looks like a young man's work out routine!
Hawkeye is likely already in good shape - and I am an old man... I am getting tired just reading this very well written tip!
Seriously, I want to go out west on a hunt in 2010 (fingers crossed) and better start getting in shape now... I do not walk or work out nearly enough and I can see that a very expensive trip could be either mitigated or perhaps squandered entirely if you went out there in poor shape... at a minimum, you would not be able to perform well enough to "keep" yourself in the game.
I am going to bookmark this hint and start working to get in shape in a gradual manner - not just for the hunt - but also for life in general!
Great tip Hawkeye - thanks!
crowsfoot's picture

gettin in shape

I better start now for next year, whew! break time!

numbnutz's picture

good stuff, thanks

good stuff, thanks

Critter done's picture


I want to go elk hunting but didn't think I could keep up. This might work.

ManOfTheFall's picture

Thanks. I've never been elk

Thanks. I've never been elk hunting, but, I plan on it sometime within the next couple of years.