Andrew Schubert here to tell you how I make sure I am physically prepared for elk hunting season year after year.
If you're anything like me, you spend 11 months out of the year dreaming about September. And when September rolls around, you want to be ready for it.
I spend all of winter actually strength training and trying as hard as I can to build as much muscle as possible. And with that comes eating more than I do the rest of the year. I’m in a calorie surplus, but I keep my protein very high. I'm eating about 1 gram of protein, per pound of body weight for me. And that helps me build muscle and it helps me maintain muscle when I go into a cutting phase later in the year.
If needed, I'll supplement with a Dark Mountain pure isolate whey protein. And every single day I supplement with Dark Mountain creatine monohydrate. Those two together are magical for building muscle and maintaining muscle, no matter what time of year it is.
With muscle and with weight gain, you're going to gain some body fat and that's okay, because that's going to be corrected when you start getting more cardio implemented into your workout later on in the year.
When Spring rolls around, I've got the itch to get outside. So I'll start incorporating a lot more cardio.
This time of year, I will start loading my pack up and doing a lot more real-life type training. Heavy packs and just hiking, hiking, hiking. The more real-life training you can incorporate, the more physically prepared for hunting you will be. This is a great time to get your bow out and start practicing as well.
I change my diet a little bit to adjust for my maintenance phase. I'm no longer in a calorie surplus, but still keep protein a high priority.
As we roll into Summer, this is when we start our "cutting" phase. This is when I start going into a calorie deficit and I focus on fat loss. My goal is to go into opening day of archery season as lean as possible. With fat loss, you're also going to lose a little bit of muscle. But if you keep your protein high and you keep supplementing with creatine and you keep strength training, you can maintain most of your muscle mass. You will lose some, but that's just part of the process.
With the cutting phase we are obviously going implement a lot more cardio. I will be doing some HIIT cardio, whether it's on the echo bike, a rower, or just good old fashioned sprints.
I continue with the strength training, but it's modified a little bit more. I’ll be doing a little bit more reps with less weight, but I'm still strength training around five days a week. This helps add that cardio aspect to our strength training, while still being able to engage our muscles and maintain muscle mass.
I will also spend Summer focusing on more real-life training with my pack, boots, and all my gear on. The more training you can do there, the better off you're going to be when the real moment comes.
And during Summer, if you didn't start already in the Spring, you need to be shooting your bow as much as possible. Start working on training your back, shoulders, and arms. When you draw your bow, you're working several different muscle groups, and you need to be ready. You need to make sure that you have reactivated that muscle memory that may have taken a break over the winter.
Once we actually get to hunting season, I start focusing on meal prep. I keep my focus high on a protein-rich diet throughout hunting season, but then I'll mix up my fats and my carbs just to get my calorie level but up out of the cutting or deficit phase we were in during the summer.
I want to be in a maintenance level or a slight calorie surplus, so that I have plenty of energy and I'm not getting burned out in the woods.
We think about elk hunting season all year long. And that bull elk that you're dreaming about all year long deserves as much respect from you as possible. And to give it the most most respect, you need to be ready for it. \
If you need to hold back at full draw for 30, 45, 60 seconds or more, you need to be prepared to do that. We need to train all year to be over-prepared for that clutch moment when that bull walks out in front of us.