Fitness Training for Hunters and Hikers at Cabela's

Fitness Training for Hunters and Hikers

Author: Sean Sutherland and Tera Schmid

Why train?

Offseason training makes hiking and hunting safer and more enjoyable. Training also has a significant impact on hunting and hiking success. For example, all-day pheasant hunting, mountain hiking and high-country big-game adventures require a level of strength and endurance many participants take for granted until it’s too late. Participating in a training program before your next trip is not only a good idea, it can help you get the most from the outdoor experience.

Developing a training program can be as simple as a short daily trail walk or as involved as a full-fledged conditioning program. It all depends on the end goal: a sheep hunt above the timberline requires thoughtful long-term conditioning; a hike through the marsh with a bag full of duck decoys, while still physically exerting, will not require as much preparation. Premium footwear is an essential part of a successful training program, and Cabela’s has fitness-training footwear that’s perfect for the job.

Athletic footwear comes in three basic styles: cross trainers, trail runners and walking shoes.

Walking shoes are built for supreme walking comfort. Their flex and cushioning matches the walking stride and heel-to-toe weight transfer. Many models have anatomical footbeds that gradually conform to your feet for a perfect long-term fit.

Cross trainers have a supportive construction that’s a good fit for a variety of activities, including weight training, cardio workouts, basketball and light jogging.

They offer moderate ankle support and excellent stability.

Trail runners are the off-road athletic-shoe option. They transition smoothly from paved surfaces to gravel, and offer the support, traction and durability required for trail running. Specific trail runners are available to meet the needs of casual and advanced runners.

Fitness-training shoes must fit properly to be a fully effective part of a training program. Have both feet measured for length and width by a Cabela’s Footwear Department Outfitter.

Arch support is key to a good fit. High arches and low arches require different levels of support to ensure maximum comfort. Cabela’s Footwear Department offers a great selection of insoles and support components to turn your training footwear into an investment in comfort.

Before you get started, maximize your workout by finding your maximum heart rate.

To obtain your maximum heart rate, simply take 220 - your age.

Check your heart rate halfway through and at the end of every workout.

The simplest way to measure your heart rate is by finding your pulse through your carotid artery (neck) or radial artery (wrist) count your pulse for six seconds and add a zero to that number. This is a great way to control your pace. Remember: A sensible, steady pace makes exercise more enjoyable, and, most importantly, safer.

Level One:


  • • 3-5 days a week for three weeks prior to your activity
    • 30 minutes a day
    • Pace: 50%-60% of your maximum heart rate
    Key: Use good posture/chin up/look forward; swing arms front to back, holding them at a 90º angle.
    Goal: To get into a routine to improve in the following activities: light hiking (no pack), upland hunting, small-game hunting, waterfowling, camping.

Level Two:


  • • 4-6 days a week for three weeks prior to your activity
    • 30-45 minutes a day
    • Pace: 60%-75% of your maximum heart rate
    • After a week of walking at Level Two, add half of the weight you will be carrying in your pack. Use household items to add weight to your pack (flour, bricks, canned food, etc.). Working with the extra weight will get your body used to carrying a full pack
    Key: Good posture while adding weight. Wear appropriate footwear to avoid injury.
    Goal: To obtain a higher fitness level, along with some muscle training, for the following activities: day hiking (pack less than 20 lbs.), deer hunting, turkey hunting, predator hunting, walk-in waterfowling.

Level Three:


  • • 5-7 days a week for three weeks prior to your activity
    • 45-60 minutes a day
    • Pace: 75%-90% of your maximum heart rate
    • Carry your pack at all times with about ½ to ¾ of its full-load weight
    • Hill training at least twice a week. Depending on availability, use locations that are convenient (football stadium steps, golf-course hills)
    Key: Continue to use good posture, especially when wearing the pack.
    Goal: To obtain endurance for elk hunting, sheep hunting, heavy-pack mountain hiking.

Know your limits: consult your physician prior to performing any exercise program if you have any medical conditions that may be affected by a training program. Consult a Personal-Training Professional for more details or training options.