For the man or woman who trains for the outdoors, nothing beats training in the outdoors… train the way you play. However, for those who cannot get into the outdoors that often, we have to manufacture the kind of environment that would simulate a hunting scenario. For that reason, there are 3 cardio machines you should focus on and 3 machines your should avoid like the plague.
The Cardio You Need
Most people go way too fast and hold their weight up on the side rails, negating the benefits of this machine. However, if you stand up straight with your weight slightly forward like you would if you were actually climbing stairs or a hillside, this machine simulates climbing a steep hill, engaging your quads and calves very effectively. To make it even better, load 5-15lbs into a backpack and wear it while you work to simulate carrying your pack. This is solid gold.
Treadmill (on an incline)
Adjusting the incline on a treadmill to a 30 degree incline engages your glutes very effectively. It is okay to hold on to the handles if need be, so long as your are not leaning so far back from your legs being in front of you that you are looking at the ceiling. Running or briskly walking on a treadmill simulates the trek across a long, gradual grade, a scenario any hunter is familiar with.
Seated Rowing Machine
This machine engages your entire body, specifically the muscles needed to maintain good posture while under load. Using your legs to push back and your arms and back to row, your quads, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, back, and biceps are all working. This not only gets your heart rate up, it also engages your muscles effectively.
The Cardio You Don’t Need
Several studies have shown that this machine is the most inefficient machine in the gym. That might not stop tons of people at the gym from striding their lives away, but not you; you’re not going to fall for it. For all of the movement involved with this machine, it engages the target muscles less than any other exercise. Don’t waste your time.
The Stationary Bike
If you are training to ride a bike, then ride a stationary bike. But you’re not training to ride a bike… You’re training to hunt. Put in the work on something else.
This is a great machine for physical therapy and focused cardio; it is not a great machine for developing a higher level of stamina and fitness in the muscle groups used most in the backcountry.
Cardio is necessary for the fit hunter. It helps increase cardio vascular health and aerobic stamina while burning excess fat. But as the old adage goes, “Work smarter, not harder.” There is no sense in spending time on a machine that is not going to help you achieve your goals. Work smart and hard. Focus on the cardio that will help you prepare to be a better hunter in the backcountry and you will see that the results are worth it.