You carry a pack. You hike long hills. You traverse uneven terrain. While hunting, you are constantly using the muscles that make up the driving force of your muscular system: your posterior chain.
The posterior chain is the group of muscles in your lower back and backs of your legs; more specifically, the spinal erectors, glutes, and hamstrings. These muscles make up the chain that links the entire backside of your body together. These muscles literally carry most of the load when you are in the backcountry, so it only makes sense that you should devote regular training to the muscles. Additionally, proper training of these muscles will reduce lower back pain and reduce the risk of injury.
Here are a few exercises to improve your posterior chain strength, flexibility, and overall conditioning:
Approach a straight bar (or diamond bar) and squat down until you can grasp the bar with your hands just outside of your legs (If using a straight bar, grip the bar with one hand gripping over the bar and the other hand gripping under the bar, thus holding the bar with alternating grips). With your butt down, chest out, and eyes forward, begin to lift with you legs while keeping your back as straight as possible (Your body will want to straighten your legs first and then straighten your back out, but that is a great way to injure yourself). As your legs begin to straighten, slowly erect your spine, driving your hips forward and your chest up, so that you end up in a standing position. Make sure that your shoulders are back, legs are straight, and posture is good. Slowly lower the weight, keeping your chest out and eyes forward and using your legs to control the movement until the weight is back on the ground. That is one rep
Romanian Deadlift (RDL)
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and bend your knees slightly. Hold a barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width at thigh level with your palms facing your body. Bend at your hips to lower the weight, keeping your back straight. Keep the bar close to the front of your legs and continue to push your hips back. Lower until the bar is at mid-shin height, or as far flexibility allows. Forcefully extend your hips to drive back up to the starting position, allowing your hips to set forward at the top of the move to increase contraction in your hamstrings and glutes.
Glute Raise (Weighted or body weight)
With your feet flat on the ground and your shoulders on a bench (for weighted with weight on your lap) or on the ground (for body weight), lift your hips toward the ceiling, keeping contact with the ground at your feet and shoulders. Once your body from shoulders to knees is a straight line, hold and then return to the starting position.
Begin with your hands and knees on the ground and spine flat. With your eyes forward, lift one arm forward while lifting the opposite leg backward. Extend both until they are parallel to the ground. Hold and return to the neutral position. Repeat for the other side.
Training your posterior chain will improve performance, balance, strength, and endurance while also preventing injury. It is well worth incorporating into your workouts 1-2 times per week. You will be glad you did when you are carrying your pack.