Backcountry Big Game Hunting Training Program

$59.00

  • 8-Week Training Program designed specifically for extended, self-supported backcountry big game hunting trips
  • “Mountain Chassis” focused – legs/lungs/core for long days hiking under load in steep, rocky terrain
  • Includes multiple 2-a-days and long Saturday “mini-events”
  • Limited equipment needed – doesn’t require a gym membership
  • This training plan is one of the 182+ Plans included with an Athlete’s Subscription.

Product Description

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

This training program is specifically designed to prepare hunters for an extended (3-14 day) self-supported, backcountry big game hunting trip in the Rocky Mountain West, Canada, New Zealand or Alaska. You’ll be chasing game in steep, rocky terrain, covering long distances, and carrying heavy loads.

This program is designed to be completed the 8 weeks directly before your hunting trip.

***CAUTION: This is a very intense training program, designed for the serious backcountry big game hunter. If you are going on an outfitted trip, a more casual hunting trip, or are de-conditioned (not physically fit) this program is not appropriate for you.

This is Version 4 of this training plan, Last Updated in March 2017.

Training Program Details:

This 8-week, training program increases in difficulty over time. You will train 6 days/week for a total of 48 training sessions. The training program includes multiple 2-a-days, and long Saturday “mini events.” It is sport-specifically designed to build athlete’s “Mountain Chassis” (legs, lungs, core) and prepare athletes for the following Backcountry Hunting Fitness Demands:

1) Mountain Endurance: Legs and Lungs for uphill hiking under load
Backcountry big game hunters carry their weapon and camp on their back. Some establish spike camps, and day trip from there. Others carry their camp with them at all times and often camp high on mountain ridges. Pack weights range from ultra-light 30 pounds to 60 pounds. Often travel is off trail, and it always includes vertical gain. 

The fitness demands of this “Mountain Endurance” involve leg and mid-section strength, and mode-specific aerobic conditioning (lungs). This program builds your uphill hiking under load fitness and stamina using Step Ups, Rucking and/or Ruck Running, unloaded running, and extended weekend “mini events” which combine all three. You’ll train step ups 3x/week during this training plan.

2) Eccentric Leg Strength for Downhill Hiking Under Load

Hiking downhill under load is significantly more intense on an athlete’s leg musculature than hiking uphill. Downhill movement demands “eccentric” leg strength as gravity tries to force the athlete into the mountain and he/she must absorb this impact with each downhill step. If backcountry hunters have not trained specifically for this fitness demand, early trip downhill hikes can result in extreme leg soreness and negatively impact the trip. This program deploys a loaded set of lower body exercises called the “Quadzilla Complex” to train your eccentric leg strength. We originally developed the Quadzilla Complex to train eccentric strength for professional Olympic and Big Mountain skiers and snowboarders. You’ll train the Quadzilla Complex 2x/week during this plan.

3) Load Carriage Strength and Endurance for the Pack Out

The work really begins when the animal is down. Often loads for the pack out can reach beyond 100 pounds and distances extend past 5 miles. This trains you for this fitness demand sport-specifically via heavy (55# women, 75# men) ruck efforts 2x/week, extending to 6 miles. 

4) Chassis Integrity: Functional Mid-Section Strength and Strength Endurance

Loaded movement, and long, heavy rucks demand functional mid-section strength and strength endurance. On top of the loaded step ups and heavy rucks you’ll complete, this training plan deploys MTI’s Chassis Integrity mid-section strength programming methodology via extended mid-section strength training circuits with target total mid-section strength, rotational strength, anti-rotational strength, and extension/low back strength. 

5) Mountain Stamina: Fitness for long days, and multiple long days over a multi-day trip

Stamina and mental fitness are a key characteristic of successful backcountry hunting trips. This is the physical and mental fitness to not only go long and hard for one day, but to do this multiple days in a row. This program trains Mountain Stamina by causing you to train 6 days/week, multiple 2-a-days, and long weekend “mini-events” extending past 3 hours. This approach and methodology has proven successful with MTI’s sport-specific military selection plans used successfully for special forces selection by soldiers and Marines over the past decade. It’s important to understand Mountain Stamina is not only physical, but mental as well. This training plan is not only designed to build your sport-specific Mountain fitness, but also your mental fitness. You will be pushed. 

WEEKLY SCHEDULE

  • Monday: Step Up Intervals, Chassis Integrity
  • Tuesday: AM – Quadzilla Complex, Upper Body Strength; PM – Heavy Ruck which builds to 6 miles
  • Wednesday: Unloaded Run which Builds To 7 Miles
  • Thursday: Step Up Intervals, Chassis Integrity
  • Friday: AM – Quadzilla Complex, Upper Body Strength; PM – Heavy Ruck which builds to 6 miles
  • Saturday: Mini-Event which builds to 210 minutes.

COMMON QUESTIONS

What equipment is needed to complete this program?
This is a limited equipment training plan which does not require a gym membership to complete. Below is the equipment you’ll need:

  • Stop Watch with repeating countdown timer (Timex Ironman is best)
  • Sandbag. Female hunters will need a 40# sandbag. Male hunters will need a 60# sandbag.  We sell sandbags here (http://gear.strongswiftdurable.com/collections/frontpage/products/sandbag) or you can use any old duffle bag. Wood Pellets or mulch made from ground up tires make great filler.
  •  Backpack for Rucking and 25-75# of filler. We use dumbbells and iron weight lifting plates for filler.
  • Dumbbells. Female hunters will need a pair of 15# dumbbells. Male hunters will need a pair of 25# dumbbells. 
  • Foam Roller
  • 16” Box or step for step ups
  • GPS-enabled Watch.  Recommended, but not required, a GPS-enabled watch will make measuring run and ruck distances much easier. We like the Garmin Forerunner 10 or Foreunner 15.
  • Hand Counter to keep track of step ups – Recommended but not required.  (https://www.amazon.com/Digi-1st-TC-04-Tally-Counter/dp/B00T8K04OA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490478568&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=hand+counter&psc=1)

Who is this plan appropriate for?
This plan is not appropriate for severely de-conditioned athletes. 

I’m not fit enough for this plan. What should I do?
Build up to this training plan using the plan progression in the Back Country Big Game Training Packet HERE.

I have several months out from my trip. What should I do in the meantime before beginning this plan the 8 weeks directly before my trip?
Using the plan progression in the Back Country Big Game Training Packet HERE.

What if I have less then 8 weeks before my hunting trip?
Still start at the beginning of this training plan. Don’t skip ahead until the week directly before your trip, then skip ahead to Week 8 in this plan. Week 8 is a “Taper” week. 

How much rest do I need between the end of this plan and the start of my trip?
None. Week 8 of this plan is a “Taper” week, and unloads the intensity significantly. 

What does “4/8x” mean? How about “15/25#”?
First number is for women, second is for men, both for reps, and loading. Examples:

4/8x Chin Ups = Women do 4x, Men do 8x
15/25# = Women us 15#, Men us 25#.

What does “Grind” Mean?
Work briskly, not frantically. Keep moving and work steady through the circuit. 

What if I miss a training day?
Ideally, you will train 5 days in a row, and take 2 full days off for rest. If for some reason miss a session,  do not skip ahead. Start again where you left off and complete the sessions in order throughout the plan.

Where do I find unfamiliar exercises?
See our Exercise Library HERE. The Run/Ruck Calculator is listed as an exercise.

What about nutrition?
See our Nutritional Guidelines HERE.

This training plan emphasizes lower body strength, mountain endurance and mid-section strength. What about the upper body?
This plan includes upper body maintenance programming two days/week, but the emphasis is not on upper body strength by design. Why not? Because the fitness demands of backcountry hunting hammer the “Mountain Chassis” – legs, lungs and core, and this is a sport-specific training program for backcountry hunting. 

How long should the training sessions take?
60-90 minutes for the Monday-Friday AM and PM sessions. Saturday’s mini events begin at 90 minutes and extend to 210 minutes.  

What if I can’t keep up the Monday to Saturday Training Schedule?
This program is “progressive” – difficulty increases as you work through the plan. Don’t skip ahead. Start again where you left off. 

How do you count reps for Sandbag Getups? Stepups? Scotty Bobs? Quadzilla Complex?

Sandbag Getups – The prescribed rep count is total reps, so 50x Sandbag Getups  = 50x total reps, 25x each shoulder.

Step ups – The prescribed rep count is total reps, so 50x Step ups  = 50x total reps, 25x each foot. Use a 16” box or step. 

Scotty Bobs – 1x Scotty Bob = Push up + Right Arm Row + Push up + Left Arm Row. So, 5x Scotty Bobs = 10x push ups total, and 5 Rows, each arm. 

Quadzilla Complex:

2x Quadzilla Complex = 
2x In-Place Lunges with Dumbbells, each leg (4x total)
2x Jumping Lunges with Dumbbells, each leg (4x total)
2x Jumping Lunges unloaded, each leg (4x total)
4x Squat Jumps

3x Quadzilla Complex = 
3x In-Place Lunges with Dumbbells, each leg (6x total)
3x Jumping Lunges with Dumbbells, each leg (6x total)
3x Jumping Lunges unloaded, each leg (6x total)
6x Squat Jumps

Etc.

Any Rucking Advice?
Use this training plan to get your rucking dialed – including boots, pack loading (weight high instead of low seems to help), pacing, nutrition, and hydration. Ruck in the same boots you’ll hunt in. Refuel the same way you’ll refuel during your trip.

The training plan says “Ruck” but this isn’t easy walking. Fast walk as quickly as possible. Push yourself. Fit athletes may even jog or run. The aim is to train the ability to move fast, in the mountains, under load. 

If I use trekking poles while hunting, should I use them for the rucking in this plan?Yes.

Can I substitute a stair master for the step ups?
Yes – but only if you make the conversion in feet. Each step up is 16”, so 750x Step Ups = 1,000 feet of vertical gain. If your stair master measures in vertical gain, you can use this conversion. If not, no. Stairmaster step ups, in general, are much easier than our low-tech step ups. 

Step ups suck! They are boring! Pure Drudgery! Can’t I do something else?
Nope. 

I don’t have a 16” bench or box for step ups. Can I use a 12” box?
Nope. Be resourceful.

What about nutrition for the Saturday “mini events”?
You’ll need to refuel during these long events – just like you will during your long days in the backcountry. Use of energy gels like Gu and Hammer Strength are recommended, as well as proper hydration, and solid, calorie-dense food such as hard cheese and hard salami. 

Can I see sample training?
Click the “Sample Training” tab to see the entire first week of programming.

Good Luck!

Required Equipment

• GPS-enabled Watch.  Recommended, but not required, a GPS-enabled watch will make measuring run and ruck distances much easier. We like the Garmin Forerunner 10 or Foreunner 15.
Stop Watch.
Sandbags. Female hunters will need a 40 and 60# sandbag. Male hunters will need a 60 and 80# sandbag. We sell sandbags here (http://gear.strongswiftdurable.com/collections/frontpage/products/sandbag) or you can use any old duffle bag. Wood Pellets or mulch made from ground up tires make great filler.
• Backpack for Rucking and 30-75# of filler. We use dumbbells and iron weight lifting plates for filler.
• Dumbbells. Female hunters will need a pair of 15# dumbbells. Male hunters will need a pair of 25# dumbbells. 
Foam Roller
16” Box or step for step ups

Sample Training

Below is Week 1 from this Training Plan:


*********


SESSION 1

Obj: Loaded Uphill Hiking Assessment, Chassis Integrity

Warm Up:

3 Rounds

20x Step Ups

10x Push Ups

Instep Stretch

Training: 

(1) 30 Minute Max Rep Step ups @ 30/40# Back pack

RECORD YOUR MAX REPS

(2) 12 Minute Grind…

3x Backwards Sandbag Drag @ 40/60#

6x Kneeling Slasher to Halo @ 15/25#

6x Sandbag Getup @ 40/60#

15/15 Standing Founder

(3) Hip Flexor + Instep Stretch

Foam Roll Legs/Low Back

Comments:

Part (1) - each step count as 1x rep. Go hard for 30 minutes. Count and record your Reps.

*********


SESSION 2 (2-A-Day)

Obj:  Strength, Load Carriage

AM SESSION:

Warm up:

3 Rounds

4x Walking Lunges

8x Push-Ups

8x Sit-Ups

Instep Stretch

Training:

  1. 6 Rounds


2x Quadzilla Complex

@ 15/25# Dumbbells

2x Scotty Bob

@15/25# Dumbbells

Rest 45 Seconds

  1. 3 Rounds


Foam Roll Quads

10x 1-Leg Poor Man’s Leg Curl

PM SESSION:

(1) Ruck 3 miles @ 55/75# Pack @ Moderate Pace. Hilly terrain if possible

Moderate = Comfortable but not Easy

*********


SESSION 3

Obj: Unloaded Endurance

Training:

(1) Run 4 Miles, Moderate Pace

Moderate = Comfortable but not easy

(2) Foam Roll Legs/Low Back

*********


SESSION 4 

Obj: Loaded Uphill Hiking, Chassis Integrity

Warm Up:

3 Rounds

20x Step Ups

10x Push Ups

Instep Stretch

Training: 

(1) 600x Step ups @ 30/40# Back pack, Moderate Pace

Moderate = Comfortable but not Easy.

(2) 12 Minute Grind…

6x Dumbbell Crawl @ 15/25#

6x Standing Slasher to Halo @ 15/25#

3x Sandbag Getup and Run @40/60# (alternate shoulders each round)

15/15 Kneeling Slasher

(3) Hip Flexor + Instep Stretch

Foam Roll Legs/Low Back

Comments:

Part (1) - each step count as 1x rep.

*********


SESSION 5 (2-A-Day)

Obj:  Strength, Load Carriage

AM SESSION:

Warm up:

3 Rounds

4x Walking Lunges

8x Push-Ups

8x Sit-Ups

Instep Stretch

Training:

  1. 6 Rounds


2x Quadzilla Complex

@ 15/25# Dumbbells

2x Scotty Bob

@15/25# Dumbbells

Rest 45 Seconds

  1. 3 Rounds


Foam Roll Quads

10x 1-Leg Poor Man’s Leg Curl

PM SESSION:

(1) Ruck 3 miles @ 55/75# Pack @ Moderate Pace. Hilly terrain if possible

Moderate = Comfortable but not Easy

*********

SESSION 6

Obj: Mini Event - 90 Minutes

Training: 

(1) Ruck Run 3 Miles wearing 15/25# back pack. Moderate Pace. Moderate = comfortable but not easy.

(2) 30 minute Grind…

5x Renegade Man Maker @ 15/25#

40x Step Ups

(3) Run 3 Miles @ Moderate Pace. Moderate = comfortable but not easy.
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Our Stuff Works. Guaranteed.

By Rob Shaul

I received notes frequently from athletes hesitant to purchase a subscription or training plans asking me to sell them on why they should make the purchase.

While I understand the question, I’m not a salesman - so I can't put a hard sale on anyone for our programming.

I can tell them the process we go through to design our programming.

We begin with extensive research on the fitness demands of the event, identify the exercises and progressions which sport specifically meet those demands, chose end-of-cycle goals, and program backward to design the plan.

Then we test the cycle on ourselves and our lab rats here in Wyoming. We document, note what works and doesn’t work, re-assess, and make changes and modifications.

Then we publish the programming in the form of one of our plans or as part of our subscription daily training sessions for tactical and mountain athletes.
We don’t stop there - our daily programming is the “tip of the spear” for our programming evolution. We use these sessions to learn and make continuous improvement.

As we learn more and improve, we go back, and update the sport-specific training plans on the website. For example, we’re currently on Version 5 of our Ruck Based Selection Training Plan and Version 3 of our Dryland Ski Training Plan and Version 4 of our Big Game Back Country Hunting Training Plan.

We understand our programing isn’t cheap, but we believe it’s a great value. The $79 for the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan, and $39 for the Dryland Ski Training Plan reflect the, research, work, innovative theory, iteration, testing and feedback we've put in and received to make these plans effective.

All that matters for us is outside performance, and we feel strongly that Our Stuff Works in the real world.

Here’s our guarantee:

1) Individual Training Plan Purchase:
If you purchase an individual training plan, follow it as prescribed before your season/event/pft/selection, and if you don’t feel you were physically ready for your season/event/pft/selection, and/or didn’t see dramatic improvements in your early season performance, we’ll refund your money, no questions asked.

2) Athlete’s Subscription
If you purchase an Athletes’ Subscription, follow the training sessions as prescribed, and are not satisfied with the quality of the programming, notify us within 30 days of purchase, and we’ll refund your money, no questions asked.

Questions?
Email: rob@mtntactical.com

Testimonials

I recently used a hybrid of your ruck based selection program and big game hunting program to prepare for a 48 hour endurance race in Vermont.  I can't say enough thank yous for how much your programming has helped me.  The step ups were huge for me being that I live in Nebraska, at no point did I have issues with the elevation gain and descent. Second, all of the sandbag get ups and core worked proved to be a life saver because instead of having us use rucks, they told us we had to carry all of our gear in 27" or larger suitcases by either carrying them by your side or putting them on your shoulders. 100 miles with 50 pounds on your shoulder is miserable! Last but not least, the "mini-events" in the Big Game plan helped my mental grind so much.  I've done races like this before and I've never felt more willing to grind out through the crappier moments as I did for this race.  I credit that to the training.


*************


A buddy and I went through you Big Game hunting program this summer and I’ve never felt stronger in the mountains. I typically run about 3 half marathons to prepare as well. With much stronger legs I took a total of 25 minutes off my times in those 3 races. To top it all off my buddy and I spend about 15 days of September hunting the backcountry and he was able to arrow his first bull elk. The pack would have been substantially more brutal without all those leg blasters and step-ups!! Thanks again for the kick ass program and keep up the excellent work.  --E

Thank you for the Big game hunting program, after completing this I went on my mountain goat hunt put on over 44 miles in the most rugged terrain that Montana has to offer and didn't even notice it, even when we packed camp and the goat out (in the same load).  I will be doing this every year before hunting season for the rest of my life.  --J
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