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A Little Help for the Hill-Less

A Little Help for the Hill-Less
August 8, 2023

by Jeremy Koerber, Fit to Hunt

A little help for the hill-less

I’m not even sure "hill-less" is a word, but because we are talking about training for backcountry hunts when you live in areas with no hills to hike, I am going to make hill-less a real thing. We are weeks before some of you will be grabbing your bow and standing at the base of the mountain wondering, “Am I ready?” I prefer to leave nothing to chance so for all of you flatlanders looking to hit the backcountry, here are some training tips to get you to the next level.

If you aren’t doing anything

Many folks with a tag in their pocket have been training since February or March and there is nothing we can do in 4-6 weeks that will fast track fitness. That being said, strap on a pack and start breaking in your boots. For those who carry a spike camp in their backpack, you need to eventually be able to carry roughly 30 pounds and a whole lot more when you tag. Initially, we’d suggest you build up over time by starting with 10% of your body weight and with the clock ticking, start today! We recommend three rucks a week with your initial weight and add three to five percent per week.

If you have been rucking for several months we would recommend you focus on three types of rucks:

  • Heavy Pack Out: 1-2 miles performed a few times per month (the weight of a hindquarter)
  • Long distance: 5-10 miles with 20-30 pounds (the weight of your day pack) once a week
  • Speed ruck: 2-3 miles with 20-30 pounds one to two times a week where you pick up the pace


Targeted Strength Training

Basic movement patterns like squat, deadlifts and rows should build the foundation of any strength program but now that season is almost here, we recommend performing movement patterns that you will face on the mountain. That does not mean you scrap those movements but adding the following will make a huge difference in your performance on the mountain:

Box Over

This move emulates stepping over boulders and deadfalls. Whether you add the burpee or not is up to you but this is a move you need in your program. Perform 3 sets of 6-10 reps (over and back is one rep) or for time.

Sandbag Bulgarian Split Squats

This puts an emphasis on bi-lateral leg strength. Add a sandbag for extra resistance. Perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps per thigh or for time.

Off-Set Step-Ups

Another single leg movement pattern that will emulate going up incline and challenge your core. Perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps per thigh or for time.

Switch up the rep range

We would also suggest adding in endurance training which can be nothing more than taking your rep
range from 8-12 to 15-20+. We have seen guys who can deadlift the moon one time but while deadlifting is a very beneficial movement pattern for any athlete, 1 rep maxes do not translate to a ten mile hike that could result in a heavy packout.

How high does it go?

And if you really have no hills to train on, your best bet will be to train on cardio pieces like treadmills and stair steppers. No, it will not provide the instability of side hill hikes and loose rock but beggars cannot be choosers. One of our online clients lives in Maryland and we program in a lot of treadmill rucks and stair stepping to prepare him for his upcoming bear hunt in Alaska. Sometimes, we have to get creative and use what is available. It may not totally translate to the backcountry but I’d place my money on using these types of machines to prepare vs. nothing.

At #FitToHunt, we offer several different types of DIY Workout Programs designed for specific types of hunts. If you are closing in on your hunt and are otherwise hill-less, consider our new Flatlander to Backcountry DIY Program designed by Coach Brian Austin of the Beast Mode Archery Challenge. Coach Austin designed this with the concept of helping flatlanders prepare for their elk and mule deer hunts using the same techniques he recommends to prepare athletes for the Beast Mode Archery Events.

All GoWild members get 10% off all DIY programs and apparel when you use code: GoWild10 at checkout.

Good luck this fall and thanks for reading. If we can be of service to you, please reach out! We love helping our friends get more out of their outdoor pursuits and we cannot wait to see your trophy pics on GoWild this season!

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