Hunters Strength & Conditioning Blog
“What’s the best course of action next week to recover? Man, I’m wrecked but I want to keep up and get after it. Getting 4 moose and 2 rafts and gear off the river and to the pickup point on a lake was brutal. Probably the hardest thing I’ve done.”
I got this text from a Backcountry Ready member over the weekend. Sounds like a hell of a trip, eh? Four guys killed four bull moose. It’s the hunt of a lifetime. But as you read, it also kicked his ass. And you can’t take that kind of ass-kicking lightly.
However, he doesn’t want to rest on his hind end and lick his wounds. The man wants to move. And good on him, movement is the best medicine for healing after a brutal hunt.
But the key is to do the right movement to recover after a brutal hunt.
Last week, we talked about what to do after a hunt. The article lays out general guidelines for how to train after a hunting trip that lasts a week or more. It’s a great start. This week we’ll dive deeper on what to do if your hunt really puts the boots to you. If you want the science on what I’m about to tell you to do, brush up on last week’s article. This week we’re jumping in with action.
Here are seven simple tactics you can use to recover when you’re wrecked after a hunt.
Sometimes when you’re stiff, sore, tired, and beat to absolute hell, the last thing you want to do is work out. Well, typically we don’t take a hard-o stance on anything. But in this case, I’m hitting you with tough love. Too bad, you need to move!
Movement increases blood flow, which takes nutrients to your recovering tissues. Your parasympathetic nervous system, the part of your autonomic nervous system that helps you “rest and digest,” activates after light movement. Restoring parasympathetic tone is huge for recovery. Just sitting around doing nothing won’t do that for you. So, don’t plan to sit on your keister and watch re-runs of Home Improvement. Make a plan to move.
We’ll talk about what that plan should include in the next sections.
We borrowed rebound workouts from performance coach Joel Jamieson. These are simple, short workouts designed to do what I mentioned in the previous section – increase blood flow and restore parasympathetic tone. They work.
Here’s the structure:
5-10 minutes of breathing exercises and mobility work
15-20 minutes of low-intensity cardio
1-2 light, low-volume strength exercises
Breathing cool down and soft tissue work (foam rolling)
Hit this workout the week after a brutal hunt on days when you’d normally strength train. Two to three of these could bring you right around.
But that’s not all you could, or should, do to recover. Let’s keep going.
To move some blood, all you have to do is move your legs. Get up and go for a walk first thing in the morning. Take a walk on your lunch break. Walk in the evening after dinner. Just walk. Again, we need blood to move and we need to restore parasympathetic tone. Walking does that for you without any risk of giving your body too much stress. Get in as many 10- to 30-minute walks as you can throughout the week.
Hit a few 30-minute sessions of Zone 1 or 2 conditioning. The sessions should be short because we don’t want to steal recovery resources from the body. We just want enough time to meet our goals of moving blood and restoring nervous system tone. A couple of these workouts throughout the week would be grand.
If you can, and want to, go get yourself a gaht dang massage. Manual therapy is a great way to drive recovery because human touch has a dramatic effect on the nervous system, and it also brings blood to tissues.
Foam rolling doesn’t break up adhesions or any other such nonsense that’s been claimed over the years. But it does do the two things we’ve talked about throughout this entire article – moves blood, and restores nervous system tone.
It’s included in the rebound workouts, but even if you choose not to do a rebound workout, it’d be a good idea to do some foam rolling or some other kind of soft-tissue care along with some mobility work.
You could do this while you’re watching TV, before you take a walk, or before and after a Zone 1 or Zone 2 session. Take 5-10 minutes and roll out different muscles then do mobility exercises that incorporate those muscles. You’ll be amazed at how good you feel afterward.
I mentioned CCS workouts in last week’s article. CCS stands for Capacity, Carry, and Strength. These workouts blend movement capacity (mobility) training, carries, and light strength training into one, feel-good workout. Now, these are more intense than the rebound workouts, so, if you’re in the shitter, save these workouts for the end of the week after you’ve done a rebound workout or two.
You could also do light versions of the CCS workouts instead of the rebound workouts. They can serve the same function, so it comes down to preference.
For a refresher on CCS workouts, click here and read last week’s article.
Here’s an example of how to lay out the tactics from the previous section to create a productive, post-hunt recovery week:
Monday: Rebound workout + Lots o’ walking
Tuesday: Lots o’ walking + Lots o’ walking
Wednesday: Rebound workout or CCS workout + Lots o’ walking
Thursday: 30-minute Zone 1 or Zone 2 session + Lots o’ walking
Friday: Rebound or CCS workout + Lots o’ walking
Remember, your post-brutal hunt recovery week has only two goals: increase blood flow to get nutrients to recovering tissues and restore parasympathetic tone. That’s it and that’s all. Use the simple recovery tactics and focus on feeling good. Do that, and you’ll be back in the game and training hard in a week or so.
(Want help devising your post-hunt plan? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll schedule a call.)