Lift, Walk, Eat
If you stay up past 1 am or get up before 6 am and turn the TV on, you’re guaranteed to find an infomercial or two for the latest revolutionary fitness system to get sick-ripped abs in only 10 minutes a day. Most often these are marketed by professional trainers/fitness models whose sole occupation is working out and looking good. It’s marketing. Some of it certainly works, but not because it’s whizzbang miracle fitness, but because the ones that do work require a high level of effort and a rigid food intake.
But what if you’re not interested in six-pack abs? What if you want to lose a little weight so you’re a little quicker shooting USPSA? What if you want to be stronger so your arm doesn’t get tired during bullseye matches? Or what if you don’t want to get winded hiking the back country tracking a huge elk?
Getting fit for shooting is just like shooting – there are no shortcuts, and it takes work. Fortunately, you don’t need to buy some huckster’s ultimate fitness program. You just need to do three little things: Lift, Walk, and Eat.
This is the first simple step; and it’s also the hardest for a lot of people. The system by which Americans consume food is created to fuel consumption and not necessarily nutrition. But you don’t have to do anything drastic like give up beer or pizza to get healthy, just introduce a concept called “moderation.” In the food category, there are three simple steps that you can take to drastically reduce the amount of garbage masquerading as food that you take in.
- Stop drinking soda – I’ve personally seen people give up soda and immediately drop 10-15 lbs. of useless weight. Soda can replaced with un-sweetened tea, coffee, or best yet, water.
- Get rid of most condiment sauces: Ketchup, mayo, and any dressing other than oil and vinegar. Just get rid of them. Most mustards are still okay.
- Reduce the fried foods: I like French fries. I like fried chicken. I hardly ever eat them, because fried foods are full of the sort of fat that my body doesn’t need.
There are quite a few more steps that you can take to get a healthier diet, and there’s plenty of information out there on good vs. bad fats, sugar intake, sodium, etc. This is just a starting point. We’re not trying to win a marathon here, just get a little healthier.
Strength is everything. Being stronger means you’re less injury prone, have more energy, and don’t tire when holding out that 2.5 pound bullseye gun. Before you start any weightlifting program, seek the advice of a medical professional, and consider hiring a trainer to help coach you through the lifts if you’ve never done them before. Lifting three days a week with gradually increasing weight amounts will improve your conditioning for hunting or the shooting sports.
- Day 1: Bench Press and Squats – the two most basic lifts. On all lifts, using good form is more important than lifting heavy weight. So if you can’t keep good form, use less weight until you get stronger.
- Day 2: Overhead Press and Deadlifts – be careful when deadlifting. Doing deadlifts correctly will strengthen your lower back, not hurt it. But doing deadlifts wrong can lead to injury, and injury time is not training time.
- Day 3: Clean and Press – one of the great Olympic lifts, the clean and press combines the motions of the deadlift and overhead press into one motion. Great for building explosive power.
Again, form is important here. If you’ve never done the lifts before, get a coach to teach you. Make sure you’re not overloading your weights to do ego lifts, and instead using weight that provides a challenge while still maintaining good form.
Why not run? Well, as it turns out, unless you’re training for a running event, if you want to get in better cardiovascular condition, you just need to walk. Walk hard, for sure, but walking is sufficient. The goal with this exercise isn’t to move a specific distance, but rather to elevate your heart rate to above a certain point for a certain amount of time. For most people, getting the heart rate above 120 for 30 minutes is sufficient, but again, talk to a doctor first. If you’re incredibly out of shape, you may need to work on that. Here’s a simple time based walking schedule to get you started:
- Day 1: Walk 45 minutes or 2.5 miles
- Day 2: Walk 90 minutes or 5 miles
- Day 3: Walk 30 minutes or 1.5 miles
Add hills to your walk to get that heart rate up; keep yourself moving. Don’t stop and lollygag, get the arms going, get moving. It’s not a pleasant stroll through the neighborhood, so you need to move at a pace like you’ve got somewhere to be in a hurry. If you want to add some sport specific training for USPSA, throw in the occasionally 30 second sprint.
That’s really it though. You’re looking at a time investment in your workouts of 4ish hours a week, assuming you take about 30 minutes to do your lifts. People say that they “don’t have time” to work out, but ask yourself – how much time do you spend on Facebook or watching TV each day? Next time you’re on a USPSA stage or hunting that trophy bear, you’ll thank yourself for enhancing your awesomeness.
By Caleb Giddings. Originally published in the June 2013 issue of GunUp the Magazine.