We interviewed hunter Matt Hewett — three-time Crossfit Games Champion — about how to ramp up for hunting season. He gave us five workouts that fit the bill.
Hunting season is here, and we know you want to maximize your time outdoors. Balancing family, career, and your passion for hunting can be a challenge and the juggling will soon get tiring if you aren’t grounded. The best way to do that, especially for backcountry hunting, is getting (or staying) in shape for it. We spoke with Matt Hewett, a three-time Crossfit Affiliate Cup Champion and Division 1 strength coach, about how fitness and hunting go hand in hand.
Hewett played on the team Crossfit Mayhem Freedom, spearheaded by Rich Froning, four-time individual Crossfit Games Winner. Matt and his team won the Crossfit Games Championships in 2015, 2016, and 2018. During this time, he also worked as the assistant director of athletic performance at Tennessee Tech. He was promoted in 2018 to Director of Athletic Performance and helps coach all of the athletic programs, with direct involvement in women’s basketball and men’s football..
Hewett Sees “Hunting Fitness” As A Priority
While Matt doesn’t have as much time to hunt as he’d like (who does?) due to the football and basketball teams, he still gets after it. Matt is an avid whitetail and turkey hunter, carrying on a tradition from his father. I asked him why training for hunting is important:
“To be a consistently successful hunter, it is essential to stay in shape. There are plenty of people with bad habits who have success, but I want to be at my best when I prepare for a hunt. I owe that to the animal I’m after. I want to give myself the best chance at success.
“Being in shape for a hunt translates into being able to cover more distance, move faster, and even processing and carrying out an animal. I compare hunting shape to CrossFit. CrossFit trains for ‘the unknown and unknowable’. You need to be ready for anything. Carrying odd objects, baseline endurance training, and pure strength all play into hunting shape.”
Here are five workouts from Matt to help you get into hunting shape this season. Preparation starts now.
5 Workouts for Hunting Fitness
Workout 1: Assaulting the Bike
This first workout is an all-rounder. It’ll work on cardio mixed with functional movements like step ups. These will help immensely with going up steep slopes and building all-day endurance. The first round will feel alright, but you’ll be huffing and puffing by round five.
Ride the Assault Bike until you hit 30 calories
- 10 DB Box Step-ups holding 35- to 50-pound Dumbbells
- 5 Pull-ups
- 10 Burpees
30 calorie Bike
Workout 2: AMRAP Jump Thruster
This workout is endurance -ocused. It’ll build up your ability to move for long amounts of time. The pushups and thrusters will help carry heavy animals and keep you strong throughout your hunting season. This is an AMRAP, “As Many Rounds as Possible,” and these will keep you honest.
As Many Rounds as Possible in 15:00
- 50 Jump Rope (Singles or Doubles)
- 10 Dumbbell Thrusters
- 20 AbMat Sit-ups
- 10 Push-ups
Workout 3: Power Cleans Galore
Deceptively simple; debilitatingly difficult. Make sure you have good form for the power cleans, especially with heavier weight. It’s best to err on the lighter side, for the sake of good power clean form. And don’t forget, you’ll be power cleaning it three times, five times. Pull ups can be assisted, and they will get harder as you go.
5 Rounds for Time:
- 3 Power Cleans @ moderate to heavy weight
- 6 Box Jumps
- 9 Pull-ups
Workout 4: Run For Survival
Get ready to run. Get ready to puke. This workout is the closest to carrying animals out of the backcountry. If you can run with light weight, you can walk with heavier weight. Seven rounds, you’re getting in the fun workouts mixed with the running. Deadlifts, bench presses, and lying leg raises to give you strong hamstrings, chest, and abs. You’ll survive, and you’ll be thanking yourself when hunting season comes.
800m Run with a 10- to 20-pound Medicine Ball
- 7 Rounds:
- 5 Deadlifts @ 225lb
- 10 Bench Press @ 135lb
- 20 Lying Leg Raises
800m Run with 10-20lb Medicine Ball
Workout 5: Calorie Bike HIIT Madness
Endurance, endurance, endurance. Functional endurance is the name of the game this season. Whether you’re climbing after elk or tracking down doves, the more you’ve prepared, the happier you’ll be. As a recent Crossfit convert, I hate the bike. But man, I feel better after getting off it than at any other time. It’s shaving pounds and building endurance in record time.
- 3:00 @ easy pace
- 2:00 @ moderate pace
- 1:00 @ fast pace
- :30 @ max effort
Rest 2:30 between sets
Final Thoughts: Powering Up Hunting Fitness
Before all of these workouts, make sure to warm up. Afterwards, always make sure to cool down and stretch. This will keep you lean and flexible throughout the year.
These exercises are great for getting you ready for hunting season. If you’re low on time, they’re easy to squeeze in and get you the most work in the least amount of time. Matt recommends hunting as part of an overall health plan—food you harvested yourself is going to be healthier for you and your family. And let’s be honest, it just tastes better. Try these five workouts, and get ready to fill your freezer. You earned it.