-By Randy Cooper
In Georgia, it’s just about 3 1/2 months until opening day of the bowseason. We are blessed with a very long deer season which runs from the middle of September until the end of January in some BOW-ONLY counties. If you are like me, you go every chance you get. Hunting the way I do is very strenuous to say the least. My wife used to give me lots of grief about why I was so tired when I finally got home from hunting. I would just come in the house, find something to eat and drink and pass out on the sofa snoring. Sound familiar???
Getting little to no sleep the night before, waking up at 3am to make it to my stand before first light, hunting all morning, eating lunch and scouting until it is time to go on stand in the evening is about as much as one man can stand. Oh yeah, I forgot, on some of those same trips I got a buck in the morning and was at the camp alone; forcing me to drag it far enough to set a new Guinness World Record just for good measure. Field dressing a deer in the areas I hunt is not for me. I drag the whole thing, dead weight, to where I can get to it with the golf cart or my manual two-wheel cart, after which I have to try and find a way to load it by myself.
Man, a day like that is BRUTAL, especially when I’m not in good shape. I hurt in places I didn’t even believe I COULD hurt for 2 days straight. I was a lightweight until, at 15 years old, I started going to the gym and working out. I learned a lot from the true muscle heads in the gym and they took me under their wing and coached me. They were my inspiration and showed me the “POSSIBILITY”. I began to train hard. Between the flood of testosterone, the protein drinks, plenty of determination and hard work, I went from a frail 126 lbs. to 168 in less than a year. I know it sounds incredible but I put on 42 lbs of lean muscle mass in that short time. Genetics has a lot to do with how well a person responds to weight training. I guess I have good genetics. This type of gain isn’t typical at all. I didn’t do steroids and never have. STEROIDS WILL KILL YOU!!! I am totally natural. I had the advantage of youth and ignorance, meaning that I didn’t have any preconceived notions about how bodybuilding should be done so I soaked in everything I was taught and witnessed, like a sponge.
I was determined to be huge like my mentors. I studied every bodybuilding mag I could get my hands on and learned a lot. Just like everything else, the way I train has to be the way that works for ME. Everyone is different and what works well for one guy might not necessarily work for me as well. Through years of training and watching how things like techniques, supplements and eating the right foods have evolved, I feel confident that the training program I’ve put together for myself will work for anyone wanting to get into shape and stay there all year. It involves: CARDIO, STRENGTH TRAINING, SUPPLEMENTS AND EATING RIGHT.
CARDIO - I like to operate under what I call the KIS method which means KEEP IT SIMPLE. Cardio doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. WALK. Walk a lot. Start out on a treadmill or in the neighborhood using a time limit until you feel up to going distance. Walk for 20 minutes everyday for a week, then increase to 30 minutes the next week and so on until you reach an hour. Maintain that hour a day until you feel like you’re not being challenged enough or it starts feeling too easy. At that point you want to get yourself a pedometer, or use a treadmill, and go for distance. An hour of walking will put you over a mile. Start out at distance of 1 ¼ miles for a week and then increase as you feel like you can.
A lady that I work with started walking to lose weight and now, a year later, has lost over 100 lbs. and she’s a knock out!!! We talk a lot about training and she says she actually gets depressed now if she can’t walk at least 4 miles a day and at least 10 to 15 miles on the weekends!! Her endurance is through the roof and she has energy for days. My advice for cardio, walk a lot!! You’ll lose body fat and increase your endurance.
STRENGTH TRAINING - If you have never strength trained with weights before, www.bodybuilding.com is fantastic site to reference for information on nutrition and training techniques. I’ll be calling the strength training exercises by their commonly known names. If you pull up these names on the website, it will explain and show how these exercises should be done. I do what’s called a four-day split routine. Simply, I work one or two body parts a day for four days and then take a day off before repeating the routine. I like to do the cardio before I workout because it warms up my muscles all over my body. If you start weight training without warming up and stretching first, you’re asking for a pulled muscle or an injury that will set you back for weeks as it heals. Do yourself a favor and warm up before you attack the weights.
Day 1 - SHOULDERS
Working the shoulder girdle is so important. The DELTOIDS have three HEADS. I call them the front deltoid, the middle and the rear deltoids. There are exercises that will attack each of them individually and there are ones to work the entire deltoid thoroughly. A bowhunter needs strong shoulders to pull and hold his bow. There are 4 exercises I do that work each individual head:
- FRONT DUMBELL RAISES
- SIDE LATERALS WITH DUMBELLS
- REAL LATERALS WITH DUMBELLS
- SHOULDER SHRUGS WITH DUMBELLS
Alternate to work the entire shoulder with 1 exercise is to do the MILITARY PRESS using either dumbbells or a machine at the gym.
It’s best to do these and all exercises in the mirror to check your form. Do all exercises I talk about for 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Practicing with your bow is in itself a great all over exercise. There is not a machine I know of that really replicates the movement of pulling a bow.
Day 2 - CHEST and TRICEPS
CHEST - The very best overall exercise for the chest is the simple bench press. To warm up, do some pushups.
TRICEPS - The best way to build strength into the triceps is by doing tricep pushdowns on a machine at the gym. You can also use a dumbbell and do tricep kickbacks by leaning over 90 degrees across a bench and planting your elbow at your side and use it as the hinge. Start with your arm bent and straighten it out.
Day 3 - BACK and BICEPS
BACK - The king of all back exercises is the PULLUP. You can do this with a wide grip or underhanded. This gives your back and the muscles along the sides of your back, (LATS) that hour glass look going down to your waist. If you have access to a machine, you can do Lat pull downs to the front both wide grip and underhanded close grip.
BICEPS - The very best mass building move for the biceps is the dumbbell curl or curls with a french bar. To help you not cheat when doing curls, plant your back against a wall.
Day 4 - LEGS (As you might expect, there are a lot of different exercises for the legs. I would concentrate on three. The squat, hamstring curls, and calf raises.)
SQUAT - It’s best to do this with a partner to be there for you if you need a spot or some help. If you have a gym to go to, the very best machine to do squats on is a SMITH MACHINE. It has safety devices on it if you need them. You can also use a 4-WAY HIP SLED that allows you to lay down on your back and press the weight simulating a squat. The alternate to this would be dumbbells in each hand and squat to the floor and stand up. It works.
HAMSTRINGS - I do these on a bench with a leg curl attachment. I lay down on my belly and hook my heels under the pads at the end of the machine and curl the weight up as far as I can. Nothing I know of is better.
CALF RAISES - You have to train calves very hard to get results. The best way to do this is on a calf raise machine with weight at the gym. The alternate is to get a couple of 4 inch concrete cap blocks and with a dumbbell in one hand and holding onto something where you won’t lose your balance with the other hand, step up on the block with just your toes. Lower your heels to touch the floor if you can and then press up to a “STANDING ON YOUR TOES POSITION.” Do this move to total muscular failure for 3 sets. They will be on fire!!!
I’ve talked a lot concerning getting into shape. Next week I’ll continue with food and nutrition which are so vital to the total program. I hope this advice will help you have the best deer season ever this fall by being in great shape, full of energy and being able to really enjoy the woods no matter what comes your way.