hunting fitness challenge
Photo: Jacob Lund, Shutterstock

Hunting Fitness: 4 Workout Challenges to Whip You Into Predator Shape

Are you fit enough to pack an elk? These challenges will help you get ripped and ready for the 2021 big game season.

It takes a village to pack an elk, the saying (somewhat) goes. But if you dedicate your summer to hiking, running, and getting fit, you might be able to do it all on your own.

Thankfully, you don’t have to grind alone to get there. A bevy of hunt-specific fitness challenges have swept across social media this summer, and most have a virtual component to build community into your solo workout regimen.

Each of the following challenges offers something different, be it a season-long training option, a week-long running challenge, or a mental toughness grind to sweat it out — all the way to the other side of summer.

MTN OPS ‘Keep Hammering Virtual Series’ With Cameron Hanes

Focus: Running
Dates: June 16-20, August 2-8
Cost: $40-72

Hunter Cameron Hanes is known in the hunting world as a badass archer, an ultrarunner with no quit, and a purveyor of the “keep hammering” attitude. He’s inspired countless folks to up their fitness game. And now in its second year, his Keep Hammering Virtual Series is pushing people to new limits.

This is a running-specific challenge, offering two separate levels for runners. The Conquer Level offers a more open entry with a max of 5 km per day to lead up to a certain amount of mileage. And the Savage level ups the ante to either 20 km or 25 km per day. Yowza!

Although the first leg of the virtual Keep Hammering challenge is complete, the 20km and 25km Challenges remain. The 20km Challenge takes place June 16-20, and the 25km Challenge will run August 2-8. Each includes a rest day for optimal performance.

Entry fees are $40 for an individual event or $72 for both. Distance is tracked through FitRankings. And folks who complete the challenges win a Finisher Medal, Race T-Shirt, MTN OPS 30% off discount code, and 25 mega prize entries for gear drawings.

Check Out MTN OPS Challenge

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers ‘Hike to Hunt 2021’

Focus: Hiking, Running, Biking, Paddling
Dates: June 5-August 1, Entries Close July 1
Cost: Just under $50 

The Hike to Hunt Challenge is in its fourth year, and it continues to grow. This year, the nonprofit added paddling and biking to the ever-popular hiking and running program. Although Hike to Hunt began on June 5, folks can still register to compete until July 1. And the challenge ends on Sunday, August 1.

Participants can complete a certain amount of mileage to earn badges throughout the 2-month-long challenge. Distances start as low as 17 miles, and they go up to 3,000 miles. Each badge represents an issue or potential win for public lands and waters.

For example, the 17-mile marker represents the “total miles of the National Wild and Scenic Chetco River to be protected from future mineral development through passage of Southwestern Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act.”

For just under $50, you can enter one challenge or all three. Sponsors including Danner Boots, Savage Arms, NRS, Benchmade Knife Company, and Big Agnes are offering up badass prizes. And you can end your summer knowing you pitched in for a good cause while pounding out the mileage in the hills.

Check Out BHA Challenge

MTN TOUGH ’30-30 Challenge’ & ’80-Day Preseason Prep Challenge’

Focus: Strength + Endurance Training Program
Dates: Anytime
Cost: $100-300

If you’re looking for something more holistic, MTN Tough is the virtual gym to sign up for. These are full-body strength training and endurance programs designed to put you at peak fitness for the western hunting season.

It’s more expensive, but I’d equate it to hiring a personal trainer without the gym. And once you pay for it, it’s yours for keeps. So you can repeat the series as many times as you like, while accessing the very cool backend of the online MTN Tough Lab. Social components, message boards, and the ability to ask questions makes The Lab way more interactive than most virtual gyms.

This is a legit fitness program, not a mileage tracker. You can expect leg and core strength workouts, upper body focus, and endurance to match. The 30-30 Program is a bodyweight-only 30-day program you can do anytime, anywhere. And the 80-day Preseason Prep Program is designed to be done in a gym or home gym.

Check Out MTN TOUGH Challenge

’75Hard’

Focus: Fitness + Mental Toughness
Dates: Anytime
Cost: Free

Another challenge sweeping hunting circles is called 75Hard. It’s essentially a mental toughness program designed to push participants toward bettering themselves through discipline.

The basic idea is that — over 75 days — participants will do two 45-minute workouts a day, adhere to a strict diet, read a portion of nonfiction, drink a gallon of water, drop alcohol and cheat days, and take progress pictures throughout.

The program is technically free, but most folks buy founder Andy Frisella’s $20 book, “75 Hard: A Tactical Guide to Winning the War With Yourself.” 

To be honest, the website is a little self-helpish and “I’m not trying to sell you something” hacky. But, if you commit to 75 days of anything that’s difficult, results are bound to happen. And more than half a million folks have tagged this thing on Instagram, so there’s for sure community to be had.

Plus, the dang thing is free. So why not incorporate it into one of the other challenges and show up all your hardest core friends?

Check Out 75Hard Challenge

Nicole Qualtieri
By

Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt + Fish Editor. A DIY hunter, she comes from a non-traditional hunting background and began hunting and fishing in her 30s. She's been a voice for hunting, fishing, and conservation since 2014, when she got started working on the television show MeatEater. She's an avid horsewoman, bird dog aficionado, snowboarder, hiker/backpacker, food nerd, and all-around outdoorswoman. Find her online at @nkqualtieri.