Training the Wolf: Part 3 The Workout

Training the Wolf:  Part 3 The Workout

The below is Part 3 of 3 of our series from Joseph Morrison.  Joseph is a highly-decorated Veteran and currently trains Special Ops candidates by preparing them mentally and physically for service.  

In addition to your hiking under load conditioning (covered in Part 2 of this series), I want you to mix in some strength and conditioning training.  What follows is a sample workout you can add to your weekly preparations.  I say beware of the confident Wolf who trains smart and hard!  A total body strength and conditioning approach is paramount in developing mental and physical toughness that will lead to supreme confidence on the mountain.

For your strength and conditioning workout, the only “must have” equipment is a swing size kettlebell.  If you told me you were only going to do one exercise other than walking up hill, hands down I would tell you to do the kettlebell swing.  However, a large diameter rope to pull a homemade sled and a set of light dumbells, about 15-25lb, to add to your lunges would be a nice investment. If you cannot make a sled just do any pulling exercise, (i.e. pull-ups, bent over row with your dumbbells, one arm row with your kettlebells) but I would really prefer you to pull a sled.  When you pull a sled you are in a quarter squat, you have an arch in your lower back, your chest is out and your head is up.  Not only is it a great pulling exercise but also it will build back, trunk, and core stability that you need to carry loads for extended periods of time.  It is an awesome exercise for mountain hunting.  The same is true for the kettlebell swing, thruster, squat, and plank.  


Some will start out with a 55lb kettlebell for swings, squats, and thrusters and some will start out with 15lb.  It is very important in all exercises that you use good form, good technique, a full range of motion, and
choose a weight that allows you to work the entire time limit. 

The #1 mistake made in any gym is lifting too much weight.  The second biggest mistake is using bad form and bad technique caused by lifting too much weight. So, always start with a weight you are comfortable with.  This will allow you to develop good form, good technique, full range of motion, and in the end develop excellent movement patterns that fully train and develop the muscle group you are training. Then add weight, load, reps, time or stress as the body adapts.     

The Workout

There are only 8 exercises in the entire workout and are repeated 3 or 4 times each.  There are several reasons for that.  First, we want to Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS).  I need you to develop 8 good movement patterns that you do very, very well. Also, we have to meet the minimum load or stress required to create adaptation; 3-4 sets of kettlebell swings twice a week and we are there. I have also targeted the muscles we need to develop strength and stamina for the purpose of hiking and targeted those.  Last but not least, I am trying to make it user friendly for the average mountain hunter.         

Your S&C workout will be a combination of cardio/running, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and MIIT (Medium Intensity Interval Training).  Always work according to your fitness level. If you are just starting out, use weights on the lower end, develop great form, then increase.  During the exercise portion the goal is to do As Many GOOD Reps As Possible (AMGRAP) in the time allotted. It is all about quality not quantity.

Step one is a brisk warm up.  Stretch your legs, arms, knock out a few jumping jacks and get your mind and body ready to roll.  

The basic idea behind this workout is to run for two minutes; rest for 45 seconds; do one strength movement for 20, 25, or 30 seconds (based on fitness); rest 45 seconds; then do another strength movement for time; then roll right into the next 2 minute run; rest 45 seconds; strength move; and so on down the list.

I want you to start with a work to rest ratio of :45 rest to :20 work.  This is because I want you to develop a solid base with good movement patterns in the beginning.  On your third time to perform this workout, I want you to adjust your work to rest ratio to :45 rest and :25 work.  On your fourth time to do this workout, I want you to adjust your ratio again to :45 rest and :30 work.  

Do not try to use a stopwatch or wrist watch because it is very difficult to keep track of time when exercising.  I want you to concentrate on the exercises.  You can download a free interval timer from the app store.  Set your rest to work ratio for :45 rest and :20 work.  Run two minutes, and hit start when you are ready to go.  It counts down time for you and beeps when it is time to start or stop.  You do not even need to look at it.  If you are playing music it pauses the music for the beep then continues. Pause the interval timer for the run, then hit start after the run when you are ready for the :45 break and exercises.   

So here is what one entire set looks like:

Round 1

Run 2 minutes

:45 Rest :20/25/30 kettlebell squat      

:45 Rest :20/25/30 push up            

Run 2 minutes

:45 Rest :20/25/30 walking lunge          

:45 Rest :20/25/30 kettlebell swing

Run 2 minutes

:45 Rest :20/25/30 kettlebell thrusters

:45 Rest :20/25/30 plank

Run 2 minutes

:45 Rest :20/25/30 reverse lunge           

:45 Rest :20/25/30 sled pull

Round 2

Run 2 minutes

:45 Rest :20/25/30 kettlebell squat      

:45 Rest :20/25/30 push up            

Run 2 minutes

:45 Rest :20/25/30 walking lunge         

:45 Rest :20/25/30 kettlebell swing

Run 2 minutes

:45 Rest :20/25/30 kettlebell thrusters

:45 Rest :20/25/30 plank

Run 2 minutes

:45 Rest :20/25/30 reverse lunge            

:45 Rest :20/25/30 sled pull

Round 3

Run 2 minutes

:45 Rest :20/25/30 kettlebell squat      

:45 Rest :20/25/30 push up            

Run 2 minutes

:45 Rest :20/25/30 walking lunge          

:45 Rest :20/25/30 kettlebell swing

Run 2 minutes

:45 Rest :20/25/30 kettlebell thrusters

:45 Rest :20/25/30 plank

Run 2 minutes

:45 Rest :20/25/30 reverse lunge           

:45 Rest :20/25/30 sled pull

Round 4

Run 2 minutes

:45 Rest :20/25/30 kettlebell squat      

:45 Rest :20/25/30 push up            

Run 2 minutes

:45 Rest :20/25/30 walking lunge          

:45 Rest :20/25/30 kettlebell swing

Run 2 minutes

:45 Rest :20/25/30 kettlebell thrusters

:45 Rest :20/25/30 plank

Run 2 minutes

:45 Rest :20/25/30 reverse lunge            

:45 Rest :20/25/30 sled pull

Finish with a 2 minute run.

Beginners start by running the first two rounds and walking the third round. Do not perform Round 4. Intermediate, start by running the first 3 rounds and walking the last round.  Advanced athletes run all 4 rounds. I did 4 rounds the other day at a :45 rest to :30 work ratio.  It took around 1 hour and 15 minutes.  

Some Wolves might only get up to 3 rounds depending on age and health factors and that is okay...3 rounds are not bad at all!  A good running goal for very fit hunters would be ¼ mile in 2 minutes averaging 8 minutes a mile pace.  A ¼ mile track is a great place to do the workout.     

The rest to work ratio of :45 rest and :30 work should be a great ratio for most all of us.  If you are elite and want to challenge yourself, you can drop the rest period from :45,  to :40,  to :35,  and even :30.  A rest to work ratio of :30 rest :30 work is a serious HIIT workout.

Your goal is to work through the entire work period with good form, good technique, and full range of motion. For most wolves, cutting your rest period from :45 to :30 is going to be very counterproductive because it will degrade the quality of your working sets!

If it is raining sideways or a blizzard, you can do it in your garage without the run.  If you are forced in doors and have the capability, you can replace the run with a stationary bike, rowing machine, jumping rope or even jumping jacks.  Don’t make excuses for not getting your work in.  Weather is an excuse.

In a perfect world I would prefer for you to rotate the cardio exercise anyway.  The first time you do it, run 2 minutes; second time, stationary bike 2 minutes;  third time, row machine for 2 minutes; and then on the fourth time, do all 3 forms of cardio rotating each set. 

Round 1- Run

Round 2- Bike

Round 3- Row

Round 4- Run, Bike, Row, Run

When it comes to conditioning your heart, lungs, and body for a mountain hunt, hiking under load is going to be your go to exercise, but running, biking, and rowing are all great cardio exercise you can incorporate based of what you have available to you and what you feel works for you based of your strength and weakness.  Most, like myself, are going to have to run the large majority of the time.       

By far the most important thing you need on a mountain hunt is confidence!  If you are mentally and physically tough, technically and tactically proficient, and instinctively familiar with your weapon and tool systems you will be confident at a subconscious level.  BE THE WOLF!