People normally don’t put physical fitness and fishing together in the same sentence. I mean, why would you? For most, fishing is a way to escape the weekly grind and leave the toils of life behind. Considering it a workout may taint the experience for some. However, think about every guide you’ve ever known. How many are fat? I’m betting not many. You don’t often see fat/out of shape guides. In fact, staying in shape is very important in our profession to ensure focus and efficacy during long days on the water.
Where Did All This Fitness and Fishing Talk Come From?
I turn 40 this year. That age is less significant today that it was a few decades ago because people are living well into their nineties these days. However, it is still a benchmark for some/bears some sort of significance on people’s adult life. Like New Years, it offers an opportunity to set goals, reflect on what you’ve accomplished in life thus far, and look forward to what’s in store for the future.
My personal goal is to get into the best shape of my life before my 40th birthday (30-June). Really, the goal is to look the best I’ve ever looked. Considering I’ve been a paid athlete for all of my adult life (i.e. your tax dollars paid for me to be in elite physical condition while on active duty), I don’t have to do anything too transformative to hit this goal. However, a few tweaks are necessary for me to hit the mark and I have to consider the fact that I need to be able to guide at the same time.
Last Sunday, I injured my back at the gym during a workout I’ve done dozens of times. The injury wasn’t anything crazy. However, it hurt enough to leave me bed ridden and off the water for a day or two. When I was laying around wallowing in self-pity, I couldn’t help but consider, “What if I REALLY hurt myself?” In this line of work, if you can’t move, you can’t fish/guide. If I can’t fish/guide, I can’t feed my family. So what should I be doing in the gym to keep me in shape, allow me to hit my goal, and avoid injury? I have a few ideas.
Guides Are Generally in Shape For a Few Reasons
Back to reflecting on all the guides you know. Again, few are fat/out of shape and there are a few reasons for this:
– We’re always on our feet or on the move. Especially if you’re a guide that runs a walk and wade or rowing program. The other day, a buddy of mine told me he had been tracking our steps on his iPhone. We walked nearly 5 miles. It’s kind of tough to get out of shape when you’re logging that kind of activity on a regular basis.
– Being on the go means we often miss meals. In the dieting/fitness world, they call this “intermittent fasting.” There are a ton of studies out there that show a 16+ hour gap between meals has numerous health benefits. From weight loss, ability to burn fat, and control insulin levels. I’m not a dietician nor am I a scientist – I’m just providing commentary on what I’ve read.
– We’re outside, enduring all kinds of conditions. Fishing in the cold, rain, and snow, taxes our bodies to maintain warmth. It takes a lot calories to make that happen.
Ideally, a fitness routine that optimizes performance on the water should be low impact but extremely taxing. The program should be something we can do in less than an hour (30 mins is optimal) so we can squeeze it in when we get off the water. Such a program should also be easy to do at home – in the basement or garage – thereby saving gym costs and drive time back and forth.
I will propose a few exercises but the exercises aren’t important. You can replace any of these with exercises you enjoy. The main idea is that every workout should be simple, quick, tax the entire body, and leave you exhausted once complete. You can do any of these workouts as many times per week as you want. Some weeks I workout every day. Some week’s I can only squeeze a couple workouts into the schedule. Bottom line, I make time.
Workout 1: Medicine Ball Slam Insanity
The Routine: Do as many as possible in one minute and then rest for 3 minutes. For that working minute, you need to get yourself to the point that you believe your heart will explode. Some element of fear, excitement, and adrenaline should creep up. You need to be completely smoked – so much so that you’ll need the 3 minutes of rest. Do this 8 times – so that’ll take you no more than 32 mins. That’s it.
The Logic: picking something up off the ground that has an awkward shape, lifting it over your head, and slamming it down as hard as you can works every muscle in your body. It’s also a movement you’ll likely repeat throughout the day when on the water. Well, not the slamming portion but hopefully you’ll end up bending over to net fish numerous times throughout the day and doing ball slams will ensure that’s never a problem.
Workout 2: Uphill Sprints
The Routine: Run as fast as you can on the steepest incline you can for a minute then rest 3 minutes. Tax yourself the same way as prescribed in the medicine ball slam.
The Logic: walk and wade guides in particular would benefit greatly from this kind of workout. The incline reduces impact on your joints while taxing the hell out of your legs, heart, and lungs. This will build leg and core strength that will help you last longer when on the water.
Workout 3: Burpee Box Jumps
The Routine: do a burpee next to a 2 foot box. When you complete the burpee, jump up on the box. Then drop down and go straight into another burpee. Do 10 of these in a row and take a minute rest. Do this 10 times.
The Logic: This is probably the most taxing exercise I’ve ever done. It works every muscle in your body. It also reinforces your connective tissue thereby allowing you to walk farther and stay on your feet longer.
Workout 4: As Many Rounds as Possible (AMRAP) in 20 minutes
The Routine: 5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 squats (no weight). Do this sequence of exercises as many times as possible in 20 minutes.
The Logic: this workout hits every muscle in your body and keeps you moderately stressed for 20 minutes. Think of it as something that would help you if you had to carry a client or fishing buddy that got injured or if you needed to run to get help.
Parting Shots about the Workouts
All 4 workouts are simple, extremely taxing, and short. You can also substitute any number of exercises in place of what I recommended. For example, substitute kettlebell swings for ball slams. Use a YETI cooler instead of a box (thanks Willey). Jump rope fast instead of sprinting uphill. Your options are limitless. Just get the sessions in.
This is perhaps more important than the workouts. My diet is EXTREMELY simple. Some would say it’s extreme in general. Bottom line, all I eat are animals. Eggs, fish, beef, venison, waterfowl, chicken, turkey, pork, bacon, whatever. If it was alive and had blood coursing through it’s veins at some point, it’s fair game. I started this by default when I was in Guyana and have kept it up since I returned. The results have been amazing.
I completely understand many who read this will think this kind of diet is either boring, or insane. Google the carnivore diet and read up. It’s not for everyone but it has worked amazingly for me. If you just can’t make yourself eat like this – do your best to eat whole foods. Nuts, veggies, meat, and a little fruit. Keep it simple. Eat only when hungry (don’t make yourself eat 3 meals per day). If you’re only hungry once, eat once.
Back to what got me thinking about all of this – the back injury. I hurt my back doing heavy deadlifts. Why was I dong heavy deadlifts? Pride and testosterone – it’s as simple as that. I shouldn’t have been doing them. They are useless for someone in my line of work. That kind of workout won’t help me hit my goal. Deadlifts are also high risk if not executed properly. I’ve been doing them for years but when you are far along in a session, sometimes laziness kicks in, your form suffers, and an injury happens. Never again.
Keep a log and try to outperform what you did on the previous workout. Listen to your body. Use the mirror and how you feel as your guide. Put some of these principles in place and I assure you that you’ll see awesome gains and will perform better when you’re on the water.
Observations from Last Week on the Water- 20180408 – 20180414
The back injury kept me of the water for much of the week but I managed to get in some water time and net a few fish. The tribs (all except Canadaway for some reason) got low and clear toward the end of the week. They all produced fish but angling get more difficult as the waters cleared up. We managed to hit the lower river for a quick outing before the sleet and wind hit. We did well.
Plan for this week – 20180415 – 20180421
We’ll be on the big water Monday through Wednesday. From Thursday through next Monday, we’ll be in Washington State trying to chalk up yet another region. Stay tuned and give us a call if you want to experience this first hand instead of reading about it. You can also check out a video version of what we don on the water by clicking here.