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Exercises for Turkey Hunters

Brooks Tiller

Dr. Brooks Tiller is an American Ninja Warrior competitor, adventure athlete, speaker and author.  He has traveled the globe as a physical therapist, strength coach and movement specialist; coaching Olympic and professional athletes to increase their performance physically and mentally. Tiller lives in Tennessee with his wife and two children.

turkey hunter workout

Chasing long beards is not for the weak. Turkeys are not only fast, agile, and have amazing eyes, but they are able to spread their wings and fly as well. So when it comes to chasing one down, they definitely have an advantage. While we have some ways to improve our odds with Obsession camo, guns, the latest vests and great, new calls, one of the best ways is to ensure we are physically ready to chase down a bird. 

We can have the best gear, tools, and tactics but if we are huffing and puffing uncontrollably while trying to catch our breath, the keen eyes of a turkey will pick up on the rapid rise and fall of our chest not to mention the difficulty we will have holding steady for a shot. There is no need for 6-pack abs, bulging biceps, or the ability to run a marathon to improve our physical fitness to chase down a turkey. In just 10 minutes a day with these exercises, you can be ready!

  1. Bear crawl
  2. Bicep curl/ hold
  3. Mountain Climber
  4. Lunge-walking lunge
  5. Sprint
  6. Bonus: Plank

Using an interval training method will allow you to adjust your training and progress according to your fitness level. 

Complete the five exercises in order, two times through, for a total of 10 sets. Begin with 20 seconds of exercise and 40 seconds rest. Increase exercise time by 10 seconds and decrease rest time by 10 seconds as your fitness level improves. Each exercise with accompanying rest time will take 1 minute for a total of 10 minutes. 

Challenge yourself. Push your limits. 

  • 20 seconds on 40 seconds off
  • 30 seconds on 30 seconds off
  • 40 seconds on 20 seconds off
  • 50 seconds on 10 seconds off

BEAR CRAWL 

Begin with hands, knees, and toes on the ground, with your arms slightly bent with hands directly below the shoulders. Hips are flexed to 90 degrees with the knee directly below the hips. 

Raise your knees slightly off the ground so that you are bearing all your weight on your toes and hands. Now begin to ease forward in a slow, controlled motion, moving the right hand and left foot 6-8 inches forward (just past the opposite hand) placing them down and then moving the left hand and right foot just past the opposite side. Keep your back flat and back side as low as possible. 

This movement will work your entire body: arms, chest, pillar, glutes, and legs. Even better it will get you ready and able to sneak up stealthily and controlled through even the crunchiest of leaves 

BICEP CURL WITH HOLD

This is a common exercise seen daily in every gym but can be useful for us in the woods. When the turkey is hung up or just appears as we are easing through the woods, you have to hold your gun completely still until time to squeeze the trigger.

For this exercise, you can use a towel but bands, weights, and even our own body resistance can be used.

Choose a towel length that will reach from the ground to your elbow. Standing with an upright posture with feet about shoulder-width apart and shoulders back (hero stance), step on one end of the towel, take the opposite end of the towel in your hand and pull up until the towel becomes tight at about 90 degrees at the elbow. 

Continue to pull up flexing the bicep. The hand can be rotated to change the feel and intensity of the exercise. 

MOUNTAIN CLIMBER

Beginning in a push-up position with arms straight and hands directly beneath the shoulders and your body in line from ears to shoulders to hips to ankles. 

Pull you right knee up towards your chest then return to the starting position. Next, pull the left knee towards the chest and then return to the starting position. Repeat, alternating right and left legs as fast as you can while keeping the body solid and stable in proper form. 

This exercise will get the ticker going as well as mimicking the act of running up a steep hill after a turkey.

REVERSE LUNGE

Standing with your feet about shoulder width apart and in a good posture, step back with the right leg as if taking a knee on the right side. Lower your right knee to the ground as you bend the left knee. At the bottom of the movement, both knees will be at about a 90-degree angle with the left foot directly below the left knee and the right knee hovering inches above the ground with the right foot behind the body.

To return back to the starting position, push off with the back leg, driving the knee forward while squeezing the glutes of the front leg. 

Repeat with the opposite side. 

Stepping over a log, stepping up out of a creek bed, climbing up a hill, kneeling down into a shooting stance, and getting up to run to a turkey will all improve with the reverse lunge.

To add a little extra to this one, place both hands behind your head and squeeze your shoulders back together as if pulling elbows back. This will activate your upper back and help to improve posture. 

SPRINT

We are not looking to break any world records here, just to get ourselves ready to scurry up a hill to cut off a big long beard. 

Here we will define a sprint as moving as fast as you are able to over a short distance. This can be a brisk walk or a full out Olympic-level sprint. The key is to do what you can and push yourself but not break yourself. If you have access to a hill, hill sprints are preferred as it will increase muscle activation while getting us ready to run up the hills and hollers that turkeys love. 

Give it your best effort for 8-10 seconds and then walk back down. 

BONUS: PLANK

For an extra challenging finish, plank for as long as you can. This will improve your endurance and stamina for those times when you have to hold completely motionless. 

Begin with forearms on the ground, elbows directly below the shoulders and elbows bent to 90 degrees. With knees and toes on the ground, tighten the body up with the toes and forearms on the ground. Keeping the body straight and tight with ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles in line, hold a plank as long as you can. 

These six exercises will have us ready to get out and chase turkeys in just 10 minutes a day. 

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