Getting High on VO2Max

Discussion in 'Backpack Hunting' started by Buffalobob, Jan 21, 2008.

  1. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Writers Guild

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    Well there is about 53 percent of us who live down near sea level and about 100 percent of the elk are high. So how do those of us who are low lifes get high. If you got no horse or mule to tote you then you are on your own. You can go get on your stair stepper, your treadmill, your bike, or your Nikes and build up all of the leg muscles you want but you still will not make it 50 yards from the truck when you get to Colorado or Idaho. Leg muscles like four things: 1-plenty of slow twitch neighbors, 2-lots of glycogen, 3-lots of water and 4-lots of oxygen. One of the things in short supply at the elevations elk live at is oxygen. Down near sea level air is like Dinty Moore’s beef stew with plenty of good stuff but up at 8000 feet it is like Campbell’s chicken noodle soup and just is just thin and soupy. Just not much to it up high. People like to say that air is free but that isn’t true. You have to work hard for it up there.

    The ability of a person to transfer oxygen to the muscles is called VO2Max which is the Volume of O2 Maximum transfer rate. If you exercise at sea level your body responds to the ready availability of oxygen but if you train the same way at altitude your body responds to the lack of oxygen and adapts by increasing the amount of red blood cells and oxygen carrying sites. Blood doping by olympic athletes is a way of cheating to increase their VO2Max instead of working hard for it.

    So if you are a flatlander and wish to increase your VO2Max how do you do it through hard work? “Numerous studies show that you can increase your VO2 max by working out at an intensity that raises your heart rate to between 65 and 85% of its maximum for at least 20 minutes three to five times a week”.

    HRmax = 220 − age

    No then you do not have to go off and buy your self a Polar heart monitor and do math in your head while training. The huffing and puffing test is pretty good for determining how hard you are training. If you can talk normally while training you are about 50-65%. If you can say three or four words before needing the next breathe then you are about 65-75% . If you can only say one word every three breathes then you are about 85%. If you can’t talk at all then you are at 100%.

    About 10-15 years ago when I was very fast, I had three different routines for building VO2Max. One was an uphill mile for pure 100% VO2Max, one was an uphill 3/4mile for 85% and six reps and one was the loop I routinely train on nowadays and when I hit the uphill stretch I would push the speed to the level I needed for that days training. Endurance training is nearly all aerobic with only brief dips into the anaerobic region. A miler will run at a rate where he is aerobic about 90% of the way and then finally outruns his VO2Max and goes into oxygen debt which begins the build up of lactic acid in the muscles. The build up of lactic acid the last several hundred yards is known as “carrying the bear”. When the bear climbs on your back and you have to carry him it is a teeth gritting and painful exercise and I hated it beyond belief. The legs feel like lead and you drive them with the rate of your arm swing. Lactic acid is responsible for muscles being sore and stiff. For elk hunting you wish to avoid lactic acid at all costs.

    So about three times a week you need to hit an exercise level for twenty minutes that makes talking difficult but not impossible. Over a period of 6-8 months as your conditioning improves you will find you need to run faster or pedal harder in order to stress your self to the 85 % level. At this time you are no longer training your legs for climbing mountains after elk. Your legs are plenty strong enough. What you are doing is getting your VO2Max up to a point that you can deal with the thin air at elk hunting altitude and give your rock hard steel spring legs the oxygen they need.

    I will say this again, training the leg muscles for climbing the mountains is the easy part. Getting the lungs and heart and blood ready is hard and painful if you live down in the flatlands. When you finally get to the mountains your legs will be overtrained and they will want to go faster than your lungs can go. You will need to focus on your breathing rate as the key to how fast to climb a ridge as opposed to the tiredness of your legs other wise you will go anaerobic and build up lactic acid and then have sore and stiff muscles only because of your dumbness. It is hard not to get your legs ahead of your lungs but you must just key on your breathing rate and stay at a pace that does not outrun your lungs.

    VO2Max

    Like all good things it goes way as you get older. Below is a chart showing the general levels related to age and fitness. Generally an Olympic champion marathon runner or bicycler will have a VO2Max greater than 55. An endurance runner with a VO2 Max greater than 48 will win mantle trinkets at the local races. He will have a 10 K time less than 40 minutes which is running at 6’25” per mile for six miles plus change.

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  2. Len Backus

    Len Backus Administrator Staff Member

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    Jim

    I can relate totally to the enjoyment and satisfaction you seem to get out of such rigorous exercise.

    Only I accomplish mine by pounding on my thumb with a big hammer for about 5 to 10 minutes. :)
     

  3. mikenc

    mikenc Well-Known Member

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    I glad someone enjoys exercise. I myself am exercise-entolerent. VO2 reminds me of a story I read a few days ago. The story was written by a teacher who actually had a student explain on a test that H2O is Hot Water and C2O was thus cold water. Just funny.

    I'm just not built for climbing mountains. If I am to get to the top of a mountain, there will be an escalator, an elevator or a helicopeter. Maybe some other machine but getting to the top of a mountain for me means the use of a mechanical device.



    Mike Alford
     
  4. Len Backus

    Len Backus Administrator Staff Member

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    Now I feel guilty for turning a serious topic into something else.
     
  5. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Writers Guild

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    I smoked from the time I was 18 until about age 40 and then I quit and began to run and went to off the VO2Max chart on the right hand side. A little tendon that went to a little muscle in the back of my right knee ripped out one day and that was it.

    Hopefully some of the people who plan to go out west and hunt elk for the first time will find some useful knowledge here.
     
  6. lerch

    lerch <strong>SPONSOR</strong>

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    "Hopefully some of the people who plan to go out west and hunt elk for the first time will find some useful knowledge here."


    Thanks BB, me and my knee high cousin are starting training now.

    steve
     
  7. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Writers Guild

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    Friday at lunch time would be a good time for a 5 mile run. Here's your weather forecast.

    Ice Pellets
    20% chance of precipitation



    :D :D :D
     
  8. davewilson

    davewilson Well-Known Member

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    Jim, i really enjoyed your article. it helped me realize what was going on inside. now i know what all the pain is about. the only time i've felt more pain was when i was lying on the operating table for my third knee operation, and the doctor said, Mr Wilson, your competitive sports days are over. it wasn't exactly pain, but it was very painful. i wish i could still run.
     
  9. Flybuster

    Flybuster Well-Known Member

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    To prepare for archery hunting, the last few years I have been stair climbing. I have some 4 level stairs up the hill from my house.

    I would start in the spring and do this until fall.

    The first year I climbed with a backpack with 25 pounds in it. To build more back muscles, and enhance the work out on my legs. I would just climb at a walking speed. Then I added 50 pounds to the backpack, I strained some muscles and had to stop the regimine.

    This exercise would build the leg and back muscles but I didnt seem to have alot of endurance or energy. And still struggled to keep up with my hunting partner.

    The second year I sluffed off and gained alot of weight.

    The third year I worked my tail off, to loose the weight. I lost the back pack and started running the stairs. This really helped my endurance in the fall, I felt really good and had alot of energy. Climbed some rough country elk and chuckar hunting. Had fun.

    This year I could keep up with my hunting partner easily, until he had his heart attack.

    Now I'm continuing the cycle of laziness, putting on about 10 pounds. I have already decided I'm going to go at it hard this year. Not give up, its all about will power. I always have more fun when I have the endurance and energy to hunt.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2008
  10. jimbo300

    jimbo300 Well-Known Member

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    BB,

    Great article.

    I try to keep in good hunting shape by working out with free weights and using a stair-stepper year-round. I can see that I need to step-up my intensity another notch in the cardio department.

    You never know when you might get lucky and draw that limited sheep or elk tag.
     
  11. ricknolan

    ricknolan Well-Known Member

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    That explains a lot.

    Three years ago while living in Abq. NM I trained for a NM mule deer and CO elk hunt and did okay, but just okay. I could walk a good pace for 2 miles at 6000 feet. Thinking I would be in fair shape for the hunt I never pushed it. At 50 I did not need a heart attack. I did far until I hit 10,000 feet or so and I would run out of air at 13,000.

    The next two years I was living in Oklahoma and again could walk 2 plus miles at a good pace and have no issues. When I hit the mountains I could not walk 200 yards without gasping for air. My legs were okay, but I had to stop and rest and catch my breath.
    At 13,000 feet just getting off the ATV and putting on the backpack winded me.


    It is so hard I have considered not going back. Key word considered. I am going to give it another go this year and work harder getting the heart rate up there as you suggest. My knees will not let me run (I broke a knee cap two years ago on an elk hunt in CO). Maybe a bike would be easer on my knees? I was even thinking maybe take the ATV to the trail head and then take a bike on up to more remote country.

    Thanks for the insight.
     
  12. TAP

    TAP Well-Known Member

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    Great article. I was just talking to my hunting buddy about an Wyo. Elk hunting trip we have planned this fall. I told him I was starting to work out to prepare for the hunt. This article gives me the info needed to train properly for this hunt and others to come. Appreciate the info.
     
  13. mikenc

    mikenc Well-Known Member

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    BB

    Great information. Now I know for sure, mountain climbing is not for me!

    Again, great information



    Mike
     
  14. Ernie

    Ernie SPONSOR

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    Hunting in the hills is hard and can be dangerous. It is not for everyone, for sure. Steve (sscoyote) have taken people to hunt with us in the mountains that we wish we would have never taken. Fortunately no one ever got hurt. Because of a bad right knee, I don't run anymore. Just after the first of the year I have been at the gym in the early AM 5 days a week. I will spend an hour to an 11/2 on the elipitcal machine, walking and then a hour long spin class on Tues & Thurs.
    When the weather is nice I will ride my road bicycle around 30 miles for a workout. I will end up doing a couple of 60+ and 100 mile rides through the spring and summer. Steve and I pack out our elk and deer on frame packs, so we make sure we are in good enough condition to do so.
    I can't emphasize physical prep enough. The better shape you are in, the more enjoyable and likely a safer hunt.