Off-Season Training: Veto Treadmill

By Bowhunting ContributorJanuary 21, 2013

LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015

Written by Bowhunting.com contributor Dan Staton.

The winter off-season where many of us live is cold and dark.  Hibernation is tempting, but won’t help you get a leg up on the competition.  Being fit year round is such a chore, especially during the winter – there’s little daylight and weather is rough.  Some take to the gym and most simply do nothing.  If you have any gumption or go ahead, I want you to use the power of the veto, and override the vote to run on a treadmill. 

True, everything a bowhunter does starts with the legs, but we need a total body workout to round off any corners in our game.  I present to you the ergomter, or also know as the indoor rower. You still can find other items to do in the winter like horn hunt or shoot indoor leagues.  I really don’t care how you stay active, but don’t get stuck behind your computer checking out applications and updating your Facebook status.  Why not start preparing for your hunt now with the indoor rower? One of the best advantages to choosing this piece of equipment is you will never have to wait in line for the rowing machine.  If you’re able to apply proper form and programming, this floor skimmer can sear more calories than a fist full of treadmills.


While many might think that the treadmill is the “standard” when it comes to the best tool for shedding fat, the author has something else in mind that’s even better.

Bowhunters must prioritize their physical fitness needs by placing the posterior (backside) to the top of the list.  To make rowing work for, you’ll first need to find a groove, meaning, if you lack rhythm, you’ll tire quickly and won’t yield serious output.  First, let’s prime your rowing form then we’ll set you free with a great program.

Rowing 101

• Don’t grip too hard –Keep enough grip to keep the handle from slipping out of your hand, but also not so much that you wear out your hands, have achy forearms, and tear up your palms.
• Leg Drive – Rowing is mostly about your legs, they’re stronger than your arms and should be doing the vast majority of the work.
• Sequence – Legs, hips, arms, arms, hips, legs.  This is the sequence of rowing. If you reorganize this list, it doesn’t work.
• No lift – You should not lift off the seat, push straight back.
• Core – Keep your core engaged, don’t shoot your butt back first.  Throughout the stroke; the angle of your back should not change as you drive with your legs.
• Elbows relaxed – Don’t lift up your elbows at your sides.  Keep them relaxed at a natural angle and don’t make chicken wings.

erg 2

Correct form is vital if you hope to get the most out of your time spent on this exercise.

• No shrugging – Don’t pull your shoulders up into your ears as you drive back in the stroke.  Instead, imagine you are pulling your shoulder blades together behind you –perfect for bowhunting muscles.
• Ribs – Pull the handle to the bottom of your ribs.
• Posture – Hinge at the hips and keep good posture.  Lift your chest up.  Don’t let your lower back or shoulders collapse. Be relaxed, but with good posture.
• Balls – The whole way through the drive you should feel a solid connection between the balls of your feet and the footplates.
• Biggest Mistake – As you start to return forward in your stroke, your knees need to remain straight until the handle is above your mid-shin. Hinge at the hips, sit up tall, and wait (just like with a deadlift) until the bar has passed your knees to re-bend them.  This is one of the most common mistakes….avoid it.
• How to Breathe – Exhale as you drive back; inhale as you recover forward.
• Continuity – Steady consistent movement will be more efficient. Remember you are on the “water” – smooth movement is rewarded. Smooth movement is fast and efficient. Jerky movements make waves and flip boats.


 Don’t let a lack of experience stop you from trying the rowing machine because the benifits will be worth it.

3 Rowing Workouts

Day 1 The Pyramid
Row hard (90 percent of your maximum) for 5 strokes and then do 5 easy (60 percent). Now row 10 hard and 10 easy. Repeat but increase your count to 15 each, then 20, 25, and 30. Next, go back down the pyramid, decreasing by intervals of 5. Repeat when you’re able.

Day 2 The 1-to-1
Row hard for 1 minute and then do 1 minute of easy strokes. Repeat, alternating hard and easy, for 15 to 20 minutes. Gradually increase your time to a half hour. Aim for 18 to 20 strokes per minute. After several sessions, shoot for 30 strokes per minute.

Day 3 The Sprint
Set your machine on a 500-meter interval program with 2 minutes of rest. Row at 75 percent of your max and then rest 2 minutes. Do 10 intervals.


Hard work always pays. The author’s success is proof of that. Make this off-season your best ever.

The rower and I have a complicated relationship of love and hate.  Nothing can leave me flat on my back in a matter of minutes like the ergometer.  These machines are found in most gyms tucked away in a corner with lots of dust on them.  I think they lack gym luster because they make you feel uncomfortable immediately.  This is a good thing, so put your hoody up and your headphones in, and start tightening the noose on your fall quarry.  No matter what tag you land, what new bow you dope in, your body will be your number one hunting asset, so keep it sharp and strong by incorporating row workouts into your program.  Veto the treadmill.

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