[0:50] Detox With Ben
[6:08] Introduction to this Episode
[8:40] About Kenton Clairmont
[12:16] The Autoimmune disease that Kenton had
[18:10] What Kenton Did To Help Treat His Arthritis
[20:12] The Natural Chinese Remedy Alternative to Common Immunosuppressant Drugs
[28:04] Quick Commercial Break/Kimera Koffee
[31:38] Continuation/Kenton’s Hunting Story
[38:54] A Typical Train To Hunt Workout
[54:30] Why the Train To Hunt National Champion’s Key Workout is “baling hay”
[57:00] The 2015 Train To Hunt Nationals
[1:05:00] The Meat Packing
[1:10:01] Obstacle Course With Weapons
[1:18:06] What the Brand New Train To Hunt Challenge Course Now Looks Like
[1:18:48] How the Meat Pack Portion of the Challenge is Going to Change Significantly
[1:34:05] End of Podcast
Ben: Yo. Hello. That was my best Paul Harvey impersonation. Or does he say “Good day”? Good day. I don’t know. Whatever he says, he ends it like it’s a question. Like that. Anyways though, in case you were wondering, this is not Paul Harvey. You might not even know who Paul Harvey is, I guess if you’re a young buck listening in. This is Ben Greenfield. And speaking of young buck, today’s show talks a little bit, a lot actually, about hunting and hunting fitness. And so if you’re like a mushroom forager, or like some kind of a green smoothie fanatic, please don’t run for the hills ’cause it’s actually pretty entertaining. We also get into like Chinese herbal remedies for rheumatoid arthritis, and how to ruck for copious amounts of time in a heavy backpack, et cetera. So I think you are going to dig this one.
I have a few special announcements. So the first is pretty quick, and that is that “Detox With Ben” over at detoxwithben.com kicks off in like two weeks from the time this podcast is being recorded. So get in on that if you haven’t yet. I spent almost four hours over Christmas weekend, ’cause apparently I don’t have a life, writing out the entire workout portion of this program. And we’re combining workouts, we’re combining biohacks like dry skin brushing, and coconut oil pulling, were adding in a brain detoxification program, a body detoxification program partnered up with one of the most brilliant detox minds on the face of the planet, this guy named Dr. Dan Pompa. And anyways, were opening up to 100 people to do the detox along with me. So everything I do every day, you’re going to be doing. Whether you like it or not, you’re going to be just drinking copious amounts of like bone broth, and weird teas, and all these different recipes I’ve uploaded. It’s going to be fun. detoxwithben.com.
In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“I want you to do as many rounds as you can of five push-ups, five squats, five sit-ups. I want you to do that over, and over, and over for the next 5, 10 minutes that you have on your lunch break or whatever. That would be a typical, like really quick, hotel, maybe lunch break-style type of training.” “You load your 50 pound pack on, you get it where you want. You grab the two arrows you have left, put ’em into your quiver. Very important. You can run with arrows in your hand. You have to have it in a quiver, or in a hip quiver. You have ’em secure so that if each of them fall, you won’t end up getting stabbed. You don’t want anybody to get stabbed.”
He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness. His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance. He is Ben Greenfield. “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…” All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Ben: Hey. What’s up, folks? It’s Ben Greenfield. And I got to tell you, I’ve raced plenty of triathlons, I’ve done sprint distance up to Ironman distance, and I’ve also done a lot of obstacle races, including some of the toughest Spartan challenges, particularly in the world. And I’ve done adventure races, and brutal workouts that say that they’re like the hardest workout in the world, and SEALFIT training, and Spartan Agoge challenges, and The World’s Toughest Mudder, and all sorts of crazy, crazy things that I think are probably going to take a few years off my life, but also make life a lot more fun. But I have to tell you, my lungs have never sucked quite as much, and my brain and body at the same time have never been challenged quite as much, and I’ve never really experienced any form of competition so freaking functional as this challenge I do every year called “Train To Hunt”.
And my guest today is the evil mastermind behind “Train To Hunt” and everything that it involves. If you’ve never heard of it before, if you’re not interested in hunting at all, I think you’re still going to find some of this stuff fascinating in terms of how to challenge your brain and body with things like bow hunting, and shooting when you’re tired, and activating your nervous system, and training in a way that makes you be able to be a real predator in the mountains, so to speak. And my guest’s name is Kenton, Kenton Clairmont, and he’s the owner and the creator of “Train To Hunt”, like I mentioned. It’s a unique mash-up of bow hunting, and obstacle racing. It’s taken the nation by storm. They’re opening up challenges in a whole bunch of different States, and today we’re going to delve into hunting, fitness, and “Train To Hunt”. So Kenton, welcome to the show, man.
Kenton: Thanks, Ben. It’s an honor to be here, my man. It’s been a while since we’ve talked and I’m just excited to be back on the phone with Ben Greenfield.
Ben: It has been a while since we talked, and I think one interesting thing is that you and I both went, back in the day, to the same college down at Lewis-Clark State College. You played baseball and I played tennis.
Kenton: Yeah. That’s wild. It’s funny because I’ve known who you are for probably 15 years, and then when we kind of for the first time got formally introduced and started talking, it was really interesting to know that we went to the same college, we were both into a hand-eye striking sports.
Ben: That’s right.
Kenton: I would definitely say that tennis players are…
Ben: Mine was a little bit refined and preppy though. Yours is more red-blooded American male.
Kenton: Yeah, yeah. That’s true. That’s true. A little bit more red-blooded American man. However, I would say that you definitely had to be in better shape to play tennis than baseball. I’m just saying…
Kenton: But, yeah. It’s just crazy. I loved the college I went to. It’s small and, I don’t know. I loved the LC community down there. It was fun to realize that we had the same experience down there.
Ben: Yeah. The one prevailing characteristic though that defines both baseball and tennis is that you can be amazing at either sport and not possess the ability to run any longer than a half mile.
Kenton: Correct. Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. The explosive sports, I would say, and hand-eye coordination for sure.
Ben: Yeah. I remember that blew my mind when I was reading, I didn’t blow my mind. It just made me understand physiology more when, this was before I started studying Exercise Science at college, and I was a reading an article, I believe it was an interview with Venus Williams, and she was just getting started her pro career back in the day, but she was already cleaning up on the pro level, and I remember reading in the interview, she’s like, “I’ve never run a mile in my life. My coach actually has me avoid running a mile.” And so she can maintain that fast twitch explosiveness, of course. But it’s pretty interesting how we perceive these athletes who last like four to five hours during a match out in the sun in Australia, they must be able to run a marathon. But the fact is they rarely run more than a mile.
Kenton: Yeah, yeah. Crazy stuff. Crazy stuff.
Ben: Yeah. So you were playing baseball, and we’ve done a couple of podcasts with you before. We have a whole bunch of podcasts about hunting and hunting fitness, and I’ve interviewed guys like Aron Snyder, and Chad Wheeler, and Marc Warnke, and some of these people who are helping even beginner hunters not just get fit but also get into hunting, and I’ll put a link to all of these previous episodes that we’ve done if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/kenton2. That’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/kenton2. But one thing that we kind of touched on the last time that I interviewed you, but we didn’t take too much of a deep dive into, you had kind of like an auto immune disease that hit your body. Was it when you were playing baseball at LC?
Kenton: It was well after that, Ben. I had been out of baseball, in fact, I graduated college, and went on to the workforce, and was out trying to get a teaching job ’cause I went to college for PE and Health Teaching, and then get I got a kinesiology degree on top of that. And once my baseball career was over in college, like I think like most collegiate athletes, once that’s over and you haven’t made it to the next level, you kind of make a decision. Am I going to start career or am I going to continue to try to fight for a position as a pro athlete? And I just decided that I’m going to start my career, I’m 23, it’s time to move on and grow up, and I got into, I was substitute teaching, and being a baseball coach, and wrestling coach, and a football coach. Then at 25, I was coaching this baseball team and they said, “Hey. Coach, you should really just go try out at some place ’cause you got it still. You can still throw, and run, and hit real well.”
Long story short, I made it, and I went on, and I played one year of Single-A ball, and that was a 25. At 26, I came back and was just really, it was just a really good time in my life because I realized that I could still play baseball, I still liked having fun, and I was having fun again playing sports. Kind of move past the whole obsessed and nightmare you know, because I think it’s pretty common for college athletes when they have these big dreams of being professional athletes, but once those dreams are kind of decided for ’em at some point, they start having nightmares, and those went away after I played my one year in the sun. But I came back to reality and decided I was going to start my career again, and I got a job at private school and I was teaching PE. At age 30 is when I just started feeling these aches and pains, and I wondered what’s going on with my wrist and my knees. And, well, shoot, Ben, I wrestled for 20 years, I played baseball for 20 plus years…
Ben: Now if I could interrupt you there. A lot of people get aches and pains, do you know what mean? Like I wake up sore a lot of times some morning, usually related to some crazy workout that I did the day before.
Ben: But when you say you were waking up with aches and pains, I mean you were an athlete. This was something that you weren’t used to?
Kenton: Right. Well, no. I wasn’t frankly used to it. It was above and beyond the pain that I was used to, but I had just figure that I’m just going to let this play out because it might be because I turned 30, I was like, “Well, maybe it’s just as you get older, you are feeling a little more pain than you normally do and it takes a little longer for you to recover than you normally do. I had just written it off to age and overuse of my body throughout my 20’s and early life. And about six months into this that I recognized that I was definitely more sore than I normally was, ’cause I was still training and I was still lifting weights, still running and that kind of thing. I realized that this is above and beyond just being sore from working out because I would wake up and like both of my feet felt like I had sprained both my ankles, and my wrists, my hands, I could barely move my hands. When my feet his the floor, I felt like I was walking on nails. This would last for about 20 to 30 minutes in the morning, but then as I moved around, I’d feel better…
Ben: So it was like deeper, more intense, or more sharp than what you’d get from, say, like delayed onset muscle soreness?
Kenton: That’s right. That’s right. It was way beyond, it was concerningly painful. It was like, “Why do I feel like my ankles…” Literally, it felt like I had sprained both my ankles, and then my hands felt like, there was something wrong. I just knew, I’ve been sore, like you said, I’ve been sore before, but there was something above and beyond this soreness. So I went and got checked out and lo and behold, they said, “You have rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune disease.” And I learned a lot about what it means to have an autoimmune system disease. Luckily, if there is such luck in contracting an autoimmune system disease, I found out that it was probably the most treatable autoimmune disease, if there was, at the time.
And so I just started getting treated and I’ve actually been able to live a normal, functional 12 years since I’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I still have my bad days, Ben. But for the most part, it’s not like it was before I got treated, which was just indescribable. I would never want anybody to have to go through that kind of pain and mental, really the mental anguish was probably the hardest. I was really depressed, I had a really tough time kind of coming to grips with, “I may never run again. I may never be able to jump or run again.” It was tough. It was a really tough time in my life. But since then, like again, I’ve come to control it via diet, via natural supplements, turmeric and these things, anti-inflammatory…
Ben: That’s actually what I was going to ask you, like what moved the dial the most from a diet or a supplement standpoint? Or did you do anything else, like did you infrared therapy, or magnetic wraps, or any of these other kind of things that some folks will do for joint pain?
Kenton: The thing that moved the needle the most for me was just diet, was really cutting back on red meat. It’s funny to hear like a hunter say, “I have to cut back on red meat,” but I just cut back on my red meat, I cut back on my…
Ben: You’re a baseball player too. Red meat and copious amounts of sunflower seeds?
Kenton: That’s right, that’s right. That’s right. And nightshade vegetables, I’ve cut all my dairy out, sugars, anything that affect inflammatory response, I cut out. And that’s helped a lot, but I’m still, Ben, I’m still taking methotrexate, which is a very common rheumatoid arthritis medication because it doesn’t help enough to allow me, like even my diet changes, they don’t help me enough to allow me to live and move the way I need to be able to live. So I do still take…
Ben: Yeah. And that’s just basically, it’s an immune system suppressant, right?
Kenton: That’s all that is. Yep. That’s right.
Ben: Yeah. Yeah.
Kenton: So, yeah. It was a tough time in my life, but I did march through it, and it’s great. I think it’s a blessing in disguise, Ben, because when I contracted rheumatoid arthritis, I switched from “I want to be a teacher and a coach” to “I need to get into the fitness industry, and health, and nutrition, and really delve into this stuff pretty thick so that I could learn about how to take care of myself and others”. And it’s led me to where I am now. So it’s kind of been a blessing in disguise, contracting this disease.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. It’s really interesting. And I want to hear more about how you got into starting “Train To Hunt” from the CrossFit gym after that, but one thing I wanted to let you know, we didn’t have a chance to talk about this, I think it was the last time you were over at my place. But there’s an interesting study that they did on a Chinese herbal remedy that appeared to be just as effective as methotrexate and some other mean immune system suppressants at controlling the symptoms, specifically, of rheumatoid arthritis. They did a big study over at a medical institute in China, and this stuff, it’s kind of cheesy, but it goes by the name Thunder God Vine over in China, and it’s an extract of a special plant over there, and they gave it to these patients, and combined the effects with patients who are taking the MTX, the methotrexate, and they actually found that the effects in most cases were the same, or better, without some of the side effects of the immune system suppressant. So I should shoot a link over to that study, but it’s really interesting. It’s just a Chinese herbal remedy.
Kenton: Absolutely. Anything to do with that, with new studies found [0:21:11] ______ for sure. It’s one of those like having an autoimmune system disease and being [0:21:19] ______ really having a decision. Do you want to treat it or not? If you treat it, then there are some side effects to these treatments, like nausea, and it’s hard on your kidneys and your organs, and you have to get these panels done every couple of months to make sure that you still have proper liver function and kidney function. So I’m always up for, is there any some way to treat this thing naturally, I’m in. So, yeah. I’d love to hear that and read that study, Ben. For sure.
Ben: Yeah. I’ll put it in the show notes too. For people listening in, if you want to read that study, I’ll put it over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/kenton2. And then Kenton, like from there, I remember running into you again briefly back in the day, or I actually wasn’t running to you, I was running into your name ’cause I wandered into a CrossFit gym. It was Spokane Valley CrossFit where my brother, Zach, was training, and there was a guy named Dan Staton, Dan Stanton? Dan Stanton?
Ben: Staten! And he was running a CrossFit gym with you focused on fitness for hunters. Is that correct?
Kenton: Well, our CrossFit gym really just, we started so early, Ben. It was like 2008. We just got a head of the big wave. When we opened CrossFit Spokane Valley, we were like number 590 something affiliate in the world. There’s thousands upon thousands now. So when we opened that gym, and the story goes that Dan and I worked together at Ozfit and we both had this entrepreneurial mindset of like, “We could to do this. We need to start our own gym.” And we really had a passion for helping people and helping young athletes, and we discovered CrossFit, and so we said, “This is the way to go. This is the great business plan. It’s great [0:23:15] ______ support.”
And so we opened up a CrossFit Spokane Valley in 2008, and Dan and I were partners on it for, gosh, five or six years. And we loved it. It was humble beginnings, of course. We were standing out on the street, there was a time, Ben, when you would say, “Hey, have you ever heard of CrossFit,” and 9 out of 10 people would say, “No. I’ve never heard of that. What is that?” And we would just pull ’em in off the street and say, “Come get a free month of workouts. We’ll just train you for free just so you can get a taste of what this new idea of training is which is called CrossFit.” And now, of course, it’s huge. But that’s how we thought…
Ben: Yeah. It’s massive. I wandered into a gym, I had a bunch of guys over to my house last week and we were supposed to go run this obstacle course that I built on my land, but it’s covered in snow and ice, so we couldn’t even get up on anything. So we rented a local CrossFit facility and went there, and they ran us through a workout. That was the first WOD that I’ve done in quite a while. It was four different five minute long stations of going as hard as you go for a minute, and then 15 seconds off. I had forgotten how brutal it can be especially from a muscular endurance, or kind of like short term glycolic stamina standpoint. I mean, I was pretty wrecked for the rest of the day.
Kenton: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. I think you kind of wrapped up what about 90% of CrossFit workouts are about, and it’s that ultra-high-high intensity workouts. And I love them. I remember when I found CrossFit, I was, and I still do. I still do love CrossFit. I branched out and really, after doing the CrossFit competition for five years, I was like, “What am I really training for?” I really enjoyed the competitions, I really enjoyed daily workouts, I enjoyed the people. And at one point, Dan and I were like, “What are we really training for outside of just being able to say we’re good at working out?” And we said, “We’re training for hunting.” And so the light bulb went off, and I thought, “Why don’t we start a training regimen specifically for hunting?” I mean you have some experience in the hunting area now, Ben, and you can attest to this. There is very specific movements in specific muscle groups and modality you have to be good at, efficient at in order to move through the mountains with efficiency. Right? Like it’s…
Ben: Oh, yeah. Well not just move through the mountains with the efficiency, because I mean a lot of people think it just comes down to being able to ruck and hike for long periods of time, but I mean also just freaking like drawing 65 pounds while you’re in a lunging position with your bow, and doing so in almost like, it’s not an isometric contraction, but it’s a pretty slow, controlled contraction when you’re trying not to spook an animal. And little things like that that require, and in some cases, as you just touched on, your heart rate’s jacked ’cause you did just climb a hill, or you did just make it up the side of a mountain, or maybe you didn’t even just hike, but you’re just at 13,000 feet altitude, ’cause a lot of these places you hunt, the air is thinner. Yeah. Those are a lot of the things people don’t think about, the stuff that goes above and beyond just rucking or hiking.
Kenton: Correct. Yeah. With that said, that’s why “Train To Hunt” started. It was a training regimen specifically for the hunter. And it made sense to me because you can find a trainee regiment for a volleyball player, a football player, a triathlete, pretty much anything, a mountain bike racer. But there was nothing out there that was training the hunting athlete. Nobody had touched that area. I think for several reasons. I think that it’s still a very controversial area for the most case. And then I think that it’s kind of an old school, traditional sport where there’s a lot of resistance to change in that sport. Even today, I get some backlash for even bringing up the fact that you will be a better hunter if you’re in good shape, if you’re fit, if you’re healthy. I still get backlash for it. So I think that’s why it hasn’t been touched up to that point, but now as you can see in the last six years, there’s a lot of stuff that’s coming up and people are starting to recognize that hunting is just easier, it’s more enjoyable, and you can be better at it if you choose to be in hunting shape.
Ben: Yo. What’s up? I’m interrupting this show to bring you a sweet recipe. I made this this morning, and I’m not kidding, I’m not just making that up. I made this this morning, it’s going to knock your socks off. It is called Coconut Chia Pudding. And here’s how it goes, it’s two layers. The first layer, you take a bunch of chia seeds, and you mix them in with almond milk, a touch of organic maple syrup, a little bit of full-fat coconut milk, a pinch of sea salt, and little bit of stevia or coconut sugar. And then you also make a second layer in a different container, and that one’s chia seeds, almond milk, and coconut milk, like the other one, along with sea salt, and a little bit of sugar or stevia. But to that second pot that you put all the stuff into, you put a cup of coffee.
And what you do then is you chill all of this for anywhere from 30 minutes to preferably overnight if you can. You want to stir it a couple of times. If you’re chilling it overnight, make sure you stir before you go to bed. And you’re going to get this thick chia pudding. And what you do is you take layer one and you’ll scoop that into a bowl or a cup, and then you put layer two on top of it, and it tastes like this amazing coconutty chocolate coffee pudding. And you could put like peanut butter, and almonds, and bananas, and dark cacao nibs, or anything else that you want on there to amp up the flavor even more.
So the recipe that I just gave you comes courtesy of Kimera Koffee, K-I-M-E-R-A K-O-F-E-E. And at kimerakoffee.com, you can get coffee with nootropics added to it that upspin the dials in your brain, and yes I just made that word up. They upspin the dials in your brain. So we’re talking about nootropics like alpha-GPC, and taurine, and DMAE, and l-theanine, and all these things that make coffee, coffee! So check it out. Kimerakoffee.com and you want to use code Ben because that will get you 10% off. And if you to that website and you click on “Recipes”, you’ll also get that recipe for the awesome two-layer chia putting.
Another thing you could add to that pudding actually that would taste pretty good would be emulsified MCT oil. I have a new blend of emulsified MCT oil I’ve been using. It is perfect for the fall. It’s called Pumpkin Spice. And if you’ve never had emulsified MTV, MTV? Emulsified MTV. Emulsified MCT, you are missing out because it’s like MCT oil, but it doesn’t clump. There’s no mess, there’s no clean-up because it’s emulsified, what that means is it mixes into anything you put it into, like teas, or coffees, or anything.
And there’s not just Pumpkin Spice, if pumpkin isn’t your thing or you’ve got something against pumpkins. They’ve got strawberry, they’ve got vanilla, they’ve got coconut, and it is all brought to you by this company called Onnit. O-N-N-I-T. And when you go to onnit.com/Ben10, that’s onnit.com/Ben10, you get 10% off this amazing emulsified MCT oil. And one of the things that I do in addition to putting the Pumpkin Spice in teas and coffees, is I get the coconut one and I drizzle their coconut emulsified MCT oil, over of all things, sushi. I know that I just completely insulted anybody who loves sushi. That’s probably blasphemy in Japan to dump some coconut-flavored emulsified MCT oil on sushi, but it makes sushi taste like, well, sushi! So check it out. Onnit.com/Ben10. Alright. Let’s jump back in with Kenton.
Ben: You had like a pretty personal experience with this. I think this was a story you were telling me about how you when hunting with your dad, I think it was.
Kenton: That’s right.
Ben: And I want to hear that story, ’cause it highlights one really important thing, especially regarding hunting, and even leading into, at least the past few years of Train To Hunt competitions, the need to compete on back-to-back days, and I think we’ll touch on that later and how you guys, again, changed the competitions going forward. But like when I hunt, like you know and I’ve interviewed, like I mentioned, like Marc Warnke from GotHunts, and Chad Wheeler, and some of these guys who will put together hunts that I go on, but they’re like five, or six, or seven, or in one case, eight days long, day after day of getting up and having to perform. It’s not just like one day, and then you could sleep in the next day, and recover, and take a magnesium bath. So can you go into that story about, I think it was you, and your dad, and your brother hunting sheep?
Kenton: Absolutely. Well, it starts when we were super young, Ben, and that was with the idea that, “Man, those guys are super lucky to be able to go to Alaska,” like the great, the last unexplored place on Earth, and be able to hang out in Alaska, and hunt these amazing animals and sheep. And we used to watch them, and talk about it, and how great that would be, really understanding and knowing that that was something we would never be able to do. Fast forward 15, 20 years, and my brother’s in the military station in Alaska, and now we have the opportunity to go to Alaska, and for those of you that don’t know, Alaska, if you hunt sheep, if you do not have a next of kin, which is a brother, a dad, second generation next of kin, you have to hire a guiding service in order to hunt Dall sheep. Well, my dad and I had Ryan up there. So we didn’t have to hire a guide, which can be upwards of 15 to 20 thousand Dollars.
So we were saving a ton of money, we were able to get this opportunity to go hunt the Dall sheep, and it was something that has been a lifelong dream of all of ours, especially my dad, who at the time was 58 years old. So he got in good shape, and he did some biking, and step classes, and stuff. He did everything he could. He lost like 25 pounds. He did everything that he knew how to do to get ready for this sheep hunt. And we get flown in, dropped off, and it was a 10-day hunt that we planned for. So we got dropped off on day one, the plane flew out, and we were left there with…
Ben: Oh, wow. You guys got dropped off by a plane out there, huh?
Kenton: Yeah, yeah. 10 days’ worth of gear in, here we go.
Kenton: We hit it hard on day one, and probably covered somewhere between 8 to 10 miles, like you always do on your first day because you’re so excited about getting out there, and you usually end up going a little bit too hard on day one. And then on day two, we hit it pretty hard again, probably another 6 to 8 miles. And at the end of day two, we found this band of rams that were above camp about 1,500 feet. And we went to bed at night knowing very well that in the morning, they could still be there. And if they were there, we were going to go after them. So on day three, we wake up and lo and behold, there they are. And my brother and I are up, and we’re looking at these sheep, and we’re like, “Dad, they’re still there. It’s time to go.” And my dad basically said, “Guys, I don’t have it in me. I’m done. I’m too sore, I’m too tired, I’m worn out. You guys go ahead.”
Kenton: And, Ben, it was like, it was really like taking a bucket of ice cold water and just throwing it right on my head. It took my breath away when he said that because it was a lifelong dream of his, he could see the animal he’s always dreamed of being able to hunt, and shoot, and harvest, and he can’t get out of his sleeping bag. And I realized at that very moment that that’s tragic. That’s beyond like, “Oh. Well, that’s too bad. He should’ve trained harder.” My dad did everything he could in order to get ready for this hunt and it just wasn’t good enough. And so it really hit home hard, like there are good men out there, good women out there, good hunters out there who want to be in shape, they want to do the right thing, they want to give themselves the best advantage they can to be able to withstand a 2, 5, 10-day hunt, and they’re doing everything they can, and they’re doing it wrong.
And I was like, “I don’t want that to happen to my dad again. I don’t want that to happen to anybody again.” You want to be in shape, the top shape you can be in for hunting, you should have access to that information. So that’s why I started “Train To Hunt”. I was like, “I’m gonna give people the information and make sure that does not happen anybody else.” And the story ends good. My dad gets out of his sleeping bag, and getting stretched out, and getting moving around. It took us two and a half hours to get there, but we got there, Ben. And he ended up killing that ram, and it was, it’s probably one of my most cherished hunting moments I’ve ever had on the mountains with my dad, and my brother, and myself, and it was three grown men weeping over an animal. It was a “here forever” moment.
Ben: Oh, yeah. And I could just see it in my head, you guys filling up your dad with coffee and stretching him out, basically being like two massage therapists up there on the mountain trying to get him out. That’s interesting. But you know, I’ve had the same thing happen. Like I remember one time when I was up in Colorado, I was so exhausted from a day of horseback riding combined with a lot of steep hiking, and I then think we were at about 13 and a half thousand feet. There was one morning where I, usually I’ve got the alarm set and everything, and I went to bed, didn’t set the alarm, and I woke up at like 7:30, which when you’re out hunting, to miss an entire morning like that is just a heartbreaker. But I was that beat up from the day before.
And I do these things like obstacle course races, and Spartan challenges, and stuff like that, and I mean there’s there’s still this weird subset of fitness that you need for hunting that I know you’ve tapped into with some of these Train To Hunt workouts, and that’s actually what I wanted to ask you, man, was if we could walk people through like what a sample workout would look like. And I know that you’ve got you’ve Train To Hunt website, and you’ve got like different workouts that come out almost like the CrossFit WOD website where there’s like a workout of the day for people who are a member over there. But can you walk us through like what a typical day would look like?
Kenton: Sure. We have everything from a person who doesn’t have anything, like I got five minutes and I have no equipment. That’s going to be like, I want you to do as many rounds you can of five push-ups, five squats, five sit-ups. I want you to do that over, and over, and over for the next 5, 10 minutes that you have on your lunch break or whatever. And that would be a typical, like really quick hotel, maybe lunch break-style of training too, what I would consider a true “Train To Hunt” workout. Because when you’re hunting, and we touched on it, Ben, when you’re hunting, it’s not about being able to do something high intensity for 20 minutes. Although I really, you and I both know there’s a physiological advantage to being able to do that, just the time saver on, and on, and on. In hunting you have to be able to get up and do work at kind of a lower intensity for a long period of time. So we do…
Ben: Yeah, but granted, if I could interrupt you real quick, for people who don’t have a lot of time to be able to build up like the mitochondrial density or the endurance, I mean this was something I relied on when I used to train for Ironman, I didn’t have a lot of time, and something I talk about in the book, how there’s kind of two different ways to build mitochondrial density or aerobic capacity, there’s two different pathways. One’s called a cyclic AMP pathway, and that’s the one you get, a lot of professional athletes who just do copious amounts of aerobic work achieve their mitochondrial density through that pathway. But then there’s a second pathway, it’s called the PGC-1 Alpha pathway, and that’s how high intensity interval training can actually work to, say, like make a marathoner fit even though that marathoner is only doing, say, like a Tabata set, and some hill sprints, and some super-duper anaerobic glycolic work.
So there’s kind of like this strange crossover in the same and there’s like this weird crossover between like a triathlete who does jump squats to make themselves a better triathlete. You wouldn’t think that’d work, you wouldn’t think that’d make you like a better cyclist, but they’ve done research and they’ve shown, like your muscles grab more motor units, you wind up with better efficiency, better economy, et cetera when you do power and strength for an endurance sport. So there is a little bit of crossover there.
Kenton: Absolutely there is. Absolutely. I’ve read your book, Ben, it’s like if you guys haven’t read “Beyond The Training” by Ben Greenfield, get a copy. It’s really, it is a wealth of knowledge. It is, Ben. It’s a wealth of knowledge.
Ben: Thanks, man. Check’s in the mail.
Kenton: Right on. And you’re right. There’s a ton of crossover on high intensity interval training for long, drawn out workouts. And I like to do both. I’ll tell you why I like to do, like I like to do a two hour workout, at least once a week on a weekend, and it’s because I’d want to know how my body is going to react to that kind of a workout. If you’re always doing just one style of workout, high intensity for 20, 15 to 20 minutes, and then you put a pack on and you walk for 6 hours, you’re just not going to know how your body’s going to feel after walking with a pack for six hours. So I like to do both. Alright.
So, to the point, a typical Train To Hunt workout is going to have some sort of a gymnastic movement, whether it be a push-up, a box jump, a squat jump, a scissor jump, a lunge, something that’s going to get you fired up, get your heart rate up, fire up those legs, get them ready for what we would consider some sort of like mountain climbing strength that if you’re walking uphill, you’re going to be using you quads, using your hamstrings, using your core. And then it will probably have some sort of a strength movement on it, whether it be a sandbag around your shoulders, sandbag dropped over your shoulder, sandbag deadlifts, some sort of a strength movement.
And then mixed with somewhere between 2 minutes and 10 minutes of cardio, of a run of some sort, or a row, or a bike, or some sort of high intensity, that kind of medium intensity cardio. We really like to make you put your pack on and go for a half a mile or 300 yards. The shorter the distance, the heavier the pack, the further the distance, the lighter the pack. And you do that for, sometimes we’ll have you do as many rounds as you can for 30 minutes, for 60 minutes, for as long as you have. If you only have 20 minutes, you’re going to do it for 20 minutes. Sometimes we’ll do it for rounds, like anywhere between 2 rounds and 10 rounds. And most of the time, if you have the ability, we’ll throw on a shock at the end of each round. Like if you get back from your cardio, you push hard, [0:44:06] ______ now I’m going to grab my bow, I’m going to go for some, focusing on physical movement to, now I’m going to focus on accuracy of balance and a smooth release, which is really, I believe, what separates a Train To Hunt workout from any other style of workout is that we are asking you keep your focus, and go through your shot sequence, and be real cognitive right there at the end while your heart’s pounding through your eyeballs.
Ben: Yeah. That’s the tough part is, well, I actually had two thoughts that came to mind as you were talking about how the workouts look, Kenton. One is that when you talk about the muscles needing to be prepared for long periods of time with that backpack on, I could draw the same corollary again with triathlon, right. Like I used to do all that high intensity interval training, but about once a month I would just get on my bike and I would be on that bike for four to five hours just to teach my butt muscles, build little uncomfortable callus around your (censored), and learn how many water bottles you need, and learn how the body feels when you reach back for a water bottle and the right hip flexor cramps ’cause you’ve been bent over for two hours, all those little things that you don’t get when you’re doing, say, like a 20 minute intense workout on the bike.
And the same can be said for the rucking too, right. Like everything from pack fit, and when I interviewed Aaron from Kifaru, we took a deep dive into like how your pack should actually fit your body. But even if your pack fits your body perfectly, which is almost like an art and a science, you still have to build up things like calluses, like new bone formation in areas that are loaded that you wouldn’t normally be loaded like your clavicles, and the axial load on your spine, and you have to get a feel for, how your gluteus medius feels when the pack’s riding low versus when it’s riding high when you’re hiking at 20% versus when you’re hiking at 10%. Like there’s all those little things that if you just like put on a heavy pack and you say, “Okay, I’m just going to go ape-nuts for 20 minutes and call it good,” sometimes you need a little bit more than that if you’re going to have that pack on for 5 to 10 hours a day for seven days in a row. And so you make a good point there.
The other thing that I wanted to mention that you delved into, it wasn’t the pack, it was the, oh, the shot. That was the toughest part for me ’cause it’s kind of close to Spartan racing where you have to stop at some point during the race and throw a spear, and you need to take that deep, centering, anchoring breath, you need to get the heart rate down, you need to train in a way that you’re actually training for heart rate recovery where you’re, say like, one common workout is you’ll do five minutes of burpees and you’ll try and keep your heart rate like at your aerobic threshold the whole time you’re doing burpees. It’s actually really kind of fun with your heart rate monitor that every time your heart starts to go beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, and the monitor alarm goes off, you have to stop doing burpees, make your heart rate recover, and then continue to do the burpees while keeping yourself in that aerobic zone. And the Train To Hunt stuff is like that because I’ll do one of your workouts and go charging up my driveway, I do like the cooler step-overs, and the sandbag ground-to-chest, and the get-ups with a heavy weight, and then you try to shoot, and the target’s moving all over the place. And every time your heart beats, your pin’s moving all over the place with each time your heat going “bu-bump, bu-bump, bu-bump”, and you have to learn this weird like meditative-style way of getting your heart rate low super-duper fast, super fast.
And it’s all, a big part of this is your vagus nerve, the health of your parasympathetic nervous system and its ability to be able to take over when you’re stressed. And that’s where, I’ve done podcasts on the vagus nerve before where we’ve talked about like singing, and chanting, and humming, and cold water immersion, and meditation, and deep nasal breathing, and there’s all these techniques that you can learn to train your parasympathetic nervous system, but one thing that you touched on that I think is super unique about these is that when you’re doing the work out, you’re actually training your parasympathetic nervous system if you’re doing the scaled form of the workout you’re alluding to where you got to stop and shoot as you go.
Kenton: Yeah. Absolutely. And I think that it’s one of the [0:48:33] ______, the part of it that stands out in mine ’cause I love the Spartan race, I love watching those things on TV and it is, when people ask me, [0:48:42] ______ my elevator pitch is, “Well, you know what a Spartan race is, right?” “Yeah.” “It’s kind of like that, with a bow.” Like every station is a…
Ben: Yeah. Exactly. It’s obstacle course racing with a weapon.
Kenton: With a weapon. You talk to anybody who does Spartan races, and they will say the obstacle they dread the most is the spear throw. Most of them are the spear throw. It’s like a make or break station for a lot of, especially elite athletes, it’s the spear throw, and it’s because you have to switch gears. Like you said, you have to switch gears right away, teach yourself the right techniques, and you’ve got to practice techniques, and it’s not sexy, it’s not something that’s fun because you don’t get your heart rate up. In fact, you’re trying to bring you heart rate down, and then focus, make it happen, and then you got to switch gears again, and you’re off and running. And it’s challenging but it is the thing that you have to be good at in order to be a successful hunter. If you want to be a provider for your family and your friends of meat, you have to be good at being able to switch gears, focus, go through your shooting sequence, and make it happen. And if you can’t, I don’t care what kind of shape you’re in, I don’t care if you’re the fittest man on the planet, if you’re a great tracker, a great stocker, you can go for days and days, if you can’t seal the deal, if you can’t make it happen at the time in which, if you can’t focus and make that shot when you need to, you’re never going to be successful. So that’s from my passion. Right here is my voice. That’s what I think Train To Hunt is about.
Kenton: That’s what it’s about.
Ben: Yeah. I don’t think I got a chance to tell you this, Kenton, but I was able to do the course that Spartan is proposing to the Olympics Committee for obstacle course racing to be featured in the Olympics, and they actually switched out the spear throw with shooting. So it’s an indoor track with multiple obstacles on it, extremely precise course in terms of measured distance and in terms of the way that the obstacles are actually built, so it could be repeated and measurable from country to country. But at one of the stations as you’re coming around the track, you run up on this big line up of pistols, the exact ones that they use in pentathlon. So they’re like laser guns, really. And you’re shooting at a target, you’ve got five shots, or you have five times that you need to hit bull’s eye, and each time that you shoot, you need to reload the gun.
And so, while I was there, I watched the women compete, for example, and one woman went from being fourth place to winning the event overall ’cause she ran up on that shooting station and you could see her heart rate came down right away, and these other two girls who had, or the three girls who had been destroying her around the track, this girl was just bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, took off and all of a sudden it reshuffled the entire deck when it came to shooting accuracy, which is exactly what happens in your Train To Hunt competitions.
We didn’t get to this part yet, but you put on these challenges all over the nation, and I’ve run into situations where I’m, you know this, I’m pretty fit going in. I’m probably, I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I’m probably fitter than the average hunter, but I go into those things and I will get my butt waxed on some of those challenge courses simply because somebody else shoots, whatever, five bull’s eyes, and I’ve got three body shots, and a wound, and one bull’s eye, and so all of a sudden, I’m getting like seconds knocked off my time, and they’re getting bonus points, and yeah. So that whole vagus nerve stimulation, parasympathetic nerve activation, I think that’s one of the coolest parts of the workout.
Kenton: For sure. Without a doubt. And you touched on with the challenges, that’s the way, when I designed the first Train To Hunt challenge course back in 2012, it has been a long time, I said, “Okay, there’s two people I don’t want to win this competition. I don’t want the ultra, like basically the endurance pro, whether it be a cross-country, a mountain bike racer, a triathlete, whatever, I don’t want them to be able to pick up a bow, and come out, and win the competition. So how can I avoid that? Well, you have to just give ’em lots of bonus points for shooting well, and that’s how you can avoid that. Well, I don’t want the pro to come out, the guy is just a great shot, he could shoot the eye out of an eagle at a hundred yards. I don’t want him to be able to win either. Well, how do you do that? Well that part was easy. You just make the course tough enough physically that there’s just no way that he can beat somebody by just shooting well.
So by design, Ben, it was “let’s be able to test,” and it was great to have you out because I know how into fitness you are and I know your history of the Ironman and how much success you’ve had there, so it was great to have guys like you come out and go, “Well, this is going to be put to the test,” because I know Ben just started shooting, and if he wins, then maybe I need to rethink some stuff. And, I mean obviously the one that like the meat pack, why it’s scaring everybody ’cause you’re just, like you said, you’re in better shape. And that’s the case with the meat pack, which was, you didn’t have to be able to shoot well in order to do well in that event. We didn’t get into that.
Ben: Yeah. I interviewed Trevor Neistrath who won nationals two years in a row, 2015, 2016 for Train To Hunt, and he’s basically, he’s baling copious amounts of hay, he’s running, and then he’s basically just like hiking and hunting. That’s like the core of his workout program. And I think he’s doing some very, very much Train To Hunt-style workouts, but yeah. It was interesting to hear about his routine. He’s like, “I drive around, I farm who just need their fields done in terms of the hay baled, and basically I get paid to workout ’cause I go out there and bale their hay for ’em.” It was a pretty entertaining podcast to hear his workouts. For those of you who want to listen to me interview the guy who’s won these things two years in a row, I’ll put a link over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/kenton2.
Now, Kenton, you dropped a term there that I think, I know when I tell people I do these competitions, it confuses them, and that’s the meat pack. They’re like, “You’re literally, you got a few dozen people out there in the middle of the forest doing a Train To Hunt challenge and you have big piles of meat that you’re shoving into your backpacks?” And I have to explain to them how it really works, how we’re using big ol’ sandbags instead of meat. But let’s walk through like what, I think the last Train To Hunt competition I did was 2015 Nationals down near Park City, Utah. Let’s walk through how that weekend went so people can get a real taste of what a Train To Hunt challenge actually looks like.
And again, for of those you listening in, you could go to Kenton’s website and you could just do the Train To Hunt workouts if you just want some new workout challenge or something like that. But I think the icing on the cake is you sign up for one of these challenges because that’s where you get put to the test, aside from your actual days out hunting. So let’s talk 2015 nationals, Kenton. We showed up, and for me I showed up in my skinny man jeans and my preppy t-shirt because my luggage was lost, so I was getting some funny looks, and we showed up and we get a piece of paper. This was, whatever, 8, 9 PM at night, piece of paper, headlamp. Tell us what shook down that first night of competition.
Kenton: So understand that what we’re about to talk about here is the national championship. So imagine I put 12 of these qualifiers on throughout the country, and now I’ve got the best of the best, and I got to put these guys through an additional test of fitness, and will, and shooting.
So the first thing that we did was we had them gather on Friday night at 8 o’clock, which is right before dark, and we gave them a piece of paper that had three coordinates on it, and we had put out three spots, we just basically GPS-ed three separate spots, put some letters, combinations in trees, and said, “You guys have to find these waypoints and report back before midnight or else you don’t get the points for doing this event.” And so that was the first thing we did because we believe that hunters should be able to use a GPS, not necessarily a map and compass, or anything super fancy, but you should be able to get a waypoint to be able to find that point on the planet. So we gave them three waypoints, everybody went out with headlamps, and found these waypoints, and came back. That was the very first thing we did on Friday night.
Ben: Right. And some people were out there pretty late. I mean my strategy, I think you said we had to turn the papers by 5 AM or 6 AM the next day, so I just boogied and headed ’cause I’m a little better at doing that stuff in the evening rather than the wee hours of the morning. But some people were out there a while. And I thought that was a cool twist, needing to know how to just use a basic GPS system. You don’t even need to necessarily do old school map and compass, be able to ruck your way through the wilderness, find certain waypoints, come back satisfied. Because a lot of times, when you are hunting, you got to find your way from point A to Point B, back to camp, over to the truck, back over to where you were two days prior. And yeah, it’s an interesting skill. But that one I didn’t expect showing up, but it was kind of cool to be able to get out and do that.
And then then we slept, and the next morning, we launched into the 3D shoot. And for those of you listening in, a 3D shoot would, in a traditional sense, you’d be walking around, you get measured distances, 40 yards, 50 yards, whatever, you take a shot, you get a certain number of points based on that shot, but you have a lot of twists thrown into your 3D shoot, Kenton. Can you walk us through what those four to five hours of wandering through the forest on the first morning of competition actually looked like?
Kenton: Sure. And it’s all about how realistic can we make each shot. We break down each shot, and there’s only 20 shots. For those of you that have done a lot of 3D shooting, you’re usually talking about 40, anywhere between 40 and 80 shots in a weekend. We’re talking about narrowing it down to 20 arrows shot. And every single shot, there’s some sort of a hunting scenario twist, like what could you possibly run into in the woods, whether it be you have to shoot from a kneeling position, which is a very basic, pretty common situation you might run into in a hunting situation. All the way to the drawing back and having to hold full-draw for a minute before you can shoot. And that’s a timed event. There’s like somebody standing right there waiting for you to get to full-draw, and then they start a timer, and they, you just have to stand there full-draw, keeping the isometric position until a minute’s up, and then you get to shoot. And that just simulates being caught by an animal drawing your bow, and you hear about it quite a bit, being caught by an animal drawing the bow, they’re not giving you a shot, or they’re behind tree, and so you just got to stand there and wait, wait, wait, wait, finally step out, “now I can actually keep my shot”.
And everything in between, Ben, like shooting from a tree stand, we have shooting from a blind, we have the follow-up shot, which is usually, it’s the shot that everybody talks about the most, I think. It’s because it’s the shot that you shoot your arrow, and you have 10 seconds to reload your bow, and get a second shot off. For that case where you get a shot, even if you’ve got a good shot on an animal, if they run just a little ways further and they give you an opportunity for another shot, most of the time, bow hunters will take an opportunity to shoot an animal the second time. If nothing else, the blood trail is better, and then there’s a higher percentage, or it gives you a better chance of recovering the animal, which is…
Ben: Oh, yeah. And there’s so many…
Kenton: Everybody’s [1:01:22] ______.
Ben: So many things you don’t think about, for you to say this, it sounds pretty straightforward. You practice eight couple shots in a row, you practice holding your bow, but there’s little things like during that one minute hold, not only is your body shaking in a way similar to what I was talking about earlier when you’re tired, but a lot of times you’ll get to like 35 seconds and you’ll feel, for example, if you’re using a compound bow, which is what most people, sometimes your cams will bounce around on you. And if your cams are bouncing around, sometimes you’ll lose your full-draw, and then you’re just screwed. You don’t even get your shot off at all. Or during that two shots in 10 seconds, it’s about, there’s little things that happen. Like sometimes you can’t get the nock on the string, like you get the arrow out, and you’re all ready to shoot, and you’re fast, all of a sudden the nock isn’t on the string, or a lot of people will use these trigger releases, and the trigger release, when you shoot once, sometimes that trigger will stay down.
I remember this happened to me in my first Train To Hunt competition. So I was all ready to release that next arrow, and I didn’t even have the ability to hook my release onto the d-loop of the string to pull the string back because it just stays out. Or another interesting one, and this relates to like the type of sights that people will use, the number of pins that they have on the side or how they have those pins set up, is you’ll have one shot, I know you did this at Nationals, one shot’s like 15 yards away from a tree stand down in the deer, and the other shot’s like 60 yards away, and it’s more of a straight shot across a ravine. And if you have a sight that’s like, let’s say, a single pin sight, you don’t have enough time to shoot the first time at whatever, 15 yards, and then dial the sight in to adjust it for 60 yards to take that next shot. You have to be able to have some kind of a set-up that lets you shoot on the fly like that at two different distances. So once you start to dig into the nitty gritty, there’s all these little things that you’ll think about that you have to be prepared for the unique nature of these 3D shoots.
Kenton: Absolutely. Ben, I don’t quite know if I sound like a broken record, but it’s all in the name of simulating what you might run into while you’re hunting. I mean that’s how hunting stories go, that’s how they’re born. “Oh, you’ll never guess what happened to me. There was a little branch that I didn’t see and I ricocheted off the branch.” Or, “I pulled back and got stuck for two minutes and I couldn’t get a shot off. I finally pulled out and I was shaking so bad I couldn’t even shoot.” Or, “I was in my tree stand, and I pulled back, and my arrow came off of my string.” And that’s what we want to stimulate in a competitive environment, to get your heart rate up, to give you the opportunity for your anxiety to be high, and then have to perform. Because that’s what you’re going to run into in the woods. So it’s fun, it’s great to see hunters, and just archers, and just people, fitness gurus alike, come out and say how much fun it was, and that 3D shoot is always a very popular event.
Kenton: You get the 3D shoot, and then we’re on to the meat pack.
Ben: Yeah. So we get an hour or two of recovery, you usually have a chance to have some lunch, a lot of people pack their lunch in. Most of the time, these competitions are taking place at like shooting facilities, or at 3D three courses up in the mountains, and so a lot of time there’s not like a 7/11, or a Whole Foods, or whatever that you just duck into. You’re out there camping essentially. So you’ve got the meat pack that comes up next, Kenton. Can you walk us through how that exactly goes? Because in my opinion, that’s the hardest I’ve ever worked. I remember the first time I crossed the finish line of a meat pack, and I think you were catching me. ‘Cause you literally have to catch people as they cross the finish line, they’re so gassed. And you were like, “Your lips are blue, Ben.”
Kenton: Yeah. In my opinion, it is the heart, it’s really the heart of the Train To Hunt competition is that meat pack scenario. Because what we do is just, depending on your division, and there’s 10 divisions, everywhere from what we call the Men’s Open, which is if you’re male and you want to join the Men’s Open, that’s your division. We have the counter of Women’s Open. And then we have the Master’s, which is 40 and over, the Super Master’s which is 50 and over. And we have teams. Depending on your division, we load you down with a certain amount of weight. Now at nationals, it’s 100 pounds. The Men’s Open had a hundred pounds, the Men’s Master’s had [1:06:08] ______ , the Men’s Super Masters, which is 50 and over, 60.
As you can see, the pattern is the older you are, we just take a little bit of a load off of you and try to make it a little bit more realistic as how much weight you would probably be packing in the mountains for any kind of distance. And then we just put you through a mountain course. It’s a series of trails, and turns, and twists that you have to negotiate hills and walk over the logs in some cases. And at nationals, it was bugger because we did two miles with a hundred pound pack through a mountain course, mind you. And then you’d drop 50 pounds of that, and this was really the gut check. This was the who’s tough, who’s gritty, who’s the guy you want in your hunting party because it was a big gut check. There’s a not a lot people that can two miles in a racing scenario with a hundred pounds, drop it, 50 pounds, and then go do that same trail again with 50 pounds. So…
Ben: There’s a lot of people who came and get the 100 pounds that’s in the backpack onto their backs. I mean that’s the trickiest part is you’re rolling around like a dead bug on the ground trying to even put a hundred pounds on your back and then be able to stand up.
Kenton: That’s right. That’s right. It could be just having the technique and the know-how on how to get that 100 pack from the ground to your back standing is definitely a feat in itself, but that’s what we do. And that is just to simulate the pack out. Okay, I’ve been successful. I’ve harvested my elk, my deer, my moose, in some cases, whatever it might. Now the real work starts. Now the real important stuff is about to begin. We need to get this meat from point A to point B, and point B is always cut, wrapped, in my freezer. Well, the first part of that is you got to get it from where the kill site is to transport, a vehicle. And that’s what that is what stimulating is, “Alright. There’s this meat on our backs and let’s go.” So a really big part of hunting, it was a really, really big part of the Train To Hunt qualifiers, and will remain a huge part of the nationals for sure.
Ben: Yeah. And I have to admit, sometimes that backpack is just such a pain in the butt to put on with a hundred pounds in it. When I’m training at home, I’ll sometime just grab a heavy sandbag, slap that thing over my back, and do some hill climbing workouts or repeats just at least get the feel without having to take that backpack on and off like you do in the meat pack part of the challenge. But, yeah, it’s crazy because, for example, like if your waist belt on your backpack is riding too low, all of a sudden your hip flexors are turned off and you got to take these teeny-tiny steps, and you’re glute medius, your external rotators just blow up, or in other cases, you set up the pack correctly, this is what I do based on advice from Aaron Snyder over at Kifaru, you set up the pack correctly, you get it super-duper tight on the upper body so you’ve got some of the range of motion in the legs to be able to do what many of these packs weren’t designed to be able to do in, which is run. But then all of your lung and inspiratory and expiratory muscles are cut off to a certain extent, so you’re turning blue in the face like I did. You have no upper body mobility.
So, yeah. There’s all these little curve balls that get thrown on you when you try and move from point A to point B with a hundred pounds on your back as quickly as possible, and then the little twist you throw at nationals where you do all that, and then you just lighten the load and do it again made it just a little bit more brutal. And I have to admit that it doing it a second time with the weight that was like half as much still felt just as hard as doing it with the full weight. I think I was so gassed from the initial lap. So we’ve got at that point the evening to recover, at least that was the way that nationals went last year, and then you wake up the next morning, and launch into, really what you mentioned earlier, Kenton, the obstacle course race with weapons. Can you walk us through how that goes?
Kenton: Well, I’m excited to be able to announce that the Train To Hunt Challenge Course, as it’s called, is going to be just like the nationals, which is way more spectator friendly, it’s more like an arena feel than it has been in the past. And what I mean by that is we have four lanes, shooting lanes, set up. The targets are exactly the same target for all four shooting lanes in exactly the same distance. We’ve allowed the competitors to go up and range find how far that target is. So it’s a known distance in this case, and they know how far it is, they know where to shoot, where to aim at these targets. And then behind each shooting line are these challenges that are these physical challenges that are just lined up, and what they do is on the signal of “Go”, four competitors at a time, will drag a tire somewhere between 30 and 50 yards, they’re going to be dragging this tire hand over hand, pulling it towards them in a grip strength test, but it’s a fairly light tire, you know, Ben, it’s a fairly light tires. It’s not a huge test, let’s just get that upper body fired up a little bit. And then as soon as you get this tire to you, you are going to take off on a loop run. The best way to describe it, Ben, is kind of like the biathlon. Like whether you got to do like these little loop like these penalty loop runs. If they miss a shot, they do these little penalty loop runs.
Well, the same thing in Train To Hunt Challenge ’cause you’re going to do this physical challenge, you’re going to run this little two to three hundred yard loop run, then you’re grab your bow, and you’ll shoot your first arrow at your target. And then you do the second challenge. The second challenge is a sandbag you’ll have to hang on to, and you’ll have to go up and over a 20 inch box, a 20 inch step. You’ll go up and over and up and over. You’ll repeat this 10 times, and then you’ll do the loop, and then you’ll shoot arrow number two.
After you’ve shot arrow number two, you’ll do the sandbag over the shoulder drop. Now this is to simulate loading your pack, believe it or not. It’s being able to efficiently grab the weight of a weighted pack or some weight from the ground and move it to your shoulder, and we just have you drop it over your shoulder, this is what makes it really easy on everybody to know whether a.) I either dropped it over my shoulder, or I didn’t. So you do 10 of those, you run your loop, and you shoot your third shot. The next challenge you’re going to have is, it’s called the sandbag get-up. And that is you’re going to take the same sandbag that you were holding over your box step-ups and you’re going to…
Ben: These suck.
Kenton: Yeah. And you’re going to lay flat on your back. This sandbag is going to be essentially sitting on your chest and you’re laying flat on your back, facing the sky. That’s the down position of a get-up. Then the top position of a get-up, how to finish the get-up is you stand back on your feet, but mind you, the bag can never touch the ground, you have to stand back on your feet, and then stand with the bag sitting on your shoulder, and that completes one rep of sandbag get-ups. And then back to your back, weight sitting on your chest, stand back up, that’s two. Do 10 of those, run the loop, shoot your fourth arrow. And then the last thing we’ll wrap it up with is burpees. And so you’ll do a burpee. Everybody, I would assume at this point knows at least what a burpee is, and you’ll do a burpee, you’ll step over…
Ben: Everybody has their own version of what they think a burpee is, Kenton. As you know.
Kenton: That’s right. It’s what it is. Right. Yeah, yeah. For sure. So I can tell you that our version of the burpee is the bottom position is face down, chest on the ground, in contact with the ground. And the top side of a burpee is back on your feet, once you’ve jumped over the sandbag, turn around and face the sandbag, and that completes your burpee. And it’s 10. And then you run the loop, you shoot your fifth arrow, you grab your 50 pound pack that’s already pre-packed. So you load you 50 pound pack on, you get it where you want it, you grab two arrows, the two arrows you have left, you put ’em in your quiver. Very important. You can’t run with arrows in your hand. You have to have ’em in a quiver or in a hip quiver, you have to have ’em secure so that if you trip and fall, you don’t end up getting stabbed. We don’t want anybody getting stabbed. And then you hit the mountain course right from there. This is all under one lot, under one time. And you’re going to do a two mountain, a two mile mountain course. And two points along that course, you’re going to stop and you’re going to shoot two targets.
So you have already gone through these five challenges, run the five loops, shoot these five arrows, your heart rate’s already beating through your eyeballs, you’re going to put on this weighted pack, and you’re going to hit the ups and downs, and overlogs of the mountain course, and you’re going to have to shoot two targets along the way. So that is, you shoot the two arrows, and then you’ll finish, your clock will stop, and you have now accumulated what we call a run time. This is how long it took you from [1:16:18] ______ to finish. That’s how long it took you to complete the tasks. Then the scoring begins. And we score it so that the people who shoot really well, if you shoot really well, let’s say you shoot a bull’s eye, we’ll just keep the terms really simple.
If you shoot a bull’s eye, you get 30 seconds taken off of your run time. If you shoot just outside the bull’s eye, like really pretty close to the bull’s eye but not a bull’s eye, there’s no penalty. You don’t get a reward, but you don’t get any penalty, and this is really just a shot placement where if you were shooting at an animal, it would be a very quick, humane kill where the animal’s going to be dead within yards. And if you shoot outside of that zone, we actually penalize you pretty heavily. You get 30 seconds added to your run time. So you went and busted your tail and you get all these shoots but if you shoot poorly, we penalize you for shooting poorly and you get time added to your time, which Ben indicated to earlier about how if you shoot just a little poorly, it adds up pretty dang quick.
Kenton: And then obviously there’s the ultimate penalty, and that is if you miss. If you miss any of these seven shots, it is instantly 20 burpees…
Ben: And it’s always burpees with your, it’s not just burpees. It’s burpees with your pack on?
Kenton: Yeah. If you get burpees in the mountains, you have to do those 20 burpees with your pack on.
Kenton: So it’s brutal.
Ben: This new twist on it too where you’re doing everything in shooting lanes with a whole bunch of spectators, all of a sudden it turns it into like a hunting version of the CrossFit games, where you’re surrounded by people cheering, and shouting, and judges shouting into your face. In my opinion, it’s far more fun than you just like running through the forest with your bow and getting to as spot where you, and maybe one or two guys if they’re on your tail or slightly ahead of you are going to be there at the shooting station, and then you take off again. Man, when you’re there with a whole bunch of people screaming, and cheering, and the music is pumping, it’s quite the experience. I think it’s one of the coolest new twists that you’ve thrown into these Train To Hunt challenge is this new version of the obstacle race. That’s actually something I wanted to ask you though, Kenton, is this, so from what I understand based off of what you’ve kind of hinted at with me, that’s going to be like the main part of training hunt along with the 3D shoot. Now are you still going to do anything like the meat pack, or is that just not going to be present for like the 2016 season?
Kenton: So what we’ve done in the 2016, and I’m always trying to figure out how to reach more people, how to kind of, take the intimidation factor out of the cusp. How can I make it safer? How can I make it more attractive for people to come out and try? And the number one reason that people weren’t coming out and just giving the Train To Hunt challenges a shot, they weren’t intimidated by the 3D shooting, they weren’t intimidated really necessarily by the challenge course, as it was. It was really the meat pack that they were like, “I do not want to risk getting hurt during the meat pack and I do not want to go put myself through that, so I’m not going to do it.”
And so we got rid of the meat pack as it has been in the past, and we’ve traded it in for a new version of the meat pack, which I just went through. And that is the 50 pound pack at the end of the challenge course where you have to go through the two miles of trail. That is what we are calling the new version of the meat pack. And it’s half the weight as it has been in the past qualifiers, but it’s also after a pre-exhaust. So like you in that second trip with 50 pounds in nationals, didn’t feel any easier than the first trip with a hundred pounds. It’s because of the pre-exhaust, right? Because it’s…
Ben: Well, that also is, sorry to interrupt. That also, I think, is why CrossFit isn’t going to get you ready for something like this. In my opinion, and this is what happens in Spartan races, like the CrossFitters always just crush it for like the first mile or two miles. And then once you’re 25, 30 minutes in, once you’re kind of getting past what a typical CrossFitter would do for stamina or endurance, you start to see folks fading, and getting passed, and maybe even feeling some of the effects of not playing proper attention to nutrition, or electrolytes, or hydration. And so it’s really interesting how that throws a whole new twist into things. So that’s why I think doing something like the program that you’ve laid out, or something close to it where you have those sections of the week where you’re just freaking like putting on heavy stuff and going for a relatively long period of time is pretty crucial for this.
Kenton: Yeah. For sure. For sure. That meat pack is going to still separate, it’s going to separate people. It’s going to be a big separator. Even though it’s not a standalone event, it’s going to be a really tough finisher for most people at the qualifiers. So, Ben, we really just wanted to make it, as far as the qualifiers go, we really wanted to make it a little more family friendly, and we did two things to make it a little more family friendly. One was we made some kid’s events that I’m really excited about because I believe that the kids are our future, and they are the future of hunting and conservation, and I think it’s being into health and fitness, and somebody who believes that everybody should have the knowledge to at least make the right decisions, I want the kids to have those knowledge as well. And they’ll have fun and they’ll have a pretty good experience in the outdoors…
Ben: Oh, I think it’s great. I mean my kids have a couple of bows now, Kenton, and that’s one of the things I want to do is take ’em to two or three competitions this year as a way for dad and the boys to not only see a few new states, but also for them to get out and learn some of these things like, for example, just this morning, as hokey as this may sound, like especially when they’re on summer break, or spring break, or like they are now on Christmas break, I give my kids little tasks during the day. Like I’ll go grab a WOD from like gymnasticswod.com, or I’ll throw some deadlifts at ’em, or like this morning, they actually had, just a basic body weight, push-up, pull-up, box jump workout, and they’re eight year old twin boys, but then they had a candle meditation where all they had to do was light a candle and sit cross-legged, in this case, they were inside the sauna, for 20 minutes, controlling their heart rate, staring at the flame, and allowing thoughts to just come and go through their head. And that might seem like a far cry from shooting a bow, but there’s some parallel there where when you take a kid and you teach them how to focus, how to concentrate, how to, say, pull back on the bow when they’re tired, you train something that a lot of children these days aren’t training, which is focus, and meditation, and activation of that vagus nerve and parasympathetic nervous system.
Kenton: Absolutely. Absolutely. I can’t wait to see your boys do it, come out, and, it’s going to be fun. They’re going to have a good time too, Ben, because they’re going to be able to do these just as many times as they want. It’s going to be set up kind of like a carnival ride…
Ben: That’s cool.
Kenton: And all you do is pay. When the parents show up with their kids, they just pay the one-time fee, and then the kid can go do, they can do it 20 times…
Ben: That’s the way they do it at Spartan race.
Kenton: Yeah! Just let ’em go. Let ’em wear their kids out. And so, that’s exciting and it will be interesting. It’ll be great to see the kids’ smiles and competitiveness. There’s just so much a kid can learn just from competition. That’s a whole another podcast, but I’m excited about the kids’ competition, and we made it a one-dayer, Ben. Some of the old school guys were a little disappointed in that they feel like we may lose some of the community because it’s not an overnight event where we run, some of the event on Saturday and then big finale on Sunday, but being a family man myself, I have a five year old, and two three year olds, and a wife at home, I know the pain of leaving home on Friday and not really being able to be there ’til Monday. It’s substantially different than being able to leave on Friday and come home Saturday night.
Ben: Yeah. That’s actually going to be way, way better for the family. Plus, I guess it saves some people hotel fees and things like that too, if they are doing that in the hotel.
Kenton: Yeah. That’s right. Because essentially if you live within, say, four hours of any of the sites, you could drive there that Friday evening, or even Saturday morning, and then leave Saturday after the competition and then drive the four hours back, you and a buddy want to just team it up and go there and back, you knock it out in one day and you’re done. Rather than have to find a camping spot, or a hotel, or we’ve got to get food, or whatever it might be overnight.
Ben: It’s still going to be a long day, man.
Kenton: It will be a long day. It’ll be one heck of a long day. And there’s some give and take, because I believe that hunting, we talked about it earlier in the podcast, hunting is a multi-day fitness arena. That’s really what we’re training for. ‘Cause anybody can do it for a day. It’s that second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth day that really starts separating the men from the boys and men from the women. That’s big time. But I wanted to do one day just because it’s going to be more family friendly. And I’m going to stick with it because that’s just, if you want to get in shape using Train To Hunt, I guess great workouts, train every day in some way, shape, or form, recover, that’s traintohunt.com. If you want to come out and do a Train To Hunt challenge that’s going to be family friendly, competitive atmosphere, meet some of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet.
Ben: Which States this year?
Kenton: So we are in Oregon, Nevada, Arizona. We are in Colorado and Wyoming, and then we start heading out to Texas, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and we just finalized North Carolina. And then we’re going to do, we’re teaming up with Backcountry Hunters & Anglers again this year, and we’re going to do, 100% of proceeds go to Backcountry Hunters & Anglers in Train To Hunt challenge in Anchorage, Alaska.
Ben: Nice. I like it. That would be a ton of fun.
Kenton: Yeah. Anybody looking for an excuse to get to Anchorage, Alaska, there’s…
Ben: I was just going to say my boys were telling me the other day they wanted to see Alaska, so this might be a good excuse to throw them on a play and fly out from Seattle. Nice. Alright. Cool. Well, I know you actually conducted this entire interview while sitting in your car driving across Washington, I think you’re headed somewhere in the snow, but you’ve been super generous with your time.
And by the way, for those of you listening in, I’ve got a ton of previous podcast that we’ve done on everything from how to build primal fitness in endurance hunting, to backpacking, and bow hunting and shooting tips, to wilderness survival, and hunting fitness tips with all sorts of different folks. We’ve actually got about like eight or nine different podcasts episodes just devoted to hunting. And so I’ll like to all those in case you just want to knock yourself out, you got a long road trip, you want some cool stuff to listen to, along with Train To Hunt and everything else that Kenton and I talked about today if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/kenton2. That’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/kenton2, and when you go there be sure to click through and check out Train To Hunt ’cause he has everything from like a workout generator on there, to some blog posts about stuff we didn’t even delve into, like nutrition, and supplementation, and some of these things that are used in the hunting sector on that front.
And so there’s quite a bit over there. It’s a fun website to explore. Try out some of the workouts, let me know what you think. You can always leave a question or your own comment in the show notes, again, over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/kenton2. And if you dug this, if you liked it, go leave a review and iTunes as well. Unless you’re like vegan or vegetarian, in which case you probably didn’t enjoy this episode too much. But believe it or not, you could probably use some of these same fitness skills for what, Kenton? Like mushroom foraging?
Kenton: If you’re in the mountains, [1:29:23] ______ workouts for that.
Kenton: Yeah. Mushroom foraging, just sight-seeing, bird watching…
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Spearfishing. I’ve actually had to use a lot of this when spearfishing ’cause your heart rate gets high, you’re down and up, you gotta study your heart rate, take a shot, you got to have the endurance for a long day. So there’s a lot of crossover to life in general, and I love what you’re doing, man. Keep it up.
Kenton: Thanks, Ben. Thanks. I appreciate you having me on your podcast. If I can, I just want to mention one other thing. On Train To Hunt, we’re really kind of pushing this grand slam membership because I feel like it’s just such a really, really good buy for anybody who’s out there looking for either personal training, or maybe looking into doing one of these Train To Hunt challenges. With a grand slam membership, you get to choose, I want the grand slam membership at $149 a year, and you get a Train To Hunt challenge pass. So you can go to any Train To Hunt challenge you want for, it’s included with this grand slam membership. If you’re not interested in doing the challenge, but you’re interested in the workouts, you can get a whole month of personal training from one of the Train To Hunt coaches. So you get a whole month of training personalized to you, goal setting for you. And then on top of those one of those two things, you also get 12 chances to win these monthly drawings. Like last month, we gave a way a pair of binoculars from Vortex. In January, we’re going to be giving away Earthmate, which is basically a GPS for your phone. In February, we’re going to be giving away a brand new Bowtech bow.
So we’re giving away some really great prizes to the grand slam members. And then on top of that, every month, the first Sunday in every month at 6 o’clock, we do what we just call a campfire. And all the grand slam members are invited to a live seminar on Grand Slam Facebook page, and we just do seminars. Like in December, we did one on the 10 pieces of fitness equipment we feel like every hunter should own. And in January, I’m doing a seminar on the proper way of setting goals. There’s a ton of value in the grand slam membership. You get a three month supply of Hydrate & Recover from Wilderness Athlete, you get a free Grand Slam t-shirt. Ton of value.
So if you go to traintohunt.com, check it out. Just check out what you’d get for your grand slam membership. And I think that if you’re going to train at all or if you’re going to do a Train To Hunt challenge, that’s the way to go.
Ben: Nice. I like it. You don’t actually start something on fire during those campfire events, do you?
Kenton: Well, sometimes.
Ben: You’re not there with a fire pit in front of your Skype or something?
Kenton: No, no. Not yet. Not yet. Maybe this summer.
Ben: Yeah. That’d be a cool twist, a Google Hangout with a real fire. Nice. That grand slam membership actually sounds pretty cool. I didn’t know about that, but I’m going to have to go check that out. So I’ll link to that as well over in the show notes for any of you guys who want to get in on that, or ladies. Guys or gals, this is, we didn’t mention this, but this is a, why am I wanting to say unisex. I also want to say bisex. What’s the word I’m looking for, Kenton? It’s multi-sexual. It is, it’s coed! That’s the word I was looking for.
Kenton: It’s coed!
Ben: It’s coed. There’s a men’s division, and a women’s division, now apparently kid’s division, masters men’s, masters women’s division. So anybody can go out there and have a good time with this stuff. So, Ken, thanks for coming on the show, man.
Kenton: Same pleasure. Thank you very much, my man. Have a great New Year!
Ben: Alright. You too man. Folks, this is Ben Greenfield along with Kenton Clairmont signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have a healthy week.
I’ve raced plenty of triathlons, from Sprint distance to Ironman.
I’ve also done many, many obstacle races, including the toughest Spartan challenges in the world.
But my lungs have never sucked as much, my brain and body have never been simultaneously challenged as much and I’ve never experience any other form of competition so freaking functional until I started doing Train To Hunt Challenges.
My guest today is a repeat guest. His name is Kenton Clairmont and he is the owner and creator of Train To Hunt, a unique mashup of bowhunting and obstacle racing that is taking the nation by storm.
During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-The nasty autoimmune disease that took Kenton out of commission and sidelined him from a career as a professional baseball player…[12:20]
-The natural Chinese remedy alternative to common immunosuppressant drugs for issues like rheumatoid arthritis…[20:12]
–Why being fit for hunting goes far, far beyond simply needing to be able to “ruck” or hike…[22:25]
-What a sample Train To Hunt work out looks like…[38:30]
-How a typical Train To Hunt workout looks, and why something called “vagus nerve stimulation” is a huge part of each workout…[42:20]
-Why the Train To Hunt national champion’s key workout is “baling hay”…[54:30]
-Why Kenton introduced the skill orienteering and GPS wayfinding into the Train To Hunt competition…[57:00]
-How the Train To Hunt “3D shoot” is far different and far more practical for hunting situations than any other style of a 3D shoot…[58:45]
-Why something called a “meat pack” is one of the hardest things Ben has ever done in his life (and why his lips turned blue after doing it)…[65:00]
-What the brand new Train To Hunt challenge course now looks like, and why it’s now extremely spectator friendly…[70:10]
-How the meat pack portion of the challenge is going to change significantly in 2016…[79:00]
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
-Other hunting episodes:
–Are Hunters The Fittest People In The World?
–Train To Hunt: Train To Hunt was born out of necessity. All hunters alike want to hunt harder, longer, and farther. Fitness is the only piece of equipment that you can make better or worse. The team at Train To Hunt wants to extend wellness and longevity as well as improve performance for hunters. The workouts are a launching pad for serious outdoor enthusiast who want to learn the best way to be fit for their sport. Athletes hunt, and they have the formula to make you a better mountain athlete. Whether you’re a flatlander, hunt out West, or past your prime, they want to make you a better hunter through fitness. Their online program is designed to be your coach, trainer, and guide as you shape up for your passion. Click here to start into Train To Hunt online program now or to sign up for a challenge.