Does Exercise Improve Concealed Carry?


By Luke McCoy via USA Carry

In this article, we’re going to explore some opinions on how exercise affects concealed carry skills.  Why do we need exercise in the first place?  Isn’t having a gun more important than a workout?

There’s two basic forms of exercise that really improve overall readiness:

  • Aerobic fitness – your ability to safely sustain cardiovascular activity
  • Inaerobic fitness – isometric and core muscle workouts that improve balance, perception, and reflexes.

You and your physician understand best what type of exercise you can do so ultimately all these recommendations are simply that – our best ideas on what types of workout improve CCW abilities.

But don’t take our word for it — check out Mr. Colion Noir working with noted exercise scientists studying the effects of aerobic and core exercise activities and shooting ability.

Core And Isometric Exercises

You don’t have to hit the gym necessarily to get a great CCW workout.  One of your biggest friends in shooting and reaction is your core muscle group.  This is the system of muscle tissue that is beneath all the “show” muscle.

The Mayo Clinic illustrated out some good exercises which help improve balance, flexibility, and core strength — all necessary for keeping your bearings under pressure.

These exercises include:

  • Abdominal crunches
  • The Plank — cannot be overstated how this ties into your ability to maintain steady control
  • Bridges
  • Leg Presses with Variations

Anything that strengthens your hips, abdominals, and legs is going to be extremely useful.

Upper Body Strength

The gun moves where you tell it to — not the other way around.  Even though most concealed carry pistols and revolvers are relatively light (less than 2 lbs), maintaining that weight for an extended period of time can cause your arms and body to shake as you struggle to keep the sights aligned.

Upper body exercises that improve your aim:

  • Pushups – Elevated and Variations
  • Pull-ups/Chin-ups — If you can’t do a pull-up, try doing a pull-up “hang” instead.
  • Front Barbell Raises and Holds
  • Side Barbell Raises and Holds

When selecting a weight, start off with lower weights and work up.  If you can do a set of 12 or 15 without issue, try increasing the amount of weight or the repetitions until you find something challenging.

Cardiovascular Activity

Whether it’s just making a commitment to walk everyday or more advanced High Interval Training – getting that heart rate up can help your body simulate and adjust to high-stress, high-pressure environments.  Concealed carriers and gun owners have died due to heart attacks following a successful defense against an attacker.

No matter what cardiovascular activity you decide to participate in, consult with your physician to determine an ideal elevated rate and maintain it for at least 15-20 minutes – ideally closer to 45 minutes.  That rate will change with your age and other physiological factors so please do consult with a healthcare professional prior to beginning any exercise regimen.

Athletic fitness and a steady exercise regimen will help improve your visual acuity, perception, and situational awareness in addition to your ability to respond to a life-threatening emergency.  Having a concealed carry handgun is only one step of the equation — physical fitness is another important piece of that puzzle.

About the Author

Brandon is the founder of Concealed Nation and is an avid firearm enthusiast, with a particular interest in responsible concealed carry. His EDC is a Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP, with a Shield Sights RMSC Red Dot, that holds Hornady 165 gr FTX Critical Defense rounds, and rides comfortably in a Vedder Holsters ComfortTuck IWB holster.

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