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Fitness
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Charles Henry
(Chuckie_Cheese)

Locale: Arizona and British Columbia
Fitness on 10/25/2011 19:01:23 MDT Print View

I know this is BPL forum and gear based, but something that isn't discussed here is fitness.

I've found by running regularly, even in short and small doses (15 minutes) 4x week, I can seriously improve my performance, even more than dramatically cutting pack weight.

It's financially free and has many other benefits than fast backpacking speeds.

Just saying.

Ceph Lotus
(Cephalotus) - MLife

Locale: California
P90X on 10/25/2011 19:12:08 MDT Print View

I agree, fitness is important. I do P90X myself.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
fitness on 10/25/2011 19:43:37 MDT Print View

clearly :)

I've found trail running to be very complimentary to backpacking, besides the obvious aerobic and leg strength benefits, there are also benefits in balance and developing stabilizing muscles. I was on a long day hike and about ten miles in, turned my ankle slightly (gawking at the scenery and not watching my footing), I believe had I not been trail running the turn would have been much worse and with seventeen more miles to go- not very much fun!

I also have gone away from what was my normal weight lifting regime (lower reps/higher weight) and instead decreased weight/ increased reps and I also substituted in many body weight exercises- I've found it much more balanced and "realistic"

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
squats and deadlifts on 10/25/2011 22:20:51 MDT Print View

i prefer to lift heavy at the gym, otherwise there's no point for me to really go. the benefit of this is after months and months of heavy weight the tendons and ligaments get stronger in my legs (well whole body, but only really the legs pertain to backpacking). cardiovascular strength is increased as well...

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
strength training for endurance athletes on 10/25/2011 23:01:06 MDT Print View

Fitness is very important IMHO if you want to increase your mileage in combination with enjoyment out backpacking. There is a point where cutting weight only goes so far!

I've been doing a bit of reading lately (sorry I haven't kept references) on strength training for endurance athletes, particularly with how relative number of reps and weight contribute to different aspects, etc.

Its important to note that maximal strength, as well as power, power-endurance and strength-endurance are all important facets that lead to increases in performance in endurance athletes. Body weight is also important; a heavier athlete with the same strength as a lighter athlete will usually perform worst.

Thus, lately I've been concerting my reps to hit those ranges based on what I've read in peer-reviewed literature and the vast array of "expert" dialogues (eg Magazine articles based on a trainer's experience/perception). I also mix things up; I don't have a set routine, I try to keep the body guessing, and periodise somewhat, even if its periodisation within a week. I try and avoid rep ranges that are more proven to lead to hypertrophy (generally the middle ground around the 6-15 range) as I don't want to put on any superfluous bodyweight. Sets with reps 1-5 generally promote focus gains in maximal strength, while 20-30 are deemed pretty good for strength endurance. Beyond 30 I don't personally see a huge point unless its a bodyweight exercise (eg pushups, full body dips, chinups) or a more functional sport specific exercise (eg say doing 100 walking lunges with a very heavy rucksack) or one that is more targeted at facets of aerobic endurance (eg rowing).

My current rough period is mainly focused on strength and strength endurance (Note that I also do a lot of cardio work outside the gym, and I'll hit a new period where I'll include more power and power endurance in a month or two). I often warm up with sets of 20-30, aiming to hit a set of 20, then move the weight to what I can handle for ~5, then increase it gradually down to ~1 or 2. I don't worry too much about how many sets or total reps I do, as long as I feel that I am pushing myself to a certain level. I often complete a final set back in the endurace (20-30) rep range. I'm concentrating mostly at the moment on upper body as my upperbody strength is rather pathetic, and though I am an advocate of full body Olympic and Power moves, I'm so out of balance bottom to top I'm struggling; last night I did some deadlifts after a warm-up, hitting only 60kg for 5 reps before my upper body really couldn't handle any more weight with good safe form. My legs didn't even feel it...about three years ago I could deadlift 135kg for three reps (body weight 83kg)...I reckon my legs could handle 180kg+ easily now (bodyweight 78kg), but I have to build my upper body strength first to handle more than 60kg. The result of too much cycling!

Note, my personal results are rather pathetic!

Note also, that my personal fitness goals aren't totally related to fastpacking, though they are somewhat. Having a strong upperbody only goes so far in helping if you are only ever carrying an ultralight pack. However it is important. If you disagree, start reading and following Mark Twight!

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Fitness" on 10/26/2011 07:24:51 MDT Print View

Absolutely Marmot.

Fitness cam impact pack carry just as much as proper fit and baseweight.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Fitness on 10/26/2011 07:59:39 MDT Print View

Every year on the various long trail forums, there is somehow who asks about training.

Invariably there are two camps:

1) Get fit on the trail. You'll be fine!

2) Don't train per se. Have an active lifestyle. You'll find that the trail is easier and more enjoyable to hike to start.


MANY people are in the first camp. Far easier to discuss light sleeping bags, eat cheeseburgers and drink beer. (Of course, I do that too...but after a trip. ;) )


Save .5 oz on a titanium whatchmahoosey? Hell yeah!

Try to shave 10 lbs on your frame? Heck no...

The people in camp number two recognize that not only are the trails easier to hike if you have a good base fitness to start (and thus helping to prevent the bad mental state that causes many people to drop out in the first few weeks), but you have an enjoyable life OFF TRAIL.

Life is too short to only backpack every couple of years on a thru-hike...or be miserable on your precious vacation spent backpacking.


I love to backcountry ski, climb, hike and backpack.

Being fit (alas, not as fit as I'd like to be at times :D) allows me to enjoy the outdoors and not see it as a trudge but a joy.

Fitness is necessary for health, well being and making it easier on the body to go up and over the hills.

But mention it on many hiking sites? Well, lets start another discussion on stove building. :)

Edited by PaulMags on 10/26/2011 08:01:04 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
mixing it up on 10/26/2011 08:05:53 MDT Print View

I think mixing it up is very good idea, I try to keep variety in my workouts

some of my new favorites- thrusters, an amazing exercise that really hits a multitude of muscle groups in one fell swoop
crossfit "Fran" combines thrusters w/ pullups 21-15-9 for time- this is a extremely tough workout!

300- 10 sets of 30 pushups w/ a 30 second rest between sets, sounded easy enough, about set seven I quickly found out not that easy, sets nine and ten I was trembling to finish :) works good w/ situps too

glute-ham raises- was looking for a good body weight ham and found it w/ these, you don't need the "official" machine (my gym doesn't have one)- lots of ways of setting it up w/ equipment found at a gym

25# vest- this really adds a nice twist to many body weight exercises- especially like to use it w/ pull/chinups and dips

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: "Fitness" on 10/26/2011 08:28:59 MDT Print View

I'd far rather be fit and carry a 30 pounder than be out of shape with 12lbs on my back...been there.
Fitness trumps gear in my book.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
fit on 10/26/2011 08:35:39 MDT Print View

fitness is much more important than gear

just go do any sport and reduce yr calorie intake (assuming its too high) and youll get fit

climbing, swimming, boxing, etc ... itll all work

what wont work is starring at the monitor all day making gear lists for that trip next year when you could be out doing something ;)

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
a comparison to cyclists on 10/26/2011 09:40:24 MDT Print View

I think we a lot like cyclists that focus too much on the weight of the bike and not enough on the engine or we become the golfer who goes to the driving range to practice whacking the cover off the ball instead of honing the skills that need improving like the short game or putting.
Fitness in my opinion has three major components; flexibility, strength, and aerobic base. It seems any training we do focuses on 2 of the 3. I.E. yoga will give you strength and flexibility, running will give you aerobic base and strengthening of muscles and tendons involved, weights tackle stength and aerobic base if pursued correctly.I do like the idea of doing real world workouts but how many wood piles do you need to move or how many big truck tires do you need to roll around weekly?
Things like improving lactic threshold might matter to a speed climber or record setter but not so much to those of us down in the trenches of weekend trips.
As I've aged, trust me on this it happens,I think an off-season assessment of cardio, flexibility, body composition, and muscle imbalance to determine an appropriate fitness program tailored towards addressing the weak points found is very important. Almost any good sized gym can do this or a physical therapy group that specializes in sports.
Everytime I have had an injury [overuse or otherwise]it has been to a muscle or limb that was a weak side group and when I recently used a coach to devolp a program for improving my cycling she never once asked me how much my bike weighed but was very interested in my percent body fat and core strength.
Get an assessment, tailor a program towards improving your weak points, and flow up the trail like a cloud rising.

Edward Zwibel
(YetiEddie) - MLife

Locale: Sunny San Diego
Fitness on 10/26/2011 21:17:24 MDT Print View

Weird. I can crack a walnut with one arm, but can't peel a banana with the other. What causes that?

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
An older man's perspective on 10/26/2011 21:42:48 MDT Print View

When I could still run, running was the absolute core of my training for backpacking, and was all I needed. I supplemented it with pullups, pushups and some ab work, but the running alone would have been sufficient. I had to stop running when I was 60 due to hip bursitis, and switched to hiking in various modes to compensate: long hilly hikes with various pack weights, short intense hikes with lighter pack weights at anaerobic threshold, tempo hikes up fairly steep mountains to build cardio endurance at high efort levels,and a Step Mill when it wasn't convenient to get out in the mountains. This was accompanied by pullups, etc, above, for upper body strength/endurance. That approach still works in my 70's, but has had to be toned down to avoid soft tissue injury, as I have found out twice in the last 3 years-quad and adductor tendonitis. Clearly, there are many paths to mountain fitness, but I have always found that a lot of it can be achieved by training where you intend to perform, sport specific training is the term, I think. My 2 cents.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
good advice Tom on 10/27/2011 09:15:06 MDT Print View

"Weird. I can crack a walnut with one arm, but can't peel a banana with the other. What causes that?"
Have you tried using those appendages at the end of your arms, sometimes they work well for these types of situations.

Edward Zwibel
(YetiEddie) - MLife

Locale: Sunny San Diego
Diagnosis on 10/27/2011 11:53:05 MDT Print View

I've been diagnosed as overusing one hand. Need to go southpaw ... lol. Only intended for humor..........

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Fitness on 10/27/2011 11:59:01 MDT Print View

I work out at the gym and with a trainer normally. This week I finally called it though and won't resume until I have this baby. I am too tired to keep going. I made it 6 months though so I am happy/ Anyhow, I do pretty intense workouts with my trainer normally that focus on things like balance and upper body strength (being female upper body has eluded me over the years). Is it cheap? Well no, but it works for ME.

At the same time I also am in the camp of you need to use the muscles all the time for walking - so I walk a lot as well. Keeps my feet in the game. And I can still do that even while carrying another giant baby. And after I have this baby I will do just that - start walking with the babies every day until I get my strength back and then back into hiking and the gym. I did it two years ago as well and it worked well. No reason to run, a good brisk pace does the same without knee injury!

Clint Hewitt
(WalkSoftly33) - F

Locale: New England
Mov Nat and the flow on 10/27/2011 14:50:47 MDT Print View

This past summer I for only a few weeks I got into mov nat and the flow. Two cool work outs that are similar in some respects to p90X. Based on maintaing your ability to perfom a variety of movements rather than one stationary movement like benching 200lbs, how useful is that in real day terms. But being able to run, bend down, crawl reach for something, pull your self up etc.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKGF-ErsJiI


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t776I1J6Y1E

Pete Anderson
(hosaphone) - F

Locale: Boston-ish, MA
Re: Fitness on 10/27/2011 19:25:53 MDT Print View

I like to throw 30 pounds in a frameless pack and hike a 3-mile (~2k elevation gain I think?) loop near my house as fast as I can. Best way to get good at carrying a pack up and down hills is to carry a pack up and down hills!

I also do a tiny strength training routine (leg lifts, crunches, pushups, chinups, pullups, shrugs). Way too lazy to do something as intense as p90x...

Edited by hosaphone on 10/27/2011 19:26:34 MDT.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Fitness on 10/27/2011 21:40:59 MDT Print View

Fitness is very important. I've been training over the last year to improve my hiking, and it paid off on my last hike. I found that I could jog up mountains. I was able to finish 19 miles before 2 pm, although I did have to jog about 1/4th of it. This is while carrying my full UL section hiking kit. The only thing fitness didn't help with was preventing and old ankle injury from getting hurt again. What would have surely prevented that is losing body weight, and I have several dozens of pounds to spare. Continuing to improve my fitness and reducing my body weight should have me seeing 30 mile pain-free days soon.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
19 miles smoking fast on 10/28/2011 10:22:40 MDT Print View

That is flat moving well unless you started at midnight which you didn't, that would be me doing my snail improv.
Those videos are outstanding; I'm trying to picture where one finds all the environments in one place. Rivers, rocks, trails, underbrush, and than in the end a sea stack to take a wave battering. British Columbia, New Zealand?