Forum Index » Philosophy & Technique » Strength training to lighten the load


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Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Strength training to lighten the load on 02/23/2013 18:23:11 MST Print View

Recently I started strength training. I do barbell squats, deadlifts, bench press and overhead press. The object is to get stronger, not body building. I do low reps and strive to always add more weight every single time. I do barbells so that they are full-body compound lifts, not machines that isolate muscles. Full-body strength is what you need for backpacking.

Wow, what a difference it is making! Last weekend I loaded up water for the 3-day weekend and dry-camped and cut brush on an old trail for 2 of the days. Water plus tools plus my lightweight gear (12lbs or so.)

From what I understand of how this works, (and how it works better than just doing lots of hiking, cycling or running) is that lets say your maximum 1 rep squat is 100lbs. Every footstep with your pack is a fraction of your one-rep max, let's pretend it's 0.1%. Double your 1 rep max to 200lbs and now every footstep is half as much effort for you, only 0.05%. You should have both better endurance and have an easier time carrying the load because it's simply less work for you.

I am finding this to be the case for me. Being stronger feels like carrying lighter gear. Being stronger feels like the way you feel when you know you aren't going to get injured because the load is too heavy. Being stronger gives me that nimble feeling you get with a lighter pack even when your pack has 7 liters of water in it.

Probably lots of you already knew all this but I've never lifted barbells before.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Strength training to lighten the load on 02/23/2013 18:34:15 MST Print View

No doubt strength training is very important and will allow you to carry the same load with less effort. In addition, being stronger will help prevent injury. Just make sure you include core strength training not just upper body and legs. I think high intensity interval training is also an important part of the equation to boost your overall oxygen (aerobic) processing capacity for those steep ascents.

John Whynot
(jdw01776)

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Strength training to lighten the load on 02/23/2013 18:39:42 MST Print View

Squats are a great exercise for backpacking -- leg strength and core strength. I also like walking lunges with a barbell...

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Strength training to lighten the load on 02/23/2013 18:48:37 MST Print View

nm

Edited by FamilyGuy on 11/13/2013 15:58:34 MST.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re: Strength training to lighten the load on 02/23/2013 18:59:11 MST Print View

Oh, you knew that was me? Yeah, Rip is crazy old-school. I like guys like that, actually.

Squats, deadlifts and overhead press ARE core strength. And I try to do sprints once a week or so.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Strength training to lighten the load on 02/23/2013 19:05:09 MST Print View

nm

Edited by FamilyGuy on 11/13/2013 15:59:04 MST.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Strength Training to Lighten the Load on 02/25/2013 11:58:04 MST Print View

I've been doing CrossFit- style workouts for the last couple of years. We do a lot of heavy Olympic weight lifting as well as short, high intensity cardio (box jumps, burpies, 100m sprints, etc.).

In addition to general improvements in all-around fitness and strength, I feel like I've also seen an improvement in my hiking fitness. I can hike farther, faster and if necessary, carry heavier loads, all with less effort. In addition to being stronger, the cardio work seems to provide noticeable benefits; my heart rate is lower, breathing stays more regular and I just plain old feel better while pushing a 3.5- 4mph hiking pace.

I've recently begun training for a marathon distance trail run as part of a longer triathlon and with very little of a running base to start from, I'm up to 1/2 marathon distance a couple of weeks into my training and feeling good and strong. I credit the gym workouts.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Strength training to lighten the load on 02/25/2013 12:06:49 MST Print View

Backyard home improvement is also great strength/cross training.

digging holes, shoveling dirt, mixing concrete and pouring it by hand (90 lb bags).

power walking up the steepest hills you can find is also a great workout.

I'm not a gym routine type of person so these double duty workouts suit me best.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Home Improvement as Exercise on 02/25/2013 12:41:45 MST Print View

Ha! Good point Art!

I know all about that type of exercise too. Last spring we removed all of the existing landscaping in both our front and rear yards by hand, by ourselves. All told, we dug up and carried off over 20,000 lbs of plant material. Then roto-tilled and re-graded with soil rakes.

We then dug holes for, and planted, roughly 1500 new plants (mostly 4" containers) but some as large as 25 gallon containers.

Talk about a good workout...

Andrew Zajac
(AZajac)

Locale: South West
weight training - don't take it too far on 02/25/2013 13:51:36 MST Print View

I played football as an offensive lineman for about 10 years and I am a bit skinnier and weaker now so I think I could offer some potential perspective. I played at a little over 250lbs body weight and my max squat was 500lbs. Since I have left undergrad I haven't been eating or weightlifting nearly as much and I have switched activities to things like rock climbing and mountain biking so I am down to around 210lbs. I have backpacked during both of those body weights and I can say without hesitation that I can hike much farther and faster now than when I could squat 500lbs. I think the best training for backpacking given that you only have a short amount of time would be carrying around an overly heavy pack.

Edited by AZajac on 02/25/2013 13:55:28 MST.

James Klein
(jnklein21) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: weight training - don't take it too far on 02/25/2013 14:53:44 MST Print View

"I can say without hesitation that I can hike much farther and faster now than when I could squat 500lbs"

I imagine this has much more to do with 40lbs less weight vs the fact that your exercise activities have changed (though the new activities are likely better suited).

I remember when I quit playing football - I lost 20-25lbs with almost no effort. I think it had more to do with a change in diet vs a change in strength training.

I notice some are worried about strength training bc they don't want to "bulk up" - bulking up is obscenely hard (for most anyway). (Proper) Stength training is good for bone density/joint health in addition muscle gain/maintenance.

Edited by jnklein21 on 02/25/2013 15:03:06 MST.

James Klein
(jnklein21) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Strength training to lighten the load on 02/25/2013 14:54:38 MST Print View

Piper, good for you.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: weight training - don't take it too far on 02/25/2013 14:59:52 MST Print View

nm

Edited by FamilyGuy on 11/13/2013 15:59:36 MST.

Andrew Zajac
(AZajac)

Locale: South West
Re: Re: Re: weight training - don't take it too far on 02/25/2013 15:45:41 MST Print View

I am no expert in physiology, but I believe walking and weightlifting use different muscle types for the most part. Hiking tends to use the slow-twitch muscles while lifting tends to work the fast-twitch. If strength training increased endurance then we should see elite marathon runners dominating in weight-lifting competitions as well. I agree that strength training can reduce injury and help increase anaerobic capacity, and I think that this is definitely beneficial to hiking. It just has its limitations. For an extreme example, I don't think guys who can squat 1000lbs would make very good distance runners despite the fact that each step is such a small portion of their maximum outputs. My personal experience has been that running, biking, rowing, or those stair-stepper machines better replicate the stresses of hiking and are therfore better for preparing for a hike if I only have an hour or so for exercise each day. Otherwise, I just throw a bunch of water in a pack to make it heavy and then hike all day.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: weight training - don't take it too far on 02/25/2013 16:11:56 MST Print View

nm

Edited by FamilyGuy on 11/13/2013 16:00:07 MST.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Strength training to lighten the load on 02/25/2013 18:38:26 MST Print View

Strength training is most definitely useful. Back in the day when I was young(er)and strong(er) I did lot of weight training. When I went backpacking in those days the weight really didn't matter to me. 20 lbs or 40 lbs made effectively no difference if I was doing 10-15 miles. I'm sure it would have been noticeable if I had been walking 30 miles a day, but for what I was doing it didn't. If you can squat double your bodyweight and do partial squats with triple your bodyweight, 40 lbs feels like nothing.

Ah, those were the days....

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - M

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Re: Strength training to lighten the load on 02/25/2013 19:14:13 MST Print View

Piper, bully for you! I am doing a very similar strength training routine (are you all doing Rippetoe's stuff?). I did it for a few years and put on about 20 lbs in a few months of serious dedication. I've been on and off ever since, but it's amazing the differences that a strong core through squats, deadlifts, and other compound lifts will provide.

I do find that I still need to train for cardiovascular fitness (weightlifting comes easy to me) for hiking, but I can do just about everything better than I could before. I also need to lose a good deal of fat from the inconsistencies of the last couple of years. But once I re-started lifting regularly a few months ago, I sleep better, hike stronger, and generally get along much better than before.

The one downside to strength training? Most pack manufacturers build for the skinny guy with no back, shoulder, and trapezius muscles.

Edited by GlacierRambler on 02/25/2013 19:15:31 MST.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re: Strength training to lighten the load on 02/25/2013 19:50:09 MST Print View

I have yet to squat my bodyweight, but I'm deadlifting more than my bodyweight and about half my bodyweight for bench press. No need wait for improvements only after you can squat some ungodly 500lbs.

I'm convinced that squats and deadlifting, even though they may not use the exact same muscles as walking, provide enough general strength to make walking easier. I can feel the difference with even the little bit I can lift.

I don't believe anymore that endurance exercise can make me stronger. I've only ever relied upon aerobic exercise in the past and it got me pretty far. I could hike the PCT. I was pretty strong. But the barbells are changing things dramatically for me.

I just thought I would share this because you can buy your way to easier backpacking up to a point. Maybe it's after you run out of money or maybe it's after you've done tons of hiking and don't really care about new shiny new things as much, at some point you don't want to buy any more lighter gear. Getting stronger is just one more way to lighten the load.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re: Re: Strength training to lighten the load on 02/25/2013 19:58:35 MST Print View

I'm sort of doing Rippetoe's stuff. I couldn't figure out how to do power cleans. I try to follow the form and the basic program. I got overtrained pretty badly on a 3x a week program so I do 2x a week and that leaves enough left in the tank to enjoy some hiking or backpacking on the weekend and one session of sprints. I also do not drink a gallon of milk a day (I don't drink any milk) and I really don't want to gain any weight, but I have. And I only add about 5lbs a week to my squats and deadlifts and about 1.25lbs a week to my upper body lifts. I also do 5 sets of 3 for upper body lifts. I guess some women have trouble with 3 sets of 5 on upper body and I'm one of them. Progress is progress. My latest is squat: 122.5, bench: 72.5, press: 57.5, deadlift: 160. I'm 5'3", 48 years old, about 135lbs.

Andrew Zajac
(AZajac)

Locale: South West
Weight training on 02/25/2013 21:17:39 MST Print View

I am planning on doing the PCT this year so I have been trying to get into good hiking shape. I have been mostly been doing cardio or plyometric stuff in a fitness class. Maybe I'll try throwing the ol' squat back into the mix. I was curious to get some more opinions so I posted a question on Skurka's website and got a surprisingly quick response. I have included his thoughts below. I will still try to incorporate some strength training. Balance almost always seems beneficial

This was copy pasted from Skurka's website:

Andrew Z. February 25, 2013 at 3:54 pm #
Andrew,

What do you think of weight training in preparation for a thru-hike? I am specifically thinking of exercising to increase your one-rep maximum on exercises like squats or dead-lifts. Does this increase in maximum output translate to increased hiking endurance in your opinion?

Thanks,
Andrew Z.

REPLY

Andrew Skurka February 25, 2013 at 4:18 pm #
I think your time would be better much spent hiking with a pack, or running over hilly terrain, or balance drills, or at least low weight and very high reps. Good long-distance hikers tend to be like ultra runners, but stronger and less lean; and good ultra runners tend to be like road runners, but stronger and less lean. You don’t want to be super muscular.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - M

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Weight training on 02/25/2013 21:49:38 MST Print View

Personally, I find a lot of misinformation persists with those who haven't tried strength training. Not to discount Skurka, but there's a perception that any weightlifting is about bulking not strength. Strength training done well can leave a person very lean (depending upon body type, of course) without any of the massive look of the bodybuilder types.

That said, thru-hiking is a pretty specialized pursuit, and to pursue something that narrow, sacrifices have to be made in other areas. I do strength training not because it will help me be a better hiker, but because it fits my other goals in life and helps me maintain more balance. Would I be a better hiker if I spent more time running ultra-marathons than strength training? Definitely. But my goals are different directed to a broader range of interests. I'll gladly trade a little hiking efficiency to better meet my other needs.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re: Weight training on 02/26/2013 07:50:31 MST Print View

Yeah, there's a huge myth out there that strength training is the same thing as bodybuilding. It is not. A lot of cyclists and runners have the same myth. Causes people to put in "junk miles" when just a few minutes in the squat rack will give them more power per foot/pedal strike and just make the whole thing feel like a piece of cake.

Being female, I'm not even going to get real big anyway. So far I have a thinner waist and slightly larger thighs. Maybe slightly larger shoulders. You'd never be able to tell looking at me, just clothes fit differently now. Probably some of that is just fat, too, since I have to eat like a pig to keep making progress.

The other week when I loaded up 7 liters into my pack I wondered, what would it feel like to squat this? So I did it. It was laughably easy compared to the barbells.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: Weight training on 02/26/2013 11:21:06 MST Print View

Piper - Kuddos to you for all the hard work! I have a lot of respect for folks who follow a training regimen of any kind.

Regarding the rest of the thread. I am far from an expert, but right or wrong I've always looked at it like this - If you want to go farther, faster, longer, etc at a specific task doing that specific task repeatedly will give you the best results. In other words, to get the best training results for hiking I would want to push myself out on the trail as much as I could. Obviously I can't do that everyday, but I can exercise at home, lift weights, etc which will also yield positive results. Just not as much as if I was training on the trail.

To me, bicycling, running, elliptical work, and rowing would give the best results for at home training since they work the legs and some core, but also give aerobic conditioning. I think strength training wouldn't give optimal results for hiking, but it's still a loooong ways better than nothing.

Ryan

Edited by ViolentGreen on 02/26/2013 11:25:54 MST.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Here is what I do... on 02/26/2013 11:50:55 MST Print View

...and I have had good results. My goal is functional strength and cardio for not just backpacking, but playing with my two small boys, have more energy, be healthier in general, etc.

Stretching, 5 min
Jump rope, medium pace, 5 min
Shadow boxing, 15 min, with a few 2 min breaks (I used to box, so also good to keep my form)
Two handed kettlebell swings (i.e. from under my butt to face level), x50, currently using 28kg
2-3min break
One handed kettlebell lifts (i.e. from groin to full extensions above head), x10 each arm, currently using 16kg
2-3 min break
Slow push ups, x25
2-3 min break
Hindu squats, x50
Jump rope, fast pace, 5 min

Drink homemade protein shake of 300ml chocolate oat milk + 35g raw hemp protein powder (about 15g protein).

I do this twice a week, and once a week either go for a long walk/dayhike or short run around my part of town. If I have an overnight or weekend trip, I give myself permission to skip a workout day. Best way to make my base weight that us usually around 3kg feel even lighter is to be able to swing around a kettlebell that is nearly 10 times that.

Erik Dietz
(erikdtz) - M

Locale: Los Angeles
Fellow weight lifters on 02/27/2013 11:22:16 MST Print View

It's good to hear that others are lifting as I've posted once or twice and never heard anything back. I did the Starting Strength program for the first 6 months and have recently switched to the Texas Method.
When I first started backpacking a few years ago I was an endurance junkie...lots of running and biking. Even when I was in "good shape" I always felt weak. My knees hurt all the time and while I was leaner I definitely wasn't any stronger or better at hiking. Then I started CrossFit about 1.5 years ago which was MUCH better. Some high intensity interval training combined with strength training did wonders for my hiking abilities not to mention my overall fitness level. My knees didn't hurt at all, I lost some fat and put on some muscle. Then about 7 months ago I decided I didn't want to pay $150 a month for CrossFit so I joined a dingy little power lifting gym a few miles from my house and fell in love with just straight lifting...Squat, press, dead lift, bench, clean & jerk, snatch. I do one day of accessory lifts and 1-2 days of conditioning which is usually pushing a heavy prowler or pulling a sled for 40-50 yards.
When I did a 6 day backpacking trip this summer up in the Sierras, it was ridiculously easy. My shoulders weren't sore, I wasn't stiff in the morning, my legs and knees felt strong going up and, more importantly, coming down the mountains. And this was after almost NO conditioning and one of the heaviest lifting weeks I'd had at that time.
Piper, keep it up! That body weight squat is closer then you think!

Rob P
(rpjr) - M
Good workout, Cesar on 02/27/2013 11:28:36 MST Print View

overall functional strength is the way to go for a myriad of activities. I bet those squats really help on the trail.

I might consider doing the 5 minutes of easy jump rope first, and then do some stretching, with a little more stretching post workout. When I coached baseball, we had our guys do a 5 minute warmup run and then stretch...our trainers told us that stretching was much more effective with a shor warmup first.

Anyway, great workout.

James Castleberry
(Winterland76)
Mountain Athlete and rock climbing on 02/27/2013 11:43:44 MST Print View

I always recommend mountainathlete's videos to people interested in core strength.
http://www.youtube.com/user/mountainathlete

I do the mountain athlete stuff that only requires a yoga mat: Plank pushups, Jane Fondas, supermans. Other than that, rock climbing twice a week. Rock climbing is good for core and upper body strength and way more fun than lifting weights.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Weight training on 02/27/2013 13:17:20 MST Print View

I think it depends on your goals. If your sole purpose is long-distance thru-hiking like Skurka, then strength training may be wasted, especially since you are likely to lose any strength you have gained while completing your hike. However, for me, I don't so such long hikes. The strength gains from weight training work very well for the myriad weekend hikes and several 5-7 day hikes I do each year. And the crossover application to the many other activities I do are almost endless. The one thing that weight training doesn't seem to work well for is the stresses on thigh muscles from downhill hiking. You really need to walk downhill to fully develop those muscles, unless you have access to a downhill slanting treadmill or stair-climber.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Weight training on 02/27/2013 13:58:42 MST Print View

>" unless you have access to a downhill slanting treadmill or stair-climber."

Or, as I call them, "stairs". Just stairs. No gym membership, no $2000 equipment, nothing to plug in the wall or take up space in your house. Just stairs - up AND DOWN - at home, at the office, a hotel while traveling.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Strength training to lighten the load on 02/27/2013 14:07:07 MST Print View

>"Backyard home improvement is also great strength/cross training."

I've long figured that I could spend $1000 on a gym membership and $2000 on a snowblower or do neither (and hand-shovel 250 feet of driveway) to the same effect.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: Good workout, Cesar on 02/27/2013 15:04:50 MST Print View

Thanks Rob. I actually gave a lot of thought and planning into this routine. I am a grad student, and get a student discount at a gym close to my house. I generally hate gyms, but put up with going specifically to build myself a solid workout regiment. After tinkering around and experimenting with a few "rough drafts" I found something that really gives me an all around good work out for my goals. Glad I put up with going to the gym so I didn't rush into things and buy say, a whole kettlebell set or set of weights. Using bodyweight work was a big improvement both functionally and pragmatically, such as the hindu squats and slow push ups. I also learned a lesson by moving up to too much weight, with 30kg two handed swings and 20kg one arm lifts. I can do the weight, but didn't have as good results, as my reps were lower. I forgot to add that I plan on adding pull-ups into my routine, once a week or so, at a park near my house that has a pull-up bar.

I will think about stretching after a warm up, didn't know about that.

I was out on an overnight trip last weekend and did about 10km the first day and 15km the second day, and it was easy, even with my slightly heavier winter load. On my section hike last summer that was 5 days, I did around 20km a day, and I never had any serious issues with fatigue, and don't recall being that stiff or sore. All around very pleasant trip, and had a lot to do with both going UL and also being in good shape. Well, "good" is subjective of course, I am sure that there are plenty of people on here in better shape than I am. After going UL a few years ago and getting a bit more involved and dedicated to working out shortly after, life in general has been vastly improved. Makes me want to get out into the woods even more--I feel like I can accomplish so much more out there now than ever before as an outdoor enthusiast.

Another important aspect of all this has been diet. I have also taken much more of an active role in attempting to eat healthy. I have a complicated diet as a result, not really summed up in a word or phrase. I am an occasional meat eater (2-3 times week) and avoid red meat in favor of seafood (no farmed fish!) and chicken. I only eat red meat once or twice a month. I eat two eggs nearly every day, however, and eat lots of nuts and beans. I also try and favor protein and fat servings over carbs, and many of the carbs I do eat are whole grain. When I am backpacking, most bets are off--I eat mostly anything I want to eat, which is usually lots of chocolate, sausages/salami, super-carby food like pasta and potato/corn chips, etc. But I will always take a lot of nuts, usually both almonds and cashews.

When I started building my workout regiment I would eat a protein or granola bar with lots of nuts. This was not only expensive, but didn't recharge me as much as I wanted. So then I tried my homemade protein drink noted above, and it made a significant difference--more energy and also did not feel as fatigued after workouts.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: Re: Re: Weight training on 02/27/2013 15:14:05 MST Print View

David, you bring up a good point about costs. My two kettlebells cost about 150USD total, and my jumprope is the same 10 dollar jumprope I have had since I was a boxer about a decade ago. My homemade oat milk/hemp seed protein shake costs me about 1.50 USD each. Keep in mind that I live in Sweden and things cost slightly more here (in exchange for nearly free health care and free tuition at university, and other things too).

You don't need to spend much money to get in good shape.

Edited by PrimeZombie on 02/27/2013 15:37:23 MST.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Weight training on 02/27/2013 15:21:33 MST Print View

nm

Edited by FamilyGuy on 11/13/2013 16:00:59 MST.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Lots n lots of misconceptions about strength training on 02/27/2013 15:44:24 MST Print View

And in this case I'm just not really sure where to start.

I have a doctorate in physical therapy, I am a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist and I am a fellow in the American academy of orthopaedic manual physical therapists.

First of all, kudos to all of you who strength train, whether in the gym or in your backyard or in your staircases. It's always a good thing, particularly for bone health and overall metabolism. It makes you a fitter person overall, and THAT is how it helps your hiking.

To the folks who spoke of fast vs slow twitch, you're close but not quite. While you are right that a muscle contraction is an all or nothing proposition (to degrees, of course), the fact is that with training you absolutely can change the ratio of fast to slow twitch or vice versa. You can also change through atrophy or laziness... Fast twitch is explosion, plyometric, jumping kinds of muscle fibers; slow twitch are what we use to hike. Pretty much all the time. So unless you are one of those speed hikers, no worries about your fast twitch fibers. If you run or play soccer or something similar, though, then you should focus on them. But that's a different bout of blathering.

Major point here: You do not built endurance with strength training. You build endurance with endurance training and muscle force with "strength" training. If you lift for increased power production, you will not improve endurance (this is why sprinters are not marathon runners, and huge lineman do not run the ball in for touchdowns). Look at the different builds of cyclists in the Tour de France: the climbers are all lithe and skinny...that is endurance training; the sprinters have huge legs...that is power. The two are not the same and the muscles are not at all trained the same. While improving a muscle's force production will make stepping up a 15 inch boulder with a 15 pound pack easier...it will NOT change how many times you can step up that step. That's where endurance training (like Dave's comment about climbing stairs) comes in.
So a well-balanced "cross training" routine would include both lifting heavy weights just a few times (to fatigue) as well as doing light stuff many many times (to fatigue). To really improve a muscle's force production you actually need to lift enough weight to be tired after 8-10 reps...and to not be able to actually finish that last one. Then do another set. This kind of training will do nothing for endurance.

One of the biggest misconceptions is the need for cross training. Honestly, you don't need it. It's nice, it certainly CAN be helpful if you are generally not very fit, but, the fact is specificity of training rules the day. If you want to run fast, run fast. If you want to power up a steep ascent, power up steep ascents. And if you want to hike for 30 miles/day, then you need to hike 30 miles a day. The other stuff can make minor differences, but in the grander scheme of things not all that much.

I will quantify that by again saying that if you aren't in very good shape, then ANY training will be beneficial.

As for stretching, another misconception. You do not need to do it. It actually doesn't help you. Stretch before, after, during, don't stretch...no difference. It does not change overall muscle length, it does not alter the length of your muscle cells, and against what you may believe and everyone has told you, it does NOT NOT NOT prevent injury. A recent study found that your risk of injury increased only if you changed your routine, not whether you stretched or not. So...if you like to stretch first, great! Have at it. If you don't stretch at all, stop beating yourself up about it. You're fine.

Whew. I'm tired now. Time to go work some slow twitch fibers....

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Lots n lots of misconceptions about strength training on 02/27/2013 17:06:34 MST Print View

"Major point here: You do not built endurance with strength training. You build endurance with endurance training and muscle force with "strength" training. If you lift for increased power production, you will not improve endurance (this is why sprinters are not marathon runners, and huge lineman do not run the ball in for touchdowns). Look at the different builds of cyclists in the Tour de France: the climbers are all lithe and skinny...that is endurance training; the sprinters have huge legs...that is power. The two are not the same and the muscles are not at all trained the same. While improving a muscle's force production will make stepping up a 15 inch boulder with a 15 pound pack easier...it will NOT change how many times you can step up that step. That's where endurance training (like Dave's comment about climbing stairs) comes in.......

but, the fact is specificity of training rules the day. If you want to run fast, run fast. If you want to power up a steep ascent, power up steep ascents. And if you want to hike for 30 miles/day, then you need to hike 30 miles a day. The other stuff can make minor differences, but in the grander scheme of things not all that much."

This is the post I was waiting for, because it provides an expert's rationale for how I have always gone about training, both for backpacking and, in the past, running and climbing, with pretty decent results. That said, I've come around recently to the idea that developing core strength is helpful for darn near any activity. My 2 cents.

Thanks, Jennifer for another incisive post.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Lots n lots of misconceptions about strength training on 02/27/2013 17:09:13 MST Print View

nm

Edited by FamilyGuy on 11/13/2013 16:02:11 MST.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Lots n lots of misconceptions about strength training on 02/27/2013 17:23:51 MST Print View

"The other stuff can make minor differences, but in the grander scheme of things not all that much."

True, but it does make a difference, though usually small as you point out.

For instance,
Effect of high-intensity resistance training on performance of competitive distance runners.

In a recent study competitive road cyclists experienced substantial gains in sprint and endurance performance when sessions of high-intensity interval training were added to their usual training in the competitive phase of a season. The current study reports the effect of this type of training on performance of 20 distance runners randomized to an experimental or control group for 5 to 7 weeks of training. The experimental group replaced part of their usual competitive-phase training with 10 x 30-minute sessions consisting of 3 sets of explosive single-leg jumps (20 for each leg) alternating with 3 sets of resisted treadmill sprints (5 x 30-second efforts alternating with 30-second recovery). Before and after the training period all runners completed an incremental treadmill test for assessment of lactate threshold and maximum running speed, 2 treadmill runs to exhaustion for prediction of 800- and 1500-m times, and a 5-km outdoor time trial. Relative to the control group, the mean changes (+/-90% confidence limits) in the experimental group were: maximum running speed, 1.8% (+/- 1.1%); lactate-threshold speed, 3.5% (+/-3.4%); predicted 800-m speed, 3.6% (+/- 1.8%); predicted 1500-m speed, 3.7% (+/- 3.0%); and 5-km time-trial speed, 1.2% (+/- 1.1%). We conclude that high-intensity resistance training in the competitive phase is likely to produce beneficial gains in performance for most distance runners.

Endurance cyclist see improvements in performance when they incorporate HIIT training into their program. Plus, as I mentioned before, I assume many of us (ME anyway) are not aiming to be specialists that can do only one activity well. So for those who want to do lots of things well, rather than becoming the next Skurka, I say go for it. As Jennifer points out, it makes you a better rounded person, health wise, bone wise, metabolic wise, and as you get into your twilight years strength becomes much more important just doing everyday things. Since there are cross-over benefits from strength training, and it takes less time than endurance training (for those that don't have the time to walk 30 miles per day), I see it as a win-win. But I am biased...I am not really made for endurance sports. I have a preponderance of fast-twitch muscle, and though I can shift the balance of this somewhat through training, I will never be a competitive endurance athlete. So work to you own strengths as well as what your goals are.

And stretch!! Not as a warm-up or cool down or to prevent immediate injury, but the other thing that becomes more important as we age is basic flexibility. So to be a well-rounded athlete, make sure you stretch sometime in your day to ensure you can cut your own toenails when you get older!!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Lots n lots of misconceptions about strength training on 02/27/2013 17:56:29 MST Print View

"Tom, is this incisive enough for you? Ha!"

Very incisive, lots of impressive test results, but I'll stick with specificity of training. Here's one example of why: From Kenyan distance runner and former NY Marathon women's winner Tegla Loroupe:

'We don't have any special strength-training equipment in Kenya,' says Tegla, 'so we Kenyan runners simply use our own body weight to supply the resistance as we run up hills. The toughness of our hill workouts is the key reason for our success.' I have found exactly this approach to be true in my own humble efforts.

Here's a link to the complete article about how she, and many other Kenyan runners, train, if you're interested:

http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/marathon-training-a-training-programme-used-by-kenyan-distance-runners-354

In the interest of fairness, here is an article that supports your position, but also
says that hill running will accomplish pretty much the same effects with an added improvement in cardio vascular function and less chance of injury.

http://www.pfitzinger.com/labreports/weights.shtml

As a former hill running fanatic, I'll go with that recommendation. But I am unabashedly biased.

Edit: Just for the heck of it, here's one from Pubmedthat shows no benefit from an 8 week strength training program for recreational marathoners. But, to be truthful, there are also studies supporting the benefits of strength training, all of which makes me suspicious of studies. ;0)

I guess it's a case of there being many paths to achieve the desired result, so pick your poison and go for it. the main thing is to go for it. :)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20885197

Edited by ouzel on 02/27/2013 18:12:24 MST.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Lots n lots of misconceptions about strength training on 02/27/2013 18:05:21 MST Print View

nm

Edited by FamilyGuy on 11/13/2013 16:02:41 MST.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Over thinking this on 02/27/2013 18:05:40 MST Print View

Boy just when I thought that I had completely over thought my previous training.....

I'm also in the camp that the best training to hike thirty mile days is thirty plus mile days. Prior to my thru hike that was exactly my focus but in addition I focused on overall fitness. That involved high rep weight training but a bigger focus was very intense treadmill and elliptical workouts. (Slightly related, I ran my first marathon by only doing one long run a week, a running trainer told me it was stupid but it worked!)

There is one area that I do disagree with some posters. Heavy upper body weight training is a waste for thru hiking training. All of that precious muscle mass will be lost. So fast twitch, slow twitch, who knows, it's all just walking.

Ps, keep it up piper!!!!!!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Over thinking this on 02/27/2013 18:14:55 MST Print View

"(Slightly related, I ran my first marathon by only doing one long run a week, a running trainer told me it was stupid but it worked!)"

You're in good company, Greg. I used to train with a guy who ran 2:35 for the marathon on 35 miles/week, with one long run and the rest devoted to short fast runs. It can be done.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Over thinking this on 02/27/2013 18:22:51 MST Print View

"There is one area that I do disagree with some posters. Heavy upper body weight training is a waste for thru hiking training. All of that precious muscle mass will be lost. So fast twitch, slow twitch, who knows, it's all just walking."

I disagree, having hiked many times with women in particular that needed help putting their packs on. So for this, at least, you need a minimum of 'one max' strength at least equal to your pack weight. I also have found that I excel on steep uphill and downhill hikes where I can use my arms/chest/back to brace (downhill) and pull (uphill). Sometimes I even swing from overhead tree branches when on a steep downhill-merely because I can ;) I guess I just have that gorilla factor from decades of rock climbing...upper body strength also allows me to make maximum use of my poles, and really power through uphill cross-country skiing sections.

I hope I never need to walk a 30 mile plus day. In our terrain that would be inconceivable, and in lesser terrain I think I would find it incredibly boring, much like I find distance running and cycling! But, yes, if long distance hiking is your thing, then you need to do lots of long distance hiking to be fit for it. But just because genetically gifted Kenyans train with nothing but running to win distance races, it does not mean that power training will lead to no improvements, merely that they don't need that extra couple of percentages to win races.

As for growing new myocytes, recent research has shown that it is possible, but not to a great extent. But you CAN increase the number of mitochondria in a specific muscle fibre by good training principles.

BJ Clark
(bj.clark) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
strength and endurance on 02/27/2013 18:31:51 MST Print View

Thanks to Dave and Lynn for adding some research and evidence to the discussion. You saved me from pulling similar info from my own files. I have been blessed to have some success as a distance runner and as a coach of runners from the HS level to some elite national and WC athletes. People need to not confuse top runners with the back of the pack marathoners or even some good local runners. Many are incredibly strong in terms of strength to weight ratios. Years ago we were doing a clinic and someone asked Frank Shorter how strong marathoners needed to be. His reply was that they should be able to lift at least their own body weight over their heads! Many of the best distance runners are quite strong.

My running group used to have contests after workouts to see who could walk the farthest on our hands and also to see who could do the most handstand pushups.

As to the discussion about the differences between fast and slow twitch muscle fibers, training and performance, please be aware that much of what shows up in all variety of fitness magazines and even from the mouth of some trainers at fitness centers is all too often simplistic and misleading. There is great complexity in the relationship between different fiber types and the manner in which athletes recruit and use muscle fibers of all types.

The bottom line as demonstrated by Piper's experience: Get fit, get strong, and you will live and move with greater ease!

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Strength training to lighten the load on 02/27/2013 19:07:05 MST Print View

"Or, as I call them, "stairs". Just stairs. No gym membership, no $2000 equipment, nothing to plug in the wall or take up space in your house. Just stairs - up AND DOWN - at home, at the office, a hotel while traveling."

For sure. Fortunately I work in a 10 story building AND live close to a 300m hill. However, it is really hard to 'train' for a 1500m steep descent without actually doing a 1500m descent, non-stop. Ascents are not as hard to simulate in a gym. This really struck home for me when our gym organised an overnight hike, the ascent was 400m, and everyone was OK after that. Next day was back down the same (steep) 400m, and soooo many of the folks not used to hiking suffered bad DOMS from that. Their muscles simply were not used to that kind of eccentric exercise.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
not to nit pick...but i will...and it's kinda boring. Or not. on 02/27/2013 19:21:06 MST Print View

Dave...hmmm...the battle over muscle physiology. What great fun! But I have to say you seem to have only a cursory understanding here.

First of all, define "strength…”
You can't, because it doesn’t actually mean anything; there is no definition for it clinically or experimentally. We use the terms "muscle performance" or "force generating capacity" because "strength" has no real meaning. The amount of force a muscle can generate depends on so many things, including available metabolites, readiness of the neuromuscular junction, the length-tension relationship of the muscle fibers, etc etc.


"And intervals. God I hate intervals. But I do them for their effect on my cardiovascular system and less for endurance"

You seem to have some more definitions a-kilter...
Your cardiovascular system IS endurance – otherwise, what is muscle endurance?
The muscle can only contract as long as it has oxygen and Ca2+ and ATPase etc available. This comes from an efficient cardiovascular system to deliver these to the oxidative muscle fibers, as well as to flush out waste products. Without that your muscle functions anaerobically – which we’ve all experienced doesn’t really last very long at all.

You can be as powerful as possible, but without the ability to quickly and efficiently move metabolites and wastes from the working muscle then it will no longer contract. “Endurance training” does exactly this: it trains the muscle to be able to move products through quickly and efficiently – the one who can do it the best will last the longest in physical exertion.


"...does not mean fatiguing the muscle until it can't contract. Can you imagine hiking that way? Hiking until you pass out due to fatigue"

We are talking TRAINING, not the actual hiking. In order to improve the force generating capacity of the muscle you HAVE to challenge it to fatigue. If you choose to increase the level of mitochondria in order to improve the length of time you can contract a muscle, you challenge it to fatigue. If you want to increase the cross sectional area of a muscle then you need to hypertrophy the fibers…by, you guessed it, challenging it to fatigue. It’s called Wolff’s Law: your body adapts directly to loads placed on it.


"a stronger muscle does not work as hard as a weaker muscle to produce the same force, providing a lot of stored energy in reserve should it be required. Strength training simply improves the muscle's ability and capacity to do more work"

Not quite. First of all, what is a "stronger" muscle? One with greater cross sectional area? One with a better length-tension relationship? You are looking at this from a strict physics perspective rather than one that involves oxidation and ATPase and Ca2++ that is involved in repeated muscle contraction. The muscle doesn’t really store much energy in reserve as you would expect…it has to use it efficiently (thus, you TRAIN it to do so). And I’m also not really sure where you get the idea that a “stronger” muscle doesn’t work as hard.

Here is the salient part of a paper that compared marathon outcomes between recreational runners to participated in a strength training program and those who did not (I thought that applied to us a bit better than the elite athlete studies)

“No significant differences between the groups and no significant interaction (time × intervention) were found for VO2 (absolute and relative to VO2peak) at defined marathon running velocities (2.4 and 2.8 m·s⁻¹) and submaximal blood lactate thresholds (2.0, 3.0, and 4.0 mmol·L⁻¹). Stride length and stride frequency also remained unchanged. The results suggest no benefits of an 8-week concurrent strength training for running economy and coordination of recreational marathon runners despite a clear improvement in leg strength, maybe because of an insufficient sample size or a short intervention period. (Ferrauti A, Bergermann M, Fernandez-Fernandez J. Effects of a concurrent strength and endurance training on running performance and running economy in recreational marathon runners. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):2770-8. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181d64e9c)


So…IN CONCLUSION…..
All the force generating capacity in the world is meaningless if you don't have endurance. Why can't sprinters compete with marathoners? Why can't a marathoner run a 100m dash in <10 seconds? Because the sprinter has no endurance (but has power), and the marathoner has endurance but no power. What do we see here? Specificity of training!

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Yes you can change the properties of your muscle fibers! on 02/27/2013 19:37:12 MST Print View

You can be whatever you want to be! As long as you train intensely enough.....

"The mechanical properties of slow and fast muscles do adapt to programs of regular exercise. Endurance exercise training has been shown to increase the Vo of the slow soleus by 20%. This increase could have been caused by either a small increase in all, or most, of the fibers, or to a conversion of a few fibers from slow to fast. Recently, the increase was shown to be caused by the former, as the individual slow Type I fibers of the soleus showed a 20% increase in Vo, but there was little or no change in the percentage of fast fibers. The increased Vo was correlated with, and likely caused by, an increased fiber ATPase. We hypothesize that the increased ATPase and cross-bridge cycling speed might be attributable to an increased expression of fast MLCs in the slow Type I fibers (Fig. 14.10). This hypothesis is based on the fact that light chains have been shown to be involved in the power stroke, and removal of light chains depresses force and velocity. Regular endurance exercise training had no effect on fiber size, but with prolonged durations of daily training it depressed Po and peak power. When the training is maintained over prolonged periods, it may even induce atrophy of the slow Type I and fast Type IIa fibers."


Fitts RH, Widrick JJ. Muscle mechanics: adaptations with exercise-training. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 1996;24:427-73.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Lots n lots of misconceptions about strength training on 02/27/2013 19:41:03 MST Print View

"And intervals. God I hate intervals. But I do them for their effect on my cardiovascular system and less for endurance."

We used to use them as phase 3 of a training cycle, after 10-12 weeks of distance running and 3 weeks of hill workouts. After that it was taper down for 10-14 days and step up to the line. Myself, I liked them. There was something very primeval about a pack of guys on about the 15th-16th 400m, with 4-5 to go, when the chatter had died down and everybody was reaching deep down inside, that took me back 10,000 years or so. Hard to describe, but I loved it.

BJ Clark
(bj.clark) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: not to nit pick...but i will...and it's kinda boring. Or not. on 02/27/2013 20:06:59 MST Print View

Maybe no sub 10 for 100m, but you haven't lived until you run sub 47 in a 400m race against other marathoners and you come in last!! When Ibrahim Hussein was running world class 10k times in college he used to run the 4x400m and break even with the sprinters. Is there a difference in top end speed? Yes, but not near what people think. At any rate, the constant back and forth between the physiologists and coaches will continue to be with us. Thanks for your perspective. Dave may not know all the relevant terminology, but I know what he meant! And your take wasn't boring.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Lots n lots of misconceptions about strength training on 02/27/2013 21:10:07 MST Print View

nm

Edited by FamilyGuy on 11/13/2013 16:03:59 MST.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: not to nit pick...but i will...and it's kinda boring. Or not. on 02/27/2013 21:23:57 MST Print View

Jennifer, I appreciate your expertise and clarification of your posts.

However, I wanted to respond on a few things to (I guess) clarify as best that I can one last time given you asked me to define strength.

Strength is defined as the potential tension a muscle is capable of applying in a single maximum contraction. Training for strength causes several physiological changes in muscle tissue. Of these, the two most important are improved nervous control of muscle and increase muscle size.

To compensate for the wide variety of possible load conditions (playing the piano does not require the same output as lifting weights), the CNS stimulates exactly the amount if fibers necessary to perform the job. If a muscle is just strong enough to cover the load, essentially all its fibers must contract and as soon as these tire, the muscle fails and cannot work again until there has been sufficient recovery.

However….if the muscle’s level of strength surpasses the job’s requirements, the CNS will only stimulate a portion of the muscle’s fibers, leaving those remaining in reserve, ready to take over when the initial bunch tires and ultimately fail.

It is this sort of alternation that increases your muscular endurance. Strength training specifically increases the muscle’s capacity to stimulate muscle fibers and hence endurance.

So lets look at your analogy. On one side we have a sprinter, who does explosive, high force movements and can exert himself maximally for only a short period of time. Lets now add some endurance training to his regimen. He adds 20% of his training time to running ½ marathons. After two months, he is now a slower sprinter, weaker, and physically smaller (more on that in a minute).

On the other side we have a high level marathoner. This person trains solely for endurance (as you prescribe). He does high levels of repetitive activity for his legs, increasing the number of mitochondria per muscle cell, substantially increasing his endurance. Lets now add some strength training to his regimen. He adds 20% of his training time to strength training with weight loads in the 65 to 90% of one repetition range. After two months, he can run farther, longer, and faster. Why?

Regarding training to fatigue / failure when strength training. This really is not necessary and will be detrimental in the long run. Powerlifters never train to fatigue and they are the strongest individuals on the planet. Olympic lifters also don’t train to fatigue and they are unbelievably strong. You only have to train within a range of load to get stronger and push for continual progression of load over time. Overload is key; not pushing the muscle to fatigue as it drowns in lactic acid after burning through glycogen, ATP, and CP. Consider that sprinters on the track don't train by running to fatigue where they fall down in a heap of vibrating mass (would be funny to see, however). They train at high intensity but it is something less than all out fatigue.

You mention the cross section of a muscle – yes, that is a byproduct of strength. Clearly increased fiber size does affect the physical appearance of the muscle but the degree to which it contributes is largely determined by diet.

Yup - made a boo boo on the cardio comment but I was really referring to metabolic conditioning and trying to see some 'abs' before summer rather than training to increase my endurance....I squat and deadlift for that (hee, hee). And yes, training for overall endurance does tap into the cardiovascular system. But you can actually have a muscle with high endurance without affecting your cardiovascular system. Consider a muscle with predominently slow twitch musculature. That muscle will be very enduring even though you are a 'couch potato'. The calf muscle comes to mind.

Anyhoo, I am done here. Need to go train.

Go Piper!

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
This is a great thread!! on 02/27/2013 21:58:04 MST Print View

Piper -

Good for you! Sounds like you are improving your overall fitness. But too much of a "good" thing can be bad. Moderation in all things :)

Jennifer said,

"Major point here: You do not built endurance with strength training. You build endurance with endurance training and muscle force with "strength" training. If you lift for increased power production, you will not improve endurance (this is why sprinters are not marathon runners, and huge lineman do not run the ball in for touchdowns). Look at the different builds of cyclists in the Tour de France: the climbers are all lithe and skinny...that is endurance training; the sprinters have huge legs...that is power. The two are not the same and the muscles are not at all trained the same. While improving a muscle's force production will make stepping up a 15 inch boulder with a 15 pound pack easier...it will NOT change how many times you can step up that step. That's where endurance training (like Dave's comment about climbing stairs) comes in.......

but, the fact is specificity of training rules the day. If you want to run fast, run fast. If you want to power up a steep ascent, power up steep ascents. And if you want to hike for 30 miles/day, then you need to hike 30 miles a day. The other stuff can make minor differences, but in the grander scheme of things not all that much."

Spot on. Weight lifting for speed/power. That is how Galen Rupp (10K silver medalist 2012 Olympics) was able to run the final lap in a 13:22 5K, in 52 seconds last year. After he had the endurance, the weight lifting was done for speed when it was needed. Rupp does lift 2 or 3 days a week. We will see him move up to the marathon, and expect him to be very competitive. But most of his work is running, not weight lifting; because he is a distance runner.

Tom,

I now know why I like you. My favorite workout on the track was 440 yard intervals (pre-socialist measurement system). Everyone hated those days, except for me.

These days my goal is to wake up above ground each day, and then go for some sort of a walk. Seems to work too. :)

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Question for Jennifer on 02/27/2013 22:23:06 MST Print View

Hey Jennifer

2-3 times per week, I go to a hilly section of trail near me, put on a 25 lb pack (what I usually carry on a hike), and hike up and down for an hour or so. Once a week I do a longer hike.

Where I park, I have a choice of either immediately beginning the hills up and down, or taking 10 minutes to walk a very gently, almost flat section. Some have told me I should do the flat section both before and after, to warm up and cool down. Is there any real benefit to that, or is my preferred hit-the-hills-now okay?

Thanks for any input advice.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: This is a great thread!! on 02/27/2013 22:40:48 MST Print View

"Spot on. Weight lifting for speed/power. That is how Galen Rupp (10K silver medalist 2012 Olympics) was able to run the final lap in a 13:22 5K, in 52 seconds last year. After he had the endurance, the weight lifting was done for speed when it was needed. Rupp does lift 2 or 3 days a week. We will see him move up to the marathon, and expect him to be very competitive. But most of his work is running, not weight lifting; because he is a distance runner."

Correct. If he didn't train for strength then he would not have been able to run the final lap like that. But you are incorrect that somehow strength suddenly appeared, pushing him to the end (review how ATP, CP, and lactic acid affect strength). Strength training helped him by improving his capacity to endure, thereby providing him the additional endurance when he needed it. He simply wasn't working at his full capacity early on, which permitted him to maintain a high level of endurance right to the end of the run.

Andrew McAlister
(mcalista) - F
Strength exercises for hikers on 02/28/2013 06:23:38 MST Print View

4 strength exercises for hikers.

Squats
Deadlifts
Planks - core strength should not be neglected
Calf raises - doesn't feature in most bodybuilding routines, but I think this is a really important one for hikers - strong ankles are less likely to rollover or get sprained, and can help you recover from misplaced footing without falling. If you can work up to single leg barefoot calf raises, this will develop the smaller muscles in your foot, and work on your balance.

BJ Clark
(bj.clark) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: This is a great thread!! on 02/28/2013 08:58:15 MST Print View

And we haven't even addressed the role of the motor unit areas of the cortex and their regulation of motor unit function! I doubt Piper expected this type of discussion.

Rob P
(rpjr) - M
Specificity of Training, question for Jennifer, etc. on 02/28/2013 09:04:24 MST Print View

Clearly specificity of training is where it's at if you are an athlete training for a specific sport...We had very specific workouts for our players, and even more specific ones for our pitchers.

But for me, I don't just hike. At 50, I play a lot of golf and softball also, and due to time constraints I don't want to train specifically for each one. I do a quick "10 minute trainer" 2 to 3 times per week. So you have to think about your lifestyle...If you are Andrew Skurka, train for long distance hiking...If you do lots of different things, take that into account, along with your time constraints.

Also, I have some questions for Jennifer regarding what the stretching studies say regarding range of motion and time. When I get to the golf course, my backswing is very short and tight, so before I tee off I warm up and stretch for about 5 minutes. After this, I feel looser and my backswing is visibly where it needs to be....what is happening here? Is it the increased blood flow from the warmup, perhaps? Once I've gotten loose, I stay loose until I stop playing...then the next time I play, I need to stretch again to get my backswing back to where it needs to be.

And to the poster who mentioned the HIIT stuff, I always thought that it made quick twitch guys lose some burst, despite what the studies showed for a long time...and then, after I stopped coaching I heard that some of the HIIT guys were starting to change their views a little...is this true?

Remember, at first all the studies showed that a curve ball didn't actually curve....I feel as if stretching will yet be vindicated in a future study! :)

Edit: I think I was thinking of something else when I mentioned the HIIT stuff...I was thinking of the real slow lifting technique.

Edited by rpjr on 02/28/2013 09:30:16 MST.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
But of course! The motor cortex!!! on 02/28/2013 09:22:09 MST Print View

You're right BJ!! Let's talk motor unit recruitment and neuromuscular junction fatigue!!!

@Dave: c'mon, have some fun!! Who doesn't love a metaphysical discussion about force generating capacity and morphological changes of muscle fibers in the presence of overloading??!!

You obviously have a background in exercise physiology, and that's why a discussion like this is (can be...) fun. The chemical engineers get their geek on arguing about different alcohol compositions and burn times...what's wrong with a little type I vs IIa fiber discussion??

You seem to be awfully negative a lot.....


@Stephen: yes, a warm up and cool down are important. Generally I would recommend doing the flat section first and last because it doesn't take much time, doesn't hurt, and we THINK it's beneficial. But honestly, I'm less a fan of changing something that is working for you than to conform to somewhat controversial pop culture medicine.

And to circle back through all of this...cross training, lifting weights, aerobic training...these are all good things that overall make you a well rounded, physically fit person who can do everything easier. Hiking involves a lot of different activies (flats, ups, downs, uneven surfaces, lifting, carrying, squatting, etc) so a well-rounded exercise program is absolutely the best way to go. Unless you are actually training for something high level and specific (record setting speed thru hike, for example), just create a program that you will actually do. And have fun with it.

Goodness gracious I need to get out and hike!!!!!!!

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: But of course! The motor cortex!!! on 02/28/2013 09:35:31 MST Print View

nm

Edited by FamilyGuy on 11/13/2013 16:04:30 MST.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Question for Jennifer on 02/28/2013 14:12:31 MST Print View

Jennifer, since you are an expert (or very good at pretending to be one), I was wondering if I could pick your brain as far as my workout routine (posted early in this thread) is concerned? What do you think of it in general, would you and/remove/change anything, any tips, etc.

And Piper, I didn't mean to hijack your thread or anything. Just wanted to share what I do to stay in shape other than backpacking (and also to aid in a better backpacking experience). Maybe you could share your workout routine in detail? Anyhow, thanks for getting this discussion started :)

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Stretching on 02/28/2013 14:14:11 MST Print View

Yeah the stretching literature has been pretty crazy over the past 5-7 years. We know the length of the muscle doesn't change with static stretching, only the tolerance to stretch. You have a rather complicated system of sensors in your muscles called spindles and they detect stretch and velocity (or both)...when you stretch you are conditioning these spindles to allow more lengthening in the muscle prior to stopping you. This effect has been shown to last only about an hour but does not affect the long term passive properties of the muscle. This is why you feel a bit better (and looser) when you stretch, but that you still feel stiff later.

There has been a great deal of work on how muscle performance is actually harmed by static stretching: your speed, power and endurance are impaired if you stretch those muscles during a pre-exercise routine. This has been so well documented that the American College of Sports Medicine has changed its guidelines to suggest NOT stretching as part of your warm up and only to include cardio work if you needed strength or power. (American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM's Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. 8th Ed. Philadelphia (PA):Lippencott, Williams & Wilkins; 2010. p. 173.)

Then, to totally mess with all that you learned about stretching, Cochrane has a review updated in 2011 that pretty unequivocally says that stretching before, during, or after any exercise does absolutely nothing to alter muscle soreness any time during the week after the physical activity. "The studies produced very consistent findings. They showed there was little or no effect of stretching in the muscle soreness experienced in the week after the physical activity."
Herbert RD, de Noronha M, Kamper SJ. Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD004577. DOI: 10.1002/14651858. CD004577.pub3

Now...eccentric exercise, dynamic stretching, ballistic stretching...lots and lots of arguments here. But I imagine I've already overstayed my welcome to poor Piper's original post just being happy about feeling stronger with weight training :)

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Question for Jennifer on 02/28/2013 14:29:38 MST Print View

@Dave: ahhhh...makes so much more sense now!! I can't last 90 seconds on a rower. Ever.

@Cesar: looks great. I wouldn't change a thing - except maybe your warmup. MAYBE light cardio instead of the stretching (see my previous post)...but honestly, I'm far more of an advocate for sticking with what works for you...more injuries happen when people try to mix things up because someone else told them they should do something differently.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: Re: Question for Jennifer on 02/28/2013 14:47:11 MST Print View

Thanks for your input, and so quick too :)

Yeah, I am happy with it, but I always want critical feedback just in case--especially from an expert. It's a bit tricky to explain the concrete benefits of functional strength training as far as UL backpacking goes perhaps, I feel like it becomes a bit reduced to accepting someone's anecdote, i.e. "No, seriously guys, backpacking is easier and more pleasant in general now!"

But perhaps here are some more concrete examples, particularly if you are a parent. Today while lifting my 3 year old son up, I noted how it feels just as easy to lift him around as it was last year when he was 2--and he has grown quite a bit since then. A few days ago when taking my kids to pre-school, I was holding my 1.5 year old, and he dropped his hat. I squatted down to pick it up and was back up again and was a little surprised at how fluid and easy it was compared to a few years ago with my other child.

I challenge anyone to do 100 hindu squats in a row. I did a few times and was hurting for 3 or 4 days after, and then dialed it down to 50. My next goal is to get my two handed kettlebell swings up to 75 reps in a row.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Lots n lots of misconceptions about strength training on 02/28/2013 15:26:45 MST Print View

"I have been doing intervals with a rower given the copious amounts of snow outside right now."

I'm told rowing is a great way to get cardio vascularly fit, and it makes a lot of sense if there's a lot of snow on the ground.

"I am wimpy." Nah, just intelligent.

"Are you still distance running?"

I wish. I had to give it up when I was 60 due to a chronic ITB issue. Still miss it. A lot. :(

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: This is a great thread!! on 02/28/2013 15:46:20 MST Print View

"Tom,

I now know why I like you. My favorite workout on the track was 440 yard intervals (pre-socialist measurement system). Everyone hated those days, except for me."

Mine, too, Nick. I continued to do them on into my mid 50's, a decade after I had stopped racing, just for the sheer joy of it. The times naturally had increased, but that didn't matter. It was just this old fart with a faint smile on his face out on the oval living his primeval dreams.

"These days my goal is to wake up above ground each day, and then go for some sort of a walk. Seems to work too. :)"

Pretty much the same for me. We'll have to find a way to get together and swap lies one of these days, before one of us doesn't wake up. ;0)

Rob P
(rpjr) - M
Thanks Jennifer! on 02/28/2013 16:11:08 MST Print View

For the great info on stretching...I definitely want to read more on non-static types of stretching. I feel like you could bill us for your expertise!

Also, apologies to Piper if this has gotten us too far off track... I hope not.

Edited by rpjr on 02/28/2013 16:11:50 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Stretching @Jennifer on 03/01/2013 18:08:21 MST Print View

"Then, to totally mess with all that you learned about stretching, Cochrane has a review updated in 2011 that pretty unequivocally says that stretching before, during, or after any exercise does absolutely nothing to alter muscle soreness any time during the week after the physical activity."

So far, all the discussion about stretching has addressed its effects on muscles. I am curious as to whether there is any effect on tendons, ligaments, and fascia. On a related note, you were extolling the benefits of foam rolling, with which I heartily concur based on personal experience. Do these benefits come just from smoothing out knots in muscles, or does the foam roll also stretch out tendons? I am thinking specifically of the ITB here. Just wondering.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
weights on 03/02/2013 00:12:43 MST Print View

I read an article a while back, about an old american coach that trains some Kenyan runners in their village. When asked why they were so dominant, he answered "because they have never even seen a kettlebell"

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: weights on 03/02/2013 04:22:51 MST Print View

Kenyan runners have also probably not seen Cuben tarps or down sleeping bags either ;)

Also, I would rather be able to lift around my kids, my urban backpack full of library books and my laptop, bags of groceries, etc. with ease than run marathons with ease. I can hike 20-30km through rugged terrain and a pack (albeit a pretty light one) with relative ease, yet I see kettlebells fairly regularly. But yeah, a Kenyan runner would beat me, and beat me big time, at running long distances--but I have no interest or intentions of trying to compete with them, or anyone else for that matter.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: weights on 03/03/2013 12:59:18 MST Print View

"When asked why they were so dominant, he answered "because they have never even seen a kettlebell""

Haha, no doubt true, but this discussion is interesting on many levels.

Despite the comment that "you can be anything you want", there is no real evidence this is true. Top Kenyan runners have many in-born traits that seem to give them an advantage. They have smaller legs=less weight to move. They use oxygen more efficiently. They have a much higher proportion of type I muscle fiber. They have a higher incident of a gene which is associated with less muscle, less fluid retention, and more relaxed blood vessels—which would enhance oxygen uptake—and appears to be more prevalent in endurance runners in general.

As to converting from type I to type II fibers, there really isn't much evidence for this either. The best studies to date show that identical twins have pretty much identical proportions of each fiber type, even if one of them is a couch potato and the other trains hard. But all the science obscures the fact that, whatever fiber composition you are born with, you can definitely improve on either strength or endurance through training. The training leads to increased blood flow to the muscles you use, and increased mitochondria. All this makes the muscles you are born with more efficient. Keep in mind that the range of type I muscle found in the population ranges from 5-90%, but most of us fall somewhere in the middle, with an average of 45-60%. Also keep in mind that a subtype of type II fibers CAN actually work either way. Type IIa can be recruited for aerobic or glycolytic metabolism. So how much of this type you are born with can also influence how versatile an athlete you can be. The last thing to keep in mind is that the study of muscle fibers changing with training is still a very murky field of research. It traditionally relies on small muscle biopsies of a specific muscle (usually thigh), and there is a lot of error in interpreting this data because it doesn't look at whole fibers, just small cross sections in one muscle. There seems to be different distribution of fibers in other muscles within the same individual, so they may have better upper body endurance or strength than reflected in the leg biopsies. I expect to see an explosion of research in this area in the near future, as new MRI imaging methods will allow researchers to look at whole muscle, and many muscles, without the limitations of invasive biopsies.

The take-home message is, you cannot be anything you want to be, but there is a lot of room for improvement in using what you are born with. Sure, you may never beat a Kenyan runner in a marathon, and for sure you won't see many Kenyans excelling in explosive power sports, but you can improve on yourself, in either or both directions.