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Good workouts for backpacking?
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Steven Davis

Locale: SF Bay Area
Good workouts for backpacking? on 08/19/2013 15:13:37 MDT Print View

Hey Guys, I'm trying to up my endurance for backpacking so I can do more than 2-3 days without feeling super sore. I'm guessing I need to focus mainly on leg workouts, but any specific exercises you'd recommend? Maybe stair climbing? Anything else?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Good workouts for backpacking? on 08/19/2013 15:16:17 MDT Print View

Hike up and down Mission Peak about once per week, perhaps in the evening. That is the big hill behind Milpitas and Fremont. Get to where you are doing the uphill in about one hour.


Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Good workouts for backpacking? on 08/19/2013 15:23:15 MDT Print View

Some threads you might want to read Here , here and here .

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Good workouts for backpacking? on 08/19/2013 15:23:45 MDT Print View

Stair climbing helped a lot for me back when I worked in a 10-story building; I'd go up and down it about 5 times on my morning breaks.

Mission Peak is great, even better if you can work up to carrying a pack's worth of weight to the top. For me, there seems to be no training better than carrying weight up a hill.

I just finished a backpacking trip with my other half, who had really really sore gluteus muscles despite the fact that he works out 99 minutes daily at high intensity on the stairstepper at his worksite gym. I am guessing this is because he doesn't carry any weight while doing so, and that somehow not all the right muscles get worked on that machine?

Edited by dkramalc on 08/19/2013 15:26:03 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Good workouts for backpacking? on 08/19/2013 15:26:58 MDT Print View

"For me, there seems to be no training better than carrying weight up a hill."


First time, don't carry any extra weight. Second time, carry an extra quart of water, and then pour it out on the summit. Third time, carry two extra quarts.

After a while, a loaded backpack is no big deal.


Bob Dromgoole
Good workouts for backpacking on 08/19/2013 15:34:27 MDT Print View

your lookin for endurance, gotta max the a few times a week 30-60 minutes...Hike at all opportunities of course, add extra weight if its just a day hike...stairs...squats...push + pull + sit ups...'crossfit' can be great...swim... Whatever you like, just do something almost daily.

workout on 08/19/2013 16:00:46 MDT Print View

I do weight training, full body , each part every 5-7 days.
Also intense cardio 3-5 x per week.

I have never had a problem with being unprepared for anything, or sore from anything.

Except riding horses.

I can come off the sofa, and do 20+ mile days without issue. It only gets easier as the days of 10hrs of aerobic hiking go on. When I get back, the cardio workouts I did before leaving are always noticeably easier.

Edited by livingontheroad on 08/19/2013 16:01:24 MDT.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Real stairs. on 08/19/2013 16:04:45 MDT Print View

The highest return on my time investment is climbing stairs. Actual stairs. NOT a Stair-Master - your body weight doesn't move up the treadmill, just your legs go up a steeper slope. Actual stairs require you get your entire body weight up AND DOWN the vertical distance. That work of lowering your body weight downslope really helps reduce the aches and pains of backpacking in the mountains. 10 minutes a day for a few weeks make a big difference for me, even if I don't ramp up the weight with a daypack of books or water jugs. Obviously, adding weight slowly over time could make the actual backpacking easy in comparison.

But don't go for added weight or speed at first. I haven't found anything I did at 25 that I can't do at 52, but most things do require a much longer training interval with a slower progression to avoid feeling sore, the older I get. One benefit - now that I have to do that training in advance - is that I go up hills a lot faster than hikers half my age.

Steven Davis

Locale: SF Bay Area
thanks on 08/19/2013 16:09:51 MDT Print View

thanks guys. that should be good. i live really close to mission peak, since i live in fremont, and i also work next to KOIT tower so i can walk up those stairs at lunch.

Desert Dweller

Locale: Wild Wild West
Workout advice on 08/19/2013 23:13:40 MDT Print View

Before you start working out get a resting pulse rate, beats per minute. When you work out, time yourself and try to get a mark of distance. Then start at a comfortable pace, take regular rest breaks and during the breaks take your pulse immediately and see how many minutes it takes for your pulse to drop. These measurements are a baseline from which you can tell in future workouts how well you are progressing. Several good rules to follow to avoid injury or setbacks is never do more than ten percent more in time, distance or speed per week, and if your pulse takes longer to recover during a rest than normal you might want to back off a bit. As you get fitter your pulse will recover faster, and your times will improve. Have fun!

Steven Davis

Locale: SF Bay Area
lake on 08/19/2013 23:20:04 MDT Print View

i took the dog and did 2 laps of lake elizabeth today in fremont. about 5 miles. i figure i just hike until i start getting sore. today was just about right. next time i'll add a liter or two of water to make it harder.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: lake on 08/20/2013 00:07:21 MDT Print View

The reason that you carry water for ballast...
is that once in a while, you will get a bad knee ache or back ache or something. You can simply pour out the water and continue easier.

If you were carrying bricks for ballast, it would not be so easy.


spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
don't swim alone on 08/20/2013 07:29:06 MDT Print View

Swimming is great for aerobic capacity, but it doesn't strengthen muscles used for load bearing. I did it year-round growing up--any other sports I did for fun, my legs always gave out before my lungs were even trying hard. I love it, don't want to discourage it, but since a comment mentioned it, I figured I'd pipe up to say it must be done in combination with land-based exercise if you want it to help your hiking.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Especially don't swim alone. . . . on 08/20/2013 09:59:48 MDT Print View

. . . . if you are using bricks for simulating your load.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
take a walk on 08/20/2013 10:45:52 MDT Print View

Load up some snacks, and start walking. See how many staircases you can hit on your route.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Good workouts for backpacking? on 08/20/2013 10:49:37 MDT Print View

Heavy barbell squats and deadlifts.

Look to what Alpine climbers do and you will get into the best shape of your life at any age.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
HIKING! on 08/20/2013 20:14:56 MDT Print View

Hike 5 miles 4 - 5 times a week with a 30 lb. pack in hilly terrain. That will do it. I'm 70 and it does it for me.

In Vegas' killer summer heat I use a treadmill indoors W/max incline and teh 30 lb. pack & heavier, old hiking boots.

P.S. a pack for training is essential for getting your shoulders, upper back and neck muscles in shape. Othrwise you may be in fine shape otherwise but will have pain in those areas on your trip.

Edited by Danepacker on 08/20/2013 20:17:14 MDT.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Books worth reading... on 08/20/2013 22:09:59 MDT Print View

Take a read of Pavel's "Power to the People"

And if you are interested beyond that, "Strong First" by Pavel and Dan John.

My wife and I have started doing their recommendation in that book of doing two weeks of power to the people (PTTP; 10 reps total of deadlift, followed by 10 reps total of a press-we do dumbell bench press, @80-95% 1RM weight, perfect form, never fail a rep) alternating with two weeks of Program Minimum (Kettlebell swings and turkish get ups).

My wife is a former professional boxer. And not just a crap one, she was in the top few in the world as a bantam weight for a while. And she's intelligent, PhD in biology, etc. We both wish we'd read these books and trained this way back when she was boxing. She would have been #1 no doubt. Free's up lots of time to do other things (eg, boxing practise and technique in her case, in your case, do aerobic workouts, hike), builds up strength without injury, simple.