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Ryan Gardner
(splproductions) - F - M

Locale: Salt Lake City, UT
Weight training... on 09/24/2007 19:03:47 MDT Print View

I'm a real skinny, tall guy, and I've never cared much about weight training. I've always focused more on cardio, and then just throwing a pack on and hiking a nearby peak (I live within walking distance from the Wasatch Range in Salt Lake City.)

My question is, does anybody train with weights? I want to start doing long-distance, unsupported treks, and am wondering how others train for such hikes.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Weight training... on 09/25/2007 04:46:16 MDT Print View

> My question is, does anybody train with weights?
Yeah - it's called a pack...

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Weight training... on 09/25/2007 07:13:39 MDT Print View

I have always like weight training since high school days. Over the years I have had to cut back due to injury, but I still do a dumbell workout about three times a week with low weights.

Everybody should do some sort of muscle toning exercises to increase their lean muscle mass and basal metabolism.

Edited by jshann on 09/25/2007 18:18:29 MDT.

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Weight training... on 09/25/2007 08:52:23 MDT Print View

I find yoga and along with simple things like pushup's, wall sits and running to be more effective than weight training. It is better to train yourself to create useful strength. After 2-3 weeks of yoga I saw the most drastic increase in strength and agility. As well with weights, there are too many ways to do it incorrectly and hurt yourself.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Weights? on 09/25/2007 12:16:08 MDT Print View

Given this is the UL forum, I'd think that our pack weights are pretty reasonable -- 25 lbs or much less? IMO, aerobics and stretching are probably more beneficial than flat out weight training. I have seen many bony and ancient-looking womenfolk hiking mountains like they were strolling in the park.

Edited by ben2world on 09/25/2007 22:08:35 MDT.

Nathan Moody
(atomick) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Weight training... on 09/25/2007 16:40:45 MDT Print View

I bike, run, kayak, and backpack, but I find cross-training with weight lifting a great way to keep my back from aching, my torso upright to keep the O2 flowing, my shoulders from aching, and to make sure I don't wind up looking pretty strange from having exercise preferences that only seem to involve the legs. :-p

I'm no strapping lad and I don't weight train to pack on muscle; rather, I want to ensure that no matter what I do, I have some base level of strength to do what I want to do without getting injured. It's very easy to do weight training in a way to stay lean and not build mass - it's just a matter of personal goals and finding a program to match those goals. I don't do anything more than work out with dumbells (and other non-equipment stuff like lunges and crunches) more than 2-3 times a week.

All that said: your original (final) question is like losing weight, it's the obvious and boring advice that's the right advice. Hike more. Hike long. Hike with loads on your back. Put a huge ol' pack, stuffed with all your gear, and go for a day hike. Folks'll look askance, but screw 'em. Don't increase mileage or weight carried by more than 10% a week, and only then do so once you're not feeling as challenged. The best way to prep for a hike is to spend serious time on your feet in challenging terrain with weight on your back. (I happen to like trailrunning to simulate this, but in a way that takes half the time.)

Good luck - it's amazing, whatever your goals are, your body can adapt...rock on!

Edited by atomick on 09/25/2007 16:45:03 MDT.

David Wills
(willspower3) - F
Re: Weight training... on 09/26/2007 00:07:48 MDT Print View

i train with weights for lots of reasons. I'm also a multisporter (WW and sea kayak, bike, run, backpack, beer pong) and find it beneficial to have the physical possibility to be good at things helpful at becoming good at them. There are a lot of muscles required for long days on the trail. A solid torso and shoulders for holding a frameless pack up for 12 hours for example. You may want to consider doing some calf raises, leg presses, lunges, and squats to help with the short, intense climbs that you happen upon. Low weight/ high rep would probably be best for those. Make sure you get in a lot of actual hiking to train- my joints and tendons are the first things to hurt because they often times aren't used to high stress involved with long hard days of hiking.

Miguel Marcos
(miguelmarcos) - F

Locale: Middle Iberia
Good for cross-training on 09/26/2007 04:03:31 MDT Print View

I run 3-4x a week, about 40-45 minutes or so generally. 1-2x a week I do weight machines and crunches. I have heard from many different sources that it is indeed good for your muscle mass and metabolism as stated earlier.

Regarding one's pack as a sub for weights exercises: No. Unless you consider doing the same exercise over and over again in the same way a good exercise. A good exercise regimen deals with different areas of the body and its functioning.

Yoga is also a very good activity but it doesn't have to exclude weights.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Re: Weight training... on 09/26/2007 11:29:37 MDT Print View

I'm 58, 6'3" and 175lbs.

My wife is a weight trainer and I have been doing one form of exercise or another for most of my life.

The key to "fitness" is doing something every day; whether it is walking, running, hiking, biking, weight training or some other exercise. That and a good diet.

That said, weight training designed around the concept of lighter weights and more reps will build endurance as well as strength. It will increase the amount of long fiber muscle you have which is the slow twitch stuff. Rep ranges of 15-20 with weights that leave you at failure by the end of the second set out of three sets will make you stronger and more able to go the distances you want to go. The key is to be at failure (you can't complete the last rep even though you are trying your hardest) by the end of the second set. Your third set will be a real struggle and you won't complete all of the reps. When you can do so, increase your weights by 5lbs. Do pushing moves one day (chest or shoulders for instance) and pulling moves the next time (back or arms for instance)leaving legs for their own day. When you do legs, make sure you do not just the typical squats (which are one of the best all around aerobic and strength training moves you can do) but also do moves which strengthen and stretch the hamstrings such as dead lifts. Your hamstring is the achilles heel of backpacking. Many backpackers do not stretch the hamstring enough or correctly. There are numerous exercises for this. One great stretch that seems simple but is actually extremely beneficial is the "place kicker" stretch. As it implies you make like a place kicker in football. Stand holding a treking pole or tree; kick the inside leg with complete control as high as you can without bending to do it. In the same motion, follow through by extending the leg as far back as you can, also with complete control and without bending to do so. It is harder to do correctly that it seems. Occilate the forward and back kick at least 5 times then turn around and do the other leg which is now the inside leg. The key is controlling the kick, not just kicking, and getting as much height as you can without bending. You will feel the hamstring especially after a long day's hike. I do this whenever I rest during the day and when I get up in the morning. Make it a habit and you will rarely have hamstring problems.

Another good one for the quads especially if your hiking takes in peak bagging is the skier's squat. A simple exercise that will give you a quad burn after a few minutes. Sit against a wall as if you were in a straight backed chair. Hold this posture for as long as you can then push yourself away from the wall with your hands. You will know pain from this simple exercise. And your quads will get stronger and more able to handle the grades.

A final one for the downhill grades we all hate and which can cause knee damage. Practice stepping down a stair of at least 8" height but only touch down with no weight on the landing before you replace your foot next to the other. Then do the other foot. It is harder to do than it seems especially to maintain balance and not to place any weight on the landing. But practicing this until you can do many reps will strengthen your knees and make them less prone to injury on those descents. It will also improve your balance.

Good luck on your longer distance endeavors.

Edited by mitchellkeil on 09/26/2007 11:37:50 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Weight training... on 09/27/2007 11:23:55 MDT Print View

I like weight training, but never did like the "push it to failure" or always adding more weight side of the activity. The average person who isn't in competitive sports only needs good muscle tone or an average lean body mass to benefit from weight training. Anything more is really a waste of time to me, and the potential injury and soreness when continually trying to add more weight makes it no fun. Thoughts?

Nat Lim
(LithiumMetalman) - F

Locale: Cesspool Central!
ring training? on 09/27/2007 17:45:39 MDT Print View

I used to lift, but found that (for me) the carry over wasn't as useful. I climb and hike and found that gains from training on gymnastic rings really transfered over well in overall strength (really hits the core muscles pretty hard); for specific strength, climbing for climbing and hiking for hiking. Yoga and Tai-chi really helped with keeping my limbs limber and with my "lead head" leadable.

Also carrying a my crag gear + backpacking gear doing the climbing season really helped!!! Made those ultralight packs for backpacking feel really ultralight!

Edited by LithiumMetalman on 09/27/2007 18:16:28 MDT.

Matthew Swierkowski
(Berserker) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Weight training... on 10/05/2007 11:52:04 MDT Print View

I'm also a tall fairly skinny dude, and I weight train. I don't train for mass (I used to when I was younger), but rather to just tone and strenghten. I am 34 and have had recurring issues with knee pain. After several trips to the doctor and some physical therapy over the years I have found that mixing in some weight training has had a dramatic affect on my pain. It has pretty much gone away.

I typically work out with weights a couple of times a week. I usually just use dumbbells and leg weights. I also walk in a local park on trails with one of my packs with weight in it.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
legs & abs on 03/02/2009 12:42:38 MST Print View

Weight training is an important part of my hiking/backpacking preparation. When I hike, I find that there’s not much of a cardio involved, instead more leg and abdominal strength is needed. In the areas that I hike in the northeast, mainly along the Long Trail, I tend to hike a consistent two miles/hour. Instead of a cardiovascular running type activity, my hiking tends to be an up-hill, down-hill walk over roots and branches.

Thus, I tend to jog for a mile or two as a warm-up. For the main part of my workout, I lift weights, with a focus on my legs and abs. I’ll start by doing leg presses on the sleigh, usually 4 sets of between 600 and 850 lbs. Then, I’ll do calf raises and calf raises, 4 sets between 350 and 450 lbs. Next, I’ll switch between leg extensions and curls. Finally, I’ll left my toes, while keeping the balls of my feet on the ground until failure.

My ab workout is pretty extensive. I have a friend who does gymnastics, so I just try to keep up with her (but always seem to fall short). We do a lot with our sides, as well as the usual upper, middle, and lower abs. Having a strong core seems important for hiking/backpacking.

Again, where I live/hike that type of training seems more important to me. I never really get up to a speed where cardio training comes into play. This might be different for people living in regions with flatter, less root-bound trains.

(wentworth) - F
weight training on 03/03/2009 15:31:32 MST Print View

weight training only causes injuries if you use incorrect form. Same with bodyweight exercise. Actually, doing anything with incorrect form could cause injury.

Since 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men develop osteoporosis and weight training increases bone density, there's already good incentive to include it :)

For trekking, I'm guessing you want to focus on endurance. The different rep ranges are:
1 to 5 reps will build strength
8 to 12 reps builds muscle
15 and above will increase endurance.
Of course there is some degree of crossover.

I'd suggest working compound exercises that work the main muscle groups, like squats, lunges and stepups.

Also remember that if you train your abs, train the opposing muscles in the lower back. They're the ones that do most of the work but people always neglect them because they don't show in the mirror!

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: weight training on 03/04/2009 12:39:01 MST Print View

Defintely consider adding in some weight training.

I used to not understand why until I started doing it. I do a mix of weights/CORE training and cardio. I am building strength and balance.

Sure, being skinny you probably won't put on big muscles, but that is fine! Not everyone gets them from lifting (I just love how my arms and legs look so much sleeker now!).

As well, it really helps your lower back if you have chronic pain.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: legs & abs on 03/04/2009 13:51:23 MST Print View

> When I hike, I find that there’s not much of a cardio involved,
> instead more leg and abdominal strength is needed.


You really do not feel any cardio if you try to maintain your pace going uphill in the mountains? I grant you that leg strength is needed, and is very important. But no cardio???

-- MV

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
yup on 03/09/2009 12:38:00 MDT Print View


>You really do not feel any cardio if you try to maintain >your pace going uphill in the mountains? I grant you that >leg strength is needed, and is very important. But no >cardio???


I guess I'm going to have to measure my heart rate the next time I go backpacking. My (novice) understanding is that in order to have even a moderate cardio workout, the number of beats per minute would have to be at least 50% above my resting heart rate. At my age that should be at least 95 beats per minute, but really closer to 133 bpm for it to be a real "cardio workout."

My guess is that my heart rate is not anywhere near 133 bpm for most of the backpacking season, except maybe the first few days when I have "spring fever" and are really rushing (AKA running). Most of the time I have a nice, steady pace uphill, downhill, and on level ground. In fact, I find that I much prefer steep uphills, because then I'm just using leg strength, while downhills just feel like controlled falls.

Perhaps people who backpack on flat, less root-bound trails do reach the level of a cardio workout or people who are pushing themselves to cover large amounts of ground each day. For myself, I find that a steady 30 minute mile in northern Vermont works. And, at that pace I'm pretty sure I'm not reaching the level of a cardio workout.

Hence, training for a cardio workout isn't the most important thing, besides the weight lose and general health benefits. For my backpacking trips, (a) leg and ab strength, (b) a healthy body weight, and (c) a healthy diet seem much more important.

Vino Vampire!

PS: That said, do I do some cardio at the gym: yes! But it's not a priority for me and it's for general health reasons, not backpacking.

Edited by vinovampire on 03/09/2009 12:38:43 MDT.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Weights on 03/09/2009 13:38:24 MDT Print View

I run - a lot - in preparation for a big hike. In that program is a day or two of weights per week, mostly stuff that is 3 sets of 8-12 reps. I try to get to all the major muscle groups with a variety of lifts.

I do: hip extension/flexion, squats, calve extenion, hamstring flexion, lat pull downs, seated rows, bench press, running with dumbbells (5 lbs each), pull ups and a tricep extension/flexion.

Edited by citystuckhiker on 03/09/2009 13:42:33 MDT.

victoria maki
(clt1953) - F

Locale: northern minnesota
re:weight training on 03/09/2009 13:57:36 MDT Print View

Ryan. I have always done a lot of walking wearing a 10 weighted vest. Usually about 1 hr. daily. I just got a 20 vest in preparations for my big hike this summer. My husband who has never hiked before, and will be going with me for the first week, has started to hike with a 35 lb. vest. I also lift weights 2X weekly and do one legged squats while brusking my teeth...I know, sounds weird, but effective. Builds the muscles in your behind,thighs, and around the knee. I think anything is better than nothing when it comes to exerise. You don't need a lot of fancy equipment to build muscle and tone.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: yup on 03/09/2009 15:18:20 MDT Print View

If you are exercising hard enough to be breathing hard, you are getting at least some degree of a cardio workout.

Simplistic summary -- in heart rate terms, 65% - 70% Heart Rate Reserve is a "recovery rate" cardio workout -- something to do on the days you are not doing a hard cardio workout. 80% - 90% HRR for the hard days (above 90% when peaking).

No one I know backpacks up much of a hill without breathing hard. I would expect someone in good shape could keep up about 70% - 75% HRR for prolonged periods without feeling as if they were trying to run a race.

-- Bob