Physical Conditioning

It’s better to prevent injuries than to experience and treat them. Before my backpacking season I work out for four to six weeks. After an inactive winter I need this spring-tune up. With it, I’m confident that I will not suffer an injury. Without it, my hike would likely not be enjoyable and I could likely experience a sprain.

Below is a simple, balanced workout. It’s divided between cardio activity and strength training. It takes me about an hour to perform, and is done every-other day for about six weeks. After six weeks of following this routine, I cannot believe how much better I feel. So let’s get started.

My favorite cardio is actually hiking on a hilly, uneven trail. I take with me my favorite back pack; initially I load it with only my tent or sleeping bag. I use trekking poles to assist my balance. I enjoy the hike which lasts about forty minutes. As the weeks progress, I add more of a load. For example by the third week I’m carrying both the tent and bag. By the end of the six weeks I like to load the pack at about thirty to thirty-five pounds. I hike at an enjoyable pace which is not too slow or too fast. I watch my breathing rate; I don’t want to hike at a pace that makes it difficult to catch my breath.

This routine builds stamina, and cardio endurance, and strengthens the muscles and joints that you will actually need for backpacking.

I top off this workout with a session on my corner gym or weight lifting bench. I like to perform three sets of ten reps. The weight is selected to exhaust the muscle group on the last set. My routine includes calf raises, quads, knee bends, bench presses, military presses, biceps curls, lat pull downs, and butterflies. These exercises can be done within twenty to thirty minutes.

I circuit train. This means that once I’m finished with one exercise, I jump into the next one. This way the weight training session is also aerobic. The purpose of circuit training is to strengthen your core body muscles and to build strong joints, tendons and ligaments. This six week program makes you feel fit and strong.

Now you’re ready for the backpacking season. You will enjoy the hikes and instead of work it will be an adventure. Most importantly, you will not likely suffer any injuries. That means no ankle, knee, or muscle and joint pains.

Physical Conditioning