How to best get in shape to hit the trail?
December 31, 2016 5:33 PM   Subscribe

I want to get back in shape. I also want to do more hiking and wilderness backpacking. What types of workouts should I do?

I've become sedentary over the past year and a half or so. Like everyone else I'm going to join a gym in the new year.

I think it would be better to have a goal for my workouts and at the same time I've been thinking that I really have enjoyed the few backpacking trips I've been on and would like to do more.

Are there any types of exercises or workouts that would help with backpacking?
posted by bbq_ribs to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Rucking. Put some weight in a backpack and go for a walk. Easily scaleable: add weight, distance, and/or hills. Never gets boring.

As far as going to the gym, I can imagine any kind of cardio would help, as would pretty much anything engaging your core/back and legs.
posted by skyl1n3 at 6:12 PM on December 31, 2016 [8 favorites]

I do circuit training at home with dumbells and a bench in the morning before I eat to maximize fat burning.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:02 PM on December 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Regular weight training with dumbbells/kettle bells/etc. (I do small-group personal training and generic circuit/whole body stuff) has improved my hiking/backpacking ability a lot more than I thought any non-cardio exercise ever would. Split squats (weighted or not) are amazing for the downhill braking muscles.
posted by charmedimsure at 7:56 PM on December 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm going to nth that there are nothing like day hikes with weight to train up for wilderness backpacking adventures. You gotta do it to do it.
posted by jbenben at 7:59 PM on December 31, 2016 [8 favorites]

Lots of day hiking is the best, hills are mandatory.
posted by fshgrl at 8:00 PM on December 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Walk everywhere you can, find some good hiking shoes and break them in. I find keeping my core strength high is a good way to prepare for a full pack.
posted by frumiousb at 8:33 PM on December 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

Squats and deadlifts (I recommend doing some variation of Starting Strength) plus shorter day hikes.
posted by melissasaurus at 4:20 AM on January 1, 2017

I asked a similar question early last year that you might find useful.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:48 AM on January 1, 2017

And in case it doesn't go without saying, don't start a long trip with a new pack or shoes. Better to look a bit funny carrying a large pack around town than have shoulders rubbed raw in the woods.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 5:45 AM on January 1, 2017

Yup - strong legs and core with weights and dayhikes with a weighted pack and as much vertical as you can find! And ideally work up to carrying as much weight as you'll be carrying when backpacking. Day-hiking with 10 pounds helps but if you're carrying 35 when you're backpacking you want to be training with that much too, remembering that when you're backpacking you'll be carrying the weight for far more hours than a training day-hike's length.
posted by leslies at 5:52 AM on January 1, 2017

I've found running the most excellent form of exercise to prepare for a hike. Not excessive amounts of running, but just like midway through couch to 5k training (being able to jog for 10 or so minutes at a time then alternating with walking) At that level, I was effortlessly able to briskly walk a 6-mile moderate to difficult trail (I am largely otherwise sedentary and late middle-aged). By contrast, a friend of mine who does daily crossfit and can lift a lot of weight is not able to keep up to me on the trail and is winded in less than a mile. So, yeah, endurance cardio is what you want to be doing.
posted by nanook at 9:24 AM on January 1, 2017

I like to train with jugs of water in my pack. That makes it easy to lighten the load if needed. And ditto all saying vertical is crucial.
posted by anadem at 9:27 AM on January 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I like a combination of squats, biking, and eliptical on high incline when I'm not hiking. It's true that hiking is the best training for hiking, but for some reason pretend hiking around my city doesn't get me inspired to get moving. Don't underestimate stretching and balance exercises if your terrain will be rocky or if your ankles aren't strong.
posted by perrouno at 9:20 PM on January 1, 2017

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