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Old 03-29-2009, 08:10 PM
Z-Man Z-Man is offline
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Default What exercise do you do to prepare for a hike?

I am preparing for my first lengthy and multi-day hike of a section. The end of May I will do a 50 mile stretch in Va. I know the saying: "The only way to get in trail shape is to hike the trail." Getting past that, what exercise do you do to get ready for a hike?

I go to the gym 4-5 times a week. I do a regular regimen of cardio work and strength training. I thought I was in pretty good shape. I went on a two-day hike into the mountains and for 2 days afterward I could hardly walk because of the soreness in my hamstring and calf muscles. So now I include some stairmaster time in my regular workout.

What say you? Do you have a favorite exercise besides hiking to get ready for a hike?
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Old 03-29-2009, 08:18 PM
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dmax dmax is offline
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If I haven't been hiking for over a month, I will go to a tall building and hike the stairs. Other then that, I just day hike.
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Old 03-30-2009, 05:17 AM
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Mumble's Mumble's is offline
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I'm not a "Gym" kinda person, so for me, I prepare by doing day hikes locally. Luckly I have a couple of places that offer good hills to get my legs used to the ups and down. So strap on a day pack and hit the woods, better than a stuffy gym................

Tell us about the section you are planning to do in VA.
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Old 03-30-2009, 06:15 AM
gsingjane gsingjane is offline
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My own opinion is that there are two things, one is being in shape for a long hike and one is being in shape to live your life. Because, let's face it, no matter how much we all enjoy hiking and how much we'd like to do it all the time, most of us spend most of our days doing something besides hiking all day long.

Where that would leave most of us, I suspect, is with the necessity of doing whatever we need to do to stay in some kind of decent shape, all year long. It would strike me that doing some kind of resistance training, some kind of sustained cardio, and perhaps some flexibility and/or balance training would fit that bill nicely. Given (a) that conditioning base and (b) maintaining something close to ideal weight would, under most circumstances, enable a person to go out and hike fairly comfortably, perhaps not for miles on end right away, but at least with some level of enjoyment. This is why I think the statement that "the only way to get in shape to hike, is to hike" is something of a canard.

Any time you switch from one form of exertion to another, you'll be stressing different muscle groups and training in a slightly different way. I ran a marathon last month, but if I ride a bike for 30 minutes today, I feel it quite severely in my quads. It doesn't mean I'm out of shape, but it does mean that I got used to one kind of motion... the same, I assume, goes for your hamstring issue (that is unless you pulled or otherwise injured it, in which case my condolences). What some people try to do, in conditioning for hiking, is to find the activities or exercises that most accurately mimic the motions used in hiking. This might mean using the elliptical or treadmill at a high incline, or working the big muscle groups in the legs extensively, or stair climbing, whether on a machine or in a building.

It also helps, at least I think, to accept that backpacking is darn hard physical work, and grueling and grungy sometimes for the best of us. I say this because I lead backpacking expeditions, and often take out folks who are in fairly decent shape, who wind up shocked by the sheer difficulty of the undertaking. I really try to encourage people to not beat themselves up too much over how hard they find it to be, even if they thought they were in good shape before. Sometimes the sleep loss, coupled with the nutritional challenges people encounter, and some of the environmental issues that come up, combine to really make things hard, and I try to help people understand that their "performance" might not be what they'd otherwise expect. My hope is that people will like it well enough to come back and try again, even if they do find it hard the first time (as we all did!).

HTH,

Jane in CT
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Old 03-30-2009, 06:18 AM
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7Sisters 7Sisters is offline
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What I find very helpful is to get on a treadmill with a weighted pack (30 to 40 lbs) and walk at a quick pace (3 to 3+ mph) at as steep an incline as you can tolerate. I'll do that for 40 to 50 minutes several times per week.

That's been a great way of getting in shape for me.

Peace be with you
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Old 03-30-2009, 09:09 AM
maverick21 maverick21 is offline
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This is one of those questions where if you ask ten people you would get ten different answers and having said that this is what works for me. I workout on the treadmill for an hour a day 3 to 5 days a week using an ajustable weight vest i picked up at Dicks (nothing fancy). Try to get in as much hiking on real trails as possible, i belong to two Hiking Meetup groups that allow me to hike with others quite often. I try to workout in the gym using a circuit system concentrating on my core muscle groups. The system uses high reps 15 to 20 with low weights and little if any rest between stations, repeat the circuit 3 to 5 times. I have found that following this system greatly increases endurance and decreases soreness the first few days on the trail.
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Old 03-30-2009, 10:37 AM
Z-Man Z-Man is offline
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Thanks, all. Varied opinions as expected from this question. I was just looking for other thoughts. It's all appreciated and added to the head file.

I am taking some vacation time the last week+ in May. I am combining a couple of interests. I will drive to Daleville and shuttle down to Hwy 42, then hike back up. I have 6.5 days to do 52.5 miles. Then a night in a hotel, shower, shave, AYCE, sleep in a bed, etc. The next day I get picked up by my flyfishing club for 4 more days camping and fishing. Back to Daleville and drive home - at work the next day (?).

I just figured out the McAfee Knob is the famous rock outcropping in all the pictures - it just happens to be in the 50 mile section in my plans. I didn't put 2 and 2 together when I decided to do this. Now have lots to look forward to.

Z
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Old 05-25-2009, 11:29 AM
Dogwood Dogwood is offline
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Personally nothing trains me better for a long hike than running. I have found that running strengthens the calfs very well, better than stairmasters or even hiking. Running gets your legs in shape to stand a lot of strain. The pounding on pavement will strengthen ligaments and tendons. Trail running is soooo much more demanding than trail walking. I found that by being able to run just up to 7 miles a day was more than enough training for a 245 mile 16 day hike in 2004. Now that I run marathons the strain of a 6-7 day hike will seem easier than in the past. It's true that running is different, and uses a somewhat different mix of muscles, but for overall leg strength -muscle, tendon, ligament together; and cardiovascular capacity, nothnig beat long distance running as a training method to prepare for a long hike. I do recommend a few day hikes with a full pack to adjust to the unique upper body strain of carrying a loaded pack.
DON'T FOREGET THE UPPER BODY! A backpack is an unnatural thing and it can strain the shoulders and upper back even if the legs are strong. To prepare for the pack I do push ups regularly. It's a great simple exercise to build the shoulders and upper back. Although I do 300 to 500 a day, it would take only about 100 a day (in sets 20 to 25) for a month or two to get into pretty good upper body condition.
Dogwood.
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Old 05-28-2009, 11:07 AM
Galilee man Galilee man is offline
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Agree 100%. I left marathons running after number 26 and passed to adventure racing mixed with high speed hiking.
Have completed a 600 miles in 12 days and a 850 miles in 15 days.All with rucksack'10-12 kgs.
Started training now for may 2010,nobound,thru hike and against the clock.
Plan to do it in 70 days.
Most of my training is in fact running with rucksack.
Nothing beats the running routine to prepoare your body.
Your point about not forgetting the upper body...very true.

Regards

Galilee Man
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Old 05-28-2009, 11:53 AM
kirkmcquest kirkmcquest is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Z-Man View Post
I am preparing for my first lengthy and multi-day hike of a section. The end of May I will do a 50 mile stretch in Va. I know the saying: "The only way to get in trail shape is to hike the trail." Getting past that, what exercise do you do to get ready for a hike?

I go to the gym 4-5 times a week. I do a regular regimen of cardio work and strength training. I thought I was in pretty good shape. I went on a two-day hike into the mountains and for 2 days afterward I could hardly walk because of the soreness in my hamstring and calf muscles. So now I include some stairmaster time in my regular workout.

What say you? Do you have a favorite exercise besides hiking to get ready for a hike?
I like to run before a hike because it's usually my cardio that gets taxed the most. I rarely get too sore in the muscles while hiking because my usual exercise routine includes some weight training for legs (squats,lunges, leg curls some calf raises).

Running seems to help the most, preferably up and down hills. Also, when I begin a new hike I go real easy for the first couple of days (like 10 miles max.) and gradually increase, otherwise I suffer from blisters and chaffing.
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