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#119135 - 08/08/09 08:48 AM Physical fitness and backpacking
dash4689 Offline
member

Registered: 07/11/09
Posts: 18
Loc: TX
I'm curious what people do to keep in shape for strenuous backkpacking when they can only go a few times each year. I moved to Dallas, TX (300 feet) but backpack in the Colorado Rockies (trail head 8-9000 feet - and pack up to 9-10 miles a day to 12-14000 feet) We may gain 2-3000 in a day.

I regularly lift weights in the gym so hauling my sub-30 pound pack is not a problem, and I do a breathing exercise so I don't get headaches, etc from altitude sickness.

But I get exhausted and think some kind of cardio training would be in order. Jogging and tread mill have been my solution in the past, but knee problems limit them now. The stair master and the elliptical machines seem possibilities, as does bicycling.

My next trip is just a month away, so I want to use my time wisely, but I also want to find something that can keep up with so I'll be ready next season. BTW I'm 62 years old, but have no intention of "acting my age".

Please share what you have found is most helpful to keep in shape?


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#119136 - 08/08/09 09:22 AM Re: Physical fitness and backpacking [Re: dash4689]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1726
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
I'm in my early 70's and try to get out once or twice a month during the three seasons. I live in the desert Southwest at about 3200'. I will spend one to three weeks in the Sierra at least twice each summer. I also hike in the Grand Canyon in spring and fall and in the Arizona mountains in fall, winter and spring. Altitude gains of 2000 to 4000 feet are pretty much a normal part of my hiking.

My fitness regimen is fairly simple. I bike 3-4 times per week for at least an hour at a heart rate of about 65-75% of maximum. On the days I don't ride, I walk for at least an hour on the gentle hills around my home. I do a limited set of weight exercises four days a week: squats, lunges and toe raises. And, I have a set of body core exercises that I do four days per week. I work hard to keep my weight between 170 and 175 lb and try to eat a healthful diet.

In preparation for a trip to the Sierra, I will try to get in a couple of 5-6 mile, 3000' altitude gain hikes a week in the month ahead of my hike.

Even with my exercise routine, the first day or so at altitude is a bit wearying. I know this so I plan as easy a schedule as possible until I have a chance to acclimate.

In fact, the only exercise that will really get you in shape for carrying a pack at high altitudes is carrying a pack at high altitudes. smile
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#119139 - 08/08/09 01:53 PM Re: Physical fitness and backpacking [Re: Pika]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1144
Loc: Washington State, King County
"In fact, the only exercise that will really get you in shape for carrying a pack at high altitudes is carrying a pack at high altitudes."

That's why IMO longer trips can be so great --- after the first week or two you've literally walked yourself into a better state of fitness and can enjoy the benefits of that going forward.

Where a really long trip isn't practical (or perhaps desirable), certainly reducing pack weight helps. About all I do otherwise is go for long-ish walks in the area I live, to include sometimes some areas that are somewhat steeply up-and-down.

Another trick is to backpack with people in even worse shape (and/or with heavier packs) than you, so you feel strong by comparison! wink
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Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#119140 - 08/08/09 03:42 PM Re: Physical fitness and backpacking [Re: BrianLe]
Eric Offline
member

Registered: 09/23/02
Posts: 294
Loc: The State of Jefferson
Originally Posted By BrianLe
"
Another trick is to backpack with people in even worse shape (and/or with heavier packs) than you, so you feel strong by comparison! wink


This also helps in case of bear attack.

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#119142 - 08/08/09 03:56 PM Re: Physical fitness and backpacking [Re: dash4689]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
Technique is just as important as being in shape. If you are exhausted, you may be wasting energy. Read about and perfect the rest step, rythmic breathing and proper use of trekking poles. Also learn to properly shift your weight with each step. Shift weight over the forward foot and stand up - do not put the foot forward and pull your center of gravity forward. Avoid a lot of side-top-side wobbling. Step over obstacles instead on top of them. Try to place your foot horizontal on small features. Start slowly and gradually and steadily work up speed. Avoid stop and go - be like the turtle. Take a short (5-minute) rest stop every hour. Eat munchies at each stop, drink water.

As for staying in shape, I live near sea level in a fairly flat place. I walk from my house to the river (a 6-mile route) about 3 times a week. I bicycle about 20 miles twice a week. I try to do a 2-3 day trip a couple of days a month. And, I eat right and keep my weight down. I have found that the stair-master works best for me as far as gym routines. I do not run anymore because of old knees. I wish I liked swimming because for us old folks, this is supposed to be the best exercise. Still cannot do it - I hate to be in the water.

Good luck on your trip. Have fun.

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#119303 - 08/12/09 11:05 AM Re: Physical fitness and backpacking [Re: wandering_daisy]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Originally Posted By wandering_daisy
Technique is just as important as being in shape. If you are exhausted, you may be wasting energy. Read about and perfect the rest step, rythmic breathing and proper use of trekking poles. Also learn to properly shift your weight with each step. Shift weight over the forward foot and stand up - do not put the foot forward and pull your center of gravity forward. Avoid a lot of side-top-side wobbling. Step over obstacles instead on top of them. Try to place your foot horizontal on small features. Start slowly and gradually and steadily work up speed. Avoid stop and go - be like the turtle. Take a short (5-minute) rest stop every hour. Eat munchies at each stop, drink water.


Try explaining this to boy scouts eek I tried last weekend when we went backpacking, but I don't think they were listening very well. Maybe later.
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#119308 - 08/12/09 01:54 PM Re: Physical fitness and backpacking [Re: Eric]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
I'm always training for either a bicycle race or a running race year round so I don't do much backpacking specific training.

Before a long trip I'll do a few hikes with a pack just to get used to it and I'll increase my ankle stability exercises.

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#119358 - 08/13/09 09:25 PM Re: Physical fitness and backpacking [Re: dash4689]
scottyb Offline
member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 278
Loc: Texas Hill Country
Bicycle spin class 3-4 times / week, year round. I use a heartrate monitor and this allows you to recognize your level of exertion and learn to control your heart rate by changing pace or resistance. It also trains your muscles to quickly flush out lactic acid buildup after you have really exerted, or gone past your Anaerobic Threshold.

In addition to, I also do training hikes with weight, 3 days/week, starting a couple months out. I am doing so currently for my upcoming GC trip. I can't come close to duplicating the terrain here in central Texas, so I train with about 50% above my expected weight.
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Just because you don't take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you.... Pericles (430 B.C)

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#119668 - 08/21/09 05:55 PM Re: Physical fitness and backpacking [Re: dash4689]
Echterling Offline
member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 52
Loc: USA
Stairs, and lots of ruck marching.
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--------------------------
My blog

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#119670 - 08/21/09 06:24 PM Re: Physical fitness and backpacking [Re: Echterling]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6372
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Altitude adjustment is a special problem. I grew up at high altitudes (7100 ft. in winter, 10,000 ft. and higher in summer) and never thought much about it. But after many years at sea level, I need to acclimatize like everyone else. Trying to climb a 14 thousander right off is not a great idea. Instead, plan your trip so that you either climb high, sleep low for several days or so that for the first several days your sleeping place is no more than 1,000 feet (net) higher than the previous night's. Altitude affects everyone differently. It has been fairly well proven that being physically fit doesn't necessarily mean an easier altitude adjustment. Of course starting out unfit is much harder at any altitude!

I planned this year's trip to Wyoming's Wind Rivers using the second criterion, but since my dog got sick I have no idea if it would have been successful. I do know that at 8,000 ft. I had no problems; it didn't seem any different to me than 1,000 ft. Next year, I want to do two shorter trips rather than one long one. I'll rest up (and do laundry and such) for 2-3 days in between. For the first trip I'll focus on acclimatizing; for the second I'll start at ~9400 feet and go right up, hoping that the first trip will have taken care of the problem. Lord willing, of course (gotta add that caveat at my age!).
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#119803 - 08/24/09 01:10 PM Re: Physical fitness and backpacking [Re: OregonMouse]
sparkyy Offline
member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 20
Loc: southern california
I am a commercial/industrial electrician, so more often than not I get a work out on any given day. I am on my feet 8 hours everyday with a 5-50lb tool belt, sometimes more depending on what project I am working on. I put suspenders on my tool belt to help build up my shoulder neck and back muscles for backpacking.

Now combine this with walking up and down stairs, climbing ladders, lifting very heavy tools and electrical devices all wearing my gigantic tool belt it all keeps me in decent shape for backpacking.




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