AT: Exercises

Ok, last post on my recent AT hike… I promise. 🙂

I wanted to record here a few of the exercises I should have done before we set out. As I was hiking along, I kept thinking of these, and how I would have been better off had I done them. 🙂

  1. Hiking: This is of course obvious, as it is very hard to get into hiking/backpacking shape by doing anything else, though there are other exercises that will clearly help, and I’ll get into those below. Last year we went in June, so I had a couple of months to hike locally, up to 6 miles, usually with one of the kids in the backpack. In fact I remember taking Riley in the backpack for 6 miles, and how heavy she had gotten, and saying it was the last time she was getting a ride. And it was! This year we went in April, and I just had less time in general to get out and hike. And now with the kids the age they are, I can only really hike hard with Reece in the pack or on my own.
  2. Step-ups/step-downs: I had been doing these a lot last year for my knee, and had kind of moved away from them. It was obvious as I hiked how much I missed doing them! After my recent PT visit, these are back on my routine, as it is clear I still have more work to do in that area, especially on the R side, where I am quite weak laterally, and have trouble staying straight on the step down because of that. Much of that lateral weakness is not due to the quads, but the supporting muscles, especially the hip adductors, so I am working on those as well.
  3. Quads: in general, quad exercises like lunges and squats, would have helped.
  4. Tri-ceps: this one may not be intuitive, but I rely heavily on my trekking poles on both the ups and downs. On the downs, it saves my kness. On the ups, I estimate I am taking 15-20% of the weight lifting off of my legs and putting it on my arms, which means I use my tri-ceps heavily! I would lean towards military presses which work not just the tris, but shoulders and chest as well, all in a way that is similar to how I use the poles.
  5. Shoulder shrugs: this is another one that isn’t obvious, but what I found in my adventure racing days is that my shoulders would get extremely sore and tired from the weight of my pack. By bulking up in the traps, it seems to take that load off… I think this is due to both the strength improvements as well as the additional bulk to distribute the load better.
  6. Aerboic exercises: I was definitely in better aerobic shape last year as well. I think some of that has to do with being sick the week prior to this hike. Running and orienteering are both good, but next time I will add both elliptical and stair-master to my routine.
  7. Yoga: Nothing specific about yoga, other than I think it is the best overall exercise you can do, as it works on strength, flexibility, balance, and even cardio if you do a vinyasa/flow based style.
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