Strength and Conditioning for the Avid Outdoorsmen and Women
As an avid outdoorsman myself, I find it very important to peak my conditioning for the summer/fall seasons to be able to pack, enjoy, and avoid injury in some of the harshest environments on the planet. Let’s dive into some of the many physical challenges one might face in the wilderness and how to prevent injuries to avoid being stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Let’s begin with leg strength and endurance capabilities. If you can’t walk the distance, you will not get to your destination (and back). Targeting the glutes, hamstring, quads, and calves will the proper sets and repetitions,
using exercises like squats, deadlifts and calf raises,will help build strength and endurance to carry the heavier packs and equipment you will need on your trip. You will be required to also take your training outdoors. Nothing replaces incline and decline like actual hills and valleys. Don’t use incline and decline settings on a treadmill, get outside! When you are in the gym be ready to work. Strength exercises will require heavier loads, while endurance will require lighter loads with more reps. And you will be doing those on different days than your stability and flexibility day. To make sure your legs are tip top, expect to train 4 – 5 times per week in the off season using Curastream’s beginner or advanced hiking programs.
Next on the physical challenge list will be carrying the pack, which strong shoulders and core will be a necessity. Strong shoulders will help resist the strain of the pack weight and create a comfortable platform for the straps to sit on. Shoulder exercises will need to be more strength than endurance focused in order to build that nice strong platform. So, higher weight and fewer reps. A strong core will stabilize the spine and create better posture while carrying the pack and increase your endurance capabilities to be able to go longer without off loading your pack for a break. There are two types of core stability; static and dynamic. You will want to focus on the static, which includes exercises like planks where there is no movement in the exercises, just muscle contraction for an extended period of time. The uneven terrain will also become a factor in core endurance. Incline, decline, and side hill walking will all present uniquely challenging core involvement to keep the body upright and stable.
Lastly, and what some would consider the most important, is good ol’ lung capacity; cardio. Now many of you will just walk or hike with increasing longer distances to gain the cardio conditioning. And not that there’s anything
wrong with that, but there is smarter ways to do it,
without increasing your risk of overuse injuries. Hiking or walking involves a fair amount of impact beginning in the feet, into the knees, hips and then the low back. Look for other types of cardio that are lower impact like cycling or swimming. This will reduce the impact on the joints and still blow the lungs out! If you live near a river valley, this would still be a great way to get your incline and decline training in. I would just recommend that once a week until you are about 3 weeks out from a trip then increase that to a few times per week. But if you are just in training mode, lower impact exercises will yield fewer injuries.
To summarize, pay close attention to the layout of the program, get your legs, shoulders and core strong and also train outside. Curastream provides all the proper layout, sets, reps, exercises order and training order to make sure you are ready to hit the trails! Happy hiking!