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How does everyone keep in shape?

How do you prepare for the rigorous physical requirements of high elevation adventure? Strength and endurance are key, but are only part of a more complex equation. How do you prepare for changes in altitude, exposure, diet, etc.? How do you mentally prepare? Learn from others and share what you know about training in advance for outdoor adventures.

Re: How does everyone keep in shape?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed May 09, 2012 3:17 pm

I passed the information along to my husband, who at this point, is not too keen on wearing a strap around his chest. We may have to just go for the watches that you put your finger on, even though they are less accurate.

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Re: How does everyone keep in shape?

Postby oldranger » Wed May 09, 2012 6:35 pm


I thought the same thing. But I really forget about the strap and it is so easy to just glance at the watch to see what my heart rate is. Did another 2,000 foot day with pack and hr never exceeded 132. I can pretty much tell by my breathing when I get over 130.


Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: How does everyone keep in shape?

Postby Heyworth » Fri May 11, 2012 10:32 am

I picked up a HRM strap, the Wahoo Blue, a couple of months ago. It connects via bluetooth to a free app on my iPhone, integrating with the GPS. Very happy with it so far. Apparently I burn about 1400 calories on my usual 5-mile loop.
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Re: How does everyone keep in shape?

Postby BrianF » Mon May 14, 2012 7:51 am

I just noticed this thread had been resurrected. I live in Santa Barbara, where we are sandwiched between the ocean and a fairly steep and rugged mountain range. I am lucky to have several good trailheads within a 20 minute drive. The trails here in the "front country" start in the foothills and most climb to the top of the range - generally about 4-5 miles to the top and between 2500-3000' of gain through creekside and hard chaparral.
I get in a hike about 3 weekends a month. It takes me about 4 hours to make the 8 - 10 mile round trip, so about 5 hours door to door. The lower 2 miles tend to be busy but once I climb past that I see only a handful of people. The views of the ocean are incredible and once on top I can rest with a view of the backcountry.
I count myself lucky to live here, with the mountains so close, the beach a 15 min stroll away and beautiful weather. However there is the ridiculously high cost of living and, worst of all, is the minmum 4 1/2 hour drive to any trailhead in the Sierra
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher
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Re: How does everyone keep in shape?

Postby dbogey » Wed May 23, 2012 12:34 pm

I'm an East Coaster (Pittsburgh) so we have plenty of hills around here. Not like out west but enough to keep in shape. I'm fortunate in that I can run during my lunch break and usually put in 30-45 miles a week running plus some weight lifting also.

My first trip out to the Sierra will be this September and will be doing the first leg plus some of the Sierra High Route. Starting in Onion Valley and exiting South Lake. From all the pics on this forum I'm in for one hell of a trip !
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Re: How does everyone keep in shape?

Postby RoguePhotonic » Wed May 23, 2012 3:51 pm

That's a great way to see the Sierra for the first time. Stop by Windy Point on that section!
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Re: How does everyone keep in shape?

Postby Bandito » Fri Jul 13, 2012 2:17 pm

This is a great thread, I've enjoyed reading how everyone else keeps in shape and I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents.

I’m not the most experienced backpacker in the room, that’s for sure, but as a matter of general fitness I don’t think that “weight training” would be the most effective way to get in/stay in shape for backpacking.

Backpacking is first and foremost an endurance sport and, in my experience, the most effective exercise for endurance sports are body weight exercises at high reps. I’ve seen people who are very proud of all of their big muscles that fall apart in the first few minutes of an endurance exercise. To use an example, you may be very proud of the fact that you can squat a car once but that doesn’t help you carry 200 lbs (body and pack estimate) 10,000 steps.

The best all around fitness regimen is probably 20 minutes of calisthenics, with no breaks between exercises/sets followed immediately by an aerobic exercise like road/trail running, stair running, swimming and/or cycling – 4 to 5 days a week and it doesn’t require a gym. I don’t specifically tailor my workout routine to backpacking because, unfortunately, there’s more to life than just backpacking but if I did it would be something along these lines:
M-W-F: 3 sets of Pushups, Hindu Pushups, Crunches/Unassisted Sit-ups, Pull –Ups
T-Th: 3 sets of Leg Lifts, Mountain Climbers, Lunges, Squats

Cycle through each exercise, back to back to back, with minimal resting (i.e Pushups->Hindu Pushups->Crunches->Pull-Ups->Pushups->etc..).

Immediately after the Calisthenics you should go almost immediately into your aerobic/anaerobic exercise:

M-W: Run 2-3 Miles (Aerobic Exercise) which should take 20-30 minutes.
T-Th: Interval Training (Anaerobic Exercise) Sprint 1 minute, Rest 2 minutes (walk/stand) for 20-30 minutes.
F: Weighted Hike (Strength Aerobic Exercise)

End your workout with a stretching routine and ice.

The entire workout should take 45 minutes to an hour and doesn’t require a gym so you save the travel time/time weighting for weights/machines.

On the calisthenics start with low reps and build up over time. On the Running, take it very slow and build up slowly - never increase your speed or distance by more than 10% a week and make sure you have proper running shoes to avoid injury.

Don’t be discouraged if you can only do 10 pushups or sit-ups, or are completely winded after a mile run just do what you can do and stick with it – it will come over time. Fitness is a long term goal, it isn’t a sprint (no pun intended).

P.S. If you’re walking/running on a treadmill you’re wasting time, on a treadmill you don’t have to propel yourself forwardso you don’t work the same muscles and you don’t get the same workout. They’re better than nothing on a rainy day but whenever possible run on the road or trail.

Just my 2 cents…
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Re: How does everyone keep in shape?

Postby The hermit » Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:17 pm

+1 on the body weight exercises.I have weights but don't use heavy lifting never try to "max out".pullups,pushups,squats etc. I like to use a wobble board and a balance ball to strengthen the smaller muscles and improve balance.I also have some really steep trails nearby and I try to get out every other day even if its just a short hike or bike ride
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Re: How does everyone keep in shape?

Postby fishmonger » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:01 am

not a lot of hills where I live, mostly private property, so hiking as "keep in shape" workout sucks around here.

Instead I ride my bike to work every day, all year long, 27 miles round trip, do extra biking part of the year up to some 100 milers. I do a little weight training (called "physical therapy") to work on those little problems that come up with age and accidents (e.g. broken bones from bike incidents, bad knee from skiing incidents, etc), and in winter I ski as much as the weather allows, downhill on the idiot hills around here, and if I get to go out west while there's snow on the ground, I do some AT skiing. Snowshoeing, too. Basically, I am active year round. At age 49, I think I am in better shape than when I was 29, but there are always setbacks when the body wants me to realize that I am not 29 any longer :D
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Re: How does everyone keep in shape?

Postby Herm » Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:48 pm

I live in the hills at the eastern edge of Anaheim, and consider myself fortunate to have access from my door to a rather nice trail, and just today logged a little over 6 miles. A short drive yields access to Chino Hills State Park, with lots of good hiking. I occasionally ride short local routes on my mountain bike, and even less frequently cycle to work (~25 round trip). For the most part, I stay in shape by walking ~3.5 miles most days, and hiking most weekends. Little things too, like parking way out in parking lots, walking to dinner, walking around old town Orange. Just trying to keep moving, and hoping to be ready for hiking in the Sierra as soon as conditions and obligations allow.
I am not in a hurry, so don't be hasty.
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