The "Optimal Backpacking Training Program" | High Sierra Topix  

The "Optimal Backpacking Training Program"

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: The "Optimal Backpacking Training Program"

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:00 pm

mokelumnekid wrote:My number one challenge is that my max heart rate has dropped a lot- by that I mean typical for aging drop, but in the end that really impacts my back country durability. What is vexing is that it seems that conditioning exercise doesn't change that much. My *strength* is better than ever, but the heart rate tops out like a VW bus going over Sonora Pass. A second issue is recovery time. This is what sunk me in summer 2012. I had miscalculated my recovery time- and by over-extending myself on day one, set up an accumulation of fatigue.
The most surprising thing was how fast these changes have occurred. I have always been someone who seemed to be able to pretty much take it to the limit. But in say, only two years, I have lost maybe 25% of my mojo. It is freakin' me out a bit to be honest.

Wow, I'm sorry to hear that. 25 percent is fairly major. Freaks me out a bit just to read it. Whereas I am still sure 25 percent off of where you were still leaves you faster than most hikers up there (and you can still outhike most of your students, I'd guess), a similar sort of thing is not something I'd look forward to for the future.

My dad was super strong until age 63 and then was done in by a mess of things: a degrading hip from a 1977 fall on Mt Goddard, strokes, and a massive heart attack, before eventually getting felled by pancreatic cancer at age 71. I hope all of us manage to stay active a bit longer than that, although my dad certainly didn't get cheated on his swings while he lived.

By the way, here's an update/revision to the vertical jump, fast twitch decline test. The vertical jump figures in the earlier post are a bit non-standard and need to be revised. I did it by subtracting from the highest touched height my one armed reached on tip toes, reasoning that you can't get finite jump credit for going on your toes. However the "official" (such as NFL combine) way is to subtract flat footed straight extended arm distance--this adds a few inches to the numbers above, so 1976-1988 (age 17-29) vertical jump of about 34-35" declining to about 28" by 2004 (age 45). I just checked out the VJ yesterday by the "official" method and it comes to 22" at age 53.

In any case, we all know we are all better off staying diligent in our off season training, rather than letting it slide.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: ... ayshi.html

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Re: The "Optimal Backpacking Training Program"

Postby rlown » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:23 pm

It's nice to keep track of what you think you can do. Mentally, I know I'm in my 50's and don't expect that I can do what i did at 22. Truth is I'm not 22. Everything has to slow down, and hence layover days and not 3 day 30 mile weekend trips anymore.

MK, don't despair. You are far ahead of anything I even plan as a first day event. You should be tired and hard to rebound after a day like North lake to Honeymoon/Ramona at your age. ;)

I build into my trips my expected ability based on what i did in prep. Most years I don't prep and know that by day 3, I'll feel a lot better about the challenges ahead. Day 1 on the East side is always hard. I Call it early if anyone is laboring.

I'm sure genetics come into play here somewhere. You can't do what your body cannot allow.

My goal is to see the places I want to see. If it takes longer, ok.
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Re: The "Optimal Backpacking Training Program"

Postby KathyW » Mon May 20, 2013 3:31 pm

maverick wrote:Fellow HST Members,

- Shorten your stride to get the full potential of your muscle power

-Remember to take small baby step on inclines

On a guided climb a number of years ago, two things I was told by the guides that have helped me since then were to take small steps and use a rest step type technique on the steep slopes.

Big steps use so much energy.

I do wonder if it might make sense to take big steps / long strides on some short training hikes to improve strength and work more muscles.
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Re: The "Optimal Backpacking Training Program"

Postby John Dittli » Sat Jun 15, 2013 8:58 am

[quote= I am a very efficient hiker. Conserving energy is the name of the game.[/quote]

That's the truth and it's what allows me to still play in the mountains with the "youngins" (not mine).

Also x3 on the increased recovery time. After 4-5 days of big vert., I'm pretty crushed.
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