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Wilderness Sports > Hiking, Trekking & Backpacking > Hiking, Trekking & Backpacking Strength Training

Hiking, Trekking & Backpacking Strength Training

One Leg Deadlift

What is involved in the training for Hiking, Trekking & Backpacking?

Traveling in the wilderness requires good cardiovascular endurance, whether you intend to do short day hikes or multi-day high-altitude trekking, scrambling, climbing, or overnight backpacking trips. Walking over varied terrain while carrying a pack is an efficient and effective way to train for such adventures. If you do not have access to hills or mountains, use whatever varied terrain is available to you, such as stairwells, short hills, stadium steps, deserted parking ramps, and sandy dunes. Use of machines such as inclined treadmills, stair climbers, or elliptical cross trainers can also be beneficial.

Train the quadriceps for descents; the hips for supporting pack weight over variable terrain; the shoulders, upper back, and trapezius for pack carrying, gear hoisting, and using trekking poles; and the lower back, obliques, and abdominals for transferring power from the legs into forward propulsion. While hikers, trekkers, and backpackers encounter less extreme terrain than scramblers, mountaineers, or climbers do, you will still need to be able to navigate short stretches across boulder, talus, or scree fields, cross streams, traverse heather slopes, or negotiate around tree roots, all of which challenge footing and balance and may require awkward or high steps.

The exercises suggested below point you in the proper direction for sport-specific training for pack-loaded travel. For details about putting together a personalized, periodized strength training program, refer to The Outdoor Athlete, Chapter 7. See also the DVD Train to Climb Mt. Rainier or Any High Peak for motion clips of many of the exercises suggested below. Unilateral (single-limb) lower body exercises such as those listed below are ideal for early season training in order to increase balance and joint integrity throughout the lower body musculature. Bilateral multi-joint core exercises are ideal for middle months where your focus is on building as much strength as possible.

Unilateral Lower Body Exercises
Hip Hikes for the Gluteus Medius
1-Leg Deadlifts for Balance
1-leg Hover Step Ups for Quadriceps
Step Downs for Quadriceps
1-leg Calf Raise for Gastrocnemius and Balance
Forward Straight Leg Raise for Gluteus Medius
1-Leg Squat for Balance, Gluteus Maximus and Quadriceps
Lunge Variations for advanced exercises to challenge Balance, Gluteus Maximus and Quadriceps

Bilateral Lower Body & Core Exercises
Stiff-Leg Deadlifts for Hamstrings
Snow Shoveler or Rotational Movements
Plank Variations
Oblique Twists for Rotational Movements
Reverse Corner Pushouts for Rhomboids
Back Extensions for Core Development to Help Support a Pack
Seated Cable Rows to Face for Upper Back Strength Endurance
Backwards Walking: Rehabilitation for the Quadriceps
Outside Fitness Pack Routine includes a number of strength exercises you can do with a weighted pack, no gym required.

Also see Programs and Tips for examples of how you can put these movements together in a suitable personalized training program.

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