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.
Post Reply

How does everyone keep in shape?

Post by KathyW » Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:08 am

I'm working on revamping my training - I would like to get faster and stronger so that I can keep a steady uphill pace for longer. I do a good long hike almost every week on Saturdays, but my training inbetween these hikes is lacking. This winter I added trail running (although I do walk part of the way uphill) on Friday afternoons when I wasn't driving somewhere and that helped. I try to go to the gym a couple times a week to run on the treadmill or use the stairmill, but I get bored after about 30-45 minutes. I've also been mixing in a little yoga, but I haven't been real steady at doing that.

I don't do any weight training and think that I might need to add that.

What does everyone else do to keep in shape between hikes?

Has anyone used a personal trainer and has that helped?

User avatar
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 52
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:09 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Fresno, CA


Post by tory8411 » Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:59 am

Hi Kathy,
I have always walked/ran the stairs at the Fresno State Football stadium for my workouts. I have found that the stairmasters don't provide the same resistance necessary to stimulate the quads. Plus, you don't get to build the stabilizer muscles on a stairmaster because there is no downhill. A set of stairs is really ideal to me. I would mix in push ups and sit ups at the top of each stair to exercise some other muscle groups. Unfortunately, someone decided to sue the school for their own misfortune and they have shut it down. So I have been using a high school stadium (smaller but still effective) and one stair tower at the school that is seven stories high. It gets real boring but it definitely works. That's my two cents. Hope it helps.


Post by KathyW » Thu Jul 26, 2007 1:48 pm

Tory: I live right next door to the University of Redlands and they have some pretty good stairs. I'll bet if I replaced my time on the stairmill in the gym with time spend on the stairs at the University I would be better off. Thanks for the idea.


User avatar
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
Posts: 10861
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Post by maverick » Thu Jul 26, 2007 2:55 pm

Hi Kathy

I train year round. My off-season training consists of weight training,
strenght, power and endurance phases.
This usually between Dec-April.
My cardio work includes hiking, cycling and trail running which has
interval and distance work in it.
As I get to in-season (backpacking season) I do weight training 1-2
times a week. The rest of the days are mainly hiking with some
days of cycling.
Ill start with out a pack for a few weeks and then gradually add
weight for more resisitance. I try to do hills 2 times a week and
1 long hike(3-6hrs) and shorter(1.5-3hrs) the other days.
Sometimes Ill do intervals up a very steep hill, 1 min at very fast
pace with pack, and then back down to the same spot and then another
up, a total of 10 mins, then walk for 10 mins and do another 10 mins.
Squats, barbell lunges, reverse lunges, walking lunges, step ups
bulgarian split squats, one-legged romanian deadlifts, calf raises,
core exercises(one arm db press, swissball russian twists, planks with
feet on ball, wood chops with cable and others).
Hyper extensions, reverse hypers, shrugs, seated cable rows, power
cleans are also some of the exercises that have been in my routines.
Stadium running is good, but going over uneven terrain with a pack
is the best for strengthing your muscles in your hips, ankles, calves
and legs(including stabilizers).
When hiking, use poles for your down hills to take some pressure off
your knees, but dont use them up hill so you hips, legs and calves
can bear all the weight and get stronger, plus some people get shoulder
pain using poles up hill for longer periods(yrs).
Make sure your nutritionally in line with your training, and do some
yoga/stretching so you stay limber.

User avatar
Founding Member
Posts: 655
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2005 8:35 pm
Experience: N/A

Post by mountaineer » Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:40 pm

I don't. I just make sure my trip is long enough so that half way through it I AM in shape. :)


Post by KathyW » Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:03 pm

Maverick: You have a very impressive training schedule.

Most of the time this past year I have only used the poles downhill when the terrain was loose (except when dealing with snow) and not uphill, and I know that helped my legs get stronger. It only helped build more balance.

I need lots of work on the nutritional end - I've set a goal to loose 15 to 20 pounds over the next year and eat healthier because I know that will make a big difference in my speed and stamina out there.

I think some more weight on my back when I'm doing training hikes and stair climbing is a good idea and I might add some interval training again. I did do some interval training this past winter, but I didn't keep it up into the spring and summer.

I know that adding some running also helped me get stronger this past year - I can move faster and steadier than I could a year ago but I'm not where I want to be.

The weight training is going to be the hardest for me to do - I just can't seem to get started on that.

Mountaineer: I wish I could just wait until I went out on a trip to get into shape, but I'm getting to old to do that - if I don't try to stay in shape I'll fall apart at this point.


User avatar
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Posts: 3053
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am
Experience: N/A
Location: Fresno

Post by giantbrookie » Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:03 pm

I really need to start running Bulldog Stadium, too! For years when living in the Bay Area, football bleachers were my conditioning of choice (for both hiking and basketball--bleacher running enhanced the quickness of my first step and my hops). Bleacher running (uphill) really help with leg drive on ascents, whereas the descent works on the same muscles you use to brake going downhill. I hiked with others who were superb cardiovascular shape via biking or swimming, but neither of those activities strengthen the same muscles one uses hiking whereas running bleachers does, and the comparative effectiveness showed on those hikes. I also agree that real bleachers are superior to machines owing to the forced stride--machines just aren't the same. Stadium bleachers are also better than stairwells because the bleachers tend to have some give to them making them easier on the knees than standard concrete stairs.

During the years when I didn't get to the mountains very much, bleachers kept me in good shape. From about 1989-1999 I went up to the mountains so often the mere frequency of trips kept me in shape. I tended to ease back on the bleachers during the "season" then do more of them during the winter and spring. Round about 2002 or so, while living in the Bay Area, I started to do local "conditioning hikes", the hike of choice being Mission Peak in Fremont with it's 2000+ feet of gain in 3.3 mi (one way). I would carry a heavy rucksack (usually filled with extra water just for weight) and occasionally simply carry my full backpack. I would time those hikes to see how I was doing.

Since moving to Fresno I must confess I let things slide. I still haven't run Bulldog Stadium yet (don't feel like doing bleachers during the summer). This season I rounded into very good shape (as good as the "peak" years in the '90s) simply by taking a lot of dayhikes in the High Sierra that are so much closer than the Bay Area. One thing I resumed a few weeks ago is weight training. Especially important, in my estimation, is strengthening quadriceps and hamstrings--these support your knees. I actually started pumping iron (had lifted for nearly 30 years before taking a 2 year break after moving to Fresno) because my upper body was getting weaker and I was healing more slowly from minor muscular tweaks.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: ... ayshi.html" onclick=";return false;

User avatar
Founding Member
Posts: 1109
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 10:24 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: where the Sierras, Cascades, and Great Basin meet.

Post by dave54 » Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:49 pm

I am already in shape and stay in shape, if you consider that round is a shape. :lol:

Too many years in the fire biz and too many miles on and off trail. My knees have a finite distance in them anymore. So I ride a mountain bike to keep the aerobics up and to keep the waistline under control. Paddling is the upper body workout.
Log off and get outdoors!

User avatar
Hikin Mike
Founding Member
Posts: 552
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:56 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Atwater, CA

Post by Hikin Mike » Thu Jul 26, 2007 11:23 pm

When I was able to walk I used to either walk or ride a bike every day. Occasionally I would put 2-3 gallons of water in my pack and walk the bleachers at the local high school.

User avatar
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
Posts: 10861
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Post by maverick » Fri Jul 27, 2007 12:54 pm

Books by Steve Igl or a book "The new rules of lifting"by
Lou Schuler & Alwyn S something will give you routines to follow
so you can keep motivated and excited about your training without
getting bored. Good Luck!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests