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Topic: Staying in shape - leg work outs, Heavy Pack - Treadmill or Trail?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 05 2012, 6:50 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I am wanting to build up my leg strength and hiking endurance. A family member recommended joining the local rec center and using their treadmills. For the $14/month that doesn't sound like a bad deal - it is close (I don't have to travel far) and it is independent of the weather.

I guess my core question is regarding the work out. My idea is to load up my pack heavy (50-70lbs) so I have some real weight to deal with. The more weight the more resistance, and one aspect of packing miles I won't ever be able to simulate is the time on the trail. I could be hiking on a trip for 6-10 hours a day. I am not going to sit on a tread mill for 6-10 hours, nor do I have the time to go to a local metro park and walk around and around and around for 6-10 hours. Therefore, I think the more weight I throw on (to a reasonable amount) the more of a work out I will get in the time I have.

The main thing is to get the muscles worked that I will use on the trail.

I have heard many times that the best way to work out for hiking is to get out and hike. I agree, but if that isn't an option what is a second option? I don't want to use machines to work my leg muscles - I'd rather put my pack on and do some walking.

Would a tread mill be worth it? Has anyone simulated walking down hill on them (raising the back)? How well does it work?


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 05 2012, 10:24 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Well, if you want to just strengthen your legs, the most *efficient* way is going to be weight machines.  That said, if I had to rank what affects my hiking, it would be (1) cardio/aerobic fitness, (2) core strength and a distant (3) leg strength.  FWIW, I never use leg machines at the gym nor do I ever work out with a pack.

If I'm short on time, my most effective 30-minute gym workout is:
(1) 10-minute mile on treadmill -- that's 6 mph pace
(2) 10-minutes on the stairmaster (the "escalater" machine)
(3) One circle around the gym doing lunges with a 10-lb medicine ball that I pivot side-to-side as I step
(4) Crunches with a 10-lb medicine ball (works your arms at the same time)


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 05 2012, 10:53 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

DO NOT raise the back of a treadmill, unless you want to reimburse your gym for ruining one. Your weight will shift forward and you'll burn out the motor.

I agree with TigerFan that the best way to train muscles is weight machines. However, they can't completely duplicate the way the muscles are worked during backpacking, so hit the trail, too.

Other than cardio, another benefit of a treadmill is getting your feet in shape. The more walking you can do, the less chance they'll bother you on the trail.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 05 2012, 6:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My weak spot is my leg strength hiking all day. The majority of that is in my quads right above my knee cap. Second is my calf muscles. My feet aren't much of a concern.

There are some metro parks around I might be able to hit, but as to varying terrain I am not sure what there is. I'd rather find a place with some steep grades and longer trails. A mile and a half to 2 mile trail on flat ground isn't going to help me much.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 05 2012, 7:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(KC8QVO @ Nov. 05 2012, 6:48 pm)
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My weak spot is my leg strength hiking all day. The majority of that is in my quads right above my knee cap. Second is my calf muscles. My feet aren't much of a concern.

Lunges.  Honestly.  Try them.  Great for quads and has the benefit of improving balance, which translates to strengthening knees and ankles.  In fact, if you do them with the medicine ball/twist like I mentioned, I bet you'll find that going in a nice straight line is a lot harder than you expect.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 06 2012, 11:35 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(WalksWithBlackflies @ Nov. 05 2012, 7:53 am)
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DO NOT raise the back of a treadmill, unless you want to reimburse your gym for ruining one. Your weight will shift forward and you'll burn out the motor.

I agree with TigerFan that the best way to train muscles is weight machines. However, they can't completely duplicate the way the muscles are worked during backpacking, so hit the trail, too.

Other than cardio, another benefit of a treadmill is getting your feet in shape. The more walking you can do, the less chance they'll bother you on the trail.

I agree with everything you said except there are some treadmills that allow you to have a negative incline (so I guess decline :p ).  Tried it out at my gym the other day.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 07 2012, 5:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TigerFan @ Nov. 05 2012, 7:22 pm)
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(KC8QVO @ Nov. 05 2012, 6:48 pm)
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My weak spot is my leg strength hiking all day. The majority of that is in my quads right above my knee cap. Second is my calf muscles. My feet aren't much of a concern.

Lunges.  Honestly.  Try them.  Great for quads and has the benefit of improving balance, which translates to strengthening knees and ankles.  In fact, if you do them with the medicine ball/twist like I mentioned, I bet you'll find that going in a nice straight line is a lot harder than you expect.

Lunges destabilize the knee, potentially making it weaker and increasing the chance of injury.  They are also not effective in building functional strength.

As a general statement, weight machines are not the most efficient for strength.  Free weight exercises are.
It is much better to focus on low bar squats and bent leg dead lifts as mentioned previously.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 07 2012, 7:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Personally, I think various methods work and you will need to experiment to find what works for you.  I do not like lunges, because I have difficulty in doing them without wrecking my knees.  I do seated leg presses, leg curls, and leg extensions.  All 3 exercises work the large muscles in your legs, and make hauling that load uphill a bit easier for me.  

For cardio, I hit the pool and swim hard laps for short times.  Like sprints, but in the water.  The goal is to raise my heart rate and keep it raised for 30 minutes.  Whatever works for you, whatever you will do often and not tire of the routiine, is what you need to be doing.  


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 09 2012, 7:09 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the replies. ol-zeke - I know what you mean about not getting tired of the work out. What I used to do was load up my pack to about 70lbs and walk up and down stairs skipping a step with each step up (have 2 sets here). I did that work out until my heart rate was up and I was just about to burn out, I think I made about 10 rounds or so. This was before I ever set foot on my first trail and I'm glad I did it. It does get boring going up and down the stairs though.

It is looking like my best park to do my work out is about an hour's drive. That isn't going to be conducive to a routine work out. The reason this particular one is it is the only one that has any kind of "hill". The others have slight up and down, but no real elevation change.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 14 2012, 1:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Generally the most efficient way to get the strength needed for back packing is weight lifting (machine or free).  The specific set of muscles used for backpacking comes from the trail experience, but well over 90% of the major muscles involved can be built up with daily (or every other say) 1 hour workouts that take specific muscle groups to 'failure'.  75% of your work out should be on below the belly button muscles 25% above.

Jogging/running/fast walking is the over all key to our sport. You can work in jogging or fast treadmill with some incline for 3 hours a week - including the weight lifting. IF you are really committed, get a qualified trainer to work with you - at least to give you guidance and check on progress.

You will more efficiently get to your goal using the gym over a weighted pack on a walking course.   On the trail you should go unweighted but try for cautious trail jogging for the added exertion.  The chances of sustaining an injury with a weighted pack are higher than doing resistance training in a gym...for the same results.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 14 2012, 7:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I agree that hiking is the best as said but if you can't stairs are a great option. I remember watching a show on guys training for Everest and had moderate backpacks and did a steady run up and down the stairs. A problem with stairs though is you need to find somewhere that you will have access to a bunch of flights. Jim



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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 16 2012, 1:07 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(SPeacock @ Nov. 14 2012, 1:03 pm)
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1 hour workouts that take specific muscle groups to 'failure'.  

Training to failure is not necessary and is actually a detriment in building maximum strength.

There isn't a powerlifter in existence that trains to failure and considering there are people that weight 180lbs squatting 600, I think they may be on to something.

I highly recommend reading www.startingstrength.com


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 17 2012, 7:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I finally got out for a day hike at the metro park I have been thinking of. I also recorded it with my new iPhone with the Gaia GPS app. Total distance was 5.03 miles, elevation gain was 1246ft elevation loss 1261ft (not sure how they are different as I started and stopped at the same location?). I had roughly 30lbs of pack weight, so it wasn't what I was originally thinking but I hurt my knee yesterday at work and I didn't want to over-do it today.

All in all, it worked out and I got my legs working, but these 5 miles were done in an hour and a half = too easy. The trails are also all gravel and, surprisingly, some wood decking (for more than just a stream crossing - one whole section maybe 150-200 yards was all decked). The outside trail was 2 miles and there is a cut-through trail that is .4. I went around the outside once, then around and through the cut-through, then backwards around the outside of the trail on the other side.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 18 2012, 1:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

FamilyGuy,

Thanks for the reference.. Always good to find new things.


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