LT '79; AT from Springer-Rangeley in sections; Donating Member
One additional exercise that helps improve the strength of your quads as well is to stand on the first stair of a staircase. With your hands on your hips, try to touch your right heel to the floor below the step and then return to a one-legged standing position. Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps for each leg. As the exercise gets easier, you can consider adding a light backpack to simulate additional weight.
Re: the reason I posted this question to begin with
The minimal requirement for fitness would be the ability to reach the next resupply point without running out of food. I think even 5 miles a day would accomplish that. Unless you have an injury you are probably ok in that regard. When I started I had some knee troubles and was only doing 4 miles a day. I wasn't really expecting to make it too far, but ending up going the whole way.
Originally posted by dfpgirl
is because I'm not talking about not being in decent shape to begin with.
I am a yoga enthusiast. I have strong quads and good lung capacity. Both from doing yoga regularly.
however, i can't imagine the thought of putting 40lbs on my back and walking much further than say 5 miles.
I thought there might be some fitness level people would recommend to be at when starting the trail.
I don't want to be on the verge of collapse each day for the first few weeks.
I've read varying respones. But I'm guessing that running a few days a week is the base. Hiking with a full pack as often as I can, and... that's it.
As far as exercise goes, running and hiking sounds good. Also, keep an eye open for opportunities to walk or climb stairs as part of your daily routine.
As much as I enjoyed the low mileage days at the beginning of my hike, I wouldn't intentionally start a big hike without getting into shape. I'm normally looking for motivation to get in shape and stay healthy, preparing for a big hike definetly helps get me motivated.
Its funny how some see it as a chance to be healthy and others see it a chance to eat anything you want. My brother ran a marathon once, and I think the most enjoyable aspect of it for him was that he could eat and eat and eat.
If you live in a place with real hills, don't worry about running and just go walking, up, up, and up. I run because I live in Indiana. Running builds up leg strength. Lung capacity is, of course, helped as well. But, I've found that it is only recently that my legs have really gotten strong enough so that it is my lungs, rather than my legs, which is the limiting factor in walking uphill. I'm now running less per week, trying to let my body heal completely before setting out soon.
More than anything else, I think, you want to try to build general stamina. This is what thruhikers build in the course of the first month or so. The ability to continually move throughout a large portion of the day. This may mean 2,6, or 12 hours of hiking during the day, depending how much stamina you have. If you are beat after 4 hours of hiking, I don't think it makes much sense to continue for another few hours. Be smart and listen to your body. By getting in some sort of physical shape before starting your thruhike, you can extend the amount of time during the day in which you can hike in comfort. I think that adds to the enjoyment of a hike. At least, it does for me.
I'm a personal trainer and my area of expertise is in bodybuilding, and strength training. Here is a quick list of exercises that you can perform to help get you into shape for your next thru hike.
2. Leg Extensions
3. Knee Curl (Hamstring Curl)
4. Calf Raises
(support the weight of a backpack)
1. Shoulder Shrug
2. Lat Pulldown
3. Upright row
1. Side Bends (with dumbells)
2. Good Mornings (bend forward at the waste)
*Perform all exercises using resistance. Start with a weight you feel comfortable with and allows you to perform 2-3 Sets, with 12-15 reps. As you get closer to your hike date, (approx. 30 days prior) decrease the amount of weight and increase your reps to 20-25 reps. Increasing your reps to the 20-25 range will be the start of your endurance training.
I'm only a wannabe hiker (2004) but it seems to me that the lower the packweight the less chance of injury.
People who start completely out of shape with 40 or 50 pound packs are just asking for trouble, in my opinion.
But, on the other hand, if you have a light pack it hardly seems like it's there. I've been going on 1-2 hour walks 3 or 4 times a week with a 20-30 pound pack and it doesn't even feel like I"m carrying it anymore. I plan to carry even less on the trail.
Ray Jardine's Beyond Backpacking has a good chapter about conditioning. He stresses the need for rest days in between training hikes or runs or whatever you do. Then when you hit the trail your body will be ready for daily exercise. He says that if you don't exercise before the hike, you will be good if you take every other day off....but who would really do that?
Bill Bryson's friend was probably one of the most out of shape people to hit the AT and he seemed to do okay after a couple weeks so there's always hope I guess!
All the way!
Last edited by alpine; 12-11-2003 at 08:25.
Where Eagles dare!!!
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