View Full Version : What are/did you do for physical prep ladies?

09-01-2006, 10:24
Because it's a proven fact that men will lose body fat much faster than women, it has also occured to me that the process of getting physically conditioned (and maybe shedding some lbs) before a thru-hike will also be a bit more challenging.

What are some simple things you have done to achieve this goal? I'm wondering if just going for a walk everyday and cutting out uneeded sugary foods will be enough to help lose some lbs. Any ideas/suggestions?

09-01-2006, 10:58
walking definately. i try to get in a good couple mile walks every few days. i've been more careful with what i eat. i'm working on cutting out foods until i'll be eating aproximately what i will be on the trail. aside from that, all i'm doing extra is just stepping up my normal exercise routine of floor exercises and whatnot.

09-01-2006, 11:08
If you have the time, theres a few girls getting together to hike the Foothills Trail (NC/SC) in November. I think that would be some great training! At least thats what Im using it for!

09-01-2006, 11:20
I just started going for daily walks with my loaded pack a few weeks before I started, carrying it up and down hills and stairs to try to build up my legs a little. I was a good 10 lbs overweight when I started.

I believe the more important thing is how you start hiking. Start slow, maybe 7 miles or so a day and increase gradually as your body gets used to the work. They say the best way to train for thruhiking is by thruhiking and that was true for me. Just do not go too far too fast too early. Excess milage injured more thruhikers than any other cause I observed on my thruhike.

09-01-2006, 15:47
There's nothing wrong with getting in shape, but I'd say that dieting with the intent of trying to lose weight before a big hike is a mistake. When you are out there you are going to need all the food/calories that you can get.

I had never thought about this before. I was actually thinking more along the lines of injury prevention (knees in particular), so I thought it might be in my best interest to shed about 20 lbs before next March. I do know that in bootcamp, I lost about 20 lbs the first 2 weeks when my body was shocked into enormous amounts of physical exercise and my caloric intake was limited due to only have a few minutes to eat each meal. So, even if I'm a bit overweight now, as long as I try to maintain my weight and get out and walk or hike, that would be a good slow conditioning plan? I also anticipate doing a lot of snowboarding when the snow comes this winter.

I'm planning on less than 10 miles/day for at least the first week, maybe first 2 weeks.

09-02-2006, 14:04
I am trying to watch my weight so I am not lugging extra lbs, ha ha - but I would say stretching exercises and walking are about the best way, besides actually backpacking. Soon as I can settle on a backpack, I plan to walk that baby around the neighborhood.

09-02-2006, 15:31
I don't know much about conditioning the knees or the like- I've always been able to do big miles off the bat with a heavy pack without much trouble or conditioning. I don't "do" training.

I just think that it would be a mistake to attempt to lose weight at the onset of a sizable physical task which is probably consists of more physical activity than 98% of the rest of the population undertakes in a year.

There's one thing for sure- you will get in better shape, and develop muscles i nthe legs, calves, etc. I'd also say that you will lose weight, due to the sheer amount of physical activity you are doing..but there's no way to tell exactly what will happen until you get out on the trail. Look at minnesota smith- he lost over 50 pounds in 6 months...

Although your theory may seem sound in your head, conditioning is very important to avoid injury, and weight plays a part. I think it is just as important as starting slow (my personal mantra to new thru's). If you listen to your body you'll know how many miles you can do.

Before my thru I was quite overweight. I lost 20 lbs over the winter before the hike. I was still overweight when I started, and although I lost weight during the hike, I didn't lose as much as expected. Jeopardy (my husband) also started overweight, but lost 30 lbs the first month! He lost 50lbs overall, a much larger percentage of weight loss than I had. Men tend to lose weight much faster and easier than women. Even thru-hiking women.

A good friend of mine who has done the AT, PCT, LT, and is currently rehiking the AT, always GAINS weight when hiking. No joke. So, it can't be said carte blanche that you will lose weight.

It has been said many times, at the end of a thru the men look like death warmed over, the women look like aerobics instructors. I found this to be a generalization, but it is rooted in the truth.

That said, if you're of normal weight, I wouldn't worry about gaining or losing weight, but do work on some strength training over the winter, or at least keep active. If you're really overweight, your joints will thank you if you take off a few pounds before you start.
Think about it this way: Say you're 5'6" and weight 155 lbs, add to that the weight of your pack, say 35lbs at the start. Now your joints are bearing the weight of 190 lbs. Reduce your own weight or your pack's and your knees, ankles and back will thank you.

09-02-2006, 21:07
I think it depends on the person. I'm 5'6", 140 pounds, and a size 6 (heading towards 4 right now) because I lose weight very easily. This isn't always a blessing. I'm planning to bulk up a bit before heading out nex spring, because I'm afraid I won't be able to eat enough to keep up with my caloric needs. In the meantime I'm eating well, hiking as much as possible, and trying to stay fit. I'm also planning to take glucosamine for my knees.

09-02-2006, 21:47
besides regular hiking/power walking, you could consider water exercise or deep water jogging for cross-training that would also be easy on your joints. exercise in the water is excellent for being in shape as the resistence allows for a more efficient workout. a good water exercise program is comprised of 3 components, cardiovascular, flexibility and muscular strength & endurance, all of which would be beneficial to a thru-hiker.

09-02-2006, 21:56
I found Pilates also does wonder for getting into shape for any hiking.

09-03-2006, 10:49
Here's what I'm currently doing:

Two miles every weekday morning before work
Weekend hikes of 5-10 miles in the woods with a loaded daypack
At least one day of rest per week

So far, no problems.

When it starts to get icy out, I'll probably use a treadmill on a high incline for the weekday walks instead of risking my ankles on the ice. I also plan to hit the stairstepper, weights, and the elliptical in the gym to strengthen legs and knees. I am going to keep up my weekend hikes in the snow, because I'll probably have to deal with that on the AT, and I might as well get used to it beforehand. :)

09-03-2006, 16:42
Go ladies! Whatever works for you, however IHMO nothing will prepare your body for the rigors of a thru hike, or a month long hike even...once out there you will be amazed at how fast your body adapts after a few weeks on trail, you will be climbing better than you every thought you could on day three or four!

Everything mentioned is great though, keep it up!

09-04-2006, 20:20
I live in Arizona and plan a thru hike on the AT in 2008~~~just in time for my Big 5-0! There are lots of mountains out here by my house outside of Phoenix and I trail run one of them (Flatiron) twice a week with a heavy daypack of 20-25 pounds. Flatiron is an elevation gain of 2780 feet in 2.7 miles so it's pretty much straight up. Also do Pilates every day and squeeze in trips to the Grand Canyon whenever I can, usually once a month during the season.

09-07-2006, 00:18
I can't offer much advice as far as long distance hiking, but lately I feel like I've become an expert at knees :)

My doctor tells me if I had been weight training while I was marathon training last year, I wouldn't have needed knee surgery this year. So I would HIGHLY suggest working those quads and hams in the gym, or at the very least do some lunges in front of the TV.

Also, my PT says stretching greatly reduces knee injuries.

About the weight loss, well it would depend on the weight being lost, wouldn't it? I mean, I can see how losing weight without putting on muscle would be a huge disadvantage for a hiker. I've noticed when I am in training that I don't really lose weight, but I've dropped as many as 3 dress sizes.

09-07-2006, 05:16
I've done a couple things in this past year that have helped--1) started counting my calories when I'm not hiking (I use fitday.com, an online program). Between Jan and today, I've lost about 30 lbs and kept it off. when I'm hiking, I eat whatever I like--no counting. And I try to make sure that my nutritional needs are met, cutting fats, etc. 2) I started exercising daily--running has worked well for me.

Finally--I wallk with my pack on. It seems to be the best way to condition for me.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
09-07-2006, 07:42
Female dino here. My getting ready activities and plans have been disrupted and undergone major changes because life happens. We dinos had planned to section hike as far as we could get before it got too darn cold beginning the first week in Sept 2004 - we were retiring in August of that year. To prepare, we walked 5+ miles a day both on paved walking trails and on a dirt bike trail. Both routes involved steep hills. We had started carrying progressively heavier daypacks (using water bottles for the weight so we could easily lower the weight if necessary). The male dino worked out 3 times a week for about 45 minutes (something he has always done). I figured house cleaning done right was enough of a work out. Two weekend hikes to prepare took us from Springer Mountain to Unicoi Gap on the AT. We weren't going for speed or endurance - we were testing gear.

Life happens - we were hit head on by a kid on drugs three weeks before we were to leave. This post describes the damage (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showpost.php?p=202410&postcount=3). Three months in a wheelchair pretty much un-did all of my training. However, many hours of daily PT (Physical Terrorism :D) during the following year managed to return me strength to its previously level with the exceptions noted in the linked post.

We have done quite a bit of day hiking since, but little of on the AT (the 8.7 miles from Yellow Creek Gap to Fontana Dam and a the short walk out to Laurel Falls near Hampton TN).

We had planned to try to go out for about a month this fall, but the male dino had a serious accident with his table saw in July and is in therapy several times a week. He also had a mini-stroke in August and I'm not willing to take him too far into the woods until his docs figure out why.

My weight has gotten out of control and I'm currently keeping my calories down in an attempt to remove it. We try to walk on paved walking trails daily, but it is more like 3 to 4 times a week. I'm seriously considering joining a senior wellness center to have access to the classes that helped me so much when I was regaining my strength after the accident. While we have a really nice home gym, I need some pretty specialized equipment to exercise my right leg and hip correctly.

Getting old isn't for sissies - it means tons of doc visits, tests, and new med problems - and less energy and stamina than the youngsters have. It also means your parents, aunts and uncles that are alive are really old and infirmed. His only uncle is 91 - my parents, aunts and uncles are all in the 80ís and my mother has Parkinsonís and Alzheimerís. Life happens - and we are trying to work staying in shape and hiking the AT into that equation.

We have started carrying our packs with water bottles again and I have started walking up and down stairs.... I hope to get in some section hiking this fall, but it will depend on the male dinos recovery and my mom staying healthy enough for me to go.

09-07-2006, 09:26
I've always been able to do big miles off the bat with a heavy pack without much trouble or conditioning.

Look at minnesota smith- he lost over 50 pounds in 6 months.Sounds like you were not overweight when you started. Had you been in MS's condition you would not have done big, or even comfortable, miles right off the bat.

MS did lose a lot of weight on his hike, and that is one way to do it, lose weight as you go. The downside is struggling the first few weeks until your weight and fitness level get to where they should be.

Based on my experience, two busted attempts due to tendon/muscle issues, I think it might be a good idea to strengthen one's legs, especially knees, BEFORE hiking.

Also, getting in shape while hiking is kind of defined by six weeks of aching muscles and agonizing uphills. The upside is that when you do get into shape, you can really tell the difference when you casually walk up slopes that would have destroyed you earlier.

(I don't like to post in women's forum, but this seemed fairly gender neutral a topic, and my two injuries give me a perspective on this.)

09-07-2006, 09:33
Frosty, you're AOK ;)

09-07-2006, 10:51
Now that my hike is back on for 2007, I've resumed my weight loss/exercise regime -- two things that I think will help the beginning of my hike be more enjoyable. I haven't had any problems hiking at my former weight -- but then again I wasn't hiking in the mountains -- so I want to shed 30 to 40 pounds to lighten the load.

I was working with a personal trainer, but found that she would sometimes want me to do things that didn't feel right for my 58 year old body. At one point I ended up with a torn bicep because of over-training. But now that I know the types of exercises to do, I alternate one day on legs and the other on arms. For the legs, I do lots of lunges holding weights in my hands -- different sets of forward, backward and sideways. I do different types of ball squats -- feet pointed straight forward, feet pointed inward and then outward. I do step ups on a weight bench and loads of stair climbing at work.

I also get on the treadmill everyday and go for one to two hours -- varying the incline and speed, to include the steepest incline for extended periods -- usually watching an AT video for inspiration.