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  1. #1

    Default core muscle strength and flexibility

    How important are these categories to hiking? Also, what do "you" do improve in these areas?

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    KirkMcquest KirkMcquest's Avatar
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    Squats, and lunges are key. I use good weight and do four to five sets each ( I work up to that), after a couple of months I'm springing up those hills.
    Throwing pearls to swine.

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    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    I'd also consider building up your ankles with a variety of balance exercises (my favorite being the one legged stand atop a rug with your other leg held in various positions with your eyes closed). You can work out your core and ankles with a one-legged stand on a Bosu with someone tossing you weighted balls.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

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    I'm not so worried about flexibility as hiking (on a trail, without snow) generally doesn't cause my body to move around so much. However, once I get on snow, I really need upper body strength and flexibility down low. Carrying a pack while postholing repeatedly requires some degree of muscle power in the stomach and back to keep the body upright and moving well. It doesn't have to be a lot. I lift moderate weights for about 10 minutes before I do cardio work and this seems to be enough for me.

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    I like to walk around the city wearing a 40 lb weightd pack for about three weeks prior to any long hike.
    Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred. And hatred leads to the dark side.

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    On the advice of a college varsity woman athlete whose opinion I really respect, I am doing much more significant core training than I had in prior years... 3 times all the upper body stuff, plus back and ab strengthening. (E.g. benches, curls, lats, delts, shoulders). It's about 25 minutes and then the cardio. I run (sometimes relatively long distances of 10+ miles) but had not done any weight training for over 17 years (I quit lifting during my first pregnancy and never got back to it) and I am really noticing a difference! I'm sure that most physically fit young people don't need nearly as much "remedial" work as I do, but it is helping me tremendously in feeling physically, and mentally, ready to take on the Trail again this year.

    Jane in CT

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    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    Core strength is key to a healthy spine. Since I'm somewhat of an office rat here at the clinic what I do is use a "balance ball" instead of a chair. It's hard to slump down on the ball, like I otherwise might on a chair. Plus ...I often lift my feet off the floor for several minutes at a time and use my balance to avoid tipping. This adds to the core strengthening effect.

    'Slogger
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    Registered Loser c.coyle's Avatar
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    Thumbs up I like weightlifting as much as I like hiking

    I think core strength is important for hikers. Carrying a pack and scrambling on rocks being two examples.

    As someone who has lifted weights since my teens, "core strength" to me means your trunk - abdomen, upper back, lower back, chest, butt. The muscles associated with these areas are, respectively, the abdominals, lats & traps, spinal erectors, pectorals, and glutes. I agree with KirkMcQuest. Squats in their various forms are probably the best single exercise to strengthen all these muscle groups. Squats also hit your quads (big muscle group on the front of your thigh) and hamstrings.

    Lunges, in my experience, are more secific to your legs and butt, less help with your trunk.

    Freeweight squats - the kind done with barbells - can do more harm than good if you don't use perfect form, which you can't learn from a book or some pretty boy at Gold's Gym. You need to find an old dinosaur lifter and have him show you the right way. Strength coaches at high schools and colleges also usually know the proper way to squat.

    Squats can be harmful if you have back or knee problems. Some of the machine variations of squats, while not as beneficial, are safer. So are dumbell squats and "ball squats" against a wall.

    Various types of deadlifts are also excellent core exercises, but the same cautions as with squats apply.

    Plain old pushups, pullups, and situps are also good for the core.

    The big thing to avoid is overtraining - lifting too often, or doing too many repetitions. Your body doesn't get stronger when you lift, it gets stronger when you rest between lifting. I used lift three times a week. I'm down to twice a week. At almost 52, I'm thinking of going to once a week. Overtaining leads to injuries.

    An excellent, common sense book on strengthening your core (but not a weightlifting book) is "Framework" by Nicholas DiNubile, M.D. You can probably find it on Amazon.com

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    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    I concur with c.coyle, you can definitely overdo the lifting as you get older. At 48 with 20 years of weightlifting and 35 years of soccer experience, I have shifted my lifting to once every 4 days. I'm stronger, more rested, and ready to do the reps. I've been doing the "Body For Life" regimen for the past 5 years and have gained a lot of muscle and strength. I do 30-75 minutes of cardio on my non-soccer/non-weightlifting days, down to 2-4 times a week depending on how banged up I am from soccer.

    Suggestion: Don't play soccer. It's really hard on your legs, knees and ankles and can really put a crimp in your backpacking trip.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

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    KirkMcquest KirkMcquest's Avatar
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    Also, I'm starting to realize that there are muscles in the feet that need work to. As Kerosene suggested, exercise that strengthens the ankles can also strengthen foot muscles. Running and walking with weighted backpack helps too. All these things can help stave off throbbing tootsies.
    Throwing pearls to swine.

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    Registered User neo's Avatar
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    since i have been injecting lantus insulin after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes my musle tone and flexabilty has increased dramatcally,i have almost completey come off my oral meds,i have dropped from 8 mg of amaryl to 1 mg amaryl, a day,i am very happy with perfect glucose levels,and great reduction of oral meds,but i am extremely happy with my new extreme hiking endurance neo

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    Registered Loser c.coyle's Avatar
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    I think every person over 40 should do some kind of strength training. A natural part of aging is losing muscle mass. Strength training can't stop the process, but it can slow it down.

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    I do Ashtanga yoga and find that the core strength it builds really helps my endurance overall - being strong and flexible means your whole body is working together, not just your butt uphill and your quads downhill (or however it goes for you).

    i recently learned that the point of the "asanas" (yoga postures) originally was to strengthen the practitioner (yogi or yogini) to the point where he/she could sit in meditation indefinitely. I like the idea of getting strong enough to sit still.

    I recommend yoga as part of your overall fitness plan.

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    Oh yeah - I wanted to mention it strengthens your feet too as you are often doing things with your toes like stretching them up, grabbing the mat with them, or "activating your arch" i.e. lifting up the arch of your foot. There is some ridiculous number of muscles in your foot, and some ridiculous number of steps in a thru-hike, so I can only conclude it must be important to keep the feet strong and flexible.

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    Registered User kyhipo's Avatar
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    Default core muscle strength and flexibility

    Many folks I have met hiking that where coll.football players,karate instructers ,weight lifters take the attack mode on the trails and many power hikers,when they took off their shoes their feet looked like hamburger,I feel swimming walking steps some weight lifting should help,but being in tune with your body comes first,many people who are very physicall hikers often times tear ligaments pull muscles because of the training they do before they hike,first 2 weeks of my hike I focus on streching not over hiking anymore and I stay that way in life most of the time,If you lift weights and power train you better be prepared for alot of extra food, ky

  16. #16

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    always take a few days to a week of resst and heavy eating before heading out
    Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred. And hatred leads to the dark side.

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    Core:
    I am also a college varsity athlete, and when I hear 'core' I think of only the abdominals. In addition to running, a core exersize routine is a great warmup to weightlifting. A core workout should include leglifts (lower abs) and oblique work. Look up instrucitons for the individual exersizes online. A sample core workout follows.


    --crunches
    --'alternates' (cross feet and lift off ground, as if you were about to do a crunch. Put hands on temples, and keeping arms in generally plane with back bring right elbow to left knee, then left elbow to right knee, repeat.
    --full situps
    --'fish flops'
    --eglifts
    --V-ups (not bending knees or elbows, touch your hands to your feet. Only your butt should be on the ground. These are hard)

    When I hear 'core lifts' I think of basic lifts: bench, squat, clean, snatch, deadlift, etc. I do all of these lifts, including many variants and also do exercizes that isolate the secondary muscles.

    Flexiblity is important to every athletic ability, and is very imporant in avoiding injuries. Before Iwork out I run slowly for at least 10 minutes, then stretch. If you want to gain flexibility you should also strech after you are done working out. One of the most commonly missed muscles in streching is the IT band.

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    Doting Membrane Skidsteer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by c.coyle
    The big thing to avoid is overtraining - lifting too often, or doing too many repetitions. Your body doesn't get stronger when you lift, it gets stronger when you rest between lifting. I used lift three times a week. I'm down to twice a week. At almost 52, I'm thinking of going to once a week. Overtaining leads to injuries.
    I'm 43 and it seems we have much in common training-wise. I made the decision to go to once a week training( weights ) about two years ago and have no loss of strength, size, or endurance. My joints feel better too. Of course I hike/walk/run every chance I get.

    My theory is that weightlifting once a week works particularly well for fit, older, experienced lifters and it sounds like you more than qualify. I would encourage you to give the once-a-week thing a try. You can always go back to your old routine, after all. Need a spot?
    Skids

    Insanity: Asking about inseams over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein, (attributed)

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    ...Or is it Hiker Trash? Almost There's Avatar
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    The other thing is you can go to resistance training as you get older. Resistance bands work great as I use them now due to a shoulder injury from football. Easier on the joints than free weights, and I still get good results. I applaud you "older" guys for continuing to weight train, it keeps your body younger and hopefully keep you hiking to a ripe old age!!!
    Walking Dead Bear
    Formerly the Hiker Known as Almost There

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    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    I'm not a huge fan of exercise equipment but I bought a TotalGym about 2 years ago and have found it to be great for resistance training. Nice thing is that you are using your own body weight (or a percentage thereof) and there is resistance in both directions.

    'Slogger
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

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