Three Tips To Get Your Body Adventure-Ready

by Hidden Trails 03/24/2010

Whether you’re a beginner preparing for a riding tour in Provence, a long distance rider booked an endurance ride in Chile or an elite mountaineer headed off for a multi-day pack trip in Canada, here are three core recommendations from Fit for Trips to help get you started.
 1) Change from a general fitness program to a trip specific workout
 Within 8 to 15 weeks of your departure date replace your current fitness program with a trip-specific program. A general fitness plan is the perfect strategy for everyday fitness, but an activity-specific program prepares you for the movements and stresses you will encounter on your trip. For instance, if you are attempting to summit Kilimanjaro you will be trekking on steep grades, which creates a significant stretch followed by a forceful contraction that really beats up your Achilles tendon and calf complex. A masochistic workout on the stepper (StairMaster) will strengthen your thighs and gluteal muscles, but it will not sufficiently strengthen and lengthen the muscles in your lower leg. Walking on an inclined treadmill, or better yet, hiking steep grades will simulate the Achilles tendon/calf muscles stretch and contraction to decrease your chances of straining your lower leg on your Kilimanjaro trek. Although you may not be carrying a heavy load, you will want to add pack weight to your treadmill workout. Start with ten pounds and add five pounds each week, except for the fourth, eighth and twelfth weeks. Do not exceed 35% of your body weight. This, and other trip specific exercises, will prepare you for long days of trekking.
 2) Train for movement not muscle mass
 Sticking with the Kilimanjaro example, you will need to train the muscles, nerves, and ligaments in your legs to work together synergistically to successfully hike the steep grade. Sitting down on a leg extension machine will isolate your quadriceps and lying down on your tummy to perform leg curls will isolate your hamstrings, but you will not be training the various parts of your leg to work together. Lunges, on the other hand, force you to use your quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, gluteal muscles, and core muscles simultaneously. If you are preparing for alpine scrambling performing a machine chest fly, a tricep pushdown and a side shoulder raise will strengthen the necessary muscles, but push-ups will do better to simulate the necessary movement. The various parts of your body are learning to work together to accomplish the specific task you are setting to do.
 3) Train in phases - increase the intensity and complexity of your workout as your trip approaches
 To prepare for a trip, you want to systematically change the exercises, level of intensity, repetitions and other elements of training over a period of 8 to 15 weeks to ensure gradual improvements in your level of fitness leading to a peak level of optimal physical performance at the exact time you depart for your adventure vacation. Split your training into three phases (4-week blocks work well) adding intensity and complexity over time. In the first phase establish a base level of fitness working mostly on strength: perform basic squats, deadlifts and lunges. In the second phase add a little more complexity that involves the core muscles and balance: eliminate the two leg exercises (i.e. squat, deadlift) and add single leg squats and single leg step-ups to a high bench. In the third phase you combine strength, balance and add power and agility: perform single leg jumps, walking lunges with a powerful skip, stepping up onto a bench with one leg and jumping as high as you can.

About Fit for Trips:
Hidden Trails
has partnered with Fit for Trips to provide customized pre-departure fitness programs for active travelers wanting to be in optimal physical condition for their next adventure. For more information on trip-specific programs visit: .

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