Getting Trail-Fit

Backpacking exercises.

Summer’s here and it’s time to get in shape for that big backpacking trip you’ve got planned for later in the season. There’s no question that the best way to train for backpacking is to go backpacking, but aside from actually loading up your pack and hitting the trail, there are several exercises that can help. Here are a few to get you started.

This may sound silly, but walking is actually one of the best ways to prepare for backpacking. Extra points if you walk over rough, uneven terrain. Double-extra points if you throw your backpack on. Walk to work, do your errands on foot—whatever, just try going for a long walk every day leading up to your trip.

Mountain Climbers
The name says it all: mountain climbers are a great exercise to get your heart and lungs in shape for your adventures in the mountains. Begin in a high plank with your hands directly under your shoulders and your body in a straight line. Using your core, bring your right knee up to your chest. Return it to the starting position. Repeat with your left knee, bringing it to your chest and then placing it back by your right foot. That’s one rep. Repeat, as fast as you can, getting your heart rate up. Complete 20, or as many as you can.

Bent-Over Rear Flies
Strong back muscles are important for backpacking. For this exercise, grab a set of light dumbbells and hold one in each hand. Bend forward at the waist and extend your arms out in front of your shoulders, palms facing each other. Then, bringing your shoulder blades together, pull your arms back so they are extended out to each side. Keep a slight bend in your elbows. Return your arms back to the starting position to complete one rep. Do 20, or as many as you can.

Weighted Squats
Grab a kettlebell and get ready to work those all-important quads and glutes. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding the kettlebell in both hands at your chest (if this hurts, flip the kettlebell over and hold it like a medicine ball; this is called a “goblet squat”). Keep your knees in line with your ankles and your weight on your heels. Bend at the knee, as if you were sitting into a chair behind you. Descend as close to 90 degrees as possible, keeping your chest open and upright and your knees in line with your ankles. Drive into your heels as you return to a standing position. That’s one rep. Complete 20, or as many as you can.

Reverse Lunges
Give those big muscles in your legs some more lovin’. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and start standing with your hands by your sides, feet together. Step your right foot back and perform a lunge. Then, driving your weight into your front heel, bring your right foot back beside your left foot. Repeat on the other side to complete one rep. Do 20, or as many as you can.

Burpee with Jump-Tuck
Last, but certainly not least, is the burpee with a jump tuck. Yes, this may sound like a cruel form of torture, but it’s a great way to strengthen every inch of your body, while getting your heart rate up. You’ll feel the burn in your abs, arms, and legs. Begin in a plank with feet shoulder-width apart. Then, jump your feet up to meet your hands, using your core. Stand up tall, and perform a jump-tuck by leaping straight up into the air and bringing your knees up to meet your elbows. Land softly, then place your hands back on the ground in front of you and jump your feet back into a plank position. That is one rep. Complete as many as you can in one minute.