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The Outdoor Athlete Book by Courtenay and Doug Schurman

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Wilderness Sports > Hiking & Backpacking Conditioning

Hiking & Backpacking Conditioning

Or, train to hike up Mount Si with a pack in 2 hours!

In order to hike the 8 miles up and down Mt. Si (without the Haystack) with 20# pack weight in less than 4 hours, you’ll need about 8 weeks of conditioning time to prevent excessive muscle soreness and make the outing enjoyable. We’re assuming here that you have a minimum base of aerobic endurance of 3x20-30 minutes per week. Choose strength exercises specific to hiking up and down hills and specific to your body’s needs; select aerobic options that closely mimic walking up and down hills with a weighted pack.


Weeks 1-2: Get moving!

Cardio: MTh 30-45 min. each, THR 130-150 bpm. Choose running, stairs, stairmaster, treadmill, Elliptical machine, or hill hiking to train appropriately

Activity Specific: Weekend hike 1-2 hours w/10# pack, 1000’-1500’ gain

Weeks 3-4: Develop stronger fitness foundation

Cardio: MTh, 45-60 min., THR 135-155 bpm

Activity Specific: Weekend hike 2 hours w/10-15# pack, 1500’-2000’ gain

Strength: TF, full body, 30 min. 2 sets of 12-15 reps, 6-8 major muscle group free-weight exercises specific to climbing/hiking/scrambling

Weeks 5-6: Build muscular strength

Cardio: MWTh, 45-60 min., THR 130-150 bpm; W: city hill hike w/15# pack

Activity Specific: Weekend hike w/15-20# pack, 2000’-2500’ gain

Strength: TF, 35-45 min, 3x8-10 reps, full body strength, added weight

Weeks 7-8: Increase muscular endurance

Cardio: MWTh, 50-60 min, THR 135-155 bpm; W: hill intervals w/20# pack

ActivitySpecific: Weekend hike w/20# pack : TRY SI, 3100’ gain

Strength: TF, 45-50 min, 3x12-15 reps, change exercises from wks. 3-6


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