Get Trail-Fit Indoors
Is it cold and
Rainy outside? Didn't have time to hit the trail this week? You can still build the hiking stamina with the workouts below,
created by exercise physiologist and Runner's World contributor Budd Coates. "Stay sport-specific during indoor training,
and you'll be ready for the trail," says Coates. Best way to do that? Get on the treadmill and stair climber. "These machines
allow you to move the mountains inside," explains Coates, who's trained countless hikers, runners, and cyclists over his 25
years as Rodale's fitness director. Build your weekly regimen around these workouts (do one per machine each week). Start
and end with a 10-minute warm-up/cooldown and stretch. Total workout times include warm-up and cooldown.
Altitude Climb "By gradually changing the pitch of the treadmill,
you mimic the cardio-vascular challenge of a climb," says Coates. Keeping a brisk but conversational hiking pace, increase
the incline setting every 5 minutes, from 5 to 9, 12, then 15 for a 40-minute session (or use the preprogrammed climb). When
you can complete the workout comfortably, increase each interval by 2 minutes (48 minutes), then by 5 (60 minutes).
Hills Keeping your pace constant, perform two sets of 2-minute intervals at inclines of 4, 10, then 7 percent, followed by
a 2-minute recovery at zero grade (or use the pre-programmed hills workout). When you can finish feeling strong, increase
the incline to 6, 15, then 10 percent, or increase your pace by about 20 to 30 seconds.
Big Slog To emphasize quad and glute strength-and best mimic a long, steady hill
climb-set the machine on a slow enough level so that each "step" up is about 8 to 10 inches (below). "Those little 2- and
3-inch steps aren't doing your legs any good," says Coates. Find a resistance you can hold for the entire workout. Start with
40 minutes; add 5 minutes every 2 weeks to 60 minutes.
All-Terrain Interval workouts like running hills are among
the best ways to improve cardio fitness and leg strength-and both are possible on a stair climber. Increase your level and
go hard for 3 minutes (but keep step height at 6 to 8 inches), then recover at a comfortable level for 3 minutes. Repeat three
times. Add an interval every 2 weeks until you hit 8.
“Yoga loosens you and allows you to use the full range of motion in
your muscles, which counters tightness caused by an all-day trek,” says Eric Kipp, founder of fitness company Hiking
Yoga (hikingyoga.com), which leads 90-minute hiking and yoga sessions in 17 cities in the United States. Before going to sleep,
perform these four poses, which are great for cold weather because they can be done in a sleeping bag as well as on a pad.
The exercises relieve tension in your back, legs, and upper body, and the deep breathing helps you prep for restful slumber.
Bonus: The no-sweat movements will warm your bag in a flash.
Release tension in your back and stretch hips, thighs, and ankles. The spinal curl
of this stress-relieving position also serves as a stretching warm-up.
>> How Kneel with the tops
of your feet flat on the ground, big toes touching, and arms at your sides. Sit back on your heels. Exhale and lay your torso
between your thighs, forehead on the ground. Relax your shoulders and arms, opening your shoulder blades across your back.
Hold for one to three minutes.
>> Extra credit Stretch your upper back and shoulders: Lift your
buttocks away from your heels and reach your arms forward; plant your hands on the ground (outside your bag, if you're in
one). Draw shoulder blades down as you sit back on your heels without moving your hands.
Cat and cow
“Carrying a pack can lead to compressed discs,” says Lucretia Williams, a yoga
instructor and ranger in Washington’s Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. “After a long hike, pay extra attention
to your back.” She suggests this spine-focused combination.
>> How Begin on your hands and
knees with your toes pressed flat on the ground and your spine in a neutral, relaxed position. For the cat pose, inhale and
draw your belly button toward your spine as you round your back skyward. Drop your head until your chin nearly touches your
chest. For the cow pose, exhale and lower your belly toward the ground while lifting your gaze upward. Alternate stretches
for 10 deep breaths.
>> Extra credit Gently twist away shoulder aches. On hands and knees, with
your back in a gently arched, neutral position, turn your head and neck to the right, creating a “C” with your
side (ribs compressed on one side, stretched on the other). Return to neutral and repeat on the left for five deep breaths.
This pose loosens “exactly what repetitive hiking for eight hours tightens up,”
says Kipp. It stretches your glutes, hamstrings, and a band of connective tissues along the thigh called the iliotibial (IT)
>> How Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place your right ankle
over your left knee and slide your right arm through the space made by your legs. Clasp hands beneath your left thigh and
gently draw your knee straight in, toward your chest. Sway side to side slightly and hold the pose for five breaths. Switch
sides and repeat.
>> Extra credit Isolate your IT band and lower back by varying the stretch: Start
in the same position but instead of pulling your leg straight toward your chest during each stretch, pull your leg across
the body at a slight angle. Hold the pose for five breaths, then switch sides.
Hikers compensate for ill-fitting packs or heavy loads by contorting the spine. Result: backs
overarched and shoulders rolled inward. This pose elongates the spine and loosens overworked pectorals.
How Place padding (like a fleece jacket) under your shoulders to support your neck and protect your lower cervical
spine. Then, lie on your back with your gaze straight up and arms at your sides. Plant your feet flat and as close as possible
to your buttocks. Exhale and press feet and arms into the floor, lifting your hips until your thighs are nearly parallel to
the ground. Keep feet, knees, and thighs in line and aim your chest and pelvis skyward. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, and lower
slowly, one vertebrae at a time.
>> Extra credit Deepen the chest stretch while your hips are elevated
by interlocking your fingers beneath your body, with your arms on the ground.