AR writes : I’m a boomer with a desk job, but I’m not in bad shape. I do a lot of cycling so my legs are pretty strong, and my endurance is good. I do fine on day hikes. Mostly I’m concerned about my back.
How could I prepare for this? I belong to a gym, but even if I set endurance machines for hills, nothing would mimic real weight on my back.
Putting weight on your back for a multi-day trek certainly ups the fitness ante. Hauling a gear filled pack puts a lot of added pressure on your back. Stronger core muscles, especially abdominals, will help distribute the weight and literally take a load off of your back.
Physio ball exercises are a great approach to strengthen your back, stomach, butt, leg and arm muscles. These exercises also improve balance, which will help you keep your footing as you carry the weight on an uneven path.
Check out these videos. This first video from getfitsource.com has some good core exercises (has some sound problems but worth watching). Be careful of keeping your back neutral, with a natural curve. If your back is arched (hyperextended), you can hurt yourself.
This next video by personal trainer Donna Hutchinson shows some good exercises for arms and legs.
It’s a good idea to build up your strength ahead of time. You want to get out and enjoy that beautiful hike, which is harder to do when your body is cussing you out.
There’s so much more to say on this. Check back for part 2, on Equipment.