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Backpacker Magazine – April 2001

Survival Of The Fittest

Wish you could leap tall mountains in a single bound? Here's an exercise program designed for backpackers.

by: Therese Iknoian

Flexibility Training
Whether they're used to hoist your bear bag or pull you over a boulder, flexible muscles will do the job, without pulling or straining. All hikers, no matter what their level of experience, should stretch at least three times a week at home and daily on the trail. Save your flexibility training for the end of a workout, when your muscles are warm. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat two to five times.

Achilles tendons/calves
A: Stand facing a wall, and press your hands against the wall so that your arms are straight and at shoulder height. Extend one foot behind you, with your heel on the ground and your toes facing forward.
B: Bend your front leg while keeping your back leg straight. Hold. Then, with your front leg still bent, bend your back leg, keeping your heel on the ground (Tip: Move your back foot a little forward). Hold. Relax and repeat on the other side.

Get down on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Inhale slowly, then tuck in your chin, arch your back, and tuck your hips under slightly. Hold. If you're stretching correctly, your back will be in an asymmetrical arch, like a Halloween cat. Then exhale and relax your back without relaxing your abs; at the same time, lift your chin to look ahead of you (not up) and lift your buttocks slightly. Repeat, moving slowly and carefully.

Stand in front of a knee-high, sturdy object. Place the heel of one foot on the object, standing tall and keeping both knees straight. If you feel any discomfort, look for a lower object. Lean your torso forward (not down!) and hold. Switch legs and repeat.

Stand a foot or two away from and with your back to a chair back or desk. Using your right leg, bend your knee and lift your leg behind you so that you can place the top of your foot on the chair back or desk. Tighten your buttocks and extend your pelvis slightly forward. Hold, then do the same with your left leg.

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