Fitness: Strengthen Your Back
Build your pack-hefting back and core for better on-trail comfort and injury prevention.
Kneeling Halfmoon Why: Your lower back is especially vulnerable to twists and jerks. Dynamic, rotational strength-builders help stabilize your core for
safer pack-lifting and loaded travel on uneven terrain. How: Start by kneeling on the ground with a 10- to 25-pound weight on your right side (use an iron plate or dumbbell). Bend at the
waist, grab the weight with both hands, lift it above your head to full arm extension, and place it to your left side. Reverse the move to complete
one rep; do four sets of five reps three times a week.
Loaded Step-Ups Why: This lower-back exercise helps prevent bad form, like leaning forward, which can cause long-day fatigue. Bonus: This move also
builds cardio fitness. How: Put on a 15- to 20-pound pack. Step straight up onto a 16- to 20-inch bench, fully extending your leg and hip as you stand all
the way up. Then, step down and repeat the move, leading with your opposite leg. Start with two 30-minute sessions per week. Go big: Build up to 750
step-ups (375 per leg) in 30 minutes wearing a 40-pound pack.
Low Back Complex Why: Focused isometrics quickly build strength in pack-hauling muscles. How: Assume this stance: feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, leaning forward from the hips. Squeeze your shoulder blades
together while pushing your butt back and torso forward. Then, one after the other, hold each of these positions for 20 seconds: arms extended behind
you, alongside your torso; arms raised above your head, in-line with your ears; hands pressed into your knees. Do four sets four times a week.