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April 2001

Survival Of The Fittest

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

Winter’s last few flakes are melting, flower buds are bursting, and thoughts drift to summer backpacking adventures. Imagine hopping gracefully over boulders, scrambling up rough trails with ease, stopping to enjoy the view without wheezing or panting. Picture yourself springing out of the tent each morning, muscles rejuvenated and ready for action.

The question is: After a winter of sloth, how do you make the transformation to surefooted, iron-lunged mountain goat? By beginning a year-round program that builds strong muscles and aerobic endurance.

“Getting in shape is important so you can better enjoy your trip, go farther, and not feel as if you’re working so hard,” says David Musnick, M.D., a sports medicine specialist in Boulder, Colorado, and coauthor of Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness (The Mountaineers, 800-553-4453;; $21.95). “Plus, you’ll probably have fewer injuries.”

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to shell out big bucks for a fancy gym membership. To stay in tip-top shape, you need only invest half an hour a day and employ a few household items. What follows is a get-fit regimen created specifically for backpackers by exercise experts who know what it takes to haul a pack. Our program is designed for weekend adventurers and long-trail crusaders alike. If you’ve been sick or injured and haven’t exercised recently, get your doctor’s approval before starting this routine. We also include modifications to the base program for those who are either less fit (be honest now!) or more advanced.

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