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Backpacking Fitness

Wake Up Your Muscles With This Simple Strength Workout

Your body may have changed during a year of staying home. And even if your physical fitness has remained constant, your neurological connections may have weakened from a lack of stimuli. It’s time to shake off the sluggishness with this workout designed to get your body moving. Include it in your exercise routine every other week.

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Warmup (3 sets)

1) Forward and Reverse Skip

Skip forward 20 yards (about 25 paces), then skip backward to your starting point. Repeat three times.

2) 20 Wide-Base Crossover Toe-Touches

Stand with your feet just wider than your shoulders. Lift your arms so that they are parallel to the ground. Bend and twist at the waist, touching your right foot with your left hand. Return to start. Repeat by touching your left foot with your right hand. 

3) 20 Jumping Jacks

4) 20 Standing Torso Rotations (per side) 

Stand with your feet just wider than your shoulders and lift your arms, bending your elbows at right angles with your hands in line with your ears. Bring your left knee toward your right shoulder while bringing your right elbow toward your left knee. Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Be careful not to bend forward at the spine.

At the end of this warm-up, you should be on the verge of sweating, breathing faster than when you began, and feeling more alert. Add more reps if you don’t feel sufficiently loosened up.

Workout (3 sets)

Workout (3 sets) 

This workout follows the Tabata timing ratio of 20 seconds of work to 10 seconds of rest for eight intervals. Use your phone’s stopwatch feature, a workout app, or your wristwatch. As your fitness improves, you can increase the work interval, shorten the rest interval, or both. Complete all eight rounds before moving on to the next exercise. 

5) Walking Frankensteins

Hold your arms out in front of you, shoulder-high, palms down, and thumbs nearly touching. Lift one leg toward your hands (the higher the better), keeping your knee straight and ankles soft, and set that foot down in front of you. Repeat with the other leg, walking as fast as you are able until the interval is complete.

6) Godzilla Stomps

godzilla stomp

From a standing position, lift your left leg, bringing your knee as high as you can in front of you. Stomp down with your foot flexed. Repeat with the right leg, moving forward and destroying imaginary buildings with each step. For added intensity, lift a medicine ball (or 10- to 15-pound dumbbell) overhead. With every stomp, alternate bringing the ball down, in front, or to the right or left of your torso in a “crushing” motion.

7) Starfish Tips

Stand with your feet wider than your shoulders. Lift your arms overhead so that your hands and feet are as far apart as possible. Stay in one plane (i.e., try not to flex at the waist). Lean to the right, keeping your arms in the same position and balance on your right foot; your left foot will rise in the air. The goal is to tip far enough to touch your right hand to the ground. (Chances are you won’t be able to the first few tries.) Return to upright before you lose balance. Lean to the left. 

8) Three-Point Inchworm Walkouts 

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted. Lift your pelvis into a hip extension, squeezing your glutes. Holding that pose, step your right foot forward, then your left. Step your right foot back, then the left. This is one rep. Continue for the duration of the interval. 

9) Hop Sequence

hop sequence
Photo: Peter Sucheski

Draw five rectangles on the ground with chalk as shown (or imagine them). Stand on your left foot in the rightmost rectangle and hop to the left, landing on your left foot. Hop again, landing with both feet in the center square. Hop twice more to the left, landing on your left foot. Quickly change direction by hopping to the right on your right foot, following the same pattern. Continue, focusing on minimizing contact with the ground, until the interval is complete.

10) Single-Leg Cone Touches

cone exercise
Photo: Peter Sucheski

Grab three objects of the same height (between 4 inches and 12 inches). Cones work well, but substitutes abound (cans, water bottles, etc.). Set the cones about 16 inches apart in a semi-circle. Stand on your left foot 8 inches in front of the center cone, inside the semi-circle. Bend at the waist and touch the center cone with your index fingers. Return to upright, keeping your right foot in the air. Then touch the right cone with your right finger. Return to upright. Touch the left cone with your left finger. Engage your glute muscles to return to standing. If you feel pain in your low back, it probably means you don’t have the necessary flexibility; try flexing the support knee to raise and lower yourself closer to the cones. Repeat the sequence until the time interval is over. Switch feet during the next interval.

11) Breakdance

breakdance
Photo: Peter Sucheski

Find a stool (12 inches to 20 inches tall); a small boulder is a fine substitute. Face the stool and put both hands on it; the stool is the center axis that you’ll move your entire body around. Keeping your hands planted, walk clockwise in a circle around the stool, with your feet always facing forward. When you get to the left side, lift your left hand; keep walking and replace your hand on the stool behind you. Continue circling, picking up and replacing your right hand when you get to the right side. Complete as many laps as you can during the time interval. During the next round, walk your feet counter-clockwise.

The Expert: Kaelyn Silva, CSCS, Pasadena, CA

Silva is the owner of Pasadena Sport Science. When she’s not training clients, she enjoys hiking with her dogs in California’s Ansel Adams Wilderness.