The Trail to High Adventure Fitness

To prepare yourself for the rigors of hiking, backpacking and other High Adventure activities, it is necessary to train your body and mind. This program is designed to help you prepare and make it to the mountain top!

The program is designed to start in the winter months with the end goal being an extended High Adventure trek during the summer months (Philmont, Northern Tier, Appalachian Trail, etc.)


  • Visit your doctor for a physical examination
  • Walk indoors or outdoors for 30 minutes – 3 times a week


  • Continue walking for 30 minutes 3 to 5 times a week. Gradually increase the speed and length of your walks. Mix periods of running into your walking routine.
  • Stretch your back, calves, and hamstrings every day.


  • Daily stretching and crunches
  • Walk, run, swim or cycle 3 to 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes per session. At least one session should take you up and down some hills or walk up and down the steps in your house.
  • Buy a pair of quality hiking boots and walk in them a few times a week to make sure they are broken in.
  • Add push-ups or planks to your fitness routine.
  • Add dumbbells or circuit weight training 2 times a week.


  • Continue daily stretches and crunches.
  • Walk, run, swim or cycle within your target heart rate zone* for at least 30 minutes 4 to 5 times a week. Make sure you keep working on climbing hills.
  • Take at least one 5 mile hike and one 10 mile hike with a loaded backpack.


  • Continue daily stretches and crunches.
  • Continue to walk, run, swim or cycle within your target heart rate zone* for at least 30 minutes 4 to 5 times a week. Make sure you keep working on climbing hills.
  • Shakedown hike(s) with your trekking group. Hikes should be 3 days and at least 15 total miles. Target backpack weight 30-40 pounds.

* Target Heart Rate Zone is 50-85% of your Maximum Heart Rate (220 beats – Current Age)

Stretching for Backpacking

Outside of aerobic activity, the best thing that you can do to prepare for the trail is to improve your flexibility. Being limber wards off injury and muscle soreness. Get in the habit of stretching for 10 minutes once a day.


  • To make stretching routine, do it at the same time each day, perhaps while watching TV
  • Go slow and steady – never bounce and never stretch to the point where you feel pain – and hold each stretch for 30 seconds.

Hamstring Stretch – The muscles on the back of your thighs get taut when you sit all day and they tug on the lower back muscles when you stand. To flex them, lie on your back and grab behind one of your knees with both hands. Keeping the other leg flat on the floor, try to straighten the raised leg and pull it gently toward you. Repeat using the other leg.

Calf Stretch – Stand about 3 feet away from a wall. Step forward with one foot, keeping the other foot back. Allow the knee of the front leg to bend. Lean forward as far as comfortable, while keeping your back heel on the floor. Feel the stretch in your calf and Achilles tendon. Repeat with the other leg.

Figure-four Stretch – Sit on the floor and straighten your legs in front of you. Next, bend your left leg, placing the bottom of your left foot against the inside of your right thigh. Slowly bend forward and reach toward your right ankle. Repeat with your left leg extended.

Lumbar Stretches – 1. Lie on your back. Lift one knee to your chest, then the other, keeping your lower back flat on the floor. Hold both knees to your chest, then relax. Repeat 5 times.           2. Lie face down. Using your arms, try to press your torso up and back as far as possible, while keeping your legs on the floor. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then relax back down. Do 10 repetitions.

Exercises for Backpacking

To get fit for hefting backpacks, work on strengthening your abdominals and legs.

Crunches – Lie on your back with your knees bent. Cross your arms on your chest. Keeping your back as flat as you can against the floor, slowly curl your torso upward until your shoulder blades are about 4 to 6 inches off the floor. Do three sets of 10 to 15.

One-Leg Squats – With your left hand on a wall, balance on your left leg, bending your right leg behind you. Maintaining an upright posture, lower your body to the floor by bending your left knee. Keep an eye on your left foot, and stop bending before your knee extends beyond your toes. Hold, and then slowly stand back up. Repeat with the other leg.

Step-Ups/Step-Downs – Place your left foot on an 8 to 12 inch high aerobic step, then step up with your right foot. Next, step down in front of the step with your left and then your right foot. Turn to face the step and repeat, beginning with your right foot. If this is too easy, you can hold dumbbells at your sides. If you don’t have an aerobic step, walk slowly up and down stairs.

Shrugs – Holding dumbbells at your sides, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Without moving your arms, lift your shoulders toward your ears. Hold, and then slowly lower.

Back Extensions – Lie face down with your arms folded and your hands under your chin. Keeping your feet and hips on the floor, lift your chin and chest about 3 to 5 inches. Hold then slowly lower.