Physical Fitness | How to Hulk Out Before a Thru-Hike

How does one prepare your body for an 850-mile jaunt? This has been the question nagging in the back of our minds while we have been gallivanting throughout Europe and the US. Some quick background on me (Jeff), I had multiple leg surgeries in 2020 and did about 9 months of physical therapy to get back into shape. I had two backpacking trips planned for the latter part of 2021 and worked with the therapists to get me to a place where I could successfully complete them. The PTs were awesome, and I was able to work through their plan 4 days a week. The backpacking trips could not have gone better!

Each weightlifting session was split up into 3 groups of 3 workouts with 3 sets each. The goal was to set the weight to do 8-12 reps in each set. If we were unable to 8 reps, then we would reduce the weight, and if we could do 12 or more, increase the weight for the next set. We also tried to simulate the trail by incorporating as much twisting, balancing, and stepping up and down as much as possible. For our cardio days, we would incorporate stairs, rowing machine, elliptical, treadmill, and exercise bikes. Depending on the day, we would wear our backpacks with extra weight to get used to their feel. The warm ups were pretty standard for each workout. They started with 15 min of easy cardio, then dynamic stretching, and ended with dynamic resistance.

We ended the heavy lifting portion of the prep work about two weeks before we were due to start the trail to give our legs the best chance to recover. We are now doing lighter HIIT workouts and daily walking to balance keeping our bodies in shape and recovery. Time will tell if we did enough to get ready for this next adventure. 🙂

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