Muscle Up

Alternating these two groups of strength exercises will prep your legs and core to climb and descend well with a loaded pack.

Strength Training     Photo: Chris Philpot

Pro Tip: Reps

In resistance training, a low number of repetitions with higher weight develops maximum strength for short periods—say, five-to-ten-second bursts; more reps with less weight builds your strength for longer efforts. No matter how many reps you do for each of the exercises here, keep the weight light enough so you can complete the entire set with good form and still have one rep in reserve.

ROUTINE 1
Dead Lift (1)

Squatting with a straight back, thighs parallel to the floor and knees behind your toes and pointing straight forward, grip two heavy dumbbells or a barbell in front of your ankles. Keeping your back straight, push up from your glutes into a standing position and lower slowly back to the start.

Push-ups
With your back straight, abs tight, and hands shoulder width apart, keep your head in line with your spine and look at the floor. Don't lock your elbows at the top.

Step-ups
Find a bench or ledge that's between 12 and 28 inches high and put one foot on it. Holding light dumbbells or wearing a loaded backpack, push off your upper leg to step up on top without weighting your lower leg, keeping your back straight above your hips.

Pull-ups
Use an overhand grip, hands shoulder width apart. Never extend your arms completely straight, and make sure your chin clears the bar. If you can't complete all the reps the training plan calls for, put a chair beneath your feet and give yourself a boost.

Snow Shoveler (2)
With feet a little wider than shoulder width, hold one dumbbell (or a backpack or medicine ball) in your hands below your chin, and get into a squat position (straight back, knees behind toes, thighs parallel to ground). As you push up from the thighs and glutes, lift the weight over one shoulder as if you were shoveling snow; keep a straight back and tight abs. Alternate sides.

Standing Calf Raises
Stand with toes on the edge of a stair and, wearing a heavy pack (or holding a heavy dumbbell), lower your heels as far as is comfortable, then raise them as high as you can.

ROUTINE 2
Rear-Foot-Elevated Squat (3)
Stand with your rear foot behind you on a bench. Holding a light dumbbell in each hand, drop down as if you're doing a lunge until you nearly touch your rear knee to the ground. Keep your front knee behind your front toes.

One-Leg Deadlift (4)
Stand on one leg while holding dumbbells in both hands. Bend forward at the waist and touch the weights to the floor, bending your knee as little as feels comfortable. Reverse to return to starting position.

One-Arm Bent-over Rows (5)
Put your left knee and left hand on a bench or chair for support and bend over so your torso is parallel to the ground. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand with your arm extended directly beneath your shoulder. Pull the weight up toward your armpit and slowly lower. Switch sides between sets.

Overhead Press
With feet shoulder width apart, hold two dumbbells at your shoulders, elbows directly below. Press the dumbbells toward the ceiling and slightly forward, keeping your abs tight, shoulders over your hips, and your back straight.

Seated Medicine-Ball Twists (6)
Sit and lean back 10 to 30 degrees. Hold a medicine ball or dumbbell in your hands high above your hips. Lower the ball slowly to one side, return, and repeat on other side. Keep abs tight to support and protect the lower spine.

Dumbbell Shrugs
Hold two fairly heavy dumbbells in your hands with arms straight down. Shrug your shoulders straight up toward your ears. Slowly lower the weights.

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