Ankles are not your friend when traveling with a full pack over rugged terrain. Unprepared hikers tackling an epic slog are begging for Achilles tendinitis, or, worse, may find their trip screeching to a halt with one ankle-popping misstep. Gym machines do little to develop the necessary strength and range of movement, says
Roger LaPointe, owner of a weightlifting equipment company called Atomic Athletic, an Eagle Scout, and an avid hiker. "You're out there with this big pack, you're stumbling on rocks. A treadmill won't simulate those conditions." Here's how you can.
Pretend you're the World's Strongest Man (or Woman). Move a heavy rock from the ground to a picnic table. Pass it around your body. Hoist it overhead like the barbarian you are. "You're working your muscles in a way a machine never could," says LaPointe. "Plus, there's a sense of primitive satisfaction." Another primitive satisfaction: Load kegs of beer
onto a truck (ideally one heading to your buddy's house for a Labor Day luau).
In a wide split stance with the back heel raised, lower yourself until the front knee is at 90 degrees and the back knee almost touches the ground. Switch sides. When adding resistance, either place a barbell on your shoulders or hold dumbbells at your sides.
Stand on the edge of a step and rise up on your toes. Use a heavy load, like your full pack, and low reps—but remember to build up slowly; there's a reason the Achilles' heel is a symbol of weakness.