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  • Charles @ Axis

5 Moves to Make Your Mountain Tough


Over the summer I decided to summit not one, but 2 glacier covered mountains and it didn't go great. More on that below, plus 5 moves to get you hiking strong!


In August I was able to get out with a guided group onto Mt Baker, but our attempt was foiled due to bad weather. To top things off, on the way back down I slipped and twisted my knee! A pretty scary accident that definitely made the hike back off the mountain with all our supplies a lot less fun.

The subsequent trip I took was in September to try and attempt the summit of Mt Olympus in Olympic National Park with some friends. Unfortunately that was also spoiled by a weather system. And that was an even more arduous approach and hike back out (45 miles in total over 3 days) while carrying at least 40-50lbs of camping necessities and mountaineering gear.

My body took a beating from those trips! However, I learned a few lessons from all the collective aches and pains that others and I gathered along the way. Below are some of the best exercises you can do to be in great hiking shape! Use these over the winter to stay fit for spring, summer and fall hikes next year!

5 Moves to Make You Mountain Tough (so you can survive hiking, mountaineering and backcountry camping trips)

  1. Wide Rows w/Theraband (video link): These rows focus on recruiting muscles in your traps and shoulders. Believe it our not your traps get pretty abused when wearing a hiking backpack. Getting stronger in that region will reduce neck and upper back strains.

  2. Bowler Squats (video link): This move will help strengthen your hips and knees, which can help a lot if you're moving over uneven or sketchy terrain.

  3. Shoulder Circuit w/Theraband (video link): These moves improve your shoulder and back strength. You might not know it, but you use your shoulders a lot to carry stuff, move with trekking poles or pull yourself up on ledges when you're hiking or mountaineering. So its beneficial to keep them in shape.

  4. Stair Climbing: These are super useful if your going up and down mountains. Although they won't mimic the environment perfectly, you can still practice going up and down a flight of stairs (maybe with a backpack on) to build up calf and quadricep strength for the mountains. I recommend hitting up a high school stadium and going up and down the stairs there for 15-30 minutes - dress warm and wear good shoes!

  5. Mountain Climbers w/Towels (video link): These target your hips, core and shoulders. Getting those areas stronger will help you handle almost anything, but certainly make you better at moving forward with gear on your back. If you don't have a smooth surface at home, try it on carpet with paper plates (video link).

If you have any questions on how to organize your workouts or if these moves are right for you, just drop me an email or discuss this in our next session!

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