Training for Backpacking

jenny backpacking woa

Get Backpack Ready!

The indulgence of the outdoors where you and nature become one.  Join us on November 3-5, 2017 in the Superstitions as we embark in the beautiful nature and myths of the native americans.

About the Superstitions

Located just east of Phoenix, Arizona is a rough, mountainous region where people sometimes go... only to never be seen again. It is a place of mystery, of legend and lore and it is called Superstition Mountain. According to history, both hidden and recorded, there exists a fantastic gold mine here like no other that has ever been seen. It has been dubbed the “Lost Dutchman Mine” over the years and thanks to its mysterious location, it has been the quest of many an adventurer... and a place of doom to luckless others.

This expert was taken from “Legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine” … click here to read more about the fascinating tales of the Superstitions:

Getting Physically Prepared

Training for a backpacking or hiking trip is extremely important so you may enjoy the moments without limitations and to ensure that you will finish your trip a happy camper.

As a Coach and Fitness & Wellness educator, with over 20 years in the industry, I have trained athletes, marathoners, hikers, triathletes, and recreational exercisers of all ages and fitness levels. Let’s take the time to get physically prepared for for this adventure, and learn how you can push yourself beyond limits you may have thought were not possible.


Training for balance is conditioning your hips and core strength. While carrying a backpack of 25 pounds while you’re lifting and lowering your own body weight on unstable ground can be torturous on your body if not properly prepared.  Use the following exercises to help with your core strength:

Roll back - 2 count: sitting upright with your knees bent, place your hands behind your head; arch your back as you begin to roll your spine (one vertebrae at a time) toward the floor; stop halfway and pause, then continue down until your back is completely on the floor; slowly roll yourself back to an upright position. NOTE: do not roll up with a straight back as this will fatigue your lower back.

Side Plank Dips: from a side plank position you will lower your hip to the floor, pull your belly button inward as you raise your hip back to the plank position. For increased intensity, rotate the upper body facing the mat/floor as you lift up.

Roman Twist with a back reach: seated in an upright position with both arms extended in front of you; lean back halfway with an arched spine, rotate at your waist and reach as far behind you with one arm to tap the floor; rotate forward and lift upright to start position; repeat on the other side.


With proper hip strength and stability you will refrain from falling over when there is a possible mis step. Here are a few tips to increase your hip strength:

Standing Hip Rotations: using a swiss ball or something with similar height and width; place a swiss ball directly to one side while you stand in an upright position (it helps to stabilize the ball in case you accidentally tap it); with the ball on your right side, raise your right leg forward and hold for 2 seconds, rotate the leg around the ball without touching it or leaning forward; now reverse the action by lifting your leg behind you, then rotating the leg forward around the ball without touching it; once in the forward position hold the leg at hip level for 2 seconds then lower. Repeat this 10 times then turn around and repeat on your left leg.

Standing Lateral Contractions: stand upright next to a wall at one side of you; hold a swiss ball or pillow between the outside of  your knee and the wall; using your leg, press the ball into the wall to create a hip contraction; while holding the ball into the wall, lift the opposite leg out to the side as high as you can without leaning in any direction; lower the leg but not completely and repeat 10 times. Turn around and repeat on the other side. To increase your intensity add a rubber strap to your ankles.

Reverse Cross Lunge: stand on a step or ledge; as you lunge back and down, step your foot across your body in a curtsy and lower into the lunge position; from this position you want to put all the emphasis on the front leg (heel) to raise yourself up to the start position; be sure to press your heel down to raise your body up. Repeat on the other leg.


It is important that you condition your overall body to sustain the 3 days of your adventure. Take time to do full body exercises that incorporate your core and balance such as:

Side Lunge to Reverse Cross Lunge: This exercise combines a lateral lunge with one leg, and uses the propulsion from that leg to transfer one's body weight onto the other leg, in order to perform the reverse cross lunge (curtsy lunge). By doing this you will teach your body to react from both sides while hiking on unbalanced terrain.

Squat with arms overhead: using a resistance band, stand upright with your hands (palms facing each other) inside the band; pull the band apart as you raise your arms completely overhead so your arms are straight and aligned with your ears; hold your arms up and sit into a deep squat position; keep your arms overhead as you raise yourself back up; once standing lower your arms. You will engage your entire body with this exercise. It is great for teaching your back to hold its posture while your legs perform. While holding 25 lbs on your hips you want to ensure your back does not give out.

Alternating Lunges: step into a forward lunge while raising your arms laterally to shoulder level, push back out of the lunge and hold your leg with knee waist high; using the same leg, step to a side lunge while raising your arms overhead, push back to start and again hold your leg with knee waist high; step into a reverse lunge while lowering your arms in front of you shoulder level, as you step up into the starting position lower your arms and place your foot down.

All of these exercises above can be done with dumbbells, medicine balls, swiss balls, barbells, etc., to increase your intensity. They key here is to incorporate your core for balance and increase your intensity without deviating from the correct form. Please feel free to contact me for more information or alternatives specifically for you by email: or 480.226.5721

FOR MORE INFORMATION on the backpack adventure please visit the WoA website or contact JennyZ - email:

Enjoy the journey and be safe!

Angela Schlett
Fitness & Wellness Coach
Lifestyle Empowered Training System