View Full Version : pushups

2004-06-13, 02:02
Hello all. Just found this site and it looks like you folks know a lot about hiking and gear. Have a question about conditioning.

Since backpacking can be physically demanding, how many of you do pushups to stay in shape? I now do about 60 per day (actually at night). Started out doing about 15-20 over a year ago, then gradually built up to where I am now. I think this gives me an edge when I hit the trail.


SGT Rock
2004-06-20, 19:21
I do a lot of pushups, but it isn't just like I do 60 pushups a night or something that easy. While I do find it helps, there are things I like to do like shoulder shrugs and dips to help develop good strong shoulders for carrying a pack.

2004-06-22, 19:21
Push ups have little value in conditioning for backpacking. They are ok for overall conditioning, but for the life of me, I cant remember the last time I did a push up movement during a sport hike. I like to do alot of body weight squats and pistols (one legged squats), alternating jumping lunges, pull ups, and as Top said... shrugs and dips. But also work in push ups as well... regular, wide grip, diamonds, on palms, on knuckles, hands turned forward, hands turned out, slow count (1 rep takes about 60 seconds), one arms, etc.

Hiking/backpacking relies on legs and core strength, arms and chest are pretty minimal unless you happen to do ALOT of rock scrambling and spend time on your hands and knees.

SGT Rock
2004-06-22, 20:05
Yes, I totally agree. If I were to make a set of exercises for backpacking, it would have:

1. Shoulder shrugs and dips - develops the shoulders to prevent fatigue under heavy loads

2. Pull ups - works a whole groups of muscles besides the arms. Chin ups aren't the same.

3. I would add what we call "The Ugly Pushup" because it works the entire trunk and less the shoulders.

4. Abdominal crunches, oblique crunches, V-Ups, etc. This will help strengthen the lower back, abdomin, obliques, etc. Prevening lower back pain includes strengthening the areas that can also help share the load.

5. Squats and lunges. You can start these without a load, then add a load either in your arms, or on your back by using a pack.

6. Heel raises. This will strengthen the calves.

I would also add Fartlik running to help with bursts of strenght and slow long distance running to help stamina when you need it. You don't have to be a sprinter or a fast runner to be a good hiker.

On top of that, I would reccomend fast rucking. Distances of 2-12 miles varried. Do a ruck once a week with about 5-10 pounds over your planned pack weight as fast as possible, with a target speed of 4 miles per hour. You don't need as steep of climbs that you would encounter on a trail if you use this method to train if you at least have some hills.

2004-06-22, 21:16
I agree that you use mostly lower body muscles during a hike but,the stronger your upper body is the less back/shoulder etc pain you will suffer. Streamweaver

2004-06-22, 21:18
Oh ,by the way Sarge,what the heck is fartlik running?lol I had to ask! Streamweaver

SGT Rock
2004-06-22, 21:55
It is something like running intervals, except the main difference is this:

Interval training is done on a track with a fast lap and a slow lap

Fartlik is done during a longer run. I can run three miles and start at a warm up pace. After your warmed up, sprint some distance (say between a couple of telephone poles) then slow down until you get your wind back. Then sprint again to another point - say a fire plug, slow down to get your breath again. Continue to do this throughout the run. The idea is to fatigue yourself at a fast pace, then recover before begining again.

2004-06-22, 22:02
Oh ok,I gotcha! I think Ive seen some kids doing that up at the school feild for football practice. Thanks Sarge! streamweaver

2004-06-22, 22:18
Matt Furey has a book called "Combat Conditioning" - Good stuff there. Hes a wrestler so has alot of legs, back, abs, neck work outs... all excellent for backpacking, and plenty of chest and arms stuff as well.

Pavel Tsatsouline has some good stuff out too. Several books and videos - His best work is done with Kettlebells and bodyweight stuff, but even if freeweight info is excellent. Ignore the goofy pictures, and get the books from the library, but spend some time with them and youll get ripped.

CJ Carrachis videos, while hoaky as hell, got me into some of the best shape of my life... As a former SEAL, he knows a little bit about fitness, hes careful to integrate proper stretching with muscle development, and his stuffs worth every penny in my book - Or buy Scott Helvenstons stuff from BQM and help out a fallen warriors family.

Also check out CrossFit.com - alot of stuff you cant do without a fully outfitted gym, but their WODs will make anyone puke.

2004-06-22, 22:53
One thing I havent found yet is a really good substitute for pushups that I can do without injuring my chest. I had heart surgery and where they cut into my chest ,they cut muscle and nerves also.The docs told me that this will never heal entirely and every once in awhile it tears ,though it does heal fast and doesnt cause any lasting problems. I have strengthened it up alot (moving boxes,peices of steel etc at work) but I would like to have some exersizes that I can do at home.I want to have my compound bow adjusted to a heavier pull weight but I dont want to worry about straining anything. I guess Ill end up going to one of those sports doctors ,but I know my insurance company would have a laughing fit if I asked them to cover it!!I did talk to a bow hunter on hunting.com who had the same operation I did and he said he just started out with a light pull weight and practiced alot until he was ready for a heavier weight.So maybe Ill do that or one of them bowflex type machines . Any suggestions? Streamweaver

SGT Rock
2004-06-23, 00:35
Well you could start by doing front elevated pushups to slowly get back into it. By front elevated I mean with you hands on something about 4' tall doing the same exercise you do now until that no longer hurts - you know, lower reps, slower work out, etc. After you have beat that, then go down to 3', then 2' etc. until you build back up to your normal routine. This would allow you to work the same muscle groups while reducing the load. Since less of your body weight is over your shoulders by elevating, there is less of a work out. You can also work yourself even harder if you reverse this by elevating your feet in the same manner.

2004-06-30, 08:20
Originally posted by SGT Rock
I would add what we call "The Ugly Pushup" because it works the entire trunk and less the shoulders.

Top -- I'm tracking with everything else here, but what's an ugly pushup? Or is that Polk-ese for elevated or partner-assisted pushups? Can't seem to find "ugly pushup" listed in 21-20, for some reason . . .

SGT Rock
2004-06-30, 14:16
It isn't in 21-20 that I know of. Basically it is a pushup that starts with an arched back where you lower your body until your face is almost in the gorund, then you start to move forward at the shoulders as bow your back. That is the best description of it I think I can give.

2004-06-30, 14:21
Im my Russian Martial arts classes we often do a push up we call the "playful push up"... basically, you do say, 30 push ups... but you never do the same 1 twice. Every new push starts with you changing something. Hand position, foot position, 1 leg off the ground, 1 handed, clappers, on the knuckles, on the backs on the hands, whatever... make each new push as morbidly differnt from the last as possible.

Ive seen some crazy position pulled off... one, Im not sure is actually humanly possible and Ive considered calling an exosisct about if... **shudder at the though**

2004-07-01, 13:47
I can still run a fairly quick mile but can't bench much more than my cat. On chinups the cat has me beat for sure. For the most part it is true that backpacking and "every day living" doesn't involve a lot of upper body strength. I think this is actually an argument FOR rather than AGAINST such exercise.

I put "every day living" in quotes because..., well you know.

I think its time I installed a chinup/pullup bar somewhere in my house. It's great to do a real workout at the gym, or get out for a long hard paddle now and then, but its also great if you can do something basic every day, like brushing your teeth.

2004-07-17, 17:45
An article in backpacker "http://www.backpacker.com/" Interviews Three Olympic athlets who also backpack, and gets their take on "fitness" good stuff.