This 7-week, 6 day/week program is specifically designed to prepare a recreational backpacker for a 7-14 day wilderness backpacking trip. It’s assumed the backpacker will travel 7-12 miles/day, and carry a 50-pound pack during his or her trip in the backcountry.
Week 7 in the plan is an unload/taper week. For the best results, complete this plan the 7 weeks directly before your backpacking trip.
This is Version 2 of the Backpacking Preseason Training Plan, Updated March 2019.
This training program has a strong mountain aerobic endurance emphasis – uphill hiking under load, rucking (hiking/walking with loaded pack), and running – which reflects the major fitness demands of an extended wilderness backpacking trip. This plan also trains eccentric leg strength and strength endurance, calf strength and strength endurance, core strength and strength endurance, and upper body strength endurance.
The mountain endurance training in this plan is built around 3 exercise modes:
(1) Step Ups train uphill hiking under load. Step ups are a basic, butt-kicking single mode exercise used to build sport-specific climbing leg strength and cardio in a controlled, gym environment. During this program, expect to do thousands of step ups with a 40# pack. This is the primary exercise I’ll use to get your legs and lungs ready for hiking uphill. You can use any box, or bench, 15-18” high, for step ups.
(2) Rucking (hiking/walking with a pack) trains for the miles of flat and/or rolling trail. “Rucking” is a military term which is simply fast walking with a pack. In this program you’ll ruck wearing a 50# pack – the same load you’ll expect to carry into the mountains. When possible, ruck on a trail over hilly terrain, but without significant elevation gain/loss.
(3) Running trains overall leg-based, mountain-endurance. When possible, run hilly terrain, but without significant elevation gain/loss.
Mountain Endurance training makes up the bulk of the training in this plan. You’ll do step ups, run or ruck, multiple days per week while completing this plan.
The Backpacking Preseason Training Plan includes focused strength training for eccentric leg strength, calf strength and strength endurance, core strength and strength endurance, and upper body strength
Eccentric Leg Strength is trained using MTI’s proven Leg Blaster progression. Leg Blasters are an intense, body weight only, lower body complex of exercises which builds incredible leg strength, and lactate tolerance. Also, we’ve found it key to building eccentric leg strength. During your trip, you’ll be gaining elevation hiking uphill, but you’ll also be hiking downhill. Hiking downhill forces your legs to work eccentrically and can lead to crippling soreness in the next day. Leg Blasters will help you prepare for this.
Calf Strength & Strength Endurance – Often calves are the first to fail on steep hiking efforts. This training plan deploys calf raise intervals to build calf strength and strength endurance.
Core Strength – Mid-section strength plays a hidden, but key roll in backpacking fitness and durability. This training plan deploys a MTI’s proven “Chassis Integrity” core strength training methodology, two days per week.
Upper Body Strength – Trained via a simple, effective circuit using a dumbbell exercise called Scotty Bobs.
This is a limited equipment training plan. Below is the equipment required:
- Pair of Dumbbells – 25# men, 15# women.
- Sandbag – 60# Men, 40# women. You can purchase a sandbag from the mtntactical.com website store, or build your own out of an old duffle bag.
- 15-18” Box, bench, stool or whatever for step ups. We build our own step up benches.
- Backpack for step ups and rucking, and 50# of load. Any filler can be used for weight. For step ups you’ll use a 40# of load. For rucking you’ll use 50# of load.
- Foam Roller
- Monday – Step Ups, Calve Raise Intervals
- Tuesday – 2-a-Day: AM – Leg Strength, Upper Body Strength, Core ; PM – Running
- Wednesday – Rucking
- Thursday – Step Ups, Calve Raise Intervals
- Friday – 2-a-Day: AM – Leg Strength, Upper Body Strength, Core ; PM – Running
- Saturday – Rucking
How long should the training sessions take?
Training Sessions run 45 – 180 minutes long, depending upon the day. Tuesday’s and Thursdays are 2-a-Days, with gym-based training in the AM, and running in the PM. Wednesdays and Saturdays are rucking endurance work. Each training session has a listed estimated completion time objective.
What if I can’t keep up the Monday through Saturday Training Schedule?
If for any reason you cannot keep training schedule, do not skip a training session. Rather, complete all the training sessions in order. Whatever the schedule, always take one day per week, as total rest.
Where do I find unfamiliar exercises?
See our Exercise Library HERE.
What about nutrition?
See our Nutritional Guidelines HERE.
What does “40/60#” mean? How about “3/5x”?
“40/60# = women use 40#, men use 60#. 3/5x = women do 3x reps, men do 5 reps.
Can I see sample training?
Yes. Click the “Sample Training” tab to see the entire first week of programming.
How do I access the plan?
You can access the plan via username and password either through our website or through our app (Mtn Tactical Fitness) available for IOS and Android.
Can I print out sessions to take to the gym?
Yes – you can print a week of programming at a time.
More questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org