R E A C H • Y O U R • P E A K

Welcome to Peak Training’s

Beginner’s Guide to Strength for
Hiking Season

I'm excited to bring you a comprehensive, progressive program designed to build your strength and endurance so that you can tackle whatever daunting hike you're after this summer. By the end of the season, my goal is to get Y O U strong and confident enough to tackle your goal trail.

You'll start off learning about form and technique of a few of the major movements required to hike effectively and efficiently. Following that, you'll be guided through a 2 week Foundation Phase - an often overlooked but critical part of every training program. Each workout will be a 45-60 minute full body session that will hit all of your major muscle groups that will build your baseline of fitness so that we can specify a little later on. During this phase, you should complete 2 cardiovascular workouts of 20-30 minutes each in addition to your strength program. You choose your mode but I would recommend running or mountain biking if you're outdoors, or a stair mill or treadmill on an incline if you're inside. If you're lucky enough to have a hiking trail near by, make that your cardio day! Nothing prepares you for hiking like actually hiking.

The second phase will consist of 3 full body workouts but this time with more intensity. You'll be doing harder exercises with higher demand and more core work to prepare you for the next phase. Now, you will be completing 2 cardio sessions with longer duration and higher intensity. Cardio Day #1 should consist of a longer duration activity, aiming for 45-60 minutes at a moderate pace. Cardio day #2 can be a replica of Day #1 or if you want more of a challenge, aim for a shorter duration workout but with intervals - think 20 minutes of 1 minute of intensity with 1 minute of active rest. You get to choose your mode but make sure you're pushing yourself whatever method you go with, whether it’s running, biking, or machine-based. If you're going outdoors, I recommend using a measuring app such as Map My Run to track the distance, pace and time so that you know you're progressing each week.

I know, I know.... by this point it'll be mid-summer and you want to be outdoors. But trust me - continuing with your weight program will benefit you in the long run so stick with it. My advice is to keep the intensity high in the gym so you're quick and efficient so you can get outside as soon as possible. Third phase will have you completing 3 weight training sessions per week with a split-day breakdown so you can focus on upper body and lower body on separate days plus one full-body day. We're throwing in heavier weights, slow eccentrics and plyometrics to get your legs ready! Further, I suggest you start getting those hikes in - the snow should be melted and the trails will be ready and waiting! Aim for 60+ minutes of cardio during this phase.

WEEKS 1 & 2

Exercise Instruction

Goblet Squat

Why: Whether you love it or you hate it, the squat is the king of lower body exercises. Having sound technique and mobility in your squat is paramount for enjoying all of the activities we love in these mountains so if you haven't mastered it yet, now is your time! 

How: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width (keep in mind that foot position varies from person to person so go with what feels comfortable for you). Your toes should be pointed slightly outward – about 5 to 20 degrees outward. 

At the top, engage your core to keep your spine in a neutral position, i.e. don’t round or hyperextend (over arch) your back. Think about 'bracing', like someone is going to punch you in the belly, then maintain this core tension throughout each rep.

Think about ‘turning two dials’ outwards underneath your feet to create tension in your glutes. We call this "spreading the floor" which provides proper knee and pelvic stability by engaging the powerful glute complex.

Next, initiate the movement by hinging at the hips and sending your butt back slightly prior to dropping down into the squat (this is important to place the emphasis of the movement on the large muscles of the hip joint as opposed to the smaller knee joint). 

As you squat down, focus on keeping your knees in line with your feet. Many new lifters need to focus on pushing their knees out so their knees don't collapse inwards. Do not allow the knees to fall inside of the feet!

Aim to reach a parallel depth, which means your hip crease is in line with the top of the knee. Also, the angle of your spine should roughly match the angle of your shin if you were to look at yourself sideways. No more of this "knees can't go over toes rubbish"! If you have questions as to why, send me a message.

To ascend, drive through the heels while “spreading the floor” to obtain power from the glutes and to keep the knees aligned. Maintain neutral spine with a braced core until the ‘lockout’ is reached at the top of the movement.

Feet shoulder width apart, braced core

Feet shoulder width apart, braced core

Back flat and ‘spreading the floor’ to activate glutes

Back flat and ‘spreading the floor’ to activate glutes

Strong core, neutral spine

Strong core, neutral spine

Knees in line with pinky toes

Knees in line with pinky toes

Bent over Dumbbell Row

Why: Longer, more challenging hikes mean more food and water to carry and therefore, back and postural strength is of the utmost importance to keep back and neck pain at bay. The bent over dumbbell row is perfect because it focuses on strengthen the upper and mid-back muscles while simultaneously reinforcing core strength and stability. 

How: Start with feet hip width apart, hinge forward at the hips and brace your core to support your torso in a horizontal position. Ensure your spine is neutral throughout the exercise. 

Initiate the movement by driving the elbows towards your hips, making sure to not shrug the shoulders up to the ears. The 'pull' of this exercise should come from the back musculature, not the neck or shoulders. Pause at the top and set the shoulders blades back and down to reinforce strong postural engagement. 

Control the lower from the back muscles are you slowly extend that arm for a count of 2 seconds. Note that torso angle shoulder not change throughout this exercise - you should be horizontal with chest towards the floor. Do not swing the weight. 

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Single Leg Glute Bridges

Why: Strong glutes and hamstrings to balance out powerful quads is a MUST to prevent knee injuries. Single leg variations help you to eliminate imbalances from one side to the other to ensure each knee is support equally. Also, single leg glute exercises help to power you up that mountain to get you to the top!

How: Lay on your back with hip width apart and knees at about 90 degrees. Brace your core to stabilize in a neutral spine. Lift one leg up, which will be the resting leg. Press through the heel on the floor and drive from the glutes and hamstrings. Pause at the top and squeeze the glute before slowly lowering back to the start position. Repeat on opposite side.

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ROMANIAN Deadlift, Option of barbell or dumbbells

Why: A deadlift variation is absolutely essential for maintaining muscular balance, and therefor avoiding injuries, against your strong quads. Deadlifts focus on all the generally weaker areas of the body - hamstrings, glutes, back, and core. When executed well, its a huge bang-for-your-buck exercises with loads of benefits including good posture, a strong back, and well, a good looking behind to boot!

How: Safely pick up your bar or dumbbells to the start position. Place your feet hip width apart with toes should pointed forward. Stance will likely feel unnaturally narrow but that’s okay - we don’t want the wider stance of the squat.

To initiate the movement, hinge the hips towards the wall behind you keeping a flat back, tailbone high. Allow chest to come forward as your hips push backwards.

At the bottom position, the movement stops wherever your hamstring flexibility dictates. For those who are tight, you may end right in front of the knees. For those who are more flexible, you can go mid-shin. Pushing past your natural end range will only put the movement into the lower back.

From the bottom position, drive through your heels and push through with your glutes to return to a full standing position. At the top, lockout the position by squeezing glutes (not arching into the low back) and maintain a braced core. Repeat for desired number of reps.

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DEADBUGs

Why: I know, I know – these look super easy BUT if they are done properly, they are incredibly hard (as all my clients can attest to)! A strong deep core keeps our backs supported and safe during long hikes especially if you’re carrying a backpack. 

How: Laying on your back, stack your arms above your shoulders and stack your knees slightly lower than your hips with shins parallel to the ground. 

Engage your core while lightly pressing your back towards the floor – think about squeezing your deep core between your hip bones to activate the very important Transverse Abdominis that many of us are lacking in.

Maintain this tension in your core for up to 1 minute or longer. Yes, I know this seems simple – but it’s like a plank except here, it’s on your back – this is more effective for knowing whether you are over arching your lumbar spine since you have the floor for reference. If you are unable to complete 1 minute, start smaller (say, 15-20 seconds) and build up your endurance until you’re able to hold 4 times for 1 minute.

Once the holds are easy, progress to incorporating heel taps, and further, to adding both arm and leg movements. There are hundreds of ways to do dead bugs but start with the basic one and we will move forward from there! Can’t walk before we hike, right?

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Dumbbell Chest Press

Why: Pushing exercises tend to get a bad rap because people hear that tightening the chest and shoulders will promote a bad posture or rounded shoulders, but if executed properly, keeping a high chest and tension between the shoulder blades can actually help improve posture especially when lugging around a heavy backpack. 

How: Lay on the bench with feet flat on the floor, core lightly engaged to support the low back, shoulders set back and down, and arms extended above your shoulders. To initiate the movement, lower the dumbbells with control to either side of your chest. You should keep your shoulders back and down and should feel a stretch in your chest in the bottom position. Think about keeping your chest high and tension between your shoulder blades to keep a safe shoulder position. Next, press through the chest and the triceps (in the back of the arm) to drive the weight back to the start position. Repeat for the desired number of reps. 

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STEP BACK LUNGE

Why: This is our single leg squat variation that will directly affect your strength and endurance for hiking. If you think about it… isn’t climbing a mountain basically just going a bunch of single leg lunges until you get to the top? If you want to HIKE STRONG, you better lunge strong too!

How: It's important to remember that the working leg should be the FRONT LEG. It is common to see people pushing off the back leg but this will do nothing to strengthen your leg muscles or improve your stability.

While maintaining a braced core with neutral spine, initiate stepping back with the supporting leg by hinging through the hip - this allows focus on the powerful hip musculature which will power you up those slopes.

Keeping the front knee tracking over the outside of the foot, lower yourself with control until your back knee is hovering just above the ground. Your weight should be over the front foot with a slight hinge forward. Again, this encourages utilizing the strength of the front leg to return to the start position as opposed to kicking off the back foot.

To initiate the ascent, drive the heel into the ground to active glutes and use your front leg to push yourself up to the start position. Watch your knee alignment - do not allow the knee to collapse inside of the foot. 

Notice that the position at the bottom of the lunge looks very similar to the position of the squat - angle of the spine should be parallel to the angle of the shin. Remember, the weight is over the front leg and the back leg is there for support and nothing else. 

Do all reps on one leg at a time (do not alternate).

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LATERAL BAND WALKS

Why: We often forget about training laterally, or sideways, movements when it comes to training but incorporating exercise like the lateral band walks strengthen the glute medius which helps to prevent chronic knee and back pain and injury often sustained in our endurance activities like hiking.

How: Place a medium or heavy fitness loop just above the knees, or below the knees if you want to make it more challenging.

Hinge through the hip to set your hips back and to load the glutes. Initiate the movement by stepping sideways with the 'forward' leg while stabilizing with the 'back' leg. Think about opening your knees wide to lead the movement instead of leading with your feet, which can cause the knees to fall inside the feet leading to an ineffective exercise.

Ideally, you should feel this on the upper sides of your glutes on both sides. The form can be tricky on this so please let me know if you have any questions!

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TORSION CONTROL

Why: Now that your dead bugs are dialled, it's time to incorporate an anti-rotation exercise. A strong deep core keeps our backs supported and safe during long hikes especially if you’re carrying a backpack

How: Start in a hand-plank position with hands directly under shoulders, feet shoulder width apart and weight distributed evenly between hands and feet.

Engage your core to create stability. Remember that this is an anti-rotation exercise so the point is to control (i.e. prevent) rotation by keeping your core BRACED. If it looks like you're not moving, then you're doing it right!

While holding your core tight, reach over and tap the opposite elbow in a slow and control fashion (should be 1 tap per second, no faster). Start with 5 taps per side and build up to 15 per side to improve core endurance.

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THE PROGRAM - Week 1 & 2

Complete this full body workout minimum 2 times, ideally 3 times for the first two weeks along with the 2 cardiovascular conditioning workouts of 20-30 minutes each. I would recommend the weight program on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the conditioning days on Tuesday and Saturday. Take Thursday and Sunday as full rest days (helloooo Scandinave Spa for recovery!) or active rest days with yoga/stretching.

The Warm-Up

1 - Get sweaty for 10 minutes

  • Walk, bike or run to the gym or hop on a cardio machine of your choice. The goal is to moderately elevate the heart rate, increase blood flow and get you pantin’ for air.

2 - Mobility work for 5-10 minutes depending on needs

  • Foam roll calves, quads, upper back

  • Banded shoulder mobility, video here

  • PVC shoulder pass throughs, video here

  • Best stretch ever, video here

The Workout

Instruction for giant sets: Complete all exercises in order with minimal rest in between, followed by 30-60 seconds of rest at the end or all 3 exercises. Repeat for specified number of sets (in this case, 3 sets of all exercises in sequence).

Giant set #1:

A1. Goblet squats - 3 sets of 12 reps (written 3x12) - slow count to lower the weight for 4 seconds, pause in the bottom, drive up for 2 seconds

A2. Single leg glute bridges - 3x12 per side

A3. Bentover dumbbell row - 3x12 reps per side

Giant Set #2:

B1. Romanian deadlift - 3x8-10 reps

B2. Deadbug variation - 3x of up to 20 taps or 1 minute holds (less time or reps in form breaks)

B3. Chest press - 3x10 reps

Giant Set #3:

C1. Reverse lunge - 3x12 per side, one side at a time (not alternating)

C2. Lateral band walks - 3x10 per side (20 total steps)

C3. Elbow tap plank - 3x up to 20 taps (start with less if unable to maintain stability)


WEEKS 3 & 4

Exercise Instruction

 Workout #1

1. STEP-UP

Why: Since you're starting to climb steeper ascents, we want to ensure your single leg strength, power and stability are in tip top shape. I recommend adding weight to this exercise to mimic carrying extra load from a backpack to further improve strength. 

It's important to remember that the working leg should be the FRONT LEG. It is common to see people pushing off the back leg but this will do nothing to strengthen your leg muscles or improve your stability.

How: Place front foot on a step at least 12" or higher, depending on your height. You can start on a lower box and build yourself up to a higher one. Keep back foot fairly close to the box so that you don't need to use momentum to get to the top position. 

While maintaining a braced core with neutral spine, initiate the movement by pushing through your front foot keeping the weight in your heel - this allows focus on the powerful hip musculature which will power you up those slopes. Keep a slight hinge forward through the hip so that your body weight is shifted over the middle of the front foot. Again, this encourages utilizing the strength of the front leg as opposed to kicking off the back leg. Watch your knee alignment - do not allow the knee to collapse inside of the foot. 

Control the descent by slowly lowering yourself back to the start position - again, we want to focus on that eccentric strength to get us down the mountain. You can either step back down to the ground with the front foot, or keep it on the box and go right into the next step-up.

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3. SINGLE LEG ROMANIAN DEADLIFT

Why: This exercise is one of my favourites - it targets hamstrings, which MUST be strong to balance out our dominant quads, and the glute medius which stabilizes the knee and pelvis, which is paramount to preventing injury.

Note: It is important to remember that the leg you are strengthening is the standing leg, not the one that you are extending behind you.

How: While maintaining a braced core with neutral spine, initiate the movement by hinging through the hips of the standing leg. Maintain a soft knee as you push the hips back while reaching down towards your toes. The back leg will lift simultaneously as the chest lowers towards the ground. Imagine there's a broomstick attached from your head to the heel of your back foot to keep everything aligned. 

In the bottom position, your hips should both be pointed towards the floor, i.e. there shouldn't be any rotation otherwise we are not properly strengthening the glute medius or hamstrings. 

To return to the start position, push through your heel and contract the glute of the standing leg and drive your hip forward until you lockout at the top position.

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3. ELEVATED PUSH-UPS

Why: Push-ups are a great way to strengthen chest and arms but it often butchered – doing them from an elevated position makes them more effective to build strength to get to the floor and also engages your core at the same time. As your strength improves, move the bar further and further down until you’re strong enough to do them properly on the floor!

How: In a squat rack, Smith machine or on a bench, set yourself up with hands shoulder width on the bar or bench in a strong plank position. Set the shoulder blades and initiate the descent slowly and in control until your mid-chest touches the bar. Pause for 1 second keeping tension through chest and arms. 

Keeping a braced core and shoulders set, press through the chest and arms to return to the start position. Body should move as one unit, i.e. don’t let the hips shoot up before the shoulders.

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4. KNEELING CABLE ROW

Why: Keeping the upper back strong in imperative to maintain good posture while lugging around a large backpack. This variation is great for isolating each side at a time in case there is any imbalance from side to side.

How: In front of a cable machine, set up a mat for your kneeling knee for protection. Grab the cable with your left hand (for example) and step back to kneel on the left knee; Opposite knee should be bent at 90 degrees. 

Staying strong in your core, initiate the movement by driving with the left elbow towards the hips – this cue helps connect to the back muscles instead of just pulling with the arm. Think about squeezing the shoulder blade across towards the spine to really hit the mid-back. 

Pause for 1-2 seconds in this full contraction before controlling the release back to the start position. 

Things to note – do not let the shoulder roll forward or upwards towards the ears as this will not engage the mid-back muscles that we are aiming for. 

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5. BAND PULLAPARTS

Why: More upper back work to keep those shoulders strong! Focus on the shoulder blades and allowing them to squeeze together and pull apart as you move through this exercise.

How: Standing tall with a medium-strength resistance band, brace the core and hold the band at about forehead level. To initiate the movement, pull the band apart with straight arms thinking about the movement coming from between the shoulder blades. Pull the band towards the chest. Pause in this position then use the control to return to the start position. Repeat. 

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6. FULL OR KNEE PLANKS

Why: Core, core, core! We need lots of strength and endurance to hold that backup and keep us trucking through those grueeling kilometres so make sure you push yourself with this one – just when you think you should give up, push that extra 10 seconds.

How: Set the shoulders above the elbows to find your optimal arm position. Whether from your knees or from the feet, lift your torso until you’re in a flat back position – no bum in the air here please and no sagging lower backs! If it helps, think about pulling the front of our hips up towards your ribs or “pull up suspenders” to ensure you’re not over-arching in the lower back (a common problem with planks). Finding that position should be much easier now that you’ve mastered the art of finding a neutral spine in your deadbugs! Maintain this position throughout. Aim is to hold for up to 60-90 seconds unbroken. 

 
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7. SIDE PLANK WITH ROTATION

Why: We wouldn’t have a bulletproof core if we didn’t target the obliques. This unique exercise not only trains the anti-rotation function of th core but also simultaneously incorporates rotation for a real butt-kicking!

How: Stack your shoulder above your elbow and your feet on top of each other, or stagger the feet if you need help with stability. An easier option is to side plank from the knee. Ensure that you’re shoulders, hips and feet are in one straight line – don’t let the hips wander behind you. Once stability is established, extend the top arm to the start position towards the ceiling then reach under towards the floor with a slow, controlled movement. Pause in this rotated position before returning the arm back to the start position. Repeat desired number of reps per side. 

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8. JUMP SQUATS

Why: It’s time to add in some plyometric work to really up the intensity! Plyo movements not only increase our capacity to produce power but also helps us build tolerance for those long and challenging descents from the mountain top. It’s usually not the way up that kills our legs – it’s the way down the really hammers on the muscles. Focus on powerfully exploding upwards and a slow, controlled lower back to the start position. 

How: Set yourself up in a strong squat position in the bottom that you learned from weeks 1 & 2 – strong core, knees in line with pinky toes, weight distributed evening though feet (not just on toes). 

To initiate movement, drive through and use the arms to help build momentum to jump until full extension is reached in the top position. Land softly and control your lower back to the start position. Immediately go into the next rep. 

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Workout #2

Workout #2:

1. Deadlifts

Why: A deadlift variation is absolutely essential for maintaining muscular balance, and therefore avoiding injuries, against your strong quads. Deadlifts focus on all the generally weaker areas of the body - hamstrings, glutes, back, and core. When executed well, its a huge bang-for-your-buck exercises with loads of benefits including good posture, a strong back, and well, a good looking behind to boot!

How: Standing with feet hip width apart and the ties of your shoelaces underneath the bar, contract the core and find your start position by hinging the hips, pushing your butt behind you while keeping a soft knee. Go as far as you can until you feel a stretch in the hamstrings - if you go any further, you will only round through your lower back which isn't safe so please be mindful of your limits. Your back should be neutral and your core should be engaged to prevent rounding or overarching in the lower back.

Once you’ve found your strong start position with hands firmly grasped on the bar just wider than your legs, brace your core and push through your heels by squeezing your glutes to push your hips through - this is a more safe and effective way to lift the bar than it is to just think about pulling, which often ends up pulling too much with the lower back.

At the top position, make sure you glutes and core are engaged to prevent arching of the lower back - a common error that can wreak havoc on your spine over time!

To return to the start position, reverse the movement by hinging your hips back ‘towards the back wall’ and keeping the bar close to the shins all the way down. Lower the bar all the way to the floor.

Throughout the movement, ensure your knee alignment is staying stacked above your ankles - do not let the knees collapse inwards. Imagine you are "spreading the floor" throughout this exercise.

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2. WALKING LUNGES

Time to burn those legs with some walking lunges! These are great for not only single leg strength but also for improving cardiovascular endurance to get you up that slope. Much like the reverse lunges from earlier in the program, ensure that you drive through the front leg – not just kicking off the back one!

Standing tall with a braced core and two dumbbells in your hands, initiate the movement by stepping forward with a mid-range stride and keeping some width between your feet – don’t walk a tight rope or else you’ll topple over! Keeping most of the weight through the front foot and the weight shifted over the front leg, drive through the heel to push yourself to the top position. Now, step forward with the other leg to alternate your stride. Continue for desired number of reps.

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3. LATERAL BAND WALKS

*This is the same instruction as week 1 so if you’ve mastered them already, you may not need to read!

Why: We often forget about training laterally, or sideways, movements when it comes to training but incorporating exercise like the lateral band walks strengthen the glute medius which helps to prevent chronic knee and back pain and injury often sustained in our endurance activities like hiking.

How: Place a medium or heavy fitness loop just above the knees, or below the knees if you want to make it more challenging.

Hinge through the hip to set your hips back and to load the glutes. Initiate the movement by stepping sideways with the 'forward' leg while stabilizing with the 'back' leg. Think about opening your knees wide to lead the movement instead of leading with your feet, which can cause the knees to fall inside the feet leading to an ineffective exercise.

Ideally, you should feel this on the upper sides of your glutes on both sides. The form can be tricky on this so please let me know if you have any questions!

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4. CABLE SINGLE ARM CHEST PRESS

Why: Unilateral (or one-sided) training is very important not only for each individual limb but also for the core’s ability to stay stable and strong. Here, we isolate each side in a pressing motion while bracing the core to create a stable base. You’re working triceps, chest, oblique, deep core, and shoulders – a great overall exercise!

How: Place a cable up at about shoulder height with a single handle attachment. Set yourself up facing away from the machine with the cable on top of your shoulder, fist at the side of your chest and elbow at shoulder level – a similar position to the chest press you learned in Weeks 1 & 2. Stagger your stance by stepping forward with the opposite leg (for example – if right hand holds the cable, left foot steps forward). 

Square your hips and shoulders then brace your core before initiating the movement by pressing the cable forward while keeping it at chest height. Maintain core stability while controlling the cable back to the start position. Torso and legs shoulder not move; only the arm pressing with the cable should move.

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4. Single arm row with stationary lunge

Why: Here we isolate each side to strengthen the back and postural muscles which will help us keep those shoulders and back pain free on long treks - plus the added leg burner of maintain the lunge position gives this row a twist for a full body challenge.

How: Keeping the cable at about shoulder from the last exercise, turn around to face the cable placing one foot forward and holding onto the cable with the opposite hand. Square your ships and shoulders then brace your core to stabilize in your start position. From here, drive with your elbow and pull with you back to complete the row. Ensure that you pull the shoulder blades down and back to get a good squeeze of those postural muscles! It’s imperative that you really think about pulling with the back in order to strengthen the desired muscle groups! Keep control of the weight as you return to the start position. Throughout the movement, maintain the lunge stance. Sink as low as you want to really get a good burn!

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5. LANDMINE SINGLE LEG RDL (Romanian Deadlift)

Why: The landmine adds a unique challenge to the Single leg RDL that you’re performing from Workout #1. It changes the angle and challenges your balance differently. If your gym does not have a landmine set-up, you can place the end of a bar in any corner on a machine, as long as it’s solidly anchored. Feel free to do a repeat of the other Single leg RDL with dumbbells or kettlebells if you’re unable to establish a good landmine set-up!

How: Standing perpendicular to the landmine, grab the barbell with both of your hands and stabilize your bodyweight onto the outside leg. Initiate the movement be bracing your core and hinging forward from the hip bringing the barbell towards the foot that’s on the ground; back leg rises as your torso drops forward. Aim to keep your hips level and to not rotate through the torso. The landmine will really challenge your core so make sure you stay strong! 

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6. LANDMINE ROW

Why: Why not turn the row into a full body challenge? Not only does this variation strengthen the upper back and postural muscles, it also incorporates your core and even targets your hamstrings by holding you in position!

How: Use a rope attachment or metal handle and place it underneath the barbell to use for pulling. Standing over the barbell with feet on either side, hinge forward at the hips with a flat back until your torso is parallel to the ground. Once position is established, focus on pulling the handles by driving with the elbows to engage the muscles of the midback. Squeeze the shoulder blades down and back to really target those postural muscles. 

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7. DEADBUG WITH BALL

Why: Now that you’ve built a strong base, this variation of the deadbug will challenge your core even further to keep you progressing as your hike intensity increases over the coming weeks!

How:Laying on your back, grab a 55-66 cm exercise ball and hold it between your hands and bent knees. Engage your core while lightly pressing your back towards the floor – think about squeezing your deep core between your hip bones to activate the very important Transverse Abdominis that many of us are lacking in.

 Brace your core with a neutral spine then alternate extending the opposite arm and leg with a small pause when the hand and foot are hovering just above the ground. 

A helpful note about finding neutral spine – imagine there’s a water balloon underneath the arch in your lower back. Your aim is to press into the balloon into the floor but not to squash it entirely. Squashing the balloon would mean you are tucking your tailbone too far under but leaving too much arch in your lower back will engage the back msucles more than the core – aim to find the sweet spot in the middle. You should maintain this same pressure throughout the entire exercise. 

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8. Pallof Press with Cable

Why: This powerful anti-rotation is a sneaky one - what looks simple of the surface is actually quite challenging. The Pallof press targets the obliques and deep core to keep us steady and strong on unstable hiking terrain.

How: Set up a cable at chest height with a single handle attachment. Standing sideways to the cable, interlace your fingers around the handle and start with your hands at your chest. Initiate the movement by bracing through your deep core and pressing the handle in a straight line out from your chest - the further you push, the more challenge you’ll feel through your core. Aim to lock out the arms and hold for a 2-second count. Control the handle back to chest height and repeat for desired number of reps.

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THE PROGRAM - Weeks 3 & 4

Complete 3 workouts per week, alternating between Workout #1 and Workout #2 along with 2 cardiovascular conditioning workouts of 45-60 minutes each. I would recommend the weight program on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the conditioning days on Tuesday and Saturday. Take Thursday and Sunday as full rest days (helloooo Scandinave Spa for recovery!) or active rest days with yoga/stretching.

Workout #1:

THE WARM-UP

1 - Get sweaty for 10 minutes

  • Walk, bike or run to the gym or hop on a cardio machine of your choice. The goal is to moderately elevate the heart rate, increase blood flow and get you pantin’ for air.

2 - Mobility work for 5-10 minutes depending on needs

  • Foam roll calves, quads, upper back

  • Banded shoulder mobility, video here

  • PVC shoulder pass throughs, video here

  • Best stretch ever, video here

THE WORKOUT

Instruction for giant sets: Complete all exercises in order with minimal rest in between, followed by 30-60 seconds of rest at the end or all 3 exercises. Repeat for specified number of sets (in this case, 3 sets of all exercises in sequence).

Superset #1:

A1. Step-ups to 16” box or higher - 3x15 reps per side

A2. Single leg RDLs (Romanian deadlifts) - 3x12 reps per side

Giant Set #2:

B1. Elevated push-ups - 3x12 reps

B2. Kneeling cable row - 3x12 reps per side

B3. Band pull aparts 3x20 reps

Giant Set #3:

C1. Full or knee planks - 3-4x up to 1 minute

C2. Side plank with rotation - 3-4x8 per side

C3. Jump squats - 3-4x20 reps


Workout #2:

THE WARM-UP

1 - Get sweaty for 10 minutes

  • Walk, bike or run to the gym or hop on a cardio machine of your choice. The goal is to moderately elevate the heart rate, increase blood flow and get you pantin’ for air.

2 - Mobility work for 5-10 minutes depending on needs

  • Foam roll calves, quads, upper back

  • Banded hip mobility, video here

  • PVC Around the World stretch, video here

  • Best stretch ever, video here

THE WORKOUT

Instruction for giant sets: Complete all exercises in order with minimal rest in between, followed by 30-60 seconds of rest at the end or all 3 exercises. Repeat for specified number of sets (in this case, 3 sets of all exercises in sequence).

Giant Set #1:

A1. Deadlifts - 3x8-10 reps

A2. Walking lunges - 3x12 reps per side (24 steps in total)

A3. Lateral band walks - 3x20 per side (40 steps total)

Giant Set #2:

B1. Cable single arm chest press - 3x10 reps per side

B2. Cable single arm row with static lunge - 3x12 reps per side

Super Set #3:

C1. Landmine RDL (Romanian deadlift) - 3x12 reps per side

C2. Landmine row - 3x12 reps

Super Set #4:

D1. Deadbug with ball - 3x6-10 reps per side, depending on capacity

D2. Pallof press with cable - 3x12 per side



Did you do the workout?

Tag #PeakTraining and #ReachYourPeak so I can follow along!

Photos taken at Altitude Fitness Whistler by Bryn Peaker

Beautiful Rainbow Lake in Whistler BC with Wedge Mountain in the background

Beautiful Rainbow Lake in Whistler BC with Wedge Mountain in the background









W I N T E R • P R E P

Getting In the Zone by Getting In the Zen

When the leaves start to change and the snow line starts to slowly creep down the mountain, I’m ready to kick it into high gear. As a personal trainer in a mountain town, this is “go time” for me and for all of my clients. Whether they’re daily ski enthusiasts or weekend snowboard warriors, they all know the value of taking care of their minds and bodies before they start tackling big days on the mountain. 

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So what does that mean for me? I work long hours with high energy to keep my clients motivated and to keep them progressing until the season kicks off. While maintaining my clients’ workouts, I also have to up the ante of my own sessions. I train more intensely and more frequently to get myself prepared mentally and physically for the demand that lies ahead.


We all know the importance of physical preparation - we need to build strength, endurance, and resiliency - before we pound the powder all day long. But what about recovery? This important facet of physical preparation is often overlooked. Sure, we all know how to smash a workout in the gym but what about after the fact? Rarely do I see people take the time to stretch for even a couple of minutes let alone complete a proper recovery process. And no I’m not just taking about flopping around on a foam roller for a few minutes while you scroll through Instagram (you know who you are!) - I mean true, deep physiological recovery. 


When I think about effective and efficient recovery, my mind automatically goes to hydrotherapy at the Scandinave Spa. The spa isn’t a luxury to me; it’s a necessity. 

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If you’ve never been to a Scandinave Spa before, you are in for a treat! The cycles of hot-cold-relax are profoundly beneficial to not only your mind but to your body.

(Want to learn more about the cycles? Click here to read all about it on the Scandinave Spa’s website.)

Contrast Water Therapy has been shown to have notable positive effects on quickening recovery time. When we take into account the physiological effects of cooling (cryotherapy) and heating (thermotherapy) on the body, we can appreciate why this methodology is used to improve the recovery of everyone from your average Joe to an elite level athlete. As quoted below for all my fellow science nerds out there, there have been numerous studies conducted that have known the efficacy of hydrotherapy, all of which have been listed here on the Human Kinetics website.

“Higgins and Kaminski (1998) suggested that contrast water therapy can reduce edema through a pumping action created by alternating peripheral vasoconstriction and vasodilation. Contrast water therapy may bring about other changes such as increased or decreased tissue temperature, increased or decreased blood flow, changes in blood flow distribution, reduced muscle spasm, hyperemia of superficial blood vessels, reduced inflammation, and improved range of motion (Myrer et al. 1994). Active recovery has traditionally been considered superior to passive recovery. Contrast water therapy may elicit many of the same benefits of active recovery and may prove to be more beneficial, given that contrast water therapy imposes fewer energy demands on the athlete (Wilcock et al. 2006).”

By increases in overall blood flow and decreases in general inflammation, Contrast Water Therapy has been shown to decrease ‘DOMS’, which is delayed onset muscle soreness experienced after an intense bout of activity, that feeling we all know too well after participating in a challenging workout or long day on the slopes. Did someone say no more sore legs? Count me in!

Of course I enjoy the physical benefits of the Scandinave experience but more importantly, I find deep value and great benefit from the mental side of things. The time to disconnect from my phone and the chaos of day-to-day business brings me clarity. It opens my mind to visualize and focus on goal-setting of what I want to accomplish this season. The digital detox allows me to calm my thoughts, relax my body and recharge my being to take on another busy week of work and adventuring in the mountains.

We all know that it’s good for us to put the phones down, shut off the screens and to focus on yoga or meditation… but if you’re like me, you have a hard time doing that. Personally, yoga schedules don’t align with mine (most clients want to train with me at the same time there’s demand for yoga classes!) and frankly, I don’t have the self-discipline to do meditation just yet.

The only way I get “me time” is to grab my book and head to the Scandinave. It’s truly one of the few places you can go that’s within a short drive where you can be completely immersed in absolute silence.

“True silence is the rest of the mind and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.” – William Penn

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Our busy mountain lifestyles here are so go-go-go that it is imperative to slow down, relax our bodies and recuperate our minds. Though we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, we’re not immune to stress and overwhelm that our daily rigours endure. I see it in my clients all the time - they’re so busy running around, figuratively and literally, that they rarely slow down to deeply appreciate this gift we’ve been given. As a community, we regularly speak of the deep connection we feel to Mother Earth towering around us but it’s not until we can sit still in silence that we can fully appreciate what encompasses this unique place we all call home.


Chill out. Find a corner. Read a book. Take deep breaths. Close your eyes.
Recover. Rejuvenate. Hot. Cold. Relax. Repeat.

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Photos by Chad Chomlack

R A I N B O W • L A K E

So I hear you want to climb a mountain....

How F I T do you feel to tackle that hike you’ve been dreaming about? Maybe it’s something daunting like Wedgemount or something more mellow like Elfin Lakes. Whatever your adventure of choice may be, myself and Lynn from What Lynn Loves Blog have got you covered - we’re bringing you our 5 favourite hikes this summer season! You can check out her rendition here www.whatlynnloves.com/whistler/

We started with a beginner level hike, Cheakamus Lake which you can find HERE and then increased the challenge to take on low-intermediate Crater Rim Trail which you can read HERE. We will be increasing in difficulty over the summer months to help you conquer whatever hike you want to tackle! Along the way, I will be providing progressive exercises to get you strong and fit so you can take on any adventure feeling confident and coming out pain and injury free.

Can you spot the adventurous duo?

Can you spot the adventurous duo?


Hike #3 - Rainbow Lake

Believe it or not, the snow has just melted enough to allow easy access to some of Whistler's most iconic hikes. Cooler than normal temperatures this spring means the snow has been slow to melt but the moment the trail was deemed clear, we made the trek to visit this gem.

With a steady incline up the 8 km trail and an absolutely breath-taking view from the top, Rainbow Lake hike has quickly become one of my favourite places in Whistler. I'm certain this will be yours too if you like a good challenge, towering waterfalls, rushing rivers, suspension bridges and views that take in the majestic surrounding landscape.

A beautiful lookout of Green Lake near the start of the trail

A beautiful lookout of Green Lake near the start of the trail

Checking out the cascading waterfall about half way up

Checking out the cascading waterfall about half way up

Views of my favourite Wedge Mountain along the way!

Views of my favourite Wedge Mountain along the way!

The first of two beautifully constructed bridges along the trail

The first of two beautifully constructed bridges along the trail

The trailhead is conveniently located a short 10 minute drive from the village on Alta Lake Road near the entry to Rainbow Park. The climb starts quickly and consistently from the very bottom so you know exactly what you're in for from the beginning. The trail is very clear and easy to follow throughout the 850 metre elevation gain to the top which takes approximately 3 hours. Though it may be tempting, do not swim, camp or fish once you reach Rainbow Lake - this is the water supply for Whistler so such activities are forbidden. Please also note that for this same reason, dogs are not allowed on this trail whatsoever.

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My food on this trek was a little more substantial than the last hike. If you know me, you know I need lots of food to keep me going! As I mentioned in my last blog post, I have an auto-immune disease called Rheumatoid Arthiris so therefore, I have a fairly restrictive diet consisting mostly of plant-based, anti-inflammatory foods. As you can imagine, this is very challenging when it comes to preparing foods for adventures such as this!

To start our mission, I had smoothie prepared with Vega Protein & Greens and an almond latte (from Alpine Cafe, of course!) before departing followed by a gigantic pear about 3/4s of the way up. Once reaching the top, I had prepared a veggie burger on a Udi's Gluten-Free bun with spinach and mustard. For a second snack, I had Hippie Snacks Seed & Nut clusters in the sweet coconut flavour which are so yummy that I accidentally ate the whole bag! I love that these are locally made from nothing but organic fruits, nuts and seeds for a healthy and super good-for-you-and-don't-feel-bad snack. 

Taking in Wedge Mountain (left) and Blackcomb (right) from the far side of Rainbow Lake   

Taking in Wedge Mountain (left) and Blackcomb (right) from the far side of Rainbow Lake

 

I could tell you more about the hike but I'll let Lynn tell you the rest on her blog HERE

Now it's time to get to the good stuff - the E X E R C I S E! The last instalment focused on building more strength in your fundamental movements. Now, we're making it even harder to keep up the increasing demand from higher and longer hikes.  


Workout #1 - The Pump It Up, Way Up

For this instalment, we're focusing on using tempo and heavier weights to get you stronger and more resilient to the stressors of bigger hikes. Ensure that you choose weights that are heavier than before, but not so heavy that your form falters. Remember - form is king for injury and pain prevention. Good reps reinforce good movement!

1. weighted SQUAT with slow lower and pause

Now that you've mastered the technique of the weighted squat, it's time to make it harder by going slower and pausing in the bottom for 2 seconds. The lowering portion of the squat is called the 'eccentric' phase which is similar to descending the mountain after you reach the top. Concentric strength is what most people focus on in the gym... it's the 'push' or shortening portion of an exercise, such as coming out from the bottom of the squat or pushing out of a push-up. But hiking (also, skiing and snowboarding) involve eccentric strength - the lengthening portion that absorbs force. This stimuli causes more muscle breakdown and subsequently more soreness afterwards - in other words, it's not the hike up that will hurt you, it's the hike down that will. So let's prepare for that with our slowed down squats with a pause.

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width (keep in mind that foot position varies from person to person so go with what feels comfortable for you). Your toes should be pointed slightly outward – about 5 to 20 degrees outward. 

At the top, engage your core to keep your spine in a neutral position, i.e. don’t round or hyperextend (over arch) your back. Think about 'bracing', like someone is going to punch you in the belly, then maintain this core tension throughout each rep.

Think about ‘turning two dials’ outwards underneath your feet to create tension in your glutes. We call this "spreading the floor" which provides proper knee and pelvic stability by engaging the powerful glute complex.

Next, initiate the movement by hinging at the hips and sending your butt back slightly prior to dropping down into the squat (this is important to place the emphasis of the movement on the large muscles of the hip joint as opposed to the smaller knee joint). Control this lowering portion for 4 SECONDS.

As you squat down, focus on keeping your knees in line with your feet. Many new lifters need to focus on pushing their knees out so their knees don't collapse inwards. Do not allow the knees to fall inside of the feet! We call this "spreading the floor" - imagine you're ripping a piece of paper underneath your feet in half.

Aim to reach a parallel depth, which means your hip crease is in line with the top of the knee. Also, the angle of your spine should roughly match the angle of your shin if you were to look at yourself sideways. No more of this "knees can't go over toes rubbish"! If you have questions as to why, send me a message.

Pause in the bottom position for 2 SECONDS while maintaining your good form.

To ascend, drive through the heels while “spreading the floor” to obtain power from the glutes and to keep the knees aligned. Maintain neutral spine with a braced core until the ‘lockout’ is reached at the top of the movement.

Top position of the squat

Top position of the squat

Note that back and shin angle are roughly parallel

Note that back and shin angle are roughly parallel

Top position, holding dumbbell in 'goblet' grip 

Top position, holding dumbbell in 'goblet' grip 

Bottom position, keeping knees aligned with feet

Bottom position, keeping knees aligned with feet

2. weighted step-up

Since you're starting to climb steeper ascents, we want to ensure your single leg strength, power and stability are in tip top shape. I recommend adding weight to this exercise to mimic carrying extra load from a backpack to further improve strength. 

It's important to remember that the working leg should be the FRONT LEG. It is common to see people pushing off the back leg but this will do nothing to strengthen your leg muscles or improve your stability.

Place front foot on a step at least 12" or higher, depending on your height. You can start on a lower box and build yourself up to a higher one. Keep back foot fairly close to the box so that you don't need to use momentum to get to the top position. 

While maintaining a braced core with neutral spine, initiate the movement by pushing through your front foot keeping the weight in your heel - 
this allows focus on the powerful hip musculature which will power you up those slopes. Keep a slight hinge forward through the hip so that your body weight is shifted over the middle of the front foot. Again, this encourages utilizing the strength of the front leg as opposed to kicking off the back leg. Watch your knee alignment - do not allow the knee to collapse inside of the foot. 

Control the descent by slowly lowering yourself back to the start position - again, we want to focus on that eccentric strength to get us down the mountain. You can either step back down to the ground with the front foot, or keep it on the box and go right into the next step-up..

Start position of the step-up

Start position of the step-up

Top position of the step-up

Top position of the step-up

4. weighed glute bridge aka. hip thrusts

We always tend to focus on quads when looking to improve hiking, or any other activity for that matter, but we need balance in the body to avoid injury and to keep our joints happy. A balanced body is a pain-free body! Here, your focus will be on improving glute strength and power to offset overly strong quads.

We need strong glutes to protect our knees and lower backs from overuse injuries that can happen during our long-duration activities.

Sit on the floor with a 12" box resting under your shoulder blades with feet hip to shoulder width apart, toes pointed straight forward. Brace your core to support the spine and ensure your knees are pressing slightly outwards so that they're not collapsing inside of the feet. Place a dumbbell or barbell over the hips to apply a resistance to improve strength further. 

If you have a fitness loop or resistance band, place it above the knees and press outwards throughout the exercise to activate the sides of the glute complex.

Initiate the movement by pushing through your heels and contracting the glutes to lift your hips towards the ceiling. It's imperative that you maintain a neutral spine - if you arch your back, you will only feel this in your lower back and not your glutes. If it helps, think about tucking your tailbone under while you lockout at the top of the movement. 

Control the descent by using your core and glutes to lower you back to the start position ensuring that you are hinging through the hip, not through the lower back. Knees should be pressing slightly outwards throughout the duration of this exercise to prevent the knees from collapsing inwards. 

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Notice that neutral spine with engaged core to prevent arching or rounding

Notice that neutral spine with engaged core to prevent arching or rounding

3. bent over dumbbell row

Longer, more challenging hikes mean more food and water to carry and therefore, back and postural strength is of the utmost importance to keep back and neck pain at bay. The bent over dumbbell row is perfect because it focuses on strengthen the upper and mid-back muscles while simultaneously reinforcing core strength and stability. 

Start with feet hip width apart, hinge forward at the hips and brace your core to support your torso in a horizontal position. Ensure your spine is neutral throughout the exercise. 

Initiate the movement by driving the elbows towards your hips, making sure to not shrug the shoulders up to the ears. The 'pull' of this exercise should come from the back musculature, not the neck or shoulders. Pause at the top and set the shoulders blades back and down to reinforce strong postural engagement. 

Control the lower from the back muscles are you slowly extend that arm for a count of 2 seconds. Note that torso angle shoulder not change throughout this exercise - you should be horizontal with chest towards the floor. Do not swing the weight. 

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5. BIRDDOG

Once you look past the strange name, you'll see that this is one of those exercises with a lot of bang for your buck. It targets multiple muscles including deep anterior core, obliques, erector spinae, glutes, trapezius - basically every muscle involved in maintaining strong posture. It's simplistic nature means it's often overlooked but give it a try to see for yourself that it's not as easy as it seems!

Start on all fours with hands underneath shoulders and knees underneath hips. Find neutral spine in which your natural thoracic and lumbar arches are achieved - your goal is to maintain this spinal position as you move through the exercise, hence where the postural stabilization comes into play.

Initiate the movement by bracing your core then lifting opposite arm and leg slowly and in control. Press through your heel to activate the glute and ensure the shoulder does not shrug up towards your ear. Ensure that you lower back does not arch or sag towards the floor. Pause and hold for 2 seconds. Repeat 5 times on each side for a total of 10 repetitions.

Start with one side at a time then move to alternating sides once you're feeling more stable. You can build up to 15-20 reps per side. 

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5. deadbug with ball

I know, I know - these look super easy BUT if they are done properly, they are incredibly hard (as all my clients can attest to)! A strong deep core keeps our backs supported and safe during long hikes especially if you’re carrying a backpack. 

Laying on your back, hold an exercise between your hands, which should be directly above your shoulders, and your knees should be stacked above your hips and at 90 degrees.

Engage your core while lightly pressing your back towards the floor - think about squeezing your deep core between your hip bones to activate the very important Transverse Abdominis that many of us are lacking in.

Initiate the exercise by lowering one arm and the opposite leg towards the floor while maintaining the same neutral spine. The goal here is to create a solid "pillar" with your braced core - do not allow the lower back to arch as you move your arms and legs. Return the first arm/leg to the start position and proceed to lower the other arm/leg to the ground. Alternate until you've completed 10 reps on each side. If you have to, start with less reps and build up to 10 or even 15 on each side. 

Engage core to maintain neutral spine

Engage core to maintain neutral spine

Extend left arm and right leg

Extend left arm and right leg

Extend opposite side, right arm and left leg

Extend opposite side, right arm and left leg


NOTE: Include the single leg deadlift and the lateral band walk from the last workout series - you can find it HERE.

I recommend for a beginner to complete 3-4 sets of each exercise for 8-12 reps with a moderate weight. Intermediate level exercisers can complete 5-6 sets of each exercise with a moderate to heavy weight. 

Stay tuned for next instalment where we’ll be adding even more challenging exercises to get you M O U N T A I N S T R O N G. 

These are just a few examples of exercises that will get you fit this hiking season. If you want to learn technique or are looking to expand your exercise library, get in touch and I'll get you on the road, er, trail to success!

Did you do the hike?

Don't forget to tag #PeakTraining and #WhatLynnLoves
in your post so we can follow your adventures!

#PTxWLL

Photography by Bryn Peaker

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C R A T E R • R I M

So I hear you want to climb a mountain....

How F I T do you feel to tackle that hike you’ve been dreaming about? Maybe it’s something daunting like Wedgemount or something more mellow like Elfin Lakes. Whatever your adventure of choice may be, myself and Lynn from What Lynn Loves Blog have got you covered - we’re bringing you our 5 favourite hikes this summer season! You can check out her rendition here www.whatlynnloves.com/whistler/crater-rim-trail-hike

We started with a beginner level hike, Cheakamus Lake which you can find HERE and will be increasing in difficulty over the coming months to help you conquer whatever hike you want to tackle! Along the way, I will be providing progressive exercises to get you strong and fit so you can take on any adventure feeling confident and coming out pain and injury free.

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Hike #2 - Crater Rim Trail & Logger's Lake

Searching for a hike that’s moderate, very quiet and rather unknown to the general public? Look no further than one of the best kept secrets in Whistler – Logger’s Lake. Don’t let the name fool you; this lake has an interesting history that far precedes the existence of logging workers. This hidden gem deep in the Whistler Interpretive Forest, which lies in the territories of the Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation, was formed at the base of a 10,000 year old extinct volcano! The history becomes apparent when you look around and see that you’re surrounded by crumbling walls of a bowl-shaped crater that is laden with beautiful hiking and biking trails to enjoy. 

Starting the ascent of the Crater Rim Trail

Starting the ascent of the Crater Rim Trail

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First sights of Logger's Lake and beyond

First sights of Logger's Lake and beyond

It takes a quick 10 minutes to get to the lake - that's the easy bit. Once you reach Logger's Lake and you snap a few photos to take in all it's glory, it's time to get the hike started so you can see the view from the top! The ascent starts strong but clear with a climb over roots, rocks but nothing too difficult - which makes it the perfect intermediate level for our second hike. The elevation gain is 314 m and the length is around 4.5 km which took us 3 hours, but we stopped to take lots of photos and to enjoy snacks! Speaking of eating.... 

Did I catch it?!

Did I catch it?!

Time for good and a good view featuring my personal favourite,  coconut clusters!

Time for good and a good view featuring my personal favourite, coconut clusters!

I often get asked about what food I bring on my hikes and, in fact, it's a running joke with my friends that I never leave home without snack of some sort... and it's true! Even on short hikes, I always like to bring some sustainable fuel to keep me going. For those of you who don't know, I have a chronic auto-immune disease called Rheumatoid Arthritis that limits the types of food I can have so needless to say, it's a huge challenge to find healthy, easy, and portable snacks. Luckily, I have found the incredible brand Hippie Snacks that offer products that are organic, dairy-free, gluten-free and freaking delicious! They're made with nothing but real organic fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds & grains seasoned with natural ingredients for a super satisfying snack that you don't feel bad about. They make my belly, my brain and my body very happy!

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I could tell you more about the hike but I'll let Lynn tell you the rest on her blog HERE

Now it's time to get to the good stuff - the E X E R C I S E! The last instalment built your foundation with with the fundamentals - squats, dead bugs, and lunges. (You can check it out HERE if you haven't already.)  Now it's time to up the ante and get you working harder so you can get H I K I N G S T R O N G E R! We will focus on more challenging exercises, specifically single leg work because isn't an intense hike really just a bunch of lunges going up a mountain?

It's important to remember that one of the best ways to get better at hiking is… well… hiking! Putting in the kilometres is a surefire way to improve your fitness. You always want to ensure you're incorporating more elevation gain to challenge you further, which is why we chose this hike. It may not be longer but it certainly is more challenging than Cheakamus Lake! With that being said, there are certain tactics to improve and enhance your hiking experience - we can use targeted exercises to build your strength and stability so you can enjoy a long day up (and down!) the mountain and walk away from it free of back and knee pain. 


Workout #2 - The Level Up

For this instalment, our focus is to build upon the foundation you started 3 weeks ago. By now, your squat should be solid and your dead bugs should feel easy. Here's the exercises we're going to use to level you up:

1. weighted SQUAT

Now that you've mastered the technique of the bodyweight squat, it's time to add resistance to make it stronger and more challenging. You can add a dumbbell, kettlebell, barbell, loaded back pack, toddler, ANYTHING to give you the resistance you need. 

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width (keep in mind that foot position varies from person to person so go with what feels comfortable for you). Your toes should be pointed slightly outward – about 5 to 20 degrees outward. 

At the top, engage your core to keep your spine in a neutral position, i.e. don’t round or hyperextend (over arch) your back. Think about 'bracing', like someone is going to punch you in the belly, then maintain this core tension throughout each rep.

Think about ‘turning two dials’ outwards underneath your feet to create tension in your glutes. We call this "spreading the floor" which provides proper knee and pelvic stability by engaging the powerful glute complex.

Next, initiate the movement by hinging at the hips and sending your butt back slightly prior to dropping down into the squat (this is important to place the emphasis of the movement on the large muscles of the hip joint as opposed to the smaller knee joint). 

As you squat down, focus on keeping your knees in line with your feet. Many new lifters need to focus on pushing their knees out so their knees don't collapse inwards. Do not allow the knees to fall inside of the feet! We call this "spreading the floor" - imagine you're ripping a piece of paper underneath your feet in half.

Aim to reach a parallel depth, which means your hip crease is in line with the top of the knee. Also, the angle of your spine should roughly match the angle of your shin if you were to look at yourself sideways. No more of this "knees can't go over toes rubbish"! If you have questions as to why, send me a message.

To ascend, drive through the heels while “spreading the floor” to obtain power from the glutes and to keep the knees aligned. Maintain neutral spine with a braced core until the ‘lockout’ is reached at the top of the movement.

Top position of the squat

Top position of the squat

Note that back and shin angle are roughly parallel

Note that back and shin angle are roughly parallel

Top position, holding dumbbell in 'goblet' grip

Top position, holding dumbbell in 'goblet' grip

Bottom position, keeping knees aligned with feet

Bottom position, keeping knees aligned with feet

2. Bulgarian split squat

We're taking our lunge to the next level with the Bulgarian split squat, also called rear foot elevated split squat, or Bulgarians for short. It is paramount for hiking that we have solid single leg strength and this exercise is one of my favourites for building just that.

It's important to remember that the working leg should be the FRONT LEG. It is common to see people pushing off the back leg but this will do nothing to strengthen your leg muscles or improve your stability.

Initiate by placing back foot on top of a box, table, or bar in a comfortable position that you can maintain throughout the set. Ensure there is width between your feet as well as enough distance that you can comfortably lower yourself down. 

While maintaining a braced core with neutral spine, initiate the movement through the hips by hinging back and keeping the weight in your heel - this allows focus on the powerful hip musculature which will power you up those slopes. Then lower your butt down towards the heel of your standing leg with slow control - don't just drop down! Go as far as your flexibility and strength will allow. Ideally, you will lower yourself until your back knee is hovering above the ground but this may take time to build up the necessary strength.

Keep a slight hinge forward through the hip so that your body weight is shifted over the middle of the front foot. Again, this encourages utilizing the strength of the front leg to return to the start position as opposed to kicking off the back leg.

To initiate the ascent, drive the heel into the ground to active glutes and use your front leg to push yourself up to the start position. Watch your knee alignment - do not allow the knee to collapse inside of the foot. 

Notice that the position at the bottom of the split squat looks very similar to the position of the regular squat - angle of the spine should be parallel to the angle of the shin. Remember, the weight is over the front leg and the back leg is there for support and nothing else. 

Start position of the Bulgarian

Start position of the Bulgarian

Bottom position of the Bulgarian

Bottom position of the Bulgarian

Pay attention to your knee alignment

Pay attention to your knee alignment

4. romanian deadlifts (two legs)

After mastering the hip hinge pattern of the glute bridge, it's time to learn the Romanian deadlift which focuses on core, hamstrings and glutes. We need strong glutes to protect our knees and lower backs from overuse injuries that can happen during our long-duration activities.

Standing with feet hip width apart and toes pointed directly forward, contract the core and initiate the movement by hinging the hips, pushing your butt behind you while keeping a soft knee. Go as far as you can until you feel a stretch in the hamstrings - if you go any further, you will only round through your lower back which isn't safe so please be mindful of your limits. Your back should be neutral and your core should be engaged to prevent rounding or overarching in the lower back.

Ensure your knee alignment is staying stacked above your ankles - do not let the knees collapse inwards. Imagine you are "spreading the floor" throughout this exercise too.

To return to the start position, imagine squeezing your glutes to push your hips forward to the top position. If it helps, think about tucking your tailbone under while you lockout at the top of the movement to ensure you are not overarching, which I frequently see in this exercise.

Start position of the RDL

Start position of the RDL

Notice that neutral spine with engaged core to prevent arching or rounding

Notice that neutral spine with engaged core to prevent arching or rounding

Front angle to show foot position

Front angle to show foot position

3. weighted SINGLE LEG ROMANIAN DEADLIFT

Now that you've mastered the single leg RDL as we trainers endearingly call it, it's time to increase the challenge and add some weight! This exercise is one of my favourites - it targets hamstrings, which MUST be strong to balance out our dominant quads, and the glute medius which stabilizes the knee and pelvis, which is paramount to preventing injury.

It is important to remember that the leg you are strengthening is the standing leg, not the one that you are extending behind you.

While maintaining a braced core with neutral spine, initiate the movement by hinging through the hips of the standing leg. Maintain a soft knee as you push the hips back while reaching down towards your toes. The back leg will lift simultaneously as the chest lowers towards the ground. Imagine there's a broomstick attached from your head to the heel of your back foot to keep everything aligned. 

In the bottom position, your hips should both be pointed towards the floor, i.e. there shouldn't be any rotation otherwise we are not properly strengthening the glute medius or hamstrings. 

To return to the start position, push through your heel and contract the glute of the standing leg and drive your hip forward until you lockout at the top position.

Start position of the single leg RDL

Start position of the single leg RDL

Bottom position of the single leg RDL - keep hips squared towards the floor

Bottom position of the single leg RDL - keep hips squared towards the floor

Keep knee soft and push hips back

Keep knee soft and push hips back

5. Torsion control

Now that you're dead bugs are dialled, it's time to incorporate a anti-rotation exercise. A strong deep core keeps our backs supported and safe during long hikes especially if you’re carrying a backpack. 

Start in a hand-plank position with hands directly under shoulders, feet shoulder width apart and weight distributed evenly between hands and feet.

Engage your core to create stability. Remember that this is an anti-rotation exercise so the point is to control (i.e. prevent) rotation by keeping your core BRACED. If it looks like you're not moving, then you're doing it right!

While holding your core tight, reach over and tap the opposite elbow in a slow and control fashion (should be 1 tap per second, no faster). Start with 5 taps per side and build up to 15 per side to improve core endurance.

 

Hang-plank position to start

Hang-plank position to start

Tapping each elbow, keep hips from rocking

Tapping each elbow, keep hips from rocking

Tapping other elbow maintaining stable hips

Tapping other elbow maintaining stable hips

5. Lateral band walks

We often forget about training laterally, or sideways, movements when it comes to training but incorporating exercise like the lateral band walks strengthen the glute medius which helps to prevent chronic knee and back pain and injury often sustained in our endurance activities like hiking.

Place a medium or heavy fitness loop just above the knees, or below the knees if you want to make it more challenging.

Hinge through the hip to set your hips back and to load the glutes. Initiate the movement by stepping sideways with the 'forward' leg while stabilizing with the 'back' leg. Think about opening your knees wide to lead the movement instead of leading with your feet, which can cause the knees to fall inside the feet leading to an ineffective exercise.

Ideally, you should feel this on the upper sides of your glutes on both sides. The form can be tricky on this so please let me know if you have any questions!

Start with feet narrow

Start with feet narrow

Do not let knees collapse inwards

Do not let knees collapse inwards

Keep knees pressing wide

Keep knees pressing wide

Maintain hip hinge position throughout

Maintain hip hinge position throughout


I recommend for a beginner to complete 3-4 sets of each exercise for 8-15 reps. Intermediate level exercisers can complete 5-6 sets of each exercise. 

Stay tuned for next instalment where we’ll be adding more challenging exercises to get you
M O U N T A I N S T R O N G. 

These are just a few examples of exercises that will get you fit this hiking season. If you want to learn technique or are looking to expand your exercise library, get in touch and I'll get you on the road, er, trail to success!

Did you do the hike?

Don't forget to tag #PeakTraining and #WhatLynnLoves
in your post so we can follow your adventures!

#PTxWLL

Photography by Bryn Peaker & Jessie Byrne

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C H E A K A M U S • L A K E

Welcome to our Hike Series! 

- H I K I N G S T R O N G -

Hiking season has quickly come upon us this year. With temps already reaching high 20s to 30s in the valley, we’re ready to tackle the outdoors and make the most of the short summer we have here in the coastal mountains. But how F I T do you feel to tackle that hike you’ve been dreaming about? Maybe it’s something daunting like Wedgemount or something more mellow like Elfin Lakes. Whatever your adventure of choice may be, myself and Lynn from What Lynn Loves Blog have got you covered - we’re bringing you our 5 favourite hikes this summer season! You can check out her rendition here www.whatlynnloves.com/whistler/cheakamus-lake-hike

We will start with a beginner level hike and will be increasing in difficulty over the coming months to help you conquer whatever hike you want to tackle! Along the way, I will be providing progressive exercises to get you strong and fit so you can take on any adventure feeling confident and coming out pain and injury free.

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Hike #1 - Cheakamus Lake

Cheakamus Lake is one of those iconic sights you see from the top of Whistler mountain but my favourite way of seeing this shimmering beauty is lakeside. A short 3 kilometre hike through the lush coastal rainforest lands you at the bottom of this stunning lake. With a small elevation gain of 80 metres, it’s very accessible in the early season since most of the snow has melted. This is the perfect hike to kick the season off since it’s quite mellow. 

Most of the trail is through the lush rainforest

Most of the trail is through the lush rainforest

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A perfect spot for a chat and snacks

A perfect spot for a chat and snacks

The breathtaking view of Cheakamus Lake from Whistler Mountain (High Note Trail, to be exact)

The breathtaking view of Cheakamus Lake from Whistler Mountain (High Note Trail, to be exact)

Once reaching the bottom of the lake, you can continue along the shore furthering your hike another 4 kilometres if you choose to, and I would definitely recommend doing so if you have the time and the stamina! Speaking of stamina….

One of the best ways to get better at hiking is… well… hiking! Putting in the kilometres is a surefire way to improve your fitness. With that being said, there are certain tactics to improve and enhance your hiking experience - we can use targeted exercises to build your strength and stability so you can enjoy a long day up (and down!) the mountain and walk away from it free of back and knee pain. 


Workout #1 - The Foundation

This instalment, we are going to focus on the basics of muscular strength and endurance training to ensure you have a solid foundation to build your fitness upon. Here are your fundamental movements:

1. SQUAT

Whether you love it or you hate it, the squat is the king of lower body exercises. Having sound technique and mobility in your squat is paramount for enjoying all of the activities we love in these mountains so if you haven't mastered it yet, now is your time! 

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width (keep in mind that foot position varies from person to person so go with what feels comfortable for you). Your toes should be pointed slightly outward – about 5 to 20 degrees outward. 

At the top, engage your core to keep your spine in a neutral position, i.e. don’t round or hyperextend (over arch) your back. Think about 'bracing', like someone is going to punch you in the belly, then maintain this core tension throughout each rep.

Think about ‘turning two dials’ outwards underneath your feet to create tension in your glutes. We call this "spreading the floor" which provides proper knee and pelvic stability by engaging the powerful glute complex.

Next, initiate the movement by hinging at the hips and sending your butt back slightly prior to dropping down into the squat (this is important to place the emphasis of the movement on the large muscles of the hip joint as opposed to the smaller knee joint). 

As you squat down, focus on keeping your knees in line with your feet. Many new lifters need to focus on pushing their knees out so their knees don't collapse inwards. Do not allow the knees to fall inside of the feet!

Aim to reach a parallel depth, which means your hip crease is in line with the top of the knee. Also, the angle of your spine should roughly match the angle of your shin if you were to look at yourself sideways. No more of this "knees can't go over toes rubbish"! If you have questions as to why, send me a message.

To ascend, drive through the heels while “spreading the floor” to obtain power from the glutes and to keep the knees aligned. Maintain neutral spine with a braced core until the ‘lockout’ is reached at the top of the movement.

Start position of the squat

Start position of the squat

Bottom position of the squat

Bottom position of the squat

Pay attention to your knee alignment

Pay attention to your knee alignment

2. STEP BACK LUNGE

This is our single leg squat variation that will directly affect your strength and endurance for hiking. If you think about it… isn’t climbing a mountain basically just going a bunch of single leg lunges until you get to the top? If you want to HIKE STRONG, you better lunge strong too!

It's important to remember that the working leg should be the FRONT LEG. It is common to see people pushing off the back leg but this will do nothing to strengthen your leg muscles or improve your stability.

While maintaining a braced core with neutral spine, initiate stepping back with the supporting leg by hinging through the hip - this allows focus on the powerful hip musculature which will power you up those slopes.

Keeping the front knee tracking over the outside of the foot, lower yourself with control until your back knee is hovering just above the ground. Your weight should be over the front foot with a slight hinge forward. Again, this encourages utilizing the strength of the front leg to return to the start position as opposed to kicking off the back foot.

To initiate the ascent, drive the heel into the ground to active glutes and use your front leg to push yourself up to the start position. Watch your knee alignment - do not allow the knee to collapse inside of the foot. 

Notice that the position at the bottom of the lunge looks very similar to the position of the squat - angle of the spine should be parallel to the angle of the shin. Remember, the weight is over the front leg and the back leg is there for support and nothing else. 

Start position of the lunge

Start position of the lunge

Bottom position of the lunge

Bottom position of the lunge

Pay attention to your knee alignment

Pay attention to your knee alignment

3. SINGLE LEG ROMANIAN DEADLIFT

Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as the name sounds. This exercise is one of my favourites - it targets hamstrings, which MUST be strong to balance out our dominant quads, and the glute medius which stabilizes the knee and pelvis, which is paramount to preventing injury.

It is important to remember that the leg you are strengthening is the standing leg, not the one that you are extending behind you.

While maintaining a braced core with neutral spine, initiate the movement by hinging through the hips of the standing leg. Maintain a soft knee as you push the hips back while reaching down towards your toes. The back leg will lift simultaneously as the chest lowers towards the ground. Imagine there's a broomstick attached from your head to the heel of your back foot to keep everything aligned. 

In the bottom position, your hips should both be pointed towards the floor, i.e. there shouldn't be any rotation otherwise we are not properly strengthening the glute medius or hamstrings. 

To return to the start position, push through your heel and contract the glute of the standing leg and drive your hip forward until you lockout at the top position.

Start position of the single leg RDL

Start position of the single leg RDL

Bottom position of the single leg RDL - keep hips squared towards the floor

Bottom position of the single leg RDL - keep hips squared towards the floor

4. GLUTE BRIDGES

Admit it, you get shy doing these in the gym - but don’t be! We need strong glutes to protect our knees and lower backs from overuse injuries that can happen during our long-duration activities.

Laying on the floor with feet hip to shoulder width apart with toes pointed straight forward. Brace your core to support the spine and ensure your knees are pressing slightly outwards so that they're not collapsing inside of the feet. 

Initiate the movement by pushing through your heels and contracting the glutes to lift your hips towards the ceiling. It's imperative that you maintain a neutral spine - if you arch your back, you will only feel this in your low back and not your glutes. If it helps, think about tucking your tailbone under while you lockout at the top of the movement. 

Control the descent by using your core and glutes to lower you back to the start position. Knees should be pressing slightly outwards throughout the duration of this exercise to prevent the knees from collapsing inwards. 

Start position of the glute bridge

Start position of the glute bridge

Top of the movement - notice that neutral spine and engaged core to prevent arching

Top of the movement - notice that neutral spine and engaged core to prevent arching

5. DEADBUGS

I know, I know - these look super easy BUT if they are done properly, they are incredibly hard (as all my clients can attest to)! A strong deep core keeps our backs supported and safe during long hikes especially if you’re carrying a backpack. 

Laying on your back, stack your arms above your shoulders and stack your knees slightly lower than your hips with shins parallel to the ground. 

Engage your core while lightly pressing your back towards the floor - think about squeezing your deep core between your hip bones to activate the very important Transverse Abdominis that many of us are lacking in.

Maintain this tension in your core for up to 1 minute or longer. Yes, I know this seems simple - but it's like a plank except here, it's on your back - this is more effective for knowing whether you are over arching your lumbar spine since you have the floor for reference. If you are unable to complete 1 minute, start smaller (say, 15-20 seconds) and build up your endurance until you're able to hold 4 times for 1 minute.

Once the holds are easy, progress to incorporating heel taps, and further, to adding both arm and leg movements. There are hundreds of ways to do dead bugs but start with the basic one and we will move forward from there! Can't walk before we hike, right?

Level 1 - holding

Level 1 - holding

Level 2 - add heel taps

Level 2 - add heel taps

Level 3 - extend leg and opposite arm

Level 3 - extend leg and opposite arm


I recommend for a beginner to complete 3 sets of each exercise for 8-15 reps. Intermediate level exercisers can complete 4-5 sets of each exercise. 

Stay tuned for next instalment where we’ll be adding weight and more challenging exercises to get to M O U N T A I N S T R O N G. 

These are just a few examples of exercises that will get you fit this hiking season. If you want to learn technique or are looking to expand your exercise library, get in touch and I'll get you on the road, er, trail to success!

Did you do the hike?

Don't forget to tag #PeakTraining and #WhatLynnLoves
in your post so we can follow your adventures!

#PTxWLL

Photography by Bryn Peaker

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R U N • S T R O N G

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As the temperatures rise and the days lengthen, the excitement of running season slowly creeps in. But let's face it - strength training gets a bad rap in the running world. Often runners avoid weighted exercises out of fear of becoming too “bulky” or out of misunderstanding about how a gym program can help them. The truth is that a properly applied strength training regime will improve your speed, efficiency and prevent injuries.

The goal with weight training for running isn’t about increasing muscle mass - it’s about targeting the strength and coordination of stabilization muscles that will prevent long term, chronic injuries that often occur with the sport 🏃🏼 If you love your sport and want to be capable of doing it for years to come,  it's imperative that you incorporate a weight training routine.

Still find yourself scared to take the plunge into strength? Let’s break down some common myths and get you R U N N I N G S T R O N G:

MYTH #1 🚫 Training with high reps builds endurance for running
REALITY ✅ You’re already working on your endurance on the road; you need to focus on strength, power and stability in the gym to improve your run. Strengthening your glute max, glute medius, and core musculature will stabilize your pelvis (including hips and lower back) and knees, areas that often develop overuse injuries from running with poor form. Think about this - if a runner is unable to maintain neutral knee and hip position during a split squat in a controlled environment like the gym, how can you expect them to maintain neutrality in an uncontrolled environment like a trail run? You would be surprised to know how many running athletes I assess that can’t even hold a single leg stance without their knees collapsing! Strength training with a lower rep range (anywhere from 5-12 depending on exercise) can drastically improve the stability and decrease chance of injury. 

MYTH #2 🚫 Strength training will create “bulk” that will slow you down while running
REALITY ✅ Let’s get one thing straight - ‘muscle’ and ‘bulk’ are not synonymous. So-called ‘bulking’ is solely a function of over-consuming calories - If you’re eating more than you are burning, you will not only put on muscle but you will also put on body fat which could make you appear ‘bulky’. This is certainly not a concern for runners since the majority of their calories are burned off during their cardiovascular training. True ‘strength’ is a function of the nervous system and it’s ability to properly fire muscles - it’s not necessarily all about adding mass to the body. 

MYTH #3 🚫 Squats have nothing to do with running
REALITY ✅ This couldn’t be more wrong. Squats have everything to do with running. If you cannot perform a full range squat due to mobility or stability limitations, you’re setting yourself up for a painful running career. A squat demonstrates the fullest expression of ankle and hip range of motion (ROM) and proper sequencing of major muscles groups including glutes, hip flexors, quads, deep core and spinal erectors, all of which are utilized during running. It’s important to note that machines like the leg press will never be a suitable substitute for the strength and stability developed from body weight, free weight and theraband exercises. 

MYTH #4 🚫 Gym workouts should be high intensity with minimal rest to complement a running regime
REALITY ✅ Runners get enough cardio - What they need in the gym is moderate to heavy weighted exercises within a moderate rep range with full recovery between sets. Resting between sets is absolutely paramount for the success of a strength training program. Yes, this may feel boring to the running athlete who is used to the continuous ‘runner’s high’ but it is integral to strength performance in your weight training routine. We’re training two different systems here that play off each other - don’t feel like you need to always integrate the two in every workout. 

Have questions or want more info? Send me a message and let’s get talkin’ - we'll set up a complimentary consult to get you on the road to R U N N I N G S T R O N G.

📱 604-966-8766

💻 peaktrainingwhistler@gmail.com