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!

     

 

 

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 trains 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!

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Photography by Bryn Peaker

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R U N N I N G • 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