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