Box jumps, lunge jumps and hurdle hops. I am sure you have seen these at the gym before. And while in some situations these can be incredibly beneficial for hikers, trekkers and mountaineers, the way most people use them in their training, is a short road to pain, mishap and injury.
Let me tell you why:
Yesterday I got involved in a semi-serious debate on Facebook.
(I know, what a way to spend my time)
The subject was plyometric training for hikers.
Now if you haven't heard of plyometrics before, they are simply when you do any type of jump training.
Things like squat jumps, hopping or lunge jumps are common examples.
The idea behind these exercises is that they teach the body to develop power quickly, improve muscle coordination and reduce risk of injury.
And if done right, they can be incredibly useful.
But, unfortunately, most coaches don't understand this type of training. Instead, they are used as 'cardio training' (because they get you tired, fast!).
But this is a mistake.
These are some everyday things you will see in gyms all around the world:
These exercises put quite a large amount of force through your joints. And doing endless repetitions of these, while you are fatigued, is just not a good idea.
However, saying this, there is a type of plyometric training that can be incredibly beneficial for hikers, trekkers and mountaineers...
And that is what is known as 'landing training'.
An example of this is stepping off a box, landing lightly and practising 'absorbing' the force in your legs as efficiently as possible.
And if you think about it, this is precisely what is going on when walking downhill.
You take a step. A certain amount of force goes into the leg. The body does its best to absorb what it can. And anything else ends up going into the joints.*
*This is an incredibly simplified explanation
So, if we can teach the body to absorb this force better while we are in the gym, then it will go a long way to helping support you on the trail and allowing you to enjoy pain-free hiking.
So what does this training look like?
It can be as simple as quickly going from a standing to a crouching position (an exercise named 'tall to shorts').
Or as complex as stepping off a high box and landing on one leg.
But it is MUCH more relevant to hikers than doing endless box or squat jumps...
And will go a long way to keeping you safe, stable and pain-free on the trail!
If you want to learn more about this type of training for hiking and get the support you need to get fit, strong and resilient for your adventures, you can find me here:
Yours in trekking,
Rowan is a personal trainer who specialises in training for hiking, trekkers and mountaineers for their bucket list adventures.
Summit Strength is a personal training for hiking service created specifically to help hikers have the best chance of a safe, enjoyable and successful adventure.