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Eastern Idaho backpacking: Getting in shape for the big miles

Skiing is a great way to train
Skiing is a great way to train
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


Eastern Idaho has great hiking weather - in the summer. Right now the temp's in the teens and the mountains are impassable. Now is the perfect time to start planning and preparing for summer's big hiking trips.


Hit the Gym


With the weather outside being sketchy, at best, it's a good time to build endurance in the gym. The treadmill, elliptical and even swimming will bring your endurance up through the winter and spring. The goal should be to get 3 to 5 aerobic workouts per week and to increase the distance by 10% each week. Example: The first week is a  jog/run of one mile, three times. The second week each run  would be increased to 1.1 miles. Increasing distance slowly will build endurance safely.

Strength training should focus on the quads, calves and hamstrings. Carrying backpacks in the high country also puts added load on the trapezius and shoulder muscles. Significant work in the off-season will result in a much more pleasant trip. The aim should be for 2 sessions per week per muscle group and not on consecutive days.


In addition, it's important to add variety to the workouts in order to avoid boredom in the gym. If the weather clears take the run outdoors. The Idaho Falls Greenbelt is generally passable or cross country ski through Tauphaus Park.


Sample Week Workout


  • Monday: Run, strength train upper body

  • Tuesday: Strength train lower legs

  • Wednesday: Swim, train upper body

  • Thursday: Off

  • Friday: Elliptical machine, Strength train lower legs

  • Saturday: Play in the snow, ski or sled, take a walk

  • Sunday: Off


The key to big miles in the mountains this summer is solid prep work this winter.

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