Thursday, 9 June 2011

Why I enjoy weighted hikes

I’ve mentioned weighted hikes a few times now, and talked about carrying my medicine ball or a Bulgarian training bag, but now I want to talk about why I do weighted hikes.

I started doing long walks and hikes even before I found marksdailyapple because I really enjoy getting outdoors, walking around and being part of nature. Most of the walks I do are only one to three hours max, but generally involve a reasonable hill climb. Doing these I quickly became very fit and was able to complete 3 hour walks in close to 2 hours. So my walks were getting pretty easy for me, and there was no challenge. 

Then I decided to take a sand bag with me after seeing one of the WOW’s on marksdailyapple. I grabbed my 13kg sandbag (an old duffel bag) and went up the hill. It was a hard climb. I had to swap the bag from side to side as it was heavy and awkward to carry; my legs were killing me on the way up, and then on the way down the stairs destroyed what was left. But all in all I felt great and it was an excellent whole body work out.

One thing I found really difficult was the wooden parts of the stairs were hell on the balls of my feet - I was in my vibram KSO’s and coming down with an extra 13kg. To recover my aching feet that evening and the next day I took a golf ball to the bottom of my feet like a foam roller or lacrosse ball. It’s taken a while of having achy feet (doing lots of weighted hikes and parkour training) but they are finally strong enough to take it after the 22 years I spent with them in shoes.

I enjoy weighted hikes because it increases the difficulty of the walks I do, and gives me a good workout, hitting my core and lower body the hardest. I can also get my heart pumping hard and my legs burning for a short spell by taking an uphill section or a stair climb as fast as I can (think of it like a weighted hill sprint). The heart rate comes up for a few minutes then normalises again after a few minutes of walking on a flat section. It’s great to mix up the intensity a bit when the desire strikes. I also find that doing weighted walks is excellent training for if I were to do a longer day trip or go camping where I have to carry my gear for a long trek. Or for a survival situation which required me to carry something vital over a great distance (I’d love to get one of the weighted training dummies the police and army use).

I’m sure our pre agriculture ancestors often performed weighted walks, weather they were carrying meat, building or tool making materials back to camp. They may also have been carrying young children with them while gathering or migrating. It is this long hard physical activity that I strive to emulate.  

So next time you’re out for a walk grab a sand bag, medicine ball, rock or small child (preferably your own child) and carry them with you. It’s a hard and rewarding exercise.

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