Shannon Faulconer is a guest blogger for our monthly newsletter, providing tips on preparing your body for adventure.  She is a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer and active member of our local Team RWB chapter.  Shannon is a Fredericksburg native and outdoor advocate who is passionate about helping people reach their physical fitness goals by giving them the tools they need to push their limits and succeed.

This month she provides our fly fishers with tips on preparing your body to get out and fish.

Preparing for the Hike

by: Shannon Faulconer

Hiking is one of my most favorite outdoor activities (besides stand up paddle boarding)! Anyone can do it; all it takes is a passion and appreciation for the outdoors! Hikes range from easy to difficult with easy being suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels while strenuous would be for the more seasoned hiker. One thing’s for sure: you’ll have a lot more fun if you’re prepared for the physical demands required by the hike you choose. I have compiled a list of exercises that can help EVERYONE prepare for a successful hike! All of these exercises are suited for all ability levels and can be bumped up in intensity if needed.

Endurance Training is Key

Let’s start off with some endurance training. Since all of your hiking is going to involve walking and climbing some hills, your cardio is probably going to be your most important physical challenge. A great way to prepare is do all of your cardio wearing the pack you will wear for hikes. Load it up and get it as close to the weight you will carry on hiking day as possible. You can start off by talking long walks wearing your pack on semi-flat land just to get used to lugging something weighted on your back. After you are used to wearing the pack and getting around with it on, move towards hiking on terrain that has some rolling hills or walking briskly on a treadmill with a 5-6 grade incline. Start off at a comfortable speed and increase the speed a few ticks every couple of minutes. Depending on the intensity of your hike, you can do 30 to 45 minutes of cardio. Another great way to condition your cardio and your legs especially is walking stairs/bleachers while wearing your pack or use a stair climber in a gym if you have access to one.

Legs & Shoulders

The second most targeted area is a tie between your legs and your shoulders. Both will receive a ton of stress. Those hills are going to be killer on your legs and that pack is going to wreak major havoc on your shoulders especially if you don’t have it adjusted properly.

Let’s start with my favorite: LEGS!

Try doing some squats while holding your weighted pack above your head. You can challenge yourself even further by holding that squat for 2 seconds and really slowing your down movement to the hold. For an even bigger challenge, add shoulder presses to your squat. Hold the bag close to your chest during the squat movement and when you have reached the start position, press the bag above your head. Three sets of fifteen reps should be good for each of these exercises.


Lunges are also a super powerful to building your legs up, especially your hamstrings and glutes. Aim for three rounds of lunge exercises. One round consists of 50m up, overhead presses and 50m back.

Hold Your Pack

Holding your bag close to your chest, do 50m of forward lunges. At the end of the 50m, take your pack and do 12 overhead presses while standing, then lunge back 50m to your starting point while holding the bag close to your chest.

Or Level Up

For a bigger challenge, hold the bag above your head for the entire 50m lunge, do 12 overhead presses, hold the bag above your head and lunge for 50m back to your start point. This can also be done with backwards lunges as well which really provide a tricky challenge. It will challenge your core and coordination big time.

Boulder shoulders!

My most favorite exercises to work my shoulders are front raises, side raises and shoulder presses. Front raises can be done with an overhand grip as well as an underhand grip. Three sets of twenty reps will be plenty to build up your shoulder strength. Don’t go super heavy on these, shoulders can be easily injured if proper care is not taken. Arm circles forwards and backwards at varying circle sizes work very well too. Challenge yourself and see if you can push yourself to do shoulder circles for a minute!

…And Don’t Neglect Your Core

Everyone’s core could always use some more work! You core will play an important role in body stability while hiking on rocky surfaces. Try these core strengthening exercises:

  • Plank holds for 45 – 60 seconds x 4 rounds
  • Flutter kicks for 45-60 seconds x 4 rounds
  • Russian twists 50 each side x 3 rounds
  • Crunches by 50 x 3 rounds